Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Brian Walters on Emission permit property rights and the CPRS

The carbon emission targets and the compromises to the fossil fuel industry have been well criticised in the Rudd Government's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. But what hasn't been made clear is that the emissions permits granted under the scheme become effective property rights that will make it much more difficult for future Governments to ratchett up the targets or change the scheme when more effective action is required. Brian Walters, a prominent senior legal counsel in Melbourne and past President of Liberty Victoria, outlines the problems in the CPRS, particularly on emission permits as property rights.

Brian is standing as a candidate for the Greens for the seat of Melbourne in the upcoming 2010 state election.

I videoed his speech at a picket of Peter Batchelor, Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources, who was about to attend a $3000 a head Victorian Coal Industry conference. I took the time to transcribe the speech, so you can Read or watch:


Brian Walters on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS)






It's great to have you all here, and I say all because it is great to have our numbers augmented with the Victoria police who brought along the equine support - thanks for coming - it's great to have you here and no doubt supporting our cause.

The CPRS. Some people say that the Greens are hypocritical for not supporting the CPRS. They say, "well look, this scheme is a step in the right direction, it's better than nothing! We ought to at least support that!"

The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, or the Continued Polluting Regardless Scheme, is worse than nothing at all and it will not be supported by the Greens at any time. Not in this form.

First thing we have to say about the scheme is, and we all know, the targets. They are scandalous! And that is because they have been set by polluters, not by scientists. We are going to pay out as Jesmine said about $24billion at least to big carbon as part of this scheme. $24billion. That means its the first source of revenue in history in Australia which will run at a loss.

And what are we getting from all this money we are paying out to big carbon? Well, according to Treasury modelling, nothing! There won't be any reducton in carbon pollution in Australia. What we will get will be brought in and imported from overseas, and that won't be much anyway.

We are giving major concessions to coal. For the first five years they will be given concessions of course which will give them a windfall in profits and encourages the use of coal. The energy intensive trade exposed industries will get far more: they get 25% free permits - this is industries like aluminium smelting - 25% free permits going up to 45% in 2020. In other words, we are actually encouraging the expansion of major carbon pollution by this scheme.

[Crowd interjection: Corporate Welfare!]

The exact opposite of what we want to achieve.

One of the things about this scheme which I'm not sure has had much coverage, but in my view is the worst part of the scheme, is that it makes it impossible for future Governments to ratchett up the targets. That's because under a section of the legislation the carbon pollution permits, won't just be permits, they will be property rights.

You've all seen 'The Castle' and you know the Government of Australia under the constitution can't acquire property except on just terms. So you give this property right to carbon polluters - it's a social evil - give them the right to do this evil thing and make it a property right and it means that future governments down the track can't acquire those property rights or diminish those property rights except on just terms.

Now that is scandalous. And it is not what was proposed by Garnault or by anybody. We are left with a scheme that will make things worse, and it will not be supported by the Greens.

They are digging a hole, they are digging it deeper, they won't stop digging, and they can't get out of it.

They want to take us down into the graveyard caused by their coal mines, and they are happy about that so long as they can clutch onto their riches on the way down.

The climate crisis is the great moral challenge of our age Kevin Rudd, just up the road today. It is. And we need some leadership to confront it. And leadership is not doing no more and no less than other countries are doing, and in fact we are doing less. The solutions are available and they are inspiring. We owe it to our children and to the planet to adopt those solutions.

Thankyou



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. I am not a member of the Greens or any political party.

Chris Breen on Government Greenwash, Hypocrisy and the Mildura Solar Power Plant

Chris Breen from Save Solar Systems highlighted the greenwash by GovernmentsChris Breen has been active in the Save Solar Systems Campaign. As a person working in the renewable energy sector, he has first hand experience of the lies and double standards our politicians have accorded between the subsidies and support to the fossil fuel industry as against the limited support for the renewable sector. Greenwashing.

I videoed his speech at a picket of Peter Batchelor, Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources, who was about to attend a $3000 a head Victorian Coal Industry conference. I took the time to transcribe the speech, so you can Read or watch:



Speech





On the one hand the Rudd and Brumby Government say that climate change is one of the most serious problems humanity has ever faced and that they are acting. On the other hand the reason we are here today is what they are actually doing is that they are sending Peter Batchelor to a $3000 day a head coal conference on how Victoria can keep burning coal to Kingdom Come.

And I think Damien Lawson was right when he said there is a simple test. They tell some very complicated lies around carbon trading. But there are simple tests about are they acting or not. The simple test is are we getting large scale renewable energy, are we getting the Mildura Solar power plant, or are indeed are we getting new coal, the new HRL coal power plant.

