Why not break the climate planning political gridlock and Research, Develop and Leapfrog an 'Open Source' 'Climate plan for a climate emergency'? BZE's 'Million jobs plan' has already done much of the consultation and groundwork. Perhaps it's time for a 'Citizen's Assembly' to oversee the planning and implementation? Maybe we should speed up to an open source Green Industrial Revolution (Green Growth) in order to slow down the economy along the 'Carbon descent pathway' (Green degrowth) via deployment of sustainable infrastructure on the macro and micro levels? Decarbonisation via recarbonisation in order to rebalance the Carbon cycle. Also, if NASA's Mars Rover 'Perseverance' can use 'open source' technology, why not take the open source approach for a climate plan too? Quite frankly, I'm tired of the IP arms race around the world that is hindering progress of sustainable culture and our dependency on overseas manufacturing and energy imports, from an Ozzie designer's perspective. Maybe we could redefine IP competition and monopoly as open source IP competition with collaboration of designers and manufacturers all around the world. BAU is no longer an option if we want to survive.
The above two tables outline a range of environmental viewpoints. Embedded in the climate plan sketch (top) are ecosocialist (with moderate intervention), ecocapitalist, ecological rights, environmental justice, ecoanarchist, biocentric, transformers, biomimicry, sustainable development, bioregional and stewardship values and principles. Sounds confusing? So is planning ;) What do you believe in?
-Carbon plan - the keystone of any 'Climate Plan'
We need to reach a Carbon-neutral (net zero emissions) economy by at least 2050, preferably by 2035) and go Carbon-negative beyond that in order to help prevent average global temperature increases going beyond 1.5 degrees above pre-Industrial levels, which is into the climate 'danger zone'. Carbon is not the whole picture of climate change planning but probably takes the lion's share of action. The 'Precautionary Principle' rules - do more now and pay and lose less later.
The baseline for these cuts is debatable and can be selected by a given country under the Paris Climate Agreement. In Australia it's 2005 for 'emission reduction' (presumably Carbon emissions). The higher the emissions from a given baseline year, the higher the cuts are needed to get the same net results compared to lower emission baseline years (or at least that's my interpretation of it). 2005 had a particularly high level of Carbon emissions historically which, following the above argument, means targets need to be higher in order to achieve an ambitious reduction of Carbon emissions. Australia's response has been labelled as 'Insufficient' on 'climateactiontracker.org' (see link below).
A carbon dioxide equivalent or CO2 equivalent, abbreviated as CO2-eq [or CO2e] is a metric measure used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gases on the basis of their global-warming potential (GWP), by converting amounts of other gases to the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide with the same global warming potential.
Changes to our atmosphere associated with reactive gases (gases that undergo chemical reactions) like ozone and ozone-forming chemicals like nitrous oxides, are relatively short-lived. Carbon dioxide is a different animal, however. Once it’s added to the atmosphere, it hangs around, for a long time: between 300 to 1,000 years. Thus, as humans change the atmosphere by emitting carbon dioxide, those changes will endure on the timescale of many human lives.
-renewable energy targets
Different to Carbon emissions targets. Given the rate of new green tech R&D we could probably achieve 100% renewable energy by 2030. South Australia is leading the way…
-Carbon emission targets
Rolling/impermanent yearly objectives and 'fixed' 5 year targets for Carbon emission cuts with a Carbon-neutrality endgame of preferably 2035 with say, a 2005 baseline year. We could make a fixed endgame of Carbon-neutrality by 2035, with 5 year fixed targets at 2025 eg.40%, 2030 eg.70% and make all the emissions targets in between moving targets - one year at a time - and stocktake a 'National Carbon Inventory' at the end of each financial year? There's already a 'National Greenhouse Inventory' with quarterly updates - so we could use this as a starting point but focus on Carbon AND CO2e and do yearly reports instead at the EOFY. Carbon modelling would be key in this scenario - if we can track a 'phylogenetic tree' of COVID-19, Carbon tracking and modelling should be a no-brainer assuming you can get accurate data. It would be a question of how far do you want to drill down into society for Carbon accounting of Carbon emissions and Carbon offsets? For eg., we could drill down to the business and Institutional level which will capture most of the Carbon data needed for targets. Maybe there could be tax breaks for accurate reporting with random Carbon auditing ('Carbon cops' - joke) - which may be about as palatable as a 'Carbon tax' but could be a precursor to one down the track if the public mood changes. Maybe there's a better way? Carbon footprinting of supply chains and logistics will be one of the key challenges, especially for imported goods. On the micro scale, individuals could be left alone by the state and make their own low-Carbon lifestyle and consumer choices (with a push for Carbon footprint labeling of products).
