Netherlands

The great’ COP out #COP24 #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #LabConf18 Demand #GreenNewDeal #ClimateEmergency

The Conference of the Parties 24 – or COP24, as the branding goes – opened with an emotion-grabbing call on world leaders by Sir David Attenborough.

But at the end of the first week, the mood of optimism went into a spasm when it was clear that the United States, Russia, and Saudi Arabia, would oppose accepting the recent report by the IPCC stating that the difference between a global average heating of 1.5°C and 2°C is the difference between two very different worlds that climate change will deliver.

Of course, whether we accept a report or not does not change its validity.

In fact, in a UK Met Office presentation at the COP, Dr. Richard Betts stated that currently, we are on track for around 3.3°C, a death knell for many of the world’s poorest people and a likely scenario of the collapse of the global economy, agriculture and general human well being.

Barefaced lying

Professor John Schellnhuber, a German climate scientist speaking at the same session as Betts, started his talk with the following: “If you thought this conference can deliver on [the less safe] 2°C then you have been fooled!”

All this brings us back to that tawdry slogan smeared like cream across the British Pavilion. Green may indeed be great but to imply in any way that we are honouring our Paris Agreement commitments is a barefaced lie.

This lie was made very explicit to me by British climate scientist, Professor Kevin Anderson.

He passed the stand and said: “Why don’t you go and ask them about the new Clair Ridge oil platform coming online, that the Energy and Clean Growth Minister, Claire Perry, has been celebrating?

“That is something like 50,000 tonnes of CO2 every single day from that one platform in the North Sea. They expect it to have 640 million barrels of recoverable oil for the duration of its life, equal to a quarter of a billion tonnes [of CO2 pollution].”

This is the same government who continues in its efforts to pursue shale gas from fracking, while at the same time refusing to back renewable energy projects such as the tidal energy project in Swansea, and placing a moratorium on onshore wind power, despite record growth.

It is not only the low-carbon energy potential that they have thrown out of the window, but it is also the lead position we have held in these industries that attract investments, leading to more jobs and a brighter future.

In this context, it is hard to see how Green Is Great, or even the open bragging of The Climate Change Act can be more than barefaced lying, both to the British people and again here at COP to delegates looking for hope in a dark place.

Road to hell 

The fossil fuel energy pathway this government is locking us into for decades to come will contribute significantly to shattering the myth that we will avert dangerous climate change.

Combined with all the lies of other developed nations, including those in Scandinavia, Germany, and Canada, not to mention China and India, our global emissions are set to keep rising and with it, the cost to all life on Earth.

This was expressed in the morning while talking to the scientist, Christoph Thiel from Greenpeace: “we don’t just have a climate change problem, we are also into the first human caused mass extinction!”

People like me

People like me feel a sense of sadness and anger when Russia or the US deny obvious truths, especially on existential issues such as climate change. Yet, in reality, there is very little difference between what UK policy is doing underlying banners such as Green Is Great. The reason they can get away with it is because we all know they are doing it and choose to turn a blind eye in case it impacts our own way of life.

There is now clear evidence that the top 10 percent of society’s highest emitters are responsible for 50 percent of global emissions. Kevin Anderson raised this point numerous times over various presentations both in and out of the COP. Within this group emissions from flying drastically impact our individual carbon footprints and Anderson cites frequent flying as being emblematic of the kind of lifestyle that speaks much louder than rhetoric on climate action:

“The airports are full of frequent fliers, who are the wealthy people in our society. Emissions across the board are being driven by a relatively small cohort of very high emitters.

“At the global level, we know that 50% of emissions come from 10 percent of the population and it looks like the UK is not dissimilar to that, nor is the US. In the US the top one percent emit around 300-350 tonnes of CO2 pollution [per person] each year, and yet the average in the US is around 23 tonnes. In the EU, it’s nearer 13 tonnes. But I bet you there are a lot of poorer people in the EU who are running well below the average at about 4-8 tonnes!”

Axis of Evil?

All of this sheds light on why the UK, US, and pretty much all other governments in developed nations, ignore their Paris Agreement commitments and focus on the job of keeping us in the profligate and destructive lives that we have become accustomed too.

At an individual level, it is the choices that we make every day that collectively make up the staggering true cost of climate change. As Anderson puts it:

“Emissions relate very closely to income and that is because we use a lot more energy, but also then, above a certain threshold, it means we consume lots more goods. That stuff uses lots of energy; the raw material, the manufacturing of it, and then to import it.”

The consequences of every decision

Scientists have created a set of carbon budgets that tell us how much carbon we can emit depending on whether we are aiming to achieve a global warming of 1.5ºC, 2ºC, or anywhere over 3.3ºC. These budgets are very tight and, yet, this year global emissions rose 2.7 percent – much larger than last years 1.6 percent.

After 24 years of COP’s, to achieve an international agreement that no one is honouring, and the wealthy people, who have the power to change, are ignoring, is a disgrace. The decisions I make going forward, from flying to eating meat, or air freighted avocados, they all consume another part of that carbon budget that is rightly the property of the poorer people in the global society, who have emitted virtually nothing but face the worst consequences.

In addition, careful consideration should be given to our children and grandchildren who will have to try and live in the environmental mess that we have created for them. It should not surprise anyone as to why they are taking to the streets and will continue to do so as the crisis worsens.

Anderson ends leaving this question hanging in the air: “What’s worse, Russia, America, and Saudi Arabia being honest about their rejection of the science, or us, lying about it so we can go on doing what we are doing?”

This Author

Nick Breeze is a climate change journalist also publishing on https://envisionation.co.uk and organising https://climateseries.com. Follow him on Twitter at @NickGBreeze

Press link for more: The Ecologist

12 Reasons Labor Should Demand a #GreenNewDeal #LabConf18 #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #SchoolStrike4Climate #ClimateChange #Airpollution

Only protecting humanity from climate catastrophe can unify the political forces needed to meet labor’s demands for jobs, union rights, economic security, full employment, and worker empowerment

Labor shouldn’t just back the Green New Deal, it should help lead the way. (Photo: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Workers have gotten a raw deal.

Employers and their Republican (Liberal) allies are trying to eliminate workers’ rights both in the workplace and at the ballot box.

But even when Democrats controlled the presidency and both houses of Congress, they did little to protect, let alone expand, the rights of working people. Workers need a new deal.

Now, an alliance of social movements and members of Congress are proposing a Green New Deal to create millions of jobs by putting Americans to work making a climate-safe economy. This program meets the needs of—and has the potential to unite—the labor movement, environmentalists, and all those who have been the victims of inequality, discrimination, racism and, now, climate change.

In the week following the 2018 midterm elections, a group of 150 protesters led by young people with the Sunrise Movement occupied the office of likely Democratic House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, urging her to support a Green New Deal. Newly-elected House Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) joined the protest with a resolution in hand to establish a Select Committee for a Green New Deal. The proposal has since amassed growing support among Congressional representatives, progressive organizations and young people across the country.

The Green New Deal is poised to become a factor in the 2020 elections. Labor unions should take this opportunity to embrace the proposal—and fight to make sure it’s a strong vehicle for advancing workers’ rights.

What was the New Deal?

In the depths of the Great Depression, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt launched the New Deal—a set of government programs to provide employment and social security, reform tax policies and business practices, and stimulate the economy. It included the building of homes, hospitals, school, roads, dams and electrical grids. The New Deal put millions of people to work and created a new policy framework for American democracy.

New Deal programs included public employment (Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps); farm price supports (Agricultural Adjustment Act); environmental restoration (reforestation and land conservation); labor rights (Wagner Act); minimum wages and standards (National Recovery Act and Fair Labor Standards Act); cooperative enterprises (Works Progress Administration support for self-help); public infrastructure development (TVA and rural electrification); subsidized basic necessities (food commodity programs and Federal Housing Act); construction of schools, parks, and housing (Civil Works Administration); and income maintenance (Social Security Act).

Besides its famous “alphabet soup” of Federal government agencies, the New Deal was part of a larger process of social change that included experimentation at a state, regional and local level; organization among labor, unemployed, urban, the elderly and other grassroots constituencies; and lively debate on future alternatives that went far beyond the policies actually implemented.

