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The Politics of a #GreenNewDeal #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani Demand #ClimateAction #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion

The Politics of a Green New Deal

The idea is simple enough: the government invests in green infrastructure and stimulates the private investment needed to decarbonize and modernize the economy.

The devil may be in the details, but following FDR’s original New Deal, what is important is the effort to innovate and the urgency of that effort.

Climate change is a crisis, our transport and energy infrastructure are decaying, and a national effort to invest in the future could reduce pollution and stimulate the economy.

We don’t know exactly what is needed but we will learn by doing―or, to quote FDR, “It is common sense to take a method and try it.

If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” It is a mistake to assume that the money spent will be pure subsidy.

Properly designed, the Green New Deal is an investment, not a handout.

The ideological mindset we are stuck in these days requires you to be either pro-free enterprise or a socialist.

What if you are both?

What if you understand the need for capitalist incentives but also think that health care, education, a clean environment, employment and opportunity should be a right rather than a privilege?

FDR’s New Deal was designed to save capitalism.

At the time he was considered by some a “traitor to his class”, but he instinctively understood Keynesian economics and understood that for an economy to grow, workers had to make enough money to buy things.

He also knew that extreme economic inequality that forced hard working Americans to live in poverty was politically destabilizing.

People needed a stake in the future. Parents will sacrifice to benefit their children, but if there is no chance that your children will do better than you, and you are struggling, you have no reason to support those in charge.

Climate change, toxics, contamination of aging water systems and crumbling bridges, trains, and roadways all call for investment in new infrastructure.

That could be the heart of the Green New Deal.

The jobs created could provide a bridge for those unable to adapt to the educational requirements of the modern service economy. As I mentioned in a piece I wrote in early December:

“It is true that the current Congress will never enact a Green New Deal and even if they did, the current president would never sign it. The proposal and Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez will soon feel the full force of the right-wing attack machine. She is already feeling those broadsides but has proven to be quite good at resisting them. The proposal will be attacked as expensive and infeasible, but the key point is that the Green New Deal is now on the institutional agenda. Congress will need to address these ideas. Moreover, the level of public support for a Green New Deal will be high. Young people who feel economically insecure and are worried about the fate of the planet will gravitate toward these ideas.” 

In the six weeks since I wrote those words, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez has been called ignorant, unsophisticated and naïve, but she has proven to be one of the most talented advocates to appear on the political scene in quite some time. Already nicknamed AOC, with appearances on many major news venues and with a growing presence in the social media, neither she nor the Green New Deal show any signs of disappearing.

Ocasio-Cortez

The effort to delegitimize government intervention in the economy is intense, well-funded and will continue.

Lobbying is, after all, a thriving business.

Right-wing lobbying groups are effective in large part because they are not attempting to forge the compromises that result in government action; they are mainly focused on keeping ideas like the Green New Deal off the political agenda. When they can’t keep something off the agenda, they attempt to shape it so they can profit from it. Obamacare is the perfect example. Its complexity was a direct result of intervention by the health insurance industry. This seems to be the American way: simple policy ideas become complicated by the compromises needed to obtain a majority in congress. Campaign fundraising is well over 50 percent of the job of our elected officials, and so industry and wealthy interests have a magnified voice in American politics.

So how will we ever get a Green New Deal?

First, we won’t see it while Donald Trump is president. But there is big money in infrastructure―green, blue or red. And a policy to invest in modernizing the electric grid, subsidizing renewable energy, promoting electric vehicles and making our homes and businesses more energy efficient can be a political winner. Powerful economic interests and labor unions will support infrastructure investment. The heavy lift will be raising the tax rates on the wealthy to pay for it. America has gotten used to paying low taxes and living in debt. It will take real political leadership and sustained grass roots mobilization to make this happen.

Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke are examples of the type of leaders that could bring about the Green New Deal. They are excellent communicators, and both have demonstrated skills in grassroots organizing and mass small contribution fundraising. The only force that can defeat the political money of the right is the mass mobilization of the non-right. We first saw this in Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, when his ability to raise small contributions through the internet defeated the big money dollars of the “Clinton Machine”. A Green New Deal will require at least five years of the same effort we saw during the Ocasio-Cortez, O’Rourke and Obama campaigns.

Tying economic development to environmental protection is a winning political strategy. Instead of focusing on enacting regulations and taxes that punish polluting behavior, we invest in infrastructure and tax incentives that promote environmental sustainability. The goal is to lower the cost of renewable energy rather than raise the cost of fossil fuels. It also ties environmental protection to employment. The urban sustainability plans such as Mike Bloomberg’s PlaNYC 2030 did exactly that at the local level. The idea was to make the city more attractive to business and new residents by setting and reaching a series of goals related to energy, public space, transportation, and climate resiliency.

The absence of specificity of the Green New Deal is a strength and not a weakness. 

