Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Despite the Turnbull government, Australia quietly waking up to the existential threat of climate change

‘Existential threat’: climate change risks finally grab Australia’s attention, SMH
Peter Hannam , 10 Dec 17, “……..  Despite the often tortured debate stoked by some conservative politicians and commentators denying climate change is real, a range of agencies are quietly assessing abilities to cope with threats from a refugee influx, increased calls for aid, and impacts on the domestic economy.

And as 2017 draws towards a close, Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg is putting the final touches to a review of Australia’s climate policies due for release by month’s end…..

Scrutiny

While festive seasonal distractions may dim the chance of an immediate and close scrutiny of his climate review, the challenges for the Turnbull government will still be waiting when politicians reconvene in the new year.

International attention will also remain, whether at this week’s One Planet Summit in France to assess the progress on the Paris climate deal two years on, or late in 2018, when all nations will be pressed to increase their ambition to curb the greenhouse gas emissions driving global warming.

On the emissions front, Frydenberg has already had his options significantly reduced.

The government’s signature National Energy Guarantee aimed at providing a more reliable, affordable and sustainable electricity supply locks the power sector into the same 26-28 per cent pollution reduction that the whole economy is supposed to track.

Even if Frydenberg can convince the states to sign up – a huge ask unless there is a major power outage over the summer – such an approach won’t be the best.

“Electricity production in OECD countries is always part of the cheapest options to decarbonise the economy, and it’s also a big source of emissions,” said Yann Robiou du Pont, a researcher at Melbourne University’s Australian-German Climate & Energy College.

“There are fewer assets to transform and they’re usually closer related to governmental decision-making.”

In Australia’s case, the electricity sector is the largest source of emissions, accounting for about a third of the total, and home to many ageing and relatively dirty coal-fired power plants.

Another big source, land clearing, is again on the increase in states such as Queensland and NSW……..

Mr Robiou du Pont notes the Climate Change Authority’s own recommendation that Australia’s fair contribution to emission cuts would be much higher than the Abbott-Turnbull government’s offer, given the country’s high per capita pollution and also relative wealth – if not political will – to transform its economy.

The authority – which the Coalition government tried but failed to abolish – called for a 25 per cent cut of 2005-level emissions by 2020, and 54 per cent by 2030. That’s roughly double the government’s ambition.

‘Not serious’

Mark Butler, Labor’s climate spokesman, said his party is sticking with a 45 per cent emissions reduction goal that “is consistent with the Paris Accord goal of limiting global warming to below two degrees”.

“It is clear that the government’s approach of a pro rata allocation of abatement between sectors will ensure the costs of meeting any emission reduction target will be higher than they need to be,” Butler said.

“The electricity sector has a lower cost of abatement than most other sectors in the form of renewable energy, and renewable energy is already the cheapest option to replace ageing coal-fired power stations that will inevitably retire,” he said.

(Energy giant AGL is expected to announce details within days of what its plans are post-2022, when it closes the ailing Liddell coal-fired power station in the Hunter Valley.)

Sectors like manufacturing and livestock agriculture have a much larger cost of abatement and few ready-to-deploy abatement technologies.

“The government’s insistence each sector meets targets based on a pro rata division of the national emission reduction target just confirms they do not take climate change seriously,” Butler said.http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/existential-threat-climate-change-risks-finally-grab-australias-attention-20171206-h00am7.html

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December 11, 2017 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming

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