Month: March 2019

The Reef Report 31st March

Our climate is warming and this is causing changes in the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem which makes the Reef more vulnerable to possible impacts particularly over summer and cyclone season.

In 2016 and 2017 there was unprecedented back to back coral bleaching on the reef north of Cairns.

Fortunately this bleaching has not been repeated in the summer of 2018 but the coral was hit by record breaking flooding in February and a severe tropical cyclone that passed over the reef on March 19th.

Severe Cyclone Trevor passes over the reef.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority told Senate estimates hearings in Canberra recently that there is a chance corals hit by mass bleaching in 2016 or 2017 could be damaged again by one of several impacts from the flooding disaster that hit Townsville in February 2019.

Scientists are surveying the marine fallout from the state’s latest natural disaster, with the spectacle of muddy waters fanning out from swollen rivers of the Whitsundays to Cape Tribulation captured in satellite images that have been shared around the world.

Flood Plume from the Burdekin River

The Tourism industry in Australia employs over 534,000 people.

Tourism Industry Development Minister Kate Jones in a recent statement said tourism was a $25 billion industry in Queensland and directly employed about 217,000 people – nearly 10 per cent of the state’s workforce.

The risk to tourism from climate change cannot be over estimated.

The IPCC Report release in October 2018.

Incheon, Republic of Korea, October 8 – Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, the IPCC said in a new assessment.

With clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems, limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said on Monday.

It’s clear if we are to save the Great Barrier Reef and protect thousands of jobs in the tourism industry we must act now.

Labour declares national ‘environment and #climateemergency’ | The Independent #Auspol #Qldpol #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateChange is an existential threat #StopAdani

Labour has declared a “national environment and climate emergency” amid growing pressure on ministers to take drastic action to preserve the planet.

The move comes after dozens of councils made similar announcements and children across the country skipped school in protest over perceived government inaction on climate change.

Addressing the House of Commons, shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman asked if the Conservatives would join them in their call.

“Does the minister and secretary of state agree with around 50 councils and thousands of young people who have declared an environment and climate emergency?” she said. “Will the government join Labour in declaring a national environment and climate emergency?”

Environment minister Therese Coffey replied that her party was “already ahead of the game”, pointing to last year’s 25-year environment plan as evidence.

“We are making significant improvements in improving our natural environment,” she said. “And I genuinely hope that the whole house comes together to make sure they get behind the plan, so we can make sure that we do leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it.” 

Ms Hayman dismissed the minister’s response as “a bit of a fudge”.

Shadow fisheries minister Luke Pollard said if the government “refused to work” with them, they would take action “with or without them”.

The news came as the government released its official greenhouse gas figures for 2018, which show emissions down 3 per cent on the year before.

Significant progress has been made in cutting out coal in particular, but experts are concerned that efforts to tackle emissions from other sectors are stalling.

Protest groups such as Extinction Rebellion have taken to the streets to demand policies that reflect the scale of the approaching climate change catastrophe.

Last year, a report by scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that global CO2 emissions must be nearly halved by 2030 to prevent a global warming disaster.

With Michael Gove at the helm, the environment department has taken widely publicised steps towards cutting out plastic pollution.

However, the government has also faced criticism over its support for frackingand failure to meet biodiversity targets.

The additional strain of Brexit has raised concerns among green groups who fear the UK will lose many of its environmental protections after leaving the EU.

Mel Evans, senior climate campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said Labour’s declaration would only be worth anything if they backed it with meaningful policies.

“It’s clearly significant that Labour are declaring a climate emergency and we’d urge the government and other major parties to follow suit,” she said. “No UK politician can now ignore the growing public demand for immediate, radical action. A ‘climate emergency’ can’t just be a slogan so the key question remains – what are Labour going to do about it?”

As well as halting all new fossil fuel projects, Ms Evans added that Labour must commit to massive tree planting projects and block the expansion of Heathrow airport.

Friederike Lurken from campaign group Extinction Rebellion agreed that the announcement was welcome “after two years of nothing by Brexit” but said all the political parties needed to commit to making “making massive changes to tackle climate change and the ecological crisis”

“We are living through a climate emergency because governments and industry have not shown the necessary leadership, and, so far, have not acted fast enough,” she said.

Earlier this week, shadow treasury minister Clive Lewis and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas tabled a “Green New Deal” bill that would bring in a range of “radical” plans to preserve nature and boost green jobs.

