Australian news, and some related international items

Senate inquiry into bushfires hears of climate change impacts

climate-AustClimate warning at bushfire inquiry, Examiner, Doug Dingwall@dougdingwall

November 3, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Tasmania | Leave a comment

Mike Baird’s New South Wales government – more “creative accounting” on #climate change

Mike Baird is going rogue on climate change, The Age, Christine Milne , 3 Nov 16.In NSW the Baird government is set to give the green light to land clearing that will increase our greenhouse gas emissions just as the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 2 degrees and pursue a more ambitious 1.5 degrees limit comes into effect on Thursday. Premier Baird is going rogue on climate.

As the world meets in Morocco for COP22, Australia will be under scrutiny as never before. Not only have we not ratified the Paris Agreement, we are increasingly being seen as cheating the process with rubbery figures. To meet the Paris Agreement objectives, negative emissions will be required. That is pulling CO2 from the atmosphere at the same time as reducing emissions from all sources. The Baird government is doing the opposite, increasing emissions from coal and coal seam gas at the same time as pushing up emissions from land clearing.

The rest of the world is sick of Australia’s creative accounting using land use, land use change and forestry, or LULUCF, as a “get out of jail free card” to “offset” its rising greenhouse gas emissions from industry. Australia has argued that while its emissions from coal-fired power stations, industries, cars and transport fleet vehicles and fugitive emissions from gas are rising, they are offset by our forests.

That is the basis of the Turnbull government’s Emission Reduction Fund. It has spent over $1 billion paying farmers not to clear or to regrow forests so polluters can keep on polluting. People think the fund must be invested in upgrading industry. Wrong, it has been overwhelmingly paid to farmers.

That is why the Baird government’s proposed changes are so bad. Not only will they destroy biodiversity and send species to extinction by destroying habitat, they will undermine efforts to meet our greenhouse gas reduction targets by cancelling out any reductions that may have been made through the ERF……….

In its reports to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Australia said that from 2005- 2013 land use emissions dropped by 10 per cent but admitted that they will increase by 8 per cent from 2013 to 2020. As part of a peer review process, other countries can ask questions and they have leapt at the chance.

The US asked: “Can you explain what caused this reversal from downward trend to upward trend?” Australia has not yet answered but it is obvious that the Liberal governments of Newman, Baird and Malcolm Turnbull are to blame.

The European Union has noted:”Australia updates some details on ‘avoided clearing of native regrowth’, stating that projected increases in land clearing will be offset by low rates of native forest harvesting. Noting that tree-clearing controls were instrumental in Australia meeting its Kyoto commitment, have the emissions projections been adjusted to account for the updates?”…..

This cannot go on. The offsetting, lies and rubbery figures must stop. Carbon in the landscape must be increased, not decreased. The Baird government’s new land clearing laws must be stopped and if NSW won’t act the federal government should step in to make it happen.

Christine Milne is the former leader of the Australian Greens.

November 3, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, New South Wales | Leave a comment

Victoria’s Point Lonsdale beach – just one example of rising sea levels

sea-level-rise-PortseaRising sea levels, stronger waves speeding up Victorian coastal erosion, CSIRO says, ABC News 30 Oct 16 By Joanna Crothers Rising sea levels and more frequent storms are increasing the rate of erosion across Australia’s southern coastline, the CSIRO has said, while locals at one Victorian beach are concerned it is not safe for summer holidaymakers.

Key points:

  • CSIRO warns of rising sea levels and a statewide trend of more storms
  • Since 2010, Government has spent $450,000 on maintenance at Point Lonsdale
  • In the past five years, erosion near Apollo Bay has increased from 8cm to one metre per year

Kathleen McInnes, a CSIRO sea level and coastal extremes expert, said more powerful waves were also contributing to the problem. “Sea levels have risen some 20 centimetres over the past 100 years, and are currently rising at about three millimetres per year,” she said. “There is also evidence that winds in the southern ocean are intensifying and this is driving a positive trend in wave energy reaching our coastline. “So this is creating a double whammy for coastal impacts.”

Individual storms have also become more frequent and intense, meaning beaches do not have as much time to recover after a harsh winter.”They’re driving higher waves which means a higher wave energy [is] reaching the shore,” Ms McInnes said.

Point Lonsdale beach ‘dangerous’, not ready for holidays The beachfront at Point Lonsdale, on the Bellarine Peninsula, has been badly eroded over the past decade and local residents said there was a risk children could slipping and cracking their heads open near the seawall…….

