Showing posts with label government policy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label government policy. Show all posts

Friday, 9 November 2018

When will the Federal Government realise there is a Climate Emergency?



The need for urgent and effective action on climate change is becoming a major issue in Australia .  More people are starting to realise that we are facing a climate emergency and that we are being caught short largely because of the incompetence of our Federal Government which continues to be captive to climate denialists and the coal lobby.

The message from the October 20 Wentworth byelection does not appear to have resonated with Prime Minister Morrison and others in his Government.  Morrison is equating the devastating swing against the Government with the electorate’s concern about the dumping of their popular member, Prime Minister Turnbull.  While that was certainly a factor, there were other concerns about the Government’s poor performance with a major one being its lack of effective climate action.

Despite all that Wentworth voters said about climate change (as well as the way they voted), there are Government members who claim Wentworth cannot be seen as comparable with other electorates. Wentworth is different! According to them, climate change is not a major issue elsewhere.  It will be interesting to see if this wishful thinking lasts until next year’s federal election campaign.

While Wentworth indicated the growing public concern about climate change, other recent developments in relation to climate have further shown how out of touch the Government is. 

Morrison started his Prime Ministership with the determination to assist drought-affected farmers.  But he brushed aside any linking of this latest severe drought with climate change.  However, the National Farmers Federation and an increasing number of farmers acknowledge the link and understand that simply throwing drought relief money at the problem is only a short-term solution.  Calls for discussion about land use in parts of the country are growing.   These include consideration of the viability of some forms of farming and whether farming will be sustainable in some areas as climate change impacts worsen. 

The latest data on Australia’s climate emissions for the twelve months to March 31 was released late on the Friday afternoon of the Grand Final weekend (September 28). The Government had been sitting on this data for months and quite obviously did not want it noticed – for good reason.  The report showed that emissions have continued rising as they have every quarter since the end of the carbon price in 2014. Emissions continue to increase simply because the Government does not have an effective policy to curb them.

Despite this bad result, the Prime Minister and Melissa Price, the Minister for the Environment, managed to put a positive spin on the figures.  Price claimed Australia would beat its 2020 target – an impossible achievement.   And Morrison, ignoring reality completely, claimed Australia was on track to achieve its 2030 Paris targets and would do so “in a canter”.  This is despite the analysis of experts who say we will fall drastically short unless there is an urgent change in government policy.

The recent dire announcement by the IPCC has shown just how urgent the climate issue is.  According to an analysis of the IPCC report published by the Climate Council “limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid and far-reaching transitions during the coming one to two decades – in energy, land, urban and industrial systems”.  (The aim at Paris was to keep global temperature rise well below 2°C above preindustrial levels and to attempt to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. A rise of 2°C would produce catastrophic effects.)

At war within itself, our Government just does not have either the interest in the issue or the will do what is essential - to act effectively across the board to reduce our emissions drastically. This is in spite of the Wentworth result and all the polls indicating that a growing number of people are concerned and want effective action. 
As well as concerned individuals, scientists, environmentalists and farmers, it is significant that many in the business community, who know they need to take measures to protect their businesses in a carbon-constrained world, also want effective action from the government.

Just what are the chances of the current Government coming to its senses and acting in the national interest?   At the moment that seems unlikely.  We may have to wait for a change in government - unless a grass roots campaign across the nation persuades Morrison that he has no chance of political survival unless he changes tack.

Hildegard

Northern Rivers
29th October 2018

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GuestSpeak is a feature of North Coast Voices allowing Northern Rivers residents to make satirical or serious comment on issues that concern them. Posts of 250-300 words or less can be submitted to ncvguestspeak AT gmail.com.au for consideration. Longer posts will be considered on topical subjects.


Monday, 5 November 2018

Scott Morrison doesn't know watt's watt


This was the ‘interim’ Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on ABC TV The Drum, 23 September 2018:

SCOTT MORRISON: I want more dispatchable power in the system.
ALAN JONES: Could you stop using the word dispatchable? Out there they don’t understand that.
SCOTT MORRISON: Well, real power, OK?
ALAN JONES: Real power.
SCOTT MORRISON: Well, fair dinkum power.

So what exactly is this “dispatchable power” the Prime Minister is talking about whenever he cites “fair dinkum power” that “works when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing”.

