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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Australian Public opinion on carbon pricing and climate change

Was Australia's Federal election a referendum on the carbon price and Australia's policies on climate change? Prime Minister Tony Abbott would have us believe that it was. Indeed, he campaigned strongly to 'axe the carbon tax'.

But exit polling by the Climate Institute and results from the ABC's Vote Compass show that Tony Abbott's views on carbon pricing and climate change are sharply at odds with the views of the electorate.

The estimated 60,000 people who rallied for climate action across Australia on November 17 also shows there is substantial support for climate action and for carbon pricing.

Australian Emissions set to increase by 12 per cent by 2020 under Tony Abbott

According to Climate Action Tracker, it is likely Australian emissions under the Liberals policy will actually increase by 12 per cent by 2020, instead of meeting the unconditional commitment of 5 per cent on 2000 levels by 2020.

While the Abbott Government were pushing their repeal legislation through the House of Representatives last week, being opposed by Labor and the Greens, Climate Tracker released a special briefing announcement and policy brief (PDF).

The Climate Action Tracker has rated Australia’s current target of a 5 percent emissions reduction by 2020 at 2000 levels as “inadequate,” and consistent with a global pathway heading to temperature rises of 3.5-4°C.

However, by dismantling this legislation and replacing it with the Abbott Government’s proposed “Direct Action” plan, Australia instead looks set to increase its emissions by 12% in 2020.

“Australia’s climate legislation was a milestone for the country and it had finally begun to turn a corner on climate change,” said Bill Hare, Director of Climate Analytics.

“The legislation would have bent the relentless upward trend of its emissions curve downwards, moving Australia onto the first step toward a low carbon, climate-safe future, and created the governmental machinery needed for upgrading action.”

“The proposed repeal will instead see a likely re-carbonisation of the power sector, the present machinery dismantled - and replaced by a climate policy that goes against the science.” concluded Bill Hare.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Civil society walk in protest at Lack of Progress at Climate Change Talks

Civil society organisations are leaving the climate change negotiations today en masse. The walkout is happening now with observers handing in their security passes. Members from Greenpeace, Oxfam, WWF, Actionaid, Friends of the Earth, the International Trade Union Confederation and all started leaving the conference at 2pm. This is an unprecedented action, the first time major civil society groups have staged a mass walkout.

Friends of the Earth International had highlighted previously that the Warsaw Climate Change negotiations were failing. The destructive tactics of Australia and reduced ambition of Japan have been widely mentioned, but there has been substantial intransigence from much of the developed world to progressing the megotiations forward on Finance, ambition, and a loss and damage mechanism.

Magda Stoczkiewicz, director of Friends of the Earth Europe commented: "Big polluters were welcomed with open arms and the negotiations are driven by corporate interests. There is no room for people or planet. The Polish presidency's short-sighted coal-driven policy marks these talks out as one of the dirtiest yet."

Related: Democracy Now: "Nature Does Not Negotiate": Environmentalists Walk Out of U.N. Climate Summit in Warsaw | "Polluters Talk, We Walk": Civil Society Groups Abandon Warsaw Talks over Inaction on Global Warming | "We Have to Consume Less": Scientists Call For Radical Economic Overhaul to Avert Climate Crisis

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Warsaw Climate Change negotiations failing warn Friends of the Earth

Friends of the Earth International representatives said that COP19 United Nations climate change negotiations are set to fail due to the very low targets for emission reductions proposed by richer nations, especially with Australia and Japan having dramatically reduced their targets and ambition and with Europe maintaining a very low level of emissions cuts.

FoE International called on governments of the developed nations for greater levels of ambition, to honour the promises they had made to provide finance to help poorer countries to cut their emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The gravity of the situation was made clear: "We are in a planetary emergency. It is known more than ever that climate change is happening. The impacts we are facing are threatening and will become worse. We are in an urgent situation that we have to act. We have to act in a very fast period."

Canadians rally against tar sands pipelines to defend a safe climate

Last Saturday thousands of Canadians took to the streets marching and rallying for a safe climate, and against tar sands expansion and more pipelines.

From coast to coast to Repulse Bay, Nunavut on the Arctic cirle, people gathered in over 180 events. Many concentrated on opposing the Enbridge Pipelines and tar sands expansion, on fracking or the more general threat of climate change, and the anti-climate policies of the Harper Government.

