We are all legal and exercising representative democratic duties with our billboard banner 23 - 26 November 2009. The objectives include national logger conference at historic Hyatt Hotel and funded by federal government, and federal parliament sitting on climate change legislation.
It was a thrill swinging through the Hyatt with the feeling our grandfather Eric McLoughlin would have hung out here with PM Bob Menzies. What would the war correspondent journo think of his grandson writing this today?
By our reckoning we have had 7 professional chats with official authorities over the past week:
1. Uniform highway patrol at Cobargo - is that your car? Nope, borrowed. License, solicitor's card, and away.
2. Uniform Australian Federal Policeman on bicycle, federal Parliament precinct, caution and direction off the Hill because no permission to protest with vehicle.
3. Uniform ACT car patrol while propped on Commonwealth Ave, caution and potential parking fine under consideration.
4. Plain clothes AFP officer Hyatt Hotel, logger industry conference, together with hotel security general liaison.
5. Tactical Response Group officer in overalls caution not to enter Hyatt or approach guests with placards or brochures.
6. Day Chief AFP security Parliamentary Security by phone, night chief AFP security in person direction to park in Federal Drive (new and old House)
7. ACT parking ranger in Civic next to Garema Place as stationwagons cannot use loading zones in the ACT (unlike NSW).
Some images follow:
Our banner billboard education tour has travelled from Bega to Canberra via Narooma and Batemans Bay (as per the press photo below published yesterday by Narooma News) in time for the federal govt sponsored logging and woodchip industry conference on 24 and 25 Nov 2009.
Feedback has been polite, deferential, approving and in one only case nasty.
Here are some pics from various towns raising awareness:
Picture: Merimbula beachfront
Picture: Main street of Pambula
Picture: Bega annual Rotary Family Fun Day, with highly popular giant slide in the background.
Moruya outside federal MP Mike Kelly's office:
Only after 4 days on the south coast at generally sympathetic tourism and service economy of Merimbula we heard some venom with a couple in a drive by verbal insult "You can stick that sign up your arse" and "You bloody idiot." Tsk Tsk.
Received from behind sun glasses and a benevolent silence as if to say have a nice day.
We were honoured to meet Patricia Andren who lives in a retirement home on the South Coast. She is sister to Peter who was independent federal member of parliament for the central west of NSW seat of Calare. Peter tragically died of cancer and was widely respected and maintained a huge majority in the seat.
She has met local Liberal MP in the state parliament Andrew Constance at her residence and has written to every other state MP about protecting the wild forest landscapes of the south coast.
Over this last 3 days this writer has enjoyed positive chats with:
- farmer from Bemboka
- retired tree feller
- ex forestry dozer driver, ex mining industry indigenous family man
- self funded retiree
- local science teacher
- assorted local environmentalists
- festival organiser
- tourism hostel manager
- local journalist
- other stall holders
Day 3 was approaching fast with some minor excitement good and bad.
Picture: From left Cr Keith Hughes, Bega Valley Shire, his partner Harriet Swift convenor of local ChipStop group, John Kaye MP (Greens), Dr Bronte Somerset (Phd in Education) web builder for SERCA, Dr Prue Acton (OBE, hon doctor Arts) also of SERCA. SERCA is South East Region Conservation Alliance.
Hot afternoon had the good array of stalls in the Bega CBD Friday 20th November 2009 sweltering. A big wind change at 3pm had most of us winding down.
There was a moderate turn out of the public on this weekday start of a 3 day event for the inaugural Bega Festival with the theme of community in transition.
The local college band was hip and cool with quality jam, especially keyboard and lead guitar.
Public reception to the billboard message was good with only one silent head shake. Interesting given the hot weather and the diabolical issue of bushfire safety well understood in every rural region. SERCA funded the billboard, this writer and another colleague funded and built the mobile billboard.
We hear this last 24 hour news cycle Peter Cosier - sincere earnest scientist of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists - urging inclusion in any government scheme the opportunity for carbon sequestration via soil and other biomass fixation by big agriculture. He wants to leverage our natural advantage of large land mass while sanitising our real land use history:
Here he is quoted on ABC World Today show yesterday: Scientists cite soil as significant at http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2009/s2717777.htm
ELEANOR HALL: The Coalition may want agriculture excluded from the ETS but the nation's top climate scientists are calling on the Federal Government to include soil and vegetation in Australia's emissions trading scheme.