-Carbon accounting and caveats
If you can't measure it, you can't account for it, and if you can't account for it, how would you know whether or not you had achieved meeting a target? Furthermore, it's a bit like Trump saying if you test less people for COVID-19 there will be less cases/infections to worry about. Similarly, the less Carbon you account for eg. excluding the agricultural sector (biochar offsets, anyone?), the easier it will be to claim that you have achieved a Carbon emission target but the reality is that there's still a lot of Carbon emissions happening that are unaccounted for! Furthermore, if one economic sector is excluded, the other sectors will need to do more heavy lifting in order to meet the overall Carbon emission target.
Back to the 'Climate plan':
-Market intervention (carrots/sticks)
Could be used where it's most effective eg.seed funding for greentech startups, no taxes on 'Green Hydrogen' (domestic consumption and exports), more funding for green materials research, higher energy, materials and water efficiency standards for new buildings, subsidies for Carbon farming/regenerative agriculture, more grants for biological conservation (linked in to the 'Half-Earth Project'), Carbon footprint labeling of consumer products etc.
There's no doubt we need to eventually cut fossil fuel subsidies in order to build a Green Hydrogen energy economy but look how some of the South American countries eg.Chile, Ecuador reacted to this policy. Also, there would be no new fossil developments in a Carbon negative future but this is tricky in the case of oil since we are reliant on importing 90% of our oil, oil refineries are shutting down, plus we have the 'Peak Oil' problem. We clearly need to get off our oil dependency fast. No new natural gas and coal developments (and winding down exports) should be a no brainer with transitioning workers and their compatible skillsets (with some relocation needed) into the Green Hydrogen economy, which can replace fossil fuels, but this probably won't happen with either major party as the fossil fuel lobby is tied in with 20th century political thinking, not ethics, science or progress.
-Technology neutrality V Greentech/Appropriate technology
implies there is no climate emergency therefore any tech could be supported eg.natural gas, brown Hydrogen, unproven and expensive CCS (unless you're talking about BECCS) as well as Greentech/Appropriate technology. It seems now both major parties in Oz are supporting a 'natural gas future' political platform. Natural gas is an imaginary clean green 'transition' fuel and is a political and ecological 'dead end[game]'. I urge the Labor party to debate the hell out of it at their convention later this month since 72% of Australians, according to the world's largest climate survey ever undertaken by the UNDP in January, believe there is a 'Climate Emergency' and are probably not stupid enough to believe natural gas is a future fuel. If Twiggy is going to save the planet with Green Hydrogen, why doesn't he go 'all in' and forget his 'dual fuel' idea which will only justify more natural gas infrastructure such as fracking gas fields and gas pipelines. Designing dedicated tech for Green Hydrogen (or even ammonia) will ultimately be more optimised for efficiency than 'dual fuel' tech. Or could it be that Twiggy has done a political deal with the Gov for planning and construction approvals and market access for his Green Hydrogen that includes a natural gas future? Green/Brown capitalism anyone? Even when more Green Hydrogen comes online, the Gov/Corporate will justify fracking anyway as they will be trying to recover money on their investment and probably export it anyway despite imminent Carbon tariffs on international fossil exports which is significant as we already export most of it. An apolitical Green Hydrogen future suddenly looks more attractive (and the majority of the world won't look down at us as energy convicts).
