Month: June 2017

No more business as usual. #StopAdani #auspol 

No more business as usual: the corporates stepping up to save the planet
Companies are increasingly coming to understand the impact of climate change on their businesses – and stepping up to make changes. 

When the US president, Donald Trump, announced his intention to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, one might have anticipated a hearty cheer from industry around the world relieved that business as usual could continue.


Instead the opposite has happened. 

Across the United States, the business community is taking it upon itself to implement the measures needed to address climate change. 

And in Australia an increasing number of major companies are publicly stating their commitment to addressing climate change, even as the federal government drags its heels on implementing policies to address the crisis. 

Companies around the world – from small family-run enterprises to Fortune 500 firms – are not only calling for action on climate change but also putting their money where their mouth is.

Lou Leonard, the senior vice president of climate change and energy at WWF, says companies are coming to understand the impact of climate change on their businesses.
“If you’re a company that either grows food in the heartland of the United States or ships it down the Mississippi and out to other countries, or you’re a company that builds the components of wind turbines and solar panels, or you’re a company that has a big retail footprint all over the world, climate change has come to you already,” he says. “I think that the understanding of those impacts has led those companies to again take action to begin to green their own footprint, and their supply chains.”
This understanding has also led to initiatives such as We Are Still In , an open declaration of continued support of climate action to meet the Paris agreement. 

The letter has now been signed by 1,565 companies and investors, including giants such as Apple, Walmart, Microsoft, Adidas, Facebook and Google, as well as leaders from 208 cities and counties, nine US states and 309 colleges and universities.
Another initiative called Unreasonable Goals, led by the Unreasonable Group, is partnering the private and public sectors – including entities such as the US State Department – to help meet the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set at the United Nations in 2015.

Daniel Epstein, founder and chief executive of the Unreasonable Group, says he believes business can save the world.
“I’m optimistic because I know that the entrepreneurs we align with at Unreasonable Group are the future titans of industry and because some of the world’s largest companies are now pivoting their entire business models and supply chains to focus on sustainability,” Epstein says.
One of those entrepreneurs is Australian renewable energy company Carnegie Clean Energy, which recently announced it has been selected as the industry partner to lead action on the seventh SDG: affordable and clean energy.
The Carnegie Clean Energy chief executive, Michael Ottaviano, says the aim of the project is not to solve the world’s clean energy problems in one hit, but rather focus on a particular region and provide the benchmark to upscale.
“I think we’re at a point now – and maybe this point has only been reached in the last 12-18 months – where it is now just so apparent that renewable energy is the pathway forward,” 

Ottaviano says. “It’s no longer just an environmental reason, which is a very good reason, but it’s also an economic reason as well.”

Twenty-four of Apple’s global facilities are now 100% powered by renewable energy – which includes the US and China – and 96% of its global electricity budget comes from renewable sources. 

Retail giant Walmart is aiming to have 50% of its operations powered by renewable energy, and achieve zero waste to landfill in four of its larger markets, by 2050.
Closer to home, Australian travel company Intrepid Travel has announced it will double the carbon offset contribution it makes for all its United States tours, stating that it can “no longer wait for our government leaders to take action on climate change.”
Their commitment amounts to an additional 3000 tonnes of CO2 being offset this year, on top of Intrepid’s existing commitment to offset all of its trips.
“We feel it’s our responsibility to make sure that we are actually trying to contribute back to areas such as climate change; something that the tourism industry is both impacted by but also a contributor to,” says Intrepid’s Asia Pacific regional director Brett Mitchell.
Intrepid Travel has been carbon neutral since 2010. But these actions come at a cost; Intrepid has spent over $1.5m on renewable energy projects. but Mitchell says it’s definitely a worthwhile investment. “We believe very strongly in climate change; it is real, it does exist, and we need to do something about it.”
A decade ago, business might have been happy to sit back in the absence of political or regulation on climate change and save itself both trouble and cost, but Leonard says that’s no longer the case.
“We realise that our future is wrapped up in the success of this effort and therefore we certainly don’t want the United States to be pulling back, we certainly don’t want to risk trade tariffs on our goods, we don’t want to risk access to markets in other countries,” he says.
Does this mean business alone can deliver what politics cannot? Leonard argues that while companies can take the lead on climate change action in the short term, eventually politicians will need to and create the policy framework to drive rapid reduction in emissions.
In the meantime however, action by industry is filling the gap.
“We need the leadership of real action in the real economy in the United States that can create a bridge to the time when we have the politics that will allow us to get the policy that we need,” Leonard says. “We need that political normalisation that comes when actors like this step up and say this just makes sense.”

