Australian news, and some related international items

No modelling done to show how Australia is supposed to meet Paris climate pledge

Turnbull climate 2 facedOfficials admit no modelling shows how Australia will meet Paris climate pledge, Guardian, , 29Sept 16  Environment officials tell parliamentary inquiry there is no modelling on how current policies will affect emissions beyond 2020, or when emissions will peak Government officials have acknowledged that Australia’s 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reductions pledged at Paris in 2015 were made without any modelling to show whether existing policies could achieve those targets.They also admitted the government did not have any modelling revealing when Australia’s emissions would peak.

The admissions, made in a parliamentary committee under questioning from Labor Senator for New South Wales Jenny McAllister, fly in the face of advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, telling the government it had “existing legislation, policies and measures to enable it to achieve” the the reductions.

They also follow a string of independent modelling exercises showing current policies will not achieve the emissions reductions committed to in Paris. Last week energy advisory firm RepuTex released modelling showing Australia’s emissions wouldn’t fall much at all between now and 2030, under current policies……….

McAllister told Guardian Australia the Turnbull government needed to “own up and admit that their climate policies just aren’t credible”.

“These officials have confirmed Australia’s worst kept secret – that the Turnbull government has no idea how it will meet our 2030 emission reduction targets,” she said.

“They can’t say when Australia’s emissions will peak and begin to decline, and they wouldn’t confirm that the government’s current policy settings will see us meet the target without adjustment.”

September 30, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Climate change shifting rain from Australia towards Antarctica,

climate-AustClimate change stealing rain from Australia by shifting winds towards Antarctica, Canberra Times, Clare Sibthorpe, 29 Sept 16  When much of southeast Australia faced abnormally hot and dry weather last summer, forecasters put it down to a high-pressure system blocking clouds from forming.

But rising greenhouse gases were also to blame, researchers have found.

A new study by the ANU and 16 other institutions revealed human-caused climate change is already harming parts of Australia by robbing vital rain and pushing south westerly winds towards Antarctica.

The ANU’s lead researcher associate professor Nerilie Abram said the hijacking of rain combined with 2015 being Australia’s fifth-warmest year on record and 2016 on track to be the hottest was an ominous mix.

“The findings confirm that climate change is already having an impact on parts of Australia.”……..

Professor Abram said the study, published in Nature Climate Change, showed southwest Australia was hurting the most from the change, where it had lost one fifth of its rainfall since the 1970s.

A 2015 study between CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology found climate change would hit Australia harder than other countries, predicting a rise in temperature of more than five degrees within 80 years.

They forecast reduced rain in southern Australia over the next few decades as well as harsher fire seasons for southern and eastern parts of the country.

This August, Germany-based researchers Climate Analytics found the difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees of warming – the two goals included in the Paris climate deal – would be much greater in terms of extreme events and disasters than previously believed.

It found that within just 10 – 20 years, southern Australia would face heatwaves on average 13 days longer at 1.5 degrees and 20 days longer at 2 degrees, while dry spells would be 3.5 days longer at 1.5 degrees and six days at 2 degrees.

September 30, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Australia’s super funds are backing exploration for fossil fuels

fossil-fuel-industryDigging Deeper: How energy company executives are remunerated to expand fossil fuel reserves, and how Australia’s major super funds support them, Market Forces 29 September 2016 Australian-listed fossil fuel companies are continuing to search for more unburnable carbon, with $12.69 billion spent on fossil fuel exploration by just fifteen companies since July 2012. Another $14.62 billion has been spent by just ten foreign companies on fossil fuel exploration in Australia between 2013-2015.

In many cases, exploration is encouraged through executive remuneration packages. Seven companies in the S&P ASX300 explicitly refer to reserve replacement or exploration targets in their executives’ bonus structures, as do six international companies with major Australian fossil fuel operations.

Senior executives at the seven Australian companies stand to make a combined $2.02 million in additional bonuses each year if their reserve targets are met.

Australia’s super funds are failing to effectively challenge this business model, despite their stated belief in engagement as a strategy for changing the behaviour of companies. In the last year, only three Australian energy companies incurred a significant vote against their remuneration packages, none of which were an explicit protest against reserves-based incentives.

