Tag Archives: emissions targets

Climate clippings 151

1. Shorten gets solar + storage and the energy revolution

It’s happening, he says, through the action of consumers and industry.

    “This is a consumer revolution, as much as it is an energy transformation empowering Australian households, communities and businesses,” Shorten said. (It is) putting control back in the hands of the user, shifting the balance away from big power companies.”

Continue reading Climate clippings 151

Abbott’s climate con

Laura Tingle is wonderful when she loses patience. She reckons Abbott’s climate policy is “the dodgiest bit of public policy in recent years, possibly since the Coalition’s now infamous $11 billion hole in its 2010 election policy costings.”

She describes the policy a “rubbish” and says that the real target is the Labor Party. Abbott wants to argue that Labor would wreck the economy with higher electricity charges. Continue reading Abbott’s climate con

Climate clippings 150

1. Abbott government’s 2030 emissions target dubbed ‘pathetically inadequate’

The Abbott Government’s 2030 emissions target aims to put us at the back of the pack internationally, and the Government will do next to nothing to achieve the target. Continue reading Climate clippings 150

Climate clippings 145

1. Is it climate change?

When the first named cyclone in July appeared off the Queensland coast some asked whether this was caused by climate change. My response would be that a single event is weather. Climate is about changes in the patterns of weather over time.

Carbon Brief has a post suggesting that climate change attribution studies are asking the wrong questions. Continue reading Climate clippings 145

Emissions reduction auctions: Dodgy Bros or the best thing since sliced bread

Hunt_5409376-3x4-250

When I heard Greg Hunt spruiking the first auction under the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) last week, he sounded like a used car salesman. He has form on cherry picking statistics and imaginative accounting, so it’s best to ignore what he said and look to other sources (please note, there is other commentary in the link, including from Tim Flannery).

In the broad we need 236 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions reduction to meet a 5% target. The Government has just spent $660 million (25.9%) of the $2.55 billion fund to purchase 47 million tonnes (19.9%) of abatement. Continue reading Emissions reduction auctions: Dodgy Bros or the best thing since sliced bread

Abbott is making Australia a joke on climate change

Australia is increasingly drawing fire from other countries about its lack of ambition in climate change action, according to The Guardian and RenewEconomy. The Age has editorialised on the matter.

The context is this.

At its December meeting of ministers in Paris the UNFCCC will strike a post-Kyoto international deal on climate mitigation post 2020. Countries were asked to put forward their draft plans by the end of March. Abbott deliberately ignored the deadline, putting forward a discussion paper (see Emissions reduction the Abbott way) with a submissions deadline of 24 April. Australia will submit its proposals in May. In this way Abbott has the chance to look at everyone else’s homework before he writes his own. Continue reading Abbott is making Australia a joke on climate change

Emissions reduction the Abbott way

The Abbott government’s just-released discussion paper on emissions reductions makes no mention of the global goal to limit warming to 2°C. In fact it appears to aspire to a world where 3.6°C is acceptable.

Comment includes Giles Parkinson at RenewEconomy and Lenore Taylor at The Guardian.

The Government is reviewing it’s post-2020 emissions targets in the context of negotiations for a new global climate agreement to be concluded at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties in Paris in late 2015 (30 November to 11 December). The paper calls for submissions by 24 April as to what our target should be, how it should be expressed, what the impact on Australia would be, and

“which further policies complementary to the Australian Government’s direct action approach should be considered to achieve Australia’s post-2020 target and why?”

The paper says that Australia’s target should be fair, ambitious, easy to understand and transparent. Also Australia’s target will be, it says, “consistent with continued strong economic growth, jobs growth and development in Australia.”

From The Guardian:

many observers are deeply alarmed that the discussion paper does not mention the 2C goal, but does mention a scenario that could result in almost 4C global warming.

Discussing Australia’s special “national circumstances”, the discussion paper says that “for the foreseeable future, Australia will continue to be a major supplier of crucial energy and raw materials to the rest of the world, especially Asian countries. At present, around 80% of the world’s primary energy needs are met through carbon-based fuels. By 2040, it is estimated that 74% will still be met by carbon-based sources because of growing demand in emerging economies.”

