inbox and environment news: Issue 517

November 7 - 13, 2021: Issue 517

Manly Stormwater

Published November 5, 2021

Pittwater Natural Heritage Association (PNHA): Pittwater Nature No:8 

Pittwater Nature is now online: 
This Issue has Safe Rodentbaits, Giant (harmless) Mozzie, Topknot Pigeons and more. 
Beach Spinifex is in flower now. 
Plants are either male or female and their flowers look quite different. 
Female here:

Native Bees - Community Webinars

The Coastal Environment Centre’s next free online webinars will be on Wednesday evenings at 6.30pm - register now by emailing
The webinars will also be recorded on Zoom and will be available to residents upon request.

Coming up Wednesday 10 November - 6.30 - 7.30pm
The Wonderful World of Australian Native Bees

Many people think that all bees make honey, but only around 2% of all bee species actually do. Australia is home to around 2,000 species of native bees. Join us as we discover the wonderful world of Australian native bees. Learn about where they nest and live and their unique life processes. We will also show you how you can attract and support native bees in your garden.

PNHA Image: Honey Bee and tiny Native Bees on Lemon flower

Avalon Preservation Association AGM 2021

Speaker: Angus Gordon OAM
“Global warming, is it real?”
The 2021 Annual General Meeting for Avalon Preservation Association (APA) will be held from 7.00pm on Thursday 11 November 2021 at the Avalon Beach surf life saving club.
Our special guest speaker is Angus Gordon OAM. Angus will talk on the controversial and very timely topic “Global Warming, Is it Real?”

Angus was General Manager of Pittwater Council from 1996 to 2005. He has a Master’s degree in Water and Coastal Engineering. In 2018 Angus received the Medal of the Order of Australia for “service to environmental management and planning, and to the community”.

Over the past 40 years he has undertaken projects in all states of Australia and in a number of overseas countries in coastal engineering, coastal zone management and flood management and engineering. Angus has served as a UN expert and was tasked with the development of the NSW Coastal Protection Act.

Angus Gordon OAM. AJG pic.

Due to the current health situation, APA will hold the AGM strictly in line with the NSW Public Health Orders in force at the time. This may restrict the number of members and guests able to attend and guests may need to check in with a QR code, wear facemasks and show that they have been fully vaccinated.

Avalon Preservation Association
PO Box 1 Avalon Beach 2107

Wild Pollinator Count: November 14-21

Besides Honey Bees, what wild insects are pollinating your flowers at home or out in the bush? The Wild Pollinator Count gives you an opportunity to contribute to wild pollinator insect conservation in Australia. Wild Pollinator Count is an evidence-based independent project focused on citizen science and pollinator conservation. Some ecologists run it on  their own time with no funding. They invite you to count wild pollinators in your local environment and help them build a database on wild pollinator activity. Click to learn more:

November 2021 Forum For Friends Of Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment: Fishing Bats And Water Rats (Rakali)

7pm Monday November 29, 2021 by Zoom
Brad Law, Geoff Williams and Yianni Mentis

Dr Brad Law and Dr Geoff Williams will tell us about the behaviours and environmental requirements of two fascinating species of aquatic mammals - Fishing Bats and Water Rats (Rakali) - that forage in, on and near Narrabeen Lagoon. Yianni Mentis will explain how Northern Beaches Council is working to protect the environment, especially the water quality, needed by these aquatic creatures.

Dr Brad Law is a Principal Research Scientist at the Forest Science Unit of the Department of Primary Industries
Dr Geoff Williams is the Director of the Australian Platypus Conservancy
Yianni Mentis is Executive Manager or Environment and Climate Change at Northern Beaches Council.

We hope that members of the local community will start to look for Fishing Bats and Water Rats (Rakali) AUSTRALIA’S NATIVE “OTTER” in and around Narrabeen Lagoon and report all reliable sightings for entry into the Atlas of Living Australia.
Bookings via the website are essential:

Draft Marine Park Management Plan Released

November 1, 2021
The NSW Government has today released its draft Management Plan for the NSW Mainland Marine Park Network (2021-2031), which has been developed to guide the management of the state’s five existing mainland marine parks.

Environment Minister Matt Kean said our marine parks are a precious and valuable asset that provide habitat for dozens of threatened and endangered species up and down the NSW coast.

“Marine parks are valued for their environmental, social and economic benefits – ranging from diving and recreational fishing to tourism and cultural use of Sea Country,” Mr Kean said.

“This draft plan strikes the right balance between conservation and recreation.”

Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall said the draft would unlock more opportunities for all members of the community to engage in more low impact and low threat activities like recreational fishing while protecting the environmental values of our marine parks.

“The first step in improving the management of marine parks is to ensure we get the 10-year framework right and so this draft plan was informed by evidence on the community’s values of the park network and the threats posed to those values,” Mr Marshall said.

“The plan outlines management objectives and actions to ensure the community, including fishers and aquaculture operators, can get the best out of marine parks without being locked out.

“Up until now, marine parks have been managed by political decisions around lines on maps, but the draft plan is about making evidence-based decisions.

“This is certainly not about creating new marine parks, but rather making sure we get the settings right before looking at the rules of how they’re regulated.”

Mr Marshall said the draft plan will be out for a minimum of two months of community consultation. Following consultation on the draft management plan, we will consult the community separately on the rules and regulations.

“The community is now invited to have its say on the management of the state’s five mainland marine parks, which provide a range of biodiversity conservation, cultural, commercial and recreational benefits,” Mr Marshall said.

The five mainland marine parks in NSW include Cape Byron, Solitary Islands, Port Stephens-Great Lakes, Jervis Bay and Batemans marine parks. A management plan for Lord Howe Island Marine Park will be developed separately.

The draft plan does not include any specific proposals around changes to rules or zones. The detail of any proposed changes to rules or zones will be developed in stage 2 after the draft plan is finalised and will be subject to further community consultation.

For more information and to complete the survey visit The plan will be open for consultation until 31 January 2022.

Home Gardeners In Sydney Basin To Help Protect Local Fruit And Vegetable Production: Get Your Free Sticky Trap

November 4, 2021
Gardeners across the Sydney Basin have been asked to take part in a survey to help protect their crops and NSW’s valuable horticultural industry from an exotic pest, the tomato potato psyllid.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Biosecurity Collections curator, Peter Gillespie, said gardeners from Newcastle to Ulladulla and west to Muswellbrook, Bylong, Lithgow and Katoomba are invited to take part.

“If you grow tomato, potato, sweet potato, chilli, capsicum, eggplant, tamarillo or goji berry plants, please contact NSW DPI for a free sticky psyllid trap and instructions,” Mr Gillespie said.

“Tomato potato psyllid is a significant plant pest which can affect plant growth, reduce yield and spread a serious disease, known as zebra chip, which affects potatoes.

“It was first detected in Western Australia in 2017 and hasn’t been found in NSW. Fortunately, the bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter solanacearum, which causes zebra chip, has not been detected in Australia.”

NSW DPI has been conducting seasonal surveillance programs to detect tomato potato psyllid and other pest psyllids which pose biosecurity threats since 2017.

Gardeners and citizen scientists can contact NSW DPI to receive a free sticky trap surveillance kit and instructions, including optional registration details for the MyPestGuide app, by contacting or using the application form.

Migratory Bird Season

A reminder that many of the birds that migrate to our area are arriving exhausted from having flown thousands of miles to be here. Please keep yourselves and your pets away from these shores during these months. They need their rest.

Baby Wildlife Season

Sydney Wildlife volunteer carers are reminding residents that it's baby season in the wildlife world. 
If you find a Joey on its own, it needs help. A sub-adult may be ok, but a Joey is not. If you find one, please try to contain it and keep it safe from predators and exposure and call either Sydney Wildlife (Sydney Metropolitan Wildlife Services) or WIRES. If you find a dead possum (ringtail or brushtail), check the pouch for a Joey. Brushtails generally have one but ringtails will have 2, sometimes three. If you are unable to, that’s ok, but please call it in to a wildlife organisation so someone can attend to it. 
Sydney Wildlife Rescue - 02 9413 4300
WIRES - 1300 094 737

Harry the ringtail possum.  Sydney Wildlife photo

Winning Hawkesbury Photos Make 2022 Calendar

Winners have been announced for the Our Hawkesbury River photo competition - a collaboration between 6 local councils and the NSW Government.
Hornsby resident Daniel B. took out the top honour with his winning shot titled Blue Bobbin Bioluminescence.

The competition began on World Rivers Day in September to coincide with the release of stage 2 of the Hawkesbury-Nepean Coastal Management Program (CMP).

The 6-council collaboration – led by Hornsby Shire Council – includes Hawkesbury, Central Coast, Ku-ring-gai, Northern Beaches and Hills Shire Councils.

Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock said teamwork between the 6 councils and the NSW Government saw hundreds of stunning photos pour in with talent and skill demonstrated in spades.

"Congratulations to Daniel for his winning shot at Bobbin Head, which received 102 votes in the second round of voting," Mrs Hancock said.

"The competition was steep, reflecting the calibre of photographers in the area, and I commend the six councils for successfully engaging with the community right along the Hawkesbury River."

Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment Felicity Wilson congratulated all involved.

"This fantastic display of local love for the waterways highlights the importance of CMPs, which are key to protecting the river system's health and a vital part of this is collaboration and community engagement," Ms Wilson said.

Hornsby Shire Council's General Manager Steven Head said the competition's photos were so exceptional, they are looking to showcase them in a range of ways starting with a 2022 calendar.

"It was extremely tough judging this competition, and while there were only 3 winners, 14 finalist photos will be featured in the calendar to thank entrants for participating," Mr Head said.

"People snapped their favourite spots and moments right across the Hawkesbury-Nepean River area, with Hawkesbury resident Brooke G. winning second place with 98 votes for A super crisp morning on the Hawkesbury River at Windsor Beach.

"Paul B. won third place with a photo of North Richmond Pier, called The eerie stillness of the Hawkesbury River on a foggy morning."

Each of the 3 winners receives a NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service annual All Parks Pass.

"Wildlife in Berowra Creek tributary was a finalist, as was a stunning shot of a sea eagle against a backdrop of variegated Hawkesbury sandstone near Brooklyn," Mr Head said.

"This is a starting point for councils to find out what the community values most about the Hawkesbury River, and what needs protection now and into the future."

The great waterway stretches 450 kilometres from its source in Goulburn, before wrapping all around Sydney down through Wollondilly, Penrith and Windsor, gathering water runoff from 24 council areas before finally flowing past Pittwater, Brisbane Water and out past Palm Beach.

The Hawkesbury-Nepean CMP is being developed with funding from the councils and the NSW Government, including $371,662 in grants from the NSW Government's Coastal and Estuary Grants Program to date.

Once finalised, the calendar will be available for viewing and download at

Image: 1st place Blue Bobbin Bioluminescence, Apple Tree Bay, Bobbin Head Credit: Daniel B.

Torres Strait Peoples Suing Australian Government Over Climate Change Inaction

Paul  Kabai and Pabai Pabai– First Nations leaders from remote islands in Gudamalulgal in the Torres Strait – are taking the Australian Government to court for failing to prevent climate change.

Wadhuam Paul and Wadhuam Pabai are Traditional Owners whose ancestors have lived in the Torres Strait for more than 65,000 years. Now they are on the frontline of climate change, and face losing their island homes under rising seas.

Australia’s response to climate change is one of the weakest in the world. If the Federal Government doesn’t change course – and fast – then islands in the Torres Strait could become uninhabitable, forcing Torres Strait Islander communities to leave their homes, severing 65,000 years of connection to the land and making them Australia’s first climate change refugees.
The legal team representing the island nation filed the action on October 26.

The legal arguments
Paul and Pabai have turned to the courts in the hope of protecting their communities from disaster. They are arguing that the Federal Government has a legal responsibility to ensure Torres Strait Islander Peoples are not harmed by climate change. In legal terms, this is called a ‘duty of care’.

Paul and Pabai will argue that by failing to prevent climate change the Australian Government has unlawfully breached this duty of care, because of the severe and lasting harm that climate change would cause to their communities. They are seeking an order from the court requiring the Government to prevent this harm to their communities by cutting greenhouse gas emissions. 

Torres Strait Islanders have a long history of fighting for their rights – and some of those battles have transformed the face of modern Australia. Torres Strait Islander man Eddie Mabo, took on the Government through the courts and established that terra nullius was a lie, paving the way for land rights for all First Nations Peoples in Australia.

Building on international success
The Australian Climate Case has been developed in partnership with the Urgenda Foundation, international legal experts who have a proven record of successful climate change litigation.

It all started in 2015, the Urgenda Foundation and 886 people in the Netherlands took the Dutch Government to court for not doing enough to prevent climate change. They won the case in the District Court of the Hague and then won again at the two stages of appeal, with a final victory in the Supreme Court in 2019. 

The case was the first to establish that a government has a duty of care to protect people from climate harms. The court ordered the Dutch Government to significantly reduce the Netherlands’ greenhouse gas emissions within 5 years.

As a result of the groundbreaking case, the Netherlands now has some of the strongest climate policies in the world and is closing coal-fired power stations and investing billions in renewable energy and energy efficiency. People in Belgium, Colombia, France, Germany and Ireland have also had success in the courts, and there are plenty of similar cases under way in other countries. 

Progress in the Australian courts
In Australia, the courts have started to recognise the Australian Government’s duty to protect people from climate change. 

In May 2021, in Sharma vs Minister for the Environment, the Federal Court of Australia found that the Federal Minister for the Environment had a duty to protect young people from the future harm caused by the climate change impacts of a proposed coal mine extension project. 

In August 2021, in Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action Incorporated vs Environment Protection Authority, the New South Wales Land and Environment Court found that the NSW Environment Protection Authority has a duty to take serious action on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. 

However, this case is the first time that anyone in Australia has argued that the whole of the Federal Government – not just one Minister or agency – has a duty to protect people from climate harm. 

They are asking for others to show them some support at:

Illegal Bike Track At Mount Keira To Be Closed And Rehabilitated

November 3, 2021
An illegal mountain bike track on Mount Keira in the Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area will be closed and rehabilitated from next week.

Graham Bush from National Parks and Wildlife Service said the 250-metre unauthorised trail is damaging an area that has significant cultural and environment values.

"The type of forest where the track is provides habitat for a diverse range of native plants and animals including the powerful owl and eastern pygmy possum," Mr Bush said.

"Illegal tracks not only impact the conservation area but also pose safety issues for bike riders and others using the park.

"We will be working with the Illawarra Local Aboriginal Land Council on the rehabilitation project due to the cultural significance of the Illawarra Escarpment and in particular Mount Keira.

"There are safe, sustainable and authorised tracks rights across the Illawarra region and National Parks and Wildlife Service continues to work with Wollongong City Council and the community to develop a 50-kilometre network of sustainable single use trails.

"The network of formal trails between Mount Brisbane and Mount Kembla will offer riders a safer, purpose-built experience that is sensitive to the ecological significance of the Escarpment," Mr Bush said.

An environmental assessment is currently being prepared to assess potential cultural, environmental, geotechnical and social impacts of the proposed Mountain Biking Network.

For more information on the Illawarra Escarpment State Conservation Area visit the NPWS website

NSW Land Management Report 2018-2020

November 1, 2021
A report released today by the NSW Government states 43,399 hectares of regulated rural land has been set aside in-perpetuity to promote native vegetation growth across the State.

In 2018, the NSW Government introduced the Land Management (Native Vegetation) Code as part of the wider NSW Land Management and Biodiversity reform framework.

Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall said the inaugural NSW Land Management Report 2018-2020 showed how farmers had used the Code to increase agricultural production, while restoring valuable native vegetation.

“As I have always said, farmers are our best environmentalists and the Code allows them to effectively carry out many different activities to sustainably and responsibly manage their land,” Mr Marshall said.

“The Report shows farmers have implemented only 3.34 percent, or 12,114 hectares, of authorised land management activities for the 2018-19 calendar years.

“The majority of native vegetation managed under the Code in NSW was for treatment of land infested with invasive native species.

“These species are essentially weeds as they out-compete more natural forms of vegetation, so by removing them it helps restore crucial habitat for threatened species.

“A key component of the Code was the establishment of set asides to compensate for certain land management options and native vegetation removal.

“The data shows farmers utilising these parts of the Code removed only 3,536 hectares of native vegetation while setting aside more than 12 times that amount in-perpetuity and actively managed to promote biodiversity and conservation.”

The Report will be updated and released annually.

“The NSW Government is committed to transparency and we are committed to ensuring the new laws are working for rural landholders, while ensuring native vegetation is also being maintained and restored,” Mr Marshall said.

Land Clearing In NSW Must End For Australia To Meet Its New COP26 Deforestation Pledge

November 3, 2021
The Nature Conservation Council calls on the NSW Government to urgently develop strategies to halt and reverse deforestation in NSW in line with the international agreement signed by Australia yesterday at the COP26 cimate conference. [1]

Australia was one of more than 100 countries who signed the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forest and Land Use, committing the nation to halting and reversing forest loss and land degradation by 2030.

Signatory countries collectively account for more than 80% of the globe’s forests and woodlands and include deforestation hotspots Brazil, the Republic of Congo and Australia.

“This is a momentous declaration and must be supported by all levels of government and the private sector,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said.   

“Deforestation globally accounts for roughly a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, so the destruction of forests and woodlands must stop to give us any hope of stopping dangerous climate change.

“Regrettably, eastern Australia has been identified by WWF as one of the world’s worst deforestation hotspots, along with Brazil and the Congo. [2]

Latest land clearing data shows 150 hectares of wildlife habitat is bulldozed or logged every day in NSW, almost twice the average annual rate recorded before the Coalition overhauled nature laws in 2016. [3] 

“The annual Statewide Land and Tree Study (SLATS) data shows 54,500 hectares of forest were destroyed for farming, forestry and development in 2019. 

“Deforestation is not only driving climate change, it is pushing species to the brink, including koalas, which are on track for extinction by 2050 without urgent action.

“By tacking deforestation, the NSW Government can claim a double dividend on climate and biodiversity.” 


[1] Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forest and Land Use, COP26, November 2021.

[2] Deforestation Fronts, World Wildlife Fund, 2020.  

[3] Land cover change reporting, DPIE, June 2021  

Return Of Indigenous Farming, Foods And Fire Could Help Regenerate Australia

November 1, 2021
The World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia says a return to Indigenous farming, including the use of fire, could help protect against extreme bushfires, boost health, and provide Aboriginal communities with profitable businesses.

In an Australian first, an Indigenous Traditional Agriculture Knowledge Hub is being established near Mallacoota in Victoria.

The Hub was one of the winners of WWF’s Innovate to Regenerate Challenge which called for bold new ideas to help regenerate Australia after the 2019-2020 megafires. WWF provided $250,000 funding to support this Indigenous innovation.

“For tens of thousands of years, Aboriginal people used fire to manage the landscape in a way that boosted the yield of important foods and minimised damaging bushfires. Let’s embrace that ancient knowledge and reform western farming practices to Regenerate Australia as climate change causes more extreme weather,” said Dermot O’Gorman, CEO of WWF-Australia.

Work on the Hub is underway on the farm owned by Dark Emu author Bruce Pascoe, who has Yuin, Bunurong and Tasmanian heritage.

The farm’s business, Black Duck Foods, is reintroducing native farming practices and developing a blueprint for Aboriginal food operations that return economic benefits directly to Indigenous people.

“Indigenous fire and land management cared for and healed Country. We’re rediscovering those techniques and working out the most viable ways to farm native grains and tubers on a commercial scale,” Mr Pascoe said.

“The Hub will be a place to share this knowledge so that other Indigenous farming ventures won’t have to start from scratch,” he said.

Black Duck Foods Indigenous employees Chris Harris, Nathan Lygon and Terry Hayes, are farming Aboriginal foods including tubers from chocolate and vanilla lilies and murnong (daisy yam), and grain from kangaroo, dancing, and spear grass.

Bread which includes native grass seeds is rich and delicious, but adapting machinery to harvest these ancient grains is a case of trial and error.

“We're doing the hard work here at the moment so that we can pass on our knowledge to the rest of our people. That way when they start an Aboriginal food business they don't have to make the same mistakes we've already made,” said Chris Harris, whose mob is Ngiyampaa from NSW.

Fields of murnong
Early settlers spoke of plains full of murnong being harvested by Aboriginal women. Their digging aerated and loosened the soil, encouraging the tubers to regenerate. To embrace traditional activities once more is deeply satisfying for the Black Duck Foods workers.

“When we’re harvesting tubers you can’t help but think of old people. We’re working with a plant they worked with in a way similar to what they did, so we’re honouring them. It’s really powerful. It’s good for your spirit, mind, and body,” said Nathan Lygon, a Yuin man with Walgal connections.

Fire for Food
In the 1800s, some Europeans noted that Aboriginal people skilfully used fire to manage the landscape. These burns reduced the fuel loads that contribute to extreme bushfires. They also helped fill bellies. Fresh grass shoots attracted prey such as kangaroos. Regular burns fertilised the soil and stopped other vegetation smothering staple foods such as murnong, lilies and other tuberous perennials.

Health benefits
By some estimates, tubers made up at least 50% of the Indigenous diet in parts of Australia. Murnong tubers contain fructans, a carbohydrate that does not spike blood sugar levels, feeds good bacteria in the gut, and improves immune function.

Some researchers state that when this traditional diet high in fructans was replaced by European flour it contributed to high levels of diabetes among Indigenous populations.

“So much illness among Aboriginal people comes from a poor diet so I really look forward to the day when all Australians are eating these foods on a regular basis,” said Nathan Lygon.

Terry Hayes, a Bidhawal Maap Djiringanj man, goes further.

“I’d like to see these foods available all over the world. This is just the beginning. Hopefully more mob can do this sort of work all around the country and create employment for our people,” he said.

Black Duck Foods General Manager Chris Andrew said a return to Indigenous farming techniques is an idea resonating with people.

“Why not grow food that is natural to Australia and requires no fertiliser? Traditional fire and land management practices can rebuild resilient landscapes and enable us to better manage a changing climate. It sustained Indigenous Australians for tens of thousands of years. It’s time to bring it back,” Mr Andrew said.

“Innovation does not have to mean new technology. This project, adapting Indigenous solutions that have protected the environment for countless millennia, is innovation at its best,” said WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman.

About Regenerate Australia

Regenerate Australia is the largest and most innovative wildlife recovery and landscape regeneration program in Australia’s history. Launched by WWF-Australia in October 2020, the multi-year program will rehabilitate, repopulate and restore wildlife and habitats affected by the 2019-2020 bushfires, and help to future-proof Australia against the impacts of changing climate. Find out more at

Also available - Leaf Relief: 
The goal is to plant and protect 2 billion trees by 2030 as part of our mission to Regenerate Australia after the devastating bushfires of 2019-20. 

By signing up to Regenerate Australia you will:
  • Ensure a seed or tree is planted on your behalf where it’s needed most through one of our on-ground projects. Trees/forests are being planted across NSW, QLD and Victoria.
  • Help make a difference and restore vital homes for our wildlife and establish a network of habitat corridors.
  • Support our advocacy work for stronger laws and protections for koalas and the places they call home.
  • Get first access to stories straight from-the-field about how your support is helping to Regenerate Australia.

Billions Of Dollars From Overseas Is Helping Exploit Australian Fossil Fuels

November 4, 2021
Australia is the largest exporter of coal and gas, partly thanks to billions of dollars in foreign government support, new research shows.

Over the past decade, public financial institutions overseas have pumped $AUD36.7 billion into Australian fossil fuel projects, according to a paper published by Jubilee Australia Research Centre, the Australian Conservation Foundation, South Korea’s Solutions for Our Climate and the Japan Centre for a Sustainable Environment and Society.

This is 11 times more than the $AUD3.3 billion given to renewable projects over the same period.

The report also shows the Australian Government has blocked international efforts to limit fossil fuel financing, while over the last decade it has facilitated foreign bankrolling of the Australian fossil fuel industry to the tune of $AUD36.7 billion.

Against the backdrop of the global COP26 meeting, the report shows foreign governments are using secretive export credit agencies and other types of public financial institutions to finance fossil fuel developments that may have otherwise struggled to find private financing.

The paper also finds the Morrison Government is deliberately preventing efforts to turn off the tap for this type of overseas financing by playing a blocking role at international negotiations at the OECD, UNFCCC and other forums.

Many countries, including the UK and France, are moving to end government funding for overseas fossil fuel developments, but Australia is leading the charge to prevent reaching agreement to broaden such initiatives.

It’s easy to see why. More than $28 billion in foreign financing went to Australian liquefied natural gas projects that make up three quarters (66.9 million tonnes) of the LNG capacity of Australia’s gas developments as of May 2020, including to Ichthys LNG (10.5 billion), APLNG (7.6 billion) and Wheatstone LNG (4 billion).

Just three countries gave Australia the bulk of this LNG financing, with Japan providing 41% ($11.7 billion), China giving 20% ($5.6 billion) and South Korea providing 14% ($3.96 billion). This public financing is often make-or-break for projects, with subsidies or the de-risking of private financing propping up projects that may not otherwise get off the ground.

On Thursday, the UK, the European Investment Bank and several other nations and public financial institutions are expected to launch an initiative designed to end support for overseas fossil fuel expansion. Whether Japan, Korea or Australia take part will show whether these nations are serious about keeping warming to less than 1.5°C.  

A wave of LNG projects is in the pipeline, including the Barossa project off the coast of the Northern Territory, which will be one of the world’s dirtiest gas projects. It has received funding from South Korean export credit agency KEXIM. Other public financial institutions are considering following suit.

Jubilee Australia Campaigns Director, Dina Rui, said this funding must stop if we want to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis.

“Even the traditionally conservative International Energy Agency says that staying below 1.5 degrees of warming means there can be no new coal, oil or gas projects,” she said.

“Australia should support the shift away from fossil fuels, not try to hold back progress by blocking stronger agreements to end public funding of coal and gas. Delaying the shift away from fossil fuels only benefits mining executives and party donors. Meanwhile, local communities in Australia are left to deal with the real impacts of climate change,” Ms Rui said.

The Australian Conservation Foundation’s Climate & Exports Campaigner, Elizabeth Sullivan, said “Instead of growing a world-class renewable energy and exports sector, our government appears to be courting billions in overseas funding in an attempt to expand the fossil fuel industry.

“The public mandate that once allowed Australia to open up vast new coal, oil and gas basins is gone. It’s time for the government to listen to Australians and choose a renewable future.”

The public mandate that once allowed Australia to open up vast new coal, oil and gas basins is gone.

Solutions for Our Climate Researcher, Dongjae Oh, said the South Korean government’s LNG expansion plans could result in more harmful fossil fuel investments in Australia, where Korea already stands as the third-largest fossil fuel backer.

“Additional investments in Australian fossil fuel projects will not only jeopardize the financial stability of Korean public financial institutions, but also cause irreversible damage to the local environment, communities, and our climate,” he said.