Only eighteen of Australia’s 50 largest super funds disclose their complete proxy voting record, making it difficult to determine which funds are genuine ‘active owners.’ Our analysis of twelve funds’ voting records shows only three voted against any Australian-listed energy company’s remuneration package in the last year. Major funds including AustralianSuper, First State Super, MLC and ANZ OnePath supported the remuneration packages of every Australian energy company they held shares in.

Australia’s super funds must have effective engagement policies and practices, and demonstrate how these are being implemented to ensure companies they invest in are  compatible with a low carbon future. An obvious step to demonstrate alignment with the goals agreed to in Paris is for funds to reject fossil fuel exploration incentives.

September 30, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

NUCLEAR’s WHOPPING CLIMATE LIE – theme for September 2016

goebbels-josephIf you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. A lie told once remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth ”

Dr Goebbels would be delighted with the nuclear lobby’s lie that nuclear power is zero carbon and will fix climate change. He would be even more delighted with the current success of this lie.

“Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.”

The failing nuclear industry is fighting for its life. It now pitches its salvation on its claim to halt climate change.

Even if  that were true (which it isn’t) the world would have to construct several thousand ‘conventional’marketing-pigs-trough reactors, or several millions of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) very quickly, within a decade or two.

How is it that politicians , media, academics have swallowed this lie?


September 24, 2016 Posted by | Christina themes, climate change - global warming | 6 Comments

Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) lodges appeal against Federal Court’s approval of giant Adani coal mine

coal CarmichaelMine219 September 2016  “The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) has lodged an appeal to the Federal Court’s decision which found the approval of Adani’s Carmichael coal mine to be lawful.

“ACF disputes the Environment Minister’s argument in court that the burning of coal from Carmichael mine will not have an impact on global warming and the Great Barrier Reef.

““This is a profound moment in the history of protecting Australia’s environment, as we attempt to stop a coal mine that would create 4.6 billion tonnes of climate pollution if it is allowed to proceed,” said ACF’s President Geoff Cousins.

““Australia’s system of environment laws is broken if it allows the Federal Environment Minister to approve a mega-polluting coal mine – the biggest in Australia’s history – and claim it will have no impact on the global warming and the reef.

““If our environment laws are too weak to actually protect Australia’s unique species and places,they effectively give companies like Adani a licence to kill.

““Be in no doubt, Adani’s Carmichael proposal is massive and will lock in decades of damaging climate pollution if it goes ahead, further wrecking the reef. … “

September 21, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, legal, Queensland | 1 Comment

Australian economy will still double with gradual phaseout of coal production

Coal’s death would not kill economy: Australia Institute, ABC Radio AM
By Peter Ryan, 16 Sept 16  
Australia’s economy would not be hurt by a gradual phasing out of coal production across the country, research suggests.The Australia Institute-commissioned study found there would be minimal economic impact if the Government imposed a moratorium on new coal mines or the expansion of existing ones.

It also concluded that the managed winding back of coal production as existing mines are depleted would be an economic blip, given the industry’s share of employment which represents 0.04 per cent of the Australian workforce.

It estimated the economy would grow regardless of a phasing out, with a difference of just 0.06 per cent in 2040.

Professor Philip Adams, who led the research at Victoria University’s Centre of Policy Studies, told the ABC’s AM program environmental policies to put a tax on carbon were effectively a tax on the use of coal.

“The world outlook for coal is fairly bleak. We don’t see much likelihood of strong market conditions for coal over the longer term,” Professor Adams said.

Australia Institute chief economist Richard Dennis said the research was a wake-up call for the coal industry and the Federal Government.

“Look the end of coal is nigh. The question is whether it’s nigh enough,” Mr Dennis told AM.

“The effect is a rounding error — it’s trivial. The Australian economy will still double in size in the coming decades…….

September 17, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Australia loses valuable weather forecasting as Govt closes Macquarie Island research station

climate-changeMacquarie Island research closure will lead to deterioration in weather forecasting, scientist says, ABC News, By Elise Fantin , 15 Sep 16 The closure of the Macquarie Island research station will put weather forecasting at risk, a climate scientist has warned.

Key points:

  • Rainfall, temperature, wind and cloud measurements are taken daily on the island
  • Weather balloons are launched daily for atmospheric measurements
  • Loss of data will lead to deterioration of forecasting, scientist says

The Australian Antarctic Division announced on Tuesday to close the station in March next year and restrict research to field huts during the summer period only.

