Month: February 2018

Revoking Adani mine licence safe move for future Labor govt, Shorten told #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

Revoking Adani mine licence a safe move for future Labor government, Shorten told

By Josh Robertsonabout an hour ago

Adani would get no compensation and find it “virtually impossible” to overturn a future Labor government’s decision to scrap its mining licence, according to legal advice provided to Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

The ABC has obtained the advice, which reportedly prompted Mr Shorten to push for a shift in Labor policy to withdraw federal approval of Adani’s Carmichael mine proposal “if the evidence is as compelling as it appears now”.

Businessman and environmentalist Geoff Cousins has told the ABC’s 7.30 program that after receiving the advice, Mr Shorten “believed that there was sufficient information at this point” for Labor to move towards scrapping the mine licence if it won the next election.

Mr Cousins, a former Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) president, said Mr Shorten had agreed to make the following public statement if he won over colleagues: “When we are in government, if the evidence is as compelling as we presently believe it to be regarding the approval of the Adani mine, we will revoke the licence”.

Adani has set up a regional office in the north Queensland city of Townsville, where the local council has stepped up security at monthly meetings following apparent concerns about escalating tensions involving anti-Adani protesters.

Earlier this month, tensions were high outside a Townville meeting that included Mr Shorten, who spoke of his misgivings about the Adani project.

In recent weeks, the Opposition Leader has hardened his stance against Adani, saying repeatedly he did not believe the project would go ahead.

Video: Geoff Cousins says Bill Shorten told him Labor would reconsider the Adani licence. (7.30)

At the behest of the ACF, Brisbane barrister Chris McGrath and the Environmental Defenders Office Queensland both provided the ALP with legal opinions that a future Labor government could call a halt to the mine project by revoking approval under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act.

Dr McGrath told the ALP a future government would not have to pay Adani anything to do this, as revoking mine approval “would not be an acquisition of property that would require compensation under the Commonwealth Constitution”.

‘Virtually impossible to overturn’

Dr McGrath said a new Labor environment minister, under section 145 of the EPBC Act, could rely on the “substantial new information” about environmental threats and mine impacts since it was approved in October 2015.

He said a minister could call for a review of new information about impacts on climate change and the Great Barrier Reef, threatened species such as the black-throated finch, and groundwater ecosystems such as Doongmabulla Springs.

He cited 2016 research that showed efforts to lift reef water quality gave coral no protection from underwater heatwaves and bleaching.

Dr McGrath said that study’s lead author, coral expert Terry Hughes, would be “an appropriate expert to conduct this part of the review”.

He said that if the minister believed the mine would have a significant impact previously not identified, Adani’s environmental licence could be scrapped.

PHOTO: Anti-Adani protesters in Townsville have local councillors concerned about security. (AAP Image: Tracey Nearmy)

Adani could not legally challenge the merits of the decision, making it “virtually impossible to overturn” as long as the minister followed due administrative process “for instance by providing natural justice to Adani”.

“In the unlikely event that Adani attempted to proceed with the mine after revocation, there is no doubt that the minister could obtain an injunction under section 475 of the EPBC Act to prevent the mine proceeding without approval,” Dr McGrath said.

On Monday night, Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg told Sky News he could legally scrap Adani’s licence “if [Adani’s] environmental claims don’t stack up, but there’s no evidence to invoke Section 145, and Bill Shorten knows this”.

Mr Cousins told 7:30 Mr Shorten’s response to the legal advice was: “Thank you very much, that’s very compelling and I’ll discuss it with my colleagues”.

“He has come back and raised certain issues with me since then but not that one,” Mr Cousins said.

PHOTO: Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was a staunch supporter of Adani but has tempered her enthusiasm more recently. (AAP)

Reef scientist Charlie Veron wrote to Mr Frydenberg last June calling for him to scrap Adani’s approval because two successive annual mass bleaching events on the reef since 2015 constituted “important new information”.

EDOQ principal solicitor Sean Ryan said scrapping approval would not create a “sovereign risk” — politically driven uncertainty for corporations — as it was “an application of existing law and policy to new factual circumstances”.

Mr Shorten’s office has been contacted for comment.

Last night, a spokesperson for the Opposition Leader confirmed to 7:30 Mr Shorten requested a meeting with the ACF and Mr Cousins for their views on the Adani mine.

“The visit renewed Bill’s convictions on the importance of protecting the reef and the environment,” the spokesperson said.

“It’s no secret that Bill is deeply sceptical of the proposed Adani coal mine. He believes if it cannot stack up environmentally or commercially, it should not go ahead. So far it hasn’t, and he doesn’t believe it will.”

