Australian news, and some related international items

In tropical areas, increasing heat and humidity will make life almost unbearable

These impacts will be stronger in the seasonally wet tropics (such as the Northern Territory of Australia), where more extreme warming is expected than in the equatorial zone.

Predictions for Darwin, in northern Australia, suggest an increase in days with temperatures above 35℃ from 11 days a year in 2015 to an average of 43 days under the mid-range emission scenario (IPCC’s RCP4.5 scenario) by 2030 and an average of 111 (range 54-211) days by 2090. Under the higher emission scenario (IPCC’s RCP8.5), an average of 265 days above 35℃ could be reached by 2090.

September 17, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

‘Gas-led recovery’ may actually deter energy investment: Experts

September 17, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

A legal win for Adani, against climate activist Ben Pennings

Adani granted injunction to stop activist Ben Pennings using ‘confidential material’ABC 11 Sept 20,   Mining giant Adani has been granted an injunction ordering an activist to stop using “confidential material” it claims is frustrating the development of its mine and rail network in the Galilee Basin.

Key points:

  • The legal action is against Brisbane activist Ben Pennings
  • Mr Pennings is accused of demanding contractors to cease working with Adani
  • Justice Martin found the “Stop Adani” movement had caused at least three contractors to withdraw

Adani launched legal action in the Supreme Court in Brisbane against activist Ben Pennings, claiming he had continually demanded contractors who had agreements with the mining company to terminate or withdraw from negotiations.

Adani also argued Mr Pennings would encourage others to provide confidential information to an ongoing campaign —The Galilee Blockade — concerning plans and operations at the site.

Today’s order comes after Adani twice failed to secure a search order to seize evidence from Mr Penning’s home.

…… Under the injunction orders handed down this morning, Mr Pennings will be required to remove certain social media posts and be prevented from using confidential information obtained through campaigns run by him.

Activist accused of ‘intimidation and conspiracy’

Outside court, Mr Pennings said he would respect the court’s injunction but was “very concerned” about ongoing civil action in which Adani accused Mr Pennings of a “breach of confidence, inducing breach of contract, intimidation and conspiracy”.

“I have a family at home, kids, a kid with a disability,” Mr Pennings said.

“If Adani is successful with their civil action, I’ll have to sell my house, and that’s really difficult for my family, but Adani seem determined to hurt me.

“I don’t believe I should have to sell my suburban family home in Aspley to make an Indian multi-billionaire even richer.

“The ‘Stop Adani’ movement is massive. I’m just one passionate person. They really can’t sue all of us.”……….

September 12, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, legal | Leave a comment

Australia’s nearly 2 $trillion costs by 2050 – if we continue climate change inaction

September 10, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, business, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Scott Morrison will be praying for a Trump win: they see eye-to-eye on doing nothing about climate change

September 8, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment

Endless summers, endless wildfires,

Endless summers, endless wildfires, South Wind 8 September 2020, 

If leaders can’t get their heads around the wildfire-climate link, we had better prepare for many more nasty summers  “…………. Now, everything is merged into one, and greatly enlarged. In my youth the places I recall having summer fires were Australia, the western United States, and odd outbreaks in Latin America, Africa and Mediterranean countries. Now we hear of fires erupting in other northern lands, as far north as the shores of the Arctic Ocean.

Looking back at this year so far we could be forgiven for thinking the whole world is ablaze. Almost as soon as wildfires are extinguished on one continent they seem to be breaking out afresh on another one.

2020 began with Australia’s record-breaking Black Summer fires destroying millions of hectares of forest and capturing global attention. Within a couple of months fires had broken out in Ukraine, threatening the abandoned Chernobyl nuclear plant.

A month later, smouldering peat that had been primed by years of drying and warming began to spark vegetation fires in Siberia that would eventually number over 600, emitting more carbon in two months than any preceding year and producing a smoke cloud spanning an area bigger than Europe.