Atmospheric scientist Professor David Karoly — who sits on the Federal Government’s Climate Change Authority — said the station’s closure would have long-term consequences for data collection……

September 16, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Debunking five claims by climate science denier politician Malcolm Roberts

Michael Slezak debunks Robert’s five main arguments:   The ‘pause’,  Manipulating data  Trashing the models  Historical distractions ‘It’s basic’

his views could now have relevance and importance – not because they are potentially true, but because they could influence the workings of parliament.

Debunking Malcolm Roberts: the case against a climate science denier

The One Nation senator dismisses the conventional scientific view of climate change. Here are the holes in his most commonly deployed arguments, Guardian, , 14 Sept 16, The election of Malcolm Roberts as a One Nation senator has put Australia’s media in a difficult spot.

In his first speech to Parliament on Tuesday, Roberts made many false claims about climate change. He said that climate change was a “scam” and implied that it was some sort of conspiracy between all the major international research agencies. “ … there is no data proving human use of hydro-carbon fuels affects climate,” he said.

Most news outlets had stopped covering the views of climate science deniers in regular reporting. There is a clear scientific consensus that the world is warming and that human carbon emissions have caused it, so reporting the views of a few non-experts who push fanciful theories with no credible evidence is seen as “false balance”.

But journalists are in a different position when someone in an important office holds such views………

to avoid repeatedly having to debunk Roberts’ views, we have produced a handy reference list of his main arguments, as outlined on the ABC’s Q&A program on 15 August. This list may be updated if he introduces new elements to back his claims.: Continue reading

September 16, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Nearly half of all Australians would consider switching banks, due to climate change concern

fossil-fuel-industrySwitching banks: nearly half of all Australians would consider move over climate change
Poll findings released as prominent Australians call on big four to withdraw backing for fossil fuel industry, Guardian, 
, 14 Sept 16, About half of all Australians would be likely to switch banks if they found out their bank was lending money to projects that contribute to climate change, according to polling commissioned by the financial activist group Market Forces.

The findings came as more than 100 prominent Australian individuals and organisations signed a letter demanding that the big four banks stop supporting projects that expand the fossil fuel industry. Among the signatories are JM CoetzeeCharlotte WoodJames BradleyMissy HigginsPeter Singer and Jack Mundey, as well as unions, religious orders and conservation groups.

Asked how important it was that their bank invest in companies and projects that don’t harm the environment and contribute to climate change, 74% of the poll’s respondents who were with the big four banks said it was at least “somewhat important”, according to the Essential Research poll of 1,017 people.

Forty-eight per cent of respondents said they would be more likely to switch banks if they learned their bank was lending to projects that harmed the environment or contributed to climate change.

When the researchers drilled down into specific types of projects, respondents appeared very concerned. Forty-seven per cent said they were likely to switch banks if they found out their bank was lending to coal and gas export projects in the Great Barrier Reef world heritage area. And 48% said they were likely to switch if they found out theirs was lending to coal seam gas projects near agricultural communities.

Respondents also overwhelmingly supported the big four banks’ decisions to support the goal to limit warming to “well below” 2C. But 65% of people agreed that given their support of that goal, the banks should no longer lend to projects that expand the fossil fuel industry.

In August Market Forces conducted research that found the big four banks had lent $5.6bn to fossil fuel projects and companies since they expressed support for the target.

In the open letter, released at the same time as the poll findings, the signatoreis outline a number of actions that the banks must commit to in light of their support for the Paris agreement goal……..

September 16, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Stockholm Environment Institute very critical of Australia’s high rate of carbon emissions

climate SOSAustralia’s carbon budget to be exhausted in six years, Stockholm group says  Peter Hannam 

Australia will burn through its “fair share” of carbon within six years if the more-ambitious end of the global warming goals agreed to at the Paris climate summit is to be achieved, a respected European think-tank says.

Restricting warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial times implies a global carbon budget of less than 250 billion tonnes of carbon-dioxide equivalent from 2015, the Stockholm Environment Institute said in a new study. The planet has warmed about 1 degree in the past century alone.

