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Meet the Teenagers Leading a Climate Change Movement. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #NoNewCoal #Longman

By Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks

“The march is a launch,” Jamie Margolin, the founder of Zero Hour, said of Saturday’s demonstration in Washington. “It isn’t, ‘That’s it, we’re done.’”Erin Schaff for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Some of them met on Instagram. Others coordinated during lunchtime phone conferences. Most of them haven’t even graduated from high school.

The teenagers behind Zero Hour — an environmentally focused, creatively minded and technologically savvy nationwide coalition — are trying to build a youth-led movement to sound the alarm and call for action on climate change and environmental justice.

For the last year, a tight-knit group spanning both coasts has been organizing on social media.

The teenagers kicked off their campaign with a protest on Saturday at the National Mall in Washington, along with sister marches across the country.

As sea levels rise, ice caps melt and erratic weather affects communities across the globe, they say time is running out to address climate change.

The core organizing group of about 20 met with almost 40 federal lawmakers about their platforms on Thursday, and hope to inspire other teenagers to step up and demand change.

“The march is a launch. It isn’t, ‘That’s it, we’re done,’” said Jamie Margolin, the founder of Zero Hour. “It means it doesn’t give them an excuse to be like, ‘I don’t know what the kids want.’ It’s like, ‘Yes, you do.’”

They are trying to prove the adults wrong, to show that people their age are taking heed of what they see as the greatest crisis threatening their generation.

“In our generation when we talk about climate change, they’re like: ‘Ha ha, that’s so funny.

It’s not something we’ll have to deal with,’” said Nadia Nazar, Zero Hour’s art director. “‘Oh, yeah, the polar bears will just die, the seas will just rise.’ They don’t understand the actual caliber of the destruction.”

The group is building off the momentum of other recent youth-led movements, such as the nationwide March for Our Lives rallies against gun violence.

“No one gives you an organizing guide of how to raise thousands of dollars, how to get people on board, how to mobilize,” Ms. Margolin said. “There was no help. It was just me floundering around with Dory-like determination, like, ‘Just keep swimming,’” she said, referring to the Disney movie “Finding Nemo.”

At the Sierra Club’s Washington headquarters on Wednesday, as Zero Hour members continued to make preparations, six of the coalition’s leaders and founding members discussed how they became involved with the group, and why they think it’s one of young people’s best shots at creating a healthy, sustainable environment.

Ms. Margolin said she has been overwhelmed by the response from people of all ages to Zero Hour. “We’ve proven ourselves,” she said.Erin Schaff for The New York Times

‘We are on the verge of something amazing’

Jamie Margolin, 16, Seattle

“I’ve always planned my future in ifs,” Ms. Margolin said. If climate change hasn’t destroyed this, if the environment hasn’t become that.

So for the last few years, Ms. Margolin has worked to raise awareness about climate justice issues.

A passionate writer, she went through an “op-ed phase,” submitting essays to publications, like one titled “An Open Letter to Climate Change Deniers” published in the monthly magazine Teen Ink.

Still, Ms. Margolin thought that she and other young people could — and should — be doing more.

“I had had this idea building up since January, since the Women’s March” last year, Ms. Margolin said. “The kind of idea that was nagging me and you try to ignore, but it’s an idea poking you.”

At a Princeton University summer program last year, she met other teenagers interested in taking action on climate change and created Zero Hour.

They began to plan a huge protest in the nation’s capital.

On social media, Ms. Margolin espoused factoids and reached out to other young activists.

A professed climate justice advocate, Ms. Margolin has kept the movement inclusive, putting the stories and concerns of those most directly affected by environmental issues at the heart of Zero Hour’s mission.

Youths from in and around the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation spoke on Saturday, and others repeatedly called attention to those killed during

Hurricane Maria and threatened by rising sea levels in the Marshall Islands.

Since starting Zero Hour, Ms. Margolin said she had been overwhelmed by the response from people of all ages.

Dozens of environmental advocacy groups and nonprofits have approached the coalition, looking to donate to or sponsor it.

“We flipped the scenario as the underdog. We’ve proven ourselves,” she said. “We are on the verge of something amazing. We’re going to change history.”

Kallan Benson has encouraged other young people to express their concerns about the climate through art.Erin Schaff for The New York Times

Showing a movement’s artistic side

Kallan Benson, 14, Crownsville, Md.

When Ms. Benson was planning a trip to the Peoples Climate March last year with her family, she knew she wanted to make a statement.

Ms. Benson doesn’t consider herself an artist. But a 24-foot-wide play parachute that she covered in a gigantic monarch butterfly design and hundreds of signatures from children in her community became a canvas for her to display the dire future she and coming generations may face, and express optimism that they will overcome it.

A chance encounter with the son of the founder of the nonprofit Mother Earth Project led Ms. Benson to encourage children around the world to create parachutes of their own made of recycled bedsheets (to be “environmentally conscious,” of course).

Inspired by the AIDS Memorial Quilt that has been unfurled on the National Mall in years past, some of those parachutes, sent from every continent except Antarctica, were laid out on the grass during Saturday’s march.

“The original idea was, ‘We got to get them on the National Mall,’ but then we thought that, ‘Well that shouldn’t be our first exhibit; it’s a little ambitious,’” Ms. Benson said.

“Then we talked to Zero Hour and they were like, ‘Hey, why don’t you bring them out?’” she continued. “I never imagined it would get this far.”

Madelaine Tew’s finance team has raised about $70,000 for Zero Hour.Erin Schaff for The New York Times

Where business and the environment meet

Madelaine Tew, 15, Teaneck, N.J.

As Zero Hour’s director of finance, Ms. Tew has had to get creative about securing funds and grants.

On the day of a deadline for a major grant — $16,000 from the Common Sense Fund — Ms. Tew’s school was hosting an event where seniors gave presentations about their internships. But she knew the grant would be a huge boost for Zero Hour.

“So I went to the nurse and was like: ‘Oh, I have cramps. Can I lie down with my computer?’” she said. “Then I just went in and wrote the whole grant.”

Her stunt paid off. Zero Hour secured the grant, and now Ms. Tew’s finance team, made up of students just like her, has raised about $70,000 for the coalition.

Ms. Tew, who attends a magnet high school where she takes classes in business and finance, has been involved in clubs to get the school and local businesses to adopt more renewable practices. But before meeting Ms. Margolin at the Princeton summer program last year, she thought those local efforts were “as far as you can go” for someone her age.

“It shifted from youth being a limitation to ‘it doesn’t matter,’” Ms. Tew said.

Though the practices of big corporations can sometimes anger environmentalists, for Ms. Tew, combining “my love for business and my care, my concern for climate” just makes sense.

“In many cases you can see how the environmental movement can be rooted in the way we do business,” she said.

That could take the form of encouraging companies to divest from fossil fuel industries or having local communities build their own solar or wind grids.

“We’re not just talking about building more cooperative farms,” Ms. Tew said, but also figuring out how to integrate ethical and sustainable environmental policies into business so “we can continue the American economy’s future.”

Iris Fen Gillingham believes that sustainable lifestyles are essential for the success of her generation.Erin Schaff for The New York Times

‘Repping the younger generation’

Iris Fen Gillingham, 18, Livingston Manor, N.Y.

