Sunday, March 17, 2019

Domestic Aviation emissions are booming while Melbourne Airport plans ignore climate risk management

Growth in domestic transport emissions compared: note aviation emissions growth is well ahead of other transport modes. Source: Charting Update on Australian transport trends (December 2018)

Melbourne Airport Corporation had a drop in session on 13 March at the Hume Global Learning Centre at Broadmeadows. I dropped in to raise that Melbourne airport needs to address aviation emissions growth as part of their business model for airport expansion. This also needs to be dealt with as part of their Risk Management Plan.

My presence sends a signal that Melbourne Airport Corporation need to start to address the issue of airport expansion inducing growth in aviation emissions and non-CO2 climate impact.

Yes, Melbourne Airport is already doing some green infrastructure as part of landside expansion and upgrade to facilities, but this does nothing to address the airside infrastructure expansion inducing aviation emissions growth.

I also asked what business risk management had been undertaken regarding development of an east coast high speed rail network. The Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane flight routes are some of the busiest domestic flight routes globally. A high speed rail network would reduce the need for higher flight capacity and airport expansion. My concern was noted, will be passed on.

The problem of aviation emissions also needs to be addressed at a regulatory level by the Federal Government. So far this has been a failure.

Labor has no answer on constraining aviation emissions

My questions to Mark Butler, the Opposition spokesperson on climate and energy, at a recent forum hosted by Wills Labor MP Peter Khalil, also failed to provide a direct answer on what regulatory restraints would be used to address domestic aviation emissions.

My question actually raised what a Labor Government would do to constrain domestic aviation emissions given airport expansion in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Hobart.

Development of High speed rail is part of the answer, but doesn’t really answer my question about airport expansion that will increase aviation and aviation emissions.

The pitifully low tax on aviation was not raised in my question, or in the response. information on domestic aviation fuel taxation was included in the Climate Action Moreland submission on Melbourne Airport Masterplan:

“One of the issues is the level of taxation of aviation fuel, which gives aviation a cost advantage over ground transportation taxation of fuels and regulation of transport.

“Domestic aviation fuel is only taxed at $0.03556 per litre.

International aviation is excluded from any taxes or charges arising from a prohibition on countries imposing a fuel tax or VAT on international flights from the outdated 1944 Civil Aviation Chicago convention. The ICAO has failed to review and update this. International flying is thus kept artificially cheap, while trains and cars become more expensive.”

Mark Butler detailed the need for east coast high speed train, which is definitely part of the solution, but did not answer the question about how a Federal Labor Government would constrain domestic aviation emissions. Watch his answer:

One-on-one conversation with Melbourne Airport

It was a very polite one on one conversation for over an hour with a member of the Airport Customer Relations team. She could see the relevance of the points I was raising and the conflict with the airports business model. In her career she formerly worked in the wind industry, so was aware that her career move was perhaps a backwards ethical step. That was a bit ironic.

The Runway Development Program will come out later in 2019, with construction expected to start in a couple of years.

I also raised the need for better cycling infrastructure in the airport precinct and connecting routes to the airport. There is already some bike path infrastructure. This is being looked at for expansion. The airport precinct is a major employer so good public transport and cycling infrastructure would actually help reduce transport emissions.

Melbourne Airport Rail Link

The Melbourne Airport rail link was also announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Daniel Andrews.

Both governments are putting in $5 billion for the development due to start about 2022 and complete around 2030.

I picked up a leaflet at my one-on-one discussion on the rail link. The route will be from Southern Cross Station to Sunshine, then north along the M80 and the proposed Suburban Circle rail, before turning north to go into the Airport precinct.

There is an opportunity to extend this as high speed rail further north to regional Victoria and Sydney. The airport rail link makes sense being incorporated as part of the proposed Melbourne Suburban rail loop and an east coast high speed rail.

The airport rail link expands access to the airport through sustainable transport. While it is not necessarily good for growth in aviation emissions, the airport is also a major employment hub and a train service could move substantial numbers of workers from polluting car transport to train.

The Climate Action Moreland submission recognised the current economic role of the Melbourne airport precinct in Victoria's economy and the role of an airport rail link, but would like to see aviation emissions constrained and regulated. Both Premier Andrews and Prime Minister Morrison fail to address the aviation emissions growth problem.

