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Analysis and Comment (19)

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…
Global action to reduce emissions could threaten Australia’s coal exports. Lock the Gate Alliance/Flickr

Australia’s economy will suffer if we fall behind on climate action

Australia’s economy faces grave threats from climate change, but the greatest threat is if we do not make a serious effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It’s not just the physical impacts of climate…
Whatever you call it - climate change, global warming, or the greenhouse effect - it’s increasing the frequency and severity of heatwaves. AAP Image/Dean Lewins

We need to talk about how we talk about climate change

How we talk about climate change has a lot to do with how we feel about it, and what we’re willing to do to act on it. Recent research from the US found that the terms “global warming” and “climate change…
Your mum was right: it’s good for you to eat your veggies. Yet a recent survey found one in four Australians ate none in a typical day. shashinjutsu/Flickr

Healthy diet, healthier planet

The way we currently produce food around the world contributes up to 20-30% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and accounts for 70% of all human water use. But is it possible to eat well and take…
Australia has a possible path to 100% renewables – if governments and business can be persuaded to take it. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Renewable energy target can go all the way to 100% – if we let it

The political outlook for renewable energy is not great – and I’m not just talking about the view out of Joe Hockey’s car window. The Renewable Energy Target (RET), which aims to deliver 41 million megawatt-hours…
Better appliances and energy-efficiency rules saved Australians more than A$3 billion on electricity last year alone. Shutterstock

Energy-smart appliances cut Australian power bills by billions

The latest review of Australia’s energy-saving appliance scheme has delivered a rare trifecta: a good news story for the economy, the community and the environment. According to my estimates from data…
Fertiliser: essential for feeding the country, but you can have too much of a good thing. ILO in Asia and the Pacific

Easing China’s fertiliser habit will have global significance

A joint project between scientists in the UK and China has shown how improved methods of manufacturing nitrogen fertiliser and better use of it by farmers could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by hundreds…
By studying ice cores, researchers can measure the methane emissions from thousands of years earlier. Arabani/Flickr

Humans did affect the atmosphere - even before industrialisation

The past is the key to the future. When snow falls on polar ice sheets, in Greenland and Antarctica for example, air is trapped between the snowflakes. Year after year, the snow compacts under its own…
Tony Abbott described the carbon tax as a python that would strangle the economy, but it’s more of a lolly snake. Flickr/anenomeprojectors

Why the carbon-tax ‘python’ won’t squeeze the economy

Some critics of carbon pricing have pointed out that, over time, the carbon price will increase to a much higher level and devastate the economy. Indeed, the image of a python squeezing the life out of…
Economic modelling shows Australia’s GDP will be modestly affected by the carbon tax in the long term: but the equitable redistribution of tax revenue will be critical. AAP

The carbon tax: insurance against climate change?

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions is like buying an insurance policy: we incur a cost to reduce a risk. Every year Australians spend millions on insuring homes, cars and their health, not because they know…
Landcare get-together: reducing our toll on nature comes in part from many of us taking steps that individually are not always so big, but which accumulate. The carbon tax is one such step. Flickr/feral arts

Little by little: the benefits of Australian climate policy

A catchment threatened by salinity can’t be repaired by one or two landholders. Revegetation designed to lower watertables has its greatest ecological benefit where the plants are, but its net impact on…
The two major parties have taken different approaches to compensating households for the carbon tax. Jonas B

The carbon tax, compensation and households: a two-party comparison

The two main political parties agree to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 to 5% below the 2000 level, or about a 20% reduction below business as usual. However, they propose very different policy…
The 8km-high volcano, Maat Mons, is only one of the reasons to head back to Venus. NASA/JPL

Venus calling – let’s return to the planet of love

Last week the world stopped to watch as the black disc of Venus inched its way across the face of the sun. But beyond the transits that capture our attention roughly twice per century, Venus has always…
Carbon double-take: shoppers will turn to eco-friendly groceries, mainly when they’re cheap. Flickr/Bruce A Stockwell

Do carbon labels change shopping behaviour?

If everyday items were labelled according to the carbon emissions embodied in them, would shoppers change what they buy? And if they did, would it make a difference in the grand scheme of things? Voluntary…
The one feature of the government’s carbon price framework which has received little analysis is compensation to households. AAP

Why compensating households affected by the carbon tax is bad economic policy

There are many features of the design of the Gillard government’s controversial and complex carbon legislation that can be questioned. For example, Australia’s unilateral action; the two-phase carbon tax…
It looks delicious, but is a diet free of red meat better for the planet? stu spivack

Could your diet save the planet?

By now most of us have read articles suggesting we “eat less red meat and save the planet”. Some may also have heard statements by the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Dr Rajendra…
A blimp-like balloon can be used to pump particles into the upper atmosphere.

Geo-engineering: why research something we never want to use?

What if the world left it too long to take action on global climate change? Is there a way we could somehow cool the planet before an environmental crisis occurs? Geo-engineering is a potential course…

Research and News (11)

Research Briefs (22)

Methane emissions found to be underestimated

The USA’s methane emissions, a type of greenhouse gas, have been found to be severely underestimated according to new research…

Mapping methane across America

Researchers in the US have done the first ever whole-country study of methane emissions. In some cases they found higher…

Oceans can hide global warming for a decade

Computer simulations of global climate have shown that the planet’s oceans can mask the presence of global warming for as…

A canopy view of climate change

A touring art installation has used real-time data collected from the canopies of trees to raise awareness about the environmental…

They come in (green)peace

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions might just save humanity from an alien invasion, according to researchers from Penn State…