What a Green New Deal would do 

The Green New Deal is a program that all trade unionists and advocates for working people can and should get behind.

While there are a variety of detailed proposals for a Green New Deal, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ proposal promises to create millions of jobs through building a new 100%-renewable electrical system and a national “smart grid,” retrofitting residential and industrial buildings, and building a new, low-emission transportation system.

It also seeks to end the epidemic of poverty by mitigating deeply entrenched racial, regional and gender-based inequalities in income and wealth and distributing federal aid and other investment equitably to historically impoverished and marginalized communities.

At its core, the Green New Deal would work toward saving the climate by meeting scientific targets for the reduction of greenhouse gases, investing in the drawdown and capture of greenhouse gases, and making “green” technology a major export of the United States to help other countries transition to carbon-neutral economies.

Why labor should support a Green New Deal 

American workers, like most Americans, are dissatisfied with the status quo and want change. Organized labor is in a position to help lead that change. But all too rarely is labor’s program directed to a vision of what we want for the future.

The Green New Deal provides a visionary program for labor and can provide a role for unions in defining and leading a new vision for America.

At the same time, the Green New Deal projects a program that is not far-fetched. It includes plans for a public works programs, the expansion of human rights and new entitlement programs. Americans have made such goals a reality before in U.S. history—with organized labor playing a leading role.

Why a Green New Deal? Only protecting humanity from climate catastrophe can unify the political forces needed to meet labor’s demands for jobs, union rights, economic security, full employment, and worker empowerment.

There are 12 key reasons why labor should get on board with a Green New Deal:

  1. Avert climate catastrophe: We are in a climate emergency. The current threat to humanity rivals that of Nazi armies that once threatened to establish a “thousand-year Reich” whose master race would rule the world. Millions of workers mobilized to build the tanks, planes and ammunition that defeated the Nazis. Today we need a mobilization that similarly puts millions to work building the windmills, solar collectors, grids and other tools needed to defeat climate change. Working people have no greater collective interest.
  2. Provide jobs for all: The production of equipment and construction of infrastructure for the new climate-safe economy will provide manufacturing and construction jobs for millions of workers. The Climate Jobs Guarantee contained within the Green New Deal would provide jobs for all who want them at a base wage of $15, including healthcare and other benefits. The ongoing conversion to a sustainable economy will continue to provide good jobs for generations.
  3. Abolish poverty: In addition to a jobs guarantee providing wages that will lift workers out of poverty, the Green New Deal will also include basic income programs and universal health care for those who are not in the workforce.
  4. Rebuild the labor movement: Put simply, a Green New Deal can help rebuild the U.S. labor movement. With input from labor, the plan can guarantee the right to organize, bargain collectively, engage in concerted action and retain basic Constitutional rights on the job for all workers.
  5. Unite the working class: President Donald Trump, the Republican Party and corporate America have been working overtime to divide the working class. The Green New Deal embodies the common interests of all working people in climate protection, jobs for all and greater equality. At the same time, it addresses the legacy of race, gender, and other forms of discrimination and injustice. And it expresses human values that recognize the equal worth and common fate of all people.
  6. Win wide popular support for a labor-friendly program: Public opinion polling shows that the programs of the Green New Deal are extraordinarily popular. A recent poll shows that over half of voting-eligible adults said they would be more likely to support a candidate running on a Green Job Guarantee, including 35 percent of Trump voters. And young people are far more likely to support a candidate running on a platform of 100 percent renewable energy and Green jobs.
  7. Build a powerful labor-friendly coalition: The original New Deal coalition brought together diverse constituencies including labor, African Americans, city dwellers and farmers. That coalition was a dominant force in American politics for more than 40 years. The Green New Deal similarly provides the basis for a broad, long-lasting coalition that can again transform American politics and society. By helping lead that coalition, organized labor can secure the rights and well-being of all workers.
  8. Unify environmental and labor forces in the Democratic Party: Labor and environmentalists have too often been at loggerheads in the Democratic Party. This has undermined both the protection of the environment and of workers. A Green New Deal can become a common program unifying the environmental and labor constituencies of the Democratic Party. By making protecting the climate the way to provide jobs for all, it puts an end to the phony conflict between “jobs and the environment.”
  9. Challenge corporate dominance of the Democratic Party: For far too long, the Democrats’ corporate wing, representing the interests of the wealthy, has dominated the party. Even when Democrats controlled the Presidency and both houses of Congress, the corporate wing of the party helped stymie both labor law reform and effective climate protection—screwing workers twice. The Green New Deal provides a program that represents the views of the great majority of Democrats that can allow the party’s rank-and-file to take control and advance both workers’ rights and climate protection.
  10. Strengthen workers bargaining power: The tremendous demand for labor created by the transition to a fossil-free economy, combined with the Climate Jobs Guarantee, will eliminate that “long line of workers at the gate” that employers use to strengthen their hands in negotiations. The Climate Jobs Guarantee will set a new floor for wages and benefits that all employers will need to exceed if they wish to sustain a workforce.
  11. Expand union apprenticeship and training: As with the economic mobilization for World War II, climate mobilization will require training a new workforce. The Green New Deal defines union apprenticeships and other training programs as a central way to do so. That will provide both a major source of financial support for unions and a chance to show the benefits of unionization to millions of workers entering the workforce or being retrained for new jobs.
  12. Establish a standard for those who claim to be labor’s friends: One reason for organized labor’s declining clout has been the lack of a clear standard for those who seek labor’s support. The Green New Deal provides a clear statement of how candidates and organizations can show support for labor—and therefore what politicians must fight for if they want labor’s support.

What the New Deal did for labor 

The New Deal established jobs programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC), Civil Works Administration (CWA), and the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The WPA employed more than 8.5 million workers who built 650,000 miles of highways and roads, 125,000 public buildings, as well as schools, bridges, reservoirs, irrigation systems, parks and playgrounds.

In 1936, when many American employers were violently opposing unions, WPA director Harry Hopkins signed an agreement assuring the Workers Alliance of America, a merger of several unemployed organizations, the right to organize relief workers.

The Workers Alliance functioned as a proto-union in the WPA, striking, protesting grievances, and organizing mass demonstrations and marches to maintain and expand the program. It worked with the AFL and the nascent CIO to demand union scale for skilled workers, a minimum payment for WPA workers and collective bargaining for all workers on work-relief projects. Many WPA workers used their experience to become organizers in the new CIO. As the WPA wound down and the private economy revived, many former Workers Alliance activists became leaders in the new industrial unions.

The 1935 Social Security Act established retirement pensions, unemployment insurance, and welfare programs that remain the primary basis for economic security for many American workers to this day.

The 1935 National Labor Relations Act—aka the Wagner Act—guaranteed workers the right to bargain collectively through unions of their own choosing. Union membership virtually tripled in the decade following the passage of the act.

The 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act set maximum hours, minimum wages and abolished child labor.

Through its role in the administrative agencies of the New Deal and its growing role in the New Deal coalition, organized labor achieved an unprecedented, if still subordinate, voice in the halls of governmental and political power.

What labor should ask of a Green New Deal

While current proposals for a Green New Deal align with workers’ interests, organized labor brings traditions and insights that can make them even more compelling.

Incorporating worker demands in the Green New Deal program will pay benefits long before they can be implemented at a national level. It will ensure that labor’s approach is understood and adopted by a wide coalition. And it will provide guidelines for what policies that coalition will fight for at a local, state, regional and industry level.

Labor needs to begin the discussion on what it wants in a Green New Deal. It needs a program that will transform the role of organized working people at least as profoundly as the programs of the New Deal. But that can’t simply be a matter of going back to labor’s past glories.

The rights of working people have been eroded under both Democratic and Republican administrations. Labor law as amended by Congress and interpreted by the courts has become less a protection for workers and unions than a means to restrict their freedom. Simply rolling back recent conservative victories like the Supreme Court’s Janus decision is not enough. Labor can and should demand that the Green New Deal—like the original New Deal—establish a new framework that protects workers’ fundamental Constitutional and human rights.

