Australian news, and some related international items

CSIRO unsure on Adani coal project’s water plans, but Minister For Coal, Melissa Price gave it environmental approval anyway

Adani water plan ticked off within hours despite lack of detail, internal CSIRO emails reveal

Key points:

  • Internal CSIRO correspondence explicitly shows the agency went out of its way to avoid giving any categorical scientific advice on Adani’s plans
  • A letter from the CSIRO to the environmental department noted other concerns were yet to be addressed
  • The emails obtained by the ABC also show how rushed the CSIRO was to provide its “formal assent” to the department

Despite the Government saying Australia’s top science agencies “confirmed” Adani’s water plans had “met strict scientific requirements”, the emails show CSIRO was determined not to give a “categoric” response.

The correspondence obtained by the ABC through freedom of information laws exposes further discrepancies between what the Government said about the assessment of Adani’s environmental plans, and what actually occurred.

The newly uncovered emails follow hand-written notes from Geoscience Australia, obtained by the ABC in April, showing Adani refused to accept several of its recommendations, counter to what the Government said at the time.

Two days before the federal election was called, Environment Minister Melissa Price signed off on Adani’s two groundwater management plans,meaning Adani had passed all the tests required by the Federal Government before it could start constructing its proposed Carmichael coal mine.

When announcing the decision, Ms Price said she was simply following the advice of scientists.

“I have accepted the scientific advice,” she said, declaring that CSIRO and Geoscience Australia had provided “assurances that these steps address their recommendations”.


May 14, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Scott Morrison claims that the Liberal Coalition saved the Great Barrier Reef!!

M’s claim Coalition saved reef from nonexistent ‘endangered list’ condemned as ‘ridiculous’, Guardian, Lisa Cox, Mon 13 May 2019

Scott Morrison says government took reef ‘off the endangered list’ – despite no such list existing.  Scott Morrison has credited his government with having “saved” the Great Barrier Reef, a claim rejected as “ridiculous” by scientists, environmental groups and the Queensland government.

At the Liberal party’s campaign launch in Melbourne on Sunday, Morrison thanked the former environment ministers Greg Hunt and Josh Frydenberg for their work on reef issues.

“We have saved the Great Barrier Reef – well done to Greg Hunt particularly on his work when he was environment minister – taking it off the endangered list,” he said.

“We’ve invested record funds in researching and protecting its future thanks to Josh’s time as environment minister.”

Morrison’s statement contained more than one inaccuracy, including the suggestion the reef was on an “endangered list” at all.

“There is such a thing as the ‘in danger list’ for world heritage properties,” the coral reef scientist Prof Terry Hughes said. “The barrier reef was never on that list.

“If Morrison is claiming Hunt got Australia off the ‘in danger’ list, the obvious response is: it never was on it.”

In 2017, Unesco opted not to list the reef as in danger after reviewing the government’s Reef 2050 plan. But it will reassess that decision in 2020 and whichever party wins the federal election must submit an update on progress of the plan at the end of this year.

Hughes said recent surveys of the Great Barrier Reef showed the impact climate change and rising ocean temperatures were having on coral cover.

The Australian Institute of Marine Science – the government’s own agency responsible for monitoring reef health – reported in 2017-18 that trends in coral cover in the north, central and south reef showed steep decline that “has not been observed in the historical record”.

Hughes’s most recent paper found that the production of baby coral on the reef had fallen by 89% after the climate change-induced mass bleaching of 2016 and 2017.

Under the Liberal-National coalition government, Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions have continued to increase, which Hughes said was “an abject failure” for the Great Barrier Reef………

May 14, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, election 2019, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Where do the parties stand on climate and the environment?


May 13, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, election 2019 | Leave a comment

Climate emergency is here, whatever the election result – Editorial -The Age

Whatever the election result, we must tackle climate emergency   May 11, 2019  Election 2019 is in its final week – and for many people that will be a relief.