Unfortunately the answer is the wrong way around at the moment and that is what we are trying to change.
If carbon trading came in tomorrow, if we had any sort of carbon pricing, carbon tax, it's not going to build the Mildura Solar Power Plant, and it's not going to stop the HRL power plant. The climate movement needs to be demanding these very practical things about what the Government should do.

When it comes to the Mildura Solar Power Plant it really is part of the smoke and mirrors that the Government is acting on climate change. Brumby has been saying that they are committed to this project for three years, and yet we still don't have a construction date. The Victorian Government put out a media release recently saying that the money is on the table; they want this project to go ahead but the company Solar Systems who were going to build it has been sold to, are saying it may go ahead in 2011 which is conveniently after the next two - state and federal - elections. There is no date for construction.

And the other key thing is that Solar Systems who were going to build it had 150 employees. After the sale, Silex, who it has been sold to, has 14 employees. How are you going to build a solar power plant with 14 employees, let alone continue the research and development programs to commercialise the technology. This was going to be 1000 jobs in construction in Mildura, this was going to power all of Mildura by the sun, and yet it is not going ahead.

I would love Batchelor and Brumby to prove I'm wrong and start construction but it seems that is not happening. What we are getting instead is the coal conference. If you look at the agenda of the coal conference is very much the same sort of thing: on the one hand they are talking about low emissions coal technology, clean coal - it's entirely fantasy - it's about coming up with the lies they are going to need to keep burning coal for as long as possible.

Clean coal is simply not going to work, not going to work at scale. You would have more chance at turning a cigarette into a safe cigarette by adding uranium to it than clean coal going to work.

You don't need to go to a Future of Coal Conference at $3000 a head to understand what the future of coal is. The future of coal is death. If we don't stop burning coal and build renewable energy, we will pass climate tipping points, we will see the deaths of hundreds of millions of people, we will see agricultural collapse, we will see war, we will see starvation, we will see disease, we will see hundreds and hundreds of millions of refugees.

So what Peter Batchelor is choosing is obscene. There is a choice. You can choose the future of coal or the future of the planet. And it is obscene we have Government ministers going to this. Imagine if Peter Batchelor was at a conference on the future of tobacco? the future of Asbestos? But this is what we are getting again and again.

I think that climate change has made renewable energy an essential service. Like Government built schools and hospitals, it needs to start building renewable energy. These things should be part of the social wage. There are more jobs in renewable energy than there are in new coal, the HRL thing is only going to have 35 jobs if it gets up and running. There was going to be a 1000 jobs in the construction of the Mildura Power plant.

The Government should employ people like it employs nurses and teachers to start to transform our economy. People tell you that Governments don't do things directly anymore, but they do. The same week that Solar Systems was sold the Brumby Government gave $363million to build a new roof for the tennis centre directly. That is about the cost of the Mildura Solar power plant.

Nothing against tennis, but what's more important? That we have a planet on which to play tennis or that we have a roof on the tennis centre?

The Government is spending $40billion on the national broadband network directly. They are spending $36billion on new submarines. To put that in context: $36billion you divide that up by $50,000 each, you could employ 700,000 people for that money to begin to transform our economy.

The very last thing I will say is this. I think it was fantastic we had the firefighters union here today. If we are going to force our government to start to do what is necessary to stop climate change, we are going to need a power, which is an alternative power, to the power of the corporations which are currently running the show.

I think that power is in the union movement. I think we need union leaders, not just in the firefighters but in every union, we need union members saying again and again and again give us the jobs that will save the world.

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

You can see images from the Peter Batchelor picket at my Flickr Peter Batchelor Climate Picket Set. Some of the speeches I have transcribed.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Climate activists picket Peter Batchelor calling for climate jobs not new coal

Climate activists held a picket outside the ministerial offices of Peter Batchelor, Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources, at 1 Spring Street, highlighting his attendance at a $3000 a head Victorian Coal and Energy Conference meeting at Taralgon in the La Trobe Valley and the Brumby Government's continued in-action on climate change and support for the coal and fossil fuel industry at the expense of developing the renewable energy industry. See Photos and speech transcripts

Related: Protest to meet brown coal Industry heavyweights in Latrobe Valley | Coal power up: Victoria fails to diversify electricty generation | Climate activists Disrupt Coal Conference

Youtube Videos of speakers: Brian Walters, Chris Breen, Damien Lawson, Madeline Hudson, Peter Marshal

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bayswater carbon pollution under legal challenge by NSW climate activists

Two members of Newcastle climate protest group Rising Tide are challenging in the NSW Land and Environment Court the amount of carbon pollution emissions allowed by the coal fired Bayswater Power Station owned by Macquarie Generation. Macquarie Generation produces 12 to 15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide pollution every year.