Labor should demand that any Green New Deal:

Restore the right to organize, bargain collectively and engage in concerted action on the job: These rights were originally protected by the New Deal’s National Labor Relations Act, but they have been eroded by legislation, court decisions and the power of employers to discipline and fire their workers.

Guarantee the Constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly in the workplace: These rights are essential to workers’ freedom to organize as they see fit. They are also essential aspects of human rights and human dignity that should not be eliminated once you enter the workplace.

Restore the right to strike: In the half-century following the Civil War, American workers’ movements maintained that the right to strike was a fundamental Constitutional right, guaranteed by the 13th  Amendment’s prohibition of “involuntary servitude.” It’s time to enforce that right.

Guarantee the right to a safe and healthy work environment: The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) of 1970 supposedly assured “safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women,” but it was deeply flawed from the outset and has been gutted over time. A Green New Deal can help meet both labor and environmental goals by banning all unsafe practices in workplaces.

Provide a fair and just transition for workers whose jobs may be threatened by economic change: This should include but not be limited to change that results from the transition to a climate-safe economy. It should include an updated version of the GI Bill of Rights that gave returning World War II veterans education, housing, medical and other benefits to make a new start on life and economic development support for communities affected by economic transition.

Establish fair labor standards: The 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provided minimum wages, limited the hours of work, and established other protections for workers. Today the minimum wage is so low that it fails to ensure even a poverty-level income. In practice, workers can be made to work for as few or as many hours as their employers want. New labor standards should ensure that anyone who works gets a living wage; employees are provided predictable hours of labor; and that workers may not be fired without just cause.

Establish strong state and local prevailing wage laws: The Davis-Bacon Act, passed on the eve of the New Deal, requires that all contractors and subcontractors performing federally-funded construction, alteration, or repair work must pay their workers no less than the prevailing wages and benefits for corresponding work on similar projects in the area. A Green New Deal should implement prevailing wage laws for all climate-protection jobs, all state- and locally-funded projects, as well as other industries.

Encourage industry-wide bargaining: The labor relations system established by the New Deal often led to industry-wide collective bargaining in which all steelworkers or auto workers were united in their confrontations with management. Today, workers in each industry and each corporation are often represented by dozens of different unions who all bargain separately with little coordination. A Green New Deal can encourage bargaining councils and other forms of coordination that promote higher wages and prevent a race to the bottom by taking wages out of competition.

Establish a “buy fair” and “buy local” procurement policy: A Green New Deal can provide incentives for quality jobs which provide family-sustaining wages and benefits; the right to form a union and engage in collective bargaining free of intimidation and reprisal; and hiring opportunities for workers in disadvantaged communities.

What trade unionists can do right now to win a Green New Deal

The idea of a Green New Deal has rapidly and unexpectedly broken through into public discussion. Here’s how unions can build on this momentum right now:

Support the Sunrise Movement’s Green New Deal actions: Show up for demonstrations at your Congressional representative’s office to demand they support a Green New Deal.

Ask politicians who depend on labor support to sign on to Congressional resolutions calling for a Green New Deal

Educate your membership about the Green New Deal: Materials are available at the Labor Network for Sustainability website.

Pass a resolution demanding a Green New Deal: The organization Labor for Single Payer first passed resolutions through hundreds of local unions, then dozens of national unions, and ultimately turned the labor movement into a powerful advocate for universal healthcare. The labor movement’s support for a Green New Deal can send a strong message that the plan is critical to building working-class power.

Push for elements of the Green New Deal in your collective bargaining demands: “Bargaining for the common good” is a growing trend for American unions. Many aspects of the Green New Deal can be won through union bargaining. For example, unions can bargain for their employers to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to apply prevailing wage standards to their own workers or outside contractors who perform the necessary work.

Join together with other unions and allies to demand a Green New Deal: Coalitions that advocate for protection for both workers and the climate have emerged at the local, state and national levels. You can join with them to form a powerful force to ultimately win a strong and bold Green New Deal.

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Are carbon emissions coming down in Australia? #auspol #qldpol #LabConf18 #StopAdani #COP24 we urgently need a #GreenNewDeal The #ClimateCrisis is stealing our children’s future.

Photo: Former Howard government minister Amanda Vanstone says that emissions are coming down in Australia. (ABC News)

The claim

During a recent episode of the ABC’s Q&A program, former Liberal minister Amanda Vanstone claimed “emissions are coming down” in Australia.

Her comment came a few days before a major UN climate summit, COP24, held in Katowice, Poland.

Other panellists on Q&A contradicted Ms Vanstone, saying emissions were rising.

This prompted many viewers of the program to call on RMIT ABC Fact Check to investigate Ms Vanstone’s claim.

The verdict

Ms Vanstone’s claim is misleading.

Latest federal government figures suggest that although greenhouse gas emissions have fallen over the past 10 years, emissions started trending upwards again about four years ago.

The upturn, since 2014, has coincided with the Abbott government’s removal of the carbon tax.

Also, while emissions from electricity production have been falling, the decrease has been outweighed over the past four years by rising emissions in other sectors of the economy, such as transport, where emissions are associated with increased LNG production for export.

Emissions can be measured in different ways: for example, as total emissions or emissions per capita or per GDP.

In the past year, Australia’s total emissions have been rising. But emissions per capita or per dollar of real GDP have been falling, mainly due to Australia’s rapid population growth.

However, it is worth noting that Australia’s progress in cutting emissions under its international obligations (the Paris Agreement) is measured by changes in total emissions rather than by other measures.

As one expert put it: “The atmosphere doesn’t care how many people are contributing to emissions; it’s the total quantity of emissions that matters.”

The context

Ms Vanstone made her claim during a discussion on Q&A about a protest by Australian schoolchildren titled ‘Strike 4 Climate Action‘.

She was speaking about the climate policies of Australia’s two major political parties, and in the broader context of greenhouse gas emissions and their impact on the environment, as perceived by young people.

Ms Vanstone did not specify which kind of emissions she was talking about. Nor whether she was referring to simple totals or ratios.

Fact Check invited her to clarify this. She said she had not been expecting to talk about emissions: “I can’t tell you that I had a particular tight construct in my head at the time,” she said.

“I think I was just making a general remark about emissions generally over a long period of time.”

Fact Check considers it reasonable to assume that her claim refers to Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions over the past 10 years — the length of time examined by the Government’s most recent report on emissions.

What others are saying

Ms Vanstone is not alone in claiming emissions in Australia are decreasing, though other speakers have been more specific.

Liberal senator Linda Reynolds, also on Q&A, said carbon emissions per capita and by GDP were at their lowest levels in 28 years.

Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price also highlighted this low in a press release announcing the Government’s latest quarterly emissions data.

Nonetheless, she acknowledged that total emissions had risen over the year to June 2018.

Others have also pointed to the rise in total emissions.

Labor senator Lisa Singh, another of the recent Q&A panelists, argued that “emissions have continued to go up since 2011”.

And on ABC radio the same week, Richie Merzian, the climate and energy director for think tank the Australia Institute said: “For the last four years, Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions have been increasing.”

Measuring emissions

The Australian Department of the Environment and Energy collects and publishes a series of reports and databases, known as the National Greenhouse Accounts.

The accounts track greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 onwards, and fulfil Australia’s international reporting obligations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Kyoto Protocol.

Quarterly reports, released as part of the accounts, track total emissions as well as emissions by sector, per capita and per GDP.

The latest report, released three days before Ms Vanstone’s Q&A appearance, provides estimates of Australia’s national inventory of greenhouse gas emissions up to the June quarter of 2018.

The report examines emissions produced by eight sectors: electricity, stationary energy, transport, fugitive emissions (for example, leakages), industrial processes and product use, agriculture, waste, and land use, land use change and forestry.

Emissions from electricity production are falling

The report shows emissions in the electricity sector have fallen by 3.6 per cent in the year to September 2018.

This was driven by a 13 per cent reduction in brown coal supply and a corresponding 14 per cent increase in supply derived from renewable sources, it says.

But emissions from other sectors, such as transport, have been rising.

Hugh Saddler, an honorary associate professor at ANU’s Crawford School of Public Policy, told Fact Check:

“Significant increases in emissions from petroleum and diesel consumption in transport, and gas consumption associated with LNG, have outweighed the decrease in emissions from the electricity sector.”

What’s going on with total emissions?

Over the year to June 2018, Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions rose in each quarter, according to the report.

Specifically, seasonally adjusted total emissions rose 1.3 per cent in the June quarter and by 0.6 per cent in the year to June 2018.

While emissions have fluctuated over the past four years, they have been trending upwards since late 2014, as the graph below shows. The data shows emissions have risen 5 per cent over this time.

Emissions touched their lowest point in March 2013, but have since rebounded to 2011 levels.

Under the Paris Climate Agreement, Australia has committed to a reduction in total greenhouse gas emissions of between 26 per cent and 28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.

According to the national greenhouse audit, total emissions are down 11.7 per cent on 2005 (the Paris Agreement base year) and 7.5 per cent since 1990 (the base year for Kyoto Protocol calculations).

Why are people saying emissions are falling?

As shown above, total greenhouse emissions when measured quarterly over the past year, or by trend data over the past four years, have been rising.

So, why are some people arguing that emissions are going down?

Because, when emissions are measured per capita or per dollar of GDP, they are lower. This is because Australia is experiencing rapid population growth.

The Department of the Environment and Energy highlights this fall in both the preface to its latest quarterly greenhouse report and on its website.

The report states that emissions per capita and the emissions intensity of the Australian economy were at their lowest levels in 28 years, falling 37 per cent and 60 per cent respectively since 1990.

Are emissions per capita and per GDP useful measures?

Put simply, no.

Dr Saddler said focusing on emissions per capita was meaningless, since the measure used in international agreements was the more crucial total emissions.

“The atmosphere doesn’t care how many people are contributing to emissions; it’s the total quantity of emissions that matters,” he said.

Professor David Karoly, an internationally recognised expert on climate change, said the emissions per capita was a useful measure when it allowed for country by country comparisons.

“The Australian per capita share at the moment is higher than any other developed country in the world — higher than the US. Yes, it’s coming down, but it is still the highest.”

Both Dr Saddler and Professor Karoly confirmed the fall in emissions per capita and GDP were due to rapid population growth in Australia.

Experts assess the claim

Professor Karoly said if Amanda Vanstone’s claim was made in reference to total Australian emissions, “they are going up”.

He noted that the start of the recent rebound in emissions from mid-2014 coincided with the dumping of the carbon tax by the Abbott government in July of that year.

Professor Mark Howden, the director of ANU’s Climate Change Institute, told Fact Check: “I think it is correct to say that Australian emissions were coming down, but are now rising steadily.”

He said an argument could be made that emissions have come down, given they are lower now than at their peak between 2005 and 2008.

“However, this is a problematic argument,” he said.

“Under the current mix of policies and economic activities, emissions are clearly not coming down but instead are rising steadily.”

Pep Canadell, a senior principal research scientist in the CSIRO Climate Science Centre, and the executive director of the Global Carbon Project, suggested that 1990 was a good reference year for gleaning a long-term view of changes to emissions.

“Good annual data only starts from 1990, which is the reference year of the Kyoto Protocol and why the Government started the good quality data then,” Dr Canadell said.

Emissions per capita have fallen 37 per cent since 1990.

However, Dr Canadell added:

“Given Ms Vanstone’s statement is present tense, I disagree [that emissions are falling]. According to the data, emissions have been going up since 2013, with ups and downs, and, if anything, accelerating recently.”

Principal researchers: Sushi Das, Ellen McCutchan

factcheck@rmit.edu.au

Press link for more: ABC

Climate change: Five things we’ve learnt from #COP24 #auspol #qldpol #LabConf18 #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #GreenNewDeal #StopAdani

Delegates to the UN climate conference in Poland have reached agreement on how to implement the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, which comes into force in 2020. What are the key points to come out of the meeting?

1. The rules are key to the game

However dull it may be, the operational rules for the 2015 Paris climate agreement will govern the way the world tackles climate change for decades to come. 

The key thing was not to unravel the carefully negotiated Paris agreement by having one set of rules for the rich countries and another one for the poor. 

By that measure the conference was a success with China showing leadership by not pushing for a return to the old ways of countries who did, and countries who didn’t.

Also helping that effort was the US.

Ensuring that the China and the US face similar regulations has long been a key of American policy. 

Keeping everyone on the same page also delighted the EU.

Climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete explained how the new rules would work.

“We have a system of transparency, we have a system of reporting, we have rules to measure our emissions, we have a system to measure the impacts of our policies compared to what science recommends.”

To keep everyone in check, the rules will also contain a compliance mechanism, which means that countries that don’t submit their reports on time will face an inquiry. 

The new regulations are “flexible” for developing countries, meaning they can sign up to the rules at a later date.

2. Science is worth fighting for

One of the biggest rows at this meeting was over a key scientific report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 

A group of countries including Saudi Arabia, US, Kuwait and Russia refused to “welcome” the IPCC study. 

They merely wanted to “note” the contents. 

Efforts to find a compromise ended in failure.

However that was not the end of the matter. 

The vast majority of countries felt that acknowledging the science was critical at this conference. 

Their efforts did finally ensure that the IPCC was recognised – but many felt it was a token effort.

“That science is unsettling and it doesn’t connect it to the need to do more,” said Camilla Born from the environmental think tank E3G.

“The deal looks at it in isolation, it’s an elegant compromise but it’s not really enough.”

3. International spirit is still alive

Many countries had worried that with the rise of nationalism in many countries and the recent election of Jair Bolsonaro as Brazil’s president, the international co-operation needed to tackle climate change might be in danger. 

For many getting agreement here in Katowice was less about technical rules and more about showing that the international spirit is still alive and has teeth. 

“I think the beauty of multilateralism is that it is the effort of everybody,” said Spanish Ecology Minister Teresa Ribera.

“And what we have seen is that everybody has supported the package, no single country has decided to step down.

“It is very difficult. It is like organising a party for 200 friends, and there’s a single menu that everybody has to eat. It is not so easy but we have got it. That’s fantastic!”

4. A win for the process but not for the planet?

While negotiators have been congratulating themselves on a job well done in landing the rulebook, there are many voices here who feel that the agreement does not go far enough. 

They point to the strength of the science, and the public recognition of the impacts of climate change seen this year in heatwaves and wildfires.

Many environmental campaigners believe that Katowice was a missed opportunity for radical action.

“We have ended up here with more of a coal trade fair than a climate convention,” said Mohamed Adow from Christian Aid, referring to the efforts to promote coal by Poland and the US at this conference. 

“We haven’t acted in good faith, particularly for the young, that we takes seriously what science is telling us and we are responding to it. That message didn’t come through.

“If people think the rulebook is the way to get the world on that path, it is not robust or ambitious enough.”

5. New voices are emerging

One of the most striking things about this conference of the parties was the presence of energised young people in far greater numbers than I have ever seen them at a COP before. 

Climate change chimes with young people in a way that is sometimes missing with older people, who make up the bulk of negotiators here.

The sense that perhaps this UN process doesn’t quite connect with the modern world was summed up best by Mohamed Nasheed, the former president of the Maldives and now their lead climate negotiator. 

“Almost 10 years since I was last at these climate negotiations, I must say, nothing much seems to have changed. 

“We are still using the same old, dinosaur language. Still saying the same old words.

“Still making the same tedious points.”

It would be hard to argue with this view given the shenanigans that played out at the end, when one country, Brazil, held up progress at the talks on one issue for a couple of days. 

Perhaps the most memorable image of this meeting was that of 15-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg. 

This teenager who has organised school strikes in Sweden held daily press conferences here to drive home her message that platitudes and warm words just aren’t enough anymore.

Her message was sharp and succinct.

“We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis.”