FDR’s New Deal was a series of improvisations in response to specific problems that were stalling economic development. There was no master plan, many ideas failed, and some were ended after a period of experimentation. But some, like social security and the Security and Exchange Commission’s regulation of the stock market, became permanent American institutions. The Green New Deal will be very technologically dependent. We do not yet have all the technology we need to decarbonize. We are close, and with a little more investment and invention we will get there. We also don’t know the correct mix of public-private collaboration that will work. Advocates should avoid the trap of attempting to spell out every detail of a program that should be innovative and experimental and not set in concrete.

The labeling and sales pitch for a Green New Deal is inspired and a very important political development.

It will be a long journey to enact and implement a Green New Deal. In addition to its advocates in Congress, the Green New Deal will need a president committed to its vision. But the process begins with its articulation and that has now begun.

Press link for more: Columbia

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A Moral Call to Action on the #ClimateCrisis #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #StopAdani Demand a #GreenNewDeal #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebelliono

If you just met Al Gore, you might be hard-pressed to know that the environmentalist ever did anything else. 

Al Gore

With a 2006 Academy Award for his film “An Inconvenient Truth” and a 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his environmental advocacy, Gore has seamlessly shifted from high-level politician to one of the world’s leading voices on the threat of climate change. 

“I enjoyed the years I spent in elected office and I enjoyed politics,” Gore told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But I feel privileged to be able to serve in other ways, and it feels like the right thing to do. I have worked on this issue for more than 40 years and more people are seeing the impact.” 

In March, the former U.S. senator, vice president and Democratic presidential nominee will bring his Climate Reality Leadership Corps to Atlanta for a three-day meeting to train activists on environmental justice and climate change. 

Gore said the training will focus on several key themes, as well as the challenges that the climate crisis poses to vulnerable communities, including how it is changing the Southeast, how fossil fuels threaten the health of low-income families and communities of color, and how clean energy can help to right historical injustices and create opportunities. 

“We are changing the conditions that have given rise to the flourishing of humanity,” Gore said. “How can we tell our grandkids that we are in the process of destroying the environment?

This is a crisis like we have never experienced before.

That is why I spend so much of my time training grassroots activists all over the world.” 

The event — the 40th time that Gore has hosted this kind of training — will also for the first time include “A Moral Call to Action on the Climate Crisis,” an interfaith mass meeting at Ebenezer Baptist Church, featuring the historic church’s pastor, the Rev. Raphael G. Warnock, and the Rev. William J. Barber II, a 2018 MacArthur fellow. 

The Rev. William Barber II is the leader of the Moral Monday movement that advocates for social justice. Barber delivered the keyote speech during the 48th Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Commemorative Service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.  Photo: JONATHAN PHILLIPS / SPECIAL

“The climate crisis, as many of us have said for a long time, is not a political issue,” Gore said. “It is a moral and spiritual issue for the survival of humanity.”

Gore said there would be a particular focus on environmental justice. And he argues that for everything we see — rising temperatures, flooding, powerful storms and wildfires — it is often less-visible problems, such as fossil fuel emissions and pollution, that directly impact black, brown and poor communities, which he wants faith leaders to address. 

“Too often, the climate crisis inflicts deep and disproportionate burdens on those least responsible for causing it,” Gore said. “We will succeed in climate action when we prioritize inclusivity.

Climate solutions must be fair and equitable for all people.” 

Warnock, whose church was once co-pastored by 1964 Nobel Peace Prize winner Martin Luther King Jr., said the environment is a moral and justice issue that civil rights leaders and climate change activists have just recently begun to find common ground on. 

The Rev. Raphael G. Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church said climate change is a civil and human rights issue. Photo: Branden Camp

“Traditionally, the civil rights activists and climate change activists have not sufficiently engaged one another,” Warnock said. “That is unfortunate because climate change is a civil and human rights issue. And issues, traditionally raised by the civil rights community, that leave certain communities more vulnerable.” 

But there is also a religious battle simmering among evangelical Christians over whether climate change is a liberal hoax, flawed science, or an affront to the concept of human existence. 

They are being encouraged by President Donald Trump, who has rolled back many of President Barack Obama’s environmental policies that aimed to curb climate change and limit environmental pollution. 

And on Wednesday, Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist Trump nominated to run the Environmental Protection Agency, declined to identify climate change as a crisis requiring unprecedented action from the United States. 

“How can you not believe in climate change?” Warnock asked. “We are way past a period when we could be concerned about the politics.

Climate change is not something that is coming, it is here. It is way past time for all of us to get serious.” 

The event will be held March 14-16, 2019. The mass meeting will take place on March 14 at 7 p.m. at Ebenezer Baptist Church. To learn more about the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Atlanta and to apply before the Jan. 28 deadline, visit https://www.climaterealityproject.org/training

Press link for more: AJC

Air pollution, the greatest environmental risks to health says WHO #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #StopAdani demand #CleanAir #ClimateChange #GreenNewDeal #ClimateCrisis

Microscopic pollutants in the air can penetrate respiratory and circulatory systems, damaging the lungs, heart and brain, killing 7 million people prematurely annually

Nine out of ten people breathe polluted air every day.

In 2019, air pollution is considered by the World Health Organization, WHO, as the greatest environmental risk to health.

Microscopic pollutants in the air can penetrate respiratory and circulatory systems, damaging the lungs, heart and brain, killing 7 million people prematurely every year from diseases such as cancer, stroke, heart and lung disease.

Around 90% of these deaths are in low- and middle-income countries, with high volumes of emissions from industry, transport and agriculture, as well as dirty cook-stoves and fuels in homes.

The primary cause of air pollution (burning fossil fuels) is also a major contributor to climate change, which impacts people’s health in different ways.

Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause 250 000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress.

In October 2018, WHO held its first ever Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health in Geneva.

Countries and organizations made more than 70 commitments to improve air quality.

This year, the United Nations Climate Summit in September will aim to strengthen climate action and ambition worldwide.

Even if all the commitments made by countries for the Paris Agreement are achieved, the world is still on a course to warm by more than 3°C this century.

Press link for more: Merco Press

Are We Living Through Climate Change’s Worst-Case Scenario? #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion Demand a #GreenNewDeal

“We’re a lot closer than we should be,” one Stanford scientist warned.

Smoke and steam billow from Belchatow Power Station in Poland, the site of the UN’s 2018 climate conference.Kacper Pempel / Reuters

The year 2018 was not an easy one for planet Earth.

Sure, wind and solar energy kept getting cheaper, and an electric car became America’s best-selling luxury vehicle. But the most important metric of climatic health—the amount of heat-trapping gas entering the atmosphere—got suddenly and shockingly worse.

In the United States, carbon emissions leapt back up, making their largest year-over-year increase since the end of the Great Recession.

This matched the trend across the globe. According to two major studies, greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide shot up in 2018—accelerating like a “speeding freight train,” as one scientist put it.

U.S. emissions do remain 11 percent below their 2007 peak, but that is one of the few bright spots in the data. Global emissions are now higher than ever. And the 2018 statistics are all the more dismal because greenhouse-gas emissions had previously seemed to be slowing or even declining, both in the United States and around the world.

Many economists expect carbon emissions to drop somewhat throughout the next few decades. But maybe they won’t.

If 2018 is any indication, meekly positive energy trends will not handily reduce emissions, even in developed economies like the United States. It raises a bleak question: Are we currently on the worst-case scenario for climate change?

“We’re actually a lot closer than we should be; I can say that with confidence,” says Rob Jackson, an Earth scientist at Stanford and the chair of the Global Carbon Project, which leads the research tracking worldwide emissions levels.

Read: How to understand the UN’s dire new climate report

When climate scientists want to tell a story about the future of the planet, they use a set of four standard scenarios called “representative concentration pathways,” or RCPs. RCPs are ubiquitous in climate science, appearing in virtually any study that uses climate models to investigate the 21st century. They’ve popped up in research about subjects as disparate as southwestern mega-droughts, future immigration flows to Europe, and poor nighttime sleep quality.

Each RCP is assigned a number that describes how the climate will fare in the year 2100. Generally, a higher RCP number describes a scarier fate: It means that humanity emitted more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere during the 21st century, further warming the planet and acidifying the ocean. The best-case scenario is called RCP 2.6. The worst case is RCP 8.5.

“God help us if 8.5 turns out to be the right scenario,” Jackson told me. Under RCP 8.5, the world’s average temperature would rise by 4.9 degrees Celsius, or nearly 9 degrees Fahrenheit. “That’s an inconceivable increase for global temperatures—especially when we think about them being global average temperatures,” he said. “Temperatures will be even higher in the northern latitudes, and higher over land than over the ocean.”

This scenario could still be in the planet’s future, according to Zeke Hausfather, an analyst and climate scientist at Berkeley Earth. Since 2005, total global greenhouse-gas emissions have most closely tracked the RCP 8.5 scenario, he says. “There may be good reasons to be skeptical of RCP 8.5’s late-century values, but observations to-date don’t really give us grounds to exclude it,” he recently wrote.

Even if we avoid RCP 8.5, the less dramatic possibilities still could lead to catastrophic warming. Jackson, the Stanford professor, warned that every emissions scenario that meets the Paris Agreement’s 2-degree Celsius “goal” assumes that humanity will soon develop technology to remove carbon directly from the atmosphere. Such technology has never existed at industrial scales.

“Even some [of the scenarios] for 3 degrees Celsius assume that at some point in the next 50 years, we will have large-scale industrial activities to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere,” he said. “It’s a very dangerous game, I think. We’re assuming that this thing we can’t do today will somehow be possible and cheaper in the future. I believe in tech, but I don’t believe in magic.”

Read: No ecosystem on Earth is safe from climate change

Yet not all data suggest that we’re doomed to RCP 8.5 or equivalent amounts of warming, Hausfather cautions. If you look only at pollution from fossil-fuel burning—and not from land-use events like deforestation—then humanity’s recent record trends closer to RCP 4.5.

That’s good news, but only by comparison: RCP 4.5 still forecasts that global temperatures will rise by 2.4 degrees Celsius, enough to kill off nearly every coral reef and soar past the 2-degree target set out in the Paris Agreement on climate change.

