Month: April 2018

Australia can cut emissions & grow its economy. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

Australia can cut emissions and grow its economy

Australia can make deep cuts to its carbon emissions and move to full renewable energy for its electricity supply at a relatively low cost, an ANU report has found.

The report, written by Associate Professor Frank Jotzo and PhD scholar Luke Kemp, reviews the evidence from major studies over the past eight years.

It finds that the cost estimates for Australia reaching ambitious emissions reduction goals came down in every successive major report.

“Deep cuts to Australia’s emissions can be achieved, at a low cost,” said Associate Professor Jotzo, director of the ANU Centre for Climate Economics and Policy at the Crawford School of Public Policy.

Australia has committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by five per cent of year 2000 levels by 2020, and is due in coming months to decide on emissions reduction targets for after 2020.

Australia is among the world’s highest producers of per-capita carbon emissions, due to a heavy reliance on coal for electricity generation.

Associate Professor Jotzo’s report, commissioned by WWF Australia (World Wildlife Fund), found the cost of moving to renewable energy was becoming cheaper, and strong climate action could be achieved while maintaining economic growth.

“At the heart of a low-carbon strategy for Australia is a carbon-free power system,” he said.

“Australia has among the best prerequisites in the world for moving to a fully renewable energy electricity supply.”

He said the costs of carbon-free technology, such as wind and solar power, have fallen faster than expected.

“For example, large-scale solar panel power stations are already only half the cost that the Treasury’s 2008 and 2011 modelling studies estimated they would be in the year 2030,” he said.

The report is available at the WWF Australia website.

#ClimateChange Causing Huge Infrastructure Damage. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Climate Change Causes Huge Infrastructure Damage

The impacts of Climate Change are now slowly being understood by profession­al engineers and other disciplines as more and more data on what has happened in weather events around the world is becoming available and specific studies are undertaken after significant events to provide additional information.

There is also now a growing network of or­ganisations that are ensuring that the infor­mation is quickly disseminated to relevant people and groups around the world and that the information is used to develop plans to as­sist in the mitigation process.

In Fiji, we have seen a dramatic increase in both the frequency and intensity of weather events over the last three years, the most nota­ble being Tropical Cyclone Winston, and Gov­ernment is focussed on taking action to pre­pare for the future event and to have in place a strong response plan offering immediate ac­tion and an effective rebuilding capacity.

Together with these actions, there is a change in the way infrastructure is controlled and standards are being put in place to ensure that all infrastructure is designed to avoid the damage that has previously caused extreme hardship for the population and large finan­cial loss particularly in the rural agricultural areas.

One of the more interesting aspects of the increased studies of the results of an event is the concept that, while it is not possible to predict the event, it is possible to predict the effect caused by the event.

This concept is now well developed, especial­ly in New Zealand, where there has been a se­ries of intense earthquakes in the Canterbury region over a relatively short period of time.

By committing a significant amount of time and funding to reviewing where and why the damage occurred, engineers are finding that they can use the data in a predictive way to tell them in advance where the damage will occur in an event and provide them with op­portunities to mitigate the impact on the com­munity.

This can be done by either strengthening the weaknesses that were identified as the cause of the damage by the studies in infrastructure that has similar features, or by being fully prepared in the response to damage after the event.

Plans are being put in place to direct re­sponse teams to the most strategically im­portant damage and repair it as a priority, or even to have a stock pile of material close to the site.

With roads, planning is also put in place to decide on the best alternatives around blocks, where landslides are most likely to occur and what preventative measures are indicated so that early action can be taken.

Plans also identify all the earthmoving equipment in each area and the contact de­tails so that in an emergency all possible re­sources can be marshalled immediately.

This preparation can also extend to the nego­tiation of rates so that no time is wasted try­ing to strike deals with every supplier after the event.

Worldwide there is also a renewed attention to the existing construction and engineering standards to ensure that they are relevant to the new learning, but also there is a fairly widely held belief that some of the existing standards may be higher than required.

This is a concern because a higher standard requires a higher budget and this can stop some work from proceeding or, more impor­tantly, lead to some cost cutting activities on the project that could compromise the integ­rity of the infrastructure.

It is estimated that moving to a Category five standard rather than a category four could add an additional thirty percent to the com­pletion cost. In the case of land slip, there have been many advances in technology over the last few years and these are not included in existing standards.

These technologies often provide an more ef­fective and economical result.

Another consideration, particularly in Fiji, is to find ways to encourage owner builders, particularly those in rural areas and villages, to apply acceptable minimum standards to the small dwelling structures.

To achieve compliance the standards need to be made simple and achievable by even un­skilled people and the cost has to be kept to a minimum.

The success of the concept will also require a very heavy awareness campaign as most of­ten there will be no professional review and as most of the structures of concern will be constructed without plan approval or profes­sional oversight.

One suggested solution for this segment is to develop packaged houses that are deliv­ered complete with all components including strapping and reinforcing to ensure the struc­ture is tied down as required.

An alternative concept under considera­tion is to supply framing and roofing compo­nents only, with the other components being sourced separately, to reduce the cost.

In New Zealand, after the Canterbury events, research identified all areas that were at risk and the government encouraged owners to move out and the houses were demolished.

The insurance in New Zealand made such action possible, with some government incen­tives added, but in Fiji most of the homes do not have insurance.

The recommendations from New Zealand show that the only long term solution is relo­cation, particularly for flooding or sea water incursion and that the cost of doing so will be significantly lower than staying with the sta­tus quo.

All the information to date tells us that Cli­mate Change will not go away and that the events will only get worse and more frequent, so a response to all the issues needs to be made now, or the effects on infrastructure and people will be much worse.

At least the government and relevant indus­tries are moving fast.


Press link for more: Fiji Sun

Hiroshima, Kyoto & the Bombs of #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Hiroshima, Kyoto, and the Bombs of Climate Change

Bill McKibben

Bill McKibben is currently touring Australia

Don’t miss him!

I spent Earth Day in Kyoto, the next day in Hiroshima, and the time since pondering the difference between the two.

Hiroshima has a special grip on the planet’s consciousness.

To see the remains of the great explosion is moving, and it’s equally powerful to realize that basically every building you drive by was constructed after 1945.

Millions of people come here to tour the museum—its exhibits all the more chastening for their dry and almost clinical precision.

Hiroshima has become symbolic shorthand for the nuclear horror that still haunts humanity; when we think about weapons of mass destruction, it’s the mushroom cloud above the Japanese city that we see in our mind’s eye.

Kyoto, in a different way, could have become shorthand for another, equally huge problem—global warming, which is producing changes even more far-reaching than a nuclear standoff.

It was in Kyoto, twenty-one years ago, that the world first came together to try to address the climate crisis, reaching a small but useful agreement to begin limiting carbon emissions.

Yet the pact accomplished little, and has slipped into history. I saw no sign in Kyoto that the conference ever took place—no shrine or statue, and, what’s more, no discernible change in the way that the city operates. (Japan met its obligations to the treaty by using offset techniques, such as planting trees and purchasing carbon credits, while emissions rose.) In what is a race against time, time has largely stood still here, as it has in most places.

It’s not as if we have solved the nuclear issue, but at least we understand that it is a crisis.

The entire actentire act of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, depends on the collective understanding that these weapons are uniquely, intolerably awful.

