A win win situation – carbon economy enables conservation, with early fire practices in Australia’s Northern Territory
There is little doubt that the new carbon economy is transforming fire and biodiversity management across northern Australia. Many areas managed for biodiversity conservation can now generate a substantial income beyond the public purse. This will surely allow the further privatisation of biodiversity conservation, at a time when non-government organisations are already playing an increasingly central, and indeed successful, role in conservation in northern Australia.
Implementing biodiversity-friendly fire regimes remains an enormous management challenge in the north. Although the carbon economy is unlikely to be a panacea, it certainly provides a much-needed income stream for sustainable land management, especially for the vast lands outside of the traditional conservation estate.
Savanna burning: carbon pays for conservation in northern Australia http://theconversation.edu.au/savanna-burning-carbon-pays-for-conservation-in-northern-australia-12185 22 Feb 13, Fire and biodiversity have a complex relationship in northern Australia. Tim Flannery and others blame the current northern biodiversity crisis, at least in part, on changed fire regimes. Improving fire management is critical to conserving savanna landscapes – but who pays for it? A new funding model, tapping into the carbon economy, has emerged in the far north and is rapidly transforming fire management and biodiversity conservation.
A new funding model for fire management
The idea that land management could be funded by carbon credits emerged from Aboriginal-owned Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. By the 1990s it was clear that the region’s enormous biodiversity values were being eroded by frequent, intense late dry season fires.
To address this problem, a trailblazing group of Western scientists and land managers, and Aboriginal Traditional Owners developed a program of prescribed burning early in the dry season to pre-empt large, intense wildfires late in the dry season.
The most innovative part of their work was to link improvements in fire management to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. They also realised that this emissions reduction (or abatement) could be used to secure resources for land management. The abatement occurs because early dry season fires tend to be patchier and less intense than late season fires, and therefore burn less fuel. Because less fuel is burnt, fewer emissions are produced.
The project that resulted from this early work – the 28,000 km²West Arnhem Land Fire Abatement project – has operated since 2005 and is funded by one of the world’s largest energy companies, ConocoPhillips. They provide $1 million annually in return for an abatement of greenhouse gases equivalent to 100,000 t of CO₂. Read more »
Engineers Australia Advocates 80 Per Cent Reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions http://designbuildsource.com.au/engineers-australia-advocates-80-per-cent-reduction-in-greenhouse-gas-emissions By Marc Howe, 19 Feb 13, A submission by Engineers Australia (IEAust) to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) endorses ambitious new targets for reductions in the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century.
The new benchmarks target a reduction of 25 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050 based on 2000 levels. These declines are believed to be necessary for Australia to make a meaningful contribution to international efforts to keep emissions within 450 ppm of equivalent carbon dioxide (CO2-e), and ensure that global average temperature gains are kept within two degrees Celsius.
In addition to supporting the new set of targets, the Sustainable Engineering Society strongly advocates a stricter target of 350ppm CO2-e, due to uncertainty over whether the 450ppm target will be sufficient to limit worrying gains in global temperature levels.
The professional engineering body also supports the concomitant shift to renewable energies that such ambitious reductions in CO2 emissions will necessitate. Read more »
A bill on a carbon price is to be introduced into the US Senate as early as today (US time) by independentSenator Bernie Sanders and Democrat Barbara Boxer. Details are scant, but it seems likely to be a form of carbon tax that would impose a “fee on carbon pollution emissions” and fund “historic investments in energy efficiency and sustainable energy technologies such as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass”. It would provide rebates to consumers to offset any efforts by oil, coal or gas companies to raise prices.
Sounds a lot like Australia’s scheme.
Obama’s climate push leaves Abbott out in the cold, REneweconomy, By Giles Parkinson 14 February 2013 Here’s a statistic that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, the former trainee Catholic seminarian who insists that no other nation is pricing carbon, might find interesting. The number of people living in countries with carbon taxes or emission trading schemes will rise to about one billion by the end of the year. There are almost as many of them in the world as there are Catholics.
Abbott may wish this fact out of existence, but if US President Barack Obama has his way — as announced in his State of the Union (SOTU) address yesterday – and the world’s biggest economy introduces a market-based system to limit carbon emissions, that global carbon headcount would jump by 300 million or so by the end of 2014.
