Monday, November 30, 2015

Paris shows it's shoes for climate marching and forms a human chain


Today I observed and sometimes joined a peaceful human chain for a climate of peace on the Boulevard Voltaire in Paris. Organisers estimated about 10,000 people participated in one way or another.

This event took place because Parisians and visitors to Paris were denied the freedom of speech and assembly to march down the street under the state of emergency provisions.

Short video highlights from the human chain event on Boulevard Voltaire:



These provisions were enacted by the French state after the terrorist attacks on November 13 which resulted in 130 deaths and over 300 injured. It caused a dark cloud to hang over the climate conference. Just the fact that national leaders focus was redirected on security and terrorism has detracted from the much needed focus on resolving the climate change issue, which activists have highlighted as the Climate Emergency.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Melbourne #peoplesclimate draws 60,000 people sending PM Turnbull a message to lift targets



Reposted article from Climate Action Moreland website.

Well done to everyone who marched or supported the march, particularly the many shop keepers who allowed signs to go up in their windows. It was awesome with the estimated 60,000 people, who at one point, stretched all the way from Parliament House down Bourke street and up Swanston street to the starting place at the State Library at Latrobe street.

"The majority of Australians want action on climate change," said Geoff Cousins, chair of the Australian Conservation Foundation. "People now realise this is not some theoretical concept. This is affecting their lives on a daily basis and they want something done about it." he told the crowd, according to ABC News.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Lowy Institute Survey: climate now a pressing problem, Australians say lift targets


According to a Lowy Institute public opinion poll conducted in October-November 2015 over half of Australia's population believes that climate change is "a serious and pressing problem. We should begin taking steps now even if this involves significant costs".

Over the last few years concern has been steadily growing about climate change and the need to take action. The Lowy Institute points out that this is an increase of 16 percentage points since 2012 to 52 per cent.

Another 36 per cent of people reckon that "The problem of global warming should be addressed, but its effects will be gradual, so we can deal with the problem gradually by taking steps that are low in cost."

Just 11 per cent of people believe we "should not take any steps that would have economic costs."

On climate targets, 62 per cent of people think we "should be prepared to make stronger commitments on emissions reductions in the interests of reaching a global agreement". Malcolm Turnbull and Greg Hunt should keep this level of support in mind when they meet other heads of state and our diplomats start negotiating a climate agreement in Paris atthe UN climate conference.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Guest Post: Climate change's hotter weather could reduce human fertility

Earlier this month I reported on a new study that said extreme temperature events affected human fertility. Too Darn Hot! Sex, human fertility and birth rate declines due to #heatwave temperature shocks. Now you can read the authors of the study directly in this post from the Conversation US site.

Sidewalk human chain proposed for route of banned Paris march on Sunday


Coalition Climat 21 have proposed a human chain be formed between 12 noon and 1pm along the sidewalks of the Boulevarde Voltaire from between Place de la Republique and Place de la Nation. This was the original route of the march that has been planned for several months for Sunday November 29 in Paris.

Activists announced this action in a media release (fr) on Tuesday 24 November, to get around the ban on marching declared by the French state. The state of emergency declared and then extended after the Paris attacks resulted in the French state prohibiting mass marches in Paris and cities across France.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Music Video: 1.5 to Stay Alive - Climate change and the Caribbean



Time for a music break, and Arthur and Mongstar have done such a cool song for Caribbean Youth Environment Network - Saint Lucia (CYEN) to take to the Paris climate conference.

Help them by signing their change.org petition: A legally binding agreement that keeps global temp. below 1.5°C above preindustrial levels.

"CYEN postulates that any increases in temperature beyond 1.5°C will relegate the economies of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to unrelenting cycles of disasters and therefore compromise the future quality of life of all young people."

Australia's #climate stance for Paris #COP21


It seems that Australia has flexibility in negotiating for a global climate agreement in Paris. Minister Hunt even expressed that there is some room for Australia to lift it's targets, after a review, through purchase of carbon credits. But it appears there is no extra funding to the Green Climate Fund on the table.

Australia as a mid-level power carries some influence at sensitive negotiations such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) annual summit, called the Conference of Parties or simply COP. This year in Paris is the 21st year of negotiations, hence COP21.

Tom Arup in The Age has a good summary of the Australian political negotiating position on climate, writing that Australia's "team now has a negotiating mandate approved by cabinet. It is understood to be flexible and allows Australia to sign up to a strong agreement, including one with lofty language about the long-term ambition of the agreement."

Monday, November 23, 2015

Europe Diary: temperatures tumble in Paris after record warm November start

A spell of cold winter weather has finally arrived in Paris, just after we arrived from Nantes.

Maximum temperatures dropped this weekend to around 7C degrees and minimums are -1C overnight. In early November the temperature almost reached 30C in Paris during a European autumn heatwave setting a number of monthly maximum and minimum temperature records (see my storify below).