This is what Energy Education:has to say on the subject:

Dispatchable source of electricity

A dispatchable source of electricity refers to an electrical power system, such as a power plant, that can be turned on or off; in other words they can adjust their power output supplied to the electrical grid on demand.[2] Most conventional power sources such as coal or natural gas power plants are dispatchable in order to meet the always changing electricity demands of the population. In contrast, many renewable energysources are intermittent and non-dispatchable, such as wind power or solar power which can only generate electricity while their energy flow is input on them.

Dispatch times
Dispatchable sources must be able to ramp up or shut down relatively quickly in time intervals within a few seconds even up to a couple of hours, depending on the need for electricity. Different types of power plants have different dispatch times:[3]

Fast (seconds)
Capacitors are able to dispatch within milliseconds if they need to, due to the energy stored in them already being electrical, whereas in other types of power storage such as chemical batteries the power must be converted into electrical energy.
Hydroelectric facilities are also able to dispatch extremely quickly; for instance the Dinorwig hydro power station can reach its maximum generation in less than 16 seconds.[4]

Medium (minutes)
Natural gas turbines are a very common dispatchable source, and they can generally be ramped up in minutes.
Solar thermal power plants can utilize systems of efficient thermal energy storage. It is possible to design these systems to be dispatchable on roughly equivalent timeframes to natural gas turbines.

Slow (hours)
While these systems are typically regarded as only providing baseload power, they often have some flexibility.
Many coal and biomass plants can be fired up from cold within a few hours. Although nuclear power plants may take a while to get going, they must be able to shut down in seconds to ensure safety in the case of a meltdown.

What this tells us is that renewable energy can and is used as “dispatchable power” and often responds faster than coal-fired power.

Battery storage by way of home battery installations and mega battery installations such as the Tesla system in South Australia are just two successful examples of storing renewable power for later use – making it dispatchable power.

According to the Melbourne Energy Institute, South Australia’s new mix of renewables and traditional source of energy is working well.

What has become increasingly obvious over the years is that once renewable energy via wind and solar reaches a reasonable scale it becomes cheaper than coal and other fossil fuels. That is where Australia is now.

Yet Scott Morrison apparently doesn’t understand how electricity generation and the national power grid work – it’s a though he has been asleep for the last decade. Because he appears to believe that renewable energy systems have not evolved to meet market demands.


Which in his mind means more coal-fired power.

Expensive, polluting, coal-fired power supplying electricity to Australian homes at maximum cost to ordinary consumers.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Tweets of the Week


Monday, 29 October 2018

Morrison Government whittling away at health & safety requirements in live sheep export trade


“Space allocation per animal must be based on allometric principles and increased by at least 30% for sheep that weigh 40 to 60 kg (based on a k-value of 0.033). The typical sheep sent to the Middle East is an adult Merino wether in this weight range. This increase in space (k = 0.033) is the minimum amount needed to alleviate adverse welfare outcomes, and must be implemented across all body weights and all months of the year…. Irrespective of stocking density, thermoregulatory physiology indicates that sheep on live export voyages to the Middle East during May to October will remain susceptible to heat stress and die due to the expected extreme climatic conditions during this time. Accordingly, voyages carrying live sheep to the Middle East during May to October cannot be recommended.”  [Submission from the Australian Veterinary Association, May 2018]
Between January and September 2018 Australia exported 973,651 live sheep.

The majority of these sheep were exported by sea for slaughter at destination and, the size of each sea shipment ranged from 498 animals up to 68,039 animals.

It is not unusual for sheep deaths on these voyages to number in the hundreds.

Overall sheep mortality for the first 6 months of the year ran at 0.61% as of June 2018

That represents almost 6,000 sheep which died due to the stress of the sea voyage and conditions on board the export vessel from January to June.

One can reasonably expect sheep mortality rates to rise given the Morison Government's recent decision to increase sheep density numbers on board export vessels.

A decision it apparently arrived at after the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources & Nationals MP for Maranoa David Littleproud had announced that the government had accepted all 23 recommendations in the Review of conditions for the export of sheep to the Middle East during the northern summer report.

From 1 November 2018 the floor space per adult sheep will be reduced by 11.5% going into projected November temperatures ranging from 22 to 37 degrees Celsius across Middle Eastern destination ports.

It is worth noting that the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) has not published any analysis of current animal welfare standards in the last 5 years and the version of Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock in operation to date appears to be the 2011 version.

Australian media now report that the Morrison Government is stalling on legislating tougher penalties for exporters who breach live export regulations and, that Nationals MP for New England and disgraced former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce claims that 99.7% of sheep arrive at their export destination in the same or better condition than when they left.

So according to Barnaby only 0.3% of exported sheep suffer a loss of condition.

An interesting claim, given official sheep mortality is calculated at 0.61% of the live cargo being transported.

It seems that some of Barnaby's sheep are miraculously born-again sometime during those sea voyages,

Sunday, 28 October 2018

On past performance it will only take state and federal National Party politicians and their mates a couple of years to drain Morrison's $5 billion Drought Future Fund


On 26 October 2018, in the face of ongoing allegations of financial gouging of the public purse and mismanagement of water resources in the Murray Darling Basin, Prime Minister and Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison unveiled his $5 billion Drought Future Fund at a summit attended by farmers, economists, industry bodies and state and federal ministers in Canberra....promising measures to drought-proof the nation's agriculture sector. The first $3.9 billion of the scheme, which would operate similarly to the Medical Future Fund, is to be paid for out of a pool of money originally intended for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

What a brilliant idea.

Rob an already underfunded disability sector and the vulnerable people who depend on its services in order to beef up a proposed drought future fund,

What can possibly go wrong?

Well, on past history it will likely take National politicians and their mates about two years to empty this new fund  - with little to no drought-proofing to show for the taxpayer dollars they manage to redirect towards their own businesses.


The Age, 26 October 2018:

The Nationals' federal treasurer Peter Schwarz is accused of gouging much of the $850,000 he was paid by Australia’s largest drought-proofing project and calling in favours when pressed to account for the taxpayer cash.

As Prime Minister Scott Morrison launches his drought summit, leaked government files reveal that Mr Schwarz banked the taxpayer subsidies in November 2011 and then spent years resisting efforts from water officials to get him to or use it for its intended purpose – saving water.

The frustration of the Goulburn-Murray Water authority with the conduct of Mr Schwarz – who as well as being the Nationals key federal fundraiser is also running in next month’s Victorian election – is exposed in dozens of damning leaked authority files.

The files provide a case study of issues which are front and centre at Mr Morrison’s drought summit and which are being examined by drought envoy and Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce: using taxpayer funds to help farmers deal with drought, and, questions about whether backroom favours or mismanagement are undermining drought-relief efforts.

Among the leaked files is a July 15, 2016 memo from a water authority lawyer summing up his view of Mr Schwarz’s conduct after he joined hundreds of other farmers given cash incentives as part of Australia’s largest water saving initiative, the Connections Project. The project aims to help restore the Murray Darling water system.

The lawyer stated that after Mr Schwarz received $850,505 in 2011 – divided into $473,000 for on-farm water-saving measures and $300,000 to buy a neighbouring property – he ‘‘failed to perform any of the obligations despite having received the payment … in full.’’

‘‘The Schwarzes have spent much of the ensuing period attempting to make a case that, notwithstanding they entered into the agreement and received payment, they should not be bound to perform,’’ the July 2016 legal memo states.

The leaked files also reveal that Mr Schwarz sought to call on his personal relationship with a controversial high-ranking water official, Gavin Hanlon, and an unnamed ‘‘minister’’ to ‘‘support [his] cause’’.

Mr Hanlon was a senior Victorian water official who was headhunted by the NSW government as its irrigation chief. He quit his NSW post in 2017 after revelations of questionable dealings with farm lobbyists, sparking an ongoing investigation by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption……..

In a statement to Fairfax Media, the water authority said that seven years after it gave Mr Schwarz the funds, the stand-off over with him has been "substantially resolved." It is understood that Mr Schwarz and Goulburn-Murray Water have finally agreed that he will use the funds for water savings, but no work has as yet been done.

The files reveal intense frustration inside Goulburn-Murray Water not only about Mr Schwarz’s conduct but the authority’s inability to recoup taxpayer funds.

A note written by an employee in April 2014 states that: ‘‘Peter told me on a number of occasions he would prefer to deal with higher GMW management and would not be accepting the agreement he had previously signed.’’.......

