Mitigation of global warming in Australia

Mitigation of global warming in Australia

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Mitigation of global warming involves taking actions to reduce greenhouse gas
Greenhouse gas
A greenhouse gas is a gas in an atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect. The primary greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone...

 emissions and to enhance sinks aimed at reducing the extent of global warming
Global warming
Global warming refers to the rising average temperature of Earth's atmosphere and oceans and its projected continuation. In the last 100 years, Earth's average surface temperature increased by about with about two thirds of the increase occurring over just the last three decades...

. This is in distinction to adaptation to global warming
Adaptation to global warming
Adaptation to global warming and climate change is a response to climate change that seeks to reduce the vulnerability of natural and human systems to climate change effects. Even if emissions are stabilized relatively soon, climate change and its effects will last many years, and adaptation will...

, which involves taking action to minimise the effects of global warming. Scientific consensus on global warming
Scientific opinion on climate change
The predominant scientific opinion on climate change is that the Earth is in an ongoing phase of global warming primarily caused by an enhanced greenhouse effect due to the anthropogenic release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases...

, together with the precautionary principle and the fear of non-linear climate transitions, is leading to increased effort to develop new technologies and sciences and carefully manage others in an attempt to mitigate global warming.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS)
Carbon capture and storage
Carbon capture and storage , alternatively referred to as carbon capture and sequestration, is a technology to prevent large quantities of from being released into the atmosphere from the use of fossil fuel in power generation and other industries. It is often regarded as a means of mitigating...

 for coal-fired power station
Coal-fired power station
A coal-fired power station produces electricity, usually for public consumption, by burning coal to boil water, producing steam which drives a steam turbine which turns an electrical generator...

s has been put forward as a solution to rising greenhouse gas emissions. However, CCS cannot deliver in time to avoid dangerous increases in temperatures, as widespread commercial use of CCS is not expected before 2030.

Following the introduction of government mandatory renewable energy targets
Mandatory renewable energy targets
A mandatory renewable energy target is a government legislated requirement on electricity retailers to source specific proportions of total electricity sales from renewable energy sources according to a fixed timeframe. The additional cost is distributed across most customers by increases in other...

, more opportunities have opened up for renewable energy
Renewable energy
Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable . About 16% of global final energy consumption comes from renewables, with 10% coming from traditional biomass, which is mainly used for heating, and 3.4% from...

 technologies such as wind power
Wind power
Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into a useful form of energy, such as using wind turbines to make electricity, windmills for mechanical power, windpumps for water pumping or drainage, or sails to propel ships....

, photovoltaics
Photovoltaics
Photovoltaics is a method of generating electrical power by converting solar radiation into direct current electricity using semiconductors that exhibit the photovoltaic effect. Photovoltaic power generation employs solar panels composed of a number of solar cells containing a photovoltaic material...

, and solar thermal technologies. The deployment of these technologies provides opportunities for mitigating greenhouse gases.

Government policy


Some components of the government's
Government of Australia
The Commonwealth of Australia is a federal constitutional monarchy under a parliamentary democracy. The Commonwealth of Australia was formed in 1901 as a result of an agreement among six self-governing British colonies, which became the six states...

 emissions reductions strategy have been:
  • the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS)
    Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme
    The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme was a proposed cap-and-trade system of emissions trading for anthropogenic greenhouse gases, due to be introduced in Australia in 2010 by the Rudd government, as part of its climate change policy. It marked a major change in the energy policy of Australia...

     (which was a proposal for an emissions trading scheme that would have established a market in greenhouse gas permits);
  • the Renewable Energy Target;
  • "investment in renewable energy technologies and in the demonstration of carbon capture and storage";
  • "action on energy efficiency."

Carbon Trading and Emission Trading Scheme



On June 2007, former Australian Prime Minister, John Howard
John Howard
John Winston Howard AC, SSI, was the 25th Prime Minister of Australia, from 11 March 1996 to 3 December 2007. He was the second-longest serving Australian Prime Minister after Sir Robert Menzies....

, announced that Australia would adopt a Carbon Trading Scheme by 2012. The scheme was expected to be the same as the counterpart in United States and European Union using carbon credits, where businesses must purchase a license in order to generate pollution.

