Month: August 2018

Renewable energy is getting cheaper and it’s going to change everything #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani #EndCoal @ScottMorrisonMP Even governments.

The cost of producing one megawatt-hour of electricity from coal is now double the cost of solar.

Image: REUTERS/Alvin Baez

The cost of solar power is decreasing so rapidly, it’s now cheaper than coal, based on a new analysis.

A recent report from Lazard shows how the costs of producing electricity from various sources are changing. Energy from utility-scale solar plants — plants that produce electricity that feeds into the grid — has seen the biggest price drop: an 86% decrease since 2009.

The cost of producing one megawatt-hour of electricity — a standard way to measure electricity production — is now around $50 for solar power, according to Lazard’s math. The cost of producing one megawatt-hour of electricity from coal, by comparison, is $102 — more than double the cost of solar.

The dramatic change is clear in this chart:

Image: Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

Lazard’s analysis is based on a measurement known as the levelized cost of energy analysis (LCOE), which is a way of calculating the total production cost of building and operating an electricity-generating plant.

The rapidly declining cost of solar is a sign that the world may be on the verge of a dramatic change in how we power our buildings and vehicles. The price drop is likely to spur a shift toward renewable power sources like wind and solar and away from fossil fuels like oil and coal.

Changing our energy system to emphasize those clean sources is the only way to slow the process of climate change, since emissions from fossil fuels cause more heat to get trapped on the planet. But analysts have long pointed out the transition will only realistically ramp up once renewable energy sources become cheaper than traditional fuels — which now seems to be happening.

The rise of renewables is apparent when you look at which types of new energy generation capacity are getting added around the world. In 2017, there was more new solar power capacity created than any other type of energy, according to a report from the United Nations Environment Programme.

Image: Shayanne Gal/Business Insider

Renewable energy, including wind, hydro, and solar, supplied a record 12% of the world’s energy needs last year. In 2017 alone, the solar sector attracted $160.8 billion in investment, an 18% increase over 2016, according to the UNEP report.

While solar is getting much cheaper, Lazard notes that these sources of electricity are not a panacea. LCOE as a measurement does not take into account some external costs, like storing solar power for cloudy days, which is one of the lingering obstacles preventing the widespread adoption of solar. (Other sources of electricity like coal or natural gas don’t have the same problem, of course.)

That storage problem also makes it hard for developing economies to adopt energy systems that are fully renewable. Until battery and storage capabilities improve, the report says, countries will likely need to use a mix of traditional energy sources along with renewables.

In the US, solar still only provides 2% of the country’s total electricity needs, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. But California is trying to change that: The state is seeking to mandate that most new homes be outfitted with solar panels. State lawmakers are scheduled to vote on the proposal on Wednesday.

Press link for more: Business Insider

World Water Week – How Renewable Energy Can Ease Water Stress #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani #EndCoal #Drought

World Water Week – How Renewable Energy Can Ease Water Stress | UNFCCC

UN Climate Change News, 28 August 2018 – This week sees World Water Week, which this year has the theme “Water, Ecosystems and Human Development.

Following months of weather extremes around the globe including droughts, wildfires and crop shortfalls in Europe, a major World Water Week conference in Stockholm is taking place at a time of heightened awareness for the role of climate change within the nexus of water and development.

Water is fundamental for food security, human health, energy production, industrial productivity, and biodiversity.

Because of this, the main opening event was attended by UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, who highlighted the holistic approach of the event.

The UN Deputy Secretary-General reminded the audience that water is crucial for achieving almost every Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) and that sustainable water management also plays a central role on the way to achieving the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

“This is what the Sustainable Development Goals are about: Bringing this conceptual paradigm shift of doing things together and not in silos,” she said.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed at World Water Week in Stockholm

Countries have identified water as a key to building resilience to climate change in 93% of their national climate action plans under the Paris Agreement.

Climate Change is meanwhile putting pressure on fresh water resources in all regions of the world, thereby affecting people’s food security and health.

Dwindling fresh water resources also put a further question mark over the future of highly water-intensive forms of power production, notably through coal.

A recent study by the World Resources Institute and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) indicates the role that renewable energy can play in easing the water stress for affected countries.

Using the case of India, the authors show how improved power plant cooling technologies and less freshwater-intensive power generation like solar and wind can bring down water withdrawal in the energy sector up to 84% (excluding hydropower).

Based on several different scenarios analyzed in the study (see figure above), the authors conclude that “the growth in power sector emissions is projected to decrease across all scenarios analyzed, thereby helping India to meet its international and national climate commitments.”

See the World Water Week website here.

Press link for more: UNFCCC

Senior MPs say exiting Paris deal would hurt Australia #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #ClimateChange #Drought #bushfire #heatwave #StopAdani #EndCoal

‘Our word is our bond’: Senior MPs say exiting Paris deal would hurt Australia

28 August 2018 — 5:19pm

By Nicole Hasham & Peter Hannam

Senior government MPs warn Australia will lose face on the world stage if it exits the Paris climate treaty, amid an unyielding push by ultra-conservatives to maintain internal discord over climate and energy policy.