A report released by the Wentworth Group of Scientists says that unless this is done, it will be "next to impossible" to achieve the emissions cuts needed to avoid the worst effects of climate change.
The ABC's environment reporter Sarah Clarke has been speaking to Wentworth Group scientist, Peter Cosier.
PETER COSIER: Well, our analysis shows that if we increase the amount of carbon stored in vegetation and soils across our landscape, it has the potential not only to make a profound contribution to meeting our carbon pollution reduction targets but it also presents a unique opportunity to address a raft of other seemingly intractable environmental problems.
In other words we can use soil and vegetation carbon to help address climate change but we can get win-win outcomes if we design our institutional structures properly.
SARAH CLARKE: Is that the problem - that there are no institutional structures in place now?
PETER COSIER: Well at this stage we don't have those structures in place because we don't have a terrestrial carbon market but if we do introduce a CPRS and if the Government does extend the ability for polluters to offset their pollution by storing carbon in soil and vegetation then we will create a very large terrestrial carbon market.
SARAH CLARKE: How effective is soil and vegetation? How effective are they in storing carbon?
PETER COSIER: Well the analysis that we have looked at which follows on some work by CSIRO for the Queensland Government is that if Australia were to capture just 15 per cent of the biophysical capacity of our landscape to store carbon, you would offset the equivalent of 25 per cent of Australia's greenhouse gas emissions every year for the next 40 years.
SARAH CLARKE: Are other governments recognising soil and vegetation as an effective way of storing carbon?
PETER COSIER: Some governments have recognised it. In the United States for example the legislation going through the United States does recognise soil and vegetation offsets as part of their legislation but Australia is rather uniquely placed because, because we are relatively small economy with a large landscape the contribution that terrestrial carbon can make to our carbon pollution reduction targets is actually far greater relative to other nations.
SARAH CLARKE: What is the market worth then?
PETER COSIER: Well, if we were to achieve, capture 15 per cent of the potential that CSIRO estimate is possible, we could potentially create a terrestrial carbon market in Australia of between $3 billion and $6 billion per annum as I said, every year for the next 40 years.
The actual market created would depend of course, on the size of the reduction target the Government commits to.
SARAH CLARKE: How would farmers do this though? Would they have to put land aside to simply use that soil to store carbon or could they continue farming and producing fruit and vegetables and their produce?
PETER COSIER: Well, at the moment the CPRS does allow offsets into carbon forestry as it is called, Kyoto-compliant forestry. If farmers chose to, they would be able to use some of those opportunities to plant carbon forests or biodiversity plantings if they chose to on parts of their property and that would give them a new income stream.
Of course there is a risk that if we don't properly regulate the market we could also see large areas of agricultural land taken out of food production and converted into these carbon forests so we need a balance but if we get the balance right, the potential benefits to agriculture in terms of new income streams, the benefits for restoring degraded landscapes and biodiversity conservation are enormous.
ELEANOR HALL: That is Peter Cosier from the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists speaking to our environment reporter Sarah Clarke.
Here he is for instance quoted 3rd of August:
According to Peter Cosier, executive director for the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, terrestrial carbon must be taken into account if Australia is to meet its carbon reduction targets.
"If we increased sequestered carbon stock in terrestrial landscapes by 15%, it would offset emissions emitted during the entire industrial revolution," he said.
Cosier pointed out while Australia was best placed to take advantage of terrestrial carbon offsets, we were still suffering under a "perverse rule" from the Kyoto Protocol to counter all emissions from soils, not just human use.
"Australia is unique; we have a massive advantage with terrestrial carbon. We have 20 million people on a continent of 7.5 million square kilometres. The proportion of the potential for offsetting carbon is vastly greater than any other developed country in the world," he said.
"What's stopping us is that if we have a drought and soil carbon is lost, we have to pay for it."
Cosier is so right in theory but the political economic history is way against him.
