Climate clippings 208

1. Coal India closes 37 coal mines

Coal India, the largest coal mining company in the world, has announced it will close 37 mines because they are no longer economically viable. That’s around 9 per cent of the state-run firm’s mines.

Also:

    The government has announced it will not build any more coal plants after 2022 and predicts renewables will generate 57 per cent of its power by 2027 – a pledge far outstripping its commitment in the Paris climate change agreement.

And:

    Plans for nearly 14 gigawatts of coal-fired power stations – about the same as the total amount in the UK – were scrapped in May, signalling a seismic shift in the India’s energy market.

2. Germany’s renewables mainly replace nuclear

Fossil-lovers in parliament responding to the Finkel Review have been saying that India is building coal-fired power stations like crazy, and even Germany is building new coal-fired power stations. That turns out to be true, but no new coal-fired power stations have been approved since 2009. They take a while to build.

Carbon Brief took a look at Germany’s Energiewende last September.

Here’s how the electricity generation has been changing:

They are looking for 40-45% of electricity to come from renewables by 2025, which would mean slower growth in green energy than in recent years.

While renewables are replacing nuclear in the first instance, after the irrational decision to close all nukes by 2022 after Fukushima, some coal has been closed and eight lignite plants are to be mothballed by 2020, plus seven coal plants totalling 1GW and six gas stations of another 0.9GW are planning to close before 2020.

Electricity consumption is not increasing and a big problem is that renewables, commodity prices and overcapacity are pushing the cost of wholesale electricity down by two-thirds in five years.

3. Australia shamelessly backs fossil fuels at Bonn climate talks

In a workshop at the UN climate negotiations in Bonn on how non-party actors can boost climate action, Australia shamelessly supported business and fossil fuel interests in the discussion on the development of conflict of interest policy for UN climate negotiations:

    Corporate Accountability International spokesperson International Policy Director Tamar Lawrence-Samuel had this to say in the press briefing:

    “One of the most notable interventions came from Australia, who laid across the tracks, so to speak, to defend Exxon-Mobil by insisting that the very solutions to climate change would come from the very industries driving the climate crisis, making them the key to the solutions for climate change…

Australia is becoming more than a joke on climate change. We are now seen as actively obstructive.

4. Santos business plan assumes 4°C warming

Nothing more to say, really. I’m sure the CEO of Santos would line up to give the UN a hand in dealing with climate change.

5. Meanwhile…

  • Three quarters of Australians see climate change as a catastrophic risk
  • Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions could return to 2005 levels by 2030 without new government action, contrary to the scenario modelled by the Finkel review, according to a new report by respected analyst Hugh Saddler.
  • The Adani mine could cause half a million premature deaths and 100 million asthma attacks in India
  • A group of prominent oceanographers and global leaders has written to Malcolm Turnbull urging him to reject the proposed Adani Carmichael coalmine, which it says will have a devastating impact on the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Top global banks still lend billions to extract fossil fuels.
  • 6. Experts: The Great Barrier Reef cannot be saved

      It’s official. The Great Barrier Reef cannot be saved.

      The prognosis comes from the Australian government’s Reef 2050 advisory committee, made up of experts and scientists responsible for managing the reef’s future.

    Sorry about that, I truly am.

    UNESCO have found that keeping temperatures to a 1.5°C increase is essential to saving the Reef.

      The Unesco report found that local efforts to increase reefs’ resilience “remain necessary but are no longer sufficient” without complementary national and international efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels…

    A new Deloitte Access Economics report that calculates the Reef is worth $56 billion, or $6.4 billion to the Australian economy every year.

    The Reef is linked to 64,000 jobs nationally. For perspective National Australia Bank creates 34,000 direct jobs, Telstra 33,000 and Qantas 26,000.

      Great Barrier Reef Foundation director Steve Sargent said no other Australian asset contributed as much value to “Brand Australia”.

    Numbers can’t do justice to the value of the Great Barrier Reef. If experts say it can’t be saved, what should our attitude be?

    The experts say the real answer to stop coral bleaching lies in reducing our CO2 emissions to stay within the 1.5°C barrier.

    I’m sorry, but it is clear that is not enough. The climate is already dangerous. World-wide coral bleaching is not the only climate change hot spot. James Hansen was right in 2007 when he said that we needed CO2 levels down to 350 ppm.

    25 thoughts on “Climate clippings 208”

    1. Brian: The interesting question is “How did peak summer temperature vary as you go south along the reef? Last summer and historically?” Or put to put it another way: What chance is there that particular corals will survive by moving south?”

    2. John, I think warming is happening about 20 or more times faster than corals have experienced before. So not a big chance, I think.

      No doubt some coral species which are currently very deep may recolonise the devastated areas, but then increased acidity is also going to be a problem.

    3. I agree, I expect that it is all bad news for existing reefs. Sea level rise is their best hope for protection from both temperature and acidity, if it happens fast enough.

    4. It really depends what your definition is of Great Barrier Reef is before declaring it’s death. As it is the leading article it self says in the extended title “Two-thirds of the reef is at risk of dying. It’s time to focus on maintaining rather than improving it, scientists say.”

