Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Guest Post: Human hands are all over Australia's hottest ever year in 2013


New research by multiple separate research groups shows that extreme heat events are increasing and can be clearly attributable to global warming. The research draws upon modelling and Fractional Attribution of Risk (FAR) of extreme weather events including from Australian scientists who have shown that extreme heatwaves and hot spells are caused by the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. It confirms earlier published research by Karoly and Lewis that the Record Australian 2013 temperatures caused by climate change.

Australia is already feeling the heat of global warming and Spending wisely now will make heatwaves less costly later. Our cities in particular are becoming hothouses in summer as global warming amplifies the urban heat island effect which along with increasing urbanisation like in Sydney, provides major climate impacts. There are already major challenges for adaptation for cities like Melbourne with Municipal Councils often on the front line.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Australia's Foreign minister Julie Bishop shunned at UN climate summit


The original article was published at nofibs.com.au.

Australia's Foreign Affairs minister Julie Bishop took the podium at the United Nations Climate Summit to an almost empty plenary to announce that Australia was balancing economic growth with climate action, with a 5 per cent cut based on 2000 levels by 2020 using $2.55 billion to fund emission reductions under the Government's Direct Action Plan. (Read speech) Two photos tell the story of her address to this climate summit, of the vast gap between the government's rhetoric and actual action.

The first is the more flattering image the Abbott Government would prefer you to see tweeted by Australia's ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations Gary Quinlan:



The second photo is a wide angle shot encompassing much of the plenary room and shows that most delegates and ministers were not present when Ms Bishop delivered her statement. While this does not in itself mean much, it is symptomatic of Australia being diplomatically shunned for it's retrograde steps on climate policy, including being the first country to abolish a carbon pricing scheme, and the snubbing of the summit by Prime Minister Tony Abbott who attended UN sessions discussing on terrorism the following day.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

South Australia sets 50 per cent renewables target for 2025


Congratulations to South Australian Premier Jay Wetherall who announced this past week that the state was about to reach it's 2020 target of 33 per cent renewables in the electricity sector and had chosen to increase this target to 50 per cent by 2020.

“This new target of half of the States power to be generated by renewable sources will create jobs and drive capital investment and advanced manufacturing industries." he said in a statement. (statement PDF)

The Federal Renewable Energy Target (RET) has been a significant factor in attracting $5.5 billion in investment and was likely to support a further $4.4 billion by 2025, creating much needed jobs in solar installation and advanced manufacturing.

“This new target of half of the States power to be generated by renewable sources will create
jobs and drive capital investment and advanced manufacturing industries." Wetherall said, “But we will only be successful with both of these targets if the Federal Government maintains the current Renewable Energy Target Scheme arrangements."

The Abbott Government Warburton review of the RET has recommended either closing the scheme to new investors or by setting targets based on the growth of electricity demand. Both of these options would throw a spanner in the works of investment in renewable energy in Australia.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Oxfam: Green Climate Fund pledges still far below target for funding adaptation by developing countries


The UN Climate Change Summit in New York brought many new pledges and commitments on emissions reduction targets, reduced deforestation, and in financing the Green Climate Fund, and many more.

It was hailed by by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon as a successful start for negotiating a global climate agreement in Paris in December 2015 at COP21.

But Graça Machel, the widow of Nelsen Mandela, who followed Ban Ki-moon in the closing speeches of the summit, identified that there is still "a huge mismatch between the magnitude and of the challenge and the response that we heard here today". Machel is a member of the elders, an independent group of global leaders foundered by Nelson Mandela.

Take the Green Climate Fund as an example.

Graça Machel: Are pledges enough to avoid the climate change precipice?


The widow of Nelson Mandela, Graça Machel, addressed the UN Climate summit in the closing ceremony directly after UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon's closing statement and questioned whether the pledges made so far meet the challenge that we face.

Because our very survival may depend upon these decisions.

"We have reached a tipping point" she said, "So our commitments must be ambitious enough to stop us falling over the precipice. And personally I have mixed feelings. I acknowledge that there is the beginning of understanding of the gravity of the challenge that we face. But at the same time I have the impression that there is a huge mismatch between the magnitude and of the challenge and the response that we heard here today. The scale is much more than what we have achieved."

Machel highlighted the huge marches on Sunday in New York, Melbourne and around the world demanding action on climate justice, which brought applause from those in the chamber.

"So the obligation in my view is to step up the ambition, is to maximise fairness, to increase the momentum, and to make sure that from now to Paris, each one of us has made their homework of matching the magnitude of the problem with the response we are prepared to do. We, citizens of the world, will be watching." Machel told the 120 world leaders and other representatives gathered.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

UN Climate summit advances pledges while Australia, Canada noticeably reticent


The UN climate summit has resulted in an extensive range of promises and commitments on climate action. But noticeably absent is any mention of commitments from Canada and Australia. These two countries both have high carbon fossil fuel mining industries with governments in denial on taking effective climate action on a national level to reign in emissions and the mining and export of fossil fuels.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Australian Government in denial on proposals for climate action at UN Climate summit



The reason the Peoples Climate protest occurred is that there is a UN summit on climate change on 23 September called by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to motivate more ambitious targets to be brought to the negotiating table. About 120 heads of state are attending, but not Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott who claims he needs to stay in Canberra an extra day, even though he is scheduled to be in New York for the UN General Assembly debate on the threat of terrorism the following day. What a lame excuse! In his place Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop is being sent.

