Clouds gather over coal market as Treasury predicts price ‘flatline’

By Sophie Vorrath. RenewEconomy, December 16 2014

In yet another sign that the global coal market is in terminal decline, the federal government’s mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (MYEFO) has predicted that thermal coal prices will flat-line through to mid-2016 at $US63 per tonne – well below current market expectations.

The gloomy Treasury forecast for coal reinforces multiple analyst warnings that Australia risks being saddled with billions of dollars in stranded fossil fuel assets, as prices fall, climate restraints kick in and fossil fuel projects become uneconomic and/or unsustainable.

Last week, UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey warned that fossil fuel companies could become “the sub-prime assets of the future… Investing in new coal mines is going to get very risky”.

According to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), the MYEFO coal forecast is further evidence that Australian governments – both state and federal – should exercise extreme caution on any plans to commit taxpayer funds to building infrastructure to open up the Galilee Coal Basin in Queensland.

Tesla arrival tells us that the future is electric transport

By Stephen Bygrave. In RenewEconomy, December 16 2014

The Tesla Model S launch earlier this week marks the beginning of electric vehicle technology becoming commonplace in Australia.  Add to that the trends we are seeing in electric bicycles and motorbikes, and it is clear that the electric transport revolution is well underway.


Photo: Sam Parkinson

Passenger vehicles currently contribute about 7% per cent of Australia’s total CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions; with a shift to electric vehicles powered by renewables this could be eliminated.  Beyond Zero Emissions, an Australian-based, not-for-profit climate change solutions think-tank, is currently developing a zero carbon plan for personal transport.

Partnership promises to help Australian households move to zero emissions

By Jessie Richardson. Property Observer, December 11 2014

A new project from a network of organisations wants to help Australians cut their energy bills - to $0.

The Energy Freedom alliance provides home owners with information about how to achieve net zero energy emissions.

A number of the partner businesses, which include Cherry LED and Energy Matters Solar, are also offering discounts and rewards as part of the Energy Freedom project. The venture is headed by Beyond Zero Emissions, a subscriber funded not-for-profit which works with the University of Melbourne's Energy Research Institute.

Is Canberra prepared for a China carbon slowdown?

By Tristan Edis. Business Spectator, November 27 2014

The government is finding itself in the rather uncomfortable position of feeling a bit like former Labor treasurer Wayne Swan. It appears that, in spite of apparently choosing highly conservative assumptions about likely budget revenue, the government faces the prospect of having to make significant downgrades in expected revenue inflows due to a large slide in the price of iron ore and coal.

As the Parliamentary Budget Office illustrated in a report released recently, the outlook for the government budget is built on a series of assumptions of what is believed to be likely to occur into the future. But these can turn out to be wrong for a variety of reasons (as we are now seeing) which can have a material impact on the government budget. For that reason we need to actually prepare for a variety of potential plausible scenarios, not just one single outcome.

Beyond Zero warns Lib-Nat govt on coal forecast

By David Twomey. EcoNews, November 26 2014

A leading climate change think tank has challenged forecasts from Australia’s conservative Liberal-National government on future coal and gas exports, arguing they pose a risk to the national economy.

The Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) report has taken aim at predictions by the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE) of exports continuing to increase until at least 2050. 


BZE said that was despite recent announcements on carbon emission reductions by the United States and China, and the UN Environment Program’s (UNEP) call to end carbon pollution by 2070.

Beyond Zero warning on coal forecast

ABC News online, November 26 2014

A climate change think tank has challenged federal government forecasts on future coal and gas exports, arguing it poses a risk to the national economy.

 Dean Lewins, file photo

PHOTO: Record tonnages of coal continue to be exported through the Port of Newcastle with 154 million tonnes shipped in the past financial year. (AAP: Dean Lewins, file photo)

MAP: Muswellbrook 2333

Beyond Zero Emissions has taken aim at predictions by the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics of exports continuing to increase until at least 2050.

Mining transport jobs at risk?

By Charles Pauka. Transport and Logistics News, November 25 2014

Photo courtesy of the ABC.

Photo courtesy of the ABC.

New research by Beyond Zero Emissions, referenced by Ross Garnaut at the recent Melbourne Economic Forum, details what it calls “the vast gap between Australian government projections and the realities of trade in a carbon-constrained global economy”.

Announcements from the US, China and India prior to the G20 meeting made clear that international markets are moving away from fossil fuels, including countries that are key importers of Australia’s coal and gas.

Australia’s coal and gas exports are being left stranded

By Stephen Bygrave, in The Conversation, November 21 2014

 Jeremy Buckingham/Flickr, CC BY

Australia’s official forecasts for expanding fossil fuel exports don’t match up with what’s needed to avoid severe climate change. Jeremy Buckingham/FlickrCC BY

In the last week the US and China announced goals to reduce emissions by 26-28% and cap emissions by 2030 respectively. India also signalled its aim to end coal imports within 2-3 years.

These are telling signs of a move away from fossil fuels by some of the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, including countries that are key importers of Australia’s coal and gas.

Agriculture and forestry: hidden emissions, solution in plain sight

By Stephen Bygrave. RenewEconomy, 23-10-2014

The Zero Carbon Australia Land Use report can be downloaded here

Agriculture and forestry activities cover most of Australia, but increasingly, no longer our national consciousness. With most of our population now living in the cities, the remainder of the continent is often forgotten. The vast space between our coastlines is not empty, however. In fact most of it is farmed and managed for a wide variety of commercial purposes.

Beyond Zero Emissions has been working for several years on a major research project to look at reducing greenhouse emissions from the Land Use sector — agriculture and forestry. The result, released this week, is the Zero Carbon Australia Land Use Report.

The report shows a surprisingly high emissions profile for the Land Use sector, a sector that will be most impacted by climate change. But well-understood and already widely practiced strategies can move the sector a long distance towards the goal of zero emissions, helping to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

The research proceeded from an initial investigation into where emissions in the sector come from, and at what magnitude. It turns out that various activities on the land including farming, forestry, and land-clearing, account for a huge proportion of our national emissions. This is masked in our national accounts, which splits the sector and offsets its emissions against reductions from revegetation of land.

By including all emissions from farming and land-clearing for agriculture, we derived a figure of 33 per cent of Australia’s annual emissions coming from land use practices.

The largest contributor was land clearing and re-clearing, followed by enteric fermentation (the production of methane by ruminant animals’ digestive systems, mainly cattle and sheep).

The report also found that carbon stocks in native forests are systematically underestimated by a factor of up to four or five, so that the climate impact of native forest logging is much higher than previously thought. If the report had been able to include an adequate appraisal of emissions from clearfell logging, total land use emissions would be higher still.

Native forest logging at Toolangi in Victoria's central highlands. From

Coffs to Sydney in under 3 hours

By Fi Poole. ABC Coffs Coast, 20 August, 2014

High speed rail could be back on the political agenda with the release of a new report which shows that the network can be built for $30 billion less than previous projections.

Climate change think tank Beyond Zero Emissions presented a report last night in Brisbane, which demonstrated the commercial viability of building a high speed rail network along Australia's East Coast.

The proposed network would connect Brisbane, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne across a dedicated 1748km route.

The service would include stops at the Gold Coast, Casino, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Taree, Newcastle, the Central Coast, the Southern Highlands, Wagga Wagga, Albury-Wodonga and Shepparton.

"We've had high speed rail in Europe for thirty years, it's been in Japan for fifty years and it's going crazy in China," CEO of Beyond Zero Emissions, Stephen Bygrave, told ABC Coffs Coast.

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