I RECENTLY attended a day-long renewable-energy symposium at Newcastle City Hall, organised by the state Office of Environment and Heritage.

WAY TO GO: Three studies have found 100 per cent renewable energy is technically feasible and affordable for Australia.

Expert speakers were generally enthusiastic about the future of renewable energy in Australia, and the role the Hunter could play.

Jenny Riesz, from the University of NSW, explained that three in-depth studies had found 100 per cent renewable energy was technically feasible and affordable for Australia.

Dr Riesz said the affordability of renewable energy was partly based on the fact that the cost of “generating” the electricity was a relatively small part of our electricity bills.

Most of the bill was taken up with other costs, especially transmission costs (more from Dr Riesz on this subject next week).

It was also interesting to hear that for a commercial solar photovoltaic farm, like the ones First Solar is planning for western NSW, the cost of the solar panels is now only about 25 per cent of the total cost of the project.

Solar panels have dropped in price dramatically in recent years, so labour costs, roads and other infrastructure are now the major issues.

Election choices

WITH the federal election on Saturday, it is worth reviewing what the policies of the major parties are on environmental matters.

Emissions: Labor, the Coalition and the Greens agree on the science of climate change, and intend to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 5 per cent (of 2000 levels) by 2020. Both could increase this reduction, depending on what global agreements are reached. The Coalition would scrap the Climate Change Commission and the Climate Change Authority. The Greens are committed to larger greenhouse gas reductions.

Carbon price: Labor intends to convert its carbon tax to an emissions trading scheme by July next year. The Coalition would scrap a carbon price in favour of “direct action”. The Greens favour the current carbon-pricing arrangements.

Renewable energy target: Labor is committed to 41,000 GWh of renewable energy by 2020, which is likely to be about 25 per cent of our capacity. The Coalition is committed to a similar amount, although this target would be reviewed next year. It also intends to scrap the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. The Greens have higher renewable energy targets.

Compass on climate

THE ABC’s popular Vote Compass website has found that slightly more than 60 per cent of people want the government to do more to tackle climate change.

This is timely, given the recent leaked draft report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The draft report showed that there is now 95 per cent certainty (up from 90 per cent) that human activity is the main cause for climate change.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the draft report “projects seas will rise by between 29 and 82 centimetres by the late 21st century – above the estimates of 18 to 59 centimetres in the [2007] report, which did not fully account for changes in Antarctica and Greenland”.

The official report is due out this month.



Wednesday, September 4: 6.30pm-8pm, Hunter Community Environment Centre, 167 Parry Street, Hamilton East. All welcome. Details at climateaction杭州夜生活.au.


Find out about local bushland, what is being done and what we can all do so that it thrives. Join in on activities such as bush regeneration, plant identification and a walk and talk. Free barbecue lunch provided. Please bring hat and water. Phone 49043344.

Saturday, September 7: 10am-noon, Kotara Park (near Scout Hall), Park Avenue, Kotara.


This weekend course looks at many aspects of urban backyard food production from design to pest control. Topics include keeping chickens, propagation, no dig gardening and soil building. Camping sites available. Cost: $200.

Saturday, September 7, and Sunday, September 8: 9am-4pm, Purple Pear Farm, 131 Anambah Road, Anambah. Bookings atpurplepearfarm杭州夜生活m.au.or on 49320443.


More than 120 handmade art and design stalls plus gourmet and artisan food produce.

Saturday, September 7: 9am to 3pm, The Junction Primary School, Union Street, Merewether.


Sunday, September 8: 8am-1pm, Newcastle Showground.

Saturday, September 14: 8am-1pm, Speers Point Park.


Join a conversation with inspiring speakers dedicated to solving the global hunger crisis. Short film screening included. Free.

Tuesday, September 10: 5.15-7.30pm, Newcastle Museum Theatrette, Workshop Way. RSVP at onejustworld杭州夜生活m.au.


Learn about sourdough starters and processes of establishing the ‘‘mother’’ plant that are crucial to making sourdough and other products using the sourdough method. Take home sourdough bread recipes and practise hands-on bread-making techniques of mixing, hand moulding and shaping. Cost: $50 (includes light lunch).

Saturday, September 14: 10am-3pm, Purple Pear Farm, 131 Anambah Road, Anambah. Bookings on 49320443 or at purplepearfarm杭州夜生活m.au.