Polar vortex

Australia’s silence during #climatechange debate shocks #COP24 delegates #auspol #qldpol A national disgrace! #StopAdani demand a #GreenNewDeal #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateStrike

Australia accused of tacitly supporting oil allies’ rejection of the latest science

By

The end of the first week of the UN climate talks – known as COP24 – in Katowice, Poland, has been mired by protracted debate over whether the conference should “welcome” or “note” a key report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The IPCC’s 1.5 degrees report, released in October, warned the world would have to cut greenhouse gas emissions by about 45% by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5C and potentially avoid some of the worst effects of climate change, including a dramatically increased risk of drought, flood, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

The UN climate conference commissioned the IPCC report, but when that body went to “welcome” the report’s findings and commit to continuing its work, four nations – the US, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Russia, all major oil and gas producers – refused to accept the wording, insisting instead that the convention simply “note” the findings.

Negotiators spent two and a half hours trying to hammer out a compromise without success.

The apparently minor semantic debate has significant consequences, and the deadlock ensures the debate will spill into the second critical week of negotiations, with key government ministers set to arrive in Katowice.

Sir David Attenborough’s Warning to COP24

Most of the world’s countries spoke out in fierce opposition to the oil allies’ position.

The push to adopt the wording “welcome” was led by the Maldives, leader of the alliance of small island states, of which Australia’s Pacific island neighbours are members.

They were backed by a broad swathe of support, including from the EU, the bloc of 47 least developed countries, the Independent Association of Latin America and the Caribbean, African, American and European nations, and Pacific countries such as the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu.

Climate Strike protestors give Australian’s new PM a Fail on climate science

Australia did not speak during the at-times heated debate, a silence noted by many countries on the floor of the conference, Dr Bill Hare, the managing director of Climate Analytics and a lead author on previous IPCC reports, told Guardian Australia.

“Australia’s silence in the face of this attack yesterday shocked many countries and is widely seen as de facto support for the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Kuwait’s refusal to welcome the IPCC report,” Hare said.

Richie Merzian, climate and energy program director at the Australia Institute, said widespread goodwill across the Katowice talks was being undermined by “a handful of countries” trying to disconnect the science and urgency from the implementation of the Paris agreement.

Australia government is stealing our children’s future

“It is disappointing but not surprising that Australia kept its head down during the debate … by remaining silent and not putting a position forward, Australia has tacitly supported the US, Russia and Saudi Arabia’s rejection of the latest science on climate change.”

Merzian said Australia’s regional neighbours, including New Zealand and Pacific islands, had voiced strong support for the IPCC’s report, which was a key outcome of the Paris agreement.

“A number of delegates privately shared their frustration that countries like Australia stood on the sidelines while Trump’s, Putin’s and King Salman’s representatives laid waste to the fundamental climate science.”

Australia is failing to protect the Great Barrier Reef from climate change

Hare said the interests of the fossil fuel industry were seeking to thwart the conference’s drive towards larger emissions cuts.

“The fossil fuel interest – coal, oil and gas – campaign against the IPCC 1.5 report and science continues to play out in the climate talks, but even those countries [opposing welcoming the report] are being hit by the impacts of only one degree of warming.

“The big challenge now is for the Polish presidency to set aside its obsession with coal, get out of the way and allow full acknowledgement of the IPCC 1.5C report, and its implications for increasing the ambition of all countries, in the conclusion of COP24 later this week.”

Australia’s environment minister, Melissa Price, arrived in Katowice on Sunday, with negotiations set to resume Monday morning.

“The government is committed to the Paris agreement and our emissions reduction targets,” she said before leaving Australia. “Australia’s participation in the Paris agreement and in COP24 is in our national interest, in the interests of the Indo-Pacific region, and the international community as a whole.”

Price said a priority for Australia at COP24 was to ensure a robust framework of rules to govern the reporting of Paris agreement targets. “Australia’s emissions reporting is of an exceptionally high standard and we are advocating for rules that bring other countries up to the standard to which we adhere.”

The latest Australian government figures, released last month, show the country’s carbon emissions continue to rise, at a rate significantly higher than recent years.

Australia’s emissions, seasonally adjusted, increased 1.3% over the past quarter. Excluding emissions from land use, land use change and forestry (for which the calculations are controversial), they are at a record high.

