La Niña

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We’re at War to save the planet! #auspol #climatechange #science 

By Paul Mason

It hits you in the face and clings to you. 

It makes tall buildings whine as their air conditioning plants struggle to cope.

 It makes the streets deserted and the ice-cold salons of corner pubs get crowded with people who don’t like beer. 

It is the Aussie heatwave: and it is no joke.

Temperatures in the western suburbs of Sydney, far from the upmarket beachside glamour, reached 47C (117F) last week, topping the 44C I experienced there the week before.

 For reference, if it reached 47C in the middle of the Sahara desert, that would be an unusually hot day.
For Sydney, 2017 was the hottest January on record. 

This after 2016 was declared the world’s hottest year on record. 

Climate change, even in some developed societies, is becoming climate disruption – and according to a UN report, one of the biggest disruptions may only now be getting under way.

El Niño, a temperature change in the Pacific ocean that happens cyclically, may have begun interacting with the long-term process of global warming, with catastrophic results.
Let’s start by admitting the science is not conclusive. 

El Niño disrupts the normal pattern by which warm water flows westwards across the Pacific, pulling the wind in the same direction; it creates storms off South America and droughts – together with extreme temperatures – in places such as Australia. 

It is an irregular cycle, lasting between two and seven years, and therefore can only be theorised using models.
Some of these models predict that, because of climate change, El Niño will happen with increased frequency – possibly double. 

Others predict the effects will become more devastating, due to the way the sub-systems within El Niño react with each other as the air and sea warm.
What cannot be disputed is that the most recent El Niño in 2015/16 contributed to the extreme weather patterns of the past 18 months, hiking global temperatures that were already setting records.

 (Although, such is the level of rising, both 2015 and 2016 would have still been the hottest ever without El Niño.) 

Sixty million people were “severely affected” according to the UN, while 23 countries – some of which no longer aid recipients – had to call for urgent humanitarian aid. 


The catastrophe prompted the head of the World Meteorological Association to warn: 

“This naturally occurring El Niño event and human-induced climate change may interact and modify each other in ways that we have never before experienced.”
The warning was enough to prompt the UN to issue a global action plan, with early warning systems, beefed-up aid networks and disaster relief preparation, and calls for developing countries to “climate proof” their economic plans.
Compare all this – the science, the modelling, the economic foresight and the attempt to design multilateral blueprint – with the actions of the jackass who runs Australia’s finance ministry.

Scott Morrison barged into the parliament chamber to wave a lump of coal at the Labor and Green opposition benches, taunting them: 

“Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared. 

It’s coal. 

It was dug up by men and women who work in the electorate of those who sit opposite.” 

Coal, argues the Australian conservative government, has given the economy “competitive energy advantage for more than 100 years”. 

Labor and the Greens had called, after the Paris climate accord, for an orderly shutdown of the coal-fired power stations that produce 60% of the country’s energy.
The Aussie culture war over coal is being fuelled by the resurgence of the white-supremacist One Nation party, led by Pauline Hanson, which is pressuring mainstream conservatives to drop commitments to the Paris accord and, instead, launch a “royal commission into the corruption of climate science”, which its members believe is a money-making scam.
All over the world, know-nothing xenophobes are claiming – without evidence – that climate science is rigged. 

Their goal is to defend coal-burning energy, promote fracking, suppress the development of renewable energies and shatter the multilateral Paris agreement of 2015.


Opposition to climate science has become not just the badge of honour for far-right politicians like Ukip’s Paul Nuttall.

 It has become the central tenet of their appeal to unreason.
People facing increased fuel bills, new taxes on methane-producing cattle farms, dimmer light bulbs and the arrival of wind and wave technologies in traditional landscapes will naturally ask: is this really needed? 

Their inner idiot wishes it were not. 

For most of us, the inner rationalist is strong enough to counteract that wish.

What distinguishes the core of the rightwing populist electorate is its gullibility to idiocy-promoting rhetoric against climate science. 

They want to be harangued by a leader who tells them their racism is rational, in the same way they want leaders who tell them the science behind climate change is bunk.


Well, in Australia, people are quickly finding out where such rhetoric gets you: more devastating bushfires; a longer fire season; more extreme hot days; longer droughts. And an energy grid so overloaded with demands from air conditioning systems that it is struggling to cope.
And, iIf the pessimists among climate scientists are right, and the general rise in temperature has begun to destabilise and accentuate the El Niño effects, this is just the start.
The world is reeling from the election victory of Donald Trump, who has called climate science a hoax.