Many voters have switched off from politics and been disengaged from the campaigning, which may be one reason why almost 2 million people have already voted.

But beyond the usual photo set-ups and faux outrage during the campaign, an issue of fundamental importance has gained greater prominence across the nation: climate change.  It has become one of the fastest-rising issues of concern for Australians, as it has in many countries. Just over a week ago, the British parliament became the first in the world to declare a ‘‘climate emergency’’, and students across the globe have protested about the lack of action from all governments.

In Australia the issue has gained momentum on the back of relentless drought and a North Queensland flood in early February that killed tens of thousands of livestock and wildlife. A lack of coherent and effective policy on managing our waterways has also been blamed for the death of millions of fish in the Darling River near Menindee.

Last week we received another grim warning: a global report on biodiversity said 1 million species around the world face extinction. The 2019 report for the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services revealed the pace of destruction was as much as 100 times faster than the natural rate over the past 10 million years.

Few mainstream politicians in Australia deny that climate change is real. So why is there not enough being done about it? The main point of contention centres around the argument that given whatever Australia does in isolation will make negligible difference, why take risks on harming the local economy?

The obvious counter to that is that Australia is and must be a global citizen. We are all in this together and Australia must pull its weight. And we, like the rest of the world, must act now.

This paper has long argued for urgent action to bring down Australia’s emissions and to prepare the economy for a cleaner future.

In his landmark review of the impact of climate change in 2006, economist Sir Nicholas Stern warned governments to make the changes early or pay a much steeper price later. His analysis – updated in 2008 – was that ignoring climate change was many times more expensive than fixing it.

Australia did not heed his advice.

Climate action became nothing more than a political weapon for the Tony Abbott-led Coalition, especially through its attacks on the carbon-abatement scheme introduced by the Gillard government – a scheme that saw the country’s emissions fall.

According to the last report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in October 2018, we have only 12 years to halve emissions – and almost eliminate them by 2050 – to keep the rise in temperature around 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels. Exceeding 2 degrees could trigger irreversible tipping points.

“There is nothing opaque about this new data,’’ Christiana Figueres, the former UN climate chief said. ‘‘The illustrations of mounting impacts, the fast-approaching and irreversible tipping points are visceral versions of a future that no policy-maker could wish to usher in or be responsible for.”

To do nothing, then, abrogates our and every government’s responsibility to future generations.

Whatever the result of this Saturday’s federal poll, our elected politicians would do well to emulate their British counterparts. A united approach to tackling this emergency is needed. The time for shallow partisan politics has long past.

Our future depends on it.

May 13, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Torres Strait islanders to United Nations – allege Australian government failure to act on climate change

May 13, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Adani project faces another hurdle – another groundwater review

The Queensland government has requested another groundwater review from Adani’s Carmichael coal mine project, again holding up the project., SBS, 13 May 19 

Adani’s controversial Carmichael coal mine project is facing another hurdle, with the Queensland government seeking a further review of their groundwater plans.

Adani Mining’s chief executive Lucas Dow said the new request came from the Department of Environment and Science last Friday.

“It appears this process will again go beyond the scope of what our project is required to deliver under regulatory conditions – and, put simply, is another fishing expedition,” he said in a statement.

Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price signed off the company’s groundwater plans just before the start of the election campaign. ….

The new review means Adani can’t start construction on the mine which has been stuck in the courts and approval process for almost a decade.

The mine, to be developed in central Queensland’s Galilee Basin, has been a political football, with the country divided on the value of the $2 billion project.

It has dogged the federal election campaign and the coalition believes the Queensland Labor government is putting up road blocks to win over Green preferences in inner-city seats.

This is the second road block for the mine in less than two weeks, with the government recently rejecting Adani’s plans for managing the endangered Black-Throated Finch on the site………..

