Showing posts with label coal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label coal. Show all posts

Sunday, 10 February 2019

And now for some good news......



David Morris, CEO of EDO NSW: Our argument was based on science, economics and – we argued - the proper application of the law. The climate contention as a ground for refusing this mine was innovative; the first time climate change has been addressed this way in an Australian court using the concept of a carbon budget as its basis.
Like so many great ideas – its strength was its simplicity. While there was lots of necessary evidence and discussion about the carbon budget, geopolitical climate policy and Australia’s legal framework for climate change, ultimately our argument was simple:  if you accept the science, then the local legal framework compels you to refuse the mine because it’s clearly not in the public interest to increase emissions.
As Professor Steffen said “it’s one atmosphere, it’s one climate system, it’s one planet - and so we need to start thinking more carefully about the net effect of wherever coal is burnt, or oil or gas… The project’s contribution to cumulative climate change impacts means that its approval would be inequitable for current and future generations”. [EDO NSW, media release, 8 February 2019]

The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 February 2019:

When Planning Minister Anthony Roberts intervened a year ago to give a coal miner the unusual right to challenge its project's refusal in court, neither would have countenanced Friday's outcome.

Instead of settling the future of Gloucester Resources' controversial Rocky Hill coal mine near Gloucester, the NSW Land and Environment Court just cast a cloud over coal mining in general.

The miner had thought it was merely challenging the Department of Planning's rejection of the mine's impact on visual amenity in the bucolic valley around Gloucester.

Instead, the Environmental Defenders Office, acting for residents opposed to the mine, grabbed the opportunity to join the appeal.

In what EDO chief David Morris describes as a "delicious irony", the court got to hear about the project's detrimental impact on climate change and the town's social fabric - despite Gloucester Resources arguing such intervention would be a "sideshow and a distraction".

Future generations will wonder why it took so long for any court in the land to hear such evidence when considering a coal mine project.

But Justice Brian Preston didn't just allow the EDO to provide expert evidence of the role greenhouse gas emissions play in driving climate change. He also accepted it as part of the critical reasons to reject the mine. "The decision forms part of what is a growing trend around the world on using litigation to fight climate change," Martijn Wilder, a prominent climate lawyer from Baker & McKenzie, says. "While early on some of this litigation was not successful, increasingly it is."


Gloucester Resources Limited v Minister for Planning [2019] NSWLEC 7, 8 February 2019 judgment here.

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Hard right ideology has so blinded the Morrison & Berejiklian Coalition Governments that water sustainability is at risk in yet another part of New South Wales in 2019


This particular coal mining project below has a long history and each step of the way Liberal and National politicians at state and federal level have supported the interests of foreign-owned mining corporations over those of local communities and ignored the need for intergenerational equity.

The O'Farrell & Baird Coalition Governments went to bat for the coal mining industry in New South Wales in 2014 after Wyong Coal Pty Ltd neglected to gain consent from a landowner, the Darkinjung traditional owners:


Wyong Coal  are not, however, the owners of the land the subject of the DA. Rather, the DA partially covers land owned by the applicant, the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council ("Darkinjung"). Moreover, the DA partially covers land over which a land rights claim has been made by Darkinjung under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983…..

The proposed development is State Significant Development under Section 89C of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act) as it is 'development for the purposes of coal mining', as specified in the State Environmental Planning Policy (State and Regional Development) 2011. The Minister for Planning and Infrastructure is the consent authority for the project. However, the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) will determine the application under delegation. In addition to approval under NSW legislation, the project is also a controlled action requiring assessment and approval under the Commonwealth's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. The Commonwealth will undertake a separate assessment and determination under its legislation.

The Berejilian Coalition Government in 2018 carried the flag for an amended Wyong Coal development application which bypassed the need for Darkinjung LALC consent:


Wyong Coal Pty Ltd, which trades as Wyong Areas Joint Coal Venture, and Kores Australia Pty Limited, are co respondents. KORES Australia Pty Ltd, a fully-owned subsidiary of Korea Resource Corporation, is the majority shareholder of Wyong Coal Pty Ltd.

