Guess who’s doing something to address climate change?

From the moment the Labor Party introduced policies to tackle the ravages of global warming, first with Kevin Rudd’s ETS and then Julia Gillard’s price on carbon, the Coalition have used just about every excuse to oppose them.

Prominent among these are the shallow arguments that Australia’s contribution to the carbon footprint is small, and more lamely, that while the big polluters like China and India sit idle in addressing climate change then why should Australia even bother.

I won’t myself bother with providing any links to their argument. Anybody who has read a newspaper, visited an online news service or listened to news radio would by now be well aware of these claims.

In government for less than a week, we have seen the Coalition try everything possible to send our efforts to address climate change back at least a decade.

Meanwhile, from one of those countries that they claim is doing nothing, India, comes this news: India Plans To Build The Largest Solar Plant In The World. In the Climate Progress online journal Andrew Breiner writes that:

Indian utilities plan to use 23,000 acres of land to build the largest solar power plant in the world, at 4 gigawatts of power, bringing prices and production of solar energy closer to competitiveness with coal.

The plant in Rajasthan is expected to commission its first phase in 2016, providing 1 gigawatt of power, enough to make it India’s largest solar power project ten times over. It will be a joint venture of five government-owned utilities. The other 3GW would be produced in an arrangement determined by the success of the first phase.

The finished plant would be comparable in power production to the four in-progress coal-fired Ultra Mega Power Plants (UMPP) under production, at 4 gigawatts of power. But those plants are struggling to hold prices low due to reliance on imported low-carbon coal. The solar plant’s operations won’t be subject to any such constraints.

In addition to cutting carbon, getting off of coal would help India reduce the 100,000+ deaths each year caused by coal plant pollution.

Jasmeet Khurana, of Bridge to India, said that these solar mega projects were intended to reduce the price of solar to INR 5 per kWh (USD 0.08/kWh), bringing it close enough to typical coal prices of INR 3.5/kWh to INR 4.5 kWh for solar to be truly competitive. In fact, coal’s relatively high prices made it so that even India’s largest coal company is turning to solar panels to lower its electric bills.

This comes as IBM and the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation finalized a plan to link technological infrastructure in a massive stretch between India’s business and political capitals. Grid improvements will be necessary to fully take advantage of the new solar plant, as India’s often experiences outages and rationing, especially outside of big cities.

Meanwhile, another effort is underway to use solar energy in India in an innovative way. A company called Sarvajal is developing solar-powered “water ATMs” for remote villages, where tens of millions of Indians drink contaminated water on a regular basis. The ATMs would allow entrepreneurs to profitably sell water in smaller villages where transporting bottled water is prohibitively expensive.

As coal and water stress in India drive prices higher, wind is already competitive with new-build coal, and solar parity is getting closer as well, with cost-competitiveness expected sometime between 2016 and 2018. A future of renewable energy may be within reach for India.

Gosh, those people in our government are fairly good at telling lies, aren’t they.

Image courtesy of Associated Press

Image courtesy of Associated Press

Having Our Say about India, the World’s Largest Democracy

This was originally posted at Global Voices Online:

What lies ahead for India, which is not just the largest democracy but will soon have the biggest population?

You can join the discussion of The World’s Largest Democracy at Australia’s vibrant social media site, OurSay.

It’s the latest in their online participatory democracy initiative.

This video explains how works:


In this case, the World’s Largest Democracy forum runs until November 29, 2012.

There are 34 questions with 3 weeks to go. The first question posted by Glen Clark was very topical:

Just as Prime-Minister Julia Gillard visited India recently to talk up a uranium export deal, India’s own Auditor-General has warned of a “dangerously unsafe, disorganised” nuclear industry with “ineffective” oversight. Many Australians don’t want to see their uranium partly responsible for future nuclear disasters which could potentially kill thousands and displace millions in the world’s second most populous country. Wouldn’t it be better to leave Australian uranium in the ground and instead help India develop decentralised renewables to solve its energy needs?

Glen is a previous winner when OurSay partnered with ABC TV’s Q&A program after the 2011 Federal budget.

The most popular at present comes from Jan Stewart with 219 votes and 4 comments so far:

What is the single most impactful action Indian women can take for India’s benefit?

Jan is a host and manager at Hub Melbourne ‘a professional member community that exists to drive innovation through collaboration’. She asked her first question of Julia Gillard for the Prime Minister’s Google+ Hangout on 21 July 2012.