That scenario derives from the IEA world energy outlook 2014 whose “new policies scenario” was based on targets then adopted. The world has now moved on. RenewEconomy gives this table which reflects some of the recent targets announced:

CCA-targets-1_600

The Conversation has an interactive map to monitor countries’ contributions as they come in.

The discussion paper notes that Australia’s population is growing much faster than comparable countries, and that we have an economy more heavily dependent on coal. This sounds like a set-up for special pleading. The Climate Change Authority thoroughly examined our circumstances last year and argued for a reduction trajectory range of between 40 and 60% below 2000 levels by 2030.

Parkinson advises that the paper was prepared in the PM’s office, not the environment department, or the foreign affairs department which has carriage over international climate talks. Obviously the subject is too important to leave to people who know or care.

Climate clippings 129

1. Polar bears – uncertain future

The Mail on Sunday recently declared the polar bear in good shape on the basis of the opinion of biologist Dr Susan Crockford, who says:

“On almost every measure, things are looking good for polar bears … It really is time for the doom and gloom about polar bears to stop.”

It turns out that Crockford’s expertise is the archaeology of dead dogs and the identification of animal remains, and receives funding from the Heartland Institute to spread disinformation about human agency in climate change.

Information, reliable or not, is difficult to come by. This is a snapshot of one estimate of how the polar bear is travelling:

Polar bears_screenshot-2015-03-04-154610_575x539

In nine of the 19 populations of polar bears information is deficient.

On their future the best estimate is:

To keep polar numbers relatively healthy, though still lower than today, scientists suggest global temperatures should not exceed 1.25 degrees Celsius above the 1980-1999 average.

2. Arctic sea ice is getting thinner faster than expected

Measuring the thickness of the Arctic sea ice sheet is not a simple matter. data from disparate sources has been brought together for the first time.

in the central part of the Arctic Ocean basin, sea ice has thinned by 65% since 1975. During September, when the ice reaches its annual minimum, ice thickness is down by a stunning 85%.

3. UK auctions for renewables

Contracts worth £315 million have been awarded to 27 renewable energy projects with a combined capacity of 2.1 gigawatts.

The majority of the 27 schemes are windfarms, including 15 onshore and two offshore schemes (the blue and green chunks below). The remaining contracts went to five solar farms (yellow) and five schemes that will burn or gasify waste to generate energy (black and grey).

UK_Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 15.48.48_600

By peak capacity the outcome looks rather different:

UK_Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 15.48.54_600

The auction was divided into two pots, with one pot reserved for “less established” technologies.

The big surprise was the prices, which were lower than expected.

4. Keystone XL pipeline bill vetoed

It’s important to note that the pipeline bill has been vetoed, not the pipeline.

Keystone is not dead. The bill was a political Tea party move to pre-empt State Department approval, which will now continue until a recommendation in made to John Kerry as Secretary of State.

Meanwhile Nebraska landowners are fighting a case in the courts. They claim state law giving TransCanada the right to drive the pipeline through their land under ’eminent domain’ is unconstitutional.

If the landowners succeed TransCanada does not have a route for the pipeline.

A longer post on the issue is here.

5. The IPCC reviews it’s processes

Every seven years the IPCC publishes three whopping reports followed by a Synthesis Report. Working Group 1 looks at the physical basis of climate change. Working Group 2 looks at impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Working Group 3 looks at mitigation. Each of these whopping tomes has a Summary for Policy Makers of about 30 pages.

The main decision is that the program will continue with some minor modifications. They will try to link the second and third volumes more specifically to the first, while producing the whole series within about 18 months.

More special reports on specific issued will be produced during the interim years.

They will try to make the summaries for policy makers more readable.

6. NZ infestation of flat-earthers climate denialists

The Dominion Post is the newspaper of record for New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington. Last Friday it featured an opinion piece by high profile climate denialists Bob Carter and Bryan Leyland titled Hypothetical global warming: scepticism needed. Gareth Renownden at Hot topic calls it

a “Gish Gallop” of untruths, half-truths and misrepresentations — a piece so riddled with deliberate errors and gross misrepresentations that it beggars belief that any quality newspaper would give it space.

