Environment

  • Total fire bans in eastern NSW as temperatures soar

    Total fire bans are in place in four areas of eastern New South Wales as temperatures hit 37 degrees Celsius in parts of Sydney on Friday. The fire danger rating in the Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter, Illawarra/Shoalhaven and Southern Ranges regions was upgraded from “very high” to “severe”, and a total fire ban is in place in those areas. The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) warned that high temperatures and strong winds of up to ... ► Read more

  • Report: demand for Australian coal to plummet in future

    Economists are predicting Australia’s thermal coal exports to plummet faster than expected, due to falling demand across Asia that appears permanent and irreversible. A study by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) found Australia’s top four export markets — China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea — were shifting rapidly to renewables. The study found New South Wales, the source of nearly 70% of thermal coal exports, should brace for disruption in energy markets. IEEFA ... ► Read more

  • PM announces $5bn drought fund

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison will unveil the first federal drought fund of its kind in Canberra on Friday. The $5 billion Future Drought Fund aims to provide relief to farmers, help them recover from the so-called ‘green drought’ on the east coast, and assist with their long-term resilience. “There are people in trouble,” Mr Morrison told SBS in an exclusive interview. “They need help. It’s the Commonwealth Government’s responsibility to look after the people.” The ... ► Read more

  • Clean Up Australia founder Ian Kiernan dies aged 78

    Environmental campaigner and co-founder of Clean Up Australia Ian Kiernan has died aged 78, having been diagnosed with cancer in late July. Clean Up Australia co-founder Kim McKay said Mr Kiernan “lived life hard and lived it well.” “It’s quite a shock to a lot of people because Ian was only diagnosed with the cancer [quite recently] and it took hold of him quite rapidly,” Ms McKay told the ABC. “He was a larger-than-life figure, ... ► Read more

  • Week In Brief: 7 – 13 October 2018

    Government promises to fast track company tax cuts ahead of federal election The Morrison Government has promised to fast track company tax cuts ahead of the next federal election, with legislation to be introduced to Parliament in the next fortnight. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. AFP raids Home Affairs Dept over au pair scandal leaks Federal Police are raiding the Department of Home Affairs over suspected leaks in relation to the au pair ... ► Read more

  • Hurricane Michael the worst Florida has seen in over 100 years

    Hurricane Michael officially made landfall in Florida, with winds of up to 250 kilometres per hour making the storm the worst the region has seen in over 100 years. The devastating storm caught many by surprise when it rapidly intensified as it moved north over the Gulf of Mexico. It then made landfall at the town of Mexico Beach at about 1:40pm (local time), where it was recorded as a category four hurricane on the ... ► Read more

  • Indonesia earthquake: 5000 still missing as death toll rises to over 1700

    Officials fear at least 5,000 people may still be missing in Indonesia following a deadly earthquake and tsunami that killed 1,763 people and devastated the northern island of Sulawesi. Indonesian authorities updated the number of casualties on Sunday, with the country’s disaster agency announcing the search for survivors would end on Thursday, despite fears that scores of people still remain buried under heaps of rubble and mud. Thousands of those still missing are thought to ... ► Read more

  • NSW towns relieved by rain, but the drought is still not over

    Some towns in western New South Wales have received more rain in 24 hours than they have all year, but more is needed to break the state’s ongoing drought. A trough moving across the state has brought significant rainfall, and is predicted to cross central NSW before moving into the Hunter Valley, according to the Bureau of Meteorology. “It’s going to give some brief respite, but unfortunately we need a lot more,” said meteorologist Simon ... ► Read more

  • Tesla battery delivers impressive dispatchable power, says Energy Market Operator, despite critics

    The huge lithium-ion battery constructed by tech giant Tesla in South Australia has proven it can dispatch power more rapidly and precisely than conventional thermal power stations, according to data from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO). The battery is located on a wind farm some three hours’ drive north of Adelaide and, despite criticism and derision, has helped stabilise South Australia’s electricity supply while reducing costs. “It’s ability to respond very, very quickly to ... ► Read more

