By Celine Lai
Episode One – Coal and Gas
Craig Reucassel introduces the series by telling us that per person per hour, on average, each Australian person emits 4 times the global average of carbon dioxide. Power or electricity generation is the biggest cause of emissions in Australia. This can change by supporting plans Australia wide for renewable energy sources and by all households being aware of their effects on emissions and consciously reducing them. As Craig Reucassel says, “Individuals alone can’t solve the problem.”
Australian households are the cause of at least one-fifth of total emissions. Craig met five very different household groups and showed them how much emissions the average Australian family were responsible for. The series follows the changes they make, to reduce their emissions.
Mining companies like Woodside and Chevron are major causes of large emissions. After writing letters to the CEOs about how they are “offsetting carbon” and not getting satisfactory answers, Craig decided to deliver 20 million trees to Chevron to offset emissions from their Gorgon Plant. His stunt was to draw attention to the CEO’s lack of offsetting carbon emissions by delivering 6 trees to their offices, for a start.
One of the biggest and fastest growing sources of carbon emissions is gas extraction, which gives off methane, a greenhouse gas. Chevron’s Gorgon gas plant which extracts natural gas from Barrow Island, Western Australia, was given 60 million dollars by the Federal Government to help bury part of their emissions, but in the first 3 years they didn’t bury a single tonne. From 2017 to 2018 Chevron emitted 7 million tonnes. Chevron brings in $32,000,000 a day from their sites in W.A. and it would cost less than 2% of this for them to sequester all of their emissions.
Mining coal also results in air pollution, with serious results, such as in the Hunter Valley. The Environmental Protection Authority set up an audible alert which goes off when the air particles are double above the safe limit. Even though the air-pollution alarm went off 500 times in a year, and despite huge medical concerns, the mining company responsible received only small fines.
It was coal from Hunter Valley that Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, waved around in Parliament, laughing about concerns with coal mining, saying “Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared, this is coal from the Hunter Valley.” As Scomo from Marketing spins it, Australia’s emissions are only 1.3% of the global total, so they don’t matter.
Episode Two – Transport
The average Australian gives off enough carbon emissions every ten days to melt 6.5 tonnes of ice.
Electric vehicles (EVs) bring about a carbon dioxide reduction of 5.1 kg over 30 km, compared to petrol-engineered vehicles. Petra Stock of “Climate Works” said that there are no mandatory standards in Australia for emissions from cars. Australia needs increasing investment in public transport. Only 6500 of the 1,000,000 cars sold in Australia in 2019 were electric.
Costs for EVs will come down over 2024 to 2026 from currently around $50,000. While several European countries plan to ban the sale of carbon-fuel cars by 2030, Clive Attwater from The Australian Electric Vehicle Association said our government doesn’t even think that having EVs is a good idea, let alone helping to fund them. Australia should subsidize EVs to reduce our carbon footprint. Currently the coal industry is subsidized by one billion dollars a year!
The program suggests that people visit pm.gov.au or tag @scottmorrison4cook on Facebook to let the government know that you want EVs to be subsidised and want the government to get serious about reducing Australia’s carbon emissions.
Transport is a big source of carbon emissions. A plane trip from Sydney to London will emit 4 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person, equivalent to running an air-conditioner in your house for 5 months. Travellers can offset their plane emissions, for example, pay $1.04 to “offset” a trip from Brisbane to Sydney, or pay $20 to offset a plane trip between Canada and Australia.
Craig visited the Oatlands Primary School in West Sydney to speak to the Student Climate Council. The ClimateClever app helps schools measure and reduce their carbon footprint and could be rolled out to the 9,500 schools across Australia.
Episode Three – Food
One-quarter of greenhouse gases globally come from food. The average Australian diet is responsible for emitting 3 tonnes of greenhouse gases per year. The agriculture sector is responsible for 75 million tonnes of greenhouse gases per year from cows and sheep. Cows give off methane as part of their natural “exhaust system” when they burp gases out of their stomachs, one-third of which is methane, making up around 10% of total emissions – equivalent to one-half of the total emissions from the transport sector around Australia.
Australian researchers have discovered that red seaweed dried and added to animal fodder can eradicate methane-producing bugs in cows’ stomachs. Red seaweed is now being grown on a large scale for adding to molasses syrup and salt licks to be provided to the cows.
Australia has the highest level of land clearing in the world. Land clearing for agricultural purposes, e.g. for sheep, is a big source of carbon emissions. In Queensland 390,000 hectares of forest was cleared in 2019 to grow sorghum for cattle to feed on. Deforestation reduces moisture in the soil and reduces rainfall and increases summer temperatures. It reduces habitats for wildlife and kills and harms a lot of wildlife. Planting for reforestation includes resting the soil or sequestering carbon, that is, locking the carbon in the soil.
The 5 households who started out with the “climate challenge” to reduce their carbon footprint, reduced emissions by more than 50% for the highest reduction per household, compared to the start of the challenge, two months before. This shows a huge difference could be achieved if the 8.2 million households around Australia ALL did the same.
“Fight for Planet A” is a series well worth watching several times, by yourself, and with friends and family, because it is instrumental in raising awareness of what climate change means, to the average citizen. It also introduces us to ways in which we can start to reduce our emissions, and ways in which we can support plans to reduce carbon emissions by industries and conscious human activities, such as transport.