May 13, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, environment | Leave a comment

Bill Shorten urged to declare climate emergency if Labor wins

Peter Garrett urges Bill Shorten to declare climate emergency if Labor wins
Former environment minister calls for creation of ‘war’ cabinet committee to plot transition to zero carbon,
Guardian, Katharine Murphy Political editor @murpharoo 9 May 2019  The former environment minister Peter Garrett has urged an incoming Labor government to convene a climate emergency summit to plot a transition to zero carbon, and create a super department aligned to Treasury, like the Department of Post War Reconstruction after the second world war, to implement the transition…….

“Internationally, Australia needs to return to the table with a proactive and constructive stance to advancing global action. It is nothing short of scandalous that as a first-world nation with high per-capita emissions, exporting coal at the volumes we do, we have been a laggard and spoiler in international climate negotiations whenever the Coalition has been in office.

“History will judge our role in this period harshly.”    Garrett said it was imperative that an incoming government strengthen Australia’s relationships across the Pacific and south-east Asian sphere with cooperative policies and action on climate as the primary driver…….

Garrett’s intervention comes as new polling from the Lowy Institutereinforces what politicians from all sides have been saying since the start of the year – that 2019 is the climate change election.

A majority of Australians in the new Lowy poll nominate global warming as a critical threat, with 64% of the sample ranking climate change number one on a list of 12 threats to Australia’s national interests, up six points from last year’s survey and a jump of 18 points since 2014.

The 2019 result is the first time climate has topped the list of threats since Lowy began the research in 2006.

The Lowy result is consistent with private research undertaken by environmental groups and by the major political parties, which suggest climate change is surfacing as a concern in parts of the country normally sanguine about the issue.

The new poll comes as a shocking new report from the United Nations this week found that biodiversity is declining at an unprecedented rate, with one million species at risk of extinction, and human populations in jeopardy if the trajectory is not reversed.


May 11, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, election 2019 | Leave a comment

$571 billion loss by 2030 estimated for Australian property values due to climate change

Climate change could slash $571b from property values, study warns, ABC, 10 May 19

Key points:

  • The Climate Council estimates Australian real estate will lose $571b, or almost 9pc, of its value by 2030
  • The losses will be concentrated amongst 5-6pc of property owners, with many properties virtually uninsurable
  • The report estimates $4 trillion could be wiped off economic growth over the next 80 years if carbon emissions do not fall

The research estimates residential property value losses of $571 billion by 2030 related to increased extreme weather events, inundation of some low-lying coastal properties and higher insurance premiums.

That would wipe approximately 9 per cent of the nation’s total residential property value — about as much as has been lost so far in the current property downturn, which is on track to be the worst in Australia’s recent history.

However, these losses would not be evenly spread, as an estimated 5-6 per cent of property owners bear the brunt of climate change risks.

As insurance companies reshape their risk strategies to manage extreme weather events, the report predicts, the cost of insuring properties — particularly those on the coast — could become unaffordable for one in 19 owners, who would have to pay annual premiums equivalent to 1 per cent of their property value.

A recent study by the Actuaries Institute — actuaries are the statisticians who calculate risk for insurers — warns that as many as one in 10 properties could become uninsurable by the end of this century due to climate change.

Climate risk expert and report author Karl Mallon warned insurance companies were constantly updating their risk strategies, and could hike premiums to deal with extreme events such as rising sea levels, heatwaves and floods.

“Increasingly, Australians are also going to struggle to pay for home insurance. On current trends, by 2030 one in every 19 property owners faces the prospect of insurance premiums that will be effectively unaffordable,” Dr Mallon said.

Even for Australians who can afford to pay, general insurance currently does not cover damage from coastal inundation and erosion — events which are likely to become more common because of climate change.”

‘There are real costs of failing to act’

The report also warns $4 trillion could be wiped off economic growth over the next 80 years if carbon emissions do not fall.

Climate Council chief executive Amanda McKenzie told The World Today both major parties needed to confront climate change with policies that showed political will……..

The new report, Compound Costs, says coastal areas are likely to be hit hardest, and highly populated areas such as the Sunshine Coast, the Gold Coast and Melbourne are all vulnerable. ……

Climate an election issue…..