      There is no question in my mind that the reefs I have been fortunate enough to extensively explore off Cairns and in the Whitsundays have changed dramatically over the last 30 years. So say all of my acquaintances who either work in related tourism industry or are researchers in the field. There is also consensus that under BAU coral reefs will be pretty much cease to be globally wide spread ecosystems with complex communities. However, it is important to understand the complexity of the situation, what we do know about it and what not not, to make sense of where we are at with coral reefs.

      Nature has recently published asuch an overview which is unfortunately pay walled, though the Guardian in Survival of coral reefs requires radical rethink of what conservation means, say scientists has a reasonable write up on it.

      “In the coming centuries, reefs will run the gauntlet of climate change, and rising temperatures will transform them into new configurations, unlike anything observed previously by humans,” the paper says.

      But the overall message was one of hope, said lead author of the paper Terry Hughes from James Cook University in Australia.

      “There’s no shortage of people saying reefs will be dead by 2030 or whatever,” Hughes said. “They are going to be different systems with a different mix of species but if we throw the kitchen sink at it and especially deal with climate change then we will have functioning reefs that will sustain and repair themselves and be of some use to people,” he said.

      The group of scientists, which includes both biologists and social scientists, argue the approach to reef conservation must change in several ways.

      However the article poignantly points out, not all coral reef biologists are supportive of efforts to manipulate reef ecosystems.

      Justin Marshall from the University of Queensland said the new paper made many good points, but that he did not think attempts to pick and choose parts of reefs to save would be successful. “We’re consistently crap at playing God – or playing Darwin,” Marshall said, adding that ecosystems were too complex to predict the outcomes of particular interventions.

      In essence, it highlights again the unpredictability of complex natural system and our lack of knowledge to predict and deal with human impacts on the scale and speed we are unleashing upon them. This unpredictability is by no means an endorsement to continue with BAU. More so, it underlines the tragic loss in ecological and economic terms as significant degradation of our heritage we are passing on to future generations and should stimulate to do better than that in terms of understanding this heritage and how we ‘manage’ it. I tend to agree with Andrew Revkin of Dot Earth fame, never give up hope while we don’t really understand the whole picture and we are able to do something! in Reefs in the Anthropocene – Zombie Ecology?

      The world’s coral reefs have indeed changed, are under enormous pressure, and their future is threatened.

      But are they really “on a trajectory to collapse within a human generation”? No.

      Is there really “no hope of saving the global coral reef ecosystem”? No, there is hope.

      And is the “scientific evidence for this is compelling and unequivocal”? No, not remotely.

      I think these are valid opinions, but they are not science, nor are they supported by science. What does the science say? It is a complicated picture and there isn’t any way to scientifically test the idea that “reefs are doomed.” Like everything else in conservation (and life) it depends. It depends on when greenhouse gas emissions are reduced and eventually halted. It depends on how big the human populations gets. It depends on when we start managing coral reef fisheries with a modicum of intelligence.

    5. Ootz, thanks for that. i’ve been trying to keep up with electricity, Finkel and such, which is not my natural patch.

      I don’t want to be a wet blanket, but scientists often express hope and optimism in public, because we should not give up and should keep trying with all means at our disposal.

      It’s about five years old now, but Jo Chandler in Feeling the heat talked to a number of scientists, who in private were much gloomier than their public stance.

      BTW, when I clicked on the link in the Guardian article, the Nature paper opened for me. Try this. Anyway, here’s the abstract:

      Coral reefs support immense biodiversity and provide important ecosystem services to many millions of people. Yet reefs are degrading rapidly in response to numerous anthropogenic drivers. In the coming centuries, reefs will run the gauntlet of climate change, and rising temperatures will transform them into new configurations, unlike anything observed previously by humans. Returning reefs to past configurations is no longer an option. Instead, the global challenge is to steer reefs through the Anthropocene era in a way that maintains their biological functions. Successful navigation of this transition will require radical changes in the science, management and governance of coral reefs.

      I have to go to the dentist in a minute, so I’ll try to read it later. However, it seems they are trying to optimise what happens.

      Risk management tells us we should also decarbonise ASAP if the best outcomes.

    6. Thanks Brian. Please never see my comments as a critique of you. The spread and depth of your knowledge as well as your integrity is an inspiration. That is why am here on CC and hope that my sporadic offerings contribute to the quality of general discussion on here.

      Your “… trying to optimise what happens.” is a good summary and much more pragmatic than just ‘hope’ for the best. Also risk management is an essential tool in trying to deal with such complex issues.

      Of course as human beings we and all scientists have an emotional side, which evolution has gifted us with for some good reasons and emotions have their place. But one has to be constantly vigilant that emotions such as “gloom” do not handicap us in inopportune moments or indeed send the wrong message in a social context. Personally I try to do this by giving the scientific analyst and pragmatic philosopher personality within me ample opportunity to assess emotional responses. Not always successfully so, but then one cannot inprove without such learning opportunities.

      One cannot be perfect as an individual in terms of our human footprint. So I am very much aware of my impact when visiting or living close to such natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef and many others I was fortunate to experience. For example, Africa now has probably between two and five percent of the elephant population left to when I was living there and spent a lot of time in the bush. In my livetime human population has more than doubled and natural ecosystems more than halved. How does one live with the knowledge and understanding of such devastating events such as the demise of the barrier reef as we know it, an event arguably on the scale of the holocaust?

      As an agnostic I have never been completely dismissive of religions. They can offer incredible rich and diverse understanding of the world once we remove blind dogma. Thus they also can offer choices in how to cope with profound events in our lives. It was no accident that Robert Oppenheimer quoted the well known line in the Bhagavad-Gita when he observed the first atomic explosion, of which he was in charge of. The deeper meaning of such often comes to my mind when coming to terms with devastating impact of us humans and my part in it.

    7. Thanks Brian. Please never see my comments as a critique of you.

      Not a problem, Ootz. All I’m saying is I’m pushed and have my limitations, so I need all the help I can get. And I’m grateful.

      On a broad scale, what we are doing is orders of magnitude beyond the holocaust, and likely in the league of the major extinction events.

      Personally I don’t get emotional about these things, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care. I’m not saying others shouldn’t.

      I might expand on than another time.

    8. To put above into context, us homo sapiens would not be the first organism to profoundly change this planet down to it’s basic chemistry including fundamentally rearrange biological systems. Though I wonder if the humble cyanobacteria, some 2.45 billion years ago, was conscious of its contribution to the Great Oxidation Event or GOE. Maybe we should rename our species to homo imprudentis.

      In any event, being involved and consciously participating in a cataclysmic event on this planet is kind of excitingly mind boggling. Just as it is to watch and experience complex systems be they in the ocean, on this planet, in deep space or quantum time.

    9. JD, at the same time there is some research I saw, which would indicate that more corals survive during a bleaching event if they are shaded despite the excessive warm water, with their neighbours in the sun being bleached.

    10. This morning I listened to (with some interruptions) Sarah Kanowski talking with Anna Krien in Coal vs coral: plunging into Australia’s climate wars. It’s about Krien’s Quarterly Essay, The Long Goodbye: Coal, Coral and Australia’s Climate Deadlock. I think she said that in the period when she was investigating Queensland received less direct income from mining than is raised in vehicle registrations. After years of investing in the necessary infrastructure.

      They essay sound fantastic. I bought it in town this arvo.

    11. I forgot to mention, that Kevin Byrne is another one of those green armband bashing warriors, who cut his teeth as a big man in New Guinea and got rich in resources. How could he really not help himself but abuse a few greenies for the cause 😉

    12. ..who cut his teeth as a big man in New Guinea and got rich in resources.

      Reminds me of Ross Garnaut.

    13. That is very clever jumpy, but what are you trying to say? A person with such cleverness would have heard of the distribution curve and exceptions to the rule, oui? Further, professionally Garnaut is a distinguished professor in economics, while Byrnes made to a major in the army (iirc) and in local government, different battles.

    14. Thanks for the reminder though Jumpy, here is the man himself

      Whenever a scientist or an economist opened his or her mouth, they’d be bombarded by “tens of thousands” of emails. Other stakeholders, including MPs and Garnaut himself, were copied in.

      “Some were abusive, some were life-threatening, of a crudity that’s hard to imagine,” he says. “I know lots of people involved in that debate who decided personally it wasn’t worthwhile.

      ”So the threats were successful: they knocked some people out of the public policy debate.”

      Security precautions were required for his office and staff although Garnaut won’t go into details. The deterioration in Australian political culture threatens to take a heavy toll.

      “The media politics and the corporate politics that emerged around the climate change debate, like nuclear weapons, having been invented, will now be with us forever,” Garnaut says. ”This will hamper Australia as economic challenges inevitably come our way.

      “There’ll be tough times ahead,” Garnaut says.

      .

      I believe Kevin Byrne does not require a security detail and his minders removed the economic nonsense he sprouted on the website of the peak regional economic development organisation for Tropical North Queensland.

    15. Q. ( Ootz) “That is very clever jumpy, but what are you trying to say?”

      A, ( Me ) ” Reminds me of Ross Garnaut.”

      The answer is already written.
      And please try to be consistent in your Not wanting to ” waste time and energy ” dealing with my “redneck home cooked zombie opinions”.
      Makes you look dishonest to the group.

    16. Jumpy, the connection with Ross Garnaut is ostensibly PNG and mining, but is clearly trivial.

      So why was it worth mentioning, unless to link Garnaut with bad company.

      Anyway go to his site, and have a look at his curriculum vitae.

      It makes me feel tired.

    17. Jumpy, the connection with Ross Garnaut is ostensibly PNG and mining, but is clearly trivial.

      Yes, as was Ootzs about Byrne.
      But his trivial point was fine.

    18. Ootz’s comment regarding Byrne was trivial?
      Jumpy has obviously been reading a different thread to the rest of us.

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