MIL-OSI Australia: Essential Services Commission Chairperson Steps Down

Source: Premier of Victoria

Dr Ron Ben-David will step down as the head of the Essential Services Commission later this year, seeing out his 10-year term in the role.

Dr Ben-David was appointed as the chair and one of the ESC’s three commissioners in 2008.

The Andrews Labor Government will now begin an open process to seek his replacement, ahead of his term officially ending on 31 May.

During his time as Chairperson, Dr Ben-David has overseen the implementation of a world-leading pricing framework for regulated water prices, obligations on water businesses to assist customers experiencing family violence and a new regulatory framework for the Port of Melbourne.

Dr Ben-David previously headed up the Commonwealth Secretariat for the Garnaut Climate Change Review and was a Deputy Secretary in the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet.

The ESC is Victoria’s independent regulator of essential services supplied by the electricity, gas, water, ports, rail freight and taxi industries.

The Commission will be responsible for delivering key aspects of the Labor Government’s Energy Fairness Plan – the biggest regulatory shake-up of the energy sector in Victoria’s history – providing stronger penalties for retailers who do the wrong thing and better protections for customers.

Quotes attributable to Assistant Treasurer Robin Scott

“Dr Ben-David has provided strong stewardship of the Commission over the past 10 years, significantly contributing to public policy in Victoria and ensuring the Commission’s reputation as a high-performing regulator.”

“We wish Dr Ben-David all the best in his future endeavours and thank him for his decades of service to the state.”

MIL OSI Australia

MIL-OSI UK: This week in the Commons: Friday 18 January 2019

Source: British House of Commons News

18 January 2019
A historic week saw the Government defeated in the ‘meaningful vote’, a no confidence motion fall and the future of Brexit continue to divide the House.

EU Withdrawal debates
‘Meaningful vote’ debates and defeat
Parliament continued to debate the ‘meaningful vote’ on Monday 14 and Tuesday 15 January following its postponement in December 2018. The vote took place on Tuesday and the Government was defeated, with MPs voting against the deal by 432 to 202, a majority of 230 votes.
No Confidence Motion
Following the Government’s defeat in the ‘meaningful vote’, The Prime Minister indicated that the Government would be willing to schedule time for debate of a no confidence motion on Wednesday 16 January. The Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, tabled a motion of no confidence in her Majesty’s Government directly afterwards, and the motion was debated for six hours on Wednesday afternoon.
Voting at 7pm, MPs expressed that they had confidence in HM Government, voting against the motion by 325 to 306.
Legislation
Legislation: Private Members Bills
Two Private Members Bills were brought to the house via Ten Minute Rule Motions. 
Urgent questions and ministerial statements
This week in the Commons there were two ministerial statements and one urgent question.
Statements
Urgent questions
Prime Minister’s Questions
On Wednesday 16 January, Prime Minister Theresa May answered MPs’ questions on the Government’s Brexit deal, public sector funding and the Government’s ‘red lines’ on Brexit.
Watch PMQs from this week:
Backbench Business debates
Westminster Hall debates
Debates on a variety of different subjects also took place in Westminster Hall on Monday 14, Tuesday 15, Wednesday 16 and Thursday 17 January. See the Parliamentary calendar to find out what subjects were debated.
Select Committees
News from Parliamentary Select Committees, including the publication of reports and details of inquiries and evidence sessions are also available online.
Image:  PC
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MIL-OSI Australia: Victorian Eel Fishery – Application 2019

Source: Australian Department of the Environment and Energy

« Victorian Eel Fishery

Environmental Assessment under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
Victorian Fisheries Authority January 2019

Agency application on ecological sustainability

About the application

The current export approval for the Victorian Eel Fishery is valid until 17 April 2019 and the fishery is now due for assessment for ongoing export accreditation. The Department of the Environment and Energy received an application, ‘Application for the Department of the Environment for Re-Assessment of the Victorian Eel Fishery’, from the Victorian Fisheries Authority in January 2019. The application has been prepared to address the Australian Government ‘Guidelines for the ecologically sustainable management of fisheries – 2nd edition’ and to provide updates on the implementation of recommendations made in the previous Australian Government assessment. The application will be used to assess the operation of the fishery for the purposes of Parts 13 and 13A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

Consideration will be given to:

  • declaring the Victorian Eel Fishery, as managed consistent with the Fisheries Act 1995 (VIC) and the Fisheries Regulations 2009 (VIC), as an approved wildlife trade operation under section 303FN of the EPBC Act, and
  • including in the list of exempt native specimens, specimens harvested in the Victorian Eel Fishery under the provisions of the Fisheries Act 1995 (VIC) and the Fisheries Regulations 2009 (VIC).

In accordance with the provisions of sections 303FR and 303DC of the EPBC Act, you are invited to comment on this proposal.

