Monday, June 01, 2009

Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air

Sustainable Energy - Without the Hot Air by David MacKay is available as a paperback, but the full text can also be downloaded. The author is a Professor at the Department of Physics at the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge.

Addressing the sustainable energy crisis in an objective manner, this enlightening book analyzes the relevant numbers and organizes a plan for change on both a personal level and an international scale—for Europe, the United States, and the world. In case study format, this informative reference answers questions surrounding nuclear energy, the potential of sustainable fossil fuels, and the possibilities of sharing renewable power with foreign countries. While underlining the difficulty of minimizing consumption, the tone remains positive as it debunks misinformation and clearly explains the calculations of expenditure per person to encourage people to make individual changes that will benefit the world at large.

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: UIT Cambridge Ltd. (February 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0954452933
  • ISBN-13: 978-0954452933

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Australian Target Increased for Carbon Reduction

On 4 May 2009 the Australian Government announced an increase in its proposed carbon reduction target to 25% by 2020. At the same time the start of the scheme has been delayed by a year and some concessions for highly polluting industries increased. The maximum end of the government's target now matches the minimum reduction recommended by scientists and so is an improvement, but not a large one. The policy seems to have been released in some haste, as an example the announcement document on the Climate Change Department web site is labelled as being in Microsoft Word format, but is actually in PDF.

The Government has committed to reduce Australia’s carbon pollution to 25 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020 if the world agrees to an ambitious global deal to stabilise levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at 450 parts per million CO2-equivalent or lower by mid century.

This will maximise Australia’s contribution to an ambitious outcome in international negotiations at Copenhagen this December.

The Government will adopt such a reduction only as part of an ambitious international agreement involving comprehensive global action capable of stabilising atmospheric greenhouse gases at 450 parts per million or lower by mid century.

2020 target range

The Government has already set challenging targets for reducing Australia’s national emissions. The ambitious target range of 5–15 per cent on 2000 levels, which was announced in the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme White Paper in December 2008, involves reducing the carbon emissions of every Australian by at least a third over the next decade.

The Government’s assessment in the White Paper was that achieving global commitment to achieve emissions reductions sufficient to stabilise at 450 ppm CO2-e appeared challenging in the near term and that the most prospective pathway to this goal would be to embark on global action that reduces the risks of dangerous climate change and builds confidence that deep cuts in emissions are compatible with continuing economic growth and improved living standards.

The Government’s new commitment of 25 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020 follows extensive consultation with environment advocates on the best way to maximise Australia’s contribution to an ambitious global outcome. It also reflects that international developments since December 2008 have improved prospects for such an agreement.

Nevertheless, achieving this will still be very tough. It will require a significant further shift in negotiating dynamics and all advanced and major developing economies to take serious action to restrain and then reduce emissions. Australia’s conditions for adopting a 25 per cent target are set out below.

The following chart illustrates the strengthened target range.

2020 target range: 5-15 and 25 per cent reductions on 2000 levels

[graph omitted]

When projected population growth is taken into account, a 25 per cent cut in Australia’s emissions by 2020 will almost halve every Australian’s carbon emissions as illustrated below.

[graph omitted]

Conditions for a 25 per cent target
The Government will adopt a 25 per cent target only as part of an ambitious international agreement involving comprehensive global action capable of stabilising greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at 450 ppm CO2-e or lower. Such a comprehensive and ambitious agreement must meet following conditions:
  1. comprehensive coverage of gases, sources and sectors, with inclusion of forests (e.g. Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation - REDD) and the land sector (including soil carbon initiatives (e.g. bio char) if scientifically demonstrated) in the agreement;
  2. a clear global trajectory, where the sum of all economies’ commitments is consistent with 450 ppm CO2-e or lower, and with a nominated early deadline year for peak global emissions no later than 2020;
  3. advanced economy reductions, in aggregate, of at least 25 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020;
  4. major developing economy commitments to slow growth and then reduce their absolute level of emissions over time, with a collective reduction of at least 20 per cent below business-as-usual by 2020 and a nominated peak year for individual major developing economies;
  5. global action which mobilises greater financial resources, including from major developing economies, and results in fully functional global carbon markets.
Meeting the 25 per cent target

Rapid and comprehensive global action is a better value proposition for Australia, and the world.

Australia’s commitment to a 25 per cent target is based on an ambitious global agreement in which the sum of all economies’ commitments is consistent with stabilisation at 450ppm or lower by mid century. We know from Treasury modelling that early global mitigation reduces long-term costs and many of Australia’s industries will maintain or improve their competitiveness under an international agreement to combat climate change.

In the context of ambitious global action involving all major emitters, Treasury modelling suggests that average incomes would rise from $50,400 per person in 2008 to around $54,700 per person in 2020 with a 25 per cent reduction target, rather than around $54,900 per person with a 15 per cent reduction target.

The additional minor short-term costs of deeper cuts in emissions are far outweighed by the benefits of ambitious global action to reduce the risks of climate change.

From: Fact Sheet: Strengthening Australia’s 2020 carbon pollution target , Department of Climate Change, Australian Government, 4 May 2009
Also available are:

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Senate Submissions on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme

The Australian Senate Economics Committee has published the 40 submissions received so far for the Inquiry into the proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. Here is a copy of my submission (which was Number 7) followed by a list of the other submissions:

Submission to Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Inquiry

Tom Worthington FACS HLM

18 March 2009

This is in response to the invitation for submissions to the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Inquiry [1]. It is inadequate to aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to between 5% and 15% below 2000 levels by 2020, as detailed in the Draft Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill [2]. The bill should be changed to aim for a 25% to 50% per cent reduction, as advised by IPCC scientists [3].

