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Friday, 18 December

13:52

Solar freakin’ roadways? Why the future of this technology may not be so bright Renew Economy

When we are not driving, cycling, or walking on it, a road is just a waste of space, right? Not if it is a solar road!

13:51

Partial victory for UK solar industry, huge job losses still expected Renew Economy

The U.K. Government has set the new solar PV tariffs. Representing a partial victory, cuts will not be severe as anticipated, but job losses still expected.

13:50

Paris agreement: signaling change for decades to come Renew Economy

The Paris agreement creates a mechanism to ratchet up ambition, and there is reason for optimism that the world can progressively do better.

13:49

UBS: Paris deal means most coal generation has to go Renew Economy

Investment bank UBS says Paris deal a significant threat to coal generation, and Australia must face up to carbon price to meet 2°C target.

13:45

Queensland energy czar attacks rooftop solar tariffs – again Renew Economy

Queensland energy chief calls rooftop solar tariffs a transfer of wealth from non-solar households. His suggested changes would see network charges fall for households with air conditioning but no rooftop solar, and rise for households with rooftop solar and no air conditioning.

13:34

Citi: Don’t expect clean coal to save the planet Renew Economy

Citi report has bad news for coal companies depending on 'clean coal' to save the industry – and delivers it with a velvet sledgehammer.

12:35

ARENA backs pumped hydro project at disused Qld gold mine Renew Economy

Genex Power's plan to convert an abandoned Queensland gold mine into one of Australia’s largest pumped hydro storage plants has received $4m from ARENA.

12:04

US tax deal ‘massive’ game changer for solar – and battery storage Renew Economy

Likely passage of US solar tax credit extension sends solar stocks soaring, as analysts predict game-changing growth that's likely to take battery storage with it.

11:42

Public funding for phlogiston ? John Quiggin

According to the Oz, Queensland LNP Senator Matt Canavan has called for public funding for research promoting his belief that scientists since Arrhenius have been wrong about climate change. He makes this claim on the basis that the overwhelming body of evidence amassed by mainstream science means that “only one side of the debate is heard” (there’s also something about witches). Oddly enough, Canavan goes on to cite some (presumably publicly funded) research on aerosols from the Max Planck Institute which he thinks supports his arguments. The fact that such research gets undertaken and published suggests that there is no problem with the scientific process as regards climate change.

Still, there’s an interesting question here. To what extent should research funding seek to promote research approaches that are regarded by most experts in the relevant field as wrong or discredited?

In fields like economics, the ebb and flow of opinion is such that any temporary appearance of consensus is illusory. When I started studying economics, the dominant Keynesian/market failure school regarded classical economics as a collection of exploded fallacies. Within a decade or so, the position had reversed. Free market microeconomics and New Classical microeconomics became dominant and remained so until the Global Financial Crisis. The position now is best described as confused. Something similar could be said of fields like psychology (another example where plenty of non-specialists have strongly held views)

In the natural sciences, there are a lot more firmly established conclusions, which nonetheless run against the prejudices of many (obviously including Senator Canavan). I don’t see any merit in funding the pet theories and tribal prejudices of politicians. But at the frontiers, there are lots of instances where some particular approach (such as string theory in particle physics) seem to be dominant, at least in part, for...

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Thursday, 17 December

14:25

Benefit tourism – another neo-liberal fallacy Bill Mitchell – billy blog

One of the tools that right-wing elements use to control the public debate about government spending and to justify their attack on public deficits is migration. There are many aspects to this public manipulation that invokes raw fear, ignorance and prejudice among the population. One of the elements, which plays on job insecurity and the range of fiscal myths that characterise the neoliberal era, is the claim that so-called ‘benefit tourism’ is rife and if left unchecked will bankrupt national governments and lead to higher burdens on ‘taxpayers’. So we are often told that migrants from poorer nations move to access welfare benefits that are superior to those offered by their own nations and that these movements are parasitic in nature and do not advance the interests of the host country citizens. Last week (December 10, 2015), the Irish-based EU organisation, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) released a report – Social dimension of intra-EU mobility: Impact on public services – which examines “the extent to which mobile citizens from central and eastern European Member States … take up benefits and services in nine host countries” by “mobile citizens from 10 central and eastern European Member States” (the so-called EU10 mobile citizens). The Report should be read by all those who wish to contribute to this debate or understand what the facts are. Essentially, the Report finds that mobile citizens from poorer nations have lower take-up rates of welfare support in host countries than natives. That really should be the end of the ‘benefit tourist’ assertions. But then most of these public debates are not based on evidence or logic.

In response to data released by the British Departm...

Friday, 11 December

21:35

Russia-Vietnam: Cooperation in the Arctic? The Diplomat » Pacific Money

The two countries look likely to strengthen ties in the energy sector.

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