1. Unburnable Carbon: Why we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground
That’s the title of a new report from the Climate Council.
To have a 75% chance of meeting the 2°C warming limit, at least 77% of the world’s fossil fuels cannot be burned.
1. Unburnable Carbon: Why we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground
That’s the title of a new report from the Climate Council.
To have a 75% chance of meeting the 2°C warming limit, at least 77% of the world’s fossil fuels cannot be burned.
1. Closing down dirty power
From Climate Code Red, a recent Oxford University report:
identified the most-polluting, least-efficient and oldest “sub-critical” coal-fired power stations. It found 89% of Australia’s coal power station fleet is sub-critical, “by far” the most carbon-intensive sub-critical fleet in world.
The International Energy Association, within a framework that itself is probably inadequate, says that one in four sub-critical power stations should close within five years. Hence 22% of our power stations should close within five years if we are to do our part. Continue reading Climate clippings 135
1. Accelerating ice loss from Antarctica shelves
Some ice shelves in Antarctica are thickening and some are thinning. The pattern between east and west is obvious from this image:
When we sum up losses around Antarctica, we find that the change in volume of all the ice shelves was almost zero in the first decade of our record (1994-2003) but, on average, over 300 cubic kilometers per year were lost between 2003 and 2012.
According to the ABC story, some shelves lost almost 20% of their thickness.
Melting ice shelves does not itself cause sea level rise, but the shelves buttress land ice, which then becomes more mobile. The graph in the bottom corner of the image shows that East Antarctica is now also experiencing a net loss of ice from ice shelves.
2. Top polluters to set own limits virtually penalty free
ANU economist Frank Jotzo said the system is designed so no-one gets caught by it – a toothless tiger. Tony Wood of the Grattan Institute said the ideas proposed in the paper simply would not work. They were commenting on a Government consultation paper outlining “safeguards” to ensure the big polluters do not offset emissions saved through the Emission Reduction Fund (ERF), a flagship component of Direct Action.
Australia’s 140 top polluters will set their own limits for future pollution virtually penalty free, according to the Government’s latest Direct Action policy paper.
Companies subject to the safeguards will select a baseline, or limit, for future pollution.
That baseline will be set according to the highest peak of emissions from the past five years.
Just plain stoopid!
3. What’s going on in the North Atlantic?
Stefan Rahmstorf asks the question at RealClimate. There is a large patch in the North Atlantic which has cooled in the last century.
Our recent study (Rahmstorf et al. 2015) attributes this to a weakening of the Gulf Stream System, which is apparently unique in the last thousand years.
In fact during last winter, which was the warmest on record for the planet overall, this patch had the coldest temperatures on record.
Chief suspect has to be the increasing freshwater coming off Greenland. There will be consequences.
The consequences of a large reduction in ocean overturning would look nothing like the Hollywood film The Day After Tomorrow. But they would not be harmless either – e.g. for sea level (Levermann et al. 2005) particularly along the US east coast (Yin et al. 2009), marine ecosystems, fisheries and possibly even storminess in Europe (Woollings et al. 2012).
A complete breakdown of the current was given up to a 10% chance this century in the IPCC report. This may have been an underestimate.
4. Rapid Arctic warming is changing the Jetstream and the weather
Another study, also involving Rahmstorf, looks at changing atmospheric circulation patterns due to Arctic warming.
The Arctic is warming faster than lower latitudes. The Jetstream velocity depends on temperature difference, hence it is slowing. It is also more wavy and has a tendency to get stuck, so heat or cold persists over a large area. Ironically, there is less storminess. Storms transport water onto land and break up persistent weather patterns.
The jet stream that circles Earth’s north pole travels west to east. But when the jet stream interacts with a Rossby wave, as shown here, the winds can wander far north and south.
5. Brisbane EV charging technology takes on the world
Brisbane-based electric vehicle infrastructure company, Tritium, has done a deal to supply its award-winning Veefil DC fast charging stations to America’s ChargePoint company. ChargePoint has 21,000 EV chargers around the US.
