Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Climate, Environment Boards and Foreign Aid slashed by Joe Hockey in #MYEFO

The Abbott Government slashing of climate change infrastructure continues in the latest Midyear Economic Forecast by the Treasurer Joe Hockey, where it was announced the Commonwealth deficit blows out to more than $40 billion and forecast not to return to surplus until 2019-20 at the earliest.

He attributed this budget blowout to reduced revenue due to iron ore prices being low, low wage growth with larger than expected family payments and other government benefits expenditure.

Joe Hockey was quick to criticise Labor's budget deficits and promises to return to surplus, In 2012 he pledged after Labor's 2012 budget that, "based on the numbers presented last Tuesday night we will achieve a surplus in our first year in office and we will achieve a surplus for every year of our first term".

Being in Government it seems, is not as easy to meet such a promise.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Opinion: Tony Abbott's Direct Action climate policy not enough

The Latest IPSOS poll by Fairfax in December 2014 shows that most people think Tony Abbott's Direct Action Climate Change Policy is not nearly sufficient action for Australia to play it's fair part in addressing global warming.

This comes as Tony Abbott has sent Trade minister Andrew Robb, a major climate denialist in the Federal Liberal Party, to attend the Lima COP20 climate talks to keep Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in check from committing Australia from increasing our committment as other nations start increasing their commitments.

See story by Mark Kenny: Fairfax Ipsos poll shows climate change concerns heating up around Tony Abbott (Brisbane Times 8 December 2014)

More to follow...

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Opinion Poll: more extreme weather expected, linked to climate change by Australian public

An opinion poll across Australia by Essential media has found that most people expect extreme weather events to get worse, and that this trend is linked to climate change.

Essential media conducted the survey from the 24th to 28th October 2013 based on 1,075 respondents as part of their regular opinion poll surveying releasing the opinion poll data on 4th November. This was part of their regular surveying but two questions in particular in this survey focussed on the frequency of extreme weather events and whether they are linked to climate change. (See Essential Report 4 November 2014 PDF)

Observational data and scientific modelling by both the BOM and CSIRO is pretty clear that the frequency, intensity and seasonal extent of bushfires will all increase due to climate change with this trend already being observed. (See Climate Council report: Climate Change & The Australian Bushfire Threat, December 2013)

Similarly for extreme heat events, we are seeing more frequent hot days with longer heatwaves, and the liklihood of starting earlier in Spring and ending later in Autumn. 2013 was Australia's hottest year on record with Fractional attribution of risk research showing conclusively that the hand of human caused climate change was involved. (See Climate Council report: Heatwaves: Hotter, Longer, More Often, February 2014)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Locals protest Santos Pillaga CSG expansion

Something is happening in the Pillaga in western NSW. Coal Seam Gas exploration and drilling by Santos is under concerted attack. While the protests are not new, the profiles of those locking on or taking a stand are no longer the regular sterotype.

Yesterday a Coonabarabran mother of three young children, Nicole Hunter, locked on to a bulldozer for several hours. Mrs Hunter attached herself to a bulldozer to stop Santos clearing a patch of the forest for a new coal seam gas drill pad. She had a support crew from Coonabarabran. She was released after several hours without charge.

She is concerned about the industrialisation of the area and the impact on underground water, the mainstay of agriculture and important for recharging the Great Artesian basin. Read the story on CSG is risky business for aquifers.

Record sea surface temperatures in October says UK MetOffice data

Oceans continue to warm with the latest data from the UK Metoffice HADSST3 showing October 2014 had record warm sea surface temperatures. Over 90 per cent of the heat of global warming is being absorbed by the oceans.

This tweet by climate scientist Michael Mann shows the global SST trend:

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Farmer puts climate #onmyagenda at Brisbane #G20

A farmer at Felton on the Darling Downs has found a novel way to communicate to the G20 leaders expected in Brisbane: a ploughed sign in his field that says 'GO 2 Solar',

Rob McCreath said in a statement, "Australia is one of the richest per capita countries in the world, with the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the developed world. We have huge reserves of sunshine, so making use of it is simply a matter of common sense. Our government’s reluctance to do so is an international embarrassment.