If China goes ahead with its pilot carbon schemes in a bunch of provinces and cities, and prepares for a wider scheme, that would add another 1.4 billion. Abbott may find himself taking Australian voters to a double dissolution election — where he would seek to win what would would effectively be a referendum on climate action — by pretending the world is not acting on climate change. To paraphrase and lightly censor a remark made by Climate Change Minister Greg Combet yesterday, it’s a load of bollocks.
So what did Obama say yesterday?
“I urge this Congress to get together, pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.”
Obama was expected to focus on climate change policies in SOTU, after making it a central point of his inauguration address, but the fact that he so specifically championed cap-and-trade has taken many by surprise…….. Read more »
It would be tempting to think that this was just Barnaby Joyce, and attacking renewables with his incoherent gusto would have been laughable – were it not for the fact that he will be a senior minister in an Abbott government, and that his views are shared by the likes of Abbott, finance spokesman Andrew Robb, treasurer in waiting Joe Hockey, and the energy spokesman Ian Macfarlane – and dozens of others.
the Coalition continues to speak from a position of ignorance – or possible from regulatory capture from the industry incumbents.
Barnaby Joyce’s renewables target: 100% ignorance REneweconomy, By Giles Parkinson 7 February 2013 We are barely a week into this seven-and-a-half month election campaign, and it is already clear that the “alternative” government of Tony Abbott is out on a seek and destroy mission on any policy that might serve to promote the development of renewable energy, in particular those emerging renewables that will seal the fate of the incumbent coal generators.
First it was the promise to repeal the carbon price, then the ambiguity over the renewable energy target, and then the attempt to neuter the Clean Energy Finance Corporation even before it was up and running. Then they unleashed Barnaby Joyce in The Senate.
“What is this insane lemming-like desire to go to renewables going to do to our economy?” Joyce told the Senate, before veering off into a rant about wind farms in every back garden, how they were expensive, didn’t work half the time, and will never replace coal, gas, hydro or nuclear.
Again, he betrayed the reason for his antipathy to renewables – the climate, he said, had barely changed despite the introduction of the carbon price six months ago – repeating the idiotic statement made by Tony Abbott in his first address of the year. Read more »
Where the major parties stand on clean energy and climate REneweconomy, By Giles Parkinson 31 January 2013 The official party platforms have not yet been unveiled for the September 14 poll – and may not be until after the “official” campaign period begins on August 12. Still, it’s pretty clear where the three main parties stand, so we’ve outlined the principal issues.
Coalition: Abbott is still haunted by his remark describing the science underpinning climate change as “crap”, and in his written campaign speech on Monday said nothing to suggest he has changed his mind. Quite the opposite, actually. Party policy still has no mention of “climate change” or the threat it poses, rather talk of “cleaning up the environment” via direct action to reduce carbon emissions and “a 15,000-strong Green Army charged with the clean-up and conservation of our environment – so that we can all enjoy a cleaner environment and a more sustainable future without the impost of the carbon tax.”
Abbott is also surrounded by climate denialists in own party, and on his Business Advisory Council, which is to be chaired by Maurice Newman, who also happens to be a vocal anti-wind energy campaigner. Joe Hockey has vowed to dismantle the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.
Labor: Yes. Federal climate change minister Greg Combet has repeatedly said that “the debate over whether climate change is real was decided long ago,” while the PM told the National Press Club on Wednesday that “climate change is not a future proposition. We are living through climate change.”
Greens: Yes, and they are the only party to propose policies that truly reflect the science.
RENEWABLE ENERGY TARGET…..
EMISSIONS REDUCTION TARGET….
CARBON FARMING INITIATIVE….. http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/where-the-parties-stand-on-clean-energyclimate-82709
In Australia, those [climate change action] mechanisms have been set in motion – albeit a little too slowly – through the carbon price, the renewable energy target, and the Clean Energy Finance Corp (CEFC) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.
Abbott, though, is determined to throw this transition into reverse.
The whole policy is, of course, absolute nonsense, as even Malcolm Turnbull has revealed on several occasions. It’s a policy designed by vested interests – to sweep away as many environmental checks and balances and initiatives at state and federal level to allow certain organisations to maximise short term profits.
