Carbon Economy


Is hydraulic fracking for natural gas safe?

By Leith van Onselen Technological advancement and the shale gas revolution currently underway in the United States has encouraged other countries to seek to extract natural gas trapped in shale rocks or coal seams via the process of hydraulic fracking. This process essentially involves drilling and inserting a pipe deep into the ground and then


Coalition axes Climate Department

By Leith van Onselen It hasn’t taken long for the new Coalition Government to fulfill its election promise to disband the Climate Commission and sack its commissioners: The Coalition is delivering on an election promise to dispense with the commission, saving taxpayers $580,000 this financial year and $1.6 million in following years… “The Coalition believes


Where to for Coalition energy policy?

Cross-posted from The Conversation The Coalition has returned to government at a time of uncertainty and rapid change in almost every area of energy policy. With an energy policy released and a responsible minister named, what can we determine about where this new government is headed? The Coalition’s formal policy tries to address some of


Leaked UN report sees ice melting faster

From Bloomie: Ice in Antarctica and Greenland is disappearing faster and may drive sea levels higher than predicted this century, according to leaked United Nations documents. Greenland’s ice added six times more to sea levels in the decade through 2011 than in the previous 10 years, according to a draft of the UN’s most comprehensive study on


World Bank sees $1 trillion bill for rising seas

From the World Bank overnight: Climate change, rapid urbanization, and subsiding land are putting the world’s coastal cities at increasing risk of dangerous and costly flooding, a new study calculating future urban losses from flooding shows. The study, led by World Bank economist Stephane Hallegatte and the OECD, forecasts that average global flood losses will


IPCC hikes its global warming certainty

From the SMH: The world is on track to become up to five degrees hotter, and sea levels could rise more than 80 centimetres this century, according to a leaked draft of a landmark climate change report prepared for the UN. There is now a 95 per cent likelihood human greenhouse gas emissions are driving


Solar power is becoming increasingly viable

By Leith van Onselen The Financial Times has published an interesting article on the increasingviability of solar power, whose costs have reduced by so much that they are now in a position to legitimately challenge conventional power sources, even without subisdies: Until now, the idea that unsubsidised solar power could make enough financial sense to


Carbon emissions stable over past decade

Cross-posted from The Conversation There has been no growth in greenhouse gas emissions in Australia over the last decade, despite economic growth of 31% over the same period, a new report has found. The findings show that conversion to a green economy need not be painful and is already underway in Australian industry. The report,


In defense of carbon markets

Cross-posted from The Conversation. John Daley, Chief Executive Officer, the Grattan Institute. Many are puzzled by the political theory of carbon markets. Why does the Institute for Public Affairs – a libertarian think tank – oppose a market in carbon? Tim Wilson, for example, thinks that private property rights are good, intellectual property rights are important,


Paying for carbon politics

Details are emerging on how the Rudd government will pay for its carbon politics: The Rudd government will impose a new public service efficiency dividend, slash at least $750 million from climate change programs and possibly tighten fringe benefits tax concessions for ­salary-sacrificed cars to help cover the $4 billion bill for dropping the fixed


Carbon price gives way to politics

From David Uren: The Prime Minister yesterday invoked the need to cut living costs for his decision to replace the carbon tax with an emissions trading system 12 months earlier than scheduled in July next year, bringing an effective 75 per cent cut in the carbon price. …Mr Rudd stressed that the deal had to


NSW to produce fuel from algae

By Leith van Onselen One of the purported benefits of implementing a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme is that it will, over time, transition the economy away from dirtier sources of energy towards cleaner sources by better aligning firms’ goal of profit maximisation with the Government’s goal of lowering Australia’s carbon footprint. Today,


Is carbon pricing reducing emissions?

