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Environment + Energy — Analysis and Comment

Logging has left Victoria’s mountain ash forests in danger of collapse. David Blair

A job for Victoria’s next leaders: save the Central Highlands

Whoever wins power in Victoria’s election tomorrow will no doubt have a long to-do list. Here’s an urgent item: protect the mountain ash forests of the state’s Central Highlands. We have discovered that…
The inner suburbs of Melbourne are surprisingly more leafy than the outer suburbs. Andrew

Fewer trees leave the outer suburbs out in the heat

When you look out of your window in the morning, how many trees do you see? Your answer might depend on what suburb you live in. As you go further from the city centre, the amount of tree cover in a suburb…
King tides are just one of the threats faced by the people of Saibai Island in the Torres Strait, as a result of climate change. Brad Marsellos

Rising seas pose a cultural threat to Australia’s ‘forgotten people’

While you may have heard about the increasing threat that climate change and rising seas pose to Pacific islands — already forcing some communities to move — Australia has its own group of islands that…
Roof-top solar panels are just one part of the micropower revolution. Presidency Maldives

Move over big power – the micropower revolution is here

There is no shortage of shouting and dire warnings about the state of the climate and our need to phase out fossil fuels. But there is a more silent revolution happening too — in micropower. Small-scale…
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been feted during his visit, but there are no guarantees that his new uranium deal with Australia won’t worsen nuclear security. AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy

A cricketing ally, but will India play a straight bat on Aussie uranium?

Behind the flag-waving and cheers surrounding Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Australia are serious questions about the safety and security implications of Australia’s agreement to…
One of the hottest topics for the upcoming election is a new forest national park to protect the critically endangered Leadbeater’s Possum, Victoria’s faunal emblem. Greens MPs/Flickr

Victorians short-changed on environmental policy

Less than a week out from Victoria’s state election, both major parties have been largely silent on environmental policy. Neither the Coalition nor Labor has released comprehensive documents. It also seems…
Honeybees pollinate a third of Australia’s food crops. Losing them due varroa might would cost the economy billions of dollars. David McClenaghan

Australian farmers face increasing threat of new diseases: report

A nationwide outbreak of foot and mouth disease; an invasion of a devastating wheat disease; our honeybees completely wiped out. These are just three possible disastrous scenarios facing Australia; they’re…
John Howard made sure he was facing the same way as other world leaders on climate policy, unlike the current Prime Minister. AAP Image/David Crosling

How John Howard could help turn Tony Abbott around on climate

Throughout his prime-ministership, which ran from 1996 to 2007, John Howard’s perspective on climate change was informed by geopolitics more than science. The Kyoto Protocol, the key international climate…
The renewable energy sector is looking a little gloomy thanks to record low investment. Is RET uncertainty to blame? Stephan Mosel

Why has investment in renewable energy projects stalled?

You may have seen recent reports that Australia’s renewable energy sector is suffering. According to a Bloomberg analysis, investment in the sector in the year to September 2014 was down 70% on investment…
Australia’s official forecasts for expanding fossil fuel exports don’t match up with what’s needed to avoid severe climate change. Jeremy Buckingham/Flickr

Australia’s coal and gas exports are being left stranded

In the last week the US and China announced goals to reduce emissions by 26-28% and cap emissions by 2030 respectively. India also signalled its aim to end coal imports within 2-3 years. These are telling…
These clouds – formed high in the Antarctic atmosphere during spring – provide a place where ozone-destroying chemicals can form. sandwich/Flickr

Ozone hole closing for the year, but full recovery is decades away

Imagine an environmental crisis caused by a colourless, odourless gas, in minute concentrations, building up in the atmosphere. There is no expert consensus, but in the face of considerable uncertainty…
To match the US, Australia would have to increase its emissions reduction target to 25% below 2000 levels. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

FactCheck: are Australian and US climate targets the same?

If you use the full Kyoto period — 1990 to 2020 — the US is minus 5% and Australia is almost exactly the same. Environment minister Greg Hunt, Radio National, November 17. We and the United States are…
Climate change could make your hay fever much worse, thanks to three times more pollen allergens in the air. Serhiy Kobyakov/Shutterstock

Future hay fever seasons will be worse thanks to climate change

It’s now late spring, with summer just around the corner, and many people with hay fever suffer at this time of year in Australia. Although the cause of this suffering is invisible to us, it is actually…
Many G20 members have now pledged contributions to the Green Climate Fund, but Australia has signalled it will not. PR handout/AAP

UN Green Climate Fund: it’s time for Australia to step up

The G20 summit in Brisbane has put the pressure on Australia to boost its action on climate change not just at home but also internationally through a new UN-backed fund. The summit yielded major pledges…
Antarctica has actually been protected from sea ice melt by the ozone hole. Vassil Tzvetanov

The ozone hole leaves a lasting impression on southern climate

Many people think of sunburn and skin cancer when they hear about the ozone hole. But more ultraviolet (UV) radiation isn’t the only problem. The ozone hole has also led to dramatic changes in Southern…
Tony Abbott says Australia is taking strong action on climate change. It needs to be stronger to keep up with the US-China pledges. AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

The US-China climate deal leaves Australia with no excuse

The US-China climate deal provides a fresh burst of momentum after years of exhausting international negotiations in search of a worldwide agreement to tackle climate change. It also confirms that Australia…
Republican senator Mitch McConnell says the new climate deal will let China “do nothing” until 2030. Far from it. EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS/AAP

FactCheck: does the new climate deal let China do nothing for 16 years?

“As I read the agreement it requires the Chinese to do nothing at all for 16 years while these carbon emissions regulations are creating havoc in my state and around the country.” – US Republican Senate…
Marine parks need to be big enough to safeguard wide-ranging species, like the sharks being studied here. Manu San Felix/National Geographic Pristine Seas Expedition

Now is our chance to deliver on the 30% ocean protection target

Top scientists, senior government managers, industry representatives, conservationists and even some nations’ presidents are currently in Sydney for the World Parks Congress. This major international meeting…
NSW is considering a marine park for Sydney Harbour. But have we learnt from our past mistakes? Peter Hindmarsh

Marine parks for fish and people: here’s how to do it

As thousands gather for the World Parks Congress in Sydney, there are growing calls for a new marine park in Sydney Harbour. New South Wales’s Labor opposition has promised, if elected, to establish the…
The scheme aims to make buildings with high energy-efficiency ratings, like this one in Canberra, attractive to potential buyers and renters. Bidgee/Wikimedia Commons

Green building scheme review adds yet more policy uncertainty

Australia’s policies to cut greenhouse emissions have been shrouded in uncertainty over the past few months. The contentious Renewable Energy Target review and the swapping of the carbon price for Direct…
Economic modelling suggests raising fuel taxes could get cars off the road - and therefore save lives. Khongkit Wiriyachan/Shutterstock

Increasing fuel taxes could save thousands of lives worldwide

Road safety is a seriously important public policy issue. Around 1.3 million people die in road crashes around the world each year. Among teenagers and young adults, road crashes are the number-one cause…