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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Australian rare earths miner Lynas must make a plan for radioactive waste disposal, says IAEA

rare-earth-dysprosiumflag-MalaysiaIAEA reports no long-term plan for Lynas waste, Malaysian Insider  17 October 2014 The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Friday gave a passing safety grade to a controversial Malaysia rare earths plant, but raised concerns that there was no long-term plan for properly disposing of the plant’s potentially radioactive waste.

The rare earths processing plant in the state of Pahang has generated opposition from green groups who fear radioactive contamination and have accused authorities and Lynas of overriding public concern.

In a report, the IAEA said it saw little risk of contamination due to the low-level radiation involved, and that its investigators were “not able to identify any instances of non-compliance” with international standards. “Lynas needs to demonstrate that the disposal of solid waste can be carried out in a safe manner over the long-term,” the report said.

It recommended that Malaysian authorities require Lynas to come up with a plan.

“There is a lack of a plan for managing the waste from the decommissioning and dismantling of the plant at the end of its life,” it said……

However, it also appeared to underscore environmentalists’ concerns that Australian miner Lynas Corp has no long-term plan for the disposal of waste from the plant.- http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/iaea-teams-says-lynas-plant-generates-low-level-radioactive-waste-bernama#sthash.JEFk1poD.dpuf

 

October 18, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Malaysia, rare earths | 1 Comment

Australian government sets up a disastrous course for nuclear weapons proliferation

India-uranium1Australia–India nuclear treaty: a non-proliferation disaster, The Strategist, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute Blog 14Oct 2014  By  “…….Nuclear suppliers do have a responsibility, however, for ensuring their nuclear material isn’t used to build nuclear weapons, and must maintain strict mechanisms for that purpose. If countries can access nuclear supply without the attendant responsibilities, then support for longstanding non-proliferation regimes will be undermined, countries will see less value in treaties such as the NPT, and a key pillar of the nuclear arms control regime as a whole will be weakened.

The text of the proposed Australian export deal fails that basic test. In addition to a range of other flaws, for the first time in 40 years Australia won’t be able to guarantee how the nuclear material it supplies is being used. Specifically, the agreement allows India to reprocess uranium supplied by Australia to create plutonium, potentially at weapons grade, with no direct accounting by India to Australia for that material, and unusually, no provision for the return of the material in the event of it being misused. As former Director-General of ASNO, John Carlson, explains, Australia currently allows reprocessing only by two export partners, the EU and Japan, each with direct reporting requirements and specific permission being given by Australia as to how the reprocessed material is to be used.

Accordingly, the deal with India isn’t comparable to Australia’s other nuclear export agreements. Australia is privileging India by excluding key provisions normally included to ensure a recipient of nuclear material is accountable to the supplier. Australia’s other nuclear export partners might demand similar concessions, undermining the integrity of the non-proliferation regime as a whole.

Moreover, the concessions made by Australia are unnecessary. ………Not only does this agreement undermine long established non-proliferation regimes and Australia’s credibility as a nuclear supplier, it represents a missed opportunity to strengthen it. Given that what matters most to India is being treated on a par with China and the United States, India should be expected to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) after the US Senate does, just as China has already agreed to do……..

The agreement marks a significant departure from Australia’s longstanding practice. By excluding the normal provisions that ensure a nuclear recipient is directly accountable to the supplier, Australia is abrogating the principle that nuclear suppliers are accountable for how their exported nuclear material is used……..Crispin Rovere is a former PhD student at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, ANU and co-author of Non-strategic nuclear weapons: the next step in multilateral arms control. Image courtesy of Flickr user Indiawaterportal.orghttp://www.aspistrategist.org.au/australia-india-nuclear-treaty-a-non-proliferation-disaster/

October 15, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia’s Tony Abbott government out of step on climate change

Government drops ball on climate change http://www.theage.com.au/comment/the-age-editorial/government-drops-ball-on-climate-change-20141007-3hhgq.html 8 oct 14 Two weeks ago, when Prime Minister Tony Abbott spoke before the General Assembly of the United Nations, he named four dire problems facing the world: the dangers posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Russia’s destabilising influence in eastern Ukraine, the outbreak and spread of the Ebola virus in western Africa and the economic malaise that continues to afflict many countries.

But Mr Abbott did not mention climate change at all. That failure was conspicuous because just two days earlier, at the same podium, US President Barack Obama had outlined the same four threats to the world (”terrorism, instability, inequality and disease”) but added one more. Mr Obama told more than 120 leaders attending the UN Climate Summit that ”there’s one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, and that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate”. Mr Obama said the US had a duty to lead on emissions reduction strategies, and he urged other nations to do their part, saying no nation could afford to pretend climate change was not real.

Mr Abbott, though, did not even bother to attend the Climate Summit. He sent Foreign Minister Julie Bishop instead, and she chose to promote the government’s Direct Action strategy, under which businesses would be paid to cut their emissions. Sure, there are several other nations – India, for one – that obstinately shuck off any responsibility for initiating emissions-abatement strategies and which do so because they perceive their economies would be significantly disadvantaged. But Australia under the Abbott government has become an international joke on matters related to climate change. Only last year, for example, Mr Abbott suggested the UN’s climate chief, Christiana Figueres, was ”talking out of her hat” when she said bushfires in Australia were linked to climate change. Soon after, Environment Minister Greg Hunt sought to defend the PM in an interview with the BBC. During that interview, Mr Hunt said he had ”looked up what Wikipedia says”, and then sought to downplay the notion that climate change could influence the likelihood of bushfires.

