Category Archives: Climate Change & Sustainability

Posts on aspects of climate science, climate action and climate policy & planning.

Trouble at the top of the world

Arctic summer sea ice minimum was the sixth lowest on record. So we can all relax, right?

Wrong.

I’ll come back to that. However, Tamino at Open Mind points out that while the Arctic warms three to four times as fast as global warming, the Arctic winters are warming at a much faster rate.

Using the NASA data, which is about mid-range in the major players, Tamino finds that the overall average warming rate since 1985 in the Arctic, at 6.48°C/century is fully 3.4 times as fast as the global rate since 1985 of 1.90°C/century. Continue reading Trouble at the top of the world

IPCC on 1.5°C: the target is wrong, but we have a strong wake-up call

The target should not be 1.5°C; rather we should aim for a safe climate. James Hansen told us in 2007 that to achieve a safe climate we need to bring GHG concentrations down to 350 ppm as soon as possible. That’s CO2 equivalent, not CO2. Current CO2e is not often quoted, but would be around 500 ppm on the basis that CO2 is about 80% of total GHGs. Also we need to focus on what we are doing to the planet over centuries and millennia, not just the next 50 to 100 years.

However, the IPCC team putting the report together were not asked what the goal should be. They were asked to build a scenario for achieving the 1.5°C warming limit specified as desirable in the Paris Agreement of 2015, and to look at the impacts of a 1.5°C world as against a 2°C world. Two Degrees came out of Europe in the 1990s, achieved a general currency, then became the official goal of at the Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC in Cancun in 2010. At that time there was a move mainly by many of the island states vulnerable it inundation for a more ambitious target. Essentially the whole group at Paris agreed to try.

However, while two degrees was commonly seen as a guardrail for a safe climate even by many scientist, it was never a scientifically derived goal for a safe climate.

The IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C is important because it shows that the path to 1.5°C has a high degree of difficulty and has implications which to most will not be acceptable. It’s importance is in changing the discourse, from being seen as an achievable safe guardrail to 1.5°C as difficult to achieve and far from safe. Continue reading IPCC on 1.5°C: the target is wrong, but we have a strong wake-up call

National emissions inventory scam(s)

There were three scams in the Government’s release of the latest quarterly update of the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory for March 2018.

The first, as reported by the ABC, FOI documents obtained by the Australian Conservation Foundation show that the Government sat on the report for seven weeks, then released it on 28 September, just before national football finals in the AFL and NRL, and amidst media preoccupation with the royal commission into banks.

That means the report was available to government from 10 August, fully two weeks before Malcolm Turnbull was turfed out on 24 August. Hence while political decisions were being made about the National Energy Guarantee, important information was being withheld.

Secondly, now the data is out, this is what the government wants us to concentrate on:

Continue reading National emissions inventory scam(s)

Heat begins to bite

Mira Adler-Gillies at the ABC looks at How deadly is 50-degree heat? Australia’s cities face the new reality of climate change:

    Buckled train tracks, grounded planes, melting bitumen and massive blackouts: the dystopian vision of the 50-degree city is closer to reality every day.

    With wildfires raging around the Arctic Circle, unprecedented heatwaves in the Northern Hemisphere and record temperatures being set from Algeria to Canada, the world is getting inexorably hotter.

Continue reading Heat begins to bite

Climate of the Nation 2018

I believe that by the middle of next decade people denying significant human agency in causing climate change will constitute a crank fringe and will basically be ignored.

The Climate of the Nation 2018 report, now produced by The Australia Institute (pdf here), found that more Australians accept the reality of climate change than at almost any time since Climate of the Nation began in 2007.

    Three quarters (76%, up from 71% 2017) of Australians accept that climate change is occurring, 11% do not think that climate change is occurring and 13% are unsure.

    Acceptance of climate change closely follows voting intentions, but interestingly while One Nation (22%) and Nationals (15%) voters are the most likely to say they do not think that climate change is occurring, this declined significantly for both groups since 2017.

    The effects of heat are the driving concern about the impact of climate change, and people were most concerned about more droughts and flooding affecting crop production and food supply (78%), destruction of the Great Barrier Reef (77%) and more bushfires (76%).

Continue reading Climate of the Nation 2018

Climate policy shambles, power prices up

    One energy company executive, who asked not to be named, said the industry was beside itself.

    “One of the most concerning developments in politics is that the quality of an argument no longer matters,” he said.

He went on to say that they all knew we needed to head for zero emissions. They just wanted to know what the rules would be on the way.

That was from the AFR article Labor backs the NEG as political mess sends power prices up. The print edition carried it as a front page headline story:

Political power price hit

Continue reading Climate policy shambles, power prices up

Coal power fading fast

Some time in the last few days I heard a person who should know better say that 1800 coal-fired power plants were being built around the world. One wonders where this (dis)information comes from. It went unchallenged by the ABC interviewer, showing once again that ABC journalists and presenters need an update on climate change – in the national interest.

As Adam Morton at The Guardian writes The world is going slow on coal, but misinformation is distorting the facts. Back in June, John “Wacka” Williams asked the Parliamentary Library how many coal plants there were, how many were being built, how many closed etc and could he have the information by 4pm?

The Library included the information that 621 units were being built, the point here being that power plants typically have multiple units. Hazelwood had eight.

Unfortunately, this information was wrong. Continue reading Coal power fading fast

Reconnecting climate change politics with reality

The Liberal party has changed leader, in part because of climate change, and are now proceeding with pretty much the final policy landed upon by Malcolm Turnbull, with a couple of significant twists. We now have a very explicit instruction that energy prices along with keeping the lights on are the main game, while emissions reductions can be safely put off to the never-never.

The Coalition government under Scott Morrison is now almost completely isolated on energy and climate change. Compared to adult countries we look completely foolish, The question remains whether the main actors, the states and the corporates investing in the system, can move forward regardless. Continue reading Reconnecting climate change politics with reality

Liberal Party shootout brings changing of the guard

Or does it?

The Betoota Advocate says:

    In breaking news out of the nation’s capital, a rich white dude from Sydney has replaced another rich white dude from Sydney as the Prime Minister.

And:

    in even more sensational news, a rich white woman has been replaced by a rich white man for the Deputy Prime Ministership, with Josh Frydenberg taking over from Julie Bishop.

Scott Morrison, the new rich dude, is selling himself as a generational change and it’s all about you, the voter. A 64 year-old and a 62 year-old have been replaced by a 50 year-old and a 47 year-old.

Certainly we dodged a bullet in what may have been Malcolm Turnbull’s finest hour in thwarting Peter Dutton’s rebellion. So where does that leave us, especially in relation to climate change? Continue reading Liberal Party shootout brings changing of the guard

CEOs recoil in horror at leadership spill

The headline in the AFR was Leadership spill: ‘Someone threw a grenade in the swamp’ – CEOs recoil, raising the spectre of capital flight.

APA Group chief executive Mick McCormack, whose company owns gas pipelines and is building wind and solar farms in Queensland and WA, said it was disappointing after the government secured “broad agreement” on the National Energy Guarantee to see “politics blow it up, destroy it, crush it”.

In fact:

    Ed McManus, chief executive of wind farm operator Kiwi-owned Meridian Energy Australia and its retail arm Powershop, raised the spectre of international capital flight in response to the chaos in Canberra.

Continue reading CEOs recoil in horror at leadership spill

The die is cast – Turnbull chooses political power over the future of the planet and humanity

Here are the last four feature articles from Giles Parkinson at RenewEconomy (as of last weekend):

It’s quite likely that politicians don’t read RenewEconomy. Here’s Ben Potter in the last Weekend AFR:

Continue reading The die is cast – Turnbull chooses political power over the future of the planet and humanity