Bottom-Up Economics: Do We Need a RevoluScreenshot 2020 07 10 16.24.23tion in our Homes and Communities?

From compost toilets to food forests, join Patrick Jones and Meg Ulman @artistasfamily in a discussion about transitioning our economic lifeways for lower carbon living.
Can we revolutionise our economic reality from our homes outwards, or do we persist with a top-down economic frame that is the root of so many problems? What does a home economy look like today? What will we have to leave behind? What gifts will come into play? What will our transitions from one economic frame to another look like?

About the Presenters
Patrick Jones and Meg Ulman lives in Daylesford, Australia on a quarter-acre permaculture plot, home to the School of Applied Neopeasantry at Tree Elbow University on Djaara peoples' country.
He and his family, base their creative practice on a concept of permapoesis, which simply means permanent making or regenerative living – an antidote to disposable culture. They practice an art that participates in what it represents; an art of social warming in an era of global warming. Food ethics and politics are central to their practice. Generating food that brings human and ecological health and global justice is our creative call to arms, within the sphere of the local.

http://theartistasfamily.blogspot.com/

This free (now online) talk is hosted by Smart Living Ballarat for Breaze Inc. and is part of a free series of monthly sustainability workshops presented every 3rd Wednesday of the month. If you wish to discuss media opportunities, would like to join our monthly newsltter, or have an event you would like listed in our newsletter, please email Smart Living Ballarat Coordinator, Tim Drylie. Email: .

Event will be live at http://www.fb.com/smartlivingballarat/liv

 

BREAZE Advocacy 15

The BREAZE Advocacy Action Group will be holding its first Zoom meet-up on 23 July from 6-7 pm.

All members and friends welcome

To join simply email Therese—see below —by 22 July and she will will forward you the Zoom link

Suzanne Nunn from Buninyong Sustainability will present a case study in community lobbying. The topic for discussion is environmentally sustainable design and energy efficient buildings.

For further information please contact:

 



FED Uni logoFederation University's  School of Engineering, Information Technology and Physical Sciences has just announced a new online course — Graduate Certificate in Community Energy and Micro-Grid. For course details click the following link. https://federation.edu.au/future-students/study-at-federation/which-course/higher-education-short-courses  Enrolments close on 28 July 2020.

Key features of the course are:
  • Online learning
  • Learning from leading academics and researchers and national and international practitioners
  • Project-based learning
  • An opportunity to quickly up-skill with science and engineering, career-change in mind.

This is a new qualification that is unique and will fill a gap in demand in community-level renewable energy expertise

 

MDActivities

Smart Living Ballarat talks continue online during the pandemic. Do check out the Smart Living Ballarat Facebook site for details. https://www.facebook.com/smartlivingballarat/ And please try to register ahead so presenters know who they are talking to. If you haven’t ever attended one of these talks the online platform makes it pretty easy—and it’s an opportunity to learn and pick up practical tips from local experts. May’s talk, Sustainability in the Time of Covid, was presented by Steve Burns from Ballarat Permaculture, June had BREAZE treasurer Peter Reid talking on energy efficiency in the home, while in July, ‘Bottom Up Economics’ features Daylesford’s Patrick Jones and Meg Ulman talking about all things earthy from compost toilets to food forests. All SLB talks remain available on the Facebook site above – just click on the ‘videos’ link on the left.

This month BREAZE volunteers began implementing the 9 projects funded by the State government jobs stimulus funding—the Grampians Renewable Energy Program that was announced on the 20th of May. As a result of that injection of funds—$1.1 million in total—projects that were ready to go thanks to the great work of the BREAZE-hosted Community Power Hub and its Project Control Group—Peter Reid, Jane Lean, Ian Rossiter, and Ross Irving—will be happening soon with all to be completed by the end of the financial year. All in all the projects — McCallum Disability Services, Ballarat Regional Industries, Ballarat Cemetery Trust, Ballarat Table Tennis Association, Ballarat Squash and Racquetball Club, the Old Colonists’Association Retirement Village, Child and Family Services, Uniting Care Ballarat and the East Grampians Health Services — are likely to amount to more than 850kW of Solar PV. That’s a great bonus for the community and the environment.