Press link for more: BBC

#StopAdani protestors storm ALP conference speech #auspol #qldpol #ClimateAction #COP24 #LabConf18 #ClimateChange “Our Greatest Moral Challenge #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion

Refugee and climate change protesters have stormed the stage at Labor’s national conference just as Bill Shorten started to speak.

The refugee protesters had to be dragged from the stage, while Mr Shorten accepted a “stop Adani” flag from another protester.

The beginning of his speech at the conference in Adelaide on Sunday was delayed as the protests were cleared.

Activist group Galilee Blockade claimed responsibility for the anti-Adani protest and identified the man who unfurled the banner behind Mr Shorten as Isaac Astill.

“Will you please stop the Adani coal mine?

There are bushfires across Queensland, heat records are tumbling, the Great Barrier Reef is heading for a third bleaching event, we have to stop the Adani coal mine,” Mr Astill asked the Labor leader.

“Oh mate. Alright,” Mr Shorten replied, and added, “thanks for making that statement. Do I get to keep the flag?”

“You can keep the flag if you like, absolutely, of course,” the protester replied.

“Good on you mate, cheers. See ya,” Mr Shorten said.

A statement from Galilee Blockade after the protest said: “80 per cent of Labor supporters believe new coal mines are no longer in the national interest.

Yet Bill Shorten and the Labor Party still support Adani’s mine, opening up one of the largest untapped coal reserves on Earth.”

It’s not the first time this week Mr Shorten has been interrupted by the stop-Adani group.

Press link for more: SBS

‘I don’t see any evidence’: Minister @mattjcan rejects CEOs’ carbon price push #auspol #qldpol #ClimateStrike #StopAdani #ExtinctionRevolution #ClimateChange ignored #TheDrum

Growing demands from some of the nation’s biggest miners for the Morrison government to set a price on carbon have been emphatically rejected, as federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan insists “taxes ain’t the answer”.

Mr Canavan on Wednesday gave one of the government’s strongest dismissals yet of a wave of calls from heads of major resources companies including Rio Tinto, BHP and Woodside for more decisive political action to curb carbon emissions and help transition to renewable energy.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Matt Canavan.

Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

In a reversal of its historical position against emissions pricing, oil and gas producer Woodside last month emerged as the latest resources company to demand a carbon price, with its chief executive, Peter Coleman, warning the consequence of inaction was “too great”.

Speaking on the sidelines of a Melbourne Mining Club event, Mr Canavan said he acknowledged that some major resources companies had signalled support for carbon pricing, but said, “I don’t see any evidence that such a policy approach would deliver”.

“I get along very well with Peter Coleman, and [BHP’s head of mining operations] Mike Henry was sitting next to me today … we can respectfully disagree about policy approaches,” he said. “I don’t see any evidence that such a policy approach would deliver.”

Carbon pricing calls from the business community have been compounding ever since the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report set out a series of radical changes needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees and avoid some of the worst effects of climate change.

BHP, the world’s largest miner, said the report demonstrated the need for stronger climate action was more critical than ever, and should be a “rallying cry” to governments to cut global emissions.

“We believe there should be a price on carbon, implemented in a way that addresses competitiveness concerns and achieves lowest-cost emissions reductions,” BHP’s head of sustainability and climate change, Fiona Wild, said in October.

Mr Canavan on Wednesday said the Morrison government was “acting in accordance with the evidence and the science” on climate change, and was on course to beat Kyoto targets by a significant margin, showing its existing “direct” approach to climate change was succeeding.

“My view is that any proposed policy to tackle climate change must deliver lower energy costs over time, not higher,” he said. “If we deliver higher energy costs we will get a political reaction, just like you see in Paris, just like we’ve seen with the carbon tax. Taxes ain’t the answer – because taxes are ultimately going to find a constituency that’s opposed to them and they won’t last long.”

The evidence is clear Matt Canavan the Price on carbon worked

In his address to the mining club on Wednesday, Mr Canavan laid out an ambitious goal to stimulate a “new mining investment boom” that could  support economic growth and tens of thousands of jobs.

Taxes ain’t the answer – because taxes are ultimately going to find a constituency that’s opposed to them and they won’t last long.

Matt Canavan

Mr Canavan said the mining boom had “come of the boil” over the past five years but, fortunately for Australia, the property sector had returned to prosperity and helped plug the gap in the economy. But as conditions in the property marketed softened, Mr Canavan said, “we should again focus” on attracting greater mining investment.

According to figures from the Office of the Chief Economist, there were 250 major resources projects across the country in some stage of planning, representing $275 billion worth of investment.

Most of these projects were in the “feasible” stage, Mr Canavan said, but just 10 per cent, representing $30 billion, were in the “committed” stage.

“The challenge for Australia and for our policy is to support as many of these projects as possible to turn them into the committed stage and ultimately completed projects,” he said.

Press link for more: SMH

We Have To Make Sure the “#GreenNewDeal” Doesn’t Become Green #Capitalism #auspol #qldpol #COP24 #ClimateChange #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #TheDrum

A conversation with Kali Akuno of Cooperation Jackson.

Incoming Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made waves in late November when she called for a Green New Deal (GND)—a plan to “transition” the U.S. economy to “become carbon neutral” over the course of 10 years.

In adraft resolution, she proposes the formation of a Select Committee to develop a plan for massive public works programs, powered by a jobs guarantee and public banks, with the goal of “meeting 100 percent of national power demand through renewable sources.”

According to Ocasio-Cortez, the plan aims to eliminate poverty, bring down greenhouse gas emissions, and “ensure a ‘just transition’ for all workers, low-income communities, communities of color, indigenous communities, rural and urban communities and the front-line communities.”

The GND is still in its nascent phase, and concrete details haven’t yet been hashed out, but the proposal has received backing from the youth climate organization, the Sunrise Movement, which staged direct actions and protests to build political support for the framework.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is throwing his political weight behind the plan and 35 House members have endorsed it.

Ocasio-Cortez—who identifies as a democratic socialist—is poised to lead the progressive conversation about climate change at the federal level.

Yet, some climate justice organizations are responding with more cautious support.

The Climate Justice Alliance (CJA), a network of front-line environmental justice organizations, including the Southwest Workers Union and Black Mesa Water Coalition, praised the GND as “a much-needed aggressive national pivot away from climate denialism to climate action.” But CJA said in a statement released earlier this week that “the proposal for the GND was made public at the grasstops [as opposed to grassroots] level. When we consulted with many of our own communities, they were neither aware of, nor had they been consulted about the launch of the GND.”

While the GND is in its developmental phase, the Climate Justice Alliance says it is critical for social movement groups to fight for the best possible version of the deal—and ensure that it does not include false solutions such as “carbon markets, offsets and emissions trading regimes or geoengineering technologies.”

CJA says any jobs plan should restore and protect workers’ rights to organize and form unions, and it should be predicated on non-extractive policies that build “local community wealth that is democratically governed.”

Any deal must ensure “free, prior and informed consent by Indigenous peoples,” CJA insists, and should be directed by those communities bearing the brunt of the “dig, burn, dump” economy.

In These Times spoke with Kali Akuno, director of the CJA-affiliated Cooperation Jackson, a Missisippi-based group that aims to build a “solidarity economy” that is “anchored by a network of cooperatives and worker-owned, democratically self-managed enterprises.”

According to Akuno, movements must defend the best components of the GND, while challenging–and offering alternatives to–the capitalist logic embedded in some of its proposals. “While this is still in the drafting phase,” he argues, “let’s get it as near perfect as we possibly can.”

Kali Akuno

Kali served as the Director of Special Projects and External Funding in the Mayoral Administration of the late Chokwe Lumumba of Jackson, MS. His focus in this role was supporting cooperative development, the introduction of eco-friendly and carbon reduction methods of operation, and the promotion of human rights and international relations for the city. 

Sarah Lazare: What do you think of proposal for a Green New Deal put forward by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez?

Kali Akuno: One, I’m glad that something like this is being introduced and is being discussed so widely, particularly coming from a freshman congresswoman. I don’t think that’s insignificant at all. I’m excited Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez even had the courage to take this up. Let’s be real: To walk in as a freshman congresswoman in this environment and atmosphere, she should be applauded.

