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Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Call to Australian politicians to make climate highest priority, decarbonisation by 2030 | Australian Security Leaders Climate Group

When even retired members of our military establishment are calling for a decarbonisation target of 2030, you have to wonder at the games being played by the Liberal, National and Labor Parties on highly insufficient 2030 climate targets, and the lack of preparation in safeguarding Australians from climate change impacts.

The Australian Security Leaders Climate Group issued a call to all political parties in an open letter, signed by 17 senior former defence and intelligence officials, asking them to make climate their highest priority and to aim for decarbonisation by 2030. The statement appeared as a full page in The Australian newspaper.

The open letter follows the Missing in Action report from September 2021. This report proposed that "Focus should be on the root causes of climate warming, principally eliminating emissions much faster than proposed, rather than just the responding to the symptoms." The report recommended "to the government a set of initial actions in a climate and security plan to Protect, Prevent and Prepare, starting with a realistic assessment of the risks.

  • An urgent Climate and Security Risk Assessment
  • Establish a dedicated Office of Climate Threat Intelligence
  • Triennial National Climate Risk Assessments
  • Build an Australian National Prevention & Resilience Framework 
Read more at the Missing in Action Summary (PDF) or Full Report (PDF)

Leadership in Australia has been failing citizens by the lack of a national climate risk assessment and a National Climate Adaptation Plan, and an increasing climate change security threat.

The Open letter in full is below:

A Climate for Leadership: how Australia should respond to increasing disasters with retired Admiral Chris Barrie | Webinar

Australia Institute webinar with Richie Merzian and Chris Barrie

Climate change is increasingly a national security issue and in this Australia Institute webinar Former head of the Australian Defence Forces Chris Barrie and Head of climate and Energy at the Australia Institute Richie Merzian discuss the implications for responding to increasing climate related disasters involving the ADF and some of the National Security implications of failure of leadership to address climate change at the Federal Government level.

Richie Merzian outlines how Australia shaped an outline that countries could adopt for climate adaptation plans. Australia is helping to fund and implement plans with countries in our Pacific region, yet have failed to draw up a National Climate Adaptation Plan for our own country. 

So Australia has not worked out a risk assessment for estimates of the cost of climate change and climate driven weather disasters. "It has left us vulnerable and luching from one disaster to the next, when the majority of countries have undertaken developing these climate adaptation plans."

"It's extraordinary we are missing in action in Australia, when it is the security of our own people we should be concerned about. Worse than that, as Richie has pointed out, we have not learned anything from being involved in the processes, putting these adaptation plans together. It is almost like the leadership is absolutely vacant at the moment and I think this should concern all of us." said Chris Barrie.

UN Secretary General specifically calls out Australia on climate targets and coal "1.5-degree goal is on life support" | Full Speech

On Monday 21 March the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres made remarks to the Economist Sustainability Summit in a speech labelled Keeping 1.5 Alive – Delivering on the Fate of our Planet. In the speech he specifically called out Australia for failure to take climate action in increasing 2030 climate targets and phasing out coal and gas.

The developed and emerging economies of the G20 account for 80 per cent of all global emissions. A growing number of G20 developed economies have announced meaningful emissions reductions by 2030 – with a handful of holdouts, such as Australia." said  Guterres.

He didn't mince his words on the global catstrophe we are facing, either.

"According to present national commitments, global emissions are set to increase by almost 14 per cent in the 2020s. Last year alone, global energy-related CO2 emissions grew by 6 per cent to their highest levels in history. Coal emissions have surged to record highs. We are sleepwalking to climate catastrophe." 

On a global level he articulated what we need to aim for to avoid catastrophe: "Keeping 1.5 alive requires a 45 per cent reduction in global emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by mid-century. That problem was not solved in Glasgow. "

He argues for progressively dismantling coal infrastructure, with full phase-out by 2030 for OECD countries (like Australia), and 2040 for all others. For financing adaptation and mitigation to be pursued with equal force and urgency.