We appreciate the economic activity of businesses operating within the airport precinct contributed $7 billion to the Victorian economy. The airport is a significant employment hub with about 20,600 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs, and many thousands of indirect jobs in the region..

Any regulatory action to limit aviation emissions needs to be phased in to ensure economic activity and employment remains stable. We think there is a problem with Melbourne Airport being a driver of economic growth across Victoria and the rest of Australia, while also allowing its infrastructure expansion to increase aviation emissions exacerbating climate change and substantial costs to the economy from climate related extreme weather events.

Increase in employment opportunities should not come at the expense of increasing the damage to our climate. As Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the ICTU, said in Paris at the UN climate Change Conference in 2015: “There are no jobs on a dead planet”.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Greta Thunberg: "We are school striking because we have done our homework...We need knew politics. We need knew economics."

While tens of thousands of children were climate striking and marching through the streets of Brussels, Greta Thunberg addressed the European Economic and Social Committee at the EESC event "Civil Society for rEUnaissance".

Greta articulated that it is time for politicians to listen to the scientists and the science, "We don't have any other manifestos and demands. Just unite behind the science. That is our demand." she said.

She argued cogently that politicians don't want to talk about the climate crisis, but raise conspiracies to mask their own inadequacy in addressing a problem that has gone on for decades with little action.

She accused the European Union of doing only half the emissions reduction that is needed Europe should double what its commitments for its fair share. (Read Guardian article: Greta Thunberg tells EU: your climate targets need doubling)

To answer the argument put forward that students should be in school, Greta suggested that adults should take the place of students on the street, striking for change, "or better yet, join us to speed up the process." she said.

Greta addressing the student climate strike rally in Brussels: "we will be a pain in the arse, we will keep on striking until they do something"

The student climate strike in Basel Switzerland, has resulted on Wednesday in the city declaring a climate emergency, passing the resolution by a two thirds vote (by 71 votes to 17 against and 6 abstentions). The resolution was drafted by climate strike kids.

Read Greta Thunberg's full speech below:

"Tens of thousands of children are school striking for the climate on the streets of Brussels. Hundreds of thousands are doing the same all over the world.

"We are school striking because we have done our homework. And some of us are here today.

People always tell us they are so hopeful. They are hopeful that the young people are going to save the world. But we are not. There is simply not enough time to wait for us to grow up and become the ones in charge, because by the year 2020 we need to have bended the emissions curve steep downwards. That is next year.

We know that most politicians don't want to talk to us.

Good, we don't want to talk to them either.

We want them to talk to the scientists instead. Listen to them. Because we are just repeating what they have been saying and saying for decades.

We want you to follow the Paris Agreement and IPCC reports.

We don't have any other manifestos and demands. Just unite behind the science. That is our demand.

When many politicians talk about the school strike for the climate, they talk about almost anything except the climate crisis.

Many people are trying to make the school strikes a question of whether we are promoting truancy or whether we should go back to school or not. They make up all sorts of conspiracies and call us puppets who cannot think for ourselves. They are desperate to remove the focus from the climate crisis and change the subject. They don't want to talk about it because they know they cannot win this fight, because they know they haven't done their homework, but we have.

Once you have done your homework you realise that we need knew politics. We need knew economics where everything is based on a rapidly declining and extremely limited global carbon budget.

But that is not enough. We need a whole new way of thinking. The political system that you have created is all about competition. You cheat when you can because all that matters is to win, to get power. That must come to an end. We must stop competing with each other. We need to co-operate and work together and share the resources of the planet in a fair way.

We need to start living within the planetary boundaries, focus on equity and take a few steps back for the sake of all living species.

We need to protect the biosphere, the air, the oceans, the soil, the forests.

This may sound very naive, but if you have done your homework you know we don't have any other choice. We need to focus every inch of our being on climate change, because if we fail to do so then all our achievements and progress have been for nothing.

And all that will remain of our political leaders legacy will be the greatest failure of human history, and they will be remembered as the greatest villans of all time because they have chosen not to listen and not to act.

This does not have to be. There is still time.

According to the IPCC report we are about 11 years away from being in a position where we set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control. To avoid that, unprecedented change in all aspects of society need to have taken place within this coming decade, including a reduction in our CO2 emissions by at least 50 percent by the year 2030.

