Friday, December 14, 2018

Climate emergency: "We cannot solve the crisis without treating it as a crisis" Greta Thundberg warns COP24 Plenary

"You are not mature enough to tell it like it is, even that burden you leave to us children. But I don't care about being unpopular. I care about climate justice and the living planet. Our civilisation is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money."

Fifteen year old Greta Thundberg, who started 'climate fridays' and 'climate strike' outside of the Swedish parliament some 17 weeks ago, addressed the high level segment of the United Nations climate conference, COP24 on December 12. Her speech was so clear, concise and direct, Is it any wonder that she is inspiring student climate strikes around the world.

She inspired a small group of Castlemaine students to step up in Australia ion November with School strike for climate action which saw 15,000 people March in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Cairns Demanding Labor Stop Adani’s coal mine on 30 November.

She demolished the argument that just because you are small, or a country has a very small proportion of global pollution, that action should not be taken. She addressed the issues of generational theft and equity.

While not calling it an emergency, she articulated that we can't solve the crisis until we name it as such.

Greta called for us to focus on what needs to be done, not on what is politically possible.

She called to keep fossil fuels in the ground and also to do so with a focus on equity. Just Transition should be a very important part of what is done to solve the climate crisis.

She is so young to articulate cynicism at the climate talks, but they have been going for some 24 years with so little progress. She warned the plenary and the parties assembled that change is coming, whether they like it or not.

"We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past, and you will ignore us again. We have run out of excuses and we are running out of time. We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not."

Pacific and Climate Vulnerable Concerns over lack of ambition at COP24 given the climate emergency

Pacific Island Nations, Least Developed Countries, and Climate Vulnerable Forum have all raised concerns over the level of ambition by the developed countries, including Australia.

While some progress appears to have been made on development of the Paris rulebook, talks appear to have reached a substantial deadlock. While some nations have lifted ambition at COP24, many are still yet to commit to increasing targets or climate action.

It should be noted the Marshall Islands has lead by example and is the first nation to submit a new more ambitious NDC to the UNFCCC on 22 November around the margin of the virtual climate summit hosted in November.

Of particular relevance to Australia is the Pacific Islands' declaration calling on all OECD countries to quickly phase out their use of coal by 2030 "There must be no expansion of existing coal mines or the creation of new mines." says the declaration.

Australia's ministerial statement by Environment Minister Melissa Price failed to address any ambition and ignored the calls to reign in coal expansion and stop the Adani Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin of Queensland.

Poland wins Colossal Fossil award of #COP24, while Pacific nations provide a Ray of Light

No surprises here that host Country Poland has received the Colossal Fossil Award of COP24 for it's behaviour incongruent with a climate change conference, including continuing emphasis on coal development, and coal company sponsorship of the COP.

What was even more concerning was the security legislation passed early this year, and it's by Polish authorities to deny entry and/or deport at least 12 members of civil society groups due to attend the UN climate talks in Poland.

Note the Amnesty International report on Poland: Arrests and Refusal of entry to environmentalists during the COP24 climate talks, which documented that at least 13 staff members and activists of environmental organizations were refused entry to Poland during the UN Conference on Climate Change, COP24, held in Katowice. In addition, three staff members of environmental organizations were questioned in their hotels about their IDs by the border police in Katowice. Two of them were arrested and detained for 12 hours.

Some consolation was provided by the awarding of a Ray of the Day, actually a Ray of the COP to Pacific Island Developing nations, specifically Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Samoa, Tuvalu, Fiji, Maldives, Tuvalu for stepping up in this pivotal moment in history (unlike some countries Cough Cough Australia.)

The official Award commendations from Climate Action Network International:

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Deciphering Australia's High Level statement to COP24 by Melissa Price

As I watched and listened to Australian Environment Minister Melissa Price statement on behalf of Australia to the High Level Segment of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, Conference of the Parties (COP24), I decided I wanted to annotate, correct falsities, mistruths or distortions and place her words into political historical context. I transcribed her speech, then circulated it inviting other people to add details. Several people did so, and I fact checked these contributions, but most of the annotation were my own.

Australia displayed a total lack of ambition, in stark contrast to quite a few other nations who made announcements of increased climate ambition actions.
  • No mention was made of the IPCC Special Report on 1.5C
  • No mention was made on the need for raising Australia's ambition in the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC)
  • No mention of lifting Australia's targets, currently rated as insufficient.
  • No mention that Climate Finance has been incorporated as part of the Foreign Aid budget which has suffered substantial real reductions over the last four years.
  • No mention was made of Australia continuing to expand coal export trade and the protests and opposition to the Adani Carmichael mine.
  • No mention of latest energy policy announced by Energy Minister Angus Taylor for Federal Government support for existing and new coal fired power stations
  • No mention that Prime Minister Scott Morrison withdrew the minimal funding support to the Green Climate Fund in October 2018.
  • Some of the actions being lauded, such as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the Government actually tried to abolish but had been stymied by a hostile Senate.
  • Use of excess Kyoto credits as carryover to meet Paris 2030 targets not ruled out

The transcription was based on the UNFCCC on-demand video of the second part of the High Level Segment conducted on Wednesday 12 December 2018. An un-annotated version of Minister Price's speech to COP24 follows at the end.

