Kirabati

Does a Warming Planet Reallly Need More Coal? #StopAdani 

Australia Debates: Does Warming Planet Really Need More Coal?

By JACQUELINE WILLIAMS

October 14, 2017
Australia Debates:

An enormous expansion at Abbot Point, Australia’s most northern deep water coal port, is planned as part of a controversial mining project.
David Maurice Smith for The New York Times
ABBOT POINT, Australia — In a desolate corner of northeastern Australia, about 100 miles from the nearest town, a grassy stretch of prime grazing land sits above a vein of coal so rich and deep that it could be mined for decades.
The Australian government is considering a proposal to build one of the world’s largest coal mines in this remote locale, known as the Galilee Basin, where acacia and eucalyptus trees grow wild between scattered creeks.
An Indian conglomerate, the Adani Group, has asked for a taxpayer-financed loan of as much as $800 million to make the enormous project viable, promising to create thousands of jobs in return.
But the plan has met intense opposition in Australia and abroad, focusing attention on a question with global resonance: Given the threat of climate change and the slowing global demand for coal, does the world really need another giant mine, especially at the public’s expense?
Adani has proposed building six open-cut pits and five underground complexes capable of producing as much as 66 million tons of coal a year. New infrastructure to support the mine — a rail line to the coast and an expanded port — would also make it economically feasible to extract coal from at least eight additional sites in the Galilee Basin.
That could more than double coal output in Australia, which already produces more coal than any other nation except China, the United States and India. About 88 percent of the 487 tons of coal mined in Australia is exported.

Mick Derrick, center, a volunteer from the North Queensland Conservation Council, conducting a survey in Townsville, Queensland, about the proposed Adani coal mine.
David Maurice Smith for The New York Times
For many environmentalists, what happens in this mining case is a test of the world’s commitment to fighting climate change. Its failure would register as an unmistakable sign of an international shift away from the fossil fuels behind climate change. But if Australia agrees to subsidize the mine — even though several commercial banks have shunned it — the project would demonstrate the lasting allure and influence of the coal industry.
“How it can be constructed — at a time when the whole world is committed to move away from fossil fuels — is madness that most people just can’t understand,” said Geoffrey Cousins, president of the Australian Conservation Foundation.
The project, known as the Carmichael mine, has provoked strong resistance in part because of its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, a natural wonder that is already dying because of overheated seawater blamed on climate change. Adani plans to deliver most of the coal to India on shipping routes that critics say would further damage the ecosystem of the world’s greatest system of reefs.
The debate over the mine has dominated headlines in Australia for months and fueled one of the most fervent environmental campaigns in the nation’s history. Protests have grown in size and frequency, and polls show Australians who oppose the mine outnumber those who support it by more than two-to-one.
A group of Indigenous Australians is also challenging Adani’s claim to the land.
But Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull supports the project, and it just needs financing to proceed. A government agency established to support private-sector infrastructure investment is reviewing Adani’s loan request, and the company has said it is also lining up money overseas.
“This is a tipping point,” said Maree Dibella, a coordinator of the North Queensland Conservation Council, referring to the mine’s role in the global campaign against coal.

The Collinsville coal mine, the oldest in Queensland. Proponents of a new mine say it would bring thousands of jobs to Queensland.
David Maurice Smith for The New York Times
Around the Galilee Basin, where a population of less than 20,000 is scattered across an area the size of Britain, opinion is divided.
Bruce Currie, a cattle farmer who lives near the site and has traveled to India to investigate Adani’s record, said he is worried the mine will drain too much groundwater, calling it “yet another burden our small business has to bear.”
Several hours drive north in Collinsville, one of the area’s oldest mining communities, Roderick Macdonald, 57, a retired miner, said Adani had come to the town promising to build mining camps and employ local people.
“From what I can hear and see, Mr. Adani’s going to do nothing for this town,” Mr. Macdonald said, referring to Gautam Adani, the billionaire founder and chairman of the company.
But others in the region are more hopeful. Mining accounts for as much as 7 percent of the Australian economy, and the northeastern state of Queensland, where the Galilee Basin lies, has suffered a downturn in recent years because of slowing demand for natural resources, especially from China.
“I need jobs for Queenslanders,” said the state’s premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, of the Adani proposal.


Roderick Macdonald, a retired miner in Collinsville, Queensland. “From what I can hear and see,” he said, the proposed coal mine project would “do nothing for this town.”
David Maurice Smith for The New York Times
Towns along the coast have been vying for potential contracts with the mine for maintenance work, construction and other services. “People are really rooting for this because of the economy,” said Stephen Smyth, a local union leader, who started working in underground mines at 17.
The Carmichael mine, he added, is “offering that thing of hope, hope for a better life, secure employment and better wages so people can live a reasonable life.”
Adani has said the project will create as many as 10,000 jobs in the region. But a consultant hired by Adani said the employment claim was overstated in court testimony given in a case where a conservation group was looking to block the mine. Critics have also noted that other mines in Australia may need to scale back production if Carmichael opens, meaning job losses elsewhere.
A host of Australian celebrities — including the rock band Midnight Oil — and international groups have urged Mr. Turnbull to kill the project, arguing that such a large mine would violate Australia’s commitment in the Paris climate accord to work to prevent temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.
In April, Mr. Turnbull met with Mr. Adani and later told reporters that the mine “will create tens of thousands of jobs,” adding, “Plainly, there is a huge economic benefit from a big project of this kind, assuming it’s built and it proceeds.”
If Adani and other mines in the Galilee Basin go ahead and reach maximum production, coal from the region would release as much as 700 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year, or nearly as much as Germany generates in emissions, according to a study by Greenpeace.