He ends his speech on how do we keep 1.5 alive by calling for positive action and solutions:

  • By accelerating the phase-out of coal and all fossil fuels and implementing a rapid, just and sustainable energy transition -- the only true pathway to energy security. 
  • By honouring the Glasgow pledge to strengthen national climate plans every year until they are aligned with 1.5 degrees. 
  • By delivering concrete outcomes this year on climate coalitions to help emerging economies urgently phase out coal. 
  • By driving a swift and transformative increase in climate finance with multilateral development banks leading on unlocking the trillions that we know are needed. 
  • By speeding up the decarbonization of major sectors such as shipping, aviation, steel and cement. 
  • And by protecting the most vulnerable and ensuring an equal focus on adaptation. 

"That’s how we will move the 1.5 degree goal from life support to the recovery room. "

And Australia is presently not doing our fair share in ambituous 2030 climate targets, in planning for phase out of coal mining in a just transition engaging l;ocal communities in solutions.

Friday, March 18, 2022

The Floods 🌊 | Pre-election Australian Honest Government Ad for #Ausvotes

So much is packed in this Juice Media Honest Government Ad about the Flood Crisis in South East Queensland and North Coast of New South Wales, and the ineffective Federal Government political response.

Of Course it is part of a long history of first denying climate change, then delaying any response to acting on climate change. And doing minimal work in emergency response and recovery, and in developing a national climate risk assessment and developing a national climate adaptation plan.

Rather Australia keeps on approving new coal mines and new gas projects like the Narrabri gas field by Santos in NSW, Beetaloo Basin Gas in the Northern Territory by Origin Energy (70%, operator) and Falcon Oil and Gas (30%) , and the Scarborough Gas project by Woodside Petroleum off the Western Australian Coast.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Aviation exhaust pollution, air quality, and impacts on Human Health - Melbourne Airport 3rd runway expansion

Melbourne Airport with 3 runways 2026 Option 1, Night 11pm-6am Flight Paths

Melbourne Airport is planning a third runway.

So I'm doing a science literature dive into reading the air pollution health impacts of aviation emissions...

You know, that coating you find over your car or house if you live under a flight path...this is soot, black carbon (BC), particulate pollution emissions from aircraft landing and taking off. But it's the particles you don't see that are problematic: Ultra Fine Particles (UFP) sometimes referred to as particulate matter with a size designation often classified as PM2.5, but often even smaller which can reach the furthest alveoli of your lungs..

These pollution particulates are not good for your health. UFPs have a high surface area and a capacity to adsorb a substantial amount of toxic organic compounds.

Studies indicate that the "exposure to aircraft emissions induce pulmonary and systemic inflammation, which potentially contributes to cancer, asthma, respiratory and coronary heart disease." (Bendtsen 2021)

In fact it is calculated that aviation emissions on a global basis cause about 16,000 people to die prematurely every year, and of this number about 5,000 people who live within 20 km of airports are estimated to die prematurely each year.

As Steve H L Yim et al (2015) study says: " primary PM2.5 emissions from aviation are a significant contributor to health risk when airport vicinity exposure is captured."

The study also highlights that the health cost of aviation emissions is actually at a magnitude larger than global aviation fatal accident costs, and on par with aviation's climate costs.

I wonder if Melbourne Airport have done their sums on the extra costs to health of people in the 20km radius of the airport with the extra aviation emissions a third runway will induce?

The No Third Tulla Runway campaign has articulated reasons to oppose development of the third runway. These include:
These are all relevant reasons to oppose the airport. The missing piece in this analysis is the aviation pollution impacts on air quality and human health at all scales: local, regional and global.

This article seeks to draw attention to some of the science on aviation exhaust emissions, air quality and human health.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Victorian Government sets offshore wind targets to kickstart offshore wind industry to meet climate targets

On March 4, 2022 the Victorian Government set new offshore wind farm targets. Currently there are no offshore wind farms operating in the state.

The new offshore wind targets:

  • 2032 - target of 2 GW 
  • 2035 - target of 4 GW 
  • 2040 - target of 9 GW 
  • 2050 - potential capacity of 13 GW

Federal Minister for Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor has been sitting on Federal legislation that has been needed to allow wind farm planning and construction to go ahead. This legislation was finally passed by the Federal Parliament in 2021.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Update on Synthetic turf: risk and impacts associated with floods and bushfires

Mitchelton Football club synthetic turf field damaged by flooding of Kedron Brook (Brisbane)

The Queensland and NSW Flood disasters in February and March 2022 highlighted other risks and impacts that were not included in my Literature Review on Synthetic Turf (2021).