Mirroring the deal proposed in the US by Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the proposals have already seen support from a grassroots Labour campaign, but are unlikely to make their way into policy in their current form.

— Read on

Greta Thunberg’s speech Goldene Kramera in Berlin #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #StopAdani

My speech tonight at Goldene Kamera in Berlin.

There is no recording available without me dubbed into German yet…

so here it is:

I dedicate this award to the people fighting to protect the Hambach Forest. And to activists everywhere who are fighting to keep the fossil fuels in the ground.

We live in a strange world.

Where all the united science tells us that we are about 11 years away from setting off an irreversible chain reaction way beyond human control that will probably be the end of our civilization as we know it.

We live in a strange world where children must sacrifice their own education in order to protest against the destruction of their future.

Where the people who have contributed the least to this crisis are the ones who are going to be affected the most.

Where politicians say it’s too expensive to save the world, while spending trillions of euros subsidizing fossil fuels.

We live in a strange world where no one dares to look beyond our current political systems even though its clear that the answers we seek will not be found within the politics of today.

Where some people seem to be more concerned about the presence in school of some children than the future of humankind.

Where everyone can choose their own reality and buy their own truth.

Where our survival is depending on a small, rapidly disappearing carbon budget. And hardly anyone even knows it exists.

We live in a strange world.

Where we think we can buy or build our way out of a crisis that has been created by buying and building things.

Where a football game or a film gala gets more media attention than the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced.

Where celebrities, film and pop-stars who have stood up against all injustices will not stand up for our environment and for climate justice because that would inflict on their right to fly around the world visiting their favorite restaurants, beaches and yoga retreats.

Avoiding catastrophic climate breakdown is to do the seemingly impossible. And that is what we have to do.

But here is the truth: we can’t do it without you in the audience here tonight.

People see you celebrities as Gods.

You influence billions of people.

We need you.

You can use your voice to raise awareness about this global crisis.

You can help turn individuals into movements. You can help us wake up our leaders – and let them know that our house is on fire.

We live in a strange world.

But it’s the world that my generation has been handed. It’s the only world we’ve got.

We are now standing at a crossroads in history.

We are failing but we have not yet failed.

We can still fix this.

It’s up to us.

UK Labour Party Declares National #ClimateEmergency In Likely Political First | Gizmodo Australia #Auspol #Qldpol #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #StopAdani #Insiders #QandA #TheDrum

UK politics is more than a seemingly endless Brexit slog.

On Thursday, for instance, the Labour Party declared a climate emergency.

It likely marks the first major party declaring a climate emergency at the national level anywhere in the world, in yet another sign that climate politics are rapidly shifting….

But it does show the growing support for more aggressive climate policies around the world. More than 420 local governments have declared a climate emergency, according to data compiled by the Climate Mobilization, an advocacy group. 

And while this may be the first major political party to declare a climate emergency, other countries have acted as though climate change is an emergency without making an official declaration. 

Small island states such as Fiji, for example, have pushed for more ambitious action at international climate talks, while Costa Rica has put forward an extremely aggressive plan to decarbonise by 2050.

The UK Green Party’s sole representative introduced a motion earlier this month that “calls on the Government to declare a climate emergency and to release the necessary funding, including to local authorities, to enact a green new deal that would rapidly decarbonise the entire UK economy”. 

The motion has attracted 43 supporters, including a number of Labour members. Now it appears Labour is ready to throw even more weight behind the idea.

The pressure from the Labour Party at the national level itself comes from civil society asking leaders to approach climate change with more urgency. School strikers and adult activists alike have been turning the screws for climate action around the world for months, culminating in a major climate strike in March that saw roughly 1.5 million students take to the streets.

“This is a really important step forward and a victory for climate activists and party members up and down the country,” Sam Knights, an activist with Extinction Rebellion, told us in an email.

Whether the Labour Party’s declaration leads to setting ambitious targets or undertaking dramatic action, of course, remains to be seen. But it’s unlikely the pressure will let up as the urgency of climate change grows.

“It means going beyond conventional party politics and opening ourselves up to new ideas, new proposals, and brave new worlds,” Knights said of what responding to a climate emergency could look like. “It means a mobilisation of people and resources that we have not see for decades.”

— Read on

Apocalypse now: Our bleak climate future |Newshub #Auspol #Qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #Insiders #QandA #TheDrum It’s Time to Declare #ClimateEmergency

Earth may be unrecognisable sooner than you think.

A poll last year found most New Zealanders take climate change seriously. Credits: Video: Newshub, Image: Newshub Nation. 

