Carbon Capture & Sequestration

The big heatwave: from Algeria to the Arctic. But what’s the cause? #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #NoNewCoal #ClimateChange #Longman

The big heatwave: from Algeria to the Arctic. But what’s the cause?

Robin McKieSun 22 Jul 2018 08.00 BST

Last week, authorities in Sweden took an unusual step.

They issued an appeal for international aid to help them tackle an epidemic of wildfires that has spread across the nation over the past few days.

After months without rain, followed by weeks of soaring temperatures, the nation’s forests had become tinderboxes.

The result was inevitable. Wildfires broke out and, by the end of last week, more than 50 forest blazes – a dozen inside the Arctic circle – had spread across Sweden.

A nation famous for its cold and snow found itself unable to cope with the conflagrations taking place within its border and so made its appeal for international help, a request that has already been answered by Norway and Italy who have both sent airborne firefighting teams to help battle Sweden’s blazes.

Nor is the nation’s fiery fate particularly unusual at present. Across much of the northern hemisphere, intense and prolonged heatwaves have triggered disruption and devastation as North America, the Arctic, northern Europe and Africa have sweltered in record-breaking temperatures. In Africa, a weather station at Ouargla, Algeria, in the Sahara desert, recorded a temperature of 51.3C, the highest reliable temperature ever recorded in Africa.

In Japan, where temperatures have reached more than 40C, people were last week urged to take precautions after the death toll reached 30 with thousands more having sought hospital treatment for heat-related conditions. And in California increased use of air conditioning units, switched on to counter the scorching conditions there, has led to power shortages.

But perhaps the strangest impact of the intense heat has been felt in Canada. It too has been gripped by ferocious heat, with Toronto recording temperatures that have exceeded 30C on 18 days so far this year. This figure compares with only nine such days all last summer.

Dozens have died in the withering heat – with startling and grim consequences. Montreal’s morgue has been swamped with the bodies of those who have died because of the heat, and many corpses have had to be stored elsewhere in the city. Montreal coroner Jean Brochu said it was first time the city’s morgue had been overwhelmed this way.

Britain’s scorching weather – which has melted the roof of Glasgow’s Science Centre and parched the lawns of the nation’s historic homes – may have made regular UK headlines. However, it has been relatively mild in impact compared to those experienced in many other parts of the world.

Fighting wildfires near Brasilia, Brazil, last week. Photograph: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

Far from being a parochial problem, the current heatwave is clearly an issue that affects vast stretches of our planet: a global concern not a local one.

But why is so much of our world currently being afflicted with blisteringly hot weather? What is driving the wildfires, the soaring temperatures and those melting rooftops? These are tricky questions to answer, such is the complex nature of the planet’s weather systems. Most scientists point to a number of factors with global warming being the most obvious candidate. Others warn that it would be wrong to overstate its role in the current heatwaves, however.

“Yes, it is hard not to believe that climate change has to be playing a part in what is going on round the globe at present,” said Dann Mitchell of Bristol University. “There have been some remarkable extremes recorded in the past few weeks, after all. However, we should take care about overstating climate change’s influence for it is equally clear there are also other influences at work.”

One of those other factors is the jet stream – a core of strong winds around five to seven miles above the Earth’s surface that blow from west to east and which steer weather around the globe. Sometimes, when they are intense, they bring storms. On other occasions, when they are weak, they bring very calm and settled days. And that is what is occurring at present.

“The jet stream we are currently experiencing is extremely weak and, as a result, areas of atmospheric high pressure are lingering for long periods over the same place,” added Mitchell.

Other factors involved in creating the meteorological conditions that have brought such heat to the northern hemisphere include substantial changes to sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic. “These are part of a phenomenon known as the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation,” said Professor Adam Scaife, of the Met Office.

“In fact, the situation is very like the one we had in 1976, when we had similar ocean temperatures in the Atlantic and an unchanging jet stream that left great areas of high pressure over many areas for long periods,” said Scaife.

“And of course, that year we had one of the driest, sunniest and warmest summers in the UK in the 20th century.”

Farmers are battling an extreme drought in New South Wales, Australia.

Photograph: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images

However, there is one crucial difference between 1976 and today, added Professor Tim Osborn, director of research at the Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia. “The baseline on which these effects operated is very different today. Since 1976 we have had several decades of global warming – caused by rising carbon emissions – which has raised baseline global temperatures significantly.”

As a result, any phenomenon such as the weakening of the jet stream is going to have a more pronounced effect than it did 40 years ago.

And as global carbon emissions continue to rise and predictions suggest the world will be unable to hold global temperature rises this century to below 2C above pre-industrial levels, widespread heatwaves are very likely to get worse and become more frequent, scientists warn.

Nor is the problem of increasingly severe heatwaves confined to the land. “We have marine heatwaves as well – all over the globe,” said Michael Burrows, of the Scottish Marine Institute, Oban. “For example, there was a major marine heatwave that struck the coast of Australia last year. It devastated vast swathes of the Great Barrier Reef. More to the point, marine heatwaves are also becoming more and more frequent and intense, like those on land, and that is something else that we should be very worried about.”

