Category Archives: Climate Policy & Planning

Climate clippings 16

These posts include a brief mention of a number of news items relating to climate change. They don’t preclude treating any of these topics at more length in a separate post.

They can also serve as an open thread so that we can keep each other informed on important climate news.

Brits view climate change as a current or imminent threat

Fully 83% of them do, as reported at Climate Progress.

The public’s belief in global warming as a man-made danger has weathered the storm of climate controversies and cold weather intact, according to a Guardian/ICM opinion poll published today.

Asked if climate change was a current or imminent threat, 83% of Britons agreed, with just 14% saying global warming poses no threat. Compared with August 2009, when the same question was asked, opinion remained steady despite a series of events in the intervening 18 months that might have made people less certain about the perils of climate change.

So the so-called ‘climategate’ kerfuffle had no noticeable impact on public opinion. Continue reading Climate clippings 16

We have a Climate Commission

Greg Combet has announced the establishment of a Climate Commission to be headed by Tim Flannery.

Mr Combet said the Climate Commission would provide expert advice and information on climate change to the Australian community.

“The Climate Commission has been established by the Gillard Government to provide an authoritative, independent source of information for all Australians,” he said. “It will provide expert advice on climate change science and impacts, and international action. It will help build the consensus required to move to a clean energy future.”

The Climate Commission would have a public outreach role, he said, to help build greater understanding and consensus about reducing Australia’s carbon pollution.

“The Commissioners are eminent Australians who are leaders in their fields and I’m pleased one of Australia’s leading science communicators, Professor Tim Flannery, a former Australian of the Year, has accepted the role of Chief Commissioner,” Mr Combet said.

“The Climate Commission will fulfil a key information and education role, enabling the Australian community to have a more informed conversation about climate change. I am delighted to lead this new Commission,” said Professor Tim Flannery.

Continue reading We have a Climate Commission

Climate clippings 14

These posts include a brief mention of a number of news items relating to climate change. They don’t preclude treating any of these topics at more length in a separate post.

They can also serve as an open thread so that we can keep each other informed on important climate news.

Monckton madness

John Cook at Skeptical Science has a post on two of Monckton’s oft-repeated pieces of climate change misinformation – that climate sensitivity, a measure of how much the earth warms from rising CO2, is so low that you can burn coal with impunity and that sea levels are not going to rise much in the future.

Cook has conveniently collected all his articles on Monckton Myths. Indeed this one lists 15 of them together with their antidotes. For example, Monckton claims that Arctic sea ice loss is matched by Antarctic sea ice gain, whereas in fact Arctic sea ice loss is three times greater than Antarctic sea ice gain.

Oops, said I wasn’t going to mention ice this time. Continue reading Climate clippings 14

Climate crunch: the fierce urgency of now

In November 2009, in the run up to the Copenhagen conference I published a post Climate crunch and Copenhagen: the fierce urgency of now. For my first climate change post in 2011 I’ve reposted most of that post, with slight variations, and leaving out the direct commentary on Copenhagen.

My intention is to remind people that action on climate change is urgent, and that there is a severe penalty in leaving action to a later date.

Substantively the post outlines the carbon budget approach to climate stabilisation which gives prime place to carbon equity. If Australia wants to show leadership in climate change internationally we should seek zero net emissions by 2030. We would still blow our equitable carbon budget which requires zero emissions by 2019, but with that kind of leadership we should get away with it. Also we should use our land and our forests to create carbon sinks in order to then go negative in net emissions.

The reprised post is below the fold. Continue reading Climate crunch: the fierce urgency of now

Climate clippings 9

These posts include a brief mention of a number of news items relating to climate change. They don’t preclude treating any of these topics at more length in a separate post.

They can also serve as an open thread so that we can keep each other informed on important climate news.

The disconnect between climate policy and scientific reality

There is a dangerous disconnect between climate policy and scientific reality, according to Ian Dunlop of the Policy Development Centre.

Climate change is not just another policy item on the normal agenda, it is a transformative issue which has life-and-death consequences. This is not a time to follow Bismarck’s advice that“politics is the art of the possible”, as Combet suggested. Quite the reverse; we need leaders who can see that what was politically impossible will shortly become politically inevitable.

The continual emphasis on the economy as the main game, with climate change grudgingly considered as an optional extra, ignores the fact that unless we address climate change fast, the economy will be in tatters err long.

The government and the opposition are both missing the boat, according to Dunlop, and the NGOs are no better, settling into going with the flow in order to get something started. Continue reading Climate clippings 9

Multiple agendas at Cancún, not all benign

Saudi Arabia has complained that Cancún was lousy with NGO representatives and hence they had to waste time talking to them. The Saudis, of course, aim to see that Cancún does not result in any diminution of the use of oil.

The place is also lousy with representatives of fossil fuel and forestry industries, who aim to make a buck out of the whole thing.

Giles Parkinson’s latest report tells of wholesale rorting at Cancún in how emissions and carbon credits are counted.

The UN Environment Program issued a detailed report last week that said accounting rorts from “hot air” from eastern Europe and land use rules could add up to more than two billion tonnes by 2020. The EU has complained they could undermine the entirety of their emission reductions since 1990.

A study by Simon Terry, the executive director of the New Zealand Sustainability Council, goes further. Terry says that by adding in aviation and shipping – which are not accounted for under the Copenhagen Accord – the pledges may turn out to produce an increase in global emissions of 3 per cent from 1990 levels, rather than an advertised fall of up to 18 per cent.

