Thursday, December 31, 2009

We already gave the Danes a princess - give us back our protestor!

Danish authorities are continuing to detain an Australian, Friends of the Earth activist Natasha Verco, for a third week since the Copenhagen climate conference. She will appear in court in Copenhagen on Monday January 4th 2010.

The Copenhagen meeting was an abject failure - with rich countries like Australia pushing false solutions of offsetting and carbon trading, and avoiding urgently needed emissions reductions. But instead of taking action, the authorities locked up those who actually were.

Natasha was arrested on Tuesday December 15th, a day before the major 'Reclaim Power' protest during the United Nations climate negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark. She is being charged with "incitement" for her role in organising the climate justice protest.

Tadzio Mueller, a German arrested alongside Natasha, said on his release from custody, "The Danish government's appallingly disproportionate reaction, the political policing used to gaol some 1800 activists for nothing at all; using tear gas, pepper spray, baton charges and mass preemptive arrests; sets a precedent dangerous not only for Denmark, but for the future of the world."

Tash Verco is a long-time advocate for social change in Sydney, Australia. She is a graduate of the University of Technology honors program in Social Inquiry; a founder of Rural Australians for Refugees; and a co-founder of Friends of the Earth Sydney.

A direct appeal to the Danish Consul General in Sydney, Michael Hansen, will be launched as Friends of the Earth Sydney will hand-deliver a personal letter. The letter asserts the right to protest as a fundamental human right, and demands the charges against Tash and all other climate justice activists be dropped and they be immediately released.

If in Sydney: Free Tash! Solidarity action this Monday
Date:Monday, January 4, 2010 Time:11:00am - 11:45am Location:Sydney Danish Consulate, Goldfields House Street:1 Alfred Street, Circular Quay
For more information, contact Holly Creenaune on 0417 682 541
People can send letters addressed to Natasha Verco via this email address: retsgruppe69@yahoo.dk The group (Anarchist Black Cross - prison support) are visiting daily to deliver letters.

Repost from: http://aboriginalnewsgroup.blogspot.com/2009/12/free-tash-solidarity-action-this-monday.html

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Insurer invests in Solar Power, calls for fast action on Climate Change

Solnova in Spanien by Worklife Siemens.
One of the world's largest Insurance companies, German based Munich Re, has called for fast action by Governments on climate change to result in a strict agreement for substantial greenhouse gas reductions. The company has also increased its substantial commitment to the US$400billion Desertec proposal for solar thermal power production from North Africa to supply Europe with power.

Due to the lack of progress at the COP15 climate negotiations in Copenhagen Munich Re has decided to increase its commitment in sustainability through investments of up to 2 billion Euros in renewable energy, including the Desertec desert-power project. "We will do our utmost to ensure that Desertec Industrial Initiative GmbH, the Desertec project planning entity, can put forward finished plans in the next three years. Munich Re will, of course, also be involved in their implementation - as an investor and insurer", said Torsten Jeworrek, Munich Re Board member responsible for global reinsurance business.

Munich Re, one of the world's largest insurance companies, has called for substantial greenhouse gas reductions "We need as soon as possible an agreement that significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions because the climate reacts slowly and what we fail to do now will have a bearing for decades to come." said Torsten Jeworrek.

"It is very disappointing that no breakthrough was achieved at the Copenhagen climate summit in December 2009. At Munich Re, we look closely at a multitude of risks and how best to handle them. Risks that change in the course of time are especially hazardous. Climate change is just such a risk of change." added Torsten Jeworrek.

Shortly after the COP15 talks ended Nikolaus von Bomhard, the Chief Executive Officer of Munich Re, said: "The outcome of Copenhagen has left me somewhat stunned. The 2°C goal agreed with China and India at the G8 summit in summer of this year was merely recognised in Copenhagen, with no pledges made. The major industrial countries, along with China and India, have thus retreated behind the lines already established. At Munich Re, we look closely at a multitude of risks and how to handle them best. Climate change is such a risk, and the need for action is obvious. I therefore find it baffling that so little was achieved during the negotiations in Copenhagen."

Nikolaus von Bomhard called for a rapid resumption of talks with a focus on the major players - USA, Europe including Germany, and China - to get the negotiations moving again. "We need a strict climate agreement, and we need it fast. Climate change is a global problem and a challenge for humankind. If the players do nothing but pursue their national interests, we are headed for a climate catastrophe."

In the Munich Re assessment of the past year there were no major catastrophes in 2009, but the total number of destructive natural hazard events was 850 above the 770 per annum average for the last ten years. The North Atlantic hurricane season was very benign with only nine named storms being recorded, three reaching hurricane force.

"However, we should make no mistake: despite the lack of severe hurricanes and other megacatastrophes, there was a large number of moderately severe natural catastrophes. In particular, the trend towards an increase in weather-related catastrophes continues, whilst there has fundamentally been no change in the risk of geophysical events such as earthquakes", said Prof. Peter Höppe, Head of Munich Re's Geo Risks Research.

Desertec Industrial Initiative

Munich Re is one of 12 European companies - 10 German, 1 Spanish and 1 Swiss - that has come together in the Desertec Industrial Initiative, an ambitious solar energy project that could eventually include about 200 plants and require investment of US$400 billion, with contruction over the next 40 years.

The Desertec Industrial Initiative is a proposal to use Concentrating Solar Thermal Power (CSP) generation with thermal storage for round the clock baseload power from the Sahara in North Africa. The electricity grids for Europe, Middle East and North Africa would be linked and integrated. High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission lines which have a loss of power during transmission of about 3% per 1000 km, will link the grids. If seawater is used for coolling the turbines, desalination can be incorporated to produce drinking water.

Under the Desertec proposal 2% of Europe's energy needs will be met by 2020, rising to 17% by 2050. Renewable energy generated in Europe will rise from 8% in 2010, 20% in 2020, to 46% in 2050. Hydro-electric generation will remain stable at 18%, with Fossil fuel energy decreasing from 52% in 2010 to 18% in 2050.

North Africa, South western United States and much of central Australia are ideal locations for CSP, which is seen as a relatively mature technology that can be implemented relatively easily.

Solar thermal power plants have been in use commercially at Kramer Junction in California since 1985. New solar thermal power plants with a total capacity of more than 2000 MW are at the planning stage, under construction, or already in operation.

For Australia, DESERTEC-Australia has proposed that between 2010 and 2020 Australia could sideline coal-fired output and replace it with natural gas power and renewables. This would create significant near term greenhouse gas reductions. Australia runs some of the most polluting coal fired power stations in the world and is the highest CO2 emitter on a per capita basis.

Sources



Takver is a citizen journalist from Melbourne who has been writing on Climate Change issues and protests including Rising Sea Level, Ocean acidification, Environmental and social Impacts since 2004.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Queensland Climate Change Minister spins Climate Destruction of Great Barrier Reef

Queensland Minister for Climate Change, Kate Jones speaking at the Climate Leaders Summit organised by the Climate Group In December Kate Jones, the Queensland Climate Change Minister, stated "Queenslanders are by per capita the highest emitters of carbon in the world." and said the Queensland Government was "committed to world action on climate change." Spoken at the Copenhagen climate talks on December 15, they illuminate the greenwashing, spin and hypocrisy that our politicians are engaging in.

"We as a State are already taking action. We are home to the world's largest reef, the Great Barrier Reef, and that is why we are committing here today to reduce runoff into the reef by 50% in four years." she stated to the crowd of climate bureaucrats and fellow politicians.