BACKGROUND

SBC News, 1 December 2018:

The NSW public has a right to know whether a senior government executive, fired over her alleged involvement in the Murray-Darling water theft scandal, received a six-figure payout, the opposition says.

A report into water theft in the Murray-Darling Basin, released on Thursday, confirmed that along with top bureaucrat Gavin Hanlon's public resignation, a second executive was fired for her role in the alleged misconduct.

AAP understands the senior executive is a former National Party staffer and irrigation lobbyist, who was appointed to a senior job within the Department of Primary Industries in 2015.

Opposition water spokesman Chris Minns said the Berejiklian government should confess whether the executive had received a golden handshake on her way out the door......

In September, NSW Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair said misconduct proceedings had started against Mr Hanlon.

Mr Hanlon was forced to resign as the Department of Industry director general in September following allegations of misconduct, including promising to share internal government documents with irrigation lobbyists in 2016.

Thursday's independent investigation into NSW water management and compliance report, authored by Ken Matthews, said the second senior executive is alleged to have also been involved in the teleconference.

According to her LinkedIn profile, the executive was a policy officer for lobby group Southern River Irrigators between 2011 and 2013 before becoming an advisor to federal senator Simon Birmingham for a year......

Thursday's report comes less than a week after both NSW and Queensland were slammed by a Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) review into water theft and regulation.

That inquiry found both states regularly failed to make sure irrigators complied with the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, and weren't transparent about their failures......

The Guardian, 27 September 2018:

A former water industry lobbyist preselected by the New South Wales National party to lead its Senate ticket in the next federal election has suggested examining Barnaby Joyce’s proposal to release more water for irrigators.

Once a lobbyist for Murray Irrigation, Perin Davey won the No 1 spot on the NSW National party’s Senate ticket earlier this month, after the longtime Nationals senator and bank campaigner John “Wacka” Williams retired and the former Nationals deputy leader Fiona Nash resigned over her dual citizenship.

Davey was part of the teleconference with NSW government water official Gavin Hanlon, when he allegedly offered documents stripped of the department logo to help irrigators lobby against the Murray-Darling basin plan.

Hanlon resigned following the revelations, which were referred to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption. The former water minister Kevin Humphries was also referred to the state watchdog. Icac makes it a practice not to comment any current investigations. Davey said she had not been interviewed by Icac and Guardian Australia does not allege any wrongdoing.

The meeting was exposed in the 2017 Four Corners episode that reported allegations that water was being harvested by some irrigators in the Barwon-Darling region of the Murray-Darling basin to the detriment of the environment and downstream communities.

Joyce, the former agriculture minister, had nominated Davey to the board of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority but, as a result of the fallout from the program, Davey asked Joyce to withdraw her nomination.

Davey, who now runs her own government relations company, said she was simply participating in a teleconference and that it was not unusual......


North Coast Voices:

13 MARCH 2018
Only a handful of NSW landowners to face court over Murray-Darling Basin water theft allegations? The NSW Government will prosecute several people over alleged water theft on the Barwon-Darling, eight months after Four Corners investigated the issue. WaterNSW has named the people it is taking to the Land and Environment Court over alleged breaches of water management rules.

13 APRIL 2018
Alleged irrigator water theft heading for the courts? A cousin by marriage of the current Australian Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud, John Norman, finds his agricultural business practices under scrutiny...

30 APRIL 2018
What the Australian Government didn’t want the UN to publish During Nationals MP for New England Barnaby Joyce’s disastrous sojourn as Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources the federal government began a successfull campaign to have the United Nations delete all criticism of Australia’s $13bn effort to restore the ailing Murray-Darling river system from a published study.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Scott Morrison and climate change policy


On 8 October 2018 the UN International Panel On Climate Change issued this media release:


Incheon, Republic of Korea, October 8 – Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, the IPCC said in a new assessment. With clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems, limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said on Monday.

The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C 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.

The report highlights a number of climate change impacts that could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C, 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 2°C.

"Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5°C 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 1.5°C, 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 1.5°C 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 1.5°C 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' 1.5°C would mean a greater reliance on techniques that remove CO2 from the air to return global temperature to below 1.5°C 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 IPCC is the leading world body for assessing the science related to climate change, its impacts and potential future risks, and possible response options.

