30 November, 2011

Damon and Amanpour Tackle the Global Water Crisis

Damon and Amanpour Tackle the Global Water Crisis

29 November, 2011

Christiane Amanpour took on the global water crisis Sunday, on ABC’s “This Week”. The interview starts with Amanpour sharing startling statistics such as a child dies every 20 seconds from lack of access to safe drinking water. To address this crisis, Water.org co-founders Matt Damon and Gary White are working to bring safe drinking water to people across the world.
Damon was first inspired to get more involved with water when he met a young girl in rural Zambia. On their walk to collect water, Damon inquired what the girl planned on doing when she grew up, to which she responded she would go to Lusaka, Zambia’s capital, to be a nurse. Damon realized after the interaction that the girl was only able to think about working in Lusaka due to the nearby borehole, which provided water so close to her home. This borehole allowed for the girl to attend school instead of spending her life searching for water.
As a father of four girls, Damon is particularly interested in finding a solution to the global water crisis which sentences millions of young girls around the world to be used as water infrastructure. In the interview, Damon and White explain how the water crisis can be solved in part through market-based solutions, such as water credit, a micro-financing loan system. Water.org’s water credits make it affordable for families to build toilets or connect water to their homes. The water connections bring water security to homes allowing women and girls to spend more of their time at school and at work, instead of fetching water and suffering from preventable waterborne disease.
One of Damon and White’s biggest obstacles is bringing the water crisis home to the United States. Damon often uses his celebrity status to inspire people to care about water, since most Americans cannot fathom going a day without safe drinking water. Learn more about how Damon and White are showcasing the positive impact of investing in water by viewing the full interview on “ This Week”.
Ana Kolodzinski

28 November, 2011

Sustainable Business Weekly QLD Edition [Landfill Levy, MDBP, MRRT]

The Waste Levy

As previously discussed, the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011 including a land fill levy was passed by the Qld State Parliament in August.

ASBG have reviewed the regulations & are preparing a response.

After delays due to flooding & Cyclone Yasi, the commencement of the levy has been postponed until this Thursday, 1 December 2011. The Qld Government aims to reduce waste & promote improved resource recovery. The stated aims of the legislation to the waste disposal levy are to:

· create a price signal to encourage waste generators to focus on waste avoidance & resource recovery, and to discourage unnecessary landfill disposal;

· ensure a level of consistency with waste disposal costs in other states to deter unnecessary disposal of interstate waste in Qld;

· provide funding for programs that help establish better waste avoidance, resource recovery practices & overall waste management initiatives;

· reduce the impact upon Qld’s carbon footprint caused by waste disposed to landfill.

The levy is a price paid by waste disposal site operators in relation to commercial, industrial, construction, demolition & regulated wastes delivered to a waste disposal facility.

A Regulatory Assessment Statement for Queensland’s waste disposal levy proposal has been prepared that includes a cost-benefit analysis. The Qld Government has commissioned the cost-benefit analysis from Synergies Economic Consulting to assess the impacts of the levy to business, government & the community over a 10-year period. The cost-benefit analysis & the regulatory assessment statement have been prepared as part of the Qld Government's commitment to regulatory best practice.

Since the last election, there has been a protracted process of industry consultation by the Department of Environment & Resource Management (DERM). The State Opposition has had the opportunity to participate in the drafting of the policy but appear to have waited until now to raise any objections. Public consultation on the regulatory assessment process closed on 28 February 2011.

Campbell Newman (Candidate for the seat of Ashgrove) claims that the Waste Levy is another blatant broken election promise from the Labor Qld Government. He reminds the electorate that before the last election Labor promised it would not introduce a Waste Levy. He now claims that this $35 a tonne tax on commercial, industrial, construction and demolition waste will destroy jobs & hit small businesses hard with additional costs.

If Mr Newman wins the seat of Ashgrove AND the Liberal National Party win enough seats to form a Government, Mr Newman has promised to repeal the current Labor's recently enacted Waste Levy.

The LNP have estimated that the Waste Levy will add more than $3000 a year to the cost of running a medium-sized restaurant, for example. The LNP claim it will be am impost on hospitality & tourism in Qld at a time when both sectors are struggling & many operators are going to the wall.

The Chamber of Commerce & Industry believe that most businesses are willing to support recycling & sound environmental practices, however most businesses believe they have little to no opportunity to increase their recycling & recovery capacity.