A reduction of 15% can be delivered just by the use of more effective use of computers and telecommunications (ICT) [4]. Better ICT can reduce energy use, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time lowering costs. As an example, the Australian Government is planning to replace interstate travel for some meetings with high-definition video teleconferencing [5].

As well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions from air travel, the use of teleconferences will reduce the cost of airfares. This process of "dematerialisation" is a technique covered in a course I have been teaching to postgraduate ICT students [6].

The Green ICT course was commissioned by the Australian Computer Society (ACS) and is conducted online via the web [7]. A Masters level version of the course is planned to commence at the Australian National University in mid 2009.


Tom Worthington is the Chair of the ACS Green ICT Special Interest Group and is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer, for the Australian National University Masters course in Green ICT. However, this submission is made in a person capacity and does not necessarily represent the views of the ACS or ANU.


1: Senate Standing Committee on Economics, Inquiry into the exposure drafts of the legislation to implement the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, 2009,

2: Australian Government, Draft Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill, 2009,

3: ABC News, Scientists call for stronger emissions targets, 2008,

4: The Climate Group , SMART 2020: Enabling the low carbon economy in the information age, 2008,

5: Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Australian Government signs teleconferencing deal with Telstra and Cisco, 2009,

6: Tom Worthington, Enabling ICT to reduce energy and materials use, 2009,

7: Australian Computer Society, Green ICT Strategies Course Outline, 2008,

Submissions received by the Committee as at 26 March 2009

  • 1 Professor Joshua Gans (PDF 456KB)
  • 2 The committee received correspondence to its inquiry in the form of standard letters. An example of the letter is attached (PDF 44KB). These were recieved from: Mr Ray Gomerski; Mr Ian Addison; Mr William Shumack; Mr Peter Micenko; Ms Dora Ulgade; Sinclair Knight Merz; Ms Chloe Mason
  • 3 Olivier La Mer Adair (PDF 35KB)
  • 4 Alix Turner (PDF 116KB)
  • 5 Dr Gideon Polya (PDF 351KB)
  • 6 Australian Pipeline Industry Association (APIA) (PDF 196KB)
  • 7 Mr Tom Worthington (PDF 26KB)
  • 8 CRC for Rail Innovation (PDF 45KB)
  • 9 Association of Tourist Railways Queensland (ATRQ) (PDF 46KB)
  • 11 Griffin Energy (PDF 67KB)
  • 12 Mr Simon Corbell MLA, ACT Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water (PDF 168KB)
  • 13 CITIC Pacific Mining Management Pty Ltd (PDF 165KB)
  • 14 Cement Industry Federation (PDF 77KB)
  • 15 Ian McGregor, University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) (PDF 121KB)
  • 16 Dr Chloe Mason (PDF 63KB)
  • 17 Mr Des Moore (PDF 741KB)
  • 18 Dr Klaus Weber (PDF 12KB)
  • 19 Dr David Tranter OAM (PDF 17KB)
  • 20 Mr Andrew Farran (PDF 15KB)
  • 21 Energy Supply Association of Australia (PDF 1731KB)
  • 22 Mr David Kault (PDF 9KB)
  • 23 Quintessence (PDF 98KB)
  • 24 Dr Judith Ajani, Fenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University (PDF 92KB)
  • 25 Dr Geoffrey Davies, Research School of Earth Sciences, The Australian National University (PDF 117KB)
  • 26 Climate Action Canberra (PDF 22KB)
  • 27 Australian Workers' Union (PDF 132KB)
  • 28 Carbon Sense Coalition (PDF 215KB)
  • 29 Mr Gerard De Ruyter (PDF 12KB)
  • 30 Australian Geothermal Energy Association (PDF 155KB); Attachment A (PDF 97KB); Attachment B (PDF 755KB)
  • 31 Mr David Bath (PDF 71KB)
  • 32 Mr Ian Dunlop (PDF 100KB)
  • 33 Mr Barry Brook and Mr Tim Kelly (PDF 175KB)
  • 34 Dr Andrew Glikson, Research School of Earth Science and School of Archaeology and Anthropology, The
    Australian National University (PDF 648KB)
  • 35 Locals Into Victoria's Environment (PDF 288KB)
  • 36 Australian Plantation Products and Paper Industry Council (PDF 51KB)
  • 37 Housing Industry Association (PDF 47KB)
  • 38 Australian Ethical Investment (PDF 115KB)
  • 39 Energy Networks Association (PDF 96KB)
  • 40 Chevron Australia (PDF 54KB)

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dematerialising the Australian Government to reduce hot air

My talk on "Green ICT Strategies" for the ACS Canberra conference is now available. In this I argue the Draft Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Bill should aim for a 25% to 50% per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, up from the current 5% to 15%. A reduction of 15% can be delivered just by the use of ICT. One example of this is the Australian Government replacing interstate travel for some meetings with high-definition video teleconferencing. The technical term of this is "dematerialisation" so this is a case of dematerialising the Australian Government to reduce hot air. ;-)

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Submission to Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme Inquiry

The Australian Senate invited submissions on a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. In my submission I plan to say the aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to between 5% and 15% below 2000 levels by 2020 is inadequate. The legislation's aim should be changed to 25% to 50% per cent, as advised by IPCC scientists. A reduction of 15% can be delivered just by the use of more effective ICT. Better use of computers and telecommunications can reduced use of energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time lowering costs. An example the Australian Government is planning to replace interstate travel for some meetings with high-definition video teleconferencing. As well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions from air travel, the use of teleconference will reduce the cost of airfares. This process of "dematerialisation" is one technique I teach to Green ICT students.