There are a few reasons it’s hard to say which RCP comes closest to our reality. First, most of the RCPs tell roughly the same story about global emissions until about 2025 or 2030. Second, the RCPs describe emissions across the entire sweep of the 21st century—and the century mostly hasn’t happened yet. Trying to pick the most likely RCP in 2018 is a bit like trying to predict the precise depth of late-night snowfall at 4:32 a.m.

The RCP 8.5 scenario may also become less likely in years to come, even if major polluters like the United States, China, and India never pass muscular climate policy. RCP 8.5 says that the global coal industry will eventually become seven times bigger than it is today. “It’s tough to claim that … that is a business-as-usual world,” Hausfather says. “It’s certainly a possible world, but we also live in a world today where solar is increasingly cheaper than coal.”

That’s part of the reason the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will soon expand its list of standard scenarios. Its next major synthesis report, due to be published in 2021, will replace RCPs with five “socioeconomic pathways”that allow for a broader range of futures.

Jackson urged caution. “We don’t know yet what scenario we’re on,” he said. “I think most climate scientists will tell you that we’re below the 8.5 scenario. But every year that emissions increase like they have this year, it makes the 8.5 scenario more plausible.”

Jackson published his first academic paper in 1989, just a year after the NASAscientist James Hansen first warned Congress that global warming had begun in earnest. I asked whether he thought actual emissions would ever come close to RCP 8.5. 

“It’s nuts,” he said. “But I used to think a lot of things were nuts that turned out not to be nuts.”

Press link for more: The Atlantic

An ocean of evidence on global warming is our cue to take action – now #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #GreenNewDeal #auspol #qldpol

By John Church

Over 90 per cent of the heat trapped in the climate system by increasing greenhouse gas concentrations from our burning of fossil fuels is stored in the oceans. With much less variability than surface temperatures, ocean warming is one of the most important indicators of the ongoing pace of climate change.

Two new studies published last week confirm the world’s oceans are warming.

The first, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, shows that ocean warming has accelerated since 1870.

The second, a perspective published in the prestigious iournal Science, reports studies that indicate the rate of ocean warming over recent decades is 10 per cent or more greater than the studies considered in the last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment published in 2013, and that the rate has increased since 1991.

The updated observations are in agreement with the results of climate model simulations of the impacts of our continuing release of greenhouse gases.

These models show the ocean will continue to warm through the 21st century and beyond.

Greenhouse gases have a long life time in the atmosphere. Even if carbon dioxide emissions were to cease completely, atmospheric concentrations would only decrease slowly over thousands of years unless we discover a way to artificially remove them from the atmosphere.As a direct consequence, surface temperatures would remain elevated. As result of the oceans’ ability to store heat, they will continue to warm for centuries.

Decisions we make now about greenhouse gas emissions have long-term consequences for the world and Australia’s climate and sea level, and of course for the natural environment and our modern society.

Continued greenhouse gas emissions at a business-as-usual rate would result in the ocean warming accelerating through the 21st century, and a contribution to sea-level rise of about 30cm from ocean thermal expansion alone by 2100. The warmer ocean would be accompanied by warmer surface temperatures, increased frequency of climate extremes, and increased intensity of extreme rainfall events and hurricanes, with major disruptions to society.

The ice sheets are even more important for long-term sea-level change. Unabated emissions this century would commit the world to metres of sea-level rise over coming centuries. We would likely cross the threshold, well before 2100, leading to an accelerating melting of the Greenland ice sheet and a sea level rise of up to about seven metres. An acceleration of the Greenland contribution to sea level rise has already been observed.

For Antarctica, a warming ocean would lead to the decay of ice shelves and an accelerating flow of ice into the ocean, as revealed by recent observations of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The rate of sea level contribution from Antarctica is more uncertain but could equal or exceed the contribution from thermal expansion by 2100, and could be metres over coming centuries

Global average temperature is already about 1C above pre-industrial levels and we have already seen an increased frequency of coastal flooding events. Unabated emissions would see permanent inundation and a dramatic increase in the frequency of coastal flooding events, disrupting the lives of tens to hundreds of millions of people.

Urgent, significant and sustained mitigation of our greenhouse gas emissions are required if we are to meet the Paris targets of “limiting global average temperatures to well below 2C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels”, and thus significantly reduce the impacts of climate change. Current mitigation “promises” are not sufficient to meet these goals, and planned mitigation is even further away. Every day we delay action makes the Paris targets more difficult to achieve.

The long time scales of the ocean means we will have to adapt to climate and sea level change resulting from past emissions. However, further sea level rises and other changes in our climate can be greatly reduced, but not eliminated, by reaching the Paris goals.

We should remember that sea levels were six to nine metres above current levels at a global average temperature about 1C above pre-industrial values.

Current Australian government figures do not indicate Australia is on track to meet our committed greenhouse gas emission mitigation target of 26 to 28 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030 “in a canter”. Meeting this target will require the urgent development of an effective Australian climate policy.

