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Environment + Energy — Analysis and Comment

Rabbit numbers have been considerably reduced by the introduction of two viruses - Rabbit calicivirus and myxoma. CSIRO

Explainer: how ‘biocontrol’ fights invasive species

Australia’s “ferals” — invasive alien plants, pests and diseases — are the largest bioeconomic threats to Australian agriculture. They also harm our natural ecosystems and biodiversity. Some, such as mosquitoes…
At the recent UN Climate Summit governments, business and NGOs vowed to stop deforestation by 2030. Rainforest Action Network/Flickr

Stopping global deforestation will take more than more words

At the recent UN Climate Summit in New York there was little in the way of new climate policy announcements, but 27 countries did sign a new forest agreement — the New York Declaration on Forests. Some…
New research shows 2013 would not have been as hot without human-caused climate change. AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy

Human hands are all over Australia’s hottest ever year

2013 was Australia’s hottest year on record, but how much of that was due to human-caused climate change? Today scientists publish five research papers that reveal the extent of human influence on Australia’s…
It’s not just protesters: even climate models suggest it’s more sensible to act on climate change now. AAP Image/Delta Harpley

‘Wait and see’ on climate? No, the science is clear: act now

When should we act to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change: now, or later when we know more? One person who thinks we should wait is New York University theoretical physicist…
Despite firefighters' efforts, the Hazelwood mine fire showered the nearby town of Morwell with pollution. AAP Image/Country Fire Authority

Dirty air, dodgy politics: why it’s easier to attack science than listen to Morwell fire death stats

I’m quite nervous about writing this. I’m going to stray from my familiar academic world into a political one, and it’s on an issue that may very well have killed several people. My reputation has already…
Indonesia enacts a moratorium on new permits to clear forests but gives exemptions to mining and palm oil companies. EPA/STR

Indonesia shows pledges aren’t enough to save global forests

This week’s United Nations Climate Summit produced the New York Declaration on Forests. It promises to halt deforestation, one of the biggest contributors to global carbon emissions, by 2030. Indonesia…
Carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels and cement-making reached 36 billion tonnes in 2013. Shutterstock

Mapping global carbon emissions

The latest report on global carbon emissions released this week revealed that carbon dioxide emissions will likely reach 40 billion tonnes this year. Growth in emissions continues to match the worst-case…
The government’s energy green paper is seeking reform on electricity prices and gas supply; but avoids climate change. Rae Allen/Flickr

Energy green paper scores ‘pass’ on electricity, ‘fail’ on climate

The Energy Green Paper 2014 released this week by federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane provides more clear direction and coverage of critical policy issues than did its 2012 predecessor. However, while…
US president Barack Obama addresses the 2014 UN Climate Summit. EPA/JUSTIN LANE

A view from the 2014 UN Climate Summit in New York

The 2014 UN Climate Summit has wrapped up in New York. What has progressed and what big challenges remain in the run up to and beyond the Paris negotiations in December 2015? Secretary General of the UN…
Australian coal needs to find some new customers. Stephen Codrington/Wikimedia Commons

China’s war on pollution could leave Aussie coal out in the cold

China’s recent move to limit imports of the dirtiest coal from 2015 onwards is a scary prospect for Australian miners. The proposed restrictions will ban the burning of coal with high levels of ash or…
Chinese President Xi Jinping and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi will both skip the UN climate talks, but that doesn’t mean the world’s biggest emitters aren’t acting. EPA/AAP

Leaders skip UN talks as China looks to go it alone on carbon

There are a few notable absentees among the more than 120 world leaders gathered in New York for today’s United Nations Climate Summit. Perhaps most notable of all is the head of the world’s highest-emitting…
A protester at recent Australia climate change rallies in the lead up to the UN climate summit in New York. AAP Image/NEWZULU/ZOE REYNOLDS

Australia can get to zero carbon emissions, and grow the economy

Today more than 120 world leaders are gathered in New York for the Climate Leaders’ Summit. With global emissions continuing to rise, it is easy to be pessimistic. But new research released today shows…
A glimpse of wild brumbies in the Snowy Mountains. Michael Tristram/Flickr

The grim story of the Snowy Mountains' cannibal horses

When you think of horses in the Australia high country, you might imagine noble brumbies galloping out from snowgums across grassy peaks, tails and manes trailing like streamers. But on a recent trip to…
A test pit for the Alpha Coal Mine proposed by GVK Hancock, which was successfully challenged in the Land Court. Such a challenge would not be allowed under Queensland’s new mining laws. Lock the Gate Alliance/Flickr

Mining coup in Queensland removes public objection rights

The Queensland government has recently removed long-standing public rights to object to mines. In shades of the Bjelke-Petersen era, Queensland mines minister Andrew Cripps made fundamental changes one…
World greenhouse emissions reached a new record in 2013 and will be even higher in 2014, driven largely by the continued use of fossil fuels such as coal. nito/Shutterstock

Global carbon report: emissions will hit new heights in 2014

As heads of state gather in New York for tomorrow’s United Nations climate summit, a new report on the state of the world’s carbon budget tells them that greenhouse emissions hit a new record last year…
Economic reforms such as a national carbon price could usher in dramatic changes on China’s energy landscape. Vmenkov/Wikimedia Commons

China heads for price on carbon; energy market overhaul is next

In the lead-up to the UN leaders’ summit on climate change, China is shifting up a gear in its drive towards national emissions trading. Yet for carbon pricing to be effective, market reform in China’s…
Economic growth is incompatible with the rapid emissions reductions that are now necessary. AAP Image/David Crosling

We need economic ‘degrowth’ to stop a carbon budget blowout

A newly released report called Better Growth, Better Climate draws the seductive conclusion that “we can create lasting economic growth while also tackling the immense risks of climate change”. But while…
Some people think that dingo control programs are harming Australia’s native wildlife. New research suggests this isn’t the case. Benjamin Allen

Dingo control doesn’t hurt native wildlife: largest Australian study

Does dingo control harm Australia’s environment? Results from the largest Australian experiment on dingoes – published this week in Frontiers in Zoology – shows the answer to that question is a convincing…
It’s not funny when it actually happens. Wessel du Plooy/Shutterstock

Why do we still hear people joke about hitting cyclists?

As a community, we are increasingly vigilant about many forms of abuse. Online trolling, school bullying, domestic violence, workplace harassment, racism in sport – all are rightly condemned because of…
Australia’s coast is famous around the world - but rising sea levels are poised to make things a lot less fun. Adam J.W.C./Wikimedia Commons

Climate Council: without action, rising seas will cost us billions

“I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside” holds true for many Australians who live on or near the coast. On top of the many lifestyle amenities coastal living offers, much of the country’s crucial infrastructure…