Map-Abbott-climate

But as Fairfax Media reported this week, Mr Hunt was thoroughly briefed just weeks before the interview by officials of the Bureau of Meteorology who explained the effects of climate change on weather patterns. They told the minister that a pattern of recent episodes of extreme heat was ”consistent with the general pattern of warming”. Last week, five separate studies published by Australian universities all concluded that record temperatures in Australia in 2013 were almost certainly caused by man-made climate change.

The governments of the world’s biggest economies and biggest emitters – the United States and China – are focused on emissions reduction strategies. In Australia, while the Abbott government says it supports the science indicating man’s influence on climate change, there is a distinctly grudging aspect to its attitude, a deliberate effort to minimise the scale or urgency of the problem and a clear intention to focus instead on the economic impact of emissions abatement strategies. The government has scrapped the carbon tax and it wants to wind back the renewable energy target, which is intended to ensure that one-fifth of Australia’s energy supply in 2020 will come from renewable sources.

This is a highly educated nation, whose scientists have made valuable contributions to the growing body of knowledge on climate change, and it is a wealthy nation with great economic opportunity. But it is being governed by a party that refuses to acknowledge the vital role it must play at this point in history.

October 8, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Australia’s Prime Minister Abbott illiterate on both climate and Aboriginal health

Abbott-fiddling-global-warmflag-AustraliaAbbott Hasn’t Joined The Dots On Black Affairs And Climate Change, SaysActivist https://newmatilda.com/2014/09/30/abbott-hasnt-joined-dots-black-affairs-and-climate-change-says-activistThe gaping hole in Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s self-declared interest in Aboriginal aspirations is his ignorance on climate change. Amy McQuire reports.

Tony Abbott’s ambition to become the “Prime Minister for Aboriginal affairs” doesn’t align with his position on climate change, with First Nations communities the most vulnerable to the disastrous effects of global warming, according to a young Bundjalung environment warrior.

Abbott drew condemnation last week after he dodged a United Nations climate change summit attended by 120 world leaders, including US President Barack Obama. Abbott jetted into New York a day later to attend UN Security Council talks on the situation in Iraq and Syria, and Western responses to militant Sunni group the Islamic State.

In a speech to the UN General Assembly, Abbott fudged on the threat to the world posed by climate change, instead elevating the “murderous rage” of the Islamic State, the “Russian aggression” in Ukraine, the Ebola crisis in West Africa and the situation of the world’s economies above it.

It came in the same week President Obama labelled climate change a greater threat to the world than terror and pointed the finger at Abbott and other heads of state absent at the talks, pointedly noting “no-one gets a pass”.

Abbott also came under fire earlier this year for taking climate change off the agenda at key G20 talks in Brisbane in November, despite the issue being on the agenda of the past three G20 meetings, which bring together the heads of the world’s 20 leading economies.

While Abbott claims to be a champion of Aboriginal rights, 20-year-old Bundjalung climate change activist Amelia Telford says the Abbott government needs to understand the situation facing First Nations communities, many of whom will be most adversely impacted by the effects of climate change.

“Abbott hasn’t connected the dots,” Ms Telford told New Matilda.

“The government is taking us backwards compared with the rest of the world. We are living in a country where Indigenous people have barely contributed to what is causing climate change….

“(But) the most vulnerable communities within Australia – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities – are going to be impacted more than any other community and we need our government to recognise that.

“We aren’t seeing that leadership and so there is an opportunity to stand up for ourselves and begin a movement lead by our people.”

Ms Telford was speaking ahead of a historic summit organised by the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, which will bring together 50 young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth from around the country to talk about climate change. Dubbed the ‘Seed summit’, it will kick off in Melbourne this weekend.

While Aboriginal youth have largely been voiceless in climate change talks and activism, Ms Telford says it is critical our young people are at the forefront. She says it’s been hard to raise awareness because of the dire social issues afflicting First Nations youth, and the influence of the fossil fuels industry within First Nations communities.

“We know that Indigenous people across Australia have been looking after our lands for tens of thousands of years and it gives us hope that we can do it again. But there are so many structural issues within our communities so it’s hard for young people to prioritise it.

“… There are more and more of us coming out and talking about climate change, sustainability and caring for country but there are so many things competing for our attention.

“It can be a tricky issue because of the fossil fuel industry and the massive impact and stress of that on our land and culture for decades.”

It becomes hard to advocate for solutions to climate change if you are forced to rely on the mining industry, Ms Telford says.

But she says rather than just targeting government, the Seed summit also hopes to put a declaration to the four leading banks asking them not to invest in coal ports on the Great Barrier Reef.

“We need to get climate change on the agenda of our politicians, but it also involves engaging with business leaders, rather than specifically government,” Ms Telford says.

“… We are calling on the CEOs of the four big Australian banks which are considering whether to fund coal ports on the reef. In this time in politics, where we are not seeing leadership from governments, we have to find ways to counteract that and figure out how we can make a difference.”

