Australian news, and some related international items

Australian govt pressured UN to remove Australian topics from climate report

exclamation-see-no-evilAustralia scrubbed from UN climate change report after government intervention

Exclusive: All mentions of Australia were removed from the final version of a Unesco report on climate change and world heritage sites after the Australian government objected on the grounds it could impact on tourism

Revealed: Guardian Australia has obtained the Unesco report Australia didn’t want the world to see. Read it now  Guardian, , 27 May 16 

Every reference to Australia was scrubbed from the final version of a major UN report on climate change after the Australian government intervened, objecting that the information could harm tourism.

Guardian Australia can reveal the report “World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate”, which Unesco jointly published with the United Nations environment program and the Union of Concerned Scientists on Friday, initially had a key chapter on the Great Barrier Reef, as well as small sections on Kakadu and the Tasmanian forests.

But when the Australian Department of Environment saw a draft of the report, it objected, and every mention of Australia was removed by Unesco. Will Steffen, one of the scientific reviewers of the axed section on the reef, said Australia’s move was reminiscent of “the old Soviet Union”.

No sections about any other country were removed from the report. The removals left Australia as the only inhabited continent on the planet with no mentions.

Explaining the decision to object to the report, a spokesperson for the environment department told Guardian Australia: “Recent experience in Australia had shown that negative commentary about the status of world heritage properties impacted on tourism.”

As a result of climate change combined with weather phenomena, the Great Barrier Reef is in the midst of the worst crisis in recorded history. Continue reading

May 27, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Greg Hunt “didn’t know” his favoured climate report written by former Liberal candidate

Hunt-Greg-climateClimate policy report hailed by Greg Hunt written by former Liberal candidate, , May 26, 2016 – Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald The lead author of a consultants’ report hailed by Environment Minister Greg Hunt as supporting the government’s climate policies is a current member of the Liberal Party and former candidate for the federal seat of Sydney, prompting questions about its independence.

Gordon Weiss is an associate of energy consultancy Energetics and was one of three authors of a report commissioned by the Environment Department exploring how Australia could meet its 2030 carbon emissions targets. The report did not disclose his affiliation.

The report drew criticism from groups such as The Climate Institute for its findings, in particular that Australia could achieve the Abbott-Turnbull government’s goal of cutting 2005-level emissions 26-28 per cent “under the current policy framework”…….

A spokesman for the minister said Mr Hunt “was not aware of any political affiliations”……..

May 27, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Adelaide prize contest for new green businesses


LONDON: Adelaide has launched a low carbon contest with an AU$250,000 (~US$187,000) prize, which is open to innovative entrepreneurs who can help the South Australian capital become the world’s first carbon neutral city.

South Australia’s Low Carbon Entrepreneur Prize will transform groundbreaking ideas from around the world into real projects, and is the first initiative of the ‘Adelaide to Zero Carbon Challenge’ which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while stimulating opportunities for pioneering green businesses. Continue reading

May 23, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, South Australia | Leave a comment

Great Barrier Reef should be a central election issue – Tim Flannery

USA election 2016Saving Great Barrier Reef from climate change should be central election issue
, says Tim Flannery

Scientist says lack of attention to climate change is ‘staggering’ given it is Australia’s last chance ‘to close down coal-fired power stations and save the reef’, Guardian, , 17 May 16, Tim Flannery says preserving the Great Barrier Reef from coral bleaching linked to climate change should be a central issue in the federal election campaign.

Flannery, a scientist and member of the Climate Council, said the lack of attention paid to climate change so far in the eight-week campaign was “staggering”.

“This needs to be the reef election,” he told Guardian Australia. “This is the last moment I think that we can realistically expect that we can enact some policies … to close down coal-fired power stations and save the reef.

“Other issues are still going to be there in another four years. This one won’t.”

A study in April found that almost 93% of the Great Barrier Reef had been affected by global bleaching, part of a global coral bleaching event that scientists say was caused partly by El Niño and partly by background global warming.

The aerial survey, conducted by James Cook University, found the bleaching was most severe in reefs north of Port Douglas, where about 81% of reefs were assessed as having severe bleaching. Prof Terry Hughes, head of the National Coal Bleaching Taskforce, told Guardian Australia last month that the mortality rate in coral reefs in that area was already at more than 50%.