Bradley Smith from Friends of the Earth Brisbane said that "If the Queensland government were serious about protecting the Great Barrier reef, they wouldn't be expanding the coal industry. Without deep and urgent emissions reductions, reducing runoff to the Great Barrier Reef is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Brisbane: Coal 1, Planet 0 - time to take action on climate

Friends of the Earth Brisbane have taken action to highlight the climate failure in Copenhagen with banner drops in Shopping Malls and on bridges along the Brisbane River on Saturday 19 December, and imploring community members to take action.



Banners were hung from Victoria, Goodwill and Kurilpa Bridges, inside Queens Plaza shopping centre, in Indrooroopilly and in Ashgrove.

Friends of the Earth spokesperson Bradley Smith said "Politicians in Copenhagen have let us down and our let children down. This outcome is effectively a death sentence for our Pacific Island neighbours," said Mr Smith.

"This is not a proud moment for Australia. Our representatives were complicit in the failure of these talks. Back room deals, attempting to undermine previous agreements and the bullying of small and vulnerable nations were all appalling."

"Fortunately there is still hope and a lot that Queensland can do, for example by breaking our addiction to the coal industry. We now know that it will take very different political system to get meaningful international action on climate change," said Mr Smith.

View full report with photos and video at sixdegrees.org.au - Copenhagen Failure: Brisbane Demands Action

Climate Shame: Copenhagen agreement fails UN processes and the planet

Climate Shame - protest outside Bella Centre, Copenhagen (Oxfam) Climate negotiations in Copenhagen ended with a whimper and some chaos in the final plenary. About 115 national leaders attended the Copenhagen climate talks but the final 'agreement' announced by the US, India, China and South Africa, was drafted far outside the consensus process of the United Nations and amounted to only aspirational targets and promises, falling far short of an ambitous, fair and binding treaty demanded by civil society.

"The conference of the parties takes note of the Copenhagen Accord," said a final decision announced by Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen. But Tuvalu declared the COP15 process completely undemocratic, conducted in closed door sessions, and slamed the target of 2 degrees for failing to be sufficient to ensure their survival. "We are being offered 30 pieces of silver to betray our children. Our future is not for sale." Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba and Costa Rica also raised their voices that the proposal cannot be considered as the work of COP according to Copenhagen End Game of the It's Getting Hot in Here Blog of the Youth Climate Movement.

Lumumba Di-Aping, the Sudanese leader of G77, compared the proposed Copenhagen Accord to entering a suicide pact in a discussion with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now "In all four regions of Africa, and in all seasons, the median temperature [increase] lies between 3 degrees C and 4 degrees C, roughly 1.5 times the global mean response. One hundred and fifty times, so a two degrees is not three; it's actually 3.5 and above. So, for me, it means simply I will accept the total destruction of my continent, her people, in Copenhagen. That, I would not do. That should not be asked of Africa, because it is effectively saying Africa is not the part of the human family."

Similarly The Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Apisai Ielemia, says he will not sign a climate change agreement that does not meet his demands on limiting global temperature rises. Tuvalu has had a proposal on the table for 6 months for global temperature rises to be kept below 1.5 degrees to ensure the survival of island nations. Despite bullying from Australia on Pacific Island nations, Tuvalu is standing its ground: "We have nowhere to run to because our islands are tiny, we just have to prepare ourselves individually, family wise so that they know what to do when a cyclone comes in or a hurricane blows because there is nothing else we can do. There is no mountain we can climb up, there is no other inland where we can run to like in your big countries." according to Radio New Zealand.

The negotiator for the Marshall Islands told the final plenary "Today the issue is not just about sovereignty, it is our fundamental right - that our nation is but a collection of tiny specks of corals in a vast ocean. This tiny collection of islands may be seen as navigational hazards for most people, but it is for me the land of my ancestors. Allow these islands to sink under the waves, and you will have destroyed an entire race. I leave your country, with a profound sense of loss. My country, only 2 m above sea level, is one of the biggest losers. I will have nothing to show my grandchildren for my absence the past two weeks, and I have failed to secure the future for my grandchildren and their future."

Papua New Guinea played a key role in breaking the deadlock at the Bali negotiations in 2007, when it told the USA to either commit or to stand aside. Their negotiator said in the final Copenhagen plenary "In the final analysis, we left our leaders without anything of substance to carry forward. For this reason, we support this document despite its flaws. We must identify that many of the flaws are due to us as G77; many annex 1 nations were willing to make strong commitments and yet several G77 nations were the ones who struck their flaws. Many G77 countries sent only public servants who struck much of the substance out of this document. We must move forward. The world must move forward."

To be accepted as an official UN agreement all 193 nations at the talks need to endorse the deal.


Civil Society Response
Bill McKibben, American environmentalist and founder of 350.org, said that President Obama had wrecked the UN and the planet: "This is a declaration that small and poor countries don't matter, that international civil society doesn't matter, and that serious limits on carbon don't matter. The president has wrecked the UN and he's wrecked the possibility of a tough plan to control global warming. It may get Obama a reputation as a tough American leader, but it's at the expense of everything progressives have held dear. 189 countries have been left powerless, and the foxes now guard the carbon henhouse without any oversight."

A couple of hundred people flash rallied at 1am outside the Bella Centre with banners saying "Climate Shame" and chanting "climate Justice Now", "World wants Climate Justice, U.S. Climate Shame". Watch a Youtube video including an interview with Bill McKibben where he accuses Barack Obama and China and India selling out the planet's climate and the United Nations.



Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director of Oxfam International described the deal as a triumph of spin over substance : "This agreement barely papers over the huge differences between countries which have plagued these talks for two years. It recognizes the need to keep warming below 2 degrees but does not commit to do so. It kicks back the big decisions on emissions cuts and fudges the issue of climate cash."

"Millions of people around the world do not want to see their hopes for a fair, binding and ambitious deal die in Copenhagen. Leaders need to get back round the table in early 2010 and take the hard decisions they copped out of in Copenhagen." he said.

Bolivia's ambassador to the UN, Pablo Solon angrily denounced the released text of the agreement, "This is completely unacceptable. How can it be that 25 to 30 nations cook up an agreement that excludes the majority of more than 190 nations. We have been negotiating for months on one of the gravest crises of our age, and yet our voice counts for nothing? If this is how world agreements will now be agreed, then it makes a nonsense of the UN and multilateralism."

At about 2:15am, while discussions continued inside the Bella Centre in Copenhagen, Pablo Solon, went out to address the demonstrators holding a vigil at the main entrance. "From the substantive part, we know, we don't have the final text, but they have approved that it will be two degrees (Celsius) - the goal. And we don't accept that. Why we don't accept because that means that several islands are going to disappear. Our glaciers in the mountains are going to disappear. Africa is going to be cooked. We are approaching a situation where we cannot guarantee that we are going to be able to save whole humanity. Maybe some millions are going to die because of the decision that tonight is being taken and this is not discussed." he said.

To cheers he told the crowd that "For us, the most important thing here is that Copenhagen was a success. Not here. Outside (cheers). Because there has been a lot of awareness, a lot of conscience, and now we have to build a very big movement. Things are not going to change in the negotiation if we don't have a strong social movement, a strong civil society mobilise in the street." (Andy Bodycombe, Bolivian Statement Outside Bella Centre)

Kassie Siegel, director of the Climate Law Institute at the Center for Biological Diversity, also identified Copenhagen as a turning point with the birth the birth of a diverse global movement for climate justice: "The people of the United States voted for President Obama based on his promise of change and hope. But the only change today's agreement brings is a greater risk of dangerous climate change. And the only hope that flows from Copenhagen stems not from the president's hollow pronouncements but from the birth of a diverse global movement demanding real solutions and climate justice -- demands made with a collective voice growing loud enough that in short order politicians will no longer be able to ignore it." she said.

