Category Archives: Climate Change & Sustainability

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

Finkel flunks climate targets

Turnbull and Frydenberg kept telling us that the review of the national Electricity Market had to serve three ends. We need energy security to keep the lights on, we need cheaper prices, and we need to reduce emissions. In view of the science outlook on climate change, reducing emissions is a sine qua non, literally ‘without which nothing’ – in short an indispensable element.

Michael Slezak at The Guardian says that Australia’s policies on climate change have become poisoned by pragmatism. Bill Hare from Climate Analytics took a look and was horrified. The cuts modelled by Finkel stick out like a burning coal stack:

Continue reading Finkel flunks climate targets

Climate litigation goes global

From the New Scientist:

    If you can’t beat them, sue them. Citizens are increasingly taking governments to court over climate change inaction, with financial lenders – and possibly big firms – next in the firing line.

    Some 894 climate change cases have now been filed in 24 countries, according to a report published last week by the United Nations Environment Programme and Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law in New York.

    By some distance, most – 654 – have been in the US. Australia sits in second place, with 80 cases, and the UK third, with 49. The number of countries with climate cases has tripled since 2014.

Continue reading Climate litigation goes global

Science shows the need for urgent climate action

In August last year in Climate clippings 181 (Item 5) I linked to a report by Climate Analytics examining the impacts on Australia of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C and 2°C.

For me the crux of the report is this, from a discussion piece at The Conversation:

    The report predicts that half of the world’s identified tipping points – such as the collapse of polar ice sheets and the drying out of the Amazon rainforest – would be crossed under 2C warming, compared with 20% of them at 1.5℃.

If we go to 2℃, we will have a very different climate and there is a good chance we won’t be able to stabilise there. The bad news is that if we just carry on we’ll reach 1.5C by 2024, and 2C by 2036. Continue reading Science shows the need for urgent climate action

Scientists say go, Finkel says slow, Christensen says no

In this post I meant to show how the science has been showing for years now that we need rapid and concerted decarbonisation for a safe climate, and any hope of keeping global warming to 1.5˚C, in order to frame a consideration of the Finkel review. However, Abbott’s climate denialism is dramatically on full show and now George Christensen has thrown a grenade into the ring by saying he won’t vote in favour of Finkel’s Clean Energy Target. He says that most other Nationals won’t vote for it either. Indeed:

    He said that, rather than legislating a clean energy target, the government would be better off building high-efficiency coal-fired power stations to replace the ageing coal fleet. Christensen contended that approach would reduce carbon pollution.

Indeed Finkel’s review, which was carefully crafted to meet the full range of views in the LNP including climate deniers, looks dead in the water. Continue reading Scientists say go, Finkel says slow, Christensen says no

CO2 is scrambling our brains, but will it kill us all?

Ootz’s recent comment raised the question:

    should we be seriously looking at what the safe levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are for human beings?

That was in the context of an informed comment that we have not seen CO2 levels above 320 ppm for 27 million years, which predates hominid evolution. Studies indicate that 600 ppm globally, which is where we could be by 2050, might just render us extinct.

To jump to the chase, we don’t really know what the full effects of elevated CO2 will be, or indeed what they are now. However, indications are that as CO2 rises, our brains will work less well and we will become more limp and sluggish. A bit like a frog in a pot of water gradually being heated. Continue reading CO2 is scrambling our brains, but will it kill us all?

Adani – a mirage that will dissolve into mist?

The Adani board has given the nod to the $16.5 billion Carmichael projects which would generate 10,000 direct and indirect jobs, with pre-construction works starting in the September quarter of 2017.

Yet there are some cautionary voices:

Continue reading Adani – a mirage that will dissolve into mist?

Looking forward to Finkel

The Finkel review of the National Electricity Market is due to be revealed to the premiers at COAG tomorrow, but is you’ve been reading the Australian Financial Review it’s all done and dusted. There’s really only one horse in the race, and it’s the Low Emissions Target (LET), which Tony Wood of the Grattan Institute says is the third last horse in the race, but picked because it’s better than the other two. That may be harsh, but the visionary scheme was first proposed by John Howard in 2007. Here’s Howard and Costello launching the scheme way back then:

It’s the least-worst, least-best carbon pricing scheme, but has the attraction of giving coal a chance of sticking around for a while. Continue reading Looking forward to Finkel

Are the Chinese doing their share on climate change?

Donald Trump in announcing that the USA will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement made a big fuss about the Chinese being able to increase their emissions, and that this was unfair to the US economy.

So what are the Chinese doing, and is it enough? Continue reading Are the Chinese doing their share on climate change?

Trump shoots himself in the foot on climate

Trump has announced that the US will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and seek to negotiate a ‘better’ agreement. I liked Emmanuel Macron’s reaction – “Lets make the planet great again”. Germany, France and Italy have committed to carry on, China will relish the opportunity to move into the vacuum.

Paul Hawken, who knows more about climate change action than most (post coming up) recently said:

    First of all, let’s be honest: The US has never led in this area. Ever. When they’ve tried on an executive level, they’ve never been supported by Congress. States have led, cities have led, but never the federal government.

Even so, he said people in the US think they lead in “this stuff”. They don’t, it’s Germany, China, France and Denmark. Continue reading Trump shoots himself in the foot on climate

Energy crossroads

Transformer over orange sky
The initial stimulus for this post was an article in the AFR entitled We are at an energy crossroad (paper version) by Tony Wood of the Grattan Institute, based on a new report Powering through: how to restore confidence in the National Electricity Market and a series of articles mainly at RenewEconomy. I’ll summarise them Climate clippings style, so the story should emerge and you can follow the links for elaboration if you choose. Continue reading Energy crossroads

Turnbull stands naked on climate policy

Giles Parkinson says of the 2017 budget that Turnbull lets [his] fig leaf droop and stands naked on climate policy. Matthew Rose says Turnbull’s budget ignores energy crisis and dodges climate. The Conversation article is headed Budget 2017: government goes hard on gas and hydro in bid for energy security, which is I think misleading. It goes for gas and hydro, but not hard.

Before looking at what the budget has to offer, it is appropriate to remind ourselves that at the UN climate talks in Morrocco last year, Australia’s proposed effort was ranked fifth worst in a list representing 90% of the world’s emissions. Moreover, Frydenberg has been backsliding since then, suggesting we may not achieve zero net emissions until 2100. Continue reading Turnbull stands naked on climate policy