The Australian-made stations will be installed on major routes across the country, including the express charging corridors on both the east and west coasts of the US that are being built as part of a recent deal between ChargePoint, Volkswagen and BMW.
The 50kW Veefil stations – which in the US will be called DC Fast stations and will be ChargePoint branded – are able to deliver up to 80 miles or 128 kilometers of charge in just 20 minutes, thus removing one of the key barriers to EV uptake: range anxiety.
Direct Action was always a fig leaf for a government pretending to have a climate policy. Now the climate change denialists in Abbott’s cabinet have taken the opportunity to shred the fig leaf to the complete embarrassment of Greg Hunt.
Giles Parkinson thinks the 2014 budget is Abbott settling old scores, and dumping clean energy in favour of the asphalt economy.
With proposals to repeal the carbon price, dismantle the Climate Change Authority and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and the dilution of the Renewable Energy Target already in train, these budget measures – which include the closure of ARENA, the dumping of the million solar roofs program (both contrary to election promises) and the research funding cuts at the CSIRO, Bureau of Meteorology and elsewhere – mean that the obliteration of the Clean Energy Future package will be complete, if it can get past the Senate.
Dumping ARENA is particularly stupid, as the fund was leveraging private investment at the rate of $2.50 to one and doing much to support the off-grid activities of the mining industry.
ARENA will maintain funds of $1 billion for around 190 projects – mostly R&D – that have already been contracted since its creation in 2012, but it will have a measly budget of just $15 million over each of the next two years for new projects.
Some 150 of its 180 projects already allocated are in support of research and development, a core competency not valued by the Government.
The Emissions Reduction Fund ($2.55 billion) has been spread over 10 years, rather than four. Tristan Edis explains that $2.55 billion will be allocated over the next four years, but the scheme only pays on completion. However, this does call into question the efficacy of the scheme.
Clive Palmer wants to divert the funds to pensions and is prepared to vote it down.
The million solar roofs scheme was a featured election promise.
The million solar roofs program, once a $1 billion centrepiece of Direct Action to bring solar to lower-income earners and renters, has sunk without trace — replaced by a derisory $2.1 million program to install solar on RSLs and bowling clubs in seven electorates, many of them marginal (yes, really).
But not to worry we still have “$525 million to pay up to 15,000 under-25s to pick up litter at below-award wages under the guise of the Green Army”.
Parkinson further reports
the abrupt closure of the Energy Efficiency Opportunities, as well as rejecting calls for the revival of Low Carbon Australia, which also supported investments in energy efficiency. It has also brought an end to support for ethanol and algae fuel programs.
The Energy Efficiency Opportunities program, which was to cost $20 million to run over the next five years, had helped deliver more than $1 billion a year in savings since 2006.
Alan Pears at The Conversation has more. He says the Clean Energy Finance Corporation which has already mobilised $2.5 billion of mostly private funding for low-emission energy and agriculture projects would make a profit for the government if allowed to continue. Like ARENA the CEFC will continue trading until stopped by legislation.
Pears says that leaves the Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme as “the last major remaining piece of federal government policy that supports ongoing investment.” It has already led to $20 billion worth of investment, but is under review with climate sceptic Dick Warburton at the helm.
There’s more at The Guardian and at Planet Oz. There Graham Readfearn tells of the axing of a small $1.3 million program, which has been supporting more than a 150 local and state-based conservation groups across the country since 1973. Such is the depth and thoroughness of the attack on the environment.
Meanwhile global renewable energy jobs surged to almost 6.5 million in 2013. In Germany, where the government strategy was to take first mover advantage, renewable energy production reached 74% the other day.
We are striving to be last.
1. CO2 concentrations passing 400 ppm
Each year the atmospheric concentrations measured at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii surge as spring turns into summer. We are now at the point where earlier each year they surge past 400 ppm, this year as early as March. By 2016 they will probably remain permanently above 400 ppm.
Dr Pep Canadell says crossing the 400 parts per million threshold will make it more difficult and expensive to limit climate change to two degrees.