Friends of the Earth were one of the NGOs excluded from observing the conference in its final days, with all their credentials suspended by the UN with no satisfactory reason given.

Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth U.S said "The blame for the failure to achieve a real deal lies squarely on the rich countries whose pollution has caused the climate crisis -- especially the United States. Rich countries refused to budge from the grossly inadequate emissions reduction proposals they brought to Copenhagen, and they failed to put sufficient money on the table so that poor countries that did not cause this crisis have the capacity to cope with it."

The failure of Copenhagen is a wake up call for those who care about the future Erich Pica said: "It is a call to action. Corporate polluters and other special interests have such overwhelming influence that rich country governments are willing to agree only to fig leaf solutions. This is unacceptable, and it must change. Fortunately, while the cost of solving the climate crisis rises each day we fail to act, the crisis remains one that can largely be averted. It is up to the citizens of the world -- especially citizens of the United States, which has so impeded progress -- to mobilize and ensure that true solutions carry the day. I firmly believe that together, we can still achieve a politics in which climate justice prevails."

Carl Pope, Sierra Club Executive Director called Copenhagen but a first step with much more work needed for a fair, binding, and ambitious climate deal. He identified the US Senate and its obstruction as one reason preventing President Obama from taking the necessary leadership on this issue: "President Obama and the rest of the world paid a steep price here in Copenhagen because of obstructionism in the United States Senate. That a deal was reached at all is testament to President Obama's leadership--all the more remarkable because of the very weak hand he was dealt because of the Senate's failure to pass domestic clean energy and climate legislation. Now that the rest of the world--including countries like China and India--has made clear that it is willing to take action, the Senate must pass domestic legislation as soon as possible. America and the world can no longer be held hostage to petty politics and obstructionism."

The climate deniers were also in Copenhagen, and while their lobbyists still have tremendous financial resources and access to politicians, the science of climate change is now overwhelmingly accepted by most nations and most politicians. Members of the Youth Climate Movement succeeded in crashing a climate denier live webcast.

"What was clear over the past two weeks is that there is no argument over the science of global warming or the urgency with which we must act. A parade of developed and developing counties alike made crystal clear that they would implement their national plans to tackle global warming and build the clean energy economy not because they were required to do so, but because it was simply in their own national interest to do so." said Carl Pope.


Scientists Respond


Scientists also responded to the failure to set ambitious emission targets that matched with the the science. "Continued failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions commits the World to metres of sea-level rise, with severe consequences for many millions of people and the natural environment." said Dr John Church, Principle Research Scientist in Australia's CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research and Leader of the Sea Level Rise Program at the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystem Cooperative Research Centre.

"A brave face on total failure. This is a triumph for the fossil fuel lobby." said Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Director of the Centre for Marine Studies at the University of Queensland and attended the climate negotiations and gave presentations on climate impact on marine biodiversity.

Professor Tim Flannery, Chairman of the Copenhagen Climate Council and Macquarie University's Division of Environmental and Life Sciences was more postive than others saying the agreement is good but not perfect: "We've made a huge advance at this meeting on a number of fronts, one being those pledged emissions, another being the funding we've now got for adaptation and mitigation in developing countries. The third is the REDD negotiations, the world's efforts to protect the tropical rainforests and that seems to be going very well indeed."

Dr Jim Salinger, climate scientist and honorary researcher University of Auckland writing from the Cook Islands said: "I welcome the news that the big players: USA, China, India, Brazil and South Africa have committed to limit temperature increases to 2 degrees C. It is essential that all countries sign on to effective emissions reductions targets of greenhouse gases by 40% at 2020 and 80% by 2080 to prevent disruptive climate change and sea level rise later this century that so threaten peoples such as those in the tropical Pacific."

Dr Andy Reisinger, Senior Research Fellow - New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute, Victoria University of Wellington, called the agreement a crucial breakthrough as it provides verifiable emissions reductions targets by most of the world's largest emitters. He qualified this support saying "The devil is in the details though. It is worrying that even those countries that brokered the deal have admitted that the specific emissions targets will not be stringent enough to reach their stated long-term goal, which is to limit global average temperature increases to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. We will have to wait until the final numbers are on table to see how far the actual emissions targets fall short of that ultimate goal, and what amount of warming we might expect more realistically once the dust and celebratory rhetoric has settled."

Professor Suzi Kerr, Visiting Professor, Stanford University, Department of Economics, Senior Fellow, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research said "The agreement on a transparent monitoring mechanism is a relief and a major step forward with respect to some key developing countries."


Global Movement
The Copenhagen climate negotiations have sparked a global justice movement on climate. Over Thirteen million signatures were collected on a global petition for an ambitious fair and binding treaty. Hundreds of thousands attended vigils, marched in the streets of Copenhagen, Melbourne or took direct action on the Streets of the United States.

The Science of climate change is clear on the impacts we face. The current emission reduction national proposals as of Dec 19, will result in a 3.9 degrees Centigrade of temperature rise above pre-industrial levels according to the Climate Interactive Scoreboard.

The Climate Crisis will deepen as more scientific studies are published. A new study on Sea Level was published in the Dec. 17 issue of Nature. Professor Michael Oppenheimer, from Princeton University said about the study that "According to the analysis, an additional 2 degrees of global warming could commit the planet to 6 to 9 meters (20 to 30 feet) of long-term sea level rise. This rise would inundate low-lying coastal areas where hundreds of millions of people now reside. It would permanently submerge New Orleans and other parts of southern Louisiana, much of southern Florida and other parts of the U.S. East Coast, much of Bangladesh, and most of the Netherlands, unless unprecedented and expensive coastal protection were undertaken."

While National leaders have not shown the necessary leadership on emssion reduction targets many local and regional Governments are taking their own actions independent of national Governments.

The Climate Justice Movement has achieved much in a short time and needs to continue to pressure national Governments to take decisive action on carbon emissions and for policies that avoid Climate Colonialism


Watch George Monbiot on "Why we Fight", filmed by Australian Youth Climate Campaign.


Sources


Takver is a citizen journalist from Melbourne who has been writing on Climate Change issues and protests including Rising Sea Level, Ocean acidification, Environmental and social Impacts since 2004.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Climate Colonialism: Clinton's $100 billion in funding comes with colonial strings

Journalists watch Clinton (McDermott)The final theft of the commons is under way - the dividing up of the atmosphere and the "right" to continue to pollute. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced on December 17, U.S. support for $100 billion in funding per year by 2020 to help the developing world adapt to impacts of global warming. But the devil is in the detail.

The current U.S. target of reducing global warming pollution -- 4% below 1990 levels by 2020 -- is a complete non-starter in the negotiations. The science of achieving no more than 2 degrees warming expects reductions at least ten times larger: 40% below 1990 levels by 2020 by countries like the US, Japan, European Union, Canada, and Australia.

At 2 degrees of warming Island Nations will be innundated by rising seas. A 2 degrees of warming means 3.5 degrees across Africa which is catastrophic, causing major environmental and social impacts such as droughts, famines, flash floods and millions of climate refugees. Archbishop Desmond Tutu described it thus "We are facing impending disaster on a monstrous scale ... A global goal of about 2C is to condemn Africa to incineration and no modern development." And the Copenhagen conference commitments on the table presently will push the temperature to 3.9 degrees C of global warming.

While Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announcement was seen as a positive announcement generally by NGOs, the devil is in the detail with the money to come from public and private sources and provided that an agreement can be reached on a "substantive political accord" that would include transparency in tracking emissions cuts by major developing countries. In reality locking in an agreement for rich countries to continue to pollute while constraining developing countries and throwing some blood money to the third world leaders for their acquiesance.

While $100 billion is being dangled with conditions to developing countries to sign on to "the deal", its business as usual in the western world with the global carbon market etimated to be worth $1.2 trillion a year, according to leading British economist Nicholas Stern.

WWF President and CEO Carter Roberts said "Secretary Clinton's 100 billion dollar surprise breathes new life into the sputtering negotiations. It bridges the needs of the developed and developing worlds and changes the game in these global talks. All that remains is an agreement between the US and China about how they will define transparency, and a commitment by President Obama to make climate legislation his top priority for the new year."

Kassie Siegel, director of the Climate Law Institute of the Center for Biological Diversity responded: "The U.S. may finally have pledged to help pay for more lifeboats, but without committing to meaningful emissions reductions, President Obama is still steering the Titanic directly toward the iceberg."

David Waskow, spokesperson for Oxfam International said: "We are heartened by Secretary Clinton's commitment to significant financial resources of $100 billion dollars a year by 2020 to help developing countries weather the negative impacts of climate change.

"It is absolutely crucial that this funding come from public sources in developed countries and be additional to current development assistance commitments. Private financing is no substitute for public investment in the resilience of the poorest and most vulnerable communities."

"If such public financing is put on the table, it could truly move us closer to a global deal on climate change."

Natural Resources Defense Council President Frances Beinecke made the following Statement; "The Secretary has proposed real money to help some of the world's most vulnerable people and protect forests. It has reenergized the talks here. What's needed now is a meaningful agreement that delivers effective action on climate change. That means commitments to cut carbon emissions in a clear and transparent way."

Africa group of countries were demanding $400bn a year in financing, so this still falls far short of developing countries financing for adaption demands. A 2C increase in average global temperatures translates into a 3-3.5C increase in Africa. This means, "an additional 55 million people could be at risk from hunger", and "water stress could affect between 350 and 600 million more people", according to the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance.

According to Naomi Klein in Better to have no deal at Copenhagen than one that spells catastrophe (Guardian Dec 17, 2009) Copenhagen is about dividing up the last vestiges of the commons: use of the sky. She quotes Matthew Stilwell of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development who "says that rich countries are trying to exchange 'beads and blankets for Manhattan'. He adds: "This is a colonial moment. That's why no stone has been left unturned in getting heads of state here to sign off on this kind of deal ... Then there's no going back. You've carved up the last remaining unowned resource and allocated it to the wealthy."

Stilwell reckons ""I'd rather wait six months or a year and get it right because the science is growing, the political will is growing, the understanding of civil society and affected communities is growing, and they'll be ready to hold their leaders to account to the right kind of a deal."

Climate Change and sustainability campaigner and former CEO of Greenpeace Paul Gilding argues Copenhagen will fail and it doesn't really matter; "we're not ready to fix climate change, not yet. We have not accepted the scale of the problem. Nor have we established the political conditions necessary to fix the problem when we do. However Copenhagen does signify the shift between two eras and if you watch carefully you can see the new world emerging."

He has written a perceptive paper with Jorgen Randers (Professor of Climate Strategy
Norwegian School of Management) : the One Degree War in which he argues we will soon wake up to what is needed and get to work.

And so the Climate Emergency starts.

Acknowledgements


Takver is a citizen journalist from Melbourne who has been writing on Climate Change issues and protests including Rising Sea Level, Ocean acidification, Environmental and social Impacts since 2004.

UN Leaked Document verifies world heading for 3 degree plus temperatures

UNFCC leaked document cover A leaked draft UNFFC document dated 15th December shows that current committments of emissions reductions "remain on an unsustainable pathway that could lead to concentrations equal or above 550ppm with the related temperature raise around 3 degrees C.".

The document was first reported on by by the MediaPart French press outlet as well as the tv/radio show Democracy Now.

The document (PDF) can be downloaded from 350.org and other sites


While the fact that commitments have not matched the scientific targets is well known, the acknowledgement from the United Nations signifies that the conference secretariat is well aware that, even by its own accounting, the deal likely to be signed tomorrow will not accomplish the stated goal of even the most powerful negotiating countries (hold to 2 degree rise), let alone the goals of the most impacted countries (well below 1.5 degree rise).

So this is the result of two years of negotiation since Bali? What have our negotiators been up to all this time?

For an MIT software model of where current commitments will take us see the Climate Interactive Scoreboard. This model says with existing pledges we are more likely to result in a temp increase of 3.9 C, not a mere 3 C.

Concerned? You can communicate directly to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Climate Minister Penny Wong in Copenhagen through Fax or email via the Getup! Campaign page Kevin's Chance to Lead. Tell our leaders to put forward their most ambitious targets and real financial support for developing countries by sending your urgent fax straight to Kevin Rudd and Penny Wong in Denmark.

Don't leave it to tomorrow, do it now.

=========================================

My own email statement

===============

Dear Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Climate Minister Penny Wong,

I have been following scientific reports on climate change since 2004, so I am aware what climate scientists say we need to take action to avoid dangerous climate change.

I was proud of the leadership of the newly elected Rudd Government in signing the Kyoto Protocol in 2007, and the pivotal role Penny Wong played in last minute negotiations that brokered the Bali roadmap.

I am also proud of my union, the NTEU for adopting a climate change policy that reiterates the policy response that scientists have said we need for effective action.

Copenhagen is a unique pivotal moment in history, and I want to be proud of Australia as a leader on climate policy by placing the most ambitious targets and real financial support for developing countries on the negotiation table.

I ask for you to table a 40% emission cut on 1990 levels by 2020. If you can't do this, then table the Governments stated maximum of 25% on 2000 levels, even though this is insufficient according to the reductions needed and demanded by the science.

I would also like Australia to adopt the 350ppm target, and 1.5 degree temp rise as the level for a safe climate, and support our island nation neighbours and many of the poorer developing countries. I believe over 100 countries support the Tuvalu proposal and ask why Australia is condemning our neighbour states to oblivion through sea level rise by targets to low.

I also want to see a substantial contribution to long term aid for developing countries. This should be new Money. Hilary Clinton announcement of $100billion per year by 2020 is a significant concession.

Australia is the biggest per capita polluter in the world, and we need to take leadership on emission reduction mitigation and funding adaption measures in the third world.

Please act on climate ambitiously, fairly and with justice
For your children and my children.

=======================================

Takver is a citizen journalist from Melbourne who has been writing on Climate Change issues and protests including Rising Sea Level, Ocean acidification, Environmental and social Impacts since 2004.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

IUCN report: Koalas threatened by Climate Change

AusSMC-2009-Dec-14_IMG_0589

The Koala has been identified by the prestigous International Union for the Conservation of Nature as under threat from climate change in a new report released in Copenhagen.

The report - Species and Climate Change - focuses on 10 species, including Arctic Fox, Leatherback Turtle, Beluga Whale, Clownfish, Emperor Penguin, Quiver Tree, Ringed Seal, salmon and staghorn corals, and the Koala.

