Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Obama Whitehouse on Energy and the Environment

The White House Office of Energy and Climate Change has issued an item on "Building a New Foundation for Energy and the Environment" (Anthony Russell, April 13, 2010):

In the last 15 months, President Obama and his Administration have made significant progress in changing the way America thinks about energy and the environment, making the vision of a 21st century clean energy economy a reality. From historic investments in clean energy infrastructure and technology; improved efficiency for buildings, appliances and automobiles; more diverse energy production from domestic and renewable sources; and reduced emissions that contribute to climate change – the President’s comprehensive strategy has put Americans back in control of their energy future, created new jobs and laid the foundation for long-term economic security, and led by example in exercising good stewardship of our environment.

To continue the progress, we need your help. President Obama believes, "...that change won’t come from Washington alone. It will come from Americans across the country who take steps in their own homes and their own communities to make that change happen." So today, in honor of the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, President Obama is challenging Americans to take action to change our nation’s energy and environmental future.

Download Video: mp4 (86MB) | mp3 (3MB)

Visit to learn more about what you can do in your homes, communities, schools and businesses to answer the President’s call-to-action to help lay a new foundation for energy and the environment.

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Australian Ethical Climate Advocacy Fund

Australian Ethical Investment (AEI) have set up a Climate Advocacy Fund to use collective shareholder activism for companies to behave better on environmental and social issues. Apparently this is common in the USA, but not in Australia. Concerned members of the public can invest in the fund. The fund then buys shares in companies. Unpaid nominees for the fund vote at shareholder meetings to change the company policy. I have volunteered to be one of the nominees, as well as having some investments in AEI and being a shareholder.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Open University Green ICT Course

Open Universities Australia is now offering my Green ICT Strategies course (ACS25). This is through the Computer Professional Education Program of the Australian Computer Society. The course is available to students of Curtin University, Griffith University, Macquarie University, Monash University, RMIT University, Swinburne University and the University of South Australia.

The course uses the same materials as COMP7310, in the Graduate Studies Select program of the Australian National University (first run July 2009). The course materials are published as "Green Technology Strategies: Using computers and telecommunications to reduce carbon emissions".
Open Universities Australia
2010 Unit Profile

Unit Code ACS25
Unit Title Green ICT Strategies
Provider Australian Computer Society
Unit Type PGD
Level of Study Postgraduate
Delivery Method Fully Online

Unit Overview
The unit is offered in response to an explosion of interest in climate change and sustainability, including a growing realisation of the high contribution of ICT. This unit investigates the contribution of ICT to carbon emissions and how technology can reduce those emissions. The
topics are drawn from practices being developed in the public and private sectors internationally.


1. Introduction to Green ICT
2. The Global ICT Footprint
3. Enabling ICT
4. Energy saving - Data Centres and Client Equipment
5. Materials Use
6. Methods and tools
7. Business process improvement
8. Improving Data Centre Energy Efficiency
9. Enterprise Architecture
10. Procurement
11. Energy Star Program and Quality Management
12. Compliance audit
13. Review and discussion for assignment 2

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Using the National Broadband Network for the Digital Education Revolution

Premier of Tasmania, who is also the Minister for Education and Skills, Mr David Bartlett, has invited the ICT industry to suggest how to improve education, such as with online collaboration of students across the state, interstate and overseas.

The Premier has a Bachelor of Computer Science and a Graduate Diploma of Business in Professional Management from the University of Tasmania and so is well placed to apply ICT to education.

Unfortunately the Tasmanian Government has issued the request via an advertisement in one local Hobart newspaper. So one obvious step they could take to a smarter state would be put such requests online, as most states, and the federal government, already do.

It happens I gave a presentation on how to use the NBN for Tasmanian jobs and education, a few months ago. My suggestion is to provide vocational and industry related training
online, which relates to Tasmania's industrial strengths in green
tourism, timber, maritime industries and education. Students could continue formal studies online while gaining work experience in the tourism and other industries. Tasmania could export courses online which use Tasmanian industries as case studies, thus promoting the local industry. The Tasmanian Education Department already has some experience in online distance education. The University of Tasmania has experience
in operating satellite campuses.

The Federal Government has previously generously funded education initiatives in Tasmania, such as the Australian Technical College (ATC), in Launcestion, where I gave my talk.

Unfortunately some of that investment has not been well directed. I suggest the ATC be re-purposed and combined with the adjacent UTas architecture school to work on advanced digital architecture and manufacturing to increase benefit to the local economy of products from Tasmanian forests.
The State Government is seeking input from the ICT industry on how it can make the most of the Australian Government’s National Broadband Network and the Digital Education Revolution.

Premier and Minister for Education and Skills, David Bartlett, said the initiatives presented opportunities for students, teachers, staff and the wider community.
“We want to broaden our thinking on the benefits these initiatives can create by working with the ICT industry,” Mr Bartlett said.

“The Department of Education is calling for written submissions from the Department’s current technology suppliers and the broader ICT industry on potential technologies and services that will help tap into these opportunities.
“With the implementation of the National Broadband Network there is potential to look at the way we provide education services in a different way.
“There may be new ways for students to further their studies without leaving remote areas, students may be able to participate in real-time video conferencing and collaboration with students across the state, interstate and overseas.
“It could also provide new ways of engaging with students who struggle in the current school environment.
“The National Secondary School Computer Fund for grades 9-12 has already started. The program aims to give every student access to a personal computer at school by December 2011.
“It will provide more students with access to a computer that will be internet ready and capable of taking advantage of the new broadband network.
“The Digital Education Revolution and the National Broadband Network will provide enormous benefits for our education community and I hope that we can work with the ICT industry to seize the opportunities available,” Mr Bartlett said.