Ms Telford says she was surprised at the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth who wanted to get involved in climate change advocacy. The summit received 30 applications within a week of opening registrations.

“The young people are the ones with the most at stake,” Ms Telford says.

“Indigenous youth have to be at that forefront and the great thing is we are backed by thousands of young people all across the country.

“Knowing we are a part of that movement is pretty great.”

October 6, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, indigenous issues | Leave a comment

Australia’s 2013 was brought on by global warming – researchers conclude

heat_waveAustralia’s 2013 heatwave due to climate change, researchers conclude http://www.theage.com.au/environment/australias-2013-heatwave-due-to-climate-change-researchers-conclude-20140930-10o1sj.html September 30, 2014   National political reporter Record temperatures in Australia in 2013 were almost certainly caused by man-made climate change, five separate studies have found.

Researchers from the University of Melbourne, the Australian National University and the University of NSW have concluded it is “virtually impossible” that the heatwaves that hit Australia in 2013 would have occurred were it not for carbon emissions caused by human activity.

The reports have been published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society as part of a global project examining the impact of climate change on extreme weather.

The results, which are the strongest statement yet on the impact of climate change on Australia’s weather patterns, are a wake-up call for the Abbott government a week after it was criticised for failing to take beefed-up emissions reduction targets to a special summit of world leaders in New York.

Five teams of researchers examined the heat that baked Australia for much of 2013, leading to the hottest day, month, spring and summer since records began.

They concluded that the record temperatures for the whole of that year would almost certainly not have occurred without man-made climate change and that the chance of heatwaves occurring was more than 2000 times greater because of human-caused climate change.

Professor David Karoly, one of the authors, said the results mark the first time that researchers had concluded that a specific weather event couldn’t or most likely couldn’t have occurred in Australia without the increase in greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity.

“The Prime Minister last year said that studies hadn’t been done and the CSIRO cautioned against attributing individual extreme weather events to climate change,” Professor Karoly said.

“Now the studies have been done and the results are very clear.”

The teams of researchers used a variety of computer-based simulations that modelled 20th and early 21st century temperatures.

One set of models factored in natural variations in climate and human influences on climate, while another set showed what temperatures would have looked like without man-made climate change.

Out of 12,500 simulated years, only one result in the latter group produced temperatures higher than those seen in Australia in 2005 – the hottest year before 2013 – and none as hot as 2013.

“There was an increase in the frequency of heatwaves in 2013 and the intensity of heatwaves due to climate change,” Professor Karoly said “It was three times the frequency and two times the intensity.”

October 1, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

The death spiral of fossil fuel electricity: but the utilities are fighting back

“Distributed generation (DG) could be the end of utilities as we know them today,” U.S. investment research firm Morningstar said earlier this year. “Utilities’ centralized network monopolies break down when customers become self-sufficient competitors.”

Romero, the Spanish renewable energy expert, said: “Utility companies know that the future is in renewables, but they’re not going to go down without putting up a fight.”


fossil-fuel-fightback-1From Sydney To Spain, Old Energy Is Doing Everything It Can To Hold Back The Rise Of Solar
, Business Insider Australia TRACY RUCINSKIBYRON KAYE MADRID/SYDNEY (REUTERS) 29 SEPT 14
 

4  – A YEAR AFTER SPAIN, THE SUNNIEST COUNTRY IN EUROPE, ISSUED NOTICE OF A LAW FORCING SOLAR ENERGY-EQUIPPED HOMES AND OFFICES TO PAY A PUNITIVE TAX, ARCHITECT INAKI ALONSO RE-INSTALLED A 250 WATT SOLAR PANEL ON A BEAM OVER HIS MADRID ROOF TERRACE.

“The government wanted people to be afraid to generate their own energy, but they haven’t dared to actually pass the law,” Alonso said as he tightened screws on the panel on a sunny summer day this month. He had removed solar panels from the roof last year.

“We’re tired of being afraid,” he said.

Halfway across the globe, in the “sunshine state” of Queensland, Australia, electrical engineer David Smyth says the war waged by some governments and utilities against “distributed energy”, the term used for power generated by solar panels, is already lost.

“The utilities are in a death spiral,” he told Reuters by telephone while driving between a pub where he helped set up 120 solar panels to cut its $53,000 annual power bill and a galvanizing plant which was also adding solar panels to reduce costs.

In Australia, he said, solar panels have shifted from being a heavily subsidized indulgence for environmentally-conscious households to a pragmatic option for businesses wanting certainty about what their running costs will be next year.

“Not many people are doing it because of emissions or the environment,” Smyth said. “It’s about the cost.” Continue reading

September 29, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, AUSTRALIA, renewable | Leave a comment

“The nuclear industry is in ­decline” – a report that upsets the industry

nukes-sad-Nuclear’s fortunes on the wane THE AUSTRALIAN SEPTEMBER 29, 2014 Robin Bromby Business columnist
Sydney :……….now along comes some disquieting analysis of the nuclear electricity story. Normally, we would have seized on the annual report during the week fromManhattan Corp (MHC), which has the Ponton uranium project in Western Australia, and which coincided with yet another rise in the spot uranium price, up $US2.50 a pound to $US36.50/lb. Executive chairman Alan Eggers writes that the uranium sector has been dominated by “negative industry sentiment, falling supply and lacklustre demand among buyers of nuclear fuel”. He then outlines a reasonably cheerful outlook, and one to which Pure Speculation has been an adherent.