It comes as Labor-held states and territories express dismay in the appointment of anti-wind farm campaigner Angus Taylor as Energy Minister, and say the fate of the Coalition’s National Energy Guarantee is bleak.

Senior government MPs are resisting a push by conservatives to renege on the Paris climate deal.

Photo: Michele Mossop

Right-wing Coalition backbenchers have called for Australia to withdraw from the Paris agreement to cut global emissions.

However Prime Minister Scott Morrison is reportedly resisting such a move, which would threaten a potential free trade deal with Europe and may cost Liberal votes in metropolitan seats.

Scott Morrison brings coal into parliament

In her last press conference as foreign minister on Tuesday, former Liberal deputy Julie Bishop said Australia has “a very high standing as a nation that keeps its commitments” and should not quit the Paris deal.

Ms Bishop said the government in 2015 unanimously endorsed Australia’s contribution to the international agreement.

“When we sign a treaty, partners should be able to rely upon us,” she said.

Resources Minister Matt Canavan, a conservative Nationals senator who has described himself as “unashamedly pro-coal”, also called for Australia to stick with the landmark accord.

Former foreign minister Julie Bishop said the government unanimously endorsed Australia’s contribution to the Paris agreement.

Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

“I think we should meet our commitments … we are well regarded around the world [as a nation whose] word is our bond and if you go back on your word that has consequences,” he said.

Internal dissent from far right MPs over climate and energy policy forced former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull to drop emissions reduction from his signature National Energy Guarantee, and instead pledge to focus on lowering electricity prices and securing reliable supplies. The concession was not enough to placate his opponents and internal divisions over the policy ultimately triggered last week’s leadership spill.

Conservative MP Michael Sukkar, a key Dutton backer who has been banished to the backbench, on Tuesday refused to say whether Australia should remain in the Paris deal.

But he suggested conservative MPs would continue to agitate over energy policy under Mr Morrison’s leadership.

“[Mr Taylor is] a very close friend of mine and I’ll, in an appropriate way as a backbencher, make my views clear to him,” he said.

“We know that his knowledge, his background in the sector leaves him uniquely placed to find a solution to what of course has been a vexed policy issue.”

Mr Morrison has not indicated whether his government will seek to revive the beleaguered National Energy Guarantee, which needs agreement from the states. Mr Taylor was unavailable for comment.

But during a meeting of his new-look cabinet on Monday, Mr Morrison suggested the policy could be revamped.

“There will be continuity in our policy in this area, but there will also be new ideas in this area, to ensure that we get those prices down,” Mr Morrison said.

Labor climate change and energy spokesman Mark Butler condemned Mr Taylor’s appointment, describing the prominent wind farm critic and Rhodes scholar as an “anti-renewable energy ideologue” who “signals a return to hard-right ideology on energy policy by the government”.

Victorian Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio told Fairfax Media that Mr Taylor’s “record of denying the science of climate change is a low starting point for an energy minister”.

ACT Climate Change Minister Shane Rattenbury said Mr Taylor’s appointment was “cause for concern” because he was one of Australia’s most prominent anti-wind campaigners and his promotion had been lauded by pro-coal government forces.

Mr Rattenbury said the government’s backflip on the emissions component of the energy plan meant government had “killed their own policy”.

While a future iteration of the plan might include reliability measures, legislation currently out for consultation would presumably need to be redrafted to remove emissions reduction components and “it remains to be seen how this will be done, and if it will work,” he said.

Press link for more: SMH

Earth is the warmest it’s been in 120,000 years! #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani #EndCoal #Drought #Bushfire #Heatwave @SciNate @ScottMorrisonMP

Earth is the warmest it’s been in 120,000 years

MARK KAUFMANAug 27, 2018

The last three Julys on Earth have been the three warmest ever recorded. But, they may also be the warmest months to occur on our planet in about 120,000 years.

Following NASA’s recent announcement that July 2018 was the third warmest such month since reliable record keeping began in 1880, climate scientist Stefan Rahmstorf, head of Earth System Analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, pointed out that this last July — already infamous for scorching Arctic temperatures and record-breaking heat waves — was also likely one of the warmest months since the geologic period called the Eemian.

SEE ALSO: How long does it take for today’s violent wildfires to go out?

The period, lasting from about 130,000 to around 115,000 years ago, was, on average, around 1 to 2 degrees Celsius (1.8 to 3.6 Fahrenheit) warmer than it is today.

Warmth-loving hippos roamed present-day Europe, and sea levels, due to melted ice sheets, were 20 to 30 feet higher than today (much of Florida was underwater).

The Eemian period — and the ice ages before and after it — were natural Earth processes, explainable through simple physics by our orientation to the sun at the time, say earth scientists.