Expressions of interest are advertised in The Mercury today and close at 2pm on Friday December 4. ...

From: Input sought from ICT industry, David Bartlett, MP, Premier , Tasmania, 14 November 2009

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

ANU 10% by 2010 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Program

The ANU has a "10% by 2010" greenhouse gas emission reduction program. This includes prizes for students and staff upholding their commitment to sustainable practices in the Online Sustainability Challenge. Other universities might like to emulate this.
ANU needs your help to reduce campus greenhouse gas emissions by 10 per cent by 2010.

Commit to improve your ecological footprint during October and November 09 and you could win.

Prizes include:

  • A $1500 electric bicycle courtesy of The Sydney Energy Coop.
  • A brand new $500 bicycle courtesy of The Ride Shop, Braddon.
  • A 3 day double pass to the Corinbank Music Festival in February 2010.
  • One of 5 Home Energy Audits, courtesy of the Home Energy Advice Team.
  • A free membership to the Co-operative Food Shop, Acton.
  • Lunch for two to Degree Café (valued at $60)
  • A free assessment from the ANU Sport and Rec Association
  • One of four $25 gift vochures from the Coop Bookshop
  • On of ten ‘Coffee for two’ vouchers from the God’s Café.
To participate register for the new Online Sustainability Challenge.

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Monday, November 02, 2009

Green MBA Rankings

Quacquarelli Symonds Limited and The Aspen Institute produce a twice yearly Green MBA Rankings of programs based on social and environmental factors. There are only two Australian schools in the top one hundred: twenty third (Griffith Business School, Griffith University) and at seventy eight (University of South Australia IGSB). Of the current top 100, 31 are outside the USA. The top school is Canadian (York University, Schulich School of Business), the seventh is Dutch (Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University), the ninth is Spanish (IE Business School), twenty third UK (Nottingham University Business School).

Only business schools offering in-person full-time courses are ranked. This is a severe limitation in the methodology, as green business schools are likely to emphasise online, part time courses, due to their environmental benefits. However, the rules would appear to allow courses with an online component. As an example, ANU MBA students can undertake the ANU Green Information Technology course. This is an online unit, but undertaken by many enrolled full time on-campus students, who value the flexibility of the format.

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Victorian Hybrid Buses

The Victorian Government is sponsoring a trial of two hybrid buses. As the video from the Victorian Transport Department explains, two types of hybrid bus are being trialled: the serial hybrid is more suited to slow routes with many stops, the parallel to longer routes with higher speed.

The series hybrid vehicle is for Ventura Coaches, with the wheels driven only by electric motors. It is claimed to reduce fuel use by 40%. There are 640 lithium ion batteries charged from a 2-litre diesel Volkswagen car engine. The internal combustion engine is much smaller than that normally used in a bus. As this is a full hybrid, the bus could, in theory act as a plug-in hybrid, or pure electric bus, charged from mains power. However, as Victorian electricity is primarily sourced from highly polluting brown coal, this would not have environmental benefits.

The Grendas Bus Service vehicle is a parallel hybrid (similar to a most hybrid cars), built from an Australian made Iveco bus chassis, Volgren Low Floor Route bus body and Cummins diesel Allison hybrid gearbox. This is used as a "Smart Bus" on the Springvale Road 888/889 route.

One aspect of the hybrid buses which is not clear is their fuel source. If the hybrid buses run on diesel they may have little environmental or cost advantages over conventional natural gas powered vehicles.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Carbon Footprint Estimator for Education Sector

The US based non-profit Clean Air-Cool Planet (CA-CP) have announced an update to their Campus Carbon Calculator (v6.4) for estimating the carbon footprint of educational institutions. Keep in mind that this is designed for North America (my green ICT students regularly confuse the units of measurement used in the USA with the international ones used in Australia and most of the world). Those outside the USA might prefer to use the Canadian Version of the calculator. Also the carbon coefficients used for calculating the Carbon dioxide equivalence may be different for other parts of the world.

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Friday, September 04, 2009

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Tasmania with broadband

Tasmania is the first state in Australia to get a roll-out of the new National Broadband Network, so I thought it appropriate to talk about how this could be used to reduce carbon emissions, particularly with online education. I will be speaking in Launceston, 11 September 2009, 6:00pm. For details, contact the Launceston Chapter of ACS Tasmania.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Queensland inquiry into energy efficiency

The Queensland Parliament is holding an inquiry into energy efficiency. The Environment and Resources Committee is to report to the Legislative Assembly by 30 November 2009. Readers may find my Submission on Sustainable ICT Procurement to the ACT Legislative Assembly of relevance. The Queensland committee has held two seminars (Townsville 24 July and Brisbane, 7 August) and invited submissions. There is a Media Release, Issues Paper and List of energy efficiency policies and initiatives available. Here are excerpts from the issues paper:
This paper provides background information about the committee and its inquiry into energy efficiency improvements. It also flags the issues that the committee would like people to comment on.

The Committee
The Environment and Resources Committee is a select committee of the Queensland Parliament appointed to monitor and report on issues in the policy areas of: environmental protection; climate change; land management; water security;
and energy.

Inquiry Terms of Reference
On 23 April 2009, Parliament resolved that the committee will examine and report on the economic and environmental potential provided by energy efficiency improvements for households; communities; industry; and government.

For this inquiry, the committee will consider:

• The economic and environmental costs and benefits arising from energy efficiency improvements;
• Potential barriers and impediments to improved energy efficiency;
• Potential policy options for energy efficiency improvements, with an emphasis on initiatives that are cost effective for individual producers and consumers; and
• The role of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and other Commonwealth Government initiatives in encouraging energy efficiency.

The committee is required to report their findings to Parliament by 30 November 2009.