Press link for more: The Guardian

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Wide spread coral decline. #StopAdani #ClimateChange

SECOND YEAR OF BLEACHING IMPACTS GREAT BARRIER REEF – GBRMPA UPDATE 29/5/17

Global coral bleaching over the last two years has led to widespread coral decline and habitat loss on the Great Barrier Reef.
Since December 2015, the Great Barrier Reef has been exposed to above average sea surface temperatures, due to the combined effects of climate change and a strong El Niño.

  
These conditions triggered mass coral bleaching in late summer 2016 and led to an estimated 29 per cent loss of shallow water coral Reef-wide, according to findings by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
Winter sea surface temperatures in 2016 remained above average and, by the beginning of the 2016-17 summer, the accumulated heat stress on the Reef resulted in a second wave of mass bleaching.
Staff from the Marine Park Authority took part in aerial surveys conducted by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and the results confirmed the extent and severity of the 2017 bleaching event.

As seen last year, bleaching and mortality can be highly variable across the 344,400 square kilometre Marine Park — an area bigger than Italy. 

The Centre of Excellence’s maps below show the 2017 bleaching footprint differs from 2016 in that it extends further south in the Marine Park.

In-water surveys and other reports from the community and our science and tourism partners have also been used to determine the health of the Reef following these events.
In addition to severe bleaching affecting over half the Reef since 2016, large portions of the Reef have also been subjected to other simultaneous impacts during the 2016-17 summer.
Severe tropical cyclone Debbie crossed the coast at Airlie Beach on 28 March 2017.

  
It is estimated approximately 28 per cent of the total reef area in the Marine Park was within the ‘catastrophic damage zone’ of the cyclone’s path.


Surveys conducted by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service have revealed that some sites have suffered significant damage (up to 97 percent coral loss) and are down to very low coral cover, while others received less damage and still have moderate coral cover.
Studies following previous extreme weather events revealed that even within severely damaged reefs, there were often areas that were relatively undamaged. 

These areas are critical for providing the next generation of corals and assisting with reef recovery.. 
On becoming an ex-tropical cyclone, the system brought torrential rain to parts of the central and southern Great Barrier Reef catchment, which caused flooding of the Burdekin and Fitzroy Rivers, and resultant flood plumes.
Outbreaks of coral disease and crown-of-thorns starfish have also been ongoing.
The cumulative impact of these disturbances are affecting most of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (see graphic), and it is likely the resilience of the majority of reefs north of Mackay has been severely diminished.
Press link for more: BarrierReef.org

Climate Change Could Spark Another Great Recession! #StopAdani 

Climate Change Could Spark Another Great Recession. 

This Time, It May Be Permanent

Climate change will wreak havoc on the U.S. economy, leading to as much as a 3% decline in national GDP by the end of the 21st century if left unaddressed — and losses will be far higher in some of the country’s poorest areas, according to a new study.

Researchers behind the study, published in the journal Science, evaluated a number of factors that will contribute to economic decline as average global temperatures continue to rise, including increased energy costs, coastal damage, mortality rates and damage to agriculture. 

The study authors did not assess some other factors that carry economic costs, like damage to biodiversity, because such losses can be difficult to quantify.

The southern U.S. and mid-Atlantic region will face the worst losses, while some places in the North may actually benefit from higher temperatures, according to the study.