A simulation of maximum temperatures on 21 July. Photograph: Climate Reanalyzer/Climate Change Institute/University of Maine

Press link for more: The Guardian

Advertisements

Major polluters spend 10 times as much on climate lobbying as green groups #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani #NoNewCoal

Fossil fuel companies are some of the most significant lobby groups in the US for climate change-related issues ( Getty Images )

Major polluters have had a massively disproportionate financial influence on US politics in recent years, according to a new analysis of climate lobbying.

Over the past two decades lobby groups have spent more than $2bn (£1.55bn) in attempts to influence climate change legislation in the US.

The vast majority of this money has come from groups that stand to lose out from limits on carbon emissions, such as the electrical utilities sector, fossil fuel companies and transportation.

This spending dwarfed that of environmental organisations and the renewable energy sector, which overall contributed around a tenth of the funds given by sectors with significant greenhouse gas emissions.

“The vast majority of climate lobbying expenditure came from sectors that would be highly impacted by climate legislation,” explained Dr Robert Brulle of Drexel University, who conducted the analysis.

An environmental sociologist by background, Dr Brulle conducted his study using mandatory lobbying reports made available on the website OpenSecrets.

“The spending of environmental groups and the renewable energy sector was eclipsed by the spending of the electrical utilities, fossil fuel and transportation sectors,” he said.

Dr Brulle looked at spending information for related issues between 2000 and 2016, a period in which climate change was a crucial issue in national politics.

The electrical utilities sector spent the most on climate change lobbying during this stretch – over $500m and a quarter of all overall spending.

This was followed closely by the fossil fuel sector at $370m and the transportation sector at around $250m.

The efforts of environmental groups and the renewable energy sector paled in comparison to these figures, accounting for just 3 per cent of overall funding each.

Overall, this meant sectors relying on fossil fuels spent ten times as much as green interests did during this 16-year period. These findings were published in the journal Climatic Change.

“Lobbying is conducted away from the public eye. There is no open debate or refutation of viewpoints offered by professional lobbyists meeting in private with government officials,” said Dr Brulle.

“Control over the nature and flow of information to government decision-makers can be significantly altered by the lobbying process and creates a situation of systematically distorted communication.

“This process may limit the communication of accurate scientific information in the decision-making process.”

Dr Brulle said that as lobbying by environmental groups often constitutes short-term efforts, it cannot compete with the considerable firepower employed by professional lobbyists. He said his findings have considerable implications for the future of climate legislation in the US.

Press link for more: Independent.Co

Higher ambition needed to meet Paris Targets #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #Divest @ElliottShayne CEO @ANZ_AU #NoNewCoal #StopAdani #CoralnotCoal

Higher ambition needed to meet Paris climate targets

EUROPEAN COMMISSION JOINT RESEARCH CENTRE

With current climate policies and efforts to increase clean power generation, the remaining use of fossil fuels in industry, transport and heating in buildings will cause enough CO2 emissions to push climate targets out of reach, according to a study co-authored and co-designed by the JRC.

Accelerated energy efficiency improvements and a widespread electrification of energy demand are needed.

Otherwise, the world will become increasingly dependent on carbon dioxide removal to hold warming to well below 2°C, and the 1.5°C target for this century is likely to be unachievable.

A team of scientists from across the world set out to identify bottlenecks towards achieving the internationally agreed Paris climate targets.

They found that even with very strong efforts by all countries, including early and substantial strengthening of the intended nationally determined contributions, residual carbon emissions will reach around 1000 gigatons of CO2 by the end of the century.

This goes considerably beyond the level that emissions must be limited to in order to achieve the 1.5°C target.

Carbon dioxide removal is therefore no longer a choice, but a necessity for limiting warming to 1.5°C.

None of the scenarios the scientists modelled were able to achieve this target without the availability of a negative emissions technology, such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage technology.

The researchers also found that a failure to ramp up mitigation efforts now will increase the dependence on carbon dioxide removal as it locks in even more investments in infrastructures and leaves the world unprepared to make the changes needed to decarbonise.

The research has been published in Nature Climate Change.

Integrated Assessment Modelling

To assess options for emissions reduction, the scientists used 7 state-of-the-art modelling frameworks, which take into account temperature targets as well as the economic costs and technological options.

This included the JRC’s POLES global energy model. JRC scientists also contributed to the design of the research scenarios and the processing and interpretation of the results.

The study was conducted as part of the ADVANCE project, a central aim of which is to evaluate and improve the suitability of models for climate policy impact assessments.

The POLES model covers the entire energy balance, from final energy demand, transformation and power production to primary supply and trade of energy commodities across countries and regions.

It enables scientists to assess climate and energy policies, as well as future energy needs.

Related studies, recently co-authored by JRC scientists include:

The first multi-model analysis of mitigation efforts in the short term (to 2030) and their effectiveness in 2?°C and 1.5?°C climate stabilisation scenarios. The report confirms the importance of energy efficiency improvements and efforts for a zero carbon energy supply; An assessment published in Nature Energy which confirms that considerably up-scaled investment will be needed globally to realise the energy system transformation required to fulfil the Paris Agreement and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Background

These studies contribute to a growing body of scientific insights on the actions needed to achieve the Paris climate targets.