What is Energy Efficiency?
The term ‘energy efficiency’ and what might be considered an energy efficiency measure or improvement has come to mean different things to different people. For this inquiry, the committee has drawn a clear distinction between energy efficiency improvements and other initiatives to conserve or limit energy use by simply doing less.

Energy efficiency measures, unlike energy conservation, aim to reduce energy consumption while at the same time maintaining or increasing the level or useful output of outcome delivered using less energy input. Examples of energy efficiency improvements include energy-efficient lighting, heating and cooling systems as well
as improved energy management practices.

Choosing to travel less by car or turning down the thermostat on air conditioners are examples of energy conservation measures, which are not part of this inquiry.

Energy in Australia
Energy is vital to our economy both as an input to production across industry sectors and for consumption by households. It is also a driver of economic growth and wealth creation contributing to the general economic and social wellbeing of all Australians.

Of the member nations of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Australia has the fifth-highest energy intensity (that is, energy use per unit of Gross Domestic Product) behind only Canada, Finland, the United States and Belgium.

Despite a general slowing of energy consumption growth in recent decades compared to previous trends, energy consumption continues to grow in Australia at an average of 2.3 percent annually. ...

Energy in Queensland
Twenty-three percent of Australia’s energy consumption during 2006-07 was consumed in Queensland.7 The state’s major energy-consuming sectors were electricity generation (29 percent), manufacturing (24 percent), transport (24 percent), mining (7.9 percent), residential (7.7 percent), and commercial and services sectors (4.4 percent). ...

Queensland’s total energy consumption almost trebled over the thirty years. Consumption for energy generation, transport and manufacturing accounted for over 85 percent of all energy use. Residential energy use as a proportion of total energy use
actually fell over the period from 5.5 percent in 1976-07 to 4.5 percent in 2006-07.

The Benefits of Energy Efficiency Improvements
Improving energy efficiency is widely accepted as the least-cost approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. According to the IEA, energy efficiency offers a powerful and cost-effective tool for achieving a sustainable energy future.

Improvements in energy efficiency can reduce the need for investment in energy infrastructure, cut fuel costs, increase competitiveness and improve consumer welfare.
Environmental benefits can also be achieved by the reduction of greenhouse gases emissions and local air pollution. Energy efficiency policy and technology in buildings, appliances, transport and industry, as well as end-use applications such as lighting can be realised through best-practice, highlighting the possibilities for energy efficiency improvements and policy approaches.

The IEA concluded that between 1990 and 2004 energy efficiency improvements in IEA countries avoided around 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse pollution being emitted in 2004. They also saved at least US$170 billion in fuel and electricity costs in the same year. In the past, the IEA has noted that Australia compares poorly to other OECD countries in the uptake of technical energy efficiency. Over the period from 1990 to 1998, Australian energy efficiency improved at an average annual rate of 0.3 percent, while the average in other OECD countries was 0.7 percent per year.

In late 2007, the Australian Government committed Australia to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by sixty percent from 2000 levels by 2050. Modelling by the IEA shows that as much as half the savings in greenhouse gas emissions required by 2050 can be achi eved by adopting energy efficiency measures.

Better energy efficiency is also good for the economy.
By reducing energy costs, businesses, households, communities and governments can realise savings in their energy spending and spend more on non-energy goods,
equipment and services.

Policies to Promote Energy Efficiency
All Australian Governments have committed to implementing measures to improve energy efficiency. Government policy has largely focused on three areas: the establishment of energy efficiency provisions for the Building Code of Australia;
labelling standards and minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) for appliances and equipment; and financial incentives and rebates for the implementation of energy efficient and renewable energy technologies and the phasing out of old technologies.

The Federal Government released a Green Paper in July 2008 outlining its proposal for a national Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) to commence in 2010 as the primary mechanism to encourage activities and investment to reduce emissions. At the time of writing, the Federal Parliament had not considered the legislative amendments necessary to establish the proposed CPRS. The reporting deadline for this inquiry may limit the committee’s consideration of the impacts of the CPRS scheme.

Current Queensland Government energy efficiency initiatives

• Four-star energy efficient commercial buildings by 2010 and improved standards for energy efficiency in residential homes;
• Phase out of electric storage hot water systems with greenhouse-friendly alternatives from 2010.
• ClimateSmart Homes rebates and ClimateSmart Living education campaign;
• Home EnergyWise tools – energy efficiency self-audit tools and materials; and
• Energy Choices Program – complementary incentives that includes residential gas installation rebates, energy audit service, school energy efficiency action plans and an
Energywise off-peak campaign.

Information on Energy Efficiency Initiatives
The committee’s website includes links to information about major Australian Government and Queensland Government energy efficiency policy initiatives and the CPRS.

1. What have been the economic and environmental costs and benefits of energy efficiency initiatives affecting households, industries/businesses, governments and
communities in Queensland?
2. In economic and environmental terms, what energy efficiency initiatives have been effective in Queensland?
3. What role do Commonwealth Government initiatives, including the proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, play in encouraging energy efficiency?
4. What additional policies should the Queensland Government implement to encourage energy efficiency improvements?

Barriers and Impediments to Energy Efficiency Improvements
A range of barriers and impediments can delay or impede the full implementation of energy efficiency enhancements.

They include:
• A lack of awareness and understanding of costs and savings;
• Resistance to change;
• The lack of energy efficient alternatives;
• Expectations of low returns and high risks;
• The initial cost of the enhancement;
• The likely payback period to realise a financial return from the enhancement;
• The long lifespan of pre-existing vehicles, equipment and appliances;
• The relatively low cost of energy versus the high cost of change;
• The lack of expertise and advice; and
• Market failures due to insufficient information and the corporate risks associated with research and development.