The Siberian fires were still burning in mid-August when forests in California erupted into flames, more than a month earlier than the start of a “normal” season in that part of the world and less than two years after its previous record-breaking year.

At the end of a relatively quiet Californian fire season, in 2019-20 Australia got the benefit of that state’s large water-bombing aircraft, one of which crashed in the Australian Alps killing its US crew. Now, with California suffering similar devastation, we are battling to respond to its desperate appeal for reciprocal help.

Add to all those the perennial fires accompanying rainforest clearing in Southeast Asia and Brazil. The Amazon Basin situation is dire. August-September is the land-clearers’ peak burning period, and this year, with legal constraints all but destroyed under president Jair Bolsonaro, the area burnt and smoke generated looks like being even worse than what triggered last year’s global alarm.

Last week saw release of the interim report of the inquiry into Australia’s natural disaster management, led by former air force chief Mark Binskin, which was set up by the Morrison government after the Black Summer fires.

As the Black Summer fires showed, the report said, “bushfire behaviour has become more extreme and less predictable. Catastrophic fire conditions may become more common, rendering traditional bushfire prediction models and firefighting techniques less effective.”

No close observer of climate change would be surprised by the coronavirus pandemic’s global progress and the response to it of many political and vested interests. Those interests might wish it were otherwise, but this contagion operates without any reference to the things they hold dear.

Climate change, too, doesn’t recognise human boundaries. We set it off, and by failing to curb carbon emissions, we ensured its impact would continue to grow. Yet Australian governments, ignoring dire warnings from disaster experts, continue to behave as if it doesn’t exist.

This summer may see something of a reprieve. Weather authorities anticipate a wettish spring for eastern Australia. A moist understory is less likely to kindle fire from dry lightning, which has plagued recent fire management in both hemispheres.

But hoping for good weather doesn’t replace what the experts keep saying: a fire plan that doesn’t acknowledge the overwhelming influence of climate change is no plan at all. If partisan politics and vested interests prevent us acting on this, we’d better get ready for many more summers from hell.

September 8, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Joe Biden if president will push allies like Australia to do more on climate, adviser says

Joe Biden if president will push allies like Australia to do more on climate, adviser says

Jake Sullivan says the former vice-president, if elected, won’t ‘pull any punches’ on what is a global problem. Guardian  Daniel Hurst @danielhurstbne, Mon 7 Sep 2020 

Joe Biden will not pull any punches with allies including Australia in seeking to build international momentum for stronger action on the climate crisis, an adviser to the US presidential candidate has said.

If elected in November, Biden will hold heavy emitters such as China accountable for doing more “but he’s also going to push our friends to do more as well”, according to Jake Sullivan, who was the national security adviser to Biden when he was vice-president and is now in the candidate’s inner circle……..

While Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, is likely to welcome the pledge of US coordination with allies on regional security issues, there may be unease in government ranks about the potential for tough conversations about Australia’s climate policies.

The Coalition government has resisted calls to embrace a target of net-zero emissions by 2050 and it proposes to use Kyoto carryover credits to meet Australia’s 2030 emission reductions pledge. Some Coalition backbenchers still openly dispute climate science.

Sullivan said climate change would be a big priority for Biden, both in domestic policy – with climate and clean energy issues placed at the heart of his economic recovery visions – and in foreign policy, where he would do more than just reverse Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the Paris agreement.

He has said right out of the gate, we’re not just rejoining Paris – we are going to rally the nations of the world to get everyone to up their game, to elevate their ambition, to do more,” Sullivan told the Lowy Institute. ……….

September 8, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics international | Leave a comment


Parliament Covers Up Australia’s True Carbon Footprint, ByTasmanian Times, August 31, 2020    The House Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy today tabled its report on Andrew Wilkie MP’s National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Amendment (Transparency in Carbon Emissions Accounting) Bill 2020 in Federal Parliament.