Rising Tide members Peter Gray and Naomi Hodgson launched the action against the Bayswater Power Station in July 2009.

Climate protest fleet attempts blockade of Newcastle coal port

Newcastle, Sun Mar 28, 2010: Climate activists from Rising Tide blocked entry to the world's largest coal port on Newcastle Harbour, north of Sydney. The 'People's Blockade of the World's Biggest Coal Port' put together a motley protest fleet of 60 rafts, kayaks and boats including a 70 foot yacht. Over 350 people attended the protest according to Greens MLC Lee Rhiannon. Carbon dioxide emissions from coal is a major contributor of climate change. Photos on Flickr | More photos

Protest spokesperson Naomi Hodgson told ABC News that "In an era of dangerous climate change we just cannot watch this massive expansion go on and not do anything about it," she said. "We're not willing to accept the massive expansion of the coal industry in New South Wales and coal is Australia's major contributor to climate change and it's also the fastest growing."

No ships entered the port today with NSW Port Authority altering it's shipping schedule to avoid confrontation with protesters. "Last year and this, they have totally cancelled their ships in advance, when we announced that we were holding a protest, so we feel that we are getting our message through, that climate change is a big issue of concern for the community, and we can't accept the massive expansion of the coal industry," said Ms Hodgson reported by AAP.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Coal power up: Victoria fails to diversify electricty generation

Victoria's reliance on coal fired electricity has increased in the last decade, with both electricity generation and greenhouse pollution from coal increasing by over 9% since 2000, according to a report commissioned by Environment Victoria - Victoria’s Energy Mix 2000-2009 (Download PDF). The increase is despite the exponential growth in the wind sector, which has barely replaced the decline of hydro power due to drought conditions and climate change.

Environment Victoria’s Campaigns Director Mark Wakeham said in a media release that the report showed that Victoria’s energy mix was poorly balanced, and that progress in reducing the state’s reliance on brown coal would be very difficult unless the most polluting power stations, like Hazelwood, were replaced with clean energy sources.

Global Public embraces Earth Hour for action on climate change as denialists respond



Earth hour has grown from just one city - an estimated 2.2 million people participated in Sydney in 2007 - to 50 million people in 400 cities around the world in 2008 and even more in 2009. In 2010 more than 1,000 cities and towns in 120 countries around the world will, at 8.30pm on Saturday, March 27 turn off the lights for Earth Hour. It is a symbolic event that has been tirelessly promoted by the WWF to promote action on climate change. While it's impact by itself is somewhat negligible, although there is a noticeable power use reduction for the hour, it has increased general public awareness of energy use and it's contribution to climate change.

Related: Greenpeace report: Dealing in Doubt


Lighting on 100 iconic landmarks will be turned off this year including the world's three tallest buildings - the new Burj Khalifa in Dubai, CN Tower in Toronto and Taipei 101 in Taiwan. Around Australia the lights will go off on Melbourne's Luna Park, Rialto Tower, Arts Centre and Crown Casino; Brisbane's Story Bridge; Adelaide's Town Hall and Rundle Mall Lantern; The National Library and Australian War Memorial in Canberra and the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Tower, Harbour Bridge and Luna Park will join this growing list.

Earth Hour Co-Founder and Executive Director, Andy Ridley said "The C40 suggests that cities are responsible for up to 75% of the world's carbon emissions, so their role in addressing what is unequivocally the greatest threat to the planet today is absolutely vital," Andy said. "By turning the lights off for Earth Hour, cities are reflecting the aspirations of their citizens as a community that has resolved to take action on global warming," he said.

But the climate change deniers are also organising. The American free-market think-tank, the Competitive Enterprise Institute established the 'Human Achievement Hour' last year to combat the climate change environmental message of Earth Hour. In Australia, the Conservative Leadership Foundation, founded and chaired by Liberal Party Senator Cory Bernardi, is promoting the event. (The Age Mar 24, 2010 - Call to turn on the lights)

The Competitive Enterprise Institute receives funding from oil and energy giant Exxon, which also funds other climate denial organisations such as the American Enterprise Institute, the Heartland Institute, Frontiers of Freedom and the Hoover Institute. ExxonMobil has funded a total of 70 groups running the campaign against climate science.

Since 1996, the Competitive Enterprise Institute has been intent on developing the campaign against climate science in Australia. In August 1997, the CEI and the Frontiers of Freedom front group sponsored a conference in Canberra, with the Australian and New Zealand Chambers of Commerce and the Western Mining Corporation (WMC) in attendance.

