Monday 22 Jul 2019 | 10:23 | SYDNEY
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Sustainability

China's coal addiction

A recent paper in Nature says that 'no other country is investing so much money or generating so much renewable energy' as China. 'Its build-up of renewable energy systems at serious scale is driving cost reductions that will make them accessible to all.' The International Energy Agency reckons

The environment and the news cycle

I loved this bit from US environmental activist Bill McKibben, who is guest blogging on Andrew Sullivan's site: Every day there’s something more immediately important happening in the world: ISIS is seizing an airbase this morning, and California is recovering from an earthquake, and Michael

A breakthrough in Chinese climate policy? Not likely

I argued back in April that China's 'synthetic natural gas' (syngas or SNG, which is gas made from coal) is 'bad economics, bad science and an environmental catastrophe'. I also said that 'what is striking is the ambition of Chinese plans versus the widespread scepticism of SNG worldwide and

Just how expensive is renewable energy?

I raised this topic recently when The Economist pointed to a new Brookings study which argued that the cost of renewables had been severely underestimated. There was some pushback in the comments thread, and now I see that Green Tech Media, an American green energy industry website, has also

From the comments thread: Green energy

Two reader comments I'd like to flag in response to my piece highlighting new research by the Brookings Institution's Charles Frank, written up in The Economist, which suggests renewable energy is still way too expensive to take over from coal, oil and gas. Here's OfKember: The basic inadequacy

Green power still too expensive

This piece from The Economist would have been useful context for the green-energy puff piece broadcast on the ABC's flagship current affairs show Four Corners on 7 July. The Economist has highlighted new research from the Brookings Institution which looks at the full cost of generating various

Climate action: Public opinion is not the problem

A newly released IPSOS Global Trends Survey  shows, according to a Guardian columnist, that Anglophone countries are particularly inclined towards climate denialism: When you click on the interactive version on the IPSOS website, you see that the bottom red line (for the US) shows 32%

China: Climate wrecker or climate leader?

Lisa Williams is author of the new Lowy Institute Analysis, China's Climate Change Policies: Actors and Drivers. The views expressed here are her own and do not reflect the views of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet or the Australian Government. As the world prepares to fight for (

Carbon tax repeal: Learning from Europe

In September 2010, the Australian Labor Party's Greg Combet sat down with The Australian's Samantha Maiden to explain why the coal industry 'absolutely' had a future. Given Australia is a leading coal exporter, this should have been unexceptional, except that Combet had been put in charge of the

Australia's next climate push must come from the right

Interpreter alumnus Andrew Carr is hardly the first to point this out, but on the day the carbon tax is repealed in the Australian parliament, it is worth repeating this sentiment: The answer to this anomaly probably lies in this Nicholas Gruen piece on The Interpreter from last May, which was a

Australia's carbon price repeal: The global context

With the repeal today of Australia's two-year-old carbon pricing scheme, the Abbott Government has formalised Australia's transition from climate laggard to climate wrecker. But just how serious a blow to global climate efforts is this repeal? To answer this question we can compare Australia

Australians shifting on climate change

A month ago my colleague John Connor wrote an op-ed for the Sydney Morning Herald welcoming the fact that for the first time in years, climate change was a major story coming out of the Lowy Institute's poll of public attitudes to international affairs. Expectation for leadership on the issue was up

The economic impact of environmental crime

A new report from the UN Environment Programme claims that  the monetary value of 'environmental crime' — logging, poaching, animal trafficking, illegal fishing, illegal mining, etc — is between US$70 billion and US$213 billion each year.  If this upper figure is to be believed, then

Asia's coal demand: You ain't seen nothing yet

Sam Roggeveen yesterday showed us how much demand for coal has risen in Asia during this century. Now consider what the future will hold. A recent joint publication from the International Energy Agency and the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia forecasts what is in store for the

Climate change: Asia leads, but not in a good way

Vox has some remarkable — and depressing — charts on why the world is failing on climate change, all derived from BP's latest Statistical Review of World Energy. Half of the world's greenhouse gas emissions now come from Asia, with China alone consuming half of the world's coal. This is the

Climate and energy policy merging, but where is Australia?

Australia's low level of ambition ahead of next year's climate change talks in Paris reveals more than the negative effect of domestic politics on our international reputation and economic future. The broader message to trading partners, investors and policymakers is that Australia is unwilling

Climate change: The G20 can add value

Yesterday I gave an interview to the Sydney Morning Herald for a story published today: 'Stopping climate change talks "could hurt" G20' (p. 8 in the paper version). Here I want to offer a little more background to the three direct quotes that made it to the final story: Climate change will be

Movie trailer: Godzilla

A new trailer for the Godzilla reboot has just emerged, and it looks pretty awesome: Judging by the trailer, environmentalists should be ecstatic with this one. In fact, maybe James Cameron and his Hollywood actor pals could have saved themselves the effort of making a worthy documentary about

IPCC and clean energy: Easy on the optimism

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report makes for gloomy reading. The world needs 'drastic changes' to reduce carbon emissions and prevent global temperature rises, reports the ABC; investment in renewable energy needs to triple, says the BBC; the emissions problem is

Mekong: Laos confirms Don Sahong dam plans

The Lao Government confirmed on Wednesday its intention to go ahead with construction of the controversial Don Sahong dam, commencing in December. Lao government ministers said that all of their actions in doing so would be presented in a transparent fashion. As I reported in The Interpreter on

The global outlook for renewable energy

My previous article showed that there has been an unprecedented level of investment in renewable energy over the last decade. Let's consider the drivers for this in more detail and look to the future. Policy measures introduced in Europe and North America kick-started the market for wind turbines

Adam Minter on the Junkyard Planet (part 4)

Here's part 1 of my interview with author Adam Minter (on the globalisation of the scrap and recycling industry), part 2 on China's role in this industry, and part 3 on India. In this last instalment, I ask Adam about junk and environmentalism: PB: To finish, let's turn to the future. What do you

Interview: Adam Minter on the Junkyard Planet

Journalist Adam Minter has written a fascinating account of the global rubbish and recycling industry. I recommended his book, Junkyard Planet, as one of my top 'development books' of 2013. Here is part 1 of an interview I am conducting with Adam via email, and below the text a couple of captioned

Reader riposte: N enrichment in Australia and beyond

Richard Broinowski writes: In his speculative piece on a regional uranium enrichment plant in Australia, John Carlson gets a few things wrong. First, it is inaccurate to suggest that but for Labor's opposition, Australia might now be well on the way to establishing a uranium enrichment facility.

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