Australian news, and some related international items

Global warming contributed to Sydney’s record warm year

heatSydney weather: Record warm year with few cold spells January 6, 2015  Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald

If you thought Sydney had been warm over the past year or so, you’d be right.

Last year was the city’s equal warmest for overnight temperatures and its second-warmest for means and maximums in 156 years of record keeping at Observatory Hill.

For some temperature measures, such as for NSW heat, the previous record had been set only a year earlier.

Agata Imielska, senior climatologist at the Bureau of Meteorology in Sydney, said it was “quite surprising” to see last year eclipse 2013 given the bar had been set so high.

“We just didn’t have the cool periods,” Ms Imielska said. “There was a real persistence in the warmth.”

……….Nationally, mean temperatures in 2014 came in 0.91 degrees above the 1961-1990 average, behind only 2013 and 2005, the bureau said in its annual report. Rainfall was slightly above average, with the north unusually wet and the south largely drier than normal.

Globally, 2014 was the hottest year on record, the Japan Meteorological Agency declared this week. Land and sea-surface temperatures were 0.27 degrees above the 1981-2010 average, easily eclipsing the previous highs set in 1998, 2010 and 2013.

“Global warming is contributing to these heat records, and it’s very unlikely that we would have seen the proliferation or the frequency of these heat records around the world without the influence of global warming,” Karl Braganza, head of climate monitoring at the bureau, said.

“The climate system we live in … that’s all about 1 degree warmer than it used to be,” Dr Braganza said.

Warm and dry

For NSW, 2014 was the hottest on record for mean temperatures and the equal warmest for maximums. Among the other states, only the Northern Territory failed to notch a year among the four warmest on record……….

January 7, 2015 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Hottest daytime temperatures on record – Victoria in 2014

heatVictoria experienced hottest daytime temperatures on record in 2014, BOM annual report reveals, ABC News By Loretta Florance 5 Jan 15 Victoria recorded its hottest year on record for maximum daytime temperatures in 2014, the Bureau of Meteorology’s (BOM) annual report has revealed.

The state also recorded the second warmest year on record for mean temperatures, and the third warmest for minimum temperatures. The mean maximum temperature was 1.53 degrees Celsius above average, the Bureau of Meteorology found………

climate modelling showed that an El Nino effect on both the atmosphere and the ocean might progress over the summer, which would mean warmer temperatures in Victoria.

“We know that the year an El Nino event gets going tends to be the warmer years, so globally you’d expect 2015 to be at least as warm as 2014 if not warmer – and 2014 globally is actually looking like it’s going to be the warmest year on record,” he said.

“For eastern Australia, you tend to have the warm conditions persist through the financial year, so at least until the middle of next year, is what you’d be expecting for average conditions.”

January 7, 2015 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Victoria | Leave a comment

Health of Australians already threatened by global warming

heatAs shepherds watched, it got hotter and hotter December 24, 2014  Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald Human health – and that of other animals and even plants – is likely to become an ever more pressing public issue as temperatures rise with global warming, cities grow and populations age………

Until recently, public health authorities would issue a warning whenever the temperature was likely to exceed a certain level.

However, heatwaves are also related to the conditions people are accustomed to. To reflect that, the Bureau of Meteorology last year pioneered a heatwave service that predicts the severity of coming heatwaves based on both how far temperatures are likely to deviate from historical averages but also taking into account the previous month’s weather.

In a further tweak, the bureau has added charts to assess the impact of each heatwave after it’s hit. That’s needed because people often don’t realise the damage to health can come from exposure to prolonged warmth rather than a particular temperature spike. Continue reading

January 5, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, health, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Australia’s carbon tax resulted in dramatic decline in greenhouse gas emissions

New data shows record fall in carbon emissions , The Age  Gareth Hutchens December 23, 2014 -  Environment Minister Greg Hunt has quietly published data, just two days before Christmas, showing the second year of operation of Australia’s carbon price was more successful at reducing emissions than the first.

New data from Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory show emissions declined across Australia by 1.4 per cent over the 12 months to June.

That compares to a decline in emissions of 0.8 per cent for the previous 12 months.

The carbon price was introduced by the Gillard government and began operation on July 1, 2012. It ended on July 1, this year after the Abbott government fulfilled an election pledge by abolishing it.

The new data, published on Tuesday, record emissions produced during the final year of operation of the carbon price, from June 2013 to June 2014.

They show the electricity (minus 4 per cent), agriculture (minus 2.6 per cent), industrial processes (minus 1.3 per cent) and transport sectors (minus 0.4 per cent) all experienced declines in emissions this year………….

Greens Leader Christine Milne has slammed the federal government for waiting until after the Lima Climate Change Conference to release the data, saying the figures show just how effective Australia’s carbon price was at bringing down pollution.

“This is the biggest ever drop recorded and the price made it happen,” Ms Milne told Fairfax Media.

“Why did the government withhold this report until after the Lima climate talks? These are embarrassing figures for the Abbott government because they demonstrate just how destructive they have been to the global effort to reduce pollution and tackle dangerous global warming,” she said…….

December 24, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Problem of rising sea levels causing waves of dissent in Queensland Liberal National Party

sea-level-rise-PortseaWill climate change denials sink the LNP? DES HOUGHTON THE COURIER-MAIL DECEMBER 20, 2014  IT’S a controversy that could not have come at a worse time for Campbell Newman. Cracks are appearing in LNP ranks over a State Government edict forcing Moreton Bay Regional Council to remove a theoretical climate change sea level rise of 0.8m when considering developments.

Inside the party there are waves of discontent. Continue reading

December 22, 2014 Posted by | climate change - global warming, politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Tony Abbott shamed Australia at Lima climate summit, but will continue to sabotage climate action anyway

Abbott-in-hot-panAbbott’s ‘mean and tricky’ Australia: Lima’s Colossal Fossil, Independent Australia 18 December 2014The Abbott Government has managed to turn Australia into an international climate pariah and laughing stock in the course of just one year, writes deputy editor Sandi KeaneThe Abbott Government’s abject failure to address climate change copped a deserved hammering at Lima. ‘Fossil of the Day’ awards from the international Climate Action Network rained down on Foreign Minister Julie Bishop — the only person there who didn’t see global warming as a threat to the Great Barrier Reef. It all culminated in the final humiliation for the nation, with the ‘Colossal Fossil’ award being bestowed on Australia as the worst performer on climate change action for the entire year.

Having failed to sabotage any new global agreement by demanding legally binding emissions, Julie Bishop is now trying a different tack: as the planet cooks, she wants to cook the books. This could see Australia’s emissions skyrocket to a massive 49-57% above its original 1990 Kyoto pledge.

This latest attempt to protect vested mining interests – the Coalition’s major paymasters – hedges around the success of Bishop’s threat to scuttle any agreement on the second stage of the Kyoto Protocol unless she can use the same favourable rules around land clearing agreed to in Kyoto in 1997. Continue reading

December 22, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Bob Baldwin – another climate sceptic joins Abbott’s anti environment team

Parkinson-Report-Tony Abbott appoints climate skeptic to “help” on environment REneweconomy By  on 22 December 2014  Bob Baldwin, a man who once compared the impact of Australia’s man-made greenhouse gas emissions to that of a single strand of human hair on a 1km bridge, has been appointed parliamentary secretary to the minister of the environment. The announcement was made as part of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s ministerial reshuffle. Baldwin will assist Greg Hunt, after previously being assistant to the Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane. It comes just a few weeks after Abbott sent Trade Minister Andrew Robb,another climate skeptic, to chaperone foreign minister Julie Bishop at the Lima climate talks.