Even Donald Trump dimly groks that denuclearization is good.

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum is filled with the texts of treaties that have brought the number of warheads slowly, steadily down; we could see that mushroom cloud and understand its danger in our gut.

With climate change, it’s different.

The explosion of a billion pistons inside a billion cylinders every minute of every day just doesn’t induce the same tremble.

True, Trump is alone among world leaders in dismissing global warming, but most of his peers might as well agree: they’ve done very little of what’s required even to begin addressing this issue.

As a result, the explosions go off constantly.

Scientists estimate that, each day, our added emissions trap the heat equivalent of four hundred thousand Hiroshima-sized bombs, which is why the Arctic has half as much ice as it did in the nineteen-eighties, why the great ocean currents have begun to slow, why we see floods and storms and fires in such sad proportion. Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the only atomic bombs we ever dropped; climate bombs rain down daily, and the death toll mounts unstoppably.

I can think of several explanations for this difference in attitude.

The most important, probably, lies in the power of the fossil-fuel industry, which has spent billions of dollars defending the precise practices now wrecking the planet.

The industry’s disinformation and lobbying campaigns—the details of which have slowly come to light, though the broad outlines have been clear for decades—have been spectacularly effective.

I remember watching the closing moments of the Kyoto conference, in 1997, as delegates congratulated themselves on what President Bill Clinton called “a huge first step.” I was standing next to a lobbyist for the energy industry, who had spent much of the week trying to water down and derail the agreement.

He took in my tired pleasure and said, “I’m glad we’re going back to D.C., where we’ve got this under control.” That turned out to be accurate, though even he could not have predicted the ultimate success of his work: an American President who insists that the entire thing is a hoax manufactured by the Chinese.

Still, global warming doesn’t haunt even the uncorrupted imagination in quite the same way as the bomb, perhaps because it unfolds more slowly.

On a geologic time scale, a day and a century are roughly the same unit, but for the purposes of a news cycle, the difference is crucial.

Every single day, climate change is the most important thing happening on the planet—there’s nothing even remotely close.

But, on any single day, there’s always something more dramatic, more urgent.

It feels as if we have time to deal with global warming, whereas deportations or assault rifles or lunatics in white vans mowing down women must be dealt with now. (In fact, climate change is the one problem that the planet has ever faced that comes with an absolute time limit; past a certain point, it won’t be a problem anymore, because it won’t have a solution.)

And the fact that it’s happening everywhere, which should mean that it engages us more deeply, seems in some ways to do just the opposite.

Hiroshima was an obvious, hideous breach of the ordinary. (The curators of the museum at ground zero understand this: you enter through a room filled with pictures of normal life in the months leading up to the bombing, and these pictures of smiling schoolchildren are at least as powerful as the images of charred bodies by the exit.) But the sheer repetition of flood and firestorm ratchets down the terror some; we’re in the process now of routinizing global warming and the destruction it wreaks. It’s becoming the baseline. Hurricane Katrina was shocking; Harvey and Irma and Maria, less so.

Perhaps it doesn’t matter. Perhaps the free-falling price of solar and wind power will be enough to spur the necessary transition. But I doubt it. Inertia is such a strong force that, without a decisive push from a motivated human population, we won’t make the change in time to defuse the climate bomb. That was my sense watching normal, unchanged life in Kyoto and reading the editorial in Monday’s Yomiuri Shimbun, which called for balancing economic and environmental interests. Climate change would be helped, the editors said, by the advent of new technologies that turned off lights when people weren’t in the room.

Between the power of an amoral industry willing to lie and the particular tricks of human psychology that make us willing to overlook our greatest threat, it’s possible that as a species we’ll slide straight into a new, hotter, more desperate world without quite recognizing it—without a Hiroshima moment at which, at the very least, we finally acknowledge reality.

Press link for more: New Yorker

Imagine A World Where Volcanic Eruptions Were Denied Like #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Imagine A World Where Volcanic Eruptions Were Denied Like Climate Change

Robin Andrews

Every now and then, on a good day where my inbox is full of glorious new scientific discoveries and instead of any of those mentally poisonous effusions coming out of the Trump administration or any of its acolytes, I forget climate change deniers exist. In this glorious, ephemeral haze, I don’t spare a thought for the lawmakers or fossil fuel barons that pretend that any politically inconvenient science doesn’t exist.

Then Scott Pruitt pops up, says something like global warming isn’t necessarily a bad thing (it is), and I have no choice but to write about it and explain, with the help of climate scientists, why it’s not just erroneous, but incredibly dangerous. This is often accompanied by a lotof facepalming. I can feel my brain ache and creak, like the aged bowels of a seafaring vessel’s hull, struggling to push back the sea of stupidity.

The threat is clear, present and urgently needs addressing. Climate change ranges from a mere inconvenience to existential crisis, depending on your circumstances, but as I’ve written here, there’s no escaping from it, no matter where in the world you are, or who you are.

In fact, this anthropogenically-led phenomenon is becoming so increasingly out of control that plans are being set in motion to turn the skies into a sunlight-blocking shield, to essentially cover up the problem to give us a chance at dealing with it before its effects becoming ever more dangerous.

Climate denial, therefore, is extremely irritating. It’s putting your fingers in your ears, often at a price, and refusing to listen or do anything about a problem that the wealthiest have created but that the poorest will suffer most from. On a purely scientific level, though, it’s vexing that anyone is able to get away with denying that it exists because the evidence for it – specifically, that it’s happening, it’s happening at an unprecedentedly quick pace, and it’s almost entirely driven by human actions – is utterly overwhelming. There’s a reason that there’s a 97-100 consensus in peer-reviewed literature on the subject.

During a gesticulation-heavy rant to a stranger I had literally just met in a bar a few weeks back, I got to this exact point in the monologue when I said: “It’s like denying that volcanic eruptions exist!”

Nope. Nothing happening over there. Definitely not a volcanic eruption driven by pressure, temperature and geochemical changes in the underlying magma, nuh-uh. (Shutterstock)

And it is. Volcanologists are a notoriously clever (if sometimes cagey) bunch of people. Sure, there’s a lot that we’re yet to understand about volcanic eruptions; we don’t know, for example, exactly why water and magma trigger explosive eruptions only sometimes, not pretty much all the time, even if we have a few ideas. We’re also not entirely clear on how volcanoes on other planets or moons work either, although again we have some ideas.

As you’ve probably noticed, predicting when volcanoes will next erupt isn’t exactly a piece of cake, especially as each volcano is different, idiosyncratic and doesn’t obey the same pattern of behavior as it has in the past, or displayed by any of its other fiery fountain comrades nearby or around the world.

We do, however, know without question that volcanic eruptions take place, and the general processes that lead to an eruption, including the variables that influence them, are agreed upon by volcanologists, even if individual volcanoes are highly complex. Trying to disagree on the first point would be literal madness; attempting to argue against the second, particularly if you’re not a volcanologist, would be an enormous waste of time.

The types of evidence also vary, but they all complement each other. Obviously, you can see volcanic eruptions happening with your own eyes. Even if you can’t, then you have webcams, satellites, seismometers, geochemical analysis devices (both ground-based and airborne), GPS equipment, physical samples of the fresh volcanic deposits themselves, and even thermal emission cameras attached to helicopters and drones. There are plenty of volcanoes that remain poorly monitored or under-researched, sure, but that doesn’t change what we already know about volcanoes, their eruptions, and their effects on the world around them.