The case is being fought on four main grounds: climate change, flooding impacts, compensatory water and risks to water supply for farmers in the region.

Wallarah 2 involves construction and operation of an underground coal mine over the next 28 years, until 2046. It would extract five million tonnes of thermal coal a year. The total greenhouse gas emissions over the life of the mine will be 264+ million tonnes of CO2.

In approving the Project, the PAC chose not to take into account emissions which come from the burning of coal mined at Wallarah 2. Our client argues that the law wasn’t followed with respect to climate change impacts. The key ground with respect to greenhouse gas emissions is that the PAC failed to consider an assessment of downstream emissions from the project. Under the EP&A Act, the PAC was required to consider the public interest. ACA argues that in 2018, considering the public interest for projects such as coal mines mandates the consideration of principles of ecologically sustainable development, particularly intergenerational equity and the precautionary principle.

In addition, our client argues that the PAC unlawfully failed to consider the risks of the flood impacts and the potential loss of water occasioned by the mining project.  
The Project, located within the Central Coast water catchment, would have significant impacts on the Central Coast water supply and residents in the surrounding areas. 
It would permanently alter the landscape, causing flooding events that will only increase over time as the impacts of climate change are realised. The PAC approval proposes dealing with these devastating flooding events by first requiring the mine to try mitigation measures like putting people’s houses on stilts, relocating homes or building levees. If those measures don’t work, then the mine would be required to pay the owners of the properties for the harm. Our client says this simply is not a lawful way to mitigate harm from flooding. There is no evidence that the mitigation measures will work or that compensation is an effective way to remedy harm caused by flooding.

The mine is also likely to impact upon the Central Coast water supply and access to water for farmers in the surrounding region.  The mine proposes to construct a pipeline to deliver compensatory water to the Central Coast Council and provide emergency and long-term compensatory water supplies to farmers if they lose access to water on their properties. If compensatory water cannot be provided, the mine can agree to buy those farmers out. The approval does not cover how the pipeline and the compensatory water is to be provided. ACA argues that the mitigation measures proposed by the PAC in the conditions of approval are not lawful, primarily because they go beyond the power of the PAC to deal with environmental impacts of the Project.

The Morrison Coalition Government by the hand of Minister for the Environment, Liberal MP for Durack and former mining industry lawyer Melissa Price, gave the stamp of approval on 18 January 2018:


This is the second time in the space of days NSW residents have learned that Liberal-Nationals politicians have allowed a new coal mine to progress towards operational capability in New South Wales.

Both of these new coal mines Shenhua Watermark and Wallarah 2 represent threats to regional water security.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Another thing for NSW voters to remember as they cast their ballot in the 2019 state and federal elections


The Shenhua Group appear to have first approached the NSW O'Farrell Liberal-Nationals Coalition Government in 2011-2012 concerning its plans to mine for coal on the Liverpool Plains, a significant NSW foodbowl. 

This particular state government was the subject of not one but two investigations by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) - Operations Spicer (2014) and Credo (2014). 

After he was found to have misled the independent commission Premier O'Farrell resigned as Premier in April 2014 and as Liberal MP for Ku-ring-gai in March 2015. Similarly the then NSW Minister for Resources and Energy, Minister for the Central Coast, Special Minister of State and Liberal MP for Terrigal Chris Hartcher resigned as government minister in December 2013 after he was named in ICAC hearings and left the parliament in March 2015.

On 28 January 2015 the NSW Minister for Planning and Liberal MP for Goulburn Pru Goward granted development consent for a subsidiary of the Chinese state-owned Shenhua Group, Shenhua Watermark Coal Pty Ltd, to create and operate an open cut mine on the Liverpool Plains. 

On 4 July 2015 then Australian Minister for the Environment and Liberal MP for Flinders Greg Hunt ticked off on the Abbott Government's environmental approval for Shenhua Watermark Coal to proceed with its mining operation.

