Category Archives: Climate Policy & Planning

Climate clippings 39

Greenland ice

Predicting tipping points

Tim Lenton is now attempting to link the basic theory of climatic “tipping points” with observed early warning signals.

Problem is, these tipping points may not be sudden and dramatic but involve a steady but inevitable increase. When outbreaks of pine beetles first became obvious perhaps the eventual destruction of Canada’s boreal forests was inevitable. But Lenton is making an argument “from almost a mathematical point of view” that there are general properties of tipping points. Continue reading Climate clippings 39

Assumptions underlying the CEF package

In case the acronym hasn’t stuck yet, CEF means Clean Energy Future. If I’d said “carbon tax”, no problems.

In my 2009 submission to the Senate Select Committee on Climate Policy I ripped into the Rudd Government for commissioning Ross Garnaut

to analyse two specific stabilisation goals: one at which greenhouse gases are stabilised at 550 ppm CO2-e (strong global mitigation) and one at which they are stabilised at 450 ppm CO2-e (ambitious global mitigation).

I then castigated Garnaut for accepting the brief:

This is sad and actually outrageous. Garnaut, had he acted responsibly at this point, would have gone back to those who commissioned the report and asked for the reference to be changed so that he could develop a strategy for a safe climate.

When the 2050 target was changed from a 60% reduction in emissions relative to 2000 to 80% I wondered whether the assumptions about the science had changed. If you go to the Treasury Report on modelling a carbon price it becomes clear that nothing has changed.

Treasury modelled two scenarios, one called “medium” and the other “ambitious”. The medium scenario is then called “core”. If adopted worldwide, it aims to stabilise greenhouse gas concentration levels at 550 parts per million. The ambitious scenario aims at 450ppm.

Treasury then blithely tell us that 450ppm will give us a 50:50 chance of keeping the average global temperature at less than 2C above pre-industrial levels, while 550ppm raises that figure to 3C. Stabilisation at 2C, they say, is the threshold for “dangerous” climate change. They then calmly tell us the likely implications of a 3C rise: Continue reading Assumptions underlying the CEF package

Climate clippings 38

Germany’s expensive switch to renewables

Following the decision to phase out nuclear Germans are being told that achieving 35% renewables by 2020 will only cost 1c per kilowatt hour, or the price of a latte per month. Others calculate the cost at five times that amount, or an additional cost of €175 ($250) a year, a figure confirmed by an internal estimate making the rounds at the Economics Ministry.

Electricity customers already pay more than €13 billion this year to subsidize renewable energy. PV solar receives almost half all renewable energy subsidies, even though it makes up less than one 10th of total green electricity production, or 1.9% of total production.

What do they say about governments picking winners? Continue reading Climate clippings 38

Climate clippings 37

UN Security Council accepts climate change as a threat to global security

The best outline I could find was at Deutsche Welle. What we got was a Presidential Statement rather than a resolution, but one that had to be voted on and accepted by members. Russia had been opposed, saying it would lead to increased politicisation. China wanted climate change addressed as part of the development agenda. There are two main outcomes:

The final statement expressed “concern that possible adverse effects of climate change may, in the long run, aggravate certain existing threats to international peace and security.”

It also requested UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to include information on possible climate change impacts in his regular reports on global trouble-spots.

There’s more background here, when the cause seemed lost. Continue reading Climate clippings 37

Climate clippings 36

Sceptical ‘science’

For many in Australia on climate change Bob Carter is the man. Tamino at Open Mind got access to his slides and took a look at how he does temperature trends. Turns out he doesn’t. What we get is the most outrageous and blatant cherry-picking.

See also Deltoid.

John Abraham took a look at how Monckton cites scientific literature on the Mediaeval Warm Period. Abraham emailed a sample of the cited scientists to find Monckton achieved perfect score for misrepresentation.

More at Quiggin’s here and here and some good journalism at Background Briefing. Continue reading Climate clippings 36

Climate clippings 35

Australian greenhouse graphs

The ABC has a graph of Australia’s greenhouse gases. I’ve extracted the pie chart here:

Australian GHG emissions 2009-10

The figures are for 2009-10 and exclude land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) which in 2005 was 6%.

Lots of GHG information can be found at the UNFCCC GHG data site, including a global map (may take a while to load).

This graph is of changes, 1990-2008 (including LULUCF), showing Australia and NZ in a bad light, but Turkey is the runaway champion. I suspect outsourcing of manufacturing from the EU.

There’s an interesting champagne glass image Jo Abess’s blog (scroll down) but I’m not sure of it’s pedigree. Continue reading Climate clippings 35

It’s simple, really

Clean Energy Future launch

Frustration at the nonsense purveyed on Madonna King’s program inspired me to send her an email, stating the main features of the Clean Energy Future (CEF) package in three simple points. In this post I give an expanded version so you can check and let me know if I’ve got it right. The scheme does seem to me to have an elegant simplicity about it together with a flexibility that bespeaks careful design.

First, the government is selling permits to pollute, not imposing a tax. About 500 of the biggest polluters will have to buy permits to dump their waste carbon into the atmosphere. Annabel Crabb quotes Gillard as saying:

“Around 500 big polluters will pay for every tonne of carbon pollution THEY put into OUR atmosphere.”

As Crabb says:

WE are getting those polluters to pay for what THEY do to US.

Continue reading It’s simple, really

Climate clippings 33

Stormy weather

2010 possibly the worst ever for extreme weather

That’s according to über-meteorologist Jeff Masters posting at Climate Progress.

The year was extraordinary, featuring the hottest year on record equalling 2005, the most extreme winter Arctic atmospheric circulation on record, the warmest and driest winter on record for North America-Canada, the lowest volume of Arctic sea ice on record and 3rd lowest in extent, a record melting in Greenland, the second most extreme shift from El Niño to La Niña, the second worst coral bleaching year, the wettest year over land, the Amazon rainforest experienced its 2nd 100-year drought in 5 years and, it must be said, we had the lowest global tropical cyclone activity on record. Here’s the precipitation graph: Continue reading Climate clippings 33

Climate clippings 32

The sun up close, with sunspots


The little ice age cometh – not!

You may have seen the headlines:

“Three different lines of evidence suggest that the sun, which is expected to reach its maximum sunspot and magnetic activity in the current cycle in 2013, might even be entering a prolonged quiet period similar to the so-called Maunder Minimum, a 70-year period from 1645 to 1715 in which virtually no sunspots were observed.”

While the SMH was quite responsible, Fox News maxed it up:

Global Warming Be Damned, We Might Be Headed for a Mini Ice Age

The New Scientist tells us that last year:

researchers modelled what would happen to global temperatures if a grand minimum started now and continued until 2100. They found that it would lower temperatures by 0.3 °C at most.

That isn’t a new ice age: it’s a slightly less severe heatwave.

Skeptical Science has more, including this graph:

Grand solar Minimum temperature projection

See also RealClimate. Continue reading Climate clippings 32

Climate clippings 30

Antarctic research team with DC3

East Antarctic ice sheet sits on rivers and lakes

The Science Show reported on a new survey of East Antarctica published in nature.

probably something like the Northern Territory area was actually below 500 metres below sea level, and if you look at the deepest bits, something like the size of Tasmania was more than one kilometre deep.

The implication is that at some stage the sheet will melt faster than previously thought.

The lakes are formed through thermal heat from below.

See also here. Continue reading Climate clippings 30

Climate crunch time arrives

Three emission reduction trajectories

The Climate Commission has just released its first report (download from here) entitled The Critical Decade: Climate science, risks and responses. The report is clear, simple and succinct with excellent illustrations.

If you want to cut to the chase, the message is encapsulated in the highlighted graph. If we, the world, start to reduce emissions now (impossible) by 3.7% a year, we can get away with an eventual reduction of about 85% by 2050. If we start reducing emissions in 2020 we’ll need to reduce by 9% each year (impossible). If we start in 2015 we can get away with reductions of 5.3% per year (barely possible). But we will have to reach zero net emissions by 2040 and then go negative. Is that possible? Barely, if at all, I suspect. Continue reading Climate crunch time arrives

Climate clippings 27

Solar power could crash Germany’s grid

Harnessing the sun’s energy could save the planet from climate change, an approach that Germany has readily adopted. Unfortunately, this enthusiasm for solar panels could overload the country’s ageing electricity grid.

Installed capacity is such that a huge surge can occur when the sun comes out. What’s needed, they say, is an electricity grid that can equalise inputs from the wind of the north to solar in the south.

(Please note the article dates from October 2010.) Continue reading Climate clippings 27