What he is not facing up to is that the famous PR programme called Landcare alliance between the National Farmers Association and Australian Conservation Foundation pioneered by former ALP Prime Minister Bob Hawke in the late 1980ies involved just 10% of farmers as members. Only 10% nationally at best supported environmentally friendly farming by that measure, though this report suggests as high as 1/3 in Victoria:
The good farmers are in the stark minority. The bad farmers are proceeding with record land clearing to the tune of millions of hectares in Queensland and New South Wales. In other words as the good book says - know them by their actions.
Cosier at best is speaking wishfully for 10% of farmers, maybe more given the greater awareness up to 2009. Or even with a doubling to 20% is still an 80% dinosaur cohort majority: See these credible figures 1991 to 2000:
The findings clearly show more favourable environmental attitudes with increasing level of involvement in landcare, although among all rural landholders with income from agriculture and/or properties larger than 50ha, those who rated themselves as ‘actively involved’ amounted to eight per cent of landholders. The marked difference between the eight per cent figure and the membership levels of 28 per cent and 43 per cent mentioned above highlights the sensitivity of estimates of landcare group membership to both the definition of the base population and of participation in landcare.
in Australian Farmers' Attitudes to Rural Environmental Issues.
Reeve, I. 2001 Australian Farmers' Attitudes to Rural Environmental Issues. 1991-2001. Final Report to Land and Water Australia.
That's why farmer traditional political representation in the National Party state constantly they won't vote for an Emissions Trading Scheme under any circumstances.
This is the real record of those carbon storage champions in big agri in Australia:
ACF - Facts About Land Clearing in Australia Australia has the fifth highest rate of land clearing in the world. We clear more bush each year than poverty-stricken countries like Burma, Mexico
The Wilderness Society — New data on Australian landclearing rates ...New research from NSW and Queensland has found that Australia's landclearing rates are much higher than reviously estimated. The independent research ....
Ross Garnaut talks about the 'prisoners dilemma' in the context of his global warming report. He means folks who cheat on their buddy - the other prisoner - who doesn't know whether he will be turned in. Yet if both cooperate and trust eachother (in this case to stay silent) both will have equal advantage from severe penalty.
He means if everyone behaves in a Kyoto style treaty of international cooperation everyone benefits unless someone cheats - like the USA under W Bush, or like India or China growing with dirty energy.
Then there is Professor Peter Singer the famous ethicist on ABC RN this morning and recent book reviews also wondering aloud about the motives for charity to save child lives versus the selfish. Why some do and others don't.
And in popular culture form it's represented in The Dark Knight by the evil Joker holding two groups of people in separate ships wired with explosives. It's a global warming metaphor and perhaps the political aphorism 'disunity is death'. Who will murder the others based on irrational fear to prevent the same to them? Who will cheat? It's Palestine Israel. It's the whole life experience.
All this takes us back to the 1980ies study of evolutionary ecology at the Zoology Dept of the Australian National University. What causes "co-operation" within some species to evolve? (In writing this we are now reminded that "mutualism" refers to co-operation between species.) Why share when the food and other individual goals like breeding or shelter might benefit the individual cheater more, than pulling ones weight? That is advance the one over the many.
Then proceed to complex theories of shared genetics (kin selection) amongst relatives in a flock or mob versus competitors of the same species. And debates over group (or multi level) selection versus individuals in the test of survival of the fittest. Also analysis of external threats, like large carnivores or maybe temperature regulation, and other benefits of co-operation.
All very apt given the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin father of evolution.
Location: Law Courts Building, Sydney
Address: Banco Court, Level 13, Queen's Square, 184 Phillip St
Date : Thursday, 12 February 2009
Time : 5:45pm
Professor Dutton will show how Darwin?s evolutionary ideas not only explain the facts of animal and human biology, but have much to say about the moral, intellectual, and artistic lives of human beings. Evolutionary processes tell us why the arts are central to human life across cultures and ages. This provocative lecture will include an opportunity for questions and answers, with Dutton offering radical new insights into both the nature of art and the workings of the human mind.
Prof. Denis Dutton
The zoologists and behavioural ecologists have trodden this theoretical path and scientific discussion for literally decades. The economists and ethicists might benefit from talking to some serious evolutionary ecologists about co-operation - where it works and where it doesn't.
A caution applies: The story of humanity doesn't really conform to Darwin's evolutionary theories in any neat form. Short sighted people breed all the time. Others also prosper like cripples with a gift for science, or folks lucky enough to get penicillin for child hood ailments.