Mr Oh pointed to Korean export credit agency KEPCO's recently failed Bylong coal mine project as an example of how quickly fossil fuel assets can be left stranded. "Korean ECAs should end consideration of further investments in Australian oil and gas projects, starting with the Barossa gas project,” he said.

Yuki Tanabe, Program Director at the Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society, said “Japan’s support for the Barossa project went against the G7 Summit Leaders’ Statement, which commits G7 countries to aligning international public funding with the 2050 net zero target.”

One Year On: Royal Commission Recommendations Left Burning

October 28, 2021
''Exactly one year after the Bushfire Royal Commission released its final report, it’s clear that the federal government has dropped the ball on delivering the Commission’s urgent recommendations.'' the Climate Council has stated

The Royal Commission into Natural Disaster Arrangements report, responding to the horrific 2019/20 fire season, outlined 80 recommendations, with more than half requiring action from the federal government. 

Yet 12 months to the day after the Commission handed down its findings, the federal government is dragging its feet. It promised monthly updates, but these stopped in June. Some of the Commission’s most urgent recommendations, like boosting firefighting capability, wildlife protection and community education, still require urgent action. 

Greg Mullins, former Commissioner, Fire and Rescue NSW, Climate Councillor and founder of Emergency Leaders for Climate Action (ELCA): “Those of us that hold hoses and are in the direct firing line of climate change impacts are still waiting for the government to show that it is taking the Royal Commission’s report seriously.” 

“The federal government has completely dropped the ball on addressing the Commission’s recommendations. To protect Australians, the government must now enact the steps outlined in the recommendations without further delay,” he said. 

“They must also tackle the root causes of worsening bushfires and other extreme weather, by committing to much stronger emissions reductions this decade while moving rapidly away from coal, oil and gas,” he said. 

“No more excuses. As the world gathers for COP26 in Glasgow, we must commit to shifting to a clean, resilient economy. We can’t wait for another Black Summer to be on our doorstep before we act,” said Mr Mullins, one of Australia’s longest serving fire chiefs and a serving volunteer firefighter.

Climate Council CEO, Amanda McKenzie: “Emissions must plummet this decade to tackle the root cause of extreme fires, climate change. The Royal Commission showed that climate change is fuelling longer, hotter and more dangerous bushfire seasons and other extreme weather events.”

“Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s commitment to net zero is meaningless without policies to cut emissions this decade. Even with this newly announced target, Australia remains in dead last position on climate when compared to other developed nations,” she said. 

“We are the sunniest and one of the windiest countries in the world. The Morrison government needs to spend more time cashing in on Australia’s renewable advantage, and less time approving and funding new polluting and unnecessary fossil fuel developments,” said Ms McKenzie.   

Former Deputy Commissioner of Fire & Rescue NSW and Emergency Leaders for Climate Action (ELCA) member, Jim Smith: “As an active RFS volunteer on the South Coast of NSW we don’t think much has changed since the fires of 2019/20; not much seems to have been done and we don’t feel any safer than we did before.” 

“Many people are living in fear of the next fire. Without emissions reductions this decade it’s just going to keep getting worse. At the very least every recommendation of the Royal Commission should be implemented,” said Mr Smith.

The Climate Council and Emergency Leaders for Climate Action (ELCA) recommend Australia reduce its emissions by 75% (below 2005 levels) by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2035. As a first step, Australia must at least match the updated commitments from our key allies, and pledge before Glasgow to at least halve our emissions (below 2005 levels) by 2030.

PM Presented An Unbelieved Climate Con To COP26: Climate Council

November 2, 2021
Prime Minister Scott Morrison addressed world leaders at COP26 in Glasgow overnight in a speech that was light on commitments and credibility, but heavy on spin.

Chief Climate Councillor, Professor Tim Flannery who is on the ground in Glasgow: “First the PM tried to pull the wool over Australia’s eyes when he made a net zero by 2050 announcement without modelling, new funding or any new policy – and now he’s trying to do the same with the rest of the world.”

What the PM said at COP26…
Australia’s emissions have fallen by 20% since 2005.

The facts…
Three quarters of this reduction has been the result of changes in land management. When it comes to reducing emissions from electricity and moving beyond fossil fuels, Australia has made almost no progress.

What the PM said at COP26…
We should be focussed on driving down emissions from the developing world.

The facts…
Australia’s first responsibility as a developed country is to reduce its own emissions. Moreover, many developing countries are taking more ambitious steps than Australia, even though they bear less historical responsibility for climate change and have far lower emissions per capita. REF: State of Climate Ambition, UNDP

What the PM said at COP26…
Australia is doubling its international climate finance, from the AU$1bn over five years pledged in Paris, to AU$2bn over 2020-2025.

The facts…
On an annual basis, this contribution represents only around 0.3% of the international goal of mobilising US$100bn/year. Independent assessments have placed Australia’s fair share of this goal at around 2-3%.
REF: From Paris to Glasgow: A world on the move

“Our PM stood up in front of the world and effectively promised to do nothing. If speaking spots at COP26 were determined by the strength and merit of each country’s commitments, then the PM would not have been given the mic,” said Professor Flannery, who has attended five previous COPs. 

Climate Council Head of Research, Dr Simon Bradshaw, who is also at the conference: “Australia is acting as a handbrake on global climate action. Government representatives have promised to spruik gas, a fossil fuel, at this climate conference and are resisting the push to phase out fossil fuels globally.”

“Australia is coming dead last in the most important race humanity has ever faced. Without a plan to cut emissions this decade or phase out coal and gas – net zero means absolutely nothing,” said Dr Bradshsaw, who has attended five previous COPs. 

Climate Council CEO, Amanda McKenzie, who has attended 3 COP events including Paris: “Aussies front up and help others – like we did during the bushfires. Aussies keep each other honest – by calling out bullshit when we hear it. And Aussies have a proud history of standing beside our allies and fighting for what’s right. 

“If the PM wants to speak on behalf of Aussies then he must announce a strong 2030 emissions reduction target. This protects Australians, our way of life, and all humanity. We can provide more support for our vulnerable neighbours, and our country needs action now, to build solar and wind plants, phase out coal and slash our pollution.” 

The Climate Council recommends that Australia reduce its emissions by 75% (below 2005 levels) by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2035. This is based on rigorous scientific risk assessments.

Legislating Emissions Targets Would Be A Step Forward For NSW

November 6, 2021
The Nature Conservation Council urges the NSW Government to support the ALP’s proposal make emissions targets legally binding by enshrining them in law. [1] 

The NSW Government has committed to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and halve them by 2030. 

 “We have applauded the NSW Government for setting ambitious emissions reduction targets but have always been concerned that they are purely aspirational and not legally binding,” Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive Chris Gambian said. 

“There is currently nothing to prevent a new government or a new leader scrapping or reducing these targets at the stroke of a pen. 

“Enshrining them in legislation makes it much harder for a future government to crab-walk away from these commitments to the people of NSW. 

“Legislating these targets would also provide greater certainty for clean-energy investors and for the general public. 

“I would urge the NSW Government to either support Labor’s bill when it comes before the house or put up their own, along the lines of Victoria’s 2017 Climate Change Act.” 


[1] NSW Labor to propose new legislation to protect net zero emissions target, SMH, 6-11-21. NSW Labor wants emissions reduction targets enshrined in law, AUS, 6-11-21 

$40 Million Clean Technology Grants Open

November 4, 2021
Applications are still open for the $40 million Clean Technology Research and Development (R&D) Grants Program, which encourages the development of innovative technologies and services to lower industry carbon emissions.
Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean said the R&D grants will support emission reducing innovations developed by universities, industry and other research organisations.

"We're calling on New South Wales' best engineers, scientists and researchers to come forward with their ideas on how we can lower carbon emissions into the future, and accelerate the State's clean industrial revolution," Mr Kean said.

"These grants are part of the NSW Government's $750 million investment in Net Zero Industry and Innovation, which is a cornerstone of our Net Zero Plan to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030."

The grants program is targeting co-investment in early-stage technologies to reduce emissions in 3 key areas:
  • electrification and energy systems
  • primary industry and land management
  • powerfuels, including hydrogen.
"With strong research and financial sectors, New South Wales is ideally positioned to create an ecosystem where clean technologies are rapidly developed, repeatedly innovated and scaled-up to meet our emissions targets," Mr Kean said.

The grants program is administered by the NSW Environmental Trust and will be available annually until 2026.

Expressions of Interest for the current round close at 5 pm on 23 November 2021, with up to $5 million available for individual grants ranging from $400,000 to $4 million.

Wildlife First Response Training For Firefighters

Training in wildlife first response will be rolled out to the state's 80,000+ firefighters to help wildlife impacted by bushfires under a new NSW Government initiative.
Environment Minister Matt Kean said the training will help improve survival rates for injured wildlife.

"We were all devastated by the images of burnt and injured wildlife during the black summer bushfires," Mr Kean said.

"It was a disaster that impacted around 3 billion native animals across the nation and we want to make sure we have the training in place to give injured wildlife the best chance of survival."

In 2019-20 nearly 130,000 native animals were taken in by wildlife carers, 35% more than previous years.

"Volunteer wildlife rehabilitators were absolutely invaluable during the bushfire crisis - rescuing and caring for around 90,000 injured animals as the state battled our worst ever bushfires," Mr Kean said.

"This training will ensure our frontline heroes have the tools to assess and report injured wildlife, as well as apply basic first aid and transfer injured animals off the fireground to vets and our army of volunteer wildlife rehabilitators, if safe to do so."

The training has been developed by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) and Taronga Conservation Society Australia and will be available to all firefighters from 1 December 2021.

The training package delivers on the NSW Government's commitment to implement recommendation 53 of the NSW Bushfire Inquiry to provide guidance for firefighters on handling injured wildlife.

In addition to the wildlife training, the NSW Government is developing a framework to improve coordination of wildlife response during bushfires and other emergencies.

For more information visit: Helping wildlife in emergencies.

‘Bunyip Bird’ Takes Centre Stage At 2022 Australian Bittern Summit

November 5, 2021
The iconic Australasian Bittern is the focus of a summit in Leeton on 1-4 February 2022, designed to advance the conservation of this cryptic species.

The Australasian Bittern Conservation Summit 2022 is a unique opportunity to connect with scientists, conservationists, wetland managers, birdwatchers and farmers who share a passion for Bitterns, said Senior Local Land Services Officer and conference lead Anna Wilson.

“The Bittern holds a special place in Indigenous culture and Australian folklore, with its booming call thought to be behind the legend of the bunyip,” Ms Wilson said.

“Bitterns are listed as an endangered species in Australia and only about 2,000 birds remain globally, so we are keen to connect with people who have an interest in its survival.

We encourage anyone interested in the Australasian Bittern to join us in Leeton, even if they can only attend for one of the days.”

Hosted by Riverina Local Land Services, the Summit is the first time such a conference has been held, offering an amazing opportunity to see and hear about all things Bittern.

The Summit offers an engaging program, with unique tours to the key Bittern wetlands of the Riverina, including the internationally recognised Fivebough Wetland and bittern-friendly rice crops.

Expert speakers from across Australia and New Zealand will cover a range of topics, including innovative monitoring methods, wetland management and restoration.

Ecologist and Summit Working Group member, Matt Herring, said there is a lot of exciting work happening in Bittern conservation and the Summit is a chance to hear from people at the cutting edge of threatened species conservation.

“Bitterns are considered a flagship species for encouraging healthy wetland management,” Mr Herring said.

“There are many novel and successful projects being undertaken to improve the outlook for this cryptic species.

“The Summit will bring together all those interested in this curious bird and is an opportunity to better support the long-term survival of the species.”

Conference tickets are available from

The conference is possible through the support of event partners SunRice and the Australian Government’s National Landcare program.

Other sponsors and supporters include:
  • Coleambally Irrigation Cooperative Limited
  • Murray Irrigation Limited
  • Murrumbidgee Irrigation Limited
  • Commonwealth Environmental Water Office
  • Murray Darling Basin Authority
  • Agrifutures
  • Rice Growers Association of Australia
  • Murray Darling Wetlands Working Group
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Yenda Producers
  • Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
  • Leeton Shire Council.

Botaurus poiciloptilus, Edithvale Wetlands, Australia. Photo: Wayne Butterworth 

Hūrepo or Matuku, Australasian Bittern, Botaurus poiciloptilus, also known as the Brown Bittern. J.G.Keulemans in Buller, Walter Lawry, A History of the Birds of New Zealand, 1888. -

Western Sydney Wildlife Crossing A Success

November 4, 2021
Western Sydney’s first ever wildlife ladder crossing has proven a huge success, with monitoring cameras revealing dozens of native animals using the structure.

The wildlife ladder was installed by Greater Sydney Local Land Services, Penrith City Council and Mulgoa Landcare above Bluestone Drive at Glenmore Park to connect critters between the adjoining Mulgoa Nature and Surveyors Creek Reserves.

The crossing consists of a rope and cable 'ladder' suspended above the road and linking to nearby trees.

Greater Sydney Senior Land Services officer for biodiversity Peter Ridgeway said the team had recently installed wildlife monitoring cameras to track activity on the crossing.

“The results were above anything we could have hoped for with 1,364 records of native wildlife using the crossing in the four months between June and September this year, with animals recorded using it almost every single night,” he said.

“The most frequent visitors are a local population of Sugar Gliders, who are using the crossing to travel from Surveyors Creek into Mulgoa Nature Reserve.

“Sugar Gliders are uncommon and declining in Western Sydney. The Glenmore Park crossing now safely links the populations between these two reserves and helps protect them.

“To our surprise we also saw a lot of birds using the ladder. While most birds just rested on it as a convenient perch, we also recorded ducks and magpies walking across to get from one side of the road to the other - it's safer than walking on the ground and helps them conserve energy for flying,” he said.

Penrith Mayor Karen McKeown OAM praised the installation of the wildlife ladder for providing a safe passageway for small treetop fauna species.

“This ladder will assist small tree top mammals during their night-time forages from the Mulgoa Nature Reserve to the Surveyors Creek bushland reserves,” said Cr McKeown.

“When tree top species like possums and gliders are forced to come to ground to travel, they are immediately vulnerable to predators and vehicles as their safe haven is up high in the canopy of the Cumberland Plain Woodland.

“The wildlife ladder will protect our valuable wildlife and ensure that Penrith remains a safe home for these animals,” she said.

Mr Ridgeway said Western Sydney's bushland, the Cumberland Plain Woodland, is among the most fragmented ecosystems in Australia.

“Today, even 'common' wildlife species find it hard to survive as roads and suburbs isolate their home, so it’s great to see there is real value in these sorts of initiatives,” he said.

“We're looking into the feasibility of additional wildlife crossings in the region. Wildlife ladders only work for lightweight arboreal animals, so we're considering dry tunnels under roads which larger animals like koalas and ground-dwelling animals like the echidna can use as well.

“We're also looking at ways we can reduce light pollution from streetlights to help our night-time wildlife,” he said.

Mulgoa Valley Landcare president Lisa Harrold said the group was thrilled the crossing was being used by our wildlife and providing safe access between bushland patches.

“Fauna crossings are proving positive results and more should be retro-fitted into existing suburbs in the region. They should also be mandatory inclusions for developments to ensure safer connections for our vanishing wildlife.

“We hope that future development is done better, and these simple inclusions will make a big difference,” she said.

St John’s Wort Spreading In Warrumbungle Shire

November 1, 2021
By Callen Thompson, Mixed Farm Advisor, Central West Local Land Services
St John’s wort is spreading in the region, particularly the Warrumbungle Shire. Landholders are urged to identify and control this invasive weed to reduce the impact on their land and the environment.

We have known of infested areas around Coolah, Merrygoen and east of Coonabarabran for some time, but in the last two years there has been a marked increase with wort spreading through farms, lifestyle blocks and bushland. St John’s wort is actively flowering, so now is a good time for land managers to identify and control wort on their properties. St John’s wort will quickly overtake pastures and natural areas, particularly in hilly and inaccessible areas. Once it takes hold it is very difficult to control.

Yellow flowers of St. John’s wort. Photographer: Birgitte Verbeek

St John’s wort is an upright woody weed with a bright yellow flower. Flowering occurs from late October through to January. Stems are green through the flowering period, but will turn brown in late summer or if moisture runs out. The stems become reddish brown in winter.

St John’s wort spreads easily with sticky seeds that can stick to machinery, livestock or pest animals. The seed can pass through the digestive system and will remain viable. Seed can also spread by water movement or by wind over short distances. The seed may remain viable for up to 12 years.

St John’s wort is poisonous to livestock. It contains a chemical called hypericin, which causes photosensitivity. Other symptoms include weight loss, stillbirths and in severe cases, death. Young stock are more susceptible, with suckling stock still effected through the milk of their mothers. St John’s wort will compete with pasture species and can also create a vegetable fault in wool.

St John’s wort is spreading in our area, so it is important for all land managers to know how to identify it. Land managers should take particular notice in spring as the yellow flowers are easy to spot, even with the tall grass this year. It is worth noting that plants that are less than a year old, will not flower, so you may have young plants present that are hard to spot.

Once you identify wort, it is important that you control it quickly and  prevent seed set. Unfortunately, physical removal is ineffective as new plants will grow from root fragments, in fact wort can be spread through cultivation. Isolated plants or patches of plants can be controlled by spot spraying with a registered herbicide. It is important that you identify the immature plants that may not be flowering and spray them as well. They are often close to the older flowering plants.

Larger areas can be sprayed with a boom spray. For spot spraying and boom spraying, it is best to use a selective herbicide product that will not kill grass species, allowing for competition and limiting bare ground. Because seed can last for so long, monitor sprayed areas and respray as needed.

Stopping spread onto your property, and within your property is very important. Ensure that any hay or seed you bring onto the property is weed free and make sure all machinery and vehicles are cleaned down before entry.

Avoid grazing areas of wort and then moving stock to wort free areas. If you must graze wort, quarantine stock for at least five weeks to prevent seed deposit from faeces, fleece or fur. Do not move machinery or vehicles through infested areas and make sure contractors and other visitors are aware of these areas.

St John’s wort is spreading in the Warrumbungle shire. It is important for all land holders to be vigilant, learn how to identify it and control it as soon as they see it. If you would like help identifying St John’s wort, please contact your local councils weeds officer or Callen at Local Land Services (0417 348 687).

ECNT And EDO Take Keith Pitt’s Fracking Grants To Federal Court

November 2, 2021
Protect Country Alliance states it stands in solidarity with the Environment Centre NT as it and the Environmental Defenders Office prepare to take on Resources Minister Keith Pitt’s grant of public cash to fracking company Imperial Oil and Gas in court.

Beginning today in the Federal Court of Australia, the ECNT will question the lawfulness of Keith Pitt’s decision to grant up to $21M of taxpayer money to Empire Energy subsidiary Imperial Oil and Gas, and the $50M Beetaloo Cooperative Drilling Instrument grant program from which it is drawn.

The NT Government formally approved Imperial’s exploration fracking project, which will involve the fracking of seven wells, last month.

The project was the subject of a Senate Inquiry earlier this year, following the announcement that the company had received $21 million in taxpayer funded federal grants.

The ECNT will argue in court that Mr Pitt was required to make reasonable inquiries into a range of matters before granting Imperial a large amount of taxpayer money, including how the exploitation of the Beetaloo sub-basin would impact climate change and Australia meeting its Paris Agreement obligations. Specifically, it is alleged that the Minister breached section 71 of the Public Governance, Performance, and Accountability Act (Cth) 2013.

PCA spokesperson Graeme Sawyer said Territorians had a right to be outraged over the handouts being given to fracking companies.

“On the one hand you have the Territory Government limbering up to backflip on its commitment to making fracking companies pay to offset the greenhouse gas emissions they produce,” he said.

“On the other hand you have the Morrison Government funnelling millions of public dollars into these polluting fracking companies.

“Overnight we learnt Empire has signed an MOU with Northern Territory Government owned Power and Water Corporation for the potential sale and transportation of gas from Empire’s NT assets. The distinction between the gas industry and the government is becoming less clear as the days go by.

“World leaders are in Glasgow right now trying to forge a path out of the climate crisis, yet in the NT, the Gunner and Morrison governments are splashing cash on a polluting industry that should be confined to history.

“Fracking the Beetaloo Basin has the potential to unleash a greenhouse gas bomb of up to 1.4 billion tonnes CO2e - that’s two and a half times the amount of Australia’s annual carbon emissions. 

“Traditional Owners have expressed clear concerns about this project, the money it has received, and the way it was assessed.

“On top of the $21 million in federal fracking cash, Empire Energy also received a $5 million tax concession from the Morrison Government. This is corporate welfare on a shocking scale.”

Fracking Companies Targeting Polluting Shale Oil On Lake Eyre Basin Floodplains

November 1, 2021
Freedom of information documents reveal fracking companies Origin Energy and Blue Energy are targeting shale oil production across a massive swathe of fragile rivers and floodplains in Queensland’s Lake Eyre Basin - despite multiple Palaszczuk Government election promises to protect the region.

The documents show the companies liken the reserves available to the major US shale-producing basins, the Bakken Formation and Eagle Ford Shale, and, if the application is successful, it would be the first instance of shale oil production in Australia.

The owner of the Authorities to Prospect tenements, Blue Energy, has also failed to comply with its government-assigned work program since it acquired the ATPs in 2014, but instead of being penalised, it has teamed up with Origin to apply for 30 year petroleum leases.

The size of these numerous Authority to Prospects (ATPs) is staggering - together they stretch over an area of the Lake Eyre Basin (225,000ha) almost as large as the ACT.

All this is despite ongoing government negotiations with Traditional Owners and local communities over whether exploitation of the fragile river systems should even occur at all.

Channel Country grazier Angus Emmott said, “The rivers and floodplains of the Lake Eyre Basin are the last desert rivers left in the world that have not been seriously degraded by humans. 

“Following two successive elections where the Premier made commitments to protect this system, it is time to stop playing games. Put legislative protection in place now.”

Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland spokesperson Ellie Smith said, “It is appalling that the Queensland Palaszczuk Government is considering allowing dirty, risky shale oil development in one of our most fragile and iconic areas.

“The Palaszczuk Government needs to come clean and immediately reject petroleum tenements within Lake Eyre Basin floodplains, and finalise the protection of these incredibly important rivers before it is too late.

“In the USA there have been numerous examples of flooding leading to contamination from fracking oil and gas fields in sensitive areas like floodplains.

“We’re incredibly disappointed that gas companies are getting a special pass, allowing them to go ahead and pursue applications to frack on floodplains despite not meeting basic requirements under the current petroleum act.

“As the world meets for COP26 in Glasgow to make a plan for major reductions in fossil fuel use, it is shocking that a project like this is even being considered.”

The International Energy Agency has modeled that no new oil, gas or coal production is required if the world is to contain global warming to 1.5 degrees. 

As well, a hidden independent scientific report commissioned in 2019 by the Queensland government, called for a ban on unconventional gas exploration in the region.

Early Decision Opposes Bundaberg Coal Mine Proposal

November 5, 2021
A coal mine on productive farming land near Bundaberg is unlikely to proceed, according to local Member for Bundaberg Tom Smith and Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett, as Queensland Resources Minister Scott Stewart has handed down a preliminary view that the project, that would have been built on Mineral Development Licence 3040, is not in the public interest.

The decision follows a hard-fought grassroots campaign, with the local community raising concerns about the impact the mine would have had on local water supplies, the nationally-important foodbowl surrounding Bundaberg, and the nearby World Heritage Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The move also comes just days after NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole told budget estimates he opposed releasing large parcels of land near the Blue Mountains to new coal mining, after it was previously flagged by former Deputy Premier John Barilaro for exploration.

“To see these potential coal projects knocked on the head at such an early stage would have been unthinkable just five years ago,” said Lock the Gate Alliance national director Carmel Flint.

“While our governments still have a long way to go, it’s positive that at the early exploration stages, coal mining companies are finding it hard to get the green light to destroy more land and water.  

“The local community in the Bundaberg region has led the way and its determination to protect this important area from coal exploration has been extraordinary.

“We congratulate the Queensland Resources Minister on making this preliminary decision in the public interest, and we’d like to see a final decision to end this threat once and for all.

“What we need now is proper planning legislation to prevent new coal and gas projects that harm land, water and the climate, rather than communities having to fight region by region and project by project. 

“A mineral development licence should never have been available over a food bowl and so close to one of the world’s natural wonders.

“We also need governments to help coal dependent communities prepare for a future where Australia ultimately exports less coal than it does now.

“With foresight and planning, there is every reason to believe these communities and the economies built around coal mining can embrace new clean industries and become even stronger as the world decarbonises.”

Rylstone Residents Celebrate Recommendation Against Releasing Their Backyard To New Coal Mining

November 3, 2021
New NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole’s decision to recommend against opening new land west of the Blue Mountains to coal mining is a huge relief for the communities that would be impacted.

Mr Toole, who represents part of the region that is covered by the proposed “Hawkins-Rumker” tenements, made the announcement during budget estimates in parliament this morning.

Hawkins-Rumker surrounds the agriculture and tourism focused town of Rylstone and was earmarked for coal exploration under then-Deputy Premier John Barilaro’s “Future of Coal” statement last year, along with numerous other land parcels throughout the state.

However, submissions from the community in response to the proposal recently revealed 99 percent opposition to releasing the land for coal mining.

Rylstone horse stud operator Janet Walk said, “The whole of the government's strategic coal plan needs to be reviewed for its viability and for its social licence. It put us under tremendous mental stress.

“It’s so unnecessary now because it is imperative we move towards renewables. We know this, our government knows this - all it takes is a spine to tell constituents the truth.”

Lock the Gate Alliance NSW spokesperson Nic Clyde said he hoped the decision foreshadowed a more serious move away from opening new land to coal mining from the Perrottet Government.

“Ripping apart the farming and tourism focused district of Rylstone for coal never made any sense,” he said.

“It would have transformed this beautiful region that rests against the western flank of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area into the type of moonscape we now see in places like the Upper Hunter.

“We’re extremely grateful Paul Toole has listened to his constituents in the local region who bravely fought this frankly obscene plan from the previous Deputy Premier.

“This decision is an important signal that New South Wales is going to focus on the future. World leaders are in Glasgow right now to forge a path to a cleaner, sustainable future. Opening new parts of the state to coal is not part of that path.”

Dial-A-Dump Fined For Tracking Sediment From Eastern Creek Site

November 3, 2021
Failure to stop dirt and sediment from allegedly being tracked from an industrial site out onto Western Sydney roadways has resulted in Dial-a-Dump (EC) Pty Ltd receiving $30,000 in fines from the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

EPA officers observed sediment tracking from the Dial-a-Dump Eastern Creek waste processing facility in June and August while investigating alleged odour issues from the landfill.

“All businesses and construction sites must make sure dirt, dust or sediment does not leave their worksite, to prevent damage to the surrounding environment or being washed into creeks or rivers, where it can harm plants, fish, wildlife and water quality,” EPA Executive Director Regulatory Operations Steve Beaman said.