5. What barriers and impediments to energy efficiency enhancements exist in Queensland?
6. What policies should be considered to overcome these barriers and impediments?
7. How can governments make information on energy efficiency improvements more accessible?

From: Issues Paper, No. 1, Environment and Resources Committee, Legislative Assembly, Queensland Parliament, June 2009

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Sunday, August 09, 2009

American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment

Monday, July 27, 2009

Climate science on the Road to Copenhagen

Greetings from the Australian National University Climate Change Institute Open Day in Canberra. Professor Will Steffen is presenting "What does the science really say about climate change?" This follows the release of his report "Climate Change 2009: Faster Change & More Serious Risks" (Department of Climate Change, 22 July 2009) and the Synthesis Report of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference (March 2009). He started by debunking climate change sceptic arguments. I missed the morning sessions as I was presenting to the ANU Green ICT Working Group, so I missed: the Southern Ocean, terrestrial ecosystems, Smart grids and renewable energy, but there are brief audio previews available on: Climate change and public health, smart grids, the global carbon cycle. Last on the agenda is a panel discussion "The Road to Copenhagen".

My question for the panel is: "The evidence for climate change is now clear, so shouldn't the research effort change to economic, social and political processes to help governments, business and the community make changes to their behaviour?". In my own Green ICT Strategies COMP7310 course at ANU, we only spend about half the course on the science and technical theory and the other half on how to communicate this to business leaders and to change business practices.

Another question would be: "Why aren't you practising what you preach? Why isn't this event online so people can attend without expending addition energy? The room is full to capacity, so clearly this is something which many more people, that the few here want to hear about". As you can see from this posting the room is online and facilities are available.

ps: "The Road to Copenhagen" is also the name of a web forum, chaired by several well known personalities, for providing non-government input to the next round of climate change discussions at COP15, 7 to 18 December 2009. Despite being sponsored by several multi-national companies, this seems to be a genuine effort to get community input to the process.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

ANU Climate Change Institute Open Day

The Australian National University is holding a free Climate Change Institute Open Day in Canberra on 27 July 2009. There are three audio previews: Climate change and public health, smart grids, the global carbon cycle.
ANU Climate Change Institute
ANU Climate Change Institute Open Day
Hedley Bull Lecture Theatre
Monday 27 July 2009
The Climate Change Institute Open Day will profile the breadth and depth of ANU climate change research to both the ANU community and to the broader Canberra and region community. The speakers will make a brief presentation of research in their area of expertise, focusing on the unique contributions that ANU can make but placing it in a broader national or international context.

Speakers will be representatives from the seven ANU Academic Colleges:
· CAP College of Asia and the Pacific
· CPS College of Physical Sciences
· COL College of Law
· CASS College of Arts and Social Sciences
· CBE College of Business & Economics
· CMBE College of Medicine, Biology & Environment
· CECS College of Engineering & Computer Sciences

9:00 – 10:30 CHAIR Prof AIDAN BYRNE (CPS, CMBE)
09:00–09:15 Assoc Prof Janette Lindesay, CMBE Integrated approaches to mitigation and adaptation in Canberra and the region
09:15–09:30 Dr Andy Hogg, CPS The role of the Southern Ocean in past and future climate change
09:30–09:45 Prof Brendan Mackey, CMBE The role of Australia’s terrestrial ecosystems in mitigating climate change
09:45–10:00 Prof David Hill, CECS Smart grids – integrating multiple sources of electricity in a single grid
10:00–10:15 Prof Andrew Blakers, CECS Achieving rapid and deep CO2 emission reductions with renewable energy
10:15–10:30 Questions & discussion
10:30-11:00 MORNING TEA

11:00 – 12:30 CHAIR Prof STEVE DOVERS (CMBE)
11:00–11:15 Prof Tony Capon, CMBE Impacts of climate change on human health
11:15–11:30 Dr Katherine Morton, CAP Melting glaciers and climate adaptation on the Tibetan plateau
11:30–11:45 Dr Kirrily Jordan, CASS Indigenous Australians and climate change
11:45–12:00 Dr Hayley Stevenson, CASS Global Governance and Climate Change
12:00–12:15 Dr Frank Jotzo, CAP Developing countries and climate policy:
contrasting China and Indonesia
12:15–12:30 Questions & discussion
12:30-13:30 LUNCH

13:30 – 15:30 CHAIR Prof STEPHEN HOWES (CAP)
13:30 – 14:00 Prof Will Steffen What does the science really say about
climate change?
Prof Stephen Howes, CAP Moderator
Prof Tony McMichael, CMBE Impacts
Prof Warwick McKibbin, CBE Economics
Dr Kylie Catchpole, CECS Technology
Mr Andrew Macintosh, COL Law
A/ Prof Lorraine Elliott, CAP International relations
Prof Will Steffen, CAP Science
Mr Ian Fry, CMBE Negotiator

From: ANU Climate Change Institute Open Day program, ANU, 2009

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Victorian Government Climate Change Draft Policy

The Victorian Climate Change Green Paper is offered as a "comprehensive response to climate change". Unfortunately the document appears to contain no firm proposals from government to actually reduce carbon emissions to combat climate change. There appear to be no proposals for the government to measure or reduce its own energy use or greenhouse gas emissions. The paper appears to be an attempt to avoid dealing with climate change, rather than addressing it.

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) gets only two brief mentions in the paper:

Information and Communications Technology: Using the strengths of our ICT industry to transform other sectors. ...

Our Focus

Driving new technologies and markets Victoria is a leader in scientific research and many of the State’s capabilities (such as energy,
biotechnology, advanced materials and ICT) have the potential to contribute to Victoria’s response to climate change. ...
The paper contains no mention of the Internet or the World Wide Web and their role in tracking and reducing carbon emissions.