They strengthen the evidence behind climate initiatives which aim to strengthen global commitments to reaching these targets, including the major milestones to be reached by 2020 and the EU’s mid-century strategy for moving to a competitive low carbon economy by 2050, proposals for which are expected in November this year.

Following the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Talanoa Dialogue for climate ambition, constructive, facilitative and solutions oriented approach was launched.

The studies also provide timely evidence ahead of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, which will serve as an input to the Dialogue.

###

Press link for more: Eureka Alert

Gorgon gas plant could wipe out a year’s worth of Australia’s solar emissions savings #auspol #qldpol #climatechange #LNG #StopAdani

How the Gorgon gas plant could wipe out a year’s worth of Australia’s solar emissions savings

By Kathryn Diss

Photo: Australia’s LNG production has jumped in recent years. (Reuters)

The combined greenhouse gas emissions saved by all of Australia’s solar panels in a year could be wiped out because of technical problems at a single oil and gas project in Western Australia.

It is just one example of a broader problem facing the nation as it tackles the massive challenge of meeting its Paris Agreement commitment to reduce 2005 emissions by 26-28 per cent by 2030.

Chevron began operating its $US54 billion ($73 billion) Gorgon gas plant in the state’s north-west in 2016.

Part of its environmental agreement was to capture and store underground 40 per cent of the plant’s emissions through a sophisticated process known as geosequestration or carbon capture and storage.

This involves capturing carbon dioxide (CO2), typically produced by large industrial plants, before it enters the atmosphere.

It is then compressed and injected deep into rock formations for permanent storage.

Video: The Gorgon carbon capture process explained (ABC News)

Chevron predicted that process would have seen between 5.5 and 8 million tonnes of CO2 injected into the ground during the plant’s first two years of production from the Gorgon field, making it one of the largest carbon abatement activities in the world.

Instead, technical problems with seals and corrosion issues in the infrastructure have delayed CO2 storage and the Federal Government, which contributed $60 million towards the green technology, is not expecting the problem to be rectified until March 2019 — about two years after production began from the Gorgon gas field.

By that point, experts including energy consultancy firm Energetics predict the additional CO2 emitted into the atmosphere will be roughly equivalent to the 6.2 million tonnes in emissions saved in a year by all the solar panels in the country combined — from small household rooftop systems to major commercial installations.

In the meantime, all those emissions supposed to be injected underground are being vented into the atmosphere.

Solar power gains wiped out

Almost 2 million Australian households have installed solar panels to cut their power bills while also doing their bit for the environment. Households account for most of the country’s total solar panel emission savings.

Embed: Datawrapper – Growth in solar installations

“The volume of pollution coming out of the Chevron project far outweighs the savings of carbon pollution from rooftop solar,” Climate Analytics chief executive Bill Hare said.

Dr Hare, a physicist and climate scientist of 30 years, founded Berlin-based research organisation Climate Analytics and has helped negotiate several international climate policies, including the Paris Agreement in 2015.

“Many people have proudly put solar panels on their roofs, not just to save on their power bills but to do something for the climate,” he said.

Embed: Datawrapper – Australians avoiding more carbon emissions

“I think that was a big promise, there’s a fair bit of public funding which has gone into supporting the company in developing this technology and deploying it.”

Chevron declined to comment on the comparison but reiterated it was committed to safe commissioning of the storage plant to achieve high injection rates over the life of the project.

“Our focus is on the safe commissioning and start-up of the carbon dioxide injection project and achieving a high percentage of injection over the 40-year life of the Gorgon project,” a company spokeswoman said.

“We have been keeping the relevant government agencies informed as to the progress of the commissioning of the Gorgon carbon dioxide injection project.”

Failure could cost Chevron tens of millions

Western Australia’s Environment Minister, Stephen Dawson, has ordered the state’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to investigate the delay and determine whether the company can meet the key condition that at least 80 per cent of CO2 extracted from the project’s gas reservoirs is captured over a five-year rolling average.

“There’s different views between … government and industry about when it should start,” Mr Dawson said.

“So what I’ve sought from the EPA is for them to reassess the issue and give me some definitive advice about when the start date was so we can make sure that (the) proponent is doing what they’re supposed to do.”

But industry watchers believe the target is now unachievable.

“At the end of the first five years it will have failed the environmental conditions on the project”, said Simon Holmes a Court, senior adviser at the Energy Transition Hub at Melbourne University.

“Given they’re already a year behind and likely to be two years behind, at best they will be sequestering 60 per cent. So as things stand Chevron is already planning to be breach of the ministerial statement.”

Photo: Chevron’s Gorgon gas project on Barrow Island. Date unknown. (Supplied: Chevron)

If the company doesn’t meet the requirement it is meant to find alternative offsets, but experts are worried the goalposts will be moved.

Climate change consultant Greg Bourne, the former energy adviser to British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and regional president for BP Australasia, warned governments against backing off.

“These sorts of issues can set very, very dangerous precedents,” he said.

“They should be required to purchase [carbon] offsets equivalent to the same volume they were expected to inject over the first five-year period.

“Now that’s going to be expensive, but why would they be allowed to get off scot-free?”

If put in monetary terms, offsetting that much CO2 would costs tens of millions of dollars a year in carbon credits.

