Category Archives: Climate Policy & Planning

Mad March – looking forward to Easter

The first three months of the year are always difficult for me. It’s hot and humid, and there is a lot of physical work to do. I tend to have annual medical check ups, and our tax return for last year needs to be done by the end of March.

Last year I was in better shape because the blog was broken over the festive season, which allowed me to get a head start. This year the time to get it all sorted is now, so that is what I’m going to have to do.

I intend to keep blogging, mainly short ones and perhaps Climate clippings and Weekly salons, until things get sorted. Continue reading Mad March – looking forward to Easter

Temperature pushes Great Barrier Reef to tipping point

In this post we find that the 2020 global average surface temperature was 1.25°C hotter than pre-industrial, equal first with 2016, according to The European Copernicus Climate Change Service. This is important for the Great Barrier Reef, because in a little known report in 2013 scientists found that 1.2°C is the warmest compatible with the Reef remaining a coral-dominated system. Focus recently has been on the emergence of annual severe bleaching (ASB) when the affected reefs are effectively dead. Climate change action of the type we are engaged in will only delay the emergence of ASB on average from about 2034 to 2045. Continue reading Temperature pushes Great Barrier Reef to tipping point

Reflections on climate policy

Updated 10 December, 2020

I’m looking for a paradigm shift in the climate change goal from (a) ‘limitation of warming to 1.5°C’, thus escaping the worst of an already dangerous climate, to (b) ‘restoration of a safe climate’.

A safe climate may be described as ecological sustainability within planetary boundaries to include preservation, restoration and enhancement along with responsible economic, social and personal growth and development.

A mouthful perhaps, but the difference between hope and despair.

Looking at existing aspirations (zero net emissions for a 50% chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C) how can we say we will preserve the Great Barrier Reef when scientists tell us that 1.5°C will destroy up to 90% of it?

How can we stop our Pacific neighbours from being swamped by the ocean when we are told that current levels of total greenhouse gases (including methane and all of the ‘Kyoto six’) have an implied warming of 1.75–1.95°C (p13) and longer term equilibrium warming of~2.4°C?

That is with total greenhouse gases at ~490 ppm CO2 equivalent. Right now they are at 508 ppm. Continue reading Reflections on climate policy

Our beds are burning

Ask yourself a simple question. Can you give hope to future generations that the Great Barrier Reef will be protected if your policy is to limit warming to 1.5°C when the GBR is already disappearing before our eyes?

With about 1.1°C of warming we are told that Unprecedented fires in California and Australia signal the dawn of the ‘fire age’. Richard Flanagan talks of a Tasmanian rainforest burnt in 2018, now desolate shale with no sign of regrowth.

As I write, pristine Fraser Island is burning on a front about 46 km long, with reports that water from water bombers is evaporating before it hits the ground.

We have now reached a point where the cost of insurance alone in flood and bushfire-prone communities makes it impossible to live there.

Dangerous climate change is already here.

How can we set a target of 1.5°C temperature (actually a 50% chance of limiting the increase to that level) when we know that during the Eemian interglacial sea levels rose 6-9 metres with 300ppm of CO2, and we have already broken through the 410 ppm? Continue reading Our beds are burning

Should Biden’s election cause Australia to pivot on climate change?


Our Prime Minister Scott Morrison refuses to commit to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and Joe Biden’s election as US president will not change Australian climate policy.

Joe Biden calls climate change the ‘number one issue facing humanity’:

    “Climate change is the existential threat to humanity,” the former vice president said. “Unchecked, it is going to actually bake this planet. This is not hyperbole. It’s real. And we have a moral obligation.”

Continue reading Should Biden’s election cause Australia to pivot on climate change?

Rudd shunted 10 years ago: reflections and reappraisals

It was 24 June 2010. I was the dentist chair watching Kevin Rudd giving his tearful exit speech, played on the TV in the ceiling. Rudd recounted the achievements of his term. Quite a long list, it was.

Peter Brent tries to make sense of what happened after that in Regrets? We’ve had a few.

To leave aside for a moment whether shunting Rudd was a good idea, and how all that worked out, Brent thinks the reason for our quick turnover of PMs is the Senate and our propensity to elect third party senators.

Currently the Coalition needs three out of five from One Nation’s two, Centre Alliance’s two and Jacqui Lambie’s one.

A lot of the time One Nation lines up, after some histrionics, with the Coalition. Which then leaves it up to Jacqui Lambie. I find that just a bit terrifying. Continue reading Rudd shunted 10 years ago: reflections and reappraisals

Good news ignored by Queensland media

In a one newspaper town, the Courier Mail will never miss an opportunity to slam the Palaszczuk Labor government, even if they have to distort or mislead, while generally neglecting good news.

So we’ve had another front page headline:

Screenshot of Courier Mail Wednesday, 2 October 2019
Continue reading Good news ignored by Queensland media

Climate emergency – the next (political) step

Greta Thunberg, the girl who can’t quit, was asked to talk to the billionaire entrepreneurs in Davos:

    “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act,” she told them.

She also said:

    The emissions are increasing and that is the only thing that matters.

Continue reading Climate emergency – the next (political) step

Labor needs to rethink the climate emergency

I pinched that cartoon from the Townsville Bulletin from Facebook, where it was doing the rounds. I think it’s tragic rather than funny, but may go some way to explain why Labor, in Queensland and federally, is over-reacting to the ‘message’ that was sent on Adani, and the prospect of jobs flowing from the resources industry as against climate change and saving the planet. Both Queensland and federal Labor appear to be caving in to coal interests, and both appear to be clueless about the urgency of the climate emergency. Continue reading Labor needs to rethink the climate emergency

Weekly salon 4/5

1. Thailand is ‘least miserable’ country in the world again

Thailand is happy about being the least miserable country in the world in the in the Bloomberg Misery Index, which is an economic indicator devised by Arthur Okun, and is derived by simply adding the forecasts of unemployment and inflation for the following year.

However, Thailand’s performance in the index is due to the Thai government’s unique way of tallying unemployment. More noteworthy are the performances of Switzerland, Japan and Singapore. For what it’s worth, here are the 10 least miserable: Continue reading Weekly salon 4/5

Election 2019: follies 1

The Grattan Institute found that providing tax cuts in the never-never while reducing government expenditure from 24.9% of GDP in 2018-19 to 23.6% during the next decade will necessitate cutting existing programs by more than A$40 billion a year in 2029-30. That should have been the story of the week, but somehow it wasn’t.

That’s Scott Morrison saying the claim is “absolute complete rubbish”. I’ll come back to that. Worse was to come. By the end of the week Bill Shorten was accusing the Liberal Party of running a “low-rent, American-style fake news” campaign on a “ridiculous death tax scare”. Continue reading Election 2019: follies 1

Labor’s climate action plan 2019 – a “dog’s breakfast?”

While Labor’s 2019 Climate Acton Plan has been completely rewritten compared to the plan they took to the 2016 election the target of 45% emissions reductions (from 2005) by 2030 remains the same. I can’t recall whether they espoused zero emissions by 2050, as they do now, I think it may have been 90%. Their overall strategy is, I think, based on six considerations.

Firstly, Labor acknowledges the cost of doing nothing:

    Failure to act on climate change will expose the Australian people and environment to devastating costs for our economy, society, security, health and environment. Experts at the ANU, University of Melbourne and CSIRO estimate failing to keep global warming to below two degrees will eventually cost the average Australian household $14,000 per year.

Secondly, they say:

    Labor accepts the science of climate change and endorses the Paris Agreement to keep global warming well below two degrees Celsius as well as a more qualified commitment around a 1.5 degree threshold.

Continue reading Labor’s climate action plan 2019 – a “dog’s breakfast?”