Many records in France were broken, sometimes very significantly (especially during the weekend of 7 and 8 November), and the warmth was also exceptional in its duration, according to a Meteo France media statement on 20 November.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Activists vow to mobilise at #COP21 climate summit despite protest ban


At a press conference in Paris on Friday afternoon activists unveiled how they would mobilize people in France to have a say despite the state of emergency that prohibts mass protests.

The Climate 21 coalition, a coalition of 130 groups involving unions, environment, community and climate activist associations, are adamant that the protests scheduled on November 29 and December 12 should proceed in some form taking into account the altered security requirements and sensitivity to the Paris attacks victims and their families.

"We will not renounce our mobilization, but we thought about other ways to occupy public space," said Juliette Rousseau, spokesperson for the Coalition according to a le Monde report (fr).

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Paris #COP21 Climate protests banned



This afternoon the French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, ruled that the two large climate marches in Paris and the main cities in France on November 29 and December 12 would be prohibited.

Negotiations between climate activist organisations and the French state have been ocurring early this week regarding approval for civil society public events and the two huge mobilisations, but without coming to agreed solutions. The Paris Prefecture of Police informed Climat21 Coalition late this afternoon (18 November) of the decision to prohibit the two marches.

My sources inform me that any street protest during the COP is also prohibited.

According to an Le Monde report (fr), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement saying that due to the attacks of November 13 and the security situation all events in enclosed spaces and that are easily securable will be maintained. However, the government decided to avoid greater risk and that the planned marches for Paris and other cities in France on 29 November and 12 December would be prohibited.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Europe Diary: Nantes, the abolition of slavery and climate change



On Sunday I visited the Memorial to the abolition of slavery in Nantes and was deeply moved. It is located on the bank of the Loire River, opposite the Palais de Justice that stands on the Ile de Nantes. The city of Nantes has looked into the darkness of it's past in abuse of human rights and sought to document and reflect on that history. There are lessons here in the anti-slavery campaign for the climate change movement.

Europe Diary: Solidarity with the murdered victims in Paris: report from Nantes



The symbol of Peace for Paris unfurled in Nantes during the observance of 1 minute of silence, 16 November 2015.

My journey to the UN climate conference in Paris has involved staying in the regional city of Nantes for a week. Too short a period to do it justice, I fear.

The atrocities committed in Paris have overshadowed my stay in this green and progressive city.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Terrorism in Paris casts a cloud across UN climate conference



People around the world will have woken this morning to news of the horrific terrorism attacks in Paris on a Friday night. Over 120 dead, more than 200 injured many seriously. Seven of the eight attackers blew themselves up with strapped on suicide vests and an eighth attacker was shot by police during a storming of a concert theatre. Some of the attackers are feared to be still at large.

President Francois Hollande declared a State of Emergency for France and closed the borders. Parisians have been told to stay at home. Paris, the city of lights, went metaphorically dark as the lights and sparkle on the Eiffel tower were turned off.

Today in Paris public places are closed as the nation observes three days of mourning with the nation's security at its highest level.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Can a leopard change it's spots? Australia's schizophrenic #climate diplomacy


This article originally appeared at nofibs.com.au


It seems Ministers from 62 nations were won over by Australian Environment Minister Greg Hunt's charm at Precop with applause being delivered to speeches from Ministers from both Australia and Canada. (see my article on the Paris Precop ministerial meeting)

Australia is being seen as back on side diplomatically on the climate issue, especially after Hunt was a important broker in a deal phasing down HFC emissions in the Montreal Protocol update last week.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Canada welcomed at Paris #PreCOP #climate Ministerial meeting


Original article published at nofibs.com.au

A high level informal Ministerial pre-summit climate conference is currently under way in Paris to try and close some of the differences in negotiating positions to set up momentum for the Paris Climate Conference. The outstanding highlight has been the return of Canada to the serious climate discussion table, although it is still very early to see how strong Canada's climate policy and negotiating position will be.

The French Government is putting a lot of diplomatic effort into the UN climate conference (COP21), due to start on Monday November 30 with an initial leaders summit with more than 100 Heads of State attending.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

After years of grassroots climate campaigning Obama cancels Keystone XL pipeline


Yesterday, after many years of delay, President Obama cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline project that would bring the bitumenous oil from the Alberta tar sands to the oil refineries on the Gulf coast.

The pipeline was condemned as opening up tar sands production and enhancing carbon pollution causing climate change. James Hansen famously said in 2011 that it would be game over for the climate if the Keystone XL pipeline was ever allowed to be built.

Stopping the Keystone XL project became highly symbolic for the climate movement and entailed building a broad coalition of indigenous first nation people, ranchers, students, scientists, and activists from all walks of life and from across Canada and the United States.