Coal awaiting export at the Abbot Point port.
David Maurice Smith for The New York Times
Australia has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, but the coal it sells to India and other countries would not be counted in its total.
It is unclear if India even needs the extra coal. After years of big increases in coal consumption, the growth rate slowed last year as the nation has improved energy efficiency and shifted to solar, wind and hydropower. India’s coal-fired power plants are running below 60 percent of capacity, a record low, experts say.
That has raised questions about the economics of the Carmichael mine. Australia’s four largest banks have publicly ruled out financing it, and analysts have argued that the mine would face stiff competition from local sources of coal in India and elsewhere.
Globally, coal consumption actually decreased by 1.7 percent in 2016, according to a BP report on energy trends, leading the company to declare that “the fortunes of coal appear to have taken a decisive break from the past.”
Critics worry Adani could default on the government’s loan or flood the market, lowering prices worldwide and allowing coal to make a comeback as an energy source.
The Adani Group’s business record has also drawn scrutiny. The conglomerate, whose interests span natural resources, logistics, energy and agriculture, has faced allegations in India of environmental degradation, money laundering and bribery, but it has denied any illegal activity.


Mike Brunker, a member of the Whitsunday Regional Council, supports the coal mine, viewing it as a potential creator of much needed jobs in the area.
David Maurice Smith for The New York Times
Adani leased about 460 square miles of land in the Galilee Basin nearly a decade ago. It can take two to three days to get to the site from the coast, with the last leg of the trip on unpaved roads. Surveying, soil testing and design work has begun, including on an airstrip, mining camp, access roads and the rail link, said Ron Watson, a spokesman for Adani Australia.
Coal from the mine would be transported by rail about 240 miles through grazing land to Abbot Point, the nation’s most northern deep water coal port, which is already used to ship coal to China, Japan and South Korea. Adani has signed a 99-year lease of the port and plans an expansion that would allow it to double the amount of coal going through.
From the air, the piles of coal and equipment at Abbot Point are a striking contrast with the turquoise waters of the Coral Sea. The closest coral of the Great Barrier Reef is just 12 miles away.
A 30-minute drive southeast from Abbot Point is the seaside town of Bowen, where parts of the Nicole Kidman epic “Australia” was filmed a decade ago during better times. Now, the streets are dotted with “For Sale” signs beyond the main drag.
“We had miners living in the high parts of town,” or the most expensive neighborhoods, said Mike Brunker, who represents Bowen in the Whitsunday regional council and is a supporter of the mine for the jobs it is projected to bring. “That was the boom time. They had to leave, they had to go to other mines, or they’ve just gone broke.”
Further up the coast is Townsville, home to Adani’s headquarters in Australia, where protesters sometimes congregate and residents exemplify the conflicts felt by many in the region.
“You don’t know what’s good for us,” one man snapped at an environmental activist conducting a survey recently.
Not too long after, another resident told the activist, “I oppose the mine even though I applied for a job.”

Press link for more: NYTimes.com

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Investing in the age of #ClimateChange #StopAdani 

Countries who’ve signed the Paris Climate Agreement are looking for ways to curb carbon emissions
Marija Kramer is Head of Responsible Investment Business at Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS). 

She is responsible for all aspects of responsible investing (RI) offerings, including policy development, as well as research and data screening services covering more than 13,000 global companies for institutions seeking to fully integrate ESG into their investment decision-making.

 Kramer also oversees new product development and strategic alliances in all regions of the world where RI solutions are delivered to ISS clients.

Christopher P. Skroupa: Have we reached a tipping point for mainstream investors on the issue of climate change?
Marija Kramer: I would say so. Unprecedented votes this year on climate change resolutions at some of the largest energy companies, including Exxon Mobil, would suggest mainstream institutions have crossed the Rubicon on the materiality of climate change.

 So it’s not just leading climate scientists who agree that the release of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere contribute to climate change.

What we’re seeing now is that investors are focused on how a changing climate brings two highly impactful risks: transition and physical.

 Transition risks are linked to the political commitment to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

 For example, a government may choose to introduce a tax on greenhouse gas emissions that could leave several companies with unburned fossil fuel assets but support the emergence of renewable energy technologies. 

These policy and technology-related changes could directly affect the value of an investor’s portfolio.
Physical risks are linked to extreme weather events, such as floods, droughts or hurricanes that arise as a result of global temperature rises, with proponents of this argument pointing to recent storms that hit Texas, Florida and the Caribbean islands as evidence of this. 

The financial losses that can be felt by these hurricanes, alongside the more obvious humanitarian and environmental devastation triggered by the events, are materially significant for global investors far more so today than ever before.

Skroupa: How does the landmark Paris Climate Accord affect investors?
Kramer: With the adoption of the Paris Climate Accord at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21) in December 2015, there is a global consensus to combat climate change. 

It is the world’s first legally binding commitment to limit global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, with a stretch target of 1.5°C.
Part of the agreement includes ensuring that financial flows are consistent with the 2-degree target. 

Meeting this target requires a global effort to shift capital from carbon-intensive to low-carbon industries, but also heavily invest in energy-efficiency in the former. 

Significant investments in renewable energy, smart-grids and energy-efficient storage systems will be needed as well as a fade out of fossil fuel subsides.

Some countries are considering using carbon pricing, taxes and cap and trade systems as financial mechanisms to curb emissions.

 The net effect of this is that many investors are beginning to measure the carbon exposure of their portfolios and, where needed, rebalancing portfolios to offset the presence of high carbon-emitters with companies that have lower greenhouse gas emissions or are on a path to reduce them in the future.
Skroupa: How can investors manage climate-related risks and opportunities?
Kramer: Performing a carbon footprint analysis is the first step for investors who want to understand their portfolios’ impact on the climate and vice versa. 

A carbon footprint analysis shows a portfolio’s carbon emissions based on the ownership it has of the underlying investments.
For example, if an investor owns 1% of a company, the investor also owns 1% of the company’s carbon emissions and the portfolio footprint is the total of these ‘owned’ emissions. 

The analysis shows where the largest exposures are located (specific companies and sector-wide), which can in turn trigger an internal conversation around the strengths and limitations of the current investment strategy.
The next step would be to add more information to the analysis to determine if the investments are on a 2-degree pathway. 