The document is available as a set of web pages, separate PDF chapters or one large PDF file (95 pages, 4.9 Mbytes). Comment is invited via an online survey or more formal submission. One problem is the very long web addresses used, with a 64 character alphanumeric code in each.
Online table of contents

Message from the Premier

Message from the Minister for Environment and Climate Change

Highlights of the Victorian Climate Change Green Paper

Part 1 - Victoria's climate change framework
    1.1 Reviewing our approach to climate change
    1.2 The Commonwealth Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme - a new policy landscape
    1.3 Governments working together - a new role for Victoria
    1.4 Our long-term goals
    1.5 Our priorities
    1.6 Choosing between different policy ‘levers’
Part 2 - The challenge of our generation
    2.1 Our changing climate
    2.2 Our current emissions
Part 3 - Complementing the CPRS: a new world of opportunities
    3.1 The stationary energy sector
    3.2 Energy efficiency
    3.3 Transport
    3.4 The built environment
    3.5 Solid waste management
    3.6 Land use and forestry
    3.7 Agriculture
Part 4 - Adjustment: The low carbon economy - a climate of opportunity
    4.1 Creating opportunities
    4.2 Driving innovation
    4.3 Developing skills
    4.4 Supporting adjustment to change
Part 5 - Adaptation: a new reality
    5.1 Managing our water resources
    5.2 Victoria’s natural ecosystems
    5.3 Adapting to change in the built environment
    5.4 Building responsive emergency services
    5.5 Health and wellbeing in a changing climate
Part 6 - A shared responsibility
    6.1 Communities and climate change
    6.2 Government leading the way
    6.3 Making decisions in a time of climate change
Part 7 - Having your say

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Low Power Lights and Solar Systems for Education

Greetings from the DesignBUILD 2009 exhibition which features "Green Building" section at the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre in Sydney until 23 May 2009. One product which got my attention was a low cost solar power system from Soanar for $899 (show special). This has a 80 Watt solar panel, controller, 600 Watt 230 Volt inverter and 100 AH sealed lead acid battery. This is enough for a small independent power source for a holiday home or perhaps a one room school.

One issue which such small solar systems bring into focus is the amount of power used. Soanar were also selling low power LED replacements for halogen downlights and LED strips to replace fluorescent strips. However, if you replace halogen and fluorescent lights with LEDs of equal brightness the cost will be high. In many cases there is more light provided than really needed. Frank Harrington from Soanar said they will custom design lighting layouts for industrial and business use. I suggested a 1 Watt down light would be useful where too many down light have been installed (and a dimmer is used). The 1 Watt LEDs are much cheaper and do not require a large heat sink.

Another application where less light is needed is in libraries converting space to learning commons, such as the one University of Canberra Library are building. Libraries need brightly lit areas for reading and particularly university libraries where blurry archival documents may be used. However, a learning commons will mostly use computers. In this environment the general lighting can be much lower and task lighting used. This can save 75% of the energy used in lighting (and as much again in air conditioning power used to take away heat from the lights).

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Green Building Exhibition Sydney

The DesignBUILD 2009 exhibition will feature a "Green Building" section at the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre 21 - 23 May 2009. This will display green building products, technologies and have demonstrations. These shows are very good for quickly seeing what is on offer for sustainability in the built environment. It helps to be able to be able to handle the products and talk to the suppliers, not just read a brochure.
Beginning with the Green Building Zone, our green-focus extends to all aspects of this year's show. In 2009 DesignBUILD, aims to help building and construction professionals gain the latest insights into the future direction of the industry.

Green Building will feature in:

* All live-demonstration areas
* The DesignBUILD Professional Development Programs
* EcospecifierTM Pavilion
* Green Building Zone
* Enviroplumber

All Green Building initiatives are supported by ecospecifierTM who aim to help create a more sustainable physical environment by increasing the use of environmentally preferable and healthy products, materials and design processes. ...

Demonstrations begin on the half hour, every hour from 10.30am to 5.00pm (ending 5.30pm Thursday and Friday, and 4.00pm Saturday). ...

The Green Building Zone, Enviroplumber and ecospecifier pavilion are located in Halls 1 & 2. ...

From: Green Building, DesignBUILD 2009.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Energy Efficiency Opportunities 2009 Workshops

The Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism is holding free two day Energy Efficiency Opportunities 2009 Workshops in May 2009, in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.


Day 1 Incorporating EEO into an integrated response to climate change

  • Policy updates– Energy, Energy Efficiency Opportunities, the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting System and the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme
  • Lessons from Industry – Company speakers outline the outcomes and lessons from assessments to date in light of broader economic and environmental challenges facing their businesses
  • Government review of first reports – Initial assessment results, leading practice examples and common errors identified in the first EEO reports
  • Investor perspectives - How the investment industry factors energy efficiency into its investment evaluation
  • Verification – An update on the rollout of the EEO verification program.

Day 2 Sharing lessons from first assessments

Day Two is designed for operational and technical staff, and energy service providers responsible for undertaking energy assessments, identifying and implementing energy efficiency opportunities and tracking energy savings.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Telstra now-we-are-acting on greenhouse?

In "Innovate, don’t compensate", Tesltra's green guru, Dr Turlough Guerin argues that there should be strong leadership on climate change from the Australian government. However, Tesltra might like to lead by example and provide some concrete measures on reduction of their own greenhouse gas emissions. I suggest Tesltra commit to a 5% annual cut in emissions, starting in 2009, up until 2020. To acheive this, Telstra could commit to have 10% of its senior IT staff compete a Green ICT course , such as the one the Australian Computer Society is running, by the end of 2009.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Australian Clean Energy Research Proposed

The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) has issued "Energy Technology for Climate Change – Accelerating the Technology Response". This report proposes $6B for clean energy research by 2020. That may sound a lot, but is much less than that committed by government to support the car and finance industries in the last few months. ATSE also proposed an Energy Research Council to administer the funds for research, development and demonstration projects. This would be in addition to the Renewable Energy Fund, Energy Innovation Fund, Australian Solar Institute, National Low Emissions Coal Initiative and Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute.