Ms Bishop will be attending the climate summit as a "leaner" not a "lifter". Countries have been urged to bring along ambitious plans for emissions cuts to take the plans for an agreement in Paris forward, but Ms Bishop told the Sydney Morning Herald that Australia would only confirm a 5 per cent emissions cut on 2000 levels by 2020 and that it was "too early" for plans for deeper emissions cuts beyond Australia's existing policies. At a meeting in New York of the top 17 economies hosted by United States Secretary of State John Kerry, Bishop called this an "ambituous target".

What world are they living in?

30,000 rally in Melbourne and more in regional Victoria for action on climate change



A beautiful spring day brought out the crowds to attend the Peoples Climate Melbourne rally. But the hum had been in the air that this was going to draw a large crowd. As it turns out, over 30,000 people turned up and marched from the State Library of Victoria to the Treasury Gardens through Melbourne's streets demanding greater action on climate change .

There were short speeches outside the State Library of Victoria by Labor's Shadow Minister for the Environment Mark Butler MP (Watch video), Senator Christine Milne, leader of the Australian Greens (Watch video), and Professor Tim Flannery of the Climate Council (Watch video).


Friday, September 19, 2014

PwC report: World still on track for dangerous warming this century


The latest Pricewaterhousecoopers (PwC) Low Carbon Economy Index (LCEI) shows that the world is still on track for 3.7 to 4.8°C of warming by the end of the century, rather than the 2 degrees limit committed to at Copenhagen in 2009 and at subsequent climate talks. But there are small glimers of climate hope from the continued growth in renewables and in the reduction in carbon intensity reported by some countries. Australia in particular was a surprise showing a 7.2 per cent reduction in carbon intensity in 2013, more than any other major nation.

However, even if all current policies on the table were fully implemented at their highest ambition range, the planet would still be on a trajectory of at least 3 degrees warming by the end of the century.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

HESTA Super Fund restricts thermal coal investments


The first major Australian industry superannuation fund advised on Friday they were restricting thermal coal investment due to the growing risk of 'unburnable carbon' with the growing global push to limit global warming.

HESTA, the super fund for employees in health and community services, announced a progressive implementation of a restriction on investments in thermal coal, across all it's funds, not just it's ethical fund. HESTA has $29 billion under funds management with 785,000 members and 155,000 employers.

Anne-Marie Corboy, HESTA Chief Executive Officer, said that this was an increasing restriction as part of the Fund’s ongoing response to the increasing impact of climate change on its long-term investments. In a media statement she commented:

“This ‘unburnable carbon’ is likely to become an increasing risk in the medium to long term, especially for companies heavily invested in thermal coal, or those seeking to develop new long-term assets.

“HESTA is of the view that, new or expanded thermal coal assets face the highest risk of becoming stranded before the end of their useful life.

“It is not prudent, nor in the long-term interest of members, to invest in the expansion of these assets.

“The push to limit the impact of global warming requires economies to move to a lower-carbon intensive future and investors have an important role to play in this transition.

“HESTA believes that further investment in developing new, or expanding existing, thermal coal reserves is inconsistent with this imperative to reduce carbon emissions.”

Friday, September 12, 2014

Moreland increasing tree canopy to combat Urban Heat island Effect


Article originally published at Climate Action Moreland.

Moreland Council at it's September 2014 Council meeting adopted a report on increasing vegetation tree canopy and resolved "to support and fund current initiatives aligned with the management of climate change and the Urban Heat Island Effect."

The Council report - DCI70/14 REVIEW OF TREE COVER IN MORELAND AND HEAT ISLAND EFFECT (D14/225415) (full text below) - was prepared for the Director of City Infrastructure as a result of a motion by Cr Davidson (full text below) at the July council meeting. It outlines that Council will plant 5,000 trees annually as part of the Moreland Street Landscape Strategy (see Street Trees on Council Website) with the biggest tree suited to an area to be planted to increase canopy coverage. The goal is to plant 30,000 trees across the municipality by 2020.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Your Superannuation is Destroying the Planet - John Hewson fights back on climate


Superannuation for most of us is compulsory saving that we really don't worry too much about until we start getting closer to retirement. We leave it to the investment managers and superannuation trustees to judge the benefits and risks in investment strategies they put forward.

But what if their assessments of risk and investment strategies are all short term market oriented or only consider past trends. This is the problem posed by climate risk and the carbon bubble. The carbon bubble represents a major shift in resource exploitation and energy production, and a social and technological transition required. Australia's headlong rush for coal expansion risks stranded assets. The economic risks of a carbon bubble and stranded assets have been warned by Carbon Tracker, PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and International Energy Agency (IEA).