Press link for more: The Guardian

467 ways to die on a warming globe | Clive Hamilton #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateChange is killing us! #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #Insiders #TheDrum #COP24 #TakeYouSeat #G20

BY Clive Hamilton

A new study published in Nature has found evidence for 467 ways in which climate hazards due to global warming are making life on the planet harder for humans.

It confirms that we are witnessing a shift in the functioning of the Earth system as a whole, a shift to a new state that is unsympathetic to the continued flourishing of human life.

A changing climate is only one feature of a warming globe.

Human activity has bounced the Earth into a state that has no equivalent in its 4.5 billion year history.

The Earth’s new trajectory as it spins into the future has led scientists to tell us we have entered a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene.

We have crossed a threshold and the geological clock cannot be turned back. The disruption we have caused is increasingly unpredictable and uncontrollable, and it has no endpoint.

There are, therefore, two questions humankind must face.

What must we do to prevent serial disasters becoming existential catastrophe? And how can we make our social and economic systems flexible enough to cope with the new dispensation?

There are several reasons an international agreement has proven so hard.

The leading one is sabotage by climate science deniers.

Can it be countered?

Climate science denial was invented and propagated mainly in the United States by the fossil fuel industry in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Activists know how to thwart an industry lobbying campaign. But then something calamitous happened – rejecting climate science became caught up in the culture war.

The Tea Party and Fox News were largely responsible for the shift.

Before then, even a conservative like Sarah Palin accepted the science and called for action. But after 2009, rejecting climate science became a badge of political identity for conservatives.

From that point onwards, facts no longer mattered.

So the challenge is no longer how to use information to change people’s minds. The challenge is how to change a culture. No one knows how to do that.

Just Trump?

Last week Donald Trump, who calls climate science a hoax, visited a California devastated by wildfires. When asked whether his visit would change his mind about climate change he said “No”. What else could he say? The journalist was asking him if he would change who he was.

Yet it’s too easy to blame the world’s slowness to act on crazy American deniers. Because, in a way, we are all climate science deniers.

The full truth of what humans have done is almost impossible to take in.

To fully embrace the message of the climate scientists means giving up the deepest presupposition of modernity – the idea of progress.

Relinquishing our belief in progress means we must let go of the future, because we have been taught from infancy that the future is progress.

In our minds, replacing the old future defined by progress with a new future defined by endless struggle requires a period of grieving. Not many people have the stomach for that.

While most people in most countries accept the truth of climate science, they don’t accept its implications. What can be done to change that?

Changing minds

When it comes to communicating the science’s message to the public, there is no magic potion to be found. A lot has been tried and some of it works reasonably well, up to a point. The scientists must keep doing their research and putting it out. Accusing them of alarmism is a calculated political slander; in truth, they have consistently been too cautious in their warnings, especially in IPCC reports.

Yet the meaning of their reports has not sunk in. It’s clear that an Earth warmer by four degrees – and after the unwinding of the 2015 Paris agreement that is the path we have returned to – will impose enormous stresses on all societies.

In poorer countries, it will lead to mass migrations, many deaths and violent conflict. The effects in wealthy countries will depend on who holds power and how they govern. Disasters, food shortages and waves of immigration will magnify resentment against the rich, who will be attempting to insulate themselves from the turmoil around them.

But they too depend on the infrastructure of urban life – electricity and water supply, sewerage and waste disposal, transport systems for food and so on. And they can’t insulate themselves from social upheaval.

Some communities will learn to adapt more effectively. Smaller, cooperative communities will be best placed to adapt themselves to endure the troubles.

But however humans live or die on the new Earth we have made, we are approaching the endpoint of modernity and must accept that it is finally true that man is the environment of man.

 Clive Hamilton is professor of public ethics at Charles Sturt University in Canberra and author of Defiant Earth: The fate of humans in the Anthropocene

Press link for more: The Guardian

Great Barrier Reef: record heatwave may cause another coral bleaching event #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion we urgently need a #GreenNewDeal #StopAdani

42.6C temperature in Cairns broke a November record that has stood since 1900 by 5.4C

By Ben Smee

A record-breaking heatwave in north Queensland will further increase above-average marine temperatures, heightening the risk of another coral bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef next year, scientists say.