 Dutch voters look set to reward Geert Wilders, whose one-page election programme promises “no more money for development, windmills, art, innovation or broadcasting”, with first place in the election. 

In France, 27% of voters are currently backing the Front National, a party determined to take the country out of the Paris accord, which it sees as “a communist project”.
The struggle against the nationalist right must, in all countries, combine careful listening to the social and cultural grievances of those on its periphery with relentless stigmatisation of the idiocy, selfishness and racism of the leaders and political activists at its core.
It’s time to overcome queasiness and restraint. 

We, the liberal and progressive people of the world, are at war with the far right to save the earth. 
The extreme temperatures and climate-related disasters of the past 24 months mean this is not some abstract struggle about science or values: it’s about the immediate fate of 60 million people still recovering from a disaster.

Press link for more: The Guardian.com

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Clean Coal is a Dirty Lie #Auspol 

When the industry talks about “clean coal,” it is referring to a range of technologies that burn coal more efficiently, and pollution controls that remove some of the nastiest pollutants from the smokestack.

Yet even the most efficient coal-fired power plants only operate at around 44% efficiency, meaning that 56% of the energy content of the coal is lost. 

These plants emit 15 times more carbon dioxide than renewable energy systems and twice as much CO2 as gas-fired power plants.

Pollution controls can remove sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxides, PM2.5 and mercury from the smokestacks. However, installing these pollution controls can add hundreds of millions of dollars to the cost of a new coal plant, making them more expensive than other renewable options, and discouraging their adoption. Today many countries continue to build new coal plants and run existing coal plants without modern pollution controls, seriously affecting the health of their citizens.
While pollution controls can remove a lot of the toxic waste from the smokestake, these toxins end up in the coal ash. This ash is stored in waste ponds or landfills which leach sulfur dioxide and heavy metals into surface and groundwater. Studies in the United States show an increase in water pollution after installation of scrubbers on coal plants.


The coal industry advocates that carbon capture and storage (CCS) can reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants. 

However, CCS is an unproven technology which has not yet been implemented at a large-scale fossil fuel plant. 

The greatest barrier to CCS is its economic viability. 

Between 25-40% more coal would be required to produce the same amount of energy using this technology. 

Consequently, more coal would be mined, transported, processed and burned, increasing the amount of air pollution and hazardous waste generated by coal plants. 


The cost of construction of CCS facilities and the “energy penalty” would almost double the costs of electricity generation from coal, making it economically unviable.
Furthermore, there are considerable questions about the technical viability of CCS. 

It is unclear whether CO2 can be permanently sequestered underground and what seismic risks underground storage poses.
Ultimately, coal cannot be considered “clean” when you factor in the air and water pollution generated by coal mining, preparation, transport and combustion. Pollution from the coal life cycle harms human health and the environment. 

Clean coal is a dirty lie.

Press link for more: End Coal

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CLIMATE FORECAST: AUSTRALIA’S WEATHER WILL GET WILDER #Auspol 

People living around the Pacific Ocean, including Australia, parts of Asia and western North and South America, should expect wilder climate swings in the 21st century.
Extreme versions of El Niño and La Niña, the sibling Pacific weather patterns that can translate into torrential rains or searing droughts, will likely occur nearly twice as often—approximately once every decade—if greenhouse gases continue increasing on their current trajectory, an international team of scientists has concluded.

The results are actually very, very convincing, and terrifying in a way because we know the impact can be dramatic,” said Wenju Cai, an Australian climate scientist who was the lead author of two recent papers about the research.

If the predictions prove true, it could mean tens of thousands more weather-related deaths and devastating economic damages.

Using computer models that simulate how increasing greenhouse gases alter ocean and land temperatures and wind patterns, the study finds that particularly intense La Niñas will occur approximately every 13 years in this century, compared with every 23 years in the past one.

And those La Niñas will follow more frequently on the heels of a severe El Niño—which according to the earlier study is to be expected every 10 years rather than every 20.

During the most recent extreme La Niña, in the late 1990s, the southwestern United States endured a severe drought, while more than half of Bangladesh was underwater and flooding in China killed thousands and displaced over 200 million people. The preceding El Niño is blamed for weather that did more than $33 billion in damage and claimed 23,000 lives worldwide.