Innovative tools, such as Climetrics, a climate impact rating for funds, also provide investors with much needed insight on the climate change impact of funds’ portfolio holdings, as well as asset managers’ own applications of climate impact as an investment and governance factor.
Skroupa: As an ESG data, analytics, research, and advisory provider, how is ISS supporting investors in the age of climate change?
Kramer: ISS-Ethix supports investors globally with developing and integrating responsible investing policies and practices into their strategy, and execute upon these policies through engagement and voting.

 Our climate solutions enable investors to understand what climate change means for their investments by providing timely data and actionable intelligence on climate change risk and its impact on investments.
ISS-Ethix can also provide reports that enable investors to understand their carbon footprint and wider climate impact, complying with disclosure frameworks such as the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, the California Department of Insurance’s Coal Disclosure, Article 173 of the French Energy Transition Law, the Montreal Pledge and specific guidelines for investors in other jurisdictions.
The transition to a low-carbon economy requires a massive transformation, including transition efforts to be made by global capital markets. Faced with this new reality, investors have to start asking themselves the following questions: Will my current investments make sense in a 2-degree world, and how can I spot the largest risks and opportunities in the transition to a low-carbon economy?

Press link for more: Forbes

This Isn’t “The New Normal #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol 

This Isn’t ‘the New Normal’ for Climate Change — That Will Be Worse
David Wallace-Wells

October 11, 2017 10:12 am


A Fountaingrove Village homeowner surveys her destroyed home she and her husband have owned for four years, on October 9, 2017, in Santa Rosa, California. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

It’s been a terrifying season for what we used to call natural disasters.

For the first time in recorded history, three hurricanes arose simultaneously in the Caribbean. 

Harvey and Irma ravaged a series of islands then turned north and hit the U.S. mainland. 

Days later came Maria, the third storm this season to register among the top-four most devastating hurricanes in dollar terms to ever make landfall in the U.S. (Maria seems likely to be remembered as among the worst humanitarian disasters America has ever seen, with 40 percent of Puerto Rico still without running water, power out for likely six months, and native agriculture devastated for a full year.)


 For years, we’ve conceived of climate change in terms of sea level, meaning it was often possible to believe its devastating impacts would be felt mostly by those living elsewhere, on the coasts; extreme weather seems poised to break that delusion, beginning with hurricanes. And then the unprecedented California wildfires broke out over the weekend, fueled by the Diablo Winds, killing 17 already and burning through 115,000 acres across several counties by Wednesday, casting even the sky above Disneyland in an eerie postapocalyptic orange glow and lighting up satellite images with flames visible from space.

 The smoke was visible from there, too.
It is tempting to look at this string of disasters and think, Climate change is here. 

Both hurricanes and wildfires are made worse by warming, with as much as 30 percent of the strength of hurricanes like Harvey and Maria attributable to climate change, and wildfire season both extended and exacerbated by it. 

As the journalist Malcolm Harris put it blithely on Twitter, “There didn’t used to be a major natural disaster every single day.”

What that means is that we have not, at all, arrived at a new normal. 

It is more like we’ve taken one step out on the plank off a pirate ship.

But the truth is actually far scarier than “welcome to the new normal.”

 The climate system we have been observing since August, the one that has pummeled the planet again and again and exposed even the world’s wealthiest country as unable (or at least unwilling) to properly respond to its destruction, is not our bleak future. 

It is, by definition, a beyond-best-case scenario for warming and all the climate disasters that will bring. 

Even if, miraculously, the planet immediately ceased emitting carbon into the atmosphere, we’d still be due for some additional warming, and therefore some climate-disaster shakeout, from just the stuff we’ve put into the air already. 

But of course we’re very far from zeroing out on carbon, and therefore very far from stalling climate change.

 A recent debate has centered around the question of whether it is even conceivably possible for the planet to pull up short of one-point-five degrees Celsius of warming, which means, at the absolute very least, we have 50 percent more warming to go (since we’re at about one degree already). But even most optimistic experts expect we’ll at least hit two degrees, and possibly two-point-five or even three. 

That means as much as 200 percent more warming ahead of us.

 And what that means for extreme weather and climate disasters is horrifying.

Watch: How Climate Change Is Creating More Powerful Hurricanes
Of course, there is also an enormous variance in weather, and we shouldn’t expect, say, that next year’s hurricane season will be necessarily as bad as this one, or worse, or that next year’s wildfire season will be as bad as this one, or worse, even as the planet continues to warm.

 We are probably dealing with a lot of bad luck in 2017 (and that’s not even counting the earthquakes, unrelated to climate, that shook Mexico last month, reducing whole neighborhoods to rubble). But, over time, the trend lines are inarguable: Climate change will give us more devastating hurricanes than we have now, and more horrible wildfires, as well as more tornadoes and droughts and heat waves and floods.
What that means is that we have not, at all, arrived at a new normal.

It is more like we’ve taken one step out on the plank off a pirate ship. 

Perhaps because of the exhausting false debate about whether climate change is “real,” too many of us have developed a misleading impression that its effects are binary. 

But global warming is not “yes” or “no,” it is a function that gets worse over time as long as we continue to produce greenhouse gas. 

And so the experience of life in a climate transformed by human activity is not just a matter of stepping from one stable environment into another, somewhat worse one, no matter how degraded or destructive the transformed climate is.

 The effects will grow and build as the planet continues to warm: from one degree to one-point-five to almost certainly two degrees and beyond.

 The last few months of climate disasters may look like about as much as the planet can take. 

But things are only going to get worse.

Press link for more: NYMag.com

The Great Barrier Reef needs your help #StopAdani #Auspol #Qldpol #ClimateChange 

The Great Barrier Reef May Not Be Dead Yet, But It’s Not Far Off
Share this article and help save the reef.

Shock and dismay struck the Internet when Outside Magazine released an obituary stating that scientists had declared the Great Barrier Reef dead.

 Thankfully, these reports were not accurate. 

Although the 25 million-year old organism is in grave danger, it is not dead yet. 