He then identifies 24 specific errors or misrepresentations.

7. EU adopts climate change targets for Paris conference

The EU formally adopted on Friday climate change targets for December’s Paris conference including a 40 percent cut in emissions by 2030, climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said.

The targets were agreed on by leaders of the 28 European Union member states at a summit in October, but the confirmed benchmarks have now been officially sent to the UN, Canete said.

The EU was the second after Switzerland to publish its submission.

In other EU news, the Commission is to spend €100 million on projects aimed at connecting energy networks across the continent.

8. El Niño finally arrives

El Niño has finally arrived at a time of the year when they usually decay. It’s weaker than usual and is unlikely to have much impact on world weather.

9. US weather conundrum

Last week I reported (Item 1) that the planet had just experienced the hottest 12 months, while it was freezing in eastern North America during January and February and into March.

Because winter includes December and December was mild, no state had a record low winter. In fact the East’s brutal cold was offset by record warmth in the West, which was caused by warmth in the Northern Pacific. The experts think this pushed the jet stream out of shape, bringing Arctic air further south in the east.

It seems the Northern Pacific warmth has now moved to the Central Pacific, causing the weak El Niño referred to above.

Reminder Climate clippings is an open thread and can be used for exchanging news and views on climate.

Climate clippings 116

1. Super high speed rail

train_japan_maglev_500

The Japanese have run an actual train with people in it at 500 km/h. The Chinese have built a train which can theoretically run at 1800 mph by encasing it in a vacuum tube.

It looks as though high speed rail could become a real alternative to air for intercity travel.

Thanks to John D for the headsup.

2. World’s first power-to-liquids production plant opens

The world’s first power-to-liquids (PtL) demonstration production plant was opened in Dresden on 14 November. The new rig uses PtL technology to transform water and CO2 to high-purity synthetic fuels (petrol, diesel, kerosene) with the aid of renewable electricity.

The article does not say how efficient the process is, but presumably less so than using the electricity directly.

3. World Bank focus on clean energy

The World Bank has traditionally been one of the world’s largest funders of fossil fuel projects. Now it:

will invest heavily in clean energy and only fund coal projects in “circumstances of extreme need”…

No doubt this policy stems from the bank’s commissioned report Turning down the heat.

4. Why the Peru climate summit matters

Hope has been injected into the Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru, scheduled to run from 1 to 12 December by the recent US/China agreement. The optimism stems as much from the fact that the two largest emitters in the world are finally working together as the level of ambition. The EU has also recently pledged to cut emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030.

Countries will be working on the text of the draft agreement for Paris in 2015.

Countries are expected to put forward their contributions towards the 2015 agreement in the form of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) by the end of March [2015]. These will then be used to craft the Paris treaty. The Lima gathering will help provide guidelines and clarity for what these INDCs must entail, especially for developing countries still reliant on fossil fuels to meet fast-growing energy demand needed to achieve developmental goals. These options could range from sector-wide emissions cuts to energy intensity goals to renewable energy targets.

We’ll be represented during the second week by Julie Bishop and Andrew Robb, a climate change denier. Seems Bishop went bananas when she found out, and Robb doesn’t want to be there anyway.

Giles Parkinson reports that we’ve sent a delegation of 14, the smallest in 20 years and probably not enough to be actively obstructive as we were in Warsaw last year.

5. 2014 looks like hottest on record

This is how it’s shaping:

wmo-years-590x390

Record hot years are often El Niño years. This year is a neutral ENSO year so far.

That’s so far; there is at least a 70% chance that El Niño will be declared in the coming months, according to the BOM. Looks like a hot, dry summer.

6. Germany’s largest utility gets out of the fossil fuel business

On Sunday, Germany’s biggest utility E.ON announced plans to split into two companies and focus on renewables in a major shift that could be an indicator of broader changes to come across the utility sector. E.ON will spin off its nuclear, oil, coal, and gas operations in an effort to confront a drastically altered energy market, especially under the pressure of Germany’s Energiewende — the country’s move away from nuclear to renewables. The company told shareholders that it will place “a particular emphasis on expanding its wind business in Europe and in other selected target markets,” and that it will also “strengthen its solar business.”