The protests were co-ordinated by Defend our Climate. Many were organised at the local level on short notice as word spread of the national action. But the protests were also connected to the organising of climate protests in Australia that drew in excess of 60,000 people, with an estimated 30,000 people attending a rally in Melbourne against the climate denial policies of the new Australian Government lead by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

From Defend our Climate Blog: Charlottetown | First timers step up in Halifax | Oka is Defending our Climate | North Bay Ontario comes out strong | Ottawa: Bringing the wall of opposition to Harper’s doorstep | Ottawa: Canadians stand with the Philippines today | Solidarity in Winnipeg | Nunavut braves a blizzard to defend our climate | A pipeline through the heart of Toronto | Edmonton’s barrel blockade | Looks like the start of a prairie fire | Awareness builds along 2 new routes in Ontario and Quebec | Resistance in the Interior | Vancouver: National Day of Action Wraps on the West Coast

Monday, November 18, 2013

Australia wins unprecedented fourth Fossil of the Day award for finance stance

While 30,000 people rallied for climate action in Melbourne, and an estimated 60,000 nationally at 130 events across Australia, it seems Australia has won an unprecedented fourth fossil of the day award in Warsaw for a statement that obligations for new, predictable and reliable finance from developed countries are “not realistic” and “not acceptable.”

As the citation points out, this amounts to "an attack on an important cornerstone of the UNFCCC." That developed countries due to their historic emissions have an obligation and commitment to provide funding for developing countries for climate mitigation and adaptation.

Earlier this week Australia won Fossil awards for repeal of carbon pricing and abandoning neighbors on loss and damage. Australia started the week at COP19 winning the first Fossil of the Day award for not be putting forward any new finance commitments.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Tens of Thousands rally for Climate Action across Australia

More than 60,000 people are estimated to have rallied or marched for climate action across Australia in a demonstration that a significant number of people view climate change as a serious issue requiring substantive action from all levels of Government, including the Federal Government lead by cinservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

The rallies were organised by GetUp, the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and the Australian Conservation Foundation.

The protest comes as the bills to dismantle Australia's carbon price and funding subsidies for renewable energy are introduced into Federal parliament on Monday. If successful, Australia would become the first country to rill back a functioning carbon pricing mechanism.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Japan's reduced emissions target a setback to COP19 climate change negotiations

Japan, the third largest single economy, has announced in the Warsaw climate change negotiations a change in it's voluntary pledge emissions target to change from a 25 per cent emission cut on 1990 levels to a 3.1 per cent increase on 1990 levels by 2020.

"This move by Japan could have a devastating impact on the tone of discussion here in Warsaw. It could further accelerate the race to the bottom among other developed countries when the world needs decisive and immediate actions to "raise" ambition, not to "lower" ambition." said Naoyuki Yamagishi, leader, Climate and Energy Group, WWF Japan in a media statement at the climate talks.

Prior to the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident in 11 March 2011, nuclear power provided about 30% of electricity generation in Japan. Currently all 50 nuclear power plants are shut down for significant safety checks. But Japan has also been increasing coal use over the last two decades, a trend ocurring even before the Fukushima crisis. The increase in coal use as a cheap fuel since 1990 has resulted in the equivalent of 12 per cent of 1990 emissions.

Australia wins Fossil awards for repeal of carbon pricing and abandoning neighbors on loss and damage

Just four days in to the United Nations climate negotiations in Warsaw and Australia are winning our 3rd Fossil award for abandoning our neighbours on loss and damage, and our 2nd fossil award for the first country to attempt to wind back an established carbon pricing mechanism.

Earlier Australia earnt it's first rebuke by civil society at UN climate change talks for not putting forward any new finance commitments at the Warsaw negotiations.

Anyone would think Tony Abbott was envious of Canada's recent dubious record in obstruction and non-compliance in United Nations climate negotiations and decided we could do even better. And it looks like we are succeeding at knocking Canada off it's fossil of the year pedestal. But we are far from alone with Japan also earning special mention at the awards.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Youth observers expelled from UN climate change talks for Philippines Solidarity

Justice is being demanded from the UNFCCC leadership to reverse its decision to take away the badges of 3 youth observers who were expressing their solidarity with the Filipino people suffering from the massive loss and destruction brought about by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda).

Three youth observers were ejected by security from the conference and had their accreditation withdrawn on Monday for 5 years. They had expressed solidarity with a non-sanctioned banner and signs after Philippines negotiator, Naderev Saño (Yeb Saño) left the main plenary after making his impassioned plea: "time to take action. We need an emergency climate pathway".

Read Clemance Hutin's account at Push Europe: Kicked out of UN climate talks for expressing solidarity with the Philippines. Maria Alejandra Escalante and Graham Thurston Hallett gives their side of the story: Expelled from the United Nations: How the Secretary reacts to solidarity with the Philippines.