According to a recent Greenpeace report - Dealing in Doubt:


In August 1997, the CEI and the Frontiers of Freedom front group sponsored another conference, this time in Canberra, Australia, along with the Australian and New Zealand Chambers of Commerce and the WMC. Ray Evans and WMC's Managing Director Hugh Morgan played a significant role at the conference, and attendees included the Australian Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer and Environment Minister Robert Hill. Fisher claimed that tough emission reduction targets could put 90,000 jobs at risk in Australia and cost more than $150 million."

Speakers included American climate sceptic Patrick Michaels, climate sceptic politicians, Rep. John Dingell, Senator Chuck Hagel and Richard Lawson (President and Chief Executive Officer of the US National Mining Association and present at the earlier CEI meeting).

According to RJ Smith from the CEI, the purpose of the Canberra conference was to 'try and buck [Prime Minister John Howard] up a little more and let him know that there is support of the American people' for his government's obstructionist stance.

Later that year, an Australian at the CEI, Hugh Morley, noted on the CEI's website that 'If Australia sticks to its gun [sic], there might not be a Kyoto treaty after all'.

The Australian denial movement, funded by the WMC and other big business groups, and led by the Institute of Public Affairs, has had a relationship with the US climate sceptics ever since. Meanwhile, Australia has adopted a weak climate policy, only signing the Kyoto treaty after the Howard administration lost power in 2007.


The Competitive Enterprise Institute has a history of attacking climate science and the IPCC reports. This year, on 16 February 2010, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, along with Fred Singer, filed a lawsuit to the US demanding that, on the basis of the hacked emails and so called 'flawed datasets', the EPA drop all its proposed regulation on CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

In 2009 an International investigation by journalists revealed a multinational fossil fuel campaign to undermine Copenhagen talks.

So what is in it for these guys (and they are predominantly male)? Short term profit from mining, energy use while the world goes ever so slowly to hell.

The mining and energy sector is facing a similar public relations battle to the tobacco industry which consistently hindered research, ran public relations campaigns against legislative changes. The energy and mining sectors have learnt from the tobacco industry, with a far better funded and more vociferous campaign, including intensive lobbying and buying off our politicians for minimal action. The political decisions that do get through have amounted to exercises in greenwashing.

But the stakes are also much higher with climate change, with major changes to Earth's climate being delayed by the enormous inertia in the system. Australian Scientists have affirmed Australia's climate is already changing, climate risks of sea level rise for Australia, Marine Scientists call for climate action over Ocean Warming and Marine extinction looms with ocean acidification increasing. A new study of the Greenland ice cap shows we may be closer to a major climate tipping point and major sea level rise. Another climate tipping point is Global Atmospheric Methane on the rise.

We only have to look at the way Queensland climate change minister spins climate destruction of Great Barrier Reef, or the Queensland State Labor Government approved development of the World's largest coal mine.

In Victoria, the power industry is dependant on burning brown coal, one of the most intensive CO2 fuels, with a campaign to switch off the Hazelwood Power station, one of the most inefficient and polluting in the world. International Power, the owner of Hazelwood, enjoyed the privatised profits but is now looking at socialising the costs.

So who is for turning out the lights for an hour from 8.30pm on Saturday 27 March as a public demonstration of action on climate change?


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.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Climate protest disrupts new Newcastle coal loader

The first shipment of coal from Newcastle's third coal loader has been delayed by climate activists from Rising Tide. The docking of the Sunny Success bulk carrier was delayed at the newly built terminal by one protestor chaining himself to the wharf, and four others in a boat on the harbour.

Steve Phillips, spokesperson for Rising Tide Newcastle said "The new coal berth at Newcastle will increase Newcastle coal exports by around 30 million tonnes per year. That is equivalent to a 13% increase in Australia's greenhouse pollution. The expansion of Australia's biggest contribution to climate change is being managed, encouraged, and approved by state and federal Labor governments."

"Everybody knows that Tony Abbot's Liberal Party are climate change deniers. The laughable climate policy they have announced this week is a street-tree planting program, and will do absolutely nothing to reduce greenhouse pollution."

"But the Labor party are in denial too. They are completely in the thrall of lobbyists for the coal industry - the very cause of the climate crisis. They would have the Australian public believe that the number one cause of climate change in Australia and around the world can continue to massively expand, year on year, while greenhouse pollution is magically reduced regardless. That is pure fantasy."

"Coal exports are the number one climate issue in Australia," concluded Phillips.

