BZE submission to the National Food Plan now available

To download the full submission click here.

(NOTE: Some people have trouble downloading files from our website, with some downloads stopping before completion. If you have this problem then right-click on the link and "save link as" to save the file onto your computer)

Climate change has great potential to disrupt agriculture, and is already disrupting weather patterns. Shifting climatic regimes are likely to affect all aspects of food production in Australia, and a decades-long drying trend is apparent in the agriculturally important east coast, south-east and south-west regions. Also, many of Australia’s productive landscapes may already be at the outer limit of their productivity potential. Recently, a study by the University of Melbourne and CSIRO argued that adaptation to climate change would need to be transformational rather than incremental.

While modelling indicates great uncertainty but alarming possibilities for future climate, the National Food Plan green paper is quite dismissive of their impacts on Australian agriculture, indicating without evidence that “innovation and the market” will correct supply deficits.

Incongruously, the green paper states that climate change could reduce agricultural productivity to 2050 by almost 20%, yet proposes the target of doubling Australia’s food exports by 2030. Climate change has not been adequately considered in the National Food Plan.

There is little consideration in the green paper of agriculture as a major source of greenhouse gases and therefore as a driver of global warming. Agriculture (especially rangeland grazing) occupies 59% of the Australian continent. With this huge area, and all those animals emitting methane, it’s not surprising that agriculture has a strong greenhouse signature, but it also has a huge capacity to sequester carbon.

A couple of the points we make in our submission:

  • Agriculture can help mitigate climate change, by sharply reducing its own emissions and sequestering carbon in plants and landscapes; initiatives that achieve this should be researched and implemented.
  • The period of foresight considered by the National Food Plan should be well longer than the fifty-year period currently projected.
  • The food system will need to be resilient to other changes that are likely to affect it in the coming decades, including peaks of supply in energy, fertiliser, fuel, and land.
  • Analysis of risks to agriculture in the medium to long-term and the urgent development of resilience in agricultural systems should be priorities of the National Food Plan.

A safe climate is an important, finite natural resource and is necessary for reliable, productive food supplies. The agriculture sector must not jeopardise the stability of the climate system in which it operates. The National Food Plan should consider the greenhouse footprint of our food production system and advocate for the urgent adoption of comprehensive measures to turn this sector into a (net) carbon sink. Such strategies may include transformational adaptation such as large-scale changes to production systems.

Beyond Zero Emissions is currently researching possible future directions for food production and other land uses in Australia.

BZE submission to the Renewable Energy Target Review now available

To download the full submission click here.

(NOTE: Some people have trouble downloading files from our website, with some downloads stopping before completion. If you have this problem then right-click on the link and "save link as" to save the file onto your computer)

We welcome the opportunity to provide comments in response to the Review of the Renewable Energy Target Issues Paper. We believe that the Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme has been a crucial mechanism in deploying renewable energy in Australia to date. However, we also recognize a desperate need to achieve a transition to a 100% renewable energy electricity system and rapid decarbonisation of the Australian economy. The RET is one policy option that can play an important part in the decarbonisation challenge and rollout of renewable energy generation.

This submission outlines the following key points:

  • The 20% RET acts as a limit to renewable energy deployment;
  • The 2020 RET should be expanded to 40% (82,000 GWh) and continue to support the development and deployment of wind generation;
  • The RET should be expanded beyond 2020 to continue the  deployment of renewables, and prevent a boom/bust scenario;
  • The ‘phatom RECs’ should be removed from the scheme to rejuvenate the wind industry;
  • The RET should not be a floating percentage target;
  • The RET should be expanded to accommodate CEFC funded projects;
  • Any consideration of scheme cost of the RET schemes should include the Merit Order Effect;
  • The shortfall charge should be increased to prevent liable entities simply paying the charge;
  • Waste Coal Gas should be removed from the scheme;
  • The SRES scheme is important to support a suite of technologies;
  • Feed-in tariffs are a superior support mechanism. Whilst state-based schemes are rolled back, and until there is a national feed-in scheme, the SRES scheme should provide a set subsidy;
  • Alternative mechanisms (e.g. large scale-feed in tariffs, or additional banded RETs) must be considered to achieve a 100% renewable energy system. The RET must be able to compliment additional support mechanisms; and
  • Future reviews should be limited to increasing the RET.

Bloggers review our 'Laggard to Leader' report

Two bloggers have already published reviews of our new report, Laggard to Leader: How Australia can lead the world to zero carbon prosperity.