Press link for more: National Geographic

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Why we should go it alone on climate change.#Auspol #EarthtoParis #COP21

What if the negotiations in Paris later this month matter less than we think? There are lots of good reasons unilateral action to combat climate change might be a better option. Christian Downie and Peter Drahos write.
In less than a month world leaders will gather in Paris in the latest attempt to address climate change. But what if the negotiations matter less than we think? What if all the hype and expectation misses the fact that states are going it alone on climate change? And not only that, given the urgency of the problem, unilateral action could be our best bet to halt rising greenhouse gas emissions.

Traditionally, we tend to think of climate change as a global collective action problem. The climate is a global public good that requires all nations to act together to protect it. The standard logic is that public goods will be undersupplied because all nations have an incentive to free ride on the efforts of others. For example, Australia can sit back, do nothing and let the US and China reduce emissions. That way we get all the benefits of a better environment, but we incur none of the costs.
Of course, if all countries take this position there will be no environment to enjoy. Which is why the countries have spent the last two decades negotiating. The only way we can protect the climate is to coordinate our actions together. For example, the US only promises to act if China and India reciprocate.
It is this logic of reciprocity that has driven the international climate negotiations since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. There have been some huge successes such as the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, which set legally binding emissions targets for many countries including Australia. But even with the Protocol global greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise.
In this context, it may seem irrational to argue for countries to take unilateral actions. In other words, to take actions to reduce emissions that are not contingent on other countries reciprocating and actions that are voluntary in so far as they are being undertaken without a threat of any kind.

A state that acts ahead of time is more likely to be able to shape events than be shaped by them.

Why should Australia reduce emissions if other countries have not signed onto a legally binding agreement to do the same? Why should we incur the costs?
We argue that there are three good reasons for nations to act unilaterally. What’s more, many already are. As an example take the US and China, the two largest emitters in the world that together contribute around 44 per cent of global emissions. Neither country is under any internationally legally binding obligation to act, but they are moving and with increasing swiftness.
For example, in 2013, President Obama outlined his Clean Power Plan to reduce emissions from the power sector by 30 percent by 2030. This follows similar measures, targeting the transport, building and land sectors.
China has also taken a unilateral path. Its 12th Five Year Plan (2011-2015) has set nation-wide targets to improve energy intensity, carbon intensity, the share of non-fossil fuels in the economy, not to mention a series of pilot emissions trading schemes, all aimed at drastically reducing its contribution to climate change.
This is not to say that the US and China have not been spurring each other on. After all, President Obama and President Xi jointly announced new targets for addressing climate change in 2014. Yet their actions are not being taken on the condition of direct reciprocity. Neither country is under any internationally binding obligation to act. In short, they are acting unilaterally.
So what are the reasons for acting unilaterally?
First, it can be economically rational. Applying free-rider logic implies that it is rational to find enforceable ways to share the economic costs of reducing emissions. Acting alone is therefore irrational. But is this true? In the trade regime many countries in recent decades have opted for unilateral tariff reduction in order to increase their competitive advantage in the value chains that now straddle the global economy.
Further, a unilateral approach may provide a nation with a significant competitive advantage in international markets. There is good economic evidence to show that when nations implement environmental standards ahead of the pack, like Germany did in the 1990s, they give a nation’s companies an early mover advantage in international markets. With many nations beginning to move on climate change, those that move first, second, third and so on are likely to reap the biggest gains. The global low carbon economy will be dominated by technical standard-setting processes that will cause profound restructuring of national economies. As most companies know it is better to be leader than a laggard in standard setting processes.
Unilateral action is also a prudent geopolitical strategy. Climate change will lead to crisis events, as the US Department of Defence has warned, and will threaten the survival of states themselves, including small island states in our region. Where survival is a dominant motive of states unilateralism is geopolitically rational and something of an imperative. And, a state that acts ahead of time is more likely to be able to shape events than be shaped by them. It is better to lead with ideas and regulatory models than to have them imposed.
Third, it is the right thing to do. To the extent that a unilateral reduction in emissions by any nation reduces the number of deaths and incidence of disease caused by climate change, it is morally superior to act than not to. The claim by some that the actions of one nation will make little difference is not justified. This line of argument confuses the moral correctness of an action with its scale effects. We do not, for example, question the moral correctness of actions by a few brave individuals that have saved only a small number of people from death in concentration camps.
To be clear, we are not arguing for nations to abandon the international climate change negotiations in Paris at the end of the year; far from it. They provide critical momentum to climate change action. But we should not wait for them either. It is in our economic and geopolitical interests to act now; others already are. It is also the right thing to do.
Christian Downie is Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Vice Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of New South Wales.
Peter Drahos is a professor in the Regulatory Institutions Network at the Australian National University and holds a chair in intellectual property at Queen Mary, University of London.

