Monday, February 29, 2016

Leonardo Di Caprio uses Oscar Award speech to highlight climate change


Leonardo Di Caprio used his Oscar speech to highlight climate change in his acceptance speech for the best actor award. He won the award for his role in the film The Revanant.

Di Caprio has been lending his support to the United Nations for some time to highlight climate change as an issue.

France: 60,000 people protest against new Nantes airport as climate hypocrisy


A mass mobilisation brought tens of thousands of Nantais and people from across France together on two roads in Bretagne, the 4 lane Nantes-Vannes and Nantes-Rennes, to oppose the construction of the Notre-Dame-Des-Landes (NDDL) new airport project by construction company Vinci 30 km north of Nantes.

The project is widely seen as climaticide and not compatible with France's commitment to the #COP21 Paris Agreement on climate change. It is hard to justify a new airport near Nantes when the runways are far from capacity. But Perhaps the passenger terminal of the existing airport may need an upgrade. Nantes is also only 2h 15mins by the high speed TGV train from Paris.

French President Francois Hollande announced on February 11 a regional referendum would be held later this years to settle whether the project would proceed or not. Plans for the airport construction have existed for some 50 years. The airport is strongly supported by Bruno Retailleau, President of the Regional Council of Pays-de-la-Loire, controlled by the right wing Republican Party and the far right Front Nationale.

Related stories: 5000 rally in Rennes against #NDDL #ZAD evictions and airport construction | Judge orders farmer evictions, but without fines against #NDDL airport opponents | 20,000 people protest #NDDL airport construction as a climate crime near #Nantes

Saturday, February 27, 2016

After the Paris Climate Talks: Which way forward for the climate movement? - John Englart


I was on a panel for a discussion organised by Greenleft Weekly on 17 February 2016, titled After Paris Climate Talks: Which way forward for the climate movement? Other panelists included climate author David Spratt who runs the ClimateCodeRed blog, and Socialist Alliance activist Andrea Bunting. All three of us are members of Climate Action Moreland. These are my speaking notes for my contribution. Andrea Bunting has written an article at Green Left Weekly embracing the talks of all three panelists and the discussion that ensued.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Fossil fuel growth centre funded while silence on Mission Innovation global commitment


Article originally published at nofibs.com.au

On the opening day of the Paris Climate conference our Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in a stylish but lacklustre speech with few new initiatives, announced support for the Mission Innovation multi-country program to research, develop and commercialise clean energy systems.

"Today Australia joins with many other countries in supporting Mission Innovation which aims to double investment in clean energy innovation over the next five years." said Turnbull on November 30 at the Leaders Forum in COP21.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Global carbon budget reassessed downwards, but do we really have a safe carbon budget?


UNEP emissions Gap report from November 2015. Figures are in GTCO2e

The latest study identifies we have less time and carbon budget to act on climate change than previously thought. To aspire to meet the 1.5C target, as agreed to in the UNFCCC Paris Agreement or even the well below 2 degree C target, we are going to need to make substantial emission reductions this decade and continue with that trend.

Research on carbon budgets by Joeri Rogelj et al (2016) - Differences between carbon budget estimates unravelled (abstract) published in Nature Climate Change, warns that the global carbon budget has been over-estimated.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Storify: Coal train protest ends 1st week of #Leardblockade action on #coal



"Red alert, red alert, keep the coal in the dirt" the protestors chanted at a blockade of coal haul trucks going to Whitehaven's Tarrawonga coal mine while Whitehaven and Idemitsu bulldozers are lining up to devastate the Leard forest to expand coal mining.

Nofibs reporter John Englart reports on the first week of action - titled the Bats Return - at the Leard blockade via social media. The Bats Return is a six week creative action protest at Maules Creek, north-western New South Wales, that started on February 13. It coincides when the miners are allowed, under their permit, to clear the forest.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Storify: Beyond Paris: Wonthaggi forum on climate change



The recent Paris United Nations Conference on Climate Change resulted in a world agreement to attempt to limit global warming to 1.5°C, but is Australia doing enough? Then again, is limiting global warming to 1.5°C feasible? And what must we do to limit global warming both as a nation and individually?

I travelled the 150km from Melbourne to South Gippsland to guage the debate and discussion on climate change, organised by local group Groundswell Bass Coast. I found a community already actively discussing the issue and also taking action.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Storify: January 2016 smashes monthly temperature anomaly by 1.13C

NASA and NOAA and JMA all agree that January 2016 set a new high temperature anomaly over 1 degree C, the ninth consecutive month to set a new monthly record. The strong El Nino likely added about 0.2C to this anomaly.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Climate science CSIRO job cuts labelled as science vandalism



The announced staff cuts and restructure announced by CSIRO CEO Larry Marshall have been labelled as science vandalism and an abandonment of Australia's scientific commitments under the Paris Agreement signed by Australia less than 2 months ago.

Australian climate science is essential for collecting data and provide good modelling and projections for Australia's variable but warming climate for agricultural, economic and health impacts. It is also vital for studying the southern hemisphere impacts of a changing Antarctica and Southern Ocean on the global climate. Our climate research from the southern hemisphere is highly important to global research programs and climate models.

The Abbott/Turnbull Government cut $112 million from CSIRO's budget in 2014. Turnbull promised $90 million in December 2015 to support innovation and increased commercialisation of research. A further $28 million was allocated to marketing the Government innovation policy.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Interview: Paris and COP21 on Environmentality - North West FM Community radio


Friday morning I was up bright and early to do a studio interview with Jaime and Georgina on Environmentality, the environment radio program on my local community FM station, North West FM 98.9.

I was an accredited NGO delegate to COP21 in Paris and provided reports during the conference via citizen journalist site nofibs.com.au and this blog. I was the guest for Friday morning's program. You can read the blog at Environmentality about the interview and also listen to the podcast.

I was sent a series of questions by Georgina, but with Jaime running late, the program launched and did not really follow the script. So enjoy the audio broadcast which parallels but is also different to the script.

I had prepared notes to Georgina's questions anyway. This article is based on those notes.

Monday, February 1, 2016

With rising emissions Australia applies Kyoto credits to meet 2020 climate target


The latest analysis from Reputex energy consultancy shows that Australia will not meet our 2020 emissions reduction target, except by using carry over credits from the Kyoto Protocol first commitment period (2008-2012).

Reputex highlights that the Government's own figures indicate Australia will continue on a new upward emissions trajectory, with forecast growth of 6 per cent to 2020, despite current climate policy. The market report by Reputex estimates emissions growing to 4 per cent above 2000 levels by 2020 and that trend continuing with Australian emissions unlikely to peak before 2030.

The growth of our emissions is the opposite to most developed economies.

RepuTex executive director Hugh Grossman said the government was relying on "carry over" carbon credits from the Kyoto Protocol to meet it's 2020 target, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald.

"Meeting Australia's abatement task is largely just a victory in accounting terms," Mr Grossman said. "We have met our target, but we used a credit to get there, so it's not a sign of any progress to reduce emissions."


Percentage change in Australian emissions 2005/06 to 2014/15

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull promised in Paris that Australia would meet and exceed it's low 2020 carbon emissions target of minus 5 per cent on 2000 levels. His speech was eloquent but contained little of substance.

Yet our latest annual Greenhouse Gas Inventory report which was released on Christmas Eve shows our total Greenhouse Gas emissions rising by 1.3 per cent to June 2015, and our electricity sector emissions rising by 3 per cent.

Australia met and exceeded the Kyoto Protocol first commitment period target because Australia was allowed an exceedingly generous target of plus 8 per cent emissions on 1990 levels. We were allowed that target due to threats to block consensus and wreck the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.

Just before COP21 the Guardian journalist Lenore Taylor explained some of the history and detail of 'How can it be possible for national emissions to rise over 30 years while a country “meets and beats” successive promises to reduce them?'. It is worth getting your head around some of this history.

Clive Hamilton summarises at the Conversation:

Compared to the base year of 1990, Europe promised to reduce its emissions by 8% in the five-year “commitment period”, 2008-12. The United States agreed to cut emissions by 7%, and Japan and Canada by 6%. Australia dug its heels in and got its way; its Kyoto target would be 8% above 1990 levels.

And then there was the addition of the "Australia clause" in the Kyoto Protocol inserted during final hours, which allowed Australia to include landuse emissions for it's carbon accounting.

Sounds fair? Except we had a massive amount of land use change emissions in 1990 so our emission reduction target was from a very high base year. Emissions had already reduced significantly from this sector by 1997, which made the plus 8 per cent target so much easier to meet.

This artificially high base year allowed Australia’s emissions from all sources except land-use change and forestry to grow, and grow significantly. All up our emissions from all sectors except land use grew by 28 per cent from 1997 to 2012.

While most developed nations were actually putting in the hard yards in actual emission reduction in their economies under the first commitment phase, under John Howard's Liberal Party Government (1996-2007) in Australia we pretty much carried on with business as usual and did not start the process of economic transition to any large degree.


Country comparison emissions projections to 2020

Even though Australia was given substantial concessions under the Kyoto Protocol, we refused to sign up to ratify this international treaty for several years, following in the wake of the US Bush administration. We finally ratified the Kyoto Protocol after the Rudd Labor Government came to power in 2007.

As a result, Australia had 128m tonnes of carry-over credits from our Kyoto Protocol 2008 - 2012 reporting period.

So Environment Minister Greg Hunt applied to use these credits from commitment period one to apply to our targets in commitment period 2. Australia's submission to carry over these credits was submitted after the Paris climate conference on 22 December 2015, in advance of the UN deadline of 2 January 2016.


Excerpt from Kyoto carryover credits submission

Nothing wrong with that is there?

Well, during the Paris conference five developed countries stood up and announced they would not be applying these credits to their new targets, but cancelling them.

According to the Guardian report, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and Britain all announced they will cancel 634.6m tonnes of emission reduction credits they were technically able to count towards their targets for the second Kyoto period. These credits have been described as a giant “hot air” loophole.

These countries actually had much more significant emission reduction targets than Australia in the first commitment period.

The UNFCCC final decision of COP21 actually calls for parties not to utilise these credits, as an enhanced pre-2020 action.

107. Encourages Parties to promote the voluntary cancellation by Party and non-Party stakeholders, without double counting of units issued under the Kyoto Protocol, including certified emission reductions that are valid for the second commitment period;

Australia, along with 194 other nations, agreed to this paragraph as part of the final COP decision which includes the Paris Agreement, yet we have proceeded to apply Kyoto carry-over credits to our own low 2020 target anyway.

Greg Hunt's move to use the Kyoto carryover credits are out of step with both the UNFCCC and other developed nations.

So while Australia belatedly joined the Coalition of high ambition for the 1.5 degree target and an ambition mechanism, it has effectively thumbed it's nose at the UNFCCC and international community by use of Kyoto carry-over credits to meet our low 2020 target.

On an international political level, our actions, rather than our words, continue to be miserly and against the spirit of international cooperation on climate change action and emissions reduction.