Clémence Hutin from Young Friends of the Earth Europe, and Graham Thurston Hallett and Maria Alejandra Escalante from Earth in Brackets were attending their first COP. The 3 activists were later informed they were being banned indefinitely from the negotiations on the express orders of Christiana Figueres, the UNFCCC Exec Secretary. (@CFigueres). And not just for this conference, according to Hallett and Escalante's blog, they have been banned from attending UNFCCC conferences for 5 years!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hunger strike gains momentum at Warsaw climate talks

Civil society members have joined with the lead negotiator from the Philippines, Yeb Sano, to fast for the duration of the UNFCCC climate negotiations in protest at the lack of progress in an agreement to reduce global emissions and in establishing Green climate finance to aid developing countries mitigation and adaptation.

Civil society members joined the fast after Yeb Sano's powerful speech at the opening session on Monday on the impact of Super Typhoon Haiyan (known in the Philippines as Yolanda) which devastated eastern coastal regions, with estimates of more than 10,000 deaths, and at an economic cost estimated at $70 billion to the Filipino economy.

Related: Stand with the Philippines Petition on Avaaz by Yeb Sano, to be delivered to negotiators. | Tcktcktck - COP19 intensifies as civil society joins Philippines in fasting for the climate

Protests against coal plants across Poland as Warsaw climate change talks open

Greenpeace activists launched protests at six coal fired power stations across Poland just before the UN climate conference - COP19 - started. Using projectors on Sunday night the activists projected anti-coal messages onto the power stations urging the world’s governments to phase out fossil fuels which cause serious environmental damage.

Messages projected included “Climate change starts here!” and “Storms start here!” and highlighted the link between greenhouse gas emissions, climate change and the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events like Super Typhoon Haiyan that devastated the Philippines.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Australia earns first rebuke by civil society at UN climate change talks

Australia had the dubious priveledge of earning the first Fossil of the Day award at the United Nations climate talks in Warsaw, Poland. Civil society organisations confer the awards each day of the climate talks, and have been doing so since 1999.

Related: The Verb - Australia won't be missed

The new Federal Government lead by Prime Minister Tony Abbott has in a few short weeks dismantled the Climate Change Department, closed the independent scientific panel the Climate Commission and set about undoing Australia's carbon pricing through preparing legislation to repeal the operation of the Climate Change Authority and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

But the award wasn't for all this political attack on climate change action at home in Australia. It was conferred because Australia will not be putting forward any new finance commitments at the Warsaw negotiations, beyond the Fast Start Finance commitments made by the former Labor Government.

Tony Abbott has confirmed that the Australian government would be making no further commitments of funding to the Green Climate Fund, setup by the UNFCCC climate talks to fund climate mitigation and adaptation programs in third world and developing countries. It was hoped that $100bn a year in public and private financing would be channeled to developing countries by 2020. The previous Labor government deposited $500,000 last year to help get the new fund established, as well as committing almost $600m to a "fast-start" fund.

A spokeperson for Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told the Guardian: "The Green Climate Fund is currently in the design phase and Australia will consider its longer term involvement in the fund once its design has been further progressed."

Philippines negotiator launches hunger strike in Warsaw "We need an emergency climate pathway"

Half a world away from the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan, the Philippines delegation is in Warsaw, Poland, for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) talks. Yeb Sano leads the delegation and has made a speech at the plenary of the importance for taking substantive climate action now.

You may recall Yeb Sano made an impassioned speech last year at the Doha meeting after Typhoon Bopha slammed into the Philippines. Once again, this mild mannered diplomat feels the personal anguish of a disaster unfolding at home, indeed affecting his own family.

It is clear for several years that developing countries like the Philippines are bearing the brunt of the high costs of climate change. But even western countries are feeling the power of extreme weather events like superstorm Sandy, the Colorado extreme rainfall and floods, Alberta Floods, the Russian heatwave of 2010, England's trend for more intense rainfall, Australia's angry summer and sizzling autumn of 2013 or the unusually early Sydney bushfires.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Super typhoon Haiyan strongest on record with over 10,000 feared dead in Philippines

On the eve of the annual United Nations Framework Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) meeting in Warsaw Poland, an extreme weather disaster has struck the Philippines with record-breaking Super-typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda), bringing devastating winds and storm surge.

Over 10,000 people are feared dead ,according to several media reports like this one in the Sydney Morning Herald, just in the province of Leyte, where the regional city of Tacloban, population of 221,000, was right in the path of the northern hurricane eye wall experiencing the full ferocity of destructive winds and tsunami like storm surge of over 5 metres.

The city has been estimated as 95 per cent devastated, with massive building destruction and damage, and substantial casualties, with people requiring emergency food and water supplies.