“Regrettably the Committee has voted to cover up Australia’s shameful role as one of the world’s biggest contributors to climate change,” Mr Wilkie said. “But the reasoning behind its recommendation for Parliament not to pass this Bill doesn’t stack up.”

Mr Wilkie’s Bill would require the Federal Government to include scope 3 emissions in reports of Australia’s carbon emissions, boosting transparency and accountability. Scope 3 emissions are the potential emissions contained in the gas and coal mined in Australia, which is then exported overseas. The Bill allows Australia to track its impact as one of the largest exporters of fossil fuels in the world, giving the public access to information about Australia’s role in very significantly contributing to global greenhouse gas emissions.

“Australia must have a clear picture of its contributions to global greenhouse gas emissions,” Mr Wilkie said. “This is essential as the world tries to limit warming to 1.5 degrees and halt catastrophic climate change. Keeping track of Australia’s scope 3 emissions is not double counting but gives a true picture of our responsibility for climate change around the globe.

The Committee can hardly argue that tracking scope 3 emissions is ‘too hard’ when the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources has not even conducted an assessment of compliance costs. For goodness sake, the Committee acknowledges that more than a quarter of ASX200 companies already voluntarily report their scope 3 emissions.

“Further, the fact that this kind of tracking is not required by the Paris Agreement is beside the point. The Australian Government should be open and transparent for the sake of the community, rather than claiming that Australia can do little to influence climate change. The truth is that when the carbon in fossil fuel exports is taken into account, Australia accounts for about 5 per cent of the global total for fossil fuels.”

The full House Standing Committee on the Environment and Energy report can be found here.


September 1, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Book: The Carbon Club -Tony Abbott and the ‘people’s revolt’ against Gillard’s climate policy

Tony Abbott and the ‘people’s revolt’ against Gillard’s climate policy

In her new book ‘The Carbon Club’ Marian Wilkinson exposes the truth behind Australia’s inaction on climate change. Crikey, MARGOT SAVILLE,  AUG 28, 2020

Among developed nations, why is Australia one of only two countries to have such a shameful record on climate change? And why have the brutal and divisive politics of climate change managed to topple three of our prime ministers?

For several years, award-winning journalist Marian Wilkinson has been investigating the relationship between climate-sceptic politicians, business leaders and their allies. For her latest book The Carbon Club, she has conducted scores of interviews with players on both sides in order to expose the truth behind Australia’s inaction on climate change.

In this very readable book, released on Monday, Wilkinson has revealed many new details of the international campaign to undermine climate science and the urgency of the climate crisis.No book on this topic is complete without an analysis of one of our most sceptical politicians, Tony Abbott. In 2010, with Julia Gillard in the Lodge, Abbott’s shadow parliamentary secretary and chief attack dog Cory Bernardi was let out to stop the carbon tax.

Bernardi teamed up with young libertarian Tim Andrews, who had trained with the Koch Brothers’ internship in the US.

“The two helped create the ‘people’s revolt’ against the climate policy, using the power of social media and the tactics of the Tea Party movement that was gaining ground in the US Republican party.

“One of the driving ideas behind the campaign was to exploit the anger and disaffection among ordinary voters towards politicians,” Wilkinson writes. …..

The “people’s revolt” against Gillard and the emissions trading scheme passed by Kevin Rudd would fundamentally fracture conservative politics in Australia, fostering splinter parties and deepening divisions in the Liberals, Wilkinson writes.

“It would destroy any chance of uniting the major political parties to face the enormous challenge of climate change.”………

Marian Wilkinson will discuss her new book at a Crikey Talks event for Inside Access members next month. Visit our Inside Access page to upgrade

August 29, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Adani quietly rebranding Abbot Point terminal as company hit with $107m damages bill

Adani quietly rebranding Abbot Point terminal as company hit with $107m damages bill

Exclusive: Queensland supreme court says company engaged in ‘unconscionable conduct’, Guardian  Ben Smee @BenSmee, Fri 28 Aug 2020 Adani has quietly begun planning to rebrand its Abbot Point coal terminal – removing all reference to Adani in its company name and branding – as financiers continue to abandon the business and a Queensland court orders it to pay $106.8m in damages.