Perhaps more importantly, this target is completely inadequate. To make a proportionate commitment to meeting the Paris targets, Australia needs to ratchet up our targets, as expected by the Paris agreement, and to urgently develop realistic plans to meet these targets.

Actions we take now will affect the lives of our children and grandchildren and that of future generations. We know what is required for significant mitigation and we have the knowledge and technologies to do it. What we require urgently is the will to do it.

John Church is a professor at the Climate Change Research Centre, University of NSW, and the first Australian to receive the BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge in climate change award, for his work on rising sea levels.

Press link for more: SMH

Enough of the climate blame game! #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani Demand a #GreenNewDeal #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion Stop stealing our children’s future!

Summertime, and the living seems easy.

But the fish aren’t jumping in the Darling River basin and the cotton is not as high as it would normally be in central-northern NSW and southern Queensland as horrendous drought conditions grip much of eastern Australia.

Dead fish in Darling River

How bad is it?

Eighty per cent of NSW is officially in drought.

Concerns about severity have moved well beyond the obvious and substantial impact on grazing and cropping industries.

The big worry now is the critical impact on water reserves, riverine habitats and sub-soil moisture content.

Drinking water is being trucked into Walgett because there is almost no flow in the nearby Barwon and Namoi.

South-east of Broken Hill, the Menindee Lakes, an extraordinary chain of freshwater lakes fed by the Darling, contain just three per cent of their capacity – and will probably fall dry this week as temperatures soar above 40 degrees.

Near Weir 32, a crucial water-holding and measuring station near the town of Menindee, many thousands of fish perished in recent weeks after extreme temperature changes and toxic algae blooms depleted already low oxygen levels in the water.

Fingers are being pointed up river and down in a bid to lay blame.

Cotton irrigators draw too much water, many say.

The cotton industry rejects any blame.

The water management system is a mess, say others, blaming water authorities for poorly timed and excessive releases from water-holding areas along the Darling.

Think we’ve been here before?

You’re right.

It was less than a decade ago.

The 2012 Murray-Darling Basin Plan, which was intended to resolve the complex tussle for precious water resources, has “failed at its first drought”, as a senior water researcher at the Australian Institute aptly noted.

The Bureau of Meteorology last week released data showing 2018 was Australia’s third-warmest year since a national records database was established in 1907.

The bureau says nine of the 10 warmest years have occurred since 2005.

The bureau also released a monthly drought report last week, showing vast areas of central and western NSW and central Queensland have recorded severe rainfall deficiencies for almost two years.

In some areas, this marks the driest period on record.

Here, again, we have evidence that global climate change is affecting the way we live.

Extreme weather conditions such as drought, severe storms and soaring temperatures, are causing regular disturbances and huge commercial losses in rural and city regions alike.

The insurance industry recognises it, businesses are alert to it, and the greater agricultural community has responded by changing cropping, grazing and water management practices.

So what is it with some federal members that they simply will not accept the science, or choose to ignore it?

For reasons of political power-gaming, trenchant commercial stubbornness or blind ideology, some conservatives would have you believe that climate change science is a fiction propagated by leftists.

Enough.

Our planet is warming.

Our land is drying.

Our seas are rising. And we need our leaders to confront the problem.

Bipartisan decisions must be made now to implement practical, substantial and genuine reductions in carbon emissions, and to tackle the crisis in our waterways.

Time is running out.

Press link for more: The Age

Banks should recognise the risks of #climatechange #auspol #qldpol #ClimateRisk #StopAdani #COP24

BoE governor Mark Carney is right to suggest adding global warming to stress tests

Mark Carney: any move by the Bank of England to incorporate climate risks in stress tests would be the first by a central bank of a major financial centre © Bloomberg

Most central bankers make a virtue of the narrowness of their remit, remaining circumspect on issues deemed to go beyond it.

Not Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, who, despite facing criticism for exceeding his mandate, has suggested the risks arising from climate change should form part of its annual stress tests for banks from 2019. 

The suggestion is timely.

It comes a few days after rules governing how to implement the Paris climate agreement were approved, against significant odds, by nearly 200 countries at the COP24 talks in Poland.

It is also uncontroversial — it does not require a change to the regulatory framework, but simply adds a risk to the list that banks are already meant to measure. Furthermore, the Bank of England is suggesting including climate change as an exploratory scenario, which banks can neither pass nor fail.

They are required only to scrutinise whether they are doing enough. For that reason, many climate activists will consider the proposal, much like the Paris agreement itself, does not go far enough. 

The measure should at least help to convince financial sector actors of the potential impact they face from climate issues.

The latest warnings about global warming are sobering.

The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report noted that on current trends, average global temperatures are set to rise by 3-4C from pre-industrial levels by 2100.

Failure to take action to curb that rise creates multiple risks.

Extreme heat events are likely to multiply.

So, too, are the frequency and intensity of heavy rain and floods, and of droughts. 

Actions taken to mitigate climate change also carry risk.

New policies aimed at limiting average global temperature rises, in line with the Paris agreement, will make it harder for hydrocarbon-intensive industries to operate profitably.