The second part of this century we need to reduce emissions to zero and on top of it, to be removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere so that by the end of 2100, we can stay stable under two degrees.
Canadell is head of the Global Carbon Project at the CSIRO.
2. Bio-energy with Carbon Capture & Storage
Speaking of sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere, bio-CCS is the new buzz word (I’ve also seen BECCS). The Climate Institute has released a report by Jacobs SKM Moving Below Zero: Understanding Bio-energy with Carbon Capture & Storage . Their modelling finds that
bio-energy with carbon capture and storage, or bio-CCS using food wastes, sustainable forest biomass, or crop residues, has the potential to contribute significantly to climate change efforts in Australia.
This process could remove and displace about 63 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (MtCO2-e) annually by 2050, around 1.5 times current emissions from all cars in Australia. As well it would generate 12% of the country’s electricity.
Globally the process could remove up to 10 billion tonnes of pollution per year by 2050, according to the International Energy Agency.
The report may be downloaded from this page (scroll down). Go here for an interview with Malte Meinshausen.
3. Are coal miners responsible for greenhouse gas emissions?
No, said the Queensland Land Court in its judgement on the giant Alpha coal mine project which would dig up about 30 million tonnes of coal a year from the state’s Galilee Basin.
That’s the central fact in Graham Readfearn’s interesting story about what’s un-Australian.
Burning Alpha coal would generate 1.8 billion tonnes of CO2 over 30 years. That’s more than three times Australia’s annual emissions.
4. Abbott calls climate concerns “clutter”
In the lead up to the G20 meeting in Sydney in February, Abbott said
he didn’t want to “clutter up the G20 agenda with every worthy and important cause, because if we do, we will squander the opportunity to make a difference in the vital area of economic growth.”
The post, correctly, I think, sees Abbott as rolling back environmental and climate initiatives as hostile to economic growth, relying for economic impetus on the fossil fuel industry.
Heather Zichal, until recently President Obama’s lead climate and energy adviser, thinks otherwise:
Zichal suggests that focusing on economic productivity could be the sweet spot that Australia could use to balance climate concerns and economic growth goals. Reducing pollution and emissions from power plants and imposing strong energy efficiency measures on transport and infrastructure can boost energy productivity, save money, create jobs, and reduce emissions. “Ultimately, across all economic sectors, energy productivity is the most reliable, cleanest, and cheapest resource,” Zichal said.
Countries have to front up with their revised mitigation plans by April next year ahead of the Paris UNFCCC conference in December, hence leaving climate off the G20 agenda is simply not an option. Abbott has been told, by Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, and other powerful players.
One wonders what we will front up with next April. I predict nothing that would make a difference. We’ll see what others are doing and then do as little as possible.
5. Direst Action is a figleaf
Clive Palmer has spotted the figleaf and plans to pluck it away, says Ben Eltham. The Direct Action funding may be part of the budget, which Labor will not vote down. The Government needs no further legislation to enable expenditure, but Abbott can’t get rid of the dreaded carbon ‘tax’ without legislation. When he comes to negotiate that with PUP Direct Action will be on the table.
Eltham is right on the demographics:
While this [having no climate policy in place] may not unduly trouble the climate sceptics on the Coalition backbench, it also removes the chief utility of Direct Action, which is political, rather than environmental. Direct Action has always been used by the Coalition as a handy tool to deflect unwelcome scrutiny of its profoundly anti-environment attitudes. Without it, the Government will find it increasingly difficult to defend itself against charges of destroying the planet.
In the last Nielsen poll the 55+ group was the only one where Abbott had a clear lead, with LNP/Labor/Green at 49/33/10. This should be causing concern for the future of the conservative parties. For the young it was 32/36/26.
6. Direct Action is not scalable
Lenore Taylor points out that while Direct Action may or may not achieve 5% reductions in emissions by 2020, (most experts say, no) the policy is not scalable when the world gets a bit more serious about climate change mitigation.
according to the available modelling, even if Australia spent $88bn from 2014 to 2050 on Direct Action-type policies, emissions would still rise by around 45%. Most economists conclude that big emissions reductions under Direct Action are just not possible.