October 31, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Victoria | Leave a comment

The hypocrisy of attack on ‘foreign-funded’ environment groups

Why only “environment groups”? Why not take a look at the tax-deductible recipient status of all charities, such as the Institute of Public Affairs?

The IPA is using its tax-deductibility status to raise cash for a third edition of its climate science denial book Climate Change: The Facts, with contributions from US-based and UK-based contrarian scientists, alongside the likes of Clive James and Bjørn Lomborg.


Why the attack on ‘foreign-funded’ environment groups stinks of hypocrisy, Guardian, hypocrisy-scale Graham Readfearn, 30 Oct 16  Supporters of coal projects want transparency and proper use of charity status – but only when they support their arguments You might have noticed that all of a sudden, Australians are supposed to be appalled by foreign interests getting in the way of us digging up as much coal as we want, thanks very much.

Last weekend the Australian newspaper started running stories based on a “revelation” from the inbox of John Podesta, the chairman of Democratic nominee for president Hillary Clinton’s election campaign.

One email forwarded to Podesta showed the philanthropic group the Sandler Foundation, based in San Francisco, was a funder of Australian group the Sunrise Project. The emails were published by WikiLeaks.

Sunrise, run by the former Greenpeace campaigner John Hepburn, has been involved in supporting some of the court cases brought against proposed coal projects – chiefly, the massive Adani coalmine in Queensland.

According to an editorial in the Australian, “thinking Australians” should be “appalled” by this news.

On the back of these stories, there have been shouts for more transparency, while Turnbull government ministers have used the coverage as a pivot to call for environment groups to be stripped of their charitable status. The climate change impacts of burning coal, meanwhile, have been summarily discounted or ignored.

So let us count the ways that Australians should not be “appalled” and, on the way, examine some of the bald hypocrisy that has been on display this week. Continue reading

October 31, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Australian to head Green Climate Fund

29 October 2016. The Green Climate Fund will this year approve hundreds of billions of dollars towards projects that help poorer nations mitigate the effects of climate change and transition to low-emission technologies.

Howard Barmsey, a former Australian climate change envoy and former head of the Global Green Growth Institute, will lead the GCF which will play a role in trying to fulfil the Paris Agreement to limit the world’s temperature increase to below 2 degrees Celsius.

October 31, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Adani coal mine: Queensland Government publicly embarrassed over handling of megamine

October 26, 2016. A POWERFUL lobby of regional councils and business groups have started to publicly embarrass the State and Federal governments over their inability to pave the way for the $21 billion Adani megamine… (subscribers only)

October 29, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, Queensland | Leave a comment

Kimberley’s Indigenous fire management experts featuring at UNESCO climate talks

Kimberley representatives head to Morocco to share traditional fire management techniques ABC Kimberley By Leah McLennan, Matt Bamford and Fi Poole,  Representatives from the Kimberley region of Western Australia will travel to climate talks in Morocco to discuss their strategic burning methods.

Traditional fire management techniques have generated more than $85 million for Indigenous groups across northern Australia.

Kimberley Land Council chief executive Nolan Hunter will deliver a presentation on Indigenous fire management in Australia at the UNESCO Indigenous Knowledge and Climate Change conference in Marrakech next month.

“We have been invited to go over there to present the work we have been doing with traditional owner groups in the north Kimberley on fire abatement and the role of Indigenous people in climate change and biodiversity,” Mr Hunter said……

October 29, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, climate change - global warming, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Extreme heat events increase: State of the Climate report 2016

book-state-of-the-climate-report-2016State of the Climate report 2016: Extreme heat events increasing in duration, frequency and intensity By national science reporter Jake Sturmer, ABC News 28 Oct 16   The duration, frequency and intensity of extreme heat events have increased across large parts of Australia, a climate report has found.The Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO’s biennial State of the Climate report also found May-July rainfall had reduced by around 19 per cent since 1970 in the south-west of Australia.

The report offers a snapshot of how Australia’s weather has changed over the last two years. According the latest report, there has been an increase in extreme fire weather days, and a longer fire season, across large parts of Australia since the 1970s.

Temperatures in Australia — both in the air and on the sea surface — have warmed by a degree since 1910, the report said.

It may not sound like much, but according to the Bureau of Meteorology’s Karl Braganza, it is a big deal.

“It’s not significant when you think about the shift from night to day, but we’re talking about a shift in the actual climatology of Australia,” Dr Braganza said.

“If you move from one climate zone to another in Australia — where there’s only a degree or two of difference — you’ll notice quite a different environment.”