“The sediment was visible on the public road and gutters allegedly coming from this operation.

“Our officers saw sediment on nearby roads, including Kangaroo Avenue, Honeycomb Drive and Wonderland Drive on several occasions, that had come from vehicles leaving the Dial-a-Dump site.”

The EPA previously instructed Dial-a-Dump to ensure no sediment left the Eastern Creek site.

“We’ve raised this issue with Dial-a-Dump on several occasions - no material, including sediment or oil, should be transferred off the property on the wheels of vehicles as they leave,” Mr Beaman said.

“These two $15,000 fines and an official caution follow EPA inspections on June 21 2021 and August 17 2021 that found sediment was still present on the nearby public roadways.”

Sediment can block stormwater drains, leading to flooding, and can make roads slippery and dangerous. Sediment on roads can result in dust impacts on the community if it becomes airborne.

“We expect all licensees to do the right thing and obey the conditions set out in their environment protection licence to keep the environment and the community safe,” Mr Beaman said.

The $15,000 penalty is the maximum fine the EPA can issue under its legislation.

Penalty notices are one of several tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance, including formal warnings, licence conditions, notices and directions, mandatory audits, legally binding pollution reduction programs, enforceable undertakings and prosecutions.

For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy on the EPA website.

A separate EPA investigation into the landfill’s autumn odour issues is ongoing.

If you suspect someone is doing the wrong thing, please make a report by calling the EPA’s 24/7 Environment Line on 131 555.

Warragamba Dam Raising Project EIS On Public Exhibition

The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Warragamba Dam Raising Project for flood mitigation is on public exhibition from the 29th of September 2021, for a period of 45 days closing on the 12th of November 2021, during which public submissions will be received.

In May 2017, the NSW Government released the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley Flood Risk Management Strategy – ‘Resilient Valley, Resilient Communities.’  

The strategy is designed specifically for the valley as the most flood-prone region in NSW, if not Australia. It is a long-term plan to minimise significant risks to life and livelihoods; damage to urban and rural property; and, the major dislocation of economic activity from rapid, deep flooding.

It is the framework for the government, councils, businesses and communities to work together to reduce and manage flood risk in the valley.

The strategy recommends that raising Warragamba Dam to create a flood mitigation zone of around 14 metres is the best option to reduce the risks to life, property and community assets posed by floodwaters from the extensive Warragamba River catchment.

While a range of other infrastructure and non-infrastructure outcomes are included in the strategy and must be part of the solution for managing ongoing risk, no other mitigation measures can achieve the same risk reduction as the Warragamba Dam Raising Proposal.

WaterNSW, as owner and operator of the dam, is consulting widely about the effects and benefits of the proposal to inform the environmental assessment, concept design and, subject to all planning approvals, a business case to assist decision-making in 2022 about whether to proceed with these major flood mitigation works.

Visit the project portal and virtual engagement room to review the EIS document, interact with explanatory material, make submissions and register to attend webinars.

Warragamba Dam, NSW. Photo: Maksym Kozlenko

NSW Government Plan To Revitalise Peat Island And Mooney Mooney Released

The NSW Government’s proposal to breathe new life into old assets and open Peat Island to the public, while also revitalising Mooney Mooney with new housing, community facilities and job opportunities, has been released.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Central Coast and Member for Terrigal Adam Crouch said the rezoning proposal is now open for public exhibition on Central Coast Council’s website.

“For over a century Peat Island has been closed off to the public and the NSW Government is working to unlock this under-utilised publicly-owned land in this stunning Hawkesbury River setting,” Mr Crouch said.

Key features of the proposal include:
  • Nearly 270 new homes at Mooney Mooney to deliver more housing supply,
  • Retention of nine unlisted historical buildings on the island, and four on the mainland, to be restored and used for new community and commercial opportunities,
  • New retail and café or restaurant opportunities,
  • Approximately 9.65 hectares of open space, including opportunities for walking and cycling tracks, parklands and recreational facilities,
  • Retention of the chapel and surrounding land for community use, and
  • 10.4 hectares of bushland dedicated as a conservation area.
“The NSW Government has been consulting widely, culminating in this rezoning proposal that strikes a balance between future land uses and achieving the best social and economic outcomes for the Mooney Mooney community.”

Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey said the proposal will provide more than two kilometres of public access to the Hawkesbury River foreshore and Peat Island, opening it up for the first time in 100 years, as well as the opportunity for tourism uses including short-stay tourist accommodation.

“This is an area of great significance to the region, local and Aboriginal communities, and many other stakeholders, including those with links to Peat Island’s institutional past,” Mrs Pavey said.

“Any future uses will recognise and protect the site’s significant Aboriginal and European heritage.”

To ensure everyone has an opportunity to understand the NSW Government’s vision for Peat Island and Mooney Mooney, community information webinars will be held over coming weeks. Details will be available shortly.

Mrs Pavey said in parallel to the broader community engagement on the proposal, the NSW Government would continue to work with the Peat Island/Mooney Mooney Community Reference Group on the future of the area’s community facilities and public spaces.

“At the heart of this will be how the Peat Island chapel precinct at Mooney Mooney can be retained by the community and put to its best possible use,” Mrs Pavey said.

The rezoning proposal will also remain open to feedback from the public until Monday, 20 December 2021.

COP26: it’s half-time at the crucial Glasgow climate change summit – and here’s the score

Wesley MorganGriffith University

The first week of the United Nations climate talks in Glasgow are drawing to a close. While there’s still a way to go, progress so far gives some hope the Paris climate agreement struck six years ago is working.

Major powers brought significant commitments to cut emissions this decade and pledged to shift toward net-zero emissions. New coalitions were also announced for decarbonising sectors of the global economy. These include phasing out coal-fired power, pledges to cut global methane emissions, ending deforestation and plans for net-zero emissions shipping.

The two-week summit, known as COP26, is a critical test of global cooperation to tackle the climate crisis. Under the Paris Agreement, countries are required, every five years, to produce more ambitious national plans to reduce emissions. Delayed one year by the COVID pandemic, this year is when new plans are due.

Pledges made at the summit so far could start to bend the global emissions curve downwards. Credible projections from an expert team, including Professor Malte Meinshausen at the University of Melbourne, suggest if new pledges are fully funded and met, global warming could be limited to to 1.9℃ this century. The International Energy Agency came to a similar conclusion.

This is real progress. But the Earth system reacts to what we put in the atmosphere, not promises made at summits. So pledges need to be backed by finance, and the necessary policies and actions across energy and land use.

A significant ambition gap on emissions reduction also remains, and more climate action is needed this decade to avoid catastrophic warming. Achieving necessary emissions reductions by 2030 will be a key focus of the second week of the Glasgow talks, especially as global emissions are projected to rebound strongly in 2021 (after the drop induced last year by COVID-19).

For its part, Australia contributed virtually nothing to global efforts in Glasgow. Alone among advanced economies, Australia set no new target to cut emissions this decade. If anything, this week added to Australia’s reputation as a member of a small and isolated group of countries - with the likes of Saudi Arabia and Russia - resisting climate action.

Two graphs showing progress towards global temperature goals, based on national pledges before the COP26 summit, left, and on November 3.

Global Momentum: What Did Major Powers Bring To Glasgow?

Since the last UN climate summit we’ve seen a worldwide surge in momentum toward climate action. More than 100 countries - accounting for more than two-thirds of the global economy - have set firm dates for achieving net-zero emissions.

Perhaps more importantly, in the lead up to the Glasgow summit the world’s advanced economies - including the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Japan, Canada, South Korea and New Zealand - all strengthened their 2030 targets. The G7 group of countries pledged to halve their collective emissions by 2030.

Major economies in the developing world also brought new commitments to COP26. China pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by 2060 and strengthened its 2030 targets. It now plans to peak emissions by the end of the decade.

This week India also pledged to achieve net-zero by 2070 and ramp up installation of renewable energy. By 2030, half of India’s electricity will come from renewable sources.

The opening days of COP26 also saw a suite of new announcements for decarbonising sectors of the global economy. The UK declared the end of coal was in sight, as it launched a new global coalition to phase out coal-fired power.

Read more: COP26: global deforestation deal will fail if countries like Australia don't lift their game on land clearing

More than 100 countries signed on to a new pledge to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030. More than 120 countries also promised to end deforestation by 2030.

The US also joined a coalition of countries that plans to achieve net-zero emissions in global shipping.

But this week the developed world fell short of fulfilling a decade-old promise - to deliver US$100 billion each year to help poorer nations deal with climate impacts.

Fulfilling commitments on climate finance will be critically important for building trust in the talks. For its part, Australia pledged an additional A$500 million in climate finance to countries in Southeast Asia and the Pacific – a figure well short of Australia’s fair share of global efforts. Australia also refused to rejoin the Green Climate Fund.

three men stand on stage before green and blue background
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Congo President Felix Tshisekedi and US President Joe Biden stand at a COP26 session on deforestation. More than 120 countries signed a pledge to end deforestation. AP

Missing The Moment: The Australian Way

While the rest of the world is getting on with the race to a net-zero emissions economy, Australia is barely out of the starting blocks. Australia brought to Glasgow the same 2030 emissions target that it took to Paris six years ago - even as key allies pledged much stronger targets.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison arrived with scant plans to accompany his last-minute announcement on net-zero by 2050. The strategy titled The Australian Way, which comprised little more than a brochure, failed to provide a credible pathway to that target. It was met with derision across the world.

On the way to Glasgow, at the G20 leaders meeting in Rome, Australia blocked global momentum to reduce emissions by resisting calls for a phase out of coal power. Australia also refused to sign on to the global pledge on methane.

Worse still, Australia is using COP26 to actively promote fossil fuels. Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor says the summit is a chance to promote investment in Australian gas projects, and Australian fossil fuel company Santos was prominently branded at the venue’s Australia Pavilion.

The federal government is promoting carbon capture and storage as a climate solution, despite it being widely regarded as a licence to prolong the use of fossil fuels. The technology is also eye-wateringly expensive and not yet proven at scale.

Climate Council

The Closing Stretch

Week one in Glasgow has delivered more climate action than the world promised in Paris six years ago. However, the summit outcomes still fall well short of what is required to limit warming to 1.5℃. Attention will now turn to negotiating an outcome to further increase climate ambition this decade.

Vulnerable countries have proposed countries yet to deliver enhanced 2030 targets be required to come back in 2022, well before COP27, with stronger targets to cut emissions.

This week, the United States rejoined the High Ambition Coalition, a group of countries from across traditional negotiating blocs in the UN climate talks. Led by the Marshall Islands, the group was crucial in securing the 2015 Paris Agreement.

In Glasgow, this coalition is pressing for an outcome that will keep the world on track to limiting warming to 1.5℃.

But significant differences persist between the US and China. Many developing countries want to see more commitment to climate finance from wealthy nations before they will pledge new targets. Can consensus be reached in Glasgow? We’ll be watching the negotiations closely next week to find out.

Read more: Global emissions almost back to pre-pandemic levels after unprecedented drop in 2020, new analysis shows The Conversation

Wesley Morgan, Research Fellow, Griffith Asia Institute and Climate Council researcher, Griffith University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

5 major heatwaves in 30 years have turned the Great Barrier Reef into a bleached checkerboard

Terry HughesJames Cook University and Sean ConnollySmithsonian Institution

Just 2% of the Great Barrier Reef remains untouched by bleaching since 1998 and 80% of individual reefs have bleached severely once, twice or three times since 2016, our new study reveals today.

We measured the impacts of five marine heatwaves on the Great Barrier Reef over the past three decades: in 1998, 2002, 2016, 2017 and 2020. We found these bouts of extreme temperatures have transformed it into a checkerboard of bleached reefs with very different recent histories.

Whether we still have a functioning Great Barrier Reef in the decades to come depends on how much higher we allow global temperatures to rise. The bleaching events we’ve already seen in recent years are a result of the world warming by 1.2℃ since pre-industrial times.

World leaders meeting at the climate summit in Glasgow must commit to more ambitious promises to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions. It’s vital for the future of corals reefs, and for the hundreds of millions of people who depend on them for their livelihoods and food security.

Coral In A Hotter Climate

The Great Barrier Reef is comprised of more than 3,000 individual reefs stretching for 2,300 kilometres, and supports more than 60,000 jobs in reef tourism.

Under climate change, the frequency, intensity and scale of climate extremes is changing rapidly, including the record-breaking marine heatwaves that cause corals to bleach. Bleaching is a stress response by overheated corals, where they lose their colour and many struggle to survive.

If all new COP26 pledges by individual countries are actually met, then the projected increase in average global warming could be brought down to 1.9℃. In theory, this would put us in line with the goal of the Paris Agreement, which is to keep global warming below 2℃, but preferably 1.5℃, this century.

However, it is still not enough to prevent the ongoing degradation of the world’s coral reefs. The damage to coral reefs from anthropogenic heating so far is very clear, and further warming will continue to ratchet down reefs throughout the tropics.

Read more: Not declaring the Great Barrier Reef as 'in danger' only postpones the inevitable

Ecological Memories Of Heatwaves

Most reefs today are in early recovery mode, as coral populations begin to re-build since they last experienced bleaching in 2016, 2017 and 2020. It takes about a decade for a decent recovery of the fastest growing corals, and much longer for slow-growing species. Many coastal reefs that were severely bleached in 1998 have never fully recovered.

The fringing reef flat at Orpheus Island on the central Great Barrier Reef, prior to mass coral bleaching in 1998. Bette Willis and Andrew BairdAuthor provided
The same reef flat at Orpheus Island after further bleaching in 2002 and 2016. Bette Willis and Andrew BairdAuthor provided

Each bleaching event so far has a different geographic footprint. Drawing upon satellite data, we measured the duration and intensity of heat stress that the Great Barrier Reef experienced each summer, to explain why different parts were affected during all five events.

The bleaching responses of corals differed greatly in each event, and was strongly influenced by the recent history of previous bleaching. For this reason, it’s important to measure the extent and severity of bleaching directly, where it actually occurs, and not rely exclusively on water temperature data from satellites as an indirect proxy.

We found the most vulnerable reefs each year were the ones that had not bleached for a decade or longer. On the other hand, when successive episodes were close together in time (one to four years apart), the heat threshold for severe bleaching increased. In other words, the earlier event had hardened regions of the Great Barrier Reef to subsequent impacts.

Bleached coral
Bleaching is a stress response by overheated corals. Shutterstock

For example, in 2002 and 2017, it took much more heat to trigger similar levels of bleaching that were measured in 1998 and 2016. The threshold for bleaching was much higher on reefs that had experienced an earlier episode of heat stress.

Similarly, southern corals, which escaped bleaching in 2016 and 2017, were the most vulnerable in 2020, compared to central and northern reefs that had bleached severely in previous events.

Many different mechanisms could generate these historical effects, or ecological memories. One is heavy losses of the more heat-susceptible coral species during an earlier event – dead corals don’t re-bleach.

Read more: We just spent two weeks surveying the Great Barrier Reef. What we saw was an utter tragedy

Nowhere Left To Hide

Only a single cluster of reefs remains unbleached in the far south, downstream from the rest of the Great Barrier Reef, in a small region that has remained consistently cool through the summer months during all five mass bleaching events. These reefs lie at the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef, where upwelling of cool water may offer some protection from heatwaves, at least so far.

Map of the Great Barrier Reef showing the cumulative level of bleaching observed in 2016, 2017 and 2020. The colours represent the intensity of bleaching, ranging from zero (category 1, dark blue) to severe bleaching that affected more than 60% of corals (category 4, red) Author provided

In theory, a judiciously placed network of well-protected, climate-resistant reefs might help to repopulate the broader seascape, if greenhouse gas emissions are curtailed to stabilise temperatures later this century.

But the unbleached southern reefs are too few in number, and too far away from the rest of the Great Barrier Reef to produce and deliver sufficient coral larvae, to promote a long-distance recovery.

Instead, future replenishment of depleted coral populations is more likely to be local. It would come from the billions of larvae produced by recovering adults on nearby reefs that have not bleached for a while, or by corals inhabiting reef in deeper waters which tend to experience less heat stress than those living in shallow water.

Read more: 'This situation brings me to despair': two reef scientists share their climate grief

Future recovery of corals will increasingly be temporary and incomplete, before being interrupted again by the inevitable next bleaching event. Consequently, the patchiness of living coral on the Great Barrier Reef will increase further, and corals will continue to decline under climate change.

Our findings make it clear we no longer have the luxury of studying individual climate-related events that were once unprecedented, or very rare. Instead, as the world gets hotter, it’s increasingly important to understand the effects and combined outcomes of sequences of rapid-fire catastrophes.The Conversation

Terry Hughes, Distinguished Professor, James Cook University and Sean Connolly, Research Biologist, Smithsonian Institution

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Australia’s refusal to sign a global methane pledge exposes flaws in the term ‘net-zero

Mark HowdenAustralian National University

At the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, more than 90 nations signed a global pledge led by the United States and United Kingdom to cut methane emissions. However, Australia was not among them.

China, Russia, India and Iran also declined to sign the pledge, which aims to slash methane emissions by 30% before 2030.

Methane is emitted in coal and gas production, from livestock and other agricultural activity, and when organic waste breaks down in landfill.

Almost half of Australia’s annual methane emissions come from the agriculture sector. Defending the federal government’s decision, Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said Australia had pledged net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and would not set specific targets for each sector.

Days out from COP26, National Party leader Barnaby Joyce had claimed signing the pledge would be a disaster for coal mining and agriculture, saying “the only way you can get your 30% by 2030 reduction in methane on 2020 levels would be to grab a rifle and go out and start shooting your cattle”.

Australia’s position on the pledge is inconsistent with methane reductions the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says are required to keep Earth below 1.5℃ warming this century.

The debate also highlights how the shorthand phrase “net-zero emissions” conceals and distorts the real challenges in avoiding dangerous climate change.

It focuses attention on the wrong time frame for action – the next decade is far more important for climate action than 2050. It also addresses the means of action – emissions reduction – rather than the desired goal, which is to avoid dangerous climate change.

And importantly, simply through delaying action, the world could feasibly reduce emissions to net-zero by 2050, but still fail to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement – keeping average global temperature rise below either 1.5℃ or 2℃ this century.

Read more: COP26: a global methane pledge is great – but only if it doesn't distract us from CO₂ cuts

man at lecture with flag on blue background
The Morrison government has refused to sign a global methane pledge. Ian Forsyth/AP

Net-Zero Is Both Too Much, And Not Enough

The IPCC report released in August painted a clear picture of how different trajectories for various greenhouse gases translate to global temperature increases.

Carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions last a very long time in the atmosphere so they accumulate. Consequently, net CO₂ emissions need to decline sharply as soon as possible if we’re to limit temperatures to 1.5℃ or 2℃ above pre-industrial levels.

However, CO₂ emissions not only need to reach net-zero – the IPCC says CO₂ emissions need to go “net-negative”. This will require a massive scaling up of methods and technologies to remove existing CO₂ in the atmosphere.

In other words, when it comes to CO₂, net-zero is not enough. It is a way point, not the end point.

So how do we remove CO₂ from the atmosphere? Some methods, such as mass tree planting, are already widely implemented. Some are difficult to implement at scale, such as substantial increases in soil carbon.

Others are in the exploratory stages including incorporating captured CO₂ into building products and high-value materials or in the ocean.

Each option has advantages, disadvantages and limits. The “net-zero by 2050” terminology obscures this complexity. It also conceals the need for crucial discussions about feasibility, governance and support for research and development that’s needed now.

Meanwhile, the situation is quite different for shorter-lived gases such as methane and nitrous oxide. In those cases, going all the way to net-zero is not needed to meet the Paris goals.

According to the IPCC report, an illustrative scenario consistent with 1.5℃ warming would involve methane emission reductions of about 30% by 2030, 50% by 2050 and just over 60% by 2100.

This is consistent with the global methane pledge signed at COP26 overnight. For nitrous oxide, the illustrative reductions would be about 30% by 2050.

So, for methane and nitrous oxide, net-zero is too much.

Read more: Monday's IPCC report is a really big deal for climate change. So what is it? And why should we trust it?

Targets Based On Science

It should be noted, to keep temperature rise to 1.5℃, there are many possible combinations of emission-reduction trajectories for various greenhouse gases. The extent to which CO₂, methane or nitrous oxide is reduced is interchangeable and the final mix will be a function of political decisions.

A clear and integrated assessment of the economic, environmental and social consequences of different emission-reduction pathways is needed to inform those decisions. Without that, inefficient and inequitable economic responses may result.

For example, methane (from livestock) and nitrous oxide (from fertiliser use) make up a high proportion of agriculture emissions. But options for completely stopping these emissions are limited.

Farmers could offset their emissions by planting trees or rehabilitating vegetation on their properties to increase carbon stores. But this would prevent them from selling those emissions reductions on carbon markets, thus removing a potential source of farm income.

So an economy-wide target of net-zero for all key greenhouse gases might mean agriculture must make far more effort in emissions reduction, at much greater cost, than other sectors which largely emit CO₂ and where decarbonisation options are more readily available.

sunset on farm with cattle and trees
Methane represents a large part of agriculture emissions. Shutterstock

New Zealand has recognised this, and treats agricultural emissions separately.

Carving agriculture out of national emissions-reduction goals would place a greater requirement to act onto other sectors. For example, emission reductions in the transport sector may have to be greater than otherwise, to compensate for the lack of progress in agriculture.

But is isolating agriculture from emission reductions necessary? A recent study assessed new emission reduction options for livestock, including several approaches that together may reduce emissions at the rate required by the methane pledge. They involve more efficient production, technological advances, changes in demand for livestock-related products and land-based carbon storage.

These are approaches already being adopted by industry groups and farmers.

Towards ‘Paris-Aligned’

Targets for methane and nitrous oxide reductions should be set using the IPCC science – and don’t have to be set at net-zero. That would leave sectors emitting these gases with a feasible (but still challenging) pathway to reducing emissions in line with the Paris goals.

And where appropriate, we should start describing effective climate action as being “Paris-aligned”. Clearly, over-use of the term “net-zero emissions” misdirects attention from where it’s needed.

Read more: The clock is ticking on net-zero, farmers must not get a free pass The Conversation

Mark Howden, Director, ANU Institute for Climate, Energy and Disaster Solutions, Australian National University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

COP26: global deforestation deal will fail if countries like Australia don’t lift their game on land clearing

Kate DooleyThe University of Melbourne

At the Glasgow COP26 climate talks overnight, Australia and 123 other countries signed an agreement promising to end deforestation by 2030.

The declaration’s signatories, which include global deforestation hotspots such as Brazil, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, have committed to:

working collectively to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030 while delivering sustainable development and promoting an inclusive rural transformation.

This declaration should be welcomed for recognising how crucial forest loss and land degradation are to addressing climate change, biodiversity decline and sustainable development.

But there have been many such declarations before, and it’s hard to feel excited about yet another one.

What really matters is changing policy domestically; if countries don’t change what they are doing at home to bring emissions from fossil fuels to zero and restore degraded lands, declarations like this are meaningless.

Read more: Want to beat climate change? Protect our natural forests

A forest is next to a palm oil plantation.
Research shows the leading drivers of deforestation are internationally traded agricultural commodities such as beef, soy, palm oil and timber. Shutterstock

The Good Parts

The declaration does a good job of joining up interrelated issues that for too long have been treated as separate problems.

Signatories say they will:

emphasise the critical and interdependent roles of forests of all types, biodiversity and sustainable land use in enabling the world to meet its sustainable development goals; to help achieve a balance between anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and removal by sinks; to adapt to climate change; and to maintain other ecosystem services.

Biodiversity is key to forest conservation and sustainable land use.

From there, the signatories promise to:

reaffirm our respective commitments, collective and individual, to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, the Sustainable Development Goals; and other relevant initiatives.

To see commitments under several UN declarations recognised in one place is somewhat of a breakthrough; forests, biodiversity and land-use are often siloed despite the critical links in dealing with these issues.

It is also promising to see recognition that conserving existing forests and other terrestrial ecosystems is the priority, and signatories committing to accelerate their restoration (as opposed to just planting new trees).

A vast body of research shows planting new trees as a climate action pales in comparison to protecting existing forests. As I have written before,

restoring degraded forests and expanding them by 350 million hectares will store a comparable amount of carbon as 900 million hectares of new trees […] Forest ecosystems (including the soil) store more carbon than the atmosphere. Their loss would trigger emissions that would exceed the remaining carbon budget for limiting global warming to less than the 2℃ above pre-industrial levels, let alone 1.5℃, threshold.

Once intact forests are gone, we can’t regain the carbon lost. It is known as “irrecoverable carbon”. So protecting existing forests is the top priority, especially given the critical time frame we are in now to keep climate change under the 1.5℃ or even 2℃ thresholds.

The declaration also mentions trade, promising to:

facilitate trade and development policies, internationally and domestically, that promote sustainable development, and sustainable commodity production and consumption, that work to countries’ mutual benefit, and that do not drive deforestation and land degradation

Here, we are starting to get to the real drivers of deforestation. For a long time, there has been too much focus on local drivers of deforestation including local communities. But research shows the leading drivers of deforestation are internationally traded agricultural commodities such as beef, soy, palm oil and timber.

The overall rate of commodity-driven deforestation has not declined since 2001. We can’t tackle forest loss without tackling the trade drivers behind it.

Read more: Deforestation: why COP26 agreement will struggle to reverse global forest loss by 2030

The Not-So-Good Parts

The main deficiency in the text is that not enough attention is paid to the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities.

It is mentioned the countries will “recognise” and “support” the rights of Indigenous peoples but many of these signatories do not have adequate – or, in some cases, any – legislation that actually recognises those rights.

Subjugation of these rights to national law has been a problem in previous international agreements.

The challenge in many countries is regulatory reform to bring national recognition of land, tenure and other collective rights into line with the internationally recognised rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The track records of some of these signatories bring into question what policy change they will be making back home to ensure this declaration isn’t just for show.

As a global land clearing hotspot, Australia will need to enact rapid policy change to bring its current practices in line with what it has signed on to. Australia remains the only developed nation on the list of global deforestation fronts. This is due to weakening land clearing legislation in New South Wales and Queensland, mostly for expansion of grazing lands.

As a signatory to this new declaration, Australia must strengthen land clearing lawsend native forest logging, and restore degraded ecosystems – just planting new trees will not get us there. Australia has the potential to restore large areas of degraded land. Experts have proposed how this could be done for relatively little investment.

The European Union has signed on too; it has been a global leader on developing trade policies designed to end illegal logging and reduce deforestation. But it recently backpedalled on its commitment to a program of forest governance and law enforcement in timber-producing countries that allow access to the EU timber market.

If they are serious about this declaration, the EU must reaffirm its commitment to partner countries to address illegal logging in traded timber.

