We Suspect Silence

What you don't say and what you don't do will define you.

Month: May, 2017

Podesta’s Aussie Players: Why the climate movement misunderstands “clean energy”

In my November 2016 post titled “Clean Energy” is a Dirty Joke I explained how the development of carbon capture and storage has been helped along by a global group of leaders working under the banner of “clean energy”.

“There is a global group called the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) which holds forums, events and discussions for energy ministers and secretaries. Within this arrangement there is the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, this is where the real “clean energy” action happens.”

Martin Ferguson attended these forums when he was resources minister. He also launched the project which he now chairs called CO2-CRC which is currently pumping CO2 under the Otway Ranges.

The term “clean energy” has been promulgated by the agents of financial elites since at least 2006 when the Clinton Global Initiative – Annual Meeting hosted a two-part panel discussion, moderated by John Podesta and titled ‘Energy and Climate Change: Financing Clean Energy’. The first portion of the panel discussion was titled ‘Clean Energy Investment Boom’ and featured Goldman Sachs economist Abby Joseph Cohen, venture capitalist John Doerr, and carbon trader extraordinaire John Paul Moscarella.

The ClimateWorks Foundation is John Podesta’s baby. He developed its networks into political and financial elite circles including the think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies who in 2007 published a report titled ‘The Age of Consequences” in which Podesta coauthored a section with his colleague at the Center for American Progress Peter Ogden titled ‘Security Implications of Climate Scenario 1: Expected Climate Change Over Next 30 Years’.

“Rather, the question is whether coal will continue to be a driver of climate change or if the development and implementation of clean coal and, in particular, carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) technology can make it a viable fuel source in a carbon-constrained economy. A 2007 MIT study, “The Future of Coal,” found that, in spite of the lead times involved, CCS technology can in fact be deployed on a wide enough scale to reduce significantly the carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants by 2050, though only if a global carbon emissions restriction or tax is in place and near-term government investment in R&D is increased.”

Earlier in 2007 the Climateworks Foundation published a report titled ‘DESIGN TO WIN PHILANTHROPY’S ROLE IN THE FIGHT AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING’. In the section titled ‘Dethroning King Coal’ we find a planned capitulation to the might of coal – if only we can find a way to sequester the CO2.

“Reduce emissions from unavoidable coal through carbon capture and sequestration (CCS). Even under the sunniest of scenarios, efficiency gains and expanded use of alternative energy sources won’t displace enough coal in the next two decades to forestall catastrophic climate change, so we must find a way to separate CO2 emissions from coal plants and store them beneath the earth. CCS, which remains in its infancy, deserves a critical push from philanthropy so that it can be rapidly deployed where demand for coal power is the greatest.”

 

Who are Podesta’s players?

Anna Skarbek is the CEO of ClimateWorks Australia and board member of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. In her 2014 article written for The Conversation titled ‘Direct Action’s here, but how will Australia cut carbon after 2020?’ she echoed the broad vision articulated by John Podesta in 2007. You can see her extensive networks here.

“Alternatively, a mix of renewables, carbon capture and storage and/or nuclear could be used. This low carbon electricity could then replace petrol and diesel in cars and passenger transport and replace gas used for cooking, heating and cooling buildings. Gas would be used in trucks replacing diesel, and gas would be the main fossil fuel used in industry. Some of this can be shifted to bioenergy or sequestered with carbon capture and storage, and the rest sequestered with carbon forestry.”

In the disclosure statement Skarbek reveals at least one very hawkish financial supporter.

“Anna Skarbek works for ClimateWorks which is funded by philanthropy and Monash University. Additional funding was received for the Deep Decarbonisation Pathways Project from ARENA, Accenture, the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute, TransGrid and the Mullum Trust.”

The Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute is an unabashed supporter of all new carbon capture and storage projects especially coal and enhanced oil recovery projects. This organisation is based in Australia and is the acknowledged leader in supporting the development of carbon capture and storage globally.