Until we read another report written by eight European and Japanese heavyweight thinkers in the field, headed by Paris-based Mycle Schneider. Their World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2014 has a stark and simple message: “The nuclear industry is in ­decline”.

There are 388 operating reactors around the world, 50 fewer than in 2002. Installed capacity is back to where it was 20 years ago.

The nuclear share of the world’s power generation declined from its peak of 19.6 per cent in 1996 to 10.8 per cent in 2013. In terms of revenue, nuclear now accounts for a lower percentage than in 1984.

In all, there are 67 “current” ­nuclear reactor projects, which sounds impressive until the report explains that eight of those reactors have been listed as “under construction” for more than 20 years; at least 49 have encountered construction delays, some for several years, and for the first time Chinese projects have also been delayed; for the remaining 18 reactors, either construction began within the past five years or the reactors have not yet reached projected start-up dates.

“Delays have occurred in the development of the nuclear programs for most of the more advanced newcomer countries, including Bangladesh, Jordan, Lithuania, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Vietnam,” the report adds……..http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/opinion/nuclears-fortunes-on-the-wane/story-fnciihm9-1227073165703

September 29, 2014 Posted by | 2 WORLD, AUSTRALIA, business and costs | Leave a comment

Australia most unpopular at Climate Change Summit

Australia’s climate stance savagely condemned at New York summit SMH  September 27, 2014  Nick O’Malley US correspondent for Fairfax Media  “…….in his address to the General Assembly, Leonardo DiCaprio sought to buttress his call for drastic and immediate action to reduce carbon emissions with a voice harder to challenge than his own.

“The Chief of the US Navy’s Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel Locklear, recently said that climate change is our single greatest security threat,” said DiCaprio. “My friends, this body – perhaps more than any other gathering in human history – now faces that difficult task. You can make history, or be vilified by it.”The speech was well given and well received, but it turned out that his prediction was not entirely correct. Australia did not have to wait for history, it was vilified for its stance on climate change on the spot…….”I’m disappointed but not surprised with Australia,” Pa Ousman Jarju, Gambia’s Climate Change Minister who represents the 54 least developed nations at UN climate talks, told the Responding to Climate Change analysis website later. “What the Foreign Minister [Julie Bishop] said was as good as not coming. It’s nothing… as good as not attending.”Indeed Tony Abbott did not attend Tuesday’s meeting, though many attendees detected a reference to Australia – among a handful of other notable recalcitrants – in Barack Obama’s keynote speech……..

it was Australia and to an extent Canada that were subject to most of the opprobrium, in part because they have already enjoyed the economic benefits of carbon emissions, in part because China is perceived to be on the brink of significant action.

One of the successes of Tuesday’s meeting was China’s announcement for the first time ever that it would set an emissions target, aiming to reduce its emissions of carbon per unit of GDP by 45 per cent by 2020, compared with levels in 2005.

“As a responsible major country, a major developing country, China will make even greater effort to address climate change,” Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli said.

“All countries need to follow the path of green and low carbon development that suits their national conditions, [and] set forth post-2020 actions in light of actual circumstances.”

An adviser who attended a meeting of small island states that excoriated Australia’s inaction on climate said the group now viewed China’s commitments optimistically.

The reaction to Australia’s presence could not have been more different. Tony de Brum, the Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands, told Fairfax that small islands states were frustrated and baffled by Australia’s stance, especially as they had regarded the nation as a “big brother down south” and advocated for its seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Asked if “betrayal” was too strong a word, he paused and said, “Now it is, maybe not soon.”

On Tuesday the Pulitzer Prize-winning climate change news website Inside Climate News published a story about the “Canada-Australia axis of carbon”. It suggested that not only were the two nations not willing to pull their weight, but that they were seeking to derail the binding agreement on emissions reductions at next year’s talks in Paris that many view as the world’s last best hope to prevent catastrophic climate change.

“Neither the prime ministers of Canada nor Australia will speak at the summit, and the subordinates they have sent will not be offering the kind of “bold” new steps that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is seeking on the way to a treaty in Paris late next year,” it reported.

“Instead, these two governments, with their energy-rich domains sprawling across opposite ends of the earth, will present strikingly similar defences against what much of the rest of the world is offering. And their stance is earning them opprobrium among advocates of strong and immediate action.”

The online magazine Slate published a story headlined, “The Saudi Arabia of the Pacific, How Australia became the dirtiest polluter in the developed world.”

It charted Australian climate politics since the last election – noting for an international audience Australia’s history as a leader in solar technology, the creation and then scrapping of a carbon trading scheme, the promotion of climate change sceptics to key advisory roles, the attacks on the solar industry, the scrapping of the mining tax, the failed bid to expand logging in Tasmanian wilderness.