In Brazil, the Bolsonaro government has been winding back previous legislation to recognise Indigenous peoples’ land rights. Deforestation rates have soared in the past few years. Perhaps the first action Brazil could take as a signatory to this declaration is to prioritise the landmark case (currently on hold) before Brazil’s Supreme Court to protect Indigenous land rights.

The Amazon rainforest is seen from the air.
Brazil, home to the critically important Amazon rainforest, has signed on to the declaration. Shutterstock

Ending Deforestation And Restoring Forests Is Not Enough

This is the latest in a series of similar declarations. A pledge made at COP24 in Katowice, the New York Declaration on Forests, and Sustainable Development Goal 15 (Life on Land) all include similar commitments to end deforestation by 2030 or earlier.

This week’s COP26 declaration ends with the importance of

pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5℃, noting that the science shows further acceleration of efforts is needed if we are to collectively keep 1.5℃ within reach.

The fact is, we won’t achieve this through ending deforestation and restoring forests. These efforts are critically needed to address biodiversity loss and rural sustainability, but for limiting warming to 1.5℃, fossil fuel emissions need to come down to zero – now.The Conversation

Kate Dooley, Research Fellow, Climate & Energy College, The University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Forests can’t handle all the net-zero emissions plans – companies and countries expect nature to offset too much carbon

Companies’ net-zero pledges count on vast expanses of forest to hold carbon so they can continue emitting. AFP via Getty Images
Doreen StabinskyCollege of the Atlantic and Kate DooleyThe University of Melbourne

Net-zero emissions pledges to protect the climate are coming fast and furious from companiescities and countries. But declaring a net-zero target doesn’t mean they plan to stop their greenhouse gas emissions entirely – far from it. Most of these pledges rely heavily on planting trees or protecting forests or farmland to absorb some of their emissions.

That raises two questions: Can nature handle the expectations? And, more importantly, should it even be expected to?

We have been involved in international climate negotiations and land and forest climate research for years. Research and pledges from companies so far suggest that the answer to these questions is no.

What Is Net-Zero?

Net-zero is the point at which all the carbon dioxide still emitted by human activities, such as running fossil fuel power plants or driving gas-powered vehicles, is balanced by the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Since the world does not yet have technologies capable of removing carbon dioxide from air at any climate-relevant scale, that means relying on nature for carbon dioxide removal.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global carbon dioxide emissions will need to reach net-zero by at least midcentury for the world to have even a small chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 F), an aim of the Paris climate agreement to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

The devil of net-zero, of course, lies in its apparent simplicity.

Nature’s Potential And Its Limits

Climate change is driven largely by cumulative emissions – carbon dioxide that accumulates in the atmosphere and stays there for hundreds to thousands of years, trapping heat near Earth’s surface.

Nature has received a great deal of attention for its ability to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in the biosphere, such as in soils, grasslands, trees and mangroves, via photosynthesis. It is also a source of carbon dioxide emissions through deforestation, land and ecosystem degradation and agricultural practices. However, the right kinds of changes to land management practices can reduce emissions and improve carbon storage.

Net-zero proposals count on finding ways for these systems to take up more carbon than they already absorb.

Researchers estimate that nature might annually be able to remove 5 gigatons of carbon dioxide from the air and avoid another 5 gigatons through stopping emissions from deforestation, agriculture and other sources.

This 10-gigaton figure has regularly been cited as “one-third of the global effort needed to stop climate change,” but that’s misleading. Avoided emissions and removals are not additive.

A new forests and land-use declaration announced at the UN climate conference in November also highlights the ongoing challenges in bringing deforestation emissions to zero, including illegal logging and protecting the rights of Indigenous peoples.

Stored Carbon Doesn’t Stay There Forever

Reaching the point at which nature can remove 5 gigatons of carbon dioxide each year would take time. And there’s another problem: High levels of removal might last for only a decade or so.

When growing trees and restoring ecosystems, the storage potential develops to a peak over decades. While this continues, it reduces over time as ecosystems become saturated, meaning large-scale carbon dioxide removal by natural ecosystems is a one-off opportunity to restore lost carbon stocks.

Carbon stored in the terrestrial biosphere – in forests and other ecosystems – doesn’t stay there forever, either. Trees and plants die, sometimes as a result of climate-related wildfires, droughts and warming, and fields are tilled and release carbon.

When taking these factors into consideration – the delay while nature-based removals scale up, saturation and the one-off and reversible nature of enhanced terrestrial carbon storage – another team of researchers found that restoration of forest and agricultural ecosystems could be expected to remove only about 3.7 gigatons of carbon dioxide annually.

Over the century, ecosystem restoration might reduce global average temperature by approximately 0.12 C (0.2 F). But the scale of removals the world can expect from ecosystem restoration will not happen in time to reduce the warming that is expected within the next two decades.

Nature In Net-Zero Pledges

Unfortunately there is not a great deal of useful information contained in net-zero pledges about the relative contributions of planned emissions reductions versus dependence on removals. There are, however, some indications of the magnitude of removals that major actors expect to have available for their use.

ActionAid reviewed the oil major Shell’s net-zero strategy and found that it includes offsetting 120 million tons of carbon dioxide per year through planting forests, estimated to require around 29.5 million acres (12 million hectares) of land. That’s roughly 45,000 square miles.

Oxfam reviewed the net-zero pledges for Shell and three other oil and gas producers – BP, TotalEnergies and ENI – and concluded that “their plans alone could require an area of land twice the size of the U.K. If the oil and gas sector as a whole adopted similar net zero targets, it could end up requiring land that is nearly half the size of the United States, or one-third of the world’s farmland.”

These numbers provide insight into how these companies, and perhaps many others, view net-zero.

Research indicates that net-zero strategies that rely on temporary removals to balance permanent emissions will fail. The temporary storage of nature-based removals, limited land availability and the time they take to scale up mean that, while they are a critical part of stabilizing the earth system, they cannot compensate for continued fossil fuel emissions.

This means that getting to net-zero will require rapid and dramatic reductions in emissions. Nature will be called upon to balance out what is left, mostly emissions from agriculture and land, but nature cannot balance out ongoing fossil emissions.

To actually reach net-zero will require reducing emissions close to zero.

COP26: the world’s biggest climate talks

This story is part of The Conversation’s coverage of COP26, the Glasgow climate conference, by experts from around the world.
Amid a rising tide of climate news and stories, The Conversation is here to clear the air and make sure you get information you can trust. Read more of our U.S. and global coverage.The Conversation

Doreen Stabinsky, Professor of Global Environmental Politics, College of the Atlantic and Kate Dooley, Research Fellow, Climate & Energy College, The University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Can selective breeding of ‘super kelp’ save our cold water reefs from hotter seas?

Institute for Marine and Antarctic StudiesCC BY
Cayne LaytonUniversity of Tasmania and Melinda ColemanThe University of Western Australia

Australia’s vital kelp forests are disappearing in many areas as our waters warm and our climate changes.

While we wait for rapid action to slash carbon emissions – including the United Nations climate talks now underway in Glasgow – we urgently need to buy time for these vital ecosystems.

How? By ‘future-proofing’ our kelp forests to be more resilient and adaptable to changing ocean conditions. Our recent trials have shown selectively bred kelp with higher heat tolerance can be successfully replanted and used in restoration.

This matters because these large seaweed species are the foundation of Australia’s Great Southern Reef, a vast but little-known temperate reef system and a global hotspot of biodiversity.

The reef’s kelp forests run along 8000 km of Australia’s southern coastline, from Geraldton in Western Australia to the Queensland border with New South Wales. These underwater forests support coastal food-webs and fisheries. Think of the famous mass-spawning of Australian Giant Cuttlefish off Whyalla, the rock lobster and abalone fisheries, or our iconic weedy and leafy seadragons.

Unfortunately, these seas are hotspots in the literal sense, with the nation’s southeast and southwest waters warming several times faster than the global average and suffering from some of the worst marine heatwaves recorded.

These increasing temperatures and other climate change impacts are devastating our kelp, including shrinking forests and permanent losses of golden kelp (Ecklonia radiata) on the east and west coasts, and staggering declines of the now-endangered giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) forests in Tasmania.

Golden kelp forest
Golden kelp forests support a wealth of life. Andrew GreenAuthor provided

Read more: Australia's 'other' reef is worth more than $10 billion a year - but have you heard of it?

We Need Novel Measures To Buy Time For Climate Action

Australian researchers are leading the way to try to find ways of future-proofing our critical ocean ecosystems, such as kelp forests and coral reefs. In part, that’s because climate change is hitting our ecosystems early and hard.

Climate change is moving much faster than kelp species can adapt. In turn, that threatens all the species that rely on these forests, including us.

If climate change wasn’t happening, we could try to halt or reverse the losses of kelp forests by using traditional restoration methods. But in a world getting hotter and hotter, that is futile in many cases. Even if we slash carbon emissions soon, decades more warming are already locked in.

If we want to keep these forests of the sea alive, we must now consider cutting-edge methods to help kelp survive current and future ocean conditions while governments pursue the urgent goal of reducing emissions.

How To Future Proof An Underwater Forest

Together and separately, we’ve been exploring techniques to speed up the natural rate of evolution to boost kelp resilience. Along with other researchers, we’ve put several techniques to the test in the real world, with promising results. Others remain hypothetical.

At present, there are several broad approaches to future-proofing restoration work. These include:

  • Genetic rescue focuses on enhancing the genetic diversity of genetically compromised populations to boost their potential to adapt to future conditions. This involves planting and restoring a mix of kelp from disconnected populations of the same species. Improved genetic diversity can boost the ability of these forests to respond to change. We expect this approach to be especially useful in areas where climate change poses a limited threat at present.

  • Assisted gene flow strategies introduce naturally adapted or tolerant kelp individuals into threatened populations to increase their ability to survive specific threats, like hotter seas. This could help kelp forests in areas affected by climate change now or in the near future. In these situations, the genetic rescue technique could be counterproductive if the new genetic diversity introduced isn’t able to cope with the heat.

  • Selective breeding is a well-known agricultural technique, and can be used to identify the best kelp to use in these cases. In short, we try to identify kelp with naturally higher tolerance, and then use these as the basis for restoration efforts. These can be transplanted into ailing kelp forests. Trials are presently underway in Tasmania using giant kelp. Early results are exciting, with the largest ‘super kelp’ growing over 12 metres high a year after being planted.

In the future, we may have to explore more cutting-edge strategies to deal with the changing conditions. These include:

  • Genetic manipulation. This technique extends what is possible with selective breeding by directly manipulating genes to enhance the traits or characteristics that might further boost kelp’s ability to thrive in hotter waters.

  • Assisted expansion is when species with little chance of survival are relocated to better but novel locations, assuming these exist. This technique could also see new species of kelp being planted to replace existing species, guided by the need to protect the forest ecosystem as a whole, rather than save specific species.

Read more: Underwater health check shows kelp forests are declining around the world

Scientist experimenting on kelp
Co-author Adjunct Professor Melinda Coleman working on kelp genomics as part of her selective breeding research. Photo by Alejandro TagliaficoAuthor provided

Are These Approaches Ethical?

Each of these techniques – tested or untested – pose challenging ethical questions. That’s because we are not undertaking traditional conservation, where we work to restore a historic kelp ecosystem. Instead, we are modifying these ecosystems in the hope they can better cope with conditions at the extremes of their current survival limits.

That means we must move carefully, weighing potential downsides like genetic pollution and maladaptation (accidental poor adaptation to other stressors) against the probability of further kelp forest destruction from doing nothing.

Such future-proofing interventions could be well suited to areas already hit hard by severe kelp forest losses, those that will be threatened in the near future, or where kelp losses would be particularly damaging environmentally, socially, or economically.

What is certain is that communities that live and rely on our southern coasts must now talk about what they value from kelp forests, and how they want them to look and function into the future.

Our view is that traditional approaches focused on recreating previous ecosystems are likely to be increasingly challenging, given the rate and scale of ongoing disruption in our oceans.

It is crucial that we do not restore nostalgically for ocean conditions which are quickly changing, but instead, work to ensure the long-term survival of these spectacular underwater forests while we wait for rapid action to reduce carbon emissions.The Conversation

Cayne Layton, Postdoctoral fellow and lecturer, University of Tasmania and Melinda Coleman, Associate professor, The University of Western Australia

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Global emissions almost back to pre-pandemic levels after unprecedented drop in 2020, new analysis shows

Pep CanadellCSIROCorinne Le QuéréUniversity of East AngliaGlen PetersCenter for International Climate and Environment Research - OsloPierre FriedlingsteinUniversity of ExeterRobbie AndrewCenter for International Climate and Environment Research - Oslo, and Rob JacksonStanford University

Global carbon dioxide emissions have bounced back after COVID-19 restrictions and are likely to reach close to pre-pandemic levels this year, our analysis released today has found.

The troubling finding comes as the COP26 climate talks continue in Glasgow in a last-ditch bid to keep dangerous global warming at bay. The analysis was undertaken by the Global Carbon Project, a consortium of scientists from around the world who produce, collect and analyse global greenhouse gas information.

The fast recovery in CO₂ emissions, following last year’s sharp drop, should come as no surprise. The world’s strong economic rebound has created a surge in demand for energy, and the global energy system is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels.

Most concerning is the long-term upward trends of CO₂ emissions from oil and gas, and this year’s growth in coal emissions, which together are far from trending towards net-zero by 2050.

people seated around U-shaped table
The troubling findings come as world leaders meet at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. Evan Vucci/AP

The Global Emissions Picture

Global CO₂ emissions from fossil fuels dropped by 5.4% in 2020, compared to the previous year. But they are set to increase by about 4.9% above 2020 levels this year, reaching 36.4 billion tonnes. This brings them almost back to 2019 levels.

We can expect another 2.9 billion tonnes of CO₂ emissions this year from the net effect of everything we do to the land, including deforestation, degradation and re-vegetation.

This brings us to a total of 39.4 billion tonnes of CO₂ to be emitted by the end of this year.

The fast growth in emissions matches the corresponding large increase in energy demand as the global economy opens up, with the help of US$17.2 trillion in economic stimulus packages around the world.

CO₂ emissions from all fossil fuel types (coal, oil and natural gas) grew this year, with emissions from coal and natural gas set to grow more in 2021 than they fell in 2020.

Emissions from global coal use were declining before the pandemic hit in early 2020 but they surged back this year. Emissions from global gas use have returned to the rising trend seen before the pandemic.

CO₂ emissions from global oil use remain well below pre-pandemic levels but are expected to increase in coming years as road transport and aviation recover from COVID-related restrictions.

Global fossil CO₂ emissions. Source: Global Carbon Project,

Nations Leading The Emissions Charge

Emissions from China have recovered faster than other countries. It’s among the few countries where emissions grew in 2020 (by 1.4%) followed by a projected growth of 4% this year.

Taking these two years together, CO₂ emissions from China in 2021 are projected to be 5.5% above 2019 levels, reaching 11.1 billion tonnes. China accounted for 31% of global emissions in 2020.

Coal emissions in China are estimated to grow by 2.4% this year. If realised, it would match what was thought to be China’s peak coal emissions in 2013.

India’s CO₂ emissions are projected to grow even faster than China’s this year at 12.6%, after a 7.3% fall last year. Emissions this year are set to be 4.4% above 2019 levels – reaching 2.7 billion tonnes. India accounted for 7% of global emissions in 2020.

Emissions from both the US and European Union are projected to rise 7.6% this year. It would lead to emissions that are, respectively, 3.7% and 4.2% below 2019 levels.

US and EU, respectively, accounted for 14% and 7% of global emissions in 2020.

Emissions in the rest of the world (including all international transport, particularly aviation) are projected to rise 2.9% this year, but remain 4.2% below 2019 levels. Together, these countries represent 59% of global emissions.

Regional fossil CO₂ emissions 2019-2021. Source: Global Carbon Project,

The Remaining Carbon Budget

The relatively large changes in annual emissions over the past two years have had no discernible effect in the speed at which CO₂ accumulates in the atmosphere.

CO₂ concentrations, and associated global warming, are driven by the accumulation of greenhouse gases – particularly CO₂ – since the beginning of the industrial era. This accumulation has accelerated in recent decades.

To stop further global warming, global CO₂ emissions must stop or reach net-zero – the latter meaning that any remaining CO₂ emissions would have to be compensated for by removing an equivalent amount from the atmosphere.

Carbon budgets are a useful way of measuring how much CO₂ can be emitted for a given level of global warming. In our latest analysis, we updated the carbon budget outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in August this year.

From the beginning of 2022, the world can emit an additional 420 billion tonnes of CO₂ to limit global warming to 1.5℃, or 11 years of emissions at this year’s rate.

To limit global warming to 2℃, the world can emit an additional 1,270 billion tonnes of CO₂ – or 32 years of emissions at the current rate.

The remaining carbon budgets to limit warming to 1.5℃ and 2℃. Updated from IPCC 2021. Source: Global Carbon Project,

These budgets are the compass to net-zero emissions. Consistent with the pledge by many countries to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, CO₂ emissions need to decline by 1.4 billion tonnes each year, on average.

This is an amount comparable to the drop during 2020, of 1.9 billion tonnes. This fact highlights the extraordinary challenge ahead and the need to increase short- and long-term commitments to drive down global emissions.

COP26: the world's biggest climate talks

This story is part of The Conversation’s coverage on COP26, the Glasgow climate conference, by experts from around the world.
Amid a rising tide of climate news and stories, The Conversation is here to clear the air and make sure you get information you can trust. More. The Conversation

Pep Canadell, Chief research scientist, Climate Science Centre, CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere; and Executive Director, Global Carbon Project, CSIROCorinne Le Quéré, Royal Society Research Professor of Climate Change Science, University of East AngliaGlen Peters, Research Director, Center for International Climate and Environment Research - OsloPierre Friedlingstein, Chair, Mathematical Modelling of Climate, University of ExeterRobbie Andrew, Senior Researcher, Center for International Climate and Environment Research - Oslo, and Rob Jackson, Professor, Department of Earth System Science, and Chair of the Global Carbon Project, Stanford University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Australia is about to be hit by a carbon tax whether the prime minister likes it or not, except the proceeds will go overseas

Perutskyi Petro/Shutterstock
Peter MartinCrawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University

Ten years ago, in the lead-up to Australia’s short-lived carbon price or “carbon tax” (either description is valid), the deepest fear on the part of businesses was that they would lose out to untaxed firms overseas.

Instead of buying Australian carbon-taxed products, Australian and export customers would buy untaxed (possibly dirtier) products from somewhere else.

It would give late-movers (countries that hadn’t yet adopted a carbon tax) a “free kick” in industries from coal and steel to aluminium to liquefied natural gas to cement, to wine, to meat and dairy products, even to copy paper.

It’s why the Gillard government handed out free permits to so-called trade-exposed industries, so they wouldn’t face unfair competition.

As a band-aid, it sort of worked. The firms with the most to lose were bought off.

But it was hardly a solution. What if every country had done it? Then, wherever there was a carbon tax (and wherever there wasn’t), trade-exposed industries would be exempt. The tax wouldn’t do enough to bring down emissions.

We Are About To Face Carbon Tariffs

The European Union has cottoned on to the imperfect workarounds introduced by countries such as Australia, and is about to tackle things from the other direction.

Instead of treating foreign and local producers the same by letting them both off the hook, it’s going to place both on the hook.

It’s about to make sure producers in higher-emitting countries such as China (and Australia) can’t undercut producers who pay carbon prices.

Australia Institute

Unless foreign producers pay a carbon price like the one in Europe, the EU will impose a carbon price on their goods as they come in — a so-called Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, or “carbon tariff”.

Australia’s Energy Minister Angus Taylor says he is “dead against” carbon tariffs, a stance that isn’t likely to carry much weight in France or any of the other 26 EU nations.

Australia Is Familiar With The Arguments For Them

From 2026, Europe will apply the tariff to direct emissions from imported iron, steel, cement, fertiliser, aluminium and electricity, with other products (and possibly indirect emissions) to be added later.

That is, unless they come from a country with a carbon price.

Canada is also exploring the idea, as part of “levelling the playing field”. So is US President Joe Biden, who wants to stop polluting countries “undermining our workers and manufacturers”.

Their arguments line up with those heard in Australia in the lead-up to our carbon price: that unless there’s some sort of adjustment, a local carbon tax will push local employers towards “pollution havens” where emissions are untaxed.

Read more: The EU is considering carbon tariffs on Australian exports. Is that legal?

In practice, there’s little Australia can do to stop Europe and others imposing carbon tariffs.

As Australia discovered when China blocked its exports of wine and barley, there’s little a free trade agreement, or even the World Trade Organisation, can do. The WTO was neutered when former US President Donald Trump blocked every appointment to its appellate body, leaving it unstaffed, a stance Biden hasn’t reversed.

Even so, the EU believes such action would be allowed under trade rules, pointing to a precedent established by Australia, among other countries.

Legality Isn’t The Point

When Australia introduced the Goods and Services Tax in 2000, it passed laws allowing it to tax imports in the same way as locally produced products, a move it has recently extended to small parcels and services purchased online.

Trade expert and Nobel Prizewinning economist Paul Krugman says he is prepared to argue the toss with politicians such as Australia’s trade minister about what’s legal and whether carbon tariffs would be “protectionist”.

But he says that’s beside the point:

Yes, protectionism has costs, but these costs are often exaggerated, and they’re trivial compared with the risks of runaway climate change. I mean, the Pacific Northwest — the Pacific Northwest! — has been baking under triple-digit temperatures, and we’re going to worry about the interpretation of Article III of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade?

And some form of international sanctions against countries that don’t take steps to limit emissions is essential if we’re going to do anything about an existential environmental threat.

Victoria University calculations suggest Europe’s carbon tariffs will push up the price of imported Australian iron, steel and grains by about 9%, and drive up the price of every other Australian import by less, apart from coal whose imported price would soar by 53%.

The tariffs would be collected by Europe rather than Australia. They could be escaped if Australian makers of iron, steel and other products can find ways to cut emissions.

Increase in price of exports to EU under carbon border adjustment mechanism

Assumes an EU carbon price of 60 euro per tonne, which is roughly today’s price; assumes the CBAM covers CO2 emissions including fugitive emissions involved in production other than direct combustion emissions that are priced already by the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.

The tariffs could also be avoided if Australia were to introduce a carbon price or something similar, and collected the money itself.

This makes a compelling case for another look at an Australian carbon price. If Australian emissions are on the way down anyway, as Prime Minister Scott Morrison contends, it needn’t be set particularly high. If he is wrong, it would need to be set higher.

Read more: No point protesting, Australia faces carbon levies unless it changes course

One thing the sad story of Australia’s on-again, off-again, now on-again (through carbon tariffs) history of carbon pricing has shown is that politicians aren’t the best people to set the rates.

In 2011, Prime Minister Julia Gillard set up an independent, Reserve Bank-like Climate Change Authority to advise on the carbon price and emissions targets, initially chaired by a former governor of the Reserve Bank.

Astoundingly, despite attempts to abolish it, it still exists. It might yet have work to do.The Conversation

Peter Martin, Visiting Fellow, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Closing the loophole: a minimum wage for Australia’s farm workers is long overdue

Michael RoseAustralian National University

The Fair Work Commission’s ruling that Australian farm workers paid piece rates to pick fruit and vegetables must now get a base wage of $25.41 an hour is long overdue and absolutely necessary.

In theory, anyone working in Australia should be paid a minimum wage. But piecework payments, by which workers are paid solely on what they produce with no guarantee of a minimum rate, have lingered on as a common practice in the agricultural sector.

As the commission’s ruling notes: “A substantial proportion of the seasonal harvesting workforce are engaged on piece rates and more than half of the seasonal harvesting workforce are temporary migrant workers. These characteristics render the seasonal harvesting workforce vulnerable to exploitation.”

Piecework arrangements needn’t be exploitative. It depends on the rates – whether they’re enough to make a living in a bad season, when fruit is scarce. By law, they should be. In practice they haven’t been. The Fair Work Commission has acknowledged and sought to address this. It’s about time.

Underpayment Is An Open Secret

The Horticulture Award, which covers farm fruit and vegetable pickers, does set minimum weekly and hourly rates. But it also permits full-time, part-time or casual employees to make a piece-rate agreement with their employee.

Such agreements must be entered into “without coercion or duress”, and the agreed rate is meant to “enable the average competent employee to earn at least 15% more per hour than the minimum hourly rate” set in the award.

This has not been the reality for many.

Read more: We've let wage exploitation become the default experience of migrant workers

In 2017 the National Temporary Migrant Work Survey found wage theft common for migrant workers. Of 4,322 participants in the survey, 46% earned no more than $15 an hour, while 30% earned $12 a hour or less. Wage theft was prevalent across a range of industries, but the worst paid jobs were in farm work. Of the migrants working as fruit and vegetable pickers, 31% earned $10 per hour or less, while 15% earned $5 an hour or less.

Numerous studies have found wage theft rife in the horticultural sector, with piece rates being the most common means for underpay workers. Shutterstock

A 2019 study by Unions NSW and the Migrant Worker Centre in Victoria found similarly grim results. Of 1,300 migrant workers surveyed, 78% reported being underpaid at some point, and 34% on piece rates had never signed an agreement. The lowest piece rates reported were from grape and zucchini farms, where respondents reported earning as little as $9 a day.

Just ask any backpacker working in the sector if they know anyone who has been ripped off. It’s not exactly a secret. I’ve picked fruit myself and experienced it firsthand.

A Particularly Vulnerable Workforce

It is worth noting that not all migrant farm workers have been equally vulnerable.

The Seasonal Worker Program, for workers from nine Pacific nations and Timor Leste, has been more tightly regulated, and generally successful in avoiding the sort of exploitation described above. In 2019 this program offered about 12,000 visas. Stephen Howes of the Development Policy Centre has argued the program could be expanded to more than 100,000 places.

Read more: Why closing our borders to foreign workers could see fruit and vegetable prices spike

Far more vulnerable to exploitation have been those on the more laissez-faire Working Holiday Maker Scheme – better known as the backpackers’ visa. This visa requires 88 days of farm work to stay in Australia for a year, and a further 180 days to stay for a second year. The evidence is that many accept being underpaid for those periods as a cost of staying in Australia.

Newly arrived Australian residents, particularly refugees, are also at risk, due to unfamiliarity with working rights and entitlements.

Read more: Why Australian unions should welcome the new Agricultural Visa

Closing A Loophole

If piece rates are set at a fair level, and the agreement is truly voluntary, such payment can be win-win – good for the farmer and an opportunity for a motivated worker to earn better money than just working for a flat minimum rate.

A lot of my career has involved working abroad in places where the poor and unconnected have no hope of getting ahead. Researching on Australian agriculture I’ve often been touched by the stories I’ve heard of experienced pickers, who plan to keep picking to save enough money to buy land of their own. They tend to be fierce and hard-working. You don’t want to get between them and the good fruit.

Picking apples from apple tree.
Earning more than the Horticulture Award’s minimum rates through a piece-rate agreement does happen, but it is the exception rather than the norm. Shutterstock

But not everyone is an experienced picker able to look out for their own interests. That is why a base rate is essential.

