Australian fossil fuel subsidies put at $47bn, as RET wrestle continues, REneweconomy, By Sophie Vorrath on 18 December 2014 In an budget forecast punctuated by fiscal belt tightening, Australia’s fossil fuel sector is set to receive a whopping $47 billion in federal government subsidies over the next four years, a new report has found.
The analysis, released on Thursday by the Australian Conservation Foundation, uses federal budget data confirmed by this week’s mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (MYEFO) to identify and tally government handouts for the production and use of fossil fuels. Among the biggest are the Fuel Tax Credit scheme ($27.9 billion over four years), concessional rate of excise on aviation fuel ($5.5 billion), accelerated depreciation rules ($1.5 billion) and the removal of the carbon price ($12.5 billion).
Meanwhile, the renewable energy industry remains under a cloud of uncertainty, with renewed federal government attacks on the Renewable Energy Target (RET) coming just a week after Foreign Minister Julie Bishop used it to bolster Australia’s climate credentials in Lima.
According to figures released by the Labor Party today, investment in renewables in Australia has fallen by 70 per cent since the Coalition came to power………
This glaring divide between Australia’s renewables sector – which is languishing in political limbo – and its fossil fuels sector – which is being given multi-billion-dollar incentives to keep polluting – is part of the Abbott government’s “nonsensical approach” to energy, says ACF President Geoff Cousins.
“With one hand the Government encourages pollution by giving the Fuel Tax Credit diesel subsidy to the mining industry and others, then with the other hand it gives out money through so called ‘Direct Action’, which subsidises businesses to reduce emissions,” Cousins said.
“Unfortunately the $47 billion incentive to pollute is much stronger than Direct Action’s $1 billion incentive to reduce pollution.
Cousins points to the Fuel Tax Credit scheme – which allows corporations like Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton to pay virtually no tax on the diesel they use – as the most perverse of the subsidies, given car drivers and small businesses pay nearly 39c in tax for every litre of fuel they buy.
Figures released in this week’s mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (MYEFO) show that of the $4.2 billion extra the government will raise through the indexation of fuel excise, $1.9 billion will be refunded to eligible businesses via the Fuel Tax Credit scheme.
“For a Government that desperately needs to find some Budget savings, cutting fossil fuel handouts that encourage pollution should be obvious,” Cousins said.http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/australian-fossil-fuel-subsidies-put-at-47bn-as-ret-wrestle-continues-58572
This decision to raid the foreign aid budget instead of committing new funds will cause a lot of pain in aid circles, coming as it does on the $7.6 billion cut in the budget, and it may not achieve Australia’s aim of buying back credibility.
While the rest of the world has declared ‘game on’ for the 2015 climate summit in Paris, Captain Abbott is doing as little as possible in the field, because he’s not playing to win for people or the planet, he’s using tactics to fix the game in favour of the fossil fuel industries at the big end of town.
Abbott’s attempt to buy relevance at climate change talks in Lima http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2014/12/11/4146692.htm CHRISTINE MILNE Tony Abbott has tried to buy his way into relevance at the international climate change conference in Lima. But it may not work.
THE ABBOTT GOVERNMENT has finally caved in to international pressure and begrudgingly committed money to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to help developing nations deal with the impacts of global warming.
The announcement has come only days after Foreign Minister Julie Bishop echoed Prime Minister Tony Abbott in declaring Australia would not support the GCF.
I am glad they have. But why they did so is the issue.
It is clear that they have realised that they are so far on the outer that they will have no influence in the negotiations and will not be able to weaken rules or edit texts unless they contributed in some way. Continue reading
Poor planning leaves Australia exposed to climate change and massive damage bills, CSIRO says ABC News, By environment and science reporter Jake Sturmer and the National Reporting Team’s Mazoe Ford 9 Dec 2014,
As Sydney and Brisbane clean up from severe storms and the planet heads towards its hottest year on record, the CSIRO is warning the damage caused by extreme weather could cost Australia more than $1 trillion.
The ABC has obtained advice from the nation’s premier science agency warning climate change and poor planning were leaving the nation increasingly exposed to natural disasters.
The CSIRO draft discussion paper said the cost of replacing homes and other buildings exposed to bushfires, inland flooding and coastal inundation could almost double by 2100 to $1.38 trillion.
“All evidence suggests that the current trend of increasing disaster costs will continue into the future with a direct impact on Commonwealth expenditure,” the CSIRO said.
