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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 #GreenNewDeal to Save People and the Planet #auspol #qldpol #nswpol #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #Heatwave #Drought #AirPollution now a #ClimateCrisis #StopAdani

by Nicole Ghio, senior fossil fuels program manager

Friends of the Earth

The U.S. Climate Report released in November and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report released in October confirmed what we already know based on the extreme fires, droughts and hurricanes that have wreaked devastation on our country this past year: the climate crisis is here.

Million fish die in Australia’s Murray-Darling river system

We need a Green New Deal to prevent climate catastrophe and fight rising social, racial, economic and gender inequities.

At its root, the climate crisis is the result of an economic system based on ever-increasing consumption that pushes the earth beyond its ecological limits. This system has also turned what should be a human right — from energy to food to clean air and water — into commodities. We need to remake financial and economic systems so that they serve people and the planet, not the other way around. We must also account for the United States’ tremendous ecological debt to the Global South and its responsibility as the largest historical climate polluter to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide finance for people in developing countries commensurate with what science and justice demand.

23,000 fruit bats die in Cairns, Australia during recent heatwave

There is no room for the half solutions of the past.

We cannot allow the vast political power of the fossil fuel or industrial agriculture lobbies to advance policies that continue our reliance on dirty energy and unsustainable food systems. The real answer to the climate change crisis lies in changing the way we manage, extract, use and distribute Earth’s natural resources. We need a new model of environmental, social, racial, economic and gender justice that upends traditional power structures in order to build a future where everyone has access to wealth, equitable decision-making and safety. Below are Friends of the Earth U.S.’s platform principles to guide a Green New Deal. Linked here are principles from our international network across 70 countries.

1. Cut greenhouse gas emissions

  • Rapidly phase out all fossil fuel extraction and burning, starting with the projects and infrastructure that have the greatest impact on frontline communities and sensitive ecosystems.
  • End subsidies for fossil fuel projects in the U.S. and overseas, as well as investments in expensive, unproven technologies that extend fossil fuel and nuclear power use. These include carbon capture and storage and small modular nuclear reactors.
  • Put an end to energy waste through energy efficiency and energy saving, along with ending overconsumption by corporations and economic and political elites.
  • We must fully decarbonize our transportation system. We must invest in public transit systems that serve those who need it most and are fully powered by renewable energy. We must phase out vehicles with combustion engines and clean up shipping. And instead of constructing new roads, highways and airport projects, we must reconnect our cities and suburbs to reduce vehicle and air traffic.
  • Cut support for climate-polluting industrial animal agriculture (concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs) by shifting federal subsidies away from CAFOs and chemical- and energy-intensive animal feed monocultures and instead support diversified, organic and regenerative agricultural practices that rely on low/natural carbon inputs and that store carbon in healthy soil.

Concentrated animal feeding operation. Image courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
  • Shift public food purchasing and feeding programs (e.g., school lunch) away from carbon-intensive animal foods toward healthier, climate-friendly plant-based alternatives.
  • Sequester biological carbon in addition to — and not in lieu of — reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. This must exclude forest carbon offsets and other carbon sequestration proposals such as chemical-intensive no-till farming or ocean fertilization that pose their own environmental risks.
  • Reject the development, testing and use of controversial and unproven climate geoengineering techniques, including solar radiation management, greenhouse gas removal and sequestration and weather modification, which could have devastating impacts on the environment, ecosystems and communities across the world.
  • Implement federal and state mandates to drive and assure policy compliance with greenhouse gas reduction targets, and to ramp up investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, sustainable diets and ecological agriculture in line with the consensus of climate scientists.

There is no room for the half solutions of the past.

2. Transition to 100 percent renewable, resilient and just energy and food systems

  • Shift to 100 percent renewable energy. This includes major investments in solar, wind, geothermal and other technologies; updating our electrical grid; public and community ownership over power infrastructure; and the option for distributed energy sources in our homes and communities.
  • Enact binding laws to ensure the fundamental right to renewable energy for all, based on democratic and community control.
  • Switch subsidies and incentives away from climate-wrecking activities and massively ramp up public investment in ecological agriculture and renewable energy, both at home and overseas.
  • Reject so-called energy solutions that further racial, economic and social inequities, such as large-scale hydroelectric dams, which can harm ecosystems and undermine livelihoods; biofuels and biomass, which can be carbon intensive, disrupt food systems and destroy forests; or waste-to-energy projects (e.g., trash incineration or biogas from factory farms), which can impact health.
  • Reject carbon trading schemes, which can concentrate the dirtiest projects in marginalized communities, worsening environmental injustice and racism.
  • Ensure energy sufficiency. This means sufficient universal energy access — at a level that respects everyone’s right to a dignified life.