We also happen to know, using the geological record, about past eruptions. The data isn’t as high-res, so to speak, as contemporary, real-time data, but by studying thousands of volcanoes across the world, even those that no longer exist as dormant or active volcanoes, we have a grasp of what volcanic activity was like in the past. We know how volcanic activity has changed over time; not as much as we like, but we do.

In both cases, it’s safe to say that every single day, thanks to the extremely hard work of volcanologists all over the world, we learn more and more, tweak our hypotheses, strengthen our theories, and advance onward. Progress is, gradually, step-by-step, made.

Imagine if POTUS said that volcanic eruptions are a Chinese hoax. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Now just imagine, for a second, if President Trump one day declared that volcanic eruptions are conspiracy. Imagine if he said that, because he personally hasn’t seen a volcanic eruption, or footage of one in some time, then volcanic eruptions mustn’t happen.

This would quite rightly be seen as bonkers. Just to emphasize the ridiculousness of this analogy, though, let’s apply it to a handful of the President’s comments on climate change.

“When will our country stop wasting money on volcanic eruptions and so many other truly “STUPID” things and begin to focus on lower taxes?” [Original]

“The concept of volcanic eruptions was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” [Original]

“Newly released emails prove that scientists have manipulated data on volcanic eruptions. The data is unreliable.” [Original]

This is all terribly and self-evidently silly, but there are more verbally acrobatic forms of climate denial. The same principle applies, though.

Imagine if Scott Pruitt claimed that, sure, volcanic eruptions exist, but they’ve always happened. He occasionally says much the same about the climate, in that it’s “always been changing”. In both cases, such a statement is inherently meaningless, and is designed to suggest that the phenomenon in question isn’t really a big deal. It also falsely implies that the explanations scientists give for both happening are somehow erroneous.

It’s ridiculous. Imagine if a volcanologist was talking about the risks people living around an actively erupting volcano face, and Pruitt responded by simply shrugging, then saying “well, volcanoes have always been erupting.” It’s a quick route to becoming apoplectic.

Imagine if, under this President’s administration, federal scientists aren’t allowed to use the phrases “volcanic eruption” or “pyroclastic flow” because they’re politically inconvenient. Imagine if volcanologists are turfed out of their jobs, and replaced instead by members of the petrochemical industry.

Imagine watching TV, and witnessing the existence of volcanic eruptions being debated, with a volcanologist on one side being told by an eruption denier that they don’t know what they’re talking about. Not only are they being lectured on how there isn’t a consensus on whether volcanic eruptions exist, but they’re also being told that the dangers of eruptions are being greatly exaggerated. Of course they make eruptions sound scary – volcanologists rely on scaring people to earn money, right?

Pah, volcanologists. What do they know, eh? (Giuseppe Distefanno / Barcroft I / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Eruption denial, of course, is entirely absurd. It’ll never happen. Anyone who, in this reality of ours, publicly claimed to not believe in volcanic eruptions or trust volcanologists’ work would be seen, quite rightly, as fundamentally broken on a moral or neurological level. You can’t decide, for whatever reason, that some scientific consensuses are nonsense and others are totally acceptable, because that’s not how factual information works.

There’s still a lot left to learn, but volcanologists agree that eruptions exist, and that they are driven by temperature, pressure and geochemical changes within their plumbing systems. Still presented with plenty of scientific uncertainties, climatologists nevertheless agree that climate change is happening, and today it’s predominantly driven by human activity. Somehow though, only one of these are denied or otherwise maliciously obfuscated by the current President of the United States, much of his administration, and plenty of members of Congress.

What a time to be alive!

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Renewables Are Booming In Oil Country #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

Renewables Are Booming In Oil Country

By Kent Moors – Apr 22, 2018, 12:00 PM CDT

Dr. Kent Moors is an internationally recognized expert in oil and natural gas policy, risk management, emerging market economic development, and market risk assessment.

His consulting clients include the U.S. State Department, Russia, 27 other countries, six of the top 10 oil producing companies, and dozens of smaller public and private entities.

Dr. Moors is a prolific writer and lecturer, whose six books, more than 750 professional and market publications, and over 250 private/public sector presentations and workshops have appeared in 44 countries.

Oil & Energy Investor is Dr. Kent’s e-letter, where he delivers the latest energy news from his travels around the world in his role as a consultant for major companies and governments.

The rapid growth of the renewable energy sector has been astonishing.

Renewables have been the fastest-growing sources of energy worldwide – and we’re seeing solar power coming in first as the fastest-growing source altogether.

Tech companies in particular have been embracing this “Renewable Revolution,” but it’s not just Silicon Valley that’s heading into this territory.

Big businesses like Starbucks and Target have been getting in on it as well, who have each announced aggressive targets to run 100 percent of its global operations with renewable energy.

In the midst of an energy revolution like this one, it’s easy to miss the subtleties involved in making it happen.

And there is one simple reason as to why renewables are surging…

Deep in Oil Territory, Renewables are Booming

Both solar and wind continue to decline in operating costs, while increasing in energy efficiency. The combination is making it difficult for coal to recover and poses a challenge in what had been oil-dominant areas.

Take West Texas, for example.

The Permian Basin, which straddles Texas and New Mexico, continues to be one of the most prolific drilling locations in the country.

Here, operating costs as compared to wellhead prices (the below-market price producers actually receive for the volume coming out of the ground) make for some profitable fields even at low oil prices.

Yet the same location has also become the largest in the country for wind power.

Fact is, even this deep in oil country, Texas produces more wind energy than the next three states combined.

Related: Is Saudi Arabia Losing Its Asian Oil Market Share?

Currently, the “Lone Star State” accounts for nearly a fourth of the nation’s wind power capacity, and current wind projects have the capacity to generate over 20,000 megawatts (MW) of power.

That’s enough to power more than 5 million homes.

In both solar and wind, the assumption not long ago was that once government subsidies had been phased out, a ceiling would form on additional renewable power production.

However, this argument in favor of a return to dominance for traditional energy sources failed to consider one salient point…

A Cheaper Energy Source

Solar and wind have become far cheaper to produce than even their strongest adherents had expected. That means they have both reached and exceeded “grid parity” – their generating costs being equal or lower than those of natural gas and even coal.

Yes, nuclear remains the cheapest way to produce electricity.

But the high costs of constructing nuclear power plants and the still long delays in approval and finishing the plants have propelled renewables into an ascendancy in the non-fossil fuel category.

Crude oil hardly figures into the electricity-generation equation in the U.S.

And until the next massive wave switch in vehicle engines – electric, hybrid, CNG (compressed natural gas), and LNG (liquefied natural gas) – distillates (gasoline and diesel) will have the lion share of the transport fuel market.

Which means that on the electricity production front, this has become a competition between coal and natural gas on the one hand, and renewables (solar and wind, with a marginal presence of biofuel and geothermal) on the other.

Now, natural gas production in the U.S. would seem to have been given a boost by the Trump Administration’s support for hydrocarbons. The problem has been a persistent surplus of production, combined with a penchant by Mother Nature to produce mellower than expected temperatures, which drives down air conditioning use and thus power demand.