Press link for more: abc.net.au

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Climate Change, Our Children’s Future and the “Oh Sh*t” Moment #Auspol

Governments from around the world gathered in Morocco over the last two days to discuss how to increase ambition on climate change action. Countries responsible for 90% of the world’s CO2 emissions have submitted their reduction plans in advance of the Paris climate meeting later this year, and their collective efforts still add up to a whole lot of climate change – well over the 2° C limit world leaders set for themselves. As ministers were discussing long-term goals and review periods to ensure the Paris agreement doesn’t lock in low ambition for the long-term, I couldn’t help but wonder whether they fully, deeply realized the implications of what they were doing.
Rolling Stone’s recent interview with President Obama underscores the importance of what it means to truly experience the ramifications of climate change. By that I mean to have the “oh, shit” moment described in the article – the kind of moment that hits you over the head like a sledgehammer. A moment that makes you forever remember where you were when you experienced it, like remembering where you were on 9/11.
Jeff Goodell: “Al Gore once told me that he thinks that everyone who cares deeply about climate change has had what he called an “oh, shit” moment when they realized what’s at stake. What was your “oh, shit” moment?”

President Obama: “Well, I did grow up in Hawaii. And the way that you grow up in Hawaii is probably surprisingly similar to the way some folks grew up here in the Arctic Circle. There are traditions that are very close to the land — in Hawaii, the water — and you have an intimate awareness of how fragile ecosystems can be. There are coral reefs in Hawaii that, when I was growing up, were lush and full of fish, that now, if you go back, are not.

And so I don’t think that there was a eureka moment. In my early speeches in 2007-2008, we were already talking about this and making it a prominent issue. What’s happened during my presidency is each time I get a scientific report, I’m made aware that we have less time than we thought, that this is happening faster than we thought. And what that does for me is to say that we have to ring the alarm louder, faster.”

Reading this, I have to admit my first reaction was, “Aha, that explains it, he never had the ‘oh shit’ moment.” Being aware that ecosystems are fragile is one thing; understanding that climate change is not simply an environmental problem but the defining challenge of his generation is something else entirely. Perhaps I am being unfair. President Obama has taken extraordinary measures to lower US CO2 emissions, especially considering the congressional hand he was dealt.
But it’s nowhere near enough, and I can’t help wonder what more he might have done if he’d experienced a life-changing moment. Would he still have allowed the massive expansion of leases for new coal production on federal land? Would he have given Shell leave to explore for oil in the Chukchi Sea? Might he have killed the Keystone XL pipeline years ago? In other words, would he have abandoned his “all of the above” energy strategy in favor of one that leads us more quickly to a 100% renewable energy future?
We’ll never know, nor will we know how many other government leaders realize that their climate policies – the actions they take to curtail their nations’ greenhouse gas emissions – will be the single most important yardstick for how they will be judged by history.

I remember my own such moment, and how it changed my life. It was the summer of 1988, and I was a proud new mother. One day after work my husband turned to me and said “I’m afraid the world’s not going to be a very nice place when our girl grows up.” He had just received a detailed scientific briefing on climate change and was visibly shaken. I’d known about the issue for some time as I had majored in environmental studies in college. But when he told me about the emerging scientific consensus that we were heading for much deeper trouble than anyone had realized, I burst into tears. Like every new mother I had sworn on everything I held holy that I would keep my child safe. And I was devastated when I realized what that promise would mean in a warming world.
But that realization also made me determined to do whatever I could to defy the odds. And even though the odds have only worsened in the meantime, I remain hopeful.
The latest global energy scenario produced by Greenpeace and the Global Wind Energy Council provides a roadmap for safeguarding our children’s future. And guess what? Their forecasts over the last 15 years have been shown in an independent analysis to have been the most reliable – the ones to have most accurately predicted what eventually came to pass – when compared with the more conservative projections of the International Energy Agency, the US Energy Information Administration, Bloomberg New Energy Finance and many others. We have gone much faster than most analysts had predicted, and we can go much faster still.
Now that my kids have grown up, and the impacts of climate change are being seen all over the world, I can barely imagine the changes they will experience in their lifetimes. Hopefully one of those changes will be the total transition to a world fueled by clean, renewable energy.
As World Bank President Jim Kim said recently, “My son will live through a 2, 3 or maybe even 4 degree Celsius warming. We cannot keep apologizing to our children for our lack of action. We must change course now.” Let’s hope that each and every government leader experiences that defining moment, when they decide to do whatever it takes to protect our children’s future.