So is anything changing globally?   Last year was the warmest on record for the globe since reliable surface air temperature records began in 1880 — 15 of the last 16 years have been the hottest recorded.

Sea levels globally have risen more than 20 centimetres since the late 19th century — one third of this rise is because of ocean warming and the rest from water stored on the land and melting land ice.

It is that melting land ice that could cause a huge shift in sea levels.

Take the ice on Greenland, for example. CSIRO’s Steve Rintoul said if that melted, there would be enough ice to raise global sea level by seven metres.

What makes this even more challenging is that scientists are not sure at what level of temperature rise this melt would happen.

“It could be as low as 1.5 degrees Celsius [or] it could be as high as 3C, but once we cross that threshold we have committed ourselves to losing most of the ice on Greenland,” Dr Rintoul said.

What do we do about it?

Scientists say there is not a moment to lose and we must reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and consequently lower CO2 emissions……..

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

Coal Seam Gas industry far too influential in CSIRO research

‘No-brainer’: Calls for CSIRO to make its CSG gas research more independent , The Age, Peter Hannam, 19 Oct 16  The CSIRO needs to ensure its research into coal seam gas remains independent of industry if it’s to win over opponents worried about environmental and social impacts, The Australia Institute (TAI) argues in a new paper.

The report highlighted how the original research advisory committee of the CSIRO-led body – known as the Gas Industry Social & Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA) – had been dominated by industry representatives and the CSIRO.

While this committee have since been split into NSW and Queenslandones, industry continues to have a significant presence that raised doubts about how arm’s length the research work could be, said Matt Grudnoff, a researcher with the TAI.

“It’s not just the industry is sponsoring this research,” Mr Grudnoff said. “Industry also sits at the table that decides the questions, and decides what projects get funded.” “It’s a no-brainer that they should get gas executives off these research committees” if the industry wanted to be accepted by communities worried about interference and possible contamination of aquifers from CSG wells, he said.

The industry also wants to convince the public that gas is cleaner than coal as part of efforts to gain “social licence”, Mr Grudnoff said. CSIRO executives will face a fresh grilling at Senate estimates on Thursday.

Emails released earlier this year revealed the nation’s premier research agency was looking to shift its emphasis away from “science for science sake”.

“Public good is not enough, needs to be linked to jobs and growth, but science that leads to SLO [social licence to operate] is OK,” Andreas Schiller, an executive in the Oceans and Atmosphere division, said in one email.

According to CSIRO, GISERA funding totalled $13.05 million for the 2014-15 to 2016-17 years. Industry chipped in about half, or $6.65 million, with governments and CSIRO providing the rest…….

October 22, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

“Direct Action” effect on greenhouse emissions would be wiped out if Adani coal mine goes ahead

coal CarmichaelMine2Adani coal mine would wipe out Direct Action gains within a year, estimates show, The Age,  Peter Hannam, 20 Oct 16, 

Carbon cuts made by the federal government’s Direct Action climate change plan by 2020 would be wiped out by pollution from a single coal mine in just over a year, new data revealed at a Senate estimates hearing shows.

Officials from the Clean Energy Regulator said that projects paid for from the first three auctions of the Emissions Reduction Fund – the backbone of Direct Action – would trim pollution by just 42 million tonnes of carbon-dioxide equivalent by 2020.

Even if all the remaining funds were spent – with a fourth auction planned for November 16 – emissions reductions are projected to total only 92 million tonnes by the year 2020, officials told senators.

By contrast, the Adani coal mine proposed for Queensland’s Galilee Basin would trigger emissions of about 79 million tonnes a year – nullifying the ERF’s pre-2020 abatement in little over a year if it proceeded……

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

Australian taxpayers’ funded publishing of climate denialist Bjorn Lomborg’s book

Government funded Lomborg’s ‘vanity’ book: Senate Estimates,, , Higher Education Editor Canberra @harejulie , 21 Oct 16, Taxpayers contributed $640,000 to a book edited, written and published by Bjorn Lomborg and his Copenhagen Consensus Centre which was ridiculed in Senate Estimates on Thursday as “vanity publishing”.

Lomborg, Bjorn

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

Australia under question at UN over its climate change policy

Map Turnbull climateAustralia facing questions at UN over post-2020 climate change stance, The Age, 13 Oct 16, Adam Morton  Australia is facing renewed international pressure to explain what it is doing to tackle climate change, with a United Nations reviewfinding its emissions continue to soar and several countries calling for clarity about what it will do after 2020.

Countries including China and the US have put more than 30 questions to the Turnbull government, asking for detail about how Australia will meet its 2030 emissions target and raising concerns about a lack of transparency over how the government calculates and reports emissions.