 In the places where climate change hits hardest — think the entire South from Texas to Florida — the economic losses could be nothing short of devastating.

 In many locations, GDP decline could total more than 10%, and in the worst-hit county, Florida’s Union County, losses could near 28%.
Predicting the exact consequences of such a climate-fueled recession is impossible, but researchers say the geographic disparities would contribute to political instability and could drive mass migration, with effects felt across the country.

 “If we continue to emit, you go into this recession and you get stuck in it forever,”

 says study author Solomon Hsiang, an associate professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley.

 “Conflict and political instability — those kinds of things we don’t see today, but could be baked into the future.”
The study assumes greenhouse emissions continue on their current trajectory, with average global temperatures rising between 2.6°C (4.7°F) and 4.8°C (8.6°F) by the turn of the century.

 Nearly every country agreed to work to keep temperatures from rising to those levels in the 2015 Paris Agreement. 

But the document’s target of keeping temperature rise below 2°C (3.6°F) was a long shot when countries brokered the deal in 2015, and it faces further uncertainty following President Trump’s decision to withdraw.

The research comes as the Trump administration seeks to undo policies aimed at addressing climate change, arguing that they harm the economy. 

Some climate change rules and regulations may restrict economic growth in certain areas. 

But, as the new research shows, leaving the issue unaddressed carries serious risks and costs — something Trump has shown less interest in addressing.

 The Trump administration has changed the way the federal government considers the cost of climate change — known as the social cost of carbon — in cost-benefit analysis. 

The decision gives agencies more leeway to give more weight to immediate economic benefits of some decisions, while giving less weight to the long-term economic disruption caused by climate change. 

Beyond that, Trump has begun the process of undoing Obama-era climate regulations and sought to defund research that will foster renewable energy growth.
Despite Trump’s position on climate change, some have suggested that research on global warming’s costs could sway some in the administration. 

“The pendulum for environmental protection can swing back and forth,” 

writes Duke University public policy professor William A. Pizer in an editorial accompanying the study. 

“Yet conservative governments, including the current one, have maintained an emphasis on [cost-benefit analysis].”
The study only evaluates the economic impact of climate change in the U.S., and the study authors acknowledge that the worst effects of climate change will likely occur outside the country. 

Those impacts could also affect the U.S., drawing the country into foreign conflicts and increasing global instability. 


The U.S. military has called climate change a “threat multiplier” and connected it to mass migration and instability. 

That instability may originate outside U.S. borders, but the effects will resonate domestically, even if we do not know how significantly.

Press link for more: Time Inc

Extract from Cairns Regional Council Climate Change Strategy #StopAdani 

2.4 Implications for the region

 Tourism – 

Many tourists visit the region solely because of the natural beauty of its reefs and rainforests. 

Therefore, the region’s tourism industry would be adversely affected by any damage to these natural icons.


 Rising oil prices are also likely to reduce the number of tourists visiting the region as less people choose to travel due to increased flight costs.

Infrastructure – 

Rising sea levels, increased storm surge levels, and increased intensity of cyclones all pose risks to public and private infrastructure.


Health – 

Increased temperatures may increase health risks such as heat stress and tropical diseases for vulnerable groups such as the elderly and young children.


Community well-being – 

Rising costs of basic goods, services and electricity will disproportionately affect residents from low socio-economic backgrounds, and basic requirements could become unaffordable for some sectors of the community. 

As fuel prices increase, driving may become unaffordable for some people, and unless low carbon public transport options are available this will restrict access to services for residents in outlying suburbs.

2.5 The international response

The issue of climate change has been on the international agenda since The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. 

Since this time, climate change has increasingly dominated international environmental negotiations, and is now widely recognised as the most serious environmental issue of our time. 

It is also an issue that will require a high degree of international cooperation to resolve.


The international response to climate change is coordinated by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and regulated by the Kyoto Protocol, which Australia ratified in 2007.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was set up by the United Nations
Environment Program to conduct and communicate sound research on climate science. 