Also on behalf of BREAZE, thanks are due to Bank Australia for awarding an Impact grant to our social solar project at the Old Colonists' Association's Retirement Village, which means that we will be able to install solar on the community centre and several dwellings.

Action Groups

For any members who are interested in volunteering with BREAZE, do keep an eye out for up-coming notifications regarding our four Action Groups – Advocacy, Sustainable Living, Community Forum and Social Solar. While the pandemic does frustrate a lot of activities that we would normally be engaged in, email and online meet-ups offer some scope for continued activity. Notice of online meet-ups will be given on BREAZE facebook and our website. You can also find the contacts for each of these action groups listed on our website. Do get in touch if you have any questions. As has often been said: the COVID curve is not the only curve we need to flatten — we cannot allow politicians to forget that we also have a climate emergency.

Submissions

This month BREAZE has made submissions to:

Climate News

As usual there’s been plenty of good and bad climate news in the media this month. Here’s my take on the three worst and three best

Three worst
  1. 'Intense Arctic Wildfires Set a Pollution Record' https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/07/climate/climate-change-arctic-fires.html
  2. 'Climate worst-case scenarios may not go far enough, cloud data shows' https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/13/climate-worst-case-scenarios-clouds-scientists-global-heating 
  3. 'Australian banks 'undermining Paris agreement' with $7bn in fossil fuel loans'- https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/jul/08/australian-banks-undermining-paris-agreement-with-7bn-in-fossil-fuel-loans?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

 

Three best
  1. 'Top super fund dumps fossil fuels' - https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/top-super-fund-dumps-coal-miners-as-emissions-cuts-intensify-20200708-p55a1c.html
  2. 'NSW first renewable zone attracts stunning 27GW of solar, wind, storage proposals' https://reneweconomy.com.au/nsw-first-renewable-zone-attracts-stunning-27gw-of-solar-wind-storage-proposals-82163/
  3. The Victorian government’s Greener Government School Buildings scheme invites Victoria’s state-owned schools to apply for rooftop solar. http://www.jamesmerlino.com.au/media-releases/applications-open-for-greener-government-school-buildings/

 

The BREAZE board welcomes any suggestions from members about what we should be doing. Please get in touch if you have any suggestions. We continue to meet monthly via Zoom and certainly welcome community input.

 

All the best

Mary

Mary Debrett President, June 2020

BREAZE formed as a result of a groundswell of people meeting after Ballarat's 2006 "Walk Against Warming" rally at Lake Wendouree, when a group of concerned citizens decided there was a need for a community  organisation to drive action on climate change. The concept was further promoted at the Environment Pavilion at the 2006 Ballarat Springfest Extravaganza. A public meeting was convened with representatives of the Mount Alexander Sustainability Group, and a local steering committee established. The group hosted its first formal meeting at Aquinas University in February 2007 and later that month BREAZE became an incorporated body with an initial 44 signed up members.  In its first 3 years, BREAZE arranged bulk purchase and installations of solar hot water and rooftop solar panels for its members, well before commercial suppliers were established in Ballarat. In partnership with state and local government agencies and other environment groups BREAZE established the Smart Living Centre as a shopfront for the public to access information and assistance on sustainable use of electricity, gas, water, transport and information on local foods and preserving Ballarat’s biodiversity. BREAZE has grown quickly in membership numbers, and in reputation and is now a trusted and authoritative voice for the Ballarat community on all climate change issues.

In 2010 BREAZE Inc. separated from its commercial solar arm, which subsequently became BREAZE Energy Solutions and continues to use of the BREAZE name via a Trade Market agreement.  BREAZE Inc. is a charity registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.