Glaringly obvious environmental risks associated with large-scale mining in the region and vocal local community opposition had led to a downsizing of the potential mine site, for which the  NSW Berejiklian Liberal-Nationals Coalition Government paid the Shenhua Group $262 million in compensation.
ABC News, 31 July 2015, projected new mine boundaries

However, in July 2018 the Berejiklian Government renewed Shenhua’s mining exploration licence.


Given that on the successive watches of the O'Farrell, Baird and Berejiklian governments instances of mismanagement and/or corrupt conduct in relation to water sustainability, mining leases and the environment have been reported one would think that an abundance of caution would be exercised.

Instead we now learn that that Shenhua Watermark Coal has been allowed to vary development consent conditions for the open cut mine on the edge of the flood plain and, it is looking increasingly like pro coalformer mining industry lawyer, current Australian Minister for the Environment and Liberal MP for Durack, Melissa Price, will wave through these variations on behalf of the Morrison Liberal-Nationals Coalition Government. 

Thereby placing even more pressure on the already stressed surface and underground water resources of the state.

The Liverpool Plains are said to be a significant groundwater source in the New South Wales section of the Murray-Darling Basin.

Lock The Gate Alliance, 8 January 2019:

The NSW Government has allowed mining company Shenhua to alter its development approval for the controversial Watermark open cut coal mine in the Liverpool Plains, near Gunnedah, which will enable work on site to begin without key management plans being approved.

Despite the NSW deal, Shenhua is still not able to commence work under the Federal environmental approval until two important management plans, including the crucial Water Management Plan, have been approved by the Federal Government.

Now local farmers are afraid that the Federal Environment Minister, Melissa Price, may be about to follow the NSW Government lead and vary the approval to allow Shenhua to start pre-construction for their mine without the management plans that were promised.

Liverpool Plains farmer John Hamparsum said, “We’re disgusted that the NSW Government has capitulated to Shenhua yet again, and amended the development consent to let them start pre-construction work without the crucial Water Management Plan in place.

"They have repeatedly stated that the best science would apply to this mine before any work was done, and now they’ve thrown that out the window.

"We’re calling on the Federal Environment Minister, Melissa Price, and New England MP, Barnaby Joyce to now step up and promise that not a sod will be turned on this mine until the full Water Management Plan has been developed and reviewed by independent scientists.

"This mine represents a massive threat to our water resources and our capacity to feed Australia, and if the National Party has any respect for agriculture they need to act now and deliver on their promise that the best science will be applied.

"We won’t accept creeping development of this mine and weakening of the conditions that were put in place to protect our precious groundwater," he said.

Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Georgina Woods said, "It’s been four years since the NSW and Federal Governments approved Shenhua’s Watermark coal mine on the Liverpool Plains and there are still no management plans in place.

"Instead of upholding the conditions of Shenhua’s approval, the NSW Government has watered them down so that Shenhua can start work without these crucial plans in place.

"The community has a long memory and will not accept Governments changing the rules to the benefit of foreign-owned mining giants over local farmers," she said.

The former Federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, made a strong commitment that a Water Management Plan for the project would not be approved unless the Independent Expert Scientific Committee was satisfied with it.

The amended NSW approval can be accessed here.

A legal perspective on the issues surrounding water management by Dr Emma Carmody, Senior Policy and Law Reform Solicitor, EDO NSW and Legal Advisor, Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, is included in the December 2018 issue of Law Society Journal,  Managing our scarce water resources: recent developments in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Adani caught red handed breaking the rules - again



In 2017 the foreign multinational, the Adani Group, was found to have released heavily polluted water into coastal wetlands and the ocean around the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area - then lied about it.

Last Sunday it was reported to again be ignoring mining and environmental regulations and very predictably appears to be lying about its actions.

ABC News, 30 December 2018:

Mining firm Adani has unwittingly provided "persuasive" evidence for a Queensland Government investigation into allegedly illegal works on its Carmichael mine site, environmental lawyers say.

The evidence includes specifications of groundwater bores registered by Adani on a government website, which Queensland's Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) said could only be used for prohibited dewatering operations, and not for monitoring as Adani has claimed.