The report was prepared under the scientific leadership of all three IPCC working groups. Working Group I assesses the physical science basis of climate change; Working Group II addresses impacts, adaptation and vulnerability; and Working Group III deals with the mitigation of climate change.

The Paris Agreement adopted by 195 nations at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in December 2015 included the aim of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change by "holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels."

As part of the decision to adopt the Paris Agreement, the IPCC was invited to produce, in 2018, a Special Report on global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways. The IPCC accepted the invitation, adding that the Special Report would look at these issues in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.

Global Warming of 1.5°C is the first in a series of Special Reports to be produced in the IPCC's Sixth Assessment Cycle. Next year the IPCC will release the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, and Climate Change and Land, which looks at how climate change affects land use.

The Summary for Policymakers (SPM) presents the key findings of the Special Report, based on the assessment of the available scientific, technical and socio-economic literature relevant to global warming of 1.5°C.

The Summary for Policymakers of the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR15) is available at https://www.ipcc.ch/report/sr15 or www.ipcc.ch

The aforementioned summary forms part of the scientific findings informing the IPCC 6th Assessment Report currently being prepared by the working groups.

Australian Prime Minister and Liberal MP for Cook Scott Morrison sought to downplay its significance because it made no specific recommendations on a country by country basis.
He stated that last year the “same report” said that “Australia was right on the money when it came to the mix of climate change policies.

As far as I can tell last year’s special report did not give Australia a glowing endorsement.

If one wants an IPCC opinion on Australia's climate change policy one has to go documents such as this......

This is an excerpt from the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (Working Group II Report "Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability") on the subject of Australia:

Adaptation is already occurring and adaptation planning is becoming embedded in some planning processes, albeit mostly at the conceptual rather than implementation level (high confidence). Many solutions for reducing energy and water consumption in urban areas with co-benefits for climate change adaptation (e.g., greening cities and recycling water) are already being implemented. Planning for 1375 25 Australasia Chapter 25 reduced water availability in southern Australia and for sea level rise in both countries is becoming adopted widely, although implementation of specific policies remains piecemeal, subject to political changes, and open to legal challenges. {25.4; Boxes 25-1, 25-2, 25-9} Adaptive capacity is generally high in many human systems, but implementation faces major constraints, especially for transformational responses at local and community levels (high confidence). Efforts to understand and enhance adaptive capacity and adaptation processes have increased since the AR4, particularly in Australia. Constraints on implementation arise from: absence of a consistent information base and uncertainty about projected impacts; limited financial and human resources to assess local risks and to develop and implement effective policies and rules; limited integration of different levels of governance; lack of binding guidance on principles and priorities; different attitudes towards the risks associated with climate change; and different values placed on objects and places at risk. {25.4, 25.10.3; Table 25-2; Box a5-1} [my yellow highlighting]

Successive Coalition federal governments (with Scott Morrison as a cabinet minister) typified this half-hearted approach to climate change mitigation. After four years the largely ineffective Emissions Reduction Fund is almost empty, the Renewable Energy Target has been all but abandoned and the National Energy Agreement is defunct, with the government's attention turned towards growing fossil fuel energy.

As prime minister Morrison has recently announced he will not be honouring Australia's $200 million pledge to the UNFCCC sponsored global Green Climate Fund (GCF).

It is no secret that Scott Morrison admires US President Donald Trump and right wing American politics generally.

As Morrison argues an inability for Australian action on climate change to make a real difference to ongoing global warming, given we only produce est. one percent of all annual global greenhouse gas emissions, one suspects that he would also agree with this reasoning behind the latest Trump administration refusal to act on climate change.

The Washington Post,  28 September 2018:

Last month, deep in a 500-page environmental impact statement, the Trump administration made a startling assumption: On its current course, the planet will warm a disastrous seven degrees by the end of this century.

A rise of seven degrees Fahrenheit, or about four degrees Celsius, compared with preindustrial levels would be catastrophic, according to scientists. Many coral reefs would dissolve in increasingly acidic oceans. Parts of Manhattan and Miami would be underwater without costly coastal defenses. Extreme heat waves would routinely smother large parts of the globe.

