Friday, October 9, 2015

Guest Post: 25 years ago the Australian government promised deep emissions cuts, and yet here we still are

A powerful articulation of how both major Australian political parties have failed us on climate action over the last 25 years by Marc Hudson. Also relevant is Joan Staples 2009 article Our lost history of climate change.

25 years ago the Australian government promised deep emissions cuts, and yet here we still are

Marc Hudson, University of Manchester

A divided government firmly on the back foot ahead of a major climate conference, its green credentials shaky, and riven with bubbling tensions between those who want serious climate action and those resistant to it. Sound familiar? But the government I’m describing is not today’s version, but Bob Hawke’s federal government way back in October 1990.

October 11, 2015, marks a quarter-century to the day since the then environment minister, Ros Kelly, brought a proposed carbon emissions target to cabinet. At the time, Jon Bon Jovi was number one in Australia with “Blaze of Glory”, and some of the lyrics are apposite:

You ask about my conscience; And I offer you my soul; You ask if I’ll grow to be a wise man; Well I ask if I’ll grow old.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Storify: Australia setting new early Spring heat and bushfire records

The early spring heatwave has brought a taste of summer extreme heat and bushfires across the continent setting new early season temperature records with temperatures anomolies of 12 degrees C and more over much of southern Australia, particularly Victoria.

This comes as a powerful El Nino is taking place in the Pacific which acts to boost temperatures and drought conditions in Australia. And all this takes place in a hotter environment with Australia having warmed by 0.9 degrees from 1910.

In September the Climate Council warned that Australia faces increased bushfire risk, with bushfire seasons extending for longer due to the impact of climate change.

The Bureau of Meteorology have issued a statement on October 7 which advises that the Indian Ocean Dipole has turned positive which will reinforce the El Nino impact on Australia.

Europe Diary: Report from the UK on renewables

My report for Climate Action Moreland. Read the original.

John Englart reports from the UK that Shell has abandoned Arctic oil exploration for foreseeable future citing the costs involved and the regulatory environment, but this is really a win for the climate movement who have campaigned against Arctic oil as fossil fuel resources that need to remain unburnt. We must remember that BP is undertaking deep water oil exploration in the Great Australian Bight including in a marine sanctuary. All Deep Sea oil needs to remain unburnt for a safe climate.

John visited northern Wales where Hydro power and pumped hydro power is generated. The Dinorwig Power Station, a 1,728-megawatt (2,317,000 hp) pumped-storage hydroelectric scheme, near Dinorwig, Llanberis, with 16km of tunnels, is located at the site of a slate quarry and provides short term operating reserve power for the national grid. It was completed in 1984 after 10 years of construction.

On the southern side of Mount Snowdon the Cwm Dyli Hydro Power Station at Nant Gwynant is one of the oldest grid connected continuously operated hydro schemes in Wales. It was originally commissioned in 1906 to supply power to the slate industry in the area and was upgraded in 1988. A single turbine produces up to 9.8 megawatts of electricity for the National Grid. It is noted as the first power station in the UK to generate alternating current (AC) electricity.

On his travels south he paid a visit to the 23Mw Alltwalis Wind Farm near Pencader consisting of 10 110-metre tall towers at Blaengwen on the hills above Gwyddgrug, Pencader in Carmarthenshire, Wales. This wind farm went into operation in January 2010.

Like Australia, there are the detractors here concerned about visual impact on the landscape who oppose new wind and solar farms in the planning process. But there is general support for more solar farms and wind farms.

The conservative Cameron Government has been going backwards winding back incentives for both solar and wind energy. The IEA has scaled back it's UK #renewables forecast, citing policy uncertainty under Cameron.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Storify: Waters are rising no more compromising #floodthesystem San Fransisco

With Shell abandoning Arctic oil drilling for the foreseeable future, and now pressure being applied on banks and other corporates, we are starting to see the power of a movement of movements that raises issues of economic justice and links them to issues of climate justice.

Today in San Fransisco climate activists took direct action to close down the financial district and blockaded particular corporate targets. In the lead up to the Paris Climate talks in December such actions demonstrate the necessity for a major change in the system and for leaders and diplomats to stop compromising on the action needed to be taken.

At least Eight activists were arrested during the protest.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Shell abandons Arctic oil exploration for foreseeable future

Activists reacted positively to Shell's announcement of an end to Arctic oil exploration in the Chukchi sea.

In a media release today Royal Dutch Shell announced it was discontinuing it's Arctic oil drilling program in the Chukchi Sea, off Alaska, blaming the treacherous conditions and the regulatory environment.