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Inquiry into Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme

Monday, March 02, 2009

Lowering Canberra's Carbon emissions using ICT

At the ACS Canberra Branch 2009 Conference I will be talking about "Green IT Strategies: Lowering Cost and Carbon Emissions with ICT". This is in the Tomorrow's World stream. As this is in Canberra, I will be focussing on what the Australian Public Service and the companies supporting it, can do directly to lower carbon emmissions. Contrary to popular opinion, this is not about switching off your computer monitor or spending money on expensive new equipment.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Australian Government Carbon Target Too Low

The Australian Government released its Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme White Paper today (15 December 2008). Buried down in the detail is a CO2 reduction target of only 5 to 15 per cent below 2000 levels by the end 2020. This is much less than the 25% needed to address climate change and is not an acceptable target, in my view. A reduction of 15% could be made just through Green ICT initiatives alone, using the techniques I will be teaching, in an ACS course starting 18 January 2009. This is without the need to make major changes to industry or lifestyle.

Use of the Internet is integral to the trading scheme proposed by the government, but I could find no mention of how ICT could be used to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:
Policy position 7.22
The Scheme regulator will publish emissions obligations under the Scheme, the types of estimation methodologies used and any uncertainty estimates reported by liable entities on the internet as soon as is feasible after reports are submitted. ...

Green Paper position
As soon as feasible after reports are submitted, the Government would publish on the internet emissions obligations under the scheme, the types of assessment methodologies used and any uncertainty estimates reported by liable entities. ...

Administrative costs

More frequent auctions involve a higher administrative cost for the regulator, and potentially for bidders. However, the capacity to hold auctions on the internet means that costs are unlikely to be an important factor in determining auction frequency. ...

Internet auction platform

Auctions will be conducted using an internet platform. The internet platform will encourage more entrants and greater competition because it is low cost and readily accessible. ...

From:Volume 1 Full Report, Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme White Paper , Australian Government, 15 December 2008 (emphasis added).
Many Australian companies have expressed interest in participating in the CDM, but are unfamiliar with the processes and rules. Designated operational entities are best placed to advise project participants on the likelihood of a project achieving registration and generating CERs. However, the Department of Climate Change will provide background information to potential investors and project developers on the CDM project cycle and requirements. It will also help participants access other useful information via the internet. ...

The Kyoto Protocol also requires the national registry to make certain information publicly available, and to provide a publicly accessible user interface through the internet that allows people to query and view the information. Publicly available information will include:
  • the holder of each account
  • the type of each account (holding, cancellation or retirement)
  • the commitment period with which a cancellation or retirement account is associated
  • the representatives of account holders
  • the full name, mailing address, phone number, fax number and email address of each account holder representative. ...
The Department of Climate Change compiles Australia’s greenhouse gas inventory using the Australian Greenhouse Emissions Information System (AGEIS). The AGEIS centralises emissions estimation, inventory compilation, reporting and data storage processes into a single system. It has been used to consolidate Australia’s emissions estimation methodologies and fully integrated quality control procedures into the compilation process. The AGEIS provides high transparency levels for the inventory—emissions data from the AGEIS database for the set of national inventory accounts are publicly accessible through a dynamic web interface. ...

From: Volume 2 Full Report, Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme White Paper , Australian Government, 15 December 2008 (emphasis added).
The summary is provided as a well formatted HTML page. The detailed content of the report is in PDF and Ms-word. The Ms-Word version seems superfluous and a HTML version of the report would be far more useful (as was done with the Garnaut Climate Change Review Final Report). There is some odd wording which says that "The PDF version is the only legal version of the print version.". This may make some sense to a lawyer, but not to anyone else. In contrast to this the actual content of the report is very readable.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Enrolments open for first globally accredited Green ICT course

Enrolments are now open for the new elective subject "Green ICT" within the Australian Computer Society ’s Computer Professional Education Program (CPeP). This subject looks at how computer and telecommunications professionals can deal with sustainability, energy saving and greenhouse gas emissions in planning hardware and software projects.

Enrolments close 11 January 2009 for Study Period 1, which commences 18 January and runs to 19 April 2009. The ACS CPeP program is the first in the world to be globally accredited by the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP), a non-governmental, non-profit umbrella organisation created under the auspices of UNESCO for national societies working in the field of information processing.

Enrolments can be in the Green ICT subject alone, or as part of the full CPe Program. Credit towards Graduate Diploma and Master courses are offered by articulation with: Chifley Business School, Australian Catholic University, Central Queensland University, Curtin University of Technology and Swinburne University of Technology.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Profiting in a Carbon Future, Sydney, 3 December 2008

Bond University will be running a one day workshop in Profiting in a Carbon Future in Sydney 3 December 2008.
Profiting in a Carbon Future
Tips, Traps and Tactics
3rd December 2008, Sydney

An interactive workshop which addresses the commercial
and risk management challenges associated with a carbon

On a global scale, Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions are
relatively small. However, on a per capita basis, we rank
as one of the three highest greenhouse polluters on the
planet. The Australian Government hopes to turn this around
through an ambitious Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme
that will challenge relevant businesses in all sectors to
reduce emissions by potentially 25% by 2020 and by 90%
by 2050.

How will you identify and capture the rewards that will
emerge from the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme for
trading of emissions of greenhouse gases in Australia?
This practical half-day workshop will provide an invaluable
forum for discussion of recent proposals for emissions
trading in Australia.