In 2016 Skarbek was invited by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) to join its ‘Leadership Forum on Energy Transition for Australia’ along with 2 members of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. The forum was charged with developing a “blueprint for energy transition”, and very much like the Australian Renewable Energy Agency the plan is to manage the “transition”. The kind of transition Skarbek advocates requires a decades long (minimum) phase of transition in order to develop the necessary renewables.  This transition phase would be comprised of a massive growth in ‘clean coal’, “clean gas”, industrial CCS for oil refineries and CO2 utilization projects, CO2 enhanced oil recovery, biomass (wood chip) burning, deep-sea storage, and saline aquifer storage.

The ACF are the current lead agency in the #StopAdani coalition. This puts them squarely in the field of climate activism. It is only possible for ACF to support the development of a blueprint that will influence the Clean Energy Finance Corporation because ACF and their allies in the climate movement do not acknowledge the reality of “clean energy”.

John Hepburn is the founder and executive director of the Sunrise Project, he is also a coauthor of the 2010 impact funded climate activism plan called ‘Stopping the Australian Coal Export Boom’. The Sunrise Project is funded by a collection of foundations lead by the Sandler Foundation and specialist impact funders all connected to John Podesta and the ClimateWorks Foundation. Email exchanges between Hepburn and various Sandler Foundation officials revealed in the Wikileaks Podesta Emails show a high commitment to masking the source of funding for the Sunrise Project which seems to be the real strategic centre of climate activism. In an email to Sandler Foundation colleagues that was forwarded to John Podesta, Hepburn’s contact Sergio Knaebel made this investor like statement about the Sunrise Project.

“I’m starting to think that our high tolerance for risk on this project is paying off!”

https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/13538

In another email that passed through Human Rights Watch director Ken Roth, and philanthropist and former banker Herbert Sandler before it found its way to Podesta, Hepburn explains in colourful terms how much he would like to not reveal the organisation’s funding.

“4. If I refuse, the maximum penalty is 6 months in jail. If I didn’t have children I’d be happy to tell them where to go (on principle) but it isn’t really an option;

5. This potentially creates a situation where we may need to disclose our funding and grant agreements;”

https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/18938

 

Calling the shots.

In my November 2016 post titled “Clean Energy” is a Dirty Joke I described “clean energy” like this:

““Clean Energy” is a rhetorical device of unprecedented scope. A poorly defined but effective shield for any pundit, mouthpiece or messaging agent to use when speaking of a seemingly uncertain energy future.”

Yesterday’s statements by Australian Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg reveal just how crucial our perception and understanding of “clean energy” is in manufacturing consent for carbon capture and storage. This statement by the Frydenberg is the most telling.

“The CEFC is after all not the renewable energy finance corporation, but one that is explicitly encouraged under part six of the Act to also invest in energy efficiency and low emission alternatives.”

Yes, “clean energy” is not the same as renewable energy. They are not interchangeable terms, but you could be forgiven for thinking they were. Nobody has taken it upon themselves to explain the difference because there is no gain to be made from doing so. The climate movement in its various forms have no interest in revealing the pre-emptive capitulations of those who make high level funding decisions. John Podesta sits at the wellspring of funding for climate activism and the political will for clean energy finance, and has done so for more than a decade. The sooner we can recognise and sideline the organisations and players he has helped install the sooner we can begin to seriously fight the development of the Galilee basin.

Advertisements

Michael West, ACF and the Dirty Deeds report: An incredible silence

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) have claimed that they will “pursue all avenues”  to stop the 1 billion Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) loan that was broadly reported in early December, 2016. I will show here that there are many reasons why one of those avenues should be telling the truth and not staying silent in the face of the shell game played by Adani, all levels of government, senior editors, and quite probably the impact philanthropists who drive the green movement.

Michael West prepared the Dirty Deeds report for ACF, but nowhere in the report is there any reference to the North Galilee Basin Rail Project. NAIF and Matt Canavan have never named the rail project for which the loan is earmarked, and they have never named the Adani entity that has applied for the loan.  I would argue that this lack of confirmation is no reason for an investigation that completely ignores a rail project for which there have been significant developmental goals achieved.

A bad example.

In December Greenpeace released their ‘Off Track: Why NAIF can’t approve the Carmichael Rail Project’ report which cites the ‘North Galilee Basin Rail Project, EIS Executive Summary’ in reference to the exclusivity of “the rail line”.