As the report points out, the incentives of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme's carbon trading will not be able to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG), if there are not technologies to make it happen. However, I am not sure that the ATSE's solution of low-emission technologies for electricity generation on a massive scale is the answer.

Even if clean energy technology is developed, it may not be possible to deploy it by 2020. Measures to make the use of electricity more efficient and so reduce demand are also needed. In many cases these measures depend on small additions to existing technology, changes to software and changing the way people use energy. Rather than requiring new large machines, these techniques require minimal investment in hardware, but large investments in the behaviour of the users of the technology. This is a less glamorous, but important area of engineering research, which the ATSE should support.

An example of the large effects of small scale development, the Climate Change Group has suggested that the use of ICT could reduce carbon emissions by 15% by 2020.

The ATSE report was prepared by Dr John Burgess FTSE and is 55 pages long (674 kbytes of PDF). In addition to the ATSE report there is a media release "Energy research needs $6 billion", 16 January 2009. It will be interesting to see the response to the report. In the late 1990s I was on the steering committee for the ATSE "Discipline Research Strategy on Information technology''. There was a disappointing response to that report's recommendations, although it might be argued that this lead to the creation of NICTA, Australia’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Centre of Excellence. However the funding may have been diffused too far across Australia, for political reasons, to emulate the Cambridge phenomenon.
  1. Pursue relentless application of cost-effective energy efficiency and conservation strategies so that stationary energy demand growth is less than one per cent a year, over a sustained period.
  2. Form an overarching Energy Research Council to identify and fund necessary RD&D proposals so that no worthy project is denied funding. Use the Council to supervise existing funding in these areas. To encourage early investment by private companies, limit the life of the Council to 10 years.
  3. Continue to support existing Australian programs (including the Renewable Energy Fund, the Energy Innovation Fund (including the creation of an Australian Solar Institute), the National Low Emissions Coal Initiative and the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute (including demonstration programs for CCS, and the Otway CO2CRC project).
  4. In terms of support for RD&D on the new technologies:
    • provide support for CCS for coal-fired electricity generation with high priority and emphasis on an accelerated program of technology demonstration at the largest possible scale in Australia;
    • provide support for geothermal technologies with high priority, and an emphasis on the demonstration of feasibility at commercial scale in Australia;
    • provide support for solar energy, aimed at increasing the efficiency and lowering the investment costs of solar PV and solar thermal technologies, preferably through participation of Australian researchers in international consortia and Australian demonstration of larger scale facilities.
    • accelerate the deployment of wind generation, where economic, using the best international technology at suitable sites in Australia. Undertake a review to establish the maximum possible future generation of wind power as a function of the number of feasible sites, expected capacity factors and the investment costs per unit of energy obtained. The review should include offshore sites;
    • undertake RD&D to support the introduction of energy storage mechanisms applicable for renewable energy technologies;
    • critically evaluate nuclear energy as a base-load technology option for the longer term; and
    • accelerate the deployment of gas-fired plants for electricity generation, based on coal-seam methane.
  5. Ensure that resources are made available for improvements in electricity transmission technologies and electricity grid infrastructure. Undertake a review of the national energy market to identify strategies that will optimise the market and maximise the capital efficiency of the suite of new technologies deployed.
  6. Allow accelerated depreciation or tax credits on new equipment aimed at greenhouse gas abatement and energy efficiency.
  7. Consider introducing a government guaranteed electricity procurement scheme at favourable prices to encourage investment in the success of new low-carbon technologies.
  8. Ensure that there is adequate provisioning for training of sufficient personnel in the skills that are necessary for the new technologies.
From: Energy Technology for Climate Change – Accelerating the Technology Response, by Dr John Burgess FTSE for the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE), December 2008, Released 16 January 2009.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Sustainability in the Pub, Sydney, 3 December 2008:

Sydney Environmental Educators Network is having "Sustainability in the Pub" with Mark Diesendorf and Les Robinson, Sydney, 3 December 2008:

Sustainability SEEN invites you to join them to talk solutions at the inaugural...

Sustainability in the Pub

Imagine a world without carbon pollution!

How do we get there?

Mark Diesendorf and Les Robinson have the Answers

A free event from SEEN (the Sydney Environmental Education Network)

RSVP to seen

Dr Mark DiesendorfDr Mark Diesendorf teaches and researches sustainable development and greenhouse solutions at the Institute of Environmental Studies, UNSW. At
various times he has been a Principal Research Scientist in CSIRO, Professor of Environmental Science at UTS, and President of the Australia New Zealand Society for Ecological Economics. His latest book is "Greenhouse Solutionswith Sustainable Energy".

His personal website is

Les RobinsonLes Robinson is a behaviour change guru and optimist who believes we can change the world in a good ways if only we could stop being so thick-headed about other people's motives. He consults, trains and facilitates widely with councils and government agencies around behavioural and sustainability issues. His web site has lots of useful stuff for change agents.

