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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Shining a light in Melbourne on Reef not Coal

Originally posted at Climate Action Moreland

Last night I ventured to Federation Square. I had heard that Nemo and Dory were in town.

The Climate Guardian angels were also there poignantly making a statement with a piece of the redline ribbon from Paris COP21 last year. The redline derives from diplomatic symbolism for a boundary or limit which should not be crossed. No new coal mines or other fossil fuels is one such boundary for a safe climate, backed up by research by McGlade and Ekins (2015) (See Unburnable carbon: why we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground). Two of the Angels present are from our Climate Action Moreland group.

Seems the East Australian current is warmer and going further south. The Tasman sea has warmed by over 2 degrees C in the last 70 years - it's a global sea surface temperature hotspot. That's climate change for you.

Unfortunately warmer sea surface temperatures are causing massive coral reef bleaching and will eventually wipe out this ecosystem, probably in the lifetime of many of us. That is a loss for all of us, but particularly for millenials and future generations.

So, the event was to shine a light on the reef, particularly as a judicial review of the Environment minister's approval of the giant Carmichael coal mine found that it followed a legal process.

The politics of climate policy is dysfuntional, the Australian law courts are conservative with change being very slow. The major political parties and law courts are out of step with what we know from peer reviewed science and what scientists tell us is needed to meet a 2 degree decarbonisation pathway.

The 1.5C pathways are now effectively beyond our reach as there is no carbon budget left: we have squandered it all. We would need to capture and store each tonne of carbon we emit, and we simply don't have the technology or resources to do that at the scale required.

We know that the Adani Carmichael coal mine is already a stranded asset, in large part due to structurally depressed coal prices and reducing demand from both China and India. Adani’s Carmichael Coal Project Remains Unbankable, according to IEEFA analysis. The only way it will proceed is through substantial government funding at both the federal and state government level to provide infrastructure and subsidies. But that would be an enormous waste of money.

University of Queensland Economics Professor John Quiggin argues that Adani should bow out gracefully from its Carmichael coal mine

Greens deputy leader Senator Larissa Waters is pushing the Federal parliament to oppose any public funding for Adani's Carmichael coal mine. Today she won support in the Senate with her motion to ban federal funding on Adani's mega-coal mine planned for Queensland's Galilee Basin.

All of us need to step up. Small changes matter.

At the same time Nemo was floating in a sea of lanterns against the Melbourne CBD skyline, people gathered in a colourful display in Brisbane.

Here is the scene on Tuesday that greeted politicians in Canberra to shine a light on the reef:

Reef not Coal - Shine a light on the Reef

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