7. Green groups to use legal strategies
Given the above and the LNP’s farcical attitude to the Renewal Energy Target Review, green groups see lobbying as a waste of time and are increasingly planning legal challenges.
The Australian Conservation Foundation will be targeting voters in marginal electorates to encourage MPs to take climate change seriously. The aim is to change the current race to the bottom to a race to the top.
Reminder: Use this thread as an open thread on climate change.
First, the Climate Change Authority released a Draft Report of its Targets and Progress Review.
I have a draft post in the bin, which I’ll publish after Easter. Labor are likely to adopt the enhanced targets it recommends, whereas the LNP have confirmed they won’t go beyond 5% by 2020.
Second, I’m working on a post on the IPCC’s second report in the current series, released on 31 March Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. To get a head start you can follow the links from the report website.
I should be able to finalise the post for the week after Easter.
Third, the Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC’s third report Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change was released on Monday. I hope to tackle it over Easter, aiming for publication the second week after Easter. The ABC has comment: politicians and Frank Jotzo and John Connor. The Carbon Brief has a lot of useful material.
2. The cost of mitigation
The IPCC mitigation report puts the cost of action at 0.06% of GDP, but calculating the cost is complex, especially when looking at the damage caused by doing nothing.
Researchers Rosen and Guenther find that the economic modelling is not possible, there are too many variables and too many unknowns.
Yet crisis trumps uncertainty, we have no real choice but to act.
3. Trouble in the vineyards
Early ripening is becoming a huge problem for growers and wineries.
growers say they’re having trouble processing their crop because it’s ripening too quickly.
Researchers are blaming climate change, with warmer conditions and drier soils accelerating the ripening process.
4. Microbes cause Permian–Triassic extinction?
The Permian–Triassic extinction event, commonly known as the Great Dying, was responsible for the extinction of roughly 90% of all life on Earth.
According to new research at MIT the event may have been caused by microbes.
The team’s research indicates that the catastrophic event was in fact triggered by the tiniest of organisms, a methane-releasing microbe called Methanosarcina. New evidence suggests that at the time of the extinction, the microbes appeared in massive numbers across the world’s oceans, spreading vast clouds of the carbon-heavy gas methane into the atmosphere. This had the effect of altering the planet’s climate in a way that made it inhospitable to most other forms of life inhabiting Earth at that time.
5. Land clearing returns to Qld
According to The Wilderness Society the Queensland Government has approved the clearing of 30,000 hectares at Strathmore Station in the Gilbert River catchment in the Gulf country, which will add the equivalent of 4.2-6.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the same as running up to another 2.6 million cars on our roads.
Strathmore wants to clear another 70,000 hectares. Together with another proposed Gilbert River project, IFED’s so-called Etheridge mega farm, the two schemes would clear and flood 200,000 hectares of land.
That would be like bulldozing a 10km wide strip for 200km.
6. Instruments of persuasion
Dr Rod Lamberts of the Australian Centre for Public Awareness of Science at the ANU says it’s time to dump science and facts as instruments of persuasion in favour of advertising and marketing. He says we need to appeal to people’s emotions, which will
have a stronger effect than trying to appeal to their brains via some kind of, you know, fact channel.
But please note, the facts are needed to support the campaign:
If the goal is to affect change, then I believe we need to step more into the realms of advertising and marketing and so on, in terms of delivering messages that are supported by what the science is telling us, but don’t have the science in those messages. (Emphasis added)
Jane Caro agrees on the need for a different approach:
Facts have never changed anyone’s mind about anything, sadly. It’s very hard for scientists to understand this, because they’re highly rational people, but in actual fact, no-one has ever been rationalised out of a belief.
There are only two things that change people’s attitudes and behaviour, particularly their behaviour, and they’re two emotions, and they’re hope and fear.
Again, facts and the science are surely needed to rationalise a changed belief. Beliefs need reason to support them.
Who mounts and pays for an advertising and marketing campaign? We look to governments, but in Australia they are the actual problem.
