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Dr David Suzuki briefed on the Zero Carbon Australia Project

Melbourne 19th February 2011

Beyond Zero Emissions Executive Director Matthew Wright presents Dr David Suzuki with a copy of the Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan after a briefing on the project in Melbourne.  Beyond Zero Emissions is hoping that Dr Suzuki will take the pro bono research model that we have adopted and produce a series of Zero Carbon Plans for Canada. Beyond Zero Emissions made it clear that the organisation is willing to help in any way to make a Zero Carbon Canada a realtiy.

Will New Climate Commission Educate Public About Climate Solutions or Climate Catastrophe?

Last week, the Gillard government established a Climate Commission to educate the public about climate science and carbon pricing.  

Led by former Australian of the Year, Professor Tim Flannery, the panel of six experts aims to ‘help build the consensus required to move to a clean energy future’. Or that’s how Climate Change Minister Greg Combet puts it. However, if ‘moving to a clean energy future’ is the goal, then the stark exclusion of a leading renewable energy expert is puzzling to say the least. So too is the emphasis on climate science and carbon pricing, rather than on how to build a renewable energy economy.

Death Ray Reminds Us Of Solar Thermal Solution

Last week, a YouTube clip of a solar death ray created by a U.S. teenager become an internet sensation, receiving over 1.7 million views and attention from Australia’s major news outlets—perhaps looking for the daily quirky news filler.
 
While the coverage of this clip focused on the destructive potential of the backyard prototype, the ‘solar-death ray’ reminds us of how relatively simple technological concepts can harness the sun’s powerful radiation to produce energy.

SOLAR FLAGSHIP PROGRAM LOST AT SEA

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s $1.5 billion Solar Flagship Program has fallen victim to budget cuts deemed “necessary” by the Gillard government to help fund flood reconstruction in Queensland.
 
While this is a setback for the development of large-scale solar in Australia, the news is somewhat symptomatic of the obstructive flab affecting government action against the fossil fuel industry. Though a step in the right direction, the Solar Flagship Program could hardly be considered a gymnastic feat in the company of the far more limber policies already existent in the rest of the world.

The Next Revelation: CCS Carbon-Leaks

 

It’s a case of canary in the coalmine for carbon capture and storage (CCS). The Weyburn-Midale Carbon Dioxide Project in Canada, reportedly the largest CCS project in the world, has begun to leak CO2. A farming couple who own land above the project have commissioned and released a damning independent report that discovered carbon dioxide is escaping from its supposedly secure confines under the ground, contaminating water sources and killing small animals. Already a technology that fails on many frontiers, the news should herald another nail in the coffin for CCS.

Zero Carbon Australia 2020 Stationary Energy Plan Melbourne launch Video

An exciting new report, the Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan,  launched at this seminar.

Date:  14th July 2010
Location: The Spot Theatre, Business & Economics Building, The University of
Melbourne
Time
: 6.00pm  

Click here for video

Transcript:

Replace ALL of Hazelwood rally video

On 6 November, thousands of people rallied in Melbourne, three weeks out from the state election, calling for Hazelwood Power Station to be replaced with renewable energy.

Thanks to Andrew McDonald.

Zero Carbon Australia 2020 Stationary Energy Plan - Brisbane launch materials

Last night's Brisbane launch of the Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan was a standing-room-only affair with around 800 people in attendance. A big well done to our many volunteers who helped organise this event and to our speakers and sponsors.

We will start putting up the footage and presentations from the launch on this website as we process it. The following is now available:

 

Dr Luis Crespo, General Secretary Protermosolar, Spain - presentation slides (12Mb)

Matthew Wright, Executive Director Beyond Zero Emissions - presentation slides (16Mb)

Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan available now - download or purchase your copy

To download the full Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan click here (8.4MB).

For the Synopsis of the plan click here (2.2MB)

Hard copies can be purchased from the Melbourne Energy Institute.

Live Video of the University Launch 14/7/2010 available here

Don't miss out on this cutting-edge research, which shows how Australia can reach 100% renewable energy within a decade, using technology that is commercially available right now.

