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Monday, 29 February


Big 3 battery storage offerings not rational, but can still slash bills Renew Economy

New survey says of Big 3 energy retailer offerings shows battery storage still a "non-rational" economic investment. But who cares, given that customers can still obtain big savings on their electricity bills?


Finland would be better off outside the Eurozone Bill Mitchell – billy blog

Towards the end of last year, I wrote a blog – Finland should exit the euro. I had been undertaking some detailed research on the plight of this relatively small Eurozone nation for a number of reasons. First, it had recently undergone a major industrial decline as Nokia/Microsoft missed market trends and went from world leader to irrelevance. Second, Finland was a vocal proponent of the view that Greece should be pillaried into oblivion by the Troika – to ‘take their medicine’ (more crippling austerity). Third, the data trends were unambiguously pointing to Finland descending into the Eurozone ‘basket case’ category itself as its own conservative government imposed harsh fiscal austerity on the tiny, beleagured nation. Two things are clearer than ever about the Eurozone. First, it is a dysfunctional mess and efforts to reform it so far have only made matters worse. Second, any single nation (and all together) would be unambigously better off exiting the mess and restoring their own currency sovereignty and letting their exchange rate take up some of the adjustment. The following text covers an article that I have written for a Finnish Report coming out in May 2016 to be published by the Left Forum Finland, which is a coalition formed by the political party Left Alliance, the People’s Educational Association (KSL) and the Yrjö Sirola Foundation.


The European Project – overextended and in the thralls of neo-liberal Groupthink

Thrall … slavery, bondage … a state of servitude or submission. (Merriam Webster online dictionary)

Groupthink … a pattern of thought characterized by self deception, forced manufacture of consent, and conformi...


Electric vehicle numbers hit 1.3m as costs predicted to beat petrol cars Renew Economy

Global electric vehicle numbers increased worldwide by almost 750,000 to around 1.3 million over the 2014-15 period, boosted by big sales in China – and by the Tesla Model S.


What we’re reading: Nuclear vs wind and solar Renew Economy

Dick Smith wants nuclear instead of wind farms; South Australian conservatives attack wind and solar; Murdoch media warns of blackouts lasting "weeks".


ZEN Energy launches community renewables business in Queensland Renew Economy

Community solar+storage specialist ZEN Energy expands to Queensland, targeting households, business and communities, who either want to stay or quit the grid.


Australia’s biggest polluters increase emissions on Coalition watch Renew Economy

ACF report says a lack of federal leadership on climate policy has resulted in all but two of Australia's top 10 polluters increasing their emissions in 2014-15 – the vast majority of which has come from burning black and brown coal to generate electricity.


The noose tightens for future of coal power in India Renew Economy

The inevitable tightening of emissions controls will render many old and inefficient coal fired power plants commercially unviable in India.


Monday Message Board John Quiggin

Another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.


Sandpit John Quiggin

A new sandpit for long side discussions, idees fixes and so on. Discussions about climate policy and related issues can be posted here, along with the usual things.


Trade rules derail India’s clean energy plan AFTINET

26 February 2016

This week the World Trade Organisation put a road block in the way of India’s efforts to invest in renewable energy while creating jobs for its people.

According to Grist, the WTO dispute panel ruled that aspects of India’s National Solar Mission - which require a proportion of the solar cells to be manufactured in India - were “inconsistent” with international trade norms and therefore prohibited.

This follows last year’s ruling by the WTO against the US' mandatory country of origin meat labelling which decided that such labelling discriminated against imported meat products.

The Australian Government promised to introduce country of origin labelling for imported food products in the wake of the outbreak of hepatitis caused by imported frozen berries. The WTO ruling may make this process more difficult. The TPP has similar rules which could be used against an attempt to introduce country of origin food labelling.

It’s another reminder that trade rules should be designed with the right principles in place - principles based on human rights, labour rights and environmental sustainability.


Solar’s stunning rise is only just beginning Renew Economy

People in 2030 are likely to look back to 2016 as just the start of massive solar uptake across the globe.


Direct Action’s ERF: raising cost of emissions cuts three-fold Renew Economy

The Coalition's Emissions Reduction Fund is expensive, and forestalls economy-wide innovation and the opportunities associated with it.

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Saturday, 27 February


China’s Battle to Regain Economic Control The Diplomat » Pacific Money

From clamping down on media to finding scapegoats, Beijing is trying everything to reassert control over the economy.

Friday, 26 February


Refighting World War II John Quiggin

In keeping with his commitment to do exactly what Tony Abbott would have done, but with more style, Malcolm Turnbull has just announced that we are to spend a trillion dollars on fighter plans and submarines. Apparently, there are lots of problems with the hugely expensive F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which Australia has on order. Rather than look at the details, it’s worth asking we are, yet again, arming ourselves to refight World War II.

World War II was fought on land, sea and air. Submarines and fighter planes played a crucial role. But since 1945, things have changed. The 70 years since 1945 have been marked by near-continuous land warfare in various parts of the world [1]. On the other hand, there has been essentially no naval warfare, in the sense of battles between ships or carrier based aircraft, with the exception of the absurd and unnecessary Falklands conflict. Air combat between fighter planes lasted a bit longer after 1945, playing a big role in the Korean War, but has been pretty much non-existent since the 1980s. All warplanes, these days, are effectively bombers, usually hitting targets that have previously been rendered defenceless by missile attack. Yet the problems of the F-35 stem, in large measure, from its capacity to engage in hypothetical dogfights.

Fighter planes and their pilots still attract most of the attention, and nearly all the glory, in air warfare. But the real work is increasingly done by drone operators, commuting from the suburbs to undertake their task of destruction in air conditioned offices: since they see exactly what they have done, the job is apparently much more stressful than that of a fighter pilot. So far, only the US is using military drones on a large scale,...

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