These warming and cooling events happened gradually over thousands of years. But the current rapid warming on Earth in just the last 150 years is unquestionably our own doing, as potent greenhouse gases produced by burning coal and other fuels amass in our atmosphere.

The fluctuations between warm and cold periods on Earth have been “going on forever,” Pat Bartlein, a paleoclimatologist at the University of Oregon who has researched temperatures since the last ice age, said over email.

“But the key thing is that since industrialization, we’ve been put on a completely different schedule,” said Bartlein.

There’s little doubt among scientists that we’re now probably experiencing the warmest climate in some 120,000 years, even reaching above a particularly warm period around 7,000 years ago, during a post-ice age era called the Holocene.

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2018

Global temperature changes in relation to the average.

“I agree entirely that it’s very likely the last few summers have been the warmest in the last ~100,000-115,000 years,” David Black, a paleoclimatologist at Stony Brook University, said over email. “It’s very probable that we’ve begun to exceed the warmest part of the Holocene.”

“It is safe to say that it’s true,” added Jennifer Marlon, a research scientist at Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, in an interview. “You’ll find a scientific consensus among experts even on that point now I’d bet, which says a lot.”

Marlon noted that during that hotter time 7,000 years ago, only the northern hemisphere experienced some pretty warm summers, “but now we are warmer year round.”

Back in 2013, Rahmstorf already argued that the current climate had already surpassed this warmest period of the Holocene. And in the last five years, the case has only grown stronger.

Ice cores preserve air bubbles from Earth’s long geologic past, revealing carbon levels in the ancient air.

“There’s been further warming,” Rahmstorf said via email. Indeed, the three warmest years on record, 2015, 2016, and 2017, have occurred since then.

What’s more, Earth fell into its last ice age for some 90,000 years after the Eemian ended, a time when saber-toothed cats, dire wolves, and towering Columbian mammoths still roamed the land.

There’s no evidence that any points during that cooler period exceeded the average temperatures we’re experiencing today.

As Earth continues its rapid warming pace, some scientists, looking at what we might expect in the future, have suggested Earth may see Eemian-like conditions in the future, said Black, which would mean a dramatically warmer climate and vastly higher seas.

But the Eemian, like other past climates, might not be a good roadmap for where we’re headed.

“Humans are putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at an unprecedented rate,” said Black, adding that “there isn’t an ideal climate analog in the past that we can explore to see what we might expect in the future.”

Earth’s melting ice sheets.

The critical difference is carbon

A major difference between the Eemian period and the present, however, is the amount of carbon dioxide that’s presently in the air. Today, carbon dioxide concentrations are phenomenally high — the highest they’ve been in 800,000 years.

During the Eemian these concentrations hovered around 280 parts per million, or ppm. Today they’re around 409 ppm.

Scientists have known since the 1800’s that carbon dioxide traps heat, and today’s historic levels — when compared to past natural increases in carbon levels — are simply skyrocketing.

“The pace isn’t even close — this isn’t natural,” Kristopher Karnauskas, a professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at Colorado Boulder, said in an interview.

Catapulting carbon levels on Earth.

Image:

Kristopher Karnauskas @Oceansclimatecu

With all this carbon amassing the atmosphere, the looming problem is not simply today’s warming, but how much more warming is in store.

“We put all this carbon in the air, now it’s going to take a while for everything to catch up,” said Marlon. “The big question is, how quickly will everything catch up?”

Like warming over the last century, these global-scale temperature changes take place over decades to centuries, said Karnauskas. But there’s already enough carbon in the air to raise temperatures considerably more.

“Even under the best case scenario we’re going to double the warming we’ve already seen,” said Karnauskas, who emphasized the need to wean ourselves from fossil fuels.

Another degree or two of warming — if we don’t transition to cleaner energies — would bring us closer to the realm of the Eemian, a time that wasn’t just warmer — it was a period distinctly different from the present day.

“Will the world be a warm world, or a very different world?” wondered Karnauskas.

Press link for more: Mashable

#ClimateChange is World War III, and we are leaderless! #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #ClimateCrisis #StopAdani #NoNewCoal

Climate change is World War III, and we are leaderless

By David Shearman

“World War III is well and truly underway.

And we are losing,” writes environmental activist Bill McKibben, so when Malcolm Turnbull implied that the insurgency that demolished his government was based on climate ideology, what lessons are there for Scott Morrison?

As a child in Britain during WWII, I lived in a street of mothers and children.

Every father was away fighting.

Each house and garden was surrounded by a metal palisade fence.

One morning the fences were gone, mother was delighted.

Then a horse and cart came and took away every metal cooking pot and pan, some treasured, but mother smiled at her sacrifice.

It was difficult for me to understand.

She had responded to the call from Lord Beaverbrook, Minister of Aircraft Production, for the women of Britain to: “Give us your aluminium. … We will turn your pots and pans into Spitfires and Hurricanes.”