MIL OSI Australia

MIL-OSI Australia: Thousands Of Victorian Homes Save Millions On Solar

Source: Premier of Victoria

Nearly 7,000 Victorian households have installed solar panels since the Andrews Labor Government’s Solar Homes package was launched in late August last year, amounting to more than $3.4 million in rebates.

Minister for Solar Homes Lily D’Ambrosio said around 1,600 households had already received a rebate, with many more solar installation projects underway, generating thousands of jobs across the state.

Melbourne’s growth suburbs are the busiest areas for new solar installations with Tarneit (212) topping the list followed by Clyde North (161), Craigieburn (131), Truganina (123) and Cranbourne East (98).

The Solar Homes Package is boosting supply, creating jobs and fighting climate change, while helping Victorian households cut their energy costs.

The Solar Homes package provides up to $2,225 to support the installation of solar panels – helping to ensure Victoria’s energy system is as affordable, resilient and secure as possible.

The Labor Government’s Solar Homes Package includes:

  • $1.24B for solar panels on 650,000 homes
  • $60M for solar hot water for 60,000 homes
  • $40M to support the purchase of batteries for 10,000 homes
  • $82M for solar panels on 50,0000 rental homes.

From 1 July 2019, Victorians will be able to install a solar panel system for half price and pay the rest of the cost back over four years with an interest-free loan. Those who purchase solar panels prior to July are eligible to apply for a rebate on their upfront costs.

More information about the Solar Homes package can be found at solar.vic.gov.au.

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Solar Homes Lily D’Ambrosio

“We promised to put power back in the hands of Victorians and that’s exactly what we’re doing – helping people take control of their energy costs and make a real difference to the state’s long-term energy future.”

Our Solar Homes program has already proved to be tremendously popular and is helping Victorians to save hundreds of dollars a year on their energy bills.”

“We’re also expanding the Solar Homes to include rental properties, hot water systems and battery installations – giving Victorians a fair go and helping the environment.”

MIL OSI Australia

MIL-OSI Asia Pacific: Report Outlines How the Energy Transformation Will Reshape the World

Source: Small Island Developing States

11 January 2019: The report of the Global Commission on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation analyzes how the rapid expansion of renewables will reshape relations between states and regions and between governments and citizens. It concludes that the global transition towards renewable energy will have far-reaching geopolitical implications comparable to those triggered by the rise of coal and other fossil fuels during the early industrial revolution.

The report titled, ‘A New World: The Geopolitics of the Energy Transformation,’ was released at the ninth session of the IRENA Assembly. It investigates the key drivers of global energy transition, impacts of the transition on countries, potential shifts in power dynamics, and how the global energy transition, together with other factors, could cause geopolitical instability.

“Energy transition will ultimately move the world in the right direction by addressing climate change, combating pollution, and promoting prosperity and sustainable development.”

The authors find that energy transition will create a world “very different from the one that was built on a foundation of fossil fuels.” The influence of states that have heavily invested in renewables, such as China, will grow, whereas that of states relying on fossil fuels exports will diminish, if they fail to adapt to the energy transition.

Overall, the Commission concludes that energy transition will strengthen energy independence and energy security of most countries leading to a long-term decline in energy-related conflicts. While some states my face a challenging adaptation period, a global energy transition will “ultimately move the world in the right direction by addressing climate change, combating pollution, and promoting prosperity and sustainable development.”

Characteristics of the Energy Transition

The analysis begins by explaining that the global energy transition is characterized by three primary aspects: increases in energy efficiency; growth of renewables; and electrification of end-use sectors currently relying on fossil fuels, such as transport and heating. Change in these three dimensions is driven by six enabling trends:

  • Declining cost of renewables;
  • The need to address climate change and air pollution;
  • The adoption of renewable energy targets in most countries;
  • Technological innovation;
  • Corporate and investor action, including fossil fuel divestment; and
  • Shifts in public opinion.

The following section explains how key differences between renewable energy sources and fossil fuels will transform geopolitics, including: their widespread availability in almost all countries; the fact that renewables are flow resources that do not exhaust themselves as they are used; the ability to deploy renewables at almost any scale; and the fact that most renewable sources have almost no marginal cost.

Impacts on Countries

How these characteristics and drivers impact a country will be determined to a large extent by its dependence on fossil fuel imports and ability to innovate. The publication shows how different countries and regions stand to benefit from, or be challenged by, the energy transition and why. The US, for example, is well positioned to benefit because of its near self-sufficiency in fossil fuel supplies and its strength in new technology development. China can capitalize on its cost competitiveness in renewable energy equipment manufacturing and its ability to attract large investments in renewable energy. South Asia and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) will benefit most from reduced costs of fossil fuel imports, while some countries of Sub-Saharan Africa may be able to leapfrog fossil fuel development entirely. Fossil fuel-exporting countries, such as Russia, the Middle East and North Africa, on the other hand, are expected to face challenges in adapting to reduced fossil fuel revenues.