Scientists and environmentalists are taking to social media to set the record straight.

Environmental reporter Tony Davis tweeted, “Reports of the Great Barrier Reef’s death are greatly exaggerated, say scientists, booing Outside Magazine.”

 And the Cornell Cooperative Extension at Rockland County, an environmental nonprofit organization, tweeted “Great Barrier Reef is Dying NOT Dead!

 ‘The message should be that it isn’t too late… not we should all give up.'”
It may be a relief to know that the GBR isn’t dead, but this scare should be taken as a wake up call, especially considering we are a big reason for the reef’s deteriorating health. 

Coral on the reef are dying due to a phenomenon called coral bleaching. 

Changes in condition, like warmer water temperatures, cause coral to become stressed, which causes the algae living in their tissues to leave. 

When this happens the coral turn white, hence the term coral bleaching, and the coral is left vulnerable and more susceptible to disease. 

According to a report by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, 93% of the reef is affected by bleaching.


How is this our fault? 

Two words: global warming.

 As our oceans temperatures continue to rise, more and more bleaching events are occurring and causing sections of the reef to die. 

According to a survey by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, 22% of the reef’s coral are dead. 

If we want to save one of the seven natural wonder of the world, we need to act now.

Press link for more: Propeller.LA

Al Gore Warned This Would Happen. #ClimateChange #Irma #StopAdani 

Climate Change Made Hurricane Irma Worse: Al Gore Warned This Would Happen But People Didn’t Listen to His ‘Inconvenient Truth’
By Tufayel Ahmed On Friday, September 8, 2017 – 12:04


Al Gore

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore attends a screening for “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power” in Los Angeles on July 25. Photo: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

When Al Gore’s climate-change documentary An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power opened to less than $1 million at the box office in early August—coming in 16th place in its first weekend of wide release—the right-leaning media was quick to dismiss it as a “bomb.” The sequel’s takings, the likes of Fox News noted, were far below its Academy Award–winning predecessor, An Inconvenient Truth, released in 2006.
But to dwell on An Inconvenient Sequel ’s box office receipts is to the miss the point. The film’s message—a warning wrapped in the guise of a blockbuster movie experience—is no more critical than it is right now.


The devastation of Hurricane Harvey in August has flooded the city of Houston.

 In the first week of September, more tropical storms are already foretold to cause even more chaos. 

The Category 5 Hurricane Irma has ripped its way through the Caribbean on its way to Florida, while Hurricane Jose is tipped to closely follow behind it in ravaging several Caribbean Islands. 

A third hurricane, Katia, could hit Mexico by Saturday morning. That country was just hit with a major earthquake Thursday night.
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The back-to-back disasters may not be directly caused by climate change, but the intensification of global warming certainly played a factor, scientists say. 

Rising temperatures on the earth’s surface and sea can “badly exacerbate” the impact of a storm, climate scientist Anders Levermann told Bloomberg earlier this week. 

That echoes research by MIT meteorology expert Kerry Emanuel, who in March said that “climate change potentially affects the frequency, intensity and tracks of tropical cyclones.”
In spite of science, climate deniers and skeptics, like President Trump, who pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement on climate change earlier in 2017, continue to dismiss the effects of human activities affecting our environment. But Irma and company are just the beginning. By the end of the 21st century, according to the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, hurricanes will be a lot more powerful and dangerous due to rising temperatures of seawater.
Someone tried to warn us—even as little as a month ago.
Al Gore’s Inconvenient films, packaged as major motion pictures with all the polished sheen and expensive marketing one expects from a superhero movie, are not just slick popcorn films. They’re packaged that way to make them more palatable to the average Joe. So if you missed the former vice president’s movie when it hit theaters last month, now is the time to see it.
The trailer for An Inconvenient Sequel alone is pretty damning of the blind eye being turned to climate change. “The most criticized scene in the movie An Inconvenient Truth,” Gore says of his first film, “was showing that the combination of sea level rise and storm surge would flood the 9/11 memorial site. And people said, ‘What a terrible exaggeration.’” Cut to footage of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, which did indeed flood the memorial.
The earlier Inconvenient film foresaw that incident, while the latest features an eerie prediction for the Florida-bound Irma.

In the film, Gore visits Miami, parts of which are under several inches of water due to rising sea levels. Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine tells him they are circumventing water flooding the streets by using pumps and raising roads. But Gore points out that it’s a temporary measure at best, as sea levels continue to rise. “Kind of hard to pump the ocean.”
If Irma hits Miami—and it might—the impact could be disastrous because of the already high water levels, the consequence of which would be more flooding.
Gore told Newsweek last month that Trump pulling out of the climate accord is not yet a done deal—the earliest the U.S. would be able to withdraw is just after the next presidential election. If a new president is elected, the U.S. could choose to remain part of the Paris Agreement.
So there is still time to act. According to Gore’s Inconvenient marketing, at the state level, more than 100 million U.S. citizens live in places still committed to climate action, representing 36 percent of the population. In the wake of Irma and other tropical storms, that figure could realistically increase. Here’s how the movie advises you to take action:
By the way, An Inconvenient Sequel is still in theaters across the U.S. to help you get educated.

Press link for more: Newsweek.com

Climate Change is an existential risk. 

Human-induced climate change is an existential risk to human civilisation: an adverse outcome that would either annihilate intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential.

Special precautions that go well beyond conventional risk management practice are required if the “fat tails” — the increased likelihood of very large impacts — are to be adequately dealt with.

 The potential consequences of these lower-probability, but higher-impact, events would be devastating for human societies.

The bulk of climate research has tended to underplay these risks, and exhibited a preference for conservative projections and scholarly reticence, albeit increasing numbers of scientists have spoken out in recent years on the dangers of such an approach.


Climate policymaking and the public narrative are significantly informed by the important work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

 However, IPCC reports also tend toward reticence and caution, erring on the side of “least drama”, and downplaying more extreme and more damaging outcomes. 