Related: Photo Gallery from Rising Tide
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Images Courtesy Rising Tide Newcastle

Newcastle currently exports around 90 million tonnes of coal per annum (Mtpa), making it the world's biggest coal port. The industry is dominated by transnational mining corporations BHPBilliton, Xstrata, and Rio Tinto. Newcastle coal exports are expected to more than doubled to 211 Mtpa capacity with the current export expansions implemented. Planning is now underway for a fourth Newcastle coal terminal to take exports to more than 300Mtpa.

Coal exports are Australia's biggest contribution to climate change (creating more greenhouse pollution than all domestic sources combined), but the emissions from coal exports are not included in our greenhouse accounts.

Round the world protest against coal mining, export and power generation are growing.

In Scotland on March 22 around 25 environmental activists occupied the site of a controversial open cast coal mine in Fife. UK Coal plans to mine 720,000 tonnes of coal from the site over a two year nine month period. However, the site of the mine takes in the Black Woods area, which is regarded as a haven for wildlife reported stv. More information from Coal Action Scotland

In the Czech Republic twelve Greenpeace activists today (March 22) climbed the 300 metre high chimney of the Prunerov II coal-fired power station to hang a banner denouncing it as a ‘Global Shame’. The action follows the forced resignation of the Czech environment Minister after he refused to approve a 25 year extension to the plants operating life.

From the top of the chimney stack, in Northern Bohemia, Greenpeace Climate and Energy campaigner Jan Rovensky said: “The Prunerov coal plant is a global shame. Plans to extend its life make a mockery of efforts to protect the environment, people and avoid catastrophic global climate change. It should be shut down by 2015 and replaced with energy efficiency measures and investments in renewable energy. Then the Czech Republic’s global shame would become a global example.”

Protest campaigns to stop the highly destructive Mountain Top Removal mining in the US Appalachian mountains are continuing. More Information: Mountain Justice | Climate Ground Zero

Butterflies herald global warming for Melbourne in Landmark research

So the common brown butterfly flaps its wings in Melbourne creating ripples around the globe through it's central role in a new study that shows a causal link between human induced global warming and a natural event. The Common Brown butterfly has become an important harbinger of changing climate for Melbourne and Australia. A landmark research project discovered a causal link between increasing greenhouse gases, regional warming and the change in timing of Butterflies emerging in spring over 10 days earlier than they did 65 years ago, a shift that has been linked by the study to regional human-induced climate change.

Related: ABC radio - The World Today: Early butterflies linked to climate change

The University of Melbourne led study found that over a 65 year period, the mean emergence date for adults of the Common Brown butterfly (Heteronympha merope) has shifted 1.6 days earlier per decade in Melbourne, Australia. The findings are unique because the early emergence is causally linked with a simultaneous increase in air temperatures around Melbourne of approximately 0.14°C per decade, and this warming is shown to be human-induced (anthropogenic).

Lead author of the study Dr Michael Kearney from the Department of Zoology, University of Melbourne said the findings could help our ability to forecast future impacts of climate change on biodiversity. "Shifts in these seasonal life cycle events represent a challenge to species, altering the food and competition present at the time of hatching. Studies such as ours will allow better forecasting of these shifts and help us understand more about their consequences," says Dr Kearney.

The research was conducted by Dr Kearney and PhD student Natalie Briscoe. Professor David Karoly from the School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne contributed the climate modeling work. Co-authors include Dr Warren Porter (University of Wisconsin) and Drs Melanie Norgate and Paul Sunnucks from Monash University. The study, funded by an Australian Research Council grant to Monash, Melbourne and Wisconsin Universities, was published in Biology Letters, a prestigious international journal of the Royal Society.

"Scientists have previously observed that biological events are happening progressively earlier in spring over the past few decades. This new work has tied the earlier emergence of butterflies directly to a regional temperature increase, and has tied the temperature increase very strongly to increases in greenhouse gas concentrations caused by humans," said Professor Karoly.

Science has filled in the lines between the dots, but our politicians are still to take the necessary actions in regard to controlling greenhouse gas emissions.

Sources

Coal targeted in climate protests in Scotland, Czech Republic and Australia

Rising Tide protestor chained to wharf delaying arrival of Bulk Carrier for coal export Round the world protests against coal mining, export and power generation are growing with actions in the Czech Republic, Scotland and Australia occurring on March 22.

In Australia, the first shipment of coal from Newcastle's third coal loader was delayed by climate activists from Rising Tide. The docking of the Sunny Success bulk carrier was delayed at the newly built terminal by one protestor chaining himself to the wharf, and four others in a boat on the harbour.

Steve Phillips, spokesperson for Rising Tide Newcastle said "The new coal berth at Newcastle will increase Newcastle coal exports by around 30 million tonnes per year. That is equivalent to a 13% increase in Australia's greenhouse pollution. The expansion of Australia's biggest contribution to climate change is being managed, encouraged, and approved by state and federal Labor governments."