The subsequent section discusses the vulnerability of fossil fuel exporting countries to a decline in global demand and a resulting decline in geopolitical influence, by comparing their relative dependence on fossil fuel imports and their degree of resilience to respond to a decline on these revenues. This analysis results in four groups:

  • Highly exposed, low resilience countries, including Libya, Angola, Republic of Congo, Timor-Leste and South Sudan;
  • Highly exposed, highly resilient countries, including many Gulf states, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Brunei Darussalam;
  • Moderately exposed, moderately resilient countries that can manage the transition if they implement additional policies to diversify their economies, including Russia, Iran, Algeria and Azerbaijan; and
  • Relatively low exposure countries where fossil fuel exports are less than 10% of GDP, including Malaysia, Bahrain, Colombia and Norway.

The Commission also discusses how energy transition can create opportunities for new energy leaders. Chile’s solar resources or Brazil’s biofuels capacity for example, could position these countries as exporters of renewable energy. Bolivia, Mongolia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo control a high share of the minerals required to deploy renewable technologies, and China leads in innovation and manufacturing by a wide margin. Nonetheless, the authors do not expect these countries to dominate global energy supply in the way fossil fuel exporters do today because of the widespread availability and diversity of renewable energy resources.

How the Energy Transition will Shape International Relations

The report then outlines the geopolitical implications that can be expected:

  • International alliances have already begun shifting from fossil fuel-based collaboration, such as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), to alliances focused on renewable energy, such as the International Solar Alliance, the Global Geothermal Alliance and Mission Innovation.
  • Similarly, the importance of maritime trade routes and strategic “chokepoints” in international trade, such as the Straits of Hormuz and Malacca, can be expected to diminish as energy markets become more regional.
  • On the other hand, grid connectivity between neighboring states and within regions becomes a new strategic asset to ensure energy security and realize competitive advantages in renewable energy production.
  • The importance of “energy statecraft,” the use of the geostrategic importance of oil and gas as a foreign policy tool, is expected to diminish as energy production becomes more decentralized and diversified, thereby reducing the dependence of energy importing states. Instead, the Commission expects the emergence of complex networks of regional interdependence often driven by reciprocal energy flows.
  • In a similar vein, the authors also argue that the role of oil and gas as a driver of conflict is likely to diminish in the long run, as renewables alleviate pressure on energy resources. They note however, that energy is only one factor driving conflict that often aggravates existing political instability.
  • On the domestic level, the decentralization and diversification of energy supply will reduce the role of national governments as provider and distributor of energy. The authors find that citizens, cities and corporations will benefit from a shift of control over energy and energy assets from governments to a new type of businesses and “prosumers” enabled by the local production of solar and other forms of renewable energy.

The study also discusses some of the risks of energy transition to political stability, including stranded assets in fossil fuel production, cybersecurity for integrated grid management and the need to develop policies for a just transition for employees in sectors that are bound suffer, such as coal mining.

In the final section, the authors conclude that the global energy transition will lead to fundamental shifts in the geopolitics of energy, calling on decision makers to prepare for the changes ahead to ensure a smooth transition.

The Global Commission on the Geopolitics on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation was convened by IRENA’s former Director General, Adnan Z. Amin in January 2018. Chaired by former President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson of Iceland, the Commission comprises a diverse group of distinguished leaders from the worlds of politics, energy, economics, trade, environment and development. [Publication: A New World: The Geopolitics of the Energy Transformation] [IRENA Press Release][SDG Knowledge Hub on the first meeting of the Commission]

MIL OSI Asia Pacific

MIL-OSI UK: Government statement following blow to UK nuclear future

Source: British Parliament News

17 January 2019
Greg Clark, the Secretary of State for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy  addressed the Commons concerning the UKs nuclear future following the announcement that Hitachi have suspended development of a nuclear power station on Anglesey.

The £20bn Wylfa Newydd plant on Anglesey was expected to be operational by the mid 2020s and create 9000 jobs in the area.
Hitachi said they would keep the option open for future development but that at this time, “from the viewpoint of its economic rationality”, the estimated annual cost of 600bn yen in operational costs and losses was not viable.
This is a second blow to the UK Nuclear energy industry, after Toshiba withdrew from a proposed nuclear power project in Moorside Cumbria. This means only one of three planned new nuclear power stations, at Hinkley Point in Somerset, is still in development with all but one of the UK’s current nuclear stations due to be offllined by 2030.
The Government has been in conversations with Hitachi, a Japanese firm, for some months, but has been unable to reach an agreement.
Addressing the Commons, Greg Clark said,

“Nuclear has an important role to play, as part of a diverse energy mix, but it must be at a price that is fair to electricity bill payers and to taxpayers. We will work closely with Hitachi and the industry, to ensure that we find the best means of financing these and other new nuclear projects.” 

A full transcript of proceedings in the Commons Chamber will be available through Hansard three hours after they finish in the Chamber.
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Image: iStock

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