When three floods in the mid- to late 2000s swept through the vegetable farm Iris Fen Gillingham’s family owned in the Catskill Mountains, the topsoil was washed away and their equipment was submerged, eliminating their main source of income.

The floods devastated Ms. Gillingham’s family, which has always lived “very consciously with the land and with nature,” she said. Even her name, Iris Fen, like the flower and marshy wetland behind her house, alludes to that attachment.

“I have a pair of mittens that are made out of one of our Icelandic sheep, Rosalie,” Ms. Gillingham said. “My brother named her, I remember her being born and I’ve seen her grow up and my mom sheering her and spinning the wool.”

So when landsmen came to explore the possibility of hydraulic fracturing — a technique of oil and gas extraction also known as fracking — in their neighborhood when she was about 10, Ms. Gillingham joined her father, an environmental activist, in speaking out at local meetings, often as the youngest in the room.

“It was always myself repping the younger generation,” Ms. Gillingham said. “Part of that was my brother and I saying, ‘We don’t want to play on contaminated soil,’” (The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that fracking can contaminate drinking water in some circumstances.)

But part of it was also knowing firsthand how essential a sustainable lifestyle — growing food at home, conscious spending, building greener homes — will be for her generation.

“We’re setting aside our differences and we are building a family and a community using our skills and our creativity,” Ms. Gillingham said of the movement. “We’re having fun, we’re laughing with each other, but we’re also talking about some pretty serious issues and injustices happening in this country.”

Nadia Nazar got her start as an activist by trying to persuade people not to go to SeaWorld.Erin Schaff for The New York Times

Linking animal rights and environmentalism

Nadia Nazar, 16, Baltimore

Before joining Zero Hour, Nadia Nazar considered herself mostly an animal-rights activist. When she was 12, she saw a PETA video on slaughterhouses and immediately became a vegetarian.

“I had just gotten a cat,” Ms. Nazar said. “What if my cat was that cow?”

She got her start as an activist by trying to persuade people in her neighborhood not to go to SeaWorld, which has been criticized over its treatment of animals. (“I was slightly successful in that.”)

Then she dug deeper into the root causes of animal suffering and death.

“I found out how so many species are endangered by climate change, and how many are dying and going towards extinction that we caused ourselves,” Ms. Nazar said.

During a class, she stumbled upon Ms. Margolin’s Teen Ink essay and followed her on Instagram. And a little over a year ago, when Ms. Nazar saw a post by Ms. Margolin calling for action, she knew it was her chance to put her artistic skills to use. As art director, she helped organize a smaller art festival on Friday, and created the majority of the graphic elements for the coalition.

“Her story said: ‘I’m going to do it. Who wants to join me?” Ms. Nazar said. She immediately messaged Ms. Margolin. She was in.

Zanagee Artis said he was inspired by Ms. Margolin’s enthusiasm to do “a big, big thing.”Erin Schaff for The New York Times

Working together toward a bigger goal

Zanagee Artis, 18, Clinton, Conn.

Zanagee Artis’s journey as an environmentalist began in the same place many other budding activists get their start — in a high school club.

During his junior year, he had big ambitions for his school: the building facilities department would finally start recycling white paper, students would start composting their food waste and the lunchroom would be free of plastic foam trays.

“I’m going to accomplish all these things and I’m going to go to the administration and tell them, ‘Stuff needs to change,’” Mr. Artis said.

But, he said, “nothing ever happened.” Mr. Artis said the problem was clear: Without engaging other students who might be interested, change was unlikely to happen.

So he started a sustainability committee within the school’s National Honor Society, and the results spoke for themselves. The group was able to buy the school an aquaponic system — a tank-based farming system that combines hydroponics (water-based planting) and aquaculture (fish cultivation) — and raise $700 to install water bottle refilling stations.

“So we accomplished all these things because we worked together as a community, and that’s how I feel about the climate movement,” he said.

Still, Mr. Artis said he “really didn’t think I could do much” beyond his local community until he met Ms. Margolin and Ms. Tew last summer at Princeton. Inspired by Ms. Margolin’s enthusiasm to do “a big, big thing,” Mr. Artis became Zero Hour’s logistics director, in charge of submitting permits for Saturday’s march, estimating attendance numbers, checking for counterprotests and helping sister marches with logistical issues.

“I was like, ‘Yes!’” he said with a satisfying clap. “‘Let’s do it.’”

Press link for more: New York Times

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Australian governments concede Great Barrier Reef headed for ‘collapse’ #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #NoNewCoal #ClimateChange

By Nicole Hasham

The world’s climate change path means the Great Barrier Reef is headed for “collapse” according to a plan endorsed by state and federal governments that critics say turns a blind eye to Australia’s inadequate effort to cut carbon emissions.

The federal and Queensland governments on Friday released a “new and improved” Reef 2050 Plan to save the iconic natural wonder, which explicitly acknowledges climate change poses a deadly threat to the reef.

The comments depart starkly from previous official efforts to downplay damage wrought on the reef for fear of denting the tourism industry.

Global temperature rises this century must be kept below 1.5 degrees to ensure the Great Barrier Reef’s survival, the government plan says.

Photo: E.Matson, AIMS

Based on current climate projections, the outlook for coral reefs generally is “one of continuing decline over time, and in many regions, including the Great Barrier Reef, the collapse and loss of coral reef ecosystems”, the plan says.

It concedes that consecutive coral bleaching events and other stressors “have fundamentally changed the character of the reef”, which is one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet.

“Coral bleaching is projected to increase in frequency … those coral reefs that survive are expected to be less biodiverse than in the past,” the plan says.

Critics say the revised Reef 2050 Plan ignores Australia’s weak emissions reduction targets.

Photo: Australian Institute of Marine Science

The reef is the world’s largest living structure, covering an area roughly the size of Italy.

Coral reefs are particularly sensitive to the effects of climate change including higher sea temperatures, ocean acidification and more intense storms and cyclones.

The plan recognised that “holding the global temperature increase to 1.5°C or less is critical to ensure the survival of coral reefs”.

“Respected coral scientists have documented in peer-reviewed journals that most of the world’s coral reefs will not survive unless the global temperature increase is limited to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels,” it said.

However WWF-Australia head of oceans Richard Leck said Australia’s emissions reduction efforts were not even in line with limiting warming to 2°.

He cited a 2017 report by the United Nations environment program that found Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions were set to far exceed its pledge under the Paris accord. This agreement aims to limit global temperature rises this century to well below 2° and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°.

“It is simply not good enough for the revised plan to suggest the global community must work to limit warming when Australia is not doing its fair share,” Mr Leck said.

The Australian Marine Conservation Society’s reef campaign director Imogen Zethoven said increased recognition of climate change as a threat to the reef must be followed by action.

Fish swim among bleached coral in the Great Barrier Reef.

Photo: Ove Hoegh-Guldberg

She said scientific research soon to be published showed that if global temperature rises reached an average 2.4°, the Great Barrier Reef would suffer bleaching events twice a decade from 2041. This would occur as early as 2035 if average temperature rises reached 4.3°.