Hughes said it was five times worse than the last two bleaching events, in 1998 and 2002, when 40% of the reef escaped bleaching.

Coral bleaching has also been recorded in Western Australia’s Kimberley region, where between 60-90% of some reefs are reported to be bleached. Continue reading

May 20, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, election 2016 | Leave a comment

Australian environment groups unite to oppose govt plans to cut their charitable status

election Australia 2016Federal election 2016: climate survey fires up green council of war Graham Lloyd THE AUSTRALIAN MAY 17, 2016  Peak environment groups have prepared a co-ordinated election blueprint on climate change, the Great Barrier Reef and fossil fuels, staring down threats to cut the charitable status of organisations that play politics.

The groups, including Greenpeace, WWF, the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Wilderness Society, have spent the past fortnight planning a strategy against the background of a parliamentary report that set out a road map to punish critics of the government and resource industry.

Established by ­Environment Minister Greg Hunt, it recommended groups be ­required to spend 25 per cent of fundraising on tree planting and land repair or lose tax-deductible status. It also said organisations should be made ­liable for illegal ­actions of members, supporters or volunteers.

The lower house committee recommendations were not supported by Labor members and the report included a dissenting statement from Liberal member Jason Wood. Mr Wood listed potential cas­ualties, including Beyond Zero Emissions, Great Barrier Reef Foundation, Environment Vic­to­ria, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace Australia, Australian Youth Climate Coalition, The Wilderness Society, EDOs of Australia, Australian Orangutan Project and Environmental Justice Australia.

Wilderness Society national campaign manager Lyndon Schneiders said: “They are also saying to a bunch of rednecks that they will deal with environment groups’ campaigns against controversial oil and gas projects.”

Former Greens leader Bob Brown said making groups res­ponsible for the actions of members and volunteers “would be right at home in Vladimir Putin’s Russia”. Climate Change organisation said the recommendations were anti-democratic and “an unnecessary witch-hunt”.

The Wilderness Society said it made more sense to spend money lobbying to stop trees being cut down that to replant them……

May 18, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, climate change - global warming, election 2016 | Leave a comment

Australian govt’s “Direct Action” ineffective, could even increase Co2 emissions

it was entirely possible some projects would end up, perversely, funding emissions increases.

Direct Action funds ‘spent on projects that would have happened anyway’, Guardian, , 17 May 16, 


Payments to greenhouse gas emitters more likely to go to reduction schemes that would have taken place without government funding, says economist. The government’s $2.55bn emissions reduction fund, which pays greenhouse gas emitters to pollute less, will inevitably pay for reductions that would have happened anyway, for the same reason that secondhand car markets are full of lemons, an economic analysis has concluded. Continue reading

May 18, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Some parts of tourism industry trying to conceal the plight of the Great Barrier Reef

coral bleachingGreat Barrier Reef tourism operators refuse media and politicians access to bleached reefs, Guardian, , 28 April 16Several major operators refuse to take Greens’ senators to bleached reefs as a backdrop for policy announcements, fearing potential impact on tourism.  North Queensland tourism operators are routinely refusing to take media and politicians to see coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef for fear the attention will trigger a collapse in visitor numbers, it has been claimed.

Several major operators with the backing of industry heavyweightsrefused to ferry Greens senators Richard di Natale and Larissa Waters to reefs off Cairns, the backdrop for their election campaign announcement on reef policy on Thursday.

They were just the latest in a string of operators denying media requests to help them obtain pictures and footage and report on what scientists say is the worst bleaching event in the reef’s history, according to dive operator, Tony Fontes. Continue reading

May 18, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

Australia’s coming election: climate change policy to be a vote changer

election Australia 2016Election 2016: Climate change policy a vote winner for majority of Australians May 15, 2016  Breaking news reporter Strong climate change policy is a vote-changing matter for a majority of Australians, a new poll shows, establishing the issue as an important battleground one week into the election campaign.