Press link for more: ABC.NET.AU

Climate change’s rising tide. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

Climate change’s rising tide.

By Bill Hoffman

A high tide saw water last month flood from the Maroochy River across Bradman Ave in Maroochydore and feed back through stormwater drains into River Esplanade at Mooloolaba. John McCutcheon

ANOTHER two-metre plus high tide on the Sunshine Coast today and tomorrow would afford a further glimpse at some of the realities low-lying coastal communities could expect to face as a consequence of sea-level rise according to scientists.

New research has found that even if Paris Agreement emission reduction targets were met, sea levels would rise between 0.7 and 1.2 metres.

The Nature Communications’ “Committed sea-level rise under the Paris Agreement and the legacy of delayed mitigation action” report showed the global sea level rises would occur despite the international accord to limit temperature rises to two degrees.

And it comes after the release of University of Colorado satellite observation research which showed that sea-level rise was accelerating, putting us on track for a 65cm increase by 2100, compared with 2005 levels.

Climate Councillor and international climate scientist, Professor Will Steffen, warns sea-level rise was already locked in and it now becomes a matter of how fast that would occur.

Prof Steffen said there was now an increased risk of a one-metre rise this century and a multi-century rise to two metres.

If the rate of rise could be slowed, he said it would give time to plan infrastructure relocation to account for the changing environment.

Adaptation was already occurring with the Brisbane Airport new runway built higher after consultation with the CSIRO.

Prof Steffen said everyone had been forewarned, which would raise “really tricky legal issues” when it could be shown local councils knew of the risk to new development on the coast line but approved it anyway.

“No council can now deny knowledge of risk,” Prof Steffen said.

Morning high tides today and tomorrow would reach 2.09 metre levels which Dr David Rissik, Adjunct Professor with the Griffith University National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, said would provide a glimpse at the future full time inundation of low-lying areas even without storm surges and high rainfall events.

Dr Rissik said beaches and foreshores could be lost, services, businesses and industries disrupted and some areas would see homes regularly flooded and undermined through beach erosion.

“Despite growing awareness of rising sea levels, we continue to allow development in inappropriate areas which could put more homes, lives and businesses at risk in the future,” Dr Rissik said.

Professor Steffen said the new research showed that every five-year delay in cutting greenhouse gas pollution and tackling climate change would add around 20 centimetres to sea-level rise.

However, rather than being pessimistic, he said there was some hope with Canberra now on track to run entirely on renewable energy from PV solar and wind farms.

The capital territory’s reverse auction system also delivered the nation’s lowest electricity prices.

And, he said, we could transform electricity systems nationally in 10 to 20 years and make them more resilient and lower cost with the economic equation now flipped in favour of renewables.

But Prof Steffen said at a federal level Australia was worse off compared with five years ago due to the lack of, or negative, policies.

Press link for more: Sunshine Coast Daily

Defenders of the Reef #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

Defenders of the Reef

Costing the Earth

Marine biologist and film-maker, Ellen Husain studied the Great Barrier Reef for her Masters degree thirteen years ago.

Today she’s back to dive with her old supervisor.

The picture is grim.

So much of the life she remembers has gone, wiped out by the great coral bleaching events caused by rising sea temperatures.

Some who love the reef are in despair, others who once chose to ignore the signs are finally energised, determined to do what they can to slow or even reverse the decline. Ellen meets the people of the reef- tour operators, aboriginal Sea Rangers and coral scientists- to discover if one of the great natural wonders of the world really can be saved.

#ClimateChange pushing weather extremes ‘Off the scale’ #auspol #StopAdani

Climate change pushing weather extremes ‘off the scale’, says global cities group

Sophie Hares

Mexico City(Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Storms, floods and other extreme weather events are hitting cities much harder than scientists have predicted, said the head of a global network of cities tackling climate change.

The severe water shortages pushing drought-stricken Cape Town towards “day zero”, when it runs out of water, are proving a wake-up call to other vulnerable cities, said Mark Watts, executive director of the C40 climate change alliance.

“Almost every (C40 member) city is reporting extreme weather events that are off all the scale of previous experience, and ahead of all the modeling of climate change,” Watts told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Given that all the scientific models are failing to predict the pace that climate impact’s actually having, how do you do good public policy?” he said on the sidelines of the C40’s Women4Climate conference.

Nearly half of the 92 cities in the C40 network saw extreme flooding last year, according to Watts, who said an “optimism bias” was built into scientific forecasts.

Unpredictable events are making it increasingly difficult for cities to decide whether they should invest in expensive protection measures such as sea walls, or opt for flood plains instead of building luxury waterfront apartments, he said.