Bleaching events would be far less frequent under an average temperature rise of 1.6°, Ms Zethoven said.

“The onset of twice-a-decade bleaching will then become the onset of annual bleaching and eventually [the entire reef] will be affected,” she said.

Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said Australia’s Paris target was ambitious and the nation was “on track to meet and beat its 2020 target, we will also meet our 2030 target”.

The Queensland government has previously said millions of dollars in federal reef spending is essentially useless unless matched by efforts to tackle climate change

Labor environment spokesman Tony Burke said the federal government had neglected the reef by allowing large-scale land clearing in nearby catchments, which damages water quality.

Press link for more: SMH

Life after coal: South Australian city leading the way #auspol #qldpol #sapol #StopAdani #NoNewCoal #ClimateChange

It was a coal town, predicted to be wiped out by the closure of two ageing power plants. Now Port Augusta has 13 renewable projects in train

Adam Morton

The largest solar farm in the southern hemisphere lies on arid land at the foot of the Flinders Ranges, more than 300km north of Adelaide.

If that sounds remote, it doesn’t do justice to how removed local residents feel from what currently qualifies as debate in Canberra.

As government MPs and national newspapers thundered over whether taxpayers should underwrite new coal-fired power, mauling advice from government agencies as they went, residents of South Australia’s Upper Spencer Gulf region have been left to ponder why decision-makers weren’t paying attention to what is happening in their backyard.

What’s happening here is going to be happening on the eastern seaboard in the next 10 years.

Sam Johnson, mayor of Port Augusta

In mid 2016, this region was on the brink, hit by the closure and near collapse of coal and steel plants.

Now it’s on the cusp of a wave of construction that investors and community leaders say should place the region at the vanguard of green innovation – not just in Australia but globally.

There has been an explosion in investment, with $5bn spread over the next five years. There are 13 projects in various stages of development, with more than 3,000 construction and 200 ongoing jobs.

The economy of this once-deflated region has been transformed and those who live here are starting to feel hopeful again.

The Port Augusta mayor, Sam Johnson, a 32-year-old former Liberal member, is continually surprised at how resistant some are to the idea that the energy environment has changed. “You might choose to ignore what’s happening here now because we’re out of sight, out of mind, but the reality is that what’s happening here is going to be happening on the eastern seaboard in the next 10 years,” he says.

In simple terms, the Upper Spencer Gulf transition story goes like this. Port Augusta was a coal town, home to the state’s only two lignite – or brown coal – plants, Playford B and Northern. Playford B, ageing and failing, was mothballed in 2012. Northern, the larger and younger of the two, closed in May 2016 when owner Alinta Energy decided it was no longer economically viable. The Leigh Creek mine that supplied it, by then offering up mostly low-quality coal, shut at the same time. About 400 workers at the plant and the mine lost their jobs. Roughly a third retired, a third found other employment locally and a third had to leave town to find work.

At the same time, further around the gulf, the steel town of Whyalla was teetering precipitously after the owner, Arrium, put the mill in voluntary administration facing debts of more than $4bn.

Nexif Energy project manager Ben Williams, inspects the interconnector under construction to service the Lincoln Gap wind farm. Photograph: The Guardian

Yet as the doom hit, there were also rays of hope as several clean power projects were mooted for the surrounding area.

Two years on, the Port Augusta city council lists 13 projects at varying stages of development. And Whyalla has unearthed a potential saviour in British billionaire industrialist Sanjeev Gupta, who not only bought the steelworks but promised to expand it while also spending what will likely end up being $1.5bn in solar, hydro and batteries to make it viable.

Gupta says the logic behind his investment in solar and storage is simple: it’s now cheaper than coal.

Johnson says he expects the Upper Gulf region to receive $5bn in clean energy investment over the next five years. “My gut feel – and I’m an optimist – is that they will all go ahead,” he says. “They are different technologies and they are playing in different markets, so they are not competing for power purchase agreements.”

By any measure, the Bungala solar power plant is vast. Once its second stage is complete, 800,000 photovoltaic modules will cover an area the size of the Melbourne central business district. The scale is neatly summarised by Chris Rowe, the plant’s operations manager and, with maintenance officer Andrew Bartsch, our tour guide around the site. Both men recently returned to Port Augusta after working away to take up positions with Enel Green Power. One day Rowe decided to stroll back from the 275MW farm’s outer edge, weaving in and out of the rows of panels as he went. By the time he got back to his office, he had covered 12km. “At that point I thought, ‘gee, this is really something’,” he says.

Bungala is nearing completion, with work on the $425m plant expected to be finished by January. Its first section started feeding into the national electricity grid in May. Further west, ground has been broken on the 59-turbine, 212MW Lincoln Gap wind farm, though progress has temporarily stalled after developer Nexif Energy discovered unexploded ordnance from historic military testing on site.

As Guardian Australia visited the region, the South Australian Liberal government gave final approval for a $600m hybrid wind-and-solar energy park on the south-eastern edge of Port Augusta that proponent DP Energy says will be the largest development of its kind in the country. A second stage with more solar and a 400MW battery is slated to follow.

At Cultana, just north of Whyalla, Energy Australia is investigating building the country’s first saltwater pumped hydro energy storage plant. It would draw water from the Spencer Gulf, pump it uphill when energy is plentiful and cheap, and convert it to hydro electricity at times of high demand. A decision on the project is expected in 2019.

All are potentially agenda setting, but none are as anticipated as the Aurora solar thermal power station. It is the culmination of a push that began in 2010. A research paper by advocacy group Beyond Zero Emissions formed the basis for the creation of Repower Port Augusta, a community group that built widespread support for bringing the developing technology to the region among councils, business and unions.

US developer SolarReserve took notice. It plans to use a field of mirrors to heat a molten salt system inside a 234-metre tower. It will both generate electricity and store eight hours of energy that can be sent out when the sun isn’t shining. The company says the $650m plant, to be built at the Carriewerloo sheep station about 30km north of Port Augusta, will be the world’s largest solar tower with storage and provide 5% of the state’s energy needs.

The planned Aurora solar thermal plant will both generate electricity and store eight hours of energy that can be sent out when the sun isn’t shining.

The SolarReserve vice-president, Mary Grikas, stresses the plant will operate “just like a conventional coal or gas power station, reliably generating electricity day and night – except without any emissions”.

With the increasing emphasis on “firming” power to back up variable renewables, solar thermal is seen as a potentially major player in filling the gaps, along with other fast-starting options such as pumped hydro, lithium-ion batteries and peaking gas. The 150MW Aurora plant is underpinned by a 20-year power supply contract with the South Australian government, but the company is still to finalise a $110m concessional loan with the federal government, the result of a deal with former senator Nick Xenophon in return for his support for company tax cuts.

Dan Spencer worked on the solar thermal campaign as an activist with the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and Solar Citizens, relocating from Adelaide for six months to help build local support. Now a campaigner with the Australian Services Union, he is still pinching himself that it is set to become a reality. “The transition from coal hasn’t been perfect, but in a couple of years we will be seeing this incredible project that people not that long ago thought was just pie in the sky,” he says. “The local community really deserves the credit.”

Aurora is not the only solar-thermal project linked to the region. Port Augusta is already home to a small concentrated solar-thermal plant owned by Sundrop Farms that it uses to run a hydroponic greenhouse that provides Coles with tomatoes.

Also on the horizon, and just as unique design-wise, is a proposal by Solastor, chaired by former Liberal party leader John Hewson. It promises new graphite-based technology to capture solar energy and store it in a load-shifting battery. Hewson says it will be a world-class project. “Solar thermal will take the market, there’s no doubt about that,” he says.

Why are developers choosing the Upper Spencer Gulf? Investors say it has several things going for it: great sunshine; a history of electricity generation that left strong connections into the national grid; nearby industry – particularly mine developments – demanding reliable energy; strong facilitating support from the Weatherill Labor government that has continued under the new Liberal premier, Steven Marshall.

Ross Garnaut is a former Labor climate policy adviser who is now the president of Zen Energy, a solar and battery firm that has projects in the region and is 51% owned by Gupta.

“The Upper Spencer Gulf happens to be a very good place to start,” Garnaut says. “Some coal generation regions have good renewables and others don’t, and no others have them as good as Port Augusta. [But] the Port Augusta developments could be replicated in any region that has good solar and wind resources.”

The inclusion of solar thermal is crucial as it means jobs on a semi-industrial scale. Wind and solar photovoltaic plants bring plenty of jobs in construction, but few in operation. Solar thermal has more in common in operation with coal, using steam to spin a turbine. SolarReserve expects to have a 50-strong permanent workforce at the Aurora plant.

It is an important point. While enthusiasm about the new projects in the gulf is high, the shift away from coal has not been seamless – less a transition than a period of loss followed by rebirth. There remains significant disappointment, in some cases anger, about what some consider the unnecessary pain caused by a failure to plan for life after coal.

My advice is: learn from the Port Augusta experience. I wish the federal government would,’ says Port Augusta mayor Sam Johnson. Photograph: Che Chorley for the Guardian

Gary Rowbottom is a case in point. A mechanical technical officer at the town’s power stations for 17 years, he joined the Repower Port Augusta campaign in 2012 and became the public face of the campaign. He was persuaded that solar thermal was the future and hopeful Alinta would be persuaded to embrace the technology to replace coal. He says he was naive about how easy that would be. When the company announced Northern’s closure earlier than expected, he was 55 and left hunting for work.

Fifty job applications and 11 interviews later, he was still looking. After about 18 months he left town to take a position on a coal plant in central Queensland. He now sees his wife, Debbie, only every couple of months.

“It’s not been ideal,” he says. “I did my best to get a job that would have kept me home. I guess it was hurting me financially, watching my redundancy steadily getting eroded away, and I had a growing sense of failure. I worry that others are going through the same thing.”

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Rowbottom is buoyed by the developments under way at home, and hopeful the Aurora solar thermal plant will provide his ticket back. “It’s great it is happening. We just wish it could have happened a bit sooner,” he says. “What is hard for many of us to understand is why the closure couldn’t have been organised as a proper transition.”

Johnson, who ran unsuccessfully for Xenophon’s SA Best party at the state election, says Port Augusta is set to be the renewable energy capital of the country, with more ongoing jobs if all proposed projects in the Upper Spencer Gulf go ahead than at the former coal plant.

But he says both the former Labor state and current Coalition federal governments failed to offer the community the support it needed when the coal plant closed. The ramifications of the rapid closure were significant. Some small businesses and shut. Dirt and coal ash continue to blanket Port Augusta when the wind blows from the south-east because the former coal plant site was not properly rehabilitated. Wholesale electricity prices across the state increased more than they would have had more significant replacement generation been readied earlier.

“I’d love for people to learn from what’s happened here [about] what not to do when you’re closing a power station,” Johnson says.

Whyalla seems to have fewer issues in the wake of Gupta’s arrival in July 2017. Seeing a business opportunity that governments and publicly listed companies did not, he promised to initially spend $1bn to double the steel mill’s production and convert it to a “green steel” model he has applied in other countries. This includes using more recycled steel and investing heavily in clean energy close to the plant. He is spending $700m building two farms of solar panels, a cogeneration plant to convert the waste gases from steel production into electricity, the country’s largest lithium-ion battery and up to three pumped hydro plants in disused mining pits in the Middlebank Ranges.

He says more will follow.

Both Gupta and Johnson say the message for the rest of the country is: embrace change.

Gupta says: “Be braver. Be more entrepreneurial. Take risks … It is very difficult to change things in Australia. Everyone is too stuck in their ways.”

Johnson says: “You can resist change as much as you like, but the reality is, if you’re in a community that has a coal-fired power station, its days are numbered. The market is dictating that change whether we like it or not.

“My advice is: learn from the Port Augusta experience. I wish the federal government would.”

Press link for more: The Guardian

We must bridge generational divide to prevent climate & budget crises #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange Intergenerational Debt #Neoliberalism

Progressives must bridge the generational divide to prevent climate and budget crises

BY PAUL BLEDSOE AND BEN RITZ, OPINION CONTRIBUTORS

Amid the daily drama of President Trump‘s tweets and scandals, it can be hard to focus on the most important issues for our future.

An unfortunate consequence of this purposeful turmoil is that few serious solutions are being offered for addressing two of the greatest threats facing the United States: runaway climate change and unsustainable budget policies.

The resignation of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt may end his days of plundering the environment and public treasury, but the Trump administration will continue doing both even in his absence, risking long-term national well-being for temporary political benefits.

It’s critical that progressives offer credible alternatives, especially if they hope to inspire younger voters who will bear the burden of these problems, because we cannot afford to dither on either issue much longer.

We speak from experience.

One of us is a baby boomer who has spent most of his career working on energy and climate policy; the other is a millennial focused on the federal budget.

Although our two fields may seem unrelated, both these existential challenges require our generations to work together to solve.

Our leaders have been warned about the climate crisis for more than a generation.

Thirty years ago last month, NASA scientist James Hansen first testified before Congress noting the irrefutable relationship between growing carbon dioxide emissions and rising temperatures.

Since then, global average temperatures and greenhouse gas emissions have increased relentlessly, leading to enormously expensive climate change impacts around the world.

Just last year, Hurricane Harvey and other major storms made worse by climate change devastated the US costing federal taxpayers over $130 billion so far.

The longer we wait to stem rising temperatures, the higher these costs will grow.

The Long-term Budget Outlook recently published by the Congressional Budget Office tells a similar story.

The gap between federal revenues and spending is growing at an alarming rate, requiring the government to borrow more each year to cover the difference.

If current policies remain in place, the national debt relative to the size of the economy could rocket past the record-high level reached just after World War II as soon as 2029.

From then onward, the federal government will be stuck spending over $1 trillion every year just to pay interest on the debt, making the growing budget deficit increasingly difficult to close the longer we wait.

Both our climate and our budget problems stem in large part from a moral failure by baby boomers.

Rather than investing in their children’s future via sustainable energy and fiscal policies, boomers emitted greenhouse gases and cut their own taxes with reckless abandon, while promising themselves generous retirement benefits paid-for by future workers.

Now millennials will be stuck with a debt and a climate that are far more dangerous than in previous generations.