Cross-posted from The Conversation Australia’s carbon pricing mechanism has been vilified by the Federal Opposition and certain members of the business community, but it is a key part of Australia’s response to climate change. So one year on, where does it stand? Far from being “absolutely catastrophic” and a “wrecking ball” to the economy as


The sickening wind

From the Guardian Australia: The Coalition will impose new noise monitoring rules on windfarms that the multibillion dollar industry says will inflict crippling costs, provide no useful information and represent another victory for an anti-noise campaign by concerned citizens backed in part by the climate sceptic lobby. The yet-to-be-released resources policy is set to require


Let the dangers mount!

Cross-posted from Kate Mackenzie at FTAlphaville. ‘Collectively, humanity has yawned and decided to let the dangers mount’ So writes the FT’s Martin Wolf in his column today, which starts out noting that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations exceeded 400 parts per million last week, the highest level in 4.5m years. As he says, if we take a prudential


Panic! It’s the carbon price…

There are causes for concern around the collapse in the European carbon price. BS summarises them well enough: Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey said if Australia adopted Europe’s carbon price today, it would have serious ramifications for government revenue. “If the European price today is to be applied to the budget, then there will be a budget


Climate Commission sees changed weather

The Australian Climate Commission, which is a government funded institute which aims to inform about climate change, has released a new report declaring that: 1. Climate change is already increasing the intensity and frequency of many extreme weather events, adversely affecting Australians. Extreme events occur naturally and weather records are broken from time to time.


China’s solar boom is only beginning

Cross-posted from The Conversation. The bankruptcy of Chinese solar energy company Suntech Wuxi is being depicted in the media as a sign of chaos in the solar industry. The industry is said to be suffering from disastrous price falls created by over-capacity, and harmed by the US imposition of tariffs. These were justified by the US as punishing


Carbon pricing and the “Abbott proof fence”

From the AFR: …In advice released to clients today, Norton Rose partner Elisa De Wit said if it won the election the only way the Coalition could stop the carbon price scheme from operating would be to have parliament pass amending legislation. Options to alter or amend the carbon tax include increasing the threshold for


China to introduce carbon tax

From the AFR: China has outlined plans to introduce a carbon tax, but the mooted starting price is likely to be a fraction of that under way in Australia. The Ministry of Finance indicated a starting price of about 10 yuan ($1.50) for each tonne of carbon dioxide emitted, rising to 50 yuan a tonne


A gale behind wind power?

From the AFR: Unsubsidised wind power is now cheaper than new coal and gas fired power stations due to the carbon price scheme, rising fuel prices and banks’ reluctance to invest in fossil fuel projects, says new research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Even if the carbon price scheme were to be repealed, it would


Early evidence that the carbon tax works

From David Uren at The Australian: CARBON emissions from the electricity sector have dived in the first six months under the carbon tax, with much greater use of renewable energy and cutbacks in consumption. …Total emissions from the electricity sector in the December half were 7.5 million tonnes lower than in the same half of


Are ‘green’ household choices a good idea?

Do ‘green’ household choices really make a difference? This is a question I couldn’t quite give a straight answer to, and which provided the motivation to begin research in this area. The main problem in determining the net environmental impact of consumption choices is the rebound effect. When households reduce their driving or electricity consumption


Are Chinese corporate profits set to rebound?

One of the most important fundamental reasons why Chinese equities under-performed for the last year or two has been the fact that Chinese companies are seeing falling profits despite seemingly “strong” economic growth. While GDP growth has only slowed to 7.4% year on year in the third quarter, corporate earnings have been recording negative growth on a


China’s leading index plateaus

Late yesterday, the Conference Board released its Leading Indicators for China in September with a small increase following some big jumps in prior months: As you can see, there has been much movement in the index all year. There LI things have some questions to answer, though China’s offical version seems to work quite well.


Pitfalls of Australia joining the EU ETS

Back in August the government announced its intentions to join Australia’s new emissions trading scheme (ETS) with the EU ETS in 2015. Houses and Holes commented at the time that the decisions could be interpreted as a political cop-out. While the long run goal is surely an integrated international scheme, the Clean Energy Amendment Bill