 Whilst this has been understandable historically, given the pressure exerted upon the IPCC by political and vested interests, it is now becoming dangerously misleading, given the acceleration of climate impacts globally.

 What were lower-probability, higher-impact, events are now becoming more likely.

This is a particular concern with potential climatic “tipping points” — passing critical thresholds which result in step changes in the system — such as the polar ice sheets (and hence sea levels), and permafrost and other carbon stores, where the impacts of global warming are non-linear and difficult to model at present.


 Under-reporting on these issues contributes to the “failure of imagination” that is occurring today in our understanding of, and response to, climate change.

If climate policymaking is to be soundly based, a reframing of scientific research within an existential risk-management framework is now urgently required.

 This must be taken up not just in the work of the IPCC, but also in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations if we are to address the real climate challenge.

Current processes will not deliver either the speed or the extent of change required.

Three decades ago, when serious debate on human-induced climate change began at the global level, a great deal of statesmanship was on display. 

 There was a preparedness to recognise that this was an issue transcending nation states, ideologies and political parties which had to be addressed proactively in the long-term interests of humanity as a whole, even if the existential nature of the risk it posed was far less clear cut than it is today.


As global institutions were established to take up this challenge, such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, and the extent of change this would demand of the fossil-fuel-dominated world order became clearer, the forces of resistance began to mobilise.

 Today, as a consequence, and despite the diplomatic triumph of the 2015 Paris Agreement , the debate around climate change policy has never been more dysfunctional, indeed Orwellian.
In his book 1984, George Orwell describes a double-speak totalitarian state where most of the population accepts “the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. 

 By lack of understanding they remained sane.”
Orwell could have been writing about climate change and policymaking. 

 International agreements talk of limiting global warming to 1.5–2°C, but in reality they set the world on a path of 3–5°C.


 Goals are reaffirmed, only to be abandoned. 

 Coal is “clean”. 


 Just 1°C of warming is already dangerous, but this cannot be said. 

 The planetary future is hostage to myopic national self-interest. 

 Action is delayed on the assumption that as yet unproven technologies will save the day, decades hence. 

 The risks are existential, but it is “alarmist” to say so.

 A one-in-two chance of missing a goal is normalised as reasonable.

Climate policymaking for years has been cognitively dissonant, “a flagrant violation of reality”.

 So it is unsurprising that there is a lack of a understanding amongst the public and elites of the full measure of the climate challenge. 

 Yet most Australians sense where we are heading: three-quarters of Australians see climate change as catastrophic risk and half see our way of life ending within the next 100 years.

Politics and policymaking have norms: rules and practices, assumptions and boundaries, that constrain and shape them. 

 In recent years, the previous norms of statesmanship and long-term thinking have disappeared, replaced by an obsession with short-term political and commercial advantage Climate policymaking is no exception.

Since 1992, short-term economic interest has trumped environmental and future human needs.  

The world today emits 48% more carbon dioxide (CO2 ) from the consumption of energy than it did 25 years ago, and the global economy has more than doubled in size.

 The UNFCCC strives ” to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner”, but every year humanity’s ecological footprint becomes larger and less sustainable.

 Humanity now requires the biophysical capacity of 1.7 planets annually to survive as it rapidly chews up the natural capital.

A fast, emergency-scale transition to a post-fossil fuel world is absolutely necessary to address climate change. But this is excluded from consideration by policymakers because it is considered to be too disruptive. 

 The orthodoxy is that there is
time for an orderly economic transition within the current short-termist political paradigm. 

 Discussion of what would be safe –– less warming that we presently experience –– is non-existent. 

 And so we have a policy failure of epic proportions.

Policymakers, in their magical thinking, imagine a mitigation path of gradual change, to be constructed over many decades in a growing, prosperous world.

 The world not imagined is the one that now exists: of looming financial instability; of a global crisis of political legitimacy; of a sustainability crisis that extends far beyond climate change to include all the fundamentals of human existence and most significant planetary boundaries (soils, potable water, oceans, the atmosphere, biodiversity, and so on); and of severe global energy sector dislocation.

In anticipation of the upheaval that climate change would impose upon the global order, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), was established by the UN in 1988, charged with regularly assessing the global consensus on climate science as a basis for policymaking.

 The IPCC Assessment Reports ( AR ), produced every 5–6 years, play a large part in the public framing of the climate narrative: new reports are a global media event.

 AR5 was produced in 2013-14, with AR6 due in 2022. 

 The IPCC has done critical, indispensable work of the highest standard in pulling together a periodic consensus of what must be the most exhaustive scientific investigation in world history. 

 It does not carry out its own research, but reviews and collates peer-reviewed material from across the spectrum of this incredibly complex area, identifying key issues and trends for policymaker consideration.

However, the IPCC process suffers from all the dangers of consensus-building in such a wide-ranging and complex arena.

 For example, IPCC reports, of necessity, do not always contain the latest available information.

 Consensus-building can lead to “least drama”, lowest-common-denominator outcomes which overlook critical issues. 

 This is particularly the case with the “fat-tails” of probability distributions, that is, the high-impact but relatively low-probability events where scientific knowledge is more limited. 

 Vested interest pressure is acute in all directions; climate denialists accuse the IPCC of alarmism, whereas climate action proponents consider the IPCC to be far too conservative. 

 To cap it all, the IPCC conclusions are subject to intense political oversight before being released, which historically has had the effect of substantially watering-down sound scientific findings.

These limitations are understandable, and arguably were not of overriding importance in the early period of the IPCC.

 However, as time has progressed, it is now clear that the risks posed by climate change are far greater than previously anticipated. 

 We have moved out of the twilight period of much talk but relatively limited climate impacts. Climate change is now turning nasty, as we have witnessed in 2017 in the USA, South Asia, the Middle East and Europe, with record-breaking heatwaves and wildfires, more intense flooding and more damaging hurricanes.


The distinction between climate science and risk is now the critical issue, for the two are not the same.

 Scientific reticence — a reluctance to spell out the full risk implications of climate science in the absence of perfect information — has become a major problem. 

