From australiana

Wildlife in Sydney

Late last year, we visited Sydney for the bright lights and the wild life.

We saw this poster very close to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Someone has expressed his or her genuine appreciation for the tip off.

Bread kills lorikeets poster

Warning! Bread kills lorikeets

The centre of Sydney’s CBD is marked with the City Wilderness Trail. After seeing signs for birds, rats and insects, the final sign we saw was for a human. Click the photo to read.

Human (Long Pig) wilderness trail sign in Sydney

Human (Long Pig) wilderness trail sign in Sydney


Small things such as this sign in the Blue Mountains bring us much amusement. As you can see, Damjan and I can be inexpensive to entertain.

Lookout sign near the Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains National Park

Lookout sign near the Wentworth Falls in the Blue Mountains National Park

Joan and Damjan look out!

Joan and Damjan look out!

Scale: no longer a problem

We finally bought a kettle. It’s a Russell Hobbs, which is meant to be the leading brand in the UK.

This warning made me chuckle.

Descaling warning

Descaling warning

In Cambridge and London, I had to regularly cook my kettles with lemon or vinegar to get rid of the build up of greyish white scale.

I’ve now escaped hard water. In Melbourne, our water is sweet, our soap lathers and the only particles that float in our cuppas are tea particles.

The ‘indefensible’ 5% target

Since the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme White Paper was released on Monday, I have been perplexed.

It had all been going so well. Kevin Rudd (my Facebook friend) fulfilled my little heart’s desires when he ratified the Kyoto Protocol. After seeing Penny Wong speak in London, I was so impressed that I adopted her as my hero.

But now this — the unconditional 5% by 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target. Five per cent? Did I hear correctly?

On the face of it, it seems so pitiful, so unambitious. I didn’t understand! And until I understood Kevin and Penny’s rationale, I would withold condemnation.

Today, I read through the executive summary and selected chapters of the White Paper.

Now I understand.

Before anyone protests or supports this scheme and its target, please, please take the time to read at least the executive summary to understand the key details. (In fact, I beseech you to do this for any issue on which you wish to express an opinion.)

5% from what baseline?
My first question was what the baseline year for the 5% reduction was. The Kyoto Protocol and European Union policies (with which which I am most familiar) are based on 1990 emissions. So when the UK says it’s aiming for a 26% reduction by 2020, it’s compared to the 1990 baseline year.

Our 5% target is from a 2000 baseline year. After looking through our greenhouse inventory and the ABS, it turns out that this is not much different to the 1990 year (although the Australian Government have argued that 2000 is a more challenging baseline).

Year Net greenhouse gas emissions
Australian population Net greenhouse gas emissions per capita
1990 552 648 000 17 million 33
2000 552 813 000 19 million 29

tCO2e — tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. Other greenhouse gases are converted into the same global warming impact as a tonne of carbon dioxide. For example, over 100 years, methane is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide so one tonne of methane is 25 tCO2e.

Why our 5% is worth their 20%
The Government believes that a 5% cut by Australia represents the same effort as the European Union’s 20% cut because of this key point: Australia’s population will grow by 45% between 1990 and 2020, while the EU’s growth has flatlined during the same period. You can see how it is harder to stabilise (or reduce) emissions while your population grows. Each additional person will produce additional emissions through his or her direct consumption (electricity, heat, food, goods) and employment activitiy.

So the logic is that if Nations A and B set the same target, and Nation A’s population doubles, then Nation A has to work twice as hard as Nation B to achieve the same absolute reduction in emissions.

Table E1 of the White Paper executive summary compares Australia’s total and per capita reduction commitments with those of the EU, the UK and USA. I’ve reproduced it here.

Country 2020 targets 2020 per capita reduction

2050 targets

Australia 5-15% below 2000 levels (4-14 per cent below 1990 levels) 27-34% below 2000 levels (34-41% below 1990 levels) 60% below 2000 levels (60% below 1990 levels)
European Union 20-30% below 1990 levels 24-34% below 1990 levels 60-80% below 1990 levels
United Kingdom 26% below 1990 levels 33% below 1990 levels 80% below 1990 levels
United States (proposal of President-elect Obama) Return to 1990 levels 25% below 1990 levels 80% below 1990 levels

60% by 2050
The White Paper states that the Government is still committed to reducing emissions by 60% by 2050 (presumably from the 2000 baseline). This is in line with the EU and, until recently, the UK (who just this month set itself an 80% target by 2050). I am not sure how the Government expects to ramp up from 5% to 60% reduction over 30 years, and I will be looking at the strategy if/when it is released. However, I believe that getting the emissions trading scheme established is an important structural change to the economy. It could be the thin edge of a giant wedge of change.

20% renewables by 2020
I was worried that the 5% target would not be big enough to transform the energy market to support competitive renewables. Although emissions trading is the Government’s main climate change mitiation measure, I am relieved that there is a separate target for renewable energy — 20% of electricity supply by 2020. This isn’t as ambitious as it could be but at least the commercialisation of renewable energy is recognised as a strategy to be specifically managed.

Credit where credit’s due
I wish to give credit where credit is due. When it is implemented, Australia’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) will the broadest in the world. Below, I’ve compared it to the world’s first scheme, the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).

