Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Politicians offer token #ausvotes funding to Great Barrier Reef facing extinction. It is a climate emergency
We need to come to terms that the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem and coral reef ecosystems globally as we know them, are facing extinction. It is a climate emergency. The reef is our canary in a coalmine and it is now dying from the greenhouse gases we have released.
Early surveys of the Great Barrier Reef showed that 93 percent of reefs were affected by coral bleaching. Scientists have been undertaking extensive aerial and underwater surveys since then to refine these initial survey results. Scientists from the Coral Reef Centre of Excellence are now reporting that over 35 percent of coral north of Cairns in the northern and central regions are now dead or dying.
The impact of coral bleaching changes dramatically from north to south along the 2300km length of the Reef.
“We found on average, that 35% of the corals are now dead or dying on 84 reefs that we surveyed along the northern and central sections of the Great Barrier Reef, between Townsville and Papua New Guinea,” says Professor Terry Hughes, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University (JCU).
“Some reefs are in much better shape, especially from Cairns southwards, where the average mortality is estimated at only 5%. This year is the third time in 18 years that the Great Barrier Reef has experienced mass bleaching due to global warming, and the current event is much more extreme than we’ve measured before."
“These three events have all occurred while global temperatures have risen by just 1 degree C above the pre-industrial period. We’re rapidly running out of time to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” concluded Terry Hughes.
Saturday, May 28, 2016
A UNESCO report identifies World Heritage sites at risk from climate change, but there is no mention of Australian sites in the report. The Australian Government requested that all mentions be deleted, and this was complied with by UNESCO. This censorship of science should raise many questions.
Friday, May 27, 2016
The Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Christiana Figueres, is stepping down from her position.
She took over the important role in 2010 in time for COP16 at Cancun, after the trainwreck that was Copenhagen COP15 in 2009, and served six years in the role.
Slowly she navigated the UNFCCC secretariat, national parties, business, science and civil society groups, building a new consensus, through to concluding the Paris Agreement at COP21 in December 2015.
Her final negotiating session as Executive Secretary was the Bonn negotiations this May. Mexican politician and diplomat Patricia Espinosa will take over the role as UNFCCC Executive Secretary from July.
A Joint meeting of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and Ad-Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA) said farewell.
Thursday, May 26, 2016
This article first published at nofibs.com.au
Engie's CEO Isabelle Kocher told a French Senate Committee on May 25th the company was considering closure or sale of the Hazelwood Power Station in the La Trobe Valley.
"For the Hazelwood plant, we are studying all possible scenarios, including closure, or a sale if the state of Victoria tells us that it cannot meet power generating needs without this plant," Kocher said, according to a Reuters report.
Saturday, May 14, 2016
An animated gif image grabbed the attention of many this week. It is the monthly global temperature data from 1850 to March 2016 graphed as a spiral. A powerful image of the changes in temperature that we humans are causing.
The animated image and a couple of associated graphs displaying the same data in different formats is by Ed Hawkins. He is a climate scientist in the National Centre for Atmospheric Science at the University of Reading, and also a Contributing Author for the IPCC 5th Assessment Report.
The colours in the graph represent the change in time. Purple for early years, through blue, green to yellow for most recent years. The colour scale used is called ‘viridis’.
Friday, May 13, 2016
This article was originally featured at nofibs.com.au
The protest included a march and street sit-in, office occupation, and a sit-in occupation in the foyer of the QV1 building, the Perth Headquarters for BP and Chevron in Western Australia. John Englart reports using social media.
Perth is home to the largest concentration of oil and gas companies with more than 300 international companies in the sector now based in the city. Western Australia is also a regional base for more than 40 major oilfield service companies.
Monday, May 9, 2016
When the politics has failed in taking necessary rapid climate action, more people will step up, to protest, to put their bodies on the line in civil disobedient actions. As part of the Global BreakFree mobilisation Australians blockaded Newcastle coal port on Mothers Day, Sunday 8 May 2016. This article is derived from my live blog on Storify of the protest in Newcastle. 350Australia also live blogged the protest
The protest drew more than 2,000 people to Horseshoe Beach, one of the largest climate protests against coal in the NSW regional city of Newcastle. More than 60 people, including a flock of climate angels and Bill Ryan a 94 year old Kokoda veteran from World War II, have been arrested, charged and released for blockading the Kooragang Island rail bridge that is used for transporting coal to the port. Another 4 people were arrested for locking on to coal terminal equipment and banner drop at the coal wharf.
Friday, May 6, 2016
Welsh climate activists invoked the mythical red dragon to say 'Break Free from fossil fuels' and 'No New Coal'. A red puppet dragon was used in the civil disobedient occupation of the Ffos-y-fran open cut mine in South Wales on May 3. This is the largest open cast coal mine in the United Kingdom.
About 300 people walked on to the minesite at 5.30am and shut down all operations for the day. With the peaceful occupation, no arrests were reported. The activists were part of the global #BreakFree protests targeting coal and fossil fuel infrastructure around the world.
