Australian Climate Roundtable: Business, union, environmental, investor and welfare groups form unusual coalition on climate policy ABC News AM By AM business editor Peter Ryan 28 June 15 An unprecedented alliance of business, union, environmental, investor and welfare groups has been formed to forge what it sees as urgent common ground on climate policy.
The highly unusual coalition — to be branded the Australian Climate Roundtable — comes as developed nations gear up for the Paris Climate Conference in December, where leaders will be under pressure to update their strategies for dealing with climate change.
While Australia’s main political parties support the international goal of limiting climate change to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the alliance warns the objective will require “deep global reductions”.
The high-profile members cover some influential employer and industry lobby groups, such as the Australian Industry (Ai) Group, the Business Council of Australia (BCA), the Australian Aluminium Council, the Energy Supply Association and the Investor Group on Climate Change.
They will be joined by groups at the opposite end of the political and economic spectrum — the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), WWF Australia, the Australian Council of Social Service, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and the Climate Institute.
In a statement, the Roundtable warned emissions reductions on the necessary scale would require “substantial change “and present “significant challenges” in Australia and other developed nations……..
Outlining its goals, the group said the “ideal” climate policy taken to the Paris conference should:
- be capable of achieving deep reductions in Australia’s net emissions;
- provide confidence that targeted emissions reductions actually occur;
- be based on the full range of climate risks;
- be well designed, stable and internationally linked;
- operate at least cost to the domestic economy; and
- remain efficient as circumstances change and Australia’s emissions reduction goals evolve.
Highlighting the social risks of climate policy and climate change, the Roundtable said climate policy must also:…… http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-29/australian-climate-roundtable-business-unions-policy-alliance/6579106
Back home, the Abbott government was furiously arguing that there was nothing unusual about this – that the probe was a standard part of the laborious theatre of international climate negotiations.
“I think he’s right. We got some 36 questions on notice, so there is substantial interest in Australia’s climate change policies,” Peter Woolcott, Australia’s environment ambassador, later told the meeting.
“Particularly since the change of government, and the change in our approach to the Direct Action scheme to address climate change challenges in Australia.”
While some in Australia make the case that the country is largely irrelevant as a tiny contributor to global emissions – about 1 per cent of the total – the meeting in Bonn, Germany earlier this month suggested the international community thinks otherwise.
To many observers it was clear that other countries are closely watching Australia’s climate change debate as work continues on a global treaty due to be signed in Paris late this year. Continue reading
Farmers call on Liberals to snuff out internal push by climate sceptic conservatives, SMH, June 25, 2015 Heath Aston Political reporter Farmers are circulating an open letter calling on the Liberal Party to kill off an internal push to derail Australia making meaningful commitments at the upcoming Paris climate talks.
The letter, which describes farmers as being “on the front line of rising temperatures and more extreme weather”, urges the Liberals to resoundingly defeat a climate sceptic motion to be debated at its federal council meeting on Saturday……http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/farmers-call-on-liberals-to-snuff-out-internal-push-by-climate-sceptic-conservatives-20150625-ghxp5s.html
A new report finds that Australia’s big four banks have almost $37 billion in loan exposures to the fossil fuel sector.
Australian Government ‘stuck in the past’ defending fossil fuels, descendant of John D Rockefeller says, ABC News Four Corners By Geoff Thompson 15 June 15 A descendant of America’s first billionaire John D Rockefeller, whose fortune was built on oil, has accused the Australian Government of being “stuck in the past” for continuing to defend fossil fuels like coal.
Valerie Rockefeller Wayne is the chair of the $1.1 billion Rockefeller Brothers Fund, a charity committed to social change. The fund last year joined a growing “divestment” movement by abandoning its investments in coal companies.
“The value of coal stock in the United States has gone down 60 to 90 per cent,” Ms Rockefeller told the ABC’s Four Corners program. “This is a global phenomenon and we want to get out of those because we see the fossil fuel investments as risky.”
Ms Rockefeller said the numbers for coal no longer added up in Australia either.
“If you look just at the financial data in Australia … over the past five years, the SNP500 has gone up by 76 per cent,” she said. “The value of coal stocks has gone down by 71 per cent, so you’ve lost a lot of money if you’ve been in coal.”…………..