Press link for more: Kelly Rigg | huffingtonpost.com

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Parents/Grandparents Call For Climate Action: ‘We Consider It Our Moral Obligation’ #Auspol

Protecting the planet for future generations has become a near-universal reason — at least among those who accept climate science — to act on climate change. Noted climate scientist James Hansen has said that the U.S. government’s inaction on climate change violates “the fundamental rights of…future generations,” and President Obama said in January that “no challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.”It’s in that spirit that 14 organizations from around the world announced the launch of Our Kids’ Climate, a group that’s calling on world leaders to act on climate for the sake of kids’ futures. The group, launched Tuesday, is focusing its efforts on the Paris climate talks in December. Members plan to deliver a petition — which so far has garnered nearly 4,000 signatures — to world leaders during the conference “demand[ing] actions strong enough to protect the children we love from catastrophic climate change.” The petition, which organizers say is also addressed towards local and state leaders, calls for international commitments to “keep global temperature rise at safe levels” and, ideally, “a world powered by 100 percent clean energy with net zero greenhouse gas emissions.”

The goal of the organization is to connect parents and grandparents who want to join the fight against climate change, Frida Berry Eklund of Sweden’s pro-climate action group Parents Roar said on a press call Tuesday.

“When I became a parent, the threat of catastrophic climate change became much more real to me,” Eklund said. During the 2009 climate talks in Copenhagen, the voices of parents and grandparents weren’t as loud as they should have been, she said. This year, Our Kids’ Climate wants to make sure parents and grandparents are heard: the group is planning a march for climate action in Paris during the talks.

Parents wanting the best future possible for their children isn’t surprising, but pushing for climate action in order to safeguard kids’ futures makes sense in more ways than one. A 2013 study from Unicef found that children around the world — especially those in poor countries — will be hit with some of the worst impacts of climate change. According to Unicef, 25 million more children won’t get enough to eat due to climate change by 2030, and they’ll be among the most vulnerable when faced with increased incidence of heatwaves.

“Children’s little bodies are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change,” said Molly Rauch, public health policy director, Moms Clean Air Force. Children’s lungs aren’t yet done growing, she said, which makes them even more vulnerable to smog and other pollutants, and they also take more breaths per minute than adults do. Diarrheal diseases, which are among the leading causes of death in children worldwide, could also increase in incidence as the planet warms. And climate change’s threat to children isn’t a distant one — overall, Rauch said, 88 percent of the deaths caused by climate change in the year 2000 were among children.

“Addressing climate change is an incredible opportunity to give our children not just safe world for the future, but also a world that keeps them healthy today,” she said. “We consider it our moral obligation to take action.”

As parents and grandparents fight for climate action on behalf of their kids, children and young adults themselves have also joined the fray. Twenty young people sued the federal government in August, arguing that inaction on climate change violates their fundamental rights. And youth climate movements have emerged as a strong voice in international climate talks, and the movement to divest from fossil fuel funds has been largely driven by students on college campuses.

Press link for more: Katie Vallentine | thinkprogress.org

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Migrant Crisis: ‘If We Don’t Stop Climate Change…What We See Right Now Is Just the Beginning’

A Q&A with Frank Biermann, a Dutch researcher who led a controversial 2010 study on climate refugees, who fears crises like Europe’s will only get worse.

By Phil McKenna

Sep 14, 2015

The surge of people fleeing to Europe from the Middle East highlights how quickly mass migrations can occur. It may also offer a glimpse of what’s to come as climate change makes some regions around the world unlivable, according to a leading researcher on the human effects of climate change.