See Also Tracking Australia's Environment Minister Melissa Price at COP24

Fossil Award to Australia for not ruling out Kyoto carbon credits for Paris target use

It just wouldn't be a United Nations Climate Change conference COP in recent years without Australia at the Fossil of the Day Awards. And this year does not disappoint.

The failure to rule out use of Kyoto carbon credits to meet it's low Paris Agreement 2030 targets while demanding robust accounting and transparency is just too galling. Even best buddy New Zealand reckons, Crikey, using Kyoto credits is just too much.

And watching the Australian ambassador for the Environment on the panel of the US side-event promoting coal the other day....

As well as Australia standing back being silent over whether to 'note' or 'welcome' the IPCC Special Report on 1.5C. But hardly surprising given Environment Minister Melissa Price had rejected the findings of this report in the Australian Parliament when it was published in October.

And then there is Energy Minister Angus Taylor trying his damndest to help new coal fired power into the Australian grid, when firmed renewables are already a far cheaper option.

Or Prime Minister Scott Morrison telling students striking over climate change to be 'less activist', and Resources Minister Matt Canavan saying a student climate strike would lead to the dole queue, none of which deterred tens of thousands of students from joining protests around Australia organised by School Strike for climate action.

All this while Australia abolished a perfectly good carbon pricing scheme in 2014, to produce record rising emissions over the last 4 years.

So give it up for the return of Australia at COP24.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Climate policies on the rise globally, but ambition level still lacking

The latest assessment of country emissions and climate policies aggregated globally shows that there is still a substantial gap to meet, according to Climate Analytics, who have been analysing and tracking country climate policies and global emissions for the last decade on their Climate Action Tracker website.

If all governments achieve their largely insufficient climate targets, the world will see 3.0˚C of warming by 2100, twice the 1.5˚C limit they agreed in Paris three years ago their latest analysis shows. This analysis does not include the potential for climate feedbacks and tipping points in the climate system that might boost the level of global warming to 'Hothouse Earth' conditions (Study).

Current Government pledges in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) would lead to warming of 3.3˚C.

If governments were to implement the planned or additional policies they have in the pipeline, warming would also be limited to 3.0°C by 2100.

Egypt wins Fossil Award for being dead set on no-ambition strategy in Talanoa

Well today's Fossil Award came from the leftfield.

But on some days the least expected step up to be the worst, who does the most to be the least, and who tries their hardest to make sure we don't get fair justice and a binding climate deal.

Egypt, the land of the pyramids, this day is yours for Fossil of the Day, for being dead set against ambition in Talanoa.

Here be the award commendation for today:

Tracking Australia's Environment Minister Melissa Price at COP24

So what is Australia's Environment Minister Melissa Price getting up to at COP24? Attending the Umbrella Group meetings, photo opps with Pacific Islander women whose nations will be innundated by sea level rise due to Australia's intransigence on coal and climate policy, meeting Indigenous Rangers...

Melissa Price is the Liberal MP for Durack and a former corporate lawyer for mining companies.

So far Australia has not been terribly popular at this conference with civil society and a great number of other parties.

Australia was completely silent over to 'note' or 'welcome' the IPCC Special Report on 1.5C in the SBSTA. Given Australia chairs the Umbrella group, the silence spoke heaps about Australia's role. Then the Australian ambassador for the Environment and head of the negotiating team for Australia, Patrick Suckling, was featured as a speaker on a US Government side-event promoting clean coal and CCS as climate solutions.

Given these two incidents perhaps we need to keep track of our Environment Minister at COP24.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Two Fossils Awards: Developed Countries for lack of Loss and Damage climate finance, and Austria for facilitating coal subsidies

Some unusual suspects today. While everyone was looking at SBSTA discussion on to 'note' or 'welcome' the IPCC special report on 1.5C, these bad boys snuck in and whisked away the Fossil of the Day awards.

The first Award went to the developed countries of the Executive Committee (Excomm) of the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) on Loss and Damage. Five years old and still not a penny of climate finance. How miserly the parents are.

But the Climate Action Network is gracious and sang them a Happy birthday message.

The second Fossil Award to Austria for subsidising coal. Yes, you heard me right, Austria, not Australia! Austria has the presidency of the European Council and wants to subsidize existing and new coal plants for the next 17 years through backdoor mechanisms. Really Austria, you know you can't compete with Australia when it comes to coal (Cough Cough).

Here be the award commendations for today:

US clean coal side-event with Australian ambassador disrupted at COP24

The Australian Ambassador for the Environment, Patrick Suckling, appeared on a panel for a US government side-event pushing clean coal technologies as climate solutions. The session on Monday 10 December was called: "U.S. Innovative Technologies Spur Economic Dynamism - Promoting innovative approaches".

One must ask was Ambassador Suckling's presence sanctioned at Ministerial level? His attendance on the panel is hardly good diplomacy for Australia, even given the Liberal Government support for coal and weak climate targets and climate policy.

After about 9 minutes the first speaker was disrupted and youth and civil society delegates unfurled a banner and made their own testimonies on the disruptive and dangerous nature of coal for health and climate.

They chanted "Keep it in the ground" and "Shame on you", before leaving the session. After they left, there were very few people to listen to the myths being spouted of clean coal.