Related: Can Saudi Arabia Afford Its Megaprojects?

The latter is likely to change as we move into summer and hotter temperatures.

But the bottom line remains the same.

The New Energy Powerhouse is Here

Solar and wind have become far more competitive and have in some cases – West Texas (wind) and the Southwest (solar), for example – emerged as the preferable move.

All of which has set the stage for a very different scenario following the D.C. decision to make the U.S. one of only three nations opposed to the Paris Climate Accord.

Even then, that number is misleading, since Nicaragua largely opposes the agreement because it did not go far enough in combatting climate change.

That leaves just the U.S. and Syria, of all places.

Yet here is the interesting matter.

Despite the elimination of government support and new management at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) bent on resurrecting coal, solar and wind continue to undercut the cost of increasing reliance on hydrocarbons.

Put simply, renewables are progressively becoming the energy “currency of choice” regardless of what exercise in political dominoes the Administration had in mind.

And consider this…

Solar and wind employees total nearly 800,000 in the domestic workforce – a figure likely to be doubled by 2020.

Meanwhile, U.S. coal jobs have dwindled to 160,000, less than a quarter as the renewable energy sector, and will decline even further by the end of the decade.

Regardless of the short-term electoral machinations practiced in the White House, the market itself is making its own decision.

While there will remain a position for coal in the developing energy balance, it’s not going to return to its dominance of last century.

And King Coal will have to give up his throne to a new ruler in the energy world.

By Dr. Kent Moors

Press link for more: Oil

Global Energy Transformation: A Road Map to 2050 #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Global Energy Transformation: A Roadmap to 2050

Renewable energy needs to be scaled up at least six times faster for the world to meet the decarbonisation and climate mitigation goals set out in the Paris Agreement, says Global Energy Transformation: A Roadmap to 2050.

The historic 2015 climate accord seeks, at minimum, to limit average global temperature rise to “well below 2°C” in the present century, compared to pre-industrial levels.

As this 2018 report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) shows, renewable energy and energy efficiency can, in combination, provide over 90% of the necessary energy-related CO2 emission reductions.

Furthermore, this can happen using technologies that are safe, reliable, affordable and widely available.

While different paths can mitigate climate change, renewables and energy efficiency provide the optimal pathway to deliver most of the emission cuts needed at the necessary speed.

Actual carbon dioxide (CO2) emission trends are not yet on track.

Under current and planned policies, (including Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement), the world would exhaust its energy-related carbon budget in less than 20 years.

Even then, fossil fuels such as oil, natural gas and coal would continue to dominate the global energy mix for decades to come.

The “carbon budget” to keep global warming below 2o C will run out in under 20 years.

Keeping the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius (°C) is technically feasible. It would also be more economically, socially and environmentally beneficial than the path resulting from current plans and policies, known in the report as the Reference Case.

However, the global energy system must undergo a profound transformation, replacing the present system that is largely based on fossil-fuels.

The total share of renewable energy must rise from around 18% of total final energy consumption (in 2015) to around two-thirds by 2050.

Over the same period, the share of renewables in the power sector would increase from around one-quarter to 85%, mostly through growth in solar and wind power generation.

The energy intensity of the global economy will have to fall by about two-thirds, lowering energy demand in 2050 to slightly less than 2015 levels.

This is achievable, despite significant population and economic growth, by substantially improving energy efficiency, the report finds.

Renewables could make up two-thirds of the energy mix by 2050, with significantly improved energy intensity.

Although the power sector has already seen significant decarbonisation, that progress must be accelerated.

As low-carbon electricity becomes the main energy carrier, the share of electricity consumed in the end-use sectors (buildings, heat and transport) would need to double, from approximately 20% in 2015 to 40% in 2050.

Renewables must also expand significantly as a source for direct uses, including transport fuels and direct heat, the report adds.

The analysis is based on IRENA’s global roadmap for scaling up renewables, known as REmap.

The global energy transformation makes economic sense. Yet it calls for more investment in low-carbon technologies without delay. Understanding its socioeconomic footprint, meanwhile, is essential. The shift to renewables should create more energy jobs than those lost in fossil-fuel industries, IRENA’s analysis shows. It would also boost global GDP by 1% in 2050 and significantly improve overall welfare.

The energy transition would generate over 11 million additional energy jobs by 2050.

Yet the envisaged energy transformation cannot happen by itself. IRENA’s report identifies six focus areas where policy and decision makers need to act. To learn more, download Global Energy Transformation: A Roadmap to 2050.

Key figures and findings are also presented in a general report slide deck.

The info-graphics below illustrate key indicators of the global energy transformation in end-use and power sectors:

• Indicators for energy use in the Transport sector

• Indicators for energy use in the Buildings sector

• Indicators for energy use in the Industry sector

• Indicators for energy use in the Power sector

Press link for more: IRENA.ORG

#ClimateChange The Fiduciary Responsibility of Politicians. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Climate Change: The fiduciary responsibility of politicians & bureaucrats

By Ian Dunlop on 26 April 2018

“Fiduciary: a person to whom power is entrusted for the benefit of another”

“Power is reposed in members of Parliament by the public for exercise in the interests of the public and not primarily for the interests of members or the parties to which they belong.

The cry ‘whatever it takes’ is not consistent with the performance of fiduciary duty”

Sir Gerard Brennan AC, KBE, QC

Part 1.

After three decades of global inaction, none more so than in Australia, human-induced climate change is now an existential risk to humanity.

That is, a risk posing large negative consequences which will be irreversible, resulting inter alia in major reductions in global and national population, species extinction, disruption of economies and social chaos, unless carbon emissions are reduced on an emergency basis.

The risk is immediate in that it is being locked in today by our insistence on expanding the use of fossil fuels when the carbon budget to stay below sensible temperature increase limits is already exhausted.

As one of the countries most exposed to climate impact, and in the top half dozen carbon polluters worldwide when exports are included, as they must be, this should be of major concern to Australia.

Instead, politicians and bureaucrats urge massive fossil fuel expansion to supply domestic and Asian markets, the latter justified on the grounds of poverty alleviation and the drug peddlers argument that: “if we don’t supply it, others will”. Blind to the fact that fossil fuels are now creating far more poverty than they are alleviating.

In so doing Australia would be complicit in destroying the conditions which make human life possible.

There is no greater crime against humanity.

Regulators now recognise that climate risk far outweighs the financial risks which triggered the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, and demand action.

Company directors have a fiduciary responsibility to understand, assess and act upon climate risk.

Overseas, directors are already facing legal action, and personal liability, for having refused to do so, or for misrepresenting that risk.

Compensation is being sought from carbon polluters for damage incurred from climate impact.

Similar action will be taken here.

But what of our politicians and bureacrats and their contribution to this crime?

The last few years have seen an unprecendented stream of lies and disinformation emanating from our official bodies around climate and energy policy, in blatant disregard of the facts, with seemingly no end to distortions designed to achieve short-term political advantage.

What fiduciary responsibility do they have to the community they are supposed to serve?

Ministers repeatedly remind us that the first responsibility of government is the security of the people.

On any balanced assessment of the science and evidence, climate change is now the greatest threatto that security and to our future prosperity.

Australia signed and ratified the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, presumably with the intent of meeting its objectives to limit global average temperature increase to

“well below 20C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.50C”,


“to reach global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible —– in accordance with best available science”, recognising  that “climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet”.