Frank Biermann, a professor of political science and environmental policy sciences at VU University Amsterdam, led researchers in the Netherlands five years ago in a study that warned there may be as many as 200 million climate refugees by 2050. That staggering number first arose out of research in 1995, and it has always been controversial. The study Biermann led in 2010 recommended the creation of an international resettlement fund for climate refugees.
Today’s migrant crisis may be due in part to climate change, Biermann said in an interview with InsideClimate News. Syria, where 7.6 million people are displaced inside the country and another 4 million are seeking asylum elsewhere, a severe drought plagued the country from 2006-09. A recent study pinned the blame for that drought on climate change, and the drought has been cited as a contributing factor to the unrest there. Millions of additional refugees may need to leave their homes in coming decades as a result of a changing climate, Biermann said.
As Biermann discussed the issue, his 9-year-old daughter was preparing a welcome package that included toys, books and a note with her home phone number that will be delivered to an immigrant girl her own age.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
InsideClimate News: The ongoing uprising in Syria was preceded by the region’s most severe drought on record. Are the Syrians now moving into Europe climate refugees?

Frank Biermann: Many of these refugees come from countries that are affected by climate change, there is no doubt about that, even though I would not make necessarily any causal link between climate change and the Syrian or Iraqi crises. Of course, there are many other reasons responsible for the war and civil strife in these countries.
My argument in the paper from 2010 has been that over the following decades and the second half of the century we can expect much more migration to happen due to the impacts of climate change. That is the expectation from many models that have to do with sea level rise, land degradation, desertification, water shortages and a number of other issues that historically have been causes for migration. It’s quite obvious in the case of sea level rise where coastal defenses are technically not feasible or too expensive. In such cases people will have to move and resettle somewhere else.
ICN: How does what we are seeing now compare with what is likely to come?
FB: There are a number of scenarios in the literature that are predicting vast numbers of climate refugees in the future, up to 200 million people by 2050. Many of these projections and scenarios are slightly outdated. The current debate is a bit more careful or optimistic because these newer scenarios are all based on assumptions about the adaptive capacities of these countries and the severities of climate change impacts and also on human behavior. Many people would now argue that the numbers that have been published especially in the 1990s and early 2000s are too pessimistic.  
On other hand, it’s quite obvious that there are certainly areas, especially low-lying coastal areas, that quite likely will be severely affected from sea level rise. You can look at how many people are in low-lying areas in Bangladesh, in Egypt, in Vietnam and the eastern part of China. There are millions of people who are in these kinds of areas, and the same is also true for land degradation, desertification and water shortages. It is likely that a lot of this migration will be internal migration within the country; it’s not necessarily to be expected that everyone will go on a boat to Europe.
ICN: The 200 million figure you cite in your 2010 study has been controversial since Norman Myers of Oxford University first proposed it in 1995. The Biodiversity Institute at Oxford said the figure is “widely viewed as lacking academic credibility,” and Stephen Castles from Oxford’s International Migration Institute said Myers’ objective was to “really scare public opinion and politicians into taking action on climate change.” Does what we are seeing now change things?
FB: I think it’s much more complex than thought originally. If climate change continues to develop the way it is predicted to develop, then there is a high likelihood that more people will be negatively affected in their livelihoods, and it’s likely that more people will have at some point to relocate and resettle.
Climate change has the potential of increasing all refugee crises and of creating new refugee crises. It is never a one-to-one relationship that people are leaving just because of climate change. It is always linked to all kind of other factors—economic factors, social factors, political factors, religious factors—but all these factors that are supporting civil war and migration might be increased by climate change.  
If we don’t stop climate change, then what we see right now is just the beginning. It has the possibility to turn into a major driver of migration movements, and this is one of the many, many arguments of why we have to stop climate change.
ICN: What needs to happen to protect future climate refugees?
FB: We see a direct moral and legal connection between rich countries and the impacts of climate change. The majority of people negatively affected by climate change live in poor countries where they have almost nothing to do with the causation of the problem.  
We came up with a proposal to have a separate fund, the Climate Refugee Protection and Resettlement Fund, to address this particular problem. The bottom line is when you are sitting in Tuvalu and you have to leave your island, and you are certainly not responsible for climate change, then you can have a moral and legal right to request compensation and assistance from rich countries.
ICN: Since your 2010 study, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change launched the Green Climate Fund to do much of what you describe. The initial plan was to have wealthy countries donate $100 billion a year by 2020, but so far only $10.2 billion has been pledged. Is this enough?
FB: The original numbers in the $100 billions are realistic, but I think definitely more investment is needed.