• Overview of the international and domestic frameworks and
laws for regulating pollution
• Fundamentals of emissions trading: Australia’s Carbon
Pollution Reduction Scheme
• Understanding the approach of the Department of Climate
Change: Green Paper, White Paper and beyond
• Impacts arising from issuing, acquiring or trading of
Australian emission units
• The future of corporate social responsibility and
environmental compliance
• Opportunities to increase revenue and decrease
expenditure ...

Expert Panel Presentations

Tor Hundloe AM: Beyond the Emission Trading Scheme
Emeritus Professor Tor Hundloe is a Professor of Environmental Science and Environmental Management. ...

Damien Lockie: Environmental Legal Issues
Damien Lockie is an Adjunct Professor of Law and Barristerat-
Law. ...

Stuart McAuliffe: Carbon Economy Risks and Opportunities
Stuart McAuliffe specialises in finance and sustainable development. He has extensive commercial experience in advisory and directorial capacities focusing on project assessment, structuring and finance, joint ventures and strategic alliances. ...

Ned Wales: Carbon Science and the Environmental Agenda
Ned Wales is an Assistant Professor in the Mirvac School
of Sustainable Development. ...

• Business Leaders
• Company Chairs
• Directors
• Managing Directors
• CEOs
• Accountants
• Finance Managers
• Lawyers
• Risk Managers ...

From: Brochure for Profiting in a Carbon Future, Bond University, 2008

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

An eCommerce Perspective on Carbon Trading

Roger Clarke will present "An eCommerce Perspective on Carbon Trading", Thursday 20 November 2008 (4pm) at the ANU in Canberra:

Carbon trading has been touted as the market-based answer to global warming. The argument used to justify that position are outlined. Armed with that understanding, the nature of the tradable item is examined. Even though commodities markets are inevitably electronically supported, carbon trading appears to have attracted far more attention among investors and in the trade press than in the eCommerce literature. This presentation brings the perspective of electronic commerce theory and practice to bear on how 'carbon' is being, and might be, traded.

The slide-set is available, together with an annotations.

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Economic Model of Carbon Trading

The Australian Government released Australia's Low Pollution Future: The Economics of Climate Change Mitigation on the 30 October 2008. This reports economic modelling of the proposed cap-and-trade "Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme". It finds a modest cost for the scheme. The report is deficient in not considering the impact of new technologies on climate changes. There is only one reference to the Internet: "Who at that time could have predicted developments such as the internet, containerised shipping or modern air freight?" (page 18). There are ten references to air transportation, but none to the web, ICT computers or telecommunications. This is despite research showing ICT more to greenhouse gasses than airlines.

The main report is provided in one PDF and RTF document and chapter by chapter. The full report is 292 pages in a 2.2 Mbyte PDF file. At about 8 kbytes per page, that is a reasonable size for a PDF document. But the designers could have done a better job of offering the summary material to the reader before the full report. Many web users will click on the first link of a page and in this case that will be to the 2.2 Mbyte full report. It would be better if a small web page summary was offered first.

Unfortunately the poor formatting of the document will contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. An example, 80% of the "preliminaries" section of the document is taken up with high quality facsimile autographs of the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, and the Minister for Climate Change and Water, Penny Wong. As well as providing a way to fake government documents, these "signatures" waste space and add nothing of value to the report.

Australia's Low Pollution Future: The Economics of Climate Change Mitigation – Report 2.2MB 2.4MB
Preliminaries 188KB 1MB
Chapter 1: Context for reducing emissions 98KB 143KB
Chapter 2: Framework for analysis 207KB 435KB
Chapter 3: The reference scenario – Assumptions and projections 468KB 4.7MB
Chapter 4: Description of policy scenarios 169KB 586KB
Chapter 5: Mitigation scenarios – International results 433KB 1.7MB
Chapter 6: Mitigation scenarios – Australian results 489KB 6.4MB
Chapter 7: Key findings and future analysis 98KB 133KB
Annex A: Modelling framework 197KB 415KB
Annex B: Treasury climate change mitigation policy modelling assumptions 412KB 2.7MB
Glossary 60KB 172KB
List of Boxes, Charts and Tables 70KB 132KB

The Treasury's modelling demonstrates that early global action is less expensive than later action; that a market-based approach allows robust economic growth into the future even as emissions fall; and that many of Australia's industries will maintain or improve their competitiveness under an international agreement to combat climate change.

The modelling shows that Australia and the world continue to prosper while making the emission cuts required to reduce the risks of dangerous climate change. ...

From: Australia's Low Pollution Future: The Economics of Climate Change Mitigation, 30 October 2008

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Queensland Green IT Industry Special Interest Group and Taskforce

ACS  Green IT Operating ModelThe Queensland ICT Industry launched a National Green IT Industry Special Interest Group and Taskforce with the ACS in Queensland on 23rd July 2008. The ACS also has a Green ICT Group.

The ACS on behalf of the Queensland ICT Industry invites you to the launch of the National Green IT Industry Special Interest Group and Taskforce.

The Green IT Industry SIG aims to provide industry and consumers with reliable information on current strategies and practices for achieving environmentally sustainable IT.

Speakers from Industry and Government will explain how the IT Industry and major users can understand and respond effectively to the changing business landscape created by climate change and carbon accounting.


Alison O’Flynn - Guest keynote speaker
Alison heads the Sustainability Consulting practice for Fujitsu Australia, assisting organisations in understanding the risks and identifying opportunities in response to climate change, developing the ‘Green Business Case’ and implementing strategic initiatives.