I wouldn't presume the 72% demographic stated above will vote for any major party if it's climate platform is dripping with fossil fuel. If there's too much 'me too' between the major parties, apart from a debatable 2050 Carbon-neutral target offered by Labor (and 120 countries around the world), the Greens might pick up many more seats with their 'Green New Deal' and possibly hold the balance of power in Parliament. If Labor adopts a climate 'plan' rather than another 'roadmap' or 'pathway' to get there including a 'Green Industrial Revolution 4.0' they've won if they can control the narrative as their two opponents Angus Taylor and Christian Porter presumably have no interest for this to happen. Making Green Hydrogen, which is already creating many jobs, the central climate platform technology will win many votes despite the power of the natural gas lobby and a number of conservative electorates in QLD. I think many of us have forgotten how far right the pendulum has swung in Australia - just look at the PM's latest Cabinet reshuffle eg. Defence Minister and Attorney-General. And yet another glass ceiling for the 'PM of Women'. Why can't Marise Payne get the top job - she deserves it aka meritocracy? COVID-19 has fortified the conservatives positions - maybe necessarily in terms of the 'Precautionary principle' but shouldn't dominate all spheres of politics.
Normally, I wouldn't be so fussed about politics as it often provides a good laugh but when a necessary Green future is being blocked so systemically at the Federal level I think to myself 'ball and chain' aka no 'real' choice or hope when we have so many other better tech options/choices on the table...so I'm pleading that we have more ambition and an honest debate about our future in which Green energy is a core issue.
Enter Greentech/Appropriate technology.
This implies there is a sustainability problem (or even a climate emergency) and therefore a need for well designed sustainable technology to replace environment/climate polluting technology with necessary R&D that should be partly financed via grants/seed funding through Gov, VC or philanthropic investment. Note that there is a difference between the two classifications..it depends on the baseline eg. will you judge the tech based on differences to fossil-based tech or bioenergy/human labour?
We also have rapidly developing Quantum physics on the doorstep - who knows where it will lead us? The 'sometimes' green nanotech revolution is also taking off - the 'sometimes' green because R&D has no boundaries in this field. I've read a lot of experimental research that uses many rare metals and even combinations of rare earth metals used to dope mostly graphene and sometimes biochar. Maybe this could be justified for specialty materials eg. space but in terms of widespread adoption, forget rare earth metals - 'Green chemistry' is all the rage now.
As mentioned on the climate plan mind map there are many technologies to choose from, with 'Green Hydrogen', 'Hot carrier' Perovskite PV cells (lead-free), Fe redox flow batteries (see PV-magazine link below), solid-state Sodium ion batteries, 'permaculture plants' and biochar are at the top of my list.
Excess renewable energy on the grid eg. solar etc. could also be used to make 'Green Hydrogen' during periods of low power demand which resulted on the 14/3/21 in SA for the first time in household solar panels being 'switched off' for grid 'system stabilisation'. Synchronous condensers (Syncons) are possibly not needed either in some cases using the example of firmware updates on SMA inverters (see reneweconomy link below). Strategically located Green Hydrogen hubs are also a great idea for Green H2 production - but probably should be 'medium' sized in scale with more of them distributed as it would be a lower logistical Carbon footprint, more secure and possibly just as efficient compared to 'large' scale hubs. It makes sense too given the rapid advancement of Green Hydrogen tech, eg. why spend a shitload on a large scale hub, despite the climate emergency, when it will be out of date in 5 years? In SA, the Tonsley Park Green Hydrogen demo site is a good start (The SA Libs love saying it's the 'largest' electrolyser in the state), SA Labor has upped the ante with their 'larger' intriguing Green Hydrogen plant proposal. At the moment it's a political black box with a bunch of figures so I'd be interested to know what are the actual 'Tech specs' or did they just scale up a Lavo system without the fuel cell(s)? Bigger is not necessarily better. Smaller can be beautiful. I think one or more 'medium sized' Green Hydrogen production transport hubs using excess renewable power rather than for inefficient combustion (Toshiba, in Japan, are using giant fuel cells but is a large-scale operation) to produce more grid power or even exports (read cash cow) is a better idea. Or, the SA Gov could just add Fe redox flow batteries for redundant storage/energy security that are currently being developed in Germany (see PV-magazine link below) which is aiming for 0.77 Aussie cents per kWh? Maybe an Aussie company could design a version that is even more efficient, or even collaborate with the Germans? We certainly have a shitload of Iron ore in Australia!! Another great option for Iron is the Iron-Air technology from 'Form Energy' in the US (link below). Failing that, Simon Hackett's Redflow has third generation Zn-Br redox flow batteries possibly ready to go....