The Koala is an arboreal marsupial found from north Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia in Eucalypt woodland habitat. It is an iconic animal strongly identified with Australia. In November 2009, 20 of Australia's leading koala scientists met with the Government's Threatened Species Scientific Committee head to review the plight of Australia's koala population.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Greenpeace demands Strong action on climate change with Opera House banner drop

Greenpeace activists scale Opera House - Image copyright Greenpeace/Sewell used for educational purposes Greenpeace today unveiled a message for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd: a banner on the iconic Sydney Opera House saying: "Stop the Politics - Climate Treaty Now". Five Greenpeace activists scaled one of the sails of the Opera House to do the banner drop.

The banner drop occurred at 9.20am with police quickly sealing off the area to tourists and the banner was taken down by 10am. The activists have each been charged with trespass.

Greenpeace chief executive officer Linda Selvey told the ABC World Today program "With only four days to go with Copenhagen, it is a critical time to get across the message that Australians want strong action on climate change... the most important thing that is happening in the world's history is happening at the moment at Copenhagen and with only a few days to go, we need to do what we can to get a message across to world leaders that we need strong action on climate change." she said.

In a Sydney Morning Herald report Linda Selvey said "Basically, (Prime Minister) Kevin Rudd and other world leaders seem to be focusing more on politics than they are on getting the outcome which is what we need for the planet.

"The fossil fuel industry is very cashed up and has been spending a lot of money to get the ear of politicians. We feel it's very important to use whatever tactics we can to get our message across on behalf of Australians." she said.

Greenpeace is running a campaign for Australia to put stronger commitments on the table at the climate negotiations in Copenhagen. Their demands include:

* Emissions cuts for industrialised countries 40% by 2020 (based on 1990 levels)
* Emissions cuts for developing countries 15-30% of projected greenhouse pollution growth by 2020
* Commit to end deforestation by 2030. Deforestation causes 20% of greenhouse pollution worldwide, so climate change can't be stopped without protecting forests. This must be done in a way that protects indigenous communities and biodiversity.
* Commit $US140 billion a year to help developing countries

For more information on the Greenpeace Rapid Response Campaign: What a fair, ambitious and binding climate treaty looks like - Take action: Call Penny Wong and demand a fair climate treaty in Copenhagen

In March 2003 on the eve of the invasion of Iraq two peace activists, Will Saunders and David Burgess, painted 'NO WAR' on the Opera House. They were sentenced to nine months' periodic detention for malicious damage, and ordered to pay $151,000 in clean-up costs. Many fundraisers were held to help the two meet this cost.

Sources

* Greenpeace Australia, Dec 15, 2009 - Activists scale Opera House to demand action at Copenhagen
* Image © Greenpeace/Sewell used for news purposes
* ABC The World Today - Climate change protesters scale Sydney Opera House
* Sydney Morning Herald Dec 15, 2009 - Greenpeace activists scale Opera House

Takver is a citizen journalist from Melbourne who has been writing on Climate Change issues and protests including Rising Sea Level, Ocean acidification, Environmental and social Impacts since 2004.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Australia's obstructionist role causes Developing countries to walk

DSC_0112
Copenhagen. Dec 14, 2009. Australia and Japan are currently blocking movement on legally binding emissions reductions for rich countries, which has precipitated in the G77 group of 130 developing countries walking out of climate negotiations unless talks on a second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol are prioritized ahead of broader discussions under a second LCA track. A Flashmob of support by civil society for the African and island nations walkout was held in the convention centre.

Industrialised countries have not tabled any meaningful commitments around mitigation and medium - long-term financing and are pushing for a new agreement to sideline the Kyoto Protocol.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Australians send a climate message to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

A huge crowd estimated in news reports at 40,000 people, participated in the Walk against Warming in Melbourne to send a message to Australian Climate Change Minister Senator Penny Wong and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at the Copenhagen COP15 UN Climate Change conference. Around the globe (350.org) people protested for an ambitious , fair and binding climate treaty, many calling for higher emission reduction targets to stabilise carbon in the atmosphere at 350ppm to avoid dangerous climate change.



Photos: Melbourne (Flickr) | Youtube videos Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide

In Sydney an estimated 15,000 people marched from Martin Place to the Botanical Gardens. They chanted "Climate Treaty Now - Don't Ditch Kyoto" for a video screened in Copenhagen.

Brisbane's King George Square was a sea of banners and protest slogans with an estimated 10,000 people. Organisers extended the route at the last minute to accommodate the large turnout.

Thousands of people rallied at Adelaide's Rymill Park after marching through the city.

Rallies were also held in Tasmania's Upper Florentine Valley, Perth, and many regional towns such as Geelong, Newcastle and Wollongong.

In Melbourne Spokeswoman Tricia Phelan said "It's vital that in the coming week our world leaders make a commitment on climate change," she said.

"We need a strong commitment and a commitment that looks like rich countries like Australia slashing our emissions, and helping to fund poorer countries to develop in a cleaner way, and avoid the mistake that we've made." she told ABC news.

Two Firefighters who were involved in the Black Saturday (Feb 7, 2009) devastating fires that killed 173 people spoke at the rally at the Melbourne State Library, linking the extreme catastrophic fires to extreme fire weather conditions and climate change.

Tuvalu woman speaking on the climate threat her culture and nation face
The rally in Melbourne heard from Leah, a 24 year old Australian citizen from Tuvalu who gave a an account of the frontline of climate change on the atolls of Tuvalu which supports a population of 12,000 people with the highest point above sea level at 1 metre.

Her speech in full:

=======================
Today I am talking on behalf of Make Poverty History.

Climate change is happening. It is real. We don't have time to argue with skeptics. While we waste time debating in our parliament and in our media, millions of the world's most vulnerable and poor people are being hit hard by it's effects despite being the least responsible.

I know this, I was born in Tuvalu. It is a small nation of 9 low lying atolls. At only 1 metre above sea level we are feeling the effects of the rising tides and the changing weather patterns.

Our food crops are being destroyed by saltwater seeping up through the coral, and the king tides that wash across our small atolls are becoming more common and increasingly severe. This threatens our local food supply and our ability to live off the land.

For us, continuing with business as usual means that within the next 10 to 20 years our land will become uninhabitable and our population of 12,000 people will be forced to relocate. This threatens our identity, our culture and our very existence. We are not the only ones. All over the world countries are being affected by climate change. Only in poor countries where money and resources are scarce it is difficult to adapt.

It is estimated that the number of people affected by climate related disasters is likely to increase by 54 per cent to 375 million people in the next 6 years. And while the poor suffer rich countries like Australia do nothing for fear that in reducing emissions it will hinder economic growth. For Tuvalu this is not a question of economics. It is a question of survival, of injustice, of human rights. This is life and death.

In Australia our Government refuses to respond with the urgency and leadership required to halt climate change and turn this around. We need to commit to reducing our emissions by at least 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. We need to apply substantial funding to support affected countries in adapting to climate change and to develop a low carbon pathway and to a sustainable future.

Copenhagen must deliver a fair, ambitious and legally binding climate deal to prevent catastrophic climate change and minimise the affect on poor countries.

The Australian Government is supposed to represent its people, and we are not being represented. We need to send a strong message that we will not stand for this inaction any longer.

There is hope for Tuvalu and for all nations affected and it lies with us. Gandhi said 'be the change you want to see in the world'. We can be that change. We must be that change. We can turn this around but we need to act immediately and effectively.

Please, research the issue surrounding climate change and arm yourself with knowledge. Learn more about what is at stake and talk about it in your workplaces, your schools, your community. Take direct action, reduce your own emissions, write to your local MP, live local, ride your bike, grow your own food, vote with your dollar, consume less. Inspire others to do the same.