“Let’s hope that the rapacious policies of the current government represent only a temporary bout of insanity,” Slate concluded. “If the Australian people cannot recover some of their earlier regard for their environment they may find in time that their great land is no longer merely apathetic toward their residence there but openly hostile.” http://www.smh.com.au/world/australias-climate-stance-savagely-condemned-at-new-york-summit-20140926-10mc0x.html#ixzz3Eac7HHfN

September 27, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Kow towing to mining industry, Australia violates the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT)

India-uranium1A BLATANT VIOLATION OF Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty–SEPTEMBER 26, 2014 By  By Yusra MushtaqAmongst the various accords of Arms Control and Disarmament, the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has widely been adhered to by most of the countries, which gives testament to the worth of this treaty. Nevertheless, it also has been the fate of being violated again and again by its own signatory members — most recently by Australia which signed a uranium deal with India, ade-facto, but non-signatory state. Previously, the US a big proponent of NPT, paved the way for this kind of illegal nuclear cooperation with the non-NPT state of India by signing a deal back in 2005. The blatant violation of NPT left no room for India to sign this treaty because it already enjoys full benefits as if it were a NPT member state without any restricted conditions.

Largely based on the three pillars of Non-Proliferation, Disarmament and Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, the NPT serves as a central bargain. “The NPT non-nuclear-weapon states agree never to acquire nuclear weapons and the NPT nuclear-weapon states in exchange agrees to share the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology and to pursue nuclear disarmament aimed at the ultimate elimination of their nuclear arsenals”. There are 190 states which have joined the NPT club. It is extended for indefinite period of time which reflects its obligatory status. In order to make Global Nuclear Non Proliferation and NPT particularly more fruitful, many substantive initiatives have been taken. They are dominated by export controls regime like Nuclear Suppliers Group and enhanced verification measures of IAEA Additional Protocols. The sole aim of all efforts is to end every possible mean to acquire nuclear weapons. Within this context, success becomes a far off cry as NPT is in a fix between global and national interests of respective states.

Australia signed a deal to sell uranium to India to coin the natural blessing of one third of world’s uranium reserves for the sake of national interests. It is the first non-NPT signatory nation with whom Australia has inked a nuclear deal. Australia is the tenth country in the world that has signed a nuclear deal with India. Both the states are joining hands happily while violating the norms of NPT so blatantly. There is a sheer absence of handwringing editorials at the international news desks. Between the celebrations of this so-called triumph, no one is talking of the sanctity of international arms treaties…….

an irony for the  Global Non Proliferation Regime that there are high voices for NPT to be adhered to, but at the same time its own vocal members have optimized national interests over the security of the whole globe. All are quiet on the sheer violence on this international violation of a treaty because it’s a matter of great powers vested national interests with a de facto state. For this Lao Tzu, a Chinese philosopher stated; “The more laws and order are made prominent, the more thieves and robbers there will be.”  Yusra Mushtaq is a scholar on the issues of defense and security. http://www.eurasiareview.com/26092014-blatant-violation-npt-oped/

September 27, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international | Leave a comment

Australian research shows the way to 50% renewable energy by 2050

Parkinson-Report-Australia Encouraged To Set 50% Renewable Energy Target By 2030 September 25th, 2014 by   RenewEconomyImagine a world in 2050. Everyone drives an (electric) car, homes have all the gadgets, appliances and nick-nacks. The public transport system is emissions free. Mining work and transport is electrified, and diesel is dumped. Electrification has taken place in much of the steel industry. And it is all emissions free. It might be powered by 100 per cent renewables – the sun, wind, the sea, and geothermal, hydro and biomass. And the economy is still strong.

Welcome to the zero carbon world awaiting Australia and much of the rest of the world.

Major new analysis – Pathways to Deep Decarbonisation – produced by Australia’s ClimateWorks, along with ANU, shows that 15 of the world’s biggest economies can move to “net carbon zero” by 2050, and it need impose no extra costs over business as usual. In fact, electricity bills will be lower than what they are now. Economic growth will remain more or less the same, and the benefits, in terms of health and the environment, will be enormous.

The report is timed for the New York climate summit being hosted by the UN this week, and in the 12 months leading up to the Paris event that will hopefully result in a new climate treaty next year. It is designed to help change the political rhetoric around decarbonisaion. In Australia, only one party, the Greens, talks in terms of net carbon zero by 2050, and of higher renewable energy targets. Yet this report says not only is it necessary to meet climate goals, it is eminently doable.

Anna Skarbek, the executive director of ClimateWorks, says that Australia’s political rhetoric needs to change quickly. While the Abbott government is talking of the need to “cut” the renewable energy target down to a “real” 20 per cent, for “fear” that it might reach 25 or 26 per cent by 2020, Skarbek says that to achieve climate goals, Australia’s renewable energy target needs to be at least 50 per cent by 2030 – and then carbon free by 2050.

“There are many pathways for Australia to substantially reduce emissions, but all include greatly improved energy efficiency across the economy, a nearly carbon free power system and switching to low carbon energy sources in transport, buildings and industry,” Skarbek says.

“Taking the carbon out of our electricity system provides the largest reduction in emissions. Then we can use the carbon-free electricity to replace petrol in cars, and gas in buildings and some industrial processes.”

“The move to a low emissions electricity system can be developed with technologies that exist today. But we need to move faster – this report shows we’ll need at least 50 per cent renewable electricity by 2030 to achieve a decarbonised electricity system in the time we have left to stay within the carbon budget.”….in all scenarios, even those that hope for cost-competitive carbon capture and storage, renewable energy is the dominant technology, and solar provides at least 50 per cent of all generation.