Grey sky blanketed my childhood, each day clouded by the expectation of a knock on the door by the telegram man.

There was poverty and hunger but paradoxically it was a happy time, food was shared and houses were open to all.

Families rushed to harvest hay, to clear the snowy roads in winter, to house the bombed families and to “make do and mend” with clothes and shoes.

Britain was a united and cohesive community.

Young and old worked daily in small ways for the common cause.

But most importantly, in the free world, two countries — Britain and the US — had leaders in Winston Churchill and Franklin D Roosevelt who could explain the need for duty and sacrifice.

Their like is yet to emerge today, and indeed the Western world is bereft, perhaps apart from French President Emmanuel Macron, who explained to Congress and the American people that secure borders are irrelevant to this threat, and all of us are world citizens needing to act in concert. “There is no Planet B,” he said.

He challenged Malcolm Turnbull to show leadership on climate change.

IMAGE Prime Minister, please call for a personal briefing by Australia’s leading climate scientists.(ABC News: Nick Haggarty)

US and Australia trading ideology for human lives

Two of the world’s highest per capita carbon emitters, the United States and Australia, have deserted the trenches of WWIII by trading ideology for human lives and health.

The US response to the climate threat has been withdrawal from the Paris agreement and a full-frontal attack on the US Environmental Protection Authority, a national defence against climate change, pollution and ill-health — as irrational as if the Germans had demolished their “Siegfried Line” of WWII.

As a doctor, I know that they will compromise the health of children and families from relaxation of pollution standards on coal-fired power stations and from weaker fuel standards. Their actions are an attack on all humanity and thereby the US has abandoned world leadership.

Australia’s response to climate change is devious; under the guise of action, the transition to renewable energy has been carefully modulated to maintain coal.

Policy was corrupted by deference to a party clique of climate deniers who proudly named their group after Australia’s most illustrious WW1 general John Monash, and were deaf to his descendants pleading for his name to be removed.

Like the US, Australia is failing to save the lives of its citizens by prolonging the life of polluting coal-fired power.

As a wealthy, technological nation failing to assist others in a transition from fossil fuels, and soon to become the leading exporter of coal and gas in the world, Australia has failed to temper its quest for prosperity and serve the needs of humanity.

Humanity lives in one atmosphere

Both the United States and Australia must understand that humanity lives in one atmosphere and all must act decisively and collectively to preserve the common and finite resources of land, sea, air, biodiversity and fresh water necessary for health and wellbeing.

Leadership is the ability to explain this to voters and to caution that any hope of future prosperity depends upon collective action.

But leadership by an emerging Churchill or Roosevelt is much more difficult than in WWII. Leadership will need to explain the pots and pans needing to be sacrificed today.

Mr Churchill’s stirring “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds”, an easily understood message of WWII, has to become equally inspirational on changes in lifestyle, personal commitment to curbing rampant consumerism, energy transition, efficient recycling, modifying diet and conserving biodiversity and, ultimately, a sharing of finite resources and economic sacrifice.

These endeavours will also need to be accepted by the corporate empires that pollute and frequently enrich themselves from environmental capture and exploitation.

They must recognise that their survival also depends on climate action.

Mr Morrison, think of your lovely young children

But most importantly leaders must understand complex problems.

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The Australian Parliament has proven itself unable to reach consensus on climate change policy, even when the parties are close enough to touch. It’s a familiar tale.

Read more

Prime Minister, doctors wish you well in your endeavours; your visit to drought-riven states is an excellent start. Our suggestions relate to the two most important people at your investiture, your lovely young children.

Please study the collective action plan so badly needed (a report co-authored by leading medical scientist Fiona Stanley) to avoid burning their futures in a hot, hungry, stormy and resource-conflicted world.

And please call for a personal briefing by Australia’s leading climate scientists on these and related issues.

Dr David Shearman is the honorary secretary of Doctors for the Environment Australia and Emeritus Professor of Medicine at Adelaide University.

Press link for more: ABC.NET.AU

‘Apocalyptic threat’: dire climate report raises fears for California’s & Australia’s future #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #ClimateChange can’t be ignored. #Drought #Heatwave #Bushfires #StopAdani #NoNewCoal

Statewide assessment, which comes amid summer of extreme wildfires, warns of deadly cost if climate change is not stopped

Carla GreenTue 28 Aug 2018 11.49 AEST

California’s summer of deadly wildfires and dangerous heatwaves will soon be the new normal if nothing is done to stop climate change, a report released on Monday warns.

City heatwaves could lead to two to three times as many deaths by 2050, the report says.

By 2100, without a reduction in emissions, the state could see a 77% increase in the average area burned by wildfires.

The report also warns of erosion of up to 67% of its famous coastline, up to an 8.8F rise in average maximum temperatures, and billions of dollars in damages.