There is hope. Look around you. Look at all the people here today. And during today introduce yourself to other people and thank each other for being here, because we have an enormous challenge ahead of us and we need to support each other to create the change necessary to secure a safe climate for us all.


Thankyou

===========================
See a Video of the speech at Engagemedia (5:58) or Youtube (4:15)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bolivia responds to US on Climate Debt: "If you break it, you buy it."

Bolivia's ambassador to the United Nations, has responded strongly to the US position on Climate Debt, saying "We are not assigning guilt, merely responsibility. As they say in the US, if you break it, you buy it."

He was responding to Todd Stern, US Special Envoy for Climate Change, who said in a press conference on 10 December: "We absolutely recognize our historic role in putting emissions in the atmosphere up there that are there now. But the sense of guilt or culpability or reparations - I just categorically reject that."



Australia is also ducking it's responsibility - we are the largest carbon polluter on a per capita basis. And it appears our negotiators are part of the cabal trying to minimise our carbon debt to developing countries. By the in-action of Australia we are sentencing countries like Tuvalu to innundation by rising sea levels that we have partly caused.

Pablo Solon said "Admitting responsibility for the climate crisis without taking necessary actions to address it is like someone burning your house and then refusing to pay for it. Even if the fire was not started on purpose, the industrialised countries, through their inaction, have continued to add fuel to the fire. As a result they have used up two thirds of the atmospheric space, depriving us of the necessary space for our development and provoking a climate crisis of huge proportions.

"It is entirely unjustifiable that countries like Bolivia are now forced to pay for the crisis. This creates a huge draw on our limited resources to protect our people from a crisis created by the rich and their over-consumption.

"In Bolivia we are facing a crisis we had no role in causing. Our glaciers dwindle, droughts become ever more common, and water supplies are drying up. Who should address this? To us it seems only right that the polluter should pay, and not the poor."

"We are not assigning guilt, merely responsibility. As they say in the US, if you break it, you buy it."

Bolivia's chief climate negotiator, Angelica Navarro said that "Twenty percent of the population have actually emitted more than two-thirds of the emissions. And as a result, they have caused more than 90 percent of the increase in temperatures," Navarro says. "We are not begging for aid; we want developed countries to comply with their obligation and pay their debt."

Pablo Solon was interviewed by Friends of the Earth radiomundo real world news on 9 December- "They want to kill the Kyoto Protocol" - where he outlined "there is an attempt for this negotiation process we've been working on for over two years, to be suddenly replaced with a document written by a few countries, that will appear on the last days of the COP".

According to Salon the developed countries, including Australia, are pushing for a new deal that will force countries like China, India, Mexico and Brazil, which are part of the G77, to reduce their emissions. "These are not the formal negotiations and we want a transparent negotiating process, where all the member countries are reflected and without last minute agreements". he said.

"Bolivia thinks the developed countries want to erase the footprints of the climate debt they owe to the developing countries, to the humanity as a whole, and to Mother Earth. For this reason they want to erase the Kyoto Protocol and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change", said Solon.

"We shall firmly oppose any attempt to avoid or eliminate the historical responsibility that they (the developed countries) have", he claimed.

"Bolivia brings a key issue to the COP 15. If we want to solve the issue of climate change here, we have to reestablish a harmonic relation of the human beings with nature, which has been broken by the capitalist system. Unless we manage to change the capitalist system, we will not be able to reestablish the balance between human beings and nature, hence the causes that lead to greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental problems in the world, will continue".

Solon applauded the key role of social movements in keeping the pressure on Governments and negotiators to avoid an agreement drawn up by the industialised countries that penalises the developing world: "If social movements keep the pressure and the eye on the governments and the delegations, and if they are watching them with proposals, there are more chances of reaaching an agreement that puts the interests of humanity and the interests of Mother Earth first". he said.

=========================================
David Ngatae, Cook Islands, said 100 other countries have got behind Tuvalu's proposal. Australia is not one of them. Tuvalu wants a legally binding agreement, with emission reduction actions that will preserve its sovereignty: backpeddle to 350ppm and aim for no more than 1.5 degrees of warming. If industrialised countries fulfilled their commitments under Kyoto Protocol and Bali roadmap of 25-40% emissions reductions on 1990 levels by 2020 we would achieve the Tuvalu targets. All it takes is political will.



==========================================
Sources:

* Pablo Solon on radiomundo real world news, Dec 9, 2009 - "They want to kill the Kyoto Protocol"
* Media Release, Dec 11, 2009 - Bolivia responds to US on climate debt: "If you break it, you buy it."
* The Wonk Room, Dec 11, 2009 - US Climate Envoy Claims We Were 'Blissfully Ignorant' Of The Greenhouse Effect Until Recently
* Youtube Video - COP15 - US Envoy Todd Stern rejects the idea of 'climate debt' or climate reparations

Takver is a citizen journalist from Melbourne who has been writing on Climate Change issues and protests including Rising Sea Level, Ocean acidification, Environmental and social Impacts since 2004.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Scientist: Extinction threatens Coral Reefs unless CO2 limited to 350ppm


COPENHAGEN. Dec 9, 2009. Extinction of Coral reefs and 10-20% of marine species is likely if greehouse gases aren't brought down to 350ppm, warned Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg from the University of Queensland. He gave a presentation at the US Pavilion at the COP15 climate negotiations in Copenhagen about the threat of climate change to the world's coral reefs. Over 500 million people living in approximately 90 nations are dependant in some way on coral reefs.

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg was a contributing author to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in 2007, which shared the Nobel Prize with Al Gore.

Tuvalu makes a Stand at Climate Talks

The UN climate summit in Copenhagen came to a temporary halt on December 9 as the small Pacific Island nation of Tuvalu demanded commitment to a legally-binding agreement while industrialised nations refused to express an opinion.



Tuvalu is demanding a new treaty to run alongside the Kyoto protocol that would set the maximum allowable temperature increase to be 1.5 degrees Celsius, instead of 2 degrees Celsius rise usually put forth by developed countries and big emerging economies like India and China. In addition, they requested that atmospheric carbon levels be set at 350 parts per million (ppm) instead of 450 ppm.

Australia shamed with a Climate Fossil award over carbon capture and storage

Competition for the Climate Fossil of the Day Award is very stiff at climate talks. The satirical awards are a popular event presented by Climate Action Network activists.Three ‘Fossil of The Day’ awards are given to the countries who perform the worst during the past day’s negotiations at UN climate change conferences. On day two of the Copenhagen Climate talks Australia has shared in a Second Place Award as part of the Umbrella Group for proposing at a Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) plenary that carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects should qualify as Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects.

Greenpeace False Hope Report on CCS (PDF) - May 2008 | Flickr Photoset



The Clean Development Mechanism generates carbon credits from projects in the developing world which are then sold to companies and countries who can claim pollution reductions against those credits.

The Umbrella Group is composed of Industrialized non-EU countries: Canada, Iceland, Japan, Kazakhstan, New Zealand, Norway, Russian Federation, Ukraine, United States and Australia. The chair of the Umbrella group is presently Australia. The Award citation says:

"The brollies have gotten used to subsidizing the coal and oil industries in their own countries-but do they really have to subsidize the same dirty companies in developing countries too? The CDM should be reserved for projects that move developing countries towards actual clean energy solutions. Umbrella Group, good luck capturing and sequestering your Fossil Award!"


Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is not presently a viable technology for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from coal fired power stations and is not expected, even by its proponents, to be commercially viable until at least 2020, and deployment of CCS at utility scale is not expected before 2030, by which time emissions need to have peaked and be rapidly reducing.

A 2008 Greenpeace report - False Hope: Why carbon capture and storage won't save the climate - says that CCS wastes energy by using between 10 and 40% of the energy produced by a power station. At this stage Safe and permanent storage of CO2 cannot be guaranteed with just minor leakage rates undermining any climate mitigation efforts. CCS could lead to a doubling of plant costs, and an electricity price increase of 21-91%., diverting money from sustainable solutions. There are significant liability risks posed by CCS including threats to health, ecosystems and the climate. It is unclear how severe these risks will be.

"Australia must stop pushing this clean coal pipe dream at Copenhagen," Damien Lawson, climate justice spokesperson, Friends of the Earth Australia said today.

"There are already enormous problems with the Clean Development Mechanism. Including carbon capture will only create more loopholes for polluters to claim credits. The Rudd government's own Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute says that it will take at least 20 years for any projects to be economically viable and that is only if the safety and technical issues can be overcome."

"Including CCS in the Copenhagen agreement will have the incredibly perverse outcome that would mean that companies who burn coal will be able to purchase reduction credits from companies that are burning coal with CCS in the developing world."

"This is further evidence that the big polluters, in particular the coal industry, are driving Australia's climate agenda." said Lawson.

In July 2009 Kevin Rudd launched the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute at a G8 event jointly hosted by the President of the United States, Barack Obama and Italy's Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi in L'Aquila, Italy. The Australian Government has committed A$100 million a year to support CCS work and a further A$2 billion to support the construction of CCS demonstration projects in Australia.

Sources:

* Prime Minister of Australia Media Release, July 10, 2009 - Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute launched
* Friends of the Earth Australia media release, Dec 9 - 2009 - Australia selling clean coal pipe dream at Copenhagen
* Greenpeace Report - May 2008 - False Hope: Why carbon capture and storage won't save the climate
* Fossil of the Day Award, Dec 8, 2009 - Fossil Awards Day 2: World's Shame Rains on Ukraine

Takver is a citizen journalist from Melbourne who has been writing on Climate Change issues and protests including Rising Sea Level, Ocean acidification, Environmental and social Impacts since 2004.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

2009 set to become the Fifth hottest year on Record, in the Hottest Decade

2009 is likely to be the fifth warmest year on record according to the World Meteorological Organisation, with the current decade being the warmest on record, eclipsing the 1990s, which in turn was warmer than the 1980s.

The Temperature is Rising | Severe Droughts | Storms | Arctic Sea Ice

Above normal temperatures were recorded for most regions with North America experiencing conditions colder than normal in some regions. Global warming is producing more weather extremes, at greater frequency and intensity.

With the hacking of emails from the University of East Anglia there have been calls by climate deniers and some commentators like George Monbiot for scientific data to be made more public. In response, the UK Met Office has released station temperature records for over 1,500 of the stations that make up the global land surface temperature record. More data will be made available in the future and placed in the public domain for scrutiny.


The Temperature is Rising



The global combined sea surface and land surface air temperature for 2009 (up to October) was estimated at 0.44°C ± 0.11°C (0.79°F ± 0.20°F) above the 1961-1990 annual average of 14.00°C/57.2°F.

As the atmosphere and oceans warm up, more water vapour can be carried, storms will be more intense and more frequent. We will experience more extreme weather events. We are seeing more extreme weather events, with many precipitation and temperature records are being broken.



The year was the third warmest in China since 1951 and for some regions 2009 was the warmest year. A heatwave in July broke some local temperature records.

In Europe spring was very warm with temperatures 5 degrees above average during April in central Europe breaking several records. The European summer was also warmer than the long-term average. Spain recorded the third-warmest summer, and Italy suffered a strong heatwave in July with temperatures soaring over 40°C, and reaching 45°C at some locations. The July heatwave also affected the United Kingdom, France, Belgium , Germany, and Scandanavian countries setting new maximum records.

The year was marked by climate extremes with devastating floods, severe droughts, snowstorms, heatwaves and cold waves, recorded around the world.

Canada and Alaska experienced a hot July with Vancouver and Victoria setting new temperature records and Alaska recording the second warmest July on record. However, October proved to be the third-coolest October on record for the United States.

In the Southern Hemisphere autumn proved to be exceedingly warm across Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and southern Brazil with several temperature records broken.

Australia had its third-warmest year on record, with three major heatwaves: the first in January/February which resulted in catastrophic bush fires which killed 173 people in Victoria, the second in August affecting sub-tropical Australia, and the third in November braking several temperature records and causing catastrophic bush fire alert to be declared for several regions.

Is it getting hot enough for you yet?


Severe Droughts



China is in its worst drought in 50 years. One the weakest monsoon seasons for India caused severe drought in many districts. Severe drought continues in East Africa decimating crop harvests and livestock, leading to food shortages. Exceptional drought was also recorded during October in Mexico, the US Southwest, and Argentina. The Murray Darling Basin, Australia's food bowl, is in its 9th year of drought. The South west corner of Western Australia and South eastern Australia continues to receive below average rainfall.

The WMO has also warned that the frequency and severity of droughts are likely to increase. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has noted that: "The combination of record heat and widespread drought during the past five to ten years over large parts of southern and eastern Australia is without historical precedent and is, at least partly, a result of climate change."

While the Copenhagen COP15 talks are underway, meteorologists, climatologists and other researchers are meeting at the University of Nebraska from 8 to 11 December 2009 at the 'Inter-Regional Workshop on Indices and Early Warning Systems for Drought'.

"There is a critical need to establish best practices for drought early warning systems throughout the world. This requires that we develop a better understanding of the tools and data sources that are important components of these systems. Drought is a serious problem in virtually all countries. Projected changes in climate for many regions suggest that droughts are likely to become more frequent, of longer duration, and more severe. Our ability to lessen or mitigate the impacts associated with drought is contingent on putting in place comprehensive early warning systems.", said Dr Don Wilhite, Director and Professor, School of Natural Resources of the University of Nebraska, at the opening of the workshop.

Lake Hume at Tallangatta - Lakeshore Caravan Park



Storms



Intense storms affected Spain and France in January; severe damage by a winter storm in western Europe resulting in serious disruptions to air and rail traffic across the region. Thunderstorms and extreme rainfall events across Europe and Turkey, culminating in a record rainfall in 24 hours for Great Britain in November resulting in flooding and damage to bridges.

In South America heavy rainfall occurred in Colombia at the start of the year, producing landslides and widespread floods. Later, North-east Brazil experienced heavy rainfall and flooding, and in Winter the worst snowstorm for 15 years hit the southern part of Argentina. Intense rainfall breaking monthly precipitation records and flooding ocurred in north-eastern Argentina, southern Brazil and Uruguay in November.

A record number of tornadoes were witnessed in Ontario, Canada, and Canadian avalanches were almost double the yearly average for the past decade. The United States experienced its wettest October in 115 years, with record flooding during March in the northern plains region.

192 people died in El Salvador when an intense storm associated with Hurricane Ida, produced deadly floods and landslides.

Southern India experienced incessant rain resulting in severe flooding during September and October.

A severe snowstorm in Northern China in early November, one month earlier than normal, broke local weather records.

Torrential rain and flooding ocurred in Western Africa, Zambia and Namibia. Burkina Faso experienced 263 mm of rain recorded in less than 12 hours, breaking a record set 90 years ago. Flooding affected over 100,000 people in West Africa and a further 1 million people in southern Africa.

