Australian news, and some related international items

New Matilda’s Guide to Greg Hunt’s Climate Nonsense

A Simple Guide To Understanding Greg Hunt’s ‘Nonsense’ Carbon Con, New Matilda  26 Apr 15  More than a decade in, Australia still doesn’t have a credible carbon abatement policy. Thom Mitchell explains.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt is doing a stellar job of muddying the rising, warming waters which threaten to submerge the government’s “inadequate” climate policies, but experts say his claims are “quite outrageously misleading”.


After half a decade of rhetoric the government’s Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), the centre-piece of its ‘Direct Action’ climate policy, has faced its first real test. Continue reading

April 27, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Australian tax-payers funding shonky climate economics with $4m Bjørn Lomborg centre

 So is this “methodology” the Abbott Government has spent $4million on any good?……

while cost-benefit analysis can be useful, it doesn’t work when you apply it to climate change policy.

How do you price, for example, the loss of a Pacific island nation and what that would mean for the cultures that have thrived there? What’s the price losing multiple species of flora and fauna or the Great Barrier Reef Jotzo adds:

Climate change is exceptional because it has all of these dimensions that go beyond the practical capability of cost benefit analysis.

text-my-money-2Australian taxpayers funding climate contrarian’s methods with $4m Bjørn Lomborg centre Graham Readfearn, Guardian 23 Apr 15   Lomborg’s think tank methods underplay the impact of climate change and have ‘no academic credibility’ says leading climate economist. Danish political scientist and climate change contrarian Bjørn Lomborg says the poorest countries in the world need coal and climate change just isn’t as big a problem as some people make out.

Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott says “coal is good for humanity” and there are more pressing problems in the world than climate change, which he once described as “crap” but now says he accepts.

So it’s not surprising then that the latter should furnish the former with $4 million of taxpayer funds to start an Australian arm of Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus Centre (CCC) at the University of Western Australia’s business school.

The CCC has consistently said that targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions are too expensive and money should be spent elsewhere

After a couple of weeks of doubt and confusion over the origins and the funding of the centre, latest reports suggest that the idea came from the Prime Minister’s office.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister told Fairfax media it was “the government’s decision to bring the Lomborg consensus methodology to Australia”.

More on this “methodology” and some pretty fundamental problems with it in a bit.

Students at UWA are gathering names on a petition and campaigning in protest, saying Lomborg’s appointment as an adjunct (unpaid) professor there damages the university’s reputation and is an embarrassment. The University’s Student Guild claimed that “students, staff and alumni” were outraged. Continue reading

April 25, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

“Australia now holds the fate of the world’s climate in its hands”.

The government has indicated it will take a ‘technology neutral’ approach, which explains why Australia is the only nation in the world to axe the (carbon) tax, and efforts to slash the Renewable Energy Target by more than half.

Last year, the federal government approved the world’s largest coal fields in Queensland’s Galilee Basin – resources which the Climate Council reports “can not be developed” because they are “inconsistent with tackling climate change”.

Collectively, the proposed mines would create more emissions than nations like Australia, the UK, Italy and South Africa.

Why The Fate Of The World’s Climate Is Largely In Australia’s Hands, New Matilda,  By Abbott-fiddling-global-warmThom Mitchell, 23 Apr  We’re told Australia’s contribution to global warning is minimal. A report out today proves that’s a dangerous lie. Thom Mitchell explains.

As American academic Bob Massey put it, “Australia now holds the fate of the world’s climate in its hands”.

In its pursuit of a solution to the ‘budget emergency’ Australia is using up the ‘carbon budget’ at a rate incompatible with the global goal of limiting temperature rises to below two degrees, a Climate Council report out today has demonstrated.

While Australia is under increasing pressure to announce an ambitious target to limit emissions at home, the report makes clear that it is our reliance on fossil fuel exports that is doing the real damage.

By actively seeking to prolong the dying revenue stream, which has buoyed the economy through the past decade, the Australian government is doing massive damage to the remaining ‘carbon budget’.

At a recent talk in Sydney, Massey was blunt. “If your government and mining companies decide to develop all of the coal and gas currently planned, already on the books, our children will be forced to endure a world very different from what we know,” he said.

To avoid such a world, scientists have developed the ‘carbon budget’ which, put simply, is the amount of carbon dioxide humans can emit into the atmosphere before temperature rises reach two degrees above pre-industrial levels.