  Australia CPRS EU ETS phase 1 (2005-2007) EU ETS phase 2 (2008-2012)
Coverage of greenhouse gas emissions 75% 40% 46%
Participating sectors Energy activities, transport, leakages/losses, industrial processes, waste and forestry* Energy activities, ferrous metal and mineral industries, pulp, paper and board activities As for phase 1, plus a number of new industries (e.g. aluminium and ammonia producers)
Greenhouse gases included All six Kyoto Protocol gases — carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, hydrofluorocarbons, and perfluorocarbons Carbon dioxide Carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and perfluorocarbons

* Excludes agriculture and deforestation (17% and 10% of emissions in 2000, respectively)

It is useful to note that the aim for Phase 3 of the EU ETS (post-2012) is to cover all greenhouse gases and all sectors, including aviation, maritime transport and forestry.

In non-conclusion
My quick review of the White Paper has led me to conclude that the Government’s proposal is defensible in terms of international standards for action on climate change.

However, please note that I have made no comment on:

  • the justness or effectiveness of relying on a (single) market-based approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
  • the adequacy of the targets set by the EU, UK and US (to which Australia claims parity); or
  • the reliability, desirability or controllability of the population projections that have led the Government to its small absolute target.

But I am relieved that there is a logical basis for the 5% target, which I can now explain to those people who are equally perplexed as I was.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (2001), ‘A century of population change in Australia’, Year Book Australia: 2001, catalogue number 1301.0, available online here, accessed on 18 December 2008

Australian Bureau of Statistics (2002), ‘Population size and growth’, Year Book Australia: 2002, catalogue number 1301.0, available online here, accessed on 18 December 2008

Carbon Trust (date not given), ‘The EU Emission Trading Scheme’, last update not given, Carbon Trust website, available online here, accessed on 18 December 2008

Carrington D (2008), ‘Australia pledges to cut emissions by up to 15%’, The Guardian, 15 December 2008, available online here, accessed on 18 December 2008

Department of Climate Change (2006), ‘Australia’s National Greenhouse Accounts’, 2006 inventory year, online emissions database available here, accessed on 18 December 2008

Department of Climate Change (2008a), Carbon pollution reduction scheme: Australia’s low pollution future, White Paper, 15 December 2008, available online here, accessed on 18 December 2008

Department of Climate Change (2008b), ‘Australia’s renewable energy target’, Department of Climate Change website, last updated 17 December 2008, available online here, accessed on 18 December 2008

Dimas S (2005), ‘EU climate change policy’, speech at the Conference of National Parliaments of the EU and the European Parliament, 21 November 2005, available online here, accessed on 18 December 2008

European Commission (2008), ‘Questions and Answers on the Commission’s proposal to revise the EU Emissions Trading System’, press release, 23 January 2008, available online here, accessed on 18 December 2008

A walk in the park

The mysterious sign from the previous post in this series is now spelled out in English: bird hide! Maybe it should be a ‘human hide’ because from inside the wooden shelter, people can do covert bird watching.

This is the view from within that bird hide. This large suburban park is dominated by a large man-made lake.

It’s hard to take photos of a lake without being a bit high up. If you’re at the same level, your photo is filled with sky or foreground and a thin, boring strip of brownish lake. I tried to take a more interesting photo by focusing on the lake edge. Although perhaps more interesting, this photo doesn’t show anything of the lake’s size.

It was a beautifully sunny day, though, with white fluffy clouds. Ah, it’s a nice memory while I sit here in my room, rugged up for London’s winter. I didn’t leave the house all day today. I’m like a hibernating bear.

I spotted the rusty pump wheel(?), which was some distance off the path. I wonder what it’s for? I’ve posted a few photos of the wheel. Although I tried, I don’t think I produced a photo that made full use of the interesting subject.

I know much of this is overexposed. I was trying to make it look like a hot dry day. I haven’t had the chance to look at this on a CRT. On my LCD laptop screen, is lightly sepia in tone. I suspect this is too pink on CRT screens.

This version has the same tone as the last one and is probably more ‘correctly’ exposed and therefore more detailed. Sigh. I don’t know. I don’t know if this is an interesting photo.

This photo is even less interesting. The colouring is more correct here. I think some people will like the sky. There’s no creativity in taking a photo of a pretty blue sky.

Anyone got any ideas about how to take a photo of this pump wheel?

This bird is a purple moorhen, very common at this park.

Awful lot of birds crossing the road.

Some of these birds migrate between Victoria and Japan every year.

I think this is a messmate stringybark because of its messy stringy bark. I’m not sure, though. I learned about messmates on a first year ecology fieldtrip to Sherbrooke Forest. It’s a beautiful cool temperate rainforest of Eucalyptus regnans. Only now, reading the Wikipedia article, do I realise (remember?) that E. regnans is the same as Mountain Ash.

Last time I said I don’t like animals. Some people probably think this is strange for an environmentalist. Instead of animals, I love forests, more specifically, trees. I think I trace my environmentalist roots back to bushwalking with my family in the Grampians. I wish I could go back soon.

This sign reminds me of one I took a photo of at Dove Lake in Tasmania. Let me see if I can find it…

…Here it is!
This photo from Tasmania was taken on 23 January 2005. It was one of the first photos I took with my Olympus E-300 camera. By the end of this month, I will have had my camera for three years.

In those three years, I’ve figured out how to take photos of myself.

The end!