But the concepts behind analysing co-operation in evolutionary theory might have some lessons to offer yet.
As federal Climate Change Minister Wong here quietly sledges the notion of the Australian Greens seeking carbon neutrality by say 2050, it seems a big corporation with its local headquarters a stone's throw from the Sydney Opera House is also aiming for "neutrality". Only in Coca Cola's case it is the consumption of water for its drinks products.
So who is right to claim the concept of neutrality? The corporation but not the Greens. Or are both wrong? Or both right? It's very confusing Minister!
Here is a critic of Coca Cola in correspondence to SAM recently:
Sent: Monday, December 08, 2008 5:09 PMSubject: Coca-Cola's Latest Scam - Water Neutrality
Coca-Cola's Latest Scam - Water Neutrality
by Amit Srivastava
India Resource Center
November 25, 2008
The Coca-Cola company is up to its old tricks again.
The company, which is under fire for its mismanagement of water resources in India, has gone all out to manufacture an image of itself as a global leader in water conservation. Sections of Coca-Cola's website, for example, read like a proposal that a non-governmental organization (NGO) working on water issues may write.
Now, in an attempt to position itself as "aggressively" tackling the world's water problems, the Coca-Cola company has come up with a new Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative - water neutrality.
The company has already announced that it will become water neutral in India by the end of 2009 and that it has plans to do so in its global operations as well.
Sure, it all sounds good and who could object to water conservation measures in an increasingly water scarce world?
But just what does becoming water neutral mean?
In a concept paper on water neutrality developed by the Coca-Cola company, the World Business Council on Sustainable Development, World Wildlife Fund and others in November 2007, it reads:
"In a strict sense, the term 'water neutral' is troublesome and even may be misleading. It is often possible to reduce a water footprint, but it is generally impossible to bring it down to zero."
I see. Troublesome and misleading.
The concept paper also notes:
"After having done everything that was technically possible and economically feasible, individuals, communities and businesses will always have a residual water footprint. In that sense, they can never become water neutral"
In other words, becoming water neutral is impossible.
And finally, the concept paper on water neutrality offers this:
"Alternative names to 'water neutral' that have been suggested include water offset, water stewardship, and water use reduction and reuse. However none of these other terms seem to have the same gravity or resonance (inspiration) with the media, officials or NGO's as the term neutrality. For pragmatic reasons it may therefore be attractive to use the term 'water neutral', but there is a definite need to be clear about precisely what it entails if reduction of water use to zero is not possible."
Just to be clear, we want to summarize what the concept paper on water neutrality has to say on the use of the term water neutrality.
It is pragmatic to use a troublesome and misleading (but attractive) term like water neutrality i?? which is impossible to achieve i?? because it resonates well with the media, officials and NGO's.
Welcome to Coca-Cola's world.
It doesn't really matter what the facts and reality may be. As long as it sounds good, no matter how misleading or troublesome the concept, they will market it to forge public opinion with the use of their mighty public relations apparatus.
The Coca-Cola company will be announcing its "water neutrality" goals later this week in London and in San Francisco on December 2, 2008.
Little Drops of Misery
The International Campaign to Hold Coca-Cola Accountable for its abuses in India has been frustrated with Coca-Cola's increased public relations, under the guise of Corporate Social Responsibility, to respond to the crisis that Coca-Cola has created in India.
Communities living around some of Coca-Cola's bottling plants in India are experiencing severe water shortages - due to Coca-Cola's extraction of water from the groundwater resource as well as pollution by the company's plants. Located primarily in rural areas, the hardest hit have been farmers who have seen significant declines in crop production as well as women who now have to walk longer to access potable water.
A study funded by Coca-Cola - which the campaign forced it to agree to - confirmed that Coca-Cola is a significant contributor to the water crises and one of its key recommendations is that Coca-Cola shut down its bottling plant - in Kala Dera in the state of Rajasthan - where the community has been campaigning against Coca-Cola.
The study - a damning indictment of Coca-Cola's water management practices in India - concluded that the Coca-Cola company had sited its bottling plants in India from strictly a "business continuity" perspective that has not taken the wider context into perspective. It also warned Coca-Cola of worsening water conditions around its bottling plants, found an alarming increase in pollution as one got closer to Coca-Cola bottling plants and faulted the company on pollution prevention measures, among others.