 Whilst this is understandable, particularly when scientists are continually criticised by denialists and political apparatchiks for speaking out, it is extremely dangerous given the “fat tail” risks of climate change.

 Waiting for perfect information, as we are continually urged to do by political and economic elites, means it will be too late to act.

Irreversible, adverse climate change on the global scale now occurring is an existential risk to human civilisation.

 Many of the world’s top climate scientists quoted in this report well understand these implications — James Hansen, Michael E. Mann, John Schellnhuber, Kevin Anderson, Eric Rignot, Naomi Oreskes, Kevin Trenberth, Michael Oppenheimer, Stefan Rahmstorf and others — and are forthright about their findings, where we are heading, and the limitations of IPCC reports.

This report seeks to alert the wider community and leaders to these limitations and urges change to the IPCC approach, and to the wider UNFCCC negotiations. It is clear that existing processes will not deliver the transformation to a low-carbon world in the limited time now available.
We urgently require a reframing of scientific research within an existential risk-management framework. This requires special precautions that go well beyond conventional risk management. 

 Like an iceberg, there is great danger “In what lies beneath”.

Press link for more: What lies beneath Report

Think energy is expensive wait till you get the bill for #ClimateChange #QT #Auspol 

If You Think Fighting Climate Change Will Be Expensive, Calculate the Cost of Letting It Happen
Dante Disparte June 12, 2017

Jun17-12-128228428

With the Trump Administration’s surprising U-turn on the COP21 Paris Agreement, the U.S. finds itself with some strange bedfellows, joining Nicaragua and Syria in abstaining from this important treaty. 

The White House’s argument for leaving the treaty is based on economic nationalism: President Trump, in his speech announcing the decision, cited primarily the “lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production” that he thought meeting the agreement’s voluntary targets would cause.
This echoes a common political talking point: that fighting climate change is bad for the economy.


I’d like to point out the flip side: that climate change itself is bad for the economy and investing in climate resilience is not only a national security priority, but an enormous economic opportunity.
The share of national GDP at risk from climate change exceeds $1.5 trillion in the 301 major cities around the world. 

Including the impact of human pandemics – which are likely to become more severe as the planet warms — the figure increases to nearly $2.2 trillion in economic output at risk through 2025.

For recent examples of what climate disruptions will look like in practice, consider Superstorm Sandy, which devastated the Eastern Seaboard in 2012, causing $68 billion in damages, making it the second most costly weather event in the U.S. after Hurricane Katrina.

 Record snowfall in Boston of more than 100 inches in the winter of 2015 shut down transit systems for weeks and made it difficult, if not impossible, for some employees to get to work. 

The “rain bomb” that imperiled the Oroville Dam in California earlier this year threatened the displacement of more than 250,000 downstream residents.

 A similar rain bomb effectively destroyed historic downtown Ellicott City in 2016, just outside of Washington D.C. Air quality and smog red alerts and the complete bans on vehicle traffic in major cities around the world highlight how traditional commerce and supply chains can and do grind to a halt because of climate risks. 

Record flooding in Thailand in 2011 severely impacted air travel, tourism, and one of the major regional airports in Asia.
Climate change is also a critical geostrategic issue over which the prospect of war and social upheaval cannot be ruled out. 


How will the country of Panama be affected by the likelihood of Northern open ocean sea routes? 

How will the undersea land-grab play out under the dwindling polar ice caps, as Arctic nations race to lay claim to untapped natural resources? 

Indeed, the prospects of the Larsen B ice shelf breaking off – a mass of ice roughly the size of Delaware – will profoundly affect global shipping routes, as well as herald a major tipping point in global sea levels, which already plague many low-lying areas of the world, from Louisiana and the Florida panhandle to the Maldives. 

Military leaders in both the U.S. and the UK have argued that climate change is already accelerating instability in some parts of the world, drawing direct links between climate change and the Arab Spring, Syrian civil war, and Boko Haram insurgency. 

The destabilizing migrations caused by the climate and related events will only become more pronounced as the effects of global warming become more severe; climate change refugees already exist in the United States, China, and Africa, among other places.


When people can’t get to work, or goods can’t be shipped to where they need to be, or customers can’t get to stores, the economy suffers. 

Insidiously, already-strained public budgets tend to be the “suppliers of first resort” when absorbing both the acute and attritional economic costs of climate change.

 Unfunded losses, such as post-Katrina repairs in the Gulf region, that ultimately get picked up by tax payers have the consequence of raising the specter of sovereign risk. 

Funding “slow burn” climate impacts, such as the urban heat island effect that is projected to make many urban centers unbearably hot, including the already sweltering Las Vegas, Santa Fe, and Dallas areas, risk the dislocation of millions of people, imperiling countless industries over the long range.

 With rising temperatures comes an increase in vector-borne diseases, which have been traditionally relegated as sub-tropical threats. 

Today, mosquito-borne West Nile virus is already endemic in much of the U.S., which does not bode well for containing the risk of Zika.


While the Zika epidemic is over in Puerto Rico, reports that it would affect one in five people on the island hurt the island’s tourism industry – at a time when the local economy is struggling to emerge from a municipal debt crisis. 

The correlation between climate change, human pandemics, and economic and other risks, cannot be isolated; they’re all connected.
That makes the shift away from a carbon-based economy as inexorable as the rising tide and temperature. 

Indeed, the renewable energy sector is one of the fastest growing employers in the U.S., with solar alone accounting for nearly 400,000 jobs, proving that investing in climate resilience not only makes for good policy, it makes for good business.

 The business opportunities of investing in climate change, renewable energy, and human adaptation are big enough to create a new generation of billionaires – I call them Climate Robber Barons – regardless of what politicians in Washington or other capitals choose to do.

Climate change and climate resilience are not zero-sum propositions, as evidenced by the near unanimous support for COP21 from more than 190 countries. 

While the U.S. turning its back on climate change is clearly a global policy and diplomatic setback, this is also an opportunity for leaders to prove that values matter most when it is least convenient. 