“Climate change is likely to increase this trend in the longer term for many hazards.”………………http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-12-09/damage-bill-for-extreme-natural-disasters-could-top-1-trillion/5955734
That was a year ago in Warsaw, Poland, where Australia was establishing a new reputation as a negative force on global climate negotiations.
“Australia gets it,” said the climate science denialist talking head Marc Morano, a man most often seen verballing peer-reviewed science on conservative American cable news channels.
But Morano made another statement that seemed to be an attempt make the brains of as many greenies as possible go kaboom.
“Coal is the moral choice,” said Morano.
But what appeared then to be a ridiculous statement, is now Australia’s official political position. We’ve had Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s “coal is good for humanity”, the Treasurer Joe Hockey’s “we export coal to lift nations out of poverty” and the Finance Minister Matthias Cormann’s “coal is good”.
Kaboom! Kaboom! Kaboom!
Since Warsaw, Australia has also become the first nation in the world to actually remove laws to price greenhouse gas emissions and the Abbott Government continues to push for a cut to its own target on renewable energy generation.
Australia also declared its hottest year on record – 2013 – with 2014 likely to also be among the five hottest years on record (we have also just had the hottest November on record and the hottest spring on record).
Now the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 20thConference of the Parties meeting in Lima (to be hereafter mercifully referred to as COP20) is underway (I’ll be there in three days time).
The key task for negotiators is to have in place the draft text of a new deal to be signed in Paris in late 2015 (at COP21) that for the first time will include all countries – both developed and developing.
Countries won’t need to declare exactly what steps they’ll take in Lima (known as Intended National Determined Contributions, or INDCS) and can wait until March next year, although some have started that ball rolling already. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2014/dec/03/will-australia-be-the-great-coal-defender-at-lima-climate-talks
Nuclear energy is definitively not the solution
Phase out Fossils. Phase in Nuclear? http://adoptanegotiator.org/phase-out-fossils-phase-in-nuclear/Anna Pérez Català December 3, 2014
Second day of the COP20, and the plenary is full of delegates discussing the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP). The atmosphere is really hot, like if we could feel the 2 degrees temperature rise due to climate change, and delegates are discussing the beginning of the draft and how it would look in a screen.
The ADP document is very important, because it aims to define the new climate agreement in 2015 and foster greenhouse gas reduction. Continue reading
Will Australia be the great coal defender at Lima climate talks? Guardian, Graham Readfearn 3 Dec 14,”………whereas in Warsaw the government decided not to send any ministers, this year the Australian delegation will be joined by two – Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Trade Minister Andrew Robb (Robb was shadow minister for Industry and Climate Change for a year in 2008).
While in opposition in 2011, Bishop was striking a denialist tone on climate change science in a column published in Fairfax newspapers.
Bloggers later found that Bishop had likely cut and pasted the material from climate science denial blogs.
Bishop’s sympathy for people who rejected the multiple lines of evidence for human caused climate change was similar to a piece she had written in 2008.
In a mining industry conference speech earlier this year, Robb celebrated the future of brown coal – the dirtiest form of the already dirty fossil fuel.
Robb said brown coal was “a resource that is often demonised, particularly by those who oppose growth and development”.
A few weeks ago Robb also jumped to the defence of Bishop, who had said the Great Barrier Reef was “not in danger” – contradicting the view of her government’s own science agencies.
So what will Bishop, Robb and Australia be looking for in Lima?
In October, Australia laid out its starting position in a document submitted to the UNFCCC secretariat.
In the document, Australia said it wanted all countries to be working on a “common playing field” and that countries must be allowed to take action that would “sustain economic growth”.
The action needed to be “appropriate to their national circumstances and policy choices” and any pledges “must include clear, credible and quantifiable emissions reduction commitments by all” that would “deliver real global outcomes”.
This is the language of multi-lateral climate negotiations – broad, woolly and open to a wide array of interpretations…….
Australia’s policy choice is to do away with pricing greenhouse gas emissions and cut ambition for renewable energy.
The “national circumstance” appears to be the world’s greatest defender of coal.http://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2014/dec/03/will-australia-be-the-great-coal-defender-at-lima-climate-talks
For communities in the Torres Strait, climate change is not a matter for political debate, but a reality.
Around 7,000 people call the Strait home, and they are already exposed to the impacts of climate variability. There are king tides, flooding, and unpredictable weather patterns that impede their everyday lives. In 2012, extreme weather damaged the local graveyard on Saibai island.
This raises important ethical and political issues for Australia. As a nation we must engage with the harmful cultural implications of climate damage.
Australia’s forgotten people
At the northern tip of Australia, the Strait finds itself not quite excised, like other Australian territories scattered off the mainland such as Norfolk and Christmas islands.
Still, the islands are certainly invisible in political decision-making and in public concern. When I visited the region in 2013, I was told time and again by locals that they felt like Australia’s “forgotten people”.
According to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, indigenous peoples worldwide contribute the least to human-induced climate change, yet are among the most vulnerable to its effects…….https://theconversation.com/rising-seas-pose-a-cultural-threat-to-australias-forgotten-people-34359
TONY Abbott today warned of a long, hot summer as he opened a Sydney swimming pool, but steered clear of mentioning climate change.
His comments came as Sydneysiders braced for high temperatures tomorrow with the city expected to reach 35C and up to 40C forecast in the west…….
Mr Abbott’s comments about the hot summer also came after Foreign Minister Julie Bishop challenged US President Barack Obama over a climate change speech he made on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Brisbane. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/summers-hot-get-used-to-it-says-tony-abbott/story-e6frg6nf-1227131724609
UK Tories slam Tony Abbott on climate policy, The Age, November 20, 2014 Paola Totar The attitude of Prime Minister Tony Abbott to the global challenges of climate change is “eccentric”, “baffling” and “flat earther”, according to a group of senior British Conservatives.
The group, including Prime Minister David Cameron’s Minister for Energy and a former Thatcher Minister and chairman of the Conservative Party, says Mr Abbot’s position on climate change represents a betrayal of the fundamental ideals of Conservatism and those of his political heroine, Margaret Thatcher.
In a series of wide-ranging, separate interviews on UK climate change policy with The Age, they warn that Australia is taking enormous risks investing in coal and will come under increasing market and political pressure to play its part in the global battle against climate change.
Their comments come almost 25 years to the day since former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher addressed the United Nations to place climate change on the global environmental agenda. “It is mankind and his activities which are changing the environment of our planet in damaging and dangerous ways,” she said………….. Mr Abbott declined to comment. http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/uk-tories-slam-tony-abbott-on-climate-policy-20141120-11qos6.html
Australia will miss emissions target due to Direct Action, UN says, The Age November 21, 2014 – Michael Koziol Australia is “no longer on track” to meet its 2020 emissions target and the Abbott government’s decision to axe the carbon tax is to blame, the United Nations has found.
The 2014 Emissions Gap Report, prepared by the UN Environment Programme, names Australia among four international pariah states that will require further action to meet their governments’ emissions pledges.
Instead of hitting a target of 555 million tonnes of CO2 in 2020, Australia was on track to produce between 685 and 710 million tonnes, the report said. ……
“Australia had been on track to meet its pledge in part through its carbon pricing mechanism, but this mechanism was abolished on 1 July 2014.”
In a section of the report comparing countries’ pledges, trajectories and recent policy developments, the authors state in relation to Australia: “New government replaced carbon-pricing mechanism with Emission Reduction Fund. This results in an increase in projected emissions for 2020.”
Labor environment spokesman Mark Butler said the report showed up the Prime Minister’s claim at the G20 summit in Brisbane that Australia that would “deliver” on its emissions targets.
“World leaders, including some of Australia’s largest trading partners, have pledged to increase their emissions reduction targets,” he said.
“Tony Abbott would rather pay polluters to pollute and keep his head in the sand.”………http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/australia-will-miss-emissions-target-due-to-direct-action-un-says-20141121-11rn2h.html
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop chides Barack Obama over Great Barrier Reef climate change remarks ABC News 20 Nov 14 Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has criticised US president Barack Obama for a speech in Brisbane last weekend in which he claimed climate change threatened the Great Barrier Reef.
Speaking to 7.30 from New York, where she is attending a meeting of the United Nations Security Council, Ms Bishop said “there was an issue regarding [Mr Obama’s] statement” and she could “understand the Queensland Government’s concern”……..
Bishop latest Coalition politician to take aim at Obama
Ms Bishop is not the only Coalition politician to voice criticism of Mr Obama, with frontbenchers Joe Hockey and Jamie Briggs making comments in the wake of the Brisbane speech.
Mr Briggs labelled the address as a “massive, massive distraction” from the rest of the G20 summit, while the Treasurer said it would be difficult for Mr Obama to deliver on his stricter emissions standard pledge.……..