Abbott locks in with Tea Party and a green army http://reneweconomy.com.au/2013/abbott-locks-in-with-tea-party-and-a-green-army-67668 By Giles Parkinson 28 January 2013 This is going to be a very long year. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has kicked off the political calendar with a sort of mini-election launch in the western suburbs of Sydney. Some media types billed it as a presidential-style event, but the most striking and worrying similarity to the last US election campaign was not Abbott’s shirt sleeves nor his soapbox, but his grim determination to hang on to Tea Party politics and policies on climate and clean energy.
“Isn’t it bizarre that this government thinks that somehow raising the price of electricity is going to clean up our environment, stop bushfires, stop floods, stop droughts?” Abbott said in his speech. “Just think of how much hotter it might have been the other day but for the carbon tax!”
Borrowed straight from the handbook of Fox News in the US, Alan Jones, and News Ltd bloggers such as Andrew Bolt and Tim Blair. Abbott seems grimly determined to ignore the science in the search of cheap trick.
Of course a carbon imposed six months ago won’t knock 0.5C off Sydney’s record of 45.6 in early January – any more than paying utilities to close coal-fired generation would under the Coalition’s plans would.
As the science explains, the climate impacts we are feeling now are the result of man-made emissions built up over decades. And as President Obama explained in his inauguration speech last week, the action we take now will influence our legacy for future generations. It is worth repeating those words. “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Read more »
Australia, Coal And The Point Of No Return http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=3562 25 Jan 13, A new report states if planned expansion of coal exports from Australia proceeds, the nation will be one of the biggest global contributors to catastrophic climate change.
The Greenpeace report, ‘The Point of No Return’, says Australia is the second biggest offender in a list of 14 mega coal projects in the pipeline that will help it regain its filthy crown. In re-assuming the throne; a massive price will be paid by all.
“In 2020, the emissions from the 14 projects showcased in this report – if they were all to go ahead – would raise global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels by 20% and keep the world on a path towards 5°C to 6°C of warming.”
By 2025, Australian coal exports could increase to 408 million tonnes a year above 2011 levels, pushing associated carbon emissions up by 1,200 million tonnes annually once the coal is burned.
“By then, the CO2 emissions caused by Australian coal exports would be three times as large as the emissions from Australia’s entire domestic energy use,” says the report.
To avoid the point of no return, the report references the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2011; which states building of new fossil fuel infrastructure needs to stop within five years. Greenpeace says given this, it is “placing the planned dirty energy projects in direct conflict with a liveable climate.”
It doesn’t have to be this way says the group.
“If the governments supporting the projects in this report help push the world past the point of no return, the great irony will be that the resulting climate chaos was preventable.”
Greenpeace says clean and safe renewable energy, combined with energy efficiency, can bring us back from the brink. Far from being pie-in-the-sky; the progress made just in the last decade is testimony to what could be achieved with a focus on renewables as the centrepiece of the world’s energy future. The 60-page Point Of No Return report can be viewed in full here (PDF).
THE Queensland premier says it’s “very convenient” to blame climate change for conditions that have always occurred in Australia. Campbell Newman made the comment after federal Nationals Leader Warren Truss said it was “utterly simplistic” to draw a link between climate change and Australia’s recent heatwave and bushfire crisis.
But last week, the federal government’s Climate Commission said the heatwave and bushfires had been exacerbated by global warming.
On Monday, Mr Newman was asked if he believed there was a link between the bushfires, the heatwave and climate change.
“It’s very convenient to blame things that have happened in this country for millennia on climate change,” he replied…….
“I believe we can leave to the experts to make the debate about whether that’s the case….
“The Climate Commission says climate change is making heatwaves more frequent and making it more likely they will stay for longer,” The Australian Conservation Foundation spokesman Tony Mohr said in a statement. “The same body of climate experts expects extreme fire danger days to rise more than 15 per cent in most of eastern Australia.” http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/breaking-news/climate-change-talk-convenient-newman/story-fn3dxiwe-1226553573449
(VIDEOS) Rising seas may put $300b of property at risk: scientists http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-01-14/how-will-rising-seas-impact-australia/4460688 Jan 14, 2013
How is climate change expected to impact on different parts of Australia? This is the first of a five-part series in which environment reporter Sarah Clarke sets out to provide answers. Climate scientists are urging Australian authorities – and residents – to prepare for rising sea levels that could put about $300 billion worth of commercial property, infrastructure and homes at risk.