Phillips attacked both the policies of the ruling Labor Party and the conservative opposition are in denial on climate change "They are completely in the thrall of lobbyists for the coal industry - the very cause of the climate crisis. They would have the Australian public believe that the number one cause of climate change in Australia and around the world can continue to massively expand, year on year, while greenhouse pollution is magically reduced regardless. That is pure fantasy."

Newcastle currently exports around 90 million tonnes of coal per annum (Mtpa), making it the world's biggest coal port. The industry is dominated by transnational mining corporations BHP Billiton, Xstrata, and Rio Tinto. Newcastle coal exports are expected to more than doubled to 211 Mtpa capacity with the current export expansions implemented. Planning is now underway for a fourth Newcastle coal terminal to take exports to more than 300Mtpa. More at Australia Indymedia article


In Scotland 25 environmental activists occupied the site of a controversial open cast coal mine in Fife. UK Coal plans to mine 720,000 tonnes of coal from the site over a two year nine month period. However, the site of the mine takes in the Black Woods area, which is regarded as a haven for wildlife reported stv. More information from Coal Action Scotland

In the Czech Republic twelve Greenpeace activists today (March 22) climbed the 300 metre high chimney of the Prunerov II coal-fired power station to hang a banner denouncing it as a 'Global Shame'. The action follows the forced resignation of the Czech environment Minister after he refused to approve a 25 year extension to the plants operating life.

From the top of the chimney stack, in Northern Bohemia, Greenpeace Climate and Energy campaigner Jan Rovensky said: "The Prunerov coal plant is a global shame. Plans to extend its life make a mockery of efforts to protect the environment, people and avoid catastrophic global climate change. It should be shut down by 2015 and replaced with energy efficiency measures and investments in renewable energy. Then the Czech Republic's global shame would become a global example."

Protest campaigns to stop the highly destructive Mountain Top Removal mining in the US Appalachian mountains are continuing. More Information: Mountain Justice | Climate Ground Zero

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Australian Climate Activist on Trial in Copenhagen

Solidarity protest in London outside Danish Embassy Natasha Verco, an Australian nonviolent environment activist living in Sweden, and Noah Weiss, an American citizen who lives in Denmark, are facing numerous charges in trials which started on March 16 and 19. Verco, who has organised non-violent direct action with Friends of the Earth Sydney and who has been part of the Climate Justice Action (CJA) network in the lead-up to the summit in Copenhagen, has been charged with organising violence, organising public disorder, significant damage to property, and organising disorder during the international talks on climate change which took place in Copenhagen last year. If found guilty, Verco faces a maximum of twelve and a half years in prison.

Solidarity rallies in Copenhagen and London have been held to drop the charges and all lawsuits. | Action Form | We already gave the Danes a princess - give us back our protestor! | Two climate prisoners released but still facing charges | ABC Radio audio: Natasha talks about her arrest

Their trials are part of a campaign of police repression carried out by the Danish police during the COP15 in which over 2,000 people were arrested within a week of protests. Of all arrested, only around 30 were charged with any crime, and those that were charged were kept in jail for between one week and 47 days without trial.

Some have already gone to trial and either been acquitted or received small jail sentences and heavy fines for charges such as assaulting a police officer or throwing a stone. Some have also been deported and banned from Denmark for 6 years. Noah And Natasha are the first two to go to trial of seven accused of organizing demonstrations, and face much stiffer jail sentences (a year or more) then those who have previously gone to trial. The case is being brought on minimal and sketchy evidence, primarily acquired through dubious phone taps and other types of police surveillance.

Speaking a day ahead of the start of the trial, Verco recalled her arrest in a Guardian article: "On December 13 I was riding my bike down by the Copenhagen lakes,and a plainclothes police woman jumped out at me and pushed me off the bike. She took me to an unmarked police van with six or seven plainclothes policemen. I asked them 'Are you randomly picking me up?' and they said 'No, we hunted you'. They held me by myself in an underground carpark for about 16 hours, I think. Then I was taken to Vester prison and held there for three weeks and two days. I was charged the day after I got to prison, but bail was refused because, they said, the investigation was ongoing and I would influence it if I was released."

Verco and Weiss say they both had their phones tapped, along with 17 other activists, which is legal under recently introduced terror legislation in Denmark. Verco said: "I feel nervous and indignant at the same time, I wonder what the hell they're going to argue because I can't see what evidence they've got for these charges. And looking back at the calls that they've taped, it feels very invasive. Under the new terror laws they can do this, but it seems to me that applying terror laws to activists is steadily eroding the base of our democracy."