Murray Darling Basin Plan

The Federal Government has released a Draft Murray Darling Basin Plan.

If one would like to play a part in the conversation go to “have your say” & let one’s views be known.

One can view the four major publications.

· The proposed Basin Plan – a draft for consultation

· Plain English summary of the proposed Basin Plan–including explanatory notes

· Delivering a healthy working Basin

· The draft Basin Plan -catchment by catchment.

Mining Resource Rent Tax

The Federal Labor Government has secured support of the Independents (& the Greens) for the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT).

This reform was originally proposed by Ken Henry to address the issues of a two speed economy. In its current form it may distribute the benefits of the mining boom to a select few. In short, the MRRT will only deliver an unfair, short term return from the development of the nation's resource wealth at the expense of traditional owners, future generations & the other species who we share the biome.

The MRRT appears to be more about pork barrelling, ensuring some Australians share in the benefits of the mining boom before the next election.


· Delivers a major new tax break for Australia's 2.7m small businesses as well as a cut to the company tax rate for all businesses, with small businesses getting a one year head-start;

· Boosts the superannuation for 8.4m workers. This will increase the nation’s savings pool by $500b by 2035;

· Provides extra superannuation contribution for 3.6 million low-income-earners worth a total of $900 million each year.

· Invests in roads, bridges & other infrastructure, particularly in mining regions.

There is little or no respite for ASBG members in Manufacturing industries

23 November, 2011

how can we dance when our Earth is turning

The Federal Labor Government has secured support of the Independents & the Greens) for the Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT).

However they have left a number of groups out of the equation:

* the first Australians;
* future generations;
* those who have contributed the least to climate change, yet suffer the worst consequences;
* other species.....

This reform to lock in the benefits of the mining boom for a select few and deliver an unfair, short term return from the development of the nation's resource wealth at the expense of traditional owners, future generations and the other species who we share the biome.

The MRRT is about pork barreling, ensuring some Australians share in the benefits of the mining boom before the next election.

The MRRT will spread the opportunities of the mining boom to some corners of the country, by:
  • Delivering a major new tax break for Australia's 2.7 million small businesses as well as a cut to the company tax rate for all businesses, with small businesses getting a one year head-start.
  • Boosting the superannuation for 8.4 million workers, which will increase the nation's savings pool by $500 billion by 2035. This will provide a 30-year-old worker on average earnings with an extra $108,000 in retirement savings.
  • Providing a much needed extra superannuation contribution for 3.6 million low-income-earners worth a total of $900 million each year.
  • Investing in roads, bridges and other infrastructure, particularly in our great mining regions.

.....but I am not convinced that Wayne Swan and/or Julia Gillard have got the balance right.

Resources can only be dug up and sold once.

20 November, 2011

Sustainable Business Weekly QLD Edition [Waste Levy, Gas]

The Waste Levy

On 3 August 2011, the Waste Reduction and Recycling Bill 2011 including a land fill levy was passed by the Qld State Parliament.

The Legislation included:

· Establishment of a scheme to support the Federal Government’s Carbon Farming Initiative via carbon sequestration projects in Qld;

· Amendments to the Water Act 2000 to compliment the National Water Initiative;

· Amendments to the Water Supply (Safety and Reliability) Act 2008 to allow, the disposal of treated coal seam gas water to a natural water way without approval under the Act.

· The Qld Government appear to be bending over backward to provide increased flexibility in the management of seepage water discharge from coal seam gas development.

The bill includes a land fill levy that will kick in from 1 December 2011. The objective of the bill was to overhaul waste management requirements. The aim is to halve the amount of rubbish directed to landfill within a decade. Unfortunately, not all the measures have been thought through to their logical conclusions.

A new levy will be paid via all operators of waste disposal sites, if the site is within the levy zone or if the site is outside the zone but the waste was generated within the levy zone. The proposed levy zone encompasses most of urban & coastal Qld.

The proposed levy zone covers around 99 per cent of the Qld population and includes 34 local government areas.

All local government & private sector waste disposal facilities in SEQ & major regional local government areas, such as Fraser Coast, Bundaberg, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Mackay, Cairns, Tablelands, Central Highlands & South Burnett regional councils & Mt Isa & Townsville city councils, will be required to collect the levy.

To reduce the potential for waste being transported for disposal outside the levy collection zone, it is proposed that the levy be attached to the point of generation rather than disposal. This means that if waste is generated anywhere within the designated levy zone, the levy applies regardless of whether the waste was disposed of at a facility located in the levy zone or outside it. In addition, waste operators will be required to pay a levy for all stockpiled waste when the waste is disposed of to landfill, regardless of whether the stockpile was made before or after the commencement of the amendments.

