Abbott is making Australia a joke on climate change

Australia is increasingly drawing fire from other countries about its lack of ambition in climate change action, according to The Guardian and RenewEconomy. The Age has editorialised on the matter.

The context is this.

At its December meeting of ministers in Paris the UNFCCC will strike a post-Kyoto international deal on climate mitigation post 2020. Countries were asked to put forward their draft plans by the end of March. Abbott deliberately ignored the deadline, putting forward a discussion paper (see Emissions reduction the Abbott way) with a submissions deadline of 24 April. Australia will submit its proposals in May. In this way Abbott has the chance to look at everyone else’s homework before he writes his own.

Meanwhile he has been making very clear that ours is a fossil fuel future and downgrading the urgency for action on climate change. Recent actions have included finding $4 million to set climate contrarian Bjorn Lomborg up at a new centre the University of WA (see Climate clippings 135, Item 3) at a time when funds for genuine research have been cut.

Now Australia has snubbed a meeting of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate in Washington DC, starting last Sunday, by not sending a minister or even its chief climate negotiator. We sent Dr Gordon de Brouwer, Secretary of the Department of the Environment.

Other countries are not impressed with Australia’s low level of ambition in the Direct Action plan. We have attracted more queries than any other countries. Documents from the UN show a distinct lack of confidence in Australia’s ability to meet its 2020 emissions reduction targets, let alone any future target. Indeed 36 questions on this subject and the Abbott government’s broader climate policies have come from countries including Brazil, the US, China, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia and from the European Union.

The Chinese say we are not doing our fair share. Brazil, the US, the EU and the others are all unhappy.

The Age reminded us of Abbott’s statement in 2009 that he thought the science of human-caused climate change was “absolute crap”, his many denialist comments in his autobiography Battlelines and proceeded to highlight his sorry record in government.

By its failure to enact coherent policies in this vital area, [the Abbott government] has made itself an international pariah…

At home its failure to act has cost jobs and money. There appears to be no practical reason for these failures, beyond clinging to questionable ideology. Regardless of the personal beliefs held by the Prime Minister and his advisers, as a leading exporter – and consumer – of fossil fuels, Australia needs to take an active role in the global conversation about climate change. It needs to look beyond narrow dogma and act in concert with the international community.

As often Christine Milne has found some pithy words:

The Greens leader, Christine Milne, said it was no surprise the rest of the world was “appalled” by the Australian government’s stance on climate change action.

“Australia may stand alone and humiliated, but even worse is that Tony Abbott’s global warming policy protects the profits of the big polluters now at the expense of a safe climate for our children and grandchildren,” she said.

“It is intergenerational theft on an obscene scale.”

To be fair US special climate envoy Todd Stern interviewed by the ABC said Australia continues to play a “fair and constructive” role on the international scene. What the transcript doesn’t convey is how long he ummed and ahhed before he came out with those words. It was extraordinary.

Industry minister Ian Macfarlane, in Washington on other business, came out with the usual blah.

Meanwhile the Climate Change Commission, unbowed by its paymaster, has recommended cuts to emissions of 30 per cent by 2025.

The CCA warned if the Government sat on the sidelines based on Australia’s global share of emissions being small, it would be “more self-serving than credible”.

“To maintain that posture in the light of increasing international actions to reduce emissions – by developed and developing, big and small countries – makes it even less credible,” CCA Chair Bernie Fraser said.

“The fact is that Australia stands to be massively affected by global warming whatever its share of global emissions.”

Onya Bernie!

6 thoughts on “Abbott is making Australia a joke on climate change”

  1. Tony seems to be an embarrassment every time he flaps his gums. He is now trying to establish himself as the expert on handling refugee boats.
    In the meantime, South Africa is surging ahead on renewables

    South Africa has revealed plans to more than double its renewable energy program, after the energy department said this week it hoped to tender for another 6.3GW of projects.