On that basis, if all of Australia’s coal were burnt, it would use up two thirds of the ‘carbon budget’. Effectively, 90 per cent of the continent’s coal must stay in the ground. Continue reading

April 25, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Climate change damage makes compelling economic argument for renewable Energy

environment-renewable-Australiaeven without any damage from climate change itself, the argument of moving to renewables (given the position of the rest of the world) makes good economic sense. When you add the risk of damage from climate change the case is unassailable.

Why would a nation like India waste money on taking poles and wires to every remote village and spending billions on coal power stations and metering when solar panels make more sense? They do not provide power continuously, but they are so much cheaper.

We should invest in renewable energy SMH, April 24, 2015  Crispin Hull  “……..storms like the ones this week – which scientists say will become more frequent with global warming – should give cause for reflection. The extent and cost of the potential damage is so high that prudence demands action.

But there is another more significant point. Governments can fix most things, but they will not be able to fix climate change. They will not be able to refreeze the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and make the rising seas fall – a bit like King Canute. The damage will be irreversible for thousands or even millions of years.

But governments can force changes to stop the melt in the first place.

There are several reasons why people see no need for any action at all or no need for urgency. We have always had bad weather events.

Change is imperceptible. The science is not conclusive so we can wait before taking action. Damage is a long time off.

If we see real evidence of climate change we can act then to fix it. Australia is just one nation and can do little on its own.

Because so many people think like this, governments have been able to get away with doing so little. Continue reading

April 25, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, energy | Leave a comment

Bjorn Lomborg’s climate contrarianism: where his money comes from

dollar 2

many of the earlier donors to Lomborg’s US think tank have been linked to theAbbott-Koch-policies conservative side of politics, some with links to the billionaire Koch brothers.

There’s nothing “smart” about spending $4 million of taxpayer cash on a highly questionable methodology that by design downgrades climate change.

Australian taxpayers funding climate contrarian’s methods with $4m Bjørn Lomborg centre Graham Readfearn, Guardian 23 Apr 15  Lomborg’s funding“………Exactly how and where Bjorn Lomborg’s think tank has gathered its cash over the years has been a tough story to get the bottom of.

When the Danish Government’s funding of the CCC ran out in 2012, Lomborg had already registered the US arm of the think tank four years earlier.

Since 2008, the US tax records of the Copenhagen Consensus Center show it has gathered about $5million in income, more than half of which had come in 2012 and 2013 (the most recent years for which records are available).

Lomborg himself was paid $975,000 via the think tank in those two years.

Yet much of the think tank’s income is not disclosed Continue reading

April 25, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

International nuclear lobby pleased with Abbott’s gift to climate contrarian Lomborg

Parkinson-Report-Nuclear lobby backs Abbott’s $4m gift to climate contrarian Lomborg, Independent Australia  Giles Parkinson 23 April 2015When push comes to shove to act on global warming, Big Mining will wheel in nuclear as a ploy to stall the take up of renewables. Is pro-nuclear Bjorn Lomborg’s thinktank in WA just a cynical move by Abbott to kill the clean energy industry? RenewEconomy’s Giles Parkinson runs the ruler over the nuclear option. THE PRO-NUCLEAR lobby has welcomed the decision by the Abbott government to award $4 million to Bjorn Lomborg, a climate “contrarian” who favours nuclear energy and opposes deployment of renewable energy.

Michael Schellenberger, president of the US-based Breakthrough Institute, a pro-nuclear think tank, tweeted over the weekend that the Australian government’s granting of funds to Lomborg was no different to the German government’s funding of an environmental think tank that favours renewable energy.

The difference may be that the Energiewende, or energy transition, is official bipartisan government policy in Germany. But Australia does not – at least officially, although its actions suggest otherwise – embrace climate obstructionism and nuclear technology. And it has defunded independent climate analysis such as that from the Climate Commission.

The tweet from the Breakthrough Institute might be unremarkable, but for that institution’s recent alliance with the pro-nuclear lobby in Australia, and the joint release of an “EcoModernist Manifesto” last week that says present day renewables are incapable of providing zero carbon energy, and that nuclear fission is the only technology capable of meeting most, if not all, the energy demands of a modern economy.

This, it would appear, seems to concur with the not-so-subtle secret agenda of Australian Coalition government policy. Continue reading

April 23, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics, politics international, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Bjorn Lomborg’s climate views have no credibility in the scientific community

Abbott-fiddling-global-warm“UWA was approached by the federal government” [ to host Bjorn Borg’s Centre, with govt funding]

In an email to supporters of the Climate Council on Friday, former Australian of the Year Tim Flannery said it was “extraordinary” that the government had abolished the Climate Commission “which was composed of Australia’s best climate scientists, economists and energy experts” on the basis of lack of funding only to find the money to “import a politically-motivated think tank to work in the same space.”

“Mr Lomborg’s views have no credibility in the scientific community,” Professor Flannery wrote. 

Bjorn Lomborg centre: leaked documents cast doubt on Abbott government claims, The Age April 23, 2015 Lisa Cox, Matthew Knott It was the Abbott government’s original idea for the University of Western Australia to host a think tank created by the “sceptical environmentalist” Bjorn Lomborg, according to leaked talking points.

The government will provide $4 million over four years to bring Dr Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus Centre methodology to Australia at a new centre within the University of Western Australia (UWA) business school. Continue reading

April 23, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Climate Change Authority (CCA) warns on need for big cuts in carbon emissions beyond 2020

climate-AustClimate Change Authority recommends Australia makes aggressive cuts to emissions beyond 2020, ABC News 22 Apr 15  By National Environment Reporter Jake Sturmer and Lisa Main The Climate Change Authority (CCA) has recommended aggressive cuts in emissions beyond 2020 to ensure Australia does its fair share to combat climate change.

A CCA report recommends cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2025 based on Australia’s emissions from the year 2000. This would require significant emissions cuts beyond the current 2020 target of 5 per cent. Australia’s emissions are less than 1.5 per cent of global emissions, but per capita Australia is the biggest emitter of all developed nations.

The CCA warned if the Government sat on the sidelines based on Australia’s global share of emissions being small, it would be “more self-serving than credible”. “To maintain that posture in the light of Fraser,-Bernieincreasing international actions to reduce emissions – by developed and developing, big and small countries – makes it even less credible,” CCA chair Bernie Fraser said.

The fact is that Australia stands to be massively affected by global warming whatever its share of global emissions.”While the CCA conceded these were “challenging” targets, its report said many other countries were promising similar levels of emissions reductions.

The CCA previously suggested cuts of between 40–60 per cent by 2030.

But what would such cuts look like in reality? ‘Economy can look pretty similar’ Not-for-profit think tank ClimateWorks and the Australian National University conducted a study to look at such a future.

“Our economy can look pretty similar to the way it does today even when we’ve transitioned to low-carbon energy sources,” chief of ClimateWorks Anna Skarbek said. “We would still have a strong mining sector, a strong manufacturing sector, our household activities such as driving and flying would continue as they are. “The difference would be that we would use equipment that’s powered with low-carbon energy.”…….

April 23, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Australia’s crumbling international reputation – questions on climate policy

Abbott-in-hot-panUN Countries Question Australia Over Climate And Energy Policy  by  

Australia’s clean energy and climate policy (or lack thereof) has been brought back back into international focus again these last few weeks, as the country’s politicians continue to bicker over the Renewable Energy Target. Such political uncertainty has also led several major UN nations to present Australia with questions to explain their lack of political support for a cleaner future, with Brazil even going so far as to highlight Australia’s “low level of ambition.”

Over the past week, two reports have shown that the current political bickering has cost Australia’s renewable energy industry dearly, not to mention worldwide coverage concerningAustralia’s poor performance and unwillingness to commit to agreed upon climate facts and goals.

On Monday of last week, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released a report which showed that the country’s renewable energy sector lost almost 2,500 jobs over 2013-14. According to the figures published by the ABS, renewable energy industry jobs dropped 15%, or 2,300, from the peak of 14,890 recorded in 2011-12.

Two days later, a new analysis from Bloomberg New Energy Finance showed that investment in the Australian renewable energy industry plummeted 90% over the 12 months since 31 March, 2014, “stifled by more than 13 months of policy uncertainty.”

We’re going backward if you compare us to quite a wide range of countries,” Andrew Thomson, managing director of Acciona Energy in Australia, said by phone to Bloomberg. “For companies operating in Australia, many would be saying, it’s getting extremely difficult here, why don’t we take a look at the broader region, Southeast Asia for example.”

These two reports followed a white paper published by the Australian Government on its energy policy, which was subsequently pulled apart by news agencies and industry representatives the country over.

So it comes as no real surprise, then, that United Nations’ countries are also going to be asking questions of Australia. The UN has compiled a list of questions presented to Australia (PDF) from a number of countries, including from big emitters like the United States and China. Even countries like Saudi Arabia and Brazil got in on the action, calling in to question Australia’s “initiative to support sustainable development” and Australia’s “level of ambition.”

Of the over 35 questions presented to Australia in the March session of the UN, not a single one has an answer from Australia — and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the most telling point of it all.