Greenpeace effectively invented a project called the “Carmichael Rail Project” which kept the name of the actual rail project under investigation out of the spotlight. No project with the name “Carmichael Rail Project” is mentioned on any Queensland Department of State Development publications, nor does any other environmental group use this contrived proper name. The two projects in question are called the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project (CCMR) and the North Galilee Basin Rail Project (NGBR).

Off Track: Why NAIF can’t approve the Carmichael Rail Project

Off Track_rail line_6

Off Track_reference_6_NGBR_EIS

A good example.

The Environmental Defenders Office Queensland (EDO Qld) in their April 18, 2017 update titled ‘North Galilee Basin Rail approvals and NAIF’ take the position that it was “broadly reported” that the NAIF loan was earmarked for the NGBR and as such consideration should be given to the elements of that particular project. Just like all of us, they are required to work with provisional assumptions in the absence of a primary source provided by NAIF showing precisely which Adani entity is applying for the loan and which particular rail project would receive funding. This was the first time that EDO Qld has issued an update or advice about the NGBR.

http://www.edoqld.org.au/north-galilee-basin-rail-approvals-and-naif/

 

Getting the content right and wrong.

Gail Burke and Dea Clarke prepared a piece on December 3, 2016 that was cited by EDO Qld in their April update and by Greenpeace in their Off Track report. It now contains a map showing both the CCMR and the NGBR. Before I got in contact with Gail Burke on December 3 the image shown in the article showed only the CCMR.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-03/adani-carmichael-rail-line-closer-to-federal-loan/8089790

Gail Burke_Dec 3_before

Screen grab of the image attached when the article was first posted showing the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project

Gail Burke_Dec 3_after

Screen grab of the image attached after my communication with Gail Burke showing the North Galilee Basin Rail Project not mentioned in the article

Gail Burke_response_NGBR image

Screen grab of the reply from Gail Burke

 

How do we know?

350.org.au created an archive copy of the Courier Mail exclusive from December 3, 2016 by Renee Viellaris. This piece has become the compromised primary source for information about the Adani NAIF loan application. No other digital copy of this article is available online.

https://350.org.au/press-release/courier-mail-adanis-2b-rail-on-track-for-jobs-boom/

The Sydney Morning Herald & The Guardian Australia reported the content of the CM article on December 3 which includes mention of NGBR and various details from the CM exclusive.

Joshua Robertson

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/dec/03/adani-coal-mine-green-groups-fume-over-plan-for-1b-federal-loan

Michael Koziol and David Wroe

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/turnbull-government-eyes-1-billion-adani-loan-backed-by-new-infrastructure-fund-20161204-gt3joz.html

 

2 key industry players we don’t talk about.

In contradiction to the assertion by Greenpeace that “the rail line” will be “exclusive”, Resolve Coal who have their proposed Hyde Park mine site adjacent to the proposed Carmichael mine site claim to have an “existing” MOU with Adani.

https://www.hydeparkcoal.com.au/project

Resolve coal_MOU_Adani

Screen grab from the Hyde Park coal website

On their web page titled ‘BIODIVERSITY OFFSETS FOR MAJOR GALILEE BASIN PROJECTS’ CO2 Australia specify that they delivered offsets for both CCMR and NGBR.

CO2 Australia_NGBR_offsets

Screen grab from the CO2 Australia website

 

Others bother to name the project.

The Australia Institute ‘Don’t be so Naif’ report was cited multiple times by Michael West in the Dirty Deeds report and mentions NGBR describing it as the “specific proposal under consideration”.

Dont be so Naif_NGBR

Screen grab from ‘Don’t be so Naif’

 

3 Indigenous Land Use Agreements relating to the North Galilee Basin Rail Project signed with Adani Mining PTY LTD in 2014.

Juru

http://www.nntt.gov.au/searchRegApps/NativeTitleRegisters/Pages/ILUA_details.aspx?NNTT_Fileno=QI2014/072

Birriah

http://www.nntt.gov.au/searchRegApps/NativeTitleRegisters/Pages/ILUA_details.aspx?NNTT_Fileno=QI2014/080

Jannga

http://www.nntt.gov.au/searchRegApps/NativeTitleRegisters/Pages/ILUA_details.aspx?NNTT_Fileno=QI2014/065

 

The 2 rail projects.

Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project

http://statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/assessments-and-approvals/carmichael-coal-mine-and-rail-project.html

North Galilee Basin Rail Project

http://statedevelopment.qld.gov.au/assessments-and-approvals/north-galilee-basin-rail-project.html

 

Largely ignored by Australian media.

Recent and very clear statements made by Adani spokespersons and Adani Australia CEO Jeyakumar Janakaraj in the Economic Times of India.

March 17, 2017 http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/indl-goods/svs/metals-mining/adanis-australian-project-to-generate-22-billion-in-taxes-and-royalty/articleshow/57692866.cms

Adani statement standard gauge Economic Times 17 March 2017

Screen grab shared by me on Twitter at or around the time of publication

May 4, 2017 http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/indl-goods/svs/metals-mining/adani-signs-steel-supply-deal-with-australian-group-arrium/articleshow/58512122.cms

Adani_JJ_statement_May 4 NGBR

Screen grab shared by me on Twitter at or around the time of publication

 

The “combined project” and “critical infrastructure” announcement.

Jackie Trad announced that the NGBR was part of a ‘combined project” and “critical infrastructure” last October.

http://us8.campaign-archive1.com/?u=541717bc9163bd82c24975b72&id=c59bb2b298&e=fd675b2531

screenshot.264

Screen grab: October 13, 2016. Jackie Trad announcing the creation of the Adani Combined Project

Queensland Law Society, October update following the combined projects announcement.

file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/doc20161019_Legislation_update_No41_2016.pdf

RTI disclosure showing stakeholder and bureaucrat communications leading up to the combined projects, critical infrastructure announcement.

http://services.dip.qld.gov.au/opendata/RTI/DSD/documents-for-publication-RTIP1617-030.pdf

QCF response to combined projects

https://wbbec.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/ltr-to-qld-premier-re-adani-critical-infrastructure-declaration.pdf

 

Stop the means of export.

In the Dirty Deeds report Michael West shares the questions he presented to the office of the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Steven Ciobo. The second of the 3 questions intrigued me:

“2. Has the Minister discussed this kind of solution (as the rail line is dependent upon the mine being built and Efic is already devoting resources to assist NAIF in project evaluation)?”

I would argue that the rail line is not dependent on the mine getting built, but rather the rail line getting built will assure that the many mines proposed for the Galilee Basin get developed. The rail line is the means of export that makes opening up the Galilee possible, and a greenfield, vertically integrated, multi-user standard gauge rail line is the most profitable way of delivering the necessary economies of scale to justify investment in the Galilee Basin.

ORIC to redo examination into Indigenous corporation involved in negotiations with Adani

When I make a call to an organisation seeking information about an issue I assume that organisation has a process to vet callers to ensure that the appropriate person deals with that individual (me). When I call I usually say my first name and ask for information. This is what I did today when I called the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC). I was put through to a case manager who, at the end of the call when I asked for them to repeat their last name, refused saying they were concerned with my involvement with the media. I took lots of notes before the case manager twigged to my line of questioning and asked about my purpose and intentions. I told the case manager I was a blogger and was encouraging journalists to explore this story, I also told the case manager I was fighting for justice for Carol Prior, a complainant, native title holder, and member of  the Indigenous corporation under examination. I didn’t tell the case manager I was glad I’d taken lots of notes and quotes.

Some context: Samantha Healy reported in October last year in the Townsville Bulletin that at the time Carol Prior and her fellow complainants spoke to her about their initial complaint “the watchdog [ORIC] refused to confirm the existence of the complaint”. I cover the issue here:  https://wesuspectsilence.wordpress.com/2017/03/30/the-notice-of-examination-that-could-reveal-adanis-dirty-dealings-in-securing-the-ngbr-corridor/

Now we are witnessing the further delaying of the examination process with the appointment of a new examiner and a new examination. This is at a crucial time in the fight to #stopadani. In my previous phone call to ORIC I was told that the first examiner was delayed in their examination due to health issues and the holiday season. The case manager explained to me that because the first examination “wasn’t completed properly” due in part to instances when the examiner was “unable to access the [Indigenous] corporation” and unable to access “other” parties. The case manager also revealed “we had issues obtaining information”. 