Dr Paul Campbell, Green IT Industry Taskforce Chair
How Queensland is leading the national Green IT agenda

Phillip Nyssen, Green IT Special Interest Group Chair
How you and your organisation can adopt Green IT practices.

This event is kindly sponsored by:

Brisbane City Council and Fujitsu

About this Event
Venue: Brisbane City Hall King George Square
Date: Wednesday 23rd July 2008
Time: 1:30PM
23rd July, 2008

The ACS Green IT Special Interest Group (SIG), chaired by Phillip Nyssen, ACS Qld Board Member, started in Brisbane this year. Its role is to drive IT industry awareness, knowledge and adoption in response to climate change and carbon accounting.

The objectives of the Green IT SIG and opportunities for you include:

Objectives Opportunities
 Lobby industry \ government policy
 Accessible, real information
 Industry collaboration
 Focus groups
 Up to date information
 Champion empowerment
 Best practices
 Innovative solutions
 Professional collateral
 Focus groups
 Access to company experts
 Peer reviewers for knowledge base
 Case studies
 Industry insights
 Lobby government

The work will be supported by the Green IT Taskforce, chaired by Dr Paul Campbell Executive Officer, ICT Industry Workgroup. Its members are comprised of senior managers from the Queensland Government, Brisbane City Council and the IT industry.

The Green IT SIG and Taskforce will work together as described below:
Please register you interest and access information at:

Please keep this paper. Pass it on or pin to your workplace noticeboard !!

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Monday, June 02, 2008

Climate change conference in Canberra

ANU is hosting a conference on climate change "IMAGINING THE REAL LIFE ON A GREENHOUSE EARTH", 11 to 12 June 2008 in Canberra, featuring Prof Barry Brook, Prof Ian Enting, Dr Geoff Davies, Dr David Denham,, SenatorLyn Allison, Dr Carmen Lawrence, Senator Christine Milne, Phillip Toyne, Phillip Adams, Dr Paul Collins:

A conference organised by Manning Clark House in honour of Dr Barry Jones Manning Clark Lecture Theatre No. 3, Union Square Australian National University, Canberra

Wednesday 11 June and Thursday 12 June 2008

Featuring climate scientists: Prof Barry Brook, Prof Ian Enting, Prof Janette Lindesay, Prof Graeme Pearman, Dr Barrie Pittock, Prof Will Steffen; Earth and prehistory scientists: Dr Geoff Davies, Dr David Denham, Dr Andrew Glikson (conference convenor), Dr Simon Haberle, Prof Malcolm McCulloch, Dr Bradley Opdyke; political leaders: SenatorLyn Allison, Dr Carmen Lawrence, Senator Christine Milne; environmental lawyer: Phillip Toyne; health and population experts: Prof Stephen Boyden, Dr Bryan Furnass (conference co-convenor), Prof Tony McMichael, Dr Sue Wareham; humanists: Phillip Adams, Dr Paul Collins, Tony Kevin,Dierk von Behrens;
poet: Mark O’Connor.


The release of some 300 billion tons of carbon by Homo sapiens since the start of the industrial revolution has made its mark on the atmosphere, oceans and biosphere. In the mid-1980s a climate change threshold was crossed, and accelerations were observed in atmospheric greenhouse gas levels, mean global temperatures, sea and continental ice melt and sea level rise rates. Consequences included an increasingly frequent El Nino, migration of climate zones towards the poles, changes in precipitation and drought patterns, and higher storm and flood intensities. In 1987, the renowned oceanographer Wallace S. Broecker of Columbia University wrote: “The inhabitants of Earth are quietly conducting a gigantic experiment. So vast and sweeping will be the consequences that, were it brought before any reasonable council for approval, it would be firmly rejected. Yet it goes on with little interference from any jurisdiction or nation…. We play Russian roulette with climate, hoping that the future will hold no unpleasant surprises. No one knows what lies in the active chamber of the gun.” (Nature 328, 123-26, 1987) By 2006, when James Lovelock’s The Revenge of Gaia appeared, half a century after Rachel Carson’s ground-breaking classic The Silent Spring, evidence from major climate research bodies confirmed that the Earth’s atmosphere - the lungs of the biosphere- was in crisis. Further global warming is now inevitable. However, human scientific and technical prowess hold out hope that mitigation of the worst consequences of runaway climate change may still be possible. Can we act in time? Can the $trillions being spent on wars and armaments be diverted to save civilization? Will multinational corporations invest in true “futures”? This conference will explore the origins and consequences for life and civilization of the severe greenhouse conditions predicted for the next few centuries. Sessions A and B (on Wednesday) focus on the scientific prognosis for climate change and implications for biological habitats. Sessions C and D (on Thursday) explore challenges to human society of coping with life on a warming planet.

Endorsed by the ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society and
the ANU National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health.
Generously supported by the Australian National University.

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Australian Government Tenders for an Emissions Trading Register

The Australian Government's Department of Climate Change has issued a Request for Tender for "Provision of Australia's National Emissions Trading Registry". There is a detailed tender document available to those registered to receive government tenders. They are looking for companies with experience who can expand their system to Australia. This is perhaps an overly cautious approach which will exclude most Australian companies from bidding. There would be several Australian companies capable of building such a system from scratch which would be as good as the best existing systems, but I guess the government needs a system in a hurry and can't risk untried systems.

Provision of Australia's National Emissions Trading Registry
Agency Department of Climate Change
Category 43000000 - Information Technology Broadcasting and Telecommunications
Close Date & Time 15-Jul-2008 4:00 pm (ACT Local time)
Publish Date 29-May-2008
ATM Type Request for Tender ...