The IPCC released a report in 2007 stating that to put the world on track to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by at least half of 1990 levels by 2050, developed countries collectively need to cut their emissions to 25-40% below 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80-95% by 2050.

2.6 The Australian response

The Australian government ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2007. 

Australia has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 5-25% below 2000 levels by 2020 (depending on the level of international cooperation), and 60% below 2000 levels by 2050. 

To assist in achieving this, the Federal Government has passed the Renewable Energy Target which commits to generating 20% of Australia’s electricity supply (45,850 GWh) from renewable sources by 2020.

2.7 Queensland State Government
response

The Queensland Government’s Towards Q2: 

Tomorrow’s Queensland incorporates targets aimed at protecting local communities from climate change impacts. 

These targets include:
• Cutting Queensland’s carbon footprint by one third by 2020, with a focus on reducing electricity and motor vehicle use
• 

Allocating 50 per cent more land for nature conservation and public recreation to protect regional biodiversity and will create more natural carbon sinks to offset emissions

Regional climate change actions will also be influenced by climate change initiatives and policies included in the following Queensland Government policies:

 ClimateSmart 2050
ClimateSmart Adaptation 2007-12 ClimateQ: toward a greener Queensland FNQ 

Regional Plan 2009-2031
State Coastal Management Plan
Press link for more: Cairns Regional Council

Cairns Regional Council time to act! #StopAdani #ClimateChange 

Executive summary
Cairns Regional Council Climate Change Strategy 2010-2015 

The Cairns region is an area of unique natural beauty, surrounded by tropical rainforests, beaches, mangroves, mudflats and coral reefs. 


It is a popular destination for domestic and international tourists because of its distinct natural beauty, and is experiencing high population growth and rapid expansion. 

Climate change will affect many aspects of the natural environment and the industries on which the region depends, making it a critical issue for the future of the region.

Council aims to become a leader in mitigating and planning for climate change and peak oil, and in doing so aims to provide guidance and inspiration for the broader community.


The Cairns region, which includes many low-lying coastal communities, is one of the most vulnerable areas in Australia to climate change impacts. 

Likewise, the region is vulnerable to peak oil impacts due to its isolation from major centres and sources of goods and services. 

This strategy provides a clear direction for Council and the community in responding to climate change and peak oil, and maps a course towards a resilient, vibrant and sustainable future for the region.

Climate change is the most significant issue facing human civilisation.


 It has the potential to affect every aspect of human existence, and to have serious consequences for the earth’s ecosystems. 

Warming of above 2°C is predicted to cause runaway climate change triggering “tipping points” in the Earth’s systems resulting in irreversible climatic and ecological changes. 


Our goal therefore needs to be to keep warming to below 2°C, which poses an enormous challenge to our societies and way of life. 

Immediate action is required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to begin to prepare communities for a changed climate. 

Climate change responses need to encompass not only emission reduction and
adaptation measures, but also behaviour change, economic restructuring, and building social cohesion and resilience.

The predicted impacts of climate change on the Cairns region include increasing temperatures, decreasing annual rainfall, increasing rainfall seasonality, rising sea levels, and more intense tropical cyclones. 


These changes are likely to affect many aspects of our lifestyle, and are predicted to have impacts on both the Wet Tropics rainforests and the Great Barrier Reef.

 Such impacts have the potential to undermine the region’s economy which is heavily reliant on nature based tourism. 

Sea level rise and increased cyclone intensity are very likely to affect Council and community assets, and need to be considered in planning decisions.

Council has identified the importance of addressing climate change and peak oil and the need for a Climate Change Strategy in the current Corporate Plan 2009 – 2014. 

The preparation and adoption of a holistic climate response in the form of a strategy, addresses and acknowledges the vulnerability of the region to these impacts. 

In addition the Strategy presents key actions to be implemented to mitigate the impacts of climate change and peak oil on the region.

The purpose of this strategy is to provide clear direction for responding to climate change risks and challenges. 