But, as Grattan Institute Energy Program Director Tony Wood said (ABC article linked below) "We're going to need to do some more trials of electrolysers and storage. I'd be trying to do those things before I put big money into a power station". I agree, especially when it's a large amount of public money though I'm not opposed to state owned utilities however the reality is most of the technical and managerial expertise is now in the private sector. Being a biochar kiln prototyper, I can't emphasise enough why it's important to prototype before spending cash and effort on something commercial. In a previous blog I suggested building an international demonstration site, run like an international space program, for different Green Hydrogen system prototypes at Port Augusta (high unemployment, high solar insolation and airport). Competition and collaboration between companies would be awesome. I'd bet on Perovskite solar-seawater (with forward osmosis using functionalised and orientated multi walled Carbon nanotube (MWCNT) membrane)-)-H2 production (biochar/Iron for the HER) and storage system (biochar-Mg H2 binding sites for hydrides). It's unclear however whether the Port Augusta port redevelopment, Port Playford, would be suitable for Green Hydrogen exports but that would really be an added bonus and misses the point that we could accelerate R&D of Green Hydrogen production around the planet. Gaia doesn't care how we slow down climate change, as long as we do it and she'll keep on fighting back for as long as we don't do more and keep delaying real action.
The money is on how much money is the Gov prepared to spend on Australian Green Hydrogen company seed funding - despite the peak hydrogen body not discriminating between Green and Brown Hydrogen projects eg. Victoria, and the divestment strategy of the fossil fuel lobby? Over 90% of hydrogen gas in the world is produced from fossil fuels by natural gas reforming and coal gasification processes. In steam reforming of natural gas, 7.05 kg of CO2 is produced per kilogram of hydrogen. Also, Victoria has the same solar insolation as Spain - perfect for Green Hydrogen. And, as other states come on board with their Hydrogen plans, would it be beneficial if there was a degree of Federal planning and possibly even some coordination with the states and Territories? Right now it's cowboy capitalism. Green Hydrogen is undoubtedly a competing vision with fossil fuels of future reality so we should have a National debate about energy security in order to weigh up the pros and cons of the technologies in order to inform policy of the political parties that reflects what the public want.
Green Hydrogen can be produced with micro-electrolysis units eg. 'Lavo' tech in buildings and the 'Hydrogen Power Modules' (Genevos) in transport eg.marine. Toyota has just released a fuel cell kit for companies to build into. On the road, there are some interesting hybrid EV/H2 vehicles out there eg.H2X, Toyota Mirai and also some partly solar-powered EVs, such as 'Aptera' and 'Lightyear One'. Green Hydrogen production systems can utilise a 'forward osmosis' system requiring no energy input and can take impure water eg.brackish or seawater which makes up around 96.5% of the planet's water (see 'chemistryworld' link below). Given that most Green Hydrogen production systems need deionised water purified from freshwater and freshwater is becoming increasingly scarce, this is a great research achievement and such a simple design. Potentially, the cellulose membrane could be replaced with an engineered Carbon nanotube membrane which might get better results with less fouling. There are also cheaper and effective alternatives to Platinum electrodes. Note that forward osmosis has also been used in treating wastewater and dedicated water desalination tech.