The voluntary Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) made by Paris participants, if implemented, would not meet the objectives, leading to a global temperature increaset in the 3-40C range, a world incompatible with an organised global community.

The Australian commitment, of a 26-28% emission reduction by 2030 on 2005 levels is derisory on any fair international comparison.

Regional temperature variations would be far greater than these global averages, rendering many parts of the world uninhabitable even at 20C, beyond the capacity of human physiology to function effectively. This may well be the case across much of Australia.

Since Paris, our Federal Government has ignored the Agreement, brushing off the increasingly urgent warnings of “the best available science” and ramping up fossil fuel expansion, whilst placing every possible obstacle in the way of low-carbon energy alternatives.

Credit: AAP Image

The fact that many Ministers and parliamentarians are climate deniers for ideological or party political reasons, does not absolve them of the fiduciary responsibility to set aside their personal prejudices and to act in the public interest with integrity, fairness and accountability.

This requires them to understand the latest climate science and to act accordingly.  It is not acceptable for those in positions of public trust to dismiss these warnings in the cavalier manner which has typified the last few years.

Particularly when the risk is existential.

The Prime Minister failed this test recently by implying the disastrous Tathra bushfires had nothing to do with climate change.

Every extreme weather event today has some element of climate change involved; it is irresponsible to imply otherwise.

Ministers justify their approach by misrepresenting international studies to support their fossil fuel expansion ambitions.

Notably by citing the work of the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA sets out its perspective on the energy sector over the next 25 years in its annual World Energy Outlook (WEO), exploring the implications of alternative climate and energy scenarios.

Key scenarios are: current policies (CP) which assumes business-as-usual (4-50C temperature increase), new policies (NP) which extends CP with policy committed to but not yet implemented (3.5-40C temperature increase), and sustainable development (SDS) which is the pathway to meet various sustainable development goals.

SDS claims to keep global average temperature increase below 20C, but only with a 50% chance of success by relying on massive investment in sequestration technologies which have yet to be invented.

In reality, SDS would result in temperature increase substantially above 20C. There is no scenario which realistically achieves the Paris objectives.

The IEA is no paragon of virtue regarding climate change.

It downplays both climate impact, and the potential of alternative energy sources, as a result of strong pressure politically from its developed country membership, and from vested interests who make up its advisory bodies such as the IEA Energy Business Council and the Coal Industry Advisory Board.

Consequently their scenarios are seized upon to justify further fossil fuel investment.  For Australia, Asia Pacific coal demand is a key factor, this being our major export market.

In the November 2017 WEO, under NP assumptions annual coal demand increases by 12% or 480 million tonnes by 2040, but under SDS assumptions it declines by 47% or 1880 million tonnes.

The IEA takes NP as their central scenario as this is where we are headed if governments implement their current commitments.

However, in the fine print the IEA make it clear that NP is not a sustainable future.

In the 2017 WEO, Executive Director Fatih Birol says: “Decision-makers also need to know where they would like to get to. — This is the point of the SDS scenario” – even though SDS does not meet the Paris objectives.

Having ratified Paris, presumably this is at least where Australia wants to get to. Not so our Ministers.

At his National Press Club address on 28thMarch 2018, Resource Minister Canavan insisted on using the IEA NP Asia Pacific 480 million tonnes annual demand increase by 2040 to justify expansion of our coal industry, ignoring the SDS 1880 million tonnes decline.

The latter is the minimum transition to approach a sustainable future; many existing operations become stranded assets before the end of their working life, and certainly no new coal investment. Ministers Frydenberg and Ciobo similarily insist on using NP estimates and ignore the SDS.

Canavan then assured the Press Club that in the first 40 years of this century, the world will use more coal than in the entire previous history of the coal industry.

The IEA repeatedly emphasise that their scenarios are not forecasts.  They are designed to give decision-makers an understanding of the implications of their actions, and they only cover part of the story.

If the NP pathway is followed, there will be no market for export coal as Asia Pacific economies will shrink rapidly under the weight of climate impact.

If more coal is used by 2040 than in previous history, humanity will become extinct. These are consequences the IEA does not discuss.

Such ministerial naivety is laughable, but it highlights a serious governance failure.

As with company directors, it is incumbent upon ministers to understand these issues, in particular the risks to which the Australian community is exposed by their decisions.

The only possible justification for Minister Canavan’s view is that he does not believe climate change is even a problem, let alone accept the need to rapidly reduce emissions.

Further, he has no understanding of the implications of his proposed action.

Whatever the Minister’s personal position, or the views of those who voted for him, given the overwhelming science and evidence confirming the urgency to address climate change, such ignorance is unacceptable and a fundamental breach of his fiduciary responsibility to the nation.

Part 2.

At the National Press Club, Matt Canavan reacted angrily to a suggestion that the coal industry will phase out, objecting strongly to any thought of planning a transition.  The mining industry will undoubtedly remain an essential part of the Australian economy, but markets for commodities come and go.

Irrespective of political preferences, absent some unlikely technological breakthrough to sequester its emissions, coal will phase out, not instantaneously but relatively rapidly.

Coal has been through many transitions in the past.

The lesson from these disruptions is the need for thorough planning, retraining and support to avoid many people being badly hurt.

Even more will be hurt, with massive climate impact, social and economic chaos, if the coal industry is expanded. It is irresponsible for the Minister to leave communities unprepared for these realities.

Minister Canavan then turned on “well funded” environmental groups “abusing” our “robust environmental laws” to prevent or slow down major projects, such as the Adani coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

Australia’s environmental laws were developed when human impact on the environment was far less than  today. As that impact has grown, far from being robust, these laws are no longer “fit for purpose”.

In particular, being domestically focused, they do not take account of the greatest environmental risk of all, which is climate change.

Under current UNFCCC rules, emissions from fossil fuel exports such as coal or gas are accounted for in the consuming country and are ignored by Australian courts and institutions in granting approvals for projects such as Adani.

However carbon emissions have global impact; coal exports from the Galilee Basin, would have major climate and environmental implications in Australia, as well as in consuming countries such as India.

Our laws must be reframed accordingly if they are to be meaningful.

As for “well funded”?

Vested interests pour vastly more money into supporting fossil fuel expansion than has ever been available to environmental groups.

Parliamentarians, particularly ministers seem to have lost sight of the fact that they have a fiduciary responsibility to the public, which imposes upon them a public duty and a public trust.

Sir Gerard Brennan again: “all decisions and exercises of power should be taken in the interests of the public, and that duty cannot be subordinated to, or qualified by, the interests of the (parliamentarian/minister)”.

It is entirely appropriate, when the legal system fails, for affected parties to take action to correct such failure, as with Adani, and with CSG projects in many parts of the country. In fact these are the only groups who are genuinely acting in the public interest.

That the Federal government is now trying to muzzle them indirectly via the proposed Foreign Donations Bill is a further breach of its fiduciary responsibility.

The public has the right to expect that Minister Canavan take an holistic view of the Adani project and the many other fossil fuel developments he is promoting, including an honest appraisal of their climate implications for the community. That is not happening.

AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Similarily with Environment and Energy Minister Frydenberg, who should be proactive in changing environmental laws to include the climate impact of fossil fuel exports on Australia, rather than advocating that  Adani proceed on the grounds it has met current inadequate environmental approvals.