It comes as the federal government has been facing calls at home – sparked by its own criticism of ambitious state renewable energy targets – to reveal what it would do on climate change and clean energy beyond 2020.

An expert review commissioned by the UN found, based on data submitted by Australia, its emissions would be 11.5 per cent higher in 2020 than they were in 1990. Industrial emissions – not counting those from forestry and land-clearing – were expected to rise 33.5 per cent over the three decades.

The reviewers found a recent Australian report lacked transparency about how it estimated its future emissions. And they noted the report failed to mention the abolition of the carbon price scheme, or explain what impact scrapping the policy would have on it meeting targets……..

Physicist Bill Hare, chief executive of Climate Action Tracker and an adviser to developing countries at climate negotiations, said the questions asked of Australia showed deep scepticism and frustration beneath a diplomatic veneer. “It is very strange that the government had put forward no projections, which are the sine qua non [essential ingredient] of this area of policy,” he said.  “It is as if the Treasury produce a report for the International Monetary Fund with no future numbers in it. It raises alarm bells.”

A Climate Action Tracker analysis found Australia’s emissions were headed to be more than 27 per cent greater than 2005 levels in 2030……..

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

Should Australia follow Canada – let the states lead on climate?

text politicsCanada lets the states lead on climate, should Australia do the same? The Conversation, October 11, 2016 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau showed Australia a thing or two when he announced a new climate change plan last week – and not just because it was delivered impeccably in two languages. Trudeau has decided to leave climate policy to the provinces, while forcing them to act.

Is this state-based approach a model for Australia? Continue reading

October 11, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

‘reckless’ and ‘indefensible’ Carmichael coal mine approved by Queensland govt

coal CarmichaelMine2Queensland fast tracks ‘reckless’ and ‘indefensible’ Carmichael coal mine, Independent Australia  Renew Economy 11 October 2016 Minus financial backing, reneging on the Paris Agreement and even ignoring Adani’s own loss of interest in the project, the Queensland Government is fast tracking the Carmichael coal mine, writesRenewEconomy‘s Sophie Vorrath.

IN A MOVE that has been labelled “indefensible” and “reckless” by green groups, the Queensland Government has declared the massive Carmichael coal mine and port proposed for the State’s Galilee Basin as “critical infrastructure”, in an effort to fast-track its development.

State development minister Anthony Lynhamsaid on Monday that the Labor PalaszczukGovernment had invoked special powers to help progress Adani’s $21 billion project, reinstating and expanding its “prescribed project” status to include its water infrastructure…….

while governments of all colours appear to be rolling out the red carpet for the coal project, there are other hurdles it has yet to clear – not least of all economic ones – as coal looks more and more like a high-risk investment.

As John Quiggan wrote last month, a long list of banks and other funding sources have announced they won’t touch the project, or have pulled out of existing finance arrangements.

The list includes the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (formerly a big lender to Adani), NAB, the Queensland Treasury and global banks including Standard Chartered (another former big lender), Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC and Barclays, as well as BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole and Societe Generale. The U.S. and Korean Export-Import banks and the State Bank of India have been touted as possible sources, but appear to have backed away.

Even Adani Group, the Indian conglomerate behind the project, has appeared to lose interest in its coal plans. And just this week, the energy minister for India – the main market for the coal that would be dug up at Carmichael – called on the country’s power generators to cease coal imports if the nation was to come good on its “One Nation, One Grid, One Price” energy goal…..,9578

October 11, 2016 Posted by | business, climate change - global warming, politics, Queensland | Leave a comment

Legal challenge to Adani’s Abbot Point plans in Queensland’s Supreme Court

coal CarmichaelMine2Adani’s Abbot Point plans face court challenge,SMH , 7 Oct 16   Whitsunday residents are bound for court in a bid to show the Queensland government failed the environment when it approved a port expansion for Adani’s new mega-coal mine.

Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping say dredging required for Adani’s expansion of the Abbot Point coal terminal, north of Bowen, could do untold environmental harm and the mine itself will fuel global warming and endanger the reef.

Lawyers for the group will appear in the Supreme Court in Brisbane on Friday, arguing Queensland’s environment department failed to properly assess the port project before it gave Adani the go ahead.

The expansion is needed to ship coal from Adani’s planned $16 billion Carmichael mine in the Galilee Basin…….

The action group’s case will be heart in the Supreme Court in Brisbane from 10am (AEST).

October 8, 2016 Posted by | climate change - global warming, legal, Queensland | Leave a comment