Environment + Energy – Analysis and Comment

US President Barack Obama has unveiled the United States' most comprehensive climate policy so far. EPA/Michael Reynolds/AAP

Obama takes ‘biggest step’ on US climate policy: experts react

US President Barack Obama's new climate plan aims to cut greenhouse emissions from the nation's coal-dominated power sector by 32% by 2030. Will it get through, and how will it affect this year's climate talks?
It might be nice if buying the right to emit greenhouse pollution could be made a bit simpler. Oleandra/Shutterstock.com

Politics aside, a simple carbon tax makes more sense than a convoluted emissions trading scheme

The term 'carbon tax' is a political poison in Australia, thanks to the previous carbon tax which was actually an emissions trading scheme. Yet ironically, many economists prefer a tax over an ETS anyway.
The prime minister described Labor’s renewables pledge as “truly bizarre”. AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

FactCheck: Would Labor’s renewable energy plan cost consumers $60 billion?

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said this week that Labor's pledge to source half the nation's power from renewable energy by 2030 will "mean a massive bill, perhaps $60 billion or more, that will have to be carried by the consumers of Australia." Is that right?
The vivid pink pools of Western Australia’s Hutt Lagoon are the world’s largest algae farm. Steve Back (used with permission)

Sustainable oil from algae: the technology is ready, but what about the politics?

We have the technology to make oil from algae, rather than digging up crude oil from organisms that lived billions of years ago. But bringing it to market will take a force of economic and political will.
There’s nothing feral about this Australian wildcat. Photograph by Angus Emmott

Let’s give feral cats their citizenship

There's been a lot of talk about killing feral cats, with the government's recently announced war on cats, with a goal to kill two million by 2020. But let's embrace cats as part of Australia's environment.
While there may be bad congestion in parts of Australia’s cities now, data suggest that car use has peaked. Scott Davies/Flickr

Don’t panic! Traffic congestion is not coming for our cities

There is a new fear on the block ... traffic congestion. But do we have to accept that congestion trends will overwhelm us? Is it really right to fear congestion?
Humpback whale populations have leapt on both Australia’s east and west coasts. Ari S. Friedlaender (under NMFS permit)

The big comeback: it’s time to declare victory for Australian humpback whale conservation

Chalk it up as a rare conservation win: humpback whales have bounced back so strongly since the whaling era that there is no longer a need to include them on Australia's official threatened species list.
People were talking about heatwaves long before the data proved they were on the rise. Powerhouse Museum/Wikimedia Commons

Google’s vast library reveals the rising tide of climate-related words in literature

The history of climate change is writ large in literature - and not just scientific journals. An analysis of Google's vast library shows a rise in use of phrases such as "unusual weather" and "heat wave".
The Liverpool Plains near Gunnedah in New South Wales where the Watermark coal mine would be built. Tim J Keegan/Flickr

Shenhua mine’s water uncertainty means we should proceed with caution

The controversial Shenhua Watermark coal mine in New South Wales recently cleared another hurdle along the way to being granted full approval to proceed. But there are major environmental risks which should still call the project into question.
Labor wants 50% of Australia’s electricity to come from renewables by 2030 - but what about other climate policies? Lawrence Murray/Flickr

Labor embraces renewables at the cost of good climate policy

Labor's proposal for 50% renewables demonstrates in spades how poisonous climate change politics has trumped good policy.