Casting away carbon, street by street

By Stephen Bygrave. From Climate Spectator

Australia's homes are among the largest and most inefficient in the developed world. Then we wonder why our household energy bills and carbon emissions are so high. 

There are, also, few ways we get feedback regarding our household energy consumption meaning we are mostly 'driving blind' when it comes to energy use and emissions from our homes – we get a bill at the end of the month or end of the quarter, far past the time the energy was actually consumed. The lack of instantaneous feedback makes it difficult to correlate our energy consumption to a particular event.

An inefficient home is also uncomfortable, it is draughty, damp, too hot in summer and too cold in winter. Live in North America or Europe and you will know what an energy efficient and low emissions home is like, and the opportunities that exist for energy efficient homes in Australia.

Our homes are a ripe area for direct action, with real benefits for the climate, our comfort levels and for our hip pockets.

Scrap East-West Link, build public transport

Narendra Kommalapoti, Green Left Weekly

Communities in the firing line of the East-West Link road in Melbourne have been agitating not merely against the tunnel, but for a shift of transport priorities to public transport. Labor politicians, including Richard Wynn in the City of Yarra, have supported the campaign, and promised an alternative transport plan.

Labor has now come out with its public transport policy: Project 10,000. It is named after the 10,000 jobs it promises to generate. The project addresses almost none of the concerns raised by those demanding rapid expansion of public transport, or moving away from cars and fossil fuels to avert climate disaster.

The project proposes to spend $300 million on a new city loop with new stations in inner Melbourne.

Other proposals include: $2 billion for city and rural roads, take 5000 trucks off the Westgate freeway by building a new Westgate distributor road, add a lane in both directions to the Westgate freeway, expand the Tullamarine freeway to a six-lane road, and ease traffic flow on Hoddle Street through improved traffic monitoring technology.

The bloody-minded Banjos keepin' carbon in our air

Stephen Bygrave, Climate Spectator

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics about average household expenditure show how repeal of the carbon price cannot save households very much.

Why not? Because households don't spend very much on power.

For a house that is struggling to pay all its bills, that may not sound like much comfort, but the amount we're talking about is relatively tiny.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures for 2009-2010 show that houses spend an average 2.63 per cent on 'domestic fuel and power'. That includes electricity, gas, bottled LPG and even firewood. It also includes those houses that pay an extra premium to buy GreenPower, to get 100 per cent renewable electricity.

Multi-billion dollar inaccuracy

High speed rail debate update

Researchers point to a $190 billion profit miss on the federal government’s high-speed rail study, Marion Lopez reports. From Contractor magazine, August 2013

In light of potential cost savings valued at $40 billion, the ARA has called for the HSR project to be put to market.

Image: Spanish T350 high speed train

Fatty costs and lean profits were, in brief, the cost-benefit analysis’ that came out of the federal government’s $20 million phase 2 high-speed rail (HSR) study in April.

One month later, researchers at Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) proved the exorbitant $114 billion project price tag was simply a build-up of “fat” – or superfluous technicalities – that, when cut, could reduce construction costs by $40 billion.

Further research into the forecast profits of the project also unearthed the discovery that the government officials and consultants paid to conduct the study – including AECOM and sub-consultants Grimshaw, KPMG, SKM, ACIL Tasman, Booz & Co and Hyder – had underestimated HSR revenue by as much as $190 billion.

High-speed rail network $30 billion cheaper than first thought: study

ABC Lateline - by environment and science reporter Jake Sturmer

A comprehensive new study investigating east coast high-speed rail argues that it could be $30 billion cheaper than first thought and pay itself off entirely within 40 years.

The rail debate is back on track, with the Federal Government vowing to speak to the states about the project and to protect a future corridor for the network.

The Melbourne-Sydney flight route is the fifth busiest in the world and for decades governments have been discussing high-speed rail as a solution to ease the pressure on airports.

Clean energy group Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) and the German aerospace centre came up with a model of a 1,799-kilometre route, linking Brisbane with Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.

Video: click to watch news story at ABC website

LIVING GREEN: Plan cuts out carbon

By John Shiel and Stephen Williams, Newcastle Herald

 THERE was standing room only at the Newcastle launch on November 14 of the Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) Zero Carbon Australia Buildings Plan at Hunter TAFE Hamilton campus.

The plan shows how all buildings in Australia could have no carbon emissions within 10years.

It is the result of a collaboration between Melbourne-based not-for-profit group BZE and the University of Melbourne’s Energy Institute.

Melbourne is Australia's most car-mad city

By Adam Carey. The Age, 22/11/2013

Outer Melbourne is the most car-dependent region in Australia's four largest cities, new data reveals, with a greater proportion of suburban fringe dwellers who drive to work than on the outskirts of Sydney, Brisbane or Perth.

Experts predict the automobile's dominance is on course to become further entrenched, with Melbourne forecast to grow by roughly the population of Adelaide, the country's fifth-biggest city, in the next 20 years, while the state's current commitment to new public transport routes is limited to just one rail line and one bus route.

Melbourne's outer suburbs make up seven of Australia’s 10 biggest population growth centres between 2001 and 2011. Image: The Age

What price the carbon price?

By Stephen Bygrave. Climate Spectator, November 21

We all know that the act of 'putting a price on carbon' has contributed to the downfall of three Australian prime ministers and two opposition leaders.

What might not be as well known is that carbon pricing has gone relatively unnoticed in other countries, particularly in Europe, but also in our close neighbour New Zealand.

When I was working in the OECD on emissions trading from 2002-2004, the European Commission was designing and implementing an emissions trading scheme with little attention from anyone in the community. This followed schemes that had been implemented in the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and the UK, with no outcry from the general populace.

So why all the fuss in Australia? Is carbon pricing just another political football?

Abbott at protest against carbon price

Energy forum sparks renewable interest

By Shannon Twomey, The Weekly Times

COMMUNITY owned renewable energy was a hot topic at the Energy Futures Forum.

The forum was run by BEAM-Mitchell Environment Group and Yes 2 Renewables and was held in Seymour on Saturday afternoon.

It saw guest speakers discuss issues surrounding energy use in the home, the risks of coal seam gas in Victoria and the potential for community solar in Seymour.

Trent Hawkins, the lead author of Beyond Zero Emissions Buildings Plans discussed how households can reduce electricity consumption and save money on power bulls while reducing climate change impacts.

Cut emissions and save on household bills

From BEAM blog

 Seymour and surrounds can reduce their carbon emissions to zero with four simple steps.

Trent Hawkins, Project Director of the Zero Carbon Australia Buildings Plan, will talk about how this can be done at the Energy Futures Forum in Seymour on November 16.

Energy Futures Forum: Victorian Railways Institute Hall (near Seymour Station Bus Terminal), Seymour, Saturday 16 Nov, 2-5pm. Entry by gold coin.

The four steps are going gas free, fixing the building envelopes, installing energy efficient appliances and lighting, and rooftop solar to power every home.

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