“In my mind Australia’s an extremely progressive country that has been an international player on so many issues. “It is baffling to me why the current Australian Government is stuck in the past rather than looking towards the future and becoming part of the solution.”
Ten days ago Norway decided one of the world’s richest government pension funds, the $1.1 trillion Norwegian Sovereign Wealth fund, would divest from companies that derive more than 30 per cent of their income from coal.
Last week the G7 group of industrial nations agreed to give up fossil fuels by the end of the century. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-15/government-stuck-in-the-past-defending-fossil-fuels-rockefeller/6544200
Big miners say they can survive push to end fossil fuels, SMH, June 9, 2015 Tom Arup and Lisa Cox Australia’s big miners have declared they have a future despite a push to stamp out fossil fuel emissions from the global economy backed by G7 world leaders, pinning their pitch on clean coal technology and uranium……….
Overnight on Monday G7 leaders, which include United States President Barrack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, released a statement throwing their weight behind ending fossil-fuel emissions from the use of coal, gas and oil by the end of the century.
The declaration, which followed a G7 leaders’ summit in Germany, also backed emissions cuts of near 70 per cent by 2050 from 2010 levels, the upper end of recent recommendations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)…..
Greens Leader Richard Di Natale said the G7 statement presented “big challenges” for Australia’s economy as half the country’s coal exports went to G7 countries and they were saying they did not want it anymore. http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/big-miners-say-they-can-survive-push-to-end-fossil-fuels-20150609-ghk5bh.html
Through Australia’s own Export Finance and Investment Corporation, the country financed some $1.39billion between 2009 and 2014 for coal industry projects.
But as Paris draws nearer, is Australia willing to sacrifice its international reputation and the future state of its own climate on the alter of coal?
Will Australia continue to sacrifice its international reputation on the altar of coal?, Guardian 7 June 15 Graham Readfearn Arguments that coal is the answer to poverty are based on “implausible economics with unsubstantiated evidence” says report led by Kofi Annan. We’re now well passed the halfway point on the long road to Paris and a new global climate agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Australia took its turn to defend its domestic policies and targets during United Nations talks in Germany yesterday,
You can hear the whole exchange on the UN website but in short, Australian representatives insisted that it had the policies in place to meet its “not credible” target to cut emissions by five per cent by 2020 from 2000 levels.
Just to be clear, the Australian delegation didn’t describe the target as “not credible” – that came from the government’s own Climate Change Authority back in 2013.
Australia also talked-up its Direct Action climate policy – a measure that asks taxpapers to pay for emissions reductions and leaves fossil fuel companies unaffected.
Australia’s real self-interest Continue reading
Australia was grilled by other delegatesat a United Nations conference in Bonn, Germany on Thursday.
Australia has forfeited world leadership on climate policy, says Kofi Annan panel, Guardian, Shalailah Medhora, 5 June 15 Canberra has withdrawn from constructive engagement on the issue, says report, as Australia is grilled at crucial meeting in Germany. Australia has forfeited its position as a global leader on tackling climate change and is now a “free-rider”, a panel led by former secretary general of the United Nations Kofi Annan has said.
The Africa Progress Report 2015 disputes claims by the fossil fuel lobby that moving away from carbon would impede economic growth in developing countries. It says high-emitting nations, such as Australia, have stepped back from global discussions in favour of unilateral action.
It is particular scathing about the direction in which Australia’s climate change policies are headed.
“With one of the world’s highest levels of per capita emissions, Australia has gone from leadership to free-rider status in climate diplomacy. Repeal of the Clean Energy Future Plan effectively abolished carbon pricing. Continue reading
Universities told to speak to Bjørn Lomborg if they want $4m in funding, Guardian, 4 June 15
Senate estimates told government funding for consensus centre is still on the table after UWA pulled out due to backlash from staff and students Universities approaching the Department of Education about the $4m in government funding available for hosting Bjørn Lomborg’s consensus centre have been told they should talk to Lomborg himself.
