Waiting For Garnaut: Solar Cities Update  

Posted by Big Gav in , , ,

The Solar Cities conference is on in Adelaide, with the event getting lots of press attention.

AUSTRALIA has the know-how and the industrial capability to become a solar nation, but needs government and individuals to take action, the country's largest producer of solar energy products says. BP Solar regional director Brooke Miller said Australia could install three gigawatts of peak energy, enough to provide solar power to more than one million homes and thousands of businesses. That would make the country a benchmark solar nation and a world leader in alternative energy.

She also told the third international Solar Cities Congress in Adelaide the drive towards a sustainable energy future would also produce more than 9000 new jobs and save four million tonnes of greenhouse gases each year. "We have an enthusiastic and engaged market,'' Ms Miller said. "Australian families and householders are embracing the technology like never before and the Australian business community is awakening to opportunities to turn their roofs into power plants.''

Ms Miller said what was needed now was action from governments around Australia to adopt feed-in legislation, to make switching to solar power more economical for individuals and companies. Last week the South Australian Government introduced into state parliament the first feed-in laws in Australia, which will allow consumers to sell back electricity they produce in their homes or businesses to the grid at a profit.

More links on solar cities :

* SMH - Australia could become a 'solar nation'
* SMH - NSW deflects calls for solar subsidies
* Adelaide Advertiser - Off-grid solar power station worth $7.1 million for Coober Pedy
* Herald Sun - When you're hot you're hot
* The Age - Murray must not die urges Kennedy Jr
* ABC - Nuclear energy expensive: Kennedy
* Scribd - Geothermal Energy In Australia: An Overview. Petratherm presentation to Solar Cities. Some good maps of SA geothermal prospects and wind power sites.

Ross Garnaut also spoke at the conference, saying that "emissions cuts are needed now to curb global warming
SIGNIFICANTLY larger cuts in greenhouse gas emissions will need to be made almost immediately if the world is to avoid dangerous climate change, the Federal Government's architect on greenhouse policy will say in a report to be released today.

Ross Garnaut's interim report will recommend to the Commonwealth and state governments a much tougher and speedier response to climate change, arguing that the cost of action is much less than the cost of inaction.

"The world is moving towards high risks of dangerous climate change much more rapidly than has generally been understood. Without strong action by both developed and major developing countries alike between now and 2020, it will be impossible to avoid high risks of dangerous climate change. The show will be over," Professor Garnaut told a conference in Adelaide yesterday.

Preliminary work carried out by Professor Garnaut's review suggests global greenhouse gas emissions must start to decline almost immediately if the world is to stabilise the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at a level scientists believe would give the planet a reasonable chance of preventing dangerous levels of climate change. To stabilise the atmosphere even at levels that give less chance of preventing this, global emissions would need to start slowing now before declining no later than 2030, Professor Garnaut's research has found.

Although the Federal Government has set a long-term target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent by 2050 it is yet to set an interim target. It has promised to do so this year.

Professor Garnaut was commissioned by state and territory governments to examine the effect of climate change on the economy last year. The Federal Government has joined the review, which was inspired by a landmark report by Sir Nicholas Stern for the British Government in 2006. Although Professor Garnaut's final report is not due until later this year he will release an interim report today. State and territory leaders will be briefed on the report this morning.

Professor Garnaut urged the Federal Government to take a leadership role in future international negotiations by encouraging the United States to commit to greenhouse pollution reduction targets. He warned that the international negotiations for an agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol must include persuading developed countries to take on emissions reduction targets.

"Waiting until 2020 - potentially the starting time for an agreement to follow the one currently being negotiated - would be to abandon hope of achieving climate stabilisation at moderate levels," Professor Garnaut said.

To achieve this Professor Garnaut suggested Australia follow the lead of the European Union, which has committed to a reduction in emissions of 20 per cent by 2020, and 30 per cent if other developed countries commit to comparable reductions.

Crikey's take was entitled "Garnaut talks tough -- and looks north", noting the implications for our relationship with PNG and Indonesia.
Many Australians view PNG as a nation propped up by Australian aid dollars, but in last night's curtain-raiser to today's release of his interim report, Professor Ross Garnaut highlighted the nation could come to our rescue as we look for massive, low cost carbon abatement.

Garnaut told an Adelaide public forum that Australia should explore a regional trading scheme involving PNG (first up) and Indonesia – both of which have massive greenhouse gas emissions due in large part to deforestation. The bold proposal is particularly significant because of two other statements made last night by Garnaut.

One was his call for Australia to show it would be ready to make cuts greater than 60% by 2050 if negotiators broker a truly effective global agreement involving all major developing countries. The other was his response to a question in which he indicated "contraction and convergence" – the concept of equal per capita emission entitlements – will play a key role in determining how nations share the global burden of reducing carbon emissions. Developing countries are unlikely to commit to a deal that "doesn't emphasise this", he said.

But a tougher target and burden-sharing involving some form of equal per capita emissions entitlements would pose an extraordinary challenge for Australia without access to some very cheap abatement – like the sort you can potentially get from avoided deforestation. Garnaut said he has no views at this stage on the detail of what any regional trading scheme involving Australia and its northern neighbours should look like. But he made it clear in the Q & A that he means much more than just project-based investment in PNG of the type encouraged through the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism.

Garnaut wants Australia to approach both countries – starting with PNG – seeking their participation in some form of scheme involving their acceptance of binding national abatement targets. "Developing country adoption of national targets and participation in a regional trading scheme ... would be a world first and would have substantial demonstration impact," he said. "In addition to large gains through emission reductions, it could help generate momentum towards the adoption of binding targets by developing countries by demonstrating that it could be in their financial interests to do so."

Garnaut pointed out Indonesia's annual emissions – three quarters of which are thought to be related to deforestation -- are estimated to be about five times Australia’s. Papua New Guinea's forestry-related emissions might exceed a quarter of Australia's total CO2 emissions, he said. The prospect of pushing for such a scheme will no doubt seem foolhardy to some. But it shows no-one can accuse Garnaut of not being able to see the wood for the trees.

The interim report is now up at the Garnaut Climate Change Review web site - no doubt we'll see plenty of spin in the press tomorrow...

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