This strategy builds on Council’s existing climate change policies and programs including the Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan and the Greenhouse Mitigation Action Plan. 

This strategy will be assessed and reviewed annually to ensure it is based on the latest science and policy information.

Responding to climate change is the responsibility of all areas of Council, and will require a coordinated, collaborative approach in order to successfully make the transition to a low carbon, low oil and sustainable future.

Press link for more: Cairns Regional Council

Three years to save humanity. #StopAdani #ClimateChange 

We have three years to save humanity from climate change, warn experts

The world has three years to start making significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions or face the prospect of dangerous global warming, experts have warned in an article in the prestigious journal Nature.
Calling for world leaders to be guided by the scientific evidence rather than “hide their heads in the sand”, they said “entire ecosystems” were already beginning to collapse, summer sea ice was disappearing in the Arctic and coral reefs were dying from the heat.


The world could emit enough carbon to bust the Paris Agreement target of between 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius in anything from four to 26 years if current levels continue, the article said.
Global emissions had been rising rapidly but have plateaued in recent years. 

The experts, led by Christiana Figueres, who as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change played a key role in the Paris Agreement, said they must start to fall rapidly from 2020 at the latest.

“The year 2020 is crucially important for another reason, one that has more to do with physics than politics,” they said.
Citing a report published in April, they added: “Should emissions continue to rise beyond 2020, or even remain level, the temperature goals set in Paris become almost unattainable.
“Lowering emissions globally is a monumental task, but research tells us that it is necessary, desirable and achievable.”
The article was signed by more than 60 scientists, such as Professor Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University, politicians, including former Mexican President Felipe Calderon and ex-Irish President Mary Robinson, businesspeople like Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever, investment managers, environmental campaigners and others.

Since the 1880s, the world’s temperature has risen by about 1C because of greenhouse gases resulting from human activity – a process predicted by a Swedish Nobel Prize-winning scientist in 1895.
The Nature article laid out the effect of this sudden increase on the planet.

“Ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are already losing mass at an increasing rate,” it said.
“Summer sea ice is disappearing in the Arctic and coral reefs are dying from heat stress – entire ecosystems are starting to collapse.”

And it added: “The social impacts of climate change from intensified heatwaves, droughts and sea-level rise are inexorable and affect the poorest and weakest first.”
Humanity is currently emitting about 41 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide a year, but if the Paris target is to be met it only has a carbon ‘budget’ of between 150 and 1,050 gigatonnes.

“If the current rate of annual emissions stays at this level, we would have to drop them almost immediately to zero once we exhaust the budget. 

Such a ‘jump to distress’ is in no one’s interest. 

A more gradual descent would allow the global economy time to adapt smoothly,” the experts wrote.
But they urged people not to abandon hope.
“The good news is that it is still possible to meet the Paris temperature goals if emissions begin to fall by 2020,” they said.


Donald Trump, the US President and climate science-denier, has pledged to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement, which will take until 2020.
The Nature article urged world leaders to take the opposite approach by using science to guide policy and defending scientists.
“Those in power must stand up for science,” it said.
“French President Emmanuel Macron’s Make Our Planet Great Again campaign [a deliberate play on Mr Trump’s Make America Great Again slogan] is a compelling example.
“He has spoken out to a global audience in support of climate scientists, and invited researchers to move to France to help accelerate action and deliver on the Paris agreement.”
We still don’t know if Trump believes climate change exists
Any delay would pose a threat to human prosperity.
“With no time to wait, all countries should adopt plans for achieving 100 per cent renewable electricity production, while ensuring that markets can be designed to enable renewable-energy expansion,” the experts wrote.
Optimism was also important.
“Recent political events have thrown the future of our world into sharp focus,” they said. 

“But as before Paris, we must remember that impossible is not a fact, it’s an attitude. It is crucial that success stories are shared.
“There will always be those who hide their heads in the sand and ignore the global risks of climate change.
“But there are many more of us committed to overcoming this inertia. 

Let us stay optimistic and act boldly together.”

