Alan Pears – Turnbull has politicked himself into irrelevance on energy and climate in 2018

As we approach the end of the year, it’s useful to look back and forward. Now is an auspicious time, as two major energy-related reports have been released this week: the federal government’s review of their climate change policies, and a discussion paper from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) on future energy paths.

The difference between the two is striking. The AEMO paper is practical, direct and realistic. On the other hand, the climate policy review relies essentially on Australia buying lots of international carbon permits to meet our Paris target (and, implicitly, on state governments taking up the challenge their Canberra colleagues have largely abanondoned).

It’s amusing to read a document that plays with numbers in such creative ways. But it is a fairy story, and it’s no way to drive national climate policy.

I almost feel as though I could just change the dates and reprint my article reviewing prospects for energy in 2017:

2017 is the year when many long-festering energy policy problems must be addressed. Our outdated energy market model is falling apart. The gas industry is lining its pockets at the expense of Australian industry. Climate policy is urgent, but controversial among key decision-makers. Our fossil fuel exports are under threat from global forces.

But things have in fact shifted a long way – the revolution is accelerating and unstoppable. The federal government is almost irrelevant; the public statements and policies it presents are simply aimed at getting “something” through the Coalition party room, or trying to throw blame on others. It’s very sad.

The real games are being played out within state governments; in battles between energy policy agencies and regulators; by emerging industry players who do not even have formal roles in energy legisation; and by business and the community as they defend themselves from the failures around them by implementing “behind the meter” solutions and working together.

The real heavy lifters

Medals of Valour should be awarded to Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, AEMO chief executive Audrey Zibelman, and South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill.

The government’s response to this year’s Finkel Review showed that no amount of compromise would allow a sensible energy and climate policy to pass through the minefield of the Coalition party room. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, both of whom know what they need to do, simply have too little political capital within that place to drive realistic energy policy.

But the Finkel Review also successfully recommended many changes that will help to fix the physical operation of the grid. Innovation and the laws of physics have finally begun to triumph over market politics and ideology.

AEMO worked out a way to get around the glacial and obstructive tactics of the Australian Energy Market Commission on demand-side action by setting up a “pilot project” to drive demand response. It has been clear for decades that this is a very cost-effective tool. Zibelman has been a voice of practical reality and clear understanding of the future of energy, including the demand side, and AEMO’s future energy paths reflects that.

Weatherill has weathered a storm of abuse over his state’s innovative energy strategy. His government has shown how a diversified approach can transform an energy system in little more than a year. But he needs to put more effort into long term energy efficiency and energy productivity improvement measures integrated with renewables and storage, to reduce pressure on electricity systems over time. For example, home cooling comprises a third of South Australia’s peak electricity demand, but could be slashed by efficient buildings and cooling equipment.

What lies ahead

Looking forward, the coming year will be shaped by some key issues, some of which are already playing out at a frenetic pace. Consider a small sample of many recent events:

  • As mentioned, AEMO has released a discussion paper framing a very different electricity future, and including a low-carbon scenario.
  • The new battery in South Australia has delivered remarkable outcomes, helping to stabilise the grid in ways that few imagined.
  • The Victorian Essential Services Commission has proposed a new “time of day” feed-in price for rooftop solar that reaches 29 cents per kilowatt-hour in afternoons and evenings. If approved, this will be a game-changer, as adding battery storage to rooftop solar will become far more attractive.
  • The Energy Networks Association, not the gas industry, has released a zero emission gas strategy at last.
  • The annual report on the National Energy Productivity Plan (remember that?) shows we’re falling behind even the government’s weak target: not surprising given the miniscule resources allocated.

Meanwhile the federal government has released energy modelling to underpin ongoing negotiation on the National Energy Guarantee (NEG) that is simply irrelevant and embarrassing. The Energy Security Board’s involvement in this has undermined perceptions of its independence, especially when it is contrasted with the vision AEMO is discussing in its paper.

While the states have agreed to continue discussion on the NEG in April, there are some major hurdles. Primarily, states must be allowed to set and achieve their own energy targets: the federal energy minister has put the blame for problems on the states, and they now have to be seen by their voters to act.