“In most cases, we’ve experienced something beyond what the model projected, whether that’s for flooding, for extremes of heat, or just the switches in the violence of weather we’re seeing,” he said.

While floods are affecting many cities, the severe drought pushing Cape Town towards “day zero”, when its taps could run dry, is sending a message to cities that they need to make themselves resilient, he said.

“It’s a huge warning signal as Cape Town is a well resourced city… Yet they’re still now going to be first city in the world that runs out of water completely, just because of the severity of climate impacts,” said Watts.

“And they’re not going to be the last unfortunately,” he said.

Ten cities in the C40 network, including London, Mexico City and Sao Paulo, are on “danger watch” and could run out of water if rainfall is lower than average, he said.

Cities could help save scarce supplies be reusing water that flows into drainage systems and is otherwise lost, and by installing features such as permeable pavements to capture rainwater, he said.

“You’ve really got to plan for the worst now,” said Watts.

Reporting by Sophie Hares; editing by Jared Ferrie. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, resilience, women’s rights, trafficking and property rights.


Press link for more:

Scientists alarmed by ‘crazy’ temperature rises in the Arctic. #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol

Arctic warming: scientists alarmed by ‘crazy’ temperature rises

Record warmth in the Arctic this month could yet prove to be a freak occurrence, but experts warn the warming event is unprecedented

Jonathan WattsLast modified on Wed 28 Feb 2018 10.12 AEDT

An alarming heatwave in the sunless winter Arctic is causing blizzards in Europe and forcing scientists to reconsider even their most pessimistic forecasts of climate change.

Although it could yet prove to be a freak event, the primary concern is that global warming is eroding the polar vortex, the powerful winds that once insulated the frozen north.

The north pole gets no sunlight until March, but an influx of warm air has pushed temperatures in Siberia up by as much as 35C above historical averages this month. Greenland has already experienced 61 hours above freezing in 2018 – more than three times as many hours as in any previous year.

Seasoned observers have described what is happening as “crazy,” “weird,” and “simply shocking”.

“This is an anomaly among anomalies.

It is far enough outside the historical range that it is worrying – it is a suggestion that there are further surprises in store as we continue to poke the angry beast that is our climate,” said Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. “The Arctic has always been regarded as a bellwether because of the vicious circle that amplify human-caused warming in that particular region. And it is sending out a clear warning.”

Although most of the media headlines in recent days have focused on Europe’s unusually cold weather in a jolly tone, the concern is that this is not so much a reassuring return to winters as normal, but rather a displacement of what ought to be happening farther north.

At the world’s most northerly land weather station – Cape Morris Jesup at the northern tip of Greenland – recent temperatures have been, at times, warmer than London and Zurich, which are thousands of miles to the south.

Although the recent peak of 6.1C on Sunday was not quite a record, but on the previous two occasions (2011 and 2017) the highs lasted just a few hours before returning closer to the historical average.

Last week there were 10 days above freezing for at least part of the day at this weather station, just 440 miles from the north pole.

“Spikes in temperature are part of the normal weather patterns – what has been unusual about this event is that it has persisted for so long and that it has been so warm,” said Ruth Mottram of the Danish Meteorological Institute. “Going back to the late 1950s at least we have never seen such high temperatures in the high Arctic.”

Melting ice on the Chilkat river near Haines, Alaska, in winter. Photograph: Michele Cornelius/Alamy

The cause and significance of this sharp uptick are now under scrutiny.

Temperatures often fluctuate in the Arctic due to the strength or weakness of the polar vortex, the circle of winds – including the jetstream – that help to deflect warmer air masses and keep the region cool.

As this natural force field fluctuates, there have been many previous temperature spikes, which make historical charts of Arctic winter weather resemble an electrocardiogram.

But the heat peaks are becoming more frequent and lasting longer – never more so than this year. “In 50 years of Arctic reconstructions, the current warming event is both the most intense and one of the longest-lived warming events ever observed during winter,” said Robert Rohde, lead scientist of Berkeley Earth, a non-profit organisation dedicated to climate science.

The question now is whether this signals a weakening or collapse of the polar vortex, the circle of strong winds that keep the Arctic cold by deflecting other air masses.

The vortex depends on the temperature difference between the Arctic and mid-latitudes, but that gap is shrinking because the pole is warming faster than anywhere on Earth. While average temperatures have increased by about 1C, the warming at the pole – closer to 3C – is melting the ice mass.

According to Nasa, Arctic sea ice is now declining at a rate of 13.2% per decade, leaving more open water and higher temperatures.

Some scientists speak of a hypothesis known as “warm Arctic, cold continents” as the polar vortex becomes less stable – sucking in more warm air and expelling more cold fronts, such as those currently being experienced in the UK and northern Europe.