Press link for more: Independent.co.uk

6-Point plan to save the world. 

How To Save The World: 6-Point Climate Change Plan Laid Out By Scientists, Policymakers
President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement, but that doesn’t mean the Earth is doomed. 

Scientists and policymakers laid out a plan in the journal Nature listing six ways humans could help save the planet in three years.

In the past three years, carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels worldwide have flattened after increasing for decades, suggesting certain actions taken to curb pollution have worked.

The authors pointed out that although Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, it won’t be able to do so until November 2020. 

If global emissions rise beyond 2020 or remain level, the Paris temperature goal will be hard to reach, which is why the authors launched Mission 2020, a campaign that will work toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions by that year.


The one-degree Celsius warming driven by human activity has impacted ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica while sea ice disappears in the Arctic and coral reefs suffer from heat stress. 

There have also been heatwaves and droughts because of climate change.

However, scientists say there are ways to meet the Paris temperature goals if emissions start to decrease by 2020. 

The authors are optimistic, noting U.S. emissions went down by 3 percent in 2016 while gross domestic product rose. 

Researchers also pointed out that wind and solar power in the EU made up more than three-quarters of new energy capacity installed.
Referencing those positive notes, the scientists and policymakers revealed six milestones that could reduce global carbon emissions.
Energy
Renewable energy sources, like solar and wind power, would need to make up at least 30 percent of the world’s electricity, up from 23.7 percent in 2015. Furthermore, no more coal-fired power plants should be approved by 2020, and all the existing one should be retired, the paper said.


Infrastructure
Cities and states will have to decarbonize buildings and infrastructure fully by 2050.

 This goal wouldn’t be impossible since many governors and mayors nationwide have pledged to uphold the Paris accord despite Trump’s decision.

Read: Coral Reefs And Climate Change Facts: Massive Bleaching Event May Be Coming To An End
Transportation
To lower global emissions, electric vehicles will have to make up at least 15 percent of new car sales worldwide, a spike from today’s 1 percent market share of battery-powered and plug-in hybrid vehicles sold. 

Use of mass transportation will also have to double in cities, and there must be a 20 percent increase in fuel efficiency for heavy-duty vehicles and a 20 percent decrease in greenhouse-gas emissions from aviation per kilometer traveled.


Land
Land-use policies will have to be changed to reduce deforestation since current net emission from forest destruction and land use changes make up about 12 percent of the global total.
Industry
Industries including iron, steel, cement, chemicals, oil and gas emit more than a fifth of global carbon dioxide. Heavy industries will need to develop and publish plans to cut emissions in half before 2050.
Finance
Governments, private banks and lenders, like the World Bank, will need to hand out more “green bonds” to fund climate initiatives.
“These goals may be idealistic at best, unrealistic at worst,” former U.N. climate negotiator Christiana Figueres and her colleagues said in the paper. “However, we are in the age of exponential transformation and think that such a focus will unleash ingenuity.”
Mission 2020 scientists called on leaders who will get together at the Group of 20 summit next week in Hamburg, Germany, to focus on global warming.
“There will always be those who hide their heads in the sand and ignore the global risks of climate change,” the authors said. “But there are many more of us committed to overcoming this inertia. Let us stay optimistic and act boldly together.”

Press link for more: IBtimes.com

How many reasons do we need to #StopAdani #Auspol ?

1. Fossil fuels are destroying the world’s coral UNESCO Report

2. Climate change driven by fossil fuels is causing global conflict. Breakthrough Online


3. Air pollution (mainly coal) is killing millions Washington Post

4. Clean renewable energy is cheaper than coal. Forbes.com

5. Clean energy creates more jobs e2.org

6. $56 billion reasons to #StopAdani and protect the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef is too big to fail ABC

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-26/great-barrier-reef-valued-56b-deloitte/8649936

SMH.COMu

Rob Pyne Video

UNESCO: Coral reefs likely to disappear by 2100 #StopAdani 

Coral reefs likely to disappear by 2100 unless CO2 emissions drastically reduce.