But the administration did not offer this dire forecast, premised on the idea that the world will fail to cut its greenhouse gas emissions, as part of an argument to combat climate change. Just the opposite: The analysis assumes the planet’s fate is already sealed.

The draft statement, issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), was written to justify President Trump’s decision to freeze federal fuel-efficiency standards for cars and light trucks built after 2020. While the proposal would increase greenhouse gas emissions, the impact statement says, that policy would add just a very small drop to a very big, hot bucket.

“The amazing thing they’re saying is human activities are going to lead to this rise of carbon dioxide that is disastrous for the environment and society. And then they’re saying they’re not going to do anything about it,” said Michael MacCracken, who served as a senior scientist at the U.S. Global Change Research Program from 1993 to 2002.....

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Next time a Liberal or Nationals minister ot backbencher starts to boast about how they are reducing national greenhouse gas emissions, look at this graph


It doesn't take a genuis level IQ to identify the point at which the Abbott and then Turnbull federal governments (with Scott Morrison as a cabinet minister in both) began to dismantle climate change policies.



1. National emissions levels are inclusive of all sectors of the economy, including Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF)…..

The year to March 2018 annual change saw national greenhouse gas emissions rise by 1.3 per cent.

Monday, 1 October 2018

It appears the Australian Government's $487.6 million* grant to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation may end up paying for little more than ‘feel good’ greenwashing exercises



The Guardian, 26 September 2018:

Great Barrier Reef scientists were told they would need to make “trade-offs” to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, including focusing on projects that would look good for the government and encourage more corporate donations, emails tabled in the Senate reveal.

The documents, including cabinet briefing notes, contain significant new details about the workings of the foundation and the government decision to award it a $443m grant, including:

The executives of mining, gas and chemicals companies – and international financial houses that actively back fossil-fuel projects – were among the guests at a six-star retreat hosted by the foundation less than a month after the grant was announced;

The media companies Foxtel and Fairfax and the tech giant Google are among a tightly held list of donors to the foundation;

The only CSIRO employee contacted about the grant before the announcement in April was in Patagonia, and did not get the email. Documents have previously revealed that the government’s peak science agency was cut out of the decision to award the grant;

In August, as scrutiny of the grant intensified, public servants pushed to block a long-planned meeting between the then science minister, Michaelia Cash, and the head of the foundation, Anna Marsden, because of concern about the “optics”.

Emails sent by staff at the Australian Institute of Marine Science outline how government expectations, the ability to leverage private donations and public perceptions “may drive the [foundation] to prioritise shorter-term research initiatives in order to demonstrate progress and return on investment”.

“Where it becomes challenging is that … interventions with the largest future benefit also take the longest to develop,” the institute’s executive director of strategic policy, David Mead, wrote in an email to colleagues. 

 “Among other trade-offs, we will need to determine to what degree we focus on quick wins or whether we progress longer-term strategic interventions and accept that we will only partially progress them during the next five years (perhaps with little outward visibility of success/progress).”

The emails also reveal an initial state of uncertainty about how a $100m allocation for reef restoration and adaptation would be handled.

Three weeks after the announcement about the money, Mead was trying to get answers about how the grant would be allocated.

“I followed up with the granting agreement, did not really get an answer other than they are working on it over the next month,” Mead wrote on 18 May. “So we will just have to watch this space.

“Once the thing is signed by GBRF we are going to need them to make some definitive statements one way or the other, as everyone is wondering and I don’t want the team to destruct … ”

Emails between staff at the industry, innovation and science department reveal discussion about the “optics” of a long-planned meeting between Cash, Marsden and the chief executive of institute, Paul Hardisty.


Note

* The total Great Barrier Reef Foundation grant was for $487,633,300.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

When a prime minster fails to grasp the basics of climate change policy.....


The Australian Prime Minister for Fossil Fuels and Liberal MP for Cook, Scott Morrison, has been repeatedly insisting since he came to office on 24 August 2018 that Australia is on target to meet its Paris Agreement greenhouse gas emissions targets.

Apparently he is telling journalists that “the business-as-usual model gets us there in a canter”.

Business-as-usual of course includes those cuts to climate change mitigation programs Morrison made as federal treasurer - including no further funding for the Abbott Government's Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) which has so far failed to purchase enough abatement to outpace Australia's emissions growth.