Image via Creative Commons.
  • Promote food sovereignty and climate resiliency by guaranteeing the right to land, water and seeds, and ensuring local and Indigenous Peoples’ control over their territories and food systems.
  • Recognize and empower the fundamental role of women in food production across the world.

3. Just transition with good jobs and worker rights

  • A true just transition must provide a framework for transforming our economy to one based on energy democracy, food sovereignty, worker and community control, and protection of the right to water, food, land and energy for all.
  • Shift to local solutions that make good on the promise of public ownership and cooperative control.
  • Public policies should enable community management of forests and natural systems that are the best way to protect biodiversity and promote ecosystem restoration.
  • Instead of an economy based on extraction and consumption where frontline communities are turned into sacrifice zones, we must foster ecological resilience to restore biodiversity and other natural systems.
  • Promote organic and ecological small- and mid-scale food production systems which support thriving local economies and higher numbers of dignified jobs than energy-intensive large-scale commodity agriculture.
  • Ensure the right for people to have dignified work and safe workplaces, as well as a guaranteed family-sustaining wage, hours and benefits. Protect the rights of workers to organize, engage in collective bargaining and undertake workplace actions.
  • The Green New Deal process must be transparent and include frontline peoples, affected communities and workers at every stage from planning through implementation.

Press link for more: Medium.com

To Those Who Think We Can Reform Our Way Out of the Climate Crisis #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani Demand a #GreenNewDeal #Drought #Heatwave #Bushfire

Our only hope is to stop exploiting the earth—and its people.

A resident stands in front of a burning hill in Drafti area, about 23 miles east of Athens, Greece. (AP Photo / Petros Giannakouris)

Welcome to the future.

It feels like it, doesn’t it?

Like we have reached the end of something—of the days when the Arctic was not actually in flames, when the permafrost was not a sodden mush, when the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets were not rushing to join the quickly rising seas.

When the Darling in outback Australia was a flowing river system.

Perhaps we have also, finally, reached the end of the days when we could soothe ourselves with lies, or delusions at least; when we imagined that we were the only masters here, that we could keep taking what we wanted, and that no one would ever have to pay.

We are paying now.

Twenty eighteen was the year that temperatures scraped 90 degrees in the Norwegian Arctic; that permafrost in northern Siberia failed to freeze at all; that wildfires burned on the taiga there, as well as above the Arctic Circle in Alaska and Sweden, in the moors of northern England, in Greece, and in California, where they showed no sense of poetic restraint whatsoever and reduced a place called Paradise to ash.

23,000 fruit bats die from heat exhaustion in Cairns, Australia after record 42.9C temperatures

And where there wasn’t fire, there were floods: Hundreds died and millions were evacuated from rising waters in Japan, southern China, and the Indian state of Kerala. Venice flooded too, and Paris, where the Louvre had to close its Department of Islamic Arts, which it had consigned, ahem, to a basement. It was also the year the United Nations’ climate change body warned that, to avoid full-on cataclysm, we, the humans of planet Earth, would have just 12 years (11 now) to cut carbon emissions by 45 percent, and 32 years (31 and counting) to eliminate such emissions altogether.

Still, the weather may be the least of our problems. The fire that razed Paradise displaced 52,000 people overnight, forcing many into the ranks of California’s swelling homeless population and what passes for a safety net these days: free berths on the asphalt in a Walmart parking lot. Millions more of us will become refugees when a mega-storm drowns Miami or Manila, and when the Bay of Bengal rises high enough to swallow Bangladesh. Narendra Modi’s India is ready, and has nearly finished stretching barbed wire across the entire 2,500-mile border with Bangladesh. By conservative estimates, climate change will displace a quarter of a billion people over the next 31 years. Most will not be wealthy, and most will not be white.

We do know, at least, how we got here.

It was all that oil and coal that we burned, that we’re still burning. But that “we” is misleading.

It isn’t all of us, and never was.

As the Swedish scholar Andreas Malm recounts in Fossil Capital, his exhaustive account of the rise of the coal-powered steam engine, coal was initially embraced by a tiny subclass of wealthy Englishmen, the ones who owned the mills. They came to favor steam over hydropower in large part because it allowed them to erect factories in cities and towns—rather than submitting to the dictates of distant rivers and streams—giving them access to what we would now call a flexible workforce: masses of hungry urbanites accustomed to the indignities of factory labor, willing to toil for less, easily replaceable if they refused.

In the process these early industrialists created the illusion fundamental to the functioning of our entire economic system: the possibility of self-sustaining growth.

Machines could always move faster, squeezing more work out of fewer hands for greater and greater profits. After the Second World War, the same logic would push the transition from coal to oil: It took far less labor to get oil out of the ground and to transport it across continents, plus coal miners had an alarming tendency to strike.

From its inception, then, the carbon economy has been tied to the basic capitalist mandate to disempower workers, to squeeze the most sweat out of people for the least amount of money. For the last 200-odd years, the exploitation of the planet has been inseparable from the exploitation of living human beings.

This is why, though the alarm bells about anthropogenic warming began tolling more than half a century ago, the carbon habit has proven nearly impossible to break. Since 1990, when international climate negotiations commenced, carbon emissions have jumped by more than 60 percent. Last year, as the fires burned and the floodwaters rose, they leaped by a projected 2.7 percent. It’s almost as if someone’s profiting from our misfortune. And they are: Six of the 10 highest-earning corporations on last year’s Fortune Global 500 list made their money extracting or delivering fossil energy; two were automobile manufacturers and one—Walmart, the planet’s richest brand—relied on a system of globalized trade inconceivable without massive consumption of fossil fuels. Even on an individual level, the richest 1 percent have a carbon footprint 2,000 times larger than the poorest inhabitants of Honduras or Mozambique, countries that have contributed next to nothing to global warming and are suffering disproportionately from it. We already know well that the 1 percent do not let go of power willingly.

We are stealing our children’s future.

Nor will our political system likely be much help, even with our survival as a species at stake.
Politicians are not often good at thinking in planetary terms.
The system in which they function—national governments and international institutions alike—evolved alongside the carbon economy and has for decades functioned mainly to serve it. However enlightened their representatives may appear at climate talks, wealthy countries continue to subsidize fossil-fuel extraction—last year to the tune of $147 billion. In the United States, Trumpian climate denialism and Pelosian tepidity are two faces of the same phenomenon. Congressman Frank Pallone, who chairs the toothless committee that Pelosi resurrected to tackle climate change, announced that he plans to propose nothing more than “some oversight” of Trump’s assaults on preexisting federal programs, and that requiring committee members to reject donations from fossil-fuel industries would be “too limiting.”

Centrists continue to reassure, unshaken in the conviction that no problem exists that cannot be solved with a little technocratic fiddling. Just before he left office, Barack Obama penned an article in Science, contending that climate change “mitigation need not conflict with economic growth.” Wealthy countries, the argument goes, have already managed to reduce emissions without sacrificing growth. “Decoupling” is the magic word here. Imagine a gentle, Gwyneth Paltrowesque divorce between fossil fuels and capital, followed by a fresh romance with greener tech, perhaps a few extra therapy bills for the kids.

We need a global Green New Deal

But someone always gets hurt in a break-up. The techno-optimist dream holds together only if you hide the fact that much of the progress made by the United States and Europe came at the expense of poorer countries: As corporations off-shored manufacturing jobs over the last few decades, they sent the carbon-intensive industries with them, allowing Western consumers, at the clean end of a very dirty process, to import massive quantities of goods. The only year so far this millennium that global emissions have dropped was 2009. It took a global financial meltdown and more than a year of recession for fossil-fuel consumption to even dip.

For now, the petroligarchy is winning. Thirteen years ago, Hurricane Katrina gave us an early taste of the future they have built for us: a murderous, militarized, racialized response to human vulnerability.

Now we are living in it.

We know what their world looks like: abundance for the few behind walls and razor wire, precarity and impoverishment for the rest of us; endless prisons for endless streams of migrants, concentration camps by other names.

But there are other futures, other worlds as yet unmade.

We have only to choose ours, and to fight like hell for it—fiercely, with forms of solidarity that we have not yet been able to imagine. Solidarity not only with one another but with this planet and the many forms of life it hosts.

There is no way out of this but to cease to view the Earth, and its populations, as an endless sink of resources from which wealth can be extracted.

This is not hippie idealism but purest practicality: There is no way to preserve anything approximating the status quo without turning into monsters, or cadavers, and no way to survive that is not radical.

In this future we will need to keep our eyes open and learn to calm ourselves only with truths.

If other worlds are not yet visible, it is because they are ours to make.

Press link for more: The Nation

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

Climate Change Is an Existential Crisis—It Should Be ​the Top Political Issue, Too #auspol #qldpol #Drought #Heatwave #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateStrike #StopAdani

By David Suzuki

Global warming isn’t a partisan issue—or it shouldn’t be.

The many experts issuing dire warnings about the implications of climate disruption work under political systems ranging from liberal democracies to autocratic dictatorships, for institutions including the U.S. Department of Defense, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and numerous business organizations and universities.

In 1988, when NASA scientist James Hansen reported to Congress that evidence for human-caused global warming was near undeniable, conservative politicians including the UK’s Margaret Thatcher, U.S. President George H.W. Bush and Canada’s Brian Mulroney agreed that action was needed.

In my home province of British Columbia, a right-leaning government, the British Columbia Liberal Party, introduced a carbon tax in 2008.

Now, as the evidence compels us to increasingly urgent action—the latest IPCC report says we have about 12 years to get emissions under control or face catastrophe—politicians from parties that once cared about the future are lining up to downplay or deny human-caused climate disruption and are hindering plans to address it.

The U.S. offers a sad example. When confronted with a detailed report compiled by more than 300 scientists and endorsed by a dozen different agencies, including NASA, NOAA and the defense department, that warned climate change threatens the American economy, way of life and human health, the president responded, “I don’t believe it.”

Here in Canada, politicians claim to take climate change seriously but reject plans to mitigate it without offering better alternatives. Some provincial and federal leaders are governing or building campaigns around rejection of carbon pricing, a proven tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It’s interesting, because carbon pricing is a market-based strategy, whereas the kind of government regulation that would be required in its absence is something conservative thinkers usually reject.

Meanwhile the Australian Prime Minister Loves Coal

To be fair, few politicians are emerging as climate heroes, regardless of where they sit on the political spectrum. Our federal government has some good climate policies, including carbon pricing, but is still pushing for pipelines and oil sands expansion. It’s even watered down carbon-pricing plans to appease industry.

Alberta’s NDP government has likewise implemented some good policies and encouraged clean energy development, but by promoting pipelines and the fossil fuel industry to appease a bitumen-beholden voting base that likely won’t support it anyway, the party is alienating young people and others who care about climate and the future.

In Australia Both Labor & LNP refuse to rule out opening the Adani Coal Mine

It bewilders me that so many people are opposed to environmental protection, to ensuring Earth remains habitable for humans and other life.

It doesn’t take much to see that we’ve screwed up in many ways. Climate disruption, species extinction, plastic pollution and contaminated water and air are all symptoms of our wasteful, consumer-driven lives, in which profit is elevated above all else. Prioritizing a relatively recent economic system designed when conditions were much different over the very things that keep us healthy and alive is suicidal.

Millions of fish killed in the Darling River

We can’t stop using fossil fuels or shut down the oil sands overnight. But if we don’t start somewhere, we’ll get nowhere. I and others have been writing and talking about global warming for decades, while emissions continued to rise, oil and gas development expanded and global temperatures kept climbing. There’s little evidence that governments are treating the climate emergency as seriously as is warranted, preferring to focus on short-term economic gains and election cycles instead.
As we head into an election year in Canada, we must ensure that climate and the environment are priorities for all parties. This costly crisis will bring devastation to economies, food production, human health and much more if we fail to put everything we can into resolving it.

We’ve seen major national and international efforts to confront serious threats before, regardless of the money and resources needed to do so—from defeating the Nazis in the Second World War to investing in science during the space race. These paid off in many ways, accomplishing their stated purposes and spurring numerous beneficial inventions and technologies.

Now, as humanity faces an existential crisis, we must do everything we can to push those who would represent us to truly act in our interests rather than kowtowing to a dying industry.

Climate change should be the top issue in this year’s federal election and all others.

David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation. Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation senior editor Ian Hanington.

Press link for more: Eco watch

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

Risks of ‘domino effect’ of #ClimateChange tipping points #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #COP24

Scientists warn policymakers not to ignore links, and stress that ‘every action counts’

Policymakers have severely underestimated the risks of ecological tipping points, according to a study that shows 45% of all potential environmental collapses are interrelated and could amplify one another.

The authors said their paper, published in the journal Science, highlights how overstressed and overlapping natural systems are combining to throw up a growing number of unwelcome surprises.

“The risks are greater than assumed because the interactions are more dynamic,” said Juan Rocha of the Stockholm Resilience Centre. “The important message is to recognise the wickedness of the problem that humanity faces.”

The study collated existing research on ecosystem transitions that can irreversibly tip to another state, such as coral reefs bleaching and being overrun by algae, forests becoming savannahs and ice sheets melting into oceans.

It then cross-referenced the 30 types of shift to examine the impacts they might have on one another and human society.

Only 19% were entirely isolated. Another 36% shared a common cause, but were not likely to interact. The remaining 45% had the potential to create either a one-way domino effect or mutually reinforcing feedbacks.

The destruction of coral reefs can weaken coastal defences and expose mangrove forests to damage. Photograph: Greg Torda/ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Among the latter pairings were Arctic ice sheets and boreal forests. When the former melt, there is less ice to reflect the sun’s heat so the temperature of the planet rises. This increases the risks of forest fires, which discharge carbon into the air that adds to the greenhouse effect, which melts more ice. Although geographically distant, each amplifies the other.

By contrast, a one-way domino-type impact is that between coral reefs and mangrove forests. When the former are destroyed, it weakens coastal defences and exposes mangroves to storms and ocean surges.

The deforestation of the Amazon is responsible for multiple “cascading effects” – weakening rain systems, forests becoming savannah, and reduced water supplies for cities like São Paulo and crops in the foothills of the Andes. This, in turn, increases the pressure for more land clearance.

Until recently, the study of tipping points was controversial, but it is increasingly accepted as an explanation for climate changes that are happening with more speed and ferocity than earlier computer models predicted. The loss of coral reefs and Arctic sea ice may already be past the point of no return. There are signs the Antarctic is heading the same way faster than thought.

Co-author Garry Peterson said the tipping of the west Antarctic ice shelf was not on the radar of many scientists 10 years ago, but now there was overwhelming evidence of the risks – including losses of chunks of ice the size of New York – and some studies now suggest the tipping point may have already been passed by the southern ice sheet, which may now be releasing carbon into the atmosphere.

“We’re surprised at the rate of change in the Earth system. So much is happening at the same time and at a faster speed than we would have thought 20 years ago. That’s a real concern,” said Peterson. “We’re heading ever faster towards the edge of a cliff.”

The fourth most downloaded academic research of 2018 was the Hothouse Earth paper, which considered how tipping points could combine to push the global climate into an uninhabitable state.

The authors of the new paper say their work goes beyond climate studies by mapping a wider range of ecological stress points, such as biodiversity loss, agricultural expansion, urbanisation and soil erosion. It also focuses more on what is happening at the local level now, rather than projecting geo-planetary trends into the future.

“We’re looking at things that affect people in their daily lives. They’re things that are happening today,” said Peterson. “There is a positive message as it expands the range of options for action. It is not just at an international level. Mayors can also make a difference by addressing soil erosion, or putting in place social policies that place less stress on the environment, or building up natural coastal defences.”

Rocha has spent 10 years building a database of tipping points, or “regime shifts” as he calls them. He urges policymakers to adopt a similar interdisciplinary approach so they can better grasp what is happening.

“We’re trying to connect the dots between different research communities,” said Rocha. “Governments also need to look more at interactions. They should stop compartmentalising ministries like agriculture, fisheries and international relations and try to manage environmental problems by embracing the diversity of causes and mechanisms underlying them. Policies need to match the scale of the problem.

“It’s a little depressing knowing we are not on a trajectory to keep our ecosystem in a functional state, but these connections are also a reason for hope; good management in one place can prevent severe environmental degradation elsewhere. Every action counts.”

Press link for more: The Guardian

Scientists like Dr Adam Levy came away from #COP24 Angry. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani it’s time for #ClimateAction #ClimateStrike #SchoolStrike4Climate #StopAdani Stop stealing our children’s future!

As someone with a background in climate science, I was expecting to learn a lot from going to my first climate negotiations: #COP24.

I was not expecting to feel more angry and scared for our future than I have ever felt before.

Watch Dr Adam Levy

Listen to the scientists listen to Greta Thunberg Speaking at COP24

Stepping Up on Climate at #COP24 #auspol #qldpol #ClimateEmergency #StopAdani Demand a #GreenNewDeal #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #SchoolStrike4Climate

Negotiations at the 24th annual UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP) wrapped up in Katowice, Poland on Saturday, December 15, 2018.
The two-week long summit hosted thousands: from ministers to mayors, from students to civil society, and from businesses to banks.
The implementing guidelines of the Paris Agreement, known as the “Paris rulebook”, are now in place.
Of the many announcements and engagements that took place over the two weeks, here are some highlights:

It was warmly received during the session, with a spontaneous round of applause, and was referenced multiple times in plenary speeches and side events as a major boost for greater ambition.

The new plan significantly boosts support for adaptation and resilience, recognizing mounting climate change impacts on lives and livelihoods, especially in the world’s poorest countries.

By ramping up direct adaptation finance to reach around $50 billion over 2021-2025, the World Bank will, for the first time, give this equal emphasis alongside investments that reduce emissions.

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MDB Alignment and a Dedicated Pavilion.

Nine MDBs – the African Development Bank Group, the Asian Development Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank Group, the Islamic Development Bank, the New Development Bank, and the World Bank Group – issued a declaration announcing a joint framework for aligning their activities with the goals of the Paris Agreement, reinforcing their commitment to combat climate change.

The MDBs plan to break the joint approach down into practical work on six core Paris Alignment areas, including ramping up climate finance, capacity building support for countries and other clients, and an emphasis on climate reporting. At next year’s COP25 gathering, the MDBs will report back on their progress with the six building blocks.

For the first time, the World Bank, along with six other MDBs and the CIFs shared a dedicated pavilion. The common space served as a convening and networking hub to promote, discuss and share climate solutions with global leaders, media and online influencers. It also hosted popular daily Facebook Live interviews.

Patricia Espinosa, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, during a speech at the MDB Joint Pavilion. Photo Credits: Kaia Rose, Connect4Climate

A Significant Boost for Climate-Smart Development in Sectors.

For cities: A new IFC report was published which found that cities in emerging markets alone could attract more than $29.4 trillion in climate-related investments in six key sectors by 2030. It analyzed cities’ climate-related targets and action plans in six regions and identified opportunities in priority sectors such as green buildings, public transportation, electric vehicles, waste, water, and renewable energy.

For energy: According to the new RISE report, the number of countries with strong policy frameworks for sustainable energy more than tripled – from 17 to 59 – between 2010 and 2017, and many of the world’s largest energy-consuming countries have significantly improved their renewable energy regulations since 2010. A separate study found that in Poland, host country of COP24, scaling renewable energy sources could provide major benefits for the economy, health and environment. And the report, Managing Coal Mine Closure: Achieving a Just Transition for All, outlined how governments can prepare for and manage coal mine closure, particularly the social and labor impacts, and implement the transition to cleaner, less polluting energy sources.

For food and land use: From 2015-17, 51 countries provided approximately $590 billion in public support for agricultural producers. A new report examined realigning agricultural support to deliver public goods outcomes and promote climate-smart agriculture.

For Infrastructure. Low-carbon, resilient infrastructure has a central role in ensuring development, economic and climate objectives are met. A joint report with OECD and UN Environment laid out what public and private actors can do to align financial flows in infrastructure.

For Transport. A technical paper on Electric Mobility was published to help support countries ensure that climate and environmental concerns as well as regulatory, labor, and fiscal implications were taken on board as they embark on e-Mobility pathways. The report was welcomed by the Polish government who will provide support to a trust fund that will support cutting edge research on e-mobility.

For Disaster Response and Preparedness. 2017 was a stark reminder that disasters have the capacity to destroy in one day what took years to build and they inevitably place a huge financial strain on countries and poor people. A number of announcements were made, aiming to boost support for countries to minimize the impacts, manage the risks of climate change, and support them to access a wider range of financial instruments, including insurance (for instance, the InsurResilience Global partnership, the KfW contribution to the Central America and Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Program and support growing for early warning systems).

The Big Takeaway

Now that the “Paris rulebook is in place, we can move forward on bold implementation.

The big messages that will resonate clearly into 2019 are that the needs for climate action and ambition are great, the opportunities of climate-smart growth are bigger, and our commitment on climate, as the WBG, is as strong as ever.

Press link for more: World Bank

Extreme heat wipes out 23,000 flying foxes #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #COP24 now a #ClimateEmergency #ClimateStrike #TheDrum #ExtinctionRebellion Demand #GreenNewDeal

Extreme heat wipes out 23,000 flying foxes

Photo: Thousands of spectacled flying foxes dropped dead from trees during a week of record-breaking heat in Cairns. (Supplied: David White)

An extreme heatwave in far north Queensland last month is estimated to have killed more than 23,000 spectacled flying foxes, equating to almost one third of the species in Australia.

The deaths were from colonies in the Cairns area where the mercury soared above 42 degrees Celsius two days in a row, breaking the city’s previous record temperature for November by five degrees.

Ecologist, Dr Justin Welbergen from the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment (Western Sydney University) is collating the numbers of bat deathsand said it was the second-largest mass die-off of flying foxes recorded in Australia and the first time it had happened to this species.

“These are certainly very serious wildlife die-off events and they occur at almost biblical scales,” he said.

“[The biggest] was in south-east Queensland back in 2014 where about 46,000 animals (predominantly black flying foxes) died.

“The population size of the spectacled flying fox in Australia is estimated to be about 75,000 individuals, give or take, so for all intents and purpose that means we have lost close to a third of the entire species in Australia.

“Losing a third of the species on a hot afternoon I would argue certainly strengthens the case for both the Federal and Queensland Governments to consider lifting the species from ‘vulnerable’ to ‘endangered’, if not ‘critically endangered’.”

Photo: An army of wildlife volunteers removed thousands of rotting bat carcasses from around Cairns last month. (Supplied: David White)

Dr Welbergen said it was also the first time there had been mass deaths of flying foxes from heat stress in far northern Australia where conditions were typically hot and humid but usually remained below 40 degrees.

“Science pretty much agrees this is a sign of things to come,” he said.

“Extreme heat events are increasing in frequency, also in terms of intensity and duration, and we can expect more extreme temperatures to occur increasingly frequently further north. 

“A certain proportion of such an extreme event can certainly be statistically attributed to climate change for sure. I think the jury is no longer out on that.”

Wildlife carers overwhelmed

Flying foxes dropped dead from roosting trees around Cairns during the heatwave with some residents forced to leave their homes due to the smell from thousands of rotting carcasses.

With no official protocols in place on how to deal with such an event, the task of removing the dead bats was largely left to an army of wildlife volunteers.

Wildlife carer Rebecca Koller said almost 850 bats were rescued and she was looking after about 200 on her property at Kuranda.

“None of our carers were prepared for the numbers we would have. We already had 500 orphans in care prior to this event,” she said.

“To find places for another nearly 850 orphans was just not something that we would ever in a million years anticipate.

“Not having experienced this before, we went in flying blind.”

Photo: The mass deaths occurred at the start of the birthing season, leaving hundreds of orphaned flying foxes. (Supplied: David White)

‘Canaries in the coal mine’

Dr Welbergen said Australia was now averaging one major flying fox die-off (in excess of 1,000 deaths) each year.

Since our paper in 2008 where we had identified more than 30,000 casualties going all the way back to settlement, we have evidence for at least nine other major events [where] the number of casualties combined is now more than 100,000 individuals,” he said.

“So this is very clearly a very serious issue for the long-term conservation of flying foxes in Australia.”

He said climate change impacts on bats were highly visible given they often roosted near urban areas.

“These sorts of events really raise concerns around what is happening to other species, especially wildlife that have more solitary and cryptic lifestyles,” he said.

“If 30 per cent of all koalas die in a forest, who will be there to see them and count the dead bodies?

“Flying foxes are Australia’s canaries in the coal mine.”

Press link for more: ABC

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