Australian news, and some related international items

Australian Liberal Party is urged, by farmers, to defeat climate denialism

climate-AustFarmers call on Liberals to snuff out internal push by climate sceptic conservatives, SMH, June 25, 2015  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……

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

ANZ leads big four bank exposure to fossil fuel industry

fossil-fuel-industryA new report finds that Australia’s big four banks have almost $37 billion in loan exposures to the fossil fuel sector.

June 19, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Rockefeller Brothers Fund warns Australia on diseconomics of investing in coal

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.

June 15, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Australia’s big miners in tandem pushing coal and uranium industries

dirty-nuclearBig 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.

June 10, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Australia trashes its international reputation, in its adoration of coal

fossil-fuel-industryAustralia stands out as a major recipient of overseas public finance for coal and coal seam gas projects, grabbing some $3.96 billion of public financing from overseas governments.

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

June 8, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

International embarassment: Led by Tony Abbott, Australia has lost the plot on climate change

Australia was grilled by other delegatesat a United Nations conference in Bonn, Germany on Thursday.

Abbott-in-hot-panAustralia has forfeited world leadership on climate policy, says Kofi Annan panel, Guardian, , 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.

“Despite the known threats, far too many countries are failing to take decisive action. Several countries including Australia and Canada appear to have withdrawn entirely from constructive international engagement on climate,” the report said.

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

June 6, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Universities can get tax-payer funding for a Bjorn Lomborg climate centre

Lomborg, BjornUniversities 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……..

June 4, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Effects of extreme heat in USA – and what about Australia?

heatAnthony 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.,7750

May 31, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Australia’s public sector now losing its climate change experts

 A 2012 ABARES report stated “Climate variability is a major risk for agricultural production, and this risk is likely to increase under future climate change”.

Canberra’s climate change brain drain becoming critical, The Mandarin 28 May 15  by Climate change expertise is being lost from the public sector as the government fails to fill board vacancies and departments stop commissioning climate policy modelling from ABARES. Continue reading

May 29, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

The Bjorn Lomborg recipe for inaction on Climate Change

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.

Lomborg, Bjorn

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

May 24, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Bjorn Lomborg’s USA operation seems to break many USA rules

Lomborg, Bjorn

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 herehere, 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  BJohn 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

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

Bjorn Lomborg remains confident about his climate action delaying centre

Map-Abbott-climateCCC’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.”……

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

Southern Antarctic Peninsula ice sheet now collapsing?

ice-sheets-melting‘Stable’ Antarctic ice sheet may have started collapsing, scientists say, Guardian, , 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……

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

Why Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne want Bjørn Lomborg’s Consensus Centre

cartoon-climate-AustWhy the Abbott government wants Bjørn Lomborg’s Consensus Centre, The Saturday Paper , 16 May 15  MIKE SECCOMBE
Covert negotiations, whispered announcements and an awkward about-face reveal a political agenda behind reaching consensus.  Mazzarol, Winthrop professor in the business school of the University of Western Australia, is reciting the long list of hoops a proponent must jump through to gain approval for a research centre at the university.

“Normally they have to demonstrate they will contribute to research output of the university and the reputation of the university,” he says. “They must have at least six full-time equivalent academic staff engaged in research at the university, a viable plan for the growth of the centre, the capacity to be self-sustaining. They must have an academic and a business plan, a clear indication of the resources, facilities, funding, negotiated targets for research, training, publication volume, output quality and how that will all be measured.”

He continues, citing the criteria listed on the UWA website: “It must also have the approval of the academic council, normally has to have an interdisciplinary role, and to have demonstrated consultation with other parts of the faculty that might be involved.”

The list of requirements and processes is detailed, but Mazzarol’s point is simple. “This one didn’t go through any of those steps.”

He is referring to an entity proposed by Danish climate change contrarian Bjørn Lomborg, ironically named the Australia Consensus Centre (ACC), whose establishment was secretively negotiated over six months, quietly revealed six weeks ago, and then abandoned after an ugly collision between academe and politics. Continue reading

May 18, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Bjorn Lomborg’s Climate Change Agenda

Why the Abbott government wants Bjørn Lomborg’s Consensus Centre, The Saturday Paper , 16 May 15  “…….Lomborg’s agenda

climate-changeBjørn Lomborg is not a climate change denier. He accepts the overwhelming scientific consensus that it is happening and that human activity is responsible. His argument is that there are other more pressing issues facing humanity. And this is what makes him useful to the political right.

Simple denialism is not politically tenable anymore. But Lomborg provides cover for those reluctant to take strong action to limit the emission of greenhouse gases, by suggesting we should work on other things first, and that stronger action on climate change might actually impede those other endeavours.

His method is to apply economic cost-benefit analysis to these various problems, to try to determine priorities. His results tend to give comfort to conservatives in general and climate change do-nothing-ists in particular.

By his formulation, for example, freer global trade returns a benefit of $2011 for every dollar spent, making it 45 times more worthwhile than reducing child malnutrition. Cutting people’s salt intake is deemed roughly 10 times as financially beneficial as spending more on health for the world’s 2.5 billion poorest people. It’s a sort of grand cost-benefit theory of everything.

So when Tony Abbott says coal is good for humanity, it is defensible on Lomborg numbers, which hold that bringing electricity to everyone in the world returns $5 for every dollar spent, while limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees returns a benefit of less than $1.

To say his methods are unorthodox and controversial is to be very understated indeed. Lomborg himself is neither a climate scientist nor an economist. His qualifications are in political science. Rather than rely on primary research, his theories are based on meta-analysis – that is, the harvesting of data produced by others, which is then weighted and modelled to determine relative values.

This has led to numerous complaints from other academics that their work has been either misinterpreted or misrepresented. The detail is too extensive and arcane to go into – suffice to say, books have been written and formal complaints made in his native Denmark and elsewhere.

His original Copenhagen Consensus Centre was funded by a conservative government, then defunded by a successor progressive government. After he set up in the United States, his critics complained that he took funds from right-wing climate change denialist organisations……


May 18, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | 1 Comment


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