BREAZE Inc. hosted the Victoria government funded Community Power Hub Ballarat Pilot Program from July 2017 to June 2020 and continues to work with government at all levels to promote sustainable living and transition our community to renewable energy. BREAZE also runs monthly talks funded by the City of Ballarat — Smart Living Ballarat— and the monthly evening talks—Green Drinks. The BREAZE Public Fund, which has ATO Deductible Gift Recipient status, runs the BREAZE Social Solar program, raising money from public and private donors and applying for funding from other agencies in order to install rooftop solar on social housing and the buildings of not-for-profits across the region. Find out more about this under the Programs menu.

Sustainable HomeBREAZE Advocacy Group: 23 July 6-7 pm Zoom meeting (online)

Members and friends are invited:

  • To discuss Environmentally Sustainable Design and environmentally friendly buildings
  • To talk about how to raise awareness 

The proposed initial topic is that of building and property planning in greater Ballarat. It is increasingly apparent, both globally and nationally, that authorities need to consider the importance of design, materials and construction practices as a factor in reducing the need for energy use, especially for domestic dwellings. Some Victorian councils are developing guidelines that reflect this recognition and the realisation that we can move towards using sound and accepted principles of orientation and construction that reduce the amount of energy required to run a home and use materials that are more environmentally sustainable and improve practices that reduce waste. Contact Therese Footner:

In May 2020 the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, released the Technology Investment Roadmap Discussion Paper: A framework to accelerate low emissions technology, calling for public submissions. 

Following the close of submission on June 21 the Department of Industry, Science and Resources will lead ‘targeted consultation processes with specific sectors,’ in June-July prior to ‘the first annual Low Emissions Technology Statement being delivered to Parliament,’ articulating ‘the Government’s technology investment priorities and progress towards them.’

While the Discussion Paper includes an appendix of 140 different low emissions technologies and acknowledges the cost and low-emissions advantages of renewables – wind and solar— the Minister’s April enthusiasm for a ‘gas-fired’ recovery and some key absences undermine what might have been a promising new direction.

Fortuitiously, since the Paper was released, a surge of investor response to ARENA’s first call for expressions of interest (EOIs) in funding for Green Hydrogen in June, and more recently for the NSW Government’s call for EOIs in its first Renewable Energy Zone in the Central West, suggests a wave of change is underway.

BREAZE Inc. was amongst those who made submissions to the Technology Investment Roadmap. Three Board members — Mary Debrett, Tony Goodfellow and Pat Hockey—put their heads together to produce the BREAZE submission below.

________________________________________________________________________

BREAZE logo        
PO Box 1301, 
Bakery Hill, 
VIC 3354
21 June 2020

 

 BREAZE Inc. Submission on the Technology investment roadmap discussion paper: A framework to accelerate low emissions technologies

 

On behalf of Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions (BREAZE Inc.), we thank you for the opportunity to have input into this important issue.

BREAZE Inc. is a volunteer run incorporated association formed in 2006 with the following vision: “By 2020, the Ballarat community will have significantly reduced its GHG emissions with the direct intention of achieving zero emissions by 2030.” 

BREAZE Inc. aims to facilitate, encourage and educate the wider Ballarat community towards a goal of zero emissions by 2030, via advocacy, installation and provision of renewable energy sources and improved efficiencies across the residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural and transport sectors.

Targets and milestones

Development of a Roadmap to drive investment in low emissions technologies is very welcome at this particular point in time when there is only a decade left to set emissions on a trajectory to avoid the worst effects of global warming. However, the Technology investment roadmap discussion paper omits a number of key targets and milestones that renewable energy experts view as essential in laying the groundwork to lower emissions.

Any Roadmap that aims to accelerate the transition to low emissions technologies in a market economy must begin by setting a target of zero emissions by 2050, with interim five yearly targets in line with the trajectory agreed at the Paris CoP21 in 2015. 

The other key economic instruments missing from the Roadmap are a carbon price and an Emissions Trading Scheme. These three ingredients are essential if the Roadmap is to provide the community/business confidence required to drive market investment in renewable energy and low emissions technologies. 

Additional recommended legislative/policy markers that will further firm-up business confidence in renewable energy—establishing governmental commitment to low emissions technologies—are:

    • Setting a retirement date for all coal mines and thermal power stations
    • A moratorium on any further coal mines or thermal power stations
    • Ending all subsidies for the fossil fuel sector
    • Ending government investment in and subsidy of Carbon Sequestration and Storage (CCS). This technology remains only a long term possibility and as such should be left to private investors — wedded as it is to hopes of future low emissions fossil fuel ventures. Given time is of the essence government funding must be conserved for projects that will assist in reducing emissions for the zero/2050 target. 
    • Committing not to invest in nuclear energy for the reasons noted above – given the development time required, nuclear facilities are not a short or medium term solution and would direct finite public investment away from where it is most needed.
    • Accelerating the development of an integrated grid that can better accommodate renewable energy by facilitating negotiations/resolutions between stakeholders – power providers, retailers and regulators.
    • An ordered and just transition away from fossil fuels making sure workers are retrained and redeployed

The road to lower emissions: An economic compass

There is no longer any doubt that the economics of renewable energy are superior to fossil fuels, where operating and maintenance costs remain high. Wherever the vested interests of fossil fuel laggards creates confusion, government must act to provide clarity and certainty to investors to accelerate the transition. It is in the best economic interests of this nation— as well as in the interests of the environment and future generations.

Renewables, solar and wind, are widely acknowledged as cheaper and are projected to reduce in costs compared to every other form of energy generation including gas, as evidenced in the CSIRO GenCost 2019-20 Report.[1]

Furthermore when comparative energy costs are taken into account it is important to also include the costs of addressing the impacts of anthropogenic climate change. A study by the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute found that mitigation of emissions is the most cost-efficient course of action —when the cost of climate change is taken into account.[2]

This is further evidenced by a recent Climate Council report, that found that climate change would wipe $571 billion from property values by 2030.[3]

In conflict with the stated intentions of this discussion paper to encourage investment in low emissions technologies, any decision to deploy further gas plants for ‘firming’ the integrated grid, will have the reverse effect— increasing greenhouse emissions. Recent research findings regarding fugitive methane emissions from gas fields, mean past perception of gas as a lower emissions intensive source of energy than coal, is no longer tenable. Furthermore it appears that the relatively low cost of gas that may have been the reason for its inclusion here, will be relatively short term with AEMO’s 2020 ISP April update indicating an increasing price for gas.[4] Fortunately there are now a number of mechanisms and emerging technologies for stabilising the distributed energy grid including: demand management, batteries and pumped hydro, with the future prospect of hydrogen as a longer term storage option. As noted in AEMO’s ISP Electricity Statement of Opportunities (ESOO) “Firming capability can be dispatched to maintain balance on the power grid. It can include generation on the grid, storage, demand resources behind the meter, flexible demand, or flexible network capability.”[5]

A renewables-led post-covid recovery

Due to the timing of the Roadmap discussion paper, the authors have not had access to the emerging research referencing how the economic impacts of COVID-19 can be best addressed via a renewables-led recovery—with government investment in clean energy and low emissions technologies driving a new era in Australian manufacturing, lowering operating costs, incentivising investment in environmentally sustainable housing, both as new housing and retrofits, reducing emissions from the agricultural sector, and via the electrification of rail and road transport reducing costs across the economy. The investments proposed will help to both lower emissions and kickstart the economy, providing clear guidance to business and capital, creating jobs and helping Australia to exploit its natural advantages in renewables. 

    • An IEA report[6] released in April this year, refers specifically to changes in the post COVID-19 world economy. With the global energy demand contracting 8% in the first quarter, a ten-fold greater impact than the GFC is forecast. The April 2020 report notes that ‘gas demand could fall much further across the full year than in the first quarter, with reduced demand in power and industry applications,’ and that ‘renewables demand is expected to increase because of low operating costs and preferential access to many power systems,’ with low carbon sources ‘extending the lead established in 2019.’ 
    • Monash University-based, climate think tank, Climate Works, March 2020 report, Decarbonisation Futures, provides a detailed sector by sector breakdown of how emissions reductions can be achieved to keep global warming within 1.5ºC in keeping with the Paris CoP21, noting “government figures project national emissions will decline by 16% on 2005 levels by 2030.” The report warns the costs of not setting adequate targets include “missed opportunities in technological investment.”
    • In its Renewable Integration Study released in April 2020, AEMO reported that with the right regulation and market mechanisms the NEM could be 75% renewable by 2025.
    • The Clean Energy Council’s report, A Clean Recovery, released in May 2020, focuses on the job creation potential of renewable energy, and includes amongst its recommendations building 21stcentury energy infrastructure including a smart distribution network and an EV charging network, along with accelerating and supporting large-scale clean energy investment to make Australia a clean energy superpower.[7]
    • Climate think tank, Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) released its Million jobs plan in JuneDrawing on the success of its NT 10GW Vision, which built a coalition of business, capital, community and government to change the NT’s economic direction, this is a cross-sector analysis of how a renewables-led recovery can reinvigorate the economy and cut emissions.[8]

The World Bank has also offered a framework for a post-Covid recovery that should be applied to any framework being considered by Australia:

    • Is the intervention consistent with and supportive of existing long-term decarbonization targets and strategies? (If such targets and strategies do not exist, does the intervention contribute to the government’s “Nationally Determined Contribution” and the eventual decarbonization of the economic system?) 
    • Does the intervention create or amplify a lock-in of carbon- or energy-intensive development patterns, or represent a future stranded asset risk due to decarbonization, technology change or other market trends? 
    • Does the intervention remove or reduce financial market, tax, or regulatory obstacles to decarbonization (e.g., for energy efficiency or low-carbon technology deployment)? 
    • Does the intervention contribute to developing or piloting a low-carbon technology, making it more widely available, or reducing its cost? 
    • Does the intervention provide the technical means to better integrate or employ low-carbon technologies or strategies (for instance, through improvements to transmission and distribution infrastructure, public transit infrastructure, sidewalks or bike lanes, or by promoting denser urban development)? 
    • Does the intervention increase local/national energy security? 

Policy certainty: A clear view of the road ahead

Investors in utility scale energy ventures or in innovative technology that’s not yet market-ready, need long term certainty — they want to see what’s coming. Instead of providing that policy certainty, the Roadmap neglects to set the necessary target of zero emissions by 2050; or to establish firm retirement dates for existing thermal coal facilities; or to impose the necessary moratorium on further thermal coal plants.

Government investment in R&D — in renewable energy and innovative, low emissions technologies —is another important market signal. Both ARENA and the CEFC play key roles in this area. For the sake of business confidence, government must publicly acknowledge an unequivocal commitment to continue to adequately fund and support to both agencies in their respective roles.

The conclusion to ClimateWorks report, Decarbonisation futures, includes a list of actions government can take. We commend these – re-formatted as dot points

Governments can set standards and targets to encourage uptake of best-practice solutions:

    • levy taxes on emissions intensive activities and products; 
    • provide financial support to non-commercial solutions; 
    • invest in relevant infrastructure. 
    • improve information and accessibility to consumers; 
    • provide incentives for early development; 
    • create demand through government procurement; 
    • and de-risk private investments 

Additionally government must cease support for the fossil fuel industry. A 2019 study by the IMF found that the Australian government subsidised the fossil fuel industries by $29 billion per annum, or 2.3 per cent of Australian GDP meaning that on a per capita basis every Australian was subsidising  fossil fuels by $1,198 per person.[9]

Urgency and ambition

This is the crucial decade for setting greenhouse gas emissions reductions on the right trajectory to reach the zero by 2050 target. 

Policy makers must act now with urgency and ambition. For the sake of all Australians, the environment and the economy, we must leave fossil fuels in the ground and accelerate investment —public and private—in developing renewable energy infrastructure and associated storage and technologies, facilitating economic growth by ensuring access to low cost, zero emissions electricity.

The EU Commission’s commitment to a Green New Deal[10] along with South Korea[11] may well signal a bleak future for Australian steel and aluminium produced via fossil-fuel fired energy. Forecasts of Australia’s potential future as a renewable energy Superpower are grounded in the premise of a shift to green steel. The application of Emissions Trading Schemes around the world could feasibly in the future lead to fossil-fuel powered plants becoming stranded assets. 

Containing global warming to the 1.5ºC target will help future generations and the natural environment from the worst consequences of global warming, and is also estimated to return global benefits exceeding US$20 trillion.[12] Many nations across the world are in the process of implementing this approach already. We must join them or be left behind. 

Mary Debrett, President, BREAZE Inc

E:                                

 

 

[1] Graham et al, 2020  link - See fig 4-1 to 4.

[2] Kompas et al, 2019, Melbourne University

[3] Climate Council, 2019, Compound costs: How climate change damages Australia’s economy.

[4] AEMO, 2020, ISP April, p. 2.

[5] AEMO 2019 | 2019 Electricity Statement of Opportunities p. 124

[6] IEA, 2020, Global Energy Review 

[7] https://www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au/advocacy-initiatives/a-clean-recovery

[8]  https://bze.org.au/the-million-jobs-plan/

[9] Coady et al, 2019, p. 35  https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/WP/Issues/2019/05/02/Global-Fossil-Fuel-Subsidies-Remain-Large-An-Update-Based-on-Country-Level-Estimates-46509

[10] https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024/european-green-deal_en

[11] https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidrvetter/2020/04/16/south-korea-embraces-eu-style-green-deal-for-covid-19-recovery/#4c8054435611

[12] ClimateWorks, 2020, p. 26.

27840749556 75e10be200 wOn 22 June the Victorian State government announced its Greener Government School Buildings program was inviting applications for rooftop solar from government schools across Victoria.

This is a great development for schools and for the environment, producing considerable cost savings on power bills—particularly since schools use most of their power when the sun is shining—and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by transitioning away from coal-fired electricity.

Read more: Solar on Schools

Screenshot 2020 06 14 14.11.17

 

On Saturday 30 May BREAZE published an Open Letter calling for bipartisan policy on climate change in The Courier - in the hard copy and facsimile edition on page 9.  

The letter was signed by a number  by a number of public figures in Ballarat. 

 The Courier also published an article by Rochelle Kirkham, on the thinking behind the letter — 'Ballarat leaders call for action on climate change.'

The text of the Open Letter, which was addressed and sent to members of the House of Representatives and the Senate in Canberra, is published below.

https://www.thecourier.com.au/story/6775206/ballarat-leaders-call-for-action-on-climate-change/

To the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Scott Morrison, the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon Anthony Albanese and Honorable members of the House and Senate:

The bushfire season of 2019/20 has given Australians a taste of what climate change has in store for us — a devastated landscape and massive asset and species loss as well as lives and livelihoods. This is the new bushfire reality: forest fires so extreme that they are uncontrollable, producing their own weather system; pyrocumulonimbus clouds and dry lightning that ignites further fires; what climate scientists have been warning for three decades. 

In Ballarat our City Council endorsed the Declaration of Climate Emergency in 2018 and in 2019 unanimously endorsed a Carbon Neutrality Action Plan for zero emissions by 2025. 

It is now time for our nation’s leaders to similarly acknowledge anthropogenic climate change as an existential threat that requires immediate bipartisan action. 

We the undersigned call on the Morrison Coalition government to endorse the Declaration of Climate Emergency and to take action to cut greenhouse gases immediately, to meet our Paris COP21 commitments, and to set a pathway of future interim targets leading to zero emissions by 2050. 

We accept the evidence of climate science that current greenhouse emissions are leading us on a trajectory towards global warming of 3-5° by the end of the century. This scenario would bequeath a hostile environment for our children and grandchildren and a dire future for humanity. 

Australia is the world’s 14th highest emitter of greenhouse gases and third biggest exporter of coal. We also have the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the OECD. 

We cannot expect other countries to reduce emissions if we are not doing so ourselves. Climate change is with us now, and as a responsible member of the international community we must act immediately — before it is too late.