Agincourt Hotel –Sydney’s first carbon neutral pub
6.30 - 8.30pm
Agincourt Hotel
cnr. Harris St. Broadway
Wednesday 3rd December

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Carbon Accounting course

Swinburne University of Technology has announced a Carbon Accounting Course for reporting greenhouse gas and energy reporting. This is from their National Centre for Sustainability:
Learn how to:
  • Identify and categorise greenhouse gas emissions
  • Prepare and interpret a carbon inventory
  • Interpret greenhouse reports to assist in strategic business planning
  • Prepare for anticipated carbon management legislation
  • Evaluate business risks in a carbon constrained economy
  • Review the organisation’s carbon management options
  • Develop a carbon report for the organisation
  • Review carbon reporting procedures

The course runs over 6 weeks in 3 x 6 hour sessions. Assessment included in course fee. Lunch and refreshments provided.


Course overview

VPAU324 : Develop a carbon inventory for the workplace

This unit describes the outcomes required to identify and categorise the carbon emissions of an organisation, determine the correct methods for estimating those emissions and produce a carbon inventory for that organisation.

  • Understand the context of carbon accounting
  • Learn carbon accounting methodologies
  • Apply carbon accounting methodologies and develop a carbon inventory
  • Analyse an organisation’s carbon inventory

VPAU325 : Develop a carbon report for the workplace

This unit applies to the business environment of any organisation, including commercial operations, community organisation’s such as not-for-profit NGOs and government agencies that wish to provide a report on that organisation’s carbon emissions and their response to it.

  • Review the organisation’s carbon management options
  • Develop a carbon report for the organisation
  • Review carbon reporting procedures

A total of 60 nominal hours for both units ...

From: Carbon Accounting Course, Swinburne University of Technolog, 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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Friday, October 17, 2008

Seared Kangaroo Rump to Stop Greenhouse Effect

A few weeks ago I suggested the Purple Pickle Cafe at the Australian National Unviersity in Canberra add kangaroo to the menu. Professor Garnaut then released his Climate Change Report. This included a recommendation that Australians eat more kangaroo. Today the Purple Pickle served Seared Kangaroo Rump with potato rostie, roquette and roast garlic. This showed that Kangaroo meat is in no way inferior. Perhaps the Pickle should create a Kangaroo Garnaut-burger, in honour of the Professor's work to save the planet. ;-)

Australian marsupials emit negligible amounts of methane from enteric fermentation (Klieve & Ouwerkerk 2007). This could be a source of international comparative advantage for Australia in livestock production. For most of Australia’s human history—around 60 000 years—kangaroo was the main source of meat.3 It could again become important. However, there are some significant barriers to this change, including livestock and farm management issues, consumer resistance and the gradual nature of change in food tastes.

Edwards and Wilson (2008) have modelled the potential for kangaroos to replace sheep and cattle for meat production in Australia’s rangelands, where kangaroos are already harvested. They conclude that by 2020 beef cattle and sheep numbers in the rangelands could be reduced by 7 million and 36 million respectively, and that this would create the opportunity for an increase in kangaroo numbers from 34 million today to 240 million by 2020. They estimate that meat production from 175 million kangaroos would be sufficient to replace the forgone lamb and beef meat production, and that meat production from kangaroos would become more profitable than cattle and sheep when emissions permit prices exceed $40 per tonne CO2-e. The net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would be about 16 Mt CO2-e per year. ...

From: Transforming rural land use, Chapter 22, Garnaut Climate Change Review Final Report, 2008
Kangaroo Cookin': 88 Simple Roo Recipes By Peter Winch, Andrew Thompson, Kent McCormackSee also:

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Sustainability of Australian Government ICT

The Review of the Australian Government's Use of Information and Communication Technology includes a recommendation on Sustainability of ICT. This proposes a whole-of-government ICT sustainability plan to manage the Government ICT carbon footprint. This is consistent with the Personal Computer and Monitors Energy Efficiency Strategy, recommending mandatory energy standard for government procurement, energy targets for agencies, reporting and activating power saving features in PCs.

5.7 Recommendation 7 – Sustainability of ICT

5.7.1 Develop a whole-of-government ICT sustainability plan (in conjunction with DEWHA) to manage the carbon footprint of the Government’s ICT activities

To better align the Government’s overall sustainability agenda and its ability to understand its energy costs and the footprint of its ICT estate, I recommend the development of an ICT sustainability plan.

The ICT sustainability plan should:

  • identify which of the available standards (for example, EPEAT™) should be adopted as mandatory for relevant ICT acquisitions (the requirement to purchase green ICT equipment should be incorporated into the client code of conduct as detailed under Recommendation 5.6.2)
  • include a whole-of-government ICT energy target, with agencies to report their progress towards the target
  • take into account potential implications of a carbon pollution reduction scheme.

I also recommend that large agencies (with ICT spends in excess of $20 million) develop an ICT energy efficiency plan that can be either part of a wider agency energy efficiency plan, or freestanding. As a priority, agencies should measure their data centre energy efficiency (which may require the installation of electricity meters in some instances). Agencies should also include in their plan a target energy usage, including the power usage effectiveness32 of their data centres.

Larger agencies will need to undertake a periodic independent ICT energy assessment. Subject to agreement by the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA), agency plans will also be independently assessed by DEWHA, with results of the assessment reported to the Ministers for Finance and Deregulation, and Resources and Energy. Reporting of progress against the plan, should be in a way that is consistent with other reporting requirements such as the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Framework.

When procuring new ICT products and services, it is important that agencies consider their impact on the environment. AGIMO, in conjunction with DEWHA, should develop a green ICT procurement kit to support agencies regarding environmental issues in relation to ICT products and services. This should include raw material acquisition, manufacture, distribution, use and disposal.

5.7.2 Identify green ICT quick wins

In the interim, AGIMO should identify a possible list of quick wins in this area, such as software controlled automatic turn-off of PCs, based on the best practices already adopted by some agencies and in the private sector.