The Department of Climate Change is seeking tenders for the provision of the following:

* Solution coordination services
* A Kyoto Protocol compliant registry solution
* Application development services
* Hosting and system support services

Conditions for Participation

The two main Conditions for Participation are (see the Request documentation for full list of Conditions for Participation):

* Each tender must include the offer of an existing Kyoto-Protocol-compliant registry solution or a solution for which a process has been initiated with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat to achieve initialisation;
* Each tender must include, as a component, an Australian-based presence that, as a minimum, provides relationship management with the Department and a single point of contact for technical and functionality help and support for the life of the contract; this requirement is established because of the close working relationship needed during the finalisation of Australian emissions trading scheme policy and enabling legislation

Timeframe for Delivery

It is envisaged the work will be done in a phased approach, which is further explained in the Request documentation. Two key deadlines include the installation of a Kyoto Protocol-compliant Registry, and initialisation with the UNFCCC, by the end of 2008; and an integrated Registry in place before the commencement of the Australian emissions trading scheme in 2010.

The expected term of the contract will be from the time of signing, until 30 June 2012, with an option to extend the contract one year at a time beyond this date. ...

From: Provision of Australia's National Emissions Trading Registry, DCC33/08, Department of Climate Change, 29-May-2008

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Tender for Government Emissions Trading Scheme

The New Zealand government has issued a request for "Outsourcing of Administrative Functions for the Emissions Trading Scheme (Forestry)". This is a good application for Internet technology (Australia is also to use a "internet auction platform"). To get the details you have to register with the NZ Government Electronic Tenders Service.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (“MAF”) wishes to contract with an outsource partner for the provision of certain Contact Centre and Transaction Processing services to support the Emissions Trading Scheme (“ETS”) announced by the Government.

As a signatory of the Kyoto Protocol, New Zealand has an obligation to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels through the period 2008 – 2012, or take responsibility for any excess emissions. As part of its management regime, the Government has decided to implement an economy wide Emissions Trading Scheme (“ETS”).

On enactment of the legislation, the forestry sector (the first of five sectors) can join the ETS with effect from 1 January 2008. New Zealand will be the first country in the world to bring forestry into an economy wide emissions trading scheme.

The Ministry of Economic Development (“MED”) will have overall responsibility for ETS administration and MAF will administer the forest specific aspects of the scheme (“ETS (Forestry)”) under delegated authority from the Chief Executive of MED.

MAF expects that there will be high levels of activity through both the Contact Centre and the Transaction Processing Centre in the first eighteen months of operation. Forest landowners will be seeking information about the scheme, and applying to join, or seeking to be exempt. Some will be applying for free carbon credits being issued by the Government. After that initial period there will be a lower steady state of activity, dealing with notifications of change and processing of emission returns.

Whilst not a part of this Request for Proposal, MAF is also responsible for the operation of other forestry schemes and, over time, will be seeking to align the administration of these with the administration of the ETS (Forestry).

MAF is seeking a “best of class” service from an experienced outsource partner, capable enabling MAF to meet its business objectives for ETS (Forestry) and of dealing with uneven flows of activity. ...

From: "Outsourcing of Administrative Functions for the Emissions Trading Scheme (Forestry)", Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, 2008

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Scheme for Australia

Professor Ross Garnaut has released the latest part of his climate change study commissioned by the Australian state and federal governments. This proposes a n emissions trading scheme. There is a media release, Executive Summary, and full Emissions Trading Scheme Discussion Paper (477kb).

The trading scheme would use an "use an internet auction platform" (on Page 78 of the report). This might be the most significant contribution that ICT makes to the world.

From the Executive Summary:
... The centrepiece of the ETS is a greenhouse gas emissions market. A price on carbon is needed to address the market failure of unpriced greenhouse gas emissions. ...

Target and trajectories: ... Australia should declare the ambitious emissions budgets and target trajectories that it would be prepared to accept in the context of an effective, comprehensive global agreement. Along with the design of the ETS we can announce a set of trajectories of permit releases over time, consistent with our emissions budgets. The trajectories should embody rising degrees of constraint. Any shift in trajectory should only be triggered by movement towards stronger effective international mitigation commitments. ...

Design of an effective ETS: An ETS is established to reduce emissions, but the emissions limit is a decision to be made outside of the scheme itself. In developing the ETS design, the singular objective should be to provide a transactional space that enables the transmission of permits to economic agents for whom they represent the greatest economic value.
A number of guiding principles can be applied in order to achieve this objective, including scarcity, tradability, credibility, simplicity and integration. These principles define a solid framework within which an effective market can be designed.

Intrinsic and extrinsic features: An ETS has two types of design features: those that are essential to the operational efficiency of the scheme, referred to as intrinsic features, (for example the scheme’s coverage, permit allocation rules, compliance rules and governance); and those that are defined outside of the scheme’s operation, but still have considerable influence on the scheme’s economic impact, referred to as extrinsic features (for example, defining the emissions limits and principles for compensation). Both these design feature types exist within a broader context of factors that affect the operation of the scheme but are beyond the influence of policy decisions on ETS design, known as exogenous factors (for example the evolving global environment agreement as well as the evolving scientific and technological knowledge bases).

Permit Allocation: The price of permits, the increase in the price of electricity and other emissions-intensive products, and structural change in the economy in response to the restriction on emissions, will not be affected by the method of permit allocation. Transaction costs will be lowest if they are auctioned; any free allocation of permits will involve elaborate assessment and political processes. ...