Rohde notes that this theory remains controversial and is not evident in all climate models, but this year’s temperature patterns have been consistent with that forecast.

Longer term, Rohde expects more variation. “As we rapidly warm the Arctic, we can expect that future years will bring us even more examples of unprecedented weather.”

Jesper Theilgaard, a meteorologist with 40 years’ experience and founder of website Climate Dissemination, said the recent trends are outside previous warming events. “No doubt these warming events bring trouble to the people and the nature. Shifting rain and snow – melt and frost make the surface icy and therefore difficult for animals to find anything to eat. Living conditions in such shifting weather types are very difficult.”

Others caution that it is premature to see this as a major shift away from forecasts. “The current excursions of 20C or more above average experienced in the Arctic are almost certainly mostly due to natural variability,” said Zeke Hausfather of Berkeley Earth. “While they have been boosted by the underlying warming trend, we don’t have any strong evidence that the factors driving short-term Arctic variability will increase in a warming world. If anything, climate models suggest the opposite is true, that high-latitude winters will be slightly less variable as the world warms.”

Although it is too soon to know whether overall projections for Arctic warming should be changed, the recent temperatures add to uncertainty and raises the possibility of knock-on effects accelerating climate change.

“This is too short-term an excursion to say whether or not it changes the overall projections for Arctic warming,” says Mann. “But it suggests that we may be underestimating the tendency for short-term extreme warming events in the Arctic. And those initial warming events can trigger even greater warming because of the ‘feedback loops’ associated with the melting of ice and the potential release of methane (a very strong greenhouse gas).”

Press link for more: The Guardian

#Neoliberalism The lie that is sucking the life out of us. #auspol #StopAdani

The lie that is sucking the life out of Sydney

Elizabeth Farrelly24 February 2018 — 12:05am

Illustration: Dionne Gain


Florida teen Emma Gonzales wore a buzz-cut and a Beatles t-shirt to make her clarion call to “fix” American politics.

“You’re either funding the killers or you’re standing with the children,” she said, calling BS on how the “blood money” of vested interests destroys lives.

Closer to home, Jacinda Ardern is a similar clarion voice for the resistance.

Vested interests are destroying our cities and our country from the inside. Time to call BS.

Ardern had 60 seconds to rattle off her government’s first hundred days’ achievements. “Okay here we go,” she began, with her signature frankness and toothy ear-to-ear grin. “We started KiwiBuild, we banned the sale of state houses, we introduced the Healthy Homes Bill, the winter energy payment, we extended paid parental leave, we banned microbeads, set up the Pike River Agency, started the work on the climate change commission, increased the minimum wage, committed to equal pay, we introduced child poverty legislation…” That’s less than half, but you get the picture.

I felt the stab of envy.

How is this even fair?

The Kiwis get Ardern. Canada gets Trudeau. Somehow they get to elect actual human beings who fight for real things.

We get Mr Hollow and Mr Beetroot, a sham and a vegetable. I know, I know. Leader-envy is unbecoming and futile.

But it is grotesquely unjust.

Emma Gonzales, left, comforts a school friend.

Photo: AP

We have a Prime Minister so desiccated by his own hypocrisy that, despite having once crossed the floor for climate change (and doesn’t that seem another lifetime, now?), he’s now bound by fossil-fuel addiction and gagged by an equally outdated ideology – neither of which he even believes in.

A Prime Minister who takes to Tea with Trump the head of coal of Glencore, a multinational miner that routinely avoids paying tax, and Business Council honcho Jennifer Westacott who insists that, although the rest of us should keep paying proper tax, anything above 25 per cent corporate tax equals “business bashing”. Poor little darlings.

Add a Deputy PM, who (as dress Akubra suggests) should have at least some concern for land and water, yet who regards the land-destroying, aquifer-polluting, reef-killing Adani mine as a “great investment” of a billion public dollars.

Even Opposition leader Bill Shorten, who should be our Jacinda, is so pathetically cowed by the jobs lobby he describes Adani as “just another project”.

Do they say these things because they believe that Adani is a good corporate citizen, that coal benefits humanity, that destroying the reef will enhance Australia’s future or the world’s?

I don’t think so.

But that’s them.

What about us?

Why do we keep drinking the Kool-Aid?

In part, we just take things too literally. We convulse over our leaders’ sexual amours but apply a boys-will-be-boys shrug to whom they’re in bed with politically, although this is both more wicked and more damaging.

But there is also ideology at play, and it deserves our scepticism.

Westacott insists that bashing business is bashing the future. Our future. This is the core; the presumption that what’s good for business is good for us all.