Billions of climate refugees, extinction of most animal species on Earth and an unrecognisable planet.

Once considered worst-case scenarios, these apocalyptic outcomes are increasingly more plausible based on recent climate science.

Even if there were no further emissions from now, the United Nations reports the Arctic is now “locked into” a destructive degree of warming, with winter temperatures rising up to 8degC by 2080.

The global average temperature has so far only increased 1degC, but the effects are already severe. From a polar vortex in Chicago to record heatwaves in Canterbury, extreme weather events are becoming the rule instead of the exception.

In October last year, the UN released a special report warning that the Paris Accords’ target of maximum 2degC warming would still be environmentally disastrous.

Erik Solheim, executive director of the UN Environment Programme, described the report as “a deafening, piercing smoke alarm going off in the kitchen. We have to put out the fire.”

The report urged policymakers to instead aim for a maximum temperature rise of 1.5degC, a target requiring global greenhouse emissions to fall by almost half over the next decade.

Even the economic pathways for remaining under 2degC designed in the Paris Accords depend on carbon being directly removed from the atmosphere using technology which does not currently exist.

As of today, 80 percent more coal is burnt than in the year 2000, and the countries responsible for 80 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are failing to meet self-imposed Paris Accord targets.

This currently puts the planet on a path to at least 4degC of warming by 2100.

Here’s what that could look like.

Climate refugees 

Photo credit: Newshub Nation. 

Past 4degC, equatorial land will start to become uninhabitable. In northern Africa, the average drought could last five years. This would displace vast populations, either within or across national borders.

Even at two degrees of warming, the UN estimates up to 50 million climate refugees by 2030 and 200 million by 2050. Highest estimates are up to 2 billion by 2100.

For perspective, at the peak of the European migrant crisis in 2015, approximately 1.3 million Syrians requested asylum in Europe.

Extinction of coral  

Coral reefs act like rainforests for the ocean ecosystem, supporting up to 25 percent of marine species, despite making up less than 1 percent of the ocean floor.

However coral is particularly sensitive to temperature, becoming ‘bleached’ and dying as the sea warms. Over half the Great Barrier Reef is already dead and the chances of saving what remains are remote.

Even in the best case warming scenario of 1.5degC, approximately 70 percent of coral reefs will die. At the more plausible (but still very optimistic) 2degC, 99 percent of coral reefs will be extinct.

Based on current UN projections, catastrophic loss of biodiversity in the oceans is almost inevitable. But it isn’t just the oceans in trouble – biologists estimate up to half of life on earth could face extinction by the end of the century.  

Total carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and its potential effects 

The concentration of atmospheric carbon currently hovers around 440 ppm, and we could reach 1200 ppm by 2100.

A recent experiment by climate scientists at the California Institute of Technology revealed at that carbon level, certain clouds may be unable to form, stripping Earth of a protective cooling layer.

Stratocumulus clouds act like arctic ice sheets, helping to keep the planet cool by reflecting sunlight back into space. Losing those clouds could add 8degC to global temperature rise, on top of the 4degC already projected, for a total of 12degC total warming.

At 12degC of warming, the Earth would be unrecognisable and largely uninhabitable to humans, returning to a climate last seen 55 million years ago in the Eocene period.

Back then crocodiles swam in the Arctic.

— Read on

Threat of sediment runoff to Great Barrier Reef worse than thought #Auspol #Qldpol Help save our coral join #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #Insiders

By Stuart Layt

A joint study by the Canadian Dalhousie University along with James Cook University’s ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and the University of Adelaide analysed 20 years of satellite footage of the southern end of the reef.

The study’s co-author, JCU PhD candidate Sam Matthews, said they found the coral in areas affected by regular runoff recovered more slowly than the coral in more pristine areas.

Summer flooding in north Queensland delivers significant freshwater runoff into the Coral Sea creating concerns over the impact to the adjacent Great Barrier Reef.USGS/NASA Landsat

“Our results provide strong support for government policies aimed at reducing nutrient pollution to help increase the resilience of the Great Barrier Reef, in recovering from damage due to tropical cyclones, crown-of-thorns outbreaks and coral bleaching.”

Mr Matthews was quick to point out there was “no silver bullet” for improving the overall health of the reef, but improving overall water quality was a major factor in assisting recovery.

Most recently the reef has been hit with a massive runoff plume thanks to the north Queensland floods, however the ordinary contributor to sediment runoff is largely farming.