  • US, Mexico and Canada agree to new trade deal

    On Monday (local time), the leaders of the United States, Mexico and Canada formally agreed to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with a new trade deal. NAFTA, which has been in force since 1994, will be superseded by the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to govern the more than US $1.2 trillion in trade between the three countries. Most of the key provisions of USMCA will not come into effect until 2020, to ... ► Read more

  • Nyiyaparli community wins 20-year native title battle

    The Nyiyparli community has won a 20-year legal battle to be recognised as the native title holders of approximately 40,000 square kilometres of land in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, which includes the mining town of Newman. The Aboriginal community lodged its first claim on 29 September 1998, and Federal Court Justice Michael Barker handed down his decision — which has not yet been published — in an on-country at Coondiner Pool (Kuntinha) hearing ... ► Read more

  • Poll shows Sydney residents believe urban migration should be restricted

    A ReachTEL poll conducted on Thursday has revealed nearly two thirds of Sydney residents want less migration to the city as the population figures climb. Over 63% of the 1627 participants surveyed favoured restricting migration influx, while 50% are against further infrastructure development to accomodate the rising population. Concerns about living costs in urban Sydney — especially housing affordability and energy costs — are the primary driver of residents’ belief in re-directing migration. The Sydney ... ► Read more

  • Typhoon Mangkhut strikes southern China

    Typhoon Mangkhut hit mainland China at 5:00 pm (local time) on Sunday afternoon (local time), causing landslides that authorities fear have buried dozens of people. The storm has left death and destruction in its wake, with 64 people dead after it crossed the Phillipines, a toll that is expected to rise as rescue workers attempt to locate those still missing, likely buried beneath the 51 landslides in the north of the country. 😲😭TYPHOON mankhut Aujourdui ... ► Read more

  • 90 elephant carcasses found in Botswana with tusks hacked off

    Ninety elephant carcasses have been found in Botswana with their tusks hacked off, a charity announced on Tuesday. Elephants Without Borders, a charitable organisation dedicated to conserving wildlife and natural resources, said that the grim discovery of nearly 100 elephant carcasses, which took place through an aerial survey over several weeks, is believed to be one of Africa’s worst mass poaching sprees. “We started flying the survey on July 10, and we have counted 90 ... ► Read more

  • At least eight dead in central Japan as Typhoon Jebi makes landfall

    Typhoon Jebi struck the central Japanese cities of Kobe and Osaka on Tuesday. At least eight deaths have been reported and more than 150 people injured, as Japan responds to the most intense tropical storm to hit the country in 25 years. The typhoon made its first landfall in Tokushima Prefecture around noon (Japanese standard time), before crossing the Osaka Bay and making landfall at Kobe around 2:00pm, and passing northwards over Hyogo Prefecture into ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 19 August – 25 August 2018

    Scott Morrison wins leadership spill Scott Morrison has won Friday’s Liberal leadership spill, clearing the way for him to become Australia’s 30th Prime Minister. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Government instability in the wake of leadership challenge Malcolm Turnbull’s coalition government was rocked by turmoil following Tuesday’s unsuccessful leadership challenge by former Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Trump warns American economy would crash if he ... ► Read more

  • Kalashnikov takes on Tesla with new electric concept car

    Russian arms manufacturer Kalashnikov unveiled on Thursday (local time) a new electric concept “supercar” it says will rival Elon Musk’s Tesla. Based on the body of the Soviet-era Izh hatchback, Kalshnikov’s CV-1 has a 90 kilowatt hour battery which offers a range of 350 kilometers. The vehicle can accelerate from 0 kph to 100 kph in six seconds, according to the arms company. Kalashnikov spokesperson Sofia Ivanova told Russia’s RBC that the CV-1 would compete directly “with ... ► Read more

  • German foreign minister calls for independent payments system from US

    German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has called for the creation of a new electronic payments system independent of the United States to ensure the survival of the nuclear deal between Iran and the West, which the US withdrew from in May this year. Mr Maas told Handelsblatt that Europe should not allow the US to “act over our heads or at our expense.” “For that reason it’s essential that we strengthen European autonomy by establishing ... ► Read more

  • Kerala’s devastating floods kill more than 350 people

    India’s southernmost state of Kerala is in crisis as torrential floods continue, seeing at least 350 people killed and about 800,000 displaced. The floods, which started on August 8, have ripped through the state, creating landslides, destroying houses, bridges and roads, and trapping thousands. Footage from flood-affected areas have shown the devastation that has thus far ruined around 10,000 km of road, making evacuations and transport of supplies even harder. Spokesperson for Oxfam India Basab ... ► Read more

  • Dutton reportedly urged to challenge Turnbull for Prime Ministership

    The Daily Telegraph has reported that some anonymous government backbenchers are urging Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton to challenge Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for leadership of the Liberal Party and the country. A small group of government MPs are opposed to the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), a policy to address electricity affordability, reliability, and emissions, that was adopted by the Coalition party room on Tuesday. Those MPs opposed want more done to cut prices ... ► Read more

  • Coalition party room backs NEG

    The Coalition party room officially endorsed the Turnbull Government’s National Energy Guarantee (NEG) on Tuesday. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hailed his victory as bringing Australia “one step closer to cheaper and more reliable energy”. The Coalition party room meeting lasted over two hours and has been described as “testy”, according to the ABC. While the majority of Liberal and National MPs supported the plan, a handful of backbenchers, including former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, have ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 5 August – 11 August 2018

    Pence unveils details on Space Force United States Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday (local time) unveiled details of how the Trump Administration will build the so-called Space Force which is set to become the sixth branch of the US military, saying the “time has come” to prepare for “the next battlefield.” See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Emma Husar will not recontest seat at next federal election Labor MP Emma Husar announced on ... ► Read more

  • Rescue efforts continue after devastating earthquake in Indonesia

    Rescuers are pulling people alive from rubble in Indonesia’s Lombok two days after an earthquake devastated the island. Thousands have been left homeless in the worst-affected areas as they continue to wait for aid to arrive. Lombok was hit with an earthquake on Sunday night that reached a 7.0 reading on the Richter scale, causing chaos that left thousands of buildings and homes demolished, along with over 230 people seriously injured. One of the buildings ... ► Read more

  • DPI: 100% of NSW in drought

    All of New South Wales has been declared in drought, with 77% of the state either in drought or drought-affected and 23% experiencing intense drought, according to the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI). June and July were drier than expected, causing crops to fail, water shortages, and a diminishing supply of fodder for livestock, NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair said in a statement on Wednesday. According to Mr Blair, only 0-10mm of rain ... ► Read more

  • Australian industry groups urge governments to support the National Energy Guarantee

    Seven groups that represent Australian industry have urged the federal, state, and territory governments to get behind the National Energy Guarantee (NEG). In a joint statement issued on Monday the Business Council of Australia, Australian Industry Group, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Council of Small Business Organisations, National Farmers’ Federation, Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association, and Australian Energy Council called on Australian leaders to “put aside politics and support the implementation of the ... ► Read more

  • Indonesia earthquake: death toll continues to rise

    The search for survivors of the deadly earthquake that hit Indonesia’s Bali and Lombok islands last night is still underway, with the death toll just hitting 91. Authorities expect more deaths will be confirmed as search efforts continue. The disaster comes only a week after another quake in the same region killed 16 people. The earthquake, which Australian tourists visiting Indonesia said felt like “a bomb had gone off”, hit at a depth of 10.5 ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 22 – 28 July 2018

    Nine Network to takeover Fairfax Media The Nine Network will takeover Fairfax Media in a deal rumoured to be worth around $4 billion, Fairfax CEO Greg Hywood announced on Thursday morning. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Greece declares state of emergency as lethal wildfires rage near Athens Greece has declared a state of emergency after two separate wildfires raged through towns near its capital Athens, killing at least 20 people, injuring over 100 ... ► Read more