Is it perfect, is it everything we want? Absolutely not. To a certain extent, that’s fine. She has to play ball in the balance of power as it concretely exists. The broad public debate that the introduction of the Green New Deal proposal has generated presents an opportunity for the Left to strengthen our forces, gather new forces and expand the base of the movement. Her putting this forward is a profound opportunity for the Left.

I think the Left needs to seize it. We can do that by talking about it: the things we support, why we support them, the things we want to see strengthened, improved and changed. We should communicate that as far and wide as we can. We have to shift the conversation and put the Right on the defensive. Right now, they’re on the offensive.

We need to critically analyze some of the shortfalls of the capitalist logic embedded in this plan. We have to push back and improve upon the Green New Deal. In a real practical and concrete way, the Left has to intervene.

Dismissing it and not having a dialogue and talking just about how it’s imperfect is not good enough. If we believe there is a limited time to avert the most catastrophic effects of climate change, we have to seize every opportunity to educate people, create the policy framework, and to take action to implement it on the ground in real time. We need to talk about it, raise awareness and build a base for our point of view. Let’s use the platform her winning the election has provided to move people and to take action.

Sarah: What should a left intervention look like?

Kali: Let me get to the heart of it. Because of the capitalist logic that’s embedded in what Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has put forth, at this point, the Left needs to intervene.

We need to be putting out and elevating the counter-proposals many of us have been putting forward. There is the “just transition” framework coming out of some social movements and organized labor. There are some concrete suggestions many of us have been putting forward for years. Healing the soil, reintroducing small-scale agriculture, restoring the commons, making more space available for wildlife reintroduction. This has been coming from the It Takes Roots Alliance, which consists of the Indigenous Environmental Network, Climate Justice Alliance, the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance and the Right to the City Alliance. On the ground, organizations from oppressed communities have been putting forward a just transition for a while.

Representatives from It Takes Roots are opening a dialogue with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s office. Our aim is to lift up our demands and concrete solutions and have them constitute core components of the legislation that she puts forward. We’re seeing the beginning of an opening in that regard.

While this is still in the drafting phase, let’s get it as near perfect as we possibly can.

Sarah: What needs to be improved?

Kali: There are some things in the framework that she put forth that need to be challenged. The one that I always highlight is this notion that the different types of solutions that are developed through the entrepreneurial innovations that come out of this program, like renewable energy technologies, that the U.S. government and major transnational corporations should be exporters of this energy and knowledge. That’s deeply embedding this thing as a new export industry, which is a new cycle of capital accumulation. That part really needs to be challenged. This is trying to embed the solution in market-based dynamics, but the market is not going to solve this problem.

Editor’s note: In her draft text calling for a committee on the Green New Deal, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez includes the following objective, to be accomplished within 10 years of the plan’s implementation: “making ‘green’ technology, industry, expertise, products and services a major export of the United States, with the aim of becoming the undisputed international leader in helping other countries transition to completely greenhouse gas neutral economies and bringing about a global Green New Deal.”

Sarah: U.S. industries have played tremendous and disproportionate role in driving climate change. It seems predatory for those industries to develop “solutions” and then turn around and sell them to the Global South.

Kali: Yeah, it’s this logic of, I created the problem, I control the resolution of the problem through various mechanisms, I play a big role in preventing any serious motion that might happen at the level of intergovernmental exchange through the United Nations—under Obama, and now under 45. I set it up so that we come up with these technology solutions—some are pure scientific fiction–come up with a few carbon sequestration solutions, and I’m going to charge exorbitant rates selling technology to the Global South. Primarily Trump, the United States and western Europe created the problem and prevent anyone from coming up with solutions. They come up with market solutions and sell them back to us through force.

We need to struggle with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others about this. We have to frame this in a way that really speaks to the global nature of the problem. We have to include the peoples of the world at the frontlines of the transition in the discussion to resolve it – Indigenous peoples, the peoples of Oceania, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and the African continent. It’s not just a national problem. The way this is framed is really as if we’re going to stop certain problems within U.S. borders. But carbon emissions don’t observe national boundaries—they never have and never will. Nation-state policy limits us in certain ways. That’s another aspect of this that we have to push back on and challenge. This has to include front-line communities in the United States and from all throughout the world.

Sarah: What would the ideal global climate policy look like? What do you think about the framework of reparations?

Kali: Reparations is one of the key aspects that has to be introduced into the dialogue. The United States has, under all administrations, blocked this kind of approach. It is not new to Trump. The concept of reparations needs to be introduced into several different levels of the conversation. You can think of reparations in terms of financial compensation, and you can think of it in terms of decolonization—returning lands back to indigenous and colonized people subjected to the United States and Western Europe much of the past 500 years.

The market-based capitalist extractive system has been highlighted through the World Trade Organization. You have intellectual patents that are being codified into law through the WTO, which the United States and Western Europe have pushed on the world. If we look at Monsanto, they basically took agricultural practices and indigenous knowledge, codified it with their technology of splicing genes, and now have power and control over it. Patents need to be abolished and dissolved and we need to open up space in many areas for small farmers like those aligned with the global peasant movement, La Via Campesina, to return to traditional practices of growing food. That is a major form of reparations: repairing harm that’s been done.

Sarah: What about the fossil fuel industry? Should we be talking about going to battle with the industry? Shutting it down?

Kali: There is no question about it. That has to be target number one. We have to adopt a program of “keep it in the ground.” There is no way to get around that. That’s a demand coming from Indigenous communities. If we just look at the raw science, all the raw data that is out there, that’s what we need to do. We’re locked into an old exploitative logic that is only maintained through the grip the petrochemical companies have on the political process. We are going to have to take them on head on.

What happened at Standing Rock really points the way forward for the future. I don’t think we should hide from that or step away from that. We’re going to have to take direct action on a massive scale to shut that industry down on an international level. There are a ton of alternatives that could be scaled up—solar, wind—and they need to be scaled up.

To think that they can keep pumping and drilling, and we’ll just phase them out with alternatives, on the basis of some kind of market logic, is not going to work. There is no question that we need to adopt a “keep it in the ground” policy—like, yesterday. That has to be one of our central demands.We have to scale up our campaigns against the oil companies, and we have to win. This is a necessary political struggle.

Sarah: Can you talk more about the concept of a “just transition”—where it comes from, what it’s calling for?

Kali: Just so folks know, the term comes out of the labor movement in the 1980s, particularly some folks who were working in labor sectors, including the petrochemical and thermonuclear industries. The concept was adopted to say that our interests around having a clean and safe environment, and your interest in having a living-wage job, are not and should not be opposed. There is a system in place keeping us at odds with each other in the short term. We have to change the system. A key part is taking care of our communities, making sure that the overall impacts of toxic contamination are thoroughly addressed. There has to be a way in which new jobs are created that enable workers to go through a just transition from one set of skills to another set of skills and maintain a high standard of living.

For Cooperation Jackson, which is part of the It Takes Roots Alliance, we fully endorse the just transition framework. This means highlighting grassroots, independent solutions in front-line communities: programs centering on reparations, decolonization and building a democratic economy through the advancement of the social and solidarity economy. For us at Cooperation Jackson, this is linked to a program of eco-socialist development. We are going to have to ultimately do a major overhaul in how things are produced, distributed, consumed and recycled back into the natural resource systems that we depend on. If we don’t think about just transition in a long-term, holistic way, we are missing the point. To think we can make some tweaks to capitalism or expansive “carbon neutral” production—that is also missing the point.

To address our deep problems, we have to shift wealth and power—it has to be moved from the United States and Europe to the rest of the world. We know we are going to run into a great deal of resistance from corporations and governments. We want to include that in our narrative of what a just transition entails.

Right now, as we speak, the COP24 climate talks are happening in Poland, and there are workers there in the coal industry who are trying to appropriate the term “just transition” to say “clean coal” is part of the just transition, which is contrary to the spirit and letter of the concept, especially knowing how that industry is contributing to the crisis we are in.