Today, UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre released the first global scientific assessment of climate change impacts on World Heritage coral reefs. 

Soaring ocean temperatures in the past three years have subjected 21 of 29 World Heritage reefs to severe and/or repeated heat stress, and caused some of the worst bleaching ever observed at iconic sites like the Great Barrier Reef (Australia), Papahānaumokuākea (USA), the Lagoons of New Caledonia (France) and Aldabra Atoll (Seychelles). 


The analysis predicts that all 29 coral-containing World Heritage sites would cease to exist as functioning coral reef ecosystems by the end of this century under a business-as-usual emissions scenario.
Bleaching is a stress response that causes coral animals to expel the microscopic algae (zooxanthellae) whose photosynthesis provides the energy needed to build three-dimensional reef structures. 

Mass bleaching is caused by rising water temperatures associated with climate change.

 It only takes a spike of 1-2°C to cause bleaching, and carbon emissions have caused a 1°C increase in global surface temperature since pre-industrial times. 

This effect has been magnified by strong El Niño and La Niña events.

 Ocean acidification caused by dissolved atmospheric CO2 weakens corals further.

“ The 29 globally significant coral reefs on UNESCO’s World Heritage List are facing existential threats, and their loss would be devastating ecologically and economically,” said Dr. Mechtild Rossler, Director of the World Heritage Centre. 

“These rainforests of the sea protect coastal communities from flooding and erosion, sustain fishing and tourism businesses, and host a stunning array of marine life.”


The social, cultural and economic value of coral reefs is estimated at US$1 trillion.

 Recent projections indicate that climate-related loss of reef ecosystem services will total US$500 billion per year or more by 2100, with the greatest impacts felt by people who rely on reefs for day-to-day subsistence.
Widespread coral bleaching was first documented in 1983, but the frequency and severity is increasing.

 The last three years were the hottest on record, and they caused a global bleaching event that reached 72% of World Heritage-listed reefs.
“We know the frequency and intensity of coral bleaching events will continue to increase as temperatures rise,” said Dr. Scott Heron, NOAA Coral Reef Watch and lead author of the assessment. 

“Our goal was to document climate impacts on World Heritage-listed coral reefs to date, and examine what the future may hold.

 The fate of these treasures matters to all humankind, and nations around the world are bound by the 1972 World Heritage Convention to support their survival.”


Coral communities typically take 15 to 25 years to recover from mass bleaching. 

The assessment looked at the frequency with which World Heritage reefs have been subjected to stress that exceeds best-case rates of recovery. 

It also examined future impacts to World Heritage reefs under two emissions scenarios. 

The results were sobering and concluded that delivering on the Paris Agreement target of “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C” offers the only opportunity to prevent coral reef decline globally, and across all 29 reef-containing natural World Heritage sites.
The assessment was developed with satellite data from the United States National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coral Reef Watch and received the support from the French Agency for Biodiversity (Agency Française pour la Biodiversité).

Press link for full report: WHC.UNESCO.ORG

Australia shirks it’s moral responsibility #ClimateChange #StopAdani 

Australia, deep in climate change’s ‘disaster alley’, shirks its moral responsibility
A government’s first responsibility is to safeguard the people and their future well-being. The ability to do this is threatened by human-induced climate change, the accelerating effects of which are driving political instability and conflict globally. 

Climate change poses an existential risk to humanity that, unless addressed as an emergency, will have catastrophic consequences.

In military terms, Australia and the adjacent Asia-Pacific region is considered to be “disaster alley”, where the most extreme effects are being experienced.

Press link to download report Breakthrough online

 Australia’s leaders either misunderstand or wilfully ignore these risks, which is a profound failure of imagination, far worse than that which triggered the global financial crisis in 2008.

 Existential risk cannot be managed with conventional, reactive, learn-from-failure techniques. 