The United Nations’ chief science body will meet in Hobart tomorrow for the latest round of talks before the release of its fifth major climate paper in September.
More than three-quarters of Australians live near the ocean, and Alan Stokes from the National Sea Change Taskforce says sea-level rises will challenge many Australians’ beachfront lifestyles.
View sea-level rise maps
The Federal Government has developed a series of initial sea-level rise maps to show climate change’s potential impact in key urban areas.
You can explore maps for the following regions:
Do you want salt with that? http://www.abc.net.au/rural/sa/content/2013/01/s3669334.htm By Nikolai Beilharz, 14 January 2013 Farmers are being warned not to draw too much fresh water out of coastal aquifers, because they could become inundated with salt water.
The National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training says that two thirds of groundwater aquifers in Australia are at moderate to high risk of saltwater intrusion.
Associate professor at Flinders University Adrian Werner, says it’s a growing problem that has the potential to get worse.
We should use our UN position to press for urgent global action.
“…….Of course, it has always been hot in Adelaide in summer. There have been days over 40 degrees every year since we abandoned the old Fahrenheit scale that gave us more impressive readings of over 100 degrees. Tasmania is recovering from dreadful fires and the heatwave in New South Wales is producing bushfire conditions described as catastrophic. Again, there have been bad bushfire seasons in the past.
No one extreme event is by itself an indication of climate change. However, we should recognise that the overall pattern of more frequent and more severe extreme events is exactly what climate scientists have been warning about for 25 years.
When I wrote Living in the Hothouse in 2005, the publisher put a striking picture of the 2003 Canberra fires on the cover. He explained his thinking to me. The science is telling us that such events, historically happening once in 100 years, would now happen much more often. That is what global warming is doing. It is increasing the probability of extreme events such as the 2009 Victorian Black Saturday fires or the current conditions in NSW.
For decades now, the insurance industry has recognised the reality of climate change and its costs. As one executive told me at the 1997 Kyoto conference: ”We see the evidence in the red ink on our balance sheet, the result of rapidly increasing property insurance payouts.”
In 1997, most commercial sectors were in denial about climate change, as the fossil fuel industries and their political supporters still are. But those who collect hard data on the consequences of extreme events already knew what was happening.
As Australia recovers from the events of last week, we face a future of increasing average temperatures and more severe extreme events: heatwaves, bushfires, cyclones, floods. It is getting harder to accept the obfuscation and delaying tactics of the fossil fuel interests and their supporters. Some are still saying they doubt the science, even though it has been correctly predicting what would happen for 25 years.
It is a question of risk. Even if we thought there was still some doubt about the science, how much should we be prepared to gamble on the hope that it might be wrong? Nobody would get into a car if they knew there was a 90 per cent chance its brakes or steering would fail and risk their life. Few would be prepared to accept a 10 per cent chance. Even the prime minister warned people in Tasmania of the likely consequences of failing to take concerted action to slow climate change. But we don’t yet have a policy response that reflects the urgency of the situation.
We now have a modest price on releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, but it should be increased to a level that would drive investment into clean energy supply technologies. We have a target of getting 20 per cent of our electricity from renewables by 2020, but we could do much more with policies to support solar and wind energy. We aim to reduce our national greenhouse gas pollution by a totally inadequate 5 per cent by 2020, whereas we should have a target that reflects the urgency of the situation. We are still exporting hundreds of millions of tonnes of coal and planning to open new large export coal mines, as if we just didn’t know that the coal will be burnt and accelerate climate change. A visitor from another galaxy would conclude that we just did not understand the risks we are taking, as if we were all too stupid to have listened to our best atmospheric scientists.
We are now on the UN Security Council, an opportunity to influence global events. As well as getting our own house in order, we should be urging the world to respond. We face a bleak future otherwise
Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) to be retained and improved Whilst the CCA recognises that merging the LRET with the SRES may be cost-effective, the CCA recommends keeping the two schemes separate as it considers that there are less disruptive ways of addressing concerns over costs.