7. Direct Action less popular than the price on carbon
Meanwhile Essential Media Communications have done a survey of opinion that shows Direct Action distinctly less popular than the price on carbon. In terms of age, there is a tipping point beyond which the doubters predominate and it’s age 55. Abbott’s climate policy may come back to bite.
as the flat-earthers take control of the Federal Government, more Australians than ever have come to the conclusion that the Earth is in fact round.
Changing our policymakers seems the best way home but then Labor needs to offer more than tokenism. In my opinion Labor politicians should be the prime target group. The current mob won’t change without a spell in opposition and transformational ideological renewal.
Use this as an open thread for climate topics.
On Thursday the Abbott government took four actions on climate change. First, Greg Hunt phoned Tim Flannery, letter to follow, that the Climate Commission was to cease operation. We can take for granted that money was not the problem. Five million over four years in a $400 billion pa budget is not even small change.
Abbott told us on Wednesday that his governments actions would be based on values rather than ideology.
“We will be a problem-solving government based on values, not ideology,” the new Prime Minister added.
So what problem were they solving? Too much information on climate change? Is information from independent scientific sources too inconvenient? We are told that the information we need will be prepared by the public service in the future, where there will no longer be a dedicated department for climate change.
Lenore Taylor thinks the sacking of senior public servants smacks of ideology, not values. She says two of them, Martin Parkinson and Blair Comley, appear to have been punished because of their roles in implementing the former government’s policy on climate change.
The Climate Commission site is still there, for now. I wonder for how much longer.
The other three actions require legislation – getting rid of the ‘carbon tax’, shutting down the Climate Change Authority and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. So all the Government can do now is commence preparing legislation. Continue reading Abbott’s direct action on climate
Yesterday The Climate Institute released a policy brief Coalition Climate Policy and the National Climate Interest which not to mince words is a complete crock, will increase emissions and ruin our reputation on climate matters in the world. The report, based on modelling by Sinclair Knight Merz-MMA and Monash University’s Centre of Policy Studies, was then declared by Greg Hunt to be “one of the silliest reports” he has ever seen prepared by “a clear partisan political organisation” which backs the ALP.
Giles Parkinson’s article The black hole in Tony Abbott’s frat party climate policy gives a comprehensive account and I commend it to readers.
Abbott in response to Rudd’s bringing forward of the ETS gave his memorable opinion on such trading schemes:
“It’s a so-called market in the non-delivery of an invisible substance to no-one.”
Sara Phillips finds this curious since
the financial markets do a lot of trading in non-deliveries of invisible substances to no one. Water-front mansions in Abbott’s electorate of Warringah have been built on the profits of those trades.
I’m not planning to do posts on the upcoming election apart from link posts if I see anything interesting and/or important. The post on the Murdoch’s intervention started out as a link post, but then I warmed to the task. While this space is open I’d like to explore a theme that came from a comment in reaction to the LNP ‘solution’ to the asylum seeker ‘problem’. I can’t find it now, but someone asked, “What have we become?”
Moreover, what will we become? We have a choice, and in our response to the stranger in need who has chosen us, we either grow or diminish ourselves.
The task is ambitious and I’m not academically equipped for it. I’m not speaking as a philosopher or a sociologist, just “someone who is trying to sort out his ideas”, so the results may be modest. Some of the posts may not appear to be directly on the topic, but I hope all will fit together in the long run.
Meanwhile I’ll try to keep some information flowing on climate change. Both these projects may be of more use than any contribution I can make to an election here in Oz. This time CC will be free flow rather than numbered items, to save time. I’ll use bold to identify the topics.
Arctic ice is losing its reflective sheen. We all know that ice reflects more incoming radiation from the sun than does open water. Now by analysing 30 years of satellite data scientists have found that albedo of the ice itself at the end of the summer is about 15% weaker today than it was 30 years ago.
The cause of the darkening is
partly due to thinning ice and the formation of open water fissures, and partly because in the warmer air, ponds of liquid water form on the surface of the ice. The shallow ponds on the ice can dramatically reduce reflectivity and increase the amount of solar radiation that the ice absorbs.