This is a climate emergency!
Australia is a big energy producer. Fossil fuel exports contributed A$55billion to Australia’s economy last financial year. This equates to approximately 14% of total exports, and the expectation is this will continue to grow to over A$76billion this year. Japan is a huge buyer of Australia’s LNG (45%) and coal (39%). This is largely driven by the need to import 94% to meet the nations energy needs post the Fukushima disaster in 2011. The question is, how is Japan going to cut its carbon emissions by 26% by 2030 and 80% by 2050 as agreed in the Paris Agreement? The need to fuel their nation has never been more prominent in a global market. The need to supply fuel has never been stronger for Australia’s economy. Japan does not have the space, nor the sunshine to produce alternate energy such as solar energy as Australia does. Japan could easily go down the path of ‘clean’ hydrogen imports, which if deployed to plan could assist this nation in generating between 15 – 30 gigawatts of imported hydrogen by 2030. Hydrogen is a very controversial solution; it has the power to cause significant damage if not harnessed or produced correctly. In fact, if correctly manufactured the only vapours hydrogen will emit is water. The risk still remains high as the ability for any industry to eliminate cowboy behaviour and the need for speed and profits some how always trumps the desire to do it right even if that means slowing down and investing in design. For Australia to compete with the global hydrogen markets it will need to manufacture hydrogen on vast scales and scales we have not yet seen before.
On June the 13th climate scientist Steffen Olsen took a remarkable photo of the melting ice in Greenland, and taken on same day it was reported that they lost 2 billion tonnes of ice amid high temperatures. Daily across the globe there are news reports global warming and the economic crush. A new satellite analysis reveals that between 2014 and 2017 sea ice extent in the southern hemisphere suffered unprecedented annual decreases. Melting Antarctic sea ice is bad for wildlife such as penguins that rely on it. It also contributes to global warming because sea ice reflects much of the sun’s energy back into space, while dark water absorbs it. “The sea ice has a huge impact on climate in that respect,” says Claire Parkinson at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Meanwhile Mexico has been hit by an unseasonal hailstorms. A hailstorm in Guadalajara on 30 June left some parts of the Mexican city covered in up to 2 metres of hail pellets, nearly burying cars. The likes of this has never been seen before. Although no deaths were reported during this storm, studies suggest hailstones will indeed get bigger as the world warms. They do occasionally kill people and animals as well as doing serious damage to cars and buildings. For instance, 25 people were killed by a hailstorm in China in 2002. And all the while there was the European heatwave happening at the same time as the Mexican hail storm. France reached its highest recorded temperature of 45.1°C, whilst In Berlin, a police unit turned water cannons – usually used against rioters – onto city trees to cool them down.
As the world continues to grow dangerously warm due to carbon dioxide emissions, the last thing we want to do is keep building fossil fuel power plants that make the problem worse. But that’s exactly what we are doing. The question is why? We need to put a meaningful price on carbon that reflects the damage it causes to enable more and early shutdowns, by making fossil fuel plants account for their true economic cost. But where carbon prices exist, they are usually too low to be effective. Instead, ignorant governments are spending more, not less, on coal. Somehow, the governments of the world have decided that being renewable energy friendly is counter-intuitive to a financially prosperous nation. This needs to be discussed and in depth and publically. The advancement of renewable energy sources and the innovation and technological advancement is creating a wealth of careers from design, logistics, to research and development, to deployment and maintenance. This is the new industry that is not new at all. Yet it is overlooked in most corners and shunned to the corner of all conversations. We know as a nation that we do not want to continue with fossil fuels, even though the politicians of the day believe they won they climate election, they did not. They did not, because they have not explored openly the true advantages of the renewable energy sector. Decisions are made from fear of loosing ‘residual’ incomes through taxes and kick-backs. I am not just referring to the taxes within the coal mining industry, I refer to also to all the other taxes to support industries that hang off this. The hidden and undisclosed benefits of a fossil fuel economy.
The world is not doing enough. So what else is there; we can harness the power of the sun. Australia is blessed with its richness in solar penetration. Australia is a land of abundant sun and should be moving to exploit this on a huge scale, which is supported by the space to do so. Australia is in the prime position to e capitalise on its potential to innovate and create a true renewable nation. We could lead the charge. The exciting part to going ‘TRUE GREEN AND CLEAN ENERGY’, is the ability to create jobs and to lead the charge on innovation and more excitingly the ability to leverage this to create a true circular economy in a green clean way. Lets not hide behind the wonderful Harvard buzzwords that drive a flurry of activity that lasts for but a moment before we all loose interest. Lets stay focused. True success in any industry is driven by their social responsibility. Their need and desire to drive their value chain to deliver products and services in a clean way. From concept to commission to end and afterlife of all products produced. From sun to sea there are amazing Australian innovations such as the Camilleri Turbine which minimises environmental impacts whilst optimising clean and efficient power production. Our nation is abundant with innovations to eliminate the negative impacts of legacy fuel generating solutions.
Cities and regions such as Logan City in Queensland Australia is exciting as they have a focus on recycling, renewable and the circular economy. A region in which they stand behind their very values and actively work together with business, industry and the community to achieve a true socially responsible city. I know many people look to see if they are living in a city that is ‘smart’, but what is a smart city? Is it just based on the technology and the ease of living? In the true sense of a smart city the answer is NO! A smart city looks to protect its environment (financial, social and environmental) long into the future and future proofs in all elements.