Those agencies outside of Morrison's ‘magic circle’ are quite frankly contradicting his prediction of success.......

The COAG Energy Security Council’s Energy Security Board expects that Morrison’s refusal to revive National Energy Guarantee legislation will see the electricity sector “fall short of the emissions reduction target of 26% below 2005 levels”.



Annual emissions for the year to December 2017 are estimated to be 533.7 Mt CO2 -e. This represents a 1.5% increase in emissions when compared with the previous year. Over the year to December 2017, there were increases in emissions from the stationary energy (excluding electricity), transport, fugitive emissions, industrial processes and product use, waste and agriculture sectors. These increases were partially offset by a decline in emissions from the electricity sector. The annual increases in stationary energy (excluding electricity) and fugitive emissions were largely driven by an increase in LNG exports. [my yellow highlighting]

The independent Climate Works Australia reported on 6 September 2018:

Australia is not yet on track to meet its emissions reduction targets under the Paris Agreement but there are many opportunities to still get there, according to new research released today.

The ClimateWorks Australia report, Tracking Progress to net zero emissions, found Australia needed to double its emissions reduction progress to achieve the federal government’s target of 26-28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, and triple progress to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

The report found Australia’s emissions were 11 per cent below 2005 levels in 2017 but have been steadily increasing since 2013. If Australia sustained the rate of improvement in emissions intensity it had achieved between 2005 and 2013, it could meet the government's 2030 target. But progress has stalled in most sectors and reversed overall. [my yellow highlighting]

Climate Works’ latest report, Tracking progress to net zero emissions: National progress on reducing emissions across the Australian economy and outlook to 2030, was released in September 2018 and although cautiously optimistic it doesn’t suggest that a Morrison Government would be able to just canter towards the commitments given in Paris:

This report uses findings from the Deep Decarbonisation Pathways Project (DDPP) and compares these with the Australian Government's emissions data and projections to examine whether Australia is on track for a net zero pathway and for its first commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change to reduce emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. It assesses recent progress since 2005 and the outlook to 2030.

In common with 179 other countries who ratified the Paris Agreement, Australia has committed to keeping global warming well below 2 degrees, aiming to limit warming to 1.5 degrees and to reach net zero emissions. For developed countries like Australia, a 2 degree limit is generally accepted to mean reaching net zero emissions by 2050 – the majority of states and territories have agreed to this goal. Limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees or 1.5 degrees would require an earlier date.

Australia’s current emissions reduction target is 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. This is less ambitious than the Climate Change Authority’s recommended target range of 45 to 65 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 for Australia’s contribution to a 2 degree goal (CCA 2015). To make sure the world is on track, all countries in the Paris Agreement have been asked to consider whether their current target is ambitious enough.

We already know Australia can reach net zero emissions by 2050. The Pathways to Deep Decarbonisation in 2050 (DDPP) report (ClimateWorks et al 2014) identified the emissions reductions potential to put Australia on a pathway to net zero in 2050 while the economy continues to grow…

In 2017 Australia’s emissions were around 11 per cent below 2005 levels. This is an increase from their lowest point in 2013. Overall progress was due to strong reductions in the land sector, while emissions rose in most other sectors. Although there were improvements at the whole of economy level and in some sectors, improvements on average were not equivalent to the pathway to net zero emissions by 2050.

Emissions are higher in buildings, industry and transport than they were in 2005. Emissions are lower in the land sector, with the reduction being larger than increases in other sectors. Electricity emissions fell slightly…

There were times of reasonable emissions intensity improvements in industry and buildings but, as with the electricity sector, these improvements then slowed or reversed. This occurred alongside the repeal of the carbon price and related policies. Energy intensity improved in these sectors, suggesting better energy efficiency, but not at the rate needed for net zero. And in industry, some of this improvement was driven by declines in energy-intensive manufacturing….

Without further policies, Australia will not be on track for the net zero pathway or the Government's 2030 target. ClimateWorks’ research previously identified potential emissions reductions on the net zero pathway and this report shows where this potential is not yet being unlocked. The national process of developing Australia’s long term emissions reduction strategy provides an opportunity to unlock this remaining potential and get on track to achieving net zero emissions by 2050, as do similar processes in many state and territory governments. [my yellow highlighting]