Indeed, the response from U.S. state and city leaders underscores how many leaders are remaining steadfast to the Paris Agreement notwithstanding the short-term setback. 

Business leaders have also been swift in their rebuke, including Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO and very likely the first climate robber baron, and Bob Iger, Disney’s CEO, both of whom immediately stepped down from the President’s economic advisory council. 

New York’s former mayor and the renowned business leader, Michael Bloomberg, looks decidedly like a head of state rather than a captain of industry, as he steps into the UN funding breach left behind by the U.S. with a $15 million pledge. 

While the official U.S. seat at the climate change table may have been shorted, parallel leadership can show the world that the U.S. is going long on climate change.

Press link for more: Harvard Business Report

Sue The Bastards #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol 

Sue the Bastards
L. Hunter Lovins, Contributor President Natural Capitalism Solutions, Professor of Sustainable Management Bard MBA

When flood waters rose in Houston and Hurricane Harvey spread eastward to already battered regions of the Gulf coast, the urgent priority was preservation of life, evacuation of those threatened and long-term care of the displaced. 

The unfolding tragedy that is Harvey has already killed dozens, with more to come. 

Cost estimates rose from $30 billion before the storm, to $75 billion, as the severity became obvious, to over $100 billion. 

Harvey will certainly exceed Katrina, the previous record holder, costing up to one percent of U.S. GDP.


As usual, Americans reached deep to lend sympathy, understanding and practical assistance. 

As always, groups like the Red Cross stepped up, offering Text HARVEY to 90999 to donate $10
But is anyone responsible for Harvey?
When the Deep Horizon well blew out, no one questioned that the parties who killed eleven people and spewed oil across the Gulf of Mexico would be held to account. 

The only question was how much. 

BP’s costs for taking a $500,000 short cut was in the neighborhood of $62 billion, although they offset many of the fines against taxes.


Damage from storms has routinely been considered an “Act of God.” 

Legal dictionaries define this as, “An event that directly and exclusively results from occurrence of natural causes that could not have been prevented by the exercise of foresight or caution; an inevitable accident.”
But is that true of Harvey?
The ultra warm waters of the Gulf and the tendency of storms now to move very slowly—the warming arctic is unable to maintain the jet stream that previously blew such storm away from the hot Gulf that fuels them—clearly contributed to the billions in damage. 

These, we now know, are results of global warming.

Several California communities recently tired of blaming God and sued the oil and coal companies claiming THEY caused the climate change that forecasts warned would devastate their communities in years to come.

 Global warming, they said, could have been prevented.

 They’re right: my first book on how to do this was in 1981.

 Since then many of us have shown that energy efficiency and renewable energy is cheaper than burning the fossil fuels that drive climate change, and that it would be better business to go green and just solve the crisis.


Marin and San Mateo Counties, and the city of Imperial Beach carried the argument further.

 Using the work of my colleague Richard Heede who showed that just 90 companies are responsible for two thirds of human caused global warming, they decided if you can name the creators of the harm, you ought to be able to sue them.

Wake up to the day’s most important news.
The governments argued, “37 coal, oil, and gas companies including Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, ConocoPhillips, and Peabody Energy, knew about the harm their products posed to the planet and continued to undermine and obfuscate the dangers of climate change.”

The suit faces challenges.

 Peabody, once the world’s largest coal company, promptly claimed its recent bankruptcy shields it from such liability. 

Interestingly, it did not deny that it might have been liable, only that its early recognition of the unviability of its business model now enabled it to duck any ongoing responsibility. Mighty neighborly….
For arcane legal reasons (preemption by the Federal government limits people’s ability to sue) previous efforts to hold companies liable have failed. 

When the Inuit village being eaten by rising sea levels sought federal damages, they were told that only the legislative and executive branches could deliver relief.
But what if Congress and the Child-in-Chief are bought and paid for advocates for the fossil industry? 


Maybe suing is the only way to bring accountability to our system. 

Yes, apportioning blame will be tricky.

 And yes, every one of us is to blame every time we fire up a car or board an airplane.

 But we’ll already be paying the costs through our tax dollars. 

Isn’t it time that those who have made billions keeping us all addicted to oil pay their share?

Framing their case to mimic the successful public nuisance suits that forced tobacco companies to settle and pay damages for the public costs imposed on taxpayers to treat smokers, and filing in state court, may enable California plaintiffs to overcome the hurdles that derail federal law suits. 

Still, they must prove that any particular defendant is responsible for their specific harm, especially when the damage they allege is only anticipated.
But Harvey’s harm is all too real, compounding daily with creeping mold, exploding chemical plants, loss of water supplies, and the threat of disease. 

Harvey has already forced the release of millions of pounds of chemicals from oil operations spread across Houston. 

One Exxon facility collapsed, releasing 13,000 pounds of nastiness including benzene, a known carcinogen.

And the challenge of dealing with global warming is only beginning. As meteorologist Eric Holthaus put it, “Harvey is what climate change looks like.”
“In all of U.S. history,” he stated, “There’s never been a storm like Hurricane Harvey…. Houston, as it was before Harvey, will never be the same again.”
He points out that Harvey is the third 500-year flood to hit the Houston area in three years. A storm like Harvey should not happen more than once in a millennium. 

The week before, 1,200 people died in floods also triggered by record rainfall across India, Bangladesh and Nepal.
Futurist Alex Steffen calls our tendency to deny threats like climate change “predatory delay”—it adds inevitable risk to the system.

 Legal liability is supposed to impose a measure of responsibility on parties with the capacity do damage. 

But if no one can be held liable, what will stop the catastrophe?
Holthaus warns, “It’s up to the rest of us to identify this behavior and make it morally repugnant….The symbolism of the worst flooding disaster in U.S. history hitting the sprawled-out capital city of America’s oil industry is likely not lost on many. 

Institutionalized climate denial in our political system and climate denial by inaction by the rest of us have real consequences. 

They look like Houston.”