Adani has also confirmed it cleared 5.8 hectares of land when correcting an "administrative error" in its reporting to government, an action the EDO branded unlawful.

A spokeswoman for Adani insisted the company had acted in accordance with its environmental approvals, had not been dewatering for mining operations, and had "cooperated with both relevant State and Commonwealth departments regarding these allegations".


Satellite and drone evidence of drilling was presented to DES by the EDO on behalf of its client, environmental group Coast and Country.

Coast and Country spokesman Derec Davies said the evidence had resulted in an official investigation by the Queensland Government.

"Adani have been caught red handed breaking the law, and then lying about it within official documents," he said.

Dewatering bores are used by miners to prepare for open cut and underground operations.


An Adani spokeswoman said the company had drilled the bores "to take geological samples and monitor underground water levels", which she said was permitted as a stage one activity under its licence.

However, an expert has told the ABC the registrations for five of the bores that appear on a Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy website bear the hallmarks of dewatering bores, not monitoring bores.

They show the bores are constructed with steel rather than plastic casing, were considerably thicker than Adani's registered groundwater monitoring bores and ran deeper at 135 to 273 metres.

The bore reports did not include the baseline underground water level or the elevation of each bore, information considered critical for monitoring.

The five registered bores are also ascribed the abbreviation "DWB", commonly used for dewatering bores, instead of "GMB", commonly used for groundwater monitoring bores.

Read the full article here.

Friday, 21 December 2018

State of Play December 2018: Adani Group and the proposed Carmichael Mine in Queensland



Financial Review, 20 December 2018:

Ten of the world's top insurance companies, including Australian groups Suncorp and QBE and global insurer AXA, say they won't insure Indian energy group Adani's controversial $2 billion Carmichael coal mine in Queensland, an activist group says.
Market Forces, an anti-fossil fuel activist group backed by Friends of the Earth, also said AXA had indicated it would not renew its current insurance covering the Carmichael rail line when it comes up in March 2020.

Market Forces executive director Julien Vincent said the Paris-based global insurer had said in response to inquiries that: "Regarding the Carmichael mine, we confirm that: 'We do not currently cover the Carmichael mine's assets, neither directly nor through packages, and we do not intend to do so in the future; We currently have a multi-year policy to partly cover the railway asset which will lapse in 2020 and which we shall not renew.'"

AXA also said Adani's Carmichael project "is a banned investment both for our equity and fixed income holdings"…..

Market Forces asked global insurers about their attitude to the Carmichael project, after a successful campaign to dissuade Australian and global banks from backing the mine resulted in it being shrunk to a fraction of its original $16.5 billion size and self-financed by Adani.

Other companies that explicitly refused to insure the mine or previously pledged not to provide cover for new coal projects include the world's biggest insurers and reinsurers, Allianz, AXA, Swiss Re and Munich Re; the first major US insurer to take action on coal, FM Global; and major European insurers Generali, Zurich and SCOR.

Other major insurers have not ruled out insuring the project, including many American insurers, so Adani will still likely be able to secure insurance. These include Hannover Re, Berkshire Hathaway and AIG......

ABC News, 18 December 2018:

The CSIRO has found serious flaws in Adani's key water management plan to protect an ancient springs complex near its proposed Carmichael coal mine, threatening to further delay the controversial project.

The ABC can reveal Australia's peak scientific body has raised concerns about Adani's Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan (GDEMP), which is designed to minimise impacts on ecosystems including the nationally important Doongmabulla Springs.

The Federal Department of Environment and Energy asked the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia for an independent scientific review of Adani's GDEMP.

The ABC understands one of the CSIROS's key concerns is the level of groundwater draw-down that could be caused at the springs by the mine's operations.

Conservationists and some scientists warn the springs could permanently dry up under Adani's plan to drain billions of litres of groundwater a year for its proposed mine.

The source of the ancient springs remains in doubt…..


The CSIRO also found that some of the data used by Adani in its plan was not verified.