By 2030, under the renewable scenario, coal is nearly eliminated, although it plays a greater role in the other scenarios because CCS will take a decade at least to bring into production (if it can ever deliver the costs, which many think it won’t), and nuclear will not have a presence before 2030.

Even then, it is assumed that nuclear would provide no more than one-quarter of generation  – and this is based on the rather generous cost estimates of past government reviews, and does not reflect the significant cost declines that can be expected of solar. Note however, that the emissions per MWh is the renewables scenario is nearly half of that entertained in the CCS or nuclear scenario – that’s because coal generators get to pollute for many years longer in those scenarios……..

The ClimateWorks report was one of 15 prepared for the UN Deep Decarbonisation Pathways Project that involves modelling teams from 15 major emitters that also include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, the UK and the USA.

The findings are being presented to the UN this week by leading economist Jeffrey Sachs. It shows that these countries account for 70 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The interim results show that all 15 countries found ways to achieve near zero carbon electricity by 2050, while sustaining economic growth……http://cleantechnica.com/2014/09/25/australia-renewable-energy-target-50-2030/

September 26, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, renewable | Leave a comment

India-Australia nuclear trade will destabilise the Asia Pacific region

India-uranium1Australia and uranium: the pusher of the Pacifichttps://overland.org.au/2014/09/australian-and-uranium-the-pusher-of-the-pacific/ ByAdam Broinowski 19.Sep.14 “……… The new demand from India will include uranium mined from Ben Lomond near Mt Isa which is likely to be shipped from Townsville Port, and coal mined from the gargantuan Galilee Basin and shipped from Abbott Point, passing through the dredged Great Barrier Reef, or freighted by road to Darwin or Adelaide ports (which hold uranium licenses). The Australia-India uranium agreement supports this concerted and accelerated push.

In cementing a nuclear deal with India, the Abbott government has committed to selling uranium to a nation-state that barely conceals its intentions to expand its nuclear weapons arsenal and that rejects the NPT and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)………..

First, the Australia-India uranium trade agreement is unsafe. If Japan’s nuclear industry and government have proven unable to properly contain the potential for serious nuclear accidents at its domestic nuclear power plants, then India’s nuclear industry, which is much less reliable and possibly even more corrupt, poses even higher risks of mismanagement.

Internally, India is also unstable, as the government fights an embedded insurgency. It maintains a violently repressive approach to imposing nuclear installations and uranium operations (such as Gorakhpur, Koodankulam, Jaitapur, Jagudoga) upon vulnerable communities, and against the wishes of civil protesters, five of whom have been killed since 2010. While guaranteed only intermittent electricity supply, such communities are experiencing higher rates of disease, congenital malformations and early deaths. In Jagudoga, Jharkhand (19,500 people), those living near the central uranium mine operated by Uranium Corp. of India Ltd. (UCIL), have suffered disproportionately high health problems……….

Second, while Tony Abbott reiterated that ‘suitable safeguards’ were in place to ensure that Australian uranium would be used for ‘peaceful purposes’ and for ‘civilian use only’, such ambiguous terms create false impressions. Nuclear technologies are inherently dual-use (both for civil energy production and military use), and it is disingenuous to claim that a water-tight separation can be ensured. In fact, ten of India’s twenty nuclear facilities do not fall under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supervisional authority, and India only selectively recognises IAEA safeguards for specific foreign supplied reactors and facilities. With no mechanism to inspect this nuclear technology to ensure that the fuel is not diverted into nuclear weapons production, safety cannot be guaranteed.

Even if the diverted fuel was discovered, neither Australia nor the IAEA could force compliance. An influx of imported foreign uranium will simply make it easier for India to reserve some of its indigenous uranium for enrichment and/or reprocessing weapons-grade plutonium, or for some of Australia’s uranium to be ‘misallocated’ toward military facilities.

In effect, Tony Abbott’s policy to treat India as the exception undermines the IAEA standards within the disarmament regime, and breaches Australia’s obligations to the Rarotonga Treaty for the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone.

Third, and perhaps most significant, the deal will upset the ‘balance’ between India-Pakistan and in the South Asian region so as to aggravate rivalries and intensify tensions between the two nations, as well as others such as China and Bangladesh………

While leaders such as Abe, Abbott and Modi downplay the reality confronting people affected by radiation exposures from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, we should remember that this contamination came, in part, from Australian uranium.

The refusal of executive leaders to acknowledge the dangers of the uranium trade reflects the centrality of nuclear power to the US-led security regime that seeks to dominate non-compliant nations such as China or Russia………

Dr Adam Broinowski is an ARC postdoctoral research fellow at the College of Asia and the Pacific, the Australian National University.

 

September 24, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, India, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia’s blatant violation of Non Proliferation Treaty, in selling uranium to India

Australia blatantly violates the NPT, Iran held to different standard http://www.iranaffairs.com/iran_affairs/2014/09/australia-blatantly-violates-the-npt-iran-held-to-different-standard.html

As if we needed any more proof that the “Iranian nuclear threat” is just a cooked-up pretextwhich is unrelated to any actual nuclear threat, Australia (which holds about 1/3rd of the world’s uranium reserves) has decided to sell uranium to India. That such a deal violates the terms of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, doesn’t seem to be an issue to anyone. Note the absence of handwringing editorials at the Washington Post and NY Times about the sanctity of international arms treaties etc.