Martin C. Jones got in quick, publishing his review on July 24, just the day after the report was published and launched. A fairly straightforward, positive review of the report, it observes:

The report springs from the observation, also reported by e.g. Crikey on Friday, that the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is failing to achieve the actions required to prevent dangerous anthropogenic climate change. It then goes beyond this to suggest new means of addressing the problem, in which Australia leads the world to a zero carbon future.

Sound utopian? It’s actually reasonably well argued, by and large, even if it’s difficult to see our current crop of politicians implementing many of the report’s suggestions.

Hundreds at Laggard to Leader launches

Last week we launched our new report, Laggard to Leader in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. All up there was around 500 at the launches, with over 300 in Melbourne. Lisette Scollay sent the following report of the Sydney launch.

 Reuben Finighan and Fergus Green

Lead authors Reuben Finighan (L) and Fergus Green with the report


Last week we had the opportunity to attend the launch of Laggard to Leader, a report that clarifies why we need to lead the world towards zero carbon emissions and debunks the perception that Australia is a minor polluter.

Half-price Stationary Energy Plans now on sale

Beyond Zero Emissions' award-winning Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan is now on sale for $15 + postage.

That's 50% off!

Perfect for showing your friends, family and workmates how Australia can get to 100% renewable energy within a decade.

To order your copy email our General Manager on pablo -at-

Solar Thermal Models Built

Another four of our famous solar thermal models have been built in NSW, thanks to the efforts of Beyond Zero Emissions volunteers, the Paramatta Climate Action Network, and the Granville Men’s Shed. The models are of a concentrated solar thermal plant with a molten salt storage (CST+) power station. They are used to engage and educate the public in the renewable energy discussion.

The models were unveiled to the public at Parramatta Mall last week, generating a lot of interest from curious passers-by.

“The model we already have has always generated interest, but when we had four models side by side this time, it took me twice as long to set them up because people kept stopping to ask about them,” said BZE volunteer Terry McBride. “People asked a lot of questions about what the models were and how they worked, so we talked to them about how the solar plants can produce 24-hour power, and gave them information to take away. It’s a great tool because some people go on the website and download the Plan, and even change their lifestyle. The people who don’t still come away with the knowledge that [renewable energy] can generate 24-hour power, and realise that they’re being lied to by the people who say otherwise.”

Granville Men’s Shed president Bill Tibben also expressed his enthusiasm for the joint venture. “This type of project is a win-win for the Men’s Shed. We get to put our minds to work on how to build it, as well as educate ourselves on renewable energy. It is then used as an educational tool for a very important issue in the community right now.”

According to McBride, one model would stay in Parramatta while the others will be sent interstate. Two will go to South Australia to join the ‘RepowerPort Augusta’ campaign, and another is bound for climate action groups in Victoria.

100% Renewable energy: more than just a big idea

This free public forum was held in Cairns in May 2011. It featured a presentation by Mark Ogge and Patrick Hearps, authors of the Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan.

The forum was the official launch of our local renewable energy campaign which is supported by over 30 local businesses and organisations.

Part 1: Introduction and official opening

Repower Port Augusta Petition: support Australia's first solar thermal plant

Click here to sign the petition

We Have A Choice – Add Your Voice !

Australia is the sunniest continent in the world yet we are slow to harness the potential of our solar energy.

 I support replacing Port Augusta’s coal generators with renewable energy: particularly baseload solar thermal supported by solar PV and wind. This would provide 24 hour baseload electricity and...

- Create 1800 jobs

 - Save millions of tonnes of CO2 annually

- Lead the switch to a renewable energy economy

 - Eliminate the serious health impacts of coal and gas

 - Ensure more stable electricity prices for South Australians


Click here to sign the petition

Repower Port Augusta: Help us win!

Support the call for Australia's first solar thermal plant

Beyond Zero Emissions is leading a campaign to get Australia’s first solar thermal power plants built - and we need your help.

Repower Port Augusta is gaining momentum. Next week we are heading to the SA Parliament, the RPA Alliance has gained interest from unions and business groups and the Port Augusta local group is holding a pivotal vote in the community next month.

Click here and make a tax deductible donation to join the campaign at this critical point.

Beyond Zero Emissions at an anti-wind meeting

Penshurst wind farm meeting fires up

A FIERY crowd demonstrated the friction and distrust towards wind farm developments within the region at a community meeting in Penshurst this week.

A bout half of the almost 150 people at Thursday night's three-hour meeting were locals, with others making the trip from around the south-west .