E.ON will also focus on smart grids and distributed generation in an effort to improve energy efficiency and increase customer engagement and opportunity.

“With its decision, E.ON is the first company to take the necessary steps from the completely changed world of energy supply,” German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, said Monday.

7. The inconvenient truth of EU emissions

The Commission and European Environment Agency’s Progress Report on climate action says:

according to latest estimates, EU greenhouse gas emissions in 2013 fell by 1.8% compared to 2012 and reached the lowest levels since 1990. So not only is the EU well on track to reach the 2020 target, it is also well on track to overachieve it.

Kevin Anderson is not impressed:

The consumption-based emissions (i.e. where emissions associated with imports and exports are considered) of the EU 28 were 2% higher in 2008 than in 1990[1]. By 2013 emissions had marginally reduced to 4% lower than 1990 – but not as a consequence of judicious climate change strategies, but rather the financial fallout of the bankers’ reckless greed – egged on by complicit governments and pliant regulation.

Then he really gets stuck in:

In the quarter of a century since the first IPCC report we have achieved nothing of any significant merit relative to the scale of the climate challenge. All we have to show for our ongoing oratory is a burgeoning industry of bureaucrats, well meaning NGOs, academics and naysayers who collectively have overseen a 60+% rise in global emissions.

Climate clippings 114

1. Ocean acidification charted

Apparently there has been no baseline data for ocean acidification, which varies around the world. Now a database of the current state of the ocean has been compiled. Here is a map showing the rough state of play:

11_18_14_Brian_OceanAcidificationBaseline_400_462_s_c1_c_c

The current rate of acidification for the ocean is the greatest seen in the past 300 million years. 25% of co2 emitted ends up in the ocean.

This article offers some hope that some species may adapt.

2. Warmest October

NASA has October as the warmest since 1880 along with 2005. The Japanese Meteorological Agency has it as the warmest ever:

11_14_14_Brian_JMAOctTemp_679_519_s_c1_c_c_550

No warming pause there!

So far an El Niño still has not developed, which would make things warmer.

3. Climate Council report fingers us

The Climate Council has published a new report Lagging Behind: Australia and the Global Response to Climate Change. The key findings are:

  • China and the US have firmly moved from laggards to global leaders on climate change.
  • In the last five years most countries around the world have accelerated action on climate change as the consequences have become more and more clear.
  • Australia, a crucial player in global climate action, moves from leader to laggard.
  • Global action must accelerate to protect Australia and the world from the consequences of a changing climate, sea level rise and more frequent and intense extreme weather.

Now, 39 countries and over 20 sub-national jurisdictions are putting a price on carbon. China has the world’s second largest carbon market with 250 million people covered. In the US 10 states have carbon markets, covering 79 million people.

Germany has decoupled growth from carbon pollution. Since 1990 GDP has increased 37% while emissions have fallen 25%.

According to the IEA and the OECD for every $1 spent to support renewable energy, another $6 is spent on fossil fuel subsidies, but investment in renewable energy at US$192 billion now exceeds that in fossil fuel energy at US$102 billion.

Australia is the 15th largest emitter out of 186 countries. We emit roughly the same as France, Italy and Turkey, each with three times the population.

Here’s the world wide solar growth:

Solar_cropped_600

Our record on large scale renewables:

Aust renewables_cropped 600

Time to get on our bike!

4. Climate Council on renewables

The Climate Council report finds that around the world important initiatives on renewables are often taken at the sub-national level. In Australia:

  • South Australia is striding forward leading the Australian States on renewable energy.
  • Victoria and NSW have moved from leaders to laggards in Australia’s renewable energy race.
  • Australia has substantial opportunities for renewable energy. A lack of clear federal policy has led to a drop in renewable energy investment.

Only SA and the ACT have renewable energy targets – SA 50% of electricity by 2025, the ACT 90% by 2020. The current state of play is:

Renewable energy generation_cropped_500

SA narrowly pips QLD in terms of percentage of dwellings with solar PV:

Solar PV_cropped_600

Both have roughly a quarter.

The potential for renewables in Australia is huge – some 500 times current electricity generation.