It’s the tired old neo-lib insistence that a smaller slice of a bigger pie is better for everyone.


Trickle down.

Voodoo economics.

The evidence is in, and it’s against them.

Neo-liberalism dramatically worsens inequality.

We’re near the end (I like to think) of a 40-year Western-democracy experiment in neo-liberal ideology.

My economist friends argue that the sourness of Australian politics is not neo-liberalism but cronyism.

Myself, I think it’s a mix.

Either way, the latest World Inequality Report 2018 shows that the rich-poor gap has widened in precise parallel with monetarist domination, and is now at its highest level since before the Great Depression.

Thatcher was elected in 1979, Reagan in 1981.

Their monetarist thinking hit New Zealand and Australia via the biting wit and ruthless user-pays strategies of “new left” Labor leaders – David Lange in NZ from 1984, and Paul Keating in Australia from 1991.

Suddenly everything was outsourced.

Even for service provision the only model – for schools, hospitals, universities, governments – was the business model.

Since then, according to the Washington-based Centre on Budget and Policy Priorities, “economic growth slowed and the income gap widened” in the US, to 2016 when the richest 1 per cent held 20 per cent of the national income and a staggering 49 per cent of wealth in 2016. (Compare this with the prosperity period 1945 to 1970 when wealth grew but inequality stayed steady.)

Since 1980 inequality has remained lowest, and most stable, in Europe, which was relatively sceptical of the neo-liberal project. But in Australia too, wages have begun to stagnate and inequality to increase.

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.

Photo: AP

There’s no trickle-down. Trickle-down was always a lie. There’s just trickle-up. This affects our lives, and our cities, in a profound and intimate way.

One of the most dramatic shifts since the 1980s has been the decline in “public wealth” (defined as public assets minus public debts). In Sydney, this is happening in front of our eyes.

Over six years, the NSW government will have sold more than $9 billion of assets, including Land Titles building, Millers Point housing, 4000 Family and Community Services properties (notwithstanding thousands of people sleeping on the streets) and 384 Department of Education properties including their sandstone flagship in Bridge Street. And that’s before you even get to the ports, and the poles and wires.

The Kiwis get Jacinda Ardern and Aussies should be jealous.

Photo: AAP

Naturally, this wealth-depletion limits the capacity of government – even if by some miracle we got our Jacinda – to provide things like affordable housing and public transport. Sure, they pretend that fire sales fund public benefit. But the lie is everywhere.

If the light rail were public-funded, we’d still have those glorious trees. The racecourse benefited, the public lost out. Our cities are increasingly cruel and charmless, and in direct response, hordes of young creatives depart.

Malcolm and Gladys are increasingly like those apricots that, kept too long in cold storage, go straight from hard to rotten with no sweet spot between. If we don’t dump them soon our cities too will resemble dried fruit, all energy and belief sucked away. Call BS, before it’s too late.

Elizabeth Farrelly is a Sydney-based columnist and author who holds a PhD in architecture and several international writing awards. A former editor and Sydney City Councilor, she is also Associate Professor (Practice) at the Australian Graduate School of Urbanism at UNSW. Her books include ‘Glenn Murcutt: Three Houses’, ‘Blubberland; the dangers of happiness’ and ‘Caro Was Here’, crime fiction for children (2014).

Press link for more: SMH.COM

Do you find #ClimateChange boring? #StopAdani #auspol

NEW DELHI: United Nations environment chief Erik Solheim has said spouting “doom and gloom” while talking about climate change will not work and stressed that there was a need to present it in a “simpler” language that explains to people what it really means for them in their daily lives.

He also noted that plastic pollution is similar to climate change and if steps are not taken to curb it now, reversing it will be “almost impossible”.

As far as India is concerned, he said, it views environmental issues very much as a moral obligation and has got what it takes to lead the world into this change.

Solheim said a lot of people find the topic of climate change “boring”.

“The problem with climate change is that it’s a long-term phenomenon involving some quite complex science.

It does not surprise me that a lot of people find the topic boring, and frankly we are never going to bore people into action. And if we continue to spout doom-and-gloom, then people just switch off,” he said.

He said that when the issue of climate change is discussed mostly the focus has been on the problem and the risks and that needed to change. “People want to see solutions, and to understand how they can contribute.

It is time for a global mass movement for the environment, one that has never been seen before.”

“For this to happen, we have to speak in a different language that is simpler and breaks down the science to explain to people what climate change really means for them, in their daily lives, here and now,” the executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) told PTI.

“We have to make it a dinner table conversation,” he said, “in other words, we need to help people connect with this issue in a way that makes it personal, and not abstract.”