Since the University of Western Australia pulled out of a $4m deal with the federal government to host the centre, the department had “had some informal approaches from universities who might be interested and suggested to them and Dr Lomborg they might want to talk”, the associate secretary of the department, Robert Griew, told senate estimates on Wednesday night.
Labor senator Kim Carr asked “so if a university wants to take this up they should talk to Dr Lomborg?”
“Yes, but of course they could talk to us as well,” Dr Griew replied.
Carr, a long-term minister in Labor governments, said he had “never seen anything like this before where the government would hand over $4m … and hopefully find someone to take it up.”
The committee heard the $4m had been found from consolidated revenue in the May 2014 budget, but not announced at that time, and that the education department had first heard about it from the department of prime minister and cabinet.
The department had spoken to Dr Lomborg last July and he advised them “he was in discussion with a number of universities”. Dr Lomborg had been advised to “speak to vice chancellors directly” to find a host institution for the $4m centre.
After a backlash from staff and students when Guardian Australia revealed the $4m government deal to host the “Australia Consensus Centre” UWA handed back the funding and dropped its connection with Lomborg.
The education minister, Christopher Pyne, vowed to find another university to host the centre and said he was seeking legal advice about a decision by the university to renege on the funding agreement it had signed with the commonwealth.
Griew said legal advice had been provided to the minister but no legal action had been taken against UWA……..http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/jun/03/universities-told-to-speak-to-bjrn-lomborg-if-they-want-4m-in-funding?CMP=share_btn_tw
Anthony M Horton: Extreme heat – ‘Business as usual’ life to end in less than 30 years in the U.S.
A new study projects that the United States will have a four to six-fold increase in extreme heat exposure by 2070 — and even earlier in the South. Unfortunately, no similar study has been conducted in Australia…
As a scientist, I am concerned that research into a range of climate related issues are seemingly not on the agenda in Australia and stellar pillars such as the world renowned Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) are suffering increasingly deep staff cuts at a time when they are needed the most.
It also appears that the long held “without fear or favour” bastion of these pillars has also seemingly ended. If this is really the case, it is a truly sad day for Australia-especially given the many world leading breakthroughs achieved by the former and the proud record of the latter. …
I fear for the future of Australia if this trend becomes entrenched as, by the time the Government realises they have made a tactical error, there won’t be enough trained people left to pick up the slack, as they will have retired, retrained or will be employed elsewhere in the world.
Bringing Lomborg’s work to Australia seems to have been the personal project of Prime Minister Tony Abbott who found $4 million in a budget that cannot afford to support other scientific work on climate change. Abbott is, of course, famous for dismissing climate science as “crap” and choosing as his chief business adviser a man, Maurice Newman, who believes climate science is being used by the UN to impose authoritarian rule over the world.
The Lomborg Ruse, Clive Hamilton 23 MAY 2015 No one in Australia has more relentlessly attacked environmentalists, climate science, carbon taxes and the aspirations of the United Nations than Murdoch columnist Andrew Bolt.
So what does it mean when Bolt sings the praises of a man who is a declared environmentalist, accepts the body of evidence for climate change, supports a carbon tax and is a strong supporter of the United Nations? Oh, and he’s also a gay vegetarian who’s never out of a trendy black T-shirt.
And what are we to make of it when Bolt, who has complained bitterly that the nation’s universities are stacked with leftists, is now up in arms because a man with admittedly left-leaning politics is sent packing from one of those universities.
I speak of course of Bjorn Lomborg and the University of Western Australia’s reversal of its decision to host his Consensus Centre and so reject the $4 million offered by the Federal Government.
Bolt is not Lomborg’s only unlikely defender. John Roskam of the Institute of Public Affairs writes that the opposition to Lomborg “demonstrates all that’s wrong with Australia’s universities”. The IPA, from the late 1990s the epicentre of the dissemination of climate science denial in Australia, now claims that the man who declares “I believe in global warming” has been “muzzled” and must be heard. (The IPA hosted a Lomborg visit to Australia in 2003, at the prompting of federal industry minister Ian Macfarlane.) Continue reading
It is unclear that Lomborg himself is a legitimate charity anywhere, but most of the money seems under his control. One might also wonder where income taxes are paid.