Minister Frydenberg, and the government generally, breach their fiduciary duty by promoting poor climate and energy policy as represented by the National Energy Guarantee, whatever that ultimately means.

This lowest common denominator solution is only being considered because of the fiduciary irresponsibility of a minority group of right wing parliamentarians, inappropriately identified as the Monash Forum, who put their own self-serving ideological agenda ahead of the public interest.

To claim, as the Minister did in his National Press Club speech on 11thApril 2018, that:

“the future of energy policy must be determined by the proper consideration of the public’s best interest not ideologically-driven predisposition”

just adds insult to injury given that the Coalition is, and has been for two decades, in total ideological denial on climate which largely explains our current policy shambles.

The cost to Australia of this self-indulgence is enormous.

The Minister also misrepresents IEA analysis of Australia’s energy policies.  The IEA conducts a periodic review of individual member countries policies.

The latest IEA Australian review in February 2018 was presented by Minister Frydenberg as “backing the government’s energy policies —  commending Australia’s commitment to affordable, secure and clean energy”.

The report itself did no such thing, being highly critical in many areas, including Australia’s continuing failure to comply with IEA membership oil stockholding obligations of 90 days net imports.

We hold less than half that, thus rendering Australia incapable of contributing to IEA collective action in the event of an international oil crisis; a further major security threat to the Australia community which has not been addressed despite repeated representations over many years.

In the light of these ingrained fiduciary failings, what of the bureaucracy, historically reverred for providing “frank and fearless advice” to the political class?  It seems that analogy no longer applies.  In recent policy reviews, the refusal to accept and articulate the implications of climate change on Australia shines through.

The December 2017 Review of Climate Change Policy was one of the most dishonest reports ever published by government in the climate arena.

What purported to be a comprehensive review of the climate change challenge, and responses to it, is nothing more than a re-iteration of Australia’s wholly inadequate and inconsistent policies.

No discussion of the latest climate science and its implications, no preparedness to face up to the real action required. In short little more than political whitewash for public consumption, pretending to do something whilst doing little.

The 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper acknowledged that climate change will be an important influence on international affairs, particularly in our region.

It then anticipated: “buoyant demand for our exports of high-quality coal and LNG —” based on the IEA NP scenario referred to above, around which policy is presumably centred, despite the fact that demand under this scenario would be decimated by climate impact.

This should be unacceptable to DFAT as our lead Paris negotiator, as it is totally inconsistent with meeting Paris objectives.

The 2016 Defence White Paper for the first time did mention climate change in passing in one of its six key strategic drivers of Australia’s security environment to 2035 and it is understood the Department of Defence have since extended their planning to prepare for its impacts as a “threat multiplier”.

This is encouraging, but far behind action being taken by the military overseas.

The overriding impression is that the Federal bureaucracy, with some notable exceptions, are not treating climate change with anywhere near the urgency it demands; whether because of political pressure to downplay the issue, or because of personal convictions, is not clear.  Either way, fiduciary responsibility arises again.

The Australian Public Service Impartiality Value requires advice given to government to be: “apolitical, frank, honest, timely and based on the best available evidence”.

Further, it must be:

“objective and non-partisan; relevant comprehensive and unaffected by fear of consquences, not withholding important facts or bad news; mindful of the context in which policy is to be implemented, the broader policy direction set by government and its implications for the longer term”.

Henceforth, climate change will determine policy across the spectrum, encompassing national security, defence, energy, health, migration, water, agriculture, transport, urban design and much more.

Given continued urgent warnings from scientists, including the government’s own experts, on the need for far more rapid action, the parlous state of our climate and energy debate and the shortcomings in policy formulation, the Federal bureaucracy is hardly meeting its own standards of fiduciary responsibility to the community.

So what can be done?

Many argue that current failures are the nature of politics and we should expect little else. But when the key issues are existential, that is to consign democracy to the dustbin of history and to accept increasing social chaos.

In contrast to earlier eras, the concepts of fiduciary responsibility, public interest and public trust, are clearly not understood by the incumbency, from the Prime Minister down.  This has to be corrected.

A Federal Parliament with any degree of such responsibility, would recognise that climate change poses an unprecedented threat to Australia’s future prosperity, requiring emergency action.

To those prepared to honour this obligation, there is ample information before parliament to warrant that conclusion.

In the public interest, parliamentarians would set aside party political differences, adopting a bipartisan approach to structuring such action, with the bureaucracy in full support.

That is highly unlikely, so there remains legal action. Around the world the seriousness of the climate threat, and the inaction of governments, is prompting communities to take this step, with increasing success.  The same will happen in Australia, absent an outburst of commonsense within the political class.

Ian Dunlop was formerly an international oil, gas and coal industry executive, chair of the Australian Coal Association and CEO of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. He is a Member of the Club of Rome

Press link for more: Reneweconomy

Politicians beware Scientists Are Coming for Your Seats #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #STEM #Science

Hey, Congress: Scientists Are Coming for Your Seats

By Michael Dhar, Live Science Contributor | April 26, 2018 10:15am ET

Scientists have been readying themselves to run for political offices since the March for Science. Here, marchers, including Bill Nye the Science Guy, walk down Constitution Avenue in Washington on April 22, 2017.

Credit: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty

From commanding eight nuclear reactors to building a telecom infrastructure in Central America, the experiences of U.S. political candidates have gotten more interesting of late.

A wave of political hopefuls with science-y backgrounds may soon bring fascinating experiences and vital knowledge to the country’s governing bodies.

Famed astrophysicist and science popularizer Neil deGrasse Tyson once lamented that most members of the U.S. Congress are lawyers, with few STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) representatives.

“Where are the engineers?

Where’s the rest of … life?” he asked in 2011 on the HBO show “Real Time with Bill Maher.”

The last year has seen hundreds of new candidates try to answer Tyson’s question. More than 450 candidates with STEM backgrounds are running at all levels (local, state and federal), including 60 at the federal level, according to estimates from 314 Action, a group that supports such candidates.

The organization has helped train 1,400 STEM professionals in campaigning, with another 35 to 40 completing trainings this past weekend in Chicago. [How Congress Is Cutting Science Out of Science Policy (Op-Ed)]

Those numbers represent a huge change; with the recent loss of Rep. Louise Slaughter, a New York representative with a microbiology background who died March 16, Congress currently has only two STEM professionals, said Ted Bordelon, a spokesman for 314 Action.

That flurry of activity came partially in response to the election of Donald Trump as president, said 314 Action President Shaughnessy Naughton. But candidates are also reacting to long-standing issues like conservative opposition to actions that would reduce greenhouse gases, proposed cuts to research funding and efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), she said.

“The attack on science didn’t start with the Trump administration, but it certainly has been a catalyst for getting scientists to step up and get involved,” Naughton said. [Grading Trump’s First 100 Days in Office: A Science Report Card]

Here are some of the unique perspectives that may soon come to office: Elaine Luria, Brian Forde, Ellen Lipton, Dr. Mai Khanh Tran and Lauren Underwood. Three of them — Lipton, Luria and Underwood — earned the latest 314 Action endorsements.(Live Science and parent company Purch do not endorse any candidates.)

