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Australia approves $16m Carmichael coal mine despite environmental concerns



The Australian government has paved the way for the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef by approving the construction of what will be the nation’s biggest coal mine, environmentalists have claimed.

On Monday, environment minister Greg Hunt gave the proposed Carmichael coal mine, put forward by the Indian mining company Adani, the green light. 

The $16 billion (£8.9bn) project will extract around 60 million tonnes of coal per year. It will use both open cut and underground mines across a large area of the Galilee Basin, Queensland. Some 28,000 hectares of bushland will be cleared to make way.

Hunt stressed that the mine must meet “the absolute strictest of conditions […] to ensure the protection of the environment”.

He explained that the developers would be required to meet a number of demands, many of which are focussed on the preservation of groundwater and the protection of threatened local animal species.

However, campaigners are sceptical, and say that the environment minister has ignored expert advice and dealt a serious blow to international efforts to curb climate change.

“Carmichael mine is set to be one of the largest coal mines in the world and its environmental and climate footprint is equally immense,” said Greenpeace program director Ben Pearson.

“The environmental impact statement of Carmichael mine reads more like an obituary column than a plan for development.” 

It is expected that the emissions generated by the use of the Carmichael mine’s coal will be roughly equivalent to any domestic emission reductions achieved by Australian government policy. 

Hunt’s own climate action plan has targeted a reduction of 131 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. Yet, Carmichael coal alone would emit around 130 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. This comes at a time when Australia is already feeling the impacts of climate change, including extreme drought and bushfires.

Much of the coal would be exported to India, meaning the project will also require a new coal export terminal.

Adani already have permission to expand the port at Abbot Point, but the construction would require 3 million tonnes of dredged spoil to be dumped in Great Barrier Reef marine park waters.

It is also expected that the opening of the Carmichael mine would increase the number of ships entering the reef by around 450 per year. 

“This is yet another nail in the coffin for the Great Barrier Reef,” a spokesperson of the Australian Marine Conservation Society told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Global investors such as Deutsche Bank and HSBC have ruled out financing the Abbot Point expansion over fears of the damage it could cause to the precious reef ecosystem.

Some commentators have since questioned whether such concerns will prevent Adani securing the funding needed to get the Carmichael mine off the ground.

A recent report from the consultancy EY has suggested that the mining sector is also at serious risk as water scarcity and rising energy prices mean investors increasingly look towards renewable energy.

Further reading:

Unesco decision on Australian Great Barrier reef protection delayed until 2015

Offsetting dredging in the Great Barrier Reef would cost $1bn

Unesco blocks Australia’s proposals to open up Tasmanian rainforest to logging

UNESCO concerned over Australia’s decision on dumping coal waste in Great Barrier Reef waters

BlackRock adds voice to investor concerns about coal and gas risk to Great Barrier Reef



7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption



Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions |

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

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Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis




Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens |

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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