And please note that those numbers do not include the aspect of equity, which are absolutely necessary to make the Paris Agreement work on a global scale. Nor do they include tipping points, or feedback loops, like the extremely powerful methane gas released by the thawing Arctic permafrost.

They do however include negative emission techniques on a huge planetary scale that is yet to be invented, and that many scientists fear will never be ready in time, and will anyway be impossible to deliver at the scale assumed.

We have been told that the European Union intends to improve its emission reduction target. In the new target the EU is proposing to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent below its 1990 levels by 2030. Some people say that is good, or that is ambitious. But this new target is still not enough to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. This target is not sufficient to protect the future of children growing up today.

If the EU is to make its fair contribution to staying within its carbon budget of the 2 degree limit, then it means an 80 percent reduction by 2030, and that includes aviation and shipping. So around twice as ambitious as the current proposal.

The actions required are beyond manifestos or any party politics.

Once again they sweep their mess under the carpet for our generation to clean up and solve.

Some people say we are fighting for our future, but that is not true. We are not fighting for our future, we are fighting for everyones future.

And if you think we should be in school instead, then we suggest you take our place in the streets, striking from your work, or better yet, join us to speed up the process.

I am sorry, but saying that everything will be alright and continue doing nothing at all is just not hopeful to us. In fact, it is the opposite of hope, and yet this is exactly what you keep doing. You can't just sit around waiting for hope to come. Then you are acting like spoiled irresponsible children.

You don't seem to understand that hope is something you have to earn.

And if you still say we are wasting valuable lesson time, then let me remind you our political leaders have wasted decades through denial and inaction.

And since our time is running out we have decided to take action. We have started to clean up your mess, and we will not stop until we are done."

Monday, February 4, 2019

Politician responses to the record extreme heat for Australia January 2019

I've done some tracking on twitter across the political divide on climate and the heatwave events, going back to 22 December 2018 (the start of Christmas/New Year 1st heatwave event). December and January were record hot for Australia.

Australia's Hottest January on Record as we head into a climate election

Just as climate change has been driving up temperatures in Australia to record levels, the political temperature is also rising for a climate election for May 2019.

Australia has just experienced its hottest December on record, followed by its hottest January. It's already been a very hot summer with record breaking temperatures, and it's not yet over.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Heatwave round 3: climate diary of an Australian heat event

Welcome to my third daily diary of an Australian heatwave event. This heat event is marked by persistent heat from the Pilbara and Central Australia from mid December 2018 that sends out waves of heat to impact the south east population centres of Adelaide in South Australia, Melbourne and inland Victoria, western NSW spreading to include Canberra and Sydney.

Read my diary entries for the Christmas New Year heatwave: Climate Diary of an extreme heatwave across Australia and climate heat impacts, covering Dedcember 22 to January 6.

I followed this up with a second blog article documenting the heat event from January 14 - January 19: Take 2: Climate Diary of an Australian heatwave - January 2019
Heat Health alerts issued for Melbourne and Victoria
Over the weekend of 19-20 January the heat retreated to the Pilbara and Central Australia, but the heat event is far from dissipating. Heat Records continue to be broken.

Why am I documenting this? Because climate change is a primary driver of more extreme heat events. Read the Climate Council 2014 Report on Heatwaves: Hotter Longer, More often.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Climate change, Fish Die-offs, algal blooms, drought and water mismanagement in the Murray Darling Basin

Rob McBride and Menindee resident, Dick Arnold stand in the Darling river, holding Murray cod that have lived through decades of droughts and floods, but could not survive this human-made disaster. Image: Kate McBride

NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair revealed the latest fish die-off has occurred at Lake Hume on the NSW-Victorian border. The numbers of dead fish are much smaller than at Menindee: perhaps about 1800 according to the NSW Department of Primary Industries. Cause of the deaths are still being investigated. Lake Hume is controlled by the Murray Darling Basin Authority and is currently 30 per cent full.