In typical fashion, the Coca-Cola company has chosen to ignore the findings of the study - which it paid for and even participated in - and is now insisting that shutting down the Kala Dera plant and leaving is not an option because the responsible thing to do is to stay and solve the problem because they are "problem solvers"!
Lies and Half-Truths- Coca-Cola's CSR
Last month, the Coca-Cola company released its 2007/2008 Sustainability Review, and surprisingly, critical issues facing the company's operations in India do not find mention in the review. Needless to say, the company gives itself high marks in its sustainability report.
We can understand that mentioning the company's atrocious record in India would not look good for a company that is on a fast track towards manufacturing a green image of itself. But surely a company cannot just choose to ignore the fiercest battleground it faces when it comes to measuring Coca-Cola's sustainability?
Evidently, if you are Coca-Cola, you can conveniently choose to omit the most critical issues facing the company's use - or abuse - of water. The sustainability report must look good, and facts do not matter.
One of Coca-Cola's champion projects in India to deflect attention away from the water crises it causes is rainwater harvesting, a traditional Indian practice. Although the company started operations in India in 1993, it only had four rainwater harvesting structures in 2001 - definitely not a priority for the company.
As the community-led campaign against Coca-Cola's water abuses spread around India, so did Coca-Cola's championing of rainwater harvesting. Today, the company claims to have over 200 rainwater harvesting structures.
Along with the massive publicity of their rainwater harvesting structures (which, incidentally, the Coca-Cola funded study found to be in "dilapidated" conditions), Coca-Cola also started making fantastical claims.
In Kala Dera, for example, the Coca-Cola company claims to recharge (through rainwater harvesting) five times the water they use from the groundwater resource. In other words, they claim that they put back fives times as much water they use back into the groundwater resource. Forget water neutral, this would be water positive!
Yet, while they make this claim in a letter to the University of Michigan, they also note that they do not have any metering mechanisms in place to measure how much water is being recharged.
If you don't have measuring devices in place to measure the recharge, how can one claim that they recharge five times the amount of water they use?
If you are Coca-Cola, you just make it up. And the University of Michigan officials never even bothered to clarify this point. It sure resonates well with the media, officials and NGOs. And evidently, it seems to work.
Last month, the Coca-Cola Company extended its partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to conserve freshwater river basins around the world, except India. Announced originally with much fanfare in Beijing in July 2007 as part of their Olympics presence, the partnership with the WWF is yet another attempt to deflect attention away from the real crises that the company creates in India. The Coca-Cola company regularly highlights the partnership when responding to the issues in India. While we welcome any initiatives on water conservation, it makes no difference to the communities in India who are reeling from water shortages - courtesy Coca-Cola.
Conserving freshwater river basins in China and Guatemala do absolutely nothing to impact the depleted groundwater in Kala Dera and other Coca-Cola bottling plants in India. Water issues are local issues.
The list of Coca-Cola's initiatives to mislead the public is long and is well documented by the India Resource Center. The company has repeatedly publicized the Golden Peacock Awards that it has received for "environmental excellence" in India, for example. What the company does not tell you is that Coca-Cola is the primary sponsor of the organization that gives out the awards.
Water Neutrality - A Scam
The Coca-Cola company is now embarking on their latest initiative to mislead the public - announcing its water neutrality goals.
Becoming water neutral is impossible, and Coca-Cola is very well aware of this. But matters like that have never stopped the company from making preposterous claims, however misleading and troublesome they may be.
What is surprising, however, is the complete lack of scrutiny that Coca-Cola is subject to by the corporate social responsibility community and the media. Allowing Coca-Cola to get away with such a disingenuous plan significantly weakens the core aims of corporate social responsibility as well as objective reporting and makes CSR nothing more than an extension of public relations for companies.
If the Coca-Cola company were serious about being a good corporate citizen, it is well advised to begin by meeting the key recommendations of the study it paid for, and shutting down its plant in Kala Dera would be a positive first step.
Coming up with misleading and absurd terms like water neutrality is not going to make the difficulties of the communities in India go away. We need genuine changes in the manner in which Coca-Cola does business in India, not public relations initiatives like water neutrality.