Second, the design must ensure it does not give the dominant energy companies even more power to distort markets. Some members of the Energy Security Board seem to understand the challenges, and are optimistic they can be overcome. Time will tell.

As Turnbull has said, we live in exciting times.


November 2017 Public Forum – Tomorrow (Demain)

Due to the number of people requesting tickets for this event the Board have decided to use Eventbrite for booking and printing tickets. This will give us a better idea of seating requirements and catering.

Therefore Bookings are essential

click here to make a booking and print your tickets

BCCAG has been able to access a copy of Tomorrow (Demain) that was shown at the French Film Festival this year. Mostly spoken in English with some sub titles, this film is very uplifting and a fitting end to our turbulent year. It comes highly recommended.

This is the final Forum for the year and will include tea, coffee, wine and nibbles. Your donation of $10 will help to defray our costs.

Please note the change of venue for this event.

In this inspiring and essential César award-winning documentary, beloved French actor-filmmaker Mélanie Laurent (Boomerang, AF FFF16) teams with ecological rights advocate Cyril Dion to address the world’s grand environmental problems, and to explore how local communities across the globe are creating solutions.

In 2012, a study was published that announced the impending potential demise of the human race. Unable to ignore the hard facts that food, water and oil would be scarce within the lifetime of their children, directors Laurent and Dion set about visiting ten vastly different countries to explore what was being done to counteract the impending catastrophe. During their journey, they met the pioneers who are reinventing agriculture, energy, the economy, democracy and education.

By focussing on grassroots solutions and intermingling the serious with the playful, Tomorrow entertains while giving the audience autonomy to both engage in and change a situation in which everyone is involved. Above all, the message is one of resounding hope for a better future. This is essential viewing for anyone wanting to know what they can do to help save the planet.

Highett Community Centre
2 Livingstone St, Highett
Wed November 29 – 7.30pm
$10 includes tea, coffee, wine and nibbles

Your chance to make a change

Your chance to make a change

Just do it

Now is the time

Coming up in this next week are two events that may encourage the government to accept that climate change is real and that the people are demanding positive action.  Here is a chance to show your support and be part of a surge ……..

The first event is an exposé that is promising to be explosive. Don’t miss the new dirt on Adani as we build up to our National Day of Action to #StopAdani

On Monday ABC TV at 8.30pm on Four Corners.  A trailer and further information here.

This exposé builds up to the next event

#StopAdani Big Day of Action
The #StopAdani movement is uniting in a big day of action on Saturday, October 7. Join us!

We’ll create human signs so big that they can’t be ignored, at iconic locations across Australia in a huge national day of action.

Will you join us to create a human sign in Melbourne so big it can’t be ignored?

Venue: Princes Park, Royal Parade, Carlton North

Dress: Wear scuba gear, dress up as your favourite reef creature or wear bright colours for the reef

Bring: A picnic, your family (kids welcome!), friends, pets and a footy

What to expect: A fun, festival atmosphere with picnicking, music, singing, face-painting, sculpture-making, a giant human sign and in true Melbourne style, a bit of footy fun!

Let’s kick some goals for the reef and Stop Adani!
Together, we can stop this mine and create a better world, powered by clean energy, where our reefs and communities thrive. 

Watch for the BCCAG Sign at the Event!

A BCCAG Group will be in the front carriage of the train which departs from Sandringham on Sat 7th at 11.10am. We will get off at Melb Central and then by tram ​to Princes Park to arrive just after 12.00 midday.

October 2017 Public Forum – Marine Invertebrates Museums Victoria



Tim O’Hara
Senior Curator
Marine Invertebrates
Museums Victoria



In this role, Tim investigates the distribution of biodiversity across the ocean seafloor, by combining data from museum collections from across the planet. This data allows his team to study the evolution of the deep-sea fauna, assist governments to plan for marine parks, and assist the United Nations to manage oceanic resources. His latest expedition was to the ‘abyss” off Eastern Australia where a large team of international scientists explored biodiversity from up to 4800 m below the sea surface, a feat not previously achieved in Australian waters.