Miller Argent is the corporation responsible for Ffos-y-fran. They are planning a new huge coal pit just next door at Nant Llesg. They have been met with resistance from the local community to stop their mine expansion which would destroy common land that offers grazing and wildlife biodiversity.
Twenty seven coal power stations are planned for construction in the Philippines. As part of the global #BreakFree protests, around 10,000 Filipinos marched in Batangas City on May 4 demanding an end to coal and transition to renewable energy. The protest comes just five days before national elections.
People and civil society groups are demanding that the next Philippines administration cancel all proposed coal plants nationwide and hasten a transition to renewable energy, according to a Greenpeace statement.
Original article published at nofibs.com.au
In Bill Shorten's budget reply speech he mentioned climate change 5 times. This was five times more than Treasurer Scott Morrisson used the term in his budget speech.
It was a positive and inspiring speech covering the traditional Labor concerns: Jobs, Education, Medicare, Climate Change, Affordable housing, fair taxation, Equality for women, and belief in young Australians. But, like the Treasurer's speech two days ago, reference to refugee detention on Manus Island and Nauru was absent.
The speech comes as Essential Vision polling published 3 May shows Labor ahead on two party preferred figures of 52 per cent versus 48 per cent for the Coalition parties. Roy Morgan polling also shows ALP in front but Election too close to call: ALP 51% - L-NP 49%.
The Paris Agreement requires that we transition to a zero carbon economy by at least the middle of the century. Transition should be an important economic consideration. The comparison between the Coalition parties and Labor (and the Greens) could not be more stark as contained in the Treasurer's budget speech, and the budget reply speeches of Bill Shorten and Senator Richard Di Natale.
Thursday, May 5, 2016
This article was originally published at nofibs.com.au
Results from the third Direct Action Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) auction for emissions reduction was announced with 50.5 million worth of offsets at $10.23 each. So 67 per cent of the $2.55 billion budget has been spent to achieve less than 7 per cent of the emissions reduction goal by 2030.
This effort amounts to less than 3 per cent of what is required for Australia's fair share in global emissions reduction for staying under the 2 degrees C limit as enshrined in the Paris Agreement. Environment Minister Greg Hunt signed the Paris agreement in New York on 22nd April 2016. Australia also agreed with aspiring to meet the 1.5 degrees target, so even more effort is required from Australian climate policy.
But the Liberal National Party Government main policy instrument for reducing emissions is the Emissions Reduction Fund, which is clearly inadequate. Even our 2030 climate target of 26-28 per cent reduction by 2030 is ranked as inadequate.
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
A live question was asked at the Engie Group General Assembly (AGM) in France about the Hazelwood Power station in the LaTrobe Valley of Australia, Engie's dirty secret. Engie say they will only generate low or no carbon electricity, but Hazelwood and plans to upgrade the turbines at Loy Yang B power station proves that this talk is just greenwashing.
Engie needs to show corporate responsibility in settling the claim for costs for putting out the 45 day 2014 mine fire. They should be building renewables and planning the phased closure of Hazelwood and Loy Yang B power stations and rehabilitation of the coal mines. They need to consult and negotiate with the LaTrobe Valley and Morwell community about employment, energy and mine rehabilitation for a just transition.
Engie, more widely kknown as GDF Suez, is a majority owner along with Japanese company Mitsui of two coal mines and power stations in Victoria. The subsidiary company, International Power, runs the Hazelwood and Loy Yang B power stations. Yet Engie has just announced that it hopes to spend ‘tens of millions’ of dollars to upgrade the turbines in the Loy Yang B power station.
Article originally published at nofibs.com.au
The Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison delivered the Federal budget without once mentioning in his speech (Full text at Sydney Morning Herald) climate change, renewables, phase out of coal or transitioning to clean energy economy. This Government, though it recently signed the Paris Agreement, is in effect in climate denial going into the July 2nd Federal election.
The Treasurer's only related reference was to the abolition of the carbon tax. The Abbott/Turnbull government kept the tax scales that Labor introduced as compensation for introduction of carbon pricing. So although high income earners and companies get a tax cut in this budget, everyone on low income has already had our tax reward back in 2012, and hence get nothing.
"This change also builds on the tax cuts provided to those on incomes of less than $80,000 to compensate for the carbon tax. By abolishing the carbon tax and keeping the tax relief in our first budget we delivered a genuine tax cut for those earning up to $80,000 a year."- Scott Morrison
I'll leave others more qualified to comment on the economic and political ramifications of this budget. But the absence of any mention of the environment, of transitioning the economy away from coal to renewables and a clean energy future, and the tens of thousands of new jobs this would create, makes it clear this government is firmly stuck in the past. They use the word innovation a lot (5 times in the Treasurers speech), but it is more marketing than actual substance in supporting and funding the science and education in transforming to a low carbon economy.
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Polling done by Essential vision shows that most people approve the higher climate targets and the proposed Emissions Trading Scheme in Labor's climate plan. The polling was published on May 3 and supports previous polling in March that a majority of Australians want greater action on climate change.
The survey found that 57 per cent of voting age people approved of the Labor Party’s higher climate targets that more closely match the science and carbon emissions policy. Just 21 per cent disapproved of these targets and implementation of an ETS.