The Queensland supreme court this week ordered Adani to pay four terminal users damages for “unconscionable conduct” in a judgement that was scathing of Adani’s actions to advantage its own financial interests over other coal companies.

In the 93-page decision, the supreme court justice Jean Dalton said Adani’s ports business “attempted to disguise its behaviour in complex transactions”, engaged in conduct outside the boundaries of normal commercial behaviour, and “pleaded matters which were false”.

Name change planned as more investors pull out

Guardian Australia can reveal that Adani reserved two new company names with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission on 18 August – eight days before the court judgement. The Asic documents flag its intention to rebrand Adani Abbot Point Terminal and its holding company as the “North Queensland Export Terminal”.

In July, an Adani employee registered the web domain on behalf of Adani Abbot Point Operations, a separate company that manages the operations of the export terminal.

Climate campaigners say the move appears to be Adani “changing what has obviously become a toxic brand” amid its ongoing difficulties refinancing the port’s debts.

The Guardian can also reveal two additional Korean investors have, under pressure from climate activists, said they will dump their investments in Adani’s port, which has total debts of $1.5bn.

In recent days, Korean Investment Securities and Industrial Bank of Korea have written to activist groups confirming they will not offer further finance to the port, which would export coal from Adani’s controversial Carmichael coalmine……….

August 29, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Gas is not a transition fuel to a safe climate. That ship has sailed

Gas is not a transition fuel to a safe climate. That ship has sailed,, Penny Sackett, 27 Aug 20

Australia’s chief scientist from 2008 to 2011   If gas-fired electricity emissions can be lower than that from coal-fired plants, should Australia expand its fossil gas industry as a means of combating climate change? The answer is a clear no if we want to avoid the worst climate change outcomes.

Science has repeatedly demonstrated that the most important action to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees is to begin to reduce all fossil fuel consumption – coal, yes, but oil and gas too – in this decade.

The primary difficulty is the large mismatch between what is required to meet that stated climate goal of the Paris Agreement and what nations have actually pledged to do. Worse still, the current policies of many countries, Australia included, would increase their national production of fossil fuels, increasing emissions above their own weak pledges.

This so-called “production gap” is the subject of a recent multi-institutional, multi-national report led by the Swedish Environment Institute. Its analysis shows that governments are planning to produce about 50 per cent more fossil fuels by 2030 than would be consistent with a 2-degree pathway and 120 per cent more than would be consistent with a 1.5-degree pathway. This means that plans for fossil fuel development or extension that are already on the table must be shelved to hold warming to the Paris target range.

Consistent with other research, the report demonstrates that to have a 66 per cent chance of holding warming to well below 2 degrees, coal, oil and gas production must all decline significantly in the next decade. That is why increasing gas development to displace coal is no longer a viable approach to maintaining a reasonably safe climate.

Over the past 30 years, coal-to-gas “fuel-switching” has played a role in reducing emissions in the United States and Britain. However, the latest information from the US Energy Information Administration shows that the US energy grid has decreased its emissions from a shift to non-fossil fuel sources by almost as much as a shift to gas. Despite the shale boom, non-carbon energy sources have now overtaken any other single source of fossil fuel in supplying energy to the US grid.

In Britain, renewables played a large role in reducing emissions in the electricity grid. Between 2006 and 2016, the renewables share of electricity production rose from 2 per cent to 25 per cent, even excluding large hydro. While the 1990’s “dash for gas” was responsible for the largest cumulative amount of avoided greenhouse emissions in Britain since 1990, the situation is different now. In 2017, the transition to renewable energy was the largest driver in its electricity sector’s emission reductions. In second place was lower electricity demand (think what we could do with energy efficiency in Australia), while coal-to-gas switching came in third.