The two problems exacerbate one another.

As climate change worsens, hundreds of billions each year will need to be spent each year on adaptation and disaster relief, making it that much harder to reduce future budget deficits.

Conversely, the federal government will find it increasingly difficult to invest in technologies to combat climate change when so much of tax revenue is pre-committed to servicing our debt and paying for past promises.

Alas, the Republican-controlled government in Washington (like the LNP government in Australia) has made both problems much worse.

Party leaders deny or ignore the overwhelming scientific consensus around climate change, with the president calling it a “hoax” while his administration is pushing to replacing the Obama-era Clean Power Plan with a pro-pollution alternative that props up dying industries at the expense of our planet and economy.

The GOP exhibits the same pattern of willful ignorance on the federal budget: just recently, National Economic Council Chairman Larry Kudlow erroneously claimed that the deficit is falling even as it does the exact opposite – a problem which was made worse by the $2 trillion tax cut Republicans enacted at the end of last year without making any serious effort to pay for it.

Democrats and Labor have to do better.

Just as the far right wants to play chicken with our climate, some on the far left want to play chicken with our national debt.

Neither is a risk worth taking.

Democrats must resist the far left’s calls to pursue expensive expansions of social insurance programs before making our current obligations financially sustainable.

When it comes to climate change, most of the party understands the need for action but has yet to coalesce around practical approaches for solving the problem that would attract rather than alienate swing voters.

Democrats must realize there is little value in having the moral high ground, on either climate or the budget, without the political power to implement solutions.

The responsibility for making these changes thus lies with voters as much as their leaders, and both of our respective generations must do our part to promote responsible solutions.

Baby boomers need to accept responsibility for the unresolved problems they leave millennials and be willing to contribute to solutions.

But millennials need to take ownership of their future by showing up at the polls and making these challenges core voting issues.

Young voters already overwhelmingly support Democrats – it’s time they show up and demand Democrats support them in return by addressing the two greatest threats to our future prosperity.

Paul Bledsoe is strategic advisor for the Progressive Policy Institute, and Ben Ritz is the director of PPI’s Center for Funding America’s Future.

Press link for more: The Hill

The global heat wave that’s been killing us #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani #Longman

A heat wave is ravaging countries around the world. Although many celebrate sunny days, wildfires, wasted crops and health problems are some of the many disastrous consequences hot weather can have.

Most of us enjoy sunny days and complain on rainy ones — yet behind the clear skies lies a less pleasant reality. Since June 2018, numerous regions around the world have been facing infernal temperatures, which have caused wildfires, ruined crops and killed hundreds of people.

The hottest year ever recorded was 2016, due to a combination of global warming and a strong El Niño episode. Despite 2018 experiencing the opposite climate event, La Niña — which tends to cool temperatures — June has ranked as one of the hottest months on record.

A heat wave describes a period of at least five days with a temperature of 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) above the average.

Extremely hot individual days can be a one-off, which doesn’t always have a link to heat waves or global warming.

However, a trend is clear: As a result of climate change, we can expect more extreme and frequent heat waves. Clare Nullis, media officer World Meteorological Organization, confirmed this to DW.

Ruined crops are among the consequences of the global heat wave

The heat hits

For a south European person, 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) is nothing special. But that definitely is hot for people in the United Kingdom and Ireland, where the normal temperature in June doesn’t exceed 20 degrees.

On June 28, Glasgow reached its hottest June day ever, with 31.9 degrees Celsius, and the Irish town of Shannon its highest temperature ever recorded at 32 degrees.

Germans have enjoyed — or suffered — temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius for most of May and June. In the country of Georgia, July 4 made history with 40.5 degrees Celsius.

North America has not escaped the suffocating wave either. Denver and Los Angeles were among several cities in the United States that tied or broke heat records.

Montreal, in Canada, recorded the highest temperature in 147 years of record-keeping on July 2. The heat wave there killed more than 70 people.

Thermometers in Japan, Russia and Algeria, among other places, were also on fire. On July 5, the Ouargla weather station in Algeria’s Sahara Desert reported the highest reliable temperature ever recorded in Africa: 51.3 degrees Celsius.

In a climate change scenario, extreme heat waves may occur “as often as every two years in the second half of the 21st century,” Vladimir Kendrovski, technical officer for climate change and health for the World Health Organization (WHO) regional office for Europe, told DW.

Too hot to survive

“Heat waves have caused much higher fatalities in Europe in recent decades than any other extreme weather event,” Kendrovski pointed out.

High temperatures increase the level of pollutants in the air, as they speed up the rate of chemical reactions. This increases the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Substances like pollen, which can cause asthma, are also higher in extreme heat, WHO said.

Unusually high temperatures at night disturb restful sleep, preventing the body from recovering from daytime heat.

Vulnerable groups such as young children and the elderly suffer the most, Simone Sandholz, associate academic officer at the United Nations University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security, told DW. Most victims of extreme heat live in densely populated urban areas, where ventilation is scarce, she added.

Heat and humidity form a particularly deadly combination for humans, Nullis said. Up to 70 people may have died in Montreal as a result of the persistent heat wave and high humidity. In a recent three-day weekend, 14 people died in Japan, while more than 2,000 were sent to hospitals for heat exhaustion or insolation.

Hot weather coupled with humidity is also a perfect setting for insects to thrive. In England, helpline calls for insect bites almost doubled in early July.

But this is particularly worrisome for countries vulnerable to diseases such as malaria or dengue — that is, vector-borne diseases — transmitted by the bite of species such as mosquitoes, ticks or blackflies.

“Vector-borne diseases are associated with climate change, due to their widespread occurrence and the vectors’ sensitivities to their environments,” Kendrovski said. Mosquitos like Aedes aegypti are spreading into new regions due at least in part to rising temperatures.

And if you’ve ever felt it was so hot your brain doesn’t work, science says you could be right. Hot weather can make your thinking more than 10 percent slower, a new study shows.

Another study in New York City schools suggested that “upwards of 510,000 exams that otherwise would have passed received failing grades due to hot temperature, affecting at least 90,000 students.”

Extreme heat increases the risk of deadly diseases, such as malaria

A complex circle

Wildfires are another sad result of unusually sunny days, and lack of rainfall has caused large fires in the UK, Sweden and in Russia, where 80,000 hectares of forest have been devastated this season.

Farmers and crops are further victims of heat waves and droughts. In the UK, growers of peas and lettuce have struggled to meet demand due to low yields and crop failure this growing season; wheat, broccoli and cauliflower are also on the list of crops affected by the weather.

In Germany, farmers have resigned themselves to a much lower grain harvest due to the heat and dryness.

“We will again have a harvest that is far below the average,” Joachim Rukwied, president of the German Farmers Association (DVB), said in a statement. Some farmers have opted to destroy the crops instead of trying to harvest them, he added.

Access to air conditioning and cooling systems, though vital in a warmer world, can be part of a vicious cycle. Increasing use of cooling devices, currently powered largely by fossil fuels, would further contribute to climate change — and therefore rising temperatures.

Time to adapt

If health systems were better prepared and coordinated with meteorological systems, health problems from heatwaves and hot weather could largely be prevented, Kendrovski points out. “That’s the good news,” he said.

