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Climate Change is the Biggest Driver of Disruptive Innovation

 

So Australia wants to become innovative. The Lucky Country wants to become the Smart Country. It wants to embrace disruptive innovation, face the future boldly and feed the teeming masses of Asia with our clean and green food. Yet, when the choice was there for Australia’s leaders to either choose to grab the opportunity with both hands or to pretend ‘she’ll be right, mate’, they chose the latter. In fact, they chose the latter with such alacrity that at least three Prime Ministers have fallen over the issue. Yet, now our leaders are telling us that we have to become more ‘risk-taking’, ‘entrepreneurial’ and willing to tolerate failure. All good sentiments, but our leaders have been found wanting on the greatest economic challenge of our time: climate change.

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Procrastination and Carbon Pricing: the Real Option of a Carbon Price on the Economy

 

Introduction

A couple of weeks ago, after I posted “Was it Worth It? The Benefit-Cost of Air Pollution in China“, I was asked by Ecoscore to think about the benefit-cost of Australia procrastinating on a carbon price.

 

So, using my understanding of Australia’s carbon policy and economics what do I think? Has it been good for Australia? What can the rest of the world learn from Australia?

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VIDEO: Sustainable Farming with Wayne Lording (Wrap Up)

In this post, we wrap up our interview with Wayne Lording. Previously, we looked at what Wayne did to reduce his energy bills and water and fertiliser use. See here for an introduction to the series. The key points from the wrap up are:

  • Wayne’s investment helped reduced his costs through lower use of LPG, electricity, fertiliser and water,
  • Other farmers can also reduce their costs by investing in renewables and water reuse,
  • Very easy to install,
  • Can benefit very soon from reduced utility bills, and
  • Can also benefit from freeing up cash to invest in the farm.

Thanks for watching, I hope you enjoyed the series!

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VIDEO: Water Reuse on Wayne Lording’s Farm

This week we consider our series on sustainable farming by talking to Wayne Lording about how he recycles grey- and black-water to replace irrigated water and fertiliser. Key points are:

  • Treated water is used to irrigate and fertilise olive groves.
  • The key technology is a small pump, which is readily available.
  • Water reuse system has a payback period of 18 months.
  • The more water and fertiliser you use, the more you can save from installing a similar water reuse system.
  • Wayne’s water reuse system also has risk-management benefits by providing a hedge against water and fertiliser price increases.

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VIDEO: Solar and Geothermal on Wayne Lording’s Farm

In the second of our series on Sustainable Farming on Wayne Lording’s farm (see here for the introduction), we talk to Wayne about how and why he installed solar and geothermal technologies to replace conventional energy sources. Key points are:

  • Combined solar and geothermal system has a payback period of one year.
  • Geothermal technologies are available and proven in Australia.
  • The key savings are from reducing ongoing energy costs. In Wayne’s case, he saved $5200 per year from reducing the need to use LPG.
  • Because renewable energy technologies require little or no fuel, they provide a useful hedge against electricity or LPG price volatility.

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VIDEO: Sustainable Farming with Wayne Lording (Introduction)

Late last year Lindsey Beck and I interviewed Wayne Lording on his farm. I was interested to see why and how Wayne implemented sustainability technologies on his farm. Essentially, he gains a financial benefit from using renewable energy and water reuse. Interestingly, he is one of the few farmers using geothermal energy on his farm. The two videos here are an introduction this series. In the following weeks we will have videos on:

  • Renewable energy, specifically solar and geothermal,
  • Water reuse, and
  • Wrap up,

In all the videos, I provide a brief economic analysis of Wayne’s investments. I hope you enjoy this series.

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Climate Change-Induced Financial Disaster

One of the extraordinary things to witness at the G20 meeting in Brisbane during the weekend of 15-16 November, was Australia’s rearguard action to keep climate change of the agenda. The G20 host’s justification was that climate change would distract from the economic policy focus. Besides, according to Australia’s Treasurer (i.e. Finance Minister), climate change is no impediment to economic growth. This is despite the wealth of economic research that has been produced that has modelled the economic impacts of climate change. A potential economic impact that has been gaining some traction is the ‘carbon bubble‘. The carbon bubble is where assets that derive most of their value from carbon reserves (i.e. coal, oil and gas) become ‘stranded assets’ as their value falls in response to international climate change action. For a country like Australia that is heavily dependent on fossil fuels for its prosperity, you would think a carbon bubble would have a serious economic impact. I went along to listen to a talk about what a carbon bubble meant for Australia. The panel was made up of Prof. Ross Garnaut, Jemma Green, Dr John Hewson and Tony Wood. Each of them an expert in economics, finance and energy in their own right. This is what I took from the discussion.

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Soil Carbon: Can We Have Our Cake and Eat it Too?

A key part of the Australian Government’s Direct Action Plan to presumably reduce emissions is to encourage the sequestration of carbon in soil. Given that the government has ‘axed the tax’ and plans to scale back or abolish the Renewable Energy Target, soil carbon sequestration is a key part of Australia’s carbon abatement policy. Soil carbon sequestration offers the alluring possibility of reducing Australia’s emissions without ‘clobbering the economy’. Instead of penalising businesses for emitting carbon, the Australian Government, through the Emissions Reduction Fund, will provide direct incentives for businesses to be rewarded for reducing carbon. Farmers will be a key beneficiary by producing carbon credits that polluters can use to offset emissions. This will allow Australian industry and consumers to operating as we always have without the associated economic restructuring caused by de-carbonising our energy sector. (more…)

Climate Change Scepticism: It’s the Economy, Stupid

I’m sceptical that climate change scepticism is simply a matter of scientific ignorance. While it may be true for some climate change sceptic individuals, I don’t think it is representative. The scientific community doesn’t agree with me. Scientists think the answer to this knowledge ‘deficit’ is to provide even more scientific information. This ‘deficit model’ of scientific communication assumes that climate change sceptics are ignorant and will change their views if they are simply plied with more information. However, it does not take into account that all people interpret scientific information in subjective ways, usually in ways that reinforce their prevailing views on the matter. Essentially, scientific information does not deal with people’s concerns on how climate change policy measures would impact their economic well-being. (more…)