Tim O’Hara will give a presentation about his work and the latest expedition he led surveying Australia’s ocean Abyss. He will show some of his latest findings and put them in a wider ecological and biogeographical context. He will show how marine biodiversity is distributed across the oceans and how this may be altered by climate change.

Uniting Church Hall
21 Trentham St Sandringham
Wed October 25 – 7.30pm
Donations requested


September 2017 Public Forum – Nature as a Climate Solution



Tria Manley
Community Organiser
The Wilderness Society Victoria


The Great Forest National Park – Nature as a climate solution.


Land clearing and deforestation not only impact greatly on the native and endangered species that live in impacted areas, but contribute dramatically to climate change. Protecting forests is an often overlooked part of the solution to fighting climate change, particularly in the Central Highlands of Victoria, home to some of the most carbon-dense forests on Earth.

Hear about how creating the Great Forest National Park will help mitigate catastrophic climate change, as well as safeguard Melbourne’s water supply, provide a sanctuary for endangered species, rejuvenate regional communities through tourism and new job opportunities, and offer a playground on Melbourne’s doorstep for all Victorian’s to enjoy.

Uniting Church Hall
21 Trentham St  Sandringham
Wed September 27  –  7.30pm
Donations requested

BCCAG Annual Report – July 2017


At the time of BCCAG’s last AGM, our hopes were still high that the new Turnbull
government would begin to take real action to deal with the challenges of climate
change looming large. But it soon became clear that any hopes the Government would
act were misplaced. The need for BCCAG and groups like BCCAG to act and grab the
attention of the public was paramount.

So we decided to start 2017 with a big event that would attract a large crowd,
particularly from amongst sections of the community we don’t normally attract. We
wanted to use that event to talk of a climate emergency.

The well-publicised ‘Facing the Climate Crisis’ event in February took place at
Brighton Grammar School and attracted a record attendance of some 350 participants.
They came to hear Tim Flannery on a panel with 2 other guest speakers, Alison Rowe
from the Future Business Council and Laura Sykes from the Australian Youth Climate
Coalition. It should be noted that roughly 60% of attendees were new to BCCAG. They
were not listed on our mailing list.

Flannery set the tone, not only for that event but for much of our activity to come
when he said that, in the absence of leadership from Government, leadership must
come from the community.

At the last AGM, we saw the election of an excellent group of keen members to the
BCCAG board but also the retirement of 2 long serving, dedicated and experienced
outgoing board members. Then, during the first few months that the new board had
been working together, 2 of its key members had to resign, each for pressing personal
reasons, our Secretary Anne Tourney and President, Lynette Luther.

That cumulative loss of experience and expertise made for a difficult few months of
reorganisation and redistribution of responsibilities.

In addition to running our monthly public forums on topical issues we decided to
pursue a range of additional activities. These included maintaining contact with and
lobbying of our local federal and state MPs, interaction with Bayside City Council on
sustainability and their ‘carbon neutrality by 2020 plan’ and running campaigns in coordination with other climate action and environment groups.

To continue reading, click here to download the full BCCAG Annual Report July 2017

August 2017 Public Forum – From Climate Doubt to Economic Doubt



Richard Denniss,
Chief Economist, The Australia Institute*

From Climate Doubt to Economic Doubt




How those who profit from doubt distort the facts & what you can do about it.

World leaders first agreed on climate action back in 1992. They agreed that rich countries should act first to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. But 25 years later Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions are still rising, we are still building new coal mines and debating the need to subsidise the construction of new coal fired power stations. This is no accident.

In his talk Dr Richard Denniss, Chief Economist at The Australia Institute (, an independent Canberra based policy think tank, will explain why and how those who profit from the sale of fossil fuels have done so much to distort public debate and public policy in Australia. He will conclude with what can be done to improve not just climate policy but the functioning of public debate in Australia.

Richard is known for his ability to translate economic issues into everyday language.  His latest book, Econobabble, was launched by Laura Tingle.

Uniting Church Hall
21 Trentham St  Sandringham
Wed August 30 –  7.30pm
Donations welcome