Sandholz highlighted the role of adequate urban planning to reduce heat impacts in urban areas. Simple changes, such as building out green zones or creating wind corridors, could make a huge difference.

We should not understimate the heat, Sandholz concluded.

Unusually dry

In northeastern Germany, there has been hardly any rainfall in recent months. The country’s weather service says Saxony-Anhalt received just 15 liters of rainfall per square meter — roughly a quarter of the average. Across Germany, there were just 50 liters of rainfall per square meter, half of the usual amount. Mecklenburg-West Pomerania received more sunshine than any other German state.

Unpredictable weather

The little rain that fell came down very unevenly across Germany. In May, the country’s weather service warned of potential forest fires in parts of Lower Saxony. Meanwhile in southwestern Germany, some towns faced torrential rains that flooded cellars and roads, such as here in Fischbach, Rhineland-Palatinate.

Date 18.07.2018

Author Irene Banos Ruiz

Press link for more: DW.COM

Great Barrier Reef coral recovery slows significantly over 18-year period #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange

Great Barrier Reef coral recovery slows significantly over 18-year period

Nick Kilvert

Over the last three decades the Great Barrier Reef has been hit by a series of intense cyclones, bleaching, crown of thorn starfish outbreaks and flood events that have caused well-documented, but reparable damage.

Scientists have hoped that an extended period of benign conditions would allow the natural processes of reef restoration to flourish, and many of the hardest-hit regions to return to a healthier, more colourful and biodiverse state.

But a new study of coral-recovery rates based on 18 years of data and published in Science Advances today, found the ability of many corals to bounce back after disturbance has significantly slowed down.

Although recovery rates were variable between different reef patches and coral types, the researchers found the overall recovery rate of corals across the Great Barrier Reef declined by an average of 84 per cent between 1992 and 2010.

Following acute disturbance events like cyclones, coral recovery was hindered by poor water quality and high temperature, according to lead author Juan-Carlos Ortiz from the University of Queensland, and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS).

“We noticed that…water quality played a significant role in that reduction in recovery rate,” Dr Ortiz said.

The study looked at data from more than 90 primarily mid-shelf and offshore reefs, comparing the rate of recovery following disturbance events.

“We noticed for the first time a very large decline in the ability of the reef to recover from disturbances over those 18 years,” he said.

The research team classified corals into six groups based on their growth forms. Although all groups showed an overall decline in recovery rate, two groups — the Montipora and branching Acropora both “went into negative”.

What that means is they continued to decline even after the disturbance had ceased.

While increased disturbance events are expected as the impacts of climate change ramp up, the slowed recovery time is a concerning compounding factor.

“It is exacerbating the problem. The assumption that we were working on was that naturally reefs recover fast,” Dr Ortiz said.

Although the results paint a grim picture of the trajectory of the reef, the researchers say there are some very positive things that can be taken from their findings.

The reefs furthest offshore receive less runoff from the catchment area, and because they are generally buffered by deeper water, are less susceptible to short-term fluctuations in temperature.

Although the study only analysed data from up until 2010, Dr Ortiz said there was a period without significant disturbance to the reef following Cyclone Yasi in 2011.

“On the offshore reefs like the Swains, where they are least affected by water quality issues from land … they did recover really fast,” he said.

“Which suggests that this trend is reversible.”

Tackling climate change is vital

In short, the researchers said both improving the water quality of runoff from the reef catchment area and addressing climate change can help reverse the reef’s decline.`

But trying to improve conditions on the reef without tackling climate change is like putting “band-aids on arterial wounds”, according to James Cook University’s Associate Professor Jodie Rummer, who was not involved in the study.

“We definitely need to be controlling problems with water quality and problems with crown of thorns, but first and foremost we need to deal with the big problem,” Dr Rummer said.

“What it does come down to is warming. Everything else just makes it worse, but warming is the primary concern.”

Dr Rummer, who will be presenting some of her work at a two-day reef symposium in Brisbane this week, has been studying sharks in French Polynesia and on the Great Barrier Reef.

Although French Polynesia is a declared shark sanctuary, she said their numbers are still suffering.

“Even the best protected marine parks, shark sanctuaries, and marine sanctuaries are not immune to climate change. We saw that when the reef started bleaching in 2016,” she said.

“I was at Lizard Island, and that’s some of the most pristine parts of the Great Barrier Reef, protected from so much activity, and still, climate change killed it.”

Federal Government pledges cash for farmer ‘champions’

Key to improving the Great Barrier Reef catchment is preventing large-scale deforestation.

Deforestation destabilises soil and increases the sediment and nutrient load carried to the reef during heavy rains, smothering corals and encouraging algal growth.

But the latest Great Barrier Reef catchments report from the Queensland Audit Office shows more than 1.2 million hectares were cleared in Queensland between 2012 and 2016, and nearly 40 per cent of that was cleared in the reef catchment area.

Despite committing $500 million to protecting the reef in the budget, the Federal Government came under fire earlier this year when it granted approval for the clearing of 2,000 hectares of bushland at Kingvale Station, which drains into reef-fringed Princess Charlotte Bay in North Queensland.

This week, the Federal Government committed $3.5 million to help sugarcane farmers “improve fertiliser use and efficiency” in the catchment. That is on top of $3.7 million committed by the Queensland Government.

The investment will help minimise nitrogen-pollution runoff entering the reef, according to a statement from Assistant Minister for the Environment Melissa Price.

“Optimising the rate of fertiliser application helps sugarcane farmers to increase their profitability, while minimising nitrogen pollution run-off entering the reef,” Ms Price said.

Press link for more: ABC.NET.AU

Expanding ‘dead zone’ in Arabian Sea raises climate change fears #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #NoNewCoal

Dead zones are areas of the sea where the lack of oxygen makes it difficult for fish to survive.

Image: 123RF/Allan Swart

In the waters of the Arabian Sea, a vast “dead zone” the size of Scotland is expanding and scientists say climate change may be to blame.

In his lab in Abu Dhabi, Zouhair Lachkar is labouring over a colourful computer model of the Gulf of Oman, showing changing temperatures, sea levels and oxygen concentrations.

His models and new research unveiled earlier this year show a worrying trend.

Dead zones are areas of the sea where the lack of oxygen makes it difficult for fish to survive and the one in the Arabian Sea is “is the most intense in the world,” says Lachkar, a senior scientist at NYU Abu Dhabi in the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

“It starts at about 100 metres and goes down to 1,500 metres, so almost the whole water column is completely depleted of oxygen,” he told AFP.

Dead zones are naturally occurring phenomena around the world, but this one appears to have mushroomed since it was last surveyed in the 1990s.

Lachkar and other researchers are worried that global warming is causing the zone to expand, raising concerns for local ecosystems and industries including fishing and tourism.

‘Very scary for climate’

The discovery was made possible by the use of robotic divers, or “sea gliders”, deployed in areas researchers could not access — an undertaking by Britain’s University of East Anglia in collaboration with Oman’s Sultan Qaboos University.

The findings of the 2015 to 2016 study were released in April and showed the Arabian Sea dead zone had worsened in size and scope.