Niall Blair is trying to divert blame to drought and heatwave conditions rather than ongoing corruption (water theft) and mismanagement of water flows and over-allocation of water to upper Murray Darling basin irrigators (especially cotton), at the expense of environmental flows, to ensure the health of the Murray Darling river ecosystem through drought periods. The Australia Institute have now researched and published a discussion paper which holds the NSW Government and Murray Darling Basin Authority water mismanagement as culpable for the massive fish kill in the Darling river near Menindee.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Take 2: Climate Diary of an Australian heatwave - January 2019

Round two for extreme heat roasting of Australia this summer.

The first heatwave round ocurred over the Christmas New Year period for which I did a daily climate blog. I followed this up with some simple analysis of the Maximum temperatures for capital cities and a number of regional towns. A further article looked at Mapping the heat trend in Australia's capital cities for 2018 and future projections.

While Sydney's eastern suburbs temperatures will be in the low 30s in the coming week, residents of Penrith and Richmond in Western #Sydney will swelter through four or five days above 40C says Dean Narramore a meteorologist with the Bureau of Meteorology.

The heatwave will impact large regions of inland Australia with lesser impact of perhaps some extreme heat days for coastal cities and towns. Major international sporting events such as the Australian Tennis Open in Melbourne and the Tour Down Under cycling event in South Australia will see their extreme heat policies implemented.

“Particularly northern South Australia, they’re looking at maybe five days in a row above 45 and normally they might only get five or 10 a year,” meteorologist Dean Narramore said on Sunday, according to The Guardian report.

It is well past time to take rapid action on climate, to reduce emissions and set ambituous targets that are our fair share of the Paris Agreement climate goals to keep global temperatures well below 2 degrees celcius and strive to meet a 1.5C target.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Burning the carbon budget: the aviation emissions profligacy of Finance Minister Mathias Cormann

The silence on aviation emissions is deafening. And our politicians are some of the worst at exacerbating aviation emissions and climate impact from aviation.

Take Liberal Party Finance Minister Mathias Cormann for example.

His flight to Perth in June last year using a VIP jet for the forward journey contributed 9428 kg of CO₂e climate impact.

A return commercial flight business class amounts to 2355 kg of CO₂e climate impact.

The excess climate impact (and this is a very conservative figure) was 7073 kg of CO₂e climate impact.

This flight journey by Mathias Cormann was a rort at taxpayers expense and the expense of future generations through it's climate impact.

Friday, January 11, 2019

2018 third hottest on record for Australia with protracted drought, persistent heat

Australia's average temperature in 2018 was 1.14 °C above the 1961–1990 average, making it slightly warmer than 2017 said the Bureau of Meteorology in the 2018 Annual climate statement.

"When we look across all of Australia in 2018, we can see that every single state and territory had above-average day and night-time temperatures," Dr Bettio said.

"The average maximum temperature for the country as a whole was particularly warm, sitting 1.55 °C above the 1961–1990 average, making 2018 Australia's second warmest year on record for daily high temperatures.

"Average minimum temperatures for 2018 were 0.73 °C above average, the eleventh-warmest on record.

"The only part of the country to buck the trend for above average temperatures was the Kimberley region, which had cooler than average nights for the year."

On temperatures 2018 was Australia's third-warmest year on record; a year of protracted drought and persistent warmth.

Meanwhile, Australia still has no effective climate or energy policy, no consistent plan to phase out coal or gas fossil fuels, no plan to reduce transport emissions, a problem with increased vegetation clearing in Queensland and New South Wales. Australia's emissions are rising over the last 4 years and Environment department Data shows that Australia is unlikely to meet it's low 26 percent emissions reduction target by 2030.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Mapping the heat trend in Australia's capital cities for 2018 and future projections

The Is it hot right now? website provides a daily view on daily average temperatures for Australian capital cities, comparing the average temperature to it's history for that day, to see where it sits in the distribution of temperatures typical for the time of year.

The site was developed by climate researchers Mathew Lipson, Steefan Contractor and James Goldie. The data comes from the Bureau of Meteorology's ACORN-SAT.

Mat Lipson provided the Yearly average temperature charts and the 2018 heat maps for each city. The trend in rising temperatures is clearly visible in each. I have added details for each city of future projections done by CSIRO in 2015.

In the year heat maps for each city you can still see the fluctuations in temperature due to weather events, but the cold days (blue) are getting rarer, and the hot days (red) are getting more common, a telling sign of the long term climate temperature trend affecting all regions of Australia.