Dozens of record November temperatures have been recorded in the region, most along the reef coastline, this week.

The most remarkable was at Cairns, where consecutive days reached temperatures of 42.6C and 40.9C. The maximum temperature on Tuesday broke a November record that has stood since 1900 by 5.4C.

Extreme weather fuelled more than 130 bushfires, which the premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Twitter was “not the kind of fire we have seen in Queensland before”.

“Heatwave records and fire weather is unprecedented,” Palaszczuk said.

A dust storm, brought by strong westerly winds, covered the southern inland parts of the state. In the north, thousands of native flying foxes died due to the high temperatures.

Reef scientist Terry Hughes, from the coral centre of excellence at James Cook University, said the summer heatwave was “terrifying” and lifted the chances of coral death on the Great Barrier Reef early next year.

The reef sustained successive marine heatwaves, in the early part of 2016 and 2017, which killed corals and badly damaged the northern and central sections.

Hughes said the bleaching forecasts were “trending upwards” but scientists would not have a clear picture until the end of January.

Coral ecophysiologist Dr Neal Cantin, from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, said ocean temperatures remained below those recorded at the same time in 2015 and 2016, but warmer than historical averages.

Cantin said the current heatwave would “add heat and warm up the ocean. It certainly adds heat to the system. We’ve seen record breaking land temperatures this week, which we expect to see into the future with climate change and everything heating up.

“We’re in a watch phase. There’s definitely the potential and how the local weather patterns pan out in January and February will really determine whether we get a large scale bleaching event or not.

“There are some signs we may avoid [bleaching] this summer. At this stage it’s less likely to be as bad as 2016, but we’ll be ready to respond [if bleaching occurs].”

Reality of climate change sinking in

“The hazard I worry most about is heatwaves,” Andrew Gissing, a disaster management expert from the firm Risk Frontiers, said.

“Australia needs to be better prepared for heatwaves, with climate change we are already predicting they will get more severe.”

Gissing told Guardian Australia people often respond to extreme weather events and natural disasters based on their previous experiences. But he said governments, businesses and individuals were often not prepared for the increasing severity and frequency of such events.

“We did a lot of work in Lismore after Cyclone Debbie. So many people sheltered in their homes because that’s what they always did when it flooded. They just didn’t realise this flood was that much bigger

“People really need to be attuned to what’s actually happening … how the nature of climactic hazards is changing.”

Gissing said businesses needed to start investing in climate change mitigation and adaption measures.

“It’s going to be very hard to mitigate a lot of the [predicted climate] impacts, so adaptation for the future is going to be really important. Especially when you overlay climate change on a growing population base.

“The [number of people living on the Queensland coast] is likely to double by about 2030.

Because of climate change, we’re looking at there being more exposure [to disaster risks] there as well.”

Press link for more: The Guardian

A zero-carbon economy is both feasible and affordable #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateStrike #ClimateEmergency we must act now #TheDrum

The issue is whether governments, industry and consumers are willing to do what is required

By Adair Turner

Jonathan Adair Turner, Baron Turner of Ecchinswell (born 5 October 1955) is a British businessman and academic and was Chairman of the Financial Services Authority until its abolition in March 2013.

He is a former Chairman of the Pensions Commission and the Committee on Climate Change, as well as a former Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry. He has described himself in a BBC HARDtalk interview with Stephen Sackuras a ‘technocrat‘.

A solar farm. Achieving net zero emissions requires boosting the role of electricity

Fossil fuels have driven rising prosperity for more than 200 years and today provide 80 per cent of human energy needs. But carbon dioxide emissions from their use threaten potentially catastrophic climate change.

To avoid that we must achieve net zero emissions across the whole world by around 2060. 

That may seem daunting. But it would be undoubtedly technically possible at very small economic cost, as a report from the Energy Transitions Commission makes clear. The issue is not feasibility, but whether governments, industry and consumers are willing to take the actions required to get there. 

Achieving net zero emissions requires boosting the role of electricity.

The commission, which I chair, estimates its share of energy demand must grow from 20 per cent today to more than 60 per cent by mid-century.

Total generation would have to rise from 20,000 terawatt hours to up to 100,000 twh. 