Verco was heavily involved in organising the day of action on December 14, but was arrested before it happened. When it took place, she was still being held by police. "The police say that they prevented anything happening by taking me in. There was no violence, and no disruption of the public infrastructure, because they'd arrested me."

During the fortnight of talks, dozens of protests from the small to mass rallies of 40,000 people, took place; the Danish police arrested nearly 2,000 people. The police are now processing nearly 200 legal complaints about the treatment of the arrestees. Verco and Weiss were both involved with CJA, the network which helped to organise some of the protests during the talks, most notably the Reclaim Power demonstration outside the conference centre for the negotiations.

Natasha Verco appeared in court on Tuesday 16 March with a heavy police presence at the courthouse. The hearing had to be moved to a larger room to accommodate Verco's numerous supporters. Also at the court was American Noah Daniel Weiss, who is due to face similar charges on 19 March.

"They are grasping at straws and part of the reason they can do that is because we are foreigners," Natasha Verco said in a Sydney Morning Herald report before the trial.

At the first day of hearing one of the original charges was dropped ("planning to damage infrastructure") The other charges where changed to "attempted" from "attempted and partially carried out". The trials might not finish till August.

Action Form

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.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Scientists affirm Australia's climate already changing



Caption: Temperature trend 1960-2009 - BOM

In a joint statement released on Monday by the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology the stark facts on global warming were outlined: that Australia's climate has already changed with more extremely hot days, fewer cold ones, wetter in the north and drier in the south-east and south-west.The statement outlined in five sections a snapshot of temperature, rainfall, oceans, atmosphere, and what this means for Australia in coming decades.

At the launch of the statement Dr Greg Ayers, Director of the Bureau of Meteorology said that climate change is real with impeccable data being collected for more than 100 years: "Australia holds one of the best national climate records in the world," Dr Ayers said. "It's there for anyone and everyone to see, use and analyse."

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Megan Clark said "With this snapshot, Australians will be better prepared for the next step of planning for how to adapt to a changing climate and how to also take action to reduce the impacts of climate change. CSIRO has been working with industry and in sectors of the economy such as agriculture to prepare for and implement necessary changes."

The veracity of human caused climate change has been under attack from climate sceptics and denialists in recent months. Professor Peter Coaldrake, Chair of Universities Australia, commented that "Climate science has taken the brunt of the attack. Now is the time to stand up for the quality of Australian science and research and to emphasise the need for evidence-based policy outcomes that recognise the lessons from science." he said about the statement which "confirms the clear view of top Australian scientists, expert in the field, that Australia's climate is changing."



Caption: annual rainfall trend 1960-2009 - BOM

The statement details that the mean temperature has increased by 0.7 degrees from 1960 to 2009, but with some areas experiencing 1.5 to 2 degrees of warming. The greatest warming has ocurred during spring - a mean average of 0.9 degrees.

While annual rainfall has remained stable averaged out across the continent, there is a strong trend for more rain in central and northern Australia, and less in the southwest, south, southeast, and east coasts, where much of the population is located.

Rising global sea level has ocurred at a global average of 3mm per year from 1993-2009, but actual sea level changes will vary based upon local ocean currents. Around Australia's coasts sea level has risen 1.5-3mm in the south and east and 7-10mm per year in the north and west. The global average for the 20th century was 1.7mm per year. Mean Sea surface temperatures around Australia have increased by about 0.4°C in the past 50 years.

The oceans of the world currently absorb about 25% of the human generated carbon emissions resulting in ocean acidification. Carbon dioxide is more easily dissolved by cold water - shelled marine life are particularly under threat in the Southern Ocean and the Arctic with far reaching implications for the whole food chain, ocean ecology and biodiversity threatening a major marine extinction.




Caption: atmospheric CO2 measured at Cape Grim - BOM

The Cape Grim baseline air pollution station, operated jointly by CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology in an isolated spot on north-western Tasmania, provides vital information about changes to the atmosphere in the Southern Hemisphere.These air pollution stations tend to be isolated from urban areas to avoid industrial contamination. Similar stations are based at Baring Head near Wellington, New Zealand, and on top of Mauna Loa, Hawai. The data from Cape Grim shows atmospheric CO2 increasing to 386ppm in 2009. Atmospheric methane, an even stronger greenhouse gas, is also increasing.

Over the last 50 years each decade has been warmer than the one before, with 2000 - 2009 being the warmest decade on record with Australia's Climate sizzling.