I was told by the case manager that we would not see anything published by ORIC until at the earliest “the first week in June”, a full 10 months after the complaint was first lodged and over 8 months after the publication of the Notice of Examination. I asked if the complainants would be informed before publication of any outcomes by ORIC and if they would receive any more information than would be made available for the public in any publication. The case worker said Carol Prior “will have to watch the website” and indicated that the complainants will receive no more information than any member of the public.

I explained how the timing of this delay only favoured powerful interests. I pointed out that proposed native title system reforms relating to Indigenous Land Use Agreements could be impacted by the outcome of the ORIC examination and that the NAIF funding final approval could come through in the next few weeks. I explained that the 1 billion Adani loan for a rail link is likely to be for the North Galilee Basin Rail Project for which Adani have a signed Body Corporate Indigenous Land Use Agreement which is one of the subjects of the Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation members complaint and therefore part of the ORIC examination.

This phone call raises so many questions. By “other” parties was the case manager referring to Adani? Why was “the corporation” unavailable? Why did ORIC, a regulator of corporate behaviour under the CATSI Act fail to ensure a prompt and accountable process? And why is a well resourced organisation like ORIC not prepared for calls from concerned citizens about a controversial coal complex on which their work could have a crucial impact?

 

The National Native Title Tribunal: Arbiter or “record keeper”?

Today I spent 40 minutes on the phone with the case manager for the three Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) registered with the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT) relating to Adani’s North Galilee Basin Rail Project.
 
I was armed with the knowledge, passed on from an expert in this particular area, that the NNTT is not only a record keeper for native title agreements, it is also responsible for arbitration of many of the issues that might occur in negotiation processes such as those articulated by Carol Prior in 2 media stories from 2014 and 2016. There is at least one story currently somewhere in the NewsCorp pipeline in anticipation of the outcomes from the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) examination into Adani dealings with the Juru Indigenous corporation Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation. Since my starting assumption is that high quality publicly available information is the last line of defence for black fellas who’ve been excluded from the negotiating and voting process, I was prepared to test the NNTT information giving culture. My lengthy conversation with the NNTT case manager involved an exchange of assertions about the role and function of the organisation. Each time the case manager asserted that the organisation was a “record keeper” I responded with the assertion that through the information architecture embedded in the digital records it provides along with it’s actual functions in arbitration it serves to limit access to information and justice to traditional owners.   
 
Between the NNTT and ORIC lies the responsibility for regulating the activity of Indigenous corporations, mining companies, and their representatives. There are difficult to interpret limits on how much information is made publicly available, and when it comes to information that can support an argument that a mining company has not negotiated in good faith, there’s scarce little published. We are expected to accept the word of the NNTT that the representatives of Indigenous corporations have satisfied all the requirements under the Native Title Act, Section 24 to ensure that traditional owners with an interest in a native title claim or determination are made aware of negotiations and meetings. 
 
In attempting to build a timeline to support my analysis of various Queensland government RTI documents I’ve discovered that I need to send a request letter to the NNTT to explain the purpose for my request for information regarding submission dates, and dates of meetings with native title holders and traditional owners. The NNTT will then give consideration to my request. The information I unsuccessfully requested today from the NNTT case manager, dates for submission of ILUA documents by 3 different Indigenous corporations, could not be categorised as either privileged or available for the public upon request. I don’t see how my purpose in seeking the information I am requesting should have any impact on how the NNTT interprets the Native Title Act with respect to particular pieces of information about the dates certain documents were created. The NNTT is an organisation that by virtue of it’s nature – both arbiter and record keeper – should be able to assess the status of a record it is keeping and make appropriate decisions accordingly. 
I was advised that I should speak with the legal firms listed each applicant or Indigenous corporation, or check the public record for notifications. The later option will likely require exhaustive research involving listings of events in local papers and specialist media.