Fish swim among bleached coral in the Great Barrier Reef. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg

The Queensland government has released a framework setting targets for sediment runoff levels into the reef.

Last month the government introduced laws to enforce the 2050 targets, which are set to be debated later this year

The study found that an improvement of between 6 and 17 per cent in water quality may buffer the predicted increases in coral bleaching at some inshore locations.

That level of improvement is within the scope of the government’s improvement plans, but the Australian Marine Conservation Society Great Barrier Reef campaign manager Lissa Schindler said the targets are unlikely to be met.

“There is concern that they’re running out of time to meet those targets, because the first set of deadlines in 2025 and it’s 2019 now,” Dr Schindler said.

“So we really need the government to rapidly put these laws through parliament and then enforce them.”

Water sediment affected reefs closer to the shore more than those further out, the study found.

Aside from environmental concerns, that was alarming because the inner reefs are more commonly used for income-generating tourism activities.

In a small silver lining the research found areas of the reef affected by sediment runoff were partially protected from the effects of coral bleaching.

However, lead author Aaron MacNeil of Dalhousie University said that was offset by the sediment-affected areas being more susceptible to disease and outbreaks of crown-of-thorns starfish.

“Perhaps most critically, poor water quality reduced the rates at which coral cover recovers after disturbances by up to 25 percent,” Dr MacNeil said.

“This shows that, by improving water quality, the rates of reef recovery can be enhanced.”

The study was published on Tuesday in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

Read on

Innovation Takes To The Skies: Electric Planes Are About To Revolutionize The Airline Industry #Auspol #Qldpol Demand a #CleanEnergy future Join #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion

Since the Wright brothers’ first flight in 1903 air travel has continued to inspire people around the world and airlines have helped drive innovation in travel and quality of life.

As more and more people travel and become increasingly aware of their carbon footprint flying has come under the spotlight as one of the most polluting industries, but also as one with the most potential to turn things around.

Renewable energy has continued its upward trend on land as governments look to more responsible and sustainable sources of energy, whilst car manufacturers have also been implementing more hybrid and electric models within their lines – and airlines will soon follow.

An attendee watches a digital display of a concept hybrid-electric air vehicle at the Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc stand on the opening day of the Farnborough International Airshow (FIA) 2018 in Farnborough, U.K.

© 2018 Bloomberg Finance LP

After Solar Impulse 2 completed the world’s first circumnavigation by a solar-powered aircraft in 2016, airlines and aircraft manufacturers looked to become the first to provide a commercial equivalent. Bertrand Piccard, one of the pilots responsible for Solar Impulse 2’s journey, stressed the importance of renewable energy to The Guardian, saying: “All the clean technologies we use, they can be used everywhere. So we have flown 40,000km, but now it is up to other people to take it further. These technologies now can make the world much better and we have to use them, not only for the environment but also because they are profitable and create jobs.”

Electric Investments

The following year saw multiple projects funded as the airline industry acknowledged the future of low-carbon transportation methods. In 2017, Zunum Aero, a small aviation startup focused on delivering a range of hybrid-electric planes received investments from JetBlue and Boeing, whilst EasyJet teamed up with Wright Electric to develop battery-powered aircraft and NASA also announced its plans to develop its own electric aircraft.

Read on

What better replacement for dirty Hazelwood than a windfarm? | Simon Holmes à Court | The Guardian #Auspol #Qldpol Join #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion Demand a Clean Energy Future

A plan to generate enough wind power for 200,000 homes hints at a coal valley’s clean energy future.

At exactly 5pm on 29 March 2017, Unit 1 of the Hazelwood station reported the last energy generation after 53 years of faithful operation. Hazelwood isn’t the first coal power station to close in recent years — in fact it is one of 13 that closed over a five year period — but, as one of the largest and dirtiest power stations in the country it has become totemic, for both the environment movement and Australia’s coal fetishists.

Now, two years on, fears of mass workforce dislocation — such as the Latrobe Valley suffered when the region’s power stations were privatised in the 1990s — have largely failed to materialise. More than 1,000 jobs have been created in the region and unemployment has dropped from 8% to 5.7%, in no small part due to the efforts of the Latrobe Valley Authority, set up by the state government to help ensure a “just transition” for the workers and local community.

— Read on

Waltham Forest chapter of #ExtinctionRebellion to protest outside Walthamstow Barclays | East London #Auspol #Qldpol #StopAdani Join the Rebellion #ClimateStrike Declare #ClimateEmergency

Environmental protesters will be taking to the streets to pressure a bank to drop its investments in fossil fuels.