It involved civil disobedience at the point of construction and more symbolic arrests in front of the White House to lobby and pressure the Obama administration to walk the talk on climate action and not be bullied by the cashed up fossil fuel lobby.

“This is a historic moment, not just for what it means about avoiding the impacts of this disastrous pipeline but for all of those who spoke out for a healthy, liveable climate and energy policies that put people and wildlife ahead of pollution and profits,” said Valerie Love with the Center for Biological Diversity in a media statement. “President Obama did the right thing, but he didn’t do it alone: Millions of Americans made their voices heard on this issue, and will continue pressing Obama and other political leaders to do what’s necessary to avoid climate catastrophe.”

“History will hopefully remember this as a moment when the tide began to turn significantly against the forces that have fueled the climate crisis for so long. And there’s no doubt that this hard-earned win attests to the power of the climate movement and sends an undeniable message that Americans want clean energy now,” Love said. “We still have a lot of work to do to get off fossil fuels, but this is proof we have power and we’re on the right track.”

Paris: French Oil giant Total accused of climate crimes against humanity



Climate activists this morning targeted the head office of French petroleum firm Total and accused them of crimes against humanity due to greenhouse gases destroying the climate. The CEO of Total, Mr Patrick Pouyanné, was cited in a convocation of 'criminal' climate practices of his company.

The protest action was organised by Action Non Violent COP21 (@anvcop21) with 112 activists transforming the square outside of Total's headquarters in La Défense (Hauts-de-Seine) of Paris into a Crime Scene.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Victorian Guide to community energy unveiled at Hepburn Wind Coop AGM by Energy Minister


Lily D'Ambrosio, the Victorian Energy and Resources Minister, appeared at the Hepburn Community Wind Cooperative AGM and launched a Guide to Community Energy to empower communities to invest and control their own electricity generation infrastructure. Hepburn Wind is the first modern Victorian community owned energy co-operative.

This continues the positive steps being taken by the Andrews Labor Government in energy transition with the release of the Victorian Renewable Energy Roadmap for public consultation and the current finalising of the Renewable Energy Action Plan.

Community ownership of wind farms and solar farms is particularly high in parts of Europe, especially Denmark and in Germany where the Energiewende has localised electricity infrastructure and empowered communities.

Here is my report on Storify of the Hepburn Wind AGM and launch of the Guide to Community Energy. It was facilitated by Yes2Renewables campaigner Leigh Ewbank's presence and live tweeting.

Australia at sustainability crossroads at #Paris2015 #climate talks



There is much momentum for a binding climate change agreement in Paris, but success is by no means assured. In less than 4 weeks time leaders, ministers and diplomats will sit down to try and again thrash out an agreement over two weeks. This was supposed to happen six years ago in Copenhagen but the negotiations fell apart leaving us with a voluntary accord that was stitched together at the last moment in back room negotiations to save some face.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference in Paris, the 21st Conference of the Parties more usually called COP21, is expecting 80 world leaders to attend a summit on the first day to give a boost to negotiations. There will be some 160 national delegations in attendance over the two weeks of negotiations.

After the Heads of State summit, the diplomats will continue finalising details of the draft climate treaty. The subsequent two weeks will see Ministers lead their negotiating teams.

Australia will be represented at the leaders summit by our Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. Environment Minister Greg Hunt will then lead negotiations through the first week, followed by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop leading negotiations in the second week.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Too Darn Hot! Sex, human fertility and birth rate declines due to #heatwave temperature shocks



This article originally published at nofibs.com.au.

If your not feeling like sex when it's too darn hot, your not alone. Latest research into human fertility and temperature extremes reveals that birthrates suffer a fall nine months after extreme temperatures events, and although there is a partial recovery in subsequent months, this does not make up for the lost fertility.

The research is based upon data of the effects of temperature shocks on birth rates in the United States between 1931 and 2010. It is contained in a working paper published October 2015 by Alan Barreca, Olivier Deschenes, Melanie Guldi from the US National Bureau of Economic Research and is titled Maybe Next Month? Temperature Shocks, Climate Change, and Dynamic Adjustments in Birth Rates.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Europe Diary: Halloween heat in UK, France on the road to #Paris2015 #Cop21 #climate talks


This article appeared originally at nofibs.com.au.

I have been travelling in England and Europe for 6 weeks now. It is supposed to be Autumn going into Winter, yet there is still plenty of warmth despite the shorter days. Other than a few days of rain, it has been remarkably fine: T-shirt and shorts weather, although a jacket is sometimes needed for chilly evenings.

Even in Switzerland I was wearing T-shirts and shorts, only pulling on a warm jacket for the journey to the top of Mount Titlis at over 3000 metres altitude in the European Alps.

I realize with my full bag I have probably brought far too many warm weather clothes expecting much cooler Autumn and Winter temperatures. Or maybe it is that bottle of Limoncello from Sorrento weighting my bag down.