The CSIRO has told the federal environment department that Adani needs to do more work on its GDEMP and to verify its data.

The ABC understands Queensland's Department of Environment and Science (DES) wrote to Adani last week saying it will not look at the company's GDEMP again until the concerns raised by the CSIRO are resolved.

In August the ABC revealed the mining giant's most recent draft plan to protect the Doongmabulla Spring failed to address regulator demands to protect the oasis.

"The GDEMP needs to identify the source aquifer of the Doongmabulla Spring Complex and mitigation measures to protect the springs," the DES told the ABC in statement.

"Preliminary advice from CSIRO requires Adani to update the plan.

"Two environmental plans still need to be approved before significant disturbance can commence at the Carmichael Coal Mine.

"These plans are the Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan and a Black Throated Finch Management Plan.

"The Queensland Government has been clear that the [mine] project must stack up on its own merits, both financially and environmentally."

Last month Adani announced construction would begin on the Carmichael mine, with company chief executive Lucas Dow saying the project would be "100 per cent financed" from within the Adani conglomerate.

But the mine would be significantly scaled back, with production expected to peak at 28 million tonnes compared to the projected 60 million tonnes under the original plan.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

PEOPLE POWER: Grafton Loop of the Knitting Nannas six years old and still going strong


The Grafton Loop of the Knitting Nannas Against Gas was officially launched six years ago on 19 October 2012.

The local nannas first began knitting in peaceful opposition to coal seam gas exploration and mining in the early days of the Glenugie blockade of a Metgasgo CSG test drill site in the Clarence Valley.

As part of the wider NSW Northern Rivers movement they helped keep the north-east "Gasfield Free!"

The Grafton Loop continues to be active on environmental issues and regularly hold knit-ins outside local state and federal MPs electoral offices.

This is the Grafton Loop on 13 December 2018 outside Nationals MP for Page Kevin Hogan's office, accompanied by "Nanna Kerry", a mascot veteran of mining protests in south-east Queensland.





This letter was sent to Kevin Hogan on the same day.....
https://www.scribd.com/document/395886572/Letter-to-Nationals-MP-for-Page-Kevin-Hogan-from-Grafton-Loop-of-the-Knitting-Nannas-Against-Gas-NSW-Australia

Way to go, Nannas!

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Are Prime Minister Morrison & Co determined to reduce Australia to a hot, barren desert from sea to sea?


Human activities are estimated to have caused approximately 1.0°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels, with a likely range of 0.8°C to 1.2°C. Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate. (high confidence) (Figure SPM.1) {1.2}  [United Nations (2018) Global Warming of 1.5°C. Summary for Policymakers]

The global situation.....

United Nations, Sustainable Development, 8 October 2018:

The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC was approved by the IPCC on Saturday in Incheon, Republic of Korea. It will be a key scientific input into the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland in December, when governments review the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change.

“With more than 6,000 scientific references cited and the dedicated contribution of thousands of expert and government reviewers worldwide, this important report testifies to the breadth and policy relevance of the IPCC,” said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC.

Ninety-one authors and review editors from 40 countries prepared the IPCC report in response to an invitation from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) when it adopted the Paris Agreement in 2015.

The report’s full name is Global Warming of 1.5°C, an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.

“One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes,” said Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I.

Limiting global warming 

The report highlights a number of climate change impacts that could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5ºC compared to 2ºC, or more. For instance, by 2100, global sea level rise would be 10 cm lower with global warming of 1.5°C compared with 2°C. The likelihood of an Arctic Ocean  free of sea ice in summer would be once per century with global warming of 1.5°C, compared with at least once per decade with 2°C. Coral reefs would decline by 70-90 percent with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas virtually all (> 99 percent) would be lost with 2ºC.

“Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5ºC or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.

Limiting global warming would also give people and ecosystems more room to adapt and remain below relevant risk thresholds, added Pörtner. The report also examines pathways available to limit warming to 1.5ºC, what it would take to achieve them and what the consequences could be.