The scheme received broad criticism from both the ALP
Australian Labor Party
The Australian Labor Party is an Australian political party. It has been the governing party of the Commonwealth of Australia since the 2007 federal election. Julia Gillard is the party's federal parliamentary leader and Prime Minister of Australia...

 and Greens
Australian Greens
The Australian Greens, commonly known as The Greens, is an Australian green political party.The party was formed in 1992; however, its origins can be traced to the early environmental movement in Australia and the formation of the United Tasmania Group , the first Green party in the world, which...

. The ALP believed that the scheme was too weak as well as a bad political move by the government. The lack of clear target by the government for this scheme before the 2007 federal election produced a high degree of skepticism on the willingness of the government on mitigation of global warming in Australia.

In March 2008, the newly elected Labor government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd
Kevin Rudd
Kevin Michael Rudd is an Australian politician who was the 26th Prime Minister of Australia from 2007 to 2010. He has been Minister for Foreign Affairs since 2010...

 announced that the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme
Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme
The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme was a proposed cap-and-trade system of emissions trading for anthropogenic greenhouse gases, due to be introduced in Australia in 2010 by the Rudd government, as part of its climate change policy. It marked a major change in the energy policy of Australia...

 (a cap-and-trade emissions trading system) would be introduced in 2010, however this scheme was initially delayed by a year to mid-2011, and subsequently delayed further until 2013.

In April 2010, Kevin Rudd announced the delay the CPRS until after the commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol
Kyoto Protocol
The Kyoto Protocol is a protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change , aimed at fighting global warming...

, which ends in 2012. Reasons given were the lack of bipartisan support for the CPRS and slow international progress on climate action for the delay.

The Federal Opposition strongly criticised the delay as did community and grassroots action groups such as GetUp
GetUp
GetUp! is a left-leaning Australian activist group that campaigns on issues important to its members. It was launched in August 2005, the week that the Coalition took control of the Australian Senate....

.

Carbon taxation



Another method of mitigation of global warming
Mitigation of global warming
Climate change mitigation is action to decrease the intensity of radiative forcing in order to reduce the potential effects of global warming. Mitigation is distinguished from adaptation to global warming, which involves acting to tolerate the effects of global warming...

 considered by the Australian Government is a carbon tax
Carbon tax
A carbon tax is an environmental tax levied on the carbon content of fuels. It is a form of carbon pricing. Carbon is present in every hydrocarbon fuel and is released as carbon dioxide when they are burnt. In contrast, non-combustion energy sources—wind, sunlight, hydropower, and nuclear—do not...

. This method would involve imposing an additional tax on the use of fossil fuel
Fossil fuel
Fossil fuels are fuels formed by natural processes such as anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms. The age of the organisms and their resulting fossil fuels is typically millions of years, and sometimes exceeds 650 million years...

s to generate energy. Compared to the CPRS and CTS/ETS, a carbon tax would set the cost for all carbon emissions, while the cap itself would be left unattended, allowing free market
Free market
A free market is a competitive market where prices are determined by supply and demand. However, the term is also commonly used for markets in which economic intervention and regulation by the state is limited to tax collection, and enforcement of private ownership and contracts...

 movements.

This tax would primarily be aimed to reduce the use of fossil fuels for energy generation, and also look to increase efficient energy use
Efficient energy use
Efficient energy use, sometimes simply called energy efficiency, is the goal of efforts to reduce the amount of energy required to provide products and services. For example, insulating a home allows a building to use less heating and cooling energy to achieve and maintain a comfortable temperature...

 and increase demand for alternative energies
Alternative energy
Alternative energy is an umbrella term that refers to any source of usable energy intended to replace fuel sources without the undesired consequences of the replaced fuels....

.

Coal



Reduction in the mining, use and export of coal is favoured by environmental groups such as Greenpeace
Greenpeace Australia Pacific
Greenpeace Australia Pacific is the regional office of the global environmental organization Greenpeace. Greenpeace Australia Pacific one of Australia's largest environmental organisations.-Origins and Formation:...

. The Government prefers to support attempts to develop so called clean coal
Clean coal
Historically used to refer to technologies for reducing emissions of ash, sulfur, and heavy metals from coal combustion; the term is now commonly used to refer to carbon capture and storage technology...

, and, in early 2009, had support from then opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull
Malcolm Turnbull
Malcolm Bligh Turnbull is an Australian politician. He has been a member of the Australian House of Representatives since 2004, and was Leader of the Opposition and parliamentary leader of the Liberal Party from 16 September 2008 to 1 December 2009.Turnbull has represented the Division...

 for this.

According to Dr Mark Diesendorf
Mark Diesendorf
Mark Diesendorf teaches Environmental Studies at the University of New South Wales, Australia. He was formerly Professor of Environmental Science at...

, a Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of New South Wales
University of New South Wales
The University of New South Wales , is a research-focused university based in Kensington, a suburb in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia...

, Australia, and a former principal research scientist with the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the continent produced about 200 million tons (Mt) of carbon dioxide equivalent
Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom...

 in 2004. Almost all of the coal emissions were emitted by coal fired power stations. On top of this coal is responsible for 42.1% of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions
Greenhouse gas
A greenhouse gas is a gas in an atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect. The primary greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone...

, not counting export coal, based on 2004 GHG inventory.

Two forms of coal
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

 are mined in Australia, depending on the region: high quality black coal and lower quality brown coal. Black coal is mainly found in Queensland
Queensland
Queensland is a state of Australia, occupying the north-eastern section of the mainland continent. It is bordered by the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales to the west, south-west and south respectively. To the east, Queensland is bordered by the Coral Sea and Pacific Ocean...

 and New South Wales
New South Wales
New South Wales is a state of :Australia, located in the east of the country. It is bordered by Queensland, Victoria and South Australia to the north, south and west respectively. To the east, the state is bordered by the Tasman Sea, which forms part of the Pacific Ocean. New South Wales...

, and is used for both domestic power generation and for export overseas. It is normally mined underground before being transported to power stations, or export shipping terminals. Brown coal is mainly found in Victoria
Victoria (Australia)
Victoria is the second most populous state in Australia. Geographically the smallest mainland state, Victoria is bordered by New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania on Boundary Islet to the north, west and south respectively....

 and South Australia
South Australia
South Australia is a state of Australia in the southern central part of the country. It covers some of the most arid parts of the continent; with a total land area of , it is the fourth largest of Australia's six states and two territories.South Australia shares borders with all of the mainland...

, and is of lower quality due a higher ash and water content. Today there are three open cut brown coal mines in Victoria used for baseload power generation
Base load power plant
Baseload is the minimum amount of power that a utility or distribution company must make available to its customers, or the amount of power required to meet minimum demands based on reasonable expectations of customer requirements...

.

Coal
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

 is the most polluting of all fossil fuels, and the single greatest threat to the climate. Every stage of coal use brings substantial environmental damage. Phasing out dirty, unsustainable energy is one of the most important elements to climate change mitigation. Today coal supplies almost one quarter of the worlds energy. Brown coal is by far the most polluting, and is currently used in Victoria. In order to have significant effects on greenhouse gas emissions, there needs to be a replacement of coal energy with gas within Victoria.

Carbon Capture and Storage



The Rudd-Gillard Government stated support for research into carbon capture and storage CCS
Carbon capture and storage in Australia
Carbon capture and storage is an approach to mitigate global warming by capturing carbon dioxide from large point sources such as fossil fuel power plants and storing it instead of releasing it into the atmosphere...

 as a possible solution to rising greenhouse gas emissions. CCS is an integrated process, made up of three distinct parts: carbon capture, transport, and storage (including measurement, monitoring and verification). Capture technology aims to produce a concentrated stream of
Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom...

 that can be compressed, transported, and stored. Transport of captured to storage locations is most likely to be via pipeline. Storage of the captured carbon is the final part of the process. The vast majority of storage is expected to occur in geological sites on land, or below the seabed. Disposing of waste in the ocean has also been proposed, but this method has been largely discounted due to the significant impacts would have on the ocean ecosystem and legal constraints that effectively prohibit it.

However, according to the Greenpeace False Hope Report
Greenpeace
Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over forty countries and with an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, The Netherlands...

, CCS cannot deliver in time to avoid a dangerous increase in world temperatures. The earliest timeframe for deployment of CCS is not expected before 2030, and global emissions need to start falling well before that.

The Report also states that CCS wastes energy, and uses between 10-40% of the energy produced by a power station. It also asserts that CCS is expensive, potentially doubling plant costs, and is very risky, as permanent storage cannot be guaranteed.

Nuclear energy



In terms of resources, aside from its strong production of low-cost coal and natural gas, Australia has approximately 40% of the world's uranium
Uranium
Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table, with atomic number 92. It is assigned the chemical symbol U. A uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons, of which 6 are valence electrons...

 deposits, and is considered to be the second largest producer of uranium behind Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

.

The resources situation promoted nuclear fission
Nuclear fission
In nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry, nuclear fission is a nuclear reaction in which the nucleus of an atom splits into smaller parts , often producing free neutrons and photons , and releasing a tremendous amount of energy...

 as a feasible alternative to current fossil fuel power generators. Other benefits include its significant generation capability, and it being relatively friendlier to the environment; as nuclear power
Nuclear power
Nuclear power is the use of sustained nuclear fission to generate heat and electricity. Nuclear power plants provide about 6% of the world's energy and 13–14% of the world's electricity, with the U.S., France, and Japan together accounting for about 50% of nuclear generated electricity...

 is claimed to be carbon-free (environmentally friendly).

However, that is not always the case. Carbon Free can be obtained only during reactor operation, however, in order to perform reactor operation, shear numbers of fossil fuel needs to be used. This applies to almost all operational aspects of nuclear power generation.

Other perceived problems include that enriched uranium
Enriched uranium
Enriched uranium is a kind of uranium in which the percent composition of uranium-235 has been increased through the process of isotope separation. Natural uranium is 99.284% 238U isotope, with 235U only constituting about 0.711% of its weight...

 can also be used as a nuclear weapon, prompting security issues such as nuclear proliferation
Nuclear proliferation
Nuclear proliferation is a term now used to describe the spread of nuclear weapons, fissile material, and weapons-applicable nuclear technology and information, to nations which are not recognized as "Nuclear Weapon States" by the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, also known as the...

. Also nuclear waste
Radioactive waste
Radioactive wastes are wastes that contain radioactive material. Radioactive wastes are usually by-products of nuclear power generation and other applications of nuclear fission or nuclear technology, such as research and medicine...

 requires extensive waste management as nuclear waste, unlike other organic waste, is still hazardously radioactive for centuries.

The only nuclear reactor in Australia is currently located at Lucas Heights
Nuclear power in Australia
Nuclear power in Australia is a heavily debated concept. Australia currently has no nuclear facilities generatingelectricity, however, Australia has 23% of the world's uranium deposits and is the world's second largest producer of uranium after Kazakhstan...

, and it has had leaks of water into heavy water
Heavy water
Heavy water is water highly enriched in the hydrogen isotope deuterium; e.g., heavy water used in CANDU reactors is 99.75% enriched by hydrogen atom-fraction...

 since its completion, reducing public confidence in nuclear power plants in Australia.

Renewable energy




Renewable energy
Renewable energy
Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable . About 16% of global final energy consumption comes from renewables, with 10% coming from traditional biomass, which is mainly used for heating, and 3.4% from...

 technologies currently contribute about 6% of Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

's total energy supply and some 8% of Australia's electricity supply, with hydro-electricity by far the largest single contributor.

The Australian Government has announced a mandatory renewable energy target (MRET)
Mandatory renewable energy targets
A mandatory renewable energy target is a government legislated requirement on electricity retailers to source specific proportions of total electricity sales from renewable energy sources according to a fixed timeframe. The additional cost is distributed across most customers by increases in other...

 to ensure that renewable energy obtains a 20% share of electricity supply in Australia by 2020. To ensure this, the government has committed that the MRET will increase from 9,500 gigawatt-hours to 45,000 gigawatt-hours by 2020. After 2020 the proposed ETS and improved efficiencies from innovation and in manufacture are expected to allow the MRET to be phased out by 2030.

Following the introduction of government Mandatory Renewable Energy Targets, more opportunities have opened up for renewable energies such as wind power
Wind power
Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into a useful form of energy, such as using wind turbines to make electricity, windmills for mechanical power, windpumps for water pumping or drainage, or sails to propel ships....

, photovoltaics
Photovoltaics
Photovoltaics is a method of generating electrical power by converting solar radiation into direct current electricity using semiconductors that exhibit the photovoltaic effect. Photovoltaic power generation employs solar panels composed of a number of solar cells containing a photovoltaic material...

, and solar thermal technologies. The deployment of these technologies provides opportunities for mitigating greenhouse gases.

At the end of 2006, Australia had 817 megawatts (MW) of installed wind power capacity, mainly in South Australia. A 154 MW, A$420 million, solar photovoltaic power station
Solar power station in Victoria
The Mildura Solar Concentrator Power Station is a proposed photovoltaic heliostat solar concentrator power station is to be built at Carwarp, near Mildura, Victoria, Australia.The provisional timeline for the project is:...

 is planned for Victoria.
Initiatives are also being taken with ethanol fuel
Ethanol fuel
Ethanol fuel is ethanol , the same type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages. It is most often used as a motor fuel, mainly as a biofuel additive for gasoline. World ethanol production for transport fuel tripled between 2000 and 2007 from 17 billion to more than 52 billion litres...

 and geothermal energy exploration.