  • Greece declares state of emergency as lethal wildfires rage near Athens

    Intense wilfires on the national road Athens – Patras, Greece. July 23. Video: Giannis Labropoulos pic.twitter.com/Pvd5rCCDfp — Nepareizais (@Nepareizais) July 23, 2018 Greece has declared a state of emergency after two separate wildfires raged through towns near its capital Athens, killing at least 20 people, injuring over 100 and leaving many more missing. The fires, which have been dangerously fueled by heavy winds, have immersed the city in a blanket of heavy smoke, with the ... ► Read more

  • Energy Market Operator predicts significant reduction in coal-fired power stations by 2040

    In its inaugural Integrated System Plan released on Tuesday, the Australian Energy Market Operator says that between 2030–40 a “significant amount” of coal-fired power stations will reach the end of their technical life and be retired. Although the AEMO noted that “costs of new renewable plant continue to fall, and advances and availability of storage technologies … are emerging as core components to a low cost and reliable energy future” it warned that prematurely closing ... ► Read more

  • Forest fires ravage Sweden

    Over the weekend forest fires were reported in all but three Swedish counties, with firefighters being assisted by helicopters flown in from neighbouring Norway. Authorities issued a public announcement advising residents in certain areas of the central-Swedish Jämtland County to stay indoors, and rescue services have requested additional assistance from the northern counties to relieve their own staff. The nearby and neighbouring counties of Dalarna, Gävleborg and Örebro will be aided by six helicopters from ... ► Read more

  • ACCC says increased electricity competition could lead to household savings

    The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says households could save up to $415 a year on power bills if its call for a boost to competition in the electricity market is implemented. In a report released on Wednesday, the ACCC blames low competition and policy mistakes for increases in power bills, and criticises the current state of the electricity market for being “unacceptable and unsustainable”. “It is clear that most households are paying too ... ► Read more

  • The plastic bag ban and what it means

    Single-use plastic bags are being banned and phased out across Australian supermarket and grocery-store chains. Supermarket giant Woolworths introduced a nationwide ban on these bags at all of its stores on 20 June (including BWS liquor stores and Big W), and rival supermarket Coles followed on 30 June. Consumers now need to bring their own reusable bags with them to the shops, or purchase them for an additional charge at the checkout. Many shoppers remain ... ► Read more

  • Japan: more than 110 dead following severe flooding and landslides

    More than 110 people have died as a result of severe flooding and landslides in southwestern Japan, while 58 others remain missing. Search and clean-up operations are underway, with 54,000 military, police, and firefighting personnel, as well as helicopters and boats dispatched in the still-risky conditions. The death toll is expected to continue rising as search efforts reach areas with limited accessibility. “There are still many people missing and others in need of help, we ... ► Read more

  • Two suspected rhino poachers have been eaten by lions in South African reserve

    At least two suspected rhino poachers have been mauled to death and eaten by lions on a South African game reserve. The remains of two bodies, possibly three, were found by officials in a lion enclosure in the Sibuya reserve, near the southeast town of Kenton-on-Sea. An anti-poaching team that arrived on the scene also found a high-powered hunting rifle with a silencer, a long axe, and wire cutters. “They strayed into a pride of ... ► Read more

  • Former PM Tony Abbott urges withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement

    Tony Abbott is calling for Australia to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, despite signing up to the agreement in 2015 when he was Prime Minister. In a speech to a group of climate sceptics on Tuesday night, Mr Abbott said that he would not have signed up to the Paris Agreement if he had known the US would withdraw from it. He said Australia needs to pull out of the treaty to end “the ... ► Read more

  • Greenpeace activists crash ‘superman drone’ into French nuclear facility to show security flaws