There are two exceptions: stockpiled waste that is disaster management waste & waste that was already levied on delivery are excluded. For example, municipal solid waste will attract no levy on delivery and so will attract a levy on disposal of the stockpile to landfill.

The amount of the levy will vary depending on the type of waste. For example:

· commercial and industrial (C&I) waste: estimated levy of $35 per tonne;

· construction and demolition (C&D) waste: estimated levy of $35 per tonne;

· regulated wastes: estimated levy of $50 per tonne for lower hazard and $150 per tonne for higher hazard waste.

Operators will be able to claim some deduction against the levy for waste that is subsequently recycled. In addition, waste that is handled through designated 'resource recovery' (ie, recycling) areas within waste disposal sites will not be subject to the levy.

This regulation will impact on ASBG members, especially the hazardous waste classifications. This will greatly impact on recycling as while it will receive a 50% discount on levy amounts, many streams will most likely be classed as high hazardous wastes & attract $75/t.

This will make many recycling activities far more difficult & even uneconomic.

Coupled with the levy will be stronger enforcement and penalties for non-compliance with waste laws, including enhanced powers of inspection and enforcement.

The Qld Government has indicated that the forecast $159 million raised from the levy will go towards:

· a new 'Waste Avoidance and Resource Efficiency Fund' for waste-related programs & projects, including to assist local government formulate and implement 'waste reduction and recycling plans';

· a new Sustainable Future Fund to assist local government environment programs;

· sustainability programs, including the creation of new national parks.

There is a brief levy FAQ on the DERM website.


Last week, the Environmental lobby group: Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE), went public with allegations that Worley Parsons (an Engineering Consultancy) had suppressed a report comparing the relative whole of lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions of Coal Seam Gas with coal & renewable energy.

BZE are questioning the oft repeated claims of the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) that electricity produced from gas produces 50-70 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions than current coal-fired power generation. Worley Parsons says it has mutual agreement with BZE to publish the research in a peer-reviewed journal, Energies.

ASBG are still unsure how BZE know the outcomes of a report that they claim they have not received. A fortnight ago APPEA released its own report by Worley Parsons, containing less flattering gas-versus-coal scenarios.

On Friday, Independent MP Tony Windsor renewed his calls for an arms-length study into the effects of CSG mining on the environment.

19 November, 2011

The making of "How to be a man"

I don't get out much. Perhaps I should. It is hard to escape the share house, that I co-habit with an 11 week old, a two year old and my beloved.

Like most share houses, my house mates spend most of their time drinking, vomiting and looking for their other shoe.

Tonight I went traveling through space and time. I did not have to travel far, to get to the my neighbourhood Arts Theatre......

For today was World Toilet Day and I celebrated by attending a charity, fundraiser performance of a theatre production, otherwise known as "How To Be A Man"...

#HTBAM is the third play in a falafel triology which started with the He Died With a Felafel in His Hand. It is useful to know that the writer Simon Bedak and the director Natalie Bochenski have conspired before on stage productions of Felafel and its first sequel: The Tasmanian Babes Fiasco.... However according to the Natalie, in order to enjoy the play, one does not need to have seen the prequels.

Incidentally, in the course of attending #HTBAM, I happened to meet Greg Wah & Dan Beeston - who are collectively Smart Enough to know Better. The Wah did a top job of raffling off stuff. I think Kat should recruit him to run more raffles for Engineers Without Borders. Apparently DNABeat is credited with shaping the aural landscape of which may explain a lot. The soundtrack to was freaking awesome. I was particularly impressed with the way Dan jammed &They Might Be Giants in there.

#HTBAM is the third play in a falafel trilogy, all based loosely on the life and writings of John Birmingham. When I say loosely, I might qualify that I have never personally met JB. I have not read or seen the Felafal prequels as books, plays or the movie. I have never played the board game or collected the Felafal bubble gum cards. So what would I know?

I actually tried to download an electronic copy of the book "How To Be a Man". I finally resorted to borrowing a copy from the Brisbane City Council library. I was surprised to find that it was in the non-fiction section and it was not written on rolls of toilet paper.