While extreme heatwave and bushfires hit south eastern Australia in February, at the same time large parts of Queensland and coastal New South Wales were subject to torrential rain and flooding. In September and October eastern Australia was affected by dust storms carrying dust from central Australia, reducing visibility.


Arctic Sea Ice



The Arctic experienced its third lowest sea ice extent over the Northern summer, with only 2007 and 2008 being lower.



More importantly, sea ice thickness is also in rapid decline, with much of the purported multi-year ice as detected by microwaves from satellite proven by new research to be 'rotten' ice unexpectedly thin that electromagnetically fools the satellite measurement instruments. The Research was conducted by Dr David Barber, a professor of Environment and Geography and Canada Research Chair in Arctic System Science from the University of Manitoba.

"Our results are consistent with ice age estimates that show the amount of multiyear sea ice in the northern hemisphere was the lowest on record in 2009 suggesting that multiyear sea ice continues to diminish rapidly in the Canada Basin even though 2009 aerial extent increased over that of 2007 and 2009," Dr David Barber concludes in his paper which has been accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters.

This latest research was conducted In September 2009 by Barber and others in the southern Beaufort Sea aboard the research vessel (NGCC) Amundsen. Much of the ice encountered, sometimes 6-8 metres thick, was so heavily decayed the Amundsen easily broke through the floes. For much of the journey the ship sailed at close to its open water cruising speed of about 25km/h.

"This has significant implications for assessment of the speed of global climate change impacts in the Arctic and for increased shipping and industrial development in the Arctic," said Barber.

Sources



* World Meteorological Organisation Press Release, Dec 8, 2009 - 2000-2009, The Warmest Decade
* World Meteorological Organisation Press Release, Dec 8, 2009 - International Experts to Recommend Standard Drought Indices
* UK Met Office Media Release, Dec 8, 2009 - Global-average temperature data released
* University of Manitoba News Release, Nov 27, 2009 - News Release: Thick Arctic Sea Ice Goes Missing

Also published on San Fransisco Bay Area Indymedia, Australia Indymedia, Climate IMC

Monday, December 7, 2009

Union calls for 40% emissions reduction target and abandonment of CPRS

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) which covers many of the researchers and academics who work in science, economic modelling and related fields, has called upon the Federal Labor Government and opposition parties to abandon the proposed Emissions Trading System, the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) legislation and instead develop a national pollution reduction strategy that does not primarily rely on market mechanisms.

The opposition parties rejected the Government's CPRS legislation in the Senate, however Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has said the legislation will be resubmitted in February 2010 for re-consideration. The new leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott, has publicly opposed this legislation "a giant new tax on everything" and has said his party would deliver similar emission reductions of between 5 and 25 per cent by 2020 based on 2000 levels, but without explaining how.

The NTEU has called for ambitious emission reduction targets of a minimum 40 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on 1990 levels by 2020 as a step towards net zero greenhouse gas emissions. These targets are more in tune with what scientists are calling for to avoid climate tipping points and dangerous climate change.

The NTEU climate change policy puts the union at odds with the Rudd Labor Government, Liberal Opposition and the ACTU. The ACTU has been fully supporting the Federal Labor Government Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme legislation.

"The settlement between the Rudd Government and the opposition has sadly been driven by business self-interest in many areas, however the basic architecture to drive carbon abatement remains intact," said ACTU President Sharan Burrow in a media release on 25 November.

Along with proposals for a planned transition from coal-fired generators to renewable energy sources, the union proposes re-skilling and alternative employment for affected workers, as well as an urgent public investment program in public transport, renewable energy and the sustainable retrofitting of the nation's housing stock.

The union's NSW secretary, Genevieve Kelly, told the Australian newspaper "Rather than get bogged down with a costly emissions trading scheme that rewards big polluters and will have a limited impact on emissions, the Rudd government needs to immediately invest in renewable energy, public transport and a transition from coal-fired power generation," Ms Kelly said.

The Rudd Government currently promises cuts of 5 to 25% on 2000 levels. At the best a 25% cut only equates to a 10.8% cut on 1990 levels. But they fudge these figures further by including land use and forestry targets and financing the reduction in deforestation in third world countries to offset emissions. This will allow Australia's emissions to actually increase until 2030.

"This policy may place the NTEU at odds with the Rudd government and some elements of the union movement; however, we have an obligation to respond to the deeply held concerns of our members who overwhelmingly want action on this issue," Ms Kelly was reported as saying.

The union is also attempting to include environmental claims in workplace agreements. The union is a member of Australasian Campuses Towards Sustainability Association, and is negotiating with universities and TAFE institutes to reducing emissions as part of workplace agreements.

NTEU climate change policy

as published in Advocate, Vol 16 No 3, November 2009

=========================================

The 2009 NTEU National Council adopted a policy on climate change that calls on the Labor Government and opposition parties to support:

1. Abandonment of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) legislation and development of a national pollution reduction strategy that does not primarily rely on market mechanisms.
2. A target of a minimum 40 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions on 1990 levels by 2020 as a step towards net zero greenhouse gas emissions.
3. A planned transition from coal-fired generators to renewable energy sources, including re-skilling and good quality alternative employment for affected workers.
4. An urgent public investment program in public transport, renewable energy and the sustainable retrofitting of the nation's housing stock.
5. Legislation that gives effect to the Just Transition recommendations endorsed by the ACTU and the United Nations Environment Program and ensures the social costs of climate change mitigation and adaptation are not borne disproportionately by households.
6. Development of a national green employment strategy that meets international best practice standards on decent work and measurably reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
7. Development of a national strategy that identifies unsustainable industry and consumer demand levels, and addresses their employment implications.
8. Amendment of the Fair Work Act in line with ALP 2007 policy to facilitate bargaining on environmental claims by industrial parties.

National Council also agreed that NTEU should hold a conference on climate change in 2010, focusing on the climate change policy agenda post-Copenhagen and its relevance for NTEU members and the union movement in general.

=========================================

Sources:

* NTEU - Advocate, Vol 16 No 3, November 2009, pp27 (PDF)
* The Australian, Dec 7, 2009, Union revolts over ETS
* ACTU media release, Nov 25, 2009 - CPRS must now be passed to create jobs and a stronger economy


Takver is a citizen journalist from Melbourne who has been writing on Climate Change issues and protests including Rising Sea Level, Ocean acidification, Environmental and social Impacts since 2004.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Police files on desalination protestors given to private corporations

Desalination protestVictoria Police have handed over information on Desalination protesters to AquaSure, made up of international and local companies Degremont, Suez Environment, Thiess and Macquarie Capital Group. The 20 page Memorandum of Understanding was signed on August 28 by the Department of Sustainability and Environment, Victoria Police and AquaSure. Victoria Police have said it was routine for police to sign such deals with organisations building big public projects where there were potential security risks.

In the latest deal Victoria Police have agreed to hand over photos, video recordings and other police records to the international consortium AquaSure to help it ''manage'' protests and potential security threats, to protect the site at Wonthaggi as well as the electricity supply to the project and new pipelines from the plant to Cardinia Reservoir.

Can Perth become the first geothermally cooled city?

While the world debates emissions targets and climate funding amounts for developing countries in Copenhagen, a new research centre was launched in Perth on December 3 dedicated to developing technologies designed to help establish sustainable, low-emission, geothermal cities. At the same time the State Government is planning to double the number of coal-fired power stations at Collie.