So what are the projections for the future? An average temperature rise by 0.6 to 1.5 ºC by 2030. If global greenhouse gas emissions continue at business as usual levels, warming is projected to be in the range of 2.2 to 5.0 ºC by 2070. Temperatures will be moderated near the coast and in Tasmania and higher in central and north-western Australia. Most of this temperature increase will be felt through an increase in the number of hot days. Expect less rainfall southern areas of Australia during winter, in southern and eastern areas during spring, and in south-west Western Australia during autumn. An increase in the number of dry days is expected across the country. It is likely that there will be an increase in intense rainfall events in many areas, like the one in March which extended from Northern Territory to Victoria, including a major hail storm.

Now we just need action to curtail carbon emissions while the Federal Government continues to push it's amended and flawed CPRS scheme and the Opposition it's pitiful direct action plan. Both clear examples of talking green and doing next to nothing - greenwashing - while State Governments continue to subsidise polluting electricity generators, coal export and development of new mines such as the World's largest coal mine: the Waratah Coal Galilee mine in central Queensland.


Background




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, March 8, 2010

Melbourne hail storm - don't mention climate change


by Flowerpower

Melbourne experienced a hail storm March 6th that has done hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars of damage. The storm has been labelled a "once in a century" event. What's not been mentioned is that the storm fits the predicted pattern of the impact of Climate Change on South East Australia.

Whilst the sceptics bellow their crap in the media and on the internet, the recent storm fits into a pattern of weather in Melbourne and Victoria that supports the growing impact of climate change on our region. The predicted impacts of climate change on South East Australia include changes to rain patterns and more extreme weather events.

Victoria is in the midst of a long term drought. This fits the predicted changes of more extended dry periods for Melbourne interspersed with major rain events. In addition to the lemon sized hail on Saturday was a major rain event which caused flash flooding across the city.

Only about 12 months ago Victoria was experiencing one of the worse heat waves and droughts on record culminating in Melbourne's hottest day ever of 46 degrees on Black Saturday 2009, a day when 173 people perished.

Even though neither event can be 100% attributed to climate change, they fit the pattern of freak "once a century" events happening more and more often in South East Australia as the global temperature rises. Interesting there has not been one mention of climate change in all of the mainstream coverage of the event as even a possible contributing factor to the storm even though one reads in the Herald Sun that experts say the storm is more typical of tropical weather patterns. eanwhile down in the Latrobe Valley we continue to burn brown coal as politicians of both major parties adopt a business as usual approach. If events like this become more common the "economic costs" of doing nothing start to be put in perspective.

References
http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg2/ar4-wg2-chapter11.pdf

http://www.csiro.au/files/files/p6fy.pdf

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_of_global_warming_on_Australia

http://www.listandalucia.com/news/news-world/melbourne-smashed-by-100-year-storm/

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/experts-are-still-assessing-cost-of-melbourne-storm-damage/story-e6frf7jo-1225837961570

Image from Bureau of Meteorology event summary - http://www.bom.gov.au/inside/services_policy/public/sevwx/vic/20100603_thunder.shtml


My comment on this event:

Incidence and intensity indicate global warming

Any one weather event cannot be attributed directly to climate change, but the change in the incidence and intensity of such extreme weather events is an indication of global warming.

This particular storm was one part of a major weather event through Northern and Central Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. The Bureau of Meteorology described it as a 'An exceptional rain event' beginning on Feb 22 to march 8. The floods in Central Queensland were hailed as a 1 in 100 year event.

More records broken:

'The most remarkable aspect of this event was the area covered by the heavy rainfall and the total volume of rainfall that fell. Daily totals exceeded 100 mm over 1.7% of Australia on 1 March and 1.9% on 2 March. The latter is the largest area of 100 mm-plus daily totals on a single day in the Australian meteorological record, breaking the previous record of 1.7% set on 22 December 1956.

28 February was the wettest day on record for the Northern Territory with an NT-wide average of 29.23 mm, while 2 March set a new record for Queensland with a Statewide average of 31.74 mm1.'

On March 8, Yan Yean, with 86.2mm of rain, had its wettest March day on record since records began 130 years ago.

More Information:

  • National Climate Centre, 2010. A significant rainfall event for central and eastern Australia,
    Bureau of Meteorology, Special Climate Statement 20 (PDF)
  • Severe Thunderstorms in Melbourne 6 March 2010, Event Summary

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Greenpeace takes aim at Koch Industries for funding Climate Denial

A new Greenpeace report uncovers the multimillion dollar funding and intense lobbying against climate science and climate action by Koch Industries, that eclipses the traditional funding for climate deniers from ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel companies.

Greenpeace Reports: Koch Industries: secretly funding the climate denial machine | Dealing in Doubt: A Brief History of Attacks on Climate Science, Climate Scientists and the IPCC <--break->