Wind power



Wind farm
Wind farm
A wind farm is a group of wind turbines in the same location used to produce electric power. A large wind farm may consist of several hundred individual wind turbines, and cover an extended area of hundreds of square miles, but the land between the turbines may be used for agricultural or other...

s are highly compatible with agricultural and pastoral land use. While they span approximately 25 ha per MW of installed capacity, only about 1-3% of that land is actually taken up with their towers, access roads and other equipment. Wind turbine
Wind turbine
A wind turbine is a device that converts kinetic energy from the wind into mechanical energy. If the mechanical energy is used to produce electricity, the device may be called a wind generator or wind charger. If the mechanical energy is used to drive machinery, such as for grinding grain or...

s are also extremely efficient. Large wind turbine
Wind turbine
A wind turbine is a device that converts kinetic energy from the wind into mechanical energy. If the mechanical energy is used to produce electricity, the device may be called a wind generator or wind charger. If the mechanical energy is used to drive machinery, such as for grinding grain or...

s convert about 45% of the wind passing through the area swept out by the blades into electricity; by comparison, modern coal fired power stations convert electricity only 35% of the energy stored in coal. According to some experts, wind energy, at appropriate sites, is the most economical of all renewable energy sources other than large scale hydro-electricity.

Bioenergy



Bioenergy
Bioenergy
Bioenergy is renewable energy made available from materials derived from biological sources. Biomass is any organic material which has stored sunlight in the form of chemical energy. As a fuel it may include wood, wood waste, straw, manure, sugarcane, and many other byproducts from a variety of...

 is energy produced from biomass
Biomass
Biomass, as a renewable energy source, is biological material from living, or recently living organisms. As an energy source, biomass can either be used directly, or converted into other energy products such as biofuel....

. Biomass is material produced by photosynthesis, or is an organic by-product from a waste stream. Thus it can be seen as stored solar energy. In terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions
Greenhouse gas
A greenhouse gas is a gas in an atmosphere that absorbs and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range. This process is the fundamental cause of the greenhouse effect. The primary greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone...

, biomass offers four different types of contribution:
  • solid, liquid and gaseous biofuels
    Biofuel in Australia
    Biofuel in Australia is available both as biodiesel and as ethanol fuel, which can be produced from sugarcane or grains. There are currently three commercial producers of fuel ethanol in Australia, all on the East Coast....

     can substitute for fossil fuels in the generation of electricity and useful heat;
  • liquid and gaseous biofuels can substitute for oil in transportation;
  • biomass can be used in place of many greenhouse intensive materials;
  • biomass can be converted to biochar
    Biochar
    Biochar or terra preta is charcoal created by pyrolysis of biomass. Biochar is under investigation as an approach to carbon sequestration via bio-energy with carbon capture and storage. Biochar thus has the potential to help mitigate climate change, via carbon sequestration...

    , an organic char coal that greatly enhances the ability of soil to sequester carbon.


Sustainable energy expert Mark Diesendorf
Mark Diesendorf
Mark Diesendorf teaches Environmental Studies at the University of New South Wales, Australia. He was formerly Professor of Environmental Science at...

 suggests that bioenergy could produce 39% of Australia’s electricity generation.

Solar heat and electricity



Solar heat and electricity together have the potential for supplying almost all of Australia’s stationary energy. With suitable government policies, particularly at the state and local levels, solar hot water
Solar hot water
Solar water heating or solar hot water systems comprise several innovations and many mature renewable energy technologies that have been well established for many years...

 could cost-effectively provide the vast majority of hot water systems in Australia, and make considerable reductions in residential electricity consumption. Although solar electricity is still expensive, its potential scale of application is huge and its prospects for further substantial cost reductions are excellent.

Energy efficiency


The most important energy saving options include improved thermal insulation
Thermal insulation
Thermal insulation is the reduction of the effects of the various processes of heat transfer between objects in thermal contact or in range of radiative influence. Heat transfer is the transfer of thermal energy between objects of differing temperature...

 and building design, super efficient electrical machines and drives, and a reduction in energy consumption by vehicles used for goods and passenger traffic. Industrialised countries such as Australia, which currently use energy in the least efficient way, can reduce their consumption drastically without the loss of either housing comfort or amenity. Increased energy efficiency of buildings had the support of the former leader of the federal opposition, Malcolm Turnbull.