I follow John Birmingham on Twitter. I discovered JB and @GirlClumsy via the Fake Campbell Newman. I listened to JB occasionally (and retrospectively) on ABC Local Radio. I have read some of his rants in the Brisbane Times. The things I glean from JB on twitter did not correspond very well with the JB portrayed in the parallel universe, that is the Brisbane Arts Theatre. The JB that I imagine is a family man, a coach of under elevens sports teams and a sharp witted columnist. The occasional exchanges I have had with JB on twitter, have been about Spanish food, parenthood and World Toilet Day.

JB's bio on Amazon reads:
Right now I'm probably kicking back on my hovercraft somewhere in the Antilles, or the Maldives, enjoying a dissolute, essentially meaningless life funded by your generous book purchases. Please, don't make me go back to selling my bodily fluids to science. Buy my books now and I promise to keep indulging myself in grotesque pleasures and luxury that I haven't really earned.
The JB of #HTBAM is on the run from the Australian Tax Office and probably in need of the Australian Toilet Organisation (the other ATO). The JB of #HTBAM smokes a hell of lot of recreational drugs. Now, while I led a relatively sheltered youth, the friends of mine who did play with recreational drugs lost too much of their cognitive functions to host daytime radio or write the occasional novel and an opinion piece in the Brisbane Times, twice a week.

I still have no idea who Dirk Flinthart is. Bergie the Eskimo remains an enigma to me. The cameo appearance by a Bob Katter impersonator was truly spectacular.

If you want to meet the JB of #HTBAM, the play is on until 17 December 2011 including:

Thursday 24 November 2011 @ 8pm
Friday 25 November 2011 @ 8pm
Saturday 26 November 2011 @ 8pm

Thursday 1 December 2011 @ 8pm
Friday 2 December 2011 @ 8pm
Saturday 3 December 2011 @ 8pm

Thursday 8 December 2011 @ 8pm

Friday 9 December 2011 @ 8pm
Saturday 10 December 2011 @ 8pm

Thursday 15 December 2011 @ 8pm

Friday 16 December 2011 @ 8pm
Saturday 17 December 2011 @ 8pm

If you'd like to meet the real @johnbirmingham, apparently he will be at RiverbendBooks this Wednesday night (23 November 2011)...

16 November, 2011

imagine a world without toilets

Here is the scenario. It plays out like a dream sequence, not unlike the dream everyone has when one wakes up at school in one's pajamas.

Imagine oneself back at school. For some, this is a nightmare in itself....Humour me. Humour is going to be important....

One is back at school and nature calls.

Nature is pretty impatient.

Nature calling, is a euphemism for some thing we rarely discuss but let's speak plainly for a change.

One needs to do a poo. Perhaps one needs to do a wee as well. Approximately half of you also need to change a sanitary product .....and for the purposes of this dream sequence: there is no where to go.

Now, if one was the only person in the world (or the only person at one's school), this may not be such a problem.

However, what would happen in a crowded school (or a crowded planet of 7 billion people) if there was no toilets?

Where would one go?

Where would one hide?

One step outside the classroom and the smell of ammonia and/or hydrogen sulphide (rotten egg gas) wafts on the breeze.

A world without toilets, is a world full of poo and wee.

2.6 billion people do not have to imagine this world. 2.6 billion people live without access to a toilet.

These people without toilets might poo on the beaches. They might poo on the streets. They may sneak out a night to poo in the cover of darkness.

Pooing is a risky business.

Poo is a mixture of human specific pathogens, metabolic toxins in a matrix of indigestible fibre.

That stuff could kill.......or worse, maim.

Imagine slowly starving. Even if one has no lack of food: imagine everything one eats passing straight through one's body...unable to be digested.

A world without toilets, leads to suffering. People suffer. The natural environment suffers. The species that share our biome also suffer (except certain populations of bacteria and perhaps some species of flies......)

On World Toilet Day, please be grateful for your toilet. Please be grateful for your sewers, sewage treatment plants and all the people who clean, maintain and operate the systems that transport and treat one's poo and wee.

Celebrate one's toilet. Give thanks and praise to those who clean them. Think about the impacts of flush toilets. There are now many alternative technologies.

Imagine a world without toilets. Imagine a world where everyone had access to a toilet.

Talk about toilets. Break the taboos and talk about poo.

13 November, 2011

potty mouthed

Next Saturday - 19 November 2011 is World Toilet Day.

No, seriously.

I am not taking the piss.

In 2001, the World Toilet Organisation (also known as the WTO) declared 19th November World Toilet Day (WTD).