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned the Great Barrier Reef could be at risk if more is not done to reduce carbon emissions………The UN’s World Heritage Committee has deferred a decision on whether to list the Great Barrier Reef as “in danger” until next year. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-20/julie-bishop-chides-barack-obama-over-climate-change-remarks/5906570
Great Barrier Reef will be ‘slaughtered': scientists dismiss Julie Bishop’s claim reef not at risk November 21, 2014 – 3:59PM Peter Hannam Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald World-leading scientists say the Great Barrier Reef will be “slaughtered” this century as seas warm and become more acidic, dismissing comments by Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop that Australia’s natural icon was not at risk.
Ms Bishop told Sky News on Friday her office had sent the White House a briefing outlining the Australia’s efforts to preserve the reef after US President Barack Obama’s warning in Brisbane last weekend that its “incredible natural glory” was threatened by climate change.
“Of course, the Great Barrier Reef will be conserved for generations to come. And we do not believe that it is in danger,” Ms Bishop said……….
on Brodie, a chief research scientist from James Cook University, said Ms Bishop’s comments contradicted the government’s own report on the state of the reef.
The Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2014 “found the reef to be in poor condition and the outlook is for continuing deterioration,” Dr Brodie said. “It’s obviously in danger.”
“Climate change remains the most serious threat to the Great Barrier Reef and is likely to have far-reaching consequences in the decades to come,” the report said. http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/great-barrier-reef-will-be-slaughtered-scientists-dismiss-julie-bishops-claim-reef-not-at-risk-20141121-11r4a6.html#ixzz3JluffhbH
The ozone hole leaves a lasting impression on southern climate, The Conversation, Sharon Robinson Professor at University of Wollongong, 8 November 2014, Many people think of sunburn and skin cancer when they hear about the ozone hole. But more ultraviolet (UV) radiation isn’t the only problem.
The ozone hole has also led to dramatic changes in Southern Hemisphere weather patterns. These in turn are altering natural ecosystems and food production. These climate changes are likely having a similar if not greater impact than more UV radiation.
We discuss some of these changes in a paper published today in Global Change Biology.
This week the parties to the Montreal Protocol will meet in Paris, to consider the latest report from the United Nations Environment Programme Environmental Effects Assessment Panel. This report summarises the impact of both ozone loss and the associated increase in ultraviolet radiation on the environment and human health.
The Montreal Protocol continues to be effective at phasing out ozone depleting chemicals and has decreased levels of these greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. But while the Montreal Protocol is a success story, the Southern Hemisphere still faces the threat of climate change from rising greenhouse gases. There is still much to do.
Changing the weather Continue reading
UN chief urges Australian PM to support climate change fund, SMH, November 15, 2014 Tom Allard National Affairs Editor UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has revealed that world leaders at the G20 are “actively discussing” climate change as he called on Australia to contribute to a UN fund supporting developing nations to combat global warming.
And, while the US has pledged $3 billion to the UN’s Green Climate Fund, Mr Abbott has previously said Australia won’t contribute, describing it as “socialism masquerading as environmentalism”.
“Climate change is the defining issue of our times so it’s only natural that G20 leaders should focus much more on this as part of making this world sustainable,” said Mr Ban said in Brisbane on Saturday..
The world, he added, was looking to the G20 to take the lead on climate change, and he asked for more “ambitious pledges” towards the Global Climate Fund. As well as the US, Denmark, Mexico, South Korea, Germany, France, Denmark, Norway and Switzerland are other nations to support the fund………… http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/un-chief-urges-australian-pm-to-support-climate-change-fund-20141115-11ndeh.html#ixzz3JO6LJjnx
Australians Stick Their Heads In The Sand To Mock Prime Minister Abbott’s Climate Stance http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/13/australians-stick-heads-sand_n_6150606.html Reuters | By Sue-Lin Wong SYDNEY, Nov 13 (- More than 400 protesters stuck their heads in the sand on Australia’s Bondi Beach on Thursday, mocking the government’s reluctance to put climate change on the agenda of a G20 summit this weekend.
“Obama’s on board, Xi Jinping’s on board, everyone’s on board except one man,” activist Pat Norman, 28, bellowed into a megaphone on the Sydney beach.
“Tony Abbott!” the protesters shouted back.
Folks with babies, school children and working people in business suits dug holes on the beach and stuck their heads in them. The ostrich is said to stick its head in the sand in futile bid to avoid danger.
Ornithologists say the African bird does no such thing but that didn’t spoil the cheeky protest.
“Wiggle ya bums if you feel like it,” Norman shouted over the megaphone.
A few athletic types did handstands with their heads in the sand.
“To be so far behind the rest of the developed world embarrasses progressive Australia,” he said.