According to the ReachTEL survey of 2400 people, conducted for a coalition of environmental groups, 64 per cent of respondents said they would be more likely to vote for a party seeking 100 per cent renewable energy in 20 years and 48 per cent said they would be more likely to support a party reducing Australia’s net carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

The figures contrast with the Turnbull government’s avoidance of the topic. The Prime Minister did not mention climate change in his speech when kicking off the election campaign.

The Coalition’s policy is a 26-28 per cent cut on 2005 emission levels by 2030 through its multi-billion dollar emissions reduction fund and 23 per cent clean energy production by 2020.

Recently unveiled is Labor’s proposed 45 per cent cut on 2005 levels through emissions trading and restrictions on land clearing.

The Greens want a 63-82 per cent equivalent cut to emissions and 90 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

“The Prime Minister has spoken about the need to transition the economy from one dependent on mining. It is clear from this poll that an increasing number of Australians support that goal on climate change grounds,” Lyndon Schneiders, national director of the Wilderness Society, said.

“It is also clear that the vast majority of Australians recognise that we need new and powerful laws to manage that transition and to protect the places we love from the impacts of climate change.”

The poll also found:

  • 56.1 per cent of people would be more likely to support a party phasing out coal-fired power, compared to 27.2 per cent unchanged and 16.6 per cent who would be less supportive.
  • 66.9 per cent would be more likely to vote for a party that strengthens environmental laws protecting sites like the Great Barrier Reef, while 23.1 per cent are unaffected and 10 per cent would be less likely to support them.
  • 61.9 per cent of people agree that the burning of fossil fuels causes global warming and is destroying the Great Barrier Reef, while 23.2 per cent disagree and 14.9 per cent don’t know.

A squad of environment groups, including the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, the Australian Conservation Foundation, GetUp! and Environment Victoria, are using the election to target 25 marginal seats with a doorknocking and publicity campaign on climate policy.

AYCC national director Kirsty Albion said the organisation is encouraging young people at universities and schools to enrol to vote “so that politicians start taking our future seriously and act on global warming”.

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

2016 Earth getting hotter. CO2 levels above 400 ppm

Confirmed: Southern hemisphere CO2 level rises above symbolic 400 ppm milestone, [Excellent pictures, graphs, diagrams]  The Age May 15, 2016 – Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald

NASA | A Year in the Life of Earth’s CO2

A significant marker of rising global greenhouse gas emissions has been passed, with a key monitoring site on Tasmania’s north-west tip recording atmospheric carbon-dioxide exceeding 400 parts per million for the first time.

As foreshadowed by Fairfax Media last week, a baseline reading at the Cape Grim station that exceeded the 400-ppm mark of the primary gas driving global warming was imminent.

As it turned out, “the unfortunate milestone” was reached on Tuesday May 10 at 8am, local time, said Peter Krummel, who heads the CSIRO team analysing data from the most important site in the southern hemisphere.

Atmospheric readings from Cape Grim, along with two stations in Hawaii and Alaska, are closely watched as they date back decades and closely track a range of pollutants from ozone-depleting chemicals to the various greenhouse gases resulting from burning fossil fuels and clearing forests.

Mr Krummel said that while mostly symbolic, the 400-ppm reading “highlights the problem of rising emissions, which are increasing more rapidly than they used to be”.

A report out earlier this year from the World Meteorological Organization noted atmospheric readings of CO2 at the Mauna Loa site in Hawaii rose 3.05 ppm in 2015 alone – the biggest increase in the 56 years of research……

Climate scientists, such as David Karoly at Melbourne University, note that when other greenhouse gases, such as methane, are included, the situation is even bleaker.

The so-called carbon dioxide-equivalent level that takes in the full global warming impact is now about 485 ppm.

Both 2014 and 2015 were record hot years globally in data going back about 130 years. With the effect of a strong El Nino overlaying long-term trends, this year is likely to be even hotter after a scorching start.

May 16, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Tasmania | Leave a comment

As sea levels rise fast, CSIRO sacks world sea level expert !

Global sea-level expert John Church made to walk the plank by CSIRO, SMH  May 14, 2016  “……Accelerating sea-level rises Dr Church’s achievements include developing sophisticated models linking sparse tidal gauge information around the world with satellite data to reveal how much sea levels are rising.