Waubra Foundation president, and prominent anti-wind farm campaigner, Peter Mitchell gave a presentation to residents and visitors, urging them to fight the wind farm project which proposes to bring 223 turbines just three kilometres from Penshurst.

One of the meeting's few pro-wind farm speakers, Beyond Zero Emissions spokesperson Matthew Wright, made a trip from Melbourne to attend the meeting to find his outspoken views on renewable energy largely unwelcomed by the passionate anti-wind farm crowd.

BZE hits North Queensland

Thanks to the support of James Cook University (JCU) and the Cairns Sustainable Leadership Conference, Matthew Wright and QLD BZE Coordinator Emma Carton recently made their way up to the warm temperatures of Cairns and Townsville for a series of events to inform people of the potential for a Zero Carbon Australia future.

On Monday 16th April, Matthew gave a presentation on the Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan to an enthusiastic crowd at Cairns JCU.  Emma received expressions of interest from a number of locals who want to become volunteers and spread the BZE message to their local communities.

Matthew on stage at the Sustainable Leadership Conference, Cairns

The following day in Cairns, Matthew spoke alongside Allan Jones (Development Officer at City of Sydney) and Amandine Denis (ClimateWorks Australia) at the Cairns Sustainable Leadership Conference. It was evident that both Allan and Amandine’s visions were not for a zero carbon (renewable) future but for a so-called "clean energy" future; so Matthew became the audience favourite!

Emma and Matt then made their way to Townsville, where Matthew made a special appearance at the Bimblebox documentary screening at Townsville’s beautiful “Dance North” building. The audience were buzzing with the surprise visit and Matt got a kick out of drawing the old school raffle. Thanks to North Queensland Conservation Council for the invitation.

Repowering Port Augusta report now available

To download the report click here.

This ground breaking report makes the environmental, social and economic case for the replacement of Port Augusta’s existing brown coal-fired power stations with baseload solar thermal and wind power.

As with all our work, this blueprint is technically detailed, fully costed and backed up by rigorous research. 

There is currently a battle on between renewable energy and gas for which energy source will replace the brown coal generators. Our research shows that building baseload solar thermal power in Port Augusta will:

  • Create 1800 jobs
  • Protect the health of the Port Augusta community
  • Save 5 million tonnes of CO2 each year
  • Result in lower and more stable electricity prices
  • Provide energy security for South Australia

Fossil gas will not achieve a single one of the points above. It will result in job losses, continued pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and volatile electricity prices. As Port Augusta Mayor Joy Baluch says, "Certainly gas is not an option."

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Concentrating Solar Thermal


Beyond Zero Emissions has just released a paper on the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) set up as part of the carbon price package of policies. It outlines the current limitations of the CEFC model specifically in relation to baseload solar thermal power, and compares it to policies used in Germany and the USA.

To download it click here.

Summary Points

  • Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) accepts the latest climate science evidence which necessitates
    Australia’s transition to 100% Renewable Energy in a 10 year timeframe.
  • The role of concentrating solar thermal with storage (CST) as a commercial technology and its ability to provide dispatchable, baseload renewable energy is critical.
  • CEFC will deliver funding of around $1-2Bn per year for 5 years. The inadequacy of the CEFC’s scope and ambition is shown by  comparing  this to Germany’s KfW ‘Green Bank’, which is investing $30Bn AUS a year, or Australia’s business as usual energy investment of $240Bn in the next 20 years.
  • Without a Feed-in Tariff (FiT) the CEFC cannot build a significant amount of CST.
  • Using the CEFC as the stand alone mechanism to build renewable energy plays into the main weakness of renewable energy investment – upfront costs.
  • The best policy for building baseload solar thermal is a large scale FiT. The CEFC supporting a FiT will deploy CST at a lower cost than a FiT alone.

BZE submission to the Draft Energy White Paper now available

To download the submission click here.


Australia must rapidly decarbonise its economy if it is to play a constructive role in global efforts to address the climate change challenge. Present atmospheric levels of CO2 are at 390ppm1 and must be brought down to 350ppm to stay within the 2°C warming “guardrail.

Blessed with vast renewable energy resources, Australia can decarbonise its economy principally through the large-scale rollout of commercially available renewable energy technologies. The Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy plan, a research partnership between Beyond Zero Emissions and the University of Melbourne’s Energy Research Institute, demonstrates the technical feasibility of shifting to a 100 percent renewable energy system in ten years. It identifies Concentrating Solar Thermal and wind power as the primary technologies for a zero-carbon stationary energy sector.

