Sunday, December 27, 2015

December 2015 Christmas #Heatwave in Europe, US and Canada


December was remarkable for high temperature anomalies in Europe and North America. Many maximum temperature records and high minumum temperature records were broken in the leadup to and on Christmas day, particularly in North America.

2015 is set to be the hottest year on record, but already the UK Met Office has projected that 2016 will likely be hotter still.

In New York City shorts and T-shirts were still being worn, and tomatoes were still ripening. Many people highlighted the irony of turning on air-conditioning at Christmas. Some even pondered having a christmas barbecue or pool party.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Intense Bushfire hits Surf Coast on Christmas Day forcing evacuations


We are already getting a taste of the future with climate change with record temperatures in December, extreme bushfire alerts, and intense bushfires like the Separation Creek and Wye River fire causing town evacuations on the Surf Coast near Melbourne.

On Christmas day BOM Tasmania reported in a tweet "A sweltering 36 degrees in #Hobart today - the hottest Christmas Day on record! Cool change early tomorrow". Temperatures in Adelaide reached 37 degrees, the hottest Christmas Day in 29 years, just short of the temperature of 37.3°C reached in 1986.

In Victoria along the Great Ocean Road there was a major bushfire out of control on Christmas Day along Separation Creek and Wye Valley causing the Great Ocean Road to be closed and town evacuations. Wye River, Allenvale, Kennett River, Grey River were all affected. Most of the houses destroyed were at Wye River and Separation Creek.

A cool change with rain moved through overnight. Initially houses in Lorne were thought to be in danger as the wind changed direction with the cool change, that might push the fire towards the town. Evacuation warnings were issued for the small coastal settlements and for Lorne.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Burying the bad news at Christmas: Australian Greenhouse Gas emissions rising


First published at nofibs.com.au

Australia's Quarterly Update of Australia's National Greenhouse Gas Inventory to June 2015 was published on Christmas Eve. You can usually tell something is trying to be hidden when it is being released late on a Friday to avoid public and media scrutiny. Doubly so if published on Christmas Eve.

I find it hard to believe that some diligent public servant worked hard to get it completed and published on Christmas eve. Almost certainly, it would have gone through Environment Minister Greg Hunt's desk in recent weeks.

According to the report, total Annual emissions for 2014-15 are estimated to be 537.0 Mt CO2-e, which is an 0.8% increase in emissions when compared with the previous year (excluding land use change emissions). If you include emissions from land use clearing and deforrestation, then our emissions increased by 1.3 per cent.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Hot night in December heatwave across south-eastern Australia



A heatwave encompassing much of south-east Australia to 20 December broke numerous maximum temperature records with the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) issuing special climate statement No 53 (PDF).

This included an exceptionally hot night on 19–20 December breaking many minimum overnight temperature records.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Paris moment for climate justice and the historic #Parisagreement of #COP21


In the history of the World the Paris Agreement will be regarded as an historic moment. Even though it was far from perfect and didn’t go far enough. It was part of the Paris moment for climate justice.

Paris was a moral turning point. When 195 countries agreed by consensus to set a target to decarbonise by the later half of the century, an ambitious climate temperature goal and an international framework to achieve it.

It signifies the turning of the tide against fossil fuel pollution, although as Naomi Klein highlights, fossil fuels is not mentioned once in the agreement.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Thousands protest for #climatejustice in Paris #D12 as #COP21 concludes


Even though the State of Emergency which prohibits large political protests is still in place, tens of thousands turned out on the streets of Paris for climate justice in various creative protests.

The French state on Friday, relented, and allowed the protest to go ahead.

For two weeks activists had been planning a day for redlines for the climate emergency, to defy the state crackdown on the right to freedom of speech and assembly.

Organisers had embarked on civil disobedience training of thousands of people at the Climate Action Zone in preparation for the day. The Climate emergency, it was argued, was far more important than the security restrictions imposed by the State of Emergency to protect citizens.

Coalition organisers, Climate 21, estimated 30,000 people participated in a rally and march from the Arc de Triumphe via the Trocadero to the Eiffel Tower. Just after 4pm organisers at the other event in Champs de Mars say 20,000 people were in attendance.

As a visitor to France it was one helluva way to see and visit some of the iconic sites of Paris, with 30,000 other people as my tour guides.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Australia joins Coalition of High Ambition at COP21 as announced on twitter


On Friday afternoon with the talks drawing to a close I attended a press conference called by the Marshall Islands. It featured Tony DeBrum, the Marshall Islands Foreign Minister, as well as several ministers in the Coalition of Ambition here at the Conference of Parties.

This new grouping is not a negotiating bloc, but a coalition of parties that want to emphasise and push for much higher ambition at these talks.

Tony De Brum said "You've read things in the media. We want you to hear from us directly. The High Ambition Coalition is emerging as a result of collective efforts of developed and developing countries."

Climate red lines in the UN Blue Zone and for Paris


Thursday was a long night with negotiators working on a draft text released at 9pm Thursday evening. Friday has been set aside for bilateral discussions. A new text is due on Saturday morning. There is still much at stake in these negotiations, and we will not know the full final outcome until the gavel goes down sometime over the weekend.

Greenpeace released a statement on Thursday night based on the 9pm draft text. Martin Kaiser, head of international climate politics at Greenpeace, said:

“This thing isn’t over until the conference closes, but what’s on the table just isn’t good enough. It’s a very big problem that the emissions targets on the table will not keep us below 1.5 degrees of warming and this draft deal does absolutely nothing to change that. Right now we’re witnessing a display of international impotence. This text should say that countries have to come back soon with better numbers but instead it kicks that can down the road, saying we’ll sort it in ten or fifteen years. That’s too late, they’re closing the door on our best chance to dodge dangerous warming."

Friday, December 11, 2015

Elements for a global climate agreement on the table. Will Ministers deliver? Day 10 of COP21


Climate Action Network held a press conference at 11am this morning. It is obvious that all the elements for an agreement are on the table, but it is still too early to call the final outcome.

Negotiators worked overnight to get a new version of the draft text ready. But further iterations are likely.

Alix Mazounie from RAC France said, “The French presidency is seeing an unprecedented level of support, and this is important because we’ve seen how process can derail talks. But this process, however good, has not yet succeeded in dealing with all the crunch issues. The Paris ambition mechanism, the loss and damage language, and scaling up commitments by 2018—these issues all need to get sorted.

"There are still too many red lines on the table. Compromises need to be made, but there are two kinds of compromises: the ones we want and the ones we don’t. There are ones that will threaten ambition, and ones that will work to deliver the kind of deal we need.” said Mazounie.

As the final text comes closer we see the form more clearly that this is likely to be a binding agreement.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Fossil of the Day for Julie Bishop's endorsement of coal for Australia



Australia and Argentina shared a first place Fossil of the Day award for Wednesday 9th December at the UN Climate Change conference in Paris, for fostering coal projects when the world is rapidly turning away from coal due to the impact of greenhouse gases in driving climate change.

Leader of the Australian Greens Senator Richard Di Natale was on hand to receive the award for Australia.

Both Argentina and Australia endorsed inclusion of the 1.5 degree temperature limit, along with the 2 degree C limit, in the operative text of the draft agreement during negotiations. At least 109 countries of the 196 countries attending the conference have stated they want to see this lower limit included, lead by the Climate Vulnerable Forum.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Aviation and shipping emissions shamed by Fossil of the Day at #COP21



There are many intricacies to negotiating a climate agreement covering greenhouse gas emissions. One of the areas easy to overlook is aviation and shipping sector emissions.

Emissions from aviation and shipping are projected to grow, so it is important that they are considered in any climate agreement.

Aviation is responsible for almost 5 percent of all global warming and its emissions are predicted to grow by up to 300 per cent in 2050. Emissions from bunkers is also forecast to grow 270% by 2050. Such growth rates would make the target of keeping the global temperature increase to under 1.5 or 2°C almost impossible to achieve.

Yet international shipping and aircraft also enjoy tax free fuel subsidies to the tune over over 60 billion US dollars.

Corporate Greenwashing and conflict of interest at UN climate conference #COP21



I was surprised at what I found of the extent of conflict of interest between the sponsors of the UN Climate Conference, the French State and the UNFCCC secretariat.

On Thursday evening I left the UN climate conference at the Le Bourget centre straight after the Fossil of the Day ceremony at 6pm to attend the Pinocchio awards which examines and compares the greenwashed credentials of major corporations.

These awards are run by Amis de la Terre (Friends of the Earth) to highlight corporate mal-practices. The three categories being judged were local impacts, lobbying and greenwashing.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Australia agrees to 1.5 degrees inclusion in #COP21 Draft climate agreement


As Environment Minister Greg Hunt departs after the first week and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop takes over negotiations at the UN climate conference, Australia has supported inclusion of the 1.5 degrees limit in the main draft text along with the 2 degrees limit, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

This is an important goal for many of our Pacific neighbors and nations of the Climate Vulnerable Forum. One hundred and eight nations, so far, have said they want this lower limit included.

Paris City Summit of Mayors commits to 100 per cent #renewables by 2050


Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo at Cities Climate Summit Photo: ©Mairie de Paris

A meeting of nearly a 1,000 city mayors from around the world meeting in Paris signed a declaration on Friday that supports a municipal transition to 100 percent Renewable Energy. Read the declaration (PDF)

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said according to a report on Citiscope, "As I told the negotiators when bringing them our contribution, cities are not waiting for them to give us the solution," she said. "We are moving ahead and making a solution possible."

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Climate Vulnerable Forum at COP21 shows climate leadership


The statement by the Climate Vulnerable Forum on Monday evening showed the world what climate leadership really is.

The Climate Vulnerable Forum Adopted The Manila-Paris Declaration (PDF) and committed to zero emissions by mid-century and 100 per cent renewable energy decarbonization by 2050. The leaders of 30 nations, some of them the most vulnerable to climate impacts, were determined to keep the world on track for below 1.5 degrees of warming.

"Individually, we are already survivors; collectively, we are a force towards a fairer, more climate-proactive world," said Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III.

"We refuse to be the sacrifice of the international community in Paris. Anything that takes our survival off the table here is a red line. All parties have an obligation to act. Not doing so is a crime. This Declaration is just the beginning of our efforts to step up our voice and collaboration," said Anwar Hossain Manju, Hon. Minister of Environment of Bangladesh, in a statement on the Climate Vulnerable Forum website.

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull at COP21: all style little substance


Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull waltzed onto the stage at the UN Climate Conference Loire plenary room on Monday afternoon. He was suave and eloquent. All style, but there was little of substance, or new commitments in his speech.

He announced that Australia was not only going to meet our 5 per cent target by 2020, but we were going to exceed it. "We will meet and beat our 2020 emissions reduction target." he said.

But he gave no commitment to actually setting a new pre-2020 target to aim for.

Our current pre-2020 target puts us at the back of the pack with regard to carbon pollution reduction effort prior to 2020.

If every country took this attitude, then the world would be well on the way to 4 degrees global warming.