The problem with the piecemeal rate provisions in the the Horticulture Award was that clause 15.2(i) stated:

Nothing in this award guarantees an employee on a piecework rate will earn at least the minimum ordinary time weekly rate or hourly rate in this award for the type of employment and the classification level of the employee, as the employee’s earnings are contingent on their productivity.

The Australian Workers Union applied in December 2020 to have this clause struck out and replaced with a provision setting a minimum hourly rate for piecework. This application was supported by the United Workers’ Union, the Australian Council of Social Service, and the state governments of Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia.

Read more: How migrant workers are critical to the future of Australia's agricultural industry

The application was opposed by the Australian Fresh Produce Alliance, the Australian Industry Group and the National Farmer’s Federation.

In its decision on October 3, the Fair Work Commission said while some pieceworkers earn significantly more than the target rate for the “average competent employee”, the totality of the evidence “presents a picture of significant underpayment of pieceworkers”.

The best way to look at this is the Fair Work Commission closing a loophole.

It was already the responsibility of employers to pay piece rates high enough to allow competent workers make 15% more the minimum wage. Rather than thinking of this ruling as imposing an “extra cost” on farmers, it should been seen as putting in place a mechanism to ensure compliance with law.

A base rate takes the prospect of vulnerable workers getting paid $3 an hour off the table. That’s not asking for a lot.The Conversation

Michael Rose, Research fellow, Australian National University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Bushcare In Pittwater 

For further information or to confirm the meeting details for below groups, please contact Council's Bushcare Officer on 9970 1367

Where we work                      Which day                              What time 

Angophora Reserve             3rd Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 
Avalon Dunes                        1st Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 
Avalon Golf Course              2nd Wednesday                 3 - 5:30pm 
Careel Creek                         4th Saturday                      8:30 - 11:30am 
Toongari Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      9 - 12noon (8 - 11am in summer) 
Bangalley Headland            2nd Sunday                         9 to 12noon 

Winnererremy Bay                 4th Sunday                        9 to 12noon 

North Bilgola Beach              3rd Monday                        9 - 12noon 
Algona Reserve                     1st Saturday                       9 - 12noon 
Plateau Park                          1st Friday                            8:30 - 11:30am 

Church Point     
Browns Bay Reserve             1st Tuesday                        9 - 12noon 
McCarrs Creek Reserve       Contact Bushcare Officer     To be confirmed 

Old Wharf Reserve                 3rd Saturday                      8 - 11am 

Kundibah Reserve                   4th Sunday                       8:30 - 11:30am 

Mona Vale     
Mona Vale Beach Basin          1st Saturday                    8 - 11am 
Mona Vale Dunes                     2nd Saturday +3rd Thursday     8:30 - 11:30am 

Bungan Beach                          4th Sunday                      9 - 12noon 
Crescent Reserve                    3rd Sunday                      9 - 12noon 
North Newport Beach              4th Saturday                    8:30 - 11:30am 
Porter Reserve                          2nd Saturday                  8 - 11am 

North Narrabeen     
Irrawong Reserve                     2nd Saturday                   2 - 5pm 

Palm Beach     
North Palm Beach Dunes      3rd Saturday                    9 - 12noon 

Scotland Island     
Catherine Park                          2nd Sunday                     10 - 12:30pm 
Elizabeth Park                           1st Saturday                      9 - 12noon 
Pathilda Reserve                      3rd Saturday                      9 - 12noon 

Warriewood Wetlands             1st Sunday                         8:30 - 11:30am 

Whale Beach     
Norma Park                               1st Friday                            9 - 12noon 

Western Foreshores     
Coopers Point, Elvina Bay      2nd Sunday                        10 - 1pm 
Rocky Point, Elvina Bay           1st Monday                          9 - 12noon

Gardens And Environment Groups And Organisations In Pittwater

Avalon Golf Course Bushcare Needs You

We're so short of helpers we've had to cancel for the time being. Meanwhile the weeds will go gangbusters. 
We used to meet on the second Wednesday afternoon of each month. Could you come if we worked on another day or time? say a morning, or on a weekend day? 
Contact Geoff Searl on 0439 292 566 if you'd like to help. He'd love to hear from you. 

We have fun using the Tree Popper, here with our supervisor from Dragonfly Environmental. We can lever out quite big Ochnas, aka Mickey Mouse plant from Africa.  We want to bring back the bush, not let the weeds win!

Ochna or Mickey Mouse plant has yellow flowers in spring, then lots of green berries that turn black when ripe. Seedlings come up in hundreds. Ochna has a very strong taproot but the steady pressure of the Tree Popper lifts the plant out of the ground easily. The alternative control is repeated scraping and painting with Roundup, very slow and time consuming. If you have an Ochna you cant remove, you can enjoy the flowers, then PLEASE prune it so that berries can't develop.

Pittwater Reserves + Others

A History Of The Campaign For Preservation Of The Warriewood Escarpment by David Palmer OAM and Angus Gordon OAM
Angophora Reserve - Angophora Reserve Flowers
Annie Wyatt Reserve - A  Pictorial
Avalon's Village Green: Avalon Park Becomes Dunbar Park - Some History + Toongari Reserve and Catalpa Reserve
Bairne Walking Track Ku-Ring-Gai Chase NP by Kevin Murray
Bangalley Headland  Bangalley Mid Winter
Banksias of Pittwater
Barrenjoey Headland: Spring flowers Barrenjoey Headland after fire
Bayview Baths
Bayview Wetlands
Beeby Park
Bilgola Beach
Botham's Beach
Bungan Beach Bush Care
Careel Bay Saltmarsh plants 
Careel Bay Birds  
Careel Bay Clean Up day
Careel Bay Playing Fields History and Current
Careel Creek 
Careel Creek - If you rebuild it they will come
Centre trail in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park
Chiltern Track- Ingleside by Marita Macrae
Clareville Beach
Clareville/Long Beach Reserve + some History
Coastal Stability Series: Cabbage Tree Bay To Barrenjoey To Observation Point by John Illingsworth, Pittwater Pathways, and Dr. Peter Mitchell OAM
Cowan Track by Kevin Murray
Curl Curl To Freshwater Walk: October 2021 by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
Currawong State Park Currawong Beach +  Currawong Creek
Deep Creek To Warriewood Walk photos by Joe Mills
Drone Gives A New View On Coastal Stability; Bungan: Bungan Headland To Newport Beach + Bilgola: North Newport Beach To Avalon + Bangalley: Avalon Headland To Palm Beach
Dunbar Park - Some History + Toongari Reserve and Catalpa Reserve
Dundundra Falls Reserve: August 2020 photos by Selena Griffith - Listed in 1935
Elsie Track, Scotland Island
Elvina Track in Late Winter 2019 by Penny Gleen
Elvina Bay Walking Track: Spring 2020 photos by Joe Mills 
Elvina Bay-Lovett Bay Loop Spring 2020 by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
Fern Creek - Ingleside Escarpment To Warriewood Walk + Some History photos by Joe Mills
Ingleside Wildflowers August 2013
Irrawong - Ingleside Escarpment Trail Walk Spring 2020 photos by Joe Mills
Irrawong - Mullet Creek Restoration
Katandra Bushland Sanctuary - Ingleside
McCarrs Creek
McCarr's Creek to Church Point to Bayview Waterfront Path
McKay Reserve
Mona Vale Beach - A Stroll Along, Spring 2021 by Kevin Murray
Mona Vale Headland, Basin and Beach Restoration
Mount Murray Anderson Walking Track by Kevin Murray and Joe Mills
Mullet Creek
Narrabeen Creek
Narrabeen Lagoon Catchment: Past Notes Present Photos by Margaret Woods
Narrabeen Lagoon State Park
Narrabeen Lagoon State Park Expansion
Narrabeen Rockshelf Aquatic Reserve
Nerang Track, Terrey Hills by Bea Pierce
Newport Bushlink - the Crown of the Hill Linked Reserves
Newport Community Garden - Woolcott Reserve
Newport to Bilgola Bushlink 'From The Crown To The Sea' Paths:  Founded In 1956 - A Tip and Quarry Becomes Green Space For People and Wildlife 
Pittwater spring: waterbirds return to Wetlands
 Pittwater's Lone Rangers - 120 Years of Ku-Ring-Gai Chase and the Men of Flowers Inspired by Eccleston Du Faur 
Pittwater's Parallel Estuary - The Cowan 'Creek
Riddle Reserve, Bayview
Salvation Loop Trail, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park- Spring 2020 - by Selena Griffith
Stapleton Reserve
Stapleton Park Reserve In Spring 2020: An Urban Ark Of Plants Found Nowhere Else
The Chiltern Track
The Resolute Beach Loop Track At West Head In Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park by Kevin Murray
Towlers Bay Walking Track by Joe Mills
Trafalgar Square, Newport: A 'Commons' Park Dedicated By Private Landholders - The Green Heart Of This Community
Turimetta Beach Reserve by Joe Mills, Bea Pierce and Lesley
Turimetta Beach Reserve: Old & New Images (by Kevin Murray) + Some History
Turimetta Headland
Warriewood Wetlands and Irrawong Reserve
Whale Beach Ocean Reserve: 'The Strand' - Some History On Another Great Protected Pittwater Reserve
Winji Jimmi - Water Maze

These hot days are tough on our wildlife - please put out some water in a shaded location and if you come across an animal that is in distress, dehydrated or injured - please contact your local wildlife rescue group:
Photo: Bronwyn Gould

New Shorebirds WingThing  For Youngsters Available To Download

A Shorebirds WingThing educational brochure for kids (A5) helps children learn about shorebirds, their life and journey. The 2021 revised brochure version was published in February 2021 and is available now. You can download a file copy here.

If you would like a free print copy of this brochure, please send a self-addressed envelope with A$1.10 postage (or larger if you would like it unfolded) affixed to: BirdLife Australia, Shorebird WingThing Request, 2-05Shorebird WingThing/60 Leicester St, Carlton VIC 3053.

Shorebird Identification Booklet

The Migratory Shorebird Program has just released the third edition of its hugely popular Shorebird Identification Booklet. The team has thoroughly revised and updated this pocket-sized companion for all shorebird counters and interested birders, with lots of useful information on our most common shorebirds, key identification features, sighting distribution maps and short articles on some of BirdLife’s shorebird activities. 

The booklet can be downloaded here in PDF file format:

Paper copies can be ordered as well, see for details.

Download BirdLife Australia's children’s education kit to help them learn more about our wading birdlife

Shorebirds are a group of wading birds that can be found feeding on swamps, tidal mudflats, estuaries, beaches and open country. For many people, shorebirds are just those brown birds feeding a long way out on the mud but they are actually a remarkably diverse collection of birds including stilts, sandpipers, snipe, curlews, godwits, plovers and oystercatchers. Each species is superbly adapted to suit its preferred habitat.  The Red-necked Stint is as small as a sparrow, with relatively short legs and bill that it pecks food from the surface of the mud with, whereas the Eastern Curlew is over two feet long with a exceptionally long legs and a massively curved beak that it thrusts deep down into the mud to pull out crabs, worms and other creatures hidden below the surface.

Some shorebirds are fairly drab in plumage, especially when they are visiting Australia in their non-breeding season, but when they migrate to their Arctic nesting grounds, they develop a vibrant flush of bright colours to attract a mate. We have 37 types of shorebirds that annually migrate to Australia on some of the most lengthy and arduous journeys in the animal kingdom, but there are also 18 shorebirds that call Australia home all year round.

What all our shorebirds have in common—be they large or small, seasoned traveller or homebody, brightly coloured or in muted tones—is that each species needs adequate safe areas where they can successfully feed and breed.

The National Shorebird Monitoring Program is managed and supported by BirdLife Australia. 

This project is supported by Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority and Hunter Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. Funding from Helen Macpherson Smith Trust and Port Phillip Bay Fund is acknowledged. 

The National Shorebird Monitoring Program is made possible with the help of over 1,600 volunteers working in coastal and inland habitats all over Australia. 

The National Shorebird Monitoring program (started as the Shorebirds 2020 project initiated to re-invigorate monitoring around Australia) is raising awareness of how incredible shorebirds are, and actively engaging the community to participate in gathering information needed to conserve shorebirds. 

In the short term, the destruction of tidal ecosystems will need to be stopped, and our program is designed to strengthen the case for protecting these important habitats. 

In the long term, there will be a need to mitigate against the likely effects of climate change on a species that travels across the entire range of latitudes where impacts are likely. 

The identification and protection of critical areas for shorebirds will need to continue in order to guard against the potential threats associated with habitats in close proximity to nearly half the human population. 

Here in Australia, the place where these birds grow up and spend most of their lives, continued monitoring is necessary to inform the best management practice to maintain shorebird populations. 

BirdLife Australia believe that we can help secure a brighter future for these remarkable birds by educating stakeholders, gathering information on how and why shorebird populations are changing, and working to grow the community of people who care about shorebirds.

To find out more visit:

Aussie Bread Tags Collection Points

Collecting bread tags enables us to provide wheelchairs that change the life of disabled people in need, as well as keeping the tags out of landfill to help to preserve the environment. 

Bread Tags for Wheelchairs was started in South Africa in 2006 by Mary Honeybun. It is a community program where individuals and organisations collect bread tags, which are sold to recyclers. The money raised pays for wheelchairs for the less fortunate which are purchased through a local pharmacy. Currently about 500kg of bread tags are collected a month in South Africa, funding 2-3 wheelchairs.

We have been collecting bread tags nationally in Australia since September 2018 and now have more than 100 collection points across the country. In February 2019 we started local recycling through Transmutation - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle in Robe, SA, where our tags are recycled into products such as door knobs and bowls. Tags from some states are still sent to South Africa where a plastics company called Zibo recycles them into seedling trays.

These humble bits of polystyrene can make a real difference so get your friends, family, school, workplace and church involved. Ask school tuck shops and boarding school kitchens, child care centres, aged care facilities, hospitals, cafes and fast food outlets to collect for you - they get through a lot of bread!

All the information and signage for collecting or setting up a public collection point is on our website.

Local Collectors
Lesley Flood
Please email for address -
Jodie Streckeisen
Please email for the address -

Good Luck To All Those Sitting HSC Exams This Week

Good luck and best wishes to all HSC students sitting their exams.

There are many pathways to goals, of which the HSC is just one, and we wish you the very best of luck as you near the end of your school year and look to the opportunities ahead.

You're sharing your experience with other students who have also had an unusual year, with changes due to coronavirus, and together you've proved adaptable and resilient and we congratulate you on that.

Please remember to eat, sleep, take a swim or do a meditation when you need to - or even as part of going through your program of 'things to be done' over the coming days. Then it will be time to spread your summer wings!

Covid-Safe HSC Exam Rules

HSC written exams will run from 9 November to 3 December with strict COVID-safe exam protocols in place. These protocols will be updated if the Health advice changes.

Students must not attend an exam if they have:

  • any cold or flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, sore/scratchy throat, shortness of breath, loss of taste or sense of smell).
  • been tested for COVID-19 and have not yet received their test result
  • been directed by NSW health to self-isolate
  • recently tested positive for COVID-19 and are still required to self-isolate.

Students can apply for illness and misadventure if they can’t attend an exam because they:

  • have COVID-19 symptoms
  • have an exam cancelled
  • are required to self-isolate.

A medical certificate or other evidence will be required.

Comprehensive COVID-safe exam protocols supported by NSW Health have been provided to schools. Principals can access the protocols via Schools Online.

The following advice is an overview of how written exams will be run to protect the health and safety of everyone involved.

Vaccination advice


  • HSC students are strongly encouraged to be fully vaccinated in time for their exams.
  • Make a booking via the COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Checker.

Presiding officers, supervisors and school staff

All school and HSC supervision staff must be fully vaccinated before written exams start on 9 November.

You need to book an appointment to get vaccinated.


HSC students and exam staff must wear a face mask inside the exam room and while waiting to enter the exam room, unless they have a medical exemption.

By wearing a face mask during the HSC exams, students will reduce their risk of contracting COVID, of transmitting COVID-19 to others, and of being classified as a close contact should there be a COVID positive case in one of exams.

Students can only remove their face mask momentarily if they need to adjust it or drink water.

What happens if a student refuses to wear a mask?

Wearing a face mask is a condition of entry, so refusing to wear one is a breach of exam rules and the student will not be allowed to complete the exam.

This may mean that the student is not eligible for the HSC or an ATAR. 


  • If a student cannot wear a mask because of a disability, physical or mental health illness or condition, they must provide their principal with and carry to all exams either:
  • a medical certificate or letter signed by a registered health practitioner (eg a doctor) or a registered NDIS provider
  • OR a statutory declaration.

Arrival protocols

Students must:

  • report directly to their designated exam room/screening area
  • follow school check-in processes
  • stand a minimum of 1.5 metres apart while waiting for screening and before entering the exam room
  • use hand sanitiser as they enter the exam room
  • not interact in groups before or after exams.

Student screening

Students will be screened using their school sector’s protocols. This will include asking the student:

  • if they have any flu-like symptoms (fever, cough, sore/scratchy throat, shortness of breath, loss of taste or sense of smell)
  • if they have been tested for COVID-19 and haven’t received their negative test result yet
  • if they are required to self-isolate.

Students who provide negative COVID-19 test results can sit the exam, except those who have been asked by NSW Health to self-isolate. 

Temperature checking will NOT be used to screen students.

Flu-like symptoms Before an exam

Students or exam staff with flu-like symptoms or who have been advised to isolate by NSW Health must:

  • not attend the exam
  • contact their school/manager immediately
  • get tested.

Parents with questions about their child attending an exam should contact their school or relevant sector authority:

NSW Department of Education

Catholic system authority or Catholic Schools NSW

Independent schools: contact the school directly.

At the exam centre

Students who show flu-like symptoms at the exam centre will be asked to leave immediately.

The student must be isolated and collected from school.

The school delegate must advise the student to get tested for COVID-19 and to seek medical advice. Students need evidence to support any illness/misadventure application they submit.

Hygiene and cleaning

All students and exam staff must practice good personal hygiene at the exam centre, including:

  • regularly hand washing or sanitising
  • coughing and sneezing into their elbow
  • avoiding touching their face.

Exam rooms will be cleaned each day and hygiene supplies, including hand sanitiser and alcohol wipes, will be available in each exam room.

Students should wipe down chairs at the end of their exam and place the wipe in the bins provided as they leave the exam room. A hygiene marshal or supervisor will wipe down desks after exams.

Students and staff must not share stationery or other items.

Physical distancing

Exam rooms

  • Exams must be held in well ventilated spaces with a minimum 1.5 metre distance between students.
  • HSC exams in a hall should have doors and windows open to allow a high level of ventilation.
  • Exam group sizes will be kept small, where possible. Limiting student numbers per room ensures that in the event of a confirmed case, fewer students will be identified as close contacts.
  • HSC exam rooms will be isolated from the rest of the school, where possible.
  • Supervisors must maintain 1.5 metre distance wherever possible.

Other areas

Students and exam staff should keep a 1.5 metre distance at arrival and departure points and during breaks.

All reasonable steps should be taken to prevent the mingling of student cohorts and staff from different schools. This includes separate exam rooms and screening areas for visiting students.

Students with known illnesses

Students with a clinical history or known illness that may present as a COVID-19-like symptoms need to provide their school with written evidence from their doctor that the symptoms they are displaying are of a known medical condition.

A negative COVID-19 test is recommended as a precaution. Any change in symptoms may warrant repeat COVID-19 testing, especially if new COVID-19-like symptoms develop.

Border closures

Students who are unable to attend an exam due to international or state border closures should contact or call (02) 9367 8183.

School closures and alternative venues

The principal is responsible for developing and implementing contingency plans to minimise disruption to exams due to a COVID-related school closure. This may include identifying an alternative venue.

Alternative venues will be close to the school or on school grounds and must meet COVID-safe protocols.

Long Reef: Special By Any Measure

Published November 4, 2021 by Pittwater Pathways, John Illingsworth

Long Reef – Special by any measure.

The title says it all. 

The Long Reef headland and shore platform is one of the most visited and most interesting on the Sydney coast. It has been an Aquatic Reserve for 41 years and explored by thousands of people viewing the wonderful biology and marine ecology described by Prof Dakin, Isobel Bennett, and Elizabeth Pope in numerous editions of their Australian Seashores.

Not only does it have a wealth of inter-tidal life forms but the geology of the headland has intrigued observers since the earliest days of settlement. Prior to that Aboriginal people used the area as a supermarket and have left their trace. No doubt they had stories about this major promontory but regrettably these have been lost in time.

In this 35 minute video we travel right around the headland from Dee Why Lagoon to Fishermans Beach with Dr Peter Mitchell who relates the geologic story and in passing, challenges a number of conventional interpretations about the strata we see. Naturalist Phil Colman has haunted the reef for decades and contributes insights into the dynamics of life in the inter-tidal zone.

Our stories are not complete. Quite likely a number of our points are wrong. But that is one of the attractions of a place like this where all previous tales can be challenged and anyone, including you, can make new observations that will test traditional knowledge.

We hope you enjoy the journey, and look forward to the next generation telling a better tale. 

Decorative Paint Work. Artisans Of Australia.

Published by NFSA November 1, 2021
From the Film Australia Collection. Made by Film  Australia 1986. Directed by Keith Gow. Interior decorators and restorers Elizabeth Stevens and Christine Cooke demonstrate their skills restoring the Victorian and Art Deco decorative paintwork at Vila Alba in Kew and in private homes in Hawthorn and Toorak, Melbourne, all built in the 1880s. The film shows many beautiful, traditional decorative techniques, including stencilling, marbling, wood graining, simulated tortoiseshell and porphyry, and gold gilding.

Free Training To Support Push For The Bush This Summer

November 5, 2021

Young people are being encouraged to skill up this summer and support the regions with 10,000 free training places across more than 800 courses now available to study.

The NSW Government today launched its Summer Skills program, offering free training in critical industries delivered by TAFE NSW and 120 registered training providers.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said in-demand short courses including construction, agriculture, hospitality, animal studies, shearing and wool harvesting, were available to study for free for people aged 16-24 years.

“We’re encouraging young people to go bush and combine learning with on-the-job experience this summer to support regional industries,” Mr Toole said.

“Now is the perfect time to get out, go and pick fruit in the regions, learn how to make a great coffee working for a local cafe or lend a hand to our farmers with free training funded by the NSW Government.”

Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee said it was a great opportunity for young people to take advantage of new freedoms in NSW. 

“It’s been a challenging period especially for our young people, which is why we’re committed to skilling them up to take on a job anywhere in NSW ahead of a bumper summer,” Mr Lee said.

“This is about giving school leavers a leg up in their career and the opportunity to put their skills to use after what has been a challenging year.”

Minister for Regional Youth Bronnie Taylor said the program will ensure young people have the confidence and skills they need for the next steps in their life. 

“Our young people have really felt the impacts of this pandemic, whether it was having to learn from home, losing their part-time job or not being able to catch up with their mates,” Mrs Taylor said. 

“This program is great news for our young people and will open so many future employment opportunities close to home, ensuring our rural and regional communities continue to thrive.”

Celebrity Chef and Thankful4Farmers ambassador Matt Moran said encouraging young people to explore the regions and learn new skills was a great solution to the skills shortages the regions are facing. 

“This is a fantastic opportunity to have a fun-filled adventure in our backyard, while also making a real difference in the community, learning valuable skills and forging new friendships along the way,” Mr Moran said.  

Summer Skills program is funded under the joint Federal and State JobTrainer program and is available to people aged 16 to 24 who have left school and are living or working in NSW. 

Summer Skills short courses include:

  • Accounting 
  • Agriculture
  • Animal Studies 
  • Hospitality 
  • Construction
  • Process Manufacturing 
  • Transport and Logistics 
  • Shearing and Wool Harvesting 
  • Drone Essentials 
  • Care Roles Skillset

Find out more about the Summer Skills program  

Find out more about gap year working in regional NSW

Online Service To Match Jobseekers To Jobs

November 3, 2021
Thousands of job-seekers will have access to free career guidance and employment advice to help match their skills to job growth trends, thanks to an $11.4 million investment from the NSW Government.

In launching Careers NSW today, Premier Dominic Perrottet said the online service aimed to get people into work faster with tailored assistance that included access to volunteer industry experts in emerging and critical industries.

“NSW is the State of opportunity and has attracted businesses and industries from all over the world, strengthened by investments including the Aerotropolis, and our record infrastructure boom,” Mr Perrottet said.

“Careers NSW will supercharge our pandemic recovery by ensuring every jobseeker in NSW has online access to career advice regardless of their experience or education, so they can take advantage of the jobs of the future.”

One-on-one access to dedicated careers specialists and more than 40 industry volunteers will be available in a pilot across four regions - Western Sydney, South Western Sydney, the Mid North Coast and the state’s North West - ahead of the full rollout in 2022.

Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee said the pilot will initially target 10,000 people in key regions and scale up to include school students from the middle of next year.

“The Careers NSW service will make lifelong career information accessible for all people seeking to upgrade skills or change careers and guide them to the industries offering employment and opportunities,” Mr Lee said.

“The pilot program launching today enables residents in four priority regions to book appointments on the Service NSW website, receive tailored advice with a careers specialist and/or talk to an expert already working in the industry they’re looking to enter to set them on a pathway to employment success.”

Minister for Digital and Customer Service Victor Dominello said customers could access a self-service portal which contains a number of resources designed to help people identify their skills, passions and values, as well as learn about prospective industries.

“People want to make informed decisions about their career path, which is why we’re making it easier to explore the industries and occupations they are interested in and the opportunities they present,” Mr Dominello said.

“This includes the ability for customers to compare courses and academic providers and find the study option that suits their learning preferences and location.”

Careers NSW was a key recommendation in the Review of the NSW vocational education and training sector led by Mr David Gonski AC and Professor Peter Shergold AC, released earlier this year.

Professor Peter Shergold AC said Careers NSW will help people navigate their lifetime employment journey.
“It will also be the cornerstone of a comprehensive state-based career information and guidance ecosystem that will support people to make informed decisions,” Professor Shergold said.

Scholarships Open For Vulnerable Youth

Some of the state’s most disadvantaged young people will be supported to achieve their academic aspirations as part of the NSW Government’s Youth Development Scholarships program.

Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Alister Henskens said applications are now open for the $1,000 scholarships to students in Years 10, 11 and 12 or TAFE equivalent.

“A good education is the foundation for a better future. This program supports disadvantaged students by reducing financial barriers so they may engage in study,” Mr Henskens said.

“It is about giving young people who need support a helping hand. These scholarships will help students achieve their educational dreams.”

The program supports young people living in social housing or on the housing register, students receiving private rental assistance, or those living in supported accommodation or out-of-home care.

The funds can be used to help pay for education-related expenses such as textbooks, IT equipment and internet access.

Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell said more than 3,300 students have been supported by the scholarship program since it was established in 2017.