Australia: Renewable Energy Target to be maintained http://www.mondaq.com/australia/x/215886/Renewables/Renewable+Energy+Target+to+be+maintained13 January 2013Article by Elisa De Wit and Florence Riviere
Following the stakeholder consultation in October 2012, the Climate Change Authority (CCA) has recently released its final report (Report) on the Renewable Energy Target (RET).
The CCA has recommended that the key elements of the RET be retained. This recommendation is based on the CCA’s view that the RET has a continuing role to play in supporting investment in renewable generation in an uncertain policy environment. Instead of challenging the existence or the substance of the RET, the Report focuses on ways to improve the RET.
No changes to key elements Read more »
Blaming climate change for heatwave ‘simplistic’, The Age January 10,
2013 Judith Ireland ACTING Opposition Leader Warren Truss says it is
”too simplistic” to link the current heatwave and fires to climate
Earlier this week, when touring fire-affected areas of
Tasmania, Prime Minister Julia Gillard linked extreme weather events
to climate change. She said: ”While you would not put any one event
down to climate change … we do know that over time as a result of
climate change we are going to see more extreme-weather events.”
As Fairfax Media reported on Wednesday, the Bureau of Meteorology says
this heatwave – in terms of its duration, intensity and extent – is
unprecedented in its records.
Mr Truss is acting Opposition Leader as Tony Abbott has been deployed
to Nowra, New South Wales, as a volunteer with his local fire brigade.
Mr Abbott has delayed his annual holiday by three days to help the
Davidson Rural Fire Brigade. :
Events have not been kind to the likes of Abbott, Bolt and Plimer. The current heatwave – so severe that the Bureau of Meteorology has been forced to add a new colour to its temperature maps – is just the latest event in a decade of extraordinary weather: weather of the kind that scientists have long warned is a likely consequence of man-made global warming.
Tony Abbott says he’s currently on standby with his local fire brigade but as his opposition to effective action on climate change is likely to contribute to even more extreme events in the future, this looks like the most cynical kind of stunt politics.
Australia’s new weather demands a new politics; a politics capable of responding to an existential threat.
Heatwave: Australia’s new weather demands a new politics http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/08/australia-heatwave-weather
Climate change clashes with the myth of a land where progress is limited only by the rate at which resources can be extracted George Monbiot
guardian.co.uk, 8 January 2013 I wonder what Tony Abbott will say about the record heatwave now ravaging his country. The Australian opposition leader has repeatedly questioned the science and impacts of climate change. He has insisted that “the science is highly contentious, to say the least” and asked – demonstrating what looks like a wilful ignorance – “If man-made CO2 was quite the villain that many of these people say it is, why hasn’t there just been a steady increase starting in 1750, and moving in a linear way up the graph?”He has argued against Australian participation in serious attempts to cut emissions.
Climate change denial is almost a national pastime in Australia. People such as Andrew Bolt and Ian Plimer have made a career out of it. The Australian – owned by Rupert Murdoch – takes such extreme anti-science positions that it sometimes makes the Sunday Telegraph look like the voice of reason. Read more »
‘‘Clearly, the climate system is responding to the background warming trend. Everything that happens in the climate system now is taking place on a planet which is a degree hotter than it used to be.’’As the warming trend increases over coming years, record-breaking heat will become more and more common, Dr Jones said.
While temperatures vary on a local and regional scale, globally it has
now been 27 years since the world experienced a month that was colder
Get used to record-breaking heat: bureau,
January 9, 2013 Ben Cubby Environment Editor Temperatures off the charts as Australia turns deep purple
US posts year of record high temperatures The heatwave that has scorched the nation since Christmas is a taste of things to come, with this week’s records set to tumble again and again in the coming years, climate scientists said.
The hottest average maximum temperature ever recorded across Australia – 40.33 degrees, set on Monday – may only stand for 24 hours and be eclipsed when all of Tuesday’s readings come in. Previously, thatrecord had stood since December 21, 1972.
‘The current heatwave – in terms of its duration, its intensity and its extent – is now unprecedented in our records,’’ the Bureau of Meteorology’s manager of climate monitoring and prediction, David Jones, said. Read more »