Last week on the 7.30 Report we were treated to a debate between Mark Butler, the climate change minister and his Opposition counterpart, Greg Hunt, that just did not work. Leigh Sales tried a hard-edged questioning style, but unfortunately did not come close to being familiar with the topic. So large parts of the LNP agenda were unaddressed, such as their dismantling of the institutional framework of the the Climate Commission, the Climate Change Authority, the incorporation of the Climate Department into the broader environment department and the dismantling of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
One issue canvassed was the sequestration of carbon in soil, which comprises a large part of the LNP’s mitigation strategy.
Mark Butler said the cost of such abatement was higher than previously thought, the potential for sequestration less and given the problems and uncertainties there “may be some opportunity to abate carbon pollution through soil carbon initiatives in the future, but it is grossly irresponsible to make it the centrepiece of a nationwide carbon pollution policy.”
Hunt dismissed those concerns, quoting the CSIRO but when he was pressed on whether he was talking about just soil carbon he said he meant the full range of green carbon initiatives – mallee and mulga revegetation, reforestation, avoided deforestation, soil carbon.
A recent article in Nature (paywalled) came to the conclusion that:
considering carbon storage on land as a means to ‘offset’ CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels (an idea with wide currency) is scientifically flawed. The capacity of terrestrial ecosystems to store carbon is finite and the current sequestration potential primarily reflects depletion due to past land use. Avoiding emissions from land carbon stocks and refilling depleted stocks reduces atmospheric CO2 concentration, but the maximum amount of this reduction is equivalent to only a small fraction of potential fossil fuel emissions.
Continue reading Soil carbon and direct (in)action
Yesterday The Climate Institute released a policy brief Coalition Climate Policy and the National Climate Interest which not to mince words is a complete crock, will increase emissions and ruin our reputation on climate matters in the world. The report, based on modelling by Sinclair Knight Merz-MMA and Monash University’s Centre of Policy Studies, was then declared by Greg Hunt to be “one of the silliest reports” he has ever seen prepared by “a clear partisan political organisation” which backs the ALP.
Giles Parkinson’s article The black hole in Tony Abbott’s frat party climate policy gives a comprehensive account and I commend it to readers.
Abbott in response to Rudd’s bringing forward of the ETS gave his memorable opinion on such trading schemes:
“It’s a so-called market in the non-delivery of an invisible substance to no-one.”
Sara Phillips finds this curious since
the financial markets do a lot of trading in non-deliveries of invisible substances to no one. Water-front mansions in Abbott’s electorate of Warringah have been built on the profits of those trades.
Continue reading Direct action examined and found wanting
Back on 3 September 2010, 12 days after the election, Laura Tingle wrote:
There are two possible explanations for how an opposition presenting itself as an alternative government could end up with an $11 billion hole in the cost of its election commitments.
One is that they are liars, the other is that they are clunkheads. Actually, there is a third explanation: they are liars and clunkheads.
But whatever the combination, they are not fit to govern.
But what is more extraordinary is that now, having been caught out, Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey and Andrew Robb are continuing to try to bluff their way through, suggesting there is nothing more than a gentlemanly difference of opinion between them and the bureaucracy.
The brazenness of the three men only becomes really clear when they claim the bureaucrats’ document actually proves the budget would be $7 billion better off under the Coalition.
There is no other term for any of this except “complete bullshit”, to use one of Abbott’s favourite terms.
Ever since those three brazen bullshit artists have been rubbishing the institutions that called them on their incompetence and/or perfidy.
On Tuesday this week Treasury and Finance issued the Pre-Election Fiscal Outlook (PEFO) in which the charter of budget of honesty requires them to identify “all other circumstances that may have a material effect on the fiscal and economic outlook”. Laura Tingle explains how Treasury and Finance have used the modelling at their disposal to project receipts and payments over the next ten years. The results are inconvenient to the common view that we are headed down the crapper. You see they found that receipts are going to pick up in the out years, so that in ten years time net debt will be restored to around zero. Continue reading Are they liars and clunkheads still?
I’m not planning to do posts on the upcoming election apart from link posts if I see anything interesting and/or important. The post on the Murdoch’s intervention started out as a link post, but then I warmed to the task. While this space is open I’d like to explore a theme that came from a comment in reaction to the LNP ‘solution’ to the asylum seeker ‘problem’. I can’t find it now, but someone asked, “What have we become?”
Moreover, what will we become? We have a choice, and in our response to the stranger in need who has chosen us, we either grow or diminish ourselves.
The task is ambitious and I’m not academically equipped for it. I’m not speaking as a philosopher or a sociologist, just “someone who is trying to sort out his ideas”, so the results may be modest. Some of the posts may not appear to be directly on the topic, but I hope all will fit together in the long run.
Meanwhile I’ll try to keep some information flowing on climate change. Both these projects may be of more use than any contribution I can make to an election here in Oz. This time CC will be free flow rather than numbered items, to save time. I’ll use bold to identify the topics.
Arctic ice is losing its reflective sheen. We all know that ice reflects more incoming radiation from the sun than does open water. Now by analysing 30 years of satellite data scientists have found that albedo of the ice itself at the end of the summer is about 15% weaker today than it was 30 years ago.
The cause of the darkening is
partly due to thinning ice and the formation of open water fissures, and partly because in the warmer air, ponds of liquid water form on the surface of the ice. The shallow ponds on the ice can dramatically reduce reflectivity and increase the amount of solar radiation that the ice absorbs.
Continue reading Climate clippings 82