And why should it be a problem, considering that a few years ago the US agreed to violate the same NPT by sharing nuclear technology with India in exchange for buying India’s vote against Iran at the IAEA Board (which sent Iran’s file to the UN Security Council even though Iran had not breached the NPT?)

On the eve of his visit to New Delhi, US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns has said that with India voting in favour of the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] resolution on Iran’s nuclear programme, Congressional opposition to the Indo-US nuclear agreement has disappeared and both sides would meet their commitments before President George W. Bush visits India next year.

Of course the US and Australia claim that this stuff is going to non-military use in India but all that means is that the deal would free-up India’s other resources to be used for non-civilian use. There’s nothing in the NPT which allows signatories to make such exceptions anyway.

Now in the meantime, while the US (and Australia) are blatantly violating their own obligations under the NPT, they’re demanding that Iran apply even greater restrictions on its nuclear program than the NPT requires, by for example giving up uranium enrichment. These excessive demands that violate Iran’s legal rights are clearly intended to scuttle the talks, and to keep the “crisis” alive. The US has no intention of peacefully resolving the nuclear dispute with Iran, no matter what.

September 9, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia’s nuclear guinea pigs at Maralinga

Hear-This-wayAUDIO: Maralinga: Australia’s experience of nuclear testing http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2014/s4082110.htm  ABC Radio p.m Mark Colvin reported this story on Friday, September 5, 2014 DAVID MARK: It happened in the 1950s. But the truth about a series of nuclear tests in which Britain let off atomic bombs at Maralinga in the South Australian desert only started to emerge in the ’70s.

Even now, there are still survivors demanding justice. Many are now dead, but there are still fears about the effects of the big doses of radiation they absorbed having on their children and even their grandchildren.

The journalist Frank Walker has written a book about Maralinga and he told Mark Colvin about what Australian servicemen actually experienced at the test site. …………

 British scientists came over in their white overcoats and the helmets and the oxygen tanks – the whole thing – while the RAAF blokes stood there in their regular flying gear wondering what the hell was going on…….

FRANK WALKER: The British scientists wouldn’t do a lot of things that they said the Australian servicemen had to do, such as drive the heavy vehicles into the red hot zone and pick up the scientific equipment and bring it back to them.

What the British wanted to know was could a nation survive an atomic war? In other words, if Britain was caught in an atomic war, they – obviously bombs would fall on London, Manchester, all the big industrial cities – but what would – could Britain survive? Could they grow food? Could the people survive? Would the children grow up to be adults?

This was what they wanted to know and this was why the instructions were to have men positioned at certain distances from the blast to see whether they could function afterwards.

MARK COLVIN: Now we’ve talked a bit about the servicemen, but we haven’t talked about the traditional owners of the land. What happened to them? FRANK WALKER: They were treated absolutely abominably. First of all, they were just totally disregarded. They had no knowledge of whether Aborigines used Maralinga as a traditional hunting area and when it turned out they did, that this was actually a – many songlines went through this territory, that they would walk through this territory from waterhole to waterhole. They knew this land very well. They were – they tried to keep them out.

They had one sort of patrol bloke who knew the outback very well. He was a bushman, a bloke by the name of MacDougall, very interesting character. He had a job of trying to keep Aborigines out of an area that’s about a million square kilometres.

MARK COLVIN: One bloke.

FRANK WALKER: One bloke.

MARK COLVIN: So, we will probably never know if any Aborigines were killed in the actual blast?

FRANK WALKER: I believe they were. I believe – there were several accounts that came up before the atomic royal commission in the 1980s where soldiers, where lower ranks described finding corpses in the Maralinga area. Certainly we know that some did come through the area and were found alive and they tried to decontaminate them and so on.

But the accounts of corpses being found in some of the craters and in trails near the test sites were – could not be proven. It ended up being the junior blokes, junior ranks would say, “We saw it. We saw them bulldoze the bodies.” The senior ranks would come along and say, “No, it never happened.”…..FRANK WALKER: I think both governments are extremely liable. The Australian Government at the time, at the very best, turned a blind eye to what was going on. The British Government was running the show and they were quite content in they treated Australia as though it were just do whatever they wanted and, under Menzies, the government did………

September 6, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, indigenous issues, weapons and war | 2 Comments

Australia breaks international Treaty, in selling uranium to India

India-uranium1Seen from the perspective of adherence to non-proliferation norms and commitments If Australia exports uranium to India, Australia would violate its obligations of the Treaty of Rarotonga, which binds it from not indulging in such trade. Article 4 of the Rarotonga Treaty requires India to comply with safeguards requirements of Article III(1) of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Article III(1) of the NPT is about reaching a comprehensive safeguards agreement with IAEA. Instead, India has only acknowledged safeguards on certain foreign-supplied reactors and facilities. India’s safeguards agreement is based upon the IAEA’s ‘facility specific’ safeguards.