Unlimited range, anyone? Why not an open source Aussie flagship vehicle for an open source 'Green Industrial Revolution'? With R&D philanthropy/VC, why not combine the best of the EV and Hydrogen worlds and have integrated solar PV cells on a car body (Flexible printed Lead-free 'Hot carrier' Perovskites on hemp/kelp biochar biocomposite) that produces H2 on board via micro-electrolysis, with H2 storage in Mg-biochar fuel canisters, Hydrogen fuel cell with a backup solid-state Sodium ion battery and electric engine?
But, maybe isolation and distance still has a role to play in the Australian psyche.
The Half Earth Project and stewardship model could be a way to pay Earth stewards eg. Indigenous people, to do a job they were probably doing anyway. In the Anthropocene, humans are apparently in control of the environment but out-of-control megastorms, eg, are often a direct consequence of our actions. According to Dr Tim Flannery, we are now 'The Weather Makers' (with broken Gaia life support systems) BUT are we in control of our environment? So, if we are the environment then are we really in control of our selves? Many of the pre-Columbian Amazonian Indians changed an area the size of France into Terra Preta de Indio (Indian Black Earth, also known as Amazonian Dark Earths (ADE)) so they could grow useful economic plants such as the Mustard tree. An Amazonian elder once told me at an MST Brasil study tour in 2003 in Sydney that if you plant one mustard seed, a tree will grow and produce a thousand more seeds. We should produce Terra Preta ('Black Earth') and terraform the world's Carbon-depleted agricultural soils exponentially, like the Mustard seed, and grow the plants we need within these systems as well as maintaining and stewarding 50% of the planet as 'wild areas'. By using small mobile kilns on wheels like the Kon-Tiki 'Rolls' terraforming can occur on site where it's needed with a minimal logistical Carbon footprint, eg. along the banks of a river or wherever you want to build in agroforestry/Terra Preta patterns.
From a climate perspective, this strategy could be considered as a global Carbon-negative sink (the sink/technology has 'Net' negative Carbon emissions over time and hopefully well into the future eg.many Millennia) that includes economic species and protects biodiversity and sustainable culture, including sustainable Indigenous culture.
Biochar can be combined with clay (Minerals + water holding platelets), Nutrients eg. liquid kelp, Cyanobacteria (found in stromatolites are CO2 sequestering and O2 producing, using the biochar as high rise accommodation) and fungal spores (able to transport nutrients to the plant roots) et al to create synthetic/artificial Terra Preta that historically took much longer to produce. Biomass/feedstock for biochar can be collected from plant waste eg. weeds, council green waste, Ag/forestry/Agroforestry/Permaculture/Horticulture waste or from multi-functional 'permaculture plants' aka plants that have various economic uses including biomass eg. some Acacia varieties.
Biochar can be produced for free using an Hawaiian 'Luau' pit eg. 2m wide x 1m deep inverted cone dug in to the ground, that produces about 500 litres of biochar. Biochar can also be produced with cogeneration on the very small-scale with TLUD stoves for cooking, the small-scale with the Kon-Tiki 'Rolls' eg.essential oil distillation, water heating and a rotisserie and on larger scale with Earth Systems 'Charmaker CPP' with feedstock drying and wood vinegar production and the Rainbow Bee Eater 'ECHO2' with power and heating.
In the Gov's technology roadmap, I was pleased to see biochar got mentioned, briefly appearing in the main body, glossary and an appendix. No serious discussion about the costs/benefits though. It's worth checking out the link below, just to see how the Gov is thinking about technology. Also, check out IRENA's article linked below. They have predicted that the world needs AUD$172.3 trillion to get to zero emissions by 2050!! Maybe Oz could tap into that ESG movement shaping future world markets?