Press link for more: Insideclimatenews.org

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Big Corporations Like Gap & eBay Are Mobilizing Against Climate Change #Auspol

They’re calling climate change “one of America’s greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century

This week, California legislators received a pair of letters signed by dozens of corporations in support of two bills that would require the state to further reduce its greenhouse gas emissions through 2050. In both letters, the firms say tackling climate change is “one of America’s greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century.” 
Some of these companies you’d expect to see among advocates for stronger environmental policy: Patagonia, the North Face and Ben and Jerry’s. But there are also companies less well known for climate advocacy: Gap and the candy company Mars Inc. signed both letters. eBay and the LA-based homebuilding company KB Home each signed a letter, too. 
One of the largest corporate supporters of both bills, Dignity Health, California’s largest not-for-profit hospital chain, also signed both letters. 
California has been at the forefront of climate change-related legislative action. In 2006, it passed the California Global Warming Solutions Act, which required the state by 2020 to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions back down to 1990 levels (about 15 percent below where it would have been if it had continued doing nothing).
With the state on track to reach that goal, these two new bills on deck in the state legislature are pushing for further reform. 
SB 350 calls for a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use, and a 50 percent increase in energy efficiency in existing buildings, as well as 50 percent of utility power to come from renewable energy by 2030. SB 32 would require the state to further slash greenhouse gas emissions — to 80 percent below 1990 levels — through 2050.
California could save $8 billion on health care costs related to respiratory illnesses like asthma if the state meets the goals for 2030 laid out in SB 350, according to Rachelle Reyes Wenger, the director of public policy and community advocacy at Dignity Health. 
“Healing requires an environment that lets people have a healthy lifestyle,” she told The Huffington Post. “Climate change threatens to undermine 50 years of advancement in population health.”
The science backs this up, particularly in California. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this year found that improved air quality in California over the last 20 years is correlated with a significant decrease in children living in Southern California who have asthma.
The oil industry, on the other hand, has mounted firm opposition to both bills — and there will certainly be upfront costs to changing the way that Californians get their energy. 
But it’s important to think about the cost of inaction as well, says Carol Lee Rawn, the director of the transportation program at the nonprofit advocacy group Ceres. “It’s good economic policy to be addressing this. When you set ambitious goals, that drives innovation and drives investment.” 
While cutting down on emissions is costly, California’s aggressive stance on curbing them is also bringing it business.
Proterra, a company that makes fully electric buses, is moving much of its corporate staff to California from South Carolina. Proterra CEO Ryan Popple told HuffPost that California’s 2006 law allowed alternative energy companies to flourish there.
“The advantages that incumbent industries have are just enormous. There is no industry larger and more entrenched than energy. I don’t think that California protects big monopolistic industries in the way other markets do,” he said. Because of that, new companies like his can compete. 
Already, after just a few years ,”the cost [of electric bus technology] is dropping so quickly that we’re already approaching a point where we are competing with natural gas technology,” he said.

Press link for more: Shane Ferro | huffingtonpost.com

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Islamic Declaration Blasts Short-Sighted Capitalism, Demands Action on Climate

Ahead of UN summit in Paris, new document presents the moral case for Muslims and people of all faiths worldwide to mobilize against fossil fuel addiction and global warming.

Just as scientists announced July was the hottest month in recorded history, and ahead of a major climate summit in Paris later this year, an international group of Islamic leaders on Tuesday released a public declaration calling on the religion’s 1.6 billion followers to engage on the issue of global warming and take bold action to stem its worst impacts.

Released during an international symposium taking place in Istanbul, the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change is signed by 60 Muslim scholars and leaders of the faith who acknowledge that—despite the short-term economic benefits of oil, coal, and gas—humanity’s use of fossil fuels is the main cause of global warming which increasingly threatens “a functioning climate, healthy air to breathe, regular seasons, and living oceans.”

The declaration states there is deep irony that humanity’s “unwise and short-sighted use of these resources is now resulting in the destruction of the very conditions that have made our life on earth possible.”
“Our attitude to these gifts has been short-sighted, and we have abused them,” it continues. “What will future generations say of us, who leave them a degraded planet as our legacy? How will we face our Lord and Creator?”