“These findings are profoundly serious and will continue to guide us as we confront the apocalyptic threat of irreversible climate change,” said the state’s governor, Jerry Brown, in a tweet about the report, the fourth statewide climate change assessment released since 2006.

Rising temperatures could lead to up to 11,300 additional deaths in 2050, the report says, and the overall number of days marked by extreme heat will “increase exponentially in many areas”.

The effects of those extreme heat days will probably weigh most heavily on the state’s most vulnerable residents, including the more than 100,000 people who are homeless in California, many of whom live on the streets without reliable access to fans, air conditioners, or running water.

“The 2006 heatwave killed over 600 people, resulted in 16,000 emergency department visits, and led to nearly $5.4bn in damages,” the assessment reports. “The human cost of these events is already immense, but research suggests that mortality risk for those 65 or older could increase tenfold by the 2090s because of climate change.”

Cliffs in Pacifica, California, washed away by powerful storms in 2016. The new report warns of increased coastal erosion. Photograph: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

In Sydney NSW properties are also falling into the rising seas.

The California energy commission chairman, Robert Weisenmiller, said: “It really forces you to think through what do we do about the more elderly – the more endangered.” The commission was one of three agencies that published the report. “How do we protect them during these intense heat periods?”

As researchers point out in a summary of the findings, cooling mechanisms such as air conditioners can help mitigate the effects of intense heatwaves, but increased electrical consumption can also drive up the emissions responsible for climate change in the first place. And the double threat of wildfires and increased energy consumption can endanger a power grid vital in a crisis.

The “apocalyptic threat” the governor described would present itself in myriad ways in a state prone to extreme weather events like drought and wildfires, said Amir AghaKouchak, an associate professor at the University of California, Irvine, and a researcher who contributed to the assessment.

As climate change progresses, AghaKouchak said, overall rainfall would probably remain the same, but it would come in the form of extreme storms followed by longer periods without rain.

“There will be two consequences: one is more potentially extreme floods, and the other is problems with drought management.”

Intense rainfall after a season of wildfires could also mean more landslides similar to the deadly mudslides in Santa Barbara earlier this year, AghaKouchak said. More rain coming in short bursts was likely to aggravate water management problems in a state already stricken by drought. And drought areas – including much of California – have been shown to warm faster than others, he said.

A firefighter clears brush while battling the Holy wildfire in Corona, California. Photograph: Eugene Garcia/EPA

Australia is suffering from bushfires in winter.

The North Fork Mono tribe chairman, Hon Ron Goode, who also contributed to the assessment, said it was the first time the state’s native population had been included in the report, despite the fact that native Californians were among the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

6 years of drought in Western Queensland & New South Wales

But before colonization, Goode said, the native population wouldn’t have been so vulnerable, because it was more mobile and could nimbly adapt to changes in the climate. “They knew how to move around and where to go and let something rest,” he said. “Now, it’s different. We’re locked into our reservations; rancherias; allotment lands. We can’t just run away – those are our lands and that’s it.”

The report offers some suggestions of how to mitigate the disastrous effects it predicts, Weisenmiller said, from land use planning to reducing California’s greenhouse gas emissions, just under half of which come from transportation.

“The good news is that it’s not ‘here’s the dire impact’, but ‘here’s some ways to mitigate the dire impacts’. It should give people some hope,” Weisenmiller said.

But Goode said he was not sure whether to be hopeful. “I won’t say that I’m hopeful. I would like to feel hopeful, but I don’t see it happening right now,” he said. “I don’t see the politicians stumbling over themselves to make that change.”

Press link for more: The Guardian

PM Scott Morrison evades #climatechange link to #drought #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #StopAdani #NoNewCoal #QandA

Scott Morrison won’t say if human-induced climate change is associated with the drought in Queensland and NSW because it doesn’t help solve practical problems.

The new prime minister visited a drought-stricken Quilpie farm in rural Queensland in his first visit in the job, but refused to say if he thought climate change was affecting the drought.

“Climate is changing, everybody knows that,” he told reporters today.

“It’s not a debate I’ve participated a lot in in the past, because I’m practically interested in the policies that will address what is going on here right and now.

“I’m interested in getting people’s electricity prices down and I’m not terribly interested in engaging in those sorts of debates at this point.”

Mr Morrison said his passion for dealing with the drought came from a conversation with Nationals leader Michael McCormack in cabinet.

“Michael was really pushing that this really had to be put on our agenda and what our response was,” he said.

“That had a big impact on me, Michael, and, as you know, we went through a whole range of packages that went through the budget.”

Mr Morrison said dealing with the drought was not something that could be solved with one bit of relief.

“It goes on as long as the drought goes on.

We need the ideas to keep coming as long as the drought goes on and beyond,” he said.

The new prime minister’s visit came on the same day as a voter survey brought grim news for the government.

The poll, published in the Australian newspaper, shows popular support for the Coalition has crashed to its lowest levels in a decade.