And unlike in the 1996 measurements, when the lowest levels were limited to the heart of the dead zone — midway between Yemen and India — now the dead zone extends across the sea.

“Now everywhere is the minimum, and it can’t go much lower,” the lead researcher Bastien Queste told AFP.

At NYU Abu Dhabi, Lachkar explains the Arabian Sea dead zone appears to be stuck in a cycle where warming seas are depleting the oxygen supply which in turn is reinforcing the warming.

This, he says, “can be very scary for climate”.

Ports from Mumbai to Muscat look out onto the Arabian Sea, making it a critical body of water.

These coastal hubs and the populations beyond them will be affected by further expansion of the dead zone.

Fish, a key source of sustenance in the region, may find their habitats compressed from deep underwater to just beneath the surface, putting them at risk of overfishing and extreme competition.

“When oxygen concentration drops below certain levels, fish cannot survive and you have massive death,” says Lachkar.

To carry out his data-heavy modelling, Lachkar relies on a sprawling supercomputer centre which cost several million dollars to set up — a testament to local priorities to research climate change.

‘Stick to science’

The UAE in 2016 renamed its Ministry of Environment and Water as the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, further evidence of the regional desire to meet this global challenge head-on.

“I think it is an important topic for different reasons, not only scientific reasons, but also economic,” says Lachkar from his Centre for Prototype and Climate Modelling.

“Fishing is an important source of revenue and it’s directly impacted by the oxygen,” he said.

Even coral reefs and, by extension, tourism could be affected.

Down the hall from his research facility is the complementary Centre for Global Sea Level Change, where researchers like Diana Francis study the worldwide impact of the problem.

The issue was at the top of the global agenda in 2015, when the world hammered out a deal in Paris to cut carbon emissions.

But the landmark agreement received a blow last year, when President Donald Trump announced he would be pulling the United States out of the accord.

“It is very disappointing, because a major country is not putting effort in the same direction as the others,” says Francis of the decision.

“But our role is to stick to science, be pragmatic and try to advance our understanding of the climate,” she says.

“Politics change over time,” Francis tells AFP. “But science does not.”

Press link for more: Times Live

#ClimateChange will force us to redefine economic growth. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #NoNewCoal #Longman

Climate change will force us to redefine economic growth

World Economic Forum

Last Friday, Pope Francis called for nothing less than “a financial paradigm shift” in order to tackle climate change.

His comments, made at a conference hosted by the Vatican and uniting business people, policy-makers of different stripes, indigenous leaders, academics and young people, could not be more timely: humanity is at a turning point. But when it comes to the economy, if handled sensibly and without delay, this turning point does not have to be a breaking point.

Over the past 70 years, the world has seen remarkable advances that are unprecedented in its history.

These include an increase in average life expectancy around the world from around 40 to around 70 years, a rise in income per capita by a factor of around four, and huge declines in the number of people living in absolute poverty.

One result of this has been a near trebling of the global population as fewer people die early deaths. These outcomes have in large measure been fostered by a spirit of internationalism, international collaboration and a functioning international economic order, all created after the second world war.

At the same time as this record growth in our numbers and wealth, we have seen fundamental changes in our natural capital, including the atmosphere, oceans, forests, glaciers, rivers and biodiversity. In 142 tropical countries, for instance, the overall area of natural forest declined by 11% between 1990 and 2015. Oceans have recorded a 30% increase in acidity since the start of the industrial revolution, and acidity is projected to increase to a pH level that the oceans have not experienced for more than 20 million years.

At the same time, indoor and outdoor air pollution were responsible for an estimated 6.5 million premature deaths in 2015. Air pollution is particularly threatening for children, and is especially prevalent in large, rapidly developing countries such as India and China.

The next two decades will be decisive.

They will determine whether we suffer severe and irreversible damage to livelihoods and the natural world or whether, instead, we set off on a more attractive path of sustainable and inclusive economic development and growth.

It is clear from the science of climate change that we must cut emissions by at least 30% in the next two decades to avoid dangerous levels of warming.

If we go on emitting greenhouse gases at current rates for the next two decades, then it is likely that we will far exceed a 3°C increase in average global surface temperature compared with the late 19th century – the usual benchmark.

A rise of 3°C would be extremely dangerous, taking us to a temperature we have not seen on this planet for around 3 million years.

Remember that modern Homo sapiens has been here for only around a quarter of a million years. A warming of this magnitude could transform where we could live, severely damage livelihoods, displace billions of people and lead to severe and extended conflict. And we risk considerably higher temperatures than that if we do not radically change how we produce and consume. Delivery on the global agenda to curb emissions, at scale and with urgency, is now crucial.

We must do that during a period of two decades, during which the world economy is likely to roughly double, and infrastructure more than double. Given the need to cut emissions by 30%, it is clear that we must act now to change radically the relationship between our economic activity and the damage to the environment it causes.

The economics of that change is compelling. For instance, it is now cheaper in many countries to generate electricity from renewable sources than from fossil fuels. Since 2006, the costs for solar power modules has fallen by 79%, and since 2010 the prices of batteries for storage of power have fallen by 72%.

We can build a new form of growth and poverty reduction that is clean, sustainable and inclusive. It is an economic path that is much more attractive, robust and lasting. The world is starting to realise the attractiveness of the new growth model, as well as the risks of unmanaged climate change. We can see what needs to be done, that it can be done, and that it is very attractive. If we act wisely, we can create cities in which we can move and breathe, ecosystems that are robust and fruitful, and living standards that can continue to rise. The alternative route would lead to severe disruption and poverty for many.

There is no horse race between climate responsibility and economic development. But we must build the political will, and quickly, to take the strong decisions that are necessary.

His Holiness the Pope is showing extraordinary leadership in trying to bridge the gap between moral obligation and will to act. He leads us in recognizing the combination of urgency and opportunity in the crisis we now face. He serves as an outstanding and crucial example to those of us in the secular world. Only by combining political and moral leadership, together with social movements and sound economics, will the necessary decisions be taken with the urgency that is now required.

Professor Nicholas Stern is chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics.

Press link for more: EWN.CO

The new renewable energy bridge #India #China #StopAdani #NoNewCoal #auspol #qldpol

The new renewable energy bridge

Atul Aneja

This time, the stars could not have been better aligned. China had accumulated excess stock of renewable energy hardware.

Too many factories were churning out solar panels and wind turbines to fulfill Beijing’s clean energy dreams.

Workers installing solar panels at a floating solar plant in Huainan, Anhui province, China, in December 2017.   | Photo Credit: CHINA STRINGER NETWORK

The Chinese government had earlier declared that it intended to spend a whopping $360 billion on renewable energy wherewithal, such as solar panel and wind turbines, by 2020.

On the demand end, energy-hungry India was positioning itself to absorb a significant portion of this surplus.

Renewable energy has continued to remain one of the top items on New Delhi’s power and environmental agenda. “The driving force is the Paris climate agreement,” said Sanjay Sharma of Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), referring to the deal which set limits to greenhouse gas emissions, with 2020 as the starting point.