A review is also underway into the emissions conditions placed on Chevron’s other major north-west WA project — Wheatstone.

Conditions imposed on that project by the WA Government were waived by the previous government of Colin Barnett when the Clean Energy Act came into effect in 2011.

But given the Act was later repealed, the WA Government is re-examining if the company should be offsetting more of its greenhouse gases.

While no other major oil and gas company operating in Australia has tackled such a complex project like carbon capture and storage, other players in the market such as Woodside, INPEX and ConocoPhillips are reducing emissions from various projects with locally generated offsets.

Press link for more: ABC.NET.AU

Alternative pathways to #ClimateChange mitigation stir controversy. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

“Alternative pathways” to climate change mitigation stir controversy

BONN, Germany (Landscape News) — To stabilize global warming below 2 degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial levels, climate modeling scenarios put forward by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change rely on planting trees and plants to produce bioenergy in combination with underground carbon storage.

However, this approach is not without risks.

A new study published in Nature Climate Change highlights the need for alternative pathways to climate change mitigation.

Under the terms of the 2015 U.N. Paris Agreement on climate change, countries committed to limiting global warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees C compared to pre-industrial levels.

Achieving this goal requires not only the reduction of carbon emissions, but also the active removal of carbon from the atmosphere according to most scenarios.

In theory, carbon removal could be achieved through a process known as Bio Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS). This means that when burning biomass to produce energy, the carbon released can be captured and stored into geologic formations hundreds of meters under the Earth’s surface.

When carbon storage below ground is combined with planting new plants and trees above ground (which absorb carbon while they grow), the total amount of carbon in the atmosphere will decrease.

RISKS OF UNTESTED TECHNOLOGY

BECCS is controversial. Scientists have been pointing at the uncertainties that surround the approach. A study published in the journal Energy and Environmental Science in 2017 showed that the outcomes of BECCS are highly context-specific. In some cases, it could even lead to a net increase of carbon.

There are also concerns related to increased demand for land to grow bioenergy crops, competing with land for food production and nature conservation. Moreover, the technology to store carbon underground is not yet fully tested. It is not clear how it will pan out, and whether the carbon will actually stay underground.

Finally, there are issues related to the social acceptability of the approach. Test pilots with underground carbon storage have been met with resistance by people living in the pilot areas, known as the “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) phenomenon. Hence the need for alternatives to BECCS.

WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES?

A group of researchers spearheaded by Detlef van Vuuren—professor at the Faculty of Geosciences of Utrecht University and senior researcher at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency—decided to look into the possibilities to achieve climate goals without BECCS. They explored six alternative pathways:

• All energy end-use sectors are rapidly electrified based on renewable energy;

• The best available technologies for energy efficiency are quickly adopted;

• Agricultural intensification leads to improved crop yields and efficient livestock systems;

• Rapid reduction in emissions of non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions such as methane;

• Reduced population growth, in line with the U.N.’s lowest scenario; and

• Widespread lifestyle changes, including lower levels of meat consumption and changes in transport habits.

Using an integrated assessment model, the researchers looked at the expected greenhouse gas emissions and the need for carbon removal in a scenario that limits temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels. Although each of the alternative scenarios reduced emissions significantly, none sufficiently eliminated the need for BECCS altogether. Only if all options were combined, removing carbon from the atmosphere would no longer be required.

As previously stated, reaching the 1.5 degrees C target is unlikely to be achieved without carbon removal, but deploying alternative strategies will help minimize the need for BECCS and diversify the options, the researchers conclude. This would provide more flexibility to ensure the Paris climate goals are reached.

Moreover, many of the alternatives include benefits, the authors argue. They mention, for example, that reduced meat consumption results in healthier diets, improved energy efficiency reduces air pollution and improves energy security, while reduced population growth and agricultural intensification may benefit biodiversity conservation.

REALISTIC OR PIPE DREAMS?

Some of the alternatives explored by Van Vuuren and co-authors may not be very realistic in the short term, according to Christopher Martius, principal scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

“For decades, we have not been able to achieve significant changes in life styles and energy efficiency at a global scale, so these may be pipe dreams,” Martius said. “Moreover, there are problems related to equity. Some of the alternatives—like limiting population growth and changing lifestyles—could be seen by developing countries as ideas that are imposed by western countries.”

Considering options to mitigate climate change, we first and foremost need to look at the role of the fossil fuel industry and oil producing countries, Martius said. “So far, we are not seeing a reduced appetite for oil and gas extraction globally. All countries that have oil or gas want to explore it to the max—the riches in the ground are just too shiny.”

Although not all alternatives may be realistic in the short term, the article by Van Vuuren and his colleagues is important, because it points at the need to look beyond BECCS, said Martius, who is based at CIFOR’s headquarters in Bogor, Indonesia.

“Relying on one untested and highly technical, engineered process like BECCS would be madness.  People tend to look for silver bullet solutions, but a mix of options will always be better and more adaptive. It will give much greater flexibility to select the most appropriate approaches in different contexts. We need to have more options and pursue them relentlessly in parallel.”

Press link for more: Global Landscape Forum

5 Ways To Convince People To Actually Do Something About #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

5 Ways To Convince People To Actually Do Something About Climate Change

If you don’t already believe the earth is screwed, it’s going to take a different approach to convince you.

There’s a fundamental paradox about climate change.

Americans (And Australians) are actually less worried now about the climate than they were in 1999, despite thousands of new studies that keep piling up the evidence about the threat (plus more actual physical evidence occurring every day).

Scientists might be blanketing us in facts about impending disaster, but most people still aren’t taking action based on those facts–and some still don’t believe them.

For climate activists, the usual response is to trumpet more facts. But maybe it’s time for a different approach.

In a book called What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming, Norwegian psychologist Per Espen Stoknes lays out a psychological approach for moving society to climate action. If a rational argument doesn’t work, maybe we need to just embrace the irrational human mind.

“Unthinkingly, the same social experiment has been repeated over and over: Simply give people the information, and then wait and see if the facts trickling into people will persuade them to change their behavior,” says Stoknes. “The outcome has been consistently underwhelming.

But that hasn’t held rational people like climate scientists, public servants, and environmentalists back from trying the same experiment on the public again and again–each time with yet more facts and, each time, for some weird reason, expecting a different outcome.”

The book walks through each of the psychological reasons we don’t naturally want to dwell on the problem of climate change–and why some well-intentioned messages about climate have actually pushed people away. Then it explains how those messages can be reframed.

“I believe good messaging is decisive to a working democracy,” Stoknes says. “I’m dreaming of messaging that really positions this in a way that generates glow and flow among people: So we can feel in our bones that it is truly within our reach, profitable and fun to solve the climate challenge.”

1. Make it feel personal, urgent, and local

For most people, climate change still seems like a fairly abstract problem–something that’s happening far away, to polar bears or remote Pacific Islanders, or something that won’t really happen until the distant future. The ubiquitous charts showing the rise of carbon emissions only make it seem more abstract. But people naturally downplay distant problems, or those that haven’t affected their immediate social circle (if a friend is in a car crash, you’ll suddenly have an immediate and emotional connection to your own risk of crashing, even if it hasn’t changed).

Instead of talking about global effects, Stoknes says we’ll have more success by targeting messages to local areas. After Hurricane Sandy, New Yorkers get sea level rise; Californians now get what long-term drought looks like. Messages can build on those local stories, or on current health effects, like asthma that’s already a result of air pollution. Activists can also use local pride to ramp up solutions. One suggested message: “Never mind the fighting in Congress–here in Louisiana we need to build our own preparedness and resilience.”

2. Be positive.

The usual story on climate is based around apocalyptic doom, and while the facts might justify that, it makes people stop listening. People instinctively avoid stories about loss–whether that’s the loss of endangered species, or the loss of everyday behaviors like eating meat or flying. They don’t want to hear about carbon taxes. Attempts at making people feel guilty tend to backfire, and just make them feel helpless or despairing.

The alternative: Talking about opportunity, solutions, and preparedness. Instead of talking about disaster–the framing that Stoknes says 80% of news stories on climate use–activists could talk about insurance. If humans hate to hear about losses, talk about how those losses can be prevented through action now; how can we protect the economy and national security from climate mayhem? While a message of doom doesn’t inspire people to act, a focus on solutions could.

Messages can also focus on personal and more immediate opportunities. New bike paths don’t have to be framed as a climate solution, but could be touted as a way to get healthier and look sexier. Solar panels–now becoming popular with Tea Partiers–can be framed as “free-market energy” rather than a way to reduce pollution.

3. Give people a way to take visible, consistent action

In a sense, anyone who isn’t acting on climate is probably in a little bit of denial. It’s easy to rationalize non-action: What difference does it really make if one person decides to drive or not to recycle? But if we don’t take simple everyday actions, it might also mean that we’re less likely to support broader climate policy. Stoknes talks about the problem of cognitive dissonance–if you’re not acting green, you tend to automatically adjust your beliefs to justify your behavior.

That’s why guilt-inducing messages can backfire. If people feel like they should do something like buy more environmentally-friendly products, but it turns out to be too hard or expensive or inconvenient, that makes them a little less likely to go further in the climate movement. But the opposite is also true. The more simple green actions someone takes–because of our natural desire to see ourselves as consistent–the more likely they become to support policy.

Stoknes argues for making it as simple as possible to take actions. An airline, for example, might have a carbon offset option set as a default, so people have to actively uncheck it if they don’t want to use it. A restaurant might always choose a vegetarian special of the day. By themselves, these actions aren’t enough to solve the systemic cause of climate change–but they make it seem more personal and reduce our cognitive dissonance.

4. Reduce polarization

In the 1990s, climate wasn’t seen only as a liberal issue (and if anything could bring us together, why wouldn’t it be the survival of our species and planet?). But the divide grew. Now, whether people accept climate science has more to do with identity than anything to do with the science itself. People look to their friends or experts with the same worldview for what to believe, and then they seek out the news that supports that belief. The solution this suggests: If you want to convince someone in a particular group to take action, you need to find a member of that group to share the message.

For climate activists, the knee-jerk reaction to a climate denier might be mockery. How could someone deny scientific facts? But arguing with a denier will probably only drive them harder into their position. “Resist the temptation to move to a ‘holier than thou’ stance, or throw a tantrum over the ‘idiots’ on the other side, even if the outspoken denialists and trolls ‘deserve’ it,” he says. Instead of fighting, he suggests empathy and talking about “resistance” to climate change–which he sees as a natural psychological reaction–rather than “denial.”

“I, too, can feel resistance, if I really take in the full implications of global warming,” he says. “After all, the climate facts are threatening, apocalyptic, and overwhelming to our ego-consciousness. It awakens our inner resistance. Taking them seriously means considerable changes in our outlook and lifestyle. We should respect the pain of deep transformation, in ourselves and others.”

5. Use the power of social networks.

Peer pressure is a powerful thing. In a classic study, researchers tested putting a sign in a hotel room that said 75% of guests in that room had reused their towels. Reuse rose dramatically–even though a similar sign, asking people to reuse their towels to save water, had little effect. Humans want to be like those around us.

That’s one problem with climate messaging: It often talks about how few people recycle, or bike, or save water. Unfortunately, that type of message usually makes things worse. We really should be talking about the people who are getting it right.

Peers are also the best messengers for changing attitudes on climate change, Stoknes says, through face to face conversations.

Through all of these strategies–and many more that the book outlines–Stoknes believes that climate can make the same type of progress that other social movements, like gay marriage, have had. The change is not as hard as we may think, since most countries already have 40-60% of people who are already concerned.

“The challenge now is how to convert this felt concern into prioritizing the climate issue relative to other policy issues,” he says. “Roughly one or two in ten need to shift into giving higher priority to it. That would create a voter majority in favor of a great swerve. Politicians would start gaining votes by being ambitious, and lose votes by being obstructionists.”

He believes that we can make the shift to a climate-friendly society quickly enough to avert disaster, if strong social support for action pushes government and business forward.

“Together we can create a virtuous cycle where the magic of well-designed markets can accelerate the shift beyond what we today envision as possible,” he says. “One hundred years ago the shift from horse-carriage to cars was swift. The shift from centralized fossils to decentralized smart-grid, smart houses, smart cities can happen rapidly, if we start saying, believing and acting accordingly.”

Press link for more:Fast Company

Sunshine & Seaweed to defeat #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #sapol #StopAdani

If we’re going to defeat climate change then we’ll have to think outside the square.

What if the ocean was planted with vast seaweed farms to soak up carbon and provide habitat for fish?

Speaker

Tim Flannery environmental scientist

Press link for podcast: ABC.NET.AU

TIM Flannery

At the time of the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, the changing climate was a challenging, but solvable problem.

26 years later, the outcomes are becoming obvious and are we locked into a 1.5-degree average increase with two degrees almost inevitable.

If there is no urgent action very soon, remediation will slip beyond our grasp.

Prior to 1976 there had been no coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef.

Now back-to-back bleaching means there is no recovery time leaving hundreds of kilometres of dead coral. But there is some good news with new solar powered agriculture and industrial processes being developed. And South Australia has become a world leader in transitioning to renewable energy.

But with coral reefs dying before our eyes and climate changing everywhere fast, there isn’t a moment to lose.

This is Tim Flannery’s appearance at the Planet Talks, part of Womadelaide, April 2018.

Press link for more: ABC.NET.AU

An extract from the podcast

Tim Flannery: Thanks so much, Robyn, for that great introduction. Look, I’m very, very pleased to be here today, in large part because I’m here in Adelaide, in South Australia, and this state is leading not only the nation but the world in many ways as we address climate change.

Having lived here for seven years, I know that things aren’t easy, nothing is easy when we start undertaking these great transitions. There are political impediments, there are economic impediments, there is every other thing that you want to deal with. And sometimes it feels like you’re not making sufficient progress. But from the outside, South Australia looks like it has been going at light speed towards a future that we all want to get to.

When I came here in 1999 there wasn’t a single windfarm in South Australia. I think the first one was built in 2003.

Today on many occasions wind is producing 50% of your electricity and is a major export, and that is really only the beginning.

In this state, you have also developed a new means of agriculture, the first I would say really fundamentally new breakthrough in agriculture probably since irrigation thousands of years ago. And that is occurring at Sundrop Farms near Port Augusta where 10% of Australia’s truss tomato crop is being grown without using a drop of fresh water or any soil, it’s all hydroponics and the power of the Sun.

So what South Australia has showed is that the future of agriculture for crops like tomatoes is really in places that have abundant sunlight and access to seawater.

It’s an amazing feat, creating 200 full-time jobs in agriculture.

That in itself is a rarity.

But also you can see producing these tomatoes with so little waste that it is going to be the future of some crop growing, like tomatoes.

You have also just in the last few months put in the world’s largest grid connected battery, lithium ion battery.

Amazing to see that happen, just fantastic.

So again, congratulations.

You are about, in this state, to lead the charge into the hydrogen economy.

Plans were announced today for a hydrogen superhub at Crystal Brook, and you already have plans afoot to build a 15-megawatt hydrogen plant at Port Lincoln, which will be providing…my guess would be 10% to 20% of Australia’s nitrogenous fertilisers, from the wind, from the sun.

How incredible is that.

Today we make nitrogenous fertilisers through using fossil fuels, things like gas.

You are pioneering a new way in this state to do that. And as the hydrogen economy builds a head of steam, you will be contributing disproportionately to storage, to transport and the decarbonisation of transport, and to gas substitution.

So we are not going to be as heavily dependent on fossil fuels for those purposes as we were in the past.

So I just want to take my hat off to you guys, you are showing us all how to do it.

If the rest of the world was doing what you’re doing, we would have the biggest part of the climate problem on a very long way towards being solved, and that being the electricity generation sector, with big inroads happening elsewhere.

But the problem we have is that the world is way, way behind you here in South Australia.

I guess that’s good news for you because you’re going to be building new industries, training brilliant people who will go off and do what you’re doing now in other parts of the world.

It is fantastic for South Australia but sad for the rest of the world.

NASA Solves Climate Mystery, Confirms Methane Spike Tied to Oil & Gas

New NASA Study Solves Climate Mystery, Confirms Methane Spike Tied to Oil and Gas

By Sharon Kelly

Over the past few years, natural gas has become the primary fuel that America uses to generate electricity, displacing the long-time king of fossil fuels, coal. In 2019, more than a third of America’s electrical supply will come from natural gas, with coal falling to a second-ranked 28 percent, the Energy Information Administration predicted this month, marking the growing ascendency of gas in the American power market.

But new peer-reviewed research adds to the growing evidence that the shift from coal to gas isn’t necessarily good news for the climate.

A team led by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory confirmed that the oil and gas industry is responsible for the largest share of the world’s rising methane emissions—which are a major factor in climate change—and in the process the researchers resolved one of the mysteries that has plagued climate scientists over the past several years.

Missing Methane

That mystery? Since 2006, methane emissions have been rising by about 25 teragrams (a unit of weight so large that NASA notes you’d need more than 200,000 elephants to equal one teragram) every year. But when different researchers sought to pinpoint the sources of that methane, they ran into a problem.

If you added the growing amounts of methane pollution from oil and gas to the rising amount of methane measured from other sources, like microbes in wetlands and marshes, the totals came out too high—exceeding the levels actually measured in the atmosphere. The numbers didn’t add up.

It turns out, there was a third factor at play, one whose role was underestimated, NASA’s new paper concludes, after reviewing satellite data, ground-level measurements and chemical analyses of the emissions from different sources.

A drop in the acreage burned in fires worldwide between 2006 and 2014 meant that methane from those fires went down far more than scientists had realized. Fire-related methane pollution dropped twice as much as previously believed, the new paper, published in the journal Nature Communications, reports.

Using this data, “the team showed that about 17 teragrams per year of the increase is due to fossil fuels, another 12 is from wetlands or rice farming, while fires are decreasing by about 4 teragrams per year,” NASA said in a Jan. 2 press release. “The three numbers combine to 25 teragrams a year—the same as the observed increase.”

“A fun thing about this study was combining all this different evidence to piece this puzzle together,” lead scientist John Worden of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California said in a statement.

Shale Boom, Methane Boom

Less fun, unfortunately: the implications for the climate. Methane is a major greenhouse gas, capable of trapping 86 times as much heat as the same amount of carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after it hits the Earth’s atmosphere. So relatively tiny amounts of methane in the air can pack a massive climate-changing punch.

“The sharp increase in methane emissions correlates closely with the U.S. fracking boom,” said Jim Warren, executive director of the climate watchdog group NC WARN. “Leaking and venting of unburned gas—which is mostly methane—makes natural gas even worse for the climate than coal.”

The new NASA study is not the first to call attention to the connection between oil and gas and methane leaks. A study in March last year found that natural gas power plants put out between 20 and 120 times more methane pollution than previously believed, due in part to accidental leaks and in part to deliberate “venting” by companies. And as far back as 2011, researchers from Cornell University warned that switching over from coal to gas could be a grave mistake where climate change is concerned.

The NASA study may help settle the science on the oil and gas industry’s role in rising methane emissions.

To conduct their research, the scientists examined the methane molecules linked to different sources, focusing on carbon isotopes in the molecules, which helped them match the methane to different sources. Methane molecules rising from wetlands and farms have a relatively small concentration of heavy carbon isotopes, oil and gas-linked methane higher amounts, and methane from fires the most heavy carbon. The scientists also cross-checked their findings by looking at other associated gases, like ethane and carbon monoxide—and the numbers all fell into place.

It turns out that fires worldwide burned up roughly 12 percent less acreage during 2007 to 2014, compared to the prior roughly half-dozen years—but the amount of methane from those fires fell more sharply, plunging nearly twice as fast, measurements from NASA’s Terra and Aura satellites revealed.

“There’s been a ping-pong game of explanations going back and forth about what might explain this,” Penn State University atmospheric scientist Ken Davis told Mashable. “It’s a complicated puzzle with a lot of parts, but [the study’s conclusions] do seem plausible and likely.”

That 2006-2014 lull in fires may be part of a larger trend. Historically, “burning during the past century has been lower than at any time in the past 2000 years,” one 2016 study points out, due in large part to the spread of fire suppression techniques.

But don’t expect the lower methane emissions from less burning worldwide to last forever. One of the impacts of climate change is to make large wildfires more likely, the Union of Concerned Scientists points out.

“Wildfire seasons (seasons with higher wildfire potential) in the United States are projected to lengthen, with the southwest’s season of fire potential lengthening from seven months to all year long,” the group said. “Additionally, wildfires themselves are likely to be more severe.”

In the meantime, even while fires declined worldwide, methane emissions overall have continued to rise sharply—and, according to NASA’s latest research, it turns out pollution linked to the oil and gas industry is responsible for the biggest chunk of that growing problem.

Press link for more: Eco watch

Australia’s emissions have increased by 3 %

Ignoring our Paris agreement

Australia Goes After Chevron For Gorgon #CCS Delay releases 8.6 million tonnes CO2 annually #auspol #wapol #ClimateChange

Australia Goes After Chevron For Gorgon Carbon Capture Delay

IRINA SLAV

Irina is a writer for the U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.

More Info

The government of Western Australia has started an inquiry into a delay in the implementation of a carbon capture program at the massive Gorgon LNG project operated by Chevron.

The state’s Environmental Protection Authority has nine months to investigate why Chevron has been slow to begin capturing and burying at least 80 percent of the carbon dioxide that gets released as part of the normal operation of its gas processing facility on Barrow Island, Reuters reports, citing an emailed statement from the minister’s spokeswoman.

The inquiry follows Chevron informing the WA government last December that it will only be able to begin capturing and injecting carbon dioxide at the Gorgon field in the last quarter of 2018. The company cited problems with the equipment during the construction of the infrastructure for the US$1.9-billion carbon capture and injection system. It is the largest carbon capture and storage project in the world.

The Gorgon LNG project is worth US$54 billion and has an estimated productive life of 40 years. The CCS installation was a condition set for Chevron and its partners—Shell, Exxon, Osaka Gas, Tokyo Gas, and JERA—by the Western Australian government before it approved the project.

Yet the project is also Western Australia’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide equivalent, at 8.3 million tons annually. It has three liquefaction trains with a combined capacity of 15.6 million tons of LNG per year.

“It has become apparent there needs to be a clearly defined start point for the commencement of the five-year rolling average,” WA’s Environment Minister told media. The five-year rolling average is the basis for the calculations of carbon dioxide capturing and storage.

Last month, Chevron approved an additional investment of US$3.8 billion (A$5.1 billion) for the Gorgon project. The money will be used to drill more wells and set up more pipelines on the seabed to prolong the life of the project.

Yet the company is in no hurry to start building the CCS installation as, according to a Chevron spokeswoman, the company is taking the long-term view, aiming to first make sure that the installation is commissioned properly and capable of achieving the high percentage of capture and storage stipulated in the government’s conditions.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

Press link for more: Oil Price.com

Gorgon releases millions of tonnes of C02 into the atmosphere. #CCS #auspol #wapol #ClimateChange

Probe after Gorgon releases millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas

Emma Young10 May 2018 — 1:29pm

The Gorgon Gas project off WA’s north-west coast has released millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere instead of injecting it underground as environmental approvals required, because of technical problems with its gas injection system.

The conditions stated that Chevron had to “implement all practicable means” to reinject all carbon dioxide removed during gas processing into deep aquifers below the island.

The Chevron-operated Gorgon Project. off WA’s coast.

The minimum requirement was 80 percent, calculated on a five-year rolling average. If the amount fell significantly below 80 per cent Chevron had to report this and take steps to “offset” these emissions.

The Barrow Island operation had still not yet injected any carbon dioxide underground, West Australian Environment Minister Stephen Dawson confirmed in Parliament on Tuesday in response to a question from Greens MP Robin Chapple.

He could not confirm the total carbon dioxide that had instead been released into the atmosphere.

He had asked the WA Environmental Protection Authority to inquire, and clarify the start date of the injection system.

Gas has been flowing from Barrow Island for around 18 months – since December 2016.

Chevron estimated in 2015 that the plant would produce more than 5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

But Chevron has advised government regulators that problems with the $2.5 billion injection system meant carbon dioxide would not be reinjected any earlier than the December quarter of 2018.

A spokeswoman said Chevron welcomed the Minister’s request to “clarify” the start date on the environmental conditions but did not respond to a question on how much carbon dioxide had been released.

“Our focus is on the safe commissioning and start-up of the Carbon Dioxide Injection Project and achieving a high percentage of injection over the 40-year life of the Gorgon Project,” she said

“We have been keeping the relevant government agencies informed as to the progress of the commissioning of the Gorgon Carbon Dioxide Injection Project.”

The gas export hub at Barrow Island, of northern Western Australia.

“Not one tonne of reservoir CO2 removed in gas processing has been injected underground. Industry members are not expecting improvement on this any time soon,” Mr Chapple said.

When Chevron on April 15 announced the planned $5.1 billion expansion of the Gorgon project Premier Mark McGowan dismissed environmental concerns.

“It’s offshore and in very deep water. When we put Gorgon on Barrow we put in place the tightest regulations in the world,” he said.

Comments are not open on this article

Emma Young is a Fairfax Media journalist based in Western Australia, breaking news with a focus on science and environment, health and social justice.

Press link for more: WA Today