The Climate Council research follows warnings from the Reserve Bank and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority that climate change poses serious economic risks and that companies need to disclose their exposures to investors.

May 11, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Scott Morrison and climate leadership ?

May 9, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, politics | Leave a comment

Zali Steggall, Independent candidate for Warringah, aims to tackle the health impacts of climate change

Zali Steggall promises action to stem health impact of climate change 6 May 19, 

The Warringah independent signs up to strategy to tackle problems of increased asthma, mental illness and heat-related deaths

Independent candidate for Warringah, Zali Steggall, has pledged to address the health impacts of climate change if she wins Warringah as an independent.

Like her fellow independent, Kerryn Phelps in Wentworth, Steggall signed up on Monday to the strategy developed by the Climate Health Alliance, which has more than one million health professionals behind it through their representative groups. It is pushing governments to start factoring climate change into their thinking about health policy, warning that a rise of 3C in world temperatures would have catastrophic consequences for the health of Australians.

Among the health impacts of climate change are an expected jump in severe asthma attacks, more disease due to severe weather events such as flooding, increased mental illness due to prolonged droughts and higher death rates among the elderly and chronically ill due to more frequent very hot days.

On 21 November 2016 thousands of people were taken ill and 10 people died in Melbourne due to thunderstorm asthma. High temperatures, thunderstorms and windy conditions blew rye grass pollen into the city causing the mass incident.

Melbourne has now implemented an alert system for epidemic asthma which operates during October and December each year when pollen levels are at their highest.

Mary Chiarella, professor of nursing at Sydney university, said increasingly warm weather meant there would be more out-of-season pollen that would extend the asthma risk season.

More hot days would drive hospital admissions putting additional stress – and costs – on the health system.

“[Economist] Warwick McKibbon says no action is not a zero sum game. Just because you don’t spend the money taking action, doesn’t mean it will deliver a zero cost,” said Steggall.

“We are in one of the most exposed regions to climate change,” she said.

Steggall said she would be pushing for the expert panel to look into the climate change impacts on health outcomes and to advise the government on its response.

“My point of difference [with Tony Abbott] is I do like facts and data,” she said, a reference to the criticism that Abbott has made of her expert panel proposal.

At a debate last week, Abbott said Steggall would be shirking her responsibilities as a parliamentarian when she said she would be “led by experts” on climate change policy and what emissions cuts the nation should commit to.

She also criticised Abbott’s focus on power costs due to measures to address climate change.

“The more people understand the other impacts on them personally, the more the case for action,” she said.

May 7, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, election 2019 | Leave a comment

Australian Greens will push Australian Parliament to declare a “climate emergency”, as Britain has done

Greens urge climate emergency declaration,  4 May 19, The Greens will push the Australian parliament to declare a “climate emergency” after the federal election, party leader Richard Di Natale says.The federal Greens will push for Australia to declare a national “climate emergency”, following in the footsteps of the UK.

With Britain’s parliament becoming the first in the world to make such a declaration, federal Greens leader Richard Di Natale says it’s time to do the same at home.

“We’ve put forward proposals to the parliament already. We’ll be doing that again when we return to the parliament,” he told AAP on Saturday.  The federal Greens will push for Australia to declare a national “climate emergency”, following in the footsteps of the UK.

With Britain’s parliament becoming the first in the world to make such a declaration, federal Greens leader Richard Di Natale says it’s time to do the same at home.

“We’ve put forward proposals to the parliament already. We’ll be doing that again when we return to the parliament,” he told AAP on Saturday.

“We’re calling on both the Liberal and the Labor party to support what the conservative party in the UK have now adopted.”

Senator Di Natale says the push isn’t a lost cause in Australia’s political environment because “the pressure (to act) is building and it’s building very fast”.

“The major parties ignore the community at their own peril.”

The Greens leader also said he wanted environmental laws to be changed so projects had to specifically take into account their effect on climate change.

Senator Di Natale also backed Labor’s $1 billion pledge for environmental initiatives, including a native species protection fund and protecting beaches from erosion.

But the Greens want a “climate trigger” put into environment laws.

“Quite simply when any proposal is being put forward and the environment impact is being considered, what we have to do is make sure climate change is the first thing that’s considered as part of environmental impact,” Senator Di Natale said.

May 6, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, election 2019 | Leave a comment

Adani coal mine expansion is the critical test for Australia’s climate action. We must stop it – Bob Brown

‘It is up to us,’ to stop Adani: Bob Brown’s dire warning on coal mine,  SBS, 5 May 19, The stop Adani convoy has ended its long journey in Canberra with a rally on the lawns of Parliament House where Paul Kelly performed.

Veteran environmental activist Bob Brown has told thousands of climate action supporters they can’t rely on divine intervention to prevent the Adani coal mine. “It is up to us”.

The former federal Greens leader led the stop-Adani convoy that began in Hobart just before Easter and travelled to Clermont in central Queensland before reaching its final destination in Canberra on Sunday where a rally was held on the lawns of Parliament House.

Organisers estimated there were 2,500 people at the rally – “a bigger crowd than Bill Shorten will face today and a bigger crowd than Scott Morrison will ever face”, Dr Brown said.

He told the crowd that neither of the big parties were willing to stop the Adani mine to secure the planet for Australia’s kids……..

Dr Brown told reporters the convoy had been peaceful and law abiding but participants had endured hardships along the route.

“We had rocks thrown at us, we had people spat on, some people were actually physically absued.”…..

Greens leader Richard Di Natale told reporters Australia was in the midst of a climate election.

“Right now the Adani coal mine is a test of whether Liberal or Labor are serious about stopping climate change and right now,” he said,

“Liberal and Labor have failed the test.”…….

May 6, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, election 2019 | Leave a comment

Young climate activist’s letter to Australia

‘I want my childhood back’: young climate activist’s letter to Australia, SMH ,By Bella Burgemeister, May 4, 2019 My name is Bella, I’m 13 years old and I’m a climate change activist and organiser……

My book – Bella’s Challenge – was published in 2017 and now all the schools in the South West region of WA have a copy! But there’s so much more to be done.

For most of my life, the major parties have done as little as they can get away with when it comes to climate change. Are we really that greedy that we can’t see the bigger, global picture?

Young people like me are the ones who will live with the consequences of inaction on climate

So, when I see our Prime Minister tossing around a lump of coal in the Parliament, I know I have to fight back. When I hear both future potential future prime ministers say they support the Adani coal mine, I know I have to fight back.

When the state government here in WA opens up an area two-thirds the size of Tasmania to gas fracking, I know that I have to fight back. And I’m not the only one.

I’m just one of tens of thousands of kids across Australiagiving up part of their childhood to fight for our future because we have so little time to turn around this human made disaster.

We’ve got until 2030 to get serious – that’s just three more elections – so we can’t waste another term of government.

The School Strike for Climate youth have three simple demands:

1. Stop Adani coal mine (and any future coal mining in the Galilee Basin)

2. No new fossil fuel projects, especially drilling in the bight and fracking

3. 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030

The last action, which I was so proud to help organise, saw almost 200,000 young people around
Australia march in over 100 towns and cities.

The Prime Minister used the Parliament to tell us to stay in school, and the opposition leader told us we should have done it on the weekend – surely, he knows, as a former union boss, what the point of a strike is. This time we want to send an even bigger message!

This Friday, May 3, was a national day of action to remind the major parties that this is a climate change election.

Our demands aren’t radical, they’re the very least that needs to be done. They will take effort, but aren’t our futures worth it?

I want to stop worrying about my future and I want my childhood back.

Bella Burgemeister is a WA high school student and one of the key organisers of the WA ‘Schools Strike 4 Climate’ actions.