On December 2, 2008, the Coca-Cola company and other water intensive companies will be meeting in San Francisco to ostensibly outline strategies for sustainable use of water.
Coca-Cola will be leading the session on water neutrality.
The India Resource Center has joined with The Blue Planet Project, Council of Canadians, Food and Water Watch, Indigenous Environmental Network and a host of local groups to organize a counter-conference to highlight the greenwashing efforts by Coca-Cola and other companies such as Pepsico and Nestle Waters. http://www.indiaresource.org/campaigns/coke/2008/Waterconference.pdf
Amit Srivastava is the Coordinator of India Resource Center, an international campaigning organization based in San Francisco, USA.
Picture: Plenary of senior panel first morning of 3 day Solar Energy Conference 25 tp 28 November 2008 in Sydney. This blurry slide is data 4 years old and shows Australia at number 4 in per capita greenhouse gas emissions behind United States, Canada, Norway and just ahead of Falkland Islands with alot of belching sheep.
The Rudd Govt in Australia has just announced some kind of '5-15% target by 2020'. Like most people we don't really understand what that means: Is it 5% reduction on emissions level as at 2000 by 2020, regardless of population increase?
Why does Australian Industry Group rep Heather Ridout argue just now on ABC radio here that it means' reduction of emission by 1 in 5 per capita' and that '15% reduction means reduction of emissions by 1 in 3'. Yes we are confused about it all. But we will digest the diverse analysis over the next few days and get back to the reader on that.
Picture: PV is photo voltaic solar energy for running household gadgets compared with solar thermal which is for water heating. An example of each is pictured below, solar thermal being the cylindrical one.
What we do find very probitive is this risposte to the old chestnut about Australia being relatively insignificant at only 1.22% (or is it 1.4%) of global emissions:
Dr Monica Oliphant (shown immediately above at 3rd from left, seated on the main senior panel day 1 Sydney Solar Conference Nov 2008) daughter in law of famous scientist Sir Mark Oliphant (both on Wikipedia) is President of the International Solar Energy Society - and an Australian by the sounds of her accent (?).
She told a big Solar conference 2 weeks ago here in Sydney that: Australia is ahead of 193 other countries with the same or less emissions [when measured as a country as compared to per capita above where we are fourth in 2004]. We trail another 15 countries which are bigger than us in emissions. So our 1.22% is a very big symbol to those 193 other mostly undeveloped countries on what we do. All up the 194 including Australia make up 30% of total emissions in the global budget.
* PV stands for photo voltaic solar energy derived electricity (eg for lights, computers, other appliances at about 15-25% energy efficiency from the sun's rays). This is distinct from another form of solar energy being thermal solar (heat energy up to about 30-40% efficiency) generally used for hot water systems (often the biggest drain on household energy bills). PV and solar thermal are often used in tandem. See an example of both types of panels pictured below. We are no expert but we understand these levels of efficiency are similar to conventional coal or nuclear sources given network leakages, rules of entropy (to degrade energy) in physics.
Picture: From right, Artur Zawadski of Wizard Power and chairman of convening group Australian New Zealand Solar Energy Society, Monica Oliphant president of convening group International Solar Energy Society (UN affiliated, daughter in law of nuclear physicist Sir Marcus 'Mark' Oliphant), Professor Deo Prasad of UNSW, John Susa of multinational (Chinese) solar company TrinaSola, and Dr Muriel Watt of UNSW
Picture: Slide from Dr Muriel Watt, UNSW on where we are, and where we are not, as in foot dragging (our word) by the current federal government on renewable energy policy. Minister Garrett did give a speech (which we missed) but according to another expert observer he failed to address 'MRET', gross 'FIT', 'RE' and Innovation Funds for renewable energy. These terms are mandatory renewable energy target, feed in tariff, renewable energy.
Yesterday we attended gratis via IMCS conference organisers the 3rd International Solar Energy Conference in combination with the 46th Annual Conference of the Australian & New Zealand Solar Energy Society. The ANZSES were also holding their AGM last night to adopt a new constitution and appoint a new CEO/CEO structure to get in shape for the years ahead.
We are talking literally a sunrise sector that is big money, big energy, big global outreach via UN affiliations, and big names at this conference like Prof David Mills featured in a new movie premier last night called The Future Makers in conjuction with Discovery Channel.