“Fires, floods and COVID-19 have posed significant social and economic challenges for our communities, and have particularly affected young people,” Ms Mitchell said.

“These grants will help reduce the financial burden for more students so they can focus on their studies.”

The Youth Development Scholarships program is part of Future Directions for Social Housing in NSW, a ten-year plan to drive better outcomes for social housing tenants.

For more information on how to apply, visit Youth Development Scholarships 2022.
Applications will close at 5:00pm, 18 February 2022.

JOIN Ruby “Rockstar” Trew at DROP IN for YOUTH 2021


+ Skate Park Fun - BEST Limbo, Highest Ollie, Board Jump and Trick Jam

OVER $10,000 in CASH - PRIZES - GIVEAWAYS to be WON!



@MONA VALE SKATE PARK, 1604 Pittwater Road, Mona Vale

Saturday, 11 December 2021; 09:30 am- $15 entry online. $20 entry on event day, rego opens 9:30am. Vert Comp kicks off 10:30am.


SKATE VERT COMP Kicks off 10:30am


  • - 6 & Under - Girls and Boys
  • - 8 & Under - Girls and Boys
  • - 12 & Under - Girls and Boys
  • - 16 & Under - Girls and Boys
  • - Open Women’s - All Ages
  • - Open Men’s - All Ages
  • - Masters 45+ - Women's and Men's


Participants can only compete in a single category for the event. Age Group participants are competing for prizes. Entry into the Open category is for anyone who wants to compete for prize money.

Open and Masters participants are competing for ca$h and GLORY!

Skate Park Fun - BEST Limbo, Highest Ollie, Board Jump and Trick Jam competitions are for everyone to have some fun!

Presented by: Avalon Youth Hub - Business Education Network (THE BEN) - Hurley ANZ - Lifeline Northern Beaches - Modest Eyewear Co - Monster Skate Park - Rotaract - Skater HQ

Lifeline Northern Beaches is offering FREE face-to-face counselling at the Avalon Youth Hub for people aged 15-24. Counselling is safe and confidential, and our service is available with or without a referral. For more information, visit To book an appointment, call Lifeline Northern Beaches on 9949 5522 or email

Opportunity: The Search Begins For The Next Generation Of VFX And Animation Artists

The NSW Government is partnering with leading VFX and animation studios to help launch the careers of emerging filmmakers through the 2022 Screen NSW Animation and VFX Traineeship Program.

The program offers eight traineeships with leading VFX and creative digital studios Animal Logic, Cutting Edge, and Plastic Wax on board in 2022. The traineeships aim to develop career pipelines in NSW’s fast-growing VFX and animation sector.
Minister for the Arts, Don Harwin said the program will support the skills of local talent in digital production as NSW’s film industry continues to grow.
“The NSW Government’s contribution of $160,000 to the Screen NSW Animation and VFX Traineeship Program will fund training and mentoring in a professional industry environment to ensure that NSW continues to develop its world-class VFX industry and talent,” Mr Harwin said.
“The NSW Government continues to invest in the screen production sector, from project development to post-production and visual effects with almost $100 million committed in 2020/21. With all our 2021 trainees securing ongoing work following their traineeships, this program will ensure a pool of talented emerging practitioners for both local and international animations and VFX productions.”
Plastic Wax’s General Manager and Executive Producer, Felix Crawshaw said the company is excited to be participating in this year's program.
“VFX and animation is truly a career you get to create, so we fully understand that this initiative is all about connecting young, talented and creative people with meaningful opportunities. We are eager to meet and inspire the 2022 group,” Mr Crawshaw said.
Animal Logic’s Group Chief Operating Officer, Sharon Taylor said the traineeship will once again benefit emerging artists, practitioners, and participating studios. 
“We were proud to see the 2021 trainees contribute to tasks within their teams, pick-up skills and develop their confidence over the six-month program. Congratulations to this year’s four trainees and we look forward to welcoming the next group in 2022," Ms Taylor said.
Cutting Edge’s Head of Features and Television, Marcus Bolton said the program will help to connect upcoming talent with opportunities in the industry.
“The spirit of this initiative is about connecting opportunities to talent. This year we were proud to find our inaugural trainee Charlie Hart, and now we are excited to open the door for another applicant to get a job at Cutting Edge in 2022. It is exactly what we envisaged the scheme would create,” Mr Bolton said.

Screen NSW will provide subsidies to the three NSW host companies to employ trainees in either a creative or technical field for paid, six-month placements. The placement will provide real working experience in film, television, and interactive projects with host companies.

Applications are now open and will close Monday 29 November.

For information and to apply, visit the Screen NSW website

Image credit: PETER RABBIT and all associated characters ™ & © Frederick Warne & Co Limited. PETER RABBIT ™ 2, the Movie © 2021 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Opportunity: Free Training To Help Hospitality Industry Raise The Bar

Global drinks giant Diageo has enlisted TAFE NSW and the Australian Hotels Association NSW (AHA NSW) to support their ‘Raising the Bar’ COVID-19 response initiative, offering three free online hospitality licensing courses for existing workers and new entrants to the sector.

The three courses: Statement of Attainment in Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA), TAFE Statement in NSW Liquor Licensee, and TAFE Statement in NSW Liquor Licensee (Advanced) are targeted to existing industry members to upskill and to drive more workers to hospitality venues in NSW.

In 2020, Diageo Australia pledged $11.5 million to the Down Under instalment of ‘Raising the Bar’, through iconic Aussie brand Bundaberg Rum. The ‘Raising the Bar’ fund will invest $11.5 million over two years to help venues in Australia adapt and emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis.

Diageo Australia Managing Director Angus McPherson said the fund has already provided thousands of venues across the country with targeted support which includes practical equipment to promote safe indoor and outdoor socialising.

“The first phase of Raising the Bar supported venues with funds for much-needed equipment to re-open, such as hand sanitiser dispensers, temperature scanners and personal protective equipment,” Mr McPherson said.

“We are now excited to offer the industry access to free digital training through TAFE NSW to help our hospitality workers understand complicated legislation and compliance and support their business from the bottom up.”

TAFE NSW Teacher of Tourism and Hospitality Monique Fors said the free courses are delivered online and are available to anyone across the state who wants to learn how to comply and understand NSW liquor laws.

“These courses offer a great opportunity for people to upskill, whether you wish to become a compliant licensee, approved manager, club secretary, or simply require an RSA to secure bar and wait staff roles,” Ms Fors said.

“As the online courses are self-paced, they can be picked up at any time of the day or week, such as in between work shifts.”

AHA NSW CEO John Whelan said offering the industry free training in mandatory areas will ease a little of the economic burden experienced over the last 18 months.

“Support like the ‘Raising the Bar’ initiative is exactly what we need to help our hotels get back on their feet, employing people and contributing to the Australian economy,” Mr Whelan said.

“A large portion of this funding will see training for the next generation of leadership in the hotel sector. It will see managers provided with the same training as licensees and will vastly improve pub operations.”

The free courses are available until 30 June 2022. To enrol or find out more visit

ARTDECKO 2021 People’s Choice Awards Announced And Their Inspiration Revealed

Friday November 5, 2021

The People’s Choice Awards for this year’s ARTDECKO exhibition – an exhibition of skateboard art by local young people on the Beaches aged 12-24 has been announced.

This year 346 young people signed up for ARTDECKO and 2,368 votes tallied for the U/18 and O/18 People’s Choice Awards.

Northern Beaches Mayor said the annual event is a very popular youth program producing some incredible designs from emerging artists.

“ARTDECKO allows young people to express their creativity, display their artistic ability and then exhibit their finished piece alongside established and emerging artists across the Beaches,” Mayor Regan said.

“This program came at a pivotal time during Mental Health Month where young people were doing their best in what was a difficult time.

“Skateart is more popular than ever with the number of entrants almost doubling to previous years. The exhibition was made possible with a new online platform due to lockdown which is a first in the program’s history.

“And a special shout out to the Northern Beaches Youth Advisory Group who were heavily involved in the concept, delivery, and promotion of the event which was vital to its success.”

The People’s Choice and runners up of this year’s competition are:

Over 18’s:

Aleta Wassell  - Burumerring Yanung (Wedge-Tailed Eagle Looking/Watching – pronounced boo-roo-meh-ring    yah-noo-ng)

Over 18’s runners-up:

Jordan Lee – Skull Candy

Dane Bousfield – KFC Killers

Lucia Talbert – Just Walkin

Under 18’s:

Melissa Lamarque - My lockdown buddy

Under-18’s runners up:

Finlay Powell – A deck of cards

Aarohi Bansal – Ghibli Films

Monique Wassell – The water, land and their stories

Over 18’s People’s Choice Winner, 19-year-old Aleta Wassell from Cromer said she was proud to share her story and her culture as a proud Darkinjung woman.

“This work is about the Burumerring that guides me through life and supports me through my decisions and lessons,” Ms Wassell said.

“The spirit of a bird that soars so free will always be an inspiration of mine that sits close to my heart. It is a constant reminder to take a second away from my busy day to check in on my loved ones, to help a stranger out, show some kindness and most of all do something small for myself.

I hope to give away a few of the skate decks to young Aboriginal kids learning to skate.”

Burumerring Yanung by Aleta Wassell

Under 18’s People Choice Winner, 17-year-old Melissa Lamarque from Killarney Heights said her design was inspired by the companionship of her dog during the Sydney lockdown.

“This design is inspired by the Sydney lockdown and the relief that my dog provided when we went on long walks together within the Northern Beaches,” Ms Lamarque said.

“Her undivided attention and cuddles really helped me power through these difficult times. We kept each other sane and fit while looking out for each other’s mental health.”

My lockdown buddy by Melissa Lamarque

In addition to the weekly giveaways, the People’s Choice winners will receive five customised skateboard decks with their prints on them, courtesy of Skater HQ, who are long time partners with Council on this event.

“Congratulations to all the winners, enjoy your prizes and we look forward to seeing what amazing designs our local young people produce next year,” Mayor Regan said.

Council would like to thank local partner organisations, One Eighty, SkaterHQ and Surf Paints for their collaboration in making this exhibition successful.

You can view all the designs in this year’s ARTDECKO competition in  Council's online exhibition

NESA Media Statement: HSC Major Projects

The NESA COVID-19 Response Committee has extended the COVID Special Consideration Program to most HSC major projects being completed by HSC students across the state.

This means teachers will provide a mark or estimate for their students’ major projects in:
  • Drama
  • Textiles and Design
  • Design and Technology
  • Industrial Technology
  • Visual Arts
Students will need to submit their projects by the published due dates and teachers will have until 22 October to submit marks to NESA.

When providing a mark or estimate, teachers will take into consideration any impact of COVID-19 restrictions on students’ work.

Teacher provided marks will be moderated by NESA to ensure equity across the state.

The decision was made to limit the movement of NESA markers within and beyond Greater Sydney and is in line with Health advice for protecting the health and safety of everyone involved in the HSC exams.

The following major projects (that are submitted online) will continue to be marked online by NESA markers (unless an application for special consideration is made):
  • English Extension 2
  • Music 1 (compositions)
  • Music 2 and Extension (compositions and musicology)
  • Society and Culture Personal Interest Project
The Special Consideration Program is already in place for students completing language oral and performance exams across the state.

For up-to-date advice about the 2021 HSC, visit NESA’s COVID-19 advice.

HSC 2021 Key Dates: - from NESA

Term 4, 2021

Monday 1 November 2021
2022 HSC student entries open.

Tuesday, 9 November 2021
HSC written exams start.

Friday, 26 November 2021
Year 10 grades and Life Skills outcomes to be submitted (via Schools Online).

Monday, 29 November 2021
Last day to notify NESA that a Year 12 student has met the HSC Minimum Standard

After last HSC written examination
HSC Assessment Ranks released to students via Students Online for 4 weeks.

24 January 2022
HSC results released.

HSC Online Help Guide

REMINDER: there's a great Practical Guide for Getting through your HSC by Sydney Uni at:

Stay Healthy - Stay Active: HSC 2021

Stay active, keep connected and look after yourself during the HSC this year! 
Find helpful study tips, self-care resources and guides for students and parents at

COP26: a letter to school strikers from ‘the physicist behind net zero’

1000 Words / shutterstock
Myles AllenUniversity of Oxford

Dear school striker,

Well done on all you are doing – you seem to have made more impact on the climate issue in the past couple of years than I’ve managed in the previous three decades working away on it, and I’ve been described as the physicist behind net zero. Good luck on the demonstrations.

I have one suggestion. You are calling for climate action now, which of course we need – we needed it 20 years ago. But you will find the climate establishment gathered in Glasgow will, weirdly and frustratingly, clap enthusiastically when you shout at them, and then assure you they are listening and taking action.

Here’s why you should be sceptical. So far, at COP26, we’ve had a pledge to reduce methane emissions by 30%, which will cut global temperatures by about one tenth of a degree, pretty much the warming we’ve seen since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. Leaders have pledged to stop deforestation by 2030 – again. And some countries that were planning to stop using coal anyway have said they are going to stop using coal.

“Yes,” they will tell you with just a hint of condescension, “but every little helps and the climate issue is very complicated”.

This is the point where you should get angry. It isn’t complicated at all. We need to stop fossil fuels from causing global warming. All fossil fuels.

Girl holds up sign in front of monument
Climate strikers in London, 2019. Ink Drop / shutterstock

There are only two ways to do this: we either ban fossil fuels altogether, and enforce that ban, everywhere in the world, or we require anyone selling or using fossil fuels to ensure that the carbon dioxide they generate is safely and permanently disposed of and not just dumped into the atmosphere.

Now, you’ll find most people in the climate establishment, particularly the green movement who claim to be on your side, come down on the side of a ban. But that’s because they aren’t the ones who are going to have to implement it. You are.

When they say “we need to just stop using fossil fuels”, what they mean is “you (the school-striker generation) need to stop using fossil fuels”. And if you don’t, you’ll end up with catastrophic warming. They are like the first world war generals who used to send 19-year-olds up in balsa wood aeroplanes without parachutes so as to not “impair the fighting spirit”.

Listen to Myles Allen on Climate Fight, a podcast series from The Anthill, talking about the path to net zero.

Make The Producers Pay

There is another way, which would require the present generation of climate leaders doing a bit more, and make your lives massively easier in 30 years’ time. Which is, no doubt, why they don’t want to talk about it. This is to require anyone who wants to continue extracting and selling fossil fuels to dispose of the carbon dioxide generated by their activities and the fuels they sell. It needn’t be the same carbon dioxide, of course, but it needs to be disposed of safely and permanently, which, these days, means reinjecting it back underground. Unfortunately, until we get deforestation under control, storing carbon dioxide from fossil fuels in trees is neither safe nor permanent.

A message from the author.

This would stop global warming, but no-one is even talking about it at COP26. Why not? Well, perhaps because paying for all that carbon dioxide disposal might affect the profits of oil and gas companies – and the lucrative royalties and taxes that governments cream off the fossil fuel industry. But before you start to feel too sorry for them, they are doing rather well right now, with oil and gas prices sky-rocketing. British prime minister Boris Johnson kicked off the conference invoking James Bond – well, if I were an oil and gas industry lobbyist, I’d be stroking my cat at how well things are going.

In the longer term, safe disposal of CO₂ will make fossil fuels more expensive, and no-one wants to admit this. But we don’t let water companies just dump our sewage in the rivers even though it would make our water bills smaller – and they could argue “the water was clean when we supplied it”. Why do we let fossil fuel companies fly-tip CO₂ into the atmosphere, claiming “the petrol wasn’t causing global warming when we sold it to you.”

You can change this. Reclaim net zero. The only net zero that matters for fossil fuels is what goes in and out of the earth’s crust. If the industry insists on continuing to dig fossil fuels up, it has to put the CO₂ back. This is the principle of carbon takeback, and it’s the only fair way to stop fossil fuels from causing global warming. Here’s something to shout at Friday’s protests:

Keep our skies blue, take back your CO₂.

Good luck,

Myles Allen, Director of Oxford Net Zero, University of Oxford

COP26: the world's biggest climate talks

This story is part of The Conversation’s coverage on COP26, the Glasgow climate conference, by experts from around the world.
Amid a rising tide of climate news and stories, The Conversation is here to clear the air and make sure you get information you can trust. More. The Conversation

Myles Allen, Professor of Geosystem Science, Director of Oxford Net Zero, University of Oxford

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

60 years after it first gazed at the skies, the Parkes dish is still making breakthroughs

CSIROAuthor provided
John SarkissianCSIRO

The CSIRO’s 64-metre Parkes Radio Telescope was commissioned on October 31 1961. At the time it was the most advanced radio telescope in the world, incorporating many innovative features that have since become standard in all large-dish antennas.

Through its early discoveries it quickly became the leading instrument of its kind. Today, 60 years later, it is still arguably the finest single-dish radio telescope in the world. It is still performing world-class science and making discoveries that shape our understanding of the Universe.

The telescope’s origins date back to wartime radar research by the Radiophysics Laboratory, part of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the forerunner of the CSIRO. On the Sydney clifftops at Dover Heights, the laboratory developed radar for use in the Pacific theatre. When the second world war ended, the technology was redirected into peaceful applications, including studying radio waves from the Sun and beyond.

Researchers use the antenna at Dover Heights
Early antennas were much simpler, not to mention smaller. CSIROAuthor provided

In 1946, British physicist Edward “Taffy” Bowen was appointed chief of the Radiophysics Laboratory. He had been one of the brilliant engineers, dubbed “boffins”, who developed radar as part of Britain’s secret prewar military research. The Radiophysics Laboratory had a dedicated radio astronomy group, led by the brilliant Joseph (Joe) Pawsey. Many of the group’s members went on to become leaders in the nascent field of radio astronomy, including Bernie Mills, Chris Christiansen, Paul Wild, Ruby Payne-Scott (the first female radio astronomer), and John Bolton.

While the group’s initial research focused on radio waves from the Sun, Bolton’s attention soon shifted to identifying other sources from farther afield. By the early 1950s, the Dover Heights radar dishes had discovered more than 100 sources of radio emissions from the Milky Way and beyond, including the signals from supernova explosions. These observations established the Radiophysics Laboratory as a world-leading centre of radio astronomy.

By 1954, the technology at Dover Heights was outdated and obsolete, prompting Bowen to initiate the next step for Australian radio astronomy: a state-of-the-art new radio telescope.

He decided the most versatile option was to build a large, fully steerable dish antenna. The eventual price tag was A$1.4 million (A$25.6 million in today’s terms) – far beyond CSIRO’s budget at the time.

The Menzies government agreed to fund the project, provided at least 50% of the money came from the private sector. Using his wartime contacts, Bowen secured A$250,000 each from the Carnegie Corporation and Rockefeller Foundation, plus a range of private Australian donations.

British firm Freeman Fox and Partners produced the detailed design, incorporating suggestions from legendary engineer Barnes Wallis, of “dambusters” fame. Based on the available budget and desired functionality, a diameter of 64 metres was agreed for the dish.

1955 design by Barnes Wallis
1955 design notes by Barnes Wallis. CSIROAuthor provided

The chosen site was near the town of Parkes, about 350km west of Sydney. This location had favourable weather conditions and was free of local radio interference. The local council also enthusiastically offered to cover the cost of some of the earthworks.

In 2020, the local Wiradjuri people named the telescope Murriyang, a traditional name meaning “Skyworld”.

The telescope’s construction began in September 1959 and was completed just two years later. On October 31 1961, the Governor-General William Sidney, Viscount De l'Isle, officially opened the telescope in a ceremony attended by 500 guests.

The Parkes dish's opening ceremony
The Governor-General (centre) greets guests at the telescope’s 1961 opening ceremony. CSIROAuthor provided

Decades Of Discovery

John Bolton was appointed the founding director of the telescope. Under his dynamic, decade-long tenure, astronomers made a string of significant discoveries that established the dish as the premier scientific instrument in Australia.

Astronomers revealed the immense magnetic field of our Milky Way galaxy. A few months later, the telescope detected quasars, the most distant known objects in the Universe – a discovery that increased the size of the known Universe tenfold. To cap off a memorable first year, Parkes tracked the very first interplanetary space mission, Mariner 2, when it flew past Venus in December 1962.

In the 1970s, researchers discovered and mapped the immense molecular clouds interspersed through our galaxy. The study of pulsars – rotating stars that emit beams of radio waves, rather like a lighthouse – became a major field of research. Parkes has discovered more pulsars than all other radio observatories combined, including the only known double pulsar system, spotted in 2003.

In the 1990s, the distribution of galaxies was mapped to a distance of 300 million light years, revealing the complex structure of the Universe. More recently, Parkes discovered the first Fast Radio Burst – a short, intense blast of radio waves created by an as-yet unknown process. The telescope has also been involved in the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI), including the ten-year Breakthrough Listen project, which began in 2016.

Read more: A brief history: what we know so far about fast radio bursts across the universe

To the public, the telescope is perhaps best known for its space tracking, especially its role in the Apollo lunar missions. But it has also supported other significant missions such as NASA’s Voyager 2, which flew past Uranus and Neptune in the 1980s and crossed into interstellar space in 2018. In 1986, Parkes was the prime tracking station for the European Giotto mission to Halley’s Comet. And next year, Parkes will track some of the first commercial lunar landers.

Read more: Australia is still listening to Voyager 2 as NASA confirms the probe is now in interstellar space

Parkes dish with the Moon in the background.
Parkes tracking the Apollo Moon mission in 1969. CSIROAuthor provided

Originally intended to operate for 20 years, the telscope’s longevity is a result of constant upgrades. Recent improvements include a new ultra-wideband receiver that can scan a huge range of radio frequencies, and CSIRO-developed “phased array feeds” (PAFs) that allow the telescope to observe up to 36 points in the sky at once. Work is now under way on a cryogenically cooled PAF that, when installed in 2022, will double this number. With these upgrades in place, a single receiver can be used to deliver more than 90% of current Parkes operations.

Construction workers building the dish
Construction took just two years. CSIROAuthor provided

It’s hard to say how long the Parkes dish will continue to work. It depends on future upgrades and whether the telescope’s structure remains in good working order. But astronomers will always have a need for a large single-dish antenna.

Parkes has maintained its world-leading position in radio astronomy by constantly adapting to meet new requirements. Today it stands as an icon of Australian science and achievement. Sixty years after it first trained its eye on the sky, the future still looks bright at Parkes.The Conversation

John Sarkissian, Operations Scientist, CSIRO

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Australia is putting a rover on the Moon in 2024 to search for water

Joshua ChouUniversity of Technology Sydney

Last month the Australian Space Agency announced plans to send an Australian-made rover to the Moon by as early as 2026, under a deal with NASA. The rover will collect lunar soil containing oxygen, which could eventually be used to support human life in space.

Although the deal with NASA made headlines, a separate mission conducted by private companies in Australia and Canada, in conjunction with the University of Technology Sydney, may see Australian technology hunting water on the Moon as soon as mid-2024.

If all goes according to plan, it will be the first rover with Australian-made components to make it to the Moon.

Roving In Search Of Water

The ten-kilogram rover, measuring 60x60x50cm, will be launched on board the Hakuto lander made by ispace, a lunar robotic exploration company based in Japan.

The rover itself, also built by ispace, will have an integrated robotic arm created by the private companies Stardust Technologies (based in Canada) and Australia’s EXPLOR Space Technology (of which I am one of the founders).

Using cameras and sensors, the arm will collect high-resolution visual and haptic data to be sent back to the mission control centre at the University of Technology Sydney.

It will also collect information on the physical and chemical composition of lunar dust, soil and rocks — specifically with a goal of finding water. We know water is present within the Moon’s soil, but we have yet to find a way to extract it for practical use.

Read more: Water on the Moon: research unveils its type and abundance – boosting exploration plans

The big push now is to identify regions on the Moon where water sources are more abundant, and which can deliver more usable water for human consumption, sample processing, mining operations and food growth.

This would also set the foundation for the establishment of a manned Moon base, which could serve as a transit station for further space exploration (including on Mars).

The ispace moon lander was displayed in Washington DC. Courtesy of Australian Embassy staff

Moon-Grade Materials

Once the Hakuto lander takes off, the first challenge will be to ensure it lands successfully with the rover intact. The rover will have to survive an extreme environment on the lunar surface.

As the moon rotates relative to the Sun, it experiences day and night cycles, just like Earth. But one day on the Moon lasts 29.5 Earth days. And surface temperatures shift dramatically during this time, reaching up to 127℃ during the day and falling as low as -173℃ at night.

The rover and robotic arm will also need to withstand the effects of space radiation, vibrations during launch, shock from the launch and landing, and exposure to dust and water.

At the same time, the arm must be light enough to conduct advanced manoeuvres, such as grabbing and collecting moon rocks. Advanced space-grade aluminium developed in Australia will help protect it from damage.

The TechLab antenna chamber at the The University of Technology Sydney is being used to test communication signals which will be critical to this mission.

The team behind the mission is currently in the process of testing different designs of the robotic arm, and figuring out the best way to integrate it with the rover. It will be tested together with the rover at a new lunar test bed, at the EXPLOR Space Technologies facility in New South Wales.

Like the one used by NASA, this test bed can mimic the physical and chemical conditions on the Moon. It will be critical to determining whether the rover can stay mobile and continue to function under different environmental stressors.

Step Into Your Astronaut Boots

The rover will also send back data that allows people on Earth to experience the Moon with virtual reality (VR) goggles and a sensor glove. Haptic data collected back by the robotic arm will essentially let us “feel” anything the arm touches on the lunar surface.

We plan to make the experience available as a free app — and hope it inspires future generations of space explorers.

Read more: So a helicopter flew on Mars for the first time. A space physicist explains why that's such a big deal The Conversation

Joshua Chou, Senior lecturer, University of Technology Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Voter ID is a bad idea. Here’s why

Graeme OrrThe University of Queensland

The Morrison government is pushing legislation to mandate voter ID at polling places. Contrary to some critics, what it proposes will not create US-style “voter suppression”. But it is still an unnecessary idea at an inappropriate time.

Countries like Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom (until now at least) do not require electors to show ID to vote. Many other systems do.

Insecurity about security is a conservative trope. So it is natural for political conservatives, temperamentally, to favour voter ID, with the argument being it is an “integrity” measure. Social democrats, on the other hand, are more trusting and concerned to ensure everyone can and does vote.

The Australian proposal lists an array of documents as acceptable ID. Photo ID such as a driver’s licence is not mandatory; a credit card or utility bill would suffice. “Documents” in law now include electronic records, which is important given how few people receive paper utility bills.

If an elector does not bring ID, or it is rejected (say for a misspelled name), they are to be offered a “provisional” vote. That is a rigmarole involving extra forms and delays. But it is a buffer - imagine a remote voter driving an hour to a polling station having forgotten their wallet.

Young people, the very elderly and Indigenous people are all less likely to have such ID. To address the latter, a document from an Indigenous land council or similar agency will also count. When the LNP in Queensland briefly introduced voter ID in 2013-15, it was clear remote electors were more likely to have problems with ID.