The world we live in has already changed dramatically with global average temperatures now 1.1 degrees above pre-industrial levels. Cyclones and storm surges are more intense. Droughts are more damaging. Fire seasons are longer and bushfires more fierce. Billions of animals died in last year’s Australian bushfires alone. Entire species are becoming extinct at rates far above normal. The point of no return may have already passed for Arctic sea ice – in 15 years, globes in schoolrooms may show white ice at only one pole.

At 2 degrees of warming, heatwaves would be even more severe and more deadly to humans, animals and agriculture. Sydney and Melbourne would need to brace for 50-degree days. The fire weather that produced Australia’s Black Summer would become at least four times more likely, the amount of water available to feed dams and rivers in NSW would be reduced by 30 per cent from what was typical mid last century, and coral reefs around the world would almost certainly be eliminated.

We have all the tools to avoid that future of 2 degrees of warming. What has been lacking is coherent, science-based action that does not add yet more fuel to the climate fire. Today, when the enormous human, economic and ecological costs of even 1.1 degrees of warming are so clear, when prices of renewable energy have plummeted, and several non-fossil energy storage options are available, gas is not a transition fuel to a safe climate. That ship has sailed.

Planned and rapid coal-to-renewables switching is now the responsible path. Gas will have a role in the near term, certainly, but the science is clear. The role of gas needs to be a significantly declining one, not a growing one, if we are to avoid the worst of climate change so that Australia’s future is safe, sustainable and competitively modern.

Penny Sackett was Australia’s chief scientist between 2008 and 2011. She is an honorary professor at the Climate Change Institute, Australian National University.

August 27, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Nearly 90% of young Australians want real action on climate change

August 25, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Gas is not transition energy we were promised, new research suggests

Gas is not transition energy we were promised, new research suggests, SMH, By Nick O’Malley, August 24, 2020 — The good news about natural gas is that when it is burnt it creates between 40 and 50 per cent less carbon dioxide than coal would to create the same amount of energy.This is why it has been embraced by some climate activists and governments as a useful energy source to replace coal and oil while renewable energy technologies catch up with global energy demand.

But the good news ends there, and there is a lot more to the story.

Before it is burnt natural gas is mostly made up of methane, and methane is estimated to be about 28 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period.

Over a 20-year period – about the time scientists believe we have to try to prevent the worst impacts of global warming – it is up to 80 times more potent at warming the planet than carbon dioxide.

The United States’ Environmental Protection Agency estimates that for every cubic metre of methane extracted by the US oil and gas industry, 1.4 per cent escapes into the atmosphere as so-called fugitive emissions.

But more recent research suggests this estimate is drastically low, and that, in fact, the industry in the US is leaking 13 million metric tonnes of methane a year, or 2.3 per cent.

It is not yet clear how much fugitive methane is released by the Australian gas industry, but new technologies now allow scientists to accurately measure it and the data is expected to be published in the coming months.

The US Environmental Defence Fund estimated that, in America, if just 3 per cent of methane escapes, gas is no cleaner an energy source than coal…….

August 25, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Antarctica – global heating and nuclear issues – theme for September 20

Antarctica is not in the news as much as the Arctic is,  But global heating is affecting Antarctica too, and Antarctica has its nuclear issues.

Antarctica has made headlines several times this year due to extremely warmer than usual temperatures. It has been steadily heating up for decades.  Antarctic ice shelves have lost nearly 4 trillion metric tons of ice since the mid-1990s, scientists say. Ocean water is melting them from the bottom up, causing them to lose mass faster than they can refreeze.  As ice shelves melt, they become thinner, weaker and more likely to break. When this happens, they can unleash streams of ice from the glaciers behind them, raising global sea levels. Antarctica is also losing ice from melting ice sheets, and chunks of ice falling from glaciers.

Less studied than the Arctic region, Antarctic is now being investigated by Australian researchers, using robots to gather data from difficult to reach underwater areas. Satellite monitoring confirms the shelves’ melting trend.