The UN has been concerned that the Copenhagen Accord commitments will yield an “emissions gap” against what is needed to remain within a 2C temperature rise. This gaps means we could be headed for 3-4C instead of 2C. Factor in the latest games being played and we are heading for 6-7C. That is ‘end of civilisation as we know it’ territory. Continue reading Multiple agendas at Cancún, not all benign

Cancún half way

Cancún

That image is courtesy Climate Progress where Joe Romm points out that the beaches are washing away. One can also easily imagine why there may have been traffic problems. (See also here.)

While there is plenty of material around on the web, I have found Giles Parkinson at Climate Spectator particularly helpful. A pity, therefore, that he was sufficiently distracted on Friday not to do a post after the conference session. Nevertheless Thursday’s post provides a good summary of what is at play. He summarises progress on the so-called six-pack of issues thus:

Four of the so-called six-pack of agreements appear within reach – financing, adaptation, forests, and technology – although there are still hurdles to overcome, such as whether a green fund should be managed by the UN or an outside body. The two most difficult – mitigation (effectively locking in the pledges made since Copenhagen) and transparency – remain a challenge. The head of one of the key working groups told NGOs today that there remained “a big gap” on mitigation.

Continue reading Cancún half way

Climate kills

According to Oxfam 21,000 people died due to weather-related disasters in the first nine months of 2010 – more than twice the number (10,000) for the whole of 2009. Their information comes from reinsurance company Munich Re.

The number of extreme weather events was 725 to September, as against 850 for 2009. The number of extreme events is likely to exceed the ten-year average of 770, but not by a large margin. This year included some particularly serious ones, such as the floods in Pakistan and the heatwave in Russia.

The Pakistan floods affected more than 20 million people, submerging about a fifth of the country, claiming 2,000 lives and causing $9.7 billion in damage. Summer temperatures in Russia exceeded the long-term average by 7.8°C, doubling the daily death rate in Moscow to 700 and causing fires that destroyed 26 per cent of the country’s wheat crop. Russia banned grain exports as a result and soon after world grain prices increased, affecting poor people particularly.

Statistics relating to extreme weather events are tricky. The number of deaths obviously relates to the severity of the individual events and how many people were living in areas where the events occurred and hence vulnerable. Continue reading Climate kills

Cancún gets under way

The annual meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP) is now under way in Cancún from 29 November to 10 December.

When we last looked at Cancún alexinbologna explained that in 2007 in Bali countries agreed to two paths, firstly, negotiating a further commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol and secondly, to negotiate ‘longterm cooperative action’ (LCA). The chances of the first of these getting up in Cancún approach zero. The best that could be achieved is to position talks to achieve an agreement in Durban at the next COP in December 2011.

Since Copenhagen some 140 countries have associated themselves with the Copenhagen Accord and 85 of these have made commitments to reduce or limit the growth of their emissions up to 2020. There may be a tendency to regard this as replacing a binding commitment, but we should remember that the Copenhagen Accord was only formally noted by the meeting in Copenhagen not agreed to. Some countries, for example the ALBA group and AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States), will see this as the developed countries avoiding their responsibilities. Rather than allowing developed countries to do whatever suits them these countries want legally binding progress towards deep cuts. Continue reading Cancún gets under way

Cochabamba to Cancún: The Rights of Mother Earth


Back in April 17-19 this year Bolivia organised a World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in a university town on the outskirts of Cochabamba. I bring it up now because it was a radical reaction to Copenhagen in an effort to set a new agenda for Cancún, which will commence on November 29. Bolivia was acting on behalf of the ALBA countries (The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America). ALBA has a membership of six countries with a population a bit larger than three times ours and a combined GDP about half ours.

Some island states react to climate change out of a threat of sea level change and inundation. Naomi Klein points out that Bolivia has it’s own existential crisis because “its glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, threatening the water supply in two major cities.”

The Council of Canadians tells us in their report that some 10,000 of the 34,000 participants came from outside South America. Government representatives from 147 countries were present, and at least 45 were active participants.

It seems clear that the conference outcomes were designed into the structure of the 17 working groups. The main formal outcome was a Peoples agreement. Here are a few extracts to give you the flavour: Continue reading Cochabamba to Cancún: The Rights of Mother Earth

Cancun looms, ready or not

Climate talks in Tianjin, China have ended. That’s it now until Cancun, Mexico on 29 November-10 December, where the optimists hope than a binding post-Kyoto treaty on climate change might be concluded.

That can’t happen without China and the US patching up their differences. The chances of that approach zero, according to Bloomberg.

The BBC report goes further:

On Saturday, one of the Chinese climate negotiators reportedly accused the US of behaving like a preening pig, complaining about Beijing when Washington had done so little itself.

Reuters explains this reference to Chinese classical literature:

Su likened the U.S. criticism to Zhubajie, a pig in a classic Chinese novel, which in a traditional saying preens itself in a mirror.

“It has no measures or actions to show for itself, and instead it criticizes China, which is actively taking measures and actions,” Su said of the United States.

Continue reading Cancun looms, ready or not

Climate clippings

In this post I have included a brief mention of a number of news items relating to climate change. It doesn’t preclude treating any of these topics in a separate post.

It can also serve as an open thread.

Continue reading Climate clippings