Press link for more: Huffington Post

5 Charts show human impact on extreme weather. #StopAdani #auspol 

These 5 charts explore the human impact on extreme weather

Flood waters caused by Tropical Storm Harvey encompass the Motiva Enterprises LLC in Port Arthur, Texas, U.S. August 31, 2017. REUTERS/Adrees Latif – RC1254851E70

It’s not an exact science, but it’s science: humans are partly to blame for worsening weather
Linking specific extreme weather events to global warming is difficult, and this plays into the hands of climate-change deniers.
In the past couple of weeks, tropical storms have devastated communities around the world. Hurricane Harvey has wreaked havoc in Texas, destroying homes and claiming lives.

 Typhoon Hato has left a similar trail of destruction in southern China and Hong Kong.
There is a strong argument to be made that humans are at least partly responsible for both of these extreme weather events.

 The problem is it’s often difficult to produce tangible evidence.
What we do know for sure, however, is that climate change enhances storm surges and causes flooding – both of which can have devastating consequences.

Interstate highway 45 is submerged from the effects of Hurricane Harvey seen during widespread flooding in Houston, Texas, U.S. August 27, 2017. REUTERS/Richard Carson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – RC1BA1656450    

Parts of Texas remain submerged in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Spike in carbon emissions

This chart, which was produced by NASA, shows the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide – or C02, to give it its chemical formula – over the past 400,000 years.
As human activity gathered momentum in the mid 20th century – in the form of growing populations and the rise of heavy industry – carbon emissions also followed an upward trajectory.
The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide has created a warming effect. This has coincided with an uptick in the number and scale of natural disasters such as droughts, floods, wildfires and storms.
    

CO2 levels have increased rapidly since the 1950s
Image: NASA
These countries produce the most C02

It will come as no surprise to learn that China and the United States are the most prolific carbon emitters. Both countries are among those with the biggest populations, the most factories and the highest number of cars.
    

China produces more carbon emissions than any other country
Image: US Energy Information Administration

The same countries suffer the most natural disasters
Interestingly, it is those same countries that top the table in terms of carbon emissions that have experienced the highest number of hydrological, meteorological and climatological disasters in recent years.
According to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), China, the US and India were among the countries worst hit by extreme weather events from 1995 to 2015.
Large parts of Africa and Europe have so far been relatively unscathed by the onslaught of these types of natural disasters.
    

China, the US and India have suffered the highest number of natural disasters in recent times
Image: UNISDR

More floods than ever before
As the atmosphere gets warmer it absorbs more moisture – this works out at roughly 7% more for every 1℃ rise in temperature. The end result is worse flooding.
Higher sea levels in turn lead to bigger storm surges, such as those that have caused devastation in Texas and southern China.
It’s no coincidence that an increase in carbon emissions coincides with a steady rise in the number of hydrological disasters over recent years.
    

2016 saw an increase in the number of hydrological disasters around the world
Image: Munich Re
The cost of catastrophe


It has been estimated previously that flooding could cost coastal cities around $1 trillion per year by the year 2050.
Yet again, it is towns and cities in the US and China that are expected to bear the brunt.

Press link for more: WEForum.org

Former Green Leader Bob Brown Slams Evil, Corrupt Adani Mine #StopAdani #auspol

Bob Brown slams ‘evil, corrupt’ Adani mine

Veteran conservationist Bob Brown has compared Adani’s Carmichael coal mine to Tasmania’s quashed Franklin Dam, slamming the “destructive wealth and arrogance” of the company’s chairman.
The former Greens leader joined protesters from the Stop Adani group in Sydney on Saturday where he demanded no public money be spent on the Queensland project.

Mining tycoon Gautam Adani this week declared the company would break ground on its controversial $16.5 billion coal mine in Queensland in October.
“This is the biggest environmental, heritage, Indigenous and lifestyle issue I have seen come along in decades in Australia,” Mr Brown told reporters at the summit.

He said Mr Adani had signalled, in a “heightened arrogance”, that a billion-dollar loan for the project from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund was already locked in despite no public announcement from the Turnbull government.

Opponents vow to continue Adani fight
Opponents of Adani’s proposed coal mine say they will continue to examine it’s lawfulness after the Federal Court threw out two attempts to stop it going ahead.


Adani fined over Qld stormwater release
Adani has been fined by the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection over a license breach at its Abbot Point facility.
“You’re not welcome to bring your destructive wealth and arrogance to ride over the majority opinion of Australian people who don’t want you to have that loan and won’t let you get away with that mine,” Mr Brown said.
He predicted a revolt at the next election if the loan and “evil, rotten, corrupt” mine went ahead.
Mr Brown rose to prominence as director of the Tasmanian Wilderness Society as it campaigned against the Franklin Dam in the late 1970s and 1980s.
It was a battle won by conservationists and Mr Brown warned Carmichael mine opponents were similarly prepared to physically sit in front of machinery.
Maggie McKeown from the Mackay Conservation Group said Queenslanders had seen the impacts of climate change in the form of heat, coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef and cyclone damage.
“If Adani opens up the coal in the Galilee Basin, it’s undeniable that these events will become more frequent and more intense,” she said.

Hanson says Adani railway should be built by Australians, not ‘foreign investors’
Pauline Hanson says a railway between Adani’s mega-coal mine and the Queensland coast should be built and owned by Australia, rather than “foreign investors”.
Adani mine ‘threatens finch’s survival’
Experts working to save an endangered species of finch say Adani’s Queensland coal mine will put it on a fast track to extinction.
Mine opponents argue the project cannot proceed because carbon emissions from the coal being burned in India will further damage the already-ailing reef through climate change.
The Federal Court last week dismissed two legal bids to stop it going ahead, from traditional owners and environmental groups.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has ruled out financial support but her Labor government views the enormous project as a valuable jobs generator.
Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has been accused by protesters of sitting on the fence on the issue.
The Stop Adani group will hold a national day of action against the project on October 7.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s office declined to comment.

Press link for more: SBS.COM