In the Primary vote, the Coalition has slumped four points, to trail Labor 33 to 41 – while the Opposition has enjoyed a 6 percent hike.

On a two-party preferred basis, the Coalition trails Labor 44 to 56.

Labor attacked Mr Morrison for making Barnaby Joyce a special drought envoy, calling the decision a slap in the face for farmers.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison greets Quilpie State College students and staff during his visit to South West Queensland. (AP/AAP)

Opposition agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said the position would allow the former Nationals leader to campaign across Australia at public expense.

“The appointment of climate change denier Barnaby Joyce as his drought envoy is a joke and a slap in the face for all in the sector who want meaningful drought policy reform,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

But Mr Morrison said the role made good use of the former deputy prime minister’s skills.

“I got a great text from Barnaby last night just on day one, as you expect, he has given me quite a list of things that he reckons,” Mr Morrison said.

Mr McCormack said the government would contribute more money on top of the already announced $1.8 billion worth of measures to tackle the drought.

Mr Fitzgibbon said Mr Morrison had made a bad start, accusing the prime minister of using drought as a plaything to improve his image.

Rainfall has brought only temporary relief for farmers in NSW and Queensland. (9NEWS)

Press link for more: 9News

Can’t vote Liberal ‘in good conscience’: Turnbull #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #ClimateChange #QandA #StopAdani #NoNewCoal #Drought #Bushfire

Alex Turnbull blamed “rent-seekers” backing the coal industry for felling his father Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister, saying it’s “impossible” to vote for the Liberal-National coalition “in good conscience” because of its climate stance.

In a wide-ranging interview just days after his father lost power in a party room putsch, the Singapore-based fund manager told Fairfax Media the Liberal Party faced being hijacked by financial interests that stood to make windfall profits if coal-related assets were bolstered by taxpayers.

Alex Turnbull (left) with wife Yvonne, daughter Isla and parents Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull.

Photo: Twitter

Those interests “have their hooks into the Liberal Party … which has no money”, Mr Turnbull said, adding that returns could be “100 to 1” if policies fall investors’ way.

Mr Turnbull’s experience includes a stint at investment banking giant Goldman Sachs. Some of his work has also involved trading debt for Australian-based coal-fired power plants, giving him insights into that industry’s outlook.

“If you create such an environment – with such a high rate of return – you’ll see a lot more of that [influence peddling],” he said.

‘Snookered’

Speaking freely now that his father was no longer in power, Mr Turnbull said he was “massively in favour of a federal ICAC”, referring to a Commonwealth equivalent of NSW’s Independent Commission Against Corruption. “I hope they find corruption then I don’t have to believe it’s all stupidity.”

Mr Turnbull defended his father’s efforts to craft an energy policy that sought to combine emissions reductions while boosting reliability of the grid and lowering prices.

The new government under Scott Morrison has split the environment and energy portfolios, with most indicators suggesting the proposed National Energy Guarantee is dead.

“He was snookered,” Mr Turnbull said of his father’s fate. “You don’t know how hard he worked on this issue.”

“It’s impossible to vote for the LNP in good conscience,” Mr Turnbull said, adding he had no intention of entering politics himself. “My father fought the stupid and the stupid won.”

Mr Turnbull was also critical of the government’s overall climate action, saying that pulling the Paris Agreement – as conservative MPs and pundits have been demanding – was irrelevant at this point.

“It’s like being in a university course, final exams are coming and you haven’t done three-quarters of the work,” he said. “You’re going to fail anyway.”

‘Human wontons’

Mr Turnbull also noted the pressure placed by his father’s government on AGL to keep its ailing Liddell power station going beyond its scheduled 2022 closure date.

“This is the behaviour that exists in emerging markets, where the cost of capital is much higher,” he said. “How can you expect people to make long-term investment decisions when clowns trying to game the news cycle are a key driver of investment returns?”

He said efforts to keep ageing coal-fired power stations going were “a terrible failure”, noting Western Australia’s bid to stop the Muja plant which cost $300 million.

“Such spending is like trying to keep crappy cars – like a 1994 Ford Laser – on the road.”

Worse, the operators of such plants as Liddell and Gladstone ran the risk of a “horrific industrial accident” that could literally cook unfortunate employees like a Chinese dumpling.

Such failures “could create ‘human wontons’ of any staff exposed to the 300-400-degree super-heated steam”, he said.

AGL has made little secret of the engineering challenges facing its staff have described as “old lady Liddell”.

Disappointed Dad

Mr Turnbull declined to say much about his father’s current disposition. However, in response to a question about whether he had been disappointed he couldn’t have done more on climate action, he answered “yes”.

The younger Turnbull had positive things to say about Tim Murray, the Labor candidate for Wentworth, his father’s electorate. “He’s a great guy and I know him well,” he said. “[It’s] hard to back a Labor guy but not Tim.”

He predicted Labor’s left would keep that party “honest” on climate change.

