March, 2017

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A proposal for a National Electricity Plan

, Mar 22, 2017

We need to respond to Australia’s electricity crisis with a comprehensive National Electricity Plan argues guest writer Dr Garry Glazebrook
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GHGs: long-term change in three charts

, Mar 09, 2014

A long-term perspective (back to 1000 CE) on global greenhouse gas emissions in three charts taken from State of the Climate 2014, published last week by the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology
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Getting warmer: the State of the Climate in five charts

, Mar 06, 2014

Five charts from State of the Climate 2014 published this week by the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology, the third report in a biannual series monitoring long term trends in Australia's climate
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Is public transport as green as you think?

, Dec 04, 2012

It's true emissions from public transport aren't as low relative to cars as is popularly imagined, but the savings are still significant. And there are other good reasons to invest in worthwhile transit services.
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Are homes with swimming pools energy guzzlers?

, Aug 07, 2012

In the US, homes with a swimming pool use a whopping 49% more electricity and 19% more gas than homes without one. Yet it’s not the pool itself that’s the main problem. Energy efficiency company, Opower, examined the energy consumption over four seasons of 2 million homes located in a region with a moderate climate. […]
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Is peak oil a non-event?

, Jul 24, 2012

Ken Parish at Club Troppo draws attention to a new report that confounds the conventional wisdom on peak oil and, if correct, has important implications for cities. It’s published by Harvard University’s Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs. It concludes that oil supply capacity is growing worldwide at such an unprecedented level, it might […]
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Should the six star rating be dumped?

, Apr 17, 2012

The Fairfax press reported yesterday the Victorian Government is considering a proposal to abolish the mandatory 6 star energy rating for new houses and renovations, and replace it with a voluntary industry code. This morning however, The Age reports the Premier, Ted Baillieu, has done an about-face and ruled out any change. If the Government really […]

Are wind turbines bad for the countryside?

, Jul 27, 2011

Earlier this week I watched the Four Corners story, Against the Wind, on the alleged health impacts of wind turbines and came away wondering just what the point of the program was. Based on what I saw, my clear impression is there’s no issue here – there’s simply no hard evidence of the supposed health […]

Is exempting petrol from the carbon tax such a big problem?

, Jul 04, 2011

Given Australia already has a large excise tax on petrol, exempting automotive fuel bought by “families, tradies and small businesses” from the Gillard Government’s carbon tax is not the disaster some would have us believe. Australia has a minority government so compromise was inevitable – two of the independents, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, wouldn’t […]

Are current carbon policies cost-effective?

, Jun 20, 2011

The Productivity Commission’s new research report, Carbon emission policies in key economies, has important implications for the way emissions are managed, but it also has some key lessons for urban and transport policy (and other areas of policy, for that matter). The report should remove any doubt that a price on carbon is far and […]

Has “peak gasoline” been and gone?

, May 29, 2011

One of the themes I’ve consistently emphasised when discussing looming threats like peak oil is that policy responses must take account of the adaptability of markets and consumers. Drivers will respond to higher petrol prices by, for example, travelling less, changing to smaller fuel-efficient cars and moving to more accessible locations. Manufacturers will respond by […]

Was Chernobyl as tame as Andrew Bolt claims?

, Mar 23, 2011

Herald Sun journalist Andrew Bolt glosses easily over the potential negative health implications of the troubled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear reactor in Japan. He says too much emphasis is given to the Chernobyl disaster because, contrary to received wisdom, he maintains only 65 deaths are associated with this accident. But there’s more to it than that. These accounts […]

Why should we "go it alone" on carbon?

, Mar 22, 2011

I regularly hear the argument that there’s no point in Australia putting a price on carbon because we’re so small it will mean jack shit at an international level. We’ll suffer the pain, so the argument goes, for no gain. Australia is one of the world’s highest emitters of greenhouse gases on a per capita […]

Can Coles and Woolies be more sustainable?

, Mar 02, 2011

Giant US department store chain Wal-Mart has some interesting initatives to promote sustainability and public health that the likes of Coles, Woolworths and Bunnings should be taking note of. My interest in Wal-Mart was piqued by a large number of hits The Melbourne Urbanist received last month from the US on a piece I wrote […]

Did Peter Garrett get it right after all?

, Oct 21, 2010

Peter Garrett copped a lot of flak over the Rudd Government’s Home Insulation Program earlier this year. There was widespread rorting and mismanagement, four workers died installing insulation and, up to 18 October 2010, almost 200 house fires have been linked to the program. Did the program achieve anything positive? According to this report, Tony […]

Is the car industry's "Cash for Clunkers" plan better?

, Oct 16, 2010

The car industry has proposed a revamp of the Gillard Government’s “cash for clunkers” program. They say it will reduce the cost from $400 million to $200 million while still meeting the Government’s target of saving one million tonnes of CO2. The nub of the proposal is that the rebate on new cars should be […]

What's wrong with (green) cars?

, Sep 15, 2010

Earlier in the week I argued that public policy needs to recognise that climate change and peak oil are the least compelling reasons for investing in public transport (Public transport: time for a new paradigm?). There are far more convincing reasons, I argued, such as providing universal mobility and an alternative in congested conditions. One […]