Sarah: What do you think about the Green New Deal’s call for a jobs guarantee?

Kali: It excites me, because I could see the immediate benefits here in my community in Jackson, Mississippi. That would create a lot of jobs for the young people in my community for the people who are chronically unemployed and underemployed. However, we should push for this plan with open eyes. There’s a limit to how many jobs could be created and how long they could be sustained. At a certain point, the logic of expansion has to run its course and end. You have to go back to eco-socialism. There need to be limits we impose on ourselves. We can’t just keep extracting minerals out of the earth—we’re going to have to figure out some natural limits to live in. I would like to see more of that infused into the Green New Deal: real conversations about our natural limits and how to create a truly sustainable system, so that we don’t exhaust all of the earth’s resources and deprive them to future generations. We have to start thinking about that now.

Sarah: Among other things, the Green New Deal calls for new investment in public banking. The draft text reads, “Many will say, ‘Massive government investment! How in the world can we pay for this?’ The answer is: in the same ways that we paid for the 2008 bank bailout and extended quantitative easing programs, the same ways we paid for World War II and many other wars. The Federal Reserve can extend credit to power these projects and investments, new public banks can be created (as in WWII) to extend credit and a combination of various taxation tools (including taxes on carbon and other emissions and progressive wealth taxes) can be employed.”

What do you think of this public banking component?

Kali: We are big-time supporters of public banking. We’ve been thinking of that in relation to the implementation of the Jackson-Kush Plan going back 10 years, and we’re still trying to figure out how to put it in practice on the municipal level. I’m excited to see it embedded in Green New Deal proposal. Without that, you won’t have certain kinds of capital controls over the process. But we need to make sure there’s going to be sufficient investment in communities. I don’t think enough of the Left is really talking about it.

Some people will say public banking is just another reform measure in the logic of capitalism. That’s true but we’re not going to eliminate finance overnight, like it or not. One of the first steps in the socialist transition as we see it, is that we’re going to have to learn how to discipline capital and put it to public use. That’s a key thing that I think public banks will help us do as we learn and grow. There will still be contradictions to deal with, on display in struggle against the pipeline in North Dakota, because the public banks there are invested in that. This is not without contradiction, but we will have to set them up to be run by communities, and they must have a profoundly different orientation and logic. Whoever on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s team that put that in there, I was very much pleased to see it.

Sarah: To what extent were front-lines environmental justice groups consulted about the Green New Deal?

Kali: As an individual I was not consulted, but I think it’s a two-way street, because I also didn’t do much to help her get elected. The natural inclination is you’re going to listen to the folks who support you. The political trade off, whether we like it or not, is that you listen to those who put skin in the game to help you. That’s a reality we need to start with. Whether or not Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reaches out, we have an obligation to tap her on her shoulder and say some of these ideas are terrible, here’s why, here are alternatives, here are examples of what the alternative looks like in practice—you can elevate them and use them as a model. That’s our task on the left—to intervene in that particular way. It’s not a question of whether or not she will listen: She’s an elected official, and we have move her to listen through the force of our organizing initiatives. We have to struggle with her to make sure she votes in the broadest interests possible, since she’s trying to lead this on a national level.

For me, it’s our task to hit her up, to contact her, to make sure we are very upfront and vocal from this point forward, to make sure what we’re demanding and proposing is very clear. We have to win other folks over to that position as well. Some of the best ideas might not carry the day if they don’t have an organized constituency behind them. She’s going to have to go to battle, she’s going to have to fight for the Green New Deal, and she’s probably going to listen to those forces that have the greatest leverage in terms of resources, or the greatest number of voices in sheer numbers. Those are things we have to deliver—we need to deliver that to make sure she’s accountable to our demands. We need to be real about how this game is going to play out. And be clear about what we bring to the table to make sure we get the outcomes we need.

Press link for more: In These Times

Australian Marine Conversation Society (AMCS) demands Adani Coal admit polluting the Great Barrier Reef. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #TheDrum #QandA

DECEMBER 11, 2018

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) today demanded that Adani admit in Court it polluted the Great Barrier Reef with coal-contaminated water. 

Today the company is back in the Bowen Magistrates Court challenging a prosecution by the Queensland government over the discharge of coal-laden water into the Great Barrier Reef during Cyclone Debbie in March 2017. 

Adani’s own letter to the Queensland government last year revealed that it discharged an amount of coal-contaminated water far in excess of the temporary emissions licence it was granted by the Queensland Environment Department for the duration of the Cyclone. 

“Adani is a company that has shown many times that it cannot be trusted with our precious Reef,” said AMCS Reef campaign director Imogen Zethoven. 

“It has a terrible environmental record in India, including a major coal spill into the marine environment near Mumbai that it failed to clean up for more than five years. It has polluted beaches and destroyed mangroves.

“Now in Australia, it is in court fighting charges that it has polluted the Great Barrier Reef. It is also being investigated for illegal drilling at the Carmichael mine site. 

“The Reef is in grave danger due to climate change, which is mainly driven by mining and burning coal. Multiple reports have been released saying that the time is up for new coal developments.

“The IPCC 1.5C report warns we stand to lose all of the world’s coral reefs if global temperature rises to 2C. 

“The choice is stark and upon us now: we can either allow a monstrous new coal mine to go ahead that will push temperature rise beyond the limits for the Great Barrier Reef or we can say time’s up for new coal, and protect the Reef and the 64,000 jobs that depend on it. 

“Why would any Australian government allow a mine to proceed that will spell disaster for our most precious natural asset?”

Press link for more: AMCS

Australia’s climate policy deteriorated in 2018. #auspol #qldpol on track to 4C #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateChange ignored.

Overview

Australia’s climate policy has further deteriorated in the past year, as it focusses on propping up the coal industry and ditches efforts to reduce emissions, ignoring the record uptake of solar PV and storage and other climate action at state level.

The Australian government has turned its back on global climate action by dismissing the findings of theIPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C and announcing it would no longer provide funds to the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

Australia’s emissions from fossil fuels and industry continue to rise and, based on the most recent quarterly inventory, are now 6% above 2005 levels and increasing at around 1% since 2014.

Under current polices these emissions are headed for an increase of 9% above 2005 levels by 2030, rather than the 1517% decrease in these emissions required to meet Australia’s Paris Agreement target. 

This means Australia’s emissions are set to far outpace its“Insufficient” 2030 target.

The government has abandoned any policy efforts to achieve emissions reductions in the energy and transport sectors. Instead, its plans to underwrite a new coal power plant are completely inconsistent with the need to phase out coal globally by 2050 and in OECD countries by 2030.

If all other countries were to follow Australia’s current policy trajectory that we rate “Highly Insufficient”, warming could reach over 3°C and up to 4°C.

While the federal government continues to repeatedly state that Australia is on track to meet its 2030 target “in a canter”, the Climate Action Tracker is not aware of any scientific basis, published by any analyst or government agency, to support this.

Australia’s emissions have been increasing since 2014, when the federal government repealed the carbon pricing system, and the latest quarterly emissions inventory to June 2018 (published in November 2018) shows continuing increases. Emissions are projected to grow through 2030, instead of reducing in line with the 2030 target.

The federal government continues to promote coal as a solution to an energy security issue it claims exists but which has not been identified by the Australian Energy Market Operator.

It proposes to underwrite new coal-fired power generation by guaranteeing to pay any future carbon price-related costs, create barriers to renewable energy and obfuscate its climate policies, the reality on the ground at the state level, public opinion and across the business sector in Australia, is very different.

The government continues to push for policies aimed at propping up uncompetitive coal-fired power.

This follows a rejection of the recommendations of the 2017 Finkel report, as well as, in August 2018, dropping an alternative instrument, the National Energy Guarantee. The Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF)—the so-called “centrepiece” of the Australian government’s policy suite to reduce emissions—does not set Australia on a path to meeting its targets as has been reiterated in the latest review by the Climate Change Authority (Climate Change Authority, 2017).