This could leave companies with stranded assets worth billions, and the banks that lent to them with enormous unpaid debts.

Whatever the source of the risk, a core function of a central bank is to ensure that money is being safely lent. 

Lenders are moving slowly because unlike the insurance sector they are less directly exposed to the destructive power of extreme weather. But they are not immune — and should be paying more heed.

A report by insurance company Swiss Re found the total economic loss from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters nearly doubled to $337bn in 2017, from $180bn the year before.

Lloyd’s of London this year posted its first loss in six years, citing the impact of a series of natural disasters.

Axa, the large insurer, has warned that more than 4C of warming this century would make the world “uninsurable”.

The consequences for the whole financial system would then be catastrophic.

Any move by the Bank of England to incorporate climate risks in stress tests would be the first by a central bank of a major financial centre. But others are alert to climate change risks.

In 2017, the Dutch central bank published a report entitled “Waterproof?”, which concluded that financial institutions should factor in the consequences of a changing climate and the transition to a carbon-neutral economy. 

Such steps alone will not prevent the oceans rising, climate-induced mass migration or extreme weather.

Governments must develop policies and regulatory environments that change businesses’ behaviour.

The “tragedy of the horizon”, as Mr Carney puts it, is the danger that by the time climate change is recognised by enough actors to be a defining issue for financial stability, it may already be too late to manage it.

Press link for more: Financial Times

Climate change and the risk to civilisation: the doctors’ prescription #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #COP24 #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #SchoolStrike4Climate #TheDrum

By Colin Butler

The 2018 State of the Climate report, released yesterday, again highlights the risk to human wellbeing from our love affair with fossil fuels. Coal, oil and gas have underpinned the incredible advances in affluence, population size, and health since development of the steam engine. But fossil fuel use has an optimum dose, which is now well past.

We are metaphorically drowning in carbon dioxide, the invisible, odourless waste product of burning fossil fuel. As the report notes, this is increasing heatwaves, acidifying the oceans and raising the sea level. It is also lowering the micronutrient concentrations of food.

An evacuation during the November bushfires, near Mount Larcom, Queensland.

Photo: AAP

The report cites growing effects on human and animal health, including from increased fires and flooding, and says extreme heat days are rising alarmingly. This month, dozens of Australians were rescued from the Hume Highway, stranded by intense rainfall. Record heat and fire ravaged north Queensland. A third of the spectacled flying fox population died from heat, possibly exposing animal rescuers to viral diseases.

In November, San Francisco air was worse than Delhi, due to fires that ruined the Californian city of Paradise, recently home for 30,000 people.

Earlier this month, at the Katowice conference, held in the heartland of Polish coal seams, David Attenborough called climate change the greatest threat to humanity in thousands of years. He warned that, without action, “the collapse of our civilisations, and the extinction of much of the natural world, is on the horizon”.

Attenborough’s warnings have a distinguished pedigree. In 2010, Frank Fenner, the great Australian scientist who helped eradicate smallpox, warned that humans risked total extinction due to overpopulation, resource over-consumption, environmental destruction and climate change. Martin Rees, a past president of the world’s oldest scientific organisation, the Royal Society, has warned this century might be our last.

It might be comforting to dismiss these warnings as the fantasies of old men, and some wise old women, such as Jane Goodall. Optimists might argue that a rise of even 2 degrees in average global temperature is trivial, or point out that you could walk to Tasmania during the Ice Age. The sea-level rise of 10 thousand years ago was easily adapted to, and today our technological and social capacity is immeasurably greater. A fever of 2 extra degrees is uncomfortable, but we have paracetamol.

Such responses are deceptive and dangerous. The unprecedented complexity, connectivity and power of modern civilisation is also its weakness. Sea-level rise on the US east coast is already depressing the market value of homes and could help trigger a future financial crash. The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation is increasingly concerned about climate change, conflict and future food security. The 2010 heatwave and drought in Russia, which led to the temporary banning of Russian wheat exports, helped spark the Arab Spring and the Syrian civil war. The Australian winter harvest of 2018 was poor, especially from the eastern states, due not only to drought, but heat, reduced soil moisture and a lengthening frost season.

But the collapse of civilisation is not inevitable. Collapse might be avoided by a strong dose of preventive medicine, such as replacing coal with wind and solar, an electric bus revolution and reduced meat consumption (also good for health).

The threat of sea-level rise … erosion at Old Bar, NSW. 

Photo: Shane Chalker

As with a real vaccine, which requires a tiny dose of something potentially harmful (technically known as an antigen) we seem to need a dose of poison (in this case fear) before we act; but too much fear is paralysing. We also need hope, such as provided by the NSW government’s recognition of our overdoseon fossil fuels.

The physical climate is changing, so fast that more and more people, including many children, can now recognise it. If we can harness the internet, new technology, and the common sense of ordinary people then we will we at least have a reasonable chance. Recognising the validity of these warnings is a vital step if we are to survive.

Colin Butler is an epidemiologist and member of the scientific advisory committee of Doctors for the Environment, Australia.

He is an honorary professor in public health at the Australian National University.