Biochar


Biochar
Biochar
Biochar or terra preta is charcoal created by pyrolysis of biomass. Biochar is under investigation as an approach to carbon sequestration via bio-energy with carbon capture and storage. Biochar thus has the potential to help mitigate climate change, via carbon sequestration...

 has been promoted as a technique for mitigation of global warming. The former leader of the federal opposition, Malcolm Turnbull brought biochar into the political debate by announcing that burying agricultural waste was one of three under-invested areas that his mitigation strategy was committed to opening up.

Publications and interest groups which track the fledgling Australian industry are divided over the suitability of biochar to the economy. Brian Toohey of The Australian Financial Review
The Australian Financial Review
The Australian Financial Review is a leading business and finance newspaper in Australia.Fairfax Media publishes it in a compact format six days a week, Monday to Saturday....

has said it is yet to be proven commercially viable. Friends of the Earth Australia
Friends of the Earth Australia
Friends of the Earth Australia is a federation of independent local groups working for a socially equitable and environmentally sustainable future. Friends of the Earth Australia believes that pursuing environmental protection is inseparable from broader social concerns, and as a result uses an...

, one of the larger environmental lobby groups, is fundamentally opposed to biochar, calling it "part of a series of false solutions to climate change" which will be "based on large-scale industrial plantations and will lead to the acquisition of large tracts of land, furthering the erosion of indigenous peoples' and community rights while not adequately addressing the climate crisis".

Green Left Weekly
Green Left Weekly
Green Left Weekly is an Australian radical left-wing newspaper, written by progressive activists to "present the views excluded by the big business media". It was published by the Democratic Socialist Perspective from its inception in 1990 until January 2010, when the DSP merged into the Socialist...

has published several editorials supporting the development of a large-scale biochar industry.

Reforestation


Reforestation and revegetation were promoted by Malcolm Turnbull as a favoured option for reduction of net greenhouse gas emissions.

Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET)



See also: Australian renewable energy programs

An Expanded Renewable Energy Target was passed by the Australian Parliament in 20 August 2009, to ensure that renewable energy obtains a 20% share of electricity supply in Australia by 2020. To ensure this the Federal Government has committed that the MRET will increase from 9,500 gigawatt-hours to 45,000 gigawatt-hours by 2020. The scheme lasts until 2030.

Greenpeace energy revolution



Greenpeace
Greenpeace
Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over forty countries and with an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, The Netherlands...

 calls for a complete energy revolution. There are some fundamental aspects to this revolution, aimed as changing the way that energy is produced, distributed and consumed. The five principles of this revolution are:
  • implement renewable solutions, especially through decentralised energy systems;
  • respect the natural limits of the environment;
  • phase out dirty, unsustainable energy sources;
  • create greater equity in the use of resources;
  • decouple economic growth from the consumption of fossil fuels.


Other goals of the energy revolution are:
  • renewable energy: 40% of electricity provided by renewable sources by 2020;
  • coal fired power will be phased out entirely by 2030;
  • using electricity for the transport system and cutting consumption of fossil fuels through efficiency.


The energy revolution report also looks at policy suggestions for the Australian Government in regards to climate change. Policy suggestions of the report include:
  • legislate a greenhouse gas reduction target of greater than 40% below 1990 levels by 2020;
  • establish an emissions trading scheme that delivers a decrease of our emissions in line with legislated interim targets;
  • legislate a national target for 40% of electricity to be generated by renewable energy sources by 2020;
  • massively invest in the deployment of renewable energy and strongly regulate for energy efficiency measures;
  • establish an immediate moratorium on new coal-fired power stations and extensions to existing coal-fired power stations, and phase out existing coal-fired power stations in Australia by 2030;
  • set a target of 2% per year to reduce Australia’s primary energy demand;
  • ensure transitional arrangements for coal dependent communities that might be affected by the transition to a clean energy economy;
  • redirect all public subsidies that encourage the use and production of fossil fuels towards implementing energy efficiency programs, deploying renewable energy and supporting the upgrading of public transport infrastructure;
  • develop a highly trained “green” workforce through investment in training programs and apprenticeships.

