Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Seagrass carbon Storage - marine biosequestration could be important for negative emissions

Blue carbon is part of the solution to tackle climate change. We need to take care and nurture our coastal ecosystems as they can play a vital role in bio-sequestration of carbon at rates far in excess of forests and soil carbon farming.

This plenary talk by Dr Peter Macreadie at the The International Seagrass Biology Workshop (ISBW) in Wales highlights the importance of Seagrass carbon storage.

Previous articles: Seagrass meadows are key carbon sinks for combatting climate change (2012) | Seagrass projected to drastically decline with sea level rise (2013) | Coastal ecosystems suffer 100 fold decrease in capacity to store carbon mitigating climate change (2011)

Friday, October 14, 2016

Nobel prize for Literature to Dylan. The Times they are a changin': two songs through a climate change prism

The 1964 classic protest anthem The Times they are a changin' by Bob Dylan is just as relevant as a song about climate change. That is the poetic greatness of Bob Dylan, who has just been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for 2016.

Try listening to Blowin in the Wind as an ode to wind turbines and wind power as part of the solution to the necessary energy transition to a zero carbon economy and social justice.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Australia on outer as Paris Agreement comes alive for Marrakech #COP22

Article first published at nofibs.com.au

This year's annual United Nations climate conference is meeting in Marrakech from November 7-18. Our Nofibs reporter John Englart will be attending as an NGO Observer for Climate Action Moreland/CANA.

An international milestone was passed this week with Canada, the European Union, India and even New Zealand ratifying the Paris Agreement. The agreement was negotiated in December 2015 at the United Nations Climate conference in Paris COP21.

The significance of this is that the two thresholds set for the agreement coming into effect - ratification by at least 55 nations and 55 percent of greenhouse gas emissions - has now been met. The Agreement enters into force thirty days after both thresholds are passed. The UN has now determined the Paris Agreement goes into effect as 4 November 2016.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Netherlands parliament increases climate targets: 25 percent by 2020, 55 percent by 2030

The Netherlands parliament, in a non-binding vote, decided to increase their countries emission reduction targets to 25 percent by 2020 and 55 percent by 2030. This will almost certainly require the shut down of the 5 remaining coal fired power stations to achieve these targets.

These targets align the Netherlands with the temperature goals articulated in the Paris Agreement that were formulated and agreed to at COP21 last year in Paris.

During 2015 five coal fired power stations were closed down, however 3 of the 5 remaining power stations were new plants that had only come on line in 2015. These new power stations were built by Germany's E.ON and RWE, and France's Engie at a cost of 5.5 billion euros. These are now looking to be stranded assets.

The Netherlands had a 5 percent increase in carbon dioxide emissions during 2015 and coal fired power has been blamed for this increase in emissions.

According to Reuters:

Dutch carbon dioxide emissions were 2 percent higher in 2015 than in 1990, mostly due to the increase in coal-powered generation.

Overall greenhouse gas emissions were 12 percent lower in 2015 than in 1990, as use of methane, nitrous oxide and fluorine containing gases have all been sharply reduced.

The vote ocurred in the Dutch parliament on the night of 22 September 2016. Both Liberal and Labour parties say they will now push for speedy implementation of the motion. The Labour party is part of the centre right coalition government but backed the opposition parties for this motion.

The Dutch government has been under pressure from citizens to step up climate action. In the Urgenda case, some 900 citizens took their government to court and won arguing for the Dutch government to have climate policies in place that were in keeping with the best climate science advice with emission reduction targets of 25 percent by 2020.

The Dutch coalition Government had initiated an appeal of the judgement, while preparing a climate package for early November. It now seems that appeal may not be necessary.

Voters in the Netherlands will head to the polls in March 2016. There are fears Geert Wilders’ far-right, populist and anti-immigrant Freedom Party may make major electoral inroads, and attempt to wind back renewable energy and climate policies.

Above average heat has continued during September in the Netherlands. The month is forecast to end at 17.2°C average, which while normal for July and August, will be the 3rd warmest September on record, according to a tweet by Kees van der Leun.

Read more at the Guardian: Dutch parliament votes to close down country's coal industry

Here is how Kees van der Leun saw the parliamentary vote:

Monday, September 19, 2016

What impact #sealevelrise on Melbourne's privatised port facilities?