Nuclear command at sea

For 20 years, Luria commanded some of the world’s most technologically complex vehicles, serving on nuclear-powered craft for the U.S. Navy. There, she boarded Iraqi oil-smuggling ships to enforce sanctions and commanded combat-ready units of sailors. The physics grad and Navy-trained nuclear engineer also used her technical training extensively while in the Navy, she said.

“A ship is a floating city with few resources other than the people on board, and a lot of times when a weapons system may not be operating the way it needs to be … you’re taking out the schematics and looking at electrical diagrams. You’re getting down to the micro-miniature repair level,” she said.

The political system needs the problem-solving skills like those she developed at sea, added Luria, who’s running for Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District seat.

“When we look at legislation, a lot of the topics that we deal with really have to be based off of sound decisions based off data,” Luria said. “I think that Washington desperately needs more scientists in Congress.”

Building up Nicaragua’s technology

As the recent congressional questioning of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg revealed, many politicians lack the technological knowledge needed for today’s problems, said Forde, who’s running for California’s 45th Congressional District seat. He first learned about the need for better technological expertise in government after serving in the Peace Corps in Nicaragua, he said.

There, Forde saw an opportunity to reduce telephone costs for poor, rural residents via VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol). He realized, though, that the country’s legal system had a technological blind spot. “One of my concerns was that this technology wasn’t legal. [And] it wasn’t illegal,” he said. The law simply wasn’t prepared to deal with VoIP. Forde succeeded in launching his company, but the experience made him wonder about other tech blind spots.

“I saw that governments, including our own … could be on the wrong side of history for technology if you do not have technologists in government,” he said.

To help address that need, Forde served under President Barack Obama as a senior technology adviser. Obama understood the importance of placing technology experts in the White House, said Forde, who began coding and building computers as a kid, and graduated from UCLA.

“There is a clear role for technologists in government,” Forde said. And the public needs government servants who understand critical current issues, like automation’s threat to jobs, or net neutrality, he said.

Biochemist brings research to the legislature

Lipton paired degrees in biochemistry and law, serving as a patent attorney in the biotech and materials-chemistry industries. Through that work, she honed a probing, questioning approach to problem solving that she brought to her first elective role, as a Michigan state representative, Lipton said. She’s now running for national office in the state’s 9th Congressional District. [Check Out the Coolest Chemical Reactions]

“I would look at legislative problems as problems to be researched and thought through,” she said. Lipton’s inclination toward thorough research helped her with one of her biggest legislative achievements. Partisan talking points about “throwing money” at schools had stymied any education funding increases for years, Lipton said, until she successfully pushed for an “adequacy study” to find exactly what level of funding students needed.

Results from the study helped spur long-needed funding allocations for Michigan schools, she said.

“I feel like it helped break the logjam,” Lipton said. “People know now, in both parties, we need to fund schools.”

From refugee to Harvard-trained doctor

Dr. Tran took a long journey to her career as a pediatrician in California, where she’s now running for Congress in the 39th District. One of the last children airlifted out of Vietnam in “Operation Babylift,” which occurred at the end of the war as Saigon fell, Tran came to the United States in 1975. She went on to work as a farm laborer and entered Harvard for her undergraduate degree, supporting herself as a janitor while studying there. She then earned her medical degree through the Brown-Dartmouth joint program.

That path left her with a feeling of gratitude toward her adopted country and a desire to give back, she said.

“When I saw that American soldier [who] came up and carried me off the plane … he really represented to me the vision of America that I still hold very dearly in my heart,” Tran said. It was a vision of “a land that’s ready to care for those in need.”

Tran put that feeling of gratitude first toward her medical work and now as a candidate. “So, when I see that we have pockets of people in our communities who need that helping hand … I feel a huge responsibility,” she said.

Her experience on the “front lines” of health care also convinced her of the need for perspectives like hers in politics.

“I see patients coming in daily that need not only good insurance but also quality care,” Tran said. “I think that is a perspective that isn’t there when it comes to health care policies that are being made in Congress.”

For this nurse, it’s personal

Like Tran, Underwood has firsthand experience with the health care needs of Americans. Now running for Congress in Illinois’ 14th District, she worked for 10 years as a registered nurse.

But the motivation to put her health care expertise to use as a candidate ultimately came when her congressman promised not to vote for Obamacare repeal if it ended protections for pre-existing conditions — a promise he broke. “I was mad that he didn’t have the integrity to be honest with us. … So I said, ‘You know what? It’s on; I’m running.'”

The right pros for the job

The STEM candidates swelling the ranks of U.S. politics won’t just make races more interesting; they should get more done, too, Naughton said.

Those candidates are vowing to bring attention and focus to science-oriented issues, from climate change to vaccines. They also want to approach today’s issues in a more scientific way, with many, for example, calling to repeal the so-called Dickey Amendment, which restricts funding for public health research into gun violence.

“When you look at some of the most critical issues facing our country — whether it’s climate change or nuclear/chemical weapons or cybersecurity … who better to be addressing these issues than people trained in science and engineering?” Naughton said.

Original article on Live Science.

“We’re doomed” climate reality no one dare mention. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

‘We’re doomed’: Mayer Hillman on the climate reality no one else will dare mention

Patrick BarkhamThu 26 Apr 2018 14.00 AEST

The 86-year-old social scientist says accepting the impending end of most life on Earth might be the very thing needed to help us prolong it.

Dr Mayer Hillman with his bike outside his home in London. Photograph: John Alex Maguire / Rex Features

“We’re doomed,” says Mayer Hillman with such a beaming smile that it takes a moment for the words to sink in. “The outcome is death, and it’s the end of most life on the planet because we’re so dependent on the burning of fossil fuels.

There are no means of reversing the process which is melting the polar ice caps. And very few appear to be prepared to say so.”

Hillman, an 86-year-old social scientist and senior fellow emeritus of the Policy Studies Institute, does say so.

His bleak forecast of the consequence of runaway climate change, he says without fanfare, is his “last will and testament”.

His last intervention in public life. “I’m not going to write anymore because there’s nothing more that can be said,” he says when I first hear him speak to a stunned audience at the University of East Anglia late last year.

From Malthus to the Millennium Bug, apocalyptic thinking has a poor track record. But when it issues from Hillman, it may be worth paying attention.

Over nearly 60 years, his research has used factual data to challenge policymakers’ conventional wisdom.

In 1972, he criticised out-of-town shopping centres more than 20 years before the government changed planning rules to stop their spread. In 1980, he recommended halting the closure of branch line railways – only now are some closed lines reopening.

In 1984, he proposed energy ratings for houses – finally adopted as government policy in 2007. And, more than 40 years ago, he presciently challenged society’s pursuit of economic growth.

When we meet at his converted coach house in London, his classic Dawes racer still parked hopefully in the hallway (a stroke and a triple heart bypass mean he is – currently – forbidden from cycling), Hillman is anxious we are not side-tracked by his best-known research, which challenged the supremacy of the car.

“With doom ahead, making a case for cycling as the primary mode of transport is almost irrelevant,” he says. “We’ve got to stop burning fossil fuels.

So many aspects of life depend on fossil fuels, except for music and love and education and happiness.

These things, which hardly use fossil fuels, are what we must focus on.”

While the focus of Hillman’s thinking for the last quarter-century has been on climate change, he is best known for his work on road safety.