It could be about things like house prices, the cost of insurance policies, the impact on food prices or the link to mass migration, he said.

Solheim was in India for a week where among others, he signed a letter of intent on India hosting the World Environment Day on June 5.

On the issue of plastic pollution, he said it has been caused by “laziness and a failure” of imagination and innovation which needs to change.

He said an astounding amount of plastic is produced every year, much of which is often used for a few seconds and discarded.

“Plastic pollution is similar to climate change.

If we don’t step on the brakes now, it will be almost impossible to reverse.”

He pointed out that this year an estimated 360 million tonnes of plastic will be produced and one-third of this will be non-recyclable.

“So imagine where this plastic is going.

It is in our oceans and water bodies.

It is in landfills and on our beaches.

This year World Environment Day will bring the focus on plastic pollution, calling on people all over the world to ‘refuse what you cannot re-use’,” he said.

Tackling plastic pollution requires one to make a big push on three fronts, he said.

Firstly, people need to know that there are many simple steps they can take to reduce their own plastic footprint like “do we really need straws or apples wrapped in copious amounts of plastic?

We don’t and we can change that.”

“Second, 40 per cent of used plastic currently goes to landfill, when it could serve countless other uses.

We need to recycle and re-use whatever we can.

Thirdly, and this is where business comes in, we need to look at the whole life of a product and our consumption and trade systems.”

“It is no longer possible for us to design products that are thrown away immediately after use,” he said. “We need to re-think designs…and there are tremendous opportunities for businesses here.”

Talking about efforts being made in India in this direction, he expressed his delight that the country is the global host of World Environment Day 2018 and will be leading the push to save the oceans and the planet.

“India has very high rates of recycling, and in recent years, some of the biggest citizen action movements have happened in this country- for example, the Versova beach clean up in Mumbai,” he said.

“So India has what it takes to lead the world into this change,” he said.

“It is a booming economy with the innovation and business expertise to change the way we make and use products. And it is a country that views environmental issues very much as a moral obligation, to give back to people, nature and the world,” he added.

Press link for more: Economic Times India

The Choice Is Clear, Which Side are you on? #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #BatmanVotes

NTEU Victorian Division – Posts

Why the union movement should oppose Adani’s coal mine

By: Colin Long, Victorian Secretary, National Tertiary Education Union

The ALP and some unions should stop equivocating about the Adani coal mine.

Australia is experiencing a social movement of generational significance.

It brings together people of all ages, but particularly very large numbers of young people.

It includes Aboriginal people, farmers, churches, anti-poverty organizations, international aid agencies, doctors and other health workers, environmentalists, social justice campaigners, tourism operators, businesses large and small, workers from diverse industries and their unions. It attracts international solidarity.

It is the movement to stop Adani’s Carmichael coal mine.

The Australian union movement faces a choice: which side of the struggle do we want to be on? Do we want to be on the side of all these people and groups, those calling for a new way of doing things, for a concerted national effort to build a sustainable economy with decent jobs?

Do we want to side with the young people who want a future free of environmental devastation and the conflict that will result from it, the young people who are the future of political activism?

Do we take seriously our stated commitment to justice for Aboriginal people, or does this extend no further than feel-good acknowledgements of country at union meetings?

Do we support Aboriginal land rights?

Or do we throw our lot in with those who support Adani’s mine?

Do we side with the global multinationals who refuse to pay their fair share of tax, who hate unions more than they love coal, who would automate every job they could, who ran a deceitful campaign against the Rudd government’s mining super profits tax which, remember, was supposed to fund an increase in workers’ superannuation?

Do we side with these multinationals that threaten us every time we want to get more of a share of our natural wealth?

Do we side with the white shoe brigade that has always infected Queensland governments of any stripe, and that has convinced the Premier and Prime Minister that there is only one possible form of economic development possible in regional Queensland, that mining is all that country Queenslanders are good for or good at?

Do we really side with the Turnbull Government, that bizarre combination of Christian or free market fundamentalists and climate change deniers fondling lumps of coal in parliament, those who set up the Trade Union Royal Commission and the ABCC, who are hell-bent on destroying unions and offering our members up as no more than human resource sacrifices on the altars of their big business mates?

Do we side with Adani, a company whose environmental destructiveness is equal to its contempt for the communities and workers from which it extracts profit?

Do we care about the way Adani exploits local communities and its workers in India, and are we happy to import that way of doing things into Australia?

Which side of history do we want to be on?

The side of those who want to wring every last drop out of a failing economic system that is based on the exploitation of labour as much as the exploitation of the environment, who want to cut taxes for themselves at the same time as they cut penalty rates for the lowest paid?

Or do we want to be on the side of those who believe that it is possible to end the exploitation and destruction of the environment, to build a fair, decent, sustainable economy, to restore to Aboriginal people control over their lands?

The choice must be made, and it is stark. Climate change is happening faster than previously thought. The potential for planetary disaster, making human life on earth very difficult, is no longer the stuff of science fiction. The burning of fossil fuels is the primary cause of global warming. Coal is one of the dirtiest fuels. To have any chance of keeping climate change manageable, with minimum damage to earth’s ecosystem, the burning of fossil fuels, particularly coal, must be ended as soon as possible.

It is no longer possible for unions to say that they accept the science of climate change but not be prepared to act on it.

This is worse than climate denialism: at least the deniers have their delusions as an excuse.

It makes no sense for unions to support an economic model that is based on subsidizing digging stuff up and shipping it overseas, while manufacturing industries are left to rot and tens of thousands of jobs in tourism and hospitality relying on the Great Barrier Reef are put at risk.

It is suicide, in a struggle to define the nation’s future, to support the very political and economic forces that seek to destroy us.

The climate disasters that are already upon us, and those that are still to come, do not distinguish between industries or workers or unions.

Climate change is the business of all unions.

Coal miners dig up coal.

They have a long and proud history.

But fire fighters fight the bushfires provoked by global warming.

Nurses treat the victims of cyclones and heatwaves.

Teachers and lecturers train people for new jobs, and new ways of seeing and doing things. Electricians install solar panels.

Farm workers grow our food in our changing climate.

Workers suffer from higher electricity bills because of a government that wants to stymie the arrival of new ways of generating power because it threatens the profits of their mates in the fossil fuel companies.

No-one pretends it is easy.

That’s why climate change should be a movement-wide concern, and not left up to any one union or group of unions to have to manage themselves. We are all in this together or we die separately.

No worker will be immune to the climate catastrophes that await us if we don’t act now.

The rich and their friends in government will do everything to protect their interests and to trample on the interests of working people in the process.

Why should unions support them now to build this disastrous mine, when we know what they will do to us when the heat is really on?

The choice is clear: which side are we on?

Press link for more: NTEU

Climate Change & Terror Security Risks. #auspol qldpol #StopAdani

While the risks of terrorism should not be downplayed, the extensive nature of climate change risks should not be downplayed either.

Often times, the impacts are less visible but more significant, argues Janani Vivekananda.

Janani Vivekananda is a senior project manager at the international think tank adelphi, where she specialises in climate change and peacebuilding.

World leaders on international security policy meet in Munich this week to discuss the most pertinent security risks facing the world today.

High on the agenda will be the big ticket risks: nuclear proliferation, the ongoing tensions in the Middle East, the new world order vis-à-vis the U.S., Russia and the EU.

Also on the agenda is climate change.

The inclusion of non-traditional security risks such as climate change is very welcome.

It is a step towards better understanding the inter-linked risk landscape we face.

However, whilst climate change-related security risks are on the table for discussion, the extent of the risks climate change poses to international security is not matched by the financial resourcing which goes towards tackling these risks.

A look at defence balance sheets reflects this asymmetry.

Terrorism was responsible for 265 deaths in OECD countries in 2016.

In the same year, 688.5 million people or 9.3 percent of the world’s population suffered from severe food insecurity, exacerbated by climate-related events, and 24.2 million people were displaced as a consequence of slow-onset climate disasters.

The EU budget contributing to counter terrorism was €4,052 million in 2016.

Spending on climate-related security risks by the EU in 2016 was €5 million in 2016.

Policy makers in Munich deciding security and foreign policy budgets need to balance low probability, high impact risks (such as terror attacks) with high probability, low impact risks (such as climate change) – especially when the latter can actually catalyse the risk of the former.

Recent research shows that climate change-related drought in the Lake Chad region contributed to the worsening of livelihood prospects for young people in Northeastern Nigeria.

With few other prospects available, securing a decent job to put food on the table or afford to marry, and no support from the national government which had neglected and marginalised the region for decades, these unemployed young people were left ripe for recruitment by armed groups such as Boko Haram, who offer cash, loans and food.

While the risks of terrorism should not be downplayed, the extensive nature of climate change risks should not be downplayed either.

Whilst the impacts are often less visible than a terror attack, they are a highly pervasive and significant risk to international security, interacting with various other risks, with the potential to catalyse or accelerate their impacts.

The Munich Security Report – the annual synthesis of international security risks which accompanies the conference, rightly notes that climate change impact on international relations will go beyond natural disasters and should be a major factor when states consider security risks.