Today it is celebrated in over 19 countries with over 51 events being hosted by various water and sanitation advocates.

World Toilet Organization created WTD to raise global awareness of the struggle 2.6 billion face every day without access to proper, clean sanitation. WTD also brings to the forefront the health, emotional and psychological consequences the poor endure as a result of inadequate sanitation.

My Challenge to you on World Toilet Day is to have a think about where your poo and wee goes, if & when you flush it.....

If you are in Brisbane, on the 19 November 2011, come along and celebrate World Toilet Day at the Brisbane Arts Thearte.

11 November, 2011

Sustainable Business Weekly QLD Edition [Carbon Tax, Carbon Disclosure, Zero Carbon, Carbon Economy, Green tape]

Carbon Tax

This week the minority Labor Federal Government passed its Carbon Tax legislation through the Senate: 36 to 32 with the support of the Greens. The most unfortunate part about the Federal Opposition’s approach is that the legislation passed without amendments or real scrutiny.

Carbon Disclosure Project

One might like to see this report released last week by Deloitte for the Carbon Disclosure Project in Australia for the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).

Obviously, the report is more relevant to publicly listed companies but others will also have to go down this path at some point. One may also need to consider the costs and implications of Carbon in one’s supply chains.

Transitioning to a low carbon economy

One may also be interested in reading a 2010 e-doc from the OECD about Transition to a low carbon economy.

A summary and download details are available here.

One can also browse the book online for free though it's not free to download as a pdf.

Zero Carbon Australia

All are welcome to attend a briefing by –Brad Schultz from Beyond Zero Emissions on Wednesday 16 November 2011 12:30 - 13:30 at the Wet Tropics Room, Level 3, 400 George Street

Zero Carbon Australia 2020 (ZCA) is an exciting initiative of Beyond Zero Emissions & the University of Melbourne's Energy Research Institute and is supported by Climate Emergency Network, (CEN), Climate Positive and generous Australians from all walks of life.

The ZCA project:

· Is a roadmap to repower the Australian economy with 100% renewable energy in 10 years

· Uses only existing, commercially available technologies that are already powering China, Spain, Germany and the United States.

· Recommends baseload solar thermal, wind power, and an upgraded transmission network.

· Is fully costed and affordable.

· Is jobs rich, providing over 150,000 direct jobs in construction, manufacturing and ongoing operation and maintenance.

Brad Schultz is a Mechatronic Engineer who works as an Energy Specialist improving energy efficiencies in large buildings. He has recently returned from working as a volunteer in the small scale renewable energy field in Nepal. He is also one of over 100 volunteers around Australia sharing their vision of 100% renewable energy by 2020.

Beyond Zero Emissions works with volunteer technical experts to demonstrate how Australia can act now for a safe, healthy, zero emissions future.

Take this link for a copy of Zero Carbon Australia 2020 & more about Beyond Zero Emissions


Another Green Tape Update

The Environmental Protection (Greentape Reduction) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 (Greentape Reduction Bill) is a key component of the Greentape Reduction project. It was introduced into the Legislative Assembly on 26 October 2011.

ASBG has made submissions to the consultation process & has lobbied for & supported the reform. Consultation has been a key part of the Greentape Reduction project.

Feedback received during consultation on the discussion paper and regulatory assessment has been used to inform the development of the Greentape Reduction Bill. It will also be used to inform:

· implementation of the proposed legislative framework

· the non-legislative aspects of the Greentape Reduction project such as the development of guidance material.

The consultation report provides responses to the key issues raised on the discussion paper and Regulatory Assessment Statement (RAS). An updated RAS also outlines the final costs and estimates of the savings proposed in the Greentape Reduction Bill.

The Qld Government believes that the Greentape Reduction Bill will result in savings of $12.5 million per year. Some of the changes in the Greentape Reduction Bill include:

· an integrated approval process for all environmental authorities

· a more proportionate licensing framework, including standard applications

· a simpler and quicker process for amending approvals

· corporate licenses that allow an operator to have one approval for multiple activities

· removal of the need for an environmental management plan for resource activities.

Further information about the benefits of the Greentape Reduction Bill, including updated frequently asked questions, can be found on the DERM website.

The Greentape Reduction Bill makes the licensing framework easier and more flexible by adopting simpler administrative processes. The amendments in the Greentape Reduction Bill represent process improvements, and do not affect the outcomes which are sought by the Environmental Protection Act