By coincidence we were reading via Crikey.com.au ezine that the Pope has joined the solar photo voltaic evangelists in their quest for "grid parity" over the next 10 years. This term refers to the point at which the cost of solar energy is the same as grid power (not sure if this is only running cost, or includes capital set up cost via loan with interest/amortisation of cost).
Refer the Vatican news here:
The Vatican goes green Ruth Brown
and more directly here via Reuters complete with photo slide show for the devout tourist:
By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican was set to go green on Wednesday with the activation of a new solar energy system to power several key buildings and a commitment to use renewable energy for 20 percent of its needs by 2020.
The massive roof of the Vatican's "Nervi Hall," where popes hold general audiences and concerts are performed, has been covered with 2,400 photovoltaic panels -- but they will not be visible from below, leaving the Vatican skyline unchanged.
The new system on the 5,000 square meter roof will provide for all the year-round energy needs of the hall and several surrounding buildings, producing 300 kilowatt hours (MWh) of clean energy a year.
The system, devised by the German company SolarWorld, will allow the 108-acre city-state to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by about 225,000 kilograms (225 tonnes) and save the equivalent of 80 tonnes of oil each year.
The Holy See's newspaper said on Tuesday that the Vatican planned to install enough renewable energy sources to provide 20 percent of its needs by 2020, broadly in line with a proposal by the European Union.
The 1971 Nervi Hall is named after the renowned architect who designed it, Pier Paolo Nervi, and is one of the most modern buildings in the Vatican, where most structures are several centuries old. The hall can hold up to 10,000 people.
It has a sweeping, wavy roof which made the project feasible and the solar panels virtually invisible from the ground. Church officials have said the Vatican's famous skyline, particularly St Peter's Basilica, would remain untouched.
An editorial in Tuesday's newspaper appealed for greater use of renewable energy.
"The gradual exhaustion of the ozone layer and the greenhouse effect have reached critical dimensions," the newspaper said.
By producing its own energy the Vatican will become more autonomous from Italy, from where it currently buys all its energy. The Vatican is surrounded by Rome.
Pope Benedict and his predecessor John Paul put the Vatican firmly on an environmentalist footing.
Benedict has made numerous appeals for the protection of the environment. The Vatican has hosted a scientific conference to discuss the ramifications of global warming and climate change, widely blamed on human use of fossil fuels.
Environmentalists praised the pope last year after he made a speech saying the human race must listen to "the voice of the earth" or risk destroying the planet.
(Editing by Tim Pearce)
Back at Darling Harbour great speakers, nice venue, good people, huge challenges. Lunch served in plastic throw aways which is a bit of a jarring note. Glad we took the solar ride yesterday and thanks to the conference organisers for the complimentary community media access.
We are still waiting for Minister Garrett's speech to arrive via email via their parliamentary staff (!?). The staffer suggests it may be on the ministers website here - and indeed so it is:
Speech to the 3rd International Solar Energy Society Conference, Asia - 26 November 2008
We are advised he didn't take any questions. Here is his $6M solar announcement for Alice Springs via media release of same day. Apparently there was controversy whether he would make it at all:
But on that score the Minister did better than shadow minister Greg Hunt, a sharp thinker too, who cancelled next day, and conservative non govt group WWF's Greg Bourne, formerly oil company BP, was also a no show. Bourne according to rumour had been called to Canberra at short notice (?!).
We later spoke with Gordon Stewart, Sales and Business development manager of Suntech Australia (whose founder Dr Zhengrong Shi of UNSW is richest man in China reportedly) who noted that the federal govt White Paper on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (previously Emission Trading Scheme) is thought to be released as soon as next week. A great profile of Suntech's founder involvement with Uni of NSW in Australia is here via old show Sunday on channel 9:
The richest man in China 7 Oct 2007
Profound footage there of Dr Shi sounding like the Chinese version of Al Gore, full of passion for the ideals not just the bottom line. Great stuff.
Picture: Scott Friar, as chief of mulitnational Spanish renewables energy company Abengoa. Scott is a Texan with a style like Sol Trujiho, with dry twist. Made some profound comments about the solar sector having to reprove their technology of 1983 again in 2008.