The Guardian reported on a football club in north-west Brisbane seeing its $1.5m synthetic playing field damaged and equipment washed away as flood waters inundated the sports fields beside the creek. (Favazzo 2022)

“In one word, it’s devastating,” said Mitchelton football club technical director Joe Fenech, described the damages. 

I don't think Mr Fenech was thinking of the microplastic pollution the synthetic turf caused due to the floodwaters. Much of the field's rubber infill and any loose plastic fibres would be washed away becoming microplastics pollution, adding to this pollution in the world's oceans.

One of the Football Club shipping containers containing sports equipment was washed down Kedron Brook an estimated seven kilometres from Mitchelton to The Grange, according to a Facebook report by the Club.

My literature review focussed on all the environmental problems, but it also focussed in particular on one proposed natural grass sports field conversion to synthetic turf at Hosken Reserve in North Coburg. It looked only at siting issues within that context. But siting of synthetic turf is a general problem to consider especially with regards to flood and bushfire events.

In terms of extreme weather events, both flooding and bushfire risk should be important determinants for contributing to triple bottom line assessments for Synthetic Field siting.

Sunday, March 6, 2022

Guest Post: ‘One of the most extreme disasters in colonial Australian history’: climate scientists on the floods and our future risk

The City of Lismore under floodwaters in Feb 2022
The City of Lismore under floodwaters, February 2022.
Andrew King, The University of Melbourne; Linden Ashcroft, The University of Melbourne, and Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, UNSW Sydney

The deluge dumped on southeast Queensland and northern New South Wales this week has been catastrophic. Floodwaters peaked at around 14.4 metres high in Lismore – two metres higher than the city’s previous record.

So how does this compare to Australia’s previous floods, such as in 2011? And can we expect more frequent floods at this scale under climate change? The answers to questions like these aren’t straightforward.

Climate change doesn’t tell the whole story, as extreme rainfall can occur for a variety of reasons. What’s more, it’s too soon to officially state whether this event is directly linked to climate change, as this would require a formal event attribution study. This can take months or years to produce.

In any case, we do know extreme events like this will occur more frequently in a warmer world. And the rising death toll, ongoing evacuations and destroyed homes make this one of the most extreme natural disasters in colonial Australian history.

Guest Post: Like rivers in the sky: the weather system bringing floods to Queensland will become more likely under climate change

Kimberley Reid, The University of Melbourne and Andrew King, The University of Melbourne

The severe floods in southeast Queensland this week have forced hundreds of residents to flee the town of Gympie and have cut off major roads, after intense rain battered the state for several days. The rain is expected to continue today, and travel south into New South Wales.

We research a weather system called “atmospheric rivers”, which is causing this inundation. Indeed, atmospheric rivers triggered many of the world’s floods in 2021, including the devastating floods across eastern Australia in March which killed two people and saw 24,000 evacuate.

Our recently published research was the first to quantify the impacts these weather systems have in Australia, and another study we published in November looked closely at the floods in March last year

We found while atmospheric rivers bring much-needed rainfall to the agriculturally significant Murray-Darling Basin, their potential to bring devastating floods will become more likely in a warmer world under climate change.

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

UN Secretary General launches IPCC climate report: "abdication of leadership is criminal...World's biggest polluters are guilty of arson of our only home."

Very powerful speech by Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General  at launch of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 6th assessment report Working Group II report on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. He highlights the climate emergency we are in.

Australia as a member of the G20 and the OECD needs to phase out Australian coal use by 2030, and phase out coal export by 2040. Australia should be increasing our 2030 climate emissions reduction targets to 50% or more. I am well aware that every second of delay means death.. Australia needs to honour the Glasgow pledge at COP26 to strengthen national climate plans every year until they are aligned with 1.5C.

The last paragraph item in the Summary for policymakers of this report reads:

SPM.D.5.3 The cumulative scientific evidence is unequivocal: Climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health. Any further delay in concerted anticipatory global action on adaptation and mitigation will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all. (very high confidence)