BZE submission to the Victorian Feed-in Tariff Inquiry now available

To download the submission click here.

(Please note: the file sometimes has trouble loading in Firefox, if it doesn't work please try pasting the link into the Chrome browser)


Beyond Zero Emissions recognises the importance and efficacy of Feed in Tariffs and
distributed renewable generation in reducing emissions and moving towards a zero emission
future. We welcome the opportunity to respond to the Victorian Competition and Efficiency
Commission’s Inquiry into Feed-in Tariffs & Barriers to Distributed Generation.

The Issues Paper identifies two main elements to be addressed: “assessing the design, efficiency,
effectiveness and future of FiT schemes” and  “identifying barriers to connecting distributed
renewable and low emission technologies into the distribution system”.  We would agree the
importance of these objectives, and the (arguably even more important)  subsequent actions:
implementation of an effective feed in tariff and removal of barriers to distributed generation.

Unfortunately, we believe the following discussion within the Issues Paper misses some key
points with respect to distributed generation, and misrepresents the costs of distributed solar
photovoltaics (or other distributed generation ) and feed in tariffs. In this submission we firstly
identify some of the shortfalls, misrepresentations and missed concepts in the Issues Paper, and
then also answer the ‘Information Requests’.

The key issues include:

  • Incorrect use of Productivity Commission analysis
  • Analysis methodology is not suitable for distributed generation (does not value distributed generation at the retail price with which it competes)
  • Use of outdated Productivity Commission analysis (Incorporates outdated cost data)
  • Failure to acknowledge the ‘Merit Order Effect’, a key Feed in Tariff cost offset
  • Failure to acknowledge the inherent market failure with the carbon price mechanism
  • Failure to accept efficacy of Feed in Tariffs and distributed renewable generation in reducing emissions and moving towards a zero emission future.
  • Consideration of fossil gas as a feasible distributed technology

To keep reading, please click here (use Chrome if Firefox doesn't work)

Australian Climate Leadership - Volunteer Opportunity

What if we create a better world for nothing?

Are you sick of hearing that “Australia is only a small part of the climate problem”, that “we shouldn’t act before the rest of the world”, and that “our actions won’t make any difference anyway”?

BZE is challenging these excuses for inaction with a new report that aims to expose the true extent of Australia’s contribution to the climate problem and highlight the immense potential for Australia’s actions, at home and abroad, to shape global climate change outcomes. The report will show how Australia can exert real influence over the future direction of global efforts to stabilise the climate through curtailing the global supply of traded coal, making clean energy technologies cheaper, and developing a new model of international climate cooperation that will be vastly more effective than the protracted and toothless UN negotiations. It will also demonstrate that such actions serve the national interest, both raising the odds of securing a safe climate and establishing Australia as a leading force in global low-carbon industries.

Hans-Josef Fell at ANU

German member of parliament Hans-Josef Fell, the key architect of the world's most successful renewable energy policies (feed-in tariffs) spoke at the Australian National University in Canberra last week. Below is a recording of his talk.


Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan now available for iPad

iPad Screenshot 1

The award-winning Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan is now available on your iPad!

This complete blueprint for powering the Australian economy with 100% renewable energy contains fully hyperlinked references which take you directly to the web-based sources.

To download the app click here.

Useful for your own reference and for quickly silencing the naysayers who claim it can't be done.

Thank you to Outware Mobile for their work on this.

Piers Akerman's call for apartheid era coal to liquids wrong

Piers Akerman (Daily Telegraph Jan 20,2012) is calling for Coal-to-Liquids to be deployed in Australia. Coal to liquids is the technology choice of desperate regimes including the Nazis in Germany during WWII and the apartheid regime in South Africa. It is highly polluting and has only ever been used as a last choice for oil starved nations suffering from energy security risks related to prolonged embargo.

A modern economy like Australia will be moving to electricity which offers the only renewable solution to our transport needs.

Renault-Nissan is going to be producing 500,000 pure electric vehicles per year by 2014. To drive the 16,000 average kilometres each Australian car travels in a year it takes just 2,500 kilowatt hours of electricity. If this electric fuel is generated by solar then it's the same yearly requirement as the output of a small 10 panel 2,000 watt rooftop mounted system which takes up an area as small as 3metres by 3 metres which is the same area as the rooftop where you garage your car.

Germany installed 3000 Megawatts of rooftop solar during the December Christmas holidays in sub zero winter temperatures. If the German December total was installed in Australia this would be enough solar to power between 1.75 Million (Melbourne) and 2 Million (Brisbane) Nissan Leafs.

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