Global pension funds control about $30 trillion in assets. It is estimated that over 55 per cent of pension contributions are invested in high-risk, high-carbon assets with less than 2 per cent being invested in low-carbon assets.

With climate change science indicating that 80 per cent of known fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground to maintain a safe climate, there is an enormous carbon bubble of overvalued assets. This poses a huge problem: when this carbon bubble bursts it will substantially downgrade the value of these superannuation investments, that is, your and my future retirement income.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Labor votes with Government to dump key Energy Efficiency program


On Thursday Labor Party Senators lined up with the Government, Palmer United Party and crossbench independent senators to repeal the largescale Energy Efficiency Opportunities (EEO) program setup with bipartisan support in 2006 under the Howard Government. In a division in the Senate of 55 votes to 10, only the Greens Senators opposed the dumping of this program which had made substantial business energy savings of over $800 million dollars and 8.21 megatonnes reduction in carbon emissions.

The Energy Efficiency Opportunities program was recognised by the International Energy Agency as a world-class program helping businesses to save energy and a key element of energy efficiency policy framework and in addressing climate change.

The scheme has since been copied by the UK to drive transformation of energy consumption by large businesses. "Just as we are dumping it, they are picking it up because they realise it has been so successful in Australia and could be even more successful." observed Greens leader Christine Milne.

The Abbott Government proposed the legislative repeal of this program in the May budget papers as the Energy Efficiency Opportunities (Repeal) Bill 2014. The conditions in the repeal will apply retrospectively from 29 June 2014 for affected business.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Carbon emissions rise from electricity generation - largest 2 month increase since 2006



The latest CEDEX assessment by Pitt and Sherry shows an increase in Australian electricity demand in June and July with rising supply from coal and gas since the Abbott Government abolished the carbon tax and talked about abolishing or emasculating the Renewable Energy Target with the Warburton Review.

Emissions rose by about 1 million tonnes - about 0.8 per cent. It is the largest 2 month increase since 2006 according to Peter Hannam in the Sydney Morning Herald.

The monthly Pitt and Sherry CEDEX report tracks carbon emissions, electricity contribution from different generator types and electricity demand.

This story was originally posted to Climate Action Moreland.

Importance of Climate action motivates Greens Senator Janet Rice

The Original story was posted on Climate Action Moreland published 3 September, 2014.

New Victorian Greens Senator Janet Rice, who took up office from 1st July, has emphasised the importance of climate change as one of the primary motivations for her as a Senator and legislator in Canberra.

In her first 'official' speech she outlined her first moment on her long journey to Canberra after coming out of a 1980 climatology lecture by Dr Barrie Pittock on the greenhouse effect at Melbourne University. The realisation dawned of the serious nature of climate change and its global impact.

"Learning about global warming politicised me." she said.

It set in place a career in environmental activism (See wikipedia bio) from the Tasmanian Franklin Blockade onwards including being active in East Gippsland forest campaigns, being pivotal in the formation of the Victorian Greens, as well as 6 years on Maribyrnong Council, including one year as Mayor.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Wills MP Kelvin Thomson goes into bat for ARENA and renewable energy



This original article was first published at Climate Action Moreland.

Federal MP for Wills, Kelvin Thomson spoke in the second reading debate for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Repeal) Bill 2014 on 28 August 2014 defending the need to maintain low carbon investment support and the Renewable Energy Target.

Thomson highlighted that ARENA has supported more than 190 renewable energy projects, with more than $1.5 billion in private sector investment. An equal number of renewable energy projects is in the pipeline which might draw up to $5 billion in private sector funding. Rural and regional areas of Australia have benefited through job creation with about 70 per cent of projects in rural and regional areas.

"Experience from renewable energy markets overseas has shown that stable, long-term policy support provides the renewable energy industry with the required incentives to expand the renewable energy market. A clear commitment from the federal government on the policy framework surrounding renewable energy in Australia, such as the renewable energy target, provides the long-term certainty needed to encourage the growth of Australia's renewable energy industry."

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

#MarchinAugust for a fairer Australia and climate action



This Original article from Climate Action Moreland.

The March in August carries on from the independently organised march in March protests which saw tens of thousands of people protesting the Abbott Government on many social, welfare, and environmental issues. The protests bring together a wide range of campaigns and individuals under one protest umbrella to demand Accountability, Transparency, Decency from the Abbott Federal Government including on climate policy and action.

The protest in Melbourne was held on Sunday 31st August 31 at 1:00pm starting from the State Library of Victoria, Swanston St, Melbourne. (See event Facebook Page).



Guardian columnist VanBadham brought a lot of intense enthusiasm and passion to her role as MC for the protest. Speakers included:
*Ursula Alquier - Lock the Gate Victorian Coordinator
*Julian Burnside - Advocacy on behalf of refugees
*David Ritter- Greenpeace re: "Protest laws" and GBR
*Jennie Hill Dir. Destroy the Joint. Women & Welfare.
*Annette Xiberras - Wurundjeri Elder and a former cultural heritage staff member with Aboriginal Affairs Victoria - Welcome to country and cuts to funding for Aboriginal services.