Monday, November 17, 2014

Canberra's Low Carbon Future

Greetings from the "2014 Solar Oration" Australian National University where Simon Corbell MLA, the ACT Minister for Environment & Sustainable Development is making a few preliminary remarks. He is discussing Canberra’s renewable energy target of 90% by 2020. He emphasized the adverse effects which global warming would have on Canberra, under a "business as usual" scenario without effective carbon emissions reductions. He welcomed the announcement of action by the USA and China, but criticized the Australian government for a lack of action. However, the minister then mentioned the ACT Government's own reverse auction for renewable energy, which is using an approach not significantly different to the process the Australian government proposes to use.

The Oration Speaker is Greg Bourne, Chair of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. Mr Bourne described the Prime Minister's comments on "Coal is good for humanity" as being "Out of touch". He described failing to act on climate change as "environmental vandalism". He expects the US President's action to have a significant global effect. The audio, slides and text of Mr. Bourne's presentation is available.

But Mr. Bourne is chair of the board of a government agency charged with increasing the supply of renewable energy in Australia. The Australian Prime Minister clearly does not support renewable energy. However, ARENA's mandate comes from the Australian Parliament, not the executive arm of government.

Mr. Bourne discussed the difficulties for fossil fuel producing companies to transition to provide renewable energy. He described this as a process where a renewable project is started in good times, but not sufficiently fudned and cut when there is an economic downturn.

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