Each week, we provide a rundown of the most essential climate news from Australia and around the globe: the good, the questionable, and the conversation starters. Here's what's been going on this week.
The US Senate has just approved America’s most significant climate bill – perhaps ever. Experts have already calculated that the Inflation Reduction Act, which allocates a cool $US369 billion to renewable energy projects, could cut US greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. In other news, all new commercial zone buildings in France have to be covered in plants or solar panels, and Nevada says “goodbye” to grass.
The good news 😊
The federal government has started the process of declaring Gippsland, Victoria, as Australia’s first off-shore wind zone. Public consultations will kick off ASAP. This is a huge deal: more than 6,000MW of potential projects are already in the development pipeline. Former energy minister Angus Taylor introduced a bill last September that would enable offshore wind projects to be built in Commonwealth waters, and now the 60-day consultation process is officially underway.
A Scottish rewilding project has doubled in size after a “rollercoaster” local fundraiser campaign. The Langholm Initiative has raised £2.2 million to buy out a further 2,415 hectares from the Duke of Buccleuch, creating a 4,000-hectare moorland nature reserve in southern Scotland, known as Tarras Valley. “This is about a grassroots fightback against the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis,” says Jenny Barlow, Tarras Valley’s estate manager.
On the radar 🧐
Federal environment minister, Tanya Plibersek, says she’ll block Clive Palmer’s proposed coal mine, which sits just 10km from the Great Barrier Reef. Plibersek is using the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 to shoot down the project, and is currently inviting public comment on the decision. It’s a logical move: the Queensland government already flagged a “number of unacceptable risks” with Palmer’s mine, which would have shipped 18m tonnes of coal per year.
All eyes are on cars this week. Auto manufacturers are facing pressure to leave the national industry body, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, when it was revealed the organisation had been lobbying for weaker transport emission limits. Not a good look when you’re trying to sell EVs. RenewEconomy is also busting the lid on automotive scare campaigns and misinformation that have delayed the EV transition and torpedoed Australian fuel efficiency standards.
Water cooler chat 🗣️
As if we needed another reason to move to a 4-day work week, experts now say it’s better for the climate, too. It’s a “potential triple-dividend policy,” says Joe O’Connor, chief executive of the not-for-profit group 4 Day Week Global, “so something that can benefit the economy, society and also the environment.” The numbers are hard to nail down, but one study estimates that reducing work hours by 10% would cut our carbon footprint by almost 15%.
The Australian House of Representatives passed Australia’s first climate legislation in more than a decade last week. It wasn’t everything we wanted, but after 10 years in the climate wilderness, it was pretty amazing. So what happens now? The Guardian has a great article that runs through the basics: what the bill does (43% emissions cuts by 2030), how it will clear the Senate (easily), and how we’ll actually hit these new targets (details are still a bit hazy).
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