Nuclear issues.  From 6,000 nautical miles away, uranium mining in Australia is polluting the Antarctic.  After 1945 atomic bomb testing sent radioactive pollution to the South Pole, as well as to everywhere else on the planet.

USA  operated  a small nuclear power plant at Antarctica’s McMurdo Sound. It was known as “nukey poo” because of its frequent radioactive leaks. It had 438 malfunctions – nearly 56 a year – in its operational lifetime, including leaking water surrounding the reactor and hairline cracks in the reactor lining. The emissions of low level waste water where in direct contravention of the Antarctic Treaty, which bans military operations as well as radioactive waste in Antarctica. After the reactor was closed down, the US shipped 7700 cubic metres of radioactive contaminated rock and dirt to California.  Many USA naval workers there developed cancers.

Today, small nuclear reactors similar to this one, are being touted for remote areas in Australia and other countries. The history of this one in Antarctica, and 7 others elsewhere, was one of malfunctions, and closing down within a few years. This does not augur well for the small nuclear reactors being promoted today.

August 22, 2020 Posted by | Christina themes, climate change - global warming, technology | Leave a comment

Adam Bandt urges another Labor-Greens coalition for climate action

Adam Bandt urges another Labor-Greens coalition for climate action,, By Rob Harris, August 21, 2020 —Greens leader Adam Bandt will mark 10 years since his party signed a deal to prop up the Gillard government by flagging he would be willing to again form a power-sharing deal with Labor to combat climate change.The Melbourne MP will use his address to the Greens National Conference on Saturday to urge Labor leader Anthony Albanese to commit to acting on carbon pollution by again entering into progressive pact

Labor is currently locked in a fierce internal battle over its support for coal and gas production as it wrestles with three successive election losses and poor results at the polls last year in resource-rich regional Queensland seats.

Veteran frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbon warned on Thursday his party could soon split in two, arguing it is struggling to be “all things to all people” across its inner city and regional voter bases.

Mr Bandt will tell his party faithful that it was only with the Greens holding the balance of power in both the House of Representatives and the Senate which led to “world leading climate action with a price on carbon”.

“In recent Australian history, there is one indisputable fact. The only time that climate pollution meaningfully dropped is when the Greens shared power,” Mr Bandt says in a draft copy of the speech.

“When the Greens, Labor and independents worked cooperatively and shared power like we did in 2010, we got a lot done.

As Liberal and Labor rush once more to give tax cuts to millionaires while embracing coal and gas, it is clear that Greens sharing power is the pathway to change.

Mr Bandt will also use the speech to say the climate deal reached with the Gillard government was stronger and more effective in reducing carbon emissions than the Rudd government’s scheme it blocked in the Senate.

Mr Bandt said the nation was currently facing major issues – inequality, climate change and a COVID-induced economic crisis.

Warning of a federal election within 12 months, Mr Bandt will say the path to climate policy progress was to put the Greens into shared power through a hung parliament.

Mr Bandt said the carbon tax legislation by Labor in 2010 with the backing of the Greens was “well-designed” and it reduced pollution for the first time in Australian industrial era history.

He will promise to “hammer” a straightforward message between now and the next election that the “only way to get real change is to vote for it and give the Greens shared power”.

“Many look longingly to New Zealand, where Jacinda Ardern leads a progressive multi-party government with Greens support, and wonder if it could happen here,” he will say.

Mr Albanese on Thursday said Labor had continually evolved and a modern party with “any self-respect” would be attempting to mitigate the effects of climate change.

In a rebuke to Mr Fitzgibbon, he said the issue of climate change was not a matter of geography because “wherever people live, they’re impacted by climate change”.

“Were about also holding the government to account. Putting forward an alternative agenda for the nation,” he said.

“One that is about jobs. One that’s about an economy that works for people, not the other way around.”

August 22, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment