Category Archives: Climate Change & Sustainability

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

Climate clippings 227

1. Bill Ferris: Coalition can’t stop energy shift

That was the headline in the dead tree version of the AFR. Bill Ferris is the outgoing Science and Innovation Australia chair. He says he didn’t find the Coalition government’s rewriting of the ACCC report to support coal-fired power a helpful signal, but:

    what I am seeing – and you see it in the US as well – is that business and state governments are getting on with alternative energy sources, mainly renewables and storage,” said Mr Ferris, a veteran venture capitalist.

    “That ain’t going to stop and it won’t stop because a government is concerned about the electoral impact. Continue reading Climate clippings 227

Climate clippings 226

The last Climate clippings was on July 2. Time to get back on the bike. Unfortunately this edition is not full of good news, apart from the prospect of eating the carcasses and droppings of bacteria feeding on hydrogen (see # 5). Next time I’ll try to catch up with some climate action.

1. Global Temperature in 2017

How warm is it now? The simple answer is that it is warmer than the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C told us, and it’s looking a bit like a fix. The Arctic News post IPCC keeps feeding the addiction tells how the baseline point for measuring warming has been cherry-picked and altered. And queries why they stopped at 2015, when the 2016 and 2017 temperatures were known. Continue reading Climate clippings 226

Moving to a Venezuelan energy policy

Scott Morrison put in a fine effort to stop the votes that would have retained Wentworth for the Liberals. And he succeeded. Now he seems intent on stopping the $200 billion worth of investment that will be needed to transform the electricity sector.

Craig Emerson in his weekly column for the AFR on Monday drew attention the Venezuelan comparison. On 22 November 2017 they passed a law:

    Known as the Constitutional Law of Agreed Prices, the law authorizes regulatory authorities to reach agreements with industry representatives on maximum sale prices for key staples.

Continue reading Moving to a Venezuelan energy policy

Brazil election climate alert

    In Brazil’s first-round election on October 7, far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro outperformed what polls predicted to win 46% of the vote — less than 5 points short of an outright victory. His top rival, left-leaning Fernando Haddad, earned 29%. The two will face each other in an October 28 runoff.

That’s from AS/COA Poll Tracker.

According to Megan Darcy at Climate Home News, Bolsonaro plans to gut forest protections and open the Amazon to exploitation, while Haddad is promising to install half a million solar rooftops a year. Continue reading Brazil election climate alert

Wentworth a tipping point?

Cartoonist Mark David shows how Scott Morrison applied his proven skills in the Wentworth by-election:

Many commentators including Laura Tingle, talking to Phillip Adams, said the numerous own goals from the Coalition prior to the election turned enough votes away from the Liberal candidate David Sharma and towards Kerryn Phelps for the latter to win. The latest count shows Phelps ahead 51/49 two party preferred, with Phelps coming from a first preference count of 29.1% as against Sharma of 43.2%. Continue reading Wentworth a tipping point?

Cool patch below Greenland is bad news

Two years ago this month I posted Global temperature, the North Atlantic cool patch and the Gulf Stream. The cool patch was still there, lasting throughout the 2018 northern summer:

This now needs to be recognised as an enduring feature associated with the slowdown of the overturning ocean circulation AMOC (Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation) which James Hansen and Makiko Sato say is having an effect on the east coast hurricanes which have been so prominent during this summer. Continue reading Cool patch below Greenland is bad news

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