“The good news is that some of the kinds of actions that would be needed to limit global warming to 1.5ºC are already underway around the world, but they would need to accelerate,” said Valerie Masson-Delmotte, Co-Chair of Working Group I.

The report finds that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050. This means that any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by removing CO2 from the air.
“Limiting warming to 1.5ºC is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes,” said Jim Skea, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III.

Allowing the global temperature to temporarily exceed or ‘overshoot’ 1.5ºC would mean a greater reliance on techniques that remove CO2 from the air to return global temperature to below 1.5ºC by 2100. The effectiveness of such techniques are unproven at large scale and some may carry significant risks for sustainable development, the report notes.

“Limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared with 2°C would reduce challenging impacts on ecosystems, human health and well-being, making it easier to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” said Priyardarshi Shukla, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III.

The decisions we make today are critical in ensuring a safe and sustainable world for everyone, both now and in the future, said Debra Roberts, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.

“This report gives policymakers and practitioners the information they need to make decisions that tackle climate change while considering local context and people’s needs. The next few years are probably the most important in our history,” she said.

The Denver Post, 8 December 2018:

Global emissions of carbon dioxide have reached the highest levels on record, scientists projected Wednesday, in the latest evidence of the chasm between international goals for combating climate change and what countries are actually doing.

Between 2014 and 2016, emissions remained largely flat, leading to hopes that the world was beginning to turn a corner. Those hopes have been dashed. In 2017, global emissions grew 1.6 percent. The rise in 2018 is projected to be 2.7 percent.

The expected increase, which would bring fossil fuel and industrial emissions to a record high of 37.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, is being driven by nearly 5 percent emissions growth in China and more than 6 percent in India, researchers estimated, along with growth in many other nations throughout the world. 

Emissions by the United States grew 2.5 percent, while emissions by the European Union declined by just under 1 percent.

As nations are gathered for climate talks in Poland, the message of Wednesday’s report was unambiguous: When it comes to promises to begin cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change, the world remains well off target.

“We are in trouble. We are in deep trouble with climate change,” United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said this week at the opening of the 24th annual U.N. climate conference, where countries will wrestle with the ambitious goals they need to meet to sharply reduce carbon emissions in coming years.

“It is hard to overstate the urgency of our situation,” he added. “Even as we witness devastating climate impacts causing havoc across the world, we are still not doing enough, nor moving fast enough, to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate disruption.”

Guterres was not commenting specifically on Wednesday’s findings, which were released in a trio of scientific papers by researchers with the Global Carbon Project. But his words came amid a litany of grim news in the fall in which scientists have warned that the effects of climate change are no longer distant and hypothetical, and that the impacts of global warming will only intensify in the absence of aggressive international action.....

When hard-right, anti-science, fundamentalist ideology in Australia descends into madness………….

The Guardian, 10 December 2018:

 As four of the world’s largest oil and gas producers blocked UN climate talks from “welcoming” a key scientific report on global warming, Australia’s silence during a key debate is being viewed as tacit support for the four oil allies: the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait.

The end of the first week of the UN climate talks – known as COP24 – in Katowice, Poland, has been mired by protracted debate over whether the conference should “welcome” or “note” a key report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The IPCC’s 1.5 degrees report, released in October, warned the world would have to cut greenhouse gas emissions by about 45% by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5C and potentially avoid some of the worst effects of climate change, including a dramatically increased risk of drought, flood, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

The UN climate conference commissioned the IPCC report, but when that body went to “welcome” the report’s findings and commit to continuing its work, four nations – the US, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Russia, all major oil and gas producers – refused to accept the wording, insisting instead that the convention simply “note” the findings.
Negotiators spent two and a half hours trying to hammer out a compromise without success.

The apparently minor semantic debate has significant consequences, and the deadlock ensures the debate will spill into the second critical week of negotiations, with key government ministers set to arrive in Katowice.

Most of the world’s countries spoke out in fierce opposition to the oil allies’ position.
The push to adopt the wording “welcome” was led by the Maldives, leader of the alliance of small island states, of which Australia’s Pacific island neighbours are members.