Taking Australia’s share of this budget to be 1 per cent – arguably a generous measure as the nation makes up just 0.3 per cent of the world’s population – the country will emit that 2.5 billion-tonne portion within six years at present polluting rates.

“[Australia’s] transformation to a post-carbon era must be rapid and comprehensive, and include diversification away from fossil extraction for energy and export,” Sivan Kartha, the author of the report, said.

Among the world’s largest polluters on a per-capita basis, Australia had “a high level of responsibility for the greenhouse gases that have caused the climate problem”. Its wealth and technical capabilities, though, also gave Australia “a level of capacity to help solve it”, the report says.

Geoffrey Cousins, president of the Australian Conservation Foundation, said the Turnbull government “had made new commitments in Paris, talked them up when they came back but not a single policy has changed since then”.

“There is no great urgency, things will just roll nicely on, and we continue to approve new coal mines,” Mr Cousins said, adding the Stockholm report revealed how little time was left to take serious steps to cut emissions.

Two developments on Thursday offered conflicting signals of government action on climate.

As revealed by Fairfax Media, $92 million in grant funding by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency had sparked almost as much as $1 billion in private funding that will triple the size of large-scale solar in the country.

The government also announced $30.05 million to fund a new ARC Centre for Excellence for Climate Extremes. The seven-year funding will mean the existing centre, based at the University of NSW, can morph into a group study on why rising temperatures are triggering a disproportionate increase in extremes such as heatwaves.

According to the Stockholm report, a large fraction of the world’s proved fossil fuel reserves will have to stay in the ground for any “plausible budget” to keep global warming the “well-below 2 degrees” goal agreed in Paris.

That means the market for Australia’s fossil fuel exports will need to “rapidly reduce and ultimately disappear”.

“Action taken to increase Australia’s capacity for fossil fuel production – such as increasing export capacity or commissioning new coal mines – is difficult to reconcile with the goals of the Paris Agreement,” the report says.

Australia is the world’s second-biggest coal exporter and also the second-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas.

Follow Peter Hannam on Twitter and Facebook.

September 10, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Sharp falls predicted for Australia’s thermal coal exports

fossil-fuel-industryAustralia’s thermal coal exports face 20 years of sharp falls, The Australian, September 8, 2016,    

Australia’s thermal coal exports are facing a sharp reduction over the next 20 years as the world steps up its attack on carbon emissions.

Leading industry consultancy Wood Mackenzie estimates Australia’s exports of the power generating fuel could slump from 210 million tonnes this year to 135 million tonnes by 2035

Key markets in Asia, Europe, and the Americas are all expected to record sharp falls in demand as the switch to meeting energy ­demand through energy efficiencies, nuclear power and a growth in renewables/battery storage ­alternatives steps up.

the next 20 years as the world steps up its attack on carbon emissions…….

September 9, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Australia the Pacific Pariah as it idolises coal

It is the world’s largest coal exporter, and both major political parties are financially backed by the coal lobby. Rather than move away from coal, the government is seeking to expand exports dramatically, with public subsidies and taxpayer-funded infrastructure.

The contrast could not be starker. While Pacific leaders are praised for their efforts to develop global climate solutions, Australia faces ignominy. Unless Australia changes direction, it will continue to be seen as an irresponsible middle power – a rogue state undermining global efforts to tackle climate change.

Australia's politiciansPacific pariah: how Australia’s love of coal has left it out in the diplomatic cold,  The Conversation, , 7 Sept 16, Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will have some explaining to do when he attends the Pacific Islands Forum leaders’ meeting in Pohnpei, Micronesia, this week.

Australia’s continued determination to dig up coal, while refusing to dig deep to tackle climate change, has put it increasingly at odds with world opinion. Nowhere is this more evident than when Australian politicians meet with their Pacific island counterparts.

It is widely acknowledged that Pacific island states are at the front line of climate change. It is perhaps less well known that, for a quarter of a century, Australia has attempted to undermine their demands in climate negotiations at the United Nations.