Australia produces per capita 23.96 tCO2e as against an OECD average of 12.47. As I said, time to get on our bike!

5. China caps coal use by 2020

From Climate Progress

The Chinese government announced Wednesday it would cap coal use by 2020. The Chinese State Council, or cabinet, said the peak would be 4.2 billion tonnes, a one-sixth increase over current consumption.

This is a staggering reversal of Chinese energy policy, which for two decades has been centered around building a coal plant or more a week. Now they’ll be building the equivalent in carbon-free power every week for decades, while the construction rate of new coal plants decelerates like a crash-test dummy.

The 2020 coal peak utterly refutes the GOP claim that China’s recent climate pledge “requires the Chinese to do nothing at all for 16 years.” Indeed, independent analyses make clear a 2020 coal peak announcement was the inevitable outcome of China’s game-changing climate deal deal with the U.S. last week, where China agreed to peak its total carbon pollution emissions in 2030 — or earlier.

6. Australia a pariah

Giles Parkinson thinks other nations are deliberately trying to embarrass Australia on climate change. Certainly Obama’s remarks can be interpreted that way. Then he (Giles) really gets stuck in:

We are, quite possibly, witnessing the most incompetent and ideologically blind government ever to hold power in Canberra. It’s effectively the Tea Party of Australia, pretending to be something else.

A game changer? The US-China climate deal

Mother Jones thinks the deal is a game changer, so does Joe Romm at Climate Progress. Climate scientists what agree with some cautions, including the big one that it’s not nearly enough.

In the broad, China has agreed to peak emissions by 2030, the US will reduce emissions by 26 to 28% by 2025, relative to 2005.

Yet China will still be getting 80% of its power from fossil fuels in 2030.

They said China would never do a deal of significance, and the US could not make significant reductions politically while China did nothing. That’s why the deal is a game changer.

Now Republicans are saying that China is doing nothing for 16 years. That’s not true. China will install 800-1,000 gigawatts of nuclear, wind, solar and other zero emission generation capacity by 2030.

Joe Hockey implied that Obama will not deliver, because of an unfriendly Congress. Obama said on Sunday specifically that he is not relying on Congress for anything – he’ll do it without their help. Republicans are freaking out and will no doubt destroy the deal if they reclaim the presidency.

Given the unhelpfulness of Congress Obama’s plan is surprisingly ambitious, roughly doubling the pace of reductions:

carbon_pollution_target_U.S

The overall impact is portrayed by this graph from Climate Interactive:

China-deal-600

That would see emissions in 2100 roughly the same as they are now. According to the recent IPCC Synthesis Report most of the stabilisation scenarios you’d want to follow see zero emissions some time before 2100. You can get a rough idea of what’s required from this graph by Prof Hans Joachim Schellnhuber:

2C trajectories Schellnhuber

That is for a 67% chance of not exceeding 2°C.

With emissions trading that would be modified thus:

Budget approach with emissions trading_cropped_600

I would assume that China is a Group 2 country in this scenario.

At a rough guess, then, I suspect that China and the US are doing no more than half what they really should, if we assume that 2°C is OK, which I don’t.

Mother Jones lists some of the detailed items covered in the agreement:

  • Expanding funding for clean energy technology research at the US-China Clean Energy Research Center, a think tank Obama created in 2009 with Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao.
  • Launching a large-scale pilot project in China to study carbon capture and sequestration.
  • A push to further limit the use of hydroflourocarbons, a potent greenhouse gas found in refrigerants.
  • A federal framework for cities in both countries to share experiences and best practices for low-carbon economic growth and adaptation to the impacts of climate change at the municipal level.
  • A call to boost trade in “green” goods, including energy efficiency technology and resilient infrastructure, kicked off by a tour of China next spring by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

All good stuff. One valid criticism is that the agreement neglects the issue of adaptation, necessary because under the implied scenario warming will continue.

Our government has chosen to be a follower rather than a leader. It is now time to follow. But in doing so they should take a look at Prof Schellnhuber’s graphs to understand their true responsibility – and why buying carbon credits offshore is not such a bad idea.

To take the politics out of the issue they could even flick it to The Climate Change Authority. That’s what it was set up for.