As with the papal encyclical, the Muslim scholars take special note of how global capitalism—namely the “relentless pursuit of economic growth and consumption”—has fostered an energy paradigm that now threatens the sustainability of living systems and human society.
With a focus on the upcoming Conference of Parties (COP21) talks in Paris, the declaration urges leaders to forge an “equitable and binding” agreement and called on all nations to:

Aim to phase out greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible in order to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere;

Commit themselves to 100 % renewable energy and/or a zero emissions strategy as early as possible, to mitigate the environmental impact of their activities;

Invest in decentralized renewable energy, which is the best way to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development;

Realize that to chase after unlimited economic growth in a planet that is finite and already overloaded is not viable. Growth must be pursued wisely and in moderation; placing a priority on increasing the resilience of all, and especially the most vulnerable, to the climate change impacts already underway and expected to continue for many years to come.

Set in motion a fresh model of wellbeing, based on an alternative to the current financial model which depletes resources, degrades the environment, and deepens inequality.

Prioritise adaptation efforts with appropriate support to the vulnerable countries with the least capacity to adapt. And to vulnerable groups, including indigenous peoples, women and children.

When it comes to wealthier nations and the oil-rich states of the world, the declaration called on them to specifically:
Lead the way in phasing out their greenhouse gas emissions as early as possible and no later than the middle of the century;

Provide generous financial and technical support to the less well-off to achieve a phase-out of greenhouse gases as early as possible;

Recognize the moral obligation to reduce consumption so that the poor may benefit from what is left of the earth’s non-renewable resources;

Stay within the ‘2 degree’ limit, or, preferably, within the ‘1.5 degree’ limit, bearing in mind that two-thirds of the earth’s proven fossil fuel reserves remain in the ground;

Re-focus their concerns from unethical profit from the environment, to that of preserving it and elevating the condition of the world’s poor.

Invest in the creation of a green economy.

Additionally, focusing on the corporate sector and business interests who profit most from exploitative activities and the current burning of fossil fuels, the declaration argues those institutions to:
Shoulder the consequences of their profit-making activities, and take a visibly more active role in reducing their carbon footprint and other forms of impact upon the natural environment;

In order to mitigate the environmental impact of their activities, commit themselves to 100 % renewable energy and/or a zero emissions strategy as early as possible and shift investments into renewable energy;

Change from the current business model which is based on an unsustainable escalating economy, and to adopt a circular economy that is wholly sustainable;

Pay more heed to social and ecological responsibilities, particularly to the extent that they extract and utilize scarce resources;

Assist in the divestment from the fossil fuel driven economy and the scaling up of renewable energy and other ecological alternatives.

Such a rounded and full-throated declaration was met with applause by climate campaigners, anti-poverty advocates, and social justice voices from around the world.

Press link for more: John Queally | commondreams.org

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Global Apollo Program To Combat Climate Change. 

A major global research programme to make carbon-free baseload electricity less costly than electricity from coal, and to do it within 10 years.

The Global Apollo Programme: a summary
The challenge

To avoid irreparable damage, governments of the world have agreed to limit the world’s rise in temperature to 2 ̊C. This means an absolute limit on the total accumulated CO2 that can be produced. On present trends that limit will be breached by 2035.
So we must urgently reduce our annual output of CO2.
The method

Carbon-free energy must rapidly become less costly to produce than energy based on coal, gas and oil.
This requires a major scientific and technological programme of research, using the best minds in the world and the best science.
The objective of the Programme

Within 10 years, baseload wind and/or solar power will become less costly in every country than power based on coal.
The scale of the Programme

Countries joining the Programme will devote at least 0.02% of GDP to public expenditure on the Programme over a 10-year period.
The organisation of the Programme

The Programme will be modelled on the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors which has reduced semiconductor prices year on year for thirty years.
There will be a Commission of countries which decide to join. This will appoint a Roadmap Committee which identifies the bottlenecks to cost reduction year on year and co-ordinates international research to unblock the bottlenecks. Areas to be tackled include electricity storage and transmission, and the generation of wind and solar power.
It is hoped that the management of the Programme will be co-located with the International Energy Agency in Paris but the Programme will include many countries that are not members of the IEA.
Progress

Over the last year the Programme has been privately discussed with Governments worldwide and has been widely welcomed. The issue will be discussed at the G7 meeting on 7-8 June, and it is hoped that by the end of the year the major countries of the world will have decided to join.
A Global Apollo Programme to Tackle Climate Change is available here.

Press link for more: Global Apollo Programme