 

"The Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan represents the kind of visionary work that should be eagerly embraced.  It is the first time that I have seen a plan that makes the possibility of zero
emissions feasible and affordable.  In particular, solar energy offers so much promise in the dry and sunny continent.  Politicians have been postponing decisions in this area for too long.  They, and decision-makers generally, should study Zero Carbon Australia intensely and urgently.  The work is so comprehensive that it makes me eager to see the further studies that will be emerging in the near future."
Professor Emeritus Sir Gustav Nossal AC CBE FAA FRS
Department of Pathology, University of Melbourne
Former Australian of the Year

"With our natural advantage Australia can and should be positioning itself as a global renewable super power for future prosperity. This report will help shift the climate debate to focus on energy; security; affordability; export and of course opportunity. Beyond Zero Emissions offers a new and invigorating message that is much needed”
Professor Robin Batterham,
President, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering,
formerly Chief Scientist of Australia


“This is an ambitious, technically feasible plan that should be looked at seriously”
Tim Flannery
Professor Faculty of Science
Macquarie University
Australian of the Year 2007


"No doubt improved technologies for tapping usable energy from the sun, the winds, the tides, and the hot core of our planet will emerge as time goes by. But this report shows clearly that the solutions available now are, with our small population and enormous landmass, sufficient for Australia to move forward very quickly to tap renewable energy sources and minimize greenhouse gas emissions. We have the resources. We need the will.
Dr. Peter Doherty, Nobel Laureate, School of Medicine, University of Melbourne

 

"100 % renewable energy with zero emissions is achievable in Australia in about a decade if politics takes concerted actions…Moreover, Australia can become the initiator for a serious attempt to shift the world to a solar economy. This is the only promising strategy for climate protection and would provide societies around the world with solutions for climate protection, economic development, poverty reduction and conflict resolution. We need action now!"
Hans-Josef Fell, Member of the German Parliament
Alliance 90/The Greens Spokesman for Energy


 

"To achieve a safe climate future we need an urgent, large-scale transition. The work of Beyond Zero Emissions shows that the technical transition is affordable and achievable. Now we need a social and political transition to get behind it."
Professor Carmen Lawrence,
School of Psychology,
University of Western Australia
Former Premier of Western Australia.


“Renewable energy is the only way to go in the future. Enercon wind energy converters are designed to the newest standards to integrate with the modern high flexibility demands of electricity grids, providing sustainable reliable power to keep the wheels of daily life, household and industry turning. The Zero Carbon Plan outlines a technically achievable plan for generating all of Australias energy from the wind and the sun. It can be a realistic goal if Australia gets immediately seriously committed with decision making from industry and government. We hope that its recommendations are taken up so that Australia can also be a player in the renewable energy economy that is already booming around the world.”
ENERCON GmbH

"As the IEA has shown in its research, solar energy is now a serious global player for providing the world's energy.  Australia has one of the world's best solar energy resource, especially suited for concentrating solar thermal power plants, which can dispatch electricity when it is needed. The Zero Carbon Australia Plan is based on up-to-date and sound information and provides quality insights on how a country well-endowed in renewable resources can transition to a solar and wind economy.
Cédric Philibert
Renewable Energy Division
International Energy Agency


"The Zero Carbon Australia 2020 plan shows that it is technically feasible and affordable to replace all fossil fuel electricity with 100% renewable energy given the willpower and commitment to do so. This is a cutting-edge science-based plan that should be read by every energy decision maker and politician in Australia."
Mark Z. Jacobson
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Professor by Courtesy of Energy Resources Engineering
Director, Atmosphere/Energy Program
Stanford University, USA

 

“It's not the five per cent cut project or the 20 per cent cut project with a bunch of unachievable caveats. It's a zero carbon project and I think people actually want to be told a narrative, a story which is ambitious, which is aspirational, but also practical and I think that is what this project is about.”
Federal Independent Senator Nick Xenophon

 

"This is a bold and ground-breaking piece of work which should be a wake-up call to all those in government and industry who refuse to see beyond coal”

“This is a very exciting report. It has academic rigour, it has also the hope of a generation and it has thousands of jobs waiting to happen.”
"We can and must aim to power Australia with 100% renewable energy as soon as possible if we are to truly tackle the climate crisis - and the great news is, that will bring huge benefits to us all, cleaning the air and creating jobs and investment from the suburbs to the farmlands.”