The mind boggles about the current and future possibilities of greentech/apptech. If people want to use it, it's affordable and it's green it's a win for both people and planet.
-Permaculture bioregional planning
Many resources on the internet. The following is a particularly good resource for bioregional 'watershed' planning which could also be 'river basin' planning:
with no voluntary 'Environmental Flows' along the major tributaries and possibly smaller tributaries too!
There is also a good learning list via the link to 'Andrews educational database'. A couple of other good permaculture sites are:
There's also loads of youtube videos on permaculture...
-Green Industrial Revolution
UK PM Boris Johnson has a 'Green Industrial Revolution' plan for a 'Green Covid-19 recovery'- maybe we should too! This is going to be difficult with COVID-19 restrictions, which seem to have no
endpoint as the virus mutates and the delay to produce new vaccines for new dominant strains and deployment of those vaccines. We're not out of the woods yet! However, I've been following tech news for a long time and it seems new greentech deployments are going ahead around the world despite the COVID-19 restrictions. We need to adapt to and grow a Green economy just like the virus adapts to us. It's worthwhile checking out BZE's 'The Million Jobs Plan' below for some ideas about how we can transition into a Green Industrial Revolution:
What could it look like? There's the UK model: https://www.climateassembly.uk/
Or possibly an 'e-Democracy' software platform. Here's a non-exhaustive list of options:
The main issue I can see is how the assembly would interface with the Government of the day, eg. Would it just create recommendations for Gov (assuming the Gov took recommendations seriously) or would there be greater integration with the assembly into the Gov's policy platform? Or, could it be the Zen archer that never hits the target (if there was a target)? So, in other words, even if the current Gov made a Carbon emissions target in 2050, would they even want to hit it (like the 'Blues Brothers' would)? I'm passing on the 'Citizen's Assembly' project, if it hasn't already started somewhere in Oz, to the next generation of leaders (assuming they have read this blog). We need green jobs for the future economy and a 'Citizen's Assembly', I believe, can get us there with an open source climate plan so why wait for the Gov to act? Maybe the next one will - or won't?
It would be great to see ?more R&D in greentech happening such as green fuels eg. Green Hydrogen and CO2-based aviation fuel. Maybe they could design and build something like the 'Hydrogen Power Modules' for marine (and possibly other) applications? Or they could be purchased off-the-shelf (no conflict of interest there)?
How are we going to navigate COVID-19 emergent dominant mutations which will require new vaccines, save the climate (and possibly, planet) and do what helps people be happy eg. not being unemployed and living at the poverty line during a recession and pandemic (in an incoming post-structural context)?
With the new Jobseeker payment increase, the unemployed can afford a bonus daily Cheeseburger - or 1kg of sweet potatoes. While most of us are waiting for a vaccine, maybe spend some bucks on Native American Indian medicine that will boost your immune system and treat a bunch of ailments if needed:
I'm going to grind mine down to a powder and drink daily tea out of it. Or, if you're patient you can grow it from seed: https://www.edenseeds.com.au
I'll be on AUSTUDY pretty soon at $462.50 per fortnight (sweet potatoes!) - I decided to study an online Bachelor of Architecture which will take me many years to finish. My revolution will be in designing affordable ecohousing - it makes sense as I can combine my knowledge and skills of science and art and besides, I've spent the last decade researching biochar and I still haven't sold any kilns...
So, in summary, the main idea is that we would have an overall 'Climate plan for a climate emergency' holarchy that includes a Citizen's Assembly, Carbon plan, renewable energy plan, Permaculture bioregional plans and an open source Green Industrial Revolution plan. Ultimately, Green/Appropriate technology and BZE's research would be linked into all of these plans as the grease in the machine - the enabler. Too much planning and techno-optimism? Fail to plan, plan to fail - I believe rolling targets are the key informed by solid data and climate science, Citizen/Grassroots, Institutional, Corporate, SME, Organisational and Gov competition and collaboration.