Bill Shorten “doesn’t really care about climate change – he just wants the jobs”, Mr Turnbull said, adding that there were lots of them in Victoria and elsewhere as the renewable energy boom rolls on.

Two terms of federal Labor should mean Australia’s electricity sector “would have crossed the magic line” – such as exceeding 40 per cent of supply from wind and solar. “They’re not going to be able to go back.”

Taking serious action on climate change “should be the response of any sane leader”, he said.

Press link for more: SMH

#ClimateChange denial strongly linked to right-wing nationalism #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #QandA #StopAdani #NoNewCoal

Chalmers University of Technology

IMAGE:  “We have these insights, but we come into conflict with them. Therefore, it is important to understand the mechanisms behind different forms of climate change denial, and how this influences… view more 

Credit: Yen Strandqvist/Chalmers University of Technology

With Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, as a hub, the world’s first global research network into climate change denial has now been established.

Building on a brand-new research publication showing the links between conservatism, xenophobia and climate change denial, the network will study how the growth of right-wing nationalism in Europe has contributed to an increase in climate change denial.

Scientific awareness of the greenhouse effect, and human influence on the climate, has existed for over three decades.

During the 1980s, there was a strong environmental movement and a political consensus on the issue, but in recent years, climate change denial – denying that changes to the climate are due to human influence on the environment – has increased.

“Two strong groups have joined forces on this issue – the extractive industry, and right-wing nationalists.

The combination has taken the current debate to a much more dramatic level than previously, at the same time as our window of opportunity is disappearing.”

This is the analysis of Chalmers researcher Martin Hultman, Associate Professor in Science, Technology and Environmental studies, and research leader for the comprehensive project: “Why don’t we take climate change seriously?

A study of climate change denial”, which is now collecting the world’s foremost researchers in this area.

In the project, the network will examine the ideas and interests behind climate change denial, with a particular focus on right-wing nationalism, extractive industries, and conservative thinktanks.

The goal is to increase understanding of climate change denial, and its influence on political decision-making, but also to raise awareness among the general public, those in power, research institutes, and industry.

Right-wing nationalism’s links to climate change denial are a relatively unresearched topic, but Environmental Sociology recently published an article where Hultman and his research colleagues show the connections between conservatism, xenophobia, and climate change denial, through a study in Norway.

Hultman explains that many of the right-wing nationalist parties in Europe now have climate change denial as one of their most important issues.

“These parties are increasing in significance.

We see it in Denmark and Norway, in Britain with UKIP, and Front National in France. But also, in Sweden, with the Sweden Democrats’ suspicion towards SMHI (Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute), their dismissal of the Paris Agreement and of climate laws, and in their appraisal of climate change denier Václav Klaus as a freedom-fighting hero,” he says. Hultman also mentions the Trump administration in the USA as a prime example.

Through the new research project, a unique international collaborative platform for research into climate change denial, Centre for Studies of Climate Change Denialism (CEFORCED), will be established, which will connect around 40 of the world’s foremost scientific experts in the area and pave the way for international comparisons. The platform builds upon the world’s first conference in the subject, which Hultman and Professor Riley Dunlap of Oklahoma State University organised in 2016.

“Thanks to this international platform, we can investigate how climate change denial arguments arise and are spread – and see differences and similarities in different cultural contexts,” says Hultman.

An important foundation of the project will be a broad, interdisciplinary view of climate change denial, linking together different disciplines such as geopolitics, environmental psychology, technological history, environmental sociology, gender research, environmental history, energy policy, environmental humanism and technology and science studies.

“We do not dismiss climate change denial as something limited to, for example, powerful, older men with strong connections to the fossil-fuels industry – even if such organised groups do play important roles. Knowledge of climate change and its causes has been around for a long time, so firstly, we also need to understand the type of reactions and everyday denials that explain why we don’t take the greenhouse effect seriously – even when we see the consequences in front of our eyes.”

According to Martin Hultman, there are strong reasons for the prevalence of climate change denial, and why it can be so difficult to take in the implications of climate science.

“Around 80 percent of all energy bought and sold in the world is oil, coal, or gas.

The world’s economy runs on this type of energy, which is destroying our habitat at the same time.

This makes climate science’s findings problematic, because it means that many in Sweden – and in other countries which use these resources to maintain their lifestyle – need to change their way of life, and many of the most powerful companies in the world will have to change their business models.

At the same time, a more climate-friendly lifestyle involves a lot of what many of us hold dear. For example, more time socialising, more contact with nature, better health and less stress. ”

Global research network on climate change denial established

The project “Why don’t we take climate change seriously? A study of climate change denial” is a multi-year, interdisciplinary and international project, which is financed by the Swedish Energy Agency.

The project establishes the world’s first research network on climate change denial – the Centre for Studies of Climate Change Denialism (CEFORCED), which includes around 40 scientific experts, including among others, Professor Riley Dunlap of Oklahoma State University.

The project shall investigate right-wing nationalism, Conservative thinktanks, and extractive industries as key focuses.

* Right-wing nationalism:

The project will map right-wing nationalist parties in Europe and their arguments around climate change denialism. Among other things, Twitter and other internet discussion groups will be analysed.

* Extractive industries:

The project will undertake a historical investigation into Sweden’s extractive industries -what they have learned about climate change, and how they have acted, as well as connecting knowledge to international studies into the debate.

* Conservative thinktanks:

The project maps out how conservative thinktanks in Sweden analyse and communicate around climate, as well as their connections to lobby groups of similar character.

Different forms of climate change denial

According to earlier research, several forms of climate change denial exist:

* Organised: Groups such as Klimatsans (Climate Sense) or Stockholmsinitiativet (The Stockholm Initiative) in Sweden, as well as lobby groups like the Heartland Institute in the USA, which support and spread climate change denial.

* Party Political: Political parties such as UKIP in Britain, and AfD in Germany among others, who work against different forms of climate policy.

* Response denial: For example, when people in positions of power make decisions such as the construction of Sälen airport in the Swedish mountains, running totally counter to the climate policies they claim to support.

* Everyday denial: When people act as though as they unaware of climate change, and, for example, fly several times a year to foreign countries.

###

For more information, contact:

Martin Hultman, Associate Professor in Science, Technology and Environmental studies, Department of Technology Management and Economics, Chalmers University of Technology

+46-709-450112, +46-31-772 63 78

martin.hultman@chalmers.se

Press link for more: Eureka Alert

#ClimateChange’s Long-Term Fix Has a Short-Term Cost. #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #StopAdani #NoNewCoal #Drought #Bushfire

Climate Change’s Long-Term Fix Has a Short-Term Cost

A carbon tax will have consequences for food security that need mitigating.

By Mark Buchanan

More stories by Mark Buchanan

A carbon tax would raise costs.

Photographer: Fethi Belaid/AFP/Getty Images

Global warming is getting a little scary, as its consequences emerge more quickly than most scientists had expected, in soaring global temperatures, unprecedented wildfires and many other effects.

This year is on target to be the fourth hottest ever, only just behind the three previous years.

Meanwhile, humanity has made very little progress in taking action, with carbon dioxide emissions higher now than ever before, having actually increased 60 percent over the past 25 years — all while we’ve been fully aware of the problem.

But hope for a simple fix — such as a carbon tax, the preferred option of most economists — is naive, even setting aside the formidable political challenges.

Among other things, a new study suggests, a meaningful carbon tax could trigger food shortages by 2050 for many of the poorest people in the world, and even be worse than climate change continuing completely unabated.

In the research paper, published in Nature Climate Change, scientists compared estimates of how either climate change or a strong carbon tax would affect the global population at risk of hunger.

The changing climate will directly hit agricultural productivity, while a carbon tax would raise energy prices, a key agricultural input.

The study found that a stringent carbon tax would be likely by 2050 to have a greater negative impact on hunger than climate change, with problems worst in vulnerable regions such as sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Of course, these are only estimates, and there’s plenty of uncertainty in this analysis. It rests on assumptions, for example, about how rising temperatures and other climate effects will influence food productivity, something we know little about. Indeed, other recent research concludes that rising temperatures could reduce GDP even in developed nations by as much as one-third by 2100.

Uncertainties aside, the researchers’ best guess is that on the matter of food security, climate change would be bad, but a carbon tax big enough to reduce emissions significantly could actually be worse.

That’s bad news.

Does this mean we shouldn’t address climate change?

Hardly.

It actually only points out why we’re going to have to be creative in finding ways to deal with the negative short-term consequences of the policies that will deliver long-term benefits. In addition to emissions reductions, we’re going to need wise agricultural policies, stronger social safety nets, and better international cooperation.

Policies designed to avoid climate disaster a century into the future and beyond might be expected to have some negative consequences over times as short as 30 years.

By analogy, fire extinguishers have negative short-term consequences for the interiors of houses, but we generally think that using them is a good idea, because we can do other things to deal with those consequences and avoid having to rebuild the whole house.

Likewise, if governments implement a carbon tax — or take other serious actions on climate — they can also take further steps to handle adverse consequences stirred up as a result.

Revenue from the tax could be used for food aid, for example, or to transfer more efficient production methods to food insecure regions, which might also further reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The real message of the paper is that a useful carbon tax could cause serious problems, if put in place in the absence of any other policies to make agriculture more resilient or to come to the aid of those most at risk.

In this sense, the paper makes a useful if somewhat mundane point — that long-term climate policy will stir up short-term issues, like food security.

It offers valuable information on where we ought to be thinking about what other policies we might put in place to counteract these problems, and so ensure a path forward not just for some, but for everyone.

Mark Buchanan at buchanan.mark@gmail.com

Press link for more: Bloomberg