The current mission is retracing previous journeys along the 170 W longitude line to measure precisely how key parameters such as temperature, salinity and acidity are changing As Dr Church notes, including in a Nature paper published last month, sea-level increases are accelerating as a warming planet melts glaciers and swells oceans.

From increases of a few tenths of a millimetre annually in the 1000 years before about 1850, the rate jumped 1.7 mm on average in the 20th century. Since 1993, the rise has quickened to about 3 mm a year, he says.

Despite this trend, CSIRO will slash about half the climate staff – about 70 scientists – in its Oceans & Atmosphere division. New hires will be made in climate adaptation and mitigation, the agency promises but numbers cited so far are much smaller.

As with other CSIRO staff, Dr Church will get a chance to save his job. The sole scientist on board to be told of a pending redundancy, he was granted until June 16 – or three weeks after the voyage ends in Wellington, New Zealand – to argue his case.

Letter of support

Scientists from leading research agencies, such as NASA of the US and France’s CNES, have called for Dr Church’s group to be retained……..

‘Inconceivable to the world’

Rosemary Morrow, one of the letter’s authors, said CSIRO’s undermining of its oceans expertise “is just inconceivable to the rest of the world. Especially for a country at the crossroads of so many evolving climate modes – …of droughts and driving rains.”


Dr Church, who has been among the most outspoken scientists criticising the current round of CSIRO job cuts, was told one reason for his firing was the need to consolidate sea-level change into regional impacts.

“This is essentially a repetition of [chief executive] Larry Marshall’s incomplete, naive and misleading statements, except for a focus on my area of science,” he said.

“Any reading of the literature or of the most recent [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] reports would clearly indicate that the overriding uncertainty in sea level remains the amount and distribution of sea level rise,” he said.

Also mentioned was the cutback of external funds, including the Abbott government’s ending of the Australian Climate Change Science Program that had been funded from 1990 until June this year.

……….”Sea-level rise is a long term issue,” he says, noting that without emissions reductions, the world is committed to seas rising several metres over coming centuries.

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

NASA scientist and European Space Agency dismayed at CSIRO climate research cuts

‘Dismay’: NASA scientist appeals to CSIRO not to cut global climate efforts, The Age, May 12, 2016   Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald

 A top scientist from US space agency NASA has appealed to CSIRO to abandon plans to cut a key monitoring program that it says will undermine Australia and the world’s ability to monitor and predict climate change. Continue reading

May 13, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Climate Change Authority report recommending ‘a mandatory carbon price’ held back until after election

Hunt-Greg-climateMay 6, 2016. A report that recommends putting a price on emissions from the electricity sector has been held back by the Climate Change Authority until after the election, prompting calls from Labor and the Greens that it be made public to inform debate.

The independent authority, whose board is now dominated by appointments made last October by Environment Minister Greg Hunt, was to have released its policy options paper for the power industry by the end of April.

May 8, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Climate change doesn’t get a mention in Turnbull’s budget

Parkinson-Report-Turnbull’s first budget ignores climate change and dumps clean energy: That’s #innovative?, Independent Australia , Giles Parkinson 5 May 2016 So much for Turnbull’s trumpeting of a ‘transitional economy’ with zip $ for climate initiatives and $1.3 billion stripped from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.RenewEconomy‘s Giles Parkinson reports.

CLIMATE CHANGE, prime minister Malcom Turnbull once said, is the ultimate long-term problem that needs to be acted on urgently. But in his first budget as government leader, it is as though the issue does not exist.

Climate change was not even mentioned as a word, or a concept, or even an issue — despite Tuesday’s budget apparently being about growth and jobs for the future. T

here was no new money for climate initiatives and the only mention renewable energy got was to confirm that $1.3 billion in funds would be stripped from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

There was nothing in the speech, not a word,”Professor John Hewson, a former leader of Liberal Party, told the SolarExpo conference in 2016.

“The slogan is jobs and growth. I would have though that one of the most significant sectors for economic and jobs growth is renewables  I am staggered that it didn’t get a mention in the speech or in the documents.”