The report notes that “while climate change will affect economic, security and political systems all over the world, it will mainly act as a ‘threat multiplier’ in those states with limited capacities to deal with it”.

However, this consideration should go on to be reflected in actions: starting with the adequate financing of measures to address these risks, and also, importantly, including climate change risks in other security engagements such as post-conflict reconstruction and ex-combatant reintegration processes.

When it comes to risks, we know that prevention is better – and cheaper – than cure. But prevention means truly understanding all the linked issues which underlie conflict and risk – including climate change, and adequately factoring them into responses. This needs the right kind of analysis.

It also requires the right kind of resourcing. If the decision makers in Munich really want to have a serious shot at addressing some of the most serious risks we are facing today, they need to be ready and willing to put in the funding required to address the lower impact risks like climate change, which often catalyse bigger shocks.

Fear or the perceived need to respond to the most visible risks might drive some countries to spend vast amounts of money on low-probability risks like terrorism. But far-sighted foreign policies, which invest sufficiently in preventing risks such as vulnerability to climate change, would have great and lasting rewards.

Press link for more:

Labor should #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #BatmanVotes

Could a future Labor government really stop the Adani mine?

By Brendan Sydes

Bill Shorten’s statement last week that Adani’s proposed Galilee Basin mega coal mine would ‘absolutely not’ receive Labor’s support if it didn’t stack up commercially or environmentally gave the clearest indication yet that the ALP may be shifting its position on the controversial mine.

Significantly, Shorten’s remark came in answer to a question following a speech where the opposition leader said, “Any political party with an ounce of character will go to the people at the next election with a proper economic and environmental recognition of the reality of climate change…a proper demonstration that we have the courage to do what has to be done, even if that might be politically difficult.”

Until now the ALP has sought to navigate a complex middle road on Adani – neither for or against the project, which would be the biggest coal mine ever dug in Australia and would add a massive amount of climate pollution to the global atmosphere once the coal is burnt.

Shorten’s shift immediately prompted people to ask if and how the ALP could deliver on a promise to stop Adani and what if any legal pathways exist to stop the mine.

There are ample historical examples of incoming federal governments finding legal pathways to implement election commitments to protect environmental values.

The Whitlam government used its power to regulate exports to require an environmental impact assessment of sand mining and Fraser Island and eventually the combination of the Customs Act and new environmental laws led to the end of sand mining on the island.

The Hawke government famously intervened to prevent the Franklin Dam proceeding in Tasmania, with the subsequent High Court case confirming the breadth of Commonwealth legislative powers to intervene in areas hitherto thought to be solely the province of the States.

The Gillard government (when the current shadow environment Minister, Tony Burke, held the environment portfolio) intervened to introduce a permanent ban on super trawlers in Australian waters.

In the case of the Adani mine, suspending or cancelling approvals already granted under legislation is not straightforward, but pathways do exist.

Last year we wrote to the current Federal Environment Minister, Josh Frydenberg, on behalf of renowned coral scientist Dr Charlie Veron, asking the minister to use his power under section 145 of the Act to revoke an approval for Adani’s mine on the basis of new information about the impact of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef.

These provisions are complex and rarely used, so interpreting them and working out how they might be employed by a future Environment Minister to stop a project like the Adani mine is not straightforward.

From a legal perspective, it may be unwise for the ALP to be too specific in its commitment to use these powers. A very specific election commitment may be viewed as having brought a ‘closed mind’ to a matter of legislative discretion and may leave the decision vulnerable to future legal challenge.

It’s worth noting that Adani itself has asked the federal government to intervene with legislative approval of its mine, so it would be hypocritical of the company to suggest that Parliament could not intervene to stop the mine going ahead if that was the will of the Australian people.

So it does appear that with sufficient political resolve and public pressure, a legal pathway could be found to stop the Adani mine.

But expectations of a future government should not be limited to revisiting approvals under environment protection laws – the focus here should be on the depth of the political commitment and the broader expression of resolve, not just on Adani, but in relation to the whole question of coal exports.

The issue here is not just Adani but coal exports. Let’s start with prohibiting coal exports from the Galilee Basin. As the Fraser Island example demonstrates, the Commonwealth government clearly has the power to stop mining exports to achieve environmental protection goals.

We already regulate uranium exports and the Turnbull government last year moved to control gas exports using the same powers to protect the national interest.

So there is a clear legal pathway, not just to stop Adani, but to take action to stop the exploitation of more coal reserves in the Galilee Basin and elsewhere.  This is the commitment we should seek from a future government.

As Mr Shorten himself said, “You can’t be serious about climate change and energy and have a bet every which way.”

Authored by: Brendan Sydes. View Brendan Sydes’s blog.

Press link for more