Climate Code Red: The case for a sustainability emergency



Climate Code Red
Climate Code Red
Climate Code Red: The Case for Emergency Action is a 2008 book which presents scientific evidence that the global warming crisis is worse than official reports and national governments have so far indicated. The book argues that we are facing a "sustainability emergency" that requires a clear...

 states that the key strategies for cutting greenhouse gas emissions to zero are resource efficiency backed up by the substitution of renewable energy for fossil fuel sources. The report sites ultra-efficient technologies and synergies, and wind power as ways in which to tackle the climate change problem within Australia.

Climate Code Red also has an outline for a rapid transition to a safe-climate economy. This plan includes:
  • having the building capacity to plan, coordinate and allocate resources for high priority infrastructure projects and to invest sufficiently in the means to make safe-climate producer and consumer goods;
  • fostering research and innovation to produce, develop and scale up the necessary technologies, products and processes;
  • national building and industry energy efficiency programmes, including mandatory and enforceable minimum standards for domestic and commercial buildings, and the allocation of public resources to help householders, especially those with limited financial capacity, to reduce energy use;
  • the rapid construction of capacity across a range of renewable technologies at both a national and micro level to produce sufficient electricity to allow the closure of the fossil fuel-fired generating industry;
  • the conversion and expansion of Australia’s car industry to manufacture zero-emission vehicles for public and private transport;
  • the renewal and electrification of national and regional train networks to provide the capacity to shift all long-distance freight from road and air to rail;

  • providing safe-climate expertise, technologies, goods and services to less developed nations to support their transition to the post-carbon world;
  • adjustment and reskilling programmes for workers, communities and industries affected by the impacts of global warming and by the transition to the new economy.

Solutions


There a number of ways to achieve the goals outlined above. This includes implementing clean, renewable solutions and decentralizing energy systems. Existing technologies are available to utilise energy effectively and ecologically, including the use of solar, wind
Wind power
Wind power is the conversion of wind energy into a useful form of energy, such as using wind turbines to make electricity, windmills for mechanical power, windpumps for water pumping or drainage, or sails to propel ships....

, and other renewable technologies, which have experienced double digit market growth globally in the last decade.

A large section of the scientific community believe that one of the real solutions to avoiding dangerous climate change
Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change
The related terms "avoiding dangerous climate change" and "preventing dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system" date to 1995 and earlier, in the Second Assesment Report of the International Panel on Climate Change and previous science it cites.In 2002, the United Nations...

 lies in renewable energy and energy efficiency that can start protecting the climate today. Technically accessible renewable energy sources such as wind, wave, and solar, are capable of providing six times more energy than the world currently consumes. As coal is one of the highest emitters of greenhouse gases, closing coal power stations is one of the most powerful tools for carbon emission reduction.

Economic impact


The economic impact of a 60% reduction of emissions by 2050 was modelled in 2006 in a study commissioned by the Australian Business Roundtable on Climate Change.

See also


  • Adaptation to global warming in Australia
    Adaptation to global warming in Australia
    -Introduction:According to non-governmental organisations such as Greenpeace and global scientific organisations such as the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the frequency and intensity of disasters brought about by greenhouse gas emissions and climate change will grow...

  • Contribution to global warming by Australia
    Contribution to global warming by Australia
    - Annual contribution :The Australian government estimates that Australia's net emissions in 2006 were 576 million tonnes -equivalent, to which the sectoral contributions were approximately as follows: energy sector, 70%; agriculture, 15%; other forms of land use, 7%; industrial processes 5%;...

  • Effects of global warming on Australia
    Effects of global warming on Australia
    Predictions measuring the effects of global warming on Australia assert that climate change will negatively impact the continent's environment, economy, and communities...

  • Solar hot water in Australia
    Solar hot water in Australia
    Solar hot water is heated using natural energy from the sun. Solar energy heats up large panels called thermal collectors. The energy is transferred through a fluid to a reservoir tank for storage and subsequent use...


External links

  • Australia's Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (Australia's MRET
    Mandatory renewable energy targets
    A mandatory renewable energy target is a government legislated requirement on electricity retailers to source specific proportions of total electricity sales from renewable energy sources according to a fixed timeframe. The additional cost is distributed across most customers by increases in other...

    )
  • Garnaut Review (Garnaut Climate Change Review
    Garnaut Climate Change Review
    The Garnaut Climate Change Review was a study by Professor Ross Garnaut, commissioned by then Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd and by the Australian State and Territory Governments on 30 April 2007...

    )