They were backed by a broad swathe of support, including from the EU, the bloc of 47 least developed countries, the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean, African, American and European nations, and Pacific countries such as the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu.

Australia did not speak during the at-times heated debate, a silence noted by many countries on the floor of the conference, Dr Bill Hare, the managing director of Climate Analytics and a lead author on previous IPCC reports, told Guardian Australia.

“Australia’s silence in the face of this attack yesterday shocked many countries and is widely seen as de facto support for the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait’s refusal to welcome the IPCC report,” Hare said…..

Australia’s environment minister, Melissa Price, arrived in Katowice on Sunday, with negotiations set to resume Monday morning.

 “The government is committed to the Paris agreement and our emissions reduction targets,” she said before leaving Australia. “Australia’s participation in the Paris agreement and in COP24 is in our national interest, in the interests of the Indo-Pacific region, and the international community as a whole.”

Price said a priority for Australia at COP24 was to ensure a robust framework of rules to govern the reporting of Paris agreement targets. “Australia’s emissions reporting is of an exceptionally high standard and we are advocating for rules that bring other countries up to the standard to which we adhere.”

The latest Australian government figures, released last month, show the country’s carbon emissions continue to rise, at a rate significantly higher than recent years.

Australia’s emissions, seasonally adjusted, increased 1.3% over the past quarter. Excluding emissions from land use, land use change and forestry (for which the calculations are controversial), they are at a record high..... [my yellow highlighting]


The Guardian, 11 December 2018:


Patrick Suckling (sitting on panel right), Australia’s ambassador for the environment, waits as protesters disrupt an event at the COP24 climate change summit in Katowice, Poland. Photograph: Łukasz Kalinowski/Rex/Shutterstock

Australia has reaffirmed its commitment to coal – and its unwavering support for the United States – by appearing at a US government-run event promoting the use of fossil fuels at the United Nations climate talks in Poland.

Australia was the only country apart from the host represented at the event, entitled “US innovative technologies spur economic dynamism”, designed to “showcase ways to use fossil fuels as cleanly and efficiently as possible, as well as the use of emission-free nuclear energy”.

Its panel discussion was disrupted for several minutes by dozens of protesters who stood up suddenly during speeches, unfurling a banner reading “Keep it in the ground” while singing and chanting “Shame on you”.

Patrick Suckling, Australia’s ambassador for the environment, and the head of the country’s negotiating delegation at the climate talks, spoke on the panel. His nameplate bore a US flag…..

…Simon Bradshaw, Oxfam Australia’s climate change policy adviser, said it was “extremely disappointing” to see Australia line up behind the US in pushing a pro-coal ideas.

“It is a slap in the face of our Pacific island neighbours, for whom bringing an end to the fossil fuel era is matter of survival, and who are working with determination to catalyse stronger international efforts to confront the climate crisis. And it is firmly against the wishes of an overwhelming majority of Australians.”

Bradshaw said continuing to use coal was not only uneconomic, but would “be measured in more lives lost, entrenched poverty, rising global hunger, and more people displaced from their land and homes”.

He said the advice of the IPCC showed emphatically there was no space for new coal and that Australia’s position on coal was isolating it from the rest of the world.
The Climate Vulnerable Forum, a group of 48 countries most acutely affected by climate change, has committed to achieving 100% renewable energy production by the middle of the century at the latest. Other developed countries, including the UK, France, Canada and New Zealand, have committed to phasing out coal power by 2030.

Wells Griffith, a Trump administration adviser speaking alongside Suckling on the panel, said the US would continue extracting fossil fuels, and warned against “alarmism” about climate change…… [my yellow highlighting]

Greenhouse gas emissions in Australia to date.....

Trend emissions levels are inclusive of all sectors of the economy, including Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF)

Reading Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory: June 2018 [PDF 39 pages] released on 30 November 2018 it is highly unlikely that the Morrison Govenment will be able to meet Australia's commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Australia was closer to meeting Paris Agreement goals in 2013 under a Labor federal government than it is today under a Coalition federal government.