"This Zero Carbon Australia plan is an extremely valuable contribution which all in the parliament should be looking at very seriously”
Federal Greens Senator Christine Milne

"Every nation in the world should make a plan like this.  If one can get a 100% renewable, zero carbon electricity system by investing 3% of GDP (and 10% of gross investment) for ten years, there is no good reason not to do it. Except, maybe, the straitjacket of old ways of thinking and doing.

This plan lays out a high solar-wind renewable future and then does more.  It looks carefully at the materials requirements of such a future, an aspect of the matter too often left unaddressed.

Australia could be the first large economy to show the way."

John O. Blackburn
Professor Emeritus of Economics
Duke University, USA



"Australians are capable of rapid change when the historical circumstances call for it. Indeed, we pride ourselves on being a resourceful people. TheBeyond Zero Emissions team show how inventive and resourceful we can be. Their plan for a transition to 100% renewables is a powerful and cogent response to those who claim it can't be done. The reception this report receives will be a sign of how much Australians believe in their future and how much they take refuge in the thinking of the past."

Clive Hamilton, Professor of Public Ethics and author of Requiem for a Species

 

“For decades, those opposing the transition to clean energy have claimed that it is not technically feasible. This report puts that argument convincingly to bed. There is no longer an excuse for inaction. Starting the transition now is our responsibility to future generations.”
Professor Ian Lowe
President of the Australian Conservation Foundation
Emeritus Professor Griffith University


 

"The Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan is a provocative and timely contribution to the climate change debate, and it deserves attention both here and abroad. The Plan demolishes a pile of conventional wisdom that Australian policymakers still seem unable to get past. The sorry history of Australian climate policy procrastination is littered with polluter-friendly analyses conducted by economic hired guns. Their work has been used to argue against action, or for illusory schemes that price carbon without reducing the greenhouse pollution billowing from Australian smokestacks and tailpipes. The effect has been to constrain debate and obscure from our view a very different vision—a rapid switch from fossil to renewable energy that makes economic and environmental sense.  By highlighting one of many pathways to achieving that vision, the ZCA report sheds light where it is desperately needed."
Dr Guy Pearse
Research Fellow, Global Change Institute
University of Queensland
Author of High & Dry and Quarry Vision


 

"It is difficult to imagine the Zero Carbon Australia plan being adopted in the context of Australia's current political and commercial culture and power cost structure. However, as an examination of the technical feasibility of achieving its goals as it seeks to shift this culture, it offers an interesting challenge for the imagination of policymakers and power suppliers feeling their way in to an uncertain future."
Keith Orchison
Coolibah Pty Ltd
Former Managing Director
Electricity Supply Association of Australia


 

”The ZCA report analyses one particular scenario of renewable energy technology choice based on available solutions, in considerable depth. It successfully shows in detail that 100% renewable energy is both technically possible and economically affordable. Clearly other renewable energy technology scenarios are also possible, that only serves to strengthen the overall conclusion about viability. The group is to be congratulated for their efforts."
Associate Professor Keith Lovegrove
Leader High Temperature Solar Thermal Group
Australian National University


 

“The chips are down - there is no longer any doubt about our need to rapidly transition to a zero emission economy.  The fate of Australia and the world depend on it.  The Zero Carbon Australia strategy being launched by Beyond Zero Emissions provides the roadmap to the solutions. Let's hope it is adopted by responsible governments everywhere.”
Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Director, Global Change Institute, The University of Queensland


"Wind Power is now a serious player in international energy. Installing 8000 megawatt-class turbines along with smaller wind turbines and other renewables where appropriate is achievable at a price the community can afford. Direct drive turbines such as the Enercon turbines are very suitable for a modern electricity grid where wind will be relied upon for a large proportion of overall electricity demand."
David Wood
Enmax/Schulich Professor of Renewable Energy
Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering
University of Calgary, Canada



“Climate change is a huge threat facing Australia and the world today.  We need action now if we are to secure a future for generations to come.  The Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan demonstrates that Australia can eliminate greenhouse emissions from the stationary energy sector within a decade – using technology that is commercially available today, and at an acceptable cost. We can’t afford to ignore it.”
Dr David Skellern
CEO NICTA (National ICT Australia)



"The release of Zero Carbon Australia could not be more timely. It will force reconsideration of government policy that, following the change in leadership, appears to be retreating still further from any meaningful commitment to a low-carbon economy.  The report is unambiguous in demonstrating that a low-carbon economy is within our technical capacity and that this it is more than economically feasible.  The challenge is now that of engaging the political will and bringing this sustainable future to fruition."
Dr Stuart Rosewarne
Chair of the Department of Political Economy
University of Sydney



"I get to work with people all over the world in the fight against global warming, a fight growing increasingly desperate as temperatures climb and rainfall patterns shift. Since Australia leads the world in per capita emissions, it makes sense that its transition planners would be thinking big. This transition obviously won't be easy or simple or cost-free, but given the alternatives it's very nice to know it's technically feasible!"
Bill McKibben
Scholar in residence at Middlebury College, Author and Founder 350.org



“I strongly endorse the broad concept of such a solar and wind plan and applaud the work of the University of Melbourne and Beyond Zero Emissions.  Our own work underway to calculate the feasibility of a 100% solar - wind plan for the United States has so far had the aim of  testing technical feasibility, and the match seems to be 99-100%. We have considered the biomass backup options as well for CST plants but increased thermal storage also seems to work for a 100% solar - wind system for the USA. I have some differences in the discussion of CST technology used as an example, but the study is at an initial stage. The advent of such a comprehensive study in Australia will assist recognition of our own work directed to the USA case, and speed the market development of the CST and wind technologies to supply economical solar energy both day and night."
Dr David Mills
Founder and past CEO of Solar Thermal power company Ausra


“From the other side of the globe Protermosolar fully shares the vision of the realistic and feasible Zero Carbon Australian Plan. Spain is currently the country with the most intensive deployment of CST (concentrating solar thermal) plants and their contribution to the grid stability and to the dispatchability of power supply has been fully demonstrated. Molten salt storage systems have been implemented in many Spanish plants providing predictable and reliable operation after sunset. Thus CST technologies could be considered as a real alternative to cover even the base load requirements of the electricity system.

“Australia must profit from its high solar resource, the sooner the better. An effective boost to CST and to the other renewable technologies - as presented in this plan – will not only go in the right direction in terms of the transition to a new energy mix but it will also result an excellent business for the Australian economy.”

Dr. Luis Crespo
General-Secretary
Protermosolar
Spanish Association of CST Industries



"This is exactly the type of initiative that we, the solar power industry, needs to propel our technology into the energy markets of Australia.  SolarReserve's concentrated solar power towers with molten salt storage are the most reliable, stable form of clean, renewable energy, which is exactly what's needed to achieve the safe climate future proposed in BZE's Zero Carbon Australia roadmap.  

"SolarReserve's solar thermal technology with molten salt storage; proven at Solar Two, the US Department of Energy's 10 MW pilot plant that operated for over 3 years in the 1990's, will not only aid in meeting Australia's renewable energy and carbon reduction objectives, but also have significant economic benefits, bringing green jobs and cutting edge technology.

Solar Reserve is willing, ready and able to deploy our molten salt power towers and fully supports the Zero Carbon Australia project."

Tom Georgis
Vice President
SOLARRESERVE

"The management of BrightSource Energy have had a long and extensive involvement in the solar thermal industry.  At BrightSource's predecessor, Luz, they designed, developed, built and operated the nine SEGS parabolic trough plants in California that still operate today.  Built in the 1980's, these plants were the best that could be built with the available technology at the time and certainly proved beyond any doubt that one could capture the sun's energy and convert it into steam for large scale electricity generation on a scale never before contemplated.

But, there were limits to this technology which resulted in low efficiencies and capacity factors, and high capital costs.  Our team at BrightSource has now completely re-engineered the whole approach to solar thermal, utilising a centralised tower to effect a direct solar to steam design.  By using flat glass mirrors that track the sun all day and through the seasons, our tower plants generate steam at 550 degrees C and higher, allowing us to use standard Rankine cycle generation power blocks that are dry cooled.  With far greater efficiencies, higher capacity factors, lower capital costs and the ability to operate the plant in hybrid mode and/or with storage, the BrightSource Luz Power Tower is the proven technology of today and well into the future for delivering firm, renewable power.

I certainly encourage and endorse the need for a holistic plan being developed for our generation portfolio in Australia going forward - one that properly takes into consideration our targets and desire to substantially increase the proportion of renewable generation capacity.  The plan requires careful consideration of our "as is" situation, the desired "to be" at future dates such as 2020 and beyond and a migration plan that will transform our generation portfolio over time to meet our renewable targets and achieve security of supply.  Solar thermal power, as a firm, dispatchable power generation source, will be an integral and significant component of this plan and its deployment.

Andrew Dyer
Director
BrightSource Energy Australia
 

“Beyond Zero Emissions have been in my building, Kindness House, for five years. The dedication of this remarkable team of individuals is astonishing. Most of all, I am impressed by their relentless pursuit of the truth, wherever it may lead. They have built their strategies cautiously, never letting the enthusiasm distract them from the goal of getting the right answers by asking the right questions.


”They are a welcoming organization, drawing experts from a variety of disciplines, methodically searching for practical solutions to the challenges of reducing our massive carbon footprint. I am personally delighted to see the tens of thousands of hours they have invested in this important project, never once complaining about the lack of financial resources at their disposal. They have focussed their attention heavily on the carbon costs of stationary power, transport and building. I look forward to the time when they devote their formidable intellect and energy to the Livestock industry, where so much of our carbon share is squandered and emissions ignored.

”Beyond Zero Emissions is one organization I am proud to say I helped to incubate.

”I urge every serious institution to listen to them attentively. These are serious people for serious times.”

Philip Wollen OAM
Australian of the Year Victoria 2007



“As a company involved in the development of solar plants all over the world, at Torresol Energy we encourage the Zero Carbon Australian Plan that sets the action lines for a future with clean, renewable energy.

“Australia is one of the areas with better solar radiation and forms part of the international ‘sun belt’. Besides, the country has excellent conditions for profiting from that solar radiation: large low-populated areas to build the plants and an industry that can support the technological development in the solar generation sector. In that sense, each of Torresol Energy’s new projects introduces technologically advanced improvements to make Concentrated Solar Energy a manageable, economically competitive option and a real, viable, ecological and
sustainable alternative to traditional energy sources.

“Torresol Energy has three plants currently under construction. Among them, Gemasolar, with an innovative technology of central tower with molten salt receiver and thermal storage system, is the first commercial plant in the world of its kind. Due to this, the project has achieved considerable importance in the field of renewable energies as it opens the path to a new solar thermal power generation. Today, all of the analyses that have been carried out either by ourselves or by major international institutions show that tower plants with thermal storage is the type of technology that will be capable of generating reliable, manageable and renewable energy at the lowest costs. Therefore Australia could adapt this kind of technology in its renewable energy development plan that will allow the country to conserve the environment for future generations with a reliable energy source through utility scale baseload CSP plants."

Santiago Arias
Chief Infrastructure Officer.
Torresol Energy


“That Australia enjoys an abundance of renewable energy resources is beyond question. The Zero Carbon Australia 2020 plan demonstrates that it is both technically feasible and economically affordable for Australia to realise the benefit of these resources and transition to a 100% renewable energy future. Australian politicians and decision makers with the vision and commitment to embrace this new path have the opportunity to play an important role in leading Australia to a sustainable low carbon future.”

Sharon Mascher
Associate Professor
Centre for Mining, Energy and Resources Law
University of Western Australia


 

Zero Carbon Australia 2020 Stationary Energy Plan - parliamentary launch, 22 June 2010

The 16 page Synopsis of the plan is available here. The full plan will be released on 14 July at the Melbourne Energy Institute, and available for download in the morning of the 14th. For information on the Melbourne event click here.

Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan Parliamentary Launch from beyondzeroemissions on Vimeo.

Full transcript below:

Middle East Project Boosts Emerging Concentrated Solar Thermal Industry

Paul Fleckney blogging for Beyond Zero Emissions.


Last week, a consortium of leading energy companies announced it would build the Middle East’s largest concentrating solar thermal (CST) plant. Spanish construction giant Abengoa, French oil group Total, and domestic renewable energy company MASDAR will partner to deliver the Shams 1 project in the desert outside Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Shams (Arabic for sun) 1 will provide 100-125 MW of solar capacity by 2012 and contribute towards Abu Dhabi’s target of 7% renewable energy by 2020. The plant will house over 750 parabolic trough collectors and generate enough electricity to power 62,000 homes. The scale of Shams 1 is globally significant and is exceeded only by Solar Reserve’s planned 150MW ‘utility-scale’ solar power installation in California.

New Report – Clean Energy Transition to Create Australian Jobs

Last week, the ACF and ACTU released a new green jobs report, Creating Jobs—Cutting Pollution. The report demonstrates that “Australia could create more than 770,000 extra jobs by 2030 by taking strong action now to reduce [greenhouse gas] pollution.”

The claim that strong government action to make Australia independent of high-pollution practices will increase rather than decrease employment has only recently come to seem less than counter-intuitive. Increasingly, however, economists have tended to agree wholeheartedly on this with ecologists.

Creating Jobs—Cutting Pollution adds weight to the claim of the excellent job-creation potential of decarbonising the Australia economy. The claim has now been tested through the most detailed economic modelling of the scenario that has ever been done. The report gives predictions of a structurally sounder economy the strongest backing.

Rudd Govt’s Climate Poor Budget

Last week’s federal budget was a bad one for all Australians wanting action on climate change. The Rudd government failed to include the renewable energy investments needed to drive the transition to a zero emissions economy. The budget will be remembered as another missed opportunity to make a down payment on Australia’s renewable energy future. 

At face value, Labor’s budget measures for renewable energy sound impressive, but they are miserly when compared to other expenditures. As Dan Cass pointed out recently, the $652 million allocated for a Renewable Energy Future Fund over four years pales in comparison to the $27 billion that will be spent on roads over the next six years.

Solar Thermal Electricity

A guest post by Brisbane-based blogger Stuart McMillen.

In my last post I mentioned solar thermal energy technology. I thought I must mention how solar thermal is different to the photovoltaic solar cells that readers may be familiar with.

While photovoltaic cells directly use the sun’s light to create electricity, solar thermal installations use mirrors to concentrate the heat from the sun into a storage medium, such as molten salt. The high heat of this molten salt can then be used to turn a turbine by boiling water into steam, much like what happens in a coal, gas or nuclear power plant. The benefit of solar thermal over photovoltaics is that it can be relied upon as a baseload, 24 hour power source as heat is gradually drawn from the molten salt when required. The benefits of solar thermal over coal, gas and nuclear is that it requires no fuel inputs, and emits no pollution from its operations.

100% Renewables in 10 Years

A guest post by Brisbane-based blogger Stuart McMillen.

What would it take to transition Australia’s electricity grid to 100% renewable energy in 10 years?

That is the question asked by the Beyond Zero Emissions group, who are a part of the exciting Transition Decade movement. Better still, they think they have an answer to the question.

The Zero Carbon Australia 2020 plan produced by Beyond Zero Emissions presents current, proven, commercially available technologies in a 60/40 split between solar thermal and wind to repower Australia. The plan maps the sites of the solar and wind modules to areas with appropriate sun and wind resources that are suitably close to major cities.

World People’s Conference on Climate Change, Final Day

Cochabamba, Bolivia, Final Day / Earth Day - Pablo and Taegen writing for Beyond Zero Emissions.

The People’s Agreement

The conference wound up today on the fortieth anniversary of the first Earth Day. It ended with an epic closing ceremony at the Cochabamba Stadium which lasted around five hours (we were smart enough to show up only for the last two) and featured music and speeches, including one from the show-stealing President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez.

Most importantly, the final document to have come out of the summit, the People’s Agreement  was presented and accepted. This document represents the work of thousands of people and the synthesis of the conclusions from the 17 working groups we discussed yesterday. The Bolivian Government is now trying to put this agreement on the agenda at the UN Cancun conference in December to allow governments to see and discuss the position of global social movements on the climate crisis.

High-Speed Rail Back on the National Agenda

Cross posted at The Real Ewbank.

The Australian Greens have put high-speed rail (HSR) back on the national agenda. Greens leader Senator Bob Brown has called on the Rudd government to fund a study identifying the best route for connecting Australia’s two largest cities, Melbourne and Sydney, with HSR.

The ambitious project represents the type of nation building that should be at the heart of national climate policy. The project has the potential to reduce Australia’s ballooning carbon emissions, and kick-start the development of a larger HSR network that can one day connect all of Australia’s mainland capital cities.

WORLD PEOPLE’S CONFERENCE ON CLIMATE CHANGE, DAY 3

Cochabamba, Bolivia, Day 3 - Pablo and Taegen writing for Beyond Zero Emissions.

We realised that we have so far neglected to paint a picture of what exactly are the activities underway at this conference and for this, dear readers, we apologise and rectify forthwith.  

First of all, there are the seventeen working groups that we mentioned in our first post, each preparing statements and recommendations which will eventually find their way to the UN climate summit in Mexico at the end of this year. These working groups reported back to several plenary sessions today and we have listed some of the main outcomes below.

Apart from the working groups there are countless self-organised workshops, put on by organisations on a range of different topics (including, funnily enough, Australian coal).  At the same time, there has been a range of panel discussions. These panel discussions cover the big picture issues, such as the structural causes of climate change or the concept of climate debt, and feature conference celebrities such as Naomi Klein, Dr. James Hansen and Bill McKibben, as well as a range of Latin American government ministers and international climate negotiators.

WORLD PEOPLE’S CONFERENCE ON CLIMATE CHANGE, DAY 2

Cochabamba, Bolivia, Day 2 - Pablo and Taegen writing for Beyond Zero Emissions.

“We are gathered here because the so-called developed countries didn’t meet their obligation of establishing substantial commitments to cutting greenhouse gas emissions in Copenhagen. If those countries had respected the Kyoto Protocol and had agreed to substantially reduce the emissions inside their borders, this conference would not be necessary.” – Evo Morales, 20 April 2010 

The Cochabamba summit was officially inaugurated today with impressive colour and movement. The outdoor stadium was packed with approximately 20,000 people and probably as many indigenous Andean rainbow flags, video cameras, dancers, soldiers, you name it. The sun beat down as we sat through several hours of ceremony and speeches. Pablo managed to take a break from sitting in the sun when he was roped into translating between two indigenous Mohawk Indians from North America and a Bolivian Aymara. They exchanged warm words of solidarity and grains of corn. 

After an official and inclusive indigenous welcome ceremony, we heard from representatives from the ´5 continents´ attending the conference (we´re not sure how they classify continents). These included: an indigenous woman from Alaska, an African, an Indian, a Spanish member of European parliament, and a leader from the Brazilian branch of Via Campesina. A representative from the UN spoke and got heckled a bit. Oceania missed out. 

World People’s Conference on Climate Change, Day 1

Cochabamba, Bolivia, Day 1 - Pablo and Taegen writing for Beyond Zero Emissions

Today the conference began. Unfortunately it was marked by a registration process that seemed to have been designed by the love child of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Franz Kafka. Let’s just say that by around 5pm we finally had our entry passes and programs to add to our frazzled nerves and tested patience, but had missed most of the day’s proceedings.

Rewinding to a more innocent time at the beginning of the day, the bus ride to the Universidad del Valle allowed us to see Cochabamba in daylight for the first time.  Cochabamba is a significant city in the recent history of Bolivia. Ten years ago this month, it was the scene of the Water Wars, a mass uprising against the privatization of the water supply, which resulted in the water being put back into public hands and the strengthening of anti-capitalist sentiment across the whole country.

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