Read more: Who's Liberal? What's Labor? New bill to give established parties control of their names is full of holes

Cost In The Time Of COVID

The UK Cabinet Office estimates voter ID there will cost in the order of £20 million (A$36.7 million) per election. That is for mandatory photo ID. The direct cost in Australia will be less, if not insignificant. The Australian Electoral Commission will need to mail proof of enrolment to each elector as one form of ID.

There are also indirect costs. The most obvious is in training - and trying to ensure consistency among tens of thousands of casual poll workers. Inevitably, some forms of ID will be accepted in some polling places and not others. Think of bills on cracked mobile screens, or cards with minor differences to the name on the electoral roll.

Most of all, with Australia reopening, COVID will be spreading across states that have never had a real wave. Voter ID will add to processing time for millions of electors. Those whose ID is rejected will have to join separate queues to make a fussy “declaration” vote.

Finally, those declaration votes enter a black box. Unlike some US states, electors are not told whether their provisional vote was ever accepted into the count. This in itself will hamper, not enhance, trust.

One group of electors will not need to produce ID: postal voters. Asking (predominantly older) postal voters to scan or copy ID is a step too far, as they already sign and witness forms to vote.

Australians in remote and rural areas are most likely to be disadvantaged by the introduction of voter ID at elections. AAP/Karen Michelmore

What Does The Constitution Say?

On voting “rights”, next to nothing. But in 2007, the High Court implied a universal franchise for Australian citizens. Then, in 2010, it struck down the early closing of electoral rolls as an undue burden on the ability to vote.

In doing so, it said parliament cannot impose such burdens without evidence. The “evidence” to support voter ID is the intuition that voters should produce ID. The benefit of voter ID is said to be enhancing perceptions of integrity.

This may be a fair call in the abstract. Yet in reality, Australia has high levels of trust in our independent and thorough electoral processes. Any lack of trust buzzes around parties as hierarchical entities, their funding and accountability, not electoral administration.

Perceptions of risk can also be circular, if not manipulated. By playing up integrity risks, regardless of actual evidence, you can generate concerns that you then use to justify new rules. (We also see this in debates about electoral donations.)

As long as the law allows electors without ID to cast a declaration vote without excessive palaver, the High Court will not veto voter ID. In any event, the law cannot be challenged before it is implemented. Any plaintiff claiming to be affected before the election will likely be rebuffed with “go and organise ID”.

Read more: From robo calls to spam texts: annoying campaign tricks that are legal

Voter ID Cuts Across Compulsory Voting

Most of all, voter ID is a dull idea in a country that has required people to enrol to vote for 110 years, and to turn out to vote since 1924.

Quite why we need voter ID is not clear. Most European countries do. But they have national ID cards. That is, every citizen, equally, has official ID. Such ID is something liberals in Australia fought against.

Ultimately, electoral integrity comes from having the most thorough roll and the highest turnout possible. Australia has a good record here, thanks to compulsion and direct enrolment laws.

Short of evidence of rogue electors impersonating other voters, voter ID is an unnecessary bureaucratic requirement, at an inappropriate point in a pandemic.The Conversation

Graeme Orr, Professor of Law, The University of Queensland

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Friday essay: will the perfect men’s dress ever exist – and would men wear it?

Rapper Lil Nas X in a Cinderalla-style, toile-inspired gown designed by Andrea Grossi. Jordan Strauss/AP
Lydia EdwardsEdith Cowan University

More famous men are wearing dresses: from actor Billy Porter on the red carpet to singer-songwriter Harry Styles on the cover of Vogue. They have prompted much commentary, both positive and negative, leading fashion commentators to ask if frocks might become a regular part of men’s sartorial landscape.

Troye Sivan at the Met Gala. Justin Lane/EPA

At this year’s Met Gala, racing car driver Lewis Hamilton wore a white lace dress over a black suit and singer Troye Sivan wore a simple black gown. More recently, rapper Lil Nas X wore a purple suit with a matching train to the MTV Video Music Awards and a Cinderella-style gown at an earlier award ceremony.

The trend signifies a return to ancient sartorial norms, when more androgynous clothing was accepted and, indeed, required.

Such clothes were not “dresses” as we understand them today: the dress is a garment that has become indelibly “feminine”. But could skirts and dresses become mainstream garb for 21st century men beyond these celebrity trailblazers?

Our contemporary construct of masculinity is, of course, relatively recent. Until the early 20th century, boys and girls wore dresses until boys were “breeched” (put into breeches or “short trousers”) at around seven years old.

Pink was a manly colour, and it was almost impossible to tell boy and girl toddlers apart.

Read more: Girlie or girl power? Breast cancer and the cult(ure) of pink

Androgynous Frocks

Before the 15th century, much clothing for men and women was fairly androgynous, particularly outside Europe – where in many cultures this continues today.

Ancient Egyptian schenti, circa 1448-1422 BCE. Wikimedia Commons

Japanese kimono are robes with only subtle hints at gender difference. In parts of North Africa, the jellabiya – a long, loose robe perfect for the warm climate – is worn daily by men and women.

Ancient Egyptian men, including pharaohs, wore the schenti, a wrap skirt similar to a kilt. This garment was so practical and versatile it remained popular for over 2,000 years.

Ancient Greece and Rome saw universal wearing of the tunica, a simple gown that was shorter and looser for men, but constructed the same way for both sexes.

Book illustration of an Etruscan wall painting from the François Tomb at Vulci. Wikimedia Commons

The elite wore longer chiton and toga, which could be more elaborately accessorised to indicate the wearer’s gender. In these societies, the higher a man was on the social ladder, the longer his gown.

Divided garments (not then known as “trousers”) were generally worn only by soldiers and the working class. To ancient Greeks and Romans, leg coverings were more representative of the barbarian than powerful, civilised men.

From 800 AD, bifurcated (divided, two-legged) styles slowly emerged in the Christian world, propagated by the medieval emperor Charlemagne as a way of linking physicality and aggression with new European concepts of “manliness”. Such garments later came to symbolise (male) control and authority.

This was a gradual process, however. In medieval Europe, men and women wore long, layered clothing and tunics until the slow advent of tailoring in the 1400s. Even armour, the most “macho” of male attire, could still feature a metal “skirt” pleated similarly to contemporary tunics.

From the 15th century on, shorter tunics took hold for men, beneath which they could wear hose or stockings and, later, breeches.

17th century male fashion
Man in ‘Petticoat Breeches’, Romeyn de Hooghe, 1670-85. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Aside from brief outlier trends, (for example the lampooned and short-lived “petticoat breeches”) men’s hemlines continued to move north.

The advent of stockings and a codpiece and, until the 1820s, relatively tight-fitting pants for men, acted as a non-verbal reminder of their political and economic power.

This was in stark contrast to the treatment of women’s legs, which as one writer put it in 1818:

although dressed, are […] immediately connected with parts which are not, and which decency strictly conceals from view.

Repression Of Expression

Women fought for a long time to wear trousers, making discreet strides in the adoption of bloomers as underwear in the 19th century. While gradually accepted as trouser-wearers in the early 20th century (and in the professional realm from the late 1960s), the same freedom of clothing choice has not been given to men.

For women, wearing trousers represented physical freedom, making certain jobs – and therefore, financial freedom – easier. Men do not have that same need, in a practical sense, to adopt dresses.

Arguably, a dress does not make any aspect of life easier, but it does allow an individual to express themselves in different ways. Restricting this suggests repression of far more than physical movement.

It could be argued that since the 18th century, (in the west at least), men have played second fiddle to women in terms of glamour and excitement in clothing. Contrary to popular belief, it was generally women who imposed what we now see as extravagant and restrictive sartorial customs, such as the cage crinoline. For many women, fashion was the one area of life over which they had some control.

Read more: From 'macaronis' to mohawks, men's fashion has always been political

During the 19th century, an era famously described by psychologist Carl Flugel as the “great male renunciation” of brilliant fashion, men had eye-wateringly little choice of garments compared to women. The monopoly of the (male) suit has perhaps been a result of this one-sidedness. Promoting dresses for men could redress the imbalance.

1860s fashion plate
Men in muted colours – 1869 fashion plate from Le Musée des Tailleurs Illustré. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Fitting Dresses To Men

If dresses are to become a genuine part of menswear once again, we need first to establish what differences, if any, there will be with women’s. How will the fit be determined? How will they be worn?

This is not necessarily the same as producing androgynous or gender fluid clothes. It is about dresses that will allow men, who wish it, to still feel masculine – as trousers can make women feel feminine.

While fashion slacks were often made to conform to a woman’s body (putting aside utilitarian and wartime uniforms) there seem to be very few dresses made exclusively for the male physique.

Billy Porter’s velvet tuxedo gown worn to the 2019 Oscars was an exception. A hybrid male and female garment, it used black to create a link to contemporary womenswear, and men’s traditional evening wear. Crafted by designer Christian Siriano, it consisted of a tuxedo-style bodice with voluminous, ballgown skirt.

Billy Porter wears a black velvet tuxedo gown by Christian Siriano at the Oscars in 2019. Richard Shotwell/AP

Read more: And the best penguin Oscar ... a closer look at the tuxedo

This dress was elite rather than mainstream fashion, created exclusively for Porter. Styles’ ethereal Gucci number on the Vogue cover is likewise hardly accessible to the everyday consumer, demanding a high level of confidence to pull off.

The same can be said of frocks and frock-spirations chosen by Carl Clemons-Hopkins at the 2021 Emmys and Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness at the Creative Arts Emmys in 2018.

Carl Clemons-Hopkins at the Emmys. Chris Pizzello/AP

As Oscar Wilde put it when discussing women’s dress reform in the 1880s:

If the divided skirt is to be of any positive value, it must give up all idea of being identical in appearance with an ordinary skirt … [it must] … sacrifice its foolish frills and flounces.

Perhaps men’s dresses should aim for that same end: not to masquerade as anything else, but to take on a life of their own as new, separate garments.

A Viable Option?

Examples such as Porter’s and Styles’ frocks prompt intrigued debate. Other examples of men wearing dresses are usually associated with transvestism or those undergoing gender reassignment.

Huge progress over the past few decades has made their visibility and acceptance far more widespread, along with gender fluid and queer identity becoming a regular part of the fashion landscape, thanks to designers such as Harris ReedTelfar Clemens and Charles Jeffrey Loverboy. Each, in their own way, are creating and championing fluid fashion, showing the world how it can be done.

However, we are not yet at the point where most men would consider a dress a viable option, or where a man wearing a dress would not provoke assumptions around sexuality or gender identity. We also seem to be at a crossroads in terms of how men in dresses are received by different communities.

Fashion designer Harris Reed
Harris Reed: ‘The arbitrary criteria of defining a ‘manly man’ is so outdated. Being a man looks exactly how you want it to look. YOU define that criteria, no one else’. Instagram

A controversy arose earlier this year when cisgender man, the rapper Kid Cudi, performed on Saturday Night Live wearing a dress intended to pay tribute to Kurt Cobain.

In 1993, Cobain had boldly donned a similarly patterned, but shorter frock on the cover of The Face magazine, attracting considerable backlash.

In 2021, wearing a fuller, longer, more classically “feminine” style, Cudi was met largely with praise. However, some commentators – particularly those from the LGBTQI community – felt his choice was nothing but a “costume” worn by a performer.

Some pointed out that what was a publicity stunt for him amounted to a “life and death” decision, for which trans people have been severely bullied. The reality is that however casually a man might wear a dress, and whatever his motivations for doing so, the choice is fraught with political, emotional and social ramifications. It will be commented on and judged, positively or negatively.

Earlier this year, singer Post Malone’s stylist Catherine Hahn put the singer in a dress, another tribute to Cobain.

The success of this outfit inspired her to create “a unisex dress that could be worn every day. To work, to school, to skateboard in, or on a date.” The result is a calf-length, oversized plaid shirt that recalls 90s grunge styles and certainly offers a fun, fresh, casual option for men.

However, it is still unisex, rather than aimed specifically at men. Its shirt-like cut makes it a familiar, non-threatening segue for those wishing to experiment with dresses. This style is the closest we have seen to a potentially mainstream, workable male frock option.

Dresses are likely to remain a novelty for many men, a defiant show of bravery and individuality akin to the female pioneers of the rational and aesthetic dress movements of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Mind you, during this pandemic, there has been a surge in male skirt designs by the likes of Burberry and Stefan Cooke.

Many of these take inspiration from the traditional “man skirt”, the kilt. But longer, calf-length, pleated and A-line examples have been championed too. More men may have felt comfortable experimenting with a skirt or dress during the privacy of lockdown.

The year 2020 was a seismic shift in life as well as fashion. But given the highly gendered and ingrained nature of clothing codes, it seems unlikely we will see men’s dresses go mainstream anytime soon.The Conversation

Lydia Edwards, Fashion historian, Edith Cowan University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Students are told not to use Wikipedia for research. But it’s a trustworthy source

Rachel CunneenUniversity of Canberra and Mathieu O'NeilUniversity of Canberra

At the start of each university year, we ask first-year students a question: how many have been told by their secondary teachers not to use Wikipedia? Without fail, nearly every hand shoots up. Wikipedia offers free and reliable information instantly. So why do teachers almost universally distrust it?

Wikipedia has community-enforced policies on neutrality, reliability and notability. This means all information “must be presented accurately and without bias”; sources must come from a third party; and a Wikipedia article is notable and should be created if there has been “third-party coverage of the topic in reliable sources”.

Wikipedia is free, non-profit, and has been operating for over two decades, making it an internet success story. At a time when it’s increasingly difficult to separate truth from falsehood, Wikipedia is an accessible tool for fact-checking and fighting misinformation.

Why Is Wikipedia So Reliable?

Many teachers point out that anyone can edit a Wikipedia page, not just experts on the subject. But this doesn’t make Wikipedia’s information unreliable. It’s virtually impossible, for instance, for conspiracies to remain published on Wikipedia.

Read more: On the job with a ‘Wikipedian in residence’

For popular articles, Wikipedia’s online community of volunteers, administrators and bots ensure edits are based on reliable citations. Popular articles are reviewed thousands of times. Some media experts, such as Amy Bruckman, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s computing centre, argue that because of this painstaking process, a highly-edited article on Wikipedia might be the most reliable source of information ever created.

Traditional academic articles – the most common source of scientific evidence – are typically only peer-reviewed by up to three people and then never edited again.

Read more: Explainer: what is peer review?

Less frequently edited articles on Wikipedia might be less reliable than popular ones. But it’s easy to find out how an article has been created and modified on Wikipedia. All modifications to an article are archived in its “history” page. Disputes between editors about the article’s content are documented in its “talk” page.

To use Wikipedia effectively, school students need to be taught to find and analyse these pages of an article, so they can quickly assess the article’s reliability.

Is Information On Wikipedia Too Shallow?

Many teachers also argue the information on Wikipedia is too basic, particularly for tertiary students. This argument supposes all fact-checking must involve deep engagement. But this is not best practice for conducting initial investigation into a subject online. Deep research needs to come later, once the validity of the source has been established.

Still, some teachers are horrified by the idea students need to be taught to assess information quickly and superficially. If you look up the general capabilities in the Australian Curriculum, you will find “critical and creative thinking” encourages deep, broad reflection. Educators who conflate “critical” and “media” literacy may be inclined to believe analysis of online material must be slow and thorough.

Primary school student writing on notepad with laptop open.
Students should be taught to use Wikipedia’s ‘talk’ and ‘history’ pages. Shutterstock

Yet the reality is we live in an “attention economy” where everyone and everything on the internet is vying for our attention. Our time is precious, so engaging deeply with spurious online content, and potentially falling down misinformation rabbit holes, wastes a most valuable commodity – our attention.

Wikipedia Can Be A Tool For Better Media Literacy

Research suggests Australian children are not getting sufficient instruction in spotting fake news. Only one in five young Australians in 2020 reported having a lesson during the past year that helped them decide whether news stories could be trusted.

Our students clearly need more media literacy education, and Wikipedia can be a good media literacy instrument. One way is to use it is with “lateral reading”. This means when faced with an unfamiliar online claim, students should leave the web page they’re on and open a new browser tab. They can then investigate what trusted sources say about the claim.

Read more: We live in an age of 'fake news'. But Australian children are not learning enough about media literacy

Wikipedia is the perfect classroom resource for this purpose, even for primary-aged students. When first encountering unfamiliar information, students can be encouraged to go to the relevant Wikipedia page to check reliability. If the unknown information isn’t verifiable, they can discard it and move on.

More experienced fact-checkers can also beeline to the authoritative references at the bottom of each Wikipedia article.

In the future, we hope first-year university students enter our classrooms already understanding the value of Wikipedia. This will mean a widespread cultural shift has taken place in Australian primary and secondary schools. In a time of climate change and pandemics, everyone needs to be able to separate fact from fiction. Wikipedia can be part of the remedy.The Conversation

Rachel Cunneen, Senior Lecturer in English and Literacy Education, Student Success and LANTITE coordinator, University of Canberra and Mathieu O'Neil, Associate Professor of Communication, News and Media Research Centre, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Professor who tweeted the coronavirus genome, paving the way for new vaccines, scoops major Australian science award

Louise Cooper/University of Sydney
Cathy FoleyOffice of the Chief Scientist

The role played by University of Sydney Professor Edward Holmes in the COVID pandemic is already the stuff of legend. His decision to tweet the genome of SARS-CoV-2 on January 11 2020, making the data freely available to everyone, sparked urgent work in labs around the world to develop a test and a vaccine.

Within days, the first diagnostic tests were available, and that weekend, scientists at Moderna and Pfizer are reported to have downloaded the genome and set to work on their mRNA vaccines, bringing a new technology to medicine in record time.

But it is the deeper story I find most exciting. It is a story of excellent, painstaking research over many years, as the scientific community developed an understanding of genomics and virus behaviour, built a record of genetic sequences, and developed techniques to intervene at the tiniest scales.

This foundational work meant that when the pandemic struck, science was ready. Reports began to appear of a novel coronavirus causing illness in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of December 2019; Holmes’s tweet detailing the full genome of the virus was posted less than a fortnight later.

Read more: 4 of our greatest achievements in vaccine science (that led to COVID vaccines)

It is also a story of scientific expertise and confidence. While most of the world was coming to terms with the concept of a coronavirus, Holmes and other experts realised immediately what they were dealing with, and knew their first obligation was to share the information so researchers and their industry colleagues could go to work.

And it is a story of collaboration. As Holmes has pointed out, he would not have had the genome to share without deep scientific relationships. That day, he was on the phone with a colleague in China, Zhang Yongzhen, who held the genome information, and another in Edinburgh, who helped prepare the data for release.

A Prizewinning Effort

The lessons for scientific endeavour are clear, and Holmes is now the deserved recipient of the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science, presented at a virtual event last night.

Professor Edward Holmes received this year’s Prime Minister’s Prize for Science.

The pandemic has demonstrated the vital importance of global research collaborations and open sharing of findings, which makes science faster, more efficient and more accurate.

More than 400,000 papers have been written on COVID. Their open publication has allowed the development of vaccines and therapeutics at breakneck speed, saving millions of lives. The pandemic has highlighted the benefits of making research findings openly available for researchers, policy-makers, educators and others, and I am now championing an open-access approach for Australia.

One of the welcome aspects of the Prime Minister’s Science Prizes is the recognition it gives to great science teaching, which plays a crucial role in inspiring our young people to start on that path towards a scientific career. This year’s awards celebrated the work of Scott Graham, who has inspired students at Barker College in Hornsby, NSW, to study agriculture, and Megan Hayes, a STEM specialist at Mudgeeraba Creek State School in Queensland.

Four other scientists were recognised at the awards, all of whom demonstrate the drive that underpins great science and propels its practitioners to find ways to benefit the community.

Professor Sherene Loi, a medical oncologist at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, was recognised for her world-leading breast-cancer research that led to the development of a biomarker that is now routine in breast-cancer diagnosis in many countries.

Dr Keith Bannister, a research engineer with CSIRO Space and Astronomy, modified the CSIRO’s Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder radio telescope to increase the detection rate of “fast radio bursts”. These mysterious bursts of intense energy from distant galaxies last just milliseconds but can release as much energy as the Sun emits in decades.

Bannister designed and built a system to preserve the data from the CSIRO’s radio telescope, and to track the source of the bursts.

Read more: A brief history: what we know so far about fast radio bursts across the universe

Associate Professor Michael Bowen, at the University of Sydney, discovered a molecule with potential for treating brain disorders and tackling the opioid epidemic. This has led to a world-first clinical trial, now starting in Australia.

Also at the University of Sydney, Professor Anthony Weiss was recognised for developing and commercialising a natural “squirtable” skin-repair product, based on the protein that gives human tissue its elasticity. A spin-off company he founded has now been sold to one of the world’s largest biopharmaceutical companies for A$334 million.

The achievements of these scientists are so important to Australia, as are the efforts of the many researchers and technologists who sit behind them doing foundational work that builds over years, and collaborating in teams to tackle the difficult problems that are part and parcel of scientific discovery and impact.

Their achievements give me confidence we will solve today’s great challenges as we place science at the heart of efforts to tackle climate resilience, respond to the pandemic, and build the high-tech industries of the future.The Conversation

Cathy Foley, Australia's Chief Scientist, Office of the Chief Scientist

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Larger than life – sculptor Margel Hinder carved light and form and left a legacy

Sculptor Margel Hinder with the model for Interlock in 1973. Photograph: Richard Beck. Heide
Joanna MendelssohnThe University of Melbourne

Many years ago my daily pleasure was to walk past a Margel Hinder masterpiece, the Civic Park Fountain in Newcastle. With water spraying in rhythmic patterns, it would bring a smile to my face for its beauty, the way the streams caught the light.

Fountains can’t be moved for an exhibition, of course, but Hinder’s Civic Park Fountain and her sadly decommissioned Northpoint Fountain of 1975 have been digitally simulated by Andrew Yip for Margel Hinder: Modern in Motion, a joint project of Heide Museum of Modern Art and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Throughout the 1960s and 70s Hinder was commissioned to create sculptures for Australia’s public places, including the Reserve Bank in Sydney, Woden Town Square in Canberra and the Telecommunications Building in Adelaide. So her work has hardly been hidden from the public gaze.

But for many years the dominant book on Australian art was Bernard Smith’s Australian Painting. As a result, artists in other media are less well known than they deserve to be.

The Art Gallery of New South Wales began collecting her work in 1949. Nevertheless the range of the sculptures in the current exhibition is still a surprise. With mostly small works, this is sculpture at its most intimate – welcoming the viewer into a world where asymmetrical form rules.

Sunlight plays with the water in Margel Hinder’s Civic Park fountain in Newcastle. Shutterstock

American By Birth

Margel Ina Harris was born in New York, brought up in Buffalo, and lived in Boston with a family that encouraged creativity.

In 1929, at the age of 23, she went to a summer school in upstate New York to work with the modernist artist Emil Bisttram. There she met young Australian artist and designer Frank Hinder. They married in 1930 and daughter Enid was born the following year.

In 1933, at the depths of the Great Depression, the Hinders travelled to New Mexico, again to work with Bisstram. Margel took nourishment from the dry sculptural Mesa landscapes of Taos – and observed the rhythms and of the Pueblo women as they went about their daily business. Her approach to form began to change from modelling to carving.

woman making large wooden sculpture
Margel Hinder working on Mother and Child, circa 1939. Heide/AGNSW

Read more: Joy Hester – a body of work, remembered at last

On the family’s subsequent slow sea voyage from the US to Sydney, she carved her first wooden relief sculpture, Taos Women. After arriving in Sydney she carved Pueblo Indian, a simplified solid form emerging from the wood.

Sydney’s art establishment was decidedly conservative. Nevertheless the Hinders soon befriended a small group of modernist painters and thinkers including Grace CrowleyRalph BalsonEleonore Lange and Rah Fizelle.

In Gerald Lewers, Margel found a fellow sculptor who understood her exploration of wood as form. She later wrote that Gerald Lewers “was the most developed of any sculptors here in Sydney”.

In 1939 she made Mother and Child, a work less about the subject and more about honouring the material from which it is made.

Light Enters

Her methods changed again during and after the second world war. The Hinders moved to Canberra where Frank worked on camouflage projects for the Department of Home Security and Margel made small wooden models.

After the war they returned to Gordon in Sydney and a house that backed onto the bush. There birds would come to feed in the elaborate sculpture Frank made for them. Margel worked in her studio, surrounded by the light and sounds of the bush.

Her work became more constructive. And a new element entered — light. She sometimes used hand-coloured Perspex to get particular effects.

modernist sculpture
Wire and Perspex Abstract, c.1955, Newcastle Art Gallery, New South Wales. Heide/AGNSW

She shaped and soldered wire to cast shadows. Revolving Random Dots (1953) spins using a swivel mechanism, while movement in other constructions is aided by a carefully placed fan.

Many of her small sculptures were first exhibited at the NSW Contemporary Art Society, the only ready exhibition venue for modernist art.

At the same time, Hinder was entering public sculpture competitions. Most of these were local events, associated with the post-war building boom. But in 1953 she was awarded third prize out of 3502 entries in an international competition for a memorial to the Unknown Political Prisoner. Her entry shows an abstract embrace of an ethereal shape. Along with work by the other finalists, her maquette was exhibited at the Tate in London.

Construction, c.1954, also known as Revolving Ball. AGNSW

Read more: Friday essay: the Melbourne bookshop that ignited Australian modernism

Going Big

Hinder’s growing reputation led to her first public commission for a large sculpture in Sydney’s newly built Western Assurance Company Building.

The sculptures made for public spaces are bolder, more assertive than her smaller private sculptures. This is art made to withstand the elements but also bold statements disrupting the straight lines of corporate architecture.

The fate of the Western Assurance work is a reminder that sculptors face an extra peril in preserving their art. In the 1980s the building and the sculpture were demolished. Fortunately a passer-by alerted the Hinders who were able to salvage the pieces. The work was eventually reassembled at the University of Technology where it remains on permanent view.

Hinder was determined never to be defined by her gender or as a wife and mother. This was not only evident in her own single-minded pursuit of art, but in her frequent advice to young women that they must persist in their careers and not abandon art after having children. Talent, she believed, should not be wasted.

In the 1950s and 60s there was considerable cultural pressure on Australian women to limit themselves to domesticity. Hinder’s remarkable career was supported at every step by Frank, who sometimes did the heavy lifting (literally) in the creation of her larger works.

Their closeness might be one reason why previous survey exhibitions at Newcastle, Bathurst and the Art Gallery of NSW presented their work together. Now it is time for her art to stand alone.

outdoor sculpture
Sculptured Form (1969) at Woden, ACT. Flickr/ArchivesACTCC BY-NC

Margel Hinder: Modern in Motion is at Heide Museum of Modern Art until 6 February 2022.The Conversation

Joanna Mendelssohn, Principal Fellow (Hon), Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne. Editor in Chief, Design and Art of Australia Online, The University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

New RFS Helicopters And Aviation Centre Of Excellence For Regional NSW

November 1, 2021
Regional communities across NSW are set to benefit from an enhanced emergency response and investment, as the NSW Government bases NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) multi-purposed firefighting helicopters at three key regional locations and officially turns the first sod for the RFS Aviation Centre of Excellence. 