Carolyn Tate, who asked a question of independent members of the House of Representatives in an earlier forum, left this comment in response to Jan’s question:

I was in India 5 years ago with Opportunity International on a field trip to meet Indian women running their own businesses from micro-financing loans. Helping Indian women to become successful, independent business owners in their communities is the most powerful way we can impact their nation!

A newcomer to OurSay, Susanna Julian, recalls the controversy surrounding a number of violent incidents including the murder of an Indian student in Melbourne:

Since the 2009 violence against Indian students in Australia was well published in India, Australian government departments have made many efforts to rebuild the relationship between the Australian Government and the Indian public. We need to deepen this relationship between everyday Indians and Australians. What is the biggest challenge to the Australian public’s relationship with Indian public and civil society and what recommendations do you have for improving this relationship?

Many of the questions pick up on recent political developments. Stephen Manallack brings an educational perspective:

What do you think of the Asian Century report recommending schools teach Hindi in Australia? My feeling is cross-cultural understanding is more important – hence I like student exchanges and would encourage young executive exchanges as well.

It drew this comment from Angela Knox who has been active since May:

Spot on. And the study of Asian histories and culture: there’s not one ‘Asian culture’ and this new campaign shouldn’t be driven by economic considerations alone.

There have been lots of issues raised so far including: human rights, the economy, corruption, multinational miners, land appropriation, social inequality, poverty, the environment, health and family planning.

Anyone, from any country, can ask a question and post comments. The Oursay team are especially looking froward to participation from India.

Please use all 7 votes. Yes, 7 votes! Give them to your favorite Q or spread them around.

This week was shortlisted for THE YAHOO! GOLD STANDARD ‘INTERNET FOR GOOD’ AWARD2012.

[Personal disclosure: I have posted a question in the World’s Largest Democracy forum.]

In the year 2050

Tony Abbott has lamented that the introduction of the carbon tax has not been “absolutely catastrophic” but warned Australians they will be $5000 worse off by 2050 unless it is abolished. Because of that dastardly Julia Gillard the carbon tax will take $2.53 a week out of our pockets for the next 38 years, quipped Blogotariat.

So that’s the worse thing Abbott reckons can happen to us and our future generations over the next 38 years. I can live with that.

In 2050 Australia will probably be a good place. Thanks to a long-gone Prime Minister way back in 2012 we’ll awake to clear blue skies and we’ll have jobs to go to. Our economy will continue to be the envy of the world and our telecommunication systems have been modeled around the world, as have our green technologies.

There is no such thing as a minority group as Australia will be a country where all people are equal. Even our Indigenous brothers and sisters can walk down the street without being racially vilified.

Tertiary education is affordable and there are enough hospital beds to house the sick.

The image of Australia in 2050 paints a very attractive picture.

But I wonder what it’ll look like had Tony Abbott have been Prime Minister way back in 2012. Allow me to amuse myself with the following picture.

Those people lucky enough to have jobs – and there aren’t many of them – will don face masks before they leave for work. The streets will be empty; acid rain has been forecast.

Twenty people have been killed by the riot police in Melbourne’s shanty town.

The nation’s capital, Port Hedland, now has a population of four million.

Areas of Western Australia that were once sacred sites containing art work from a lost civilisation are now big holes in the ground.

Prime Minister Thomas Rinehart dismisses calls to end Australia’s ties to the monarchy.

Meanwhile, the war with Malaysia goes well. It’s also good for the economy and helps line the pockets of the billionaires.

The unemployment rate of 46% is steady.

Refugee boats are sank as soon as they enter Australian waters. Tony Abbott’s long ago promise to stop the boats has been a success.

The reintroduction of the assimilation policies have failed so Aborigines are again sent to reserves.

Gay marriage is illegal.

It’s now been 12 years since a fish has been caught in the Murray. The waters are too polluted to sustain life.

Plans are being drawn up to move the major coastal cities inland due to the rising tides. This should help employment.

Meanwhile the war with India goes well.

There is great excitement in the country after the Government announces the go-ahead of a National Broadband Network.

In the finance sectors, interest rates have dropped to 26% and the dollar is 35 cents against the Greenback.

A new university is planned for Port Hedland. The country will then have five universities.

Religious Instructions are compulsory in primary schools.

The skies are black, the riverways are murky and the beaches are sludge. Nothing grows.

The billionaires thank Tony Abbott for their lucky life. And for a white Australia.

Meanwhile, the war with Somalia goes well.