Exploratory drilling to 6800 feet was undertaken with some indications of oil and gas in the Burger J well, but not in sufficient quantities to warrant further exploration in this part of the basin.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Guest Post: Prof Peter Christoff on Prime Minister Turnbull and climate change

If he wants to win an election, Turnbull should go back to his old self on climate

Peter Christoff, University of Melbourne

No more “stop the boats” or “axe the tax”. In announcing his challenge to Tony Abbott on Monday, Malcolm Turnbull promised to take Australian politics away from the mantrafication of policy by three-word chant.

He offered to treat the public intelligently, to engage it with reasoned explanations for policy change, and to fashion a convincing positive economic narrative for Australia.

You could almost hear a collective sigh of relief from the withered body politic.

Turnbull also campaigned for leadership on the basis that he could save the Coalition from an impending crushing electoral defeat. The immediate bounce in polls after the leadership coup suggests that he mobilises extra support based on public expectations that he will lead a government that is more progressive, intelligent and humane on a range of issues – including climate.

Friday, September 18, 2015

No change in Australian #climate policy with new PM Turnbull

This week Australia watched as the Liberal Party changed the Prime Minister, deposing Tony Abbott in a 54-44 party room vote and reinstating Malcolm Turnbull to the position of party leader and now Prime Minister. The change follows succeeding worsening polls for the Government.

Sunday afternoon Canberra was abuzz with rumours of a leadership challenge in the Liberal Party. Even though the Canning byelection is in progess, this is a sitting week in Canberra when politicians were available for a party room meeting. The #Libspill quickly came to fruition on Monday night in the Liberal party room meeting.

This is the third Prime Minister in 5 years who has been deposed in a party room ballot. Kevin Rudd was deposed by Julia Guillard in 2010, who then went on to form a minority government after a general election with the support of Independent MPs. With polls souring, Guillard was deposed by Rudd near the end of her term in 2013, with Tony Abbott then becoming Prime Minister after the Liberal National Parties won a majority of seats in the general election.

Now it was Abbott's turn to be deposed after serving less than 2 years as Prime Minister and numerous gaffes in government. The most recent gaffe was a laughing response to a joke in bad taste made by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton on rising sea levels and Pacific nations.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Storify: #SeaLevelRise comment engulfs Dutton, Abbott in Pacific #climate storm

Australia's Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has made a joke of Pacific Nations facing rising sea levels due to climate change. The Australian Prime Minister, recently returned from meeting with Pacific Island Nations in Port Moresby, laughed at the joke, before Social Services Minister Scott Morrison pointed out the boom microphone overhead.

Now there are calls for Peter Dutton to resign and Tony Abbott to apologize to the people of the Pacific and the world for the insensitive nature of the comments. The President of Kiribati Anote Tong, Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Tony De Brum and PNG Governor of Oro Province Gary Juffa, among others, have all condemned the comments and called for a public apology.

Australia's emissions to rise 27 percent using latest post-2020 #climate targets

Australia's emissions are set to increase dramatically by 27% above 2005 levels by 2030 according to a damning report by the Climate Action Tracker consortium, taking into account Australia's low post 2020 targets announced on 11 August.

Australia's climate targets are exceptionally low by international standards. The post 2020 target of 26 to 28 percent emissions reduction on 2005 levels by 2030 is substantially less than the major OECD economies of Europe and the USA. The USA may have a similar target but it is five years earlier in 2025. Even Canada, seen as being particularly weak at the federal level, has a 30 per cent target by 2030, higher than Australia. New Zealand's low target is also greater. Only Japan and South Korea have lower emissions targets than Australia.

A week after the targets were released, the economic modelling was quietly uploaded to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website. The economic modelling by McKibbin Software was done for four post 2020 targets and all showed that GDP growth would continue to be above 2 per cent.

"Targets of -26, -35 and -45 per cent relative to 2005 result in GDP being from 0.4 to 1.0 per cent lower in 2030 than with no target." says the report. A 13 percent reduction was also considered on 2005 levels which would hold Australia's total emissions at a constant level. The targets were all modelled assuming the 2020 Australian emissions target of 5 percent below 2000 levels.

So, Australia could legitimately increase our climate target to 45 per cent on 2005 levels with only a slight reduction to GDP growth of about 1 per cent.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Storify: Climate security and health impacts for Australia and abroad #PopHlth2015

How do you write up a conference presentation which you did not attend and did not see livestreamed? Why through the magic of twitter #hashtag conversation of people live reporting the speakers important points. Add some relevant context and related articles and you have a report.

Rob Sturrock's conference presentation on Climate change and its health impacts at home and abroad at the Population Health Congress 2015 intrigued me, so I gathered all the live tweets from his keynote speech, selected a variety of comments and deleted any that were primarily duplicates and redundant.

In the process, I also read his study The Longest Conflict: Australia's Climate Security Challenge that was released in June 2015 by the Center for Policy Development. In fact before publishing this storify of his keynote speech I published an article on his study: Australian Defence Force poorly prepared for #Climate change. So I had a reasonable understanding of where he was coming from in his talk.