Australian uranium sale to India will be subjected to weak monitoring safeguards or ‘facility specific’ of IAEA, contrary to nuclear deals Australia has with other countries

AUSTRALIAN PROSPECTIVE NUCLEAR TRADE WITH INDIA – THE CONTROVERSYhttp://www.eurasiareview.com/21082014-australian-prospective-nuclear-trade-india-controversy/AUGUST 21, 2014   BY 

 Australia is expected to sign a civil nuclear agreement with India during the visit of Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott early next month. Negotiations have been concluded to smooth the path for uranium imports from Australia. The news came out when hundreds of thousands of Indian men and women have protested against the expanding nuclear industry.

These protests have been a regular feature in Koodankulam (Tamil Nadu), Jaitapur (Maharashtra) and Gorakhpur (Haryana) and at least five activists have lost their lives since 2010 in their struggle against the Indian government’s decision without taking the affected parties on board. Radioactive waste from uranium mining in the country’s east is reportedly affecting adjacent communities. Thousands of Indians suffer from the effects of uranium mining as related to poor technical and management practices.

Australia controls the planet’s largest known uranium reserves. Uranium is a controversial and debatable subject in Canberra, because it can be used both for civil and military purposes. Australia had previously cancelled plans to sell uranium to India as it is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but it was Indo- US nuclear deal which paved the way for the ban’s lifting.

The move of lifting the ban came despite a parliamentary report on nuclear safety regulation in India had emphasized grave nuclear safety concerns and organizational flaws comparable international norms. India’s auditor general in this report has designated the country’s nuclear industry as insecure, disordered and in many cases, unregulated. The report underlined the fact that there is no national policy on nuclear and radiation safety after almost 30 years and is not much ardent to adopt world standards and best practices.

It is an unpredictable and unjustified security situation into which Australia is selling uranium. Australian government’s idea to sell uranium to India was strongly criticized by the Australians but the government seems inclined to disregard it. Analysts in Australia are opposing the Uranium sale without preconditions and any meaningful concessions from India, like Indian ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and stopping the production of nuclear bomb making material.

Seen from the perspective of adherence to non-proliferation norms and commitments If Australia exports uranium to India, Australia would violate its obligations of the Treaty of Rarotonga, which binds it from not indulging in such trade. Article 4 of the Rarotonga Treaty requires India to comply with safeguards requirements of Article III(1) of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Article III(1) of the NPT is about reaching a comprehensive safeguards agreement with IAEA. Instead, India has only acknowledged safeguards on certain foreign-supplied reactors and facilities. India’s safeguards agreement is based upon the IAEA’s ‘facility specific’ safeguards.

Australian uranium sale to India will be subjected to weak monitoring safeguards or ‘facility specific’ of IAEA, contrary to nuclear deals Australia has with other countries.Andrew Davies from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute highlighted IAEA’s inability to screen exactly where uranium sent to India from Australia if comprehensive monitoring safeguards are not applied. “For example, if 100 tones go into a civilian nuclear program and 90 tons of products come out, they don’t know where the missing product was diverted from,” he convincingly argues.

A defense research group, IHS Jane’s has revealed that India is increasing its uranium facility that could support the expansion of nuclear weapons. India is trying to buy foreign sources of uranium so she can use its domestic reserves for a nuclear arms race with Pakistan. India is expanding its nuclear power programme to use its own uranium for the production of more nuclear weapons. Adding Australian uranium into India’s energy mix would have serious fall outs on prevailing strained relations between India and its nuclear-armed neighbors. Can Australia trust India to not use Australian uranium for weapons manufacture?

Non-proliferation is a top agenda item when it comes to Pakistan, Iran or North Korea, but it is an inoperable standard when it is India or Israel. The commencement of nuclear trade with India – first by Washington in 2008 and currently by Canberra – has immense repercussions. It will profoundly upset the proliferation equation for other countries in the region. India-Australia nuclear deal will aggravate India-Pakistan nuclear rivalry and exacerbate Pakistan’s security dilemma. Both countries have nuclear weapons, so this commitment by Aussies will no doubt intensify the India-Pakistan tensions. Nuclear trade with India will profoundly upset strategic stability of the South Asian region.

August 22, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia now seen by China as a military threat – due to pact with USA

China Declares Australia a Military Threat Over US Pact http://www.therealnewsmatters.com/2014/08/china-declares-australia-military.html By Joshua Philipp, Epoch Times , 17 Aug 14  China’s state-run media have declared Australia a threat to its national security, after Australia finalized a 25-year military pact with the United States.

The United States currently has 1,200 troops from the Marine Corps and Air Force training with Australian troops for humanitarian and disaster relief. The defense agreement will increase the number of U.S. troops at Darwin in northern Australia to 2,500.

The Chinese regime is none too pleased about the agreement, however.

Li Jie, rear admiral of China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy, told Want China Times that Australia could pressure China’s supply lines in the Strait of Malacca in a conflict over the South China Sea.

“Australia is therefore likely to become a threat to China’s national security,” it states.

Global Times reported that if a war broke out between China and Vietnam or the Philippines, the United States could deploy submarines and aircraft from Australia….
http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/877760-china-declares-australia-a-military-threat-over-u-s-pact/

August 18, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international | Leave a comment

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