"Unlike coal, solar power really is good for humanity, because it can provide the clean energy needed to lift people out of poverty across the world, without stuffing up the climate even more."

He identified that 2013 was Australia's hottest year on record with 2014 shaping up to likely be the warmest year on record. "we’ve got a raging drought over a vast area. In spite of the overwhelming scientific evidence, our idiotic politicians are hooked on coal and gas, which is the cause of the problem." he said.

McCreath added "I hope Angela Merkel shirtfronts Tony Abbott and asks him, if Germany can go solar then why on earth can’t Australia?"

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Coal emissions rise as Australia experiences hottest October on record

Emissions from the electricity sector are now showing a clear increasing trend. The latest Pitt and Sherry CEDEX report shows that emissions from burning black and brown coal has increased and this has at least partly been attributed to the abolition of the carbon Price. September's emissions were 1.3 per cent higher than the month to June 2014 when carbon pricing was in place.

What was a slight rise in July-August, which was the largest 2 month increase since 2006, has now been clearly confirmed in the September data.

September also marked a light downturn in hydropower with gas also flatlining as more is diverted for the more profitable export trade, so we see more black and brown coal generation as part of the National Electricity Market (NEM):

The report details that:
"This change in trend has coincided with, but is not entirely caused by, the removal of the carbon price.  Other factors include reduced gas generation in NSW, Victoria and SA, presumably related to higher wholesale gas prices, though it remained high in Queensland where cheap “ramp gas is likely to be available for a little longer.  There was also considerably less wind generation in both August and September this year, compared with the same months in 2013.  Black coal generation was 0.5% higher in the year to September 2014 than in the year to June, and brown coal generation was 2.2% higher."

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Hottest September on record

We are nine months into 2014 and the heat records continue to fall globally. January-September tied with 1998 as the warmest such period on record. For global average temperatures over land and sea, this September was the highest for the month since record keeping began according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

It is the 38th consecutive September above the 20th Century average. You need to go back to 1976 for below average temperatures for September.

January March and April were among the four warmest of those months on record, and May, June, August and September all set new global average temperatures records. High ocean surface temperatures have assisted in this record warmth with El Nino still possible to develop if there is sufficient atmosphere - ocean coupling.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Moreland Council increases Heatwave response strategy while Victoria found to be critically deficient

A version of this article was originally published at Climate Action Moreland.

As well as taking the lead with fossil fuel divestment, the other important climate change related item at Moreland Council meeting on 8 October 2014 was a tabling of a report on heatwave strategies including the feasability of council heatwave refuges. The report was initiated as a result of a resolution moved by Cr Bolton at the Council meeting in February 2014 (See my report: Moreland Council calls for greater heatwave emergency planning for Victoria).

The report and decision came a week before the Victorian Auditor General tabled in parliament a damning report titled Heatwave Management: Reducing the Risk to Public Health which listed critical deficiencies in the emergency management of heatwaves and extreme heat events in Victoria. To a large degree these deficiencies derive from poor governance and oversight and the ultimate responsibility for this should be borne by the Baillieu and Napthine Liberal National Government. (See Victorian Auditor General Office: Heatwave Management: Reducing the Risk to Public Health tabled in Parliament 14 October 2014)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fair Food Forum at Coburg Farmers Market discusses agriculture and food security

Originally published at Climate Action Moreland.

Climate Action Moreland members ventured to the Coburg Farmers Market on Saturday to shop, to chat with other Moreland residents about climate change, collect signatures on the Monster climate petition, and listen to candidates for the State Election in November 2014 speak at the Fair Food Forum.

Food security and agriculture are important subjects which we should all be aware of and asking our political representatives about.

Fair Food Week – 10 to 19 October – is organised by Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance (AFSA). Michael Croft, AFSA President, described the occasion as “Fair Food Week encourages the general community to embrace local food production, purchase and consumption.”