He spotted the damaging impact of the car on the freedoms and safety of those without one – most significantly, children – decades ago. Some of his policy prescriptions have become commonplace – such as 20mph speed limits – but we’ve failed to curb the car’s crushing of children’s liberty.

In 1971, 80% of British seven- and eight-year-old children went to school on their own; today it’s virtually unthinkable that a seven-year-old would walk to school without an adult. As Hillman has pointed out, we’ve removed children from danger rather than removing danger from children – and filled roads with polluting cars on school runs. He calculated that escorting children took 900m adult hours in 1990, costing the economy £20bn each year.

It will be even more expensive today.

Our society’s failure to comprehend the true cost of cars has informed Hillman’s view on the difficulty of combatting climate change. But he insists that I must not present his thinking on climate change as “an opinion”. The data is clear; the climate is warming exponentially. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that the world on its current course will warm by 3C by 2100. Recent revised climate modelling suggested a best estimate of 2.8C but scientists struggle to predict the full impact of the feedbacks from future events such as methane being released by the melting of the permafrost.

Hillman is amazed that our thinking rarely stretches beyond 2100. “This is what I find so extraordinary when scientists warn that the temperature could rise to 5C or 8C.

What, and stop there?

What legacies are we leaving for future generations?

In the early 21st century, we did as good as nothing in response to climate change.

Our children and grandchildren are going to be extraordinarily critical.”

Global emissions were static in 2016 but the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was confirmed as beyond 400 parts per million, the highest level for at least three million years (when sea levels were up to 20m higher than now).

Concentrations can only drop if we emit no carbon dioxide whatsoever, says Hillman. “Even if the world went zero-carbon today that would not save us because we’ve gone past the point of no return.”

Although Hillman has not flown for more than 20 years as part of a personal commitment to reducing carbon emissions, he is now scornful of individual action which he describes as “as good as futile”.

By the same logic, says Hillman, national action is also irrelevant “because Britain’s contribution is minute.

Even if the government were to go to zero carbon it would make almost no difference.”

Instead, says Hillman, the world’s population must globally move to zero emissions across agriculture, air travel, shipping, heating homes – every aspect of our economy – and reduce our human population too.

Can it be done without a collapse of civilisation? “

“I don’t think so,” says Hillman. “Can you see everyone in a democracy volunteering to give up flying?

Can you see the majority of the population becoming vegan?

Can you see the majority agreeing to restrict the size of their families?”

Hillman doubts that human ingenuity can find a fix and says there is no evidence that greenhouse gases can be safely buried.

But if we adapt to a future with less – focusing on Hillman’s love and music – it might be good for us. “And who is ‘we’?” asks Hillman with a typically impish smile. “Wealthy people will be better able to adapt but the world’s population will head to regions of the planet such as northern Europe which will be temporarily spared the extreme effects of climate change.

How are these regions going to respond?

We see it now.

Migrants will be prevented from arriving.

We will let them drown.”

A small band of artists and writers, such as Paul Kingsnorth’s Dark Mountain project, have embraced the idea that “civilisation” will soon end in environmental catastrophe but only a few scientists – usually working beyond the patronage of funding bodies, and nearing the end of their own lives – have suggested as much.

Is Hillman’s view a consequence of old age, and ill health? “I was saying these sorts of things 30 years ago when I was hale and hearty,” he says.

Hillman accuses all kinds of leaders – from religious leaders to scientists to politicians – of failing to honestly discuss what we must do to move to zero-carbon emissions. “I don’t think they can because society isn’t organised to enable them to do so. Political parties’ focus is on jobs and GDP, depending on the burning of fossil fuels.”

Without hope, goes the truism, we will give up.

And yet optimism about the future is wishful thinking, says Hillman.

He believes that accepting that our civilisation is doomed could make humanity rather like an individual who recognises he is terminally ill.

Such people rarely go on a disastrous binge; instead, they do all they can to prolong their lives.

Can civilisation prolong its life until the end of this century?

“It depends on what we are prepared to do.”

He fears it will be a long time before we take proportionate action to stop climatic calamity. “Standing in the way is capitalism.

Can you imagine the global airline industry being dismantled when hundreds of new runways are being built right now all over the world?

It’s almost as if we’re deliberately attempting to defy nature.

We’re doing the reverse of what we should be doing, with everybody’s silent acquiescence, and nobody’s batting an eyelid.”

Press link for more: The Guardian

The Coal Truth: The fight to #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange

The Coal Truth: The fight to stop Adani, defeat the big polluters and reclaim our democracy

David Ritter

Before taking up his present position as CEO Greenpeace Australia Pacific, David worked for Greenpeace in London in a series of senior campaign positions.

Prior to joining Greenpeace, David was one of Australia’s leading Indigenous rights lawyers.

David is a widely published commentator on current affairs and is the author of two books on Indigenous land justice: Contesting Native Title (Allen&Unwin, 2009), and The Native Title Market (UWA Publishing, 2009). David is the lead author of The Coal Truth: The fight to stop Adani, defeat the big polluters and reclaim our democracy.

Image credit: Ella Colley, Green

Since 2012, the fight to stop the opening of the vast Galilee coal basin has emerged as an iconic pivot of the Australian climate and environment movement.

The Coal Truth: the fight to stop Adani, defeat the big polluters and reclaim our democracy provides a timely and colourful contribution to one of the most important struggles in our national history – over the future of the coal industry. Written by an environmental insider with an eye on the world his daughters will inherit, The Coal Truth is told with wit and verve, drawing in other specialist voices to bring to life the contours of a contest that the people of Australia can’t afford to lose.

Contributors include Adrian Burragubba, Tara Moss and Berndt Sellheim, Lesley Hughes, John Quiggin, Hilary Bambrick, Ruchira Talukdar and Geoffrey Cousins.


Media release

Book extract

Praise for The Coal Truth:

As this crucial book shows us beyond all doubt, there is no safe, livable future that involves digging up more Australian coal. But with the country’s formidable movements fighting to keep that coal where it is, David Ritter makes an irresistible case that few places are better suited to lead a just and democratic transition to the next economy. Marshalling diverse voices and hard-hitting arguments, he shows us this promising future is well within our grasp. An inspiring must-read!


The Coal Truth is a powerful collection of voices behind the Australian campaign to ‘Stop Adani’ in what is shaping up to be one of the biggest environmental and social fights of our time. Here the facts are carefully compiled and vividly told. In impassioned prose Ritter reminds us not only is there so much to lose in the age of climate change, but that so much has already been lost. An important book with an urgent message.


This is an important book because mining and selling coal cannot be part of Australia’s future as a country.


The Coal Truth has arrived at the exactly the right time for a country at the cross roads. This intimate, compelling and deeply layered reflection lays out what is at stake for Australians and the planet as a massive expansion of coal mining – starting with the controversial Adani project – threatens to turbo charge climate change. Compulsory reading.


We are smack bang in the middle of a defining moment in history. The Coal Truth shows that we still have the chance to create something wonderful out of the crisis and leave no person behind in the process. Get this book.


For those who want to understand what’s at stake in the struggle against Queensland’s massive Adani coal mine, the most vital environmental fight in Australian history ever, The Coal Truth provides a comprehensive and highly readable guide. If it doesn’t awaken conscience and spur political action, nothing will.


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