Perhaps with his new $4 million Australia Consensus Center (covered here, here, here) Bjorn Lomborg may pick a better site than a US shipping storefront, since he’ll receive much more taxpayer money, directly, courtesy of the Australian government. That does seem simpler
Bjorn Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus Center – Real Charity Or “Foreign Conduit”? DeSmogBlog By John Mashey • Sunday, April 26, 2015 Bjørn Lomborg is founder and president of the Copenhagen Consensus CenterUSA (CCC)), a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) “public charity” whose US physical presence is shown in the image: 262 Middlesex St, Lowell MA. Lomborg and the Copenhagen Consensus Center are known to DeSmog readers for efforts to downplay the importance of addressing climate change, a subset of climate science denialism that has infected the public debate across the English-speaking world.
Despite the name, it has not been based in Copenhagen since 2011. Continue reading
CCC’s Bjorn Lomborg appears unfazed by criticisms and setbacks, The Age May 23, 2015 – Paul McGeough, Amidst uncertainty over his planned expansion into Australia, sponsored and part-funded by Canberra, Danish climate contrarian Bjorn Lomborg is unapologetic over secret donor funding and his own, at times, large salary as head of the Copenhagen Consensus Centre (CCC).
Defending the donations, Lomborg doubled-back on a position he took late last year when he volunteered, in a Freakonomics talk in the US, “almost all” CCC donors wished to remain anonymous……
Asked if the combination of past trenchant scientific and environmentalist criticism of his “bang-for-your-buck” analysis, which underpinned the outrage at UWA, and of his willingness to accept some anonymous funding risked the credibility of his proposed Australian operation, Lomborg countered: “CCC has been recognised repeatedly as a top global think-tank – it has a strong reputation because of the excellent research that it produces with more than 100 leading economists and seven Nobel laureates.”
Yet Lomborg baulked, when asked about the intellectual hinge in his relationship with Canberra – did the Abbott government enlist him in the Australian discourse because he had always believed humans cause global warming, or because he now spent most of his waking hours articulating arguments against controversial proposals to cut carbon emissions?….
n the 2013 filings, Lomborg’s salary was reveal to be $200, 484, but in the previous year it was more than three times that amount – $US775, 000.That figure caused a rolling of eyes in some scientific and environmental corners. But unabashed, Lomborg told Fairfax Media: “My salary is assessed by a compensation committee. My position is as leader of a globally recognised, top-ranked think-tank and research funder, interacting with hundreds of the world’s top economists, opinion-makers and leaders.”
Hoping to ride out the storm over his appointment, Lomborg said in April: “We want to have this conversation in the developing world, but Imagine having it in Australia too. In a democracy we talk about what can be done in three-year election cycles, but let’s ask what could Australia do in the lifetime of the next generation.”……http://www.theage.com.au/national/cccs-bjorn-lomborg-appears-unfazed-by-criticisms-and-setbacks-20150522-gh6h2g
‘Stable’ Antarctic ice sheet may have started collapsing, scientists say, Guardian, Karl Mathiesen, 22 May 15 Southern Antarctic Peninsula ice sheet losing ice 8,500 times the mass of the Great Pyramid of Giza every year, satellite data shows A vast slab of Antarctic ice that was previously stable may have started to collapse, according to new analysis of satellite data.
Research published in the journal Science on Thursday found the Southern Antarctic Peninsula (SAP) ice sheet is losing ice into the ocean at a rate of 56 gigatons each year – about 8,500 times the mass of the Great Pyramid of Giza. This adds around 0.16mm per year to the global sea level.
The sheet’s thickness has remained stable since satellite observations began in 1992. But Professor Jonathan Bamber of Bristol university, who co-authored the study, said that around 2009 it very suddenly began to thin by an average of 42cm each year. Some areas had fallen by up to 4m.
“It hasn’t been going up, it hasn’t been going down – until 2009. Then it just seemed to pass some kind of critical threshold and went over a cliff and it’s been losing mass at a pretty much constant, rather large, rate,” said Bamber……http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/may/21/stable-antarctic-ice-sheet-may-have-started-collapsing-scientists-say