From: Sustainability of ICT, Recommendations from the Review of the Australian Government's Use of ICT, Sir Peter Gershon, 28 August 2008 (released by Minister Tanner 16 October 2008)

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

How IT can cut carbon emissions

McKinsey & Company have issued a brief "How IT can cut carbon emissions". This claims ICT could be amongst the biggest greenhouse gas emitters by 2020, but ICT could be used to reduce overall emissions by 15%. On the face of it this study seems deeply flawed. In 2007 the ACS released results of a carbon audit showing ICT generated 1.52% of Australian national emissions and subsequent students released similar figures for other developed nations. My work for the Australian Department of Environment suggests that these emissions can be cut by 50% with little effort by 2020.

The rapidly growing carbon footprint associated with information and communications technologies, including laptops and PCs, data centers and computing networks, mobile phones, and telecommunications networks, could make them among the biggest greenhouse gas emitters by 2020. However, our research also suggests that there are opportunities to use these technologies to make the world economy more energy and carbon efficient. An analysis of five groups of abatement opportunities finds that such technologies could help to eliminate 7.8 metric gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions annually by 2020 (Exhibit 1)—equivalent to 15 percent of global emissions today and five times more than our estimate of the emissions from these technologies in 2020. ...

From: How IT can cut carbon emissions, McKinsey & Company, Giulio Boccaletti, Markus Löffler, and Jeremy M. Oppenheim, October 2008

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Garnaut Climate Change Review Final Report

Garnaut Climate Change Review Final ReportProfessor Garnaut has delivered the "Garnaut Climate Change Review Final Report" on climate change to the Australian Government. The key recommendation is a reduction of 25 per cent in emissions by 2020 from 2000 levels. The full text of the review is available online, along with appendices and other material. Unfortunately, the printed version of this Australian report is being published in the UK, not Australia. The 720 page book will weight about 1.3 kilograms and if air freighted to Australia will generate the equivalent of 100 kg of CO2 emissions per copy.

Report online

Currently only a PDF version of the report is available, but a HTML version is due out 15 October 2008. Hopefully the HTML will be correctly formatted in accordance with web accessibility standards, unlike the current web site.

Preliminary pages


  1. A decision-making framework: (PDF, 482kb)
  2. Understanding climate science: (PDF, 1.24mb)
  3. Emissions in the Platinum Age: (PDF, 1.74mb)
  4. Projecting global climate change: (PDF, 3.58mb)
  5. Projecting Australian climate change: (PDF, 301kb)
  6. Climate change impacts on Australia: (PDF, 293kb)
  7. Australia's emissions in a global context: (PDF, 1.15mb)
  8. Assessing the international response: (PDF, 228kb)
  9. Towards global agreement: (PDF, 497kb)
  10. Deepening global collaboration: (PDF, 209kb)
  11. Costing climate change and its avoidance: (PDF, 530kb)
  12. Targets and trajectories: (PDF, 245kb)
  13. An Australian policy framework: (PDF, 113kb)
  14. Australia's emissions trading scheme: (PDF, 414kb)
  15. Adaptation and mitigation measures for Australia: (PDF, 192kb)
  16. Sharing the burden in Australia: (PDF, 260kb)
  17. Information barriers to known technologies: (PDF, 184kb)
  18. The innovation challenge: (PDF, 242kb)
  19. Network infrastructure: (PDF, 589kb)
  20. Transforming energy: (PDF, 1.28mb)
  21. Transforming transport: (PDF, 718kb)
  22. Transforming rural land use: (PDF, 638kb)
  23. Towards a low-emissions economy: (PDF, 655kb)
  24. Fateful choices: (PDF, 56kb)

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Environmental Accounts Information Paper

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released a useful information paper: "What are Environmental Accounts?". This discusses applying an accounting approach to integrate environmental data with economic and social data. I don't agree with the ABS assertion that an accounting approach necessarily brings greater discipline to the organisation of data. The recent global financial crisis, brought about by companies not knowing what liabilities they have, suggests accounting has a disastrous lack of rigour. However, the ABS provides a useful overview of environmental measurement for social planning, plus a List of economic Accounting reports.

Environmental science has detailed measures to try to assess the uncertainty of the data they collect. These do not always work. At Griffith University I studied global environmental models, such as the Club of Rome study "Limits to Growth" (1972); these suggested the world as we know it should have ended decades ago. The models were wrong and the world survived.

The difficulty is not with data from nature which can be measured with instruments, but the assumptions about human behaviour in response to that data. This is the most difficult part with environmental accounts, but the most important. As the ABS points out, government policy is shifting to an integrated approach considering the economy, society and the environment together.

In my own recent work, commissioned by the Australian Department of Environment, on how to reduce ICT energy use, I have pointed out the need for better measures of the energy use of the ICT sector in Australia (and therefore its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions). However, knowing how much energy is used will not necessarily reduce climate change. The actions I propose depend on the behaviour of people. At one extreme it depends on convincing individuals to turn off their computers when they are not using them, and at the other of convincing the Australian Government to buy energy efficient computers for the public service and schools. The resulting change in energy use can be measured, but there are is no perfect way to predict the behaviour of a person, or a government.

Some examples the ABS provides:

... Environmental-Economic Accounts:
    • enable the relationships between the environment and the economy to be analysed and understood, including understanding environmental and economic dependencies and outcomes;
    • present environmental data using a framework that is consistent with broader economic data, such as those compiled in accordance with the widely used economic accounting framework, the System of National Accounts;
    • show the distribution of environmental resources across different parts of the economy, which supports more targeted policy development;
    • follow internationally accepted guidelines and facilitate international comparisons; and
    • provide a system into which monetary valuations of environmental assets and environmental-related flows can be incorporated with physical data, so that monetary implications of environmental actions can be considered...

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