Hewson said the decision to remove funding from ARENA was an “absolute tragedy.”

In the budget papers, for instance, there is no extra funding for the Direct Action plan that Turnbull once ridiculed and dismissed as a “fig-leaf” for a climate policy and now forms the basis of the government’s emissions reductions plan, including the Paris agreement it signed just a few weeks ago.

Once the government has spent the current $2.5 billion allocation for handouts to polluters to do pretty much what they were doing anyway, there is zero extra funding for emissions abatement.

The Coalition government might have been expected to shift towards a “modified” scheme that would see Direct Action evolve with its safeguards mechanism to become a baseline and credit scheme. But that’s what Labor suggested last week, and rather than accept the tentative offer of a return to a bipartisan approach to climate policies, the government slammed the door.

It slammed the door, too, on renewable energy innovation. The $1.3 billion of unallocated funds for the Australian Renewable Energy Agency remains excised from the budget papers – even though it remains legislated – while $1 billion is transferred from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and rebadged as a new Clean Energy Innovation Fund.

Don’t expect Labor to stand in the way of that initiative. It voted with the Coalition earlier this week against a Greens motion to protect ARENA, and has since blamed NGOs for not standing up to the Coalition move to de-fund ARENA,so it won’t stand up either.

For his part, Australian Solar Council chief John Grimes was taking a stand on the matter, telling the Energy Storage Conference in Melbourne on Wednesday that the federal government had “taken a backwards step” in defunding ARENA, and not making the Agency’s competitive grants available any more……..,8955

May 6, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Australian govt not able to meet its Emissions Reduction goal

Liberal-policy-1Budget 2016: Funding hole may leave Emissions Reduction Fund out of money, think tank says, ABC News, 4 May 16 By environment reporter Sara Phillips The Coalition may be left without a functioning climate policy after no new funding was announced for one its flagship climate policies in last night’s budget, according to a think tank specialising in climate change.

The Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) is the centrepiece of the Direct Action policy and is designed to do the heavy lifting in reducing Australia’s emissions.

After two auctions to purchase emissions reductions from businesses last year, around half its funding was exhausted.

A third auction was held last week, with the results yet to be announced, leading the Climate Institute to speculate that the ERF may now be running low.

“If the next two auctions are anything like the last two then we will run out of money in that Emissions Reduction Fund a bit later this year — well before the next election cycle,” said John Connor, chief executive the Climate Institute. Continue reading

May 6, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

New legal case against Adani coal mine now underway

Activists launch fresh court challenge over Carmichael coalmine  Australian Conservation Foundation argues emissions from coal mined from Adani’s project
will put the Great Barrier Reef at risk by exacerbating climate change’ Michael Slezak | The Guardian Australia 3 May 16:

” … If successful, the case will have ramifications beyond the Carmichael mine or even the Great Barrier Reef. It could have implications for any fossil fuel development, and require the minister to consider the effect of the burned fuel on any world heritage area – like the forests in Tasmania, for example.

“This is the first case of its kind to be heard in Australia,” said O’Shanassy. “The court will be asked to examine a section of Australia’s national environment law that has never before been tested in court. If this case is successful it will strengthen climate change considerations and world heritage protection in Australian law.” The hearing at the federal court in Brisbane is expected to go for two days. Hunt and Adani will be represented.”


Adani Big Coal Case Could Make It Harder To Get Mines Approved ‘A landmark case that could “put a brake on Australia’s fossil fuel exports”  kicked off this morning in the Federal Court, in a precedent-setting bid to invalidate  Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s approval of the largest coal mine the nation would ever see’  Thom Mitchell | New Matilda 3 May 16:

” … Under the United Nations process, the country that burns fossil fuels is responsible for them. Who exported the fossil fuels is considered irrelevant. And that was why Hunt, and all governments to date, largely ignored the damage Australia’s fossil fuels exports do to our environment when making approval

The Australian Conservation Foundation is trying to change that. They’re arguing that irrespective of where the coal is burnt, it will have a serious impact on the Reef, and that this impact will be felt irrespective of how the United Nations framework on climate change works. … “

May 4, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment


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