April 22, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

China, USA, Brazil critical of Australia’s poor policies on climate change

Abbott-in-hot-panChina and other big emitters challenge Australia over its climate change policies, The Age, Adam Morton and Tom Arup April 20, 2015  The world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters, including China and the US, have questioned the credibility of Australia’s climate change targets and “direct action” policy in a list of queries to the Abbott government.

In the latest sign of diplomatic pressure over Canberra’s stance on global warming, China accused Australia of doing less to cut emissions than it is demanding of other developed countries, and asked it to explain why this was fair.

Beijing also questioned whether the Abbott government’s emissions reduction fund – the centrepiece of its direct action policy, under which the government will pay some emitters to make cuts – would be enough to make up for the axed carbon price and meet Australia’s commitment of a minimum 5 per cent emissions cut below 2000 levels by 2020.

The questions have been lodged with the United Nations for Australia to answer in the lead-up to the December climate summit in Paris, where the world is supposed to sign a global deal to combat climate change. Continue reading

April 20, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Abbott govt funds W.A. centre to stall action on climate change

Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman, Tanya Plibersek, questioned what kind of message the appointment sent to Pacific countries who are deeply concerned about the impact of climate change……

Last year Lomborg spoke at an event on “energy poverty” in the leadup to the G20 in Brisbane, sponsored by Peabody Coal……in a speech to the Grattan Institute in 2013, the then shadow environment minister, Greg Hunt, used Copenhagen Consensus Center findings to support his policy to abolish the carbon tax…..Lomborg will be the co-chair of the Australia Consensus Centre Advisory Board with Prof Johnson, the university’s vice-chancellor.

cartoon-climate-AustAbbott government gives $4m to help climate contrarian set up Australian centre, Guardian,  17 Apr 15  Bjørn Lomborg has been given money from the hard-pressed federal budget to set up a ‘consensus centre’ at the University of Western Australia

A spokesman for the education minister, Christopher Pyne, said the government was contributing $4m over four years to “bring the Copenhagen Consensus Center methodology to Australia” at a new centre in the University of Western Australia’s business school.

The spokesman said the “Australia Consensus Centre” was a proposal put forward by the “university and Dr Lomborg’s organisation”.

Sources have told Guardian Australia the establishment of the centre had come as a surprise even to senior staff in the business school, who were unaware that the centre was being established until shortly before it was announced this month……..

As Lomborg explained in a Freakonomics podcast last year, his consensus centre was defunded by the centre-left Danish government in 2012 and he was searching for a long-term funding solution. Continue reading

April 17, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Professor Penny Sackett points to Australian Capital Territory’s leadership on Climate Change

climate-changeSustainability Symposium: World to learn from Canberra’s climate change policy April 16, 2015   Reporter at The Canberra Times Canberra is a world leader when it comes to climate-change policy, but Australia is still not doing enough to tackle the problem, former chief scientist Professor Penny Sackett says.

Professor Sackett, now deputy chair of the ACT Climate Change Council and an adjunct professor for the ANU’s Climate Change Institute, will join Nobel laureate Professor Brian Schmidt, and ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell at a climate change symposium bringing together about 12 Nobel Prize winners in Hong Kong from April 23.

She said Australia wasn’t the only country that had to catch up with its cities leading the way on climate change.

The invitation extended to Mr Corbell to address the international symposium’s policy challenge session was evidence of Canberra’s reputation as a world leader tackling climate change, Professor Sackett said.

“People are recognising how Canberra is not only stepping up with ambitious targets … but actually already on its way to meeting them,” she said. “I would really love to see the country I live in … do all it can for climate change and I don’t think we are there yet.”……

Professor Schmidt said Canberra’s status as an affluent city with people who had a greater understanding of climate change allowed it to be “more adventurous on a small scale”.

Neither the federal government nor opposition’s policies would solve climate change in the short-term, Professor Schmidt said, instead scientific solutions would take 20 years to develop but work should begin now.

“We don’t actually have that much more carbon to throw up in the atmosphere before we start exceeding two degrees Celsius by the end of the 21st century,” he said.

Professor Schmidt said he expects a declaration from the symposium to be taken to the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December to help reach a “sensible outcome”.

Professor Sackett said the “very important” summit would be where nations decide whether they will stand with their citizens to do all they can to combat climate change……..

April 17, 2015 Posted by | ACT, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Australia’s Previous Chief Scientist spells it out on global warming

Repeating this item. What a pity that the excellent full article has been removed from the Australian government website!

Why we must act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Australian Government 8 Dec 09 Despite world attention, humans emit more greenhouse gases every year than they did the year before. It’s a situation that Australia needs to help turn around if we don’t want to bear the brunt of climate change, says Chief Scientist Professor Penny Sackett……

..The Greenhouse Effect
The sun continuously bathes the Earth with energy in the form of sunlight. Much of this energy is absorbed by the Earth, and then emitted as infrared radiation, or heat. Greenhouse gases prevent the Earth from discarding as much of this heat as it otherwise would back into space.

Without naturally occurring greenhouse gases, the Earth would be a much colder place, inhospitable to modern human existence. But by the same token, the additional greenhouse gases added to this store by humans is slowly increasing the average temperature of the Earth system.

Due to the quantity in which it is emitted by humans, its longevity in the atmosphere, and its effects in trapping heat, carbon dioxide is the most important of the greenhouse gases currently causing changes in the Earth’s climate……

In Australia, extreme fire danger days are already becoming more numerous in many parts of the country, and floods and cyclones more intense.

Research by the CSIRO indicates that the frequency of days with very high and extreme Forest Fire Danger Index ratings is likely to increase by 15 to 70 per cent by 2050 in southeast Australia…..

Why we must act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions | Chief Scientist of Australia

April 17, 2015 Posted by | 1, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, energy | , , | 1 Comment

Australian government’s Energy White Paper ‘wilfully deluded’ on climate change

Abbott-fiddling-global-warmEnergy white paper ‘wilfully deluded’ on climate change, SMH April 9, 2015  National political reporter  The Abbott government’s energy white paper is “wilfully deluded” for failing to put climate change at the centre of Australia’s future energy policy, say climate groups.

The government released the paper on Wednesday with recommendations including the privatisation of remaining state-owned electricity assets and the rejection of a proposal for a domestic gas reserve, despite rising gas prices.
But it is the suggestion that future energy policy should be “technology neutral” that has raised concerns among the Greens and environment groups, which want policy that focuses on ceasing fossil fuel use.

Similar to last month’s intergenerational report, which devoted just three and a half pages to global warming, the energy white paper mentions climate change just once………

The Climate Institute described the energy white paper on Wednesday as a “fantasy of climate ignorance” but acknowledged the report did recognise the risk Australia’s fossil fuel industries posed in “an emissions constrained future”.

“But the white paper doesn’t think through the challenges and opportunities of a world seeking to remove carbon pollution,” chief executive John Connor said. “There’s no recognition that helping achieve the internationally agreed goal of keeping global warming to 2°C requires a plan for an energy sector with net zero pollution by mid-century,” chief executive John Connor said………

Milne,-Christine-13Greens leader Christine Milne said the paper should be “binned along with the Warburton review into the RET [renewable energy target]”.

“All we’re getting from this report is a commitment to business as usual for the big old polluters, and a promise to cut the renewable energy target, abolish the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and close down the revenue-raising Clean Energy Finance Corporation,” Senator Milne said.

April 11, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

CSIRO’s Climate Analogues tool shows climate change for 400 Australian towns

climate-changeBy 2030, Australian annual average temperature is projected to increase by 0.6-1.3C above the climate of 1986-2005 with little difference between emissions scenarios.

A new website shows how global arming could change your town The Conversation, 7 Apr 15  Leanne Webb Visiting scientist at CSIRO Penny Whetton Honorary Research Fellow at CSIRO

What will Australia look like in 2050? Even if we significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions as under an intermediate scenario, Melbourne’s annual average climate could look more like that of Adelaide’s, and Adelaide’s climate could be more like that of Griffith in New South Wales.These changes are captured in a new Climate Analogues tool released by CSIRO today. It’s not just capital cities – you can find climate analogues for more than 400 towns around Australia, under various climate scenarios.

Eastern Australian coastal sites could see a climate shift to those currently typical of locations hundreds of kilometres north along the coast. Sydney’s climate could resemble that of Port Macquarie, and Coffs Harbour’s climate resembling that of the Gold Coast (by 2050; intermediate emissions).

Towns in major inland agricultural areas could have climates typical of inland areas further north, such as Griffith’s climate shifting to that of Cobar, a town around 300 km north (by 2050; intermediate emissions).

The change in climate is much greater by 2090 and under a high emissions scenario. In this case Melbourne’s climate could then be more like that of Dubbo, Griffith’s more like that of Bourke (600 km away), Sydney’s more like Brisbane, and Coffs Harbour’s could be like Mackay.

Australia’s climate future Continue reading

April 11, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment


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