The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) – organised around an annual meeting between island leaders and their counterparts from Australia and New Zealand – is the Pacific region’s premier political forum. But island nations have been denied the chance to use it to press hard for their shared climate goals, because Australia has used the PIF to weaken the regional declarations put forward by Pacific nations at each key milestone in the global climate negotiation process. Continue reading

September 7, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | 1 Comment

Australia an international pariah? as other nations ratify Paris Climate Agreement

Map Turnbull climateUS-China ratification of Paris Agreement ramps up the pressure on Australia, The Conversation,   September 5, 2016When President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping announced their countries’ ratification of the Paris climate agreement ahead of last weekend’s G20 meeting in Hangzhou, they boosted its chances of coming into force by the end of this year, some 12 months after the deal was brokered last December.

To enter into force, the Paris Agreement requires ratification by at least 55 nations which together account for at least 55% of global greenhouse emissions. It will then become legally binding on those parties that have both signed and ratified it. These thresholds ensure that the deal has broad legitimacy among states, but are also low enough to limit the opportunities for blocking by states that may oppose its progress.

Aside from China and the United States – the world’s two largest emitters, which together produce 39% of the world’s emissions – another 24 countries have ratified the agreement.

To get over the threshold, it now only needs the support of a handful of major emitters like the European Union (a bloc of 27 countries producing some 10% of global emissions), India, Russia or Brazil. Ratification by countries such as Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom (each of which contributes about 1.5% of emissions) would also contribute significantly to this momentum………

Australia left as a laggard

The US-China announcement not only increases the momentum for ratification, but also increases pressure on Australia. With the Kyoto Protocol, Australia loyally supported the United States and refused to ratify until 2007. This time, similar recalcitrance is likely to be met with strong international disapproval.

However, ratification is only the beginning. Australia will then be required to revise and toughen its targets for 2030 and beyond. Its weak 2030 mitigation target is accompanied by policies inadequate to meet this goal.

The Paris Agreement, once in force, will require a more robust Australian target to be announced by 2023 at the latest. This in turn will further highlight the gap between current and sufficient implementation measures.

The US-China ratification announcement is the next step along a path that must see Australia climb – or be dragged – out of its current climate policy torpor.

September 7, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Queensland University of Technology to divest its fossil fuel shares

Queensland University of Technology commits to divesting its fossil fuel shares, ABC News  by Nick Kilvert, 5 Sep 16,  Student activists and academics at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) are celebrating after learning the university has committed to divesting its shares in fossil fuels.

The decision comes after an ongoing campaign by Fossil Free QUT, which included an open letter signed by more than 120 academics, calling for the university to join the global movement, following the success of similar campaigns at universities across Australia.

Vice-chancellor Professor Peter Coaldrake sent a statement via email on Friday informing staff of the decision to steer investments away from coal, oil, and gas companies.

“We have reviewed QUT’s investments relative to climate risk and instituted changes to the university’s investment strategy,” the statement said.

“QUT is committed to an orderly and considered transition away from investment in fossil fuel companies.”…….

The move makes QUT the first university in Queensland and the second largest in Australia to withdraw investment in fossil fuel companies, and comes despite a strong focus on geological science (earth science) at the university’s Gardens Point campus…….

September 7, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

High Profile Members of Climate Change Authority slam ‘Untrue and dangerous’ report

Map Turnbull climate‘Untrue and dangerous’: Climate Change Authority board at war over own advice, The Age, 5 Sept 16  Adam Morton  High-profile members of the federal government’s Climate Change Authority have launched a stinging critique of their colleagues, accusing them of giving “untrue and dangerous” advice that ignores what science demands.

Board members David Karoly, an internationally recognised scientist, and Clive Hamilton, an academic and author, have published a dissenting report criticising the authority’s advice to the government released last week.
The split is over whether the authority’s role is to give unflinching science-based advice or, after years of policy failure in Canberra, recommend what is politically achievable.

It follows then environment minister Greg Hunt’s appointment of five new board members last year, including former Coalition politicians.

The dissenting pair accuse the authority of failing to give independent guidance, and instead basing its report on “a reading from a political crystal ball”……..

Professor Karoly said the authority’s report failed to meet its terms of reference and was a recipe for further delay.
“It makes recommendations that are not soundly based on climate science,” he said.


Professor Hamilton, a former Greens candidate, said it gave the impression Australia had plenty of time to introduce measures that could bring down emissions sharply.

        “This is untrue and dangerous. Given this, we felt we had no choice but to write our own report,” he said…….

September 5, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment