Month: September 2018

Climate change is a global injustice. A new study shows why. #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #StopAdani #EndCoal we’re drastically underestimating the cost of global warming! @TheCairnsPost

Climate change is a global injustice. A new study shows why.

The US is second only to India when it comes to the economic cost of global warming.

Umair IrfanSeptember 26, 2018

All efforts to fight climate change face the money test: Are the benefits of stopping global warming — and avoiding sea level rise, heat waves, and wildfires — greater than the costs?

The dollar balance we arrive at should be one of the biggest factors in deciding what we’re willing to do to tackle the problem, whether that’s shuttering all coal plants or building thousands of nuclear reactors.

Some groups have taken a stab at calculating what climate change will cost the world, or conversely, how much humanity would save by becoming more sustainable. Earlier this month, the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate tallied the number at a truly massive $26 trillion in savings by 2030.

Getting a slice of those savings requires figuring out which actors stand to lose the most as the climate changes, whether that’s countries, companies, or even individuals.

And this is where the idea of the social cost of carbon comes in.

It’s a policy tool that attaches a price tag to the long-term economic damage caused by one ton of carbon dioxide, hence the cost to society. It’s related to a carbon tax (more on that below), and it serves as a way to distill the vast global consequences of climate change down to a practical metric.

Critically, it’s also the foundation of US climate policies, including the Clean Power Plan. Revising this number down has been a key part of the Trump administration’s strategy to roll back environmental rules. Under Obama, the social cost of carbon was set at $45 per ton of carbon dioxide; under Trump, it’s as little as $1.

A new study published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change calculates the social cost of carbon down to individual countries. This adds an important bit of nuance because climate change is going to cost some countries more than others, a fact that’s lost when you try to tabulate a global average.

The team found a global social cost of carbon vastly higher than many previous estimates, drawing on more recent climate projections and more robust macroeconomic models. The results also highlighted the fundamental injustice of climate change: Many of those who contributed the least to the problem stand to suffer the most. And the study has a stark message for the United States: The economy stands to pay one of the highest prices in the world for its emissions.

We’re drastically underestimating how much climate change will cost the global economy

Even if you’ve just skimmed climate policy discussions in recent years, you’ve likely come across the idea of a carbon tax.

In short, a carbon tax helps attach the consequences of climate change to the greenhouse gas sources that are driving it.

Ideally, it would push economies toward sustainability by making dirtier energy sources and industries more costly relative to their alternatives.

It’s a useful tool in estimating the costs and benefits of different ways to fight climate change.

Though a tax is just one way to price emissions, most economists and scientists agree that pricing in some form is the sine qua non of fighting climate change. (My colleague David Roberts has written extensively about the limits of a carbon tax and the recent Republican carbon tax proposals.)

How high you set your carbon tax is a function of how aggressively you want to clean up your act and how much damage you’re expecting if you don’t.

The former is an objective that’s set by policymakers, but the latter, in theory, has an empirical value.

This is the social cost of carbon.

The lead author of the Nature Climate Change study, Katharine Ricke, an assistant professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego, explained that calculating the social cost of carbon requires coordinating several variables.

“You need to make assumptions about socioeconomic progress and changes in the world that are going to happen out a century in the future,” she said. “You need to contend with uncertainty about how climate change is going to look.”

The social cost of carbon is an imperfect measure: It focuses on broad changes in the economy rather than abrupt shifts from extreme weather or disasters. It also requires making many arguable assumptions.

However, it’s still a useful tool in estimating the costs and benefits of different ways to fight climate change.

To account for this variability, Ricke and her team looked at a range of greenhouse gas emission scenarios, as well as several different economic damage models and multiple social discount rates.

The results showed that the world has been drastically undervaluing the potential economic damages from climate change.

The median global social cost of carbon came out to $417 per ton, an order of magnitude more than prior estimates of $40 per ton.

India is poised to pay the highest social cost of carbon.

Russia may not pay one at all.

Drilling down into individual countries, the researchers spotted disparities in the economic consequences of climate change.

The social cost of carbon for individual countries in dollars per ton of carbon dioxide emissions.

Nature Climate Change

Countries at northern latitudes, like Russia, face a negative social cost of carbon. This implies that the warming wrought by climate change will actually boost the economies of these countries.

Warming can improve agriculture or reduce heating demands in the far north, for example.

However, Ricke cautioned that these costs were calculated based on macroeconomic factors within countries; they don’t account for things like international trade, which may suffer in a warming world.

The model also doesn’t account for direct consequences of climate change, like sea level rise flooding coastal areas or thawing permafrost causing roads to buckle.

In fact, northern latitudes are among the fastest warming regions in the world.

These effects will impact the economies of northern countries, but they aren’t baked into the economic model used in this study.

“We recommend taking the negative social cost of carbon values with a grain of salt,” Ricke said. “These estimates likely represent a lower bound.”

On the other hand, the findings are especially alarming for India.

It has the highest social cost of carbon in the world, at $86 per ton.

Coming in second is the United States at $48 per ton.

“The thing that drives the high social cost of carbon in the US to a great extent is the fact that we just have such a big economy, so we have a lot to lose,” Ricke said.

This value coincidentally aligns with the number the Obama administration came up with, but there’s a crucial difference. Ricke explained that the government’s numbers included social costs to the rest of the world from US emissions; the number Ricke calculated does not.

If the team were to include everything in the Obama formula, then the social cost of carbon for the United States would be even higher.

As journalist David Wallace-Wells pointed out on Twitter, this shows that fighting climate change makes sense for the United States, even for purely selfish reasons:

Calculating the social cost of carbon is merely the starting point for climate policy

Suppose every country in the world suddenly wakes up tomorrow in ecstatic cahoots on climate change and decides to implement a carbon tax at the level of their respective social costs of carbon.

Will that solve climate change?

Not even remotely.

“If countries were to price their own carbon emissions at their own [country-level social cost of carbon], approximately 5 [percent], a small amount, of the global climate externality would be internalized,” the researchers wrote.

That’s because there are some countries that emit very little and will be hit hard by climate change, while others emit a lot and won’t see as many damages.

So for a country to set a meaningful carbon tax, or any other price on carbon, it has to include damages caused to other countries, as former Obama adviser Jason Bordoff wrote in the Wall Street Journal:

Unlike other regulated pollutants that have almost entirely domestic consequences, CO2 impacts are global, and climate change is a “tragedy of the commons” problem.

A ton of CO2 contributes equally to climate change regardless of where it comes from.

If all nations looked only at the impact of a ton of CO2 on their own nations, the collective response would be vastly inadequate to address the true damages from climate change.

This wonky chart (bear with me) from Ricke’s study explains the dilemma:

A figure comparing the social cost of carbon within a country to its share of global emissions.

Nature Climate Change

The chart compares a country’s social cost of carbon to its share of global emissions.

The radiating lines show the ratios of a country’s share of global emissions to its share of the damages.

The United States is almost balanced, with its high social cost of carbon roughly proportional to how much carbon dioxide it emits. But India pumps out just 6 percent of global greenhouse gases and will bear more than 20 percent of the global economic burden from climate change.

In other words, India faces almost quadruple the damages of global warming compared to its contribution to the problem.

Zoom in further and you’ll notice that many of the wealthiest countries in the world stand to bear the lowest costs of climate change.

This is part of why the global social cost of carbon, $417 per ton, is so much higher than it is for any individual country.

The costs of climate change are greater than the sum of their parts.

Yet it also shows that many of the wealthiest countries, which contributed the most greenhouse gases, stand to be the best insulated from its costs.

That makes climate change a global justice concern.

In limiting global warming, wealthy countries face a moral imperative to look beyond their borders and GDPs, pushing even harder to cut their own emissions.

The social costs of carbon also show why climate change really has to be tackled as a global problem rather than by individual nations.

But as long as countries like Russia, the United Kingdom, and Germany face little financial fallout, that policy case becomes much harder to make.

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In a Country So Dry Even Cows Take Showers, #ClimateChange Gets Ignored. #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #StopAdani #EndCoal #TheDrum #QandA #ClimateCrisis #Drought

Australia’s government is as far from a plan of action as it’s ever been.

27 September 2018, 5:00 am AEST

Farmer Leeanne Oldfield and her dog Jett at her farm in Wandandian, New South Wales, Australia.

Photographer: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg

From cooling showers for cows to airport runways designed for higher sea levels, businesses and parts of Australia’s A$2.7 trillion ($2 trillion) pension industry are starting to find ways to live with rising temperatures.

In the world’s driest inhabited continent, enduring a devastating drought that arrived in mid-winter, private action to prepare for climate change contrasts with years of division on energy and environmental policies.

Australia’s latest climate casualties are its farmers, who are being forced to slaughter livestock and watch crops wither amid one of the worst droughts on record.

Leeanne Oldfield has abandoned expansion plans and the few dozen malnourished sheep that remain of her 300-strong flock can’t even drink from the dam anymore, as it has gone dry.

“In good years, this is usually full to the brim with water,” says Oldfield on her farm three hours’ drive from Sydney, pointing to the muddy pit where the dam should be. Frustrated by a lack of government action, she’s helped organize donations of truckloads of hay and grain to other farms.

Oldfield at the dried up freshwater dam on her farm.

Photographer: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg

“Farmers in this country are getting desperate, they’re on their knees,” said Oldfield.

Dry conditions are set to continue with eastern states including New South Wales — the most populous and the powerhouse of the economy — the worst affected. Economists estimate the drought could cut as much as 0.75 percent from gross domestic product growth.

Dry Nation

Australia receives less rain than any other inhabited continent

Shortly after taking over as prime minister last month, Scott Morrison got on a plane and toured a drought-stricken farm in Queensland, announcing measures to aid the stressed agricultural sector.

Yet as for broader climate policy, Australia appears as far away as it has ever been from a consensus on what should be done.

“The staggering thing is we aren’t leading the world,” said John Hewson, former leader of the now ruling Liberal Party who has worked as an economist for the Reserve Bank and the International Monetary Fund. “We should be showing them what can be done and the business opportunities from that in terms of investment, in terms of jobs, in terms of growth, are very significant. And they’ve just been cast aside like they don’t matter.”

The road block: politics. Morrison came to the prime ministership after months of toxic infighting over energy policy saw Malcolm Turnbull lose a leadership vote that resulted in the nation’s sixth change of leader in 11 years.

The new prime minister — who once brandished a chunk of coal in parliament as a show of allegiance to that sector — quickly ditched Turnbull’s contentious plan to lock in carbon emission reductions, leaving the government with no settled energy policy ahead of an election that must be called by May.

Coral bleaching at the Great Barrier Reef.

Source: Kyodo News via Getty Images

With Australia battling bush fires in winter and the Great Barrier Reef facing slow destruction due to coral bleaching, voters want action. An Australia Institute poll this month showed that 73 percent of Australians are concerned about climate change, up from 66 percent last year. And just over half of people surveyed think governments aren’t doing enough.

Poisonous politics is also hitting business. Australia’s total investment in clean energy soared to a record $9 billion last year, largely driven by a rush to fulfill a government target that winds down in 2020. Investment will fall off a cliff over the coming years unless there is a major change in government policy, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Under the Glare

Australia is one of the most vulnerable developed countries to climate change – yet also has the financial muscle to respond

“The government has revived the default approach the Liberal-National coalition has had on emissions since the 1990s: do as little as possible, hope that economic developments reduce emissions without policy intervention, deny that there are any policy issues, and defer as many issues as possible to another day,” said Kobad Bhavnagri, head of BNEF research for Australia. “It’s akin to having one’s fingers crossed and head buried in the sand.”

For Australia’s pension funds, the lack of certainty surrounding climate policy is a problem because they often need to plan decades ahead. With infrastructure assets in particular, which investors may wish to hold indefinitely, ensuring they’ll still be operational and profitable in a changed climate is vital.

“Climate change is here and the impacts are being felt,” said Emma Herd, chief executive officer of the Investor Group on Climate Change, whose members control about A$2 trillion in investments. “Large sections of the private sector are moving in concert with global change and not being driven by domestic regulatory pressures.”

Meantime, Australian firms are developing cutting-edge tools that allow investors to model how climate change will impact precise areas where they have an asset, says Herd. Nick Wood, director of consultancy Climate Policy Research, says the private sector’s attitude has “definitely changed.”

Forget Paris

Australia is projected to miss its global commitments on current policies

IFM Investors, a A$111 billion infrastructure fund, has taken steps to safeguard assets against environmental change. It part owns Brisbane Airport, which built a new water side runway 1.5 meters higher than regulation demands. The fund is also offering lower berthing fees at its ports to less-polluting ships.

Construction & Building Unions Superannuation, a A$46 billion Australian fund, has committed to making all of its properties have net zero emissions by 2030.

A sheep drinks from what remains at the freshwater dam at Oldfield’s farm.

Photographer: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg

“While Australia is locked in a policy quagmire on climate action, the world is moving on and this makes sound investment and economic sense,” said Kristian Fok, CBUS’s chief investment officer.

On her dairy farm 700 kilometers inland from Sydney, Ruth Kydd says there is only one answer: prepare now. To prevent dairy production dropping as cows become heat stressed, she’s installed sprinklers for them to cool off under, and stored at least six months supply of feed. That’s put her in a stronger position than many to fight the drought.

“All our decisions have a long-term aspect to them, otherwise it’s not worth investing the money,” she says. How the climate will look in a decade or more “is always in the back of your mind.”

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While economic growth continues we’ll never kick our fossil fuels habit #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #ClimateChange #ClimateEmergency #Neoliberalism is a suicide cult. #Drought #StopAdani #EndCoal #TheDrum #QandA Break the Silence!

While economic growth continues we’ll never kick our fossil fuels habit | George Monbiot

George MonbiotWed 26 Sep 2018 15.00 AEST

We’re getting there, aren’t we?

We’re making the transition towards an all-electric future. We can now leave fossil fuels in the ground and thwart climate breakdown. Or so you might imagine, if you follow the technology news.

So how come oil production, for the first time in history, is about to hit 100m barrels a day?

How come the oil industry expects demand to climb until the 2030s?

How is it that in Germany, whose energy transition (Energiewende) was supposed to be a model for the world, protesters are being beaten up by police as they try to defend the 12,000-year-old Hambacher forest from an opencast mine extracting lignite – the dirtiest form of coal?

Why have investments in Canadian tar sands – the dirtiest source of oil – doubled in a year?

The answer is, growth.

There may be more electric vehicles on the world’s roads, but there are also more internal combustion engines.

There be more bicycles, but there are also more planes.

It doesn’t matter how many good things we do: preventing climate breakdown means ceasing to do bad things.

Given that economic growth, in nations that are already rich enough to meet the needs of all, requires an increase in pointless consumption, it is hard to see how it can ever be decoupled from the assault on the living planet.

When a low-carbon industry expands within a growing economy, the money it generates stimulates high-carbon industry.

Anyone who works in this field knows environmental entrepreneurs, eco-consultants and green business managers who use their earnings to pay for holidays in distant parts of the world and the flights required to get there.

Electric vehicles have driven a new resource rush, particularly for lithium, that is already polluting rivers and trashing precious wild places.

Clean growth is as much of an oxymoron as clean coal. But making this obvious statement in public life is treated as political suicide.

The Labour party’s new environment policy, published this week, rightly argues that “our current economic model is threatening the foundations on which human wellbeing depends”.

It recognises that ecological collapse cannot be prevented through consumer choice or corporate social responsibility: the response to our greatest predicament must be determined by scientific research, and planned, coordinated and led by government.

It pledges “to meet the Paris agreement goal of limiting global temperature rises to no more than 1.5C”. But, like almost everyone else, it ignores the fundamental problem.

Beyond a certain point, economic growth – the force that lifted people out of poverty, and cured deprivation, squalor and disease – tips us back into those conditions. To judge by the devastation climate breakdown is wreaking, we appear already to have reached this point.

The contradiction is most obvious when the policy document discusses airports (an issue on which the party is divided).

Labour guarantees that any airport expansion must adhere to its tests on climate change. But airport expansion is incompatible with its climate commitments. Even if aircraft emissions are capped at 2005 levels, by 2050 they will account for half the nation’s carbon budget if the UK is not to contribute to more than 1.5C of global warming. If airports grow, they will swallow even more of the budget.

Airport expansion is highly regressive, offending the principles of justice and equity that Labour exists to uphold. Regardless of the availability and cost of flights, they are used disproportionately by the rich, as these are the people with the business meetings in New York, the second homes in Tuscany, and the money to pay for winter holidays in the sun. Yet the impacts – noise, pollution and climate breakdown – are visited disproportionately on the poor.

I recognise that challenging our least contested ideologies – growth and consumerism – is a tough call. But in New Zealand, it is beginning to happen. Jacinda Ardern, the Labour prime minister, says: “It will no longer be good enough to say a policy is successful because it increases GDP if it also degrades the physical environment.” How this translates into policy, and whether her party will resolve its own contradictions, remains to be determined.

Jacinda Ardern At the UN

No politician can act without support.

If we want political parties to address these issues, we too must start addressing them.

We cannot rely on the media to do it for us.

A report by the research group Media Matters found that total coverage of climate change across five US news networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and PBS) amounted to 260 minutes in 2017 – a little over four hours.

Almost all of it was a facet of the Trump psychodrama (Will he pull out of the Paris accord?

What’s he gone and done this time?) rather than the treatment of climate chaos in its own right.

There was scarcely a mention of the link between climate breakdown and the multiple unnatural disasters the US suffered that year; of new findings in climate science; or of the impacts of new pipelines or coalmines. I cannot find a comparable recent study in the UK. I suspect it is a little better, but not a lot.

The worst denial is not the claim that this existential crisis isn’t happening.

It is the failure to talk about it at all.

Not talking about our greatest predicament, even as it starts to bite, requires a constant and determined effort.

Taken as a whole (of course there are exceptions), the media are a threat to humanity.

They claim to speak on our behalf, but they either speak against us or do not speak at all.

So what do we do?

We talk.

As the climate writer Joe Romm argued in ThinkProgress this year, a crucial factor in the remarkable shift in attitudes towards LGBT people was the determination of activists to break the silence.

They overcame social embarrassment to broach issues that other people found uncomfortable.

We need, Romm argues, to do the same for climate breakdown.

A recent survey suggests that 65% of Americans rarely or never discuss it with friends or family, while only one in five hear people they know mention the subject at least once a month.

Like the media, we subconsciously invest great psychological effort into not discussing an issue that threatens almost every aspect of our lives.

Let’s be embarrassing.

Let’s break the silence, however uncomfortable it makes us and others feel.

Let’s talk about the great unmentionables: not just climate breakdown, but also growth and consumerism.

Let’s create the political space in which well-intentioned parties can act.

Let us talk a better world into being.

• George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist

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Solar PV to grow 65-fold by 2050, 2°C target will be missed by a long shot – #StopAdani #EndCoal #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #ClimateEmergency @TheCairnsPost #TheDrum #QandA

Solar PV to grow 65-fold by 2050, 2°C target will be missed by a long shot – report

DNV GL has issued its annual Energy Transition Outlook.

It reports that global electricity demand is set to grow by a factor of 2.5.

Over half of this demand is expected to be met with renewable energy by 2050, while storage will play a key role.

It adds that grid infrastructure expenditures are less related to variable renewable energy assets than to increasing energy demand.

In the current scenario, meanwhile, global warming is likely to reach 2.6°C.

September 26, 2018

The report states that solar PV will be the biggest winner in the global energy transition.

Image: AES El Salvador

Norwegian-based quality assurance and risk management company, DNV GL has released its annual Energy Transition Outlook (ETO 2018).

The report states that solar PV will be the biggest winner in the global energy transition.

In other findings, it sees that the costs incurred by the energy transition will not surpass current fossil fuel investments, underlining that a move towards a low-carbon society is financially viable.

Despite rapid growth numbers for all renewable energy resources and positive developments in energy efficiency, the analysts conclude that current ambitions will fall short of meeting the Paris Agreement’s 2°C target, set in 2015.

Strong growth

Solar PV will continue to surf a wave of success, the analysts suggest. DNV GL claims that global installed capacity will multiply by a factor of 65 until 2050. By that time, cumulative capacity will have reached 19 TW, accounting for 40% of the world’s electricity production. Around 30% of this capacity is set to be installed on residential or commercial rooftops, while the remainder of 13.3 TW will account for ground-mounted utility-scale systems, it says, adding that cumulative land-use of ground-mounted systems is on track to account for 0.3% of the globe’s total landmass.

The growth of renewables and solar PV, in particular, will be at the detriment of the fossil fuel industry. DNV GL says that the global demand for electricity will grow by a factor of 2.5 from now to 2050, while coal and gas-fired electricity generation will decrease by 60%.

With the increasing installation of variable renewable energy assets, storage systems are taking center stage in the energy systems of the future. The ETO 2018 stipulates that by 2050, around 50 TWh of storage capacity will be installed to cope with variable energy generation. Furthermore, the analysts calculate that it will be possible to utilize 10% of electric vehicle (EV) battery capacity for participation in grid services, to reduce the number of stationary storage systems.

Acknowledging that the situation could change with regards to EV adoption rates, and the willingness of EV owners to participate in such schemes, DNV GL estimates that the EV fleet in Europe in 2050 could provide nearly all of the storage needed for grid services.

Grid expenditure not PV’s cup of tea

Grid expenditure is rising steeply; however, the model used by DNV GL in its report, attributes this increased expenditure primarily to the increased demand for electricity, rather than an increase in renewables. Indeed, it says the costs attributed to grid resilience measures, resulting from the increasing installation of variable renewable energy, are considerably less than a third of the total expenditure.

The analysts assume in their calculation that global grid expenditure will rise from just under US$500 billion per year now, to roughly $1,500 billion per year in 2050. By 2050, grid expenditures attributed to reinforcements, due to increased variable renewable energy are expected to be around $350-400 billion per year in 2050.

Despite efforts to meet energy efficiency needs, an increasing number of people enjoying grid connection and a lifestyle with modern appliances will cause global energy demand to continue to rise by 0.9% annually. According to the report, current global energy demand it at about 400 exajoules (EJ) per year. Considering said growth in energy demand, the estimation presumes that global energy demand will peak in 2035 at 470 EJ per year. Following that, energy demand is likely to decline again, down to 450 EJ per year by mid-century.

Energy efficiency, thus, is becoming an important topic. Reportedly, India and China will be the only two regions with a notable increase in energy consumption per capita, between 2016 and 2050. China’s per capita energy consumption in 2016 reached 96 GJ and is likely to increase to 111 GJ. In India, consumption is set to increase from 26 GJ to 43 GJ throughout the same forecasting period. In contrast, North American consumption will decrease drastically, from 297 GJ to 136 GJ and in Europe, from 137 GJ down to 86 GJ. Overall, the world average will decrease from 78 GJ per person to 64 GJ per person.

Furthermore, regions without energy excess today, mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa and India, will achieve comprehensive supply predominantly through off-grid PV systems. In these regions, it is also likely that off-grid PV systems will replace existing off-grid diesel gensets. According to the analysis, off-grid, PV will take a 50% and 30% share in those regions, respectively. Though energy consumption of the populations in these regions is generally low, it is worth bearing in mind that Sub-Saharan Africa and India account for considerably more than two billion people, thus amounting to a market of considerable size.

Energy transition finance

The ETO 2018 further calculates that investments in fossil fuels amounted to $3.4 trillion in 2016. These are projected to , and decrease to $2.1 trillion by 2050. Investments in non-fossil energy resources will experience a reverse trend throughout the forecasting period. While in 2016, global non-fossil investment reached $0.69 trillion, by 2050, that number is set to grow to $2.4 trillion.

The analysts also calculate that overall global energy expenditure will increase by 33%, from $4.5 trillion in 2016, up to $6 trillion in 2050. However, because global GDP is also expected to rise by a significant 130%, the proportion of global GDP invested in the world energy systems will decrease from 5.5% in 2016, down to 3.1% in 2050.

The report goes on to highlight that renewable energy assets are very capital expenditure heavy. Capex for renewable energy assets will surpass that of the fossil fuel sector by 2029, onwards. These lead to a shift from operational expenditures related to the acquisition of fuels for example, to capex. While in 2016, just 17% of the energy expenditure accounted for capex, it will climb up to 47% by 2050; though this marks the shift, rather than signalizing increasing expenditures. In this vein, the analysts also assume that system costs for solar PV and wind will drop at a rate of 16-18% for a doubling of capacity.

The report says on that matter, “The energy transition may still be financially challenging, given the heavier capex load from renewables and grid, but our forecast suggests it is unlikely to prove financially disruptive. If we chose to maintain the percentage of global GDP going to energy expenditure, then there is ample scope to accelerate the pace of change.”

Falling short of the Paris Agreement

According to the analysts’ estimates, global energy-related carbon emissions amount to 32 gigatons (Gt), having remained somewhat flat over the last three years. Reportedly, emissions would continue the trend of remaining somewhat flat or rising slightly, to reach their peak in 2025, at roughly 3% higher than today. DNV GL’s report continues that after that, global carbon emissions will decline gradually, to 50% of their current levels (18Gt) by 2050.

Moreover, energy-related emissions from coal and oil are set to decline by 65% and 52%, respectively, by 2050, while gas-fired energy generation emissions are likely to rise by 6% in the same period. The analysts also have little hope in the potential for carbon capture storage (CCS), claiming that the technology will not capture more than 0.3 Gt, or 1.7% of global carbon emission in 2050.

The report concludes on a sobering note, reiterating the Paris Agreement carbon budget calculations, according to which the CO2 budget for 2°C is 2,900 Gt CO2, using the 66% (‘likely’) probability threshold reported by the IPCC. In this CO2 budget of 2,900 Gt, 800 Gt CO2-eq is already deducted from the total budget of 3,700 Gt CO2-eq, to allow for the non-CO2 emissions, such as methane (CH4).

The world is not on track to reduce carbon levels at the necessary pace to meet the 2°C target.

Graph: DNV GL

Thereby, the analysts calculated with varying degrees of remaining carbon budgets, and probability thresholds. Resulting from this calculation, the analysts, estimate that the world will have used its carbon budget to meet to 1.5°C by 2021, already. Going from this scenario, the global carbon output will have exceeded the 2°C by 2037. And by 2050, global CO2 emissions will have overshot the 2°C target by 390 Gt of CO2.

“The figures suggest that the world is heading towards a level of warming of 2.6°C above pre-industrial global average levels in the second half of this century,” the analysts conclude.

Press link for more: PV-Magazine

Climate Mobilization plea: Cities must declare emergency! #auspol #qldpol #nswpol @cairnscouncil #TheDrum #QandA #ClimateChange #StopAdani #EndCoal @TheCairnsPost

Mobilization plea: Cities must declare emergency

A young nonprofit aims to create a coalition of local governments pushing for World War II-style commitment to address challenges of global warming.

Los Angeles skyline. (Photo credit: Josh Rose on Unsplash)

In a lead-up to the 2016 Democratic Party nomination, candidate Bernie Sanders characterized Hillary Clinton’s approach to global warming as slow and bureaucratic. Calling the Paris Agreement “a lot of paper” during a debate broadcast on CNN, he claimed that the former Secretary of State did not recognize the enormity of the challenges facing humanity. “When we look at climate change now, we have got to realize that this is a global environmental crisis of unprecedented urgency,” he demanded.

His recommended solution: a society-wide mobilization of the kind that transformed the United States in the 1940s. “Under Franklin Delano Roosevelt, we moved within three years … to rebuild our economy to defeat Naziism and Japanese imperialism,” he said. “That is exactly the kind of approach we need right now.”

Urging ‘a huge shift … a WW II-scale climate mobilization’. Click To Tweet

Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats and ran for the Democratic nomination, isn’t the only politician drawing parallels between climate change and fascist aggression. New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has been hailed as an up-and-coming progressive champion, has spoken about the need for a World War II-style commitment to fighting global warming. The Democratic Party in 2016 included similar language in its official platform.

The Climate Mobilization was launched at the 2014 People’s Climate March. (Photo: Courtesy of The Climate Mobilization)

The injection of this messaging into American political discourse can be traced in part to The Climate Mobilization, a largely volunteer-run nonprofit founded in 2014. Executive Director Margaret Salamon Klein, pictured with colleagues, says the organization was born out of a conviction that only a narrow window of time remains to prevent widespread climate catastrophe.

“We used to call World War II-scale climate mobilization a hidden consensus, because so many environmental leaders, scientists, thought leaders had said or signed statements … calling for it,” she said in a phone interview. “It’s definitely not our idea, but we are the only group that is actually campaigning for this thing that everybody knows we need.”

Victory planning and wartime mode

So what would this mobilization look like?

In 2016, the group released a paper laying out its vision. After Pearl Harbor, it says, the private sector and ordinary citizens alike embraced the need for an immediate shift to wartime mode, financed by massive public spending. Soldiers flew to Europe to fight, while civilians ramped up scientific research efforts, transformed factories into military production centers, and planted Victory Gardens to supplement food rations.

Translating this effort into the modern era, The Climate Mobilization advocates for nationwide initiatives to halt greenhouse gas emissions and cool the planet to safe levels. Among its policy recommendations: harnessing the Federal Reserve Board to fund emergency climate action; rationing products and services that emit greenhouse gases; and launching a massive research and development program aimed at reducing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations to preindustrial levels.

Local action

During the 2016 campaign, The Climate Mobilization focused its efforts on influencing candidates for national office. But when Donald Trump’s victory smashed hopes of federal progress on climate, Klein Salamon and her team turned their attention to local governments.

Their first collaboration with municipal officials grew out of a call from the office of Los Angeles Council Member Paul Koretz. Having seen The Climate Mobilization’s work on the presidential campaign, Koretz’s staff wanted to learn more about how these ideas could be implemented on the local level.

Early this year, Koretz introduced a motion to create a municipal Climate Emergency Mobilization Department; in April, the city council voted unanimously to explore the idea further. While the city ponders its next steps, The Climate Mobilization is helping to prepare a local action plan. “We’re working with leading community and environmental justice organizations from South Los Angeles to bring the plan to their communities, so it’s based in their needs and values,” said Ezra Silk, the organization’s director of strategy and policy.

To help persuade other cities to buy into its ideas – and demonstrate that the dramatic emissions reductions it calls for are feasible – The Climate Mobilization prepared sample action plans for nine additional cities around the U.S.  Engineer John Mitchell, who wrote the plans, pulled data about each city from publicly available sources like municipal utility reports and Google’s Project Sunroof. He then created tailored recommendations based on policies and programs that have been successfully implemented elsewhere, ranging from a municipal waste-processing initiative in Halifax to a combined electric vehicle and rooftop solar program in Japan.

In the past year, The Climate Mobilization and partners and volunteers have convinced four local governments to declare climate emergencies. In California, these include Berkeley and neighboring Richmond. On the east coast, Hoboken, New Jersey, and Montgomery County, Maryland, have signed on.

Global strategy

While a number of climate organizations focus on cities, The Climate Mobilization describes itself as unique in its emphasis on World War II-style measures. Its focus on using cities to put pressure on regional and national governments also stands out. While municipalities need to eliminate their own greenhouse gas emissions, their commitment must extend beyond their borders, the organization contends. Given the scale of the problem, it says, cities need to join forces to push for emergency measures at higher levels.

According to Silk, Berkeley has taken this idea to heart. The local government held a town hall on August 24 to promote the idea of a wave of emergency declarations throughout the Bay Area; Los Angeles’s Paul Koretz was one of the speakers. As a follow-up, it plans to host a two-day summit early next year to galvanize action in the wider region.

Telling the truth … ‘at core of change’

The Climate Mobilization’s cities strategy draws heavily on the ideas of Philip Sutton, an Australian environmentalist who leads a climate emergency movement in a small community near Melbourne. In his writing and speeches, Sutton emphasizes the need for thoughtful planning and action to accompany emergency declarations, as opposed to the purely rhetorical statements he’s seen from some cities.

But for Margaret Klein Salamon, who holds a PhD in psychology, simply acknowledging the problem is a vital first step. She believes that current climate communication approaches may do more harm than good, describing them as akin to “don’t scare the children.” Assuming that people will simply shut down once they fully grasp the threat posed by global warming, some climate leaders prefer to focus on positive messages such as the benefits to be gained from decarbonization. But she fears this approach can make it difficult for non-experts to understand the severity of what’s at stake. (See this month’s ‘This is not Cool’ Yale Climate Connections video on related issues involving emotional responses to climate change impacts.)

A better strategy, she contends, is to present all aspects of the issue as clearly as possible, making the risks of continued warming clear so that people can make informed choices. “What my psychology background has taught me is that telling the truth is at the core of change,” she said.

In this line of thinking, if the only way to prevent worst-case warming scenarios is to throw all of humanity’s creativity and resources at the problem immediately, the broadest possible range of individuals needs to feel strongly motivated to act. And cities can help provide this motivation.

“If a city – if an elected government body – is willing to say we’re in a climate emergency and we need World War II-scale climate mobilization now,” Klein Salamon said, “that’s a huge shift.”

Just how huge may well depend on how many cities – and which ones – rise to the challenge.

Press link for more: Yale Climate Connections

“Hothouse Earth” Co-Author: The Problem Is #Neoliberal Economics #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #ClimateChange #EndCoal #StopAdani #Neoliberalism once a cargo cult is now a suicide cult! #TheDrum #QandA

By Kate Aronoff

By shifting to a “wartime footing” to drive a rapid shift toward renewable energy and electrification, humanity can still avoid the apocalyptic future laid out in the much-discussed “hothouse earth” paper, a lead author of the paper told The Intercept.

One of the biggest barriers to averting catastrophe, he said, has more to do with economics than science.

When journal papers about climate change make headlines, the news usually isn’t good.

Last week was no exception, when the so-called hothouse earth paper, in which a team of interdisciplinary Earth systems scientists warned that the problem of climate change may be even worse than we thought, made its news cycle orbit.

(The actual title of the paper, a commentary published in the Proceedings of the Natural Academy of Sciences, is “Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene.”)

Coverage of the paper tended to focus on one of its more alarming claims, albeit one that isn’t new to climate researchers: that a series of interlocking dynamics on Earth — from melting sea ice to deforestation — can feed upon one another to accelerate warming and climate impacts once we pass a certain threshold of warming, even after humans have stopped pouring greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

The best chance we have for staying below that catastrophic threshold is to cap warming at around 2 degrees Celsius, the target enshrined in the Paris Agreement.

That’s all correct and plenty daunting.

Yet embedded within the paper is a finding that’s just as stunning: that none of this is inevitable, and one of the main barriers between us and a stable planet — one that isn’t actively hostile to human civilization over the long term — is our economic system.

Asked what could be done to prevent a hothouse earth scenario, co-author Will Steffen told The Intercept that the “obvious thing we have to do is to get greenhouse gas emissions down as fast as we can.

That means that has to be the primary target of policy and economics.

You have got to get away from the so-called neoliberal economics.”

Instead, he suggests something “more like wartime footing” to roll out renewable energy and dramatically reimagine sectors like transportation and agriculture “at very fast rates.”

That “wartime footing” Steffen describes is a novel concept in 2018, but hasn’t been throughout American history when the nation has faced other existential threats.

In the lead-up to World War II, the government played a heavy hand in industry, essentially shifting the U.S. to a centrally planned economy, rather than leaving things like prices and procurement of key resources up to market forces.

By the end of World War II, about a quarter of all manufacturing in the United States had been nationalized. And while governments around the world continue to intervene heavily in the private sector — including in the U.S. — those interventions tend now to be on behalf of corporations, be it through subsidies to fossil fuel companies or zoning laws that favor luxury real estate developers.

Contra much of the apocalyptic coverage around “Trajectories,” runaway climate change of the kind described in Steffen and his co-authors’ paper is very likely preventable.

The ways to prevent it just happen to go against the economic logic that has dominated the world economy for the last half-decade, to scale back regulations and give major industries free reign.

Climate modeler Glen Peters saw a gap between the relatively measured perspective provided in the paper and the doomsday tone of press coverage, where headlines — like “No Existing Policies Will Be Enough to Prevent a Future Hothouse Earth,” per Futurism, and “Earth at Risk of ‘Hothouse’ Climate Tipping Point Even If Emissions Are Reduced” — make the end of days seem like a foregone conclusion.

“I don’t think many scientists think that if we met our Paris commitments, we would end up in a hothouse,” Peters said. “I think at least the media coverage went too far.

The final paragraph in the paper says these are all speculative and that to sure it up, we will have to do lots of research on these questions. … The media takeaway is that we’re heading to a hellhole.”

The end isn’t quite so nigh.

On top of rapidly phasing-out greenhouse gas emissions, “Trajectories” notes that humans have to create their own negative feedback mechanisms so the Earth can maintain a stable level of carbon in the atmosphere.

That means expanding and repairing the Earth’s natural “carbon sinks,” like big forests that can effectively suck emissions out of the atmosphere and store them naturally.

“We need to immediately stop deforestation of the Amazon rainforest and other tropical forests, and start reforesting them.

That means a U-turn in terms of how we operate the world’s economic systems,” Steffen told me via Skype. “The only way you’re going to change that is if you actually change value systems, perhaps even changing the way political systems operate and so on.

The social scientists in our group have said this really is a fundamental change in human societies we need to have if we’re going to solve this problem.”

Mind, none of this is terribly unique for scientific papers on climate change. Peters notes that upon first read, he skimmed over the section in the paper describing what humans can do to prevent climate change. “I’ve read that a billion times. I don’t need to read it a billion and one,” he joked. That reining in emissions will require massive transformations in the Earth’s productive systems isn’t controversial within the scientific community, which has long argued that world economies need to decarbonize by midcentury at the absolute latest — and that’s a assuming a best-case scenario in which so-called negative emissions technologies can by that point be deployed at scale.

The paper itself put it in fairly direct terms. “The present dominant socioeconomic system,” the authors wrote, “is based on high-carbon economic growth and exploitative resource use.

Attempts to modify this system have met with some success locally but little success globally in reducing greenhouse gas emissions or building more effective stewardship of the biosphere.

Incremental linear changes to the present socioeconomic system are not enough to stabilize the Earth system; these include changes in behavior, technology and innovation, governance, and values.”

Press link for more: The Intercept

Energy policy captive to lobbyists and ‘mad ideologues’, Tim Flannery says #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #WentworthVotes #StopAdani #Endcoal #ClimateChange #Ecocide

Five years after the Climate Commission’s axing, its former head says there has been progress as well as setbacks

Ben SmeeLast modified on Sun 23 Sep 2018 18.58 AEST

Five years since the Abbott government scrapped the Climate Commission, the environmentalist Tim Flannery says our energy policy remains hostage to lobbyists, political self-interest and “mad ideologues”.

But the organisation Flannery helped start from the ashes of Abbott’s climate bonfire, the Climate Council, says that attitudes have shifted substantially since 2013 – at least those outside federal parliament.

“We’re being held hostage at a federal level,” Flannery told Guardian Australia.

“It has been a disgrace.

Our failures are the failures of a small group of politicians who are supposed to be acting in the national interest. Instead, they’re using energy policy as a cudgel, they’re listening to paid lobbyists and doing their bidding.”

“I don’t want to say any more because I’ll just get angry.”

Flannery was the chief commissioner of the Climate Commission, a government-backed research body whose remit was to communicate reliable and authoritative information about climate change.

The commission lasted just two years, and was almost immediately scrapped by the Abbott government after the 2013 election. Flannery and other commissioners decided to subsequently launch the Climate Council as an independent not-for-profit body.

“We raised $1.5m in 10 days,” recalls Amanda McKenzie, the council’s chief executive.

“At the time we went out, quite on a limb, because we had no funding. We said we will go ahead if the public backs us. It was the largest crowdfunding campaign in Australian history. Thousands of people were contributing.”

“I look back on that time as a really hopeful moment, thinking the community is behind us on this. More and more Australians are concerned about the issue. That concern has elevated over time.

“We had no idea that we would still be, five years later, battling for any action on an federal government level.”

Flannery points out that Australia’s emissions continue to increase “at a time when they need to be going down”. The federal government has abandoned any commitment to meeting the Paris emissions reduction targets. The new prime minister, Scott Morrison, famously used a lump of coal as a prop in parliament.

Scott Morrison with a lump of coal during Question Time in the House of Representatives. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

That state of affairs might cause some to question whether any progress had been made during the past five years. But putting federal politics to one side, both Flannery and McKenzie say strides have been made by individuals, local and state governments.

“I think [without the Climate Council] we’d be a long way behind in terms of public awareness, we’d be a huge distance behind,” Flannery said. “Those who were seeking to mislead would be [not held to account].”

“I’m immensely proud of it and I think we’ve made a huge difference”.

Flannery said the Climate Council initially sought to be a research and information body, filling the gap left by the disbanding of the commission. But in recent years it has taken on a broader remit, actively running programs to support action.

“We decided we needed to expand our remit, we’re running out of time to deal with this issue and we needed to pull out all stops.

“I think we’ve got to use every leverage point we can at the moment because we’re running out of time. We need to find those programs that work, get involved and start leading them.”

One of those programs, which Flannery says he is “most proud of”, is a partnership that supports local governments to transition to clean energy.

“What we didn’t realise [five years ago] was that state governments would step into the vacuum and that local governments would step into the vacuum,” McKenzie said.

In five years, the council has released more than 100 publications.

“If we had failed, it would not only have set back the entire climate change discussion in Australia, it would have given the conservatives an opportunity to say how little everyone cares about climate change,” Flannery said.

“There will be a need for the Climate Council I think for decades, because the problem isn’t going to be solved for decades. It’s a pretty tough thing to be pushing against this and find you’re constantly going backwards. But I’m nothing if not stubborn.”

Press link for more: The Guardian

The Adani Coal Mine Is An Eco-Crime. Here’s Why. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #EndCoal @1millionwomen @HaskerOlivia @scheerlinckeva @aistbuzz #TheDrum

On the Saturday, 8 September 2018, thousands of people across 95 countries peacefully occupied public spaces and demanded real climate action from their governments.

The “Rise for Climate” movement’s demands were simple: 100% renewable energy.


For many people, this form of organised mass environmental protest is the logical response to a year of devastating climate impacts such as deadly heatwaves, droughts, fires and floods alongside a surprising lack of climate action from local leaders.

These extreme weather events, which have resulted in loss of life, property, and have cost millions of dollars in damages, do not have to be inevitable.

Scientists have been able to map and predict the harms that will follow if fossil fuels continue to be burned.

We know what needs to be done.

All that’s missing is the political will necessary to do it.

For this reason, dismissing scientific evidence and allowing harms against the environment can and should be understood as criminal, the same way purposeful destruction of property is a punishable offense.

This type of “eco-crime” is not accidental.

It is the result of arbitrary power exercised by those who have the capacity to wield it, i.e. governments and corporations.

By the same token, this type of “eco-crime” is also the result of a democratic deficit.

Corporate donations and lobbying have led to the fossil fuel industry’s agenda receiving political support over meaningful action on climate change.

In Australia, the ongoing debate over Adani’s Carmichael Mine demonstrates these points.

The proposed Carmichael Mine for Queensland’s Galilee Basin would be one of the largest in the world, producing an estimated 40-60 million tonnes of thermal coal per year.

Once this coal is burned, the Carmichael’s average annual emissions will amount to 79 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Adani and the Queensland Government predict the life span of the mine to be between 25 and 60 years.

To put these figures into perspective: the annual carbon emissions of this single coal mine would be three times the average annual emissions from New Delhi; double those from Tokyo; six times that of Amsterdam; and 20% more than New York City.

This massive amount of carbon dioxide must remain untouched and left in the ground.

Not only are the emissions incompatible with the current international threshold of limiting global warming to two degrees, but they would also guarantee the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef.

Our oceans have absorbed nearly one-third of human-produced carbon dioxide.

This has resulted in a more acidic ocean chemistry and subsequent coral bleaching. Adding a further 79 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere annually would threaten thousands of species that rely on the Reef; not to mention the $6.4 billion in tourism revenue and 64,000 full- time jobs the Great Barrier Reef provides to Australia.

To make matters worse, the environmental impacts of the Carmichael Mine are not limited to climate change: It also threatens a number of endangered species living on the proposed mine site, would sterilise fertile cropland, and would use up billions of litres of water currently relied on by local populations.

Because of those facts, the people-powered movement against Adani and the Carmichael Mine is the biggest mass protest in Australian history.

The Wangan and Jagalingou People, whose land the mine would destroy, disapprove of the mine.

The majority of Australians disapprove of the mine. 9 out of 10 Australians want our government to tackle climate change.

Yet, despite all of this, Adani has not yet been told “no”.

On the contrary, Adani has been continuously supported by the Queensland and Federal governments.

The Federal Government has even considered funding the mine.

The approvals have been granted, through the country’s existing environmental legislation and mining approvals processes.

These contradictions raise two important questions: If Australian citizens disapprove of the Carmichael Mine, why are those who are elected to represent Australian citizens supporting it?

And, if we know the Mine promises devastating harms to the Earth, how have our environmental laws – which were established to protect the environment – allowed for the mine to be approved?

In short, the Carmichael Mine has been given consideration because of shortcomings in our democracy.

Lawsuits have been filed against individual citizens and environmental groups for speaking out against corporations and exercising their democratic rights to organise, petition and engage in peaceful demonstration.

Environmental groups who have challenged the government’s approval of the Carmichael Mine have been accused of “vigilante litigation” and, in one case, the legislation that allowed Adani to be taken to court was threatened to be changed.

Meanwhile, unregulated and private transfers of money from the pockets of lobbyists, special interest groups, and corporations have bought politicians’ support for the Carmichael Mine.

The revolving door between working for fossil fuel corporations and as government advisors have also made the mine a possibility.

Then there is the issue of environmental laws that inadequately protect endangered species and ecosystems and do not prevent new contributions to climate change. Australia’s Environmental

Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999), for example, contains loopholes regarding the classification of emissions and impacts that have allowed the Carmichael Mine to be considered at a time of record-level global warming.

There is a lot of work to be done in order to safeguard our democracy: The right to protest and speak out against government decisions or dangerous corporate activities must be protected.

The rules of political lobbying need to be reformed.

Stronger laws around the disclosure of campaign financing and political party donations are needed.

Our environmental legislation needs to be updated so it can do what it’s supposed to do.

But with the increase in global awareness surrounding climate change, there is hope.

One potential solution lies in the concept of “Ecocide” – the extensive damage to, or destruction of, the natural environment by human agency.

The concept emerged after the Vietnam War, when the use of Agent Orange brought the international community together to ban the purposeful destruction of the environment in warfare.

While no such crime exists during peacetime, there has been a movement to make Ecocide the fifth Crime Against Peace within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

A crime of Ecocide would legally force governments and businesses to make decisions that put people and the Earth first.

Those with the power to make judgments that affect our planet would finally be held accountable.

This won’t be easy.

Powerful elites want legislation that operates in their favour.

However, Ecocide law can also be implemented at a local level.

As we’ve seen, mass demonstrations, public critique, and persistent legal action have halted the Carmichael Mine thus far, with factions of the political elite unable to ignore the demands of their constituents.

This proves that persistence – and creativity – is key in environmental protection.

Voting for representatives that commit to acting on climate change will close the gap between what the public wants and how the government acts. It is through democratic process that we will achieve a government for the people, by the people.

Olivia Hasler is a criminology PhD candidate at the University of Tasmania. She has recently completed a major study of the Adani Carmichael Mine as a case of state- corporate crime and ecocide. In recent work she has written about environmental activism and the state for journals such as Critical Criminology, reflecting her strong interest in social and ecological justice. You can follow her on Twitter at @HaslerOlivia.

Press link for more:

Voters of Wentworth can present the nation with a gift #auspol #nswpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani #EndCoal #WentworthVotes

Voters of Wentworth can present the nation with a gift

26 September 2018 — 12:05am

I celebrated Malcolm Turnbull’s ascension to Australia’s leadership by publishing a photo on Twitter of my mother and I toasting him with champagne. “Small l liberalism” – socially progressive, economically dry, environmentally green – was on the rise again in the Liberal Party.

Of course, the right wing clipped his wings.

He held the line as best he could. But now, the right has become the hard right, moving inexorably towards a friendly merger with One Nation and threatening a Trumpified, racially charged Liberal Party destabilising our centrist politics.

Kerryn Phelps is a liberal in the mould of Malcolm Turnbull.

Photo: AAP

And now it’s clear that the new Prime Minister is controlled by the hard right.

Climate change policy – dead.

Energy policy focused on renewables – dead.

“Religious freedom” laws demanded by the hard right as compensation for losing the same sex marriage survey – pledged but not to be revealed until after the Wenthworth byelection.

Unfree speech proposals to disallow campus protests unless protesters pay for security – floated.

The ABC – at risk.

A non-discriminatory immigration policy – shaky.

In retrospect the most important political experience in my time as a political journo was observing the power relationship between the right and moderate wings of the Liberal Party, beginning with the bitter debate over One Nation in the late 1990s.

The John Howard-Tony Abbott strategy was to stay silent on her views and preference One Nation.

Jeff Kennett and Peter Costello urged rebutting her views on the merits and preferencing her last.

The Howard-Abbott strategy played out in the 1998 Queensland election, and was catastrophic – she won seats in the regions but liberal voters in Brisbane fled to Labor.

Howard quickly changed course, preferencing One Nation last in the 1998 federal election (One Nation didn’t win a seat) and caving in to Brian Harradine to settle the dispute over his Wik land rights legislation rather than take it to a threatened race election.

I followed Hanson’s 1998 campaign and wrote a book about it, arguing that despair at the collapse of rural and regional services and jobs due to competition policy without transition arrangements to ease the pain propelled voters to scream via Hanson.

The then National Party leader John Anderson responded with a rural summit and decisive action to address those economic concerns.

Because then, as now, economic deprivation elevates racism.

Hanson is back, but this time, the right of the Liberal Party is hard right, and it’s backed by a hard-right media promoting climate change denial, animus towards immigration and reactionary social values.

To me, it looks like voters in the seat of Wentworth, which has existed since federation, have a historic opportunity to warn the Liberal Party that the moderate wing of its base will not tolerate the demise of the core principles and values of small l liberalism.

Only an independent in the tradition of Wentworth’s small l liberalism has a chance to beat the official Liberal Party candidate, so I was thrilled when Kerryn Phelps decided to stand.

Malcolm Turnbull’s demise is a signal that the hard right have taken control of the Liberal Party.

Photo: Bloomberg

Voters face a choice between the official Liberal candidate and an independent small l liberal promising to champion those values in our Parliament. A Turnbull liberal.

Her victory would set the hard right back on its heels with a crystal clear warning that it must turn back towards the sensible centre, a centre that reflects the values of most Australians.

Phelps has pledged not to block supply or vote no confidence in the government except with the support of an overwhelming majority of Wentworth voters. She would not bring down the government, but she would unequivocally represent liberalism’s values and vote accordingly on legislation. She would also be a liberal voice urging the government to end the suffering of refugees on Manus and Nauru by bringing them here or to New Zealand, as John Howard did after the Pacific Solution stopped the boats.

In that sense, electing Phelps is not at a protest vote, but a line-in-the sand liberal vote that would force Morrison to listen to the moderates in his party and reduce the dominant power of the far right faction.

Even more importantly, Wentworth voters would be presenting our nation a much-needed gift at a tumultuous time for liberal democracies.

We know that Trumpified politics is splitting right and left wing parties around the world and even beginning to threaten the sustainability of democracy.

I’ve watched US politics with horror, sanguine that our system would not fall apart like theirs due to the inherent centrism of our democracy grounded in compulsory voting.

But watching the fall of Turnbull for no decent, logical or transparent reason, I realised we’re at increasing risk too. Wentworth voters have the chance to lessen that risk.

There’s been a lot of drama about Phelps’ rookie errors in preferencing calls, but in our increasingly reactive and judgmental society I hope that enough Wentworth voters, whatever their political stripe, join forces to Vote 1 Kerryn Phelps to ensure she finishes second to the official Liberal Party candidate and wins on preferences.

Australian politics is at a tipping point, voters of Wentworth. Over to you.

Margot Kingston is a journalist, author and commentator.

Press link for more: SMH.COM