International Trade: The costs of abatement can potentially be substantially reduced, and therefore more ambitious targets achieved, by international trade in permits. However, linking with an economy that has a flawed domestic mitigation system will result in the import of those flaws. Variations in the quality of mitigation arrangements across countries mean that the decision to link with particular markets is a matter for fine judgement, but ultimately global mitigation will only be successful if countries can trade in emission permits. Opportunities for international linkage of the Australian ETS should be sought in a judicious and calibrated manner.

Governance: Sound governance arrangements are necessary to issue permits and to ensure that permits are acquitted in line with emissions. In Australia, there is a place for an independent institution playing a central role in administration of the ETS, within policy parameters established by legislation. In this report, we refer to such an institution as the Independent Carbon Bank. ...

Compensation: This is a difficult reform, and a permit price that is high enough to secure levels of emissions within targets and budgets will have major effects on income distribution. The losers from such changes (households, and low-income households in particular, but in some circumstances domestic and foreign shareholders in highly emissions-intensive businesses) may feel that they can make a case for compensatory payments. The case for substantial measures to reduce the impact of the reform on living standards of low-income households is strong, and will affect political support for and perceptions of stability of an efficient ETS. ...

From: Executive Summary, Emissions Trading Scheme Discussion Paper, Garnaut Climate Change Review, Ross Garnaut , March 2008

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Garnaut Climate Change Interim Report

The interim Garnaut Climate Change Review, commissioned by Australian governments has been released. The suggested cuts in green house gas emissions are possible with minimal impact on our lifestyle and economy. Reducing energy use with computers, broadband and the Internet, could help. A further Draft Report will be released 30 June 2008 and a Final Report 30 September 2008.

Available are:
  1. Media release (353kb)
  2. Executive Summary (44kb)
  3. Full Report (634kb)
The full report is 64 pages long. All the documents appear to have been efficiently and carefully encoded in PDF, unlike many government reports. But the reports could do with shorter web addresses. They are about 150 characters long. Removing the duplicated text and "MicrosoftWord" would help, especially as the files are in PDF format, not Microsoft Word.

Here is the text of the executive summary:
This Interim Report seeks to provide a flavour of early findings from the work of the Review, to share ideas on work in progress as a basis for interaction with the Australian community, and to indicate the scope of the work programme through to the completion of the Review. There are some important areas of the Review’s work that are barely touched upon in the Interim Report, which will feature prominently in the final reports. Adaptation to climate change, energy efficiency and the distribution of the costs of climate change across households and regions are amongst the prominent omissions from this presentation.

Many views put forward in this Interim Report represent genuinely interim judgements. The Review looks forward to feedback from interested people before formulating recommendations for the final reports.

Developments in mainstream scientific opinion on the relationship between emissions accumulations and climate outcomes, and the Review’s own work on future “business as usual” global emissions, suggest that the world is moving towards high risks of dangerous climate change more rapidly than has generally been understood. This makes mitigation more urgent and more costly. At the same time, it makes the probable effects of unmitigated climate change more costly, for Australia and for the world.

The largest source of increased urgency is the unexpectedly high growth of the world economy in the early twenty-first century, combined with unexpectedly high energy intensity of that growth and continuing reliance on high-emissions fossil fuels as sources of energy. These developments are associated with strong economic growth in the developing world, first of all in China. The stronger growth has strong momentum and is likely to continue. It is neither desirable nor remotely feasible to seek to remove environmental pressures through diminution of the aspirations of the world’s people for higher material standards of living. The challenge is to end the linkage between economic growth and emissions of greenhouse gases.

Australia’s interest lies in the world adopting a strong and effective position on climate change mitigation. This interest is driven by two realities of Australia’s position relative to other developed countries: our exceptional sensitivity to climate change: and our exceptional opportunity to do well in a world of effective global mitigation. Australia playing its full part in international efforts on climate change can have a positive effect on global outcomes. The direct effects of Australia’s emissions reduction efforts are of secondary importance. Australia has an important role to play alongside its international partners in establishing a realistic approach to global mitigation. Australia can contribute to the development of clear international understandings on the four components of a successful framework for global mitigation: setting the right global objectives for reduction of the risk of dangerous climate change; converting this into a goal for stabilisation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at a specified level; calculating the amount of additional emissions that can be emitted into the atmosphere over a specified number of years if stabilisation of atmospheric concentrations is to be achieved at the desired level; and developing principles for allocating a limited global emissions budget among countries.

Australia should make firm commitments in 2008, to 2020 and 2050 emissions targets that embody similar adjustment cost to that accepted by other developed countries. A lead has been provided by the European Union, and there are reasonable prospects that the United States will become part of the main international framework after the November 2008 elections. Some version of the current State and Federal targets of 60 per cent reduction by 2050, with appropriate interim targets, would meet these requirements.

Australia would need to go considerably further in reduction of emissions as part of an effective global agreement, with full participation by major developing countries, designed to reduce risks of dangerous climate change to acceptable levels. Australia should formulate a position on the contribution that it would be prepared make to an effective global agreement, and offer to implement that stronger position if an appropriately structured international agreement were reached.

The process of reaching an adequate global agreement will be long and difficult. Australia can help to keep the possibility of eventual agreement alive by efficient implementation of its own abatement policies, and through the development of exemplary working models of cooperation with developing countries in regional agreements, including with Papua New Guinea.

Australia must now put in place effective policies to achieve major reductions in emissions. The emissions trading scheme (ETS) is the centre-piece of a domestic mitigation strategy. To achieve effective mitigation at the lowest possible cost, the ETS will need to be supported by measures to correct market failures or weaknesses related to innovation, research and development, to information, and to network infrastructure.

Establishing an ETS with ambitious mitigation objectives will be difficult and will make heavy demands on scarce economic and finite political resources. The difficulty of the task makes it essential to use the most efficient means of achieving the mitigation objectives. That means efficiency both in minimising the economic costs, and in distributing the costs of the scheme across the Australian community in ways that are broadly seen as being fair.

To be effective in contributing as much as possible to an effective global effort to avoid unacceptably high risks of dangerous climate change, soundly based domestic and international policies will need to be sustained steadily over long periods. Policy-makers will need to eschew short-term responses that seem to deal with immediate problems but contribute to the building of pressures for future policy change. The Review aims to provide the basis for steady long-term policy at Commonwealth and State levels, and for productive long-term Australian interaction with the international community on climate change policy.

From: Executive Summary, Garnaut Climate Change Review Interim Report to the Commonwealth, State And Territory Governments of Australia, February 2008

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Nobel Peace Prize 2007 to IPCC and Al Gore

Climate Change 2007 - The Physical Science Basis: Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert Arnold "Al" Gore Jr. have won the Nobel Peace Prize 2007, "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change".

IPCC members such as Dr Rajendra K Pachauri, have done much hard work over many years to bring climate change to world attention. It seems odd that they all have to share half the prize with Al Gore, who produced little more than the Powerpoint presentation of an "An Inconvenient Truth" (and DVD). However, Mr. Gore's presentation probably had more effect on public opinion than all of the experts on the IPCC, as the Nobel committee notes:An Inconvenient Truth - Book Cover

... Through the scientific reports it has issued over the past two decades, the IPCC has created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming. Thousands of scientists and officials from over one hundred countries have collaborated to achieve greater certainty as to the scale of the warming. Whereas in the 1980s global warming seemed to be merely an interesting hypothesis, the 1990s produced firmer evidence in its support. In the last few years, the connections have become even clearer and the consequences still more apparent.

Al Gore has for a long time been one of the world's leading environmentalist politicians. He became aware at an early stage of the climatic challenges the world is facing. His strong commitment, reflected in political activity, lectures, films and books, has strengthened the struggle against climate change. He is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted...

From: The Nobel Peace Prize for 2007, Media Release, Nobel Foundation, Oslo, 12 October 2007

Some books available on the topic:

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Emissions Trading Standards

Standards Australia (SA) is holding free forums in Sydney and Canberra in October on standards for Australia's National Emissions Trading Scheme. Also ICT standards could be very useful, as for example XML based e-commerce transaction formats for trading and standard formats for reporting and audit using ebXML. ACX Electronic Emissions Trading Platform (EETP) is already running.

As SA point out, there are existing standards which could be used as part of a scheme for the benefit of business and policy implementations. In particular there is the ISO 14000 series of environmental management standards, including:
  1. ISO 14064-1:2006, Greenhouse gases – Part 1: Specification with guidance at the organization level for the quantification and reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and removals.
  2. ISO 14064-2:2006, Greenhouse gases – Part 2: Specification with guidance at the project level for the quantification, monitoring and reporting of greenhouse gas emission reductions and removal enhancements.
  3. ISO 14064-3:2006, Greenhouse gases – Part 3: Specification with guidance for the validation and verification of greenhouse gas assertion
The forum panel will include the Secretary General of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Australasian Emissions Trading Forum, Australian Industry Group, National Association of Testing Authority (NATA) and the Auditing and Assurance Standards Board.
For a carbon emissions exchange to operate effectively and efficiently it needs to be built on a solid, authoritative and harmonised system of international Standards and related technical infrastructure.

Many of these Standards already exist and Standards Australia will hold forums in Sydney and Canberra to discuss how they can contribute to Australia's National Emissions Trading Scheme and where new Standards could play a role.

These forums are in response to growing concerns related to climate change and the Prime Ministerial Task Group on Emissions Trading Report published a report on 31 May 2007 emphasising the critical importance of establishing an Emissions Trading Scheme in Australia by 2012.

The Sydney event will focus on opportunities and challenges for business and the Canberra event will concentrate on emerging emissions Standards and their policy implications. ...

We invite you to join us in discussing the opportunities, challenges and the introduction of these Standards. ...

From: Emissions Trading Standards Round-Table, Standards Australia, October 2007
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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Carbon Offsets Via Credit Card Loyalty Program

The Commonwealth Bank is offering carbon offsets via its credit card loyalty scheme. The only catch is that the printed booklet sent out with the offer will be using paper and energy to produce and transport.

Owen Eaton, General Manager, Retail Sales and Service, for the Commonwealth Bank wrote to Commonwealth Awards customers in July 2007 saying "Spring is a time to be green". As well as air travel and toasters, carbon emissions are now offered for the award points earned by credit card customers.

Commonwealth Bank is offering offsets from Neco:

Neco is a market leader in the provision of eco and sustainability products. We are also registered under the NSW Greenhouse Gas Abatement Scheme, which means that we can create, broker and sell clean air certificates to organisations looking to reduce their environmental footprint.

We offer a range of business services developed to cater for the specific needs of a variety of clients and industry sectors. ...

From: Doing Business with Neco, Neco, 2007

The Bank is offering:

TonnesForest and RevegitationRenewable Energy

The Bank sent out a one page letter and 35 page booklet with the offer. That is a significant amount of paper consumed and energy used in transporting the booklet to customers. Unless enough customers take up the offer, the result will be be a net deficit fro the environment, not a gain.

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