    This!French campaigners @greenpeacefr have flown a #Superman drone over a #NuclearPlant located 30km from Lyon, in France, and voluntarily crashed it against a wall of the building to show how vulnerable nuclear plants are.#Greenpeace#Nuclearpic.twitter.com/y90ZezSDX6 — J.N. PAQUET ✒ (@jnpaquet) July 3, 2018 Greenpeace activists have crashed a ‘superman drone’ into a French nuclear facility in an effort to expose its security flaws. The activists said, “at no time was the drone intercepted or even worried ... ► Read more

  • Denpasar airport closed as Bali’s Mount Agung erupts

    Flights to and from Bali have been cancelled or delayed, following another eruption of the Indonesian island’s Mount Agung volcano. Clouds of volcanic ash have spewed more than two kilometres into the air. Ngurah Rai International Airport, near Bali’s chief city of Denpasar, was closed at 3:00 am (local time), and is not due to open until at least 7:00 pm. Meteorologists and pilots continue assessing the weather conditions. Virgin Australia and AirAsia have cancelled ... ► Read more

  • Woolworths ceases providing single-use plastic bags

    Supermarket giant Woolworths stopped providing single-use plastic bags to customers on Wednesday, ahead of a statewide ban in Queensland. From 1 July retailers in Queensland will be prohibited from supplying lightweight single-use plastic shopping bags less than 35 microns in thickness. This follows similar laws in the ACT, Northern Territory, South Australia and Tasmania, while Victoria and Western Australia will also introduce bans this year. New South Wales does not intend to introduce its own ... ► Read more

  • Study: Antarctica’s extreme ice melting could redraw Earth’s coastlines

    Antarctica has lost nearly three million tonnes of ice since 1992, two-fifths of which has disappeared in the last five years, according to a new study published in the journal Nature. The landmark study conducted by 84 scientists found that the severe melting of ice had caused sea levels to rise by 7.6mm and could redraw Earth’s coastlines. “We now have an unequivocal picture of what’s happening in Antarctica,” said co-lead author Eric Rignot, a NASA ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 3–9 June 2018

    Australia Victoria on track to enact indigenous treaty law The Victorian Government has agreed to make amendments to its Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Bill 2018 to ensure it is passed by both houses of the Victorian Parliament. The bill establishes a framework and system of representation within which treaties with Aboriginal Victorians can be negotiated. The amendments will add a definition of ‘treaty’ in the bill, define ‘traditional owners’ (who will be ... ► Read more

  • Europe plans to ban single-use plastic items in effort to clean up oceans

    The European Union is proposing to ban single-use plastic items such as cutlery, straws and cotton buds in an effort to clean up the oceans. The European Commission wants to ban 10 items that make up 70% of all litter in European waters and on beaches. The list of items they want to ban also includes plastic plates and drink stirrers. The EU aims not just to ban the plastic items, but further impose the ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 15–21 April 2018

    Story of the week ‘Disturbing’ revelations from Banking Royal Commission hearings This week showed a marked change in the nature of the hearings of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry. While previous hearings have uncovered relatively minor misconduct coupled with incompetent levels of oversight, this week’s hearings have ranged from tedious to absurd, revealing that the industry is riddled with systemic fraud and misconduct. In previous hearings the ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 18-24 March 2018

    Story of the week Trump signs $60 billion tariff memo US President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum on Thursday, potentially imposing tariffs on up to US $60 billion worth of imports from China. The move comes as a push to combat the $486 billion goods trade deficit with China, and China’s “state-led market-distorting” violations of US intellectual property rights. The terms of the memorandum direct US Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer to propose tariff increases ... ► Read more

  • Breaking: Tsunami warning issued after 8.1 quake near Mexico’s western coast

    Image credit: US Geological Survey (website) An 8.1 magnitude earthquake has struck off the Western coast of Mexico. The US Tsunami Warning System has issued tsunami warnings for eight countries including Ecuador, Nicaragua, Panama, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, El Salvador, and Costa Rica. ► Read more