Premier Dominic Perrottet, Deputy Premier Paul Toole and Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott joined the RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers today to inspect the new base for one of the three helicopters at Dubbo Airport and turn the first sod at the RFS Training Academy.

Mr Perrottet said construction of the new $5.6 million RFS Aviation Centre of Excellence will commence in early 2022, providing a significant boost to the RFS emergency response capabilities.

“The NSW Government is committed to provide the resources and facilities to protect people across the State. The Aviation Centre of Excellence will house four state-of-the-art aviation simulators as well as two dedicated training spaces, 27 accommodation rooms and other amenities,” Mr Perrottet said. 

Mr Toole said the new Aviation Training Facility is part of the NSW Government’s $480 million commitment in response to recommendations of the independent NSW Bushfire Inquiry, including an increase to the capacity of the RFS aviation training. 

“Not only will this help drive jobs and growth in regional NSW but it will ensure resources are well positioned to respond in the event of a fire or other emergency in the Central West,” Mr Toole said. 

Mr Elliott said the three multi-purposed helicopters have been pre-positioned at Tumut, Dubbo and Coffs Harbour to allow for rapid deployment regionally during the bush fire season. 

“The RFS aviation capability has grown over recent years and is now the biggest firefighting aviation fleet in the country,” Mr Elliott said. 

RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers said that the strategic placement of the RFS aviation fleet in three regional locations is particularly important. 

“These aircraft will provide additional reassurance for regional NSW communities. It will not only support the NSW RFS during firefighting operations, but also provide other regional emergency services with real time high definition video streams and assist in search and rescue missions,” Mr Rogers said.

Becoming Silent; The Sounds Of Birds In Spring Show A Decline

November 2, 2021
Natural sounds, and bird song in particular, play a key role in building and maintaining our connection with nature -- but a major new study reveals that the sounds of spring are changing, with dawn choruses across North America and Europe becoming quieter and less varied.

An international team of researchers led by the University of East Anglia (UEA) developed a new technique, combining world-leading citizen science bird monitoring data with recordings of individual species in the wild, to reconstruct the soundscapes of more than 200,000 sites over the last 25 years.

Lead author Dr Simon Butler, from UEA's School of Biological Sciences, explained: "The benefits of nature contact are widespread, from improved physical health and psychological well-being to increased likelihood of participating in pro-environmental behaviour.

"Bird song plays an important role in defining the quality of nature experiences but widespread declines in bird populations, and shifts in species' distributions in response to climate change, mean that the acoustic properties of natural soundscapes are likely to be changing. However, historical sound recordings don't exist for most places so we needed to develop a new approach to examine this."

Annual bird count data from North American Breeding Bird Survey and Pan-European Common Bird Monitoring Scheme sites were combined with recordings for over 1000 species from Xeno Canto, an online database of bird calls and songs, to reconstruct historical soundscapes.

The acoustic characteristics of these soundscapes were then quantified using four indices designed to measure the distribution of acoustic energy across frequencies and time. These indices are driven by song complexity and variety across contributing species but quantify the diversity and intensity of each soundscape as a whole.

Commenting on the study, published today in the journal Nature Communications, Dr Butler said: "We found a widespread decline in the acoustic diversity and intensity of natural soundscapes, driven by changes in the composition of bird communities.

"These results suggest that the soundtrack of spring is getting quieter and less varied and that one of the fundamental pathways through which humans engage with nature is in chronic decline, with potentially widespread implications for human health and wellbeing.

"Given that people predominantly hear, rather than see, birds, reductions in the quality of natural soundscapes are likely to be the mechanism through which the impact of ongoing population declines is most keenly felt by the general public," he added.

The researchers say the relationship between changes in the structure of bird communities and resultant soundscape characteristics is not easy to predict.

Dr Catriona Morrison, a post-doctoral researcher in UEA's School of Biological Sciences, conducted the analyses. She said: "In general, we found that sites that have experienced greater declines in either total abundance and/or species richness also show greater declines in acoustic diversity and intensity.

"However, initial community structure and how the call and song characteristics of species complement each other, also play important roles in determining how soundscapes change.

"For example, the loss of species such as skylark or nightingale, which sing rich and intricate songs, is likely to have a greater impact on the complexity of the soundscape than the loss of a raucous corvid or gull species. Critically however, this will also depend on how many occurred on the site, and which other species are present.

"Unfortunately, we are living through a global environmental crisis, and we now know that the diminishing connection between people and nature may be contributing to this," said Dr Morrison.

"As we collectively become less aware of our natural surroundings, we also start to notice or care less about their deterioration. Studies like ours aim to heighten awareness of these losses in a tangible, relatable way and demonstrate their potential impact on human well-being."

The research was supported with funding from UKRI Natural Environment Research Council.

Morrison, C.A., Auniņš, A., Benkő, Z. et al. Bird population declines and species turnover are changing the acoustic properties of spring soundscapes. Nat Commun, 2021 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-26488-1

Number Of Premature Deaths Worldwide Caused By Consumption In G20 Nations

November 2, 2021
The haze that blurs a blue sky or a beautiful skyline is caused by tiny particles called PM2.5. PM2.5 describes particulate matter, often made from pollution, less than 2.5 microns wide. Despite their microscopic size, PM2.5 are responsible for more than 4 million premature deaths every year. A new study in Nature Communications led by Japanese researchers shows that the pollution caused by consumption in the world's biggest economies leads to half of those deaths.

Their very small size is what makes PM2.5 so dangerous. Easily inhalable, they accumulate inside the lungs, where they severely increase the risk of cancer and other deadly diseases. Yet it is the poor that are especially vulnerable to PM2.5 and die prematurely.

"Most deaths are in developing countries, and without international coordination the situation will worsen," said Dr. Keisuke Nansai, Research Director at the Material Flow Innovation Research Program of the National Institute for Environmental Studies in Japan, who had been a visiting professor at ISA of the University of Sydney, and one of the lead authors of the study.

While most countries acknowledge they contribute to PM2.5 levels, there is little agreement on how much and thus their financial responsibility. In particular, far harder to measure than the direct production of PM2.5 by factories and cars is the amount caused by consumption.

This is a vital question to answer, says Nansai. Unlike direct production, which first affects the producing nation and then spreads across borders to neighbouring nations, the PM2.5 caused by consumption may originate in distant nations and have negligible effects on the consuming nation.

"Pollution in the form of production emissions creates a motive to implement joint PM2.5 reduction measures in neighbouring countries. Such cooperation is unlikely among countries that are geographically distinct," said Nansai.

G20 members make up more than three quarters of international trade and the world's economic output. Therefore, Nansai and his colleagues reasoned, understanding the impact the consumption of these nations has on PM2.5 levels would provide a reliable benchmark.

Using Eora, a database made nearly a decade earlier to measure global supply chains around the world, the study mapped out the emissions made by consumption alone.

The study shows that consumption by the world's most consuming nations, such as the U.S. and U.K, causes a significant number of premature deaths in faraway nations, such as China and India, whereas the premature deaths caused by production habits are more common in neighbouring nations like Mexico and Germany.

COVID-19, the pandemic that has changed the world, is a respiratory disease that is most lethal to the elderly. Similarly, the premature victims of PM2.5 are also mostly elderly. However, unlike COVID-19, the study found another group alarmingly susceptible to the PM2.5 produced by consumption.

"We found that the consumption of G20 nations was responsible for 78,000 premature deaths of infants [up to 5 years old] worldwide," noted Nansai.

The effect was not too great in most G20 nations, such that the average age of premature deaths was nearly 70 years old. However, in some countries, namely, South Africa and Saudi Arabia, premature infant death was so prevalent that the average age of premature deaths was under 60 years old. Similarly, the average age of premature deaths in India and Indonesia barely crossed this threshold.

Nansai and his colleagues stress that if consumption is not considered, then most countries will not think they should pay any penalty for these deaths.

"As long as responsibility for infant deaths due to production emissions is the only issue pursued, we can find no rationale for nations to confront the mass death of infants [in faraway nations]," they write in the study.

Finally, to emphasize the impact that PM2.5 levels from consumption level alone has on human health, the study concluded that the lifetime consumption of 28 people in G20 nations will cause the premature death of one person worldwide.

Keisuke Nansai, Susumu Tohno, Satoru Chatani, Keiichiro Kanemoto, Shigemi Kagawa, Yasushi Kondo, Wataru Takayanagi, Manfred Lenzen. Consumption in the G20 nations causes particulate air pollution resulting in two million premature deaths annually. Nature Communications, Nov. 2, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-26348-y

Final Route Announced For The Dungowan Dam Pipeline

Plans for greater water security in Tamworth and the Peel Valley have reached a significant milestone with the announcement today (October 28, 2021) of the final route for the new 55 kilometre Dungowan Dam pipeline.

NSW Minister for Water, Property and Housing Melinda Pavey was joined by Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson to announce the preferred route, which will run from the proposed new Dungowan Dam to Tamworth Regional Council’s Calala Water Treatment Plant.

Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development and Federal Member for New England Barnaby Joyce said the announcement of the final pipeline route was an important step towards building the infrastructure required to deliver better drought resilience to the Peel Valley.

“This new pipeline will replace the 70-year-old existing pipeline and bring more security to Tamworth’s current water supply,” Mr Joyce said.

“It means the community, farmers and businesses of this region can plan for future droughts and be confident they won’t run dry.”

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said critical water infrastructure projects like this pipeline go a long way to future-proofing our regions.

“In 2020 many communities in NSW were fast running out of water. We never want to see any regional city or town go through that again,” Mr Toole said.

“The proposed Dungowan Dam and the pipeline is just one part of the government’s vision to ensure rural and regional NSW can continue to grow and prosper for years to come.”

Mrs Pavey said in 2020 we were facing the real possibility of Tamworth running out of water and there were no obvious or quick solutions.

“This water insecurity threatened thousands of jobs and brought real hardship to our farmers and communities,” Mrs Pavey said.

“The Dungowan Dam pipeline is part of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to deliver critical infrastructure and bring generational improvements in water and economic security for the people of Tamworth and the Peel Valley.”

Mr Anderson said the project is a great example of the government’s continued commitment to providing water security for regional NSW.

“In addition to the obvious benefits to water security, this project will provide much-needed employment and a boost to the local economy as it continues to recover from the impacts of drought, floods, fires and COVID-19,” Mr Anderson said.

The preferred route was finalised after months of extensive studies, assessments, technical investigations and community consultation. Landowners were also consulted on the impacts of the pipeline to their property and how they could be mitigated.

Tamworth Mayor Col Murray said the proposed Dungowan Dam project will be paramount to the city’s future prosperity and growth.

“It’s the deal breaker for our city to grow and develop,” Mr Murray said.

“Nothing survives without water. If you don’t water your flowers, the flowers die. The same thing happens to a city.”

Construction of Stage 1 of the Dungowan pipeline is expected to start by early next year and will take 12-18 months (COVID permitting).
Image: Pipes at Calala for the Dungowan Dam and Pipeline. DPIE image

Sydney Set For Thousands Of New Homes: Wilton Growth Area + Rhodes Place Strategy

November 2, 2021
A further 8,000 jobs will be created and almost 6,000 new homes built following the finalisation of two important projects supporting the growth of Greater Sydney.

Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes said the rezoning of 193 hectares of land at Wilton, to create a new town centre, and the finalisation of the Rhodes Place Strategy are key projects to help address the city’s housing needs.

“We need more homes to meet current and future demand, supported by infrastructure, and our work at Rhodes and Wilton will create more connected, green communities,” Mr Stokes said.

“Up to an additional 7,000 new jobs and 1,600 homes will be created at Wilton through this rezoning, which is the final piece of the puzzle needed to support the Wilton Growth Area, bringing the town centre precinct on-line with the rezoned North and South-East Wilton Precincts.”

“The rezoning brings the 20-year vision for the area a step closer, with the town centre precinct featuring new walking and cycling paths, a public transport hub, and a future school site.

“Development of the Wilton growth area will build on the NSW Government’s promise to deliver 18,000 homes in south-west Sydney, across Glenfield, Lowes Creek Maryland, Leppington and Wilton.”

The rezoning will come into effect on 31 March 2022, with more detailed planning for Wilton Town Centre precinct to be undertaken through the preparation of a neighbourhood plan.

Mr Stokes said the place strategy for Rhodes will transform it into a vibrant, integrated precinct, with improved connections to Parramatta River, as well as much-needed housing and job opportunities.

“Under the strategy, up to 4,200 new homes and 1,100 new jobs will be delivered, along with around 2.3-hectares of open space, an upgrade to Rhodes Railway Station, a proposed ferry wharf, and a site for a new public school,” he said.

“The community will also benefit from 2.9 kilometres of new walking and cycling paths, which will connect with a new 7,500 square metre foreshore park, 15 metre-wide waterfront promenade, and existing open spaces such as McIlwaine Park.”

For more information on the Wilton rezoning, visit:

To view the final Rhodes Place Strategy and long-term vision it outlines for the area, visit: Precincts/Rhodes

Increased Frequency Of Extreme Ice Melting In Greenland Raises Global Flood Risk

November 1, 2021
Global warming has caused extreme ice melting events in Greenland to become more frequent and more intense over the past 40 years according to new research, raising sea levels and flood risk worldwide.

Over the past decade alone, 3.5 trillion tonnes of ice has melted from the surface of the island and flowed downhill into the ocean.

That's enough melted ice to cover the entire UK with around 15 metres of meltwater, or cover the entire city of New York with around 4500 metres.

The new study, led by the University of Leeds, is the first to use satellite data to detect this phenomena -- known as ice sheet runoff -- from space.

The findings, published in Nature Communications, reveal that Greenland's meltwater runoff has risen by 21% over the past four decades and has become 60% more erratic from one summer to the next.

Lead author Dr Thomas Slater, a Research Fellow in the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling at the University of Leeds said:

"As we've seen with other parts of the world, Greenland is also vulnerable to an increase in extreme weather events.

"As our climate warms, it's reasonable to expect that the instances of extreme melting in Greenland will happen more often -- observations such as these are an important step in helping us to improve climate models and better predict what will happen this century."

The study, funded by the European Space Agency's (ESA) as part of its Polar+ Surface Mass Balance Feasibility project, used measurements from the ESA's CryoSat-2 satellite mission.

The research shows that over the past decade (2011 to 2020), increased meltwater runoff from Greenland raised the global sea level by one centimetre. One third of this total was produced in just two hot summers (2012 and 2019), when extreme weather led to record-breaking levels of ice melting not seen in the past 40 years.

Raised sea levels caused by ice melt heightens the risk of flooding for coastal communities worldwide and disrupts marine ecosystems in the Arctic Ocean that indigenous communities rely on for food.

It can also alter patterns of ocean and atmospheric circulation which affect weather conditions around the planet.

During the past decade, runoff from Greenland has averaged 357 billion tonnes per year, reaching a maximum of 527 billion tonnes of ice melt in 2012, when changes in atmospheric patterns caused unusually warm air to sit over much the ice sheet. This was more than twice the minimum runoff of 247 billion tonnes that occurred in 2017.

The changes are related to extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, which have become more frequent and are now a major cause of ice loss from Greenland because of the runoff they produce.

Dr Slater said: "There are, however, reasons to be optimistic. We know that setting and meeting meaningful targets to cut emissions could reduce ice losses from Greenland by a factor of three, and there is still time to achieve this."

These first observations of Greenland runoff from space can also be used to verify how climate models simulate ice sheet melting which, in turn, will allow improved predictions of how much Greenland will raise the global sea level in future as extreme weather events become more common.

Study co-author Dr Amber Leeson, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Data Science at Lancaster University, said:

"Model estimates suggest that the Greenland ice sheet will contribute between about 3 and 23 cm to global sea level rise by 2100.

"This prediction has a wide range, in part because of uncertainties associated with simulating complex ice melt processes, including those associated with extreme weather. These new spaceborne estimates of runoff will help us to understand these complex ice melt processes better, improve our ability to model them, and thus enable us to refine our estimates of future sea level rise."

Finally, the study shows that satellites are able to provide instant estimates of summer ice melting, which supports efforts to expand Greenland's hydropower capacity and Europe's ambition to launch the CRISTAL mission to succeed CryoSat-2.

ESA's CryoSat mission manager, Tommaso Parrinello, said:

"Since it was launched over 11 years ago, CryoSat has yielded a wealth of information about our rapidly changing polar regions. This remarkable satellite remains key to scientific research and the indisputable facts, such as these findings on meltwater runoff, that are so critical to decision-making on the health of our planet.

"Looking further to the future, the Copernicus Sentinel Expansion mission CRISTAL will ensure that Earth's vulnerable ice will be monitored in the coming decades. In the meantime, it is imperative that CryoSat remains in orbit for as long as possible to reduce the gap before these new Copernicus missions are operational."

Thomas Slater, Andrew Shepherd, Malcolm McMillan, Amber Leeson, Lin Gilbert, Alan Muir, Peter Kuipers Munneke, Brice Noël, Xavier Fettweis, Michiel van den Broeke, Kate Briggs. Increased variability in Greenland Ice Sheet runoff from satellite observations. Nature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-26229-4

Researchers Boost Human Mental Function With Brain Stimulation

November 1, 2021
In a pilot human study, researchers from the University of Minnesota Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital show it is possible to improve specific human brain functions related to self-control and mental flexibility by merging artificial intelligence with targeted electrical brain stimulation.

Alik Widge, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry and member of the Medical Discovery Team on Addiction at the U of M Medical School, is the senior author of the research published in Nature Biomedical Engineering. The findings come from a human study conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston among 12 patients undergoing brain surgery for epilepsy -- a procedure that places hundreds of tiny electrodes throughout the brain to record its activity and identify where seizures originate.

In this study, Widge collaborated with Massachusetts General Hospital's Sydney Cash, MD, PhD, an expert in epilepsy research; and Darin Dougherty, MD, an expert in clinical brain stimulation. Together, they identified a brain region -- the internal capsule -- that improved patients' mental function when stimulated with small amounts of electrical energy. That part of the brain is responsible for cognitive control -- the process of shifting from one thought pattern or behaviour to another, which is impaired in most mental illnesses.

"An example might include a person with depression who just can't get out of a 'stuck' negative thought. Because it is so central to mental illness, finding a way to improve it could be a powerful new way to treat those illnesses," Widge said.

The team developed algorithms, so that after stimulation, they could track patients' cognitive control abilities, both from their actions and directly from their brain activity. The controller method provided boosts of stimulation whenever the patients were doing worse on a laboratory test of cognitive control.

"This system can read brain activity, 'decode' from that when a patient is having difficulty, and apply a small burst of electrical stimulation to the brain to boost them past that difficulty," Widge said. "The analogy I often use is an electric bike. When someone's pedalling but having difficulty, the bike senses it and augments it. We've made the equivalent of that for human mental function."

The study is the first to show that:
  • A specific human mental function linked to mental illness can be reliably enhanced using precisely targeted electrical stimulation;
  • There are specific sub-parts of the internal capsule brain structure that are particularly effective for cognitive enhancement; and
  • A closed-loop algorithm used as a controller was twice as effective than stimulating at random times.
Some of the patients had significant anxiety in addition to their epilepsy. When given the cognitive-enhancing stimulation, they reported that their anxiety got better, because they were more able to shift their thoughts away from their distress and focus on what they wanted. Widge says that this suggests this method could be used to treat patients with severe and medication-resistant anxiety, depression or other disorders.

"This could be a totally new approach in treating mental illness. Instead of trying to suppress symptoms, we could give patients a tool that lets them take control of their own minds," Widge said. "We could put them back in the driver's seat and let them feel a new sense of agency."

The research team is now preparing for clinical trials. Because the target for improving cognitive control is already approved by the Food and Drug Administration for deep brain stimulation, Widge says this research can be done with existing tools and devices -- once a trial is formally approved -- and the translation of this care to current medical practice could be rapid.

"The wonderful thing about these findings is that we are now in a position to conduct clinical trials to further demonstrate effectiveness and then hopefully move to helping treatment-resistant patients who are in desperate need for additional interventions to treat their illnesses," Dougherty said.

This work was supported by grants from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under Cooperative Agreement Number W911NF-14-2-0045 issued by the Army Research Organization (ARO) contracting office in support of DARPA's SUBNETS Program, the National Institutes of Health, Ellison Foundation, Tiny Blue Dot Foundation, MGH Executive Council on Research, OneMind Institute and the MnDRIVE and Medical Discovery Team on Addiction initiatives at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

Ishita Basu, Ali Yousefi, Britni Crocker, Rina Zelmann, Angelique C. Paulk, Noam Peled, Kristen K. Ellard, Daniel S. Weisholtz, G. Rees Cosgrove, Thilo Deckersbach, Uri T. Eden, Emad N. Eskandar, Darin D. Dougherty, Sydney S. Cash, Alik S. Widge. Closed-loop enhancement and neural decoding of cognitive control in humans. Nature Biomedical Engineering, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41551-021-00804-y

Shipwreck Reveals Secrets Of 17th -Century Dutch Seafaring Domination: Batavia - Western Australia

Many Dutch ships passed the West Australian coast while enroute to Southeast Asia in the 1600s -- and the national heritage listed shipwreck, Batavia, has revealed through its timbers the history of the shipbuilding materials that enabled Dutch East India Company (VOC) to flourish against major European rivals for the first time.

Built in Amsterdam in 1626-1628 and wrecked on its maiden voyage in June 1629 on Morning Reef off Beacon Island (Houtman Abrolhos Archipelago), Batavia epitomises Dutch East India (VOC) shipbuilding at its finest in a Golden Age, experts reveal in a study led by Flinders University archaeologist Associate Professor Wendy van Duivenvoorde with co-authors, Associate Professor and ERC grantee Aoife Daly at the University of Copenhagen and Marta Domínguez-Delmás, Research Associate and VENI Fellow at the University of Amsterdam.

"The use of wind-powered sawmills became common place in the Dutch republic towards the mid-17th century, allowing the Dutch to produce unprecedented numbers of ocean-going ships for long-distance voyaging and interregional trade in Asia, but how did they organise the supply of such an intensive shipbuilding activity? The Dutch Republic and its hinterland certainly lacked domestic resources" says Wendy van Duivenvoorde.

In-depth sampling of Batavia's hull timbers for dendrochronological research, published in open-access journal PLOS ONE, offers a piece of the puzzle of early Dutch 17th century shipbuilding and global seafaring that was still missing.

In the 17th century, the VOC grew to become the first multinational trading enterprise, prompting the rise of the stock market and modern capitalism. During this century, a total of 706 ships were built on the VOC shipyards in the Dutch Republic and 75 of these were shipwrecked and 23 captured by enemy forces or pirates.

However, little is understood about the timber materials that enabled the Dutch to build their ocean-going vessels and dominate international trade against competitors in France, Portugal, and continental Europe.

"Oak was the preferred material for shipbuilding in northern and western Europe, and maritime nations struggled to ensure sufficient supplies to meet their needs and sustain their ever-growing fleets. Our results demonstrate that the VOC successfully coped with timber shortages in the early 17th century through diversification of timber sources" explains Marta Domínguez Delmás."

Fortunately, the Batavia ship remains were raised in the 1970s and are on display at the Western Australian Shipwrecks Museum in Fremantle.

This allowed archaeologists and dendrochronologists from Flinders University, the University of Amsterdam, and University of Copenhagen to undertake the sampling and analysis of the hull timbers.

"The preference for specific timber products from selected regions demonstrates that the choice of timber was far from arbitrary. Our results illustrate the variety of timber sources supplying the VOC Amsterdam shipyard in the 1620s and demonstrate the builders' careful timber selection and skilled craftsmanship" says Aoife Daly.

"Our results contribute to the collective knowledge about north European timber trade and illustrate the geographical extent of areas supplying timber for shipbuilding in the Dutch Republic in the 17th century" concludes Wendy van Duivenvoorde.

Aoife Daly, Marta Domínguez-Delmás, Wendy van Duivenvoorde. Batavia shipwreck timbers reveal a key to Dutch success in 17th-century world trade. PLOS ONE, 2021; 16 (10): e0259391 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0259391

The 1629 Batavia ship on display at the Western Australian Shipwrecks Museum in Fremantle. Credit: Patrick E. Baker, Western Australian Museum.

The 5:2 Diet: A Good Choice For Gestational Diabetes

November 1, 2021
Weight loss after gestational diabetes can prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Yet finding the most effective way to lose weight and keep it off can be a challenge, especially for mothers with a new baby.

Now, new research from the University of South Australia suggests that the popular 5:2 or intermittent fasting diet is just as effective as a conventional energy-restricting diet, enabling women greater choice and flexibility when it comes to weight loss.

The 5:2 diet allows five days of normal eating each week while substantially restricting calories over two days a week, as opposed to a typical diet that requires moderate energy restrictions daily.

Globally, one in five pregnancies are affected by gestational diabetes, with these women having a ten-fold risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. Women who have had gestational diabetes and are also overweight are at an even higher risk. Type 2 diabetes has lifelong consequences and can lead to other chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.

Lead researcher, UniSA's Dr Kristy Gray, says the finding will be greatly welcomed by women looking to lose weight.

"Gestational diabetes is the fastest growing type of diabetes in Australia, affecting 15 per cent of pregnancies," Dr Gray says.

"Healthy eating and regular physical activity are recommended to manage gestational diabetes, with continuous energy restriction diets -- or diets that cut calories by 25-30 per cent -- being the most common strategy for weight loss and diabetes prevention.

"The trouble is, however, that new mums often put themselves last -- they're struggling with fatigue and juggling family responsibilities -- so when it comes to weight loss, many find it hard to stick to a low-calorie diet.

"The 5:2 diet may provide a less overwhelming option. As it only cuts calories over two days, some women may find it easier to adopt and adhere to, as opposed to a consistently low-calorie diet requiring constant management.

"Our research shows that the 5:2 diet is just as effective at achieving weight loss as a continuous energy-restricted diet in women who have had gestational diabetes, which is great, because it provides women with greater choice and control.

"Of course, women should seek advice from a health professional before commencing this type of diet, to make sure that it is suitable for them."

The research investigated the effects of both the 5:2 diet (five days of normal eating and two days of 500 calories) and a continuous energy-restricted diet (1500 calories per day) on weight loss and diabetes risk markers in women with a previous diagnosis of gestational diabetes. Both diets restricted energy by approximately 25 percent each week.

Kristy L Gray, Peter M Clifton, Jennifer B Keogh. The effect of intermittent energy restriction on weight loss and diabetes risk markers in women with a history of gestational diabetes: a 12-month randomized control trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2021; 114 (2): 794 DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/nqab058

Disclaimer: These articles are not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Pittwater Online News or its staff.