In a speech in China in 2010, at the APEC SME summit, Baldwin said that the climate had been changing for millions of years – a favourite meme of the climate denier community – and even praised Rupert Murdoch as “the starting point for green innovation”………..

another speech in parliament gives no doubt about Baldwin’s skepticism, if not outright denial. Quoting climate-denying Queensland shock-jock Michael Smith, Baldwin compared the impact of any Australian efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions to that of a human hair on a 1km bridge………..

o, that’s settled then. Hunt, who says the Abbott government does accept the science of climate change, and describes its emissions reductions to date as Australia’s great “gift to the world”, will have carriage of Australia’s domestic climate policy, while the international stuff is assumed by Bishop, after checking in with Robb.

Hunt, however, also has carriage over approvals to coal mines. The Newcastle Herald, Baldwin’s local paper, reported in August that Baldwin may be asked why the NSW anti corruption watchdog to explain why he wrote  to ‘‘implore’’ the NSW Coalition government to support Nathan Tinkler’s proposed coal-loader.

The paper said documents  with the Independent Commission Against Corruption show Baldwin drafted a letter to then-state ministers Chris Hartcher, Mike Gallacher and Duncan Gay in April 2011 urging  in-principle support to the $1 billion coal-loader. “I implore the New South Wales government to do everything it can to see this project come to fruition,” he wrote……….

December 22, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Australia’s subsidies to fossil fuel industries – $47 billion!

fossil-fuel-industryAustralian fossil fuel subsidies put at $47bn, as RET wrestle continues, REneweconomy, By  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.

December 19, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Abbott government’s lack of international credibility in Lima Climate Summit

Abbott-in-hot-panThe speed at which Australia has lost the respect of the  international community on global warming policy is truly embarrassing. 

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 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

December 13, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Australia faces a costly future with climate change’s weather extremes

Poor planning leaves Australia exposed to climate change and massive damage bills, CSIRO says ABC NewsBy 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.”………………

December 10, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Will Australia again be notorious for climate change denial policies, at the COP20?

cartoon-Tom-Toro-Will Australia be the great coal defender at Lima climate talks? Guardian,    3 Dec 14, Australia heads to major climate negotiations in the wake of high level defence of its coal industry. When a climate science denialist starts congratulating your country on its stance at major international climate change talks, you know things have gone decidedly bad.

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).

Globally, 2014 is on track to be one of the hottest – if not the hottest – years ever recorded.

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.


December 5, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

COP20 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 20thConference

globalnukeNOThe narrative of nuclear being good, carbon-free and safe needs to be countered, or nuclear plants could start proliferating.

Nuclear energy is definitively not the solution

Phase out Fossils. Phase in Nuclear? Pérez Català  December 3, 2014 

highly-recommendedSecond 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

December 5, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

The Bishop – Julie – Australia’s great defender of the Coal Faith

Will Australia be the great coal defender at Lima climate talks? Guardian,    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 shBishop,-Julie-Aadow 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.

December 5, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Australia’s forgotten island people affected by rising sea levels

climate-changeRising seas pose a cultural threat to Australia’s ‘forgotten people’  The Conversation,  Elaine Kelly  Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Cultural Studies at University of Technology, Sydney 27 November 2014 While you may have heard about the increasing threat that climate change and rising seas pose to Pacific islands — already forcing some communities to move — Australia has its own group of islands that are just as threatened.

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…….


November 28, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Cheerful Tony Abbott warns on a hot summer coming (nothing to do with climate change)

heat_waveSummer’s hot, get used to it, says Tony Abbott THE AUSTRALIAN  AAP NOVEMBER 22, 2014

TONY Abbott today warned of a long, hot summer as he opened a Sydney swimming pool, but steered clear of mentioning climate change.

Abbott smiles“It’s going to be a hot summer,” he said at the Hornsby Aquatic Centre. But the Prime Minister was quick to add: “How many Australian summers are not hot summers?”

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.

November 23, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment


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