    In a notice released on Thursday, the DOE said that the new round of auctions – South Africa’s fifth in just over five years – was aimed at maintaining the momentum of the country’s highly successful Renewable Energy IPP Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).

    On Wednesday, the government confirmed that 1.12GW of new contracts had been awarded in the country’s fourth round of large-scale auctions, with preferred bidder status awarded to 13 independent power producers.

    The 79 projects – of which 676MW are wind, 415MW solar – are due to reach financial close in the fourth quarter of this year, with the first reaching commissioning stage in November 2016.

    The latest awards mean 5.24GW of capacity has so far been contracted across the four tender rounds, the energy department said. South African energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said this would bring in R168-billion worth of investment to the sector.

    As reported here on Monday, South Africa rated a special mention in the latest Bloomberg New Energy Finance report on global renewables investment, for bucking a worldwide slowdown in the first quarter of 2015.

    While other big markets including China, Europe and Brazil slumped in Q1, renewables investment in South Africa surged to $3.1 billion from almost nothing in 2014, providing the quarter’s strongest growth.

    “Since 2012, South Africa has emerged as one of the most important centres for clean energy investment, as it seeks to expand power capacity and take advantage of its sunshine and wind resources,” said BNEF analyst Luke Mills.

    Australians wouldn’t want to be seen following the example of South Africa (or Brazil) would they? So we should just shut up and enjoy the emissions from our ageing, sub-critical coal fired power industry. (And ignore how our embarrassing ACT government which is successfully driving investment in utility scale renewables with its own renewable auction scheme.

  2. They say it is an ill wind that does no good.

    I myself do not think that the current storm systems around Sydney and Newcastle can be 110% directly attributable to anthropogenic climate change …. but try telling that to former fence-sitters in the climate-change debate who have just been on the receiving end of all that bad weather.

    Tony Abbot and his curious gaggle of climate change deniers had better find themselves urgent business to attend to in Andorra, Phoenix AZ, Tobago, Kyzyl or anywhere else that is far away and requires at least one change of planes to get there. At least until the lynch-mobs disperse

  3. I think GB that it is very obvious that the recent storms are a continuation of a new pattern that is solidly connected to Global Warming

    This is the second time in very recent years that I have noticed a cyclone like system form off the Southern East Coast feeding off the warm and intensified sea current flow. It troubled me for a long time that there could be rain storms when it was colder, as I learnt that warm air rises to create clouds and storms. But since learning that humid air is lighter than dry air (heavier) the whole picture makes more sense. Warm water creates a layer of lighter humid air above it, at some point that air finds an opportunity to chimney through the overlaying air and a flow starts. If the overlaying air is cold and dense then the pressure on the humid air is greater and air flow of the chimney is greater and a storm can form as the rising air expands, cools, forms ice crystals, and subsequently rain, hail and or snow. This table gives some idea of pressure change at altitude.

  4. BilB, I take the view that the climate has changed due to human agency, the only question is how and by how much.

    It may be of interest that we had a downpour in May a few years ago. Rainfall of more than 100 mm in 24 hours is reasonably rare in Brisbane, probably less than once a year. On this occasion we had around 460 mm in 27 hours, over 18 inches in the old money, Again it was a deep low just offshore.

  5. Jumpy, BilB was commenting on cyclonic-type weather at colder times of the year. I was adding an autumn instance from Brisbane. No idea what it means. However, BilB’s first link is quite specific:

    The East Australian Current (EAC) is a complex and highly energetic western boundary system in the south western Pacific off eastern Australia. The EAC provides both the western boundary of the South Pacific Gyre and the linking element between the Pacific and Indian Ocean gyres.

    The EAC is weaker than other western boundary currents and is dominated by a series of mesoscale eddies that produce highly variable patterns of current strength and direction. Seasonal, interannual and strong decadal changes are observed in the current, which tend to mask the underlying long-term trends related to greenhouse gas forcing.

    And so on. Sydney I think is also on the boundary between the southern winter rainfall pattern and the northern summer pattern, so strange things might happen there.

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