These posts are intended to share information and ideas about climate change and hence act as a roundtable. Again, I do not want to spend time in comments rehashing whether human activity causes climate change.
This edition is mainly about politics and policy rather than the science.
1. Anti renewables tirade
As the forces of darkness are unleashed upon us under the rule of Tony Abbott, people attending the Eastern Australian Energy Outlook Conference were subjected to a “venomous rant” against the renewable energy target from Burchell Wilson, a senior economist at the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The tragedy of this is that Wilson’s presentation may have been plain wrong, nasty, manipulative and ideological, but he’s not alone in Canberra….
As Wilson (rightly) pointed out, there is a vast reserve of anti-renewables passion in the rump of the National Party and the Liberal party backbench open to such rhetoric– which insiders say is being whipped up by new Liberal MP Angus Taylor.
Wilson expressed his hope that these views would overwhelm those of moderates such as Environment Minister Greg Hunt, and Energy Minister Ian Macfarlane. He hoped that the economic rationalists at the Productivity Commission would have carriage of the next RET review.
2. Mining lobby targets RET
In the current political climate the RET is under serious threat, being targeted directly by the mining industry.
This is how John D sees it:
Australia’s RET is one of the few emission trading schemes in the world that is actually working. For years it has been steadily driving investment in utility scale renewables. Better still, because it is an offset credit trading scheme that does not generate government revenue it is achieving this with negligible changes in power costs. (The fossil power companies are actually complaining that it is pushing wholesale prices down!)
For this reason it is of some concern to see that the Minerals industry is pushing for the repeal of the RET.
We should all be campaigning for an increase in the RET target and against any attempt to eliminate or scale back the RET.
3. Greg Hunt stays home
Greg Hunt has announced that rather than go to Warsaw to represent us on climate change he will stay home and
read Wikipedia attend to destroying the dreaded ‘carbon tax’.
Australia will have no government minister at the main United Nations climate negotiations next week, for the first time since the Kyoto accord in 1997.
Diplomat Justin Lee, Australia’s ambassador for climate change, will represent the country at international talks in Poland, which are seen as vital to laying the groundwork for a global agreement to cut carbon emissions.
Not even a parliamentary secretary could be spared.
Labor was sharply critical.
a pivotal moment to advance international climate action and showcase a growing momentum to address climate change at all levels of society.
I suppose if you have nothing to showcase you might as well stay home.
4. Abbott’s war on science begins
Meanwhile a razor has been taken to CSIRO:
Almost a quarter of scientists, researchers and workers at Australia’s premier science institution will lose their jobs under the federal government’s present public service jobs freeze.
With no minister responsible for science I understand this falls in Ian Macfarlane’s industry portfolio, but I could be wrong.
5. Climate change risk at BHP Billiton
A character called Ian Dunlop aspired to become a director on the board of BHP Billiton because he believes they are not doing enough to adapt to the risks to the company from climate change.
Dunlop was proposing climate friendly measures at BHP Billiton by reducing emissions and finding improved ways to operate various assets in a hotter environment. Not content with that he suggested that we have to leave fossil fuels in the ground. Unsurprisingly BHP Billiton feel they can get along just fine without Dunlop’s particular expertise.
Surprisingly, though, Dunlop is a former Australian Coal Association chairman and, separately, chief executive of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Unsurprisingly I heard on the radio that only 4% of shareholders voted for him.
6. Obama’s direct action moves on climate adaptation
By executive order President Barack Obama has pulled together an impressive task force to look at plans for climate change adaptation. That report is from Fox News, so contains a mandatory component of ‘balance’ on the science. This initiative builds on Obama’s “Climate Action Plan last June, which include the first-ever limits on climate pollution from new and existing power plants.”
This report contains the following fascinating information:
A new poll, however, indicates that Republicans are divided on the topic.
The Pew Research Center reports that “just 25% of Tea Party Republicans say there is solid evidence of global warming, compared with 61% of non-Tea Party Republicans.
Overall, Pew reported, “two-thirds of Americans (67%) say there is solid evidence that the earth has been getting warmer over the last few decades, a figure that has changed little in the past few years. While partisan differences over climate change remain substantial, Republicans face greater internal divisions over this issue than do Democrats.”
7. Climate change countdown
Doug Evans at Independent Australia has produced a very fine two-part series Climate change countdown. In Part 1 The last roll of the dice he “examined some of the most recent predictions of our climate crisis, what action they required if a safe climate is to be retained and what progress is being made down that path.” In it inter alia he makes use of material (linked) which we looked at here.
One small glitch, Doug, the Copenhagen UNFCCC fiasco was in 2009, not in 2011, but overall, well done!
In Part Two, Time to stand up and be counted he
looks at options for Australia now that an Abbott-led Coalition has been elected. Where does Australia stand in relation to the huge changes that provide our only path to a safe climate?
Also well done!
Evans correctly, I think, identifies Labor’s shallow commitment to climate change. In the context of the leadership contest:
scratch even a little below the surface and it is clear that neither of the leadership contenders is prepared to address the yawning contradiction between Labor’s helpful, mid-green climate change policies and its environmentally destructive deep brown energy policies.
Eventually we are going to need real political vision and leadership at all levels. What kind of community action will put some starch into our politics is an important question for debate.
8. Green buildings Thailand style
Finally here is a photo of apartment buildings in Thailand from the Around the World Facebook site: