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

The Politics of a Green New Deal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What if you are both?

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

FDR’s New Deal was designed to save capitalism.

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

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

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

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

That could be the heart of the Green New Deal.

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

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

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

Ocasio-Cortez

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

Lobbying is, after all, a thriving business.

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

So how will we ever get a Green New Deal?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press link for more: Columbia

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

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

Al Gore

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

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

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

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

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

This is a crisis like we have never experienced before.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press link for more: AJC

More studies show terrible news for the climate. We should be alarmed. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani Demand a #GreenNewDeal #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion ignore @australian propaganda

Editorial Board Washington Post

ANOTHER DAY, another study showing terrible news for the climate. There is a danger that scientists’ findings are coming so often and sounding so dire that even thoughtful observers will tire of being alarmed. But alarm is the only reasonable reaction.

Last week began with the news that greenhouse gas emissions from the United States shot up 3.4 percent last year, a rattling reversal from recent years. Republicans who favor doing little to nothing on climate change often argue that U.S. emissions have been declining without more federal intervention. But it is fantasy to imagine that the pace of decline, let alone the even more aggressive rate of change the world needs, is sustainable without government action. The nation must adopt policies such as a carbon tax that would encourage economic growth without emissions growth.

Also last week, the journal Science published a study finding that the oceans are warming at a terrifying pace, 40 to 50 percent faster than the United Nations had previously estimated. The world’s waters soak up nearly all the extra heat humans help add to the Earth’s energy balance, and the consequences will include more massive coral die-offs, depleted fisheries, sea-level rise, flooding, mega-storms that pack more power and rain, and less oxygen in the ocean that undersea creatures need to live. Already, a fifth of the world’s corals have died in the past three years, a harbinger of the changes to come.

By Monday, yet another study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, revealed that Antarctica’s enormous ice reserves are melting six times faster now than they were between 1979 and 1989. Warming ocean water and deteriorating ice structures help explain the accelerating pace. Faster melting in the coming years means that ocean levels could rise even higher than the already predicted three feet globally by 2100, barring a change in course. Experts have more research to do, particularly on the state of East Antarctica’s enormous glaciers; the prospect of large-scale ice deterioration there is horrifying.

These findings, particularly the new ocean warming estimates, underscore a crucial point in the climate debate. Critics point to uncertainties around climatic observations and predictions, arguing that things might be better than experts’ median estimates suggest. But things might also be worse. Scientific uncertainty cuts both ways. By doing too little to respond to the warming threat, humans are effectively betting their future on the notion that the climate consequences of their behaviors will fall on the relatively benign end of the spectrum of possibilities. But they could also fall on the far more severe end. World leaders should be scrambling to buy insurance against that risk by investing in emissions-free technologies.

Instead, President Trump ignores the issue except to dismiss it, and even leaders who acknowledge the problem do too little. Future generations will find it unthinkable that the world responded so weakly in the face of such clear warnings.

Press link for more: Washington Post

Meanwhile in the Australian

Why does anyone read the propaganda in the Murdoch Press?

Reality check

Press link for more: NASA

Real climate scientists,

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

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

Nine out of ten people breathe polluted air every day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press link for more: Merco Press

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

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