Speaking at a Beijing seminar on renewable energy, he stressed that India was looking at 2030, when renewables would cover 40% of the country’s total installed capacity. Consequently, clean energy targets were being revised. By 2022, India has plans to develop 100 GW of renewable energy.

China’s own plans to funnel copious doses of renewable energy into its energy mix have been rattled over the last few years. An economic slowdown has reduced overall energy demand, resulting in growing accumulation of excess capacity. Besides, the resistance from the coal lobby has also proved unusually hardy. The trade war with the U.S., which many anticipate will dry up exports of renewables to America, is adding further pressure on the Chinese energy producers, forcing them to seek new markets. “Under these difficult circumstances, India offers a natural lifeline to Chinese manufacturers of renewable energy products,” said an Indian official, who did not want to be named.

India’s fault lines

During the brainstorming in Beijing, India’s own fault lines in the renewable energy domain were also exposed. For instance, the chronic problem of land acquisition at home was forcing Indian planners to consider wider use of water as a platform for floating solar panels. “We can use reservoirs or even backwaters as in Kerala or in Lakshadweep for floating solar PV projects,” said Y.B.K. Reddy, deputy general manager at SECI. He pointed out that three months ago, a team of Indian experts had been sent to tap Chinese expertise in this field. “The team visited the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydro project, on the Yangtze river. It has a massive reservoir ideally suited for floating renewable energy projects,” remarked Mr. Reddy.

The delegation also went to a plant in China’s Anhui province, where solar floats were being built on an industrial scale. Mr. Reddy also spotlighted that India was seeking Chinese expertise for developing “hybrid projects”, where solar and wind energy would be combined. “We need to co-locate and combine wind and solar capacities on land as well as water. Complementary battery storage may be necessary to ensure uninterrupted supply of power to the grid.”

As the candid back and forth between Indian and Chinese technocrats and business people accelerated, it became evident that the mood has changed markedly over the last one year. There is now buzz that in the backdrop of the Wuhan summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in April, the moment has finally arrived to ignite the engine of China-India trade, commerce and investments.

Atul Aneja works for The Hindu and is based in Beijing

Press link for more: The Hindu

So far the Dodos are winning in the U.S. & Australia #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #NoNewCoal #StopAdani #Longman

Republicans try to save their deteriorating party with another push for a carbon tax

Dana Nuccitelli

The Republican Party is rotting away. The problem is that GOP policies just aren’t popular.

Most Americans unsurprisingly oppose climate denial, tax cuts for the wealthy, and putting children (including toddlers) in concentration camps, for example.

The Republican Party has thus far managed to continue winning elections by creating “a coalition between racists and plutocrats,” as Paul Krugman put it.

The party’s economic policies are aimed at benefitting wealthy individuals and corporations, but that’s a slim segment of the American electorate.

The plutocrats can fund political campaigns, but to capture enough votes to win elections, the GOP has resorted to identity politics. Research has consistently shown that Trump won because of racial resentment among white voters.

While that strategy has worked in the short-term, some Republicans recognize that it can’t work in the long-term, and they’re fighting to save their party from extinction.

Can a carbon tax save the GOP?

Climate change is one of many issues that divides the Republican Party.

Like racial resentment, climate denial is a position held mostly by old, white, male conservatives.

There’s a climate change generational, ethnic, and gender gap.

61% of Republicans under the age of 50 support government climate policies, compared to just 44% of Republicans over 50.

Similarly, a majority of Hispanic- and African-Americans accept human-caused global warming and 70% express concern about it, as compared to just 41% of whites who accept the scientific reality and 50% who worry about it.

But the plutocratic wing of the GOP loves fossil fuels.

Republican politicians rely on campaign donations from the fossil fuel industry, and quid pro quo requires them to do the industry’s bidding.

It might as well be called the Grand Oil Party.

There is no other reason why the GOP should not unify behind a revenue-neutral carbon tax.

This free market, small government climate policy – which taxes carbon pollution and returns all the revenue to American households – is indeed supported by many conservatives.

A group of Republican elder statesmen created a coalition called the Climate Leadership Council to build conservative support for a revenue-neutral carbon tax. They’re now backed by Americans for Carbon Dividends (AfCD), led in part by former Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott with a renewed effort to build support for this policy.

AfCD recently released polling results showing that 55% of Americans believe US environmental policy is headed in the wrong direction (29% say it’s on the right track), 81% of likely voters including 58% of Strong Republicans agree the government should take action to limit carbon emissions, and by a 56% to 26% margin (including a 55% to 32% margin among Strong Republicans), Americans support a revenue-neutral carbon tax.

It’s not a wildly popular policy proposal, but it does have broad bipartisan support. It’s also a smart way to curb climate change with minimal economic impact, and in fact with a massive net economic benefit compared to unchecked climate change. That’s why economists overwhelmingly support a carbon tax.

The GOP was on the wrong side of history on civil rights and gay marriage and has paid the price, having largely become the party of old, straight, white men. Climate change is a similarly critical historical issue, but one that will directly impact every single American. Some smart Republicans recognize that the party can’t afford to be on the wrong side of history again on this issue.

Racial politics slapped a band-aid on the GOP’s gaping wound

Donald Trump managed to win the presidency in 2016 by stoking racial resentment among white Americans, but still lost the popular vote by a margin of nearly 3 million, and Republicans have only won the presidential popular vote once in the past two decades. They’re winning elections by relying on structural advantages (gerrymandering and weighting of rural votes), voter suppression, and mobilizing older white voters.

Trump seems to be doubling down on the latter strategy ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, for example by claiming that illegal immigrants are “infesting” America and by putting immigrant children in concentration camps. While only 25% of Americans support separating immigrant children from their parents, 49% of Republicans favor the policy. It’s a recipe for turning out the racist base (who also tend to be climate deniers), but not for winning a general election. Especially over the long-term as America becomes less white and as younger, more tolerant Americans become a larger proportion of the electorate.

When asked about the child concentration camps at a press conference, Senator David Perdue (R-GA) made the connection between the GOP coalition of plutocrats and racists, telling reporters:

we came here to talk about a crisis. Your job is to inform the American people, our job is to provide solutions. … God help us if we don’t solve this debt crisis. This is the No. 1 topic in America today … I want to make sure that the few minutes that we have didn’t get hijacked by the current shiny object of the day. [The national debt] is the current crisis in America.

The national debt might be less of a crisis had the GOP not added well over $1tn to the deficit in order to give wealthy Americans a tax cut. But apparently, it’s now a greater crisis than the American government taking immigrant children from their parents and putting them in concentration camps, or the existential threat posed by climate change. In other words, GOP priority #1 is further enriching plutocrats, priority #2 is reducing the national debt by cutting programs that help non-plutocrats; keeping families together and preserving a livable climate fall somewhere down the list.

Outside of the Republican base, these are unpopular priorities and policies. But as Katie Arrington, who recently beat Climate Solutions Caucus member Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) in a primary put it, “We are the party of President Donald J. Trump.” That’s a party that can only win races that are decided by white racial resentment. It’s a party that, given demographic changes, has become an endangered species.

Some Republicans are trying to save the party by embracing smart policies like a revenue-neutral carbon tax. But so far, the party dodos are winning.

Press link for more: The Guardian