The Andrews Victorian state government has been successful with the sale of the Port of Melbourne for $9.7 billion, an election promise. The government had been expecting around $7 billion for the asset. Technically, its not a sale, but a 50 year lease of the port’s commercial operations. The long term lease of Australia's largest port facilities had bipartisan support, with the State Liberal Party, when in power, doing much of the initial paperwork to bring about the privatisation.

The new owners of the Port of Melbourne are the Lonsdale consortium which includes the Queensland Investment Corporation, the Future Fund, GIP and OMERS.

This is another public asset sale deriving from neoliberalism which has had the support of both major political parties. There are really very few state owned assets left to flog now.

The money will be a windfall gain for the state's budget, but it sacrifices future revenue and control of Port infrastructure. The port is a major gateway for imports and exports and holds a near monopoly position. Being at sea level, the port facilities are extremely vulnerable to sea level rise due to climate change.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Solar thermal for South Australia? Solar Reserve says 6 power stations may be built

Originally published at nofibs.com.au

Solar Reserve has a plan to build a solar thermal power station with 8 hours molten salt storage at Port Augusta which would diversify South Australian electricity generation, bringing jobs and solar innovation to the state.

A report in the Adelaide Advertisor says that once the first power station is built with locked in long term contracts and finances, a further 5 solar thermal power stations of a similar size could be built across the north of the state. Leigh Creek, Woomera, Whyalla, and Roxby Downs have all been identified as possible sites. This would then amount to about 650MW capacity, as much as the expanded interconnector with Victoria.

Monday, September 12, 2016

ARENA briefly made Australia a world leader in renewables R&D. Time to #SaveARENA

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is facing a huge funding cut of $1.2 billion as part of the budget omnibus the Federal Government wants to pass. It is responsible for providing seed funding for innovative renewable energy projects. The latest funding round has just been released. It features substantial seed funding for 12 major solar projects and builds on innovative seed funding for renewables projects in previous years.

According to the Guardian, "The only time in Australia’s recent history that research and development for renewables outstripped R&D for fossil fuels was when the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Arena) began making grants to renewables in 2013, the study of International Energy Agency figures found."

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Turnbull increases climate aid for Pacific at Regional leaders meeting

Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull attended the Pacific Leaders' meeting forum, and announced a small increase in climate related aid for the region. But this comes after the Abbott Government slashed Australia's foreign aid budget to extremely low levels in 2014.

Related: Pacific pariah: how Australia’s love of coal has left it out in the diplomatic cold | Pacific Island nations lead in ratification of Paris Agreement on climate change

Pacific Island nations lead in ratification of Paris Agreement on climate change

The Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ Meeting has concluded in Pohnpei in the Marshall Islands. A major focus of this meeting was action on climate change following Paris and COP21.

The Statement following 47th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ Meeting was released by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, The Honorable John Silk:

“Today’s communique is a clarion call to action that even with the Paris Agreement, there remains a lot of work to do to guarantee there will still be 16 seats at the Pacific Islands Forum in a hundred years from now.”

“The Pacific is strongest when we come together and fight as one. Along with our big brothers and sisters in Australia and New Zealand, we have declared that we will continue to push for an ambitious amendment to the Montreal Protocol in October, and to see ambitious climate action across all sectors. This must include reducing aviation and maritime emissions in line with the 1.5°C temperature target we all agreed in Paris.”

“I want to particularly thank President Christian for the Federated States of Micronesia’s tireless leadership in the Montreal Protocol negotiations, beginning with their first submission in 2009. If we succeed in Kigali, it will be one of the best examples of island leadership that we have ever seen and help us avoid up to half a degree of warming – the biggest chunk yet off the ambition gap.”

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Guest post: Pacific pariah: how Australia’s love of coal has left it out in the diplomatic cold

Tony De Brum with Coalition of High Ambition at Paris COP21. The Marshall Islands helped to galvanise what became an inexorable push towards a 1.5-degree target in Paris
Photo: John Englart, CC BY-SA

Wesley Morgan, The University of the South Pacific

Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will have some explaining to do when he attends the Pacific Islands Forum leaders' meeting in Pohnpei, Micronesia, this week.

Australia’s continued determination to dig up coal, while refusing to dig deep to tackle climate change, has put it increasingly at odds with world opinion. Nowhere is this more evident than when Australian politicians meet with their Pacific island counterparts.

It is widely acknowledged that Pacific island states are at the front line of climate change. It is perhaps less well known that, for a quarter of a century, Australia has attempted to undermine their demands in climate negotiations at the United Nations.