Environmental protesters will be taking to the streets to pressure a bank to drop its investments in fossil fuels.

Environmental groups Waltham Forest Extinction Rebellion and Waltham Forest Momentum are due to stage an action outside Barclays Bank in Walthamstow tomorrow (Saturday, March 30) to challenge its investment in fossil fuels.

The activists are collaborating to stage a creative direct action against Barclays as part of a national campaign to pressure Barclays bank to divests its interests in the fossil fuel industry.

A report published last week revealed that Barclays is the worst banking culprit for financing fossil fuel projects – having spent £65.2 billion ($85 billion) into fossil fuels between 2016 and 2018 – which includes support for corporations pushing ahead the plans to develop the fracking industry in the UK.

Barclays Bank pledged to withdraw its financing of fracking company Third Energy in May 2017, following grassroots action taken against the bank by People and Planet and others.

A spokesperson for the action said: “Instead of digging more coal mines, drilling more oil fields and building more pipelines, we need to radically transform our energy infrastructure and build a green economy that benefits the many.

“People in the UK and across the world are demanding action on climate change. Extinction Rebellion direct action campaign has involved the blockage of 5 London bridges in November 2018, and most recently the ‘blood of our children’ action in March outside Downing Street, building to an International Rebellion to start on April 15.

“We have the popularity of the ‘Green New Deal’ spearheaded by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the US, youth climate strikes taking place in over 50 countries around the world and Labour’s plan for a Green Industrial Revolution in Britain.

“People are calling on governments to decarbonise our economies, invest in renewables and create millions of good green jobs. And we call on Barclays to stop funding the fossil fuel industry.

“Stop putting profit before the planet, stop putting profit before people.

“A decade ago the banks crashed the economy – now they’re crashing the planet.

“Only the banks have the cash to finance big fossil fuel infrastructure projects.

“If we break the chain of fossil fuel finance, we can make the functioning of the fossil fuel industry impossible.

“Campaigners have beaten Barclays before. Now is the moment to do it again.”

Earlier this month, Extinction Rebellion protesters made news after throwing ‘blood’ outside Downing Street to symbolise climate deaths.

It was the latest in a series of direct action protests and occupations by Extinction Rebellion activists in Scotland, including a sit-in at the Scottish parliament and a demonstration in Glasgow.

A Barclays spokesperson said: “We recognise that climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing the world today, and are determined to do all we can to support the transition to a low carbon economy, while also ensuring that global energy needs continue to be met.

“Our approach balances the need to accelerate the transition away from the most carbon intensive fossil fuel sources, with ongoing financial support for clients operating responsibly in energy sectors that are expected to contribute significantly to the world’s energy mix.”

The action against Barclays on Saturday will take place at 278 Hoe Street, Walthamstow, London, E17 9QE.

For more information, visit: and

— Read on

#ExtinctionRebellion climate campaigners in critical mass Norwich bicycle ride | EnEastern Daily Press #Auspol #Qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateStrike Time to Declare #ClimateEmergency

Campaigners trying to raise awareness of climate change staged a ‘critical mass’ bike ride around the streets of Norwich to highlight how cyclists have a right to use the roads.

Extinction Rebellion Norwich staged a critical mass bicycle ride. Pic: Dan Grimmer.

The ride, which set off from The Forum in Norwich at 6.45pm on Friday, was organised by Norwich Extinction Rebellion, a group which campaigns for the climate emergency to be addressed through non-violent direct action.

A group of about 25 cyclists set off on the ride around Norwich’s roads, inviting others to join them as they cycled around the city.

Peter Dickerson, who was among those taking part in the ride, said: “Critical mass rides are a statement about sustainable transport and sustainable living. That’s what we are about.

“The idea is that we have a gentle ride through the streets. It’s not about confrontation, but it is about making a statement.”

Mr Dickerson said the group intended to make the rides a regular event.

Members of Extinction Rebellion made headlines in February when they staged a four hour protest during Norfolk County Council’s budget meeting.

Members of the group occupied the council chamber. Four arrests were made before the meeting was held.

Climate Extinction also called for Norwich City Council to declare a climate emergency. The council ‘acknowledged’ a climate emergency but stopped short of declaring one.

However, North Norfolk District Council has signalled it will table a motion to declare a climate emergency at its next full council meeting, while Suffolk County Council voted to declare a climate emergency earlier this month.

— Read on