Instead of introducing new policies to address the structural change needed (CCA 2017), the government is now considering allowing international units to be used for compliance. The safeguard mechanism also risks counteracting the emissions reductions the ERF is supposed to deliver and further undermines the achievement of the 2030 target (Reputex, 2018) by increasing emissions allowances for large industry facilities.

All states and territories (except Western Australia) now have strong renewable energy targets and/or zero emissions targets in place (Climate Council, 2017).

South Australia is widely seen as a global leader: it has one of the highest shares of variable renewable energy, with 48% share of wind and solar total generation in 2017 (IEEFA, 2018), the world’s largest lithium-ion battery, and innovative projects for renewable hydrogen and virtual power plants. Households across Australia are massively deploying small-scale solar and increasingly combining this with battery storage: about 29% of dwellings in South Australia and 27% in Queensland had solar PV by early 2018, with substantial shares in several other states and territories as well, a trend that is showing no sign of slowing down. Public opinion is supportive of renewable energies and climate policy (Essential, 2017).

In a recent poll, more than 70% of Australians want the government to set a high renewable energy target to put downward pressure on power prices and reduce emissions. In “Australia’s climate policy survey”, capturing the views of Australian business and industry, 92% of respondents say Australia’s current climate and energy policy is insufficient to meet the required targets. A further sign of escalating and widespread public disquiet and concern at their government’s lack of action on climate change was a unprecedented, nation-wide strike by school children in late November 2018

Australia ratified the Paris Agreement on 6 November 2016. Its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), includes a target of reducing GHG emissions, including land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF), by 26–28% below 2005 levels by 2030. This target is equivalent to a range of 15.1–17.4% below 2005 around levels of GHG emissions excluding LULUCF in 2030 (or referenced to 1990, 3% to 6% above 1990 levels of GHG emissions excluding LULUCF in 2030). However, current policies are projected to increase GHG emissions excluding LULUCF by about 9% above 2005 levels by 2030.

Press link for more: Carbon Action Tracker

Right to end life on Earth: Can corporations that spread climate change denialism be held liable? #auspol #qldpol #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #StopAdani #ClimateEmergency

If a corporation’s propaganda destroys the world, doesn’t that conflict with our right to live?

To facetiously paraphrase a line that I often hear from global warming deniers: Don’t be offended, I’m just asking questions.

It’s conventional wisdom that the right to free speech does not permit you to shout “fire!” in a crowded theater – but does that mean you have the right to claim there is no fire when a theater is ablaze?

This is the question posed by the existential crisis of man-made global warming, and it is one that doesn’t lend itself to an easy answer.

Certainly it can be acknowledged that man-made global warming has forced us to re-examine other verities that once underpinned the modern liberal political order. Laissez-faire economic theory, which holds that state regulation of the economy is an unequivocal social ill, doesn’t stand up when you consider that insufficient environmental regulations got us into this mess and stronger ones will be necessary to mitigate the damage.

A similar observation could be made about the consumerist ethos that drives free market economic models: A status quo of constant expansion may be economically healthy within the paradigm of capitalist markets, but it is devastatingly unsustainable when it comes to the fitness of our planet.

These are more obvious conclusions, and more comfortable ones too, since anyone who doesn’t view free market economic theory as a dogma akin to a secular religion (that is, anyone who hasn’t drunk the right-wing Kool-aid) admits that we can increase state regulations over the economy without fundamentally eroding human freedom. Yet the same cannot be said of those who think that civil or even criminal penalties should be imposed on the men and women who abuse free speech to insist that the Earth is not heading toward catastrophe when the scientific evidence conclusively proves otherwise.

Sir David Attenborough’s warning to COP24 last week

“Tempting though the idea is, I would not favor modifying Western legal systems to permit the imposition of financial liability on any individual or organization that is found to have ‘spread incorrect information about man-made climate change,’” Laurence Tribe, an author and constitutional law professor at Harvard, told Salon by email. “The key to my reason for resisting such a modification is in the word ‘found.’ If I ask myself: Whom would I trust to make an authoritative ‘finding’ about which information about a topic as complex as man-made climate change is ‘incorrect,’ I must answer: Nobody. Certainly not any public official or governmental agency or any government-designated private group. I trust the process of open uncensored dialogue among experts and lay persons to generate truthful understandings over time, especially if we enact and enforce requirements of transparency and disclosure about who is funding which assertions. But I would be deeply concerned about anything resembling the identification and empowerment of a Commissar of Truth.”

He added, “That said, I am not opposed to litigation against particular corporations – take Exxon, just for illustration – based on clear and convincing proof (to the satisfaction of a judicially supervised jury) that those corporations (or the individuals who direct their activities) deliberately falsified research results or other data in order to cover up their own knowledge about how and to what degree their own products or services and those who purchase them contribute to anthropogenic climate change.”

“Such litigation,” Tribe continued, “would be predicated on classic principles of economically motivated fraud and would avoid the pitfalls and perils of establishing an official scheme for determining what is true and what is false in the world of scientific claims. Such official schemes amount to government censorship, and I think we are better off if we assume that all such censorship can and in the long run will be turned to evil ends.”

Michael E. Mann, a professor of atmospheric science at Penn State University, shared his own views on whether individuals who mislead the public about climate change should face penalties for doing so.

“In my book ‘The Hockey Stick and the Climate War,’ I state that those who knowingly misled the public and policymakers about the reality and threat of climate change must be held responsible for their actions, and that includes legal repercussions,” Mann told Salon. “Note that there is a distinction between those at the top (e.g., fossil fuel executives and lobbyists and the politicians in their pocket) who are guilty of misleading the public, and those at the bottom (the typical climate denying trolls we encounter on the internet) who in many cases are actually victims of the disinformation campaign.”

Kevin Trenberth, a distinguished senior scientist in the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, broke down the situation in a similar way.

“Yes but. The ‘but’ is the difficulty in doing so and how one assigns blame,” Trenberth told Salon. “I do think that the other countries in the world ought to put something like a 25% tariff on all American goods on the grounds that they were produced using artificially low energy prices. This comes back directly to the government policies (of getting out of the Paris agreement), for instance.”

“I doubt it will happen because of the might of the [money],” Trenberth continued. “I do think that politicians like Trump and the Republicans will go down in history as major bad guys (and gals).”

Tribe also acknowledged that, while it is questionable whether climate change deniers should be held financially accountable for spreading misinformation, harsher consequences should be imposed on government officials who shirk their responsibility to the public.

“I certainly favor holding government officials accountable for deliberately withholding information of public importance, let alone information about existential threats, when the release of that information would not genuinely threaten national security (e.g., by ‘outing’ the identity of CIA operatives in the field),” Tribe pointed out. “Imposing such accountability on government officials furthers the values of free and open expression that the First Amendment protects and does not in any way entail the worries about censorship and its dangers that I mentioned in my first answer. On the contrary, it is settled that ‘government speech’ is not shielded by the First Amendment at all. See, e.g., Walker v. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans (2015).”

Expanding on Tribe’s point, there is no reason that Republican Party politicians who have access to reliable information about the threat posed by man-made climate change and choose not to act on it — or even actively suppress it — should not be held legally accountable for doing so. While it is tempting to focus on President Donald Trump in this respect, it is important to remember that most of his fellow Republicans share his climate change denialism and likely would have acted similarly when it comes to stifling scientific research and ignoring the threat of global warming. While Trump should be held accountable for what he has done, it would be folly to forget that on this issue, his actions are entirely consistent with the will of his party.

And should that entire party be held legally accountable? Like Tribe, I would argue no, but the answer doesn’t entirely sit well with me. Whether they ignore man-made climate change because they hate liberals and wish to defy them, or because admitting to its reality would force them to modify their economic philosophy, or for any other reason, the bottom line is that they are convincing people that the theater isn’t on fire even as it continues to burn to the ground. The fact that the prevailing concepts regarding political freedom protect their right to abet the conflagration, but not the rights of those whose lives will be destroyed in the process, demonstrates that — if nothing else — our ideas about preserving freedom and justice in a civilized society need to be updated.

Press link for more: Salon.com