May 6, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming | Leave a comment

Schoolkids take their climate message to the politicians. Abbott pooh poohs it.

The earth has survived many things’, Abbott tells children protesting against climate change inaction,   SMH, By Laura Chung and Jenny Noyes  May 4, 2019    Dark clouds threatened rain as schoolkids gathered outside the Sydney electorate offices of both Labor and Liberal politicians on Friday, but it didn’t dampen their message on climate change.Prime Minister Scott Morrison, former prime minister Tony Abbott and Labor infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese were among those targeted as part of the nationwide protest against climate change inaction by federal MPs.

The protest held extra potency in Manly, where Mr Abbott’s 25-year grip on the seat of Warringah is under threat from independent candidate Zali Steggall in a campaign centred on climate change.

Armed with homemade signs, about a hundred students, parents and grandparents marched on Mr Abbott’s Manly office, chanting the slogan favoured by Steggall supporters: “Time’s up Tony”……..

A group of students tracked Mr Abbott down in a local cafe after the protest and voiced their concerns to him.

He responded to the students’ questions, telling them “the earth has survived many things”.

He also told them he didn’t believe the “environmental catastrophe” predicted by scientists would come about.

“I’m not saying that there isn’t going to be some time in the future when, for whatever reason, things come to an end, but I don’t believe that modest increases of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations over the next few decades are bound to bring about the kind of environmental catastrophe that you seem to fear.”……

Another protester dressed up in costume as Scott Morrison and a blackened piece of ‘coal’.

Another protester dressed up in costume as Scott Morrison and a blackened piece of ‘coal’.

Labor wasn’t let off the hook either.

Students also took their climate message to infrastructure spokesman Anthony Albanese’s Marrickville electorate office too, with a focus on urging Labor to pull the plug on the Adani coal mine. A Bill Shorten costume also made an appearance.

May 6, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, election 2019 | Leave a comment

Australia’s Liberal and Labor Parties on Climate Change – politics theme for May 2019

Federal Election: Whose climate change plan is better?

Shorten’s climate policy and why we don’t need to fear the Coalition’s ‘big scary numbers’   Guardian, Katharine Murphy, 2 May  2019   

Scott Morrison wants voters to think that Bill Shorten is risky and reckless …

What’s the cost of not acting?

what Labor is saying is correct. It’s factual for this reason. Labor has set out the framework of its climate policies: the emissions reduction target, which is 45% (compared to the government’s 26%), and the various policy mechanisms to deliver that result.

But there is a fair bit of fine print missing because Labor wants to consult with stakeholders on final design before attempting to legislate the policy.  …..

until we know the proportion of permits and a bunch of other things we don’t yet know – including what the Senate does to the policy if Labor wins – any number produced would be a guess. …..

Climate change costings that don’t count the cost of inaction are worthless, Guardian, Greg Jericho 5 May 19 We must demand better of our political parties – and there is no excuse for the media either,Just seven months ago the United Nations told the world that we have 12 years to limit the climate change catastrophe. It means that to keep global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels we need to cut carbon pollution by 45% by 2030 and down to zero by 2050. Twelve years. Actually scratch that – now it is 11 years.

Now ask yourself how often that has been raised during this election campaign?

At the start of the 2019 federal election campaign Scott Morrison put out a video where he was all dewy-eyed about the future, saying “the next 10 years are important to everybody at every stage of life”.

And yet not once – NOT ONCE – did he mention that the UN has given us 11 years to do something about a global catastrophe.

No, instead it’s all standard of living and nothingness statements that would get shot down by any decent advertising firm in the first meeting……..

Tony Abbott and his ilk – your time is done….

We need at a minimum a 45% reduction by 2030 and to get to zero net emission by 2050. So parties need to explain what they are going to do to get there and argue why their way is best.

If a party is not even willing to come up with such a path then do not treat them with the respect that “balance” gives them.

May 5, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Christina themes, climate change - global warming, election 2019 | Leave a comment