The chief scientist says changes the Turnbull government is contemplating to the national electricity market would take five years to take effect, whereas his proposal for a clean energy target would achieve transformation more quickly, with "enormous flexibility" for the market. Alan Finkel's last ditch attempt to defend his mechanism followed another public signal by the energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, on Monday that the government will not proceed with the clean energy target modelled in Finkel's review of the national electricity market earlier this year. The Turnbull government has been telegraphing for some time it will not adopt the target modelled by Finkel, and is looking instead at other measures, including an overhaul of the national electricity market rules, including the creation of a new "day ahead" market. The Australian Energy Market Operator has asked the government to adopt the system – where the market operator identifies the energy demand for the next day, hour-by-hour, then generators bid in via reverse auctions to supply the market – as a clear market signal to bring more dispatchable power into the grid. The expected overhaul of the market rules in the government's looming energy policy overhaul is expected to be accompanied by mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including the use of international permits, which the government first signalled when it launched a review of its Direct Action policy.
The Trump administration has made it very clear that it is pro fossil fuels and has little interest in pushing programs the promote renewable energy. Now, the Washington Post reports that the president's proposed 2019 budget slashes funds for Energy Department programs focused on energy efficiency. While the proposal is just a jumping off point, the fact that it seeks to cut such funding by 72 percent underscores where the administration's interests lie and in which direction its policies will continue to go.
The UN's new climate chief admits she's worried about President Donald Trump – but is confident that action to curb climate change is unstoppable. President Trump said he'd withdraw from the UN climate deal and stop funding the UN's clean energy programme. But former Mexican diplomat Patricia Espinosa told BBC News that the delay in any firm announcement suggests the issue is still unresolved. She travels to US this weekend to try and meet the new US secretary of state. Ms Espinosa said it would be more damaging for the US to leave the on-going climate talks process altogether than to stop funding the clean energy programme.
Legislation ambitious enough to make a difference at a time when fossil fuel emissions are hitting an all-time high and climate change appears to be happening faster and more intensely than previously thought faces yet another hurdle. The false belief that scientists are not yet certain about humanity's role in global warming all but dominates the Republican Party and undergirds the Trump administration's environmental, national security and energy policies. Meanwhile, Democrats have failed to rally around a bold climate plan, instead intermittently producing legislation to set renewable energy goals with no clear roadmap on how to achieve them. Even the most purportedly hawkish Democrats on climate change have proposed conservative policies to deal with it, including a carbon tax that would have lowered the corporate tax rate by 6 percent and a cap-and-dividend bill that would have returned carbon revenues to Americans in the form of a rebate.
The past few months have brought in a raft of news about the health of the iconic Great Barrier Reef -- each one worse than the last. According to recent surveys, over 90 percent of the 1,400 mile structure has been affected by some level of coral bleaching -- an event that occurs when corals, stressed by rising water temperature and acidity, expel the symbiotic algae living within their tissues. This bleaching event, which is the worst in the reef's history, has killed 35 percent of its corals in the northern and central regions. On Monday, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is under pressure for failing to do enough to protect the fragile ecosystem and is facing a tight re-election battle, announced the creation of a 1 billion Australian dollar ( 740 million) fund to protect the reef. The reef fund, which will finance, through debt and equity, clean energy projects across the reef's catchment area, will be administered by the country's Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and will be taken from its 10 billion special account.