Press link for more: SMH

Will Adani’s Carmichael coal mine go ahead? #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #SchoolStrike4Climate #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateChange

Thousands of students march demanding action on climate change in Brisbane, Saturday, December 8, 2018. Picture: Glenn Hunt/AAP

It was once touted as Australia’s biggest coal mine and a mega project that would create 10,000 jobs but the oft-promised construction of Adani’s Carmichael mine still seems unlikely despite recent announcements.

Last month there seemed to be a breakthrough. After struggling to secure finance to build the mine, Adani announced it would self-fund a scaled-back version and suggested work could begin this year.

The mine was originally expected to be a $16.5 billion project but will now only cost $2 billion. It will create an estimated 1500 direct jobs during the construction phase, much less than previous claims of 10,000 direct and indirect jobs.

This week a spokeswoman for Adani Australia told news.com.au that “preparatory works at the mine site are imminent”.

“We are working with regulators to finalise the remaining required management plans ahead of coal production, some of which have been subject to two years of state and federal government review,” she said.

“This process is expected to be complete and provided by governments in the next few

weeks.”

The Australian reported on Friday that bulldozers, graders and service vehicles were sent to the site this week.

Earth moving equipment at Adani site.

However, there’s scepticism about the suggestion work on Adani’s mine is about to get started as it has made premature declarations before.

More than a year ago, in October 2017, Adani scheduled a ceremony to break ground on the coal mine’s rail link.

Adani chairman Gautam Adani was due to attend alongside then-deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce. But the ceremony was cancelled due to rain and was never rescheduled.

This was hardly surprising given a government-funded $1 billion loan it was relying on to build a 389-km rail line hadn’t yet been approved.

The Palaszczuk Government later decided to veto the loan from the federal government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility ahead of the Queensland election.

Meanwhile environmental groups have continue to wage war on the project and protests are continuing, even for the scaled-down version of the mine.

Protesters ambushed Bill Shorten at Labor’s National Conference on Sundayand the dean of St John’s Anglican Cathedral, Dr Peter Catt said he was willing to be arrested standing in front of bulldozers to stop the Adani mine from going ahead.

Dean Dr Peter Catt at St John Anglican Cathedral.

“Both sides of politics are refusing to face the moral implications of coal expansion,” the reverend said at the event Carols for the Earth in Brisbane.

“I will join other citizens standing in front of Adani bulldozers to make political leaders take our climate crisis seriously. I’m calling on people of all faiths to take this same step.”

Concerns about the mine’s potential impact on climate change have continued to grow, particularly after a report from the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggested the use of coal-powered electricity would have to be cut to practically nothing by 2050 to keep global warming to 1.5C.

Even at 1.5C warming most of the world’s coral reefs including the Great Barrier Reef would be lost.

Meanwhile, Adani may be able to start “preparatory works” but there are a few other issues that need to be resolved before it has clear air to move forward.

MORE APPROVALS NEEDED

Adani is not required to submit a new Environment Authority application for its smaller mine but there are approvals it doesn’t yet have.

A spokeswoman for the Queensland Department of Environment and Science said “significant disturbance cannot commence until the required environmental plans for the mine are approved and in place”.

Adani has been asked to update its groundwater dependent ecosystems management plan after the CSIRO, Australia’s peak scientific organisation, identified serious flaws, according to the ABC.

The CSIRO was asked to review Adani’s plan by the Federal Department of the Environment and Energy. Geoscience Australia has also been asked to look at it.

Adani will now have to update its plans to identify the source of the aquifer of the Doongmabulla Springs Complex and measures it will take to protect the springs.

The plan must be approved before the Adani can start excavation of the first box cut, which is a small open cut that acts as an entrance to an underground mine.

The entrance to the box cut at Jabiluka Uranium Mine. Picture: Rohan Kelly. Picture: Supplied

The Queensland department spokeswoman said the state will also take the scientific reviews into consideration as part of its assessment.

“Preliminary advice from CSIRO requires Adani to update the plan,” the spokeswoman said.

She said the department had told Adani it would not continue its assessment until an updated version was submitted and noted there was no “statutory time frame” for assessment to happen.

“The Queensland Government takes environmental protections very seriously and will consider the advice of the (federal department), CSIRO and Geoscience Australia when assessing the plans,” she said.

Both the groundwater plan and a black-throated finch management plan will need to be signed off by state and federal governments.

A spokeswoman for the Federal Department of Environment and Energy told news.com.au the Carmichael biodiversity research fund mechanism would also need to be approved before Adani could start “mining operations”.

WATER WOES

The Queensland Government granted Adani a water licence last year to allow it to take up to 12.5 billion litres of water a year from the Suttor River.

The Federal Government is also required to look at projects likely to have a significant impact on water resources but Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price chose this year not to activate the “water trigger” that would have required a full environmental impact assessment.

Instead only preliminary documentation was considered.

This month the Australian Conservation Foundation launched legal action for a judicial review of this decision. No court date has yet been set.

Until this action is resolved, Adani won’t be able to take water from the Suttor River system although Adani has said this won’t stop it from starting work on the project.

ROYALTIES

Adani has yet to finalise a royalty agreement with the Queensland Government.

It had been in negotiations to allow it to defer payments for the first few years but the deal was never signed. Then in May last year the Palaszczuk Government unveiled a new policy for all developments in the Galilee and Surat Basins and the North West Minerals Province.

The new resources framework allows royalties to be deferred but insists that interest is paid and companies must also ensure “security of payment” is in place.

Eligible projects are required to provide jobs, common-user infrastructure and to have a positive impact on the state’s finances.

However, the government will only enter into an agreement with approved projects and Adani’s mine has not yet been approved.

A spokeswoman for the Deputy Premier Jackie Trad told news.com.au Adani would pay royalties like everyone else.

“No taxpayers money will go to toward this project,” she said.

NATIVE TITLE ACTION

The Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council has been fighting Adani’s indigenous land use agreement (ILUA) saying a vote to approve it had been a sham. The council disputes that 294 people voted for the agreement and only one against.

The W&J lost its legal action but is appealing the decision in the Federal Court. This week it was ordered to pay $50,000 by the end of January as part of a security of costs order to show it was capable of paying Adani’s legal costs if it lost the appeal.

The appeal was due to be heard in February but has now been delayed until May.

W&J traditional owner and lead spokesman Adrian Burragubba said for Adani to act before the appeal was decided would be to “deny our rights and open the way for a grave injustice”.

“Without our consent, the mine is not ready to proceed,” he said.

Adrian Burragubba outside the Federal Court in Brisbane, Friday, August 17, 2018. Picture: Darren England/AAP

RAIL LINE NEGOTIATIONS

Another question remains over whether Aurizon has approved Adani’s request to connect to its existing railway line.

An Adani spokeswoman said Adani had submitted a conceptual operation plan for its new narrow gauge rail line and was working through the “regulatory process”.

“Once it is complete we will commence construction of the rail line,” she said.

When asked whether an agreement had been reached, an Aurizon spokeswoman said it had to treat all requests confidentially.

“Therefore we cannot comment on any discussions that may occur with any third-party,” she said.

Continue the conversation @charischang2 | charis.chang@news.com.au

Press link for more: News.com.au

‘We will believe it when we see it’: Palaszczuk on the Adani coal mine #auspol #qldpol Breaking News! Earthmoving equipment on route to Adani. #StopAdani #ClimateStrike Merry Christmas

Over the Christmas weekend Adani is moving heavy earth moving equipment into the Adani Mine site.

It’s time to wage war on Adani!

Our politicians are ignoring the Australian people.

Now Adani is going ahead despite the overwhelming majority of Australians who are against the opening of the Carmichael Basin.

We’ll believe it when we see it!

By Felicity Caldwell

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has expressed scepticism about Adani’s announcement that construction on its Carmichael coal mine would begin.

Adani Australia mining chief executive Lucas Dow on Thursday announced the scaled-back project would be “100 per cent financed” from within the Adani conglomerate.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says she will believe the Adani project is going ahead when she sees it.AAP Image/ Darren England

Ms Palaszczuk said the announcement was “very different to what we have been seeing” and she wanted more details.

“There is no taxpayers’ money going into the building of that railway line, they have to have agreements with Aurizon, we haven’t seen any of that evidence as of yet,” she told the ABC on Friday morning.

“And, of course, we will believe it when we see it.”

Ms Palaszczuk said the success of Adani’s project would depend on whether the company met its milestones.

“We’ve got a lot of companies that come and say we’ve got finance to begin things and it doesn’t happen,” she said.

“I will believe it when it starts happening.”

Adani was previously seeking a $1 billion taxpayer loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to finance a 388-kilometre rail line needed to move its coal to port for export.

However, Ms Palaszczuk announced she would veto the NAIF loan during the state election campaign.

In September, Adani announced it would save $1.5 billion by scaling down the rail line. It will now build a shorter narrow gauge line to connect with Aurizon’s existing rail plans.

Speaking from Gladstone, Resources Minister Matt Canavan said Adani’s investment plans were fantastic news for the region.

“It’s still, here in central and north Queensland, difficult economic times, the unemployment rate in this region is 6.8 per cent over the last 12 months and that’s well above the national average,” he said.

“What this region needs is jobs and it needs big investments like this.

“My hope now is that we can all work together to create these jobs, deliver this opportunity.”

Senator Canavan said it was the first of six mines that might go ahead in the Galilee Basin.

“All together they could deliver 15,000 jobs in central and north Queensland and deliver opportunities for decades,” he said.

“Adani have said they’ve got the money and it’s up to governments now to come together and support investment in our state.

“There’ no public money going towards this, so the project has been improved and gone through all of the processes, in fact it’s probably been the most assessed project in our nation’s history.

“It’s gone through 12 court cases, all of them they’ve won.”

On Twitter, Mr Canavan described Adani, which has its headquarters in India, as a “little Aussie battler” that “just keeps chugging along”.

Press link for more: Brisbane Times