We only play this game once, so we must get it right first time.
This should mean an honest, objective look at the real risks to which we are exposed, guarding especially against more extreme possibilities that would have consequences damaging beyond quantification, and which human civilisation as we know it would be lucky to survive.
Instead, the climate and energy policies that successive Australian governments adopted over the last 20 years, driven largely by ideology and corporate fossil-fuel interests, deliberately refused to acknowledge this existential threat, as the shouting match over the wholly inadequate reforms the Finkel review proposes demonstrates too well. 

There is overwhelming evidence that we have badly underestimated both the speed and extent of climate change’s effects. 

In such circumstances, to ignore this threat is a fundamental breach of the responsibility that the community entrusts to political, bureaucratic and corporate leaders.
A hotter planet has already taken us perilously close to, and in some cases over, tipping points that will profoundly change major climate systems: at the polar ice caps, in the oceans, and the large permafrost carbon stores. 

Global warming’s physical effects include a hotter and more extreme climate, more frequent and severe droughts, desertification, increasing insecurity of food and water supplies, stronger storms and cyclones, and coastal inundation.
Climate change was a significant factor in triggering the war in Syria, the Mediterranean migrant crisis and the “Arab spring”, albeit this aspect is rarely discussed. 

Our global carbon emission trajectory, if left unchecked, will drive increasingly severe humanitarian crises, forced migrations, political instability and conflicts.
Australia is not immune.

 We already have extended heatwaves with temperates above 40 degrees, catastrophic bushfires, and intense storms and floods. 

The regional effects do not receive much attention but are striking hard at vulnerable communities in Asia and the Pacific, forcing them into a spiral of dislocation and migration. 

The effects on China and South Asia will have profound consequences for employment and financial stability in Australia.
In the absence of emergency action to reduce Australian and global emissions far faster than currently proposed, the level of disruption and conflict will escalate to the point that outright regional chaos is likely. 

Militarised solutions will be ineffective. 

Australia is failing in its duty to its people, and as a world citizen, by playing down these implications and shirking its responsibility to act.
Bushfires that destroy property and lives are increasingly regular across Australia.


Bushfires that destroy property and lives are increasingly regular across Australia. Photo: Jason South

Nonetheless, people understand climate risks, even as their political leaders underplay or ignore them. 

About 84 per cent of 8000 people in eight countries surveyed recently for the Global Challenges Foundation consider climate change a “global catastrophic risk”. 

The result for Australia was 75 per cent. 


Many people see climate change as a bigger threat than epidemics, weapons of mass destruction and the rise of artificial intelligence.
What is to be done if our leaders are incapable of rising to the task?
The new normal? 


Residents paddle down a street in Murwillumbah in March after heavy rains led to flash flooding. Photo: Jason O’Brien

First, establish a high-level climate and conflict taskforce in Australia to urgently assess the existential risks, and develop risk-management techniques and policies appropriate to that challenge.
Second, recognise that climate change is an global emergency that threatens civilisation, and push for a global, coordinated, practical, emergency response.
We only play this game once, so we must get it right first time.
Third, launch an emergency initiative to decarbonise Australia’s economy no later than 2030 and build the capacity to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Fourth, help to build more resilient communities domestically and in the most vulnerable nations regionally; build a flexible capacity to support communities in likely hot spots of instability and conflict; and rethink refugee policies accordingly.

Young children walk through debris in Vanuata after Cyclone Pam hit in 2015. Photo: Unicef

Fifth, ensure that Australia’s military and government agencies are fully aware of and prepared for this changed environment; and improve their ability to provide aid and disaster relief.
Sixth, establish a national leadership group, outside conventional politics and drawn from across society, to implement the climate emergency program.
A pious hope in today’s circumstances?

 Our leaders clearly do not want the responsibility to secure our future. 

So “everything becomes possible, particularly when it is unavoidable”.
Ian Dunlop was an international oil, gas and coal industry executive, chairman of the Australian Coal Association and chief executive of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. 

This is an extract from his report with David Spratt, Disaster alley: climate change, conflict and risk, released on Thursday.

Press link for more: Canberra Times