Nuclear power could play some role but most of this power must and can come from renewable sources, including wind, solar and water.

Less than 1.5 per cent of the global land surface area could produce all the renewable electricity the world needs: and it is physically possible to run grids that rely on intermittent renewables for 85 to 90 per cent of their power, while still delivering electricity whenever needed.

The real challenge is to get to this endpoint fast enough: that requires us to quintuple our annual investment in renewables capacity for the next 40 years. 

Three other technologies are also essential.

First there must be a major role for hydrogen power: steel producers could potentially use it rather than coking coal as the reduction agent, and ammonia (produced from hydrogen) could be used as fuel for ships.

Hydrogen can result in zero-carbon emissions if produced via electrolysis using zero-carbon electricity. 

Second, we must tap bioenergy to provide zero-carbon aviation fuel and as a feedstock for plastics production. But this step must be carefully managed to avoid harmful impacts on ecosystems and food production.

Third a relatively small but still vital role for technologies that capture CO2, particularly in cement production. 

Some aspects of a zero-carbon economy will make consumers better off.

Within 10 years, electric cars will not only be cheaper to operate than diesel or petrol, but also cheaper to buy.

In heavy industry and transport, where it is harder to reduce CO2 emissions, some additional costs are unavoidable but often the consumer impact will be trivial: making cars from zero-carbon steel would add no more than 1 per cent to a typical car price. But in some specific sectors, material price increases may be unavoidable: if bio-based aviation fuel costs 50-100 per cent more to produce than conventional jet fuel, that would add up to 20 per cent to ticket prices.

Overall, the commission estimates that achieving zero emissions in heavy industry and transport by 2060 would make the global economy at most 0.5 per cent smaller than it would otherwise have been.

That figure could be reduced to less than 0.3 per cent if we increased the recycling and reuse of industrial materials.

That means that there are no unmanageable technological, resource or even cost barriers to impede our path to a zero-carbon economy. Still, without strong government intervention policies we will fail to achieve it. 

Charging for carbon emissions is essential but must be designed to avoid unfair competition. Making steel zero carbon may add only trivially to car prices, but any steel producer facing a carbon price that adds $100 to the costs of producing a tonne of steel, would be severely disadvantaged if competitors in other countries did not have to pay similar taxes. 

Ideally, we would strike international agreements, but we should not rule out imposing carbon-related tariffs on imports from non-co-operating countries. We should also consider unilateral domestic carbon prices in sectors such as cement, where international trade is limited. In some sectors, regulation may be more effective. Green fuel mandates requiring airlines to use a steadily rising percentage of zero-carbon bio or synthetic jet fuel would provide powerful incentives for innovation and large-scale production. Tight rules on the dismantling and disposal of discarded products will be essential to drive recycling.

Reaching agreement on many of these policies will of course be difficult. But it should at least be easier if we start with certainty that a zero-carbon economy is both technically feasible and affordable. 

The writer, a former head of the UK Financial Services Authority, chairs the Energy Transitions Commission

Press link for more: Financial Times

40C in Cairns today that’s 3C above November Record. 2018 the last straw for the Great Barrier Reef #auspol #qldpol #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateStrike #ClimateEmergency #StopAdani Demand #ClimateAction

The Great Barrier Reef Is “In for a Rough Ride”

Eminent coral researcher Terry Hughes says the key to protecting the iconic corals off Australia’s coast is to stop global warming

Record break heatwave in Cairns Today
Today the temperature in Cairns is 3C hotter than the previous November record set in 1971.
The death knell for the Great Barrier Reef?

During summer 2017 a large swath of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef—normally a riot of electric oranges, reds and other colors—turned ghostly pale.

Unusually warm water temperatures, partly due to global warming, had caused the corals to expel from their tissues the symbiotic algae that provide them with food and give them their brilliant hues.

It was the second mass-bleaching event to hit the reef in as many years. Together, the back-to-back events hit two thirds of the reef.

Now, with the 2019 Australian summer poised to begin, atmospheric scientists are predicting an El Niño—a recurring period marked by warmer temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean.

This potential for high temperatures again poses a threat to the Great Barrier Reef, one that marine biologist Terry Hughes—a high-profile champion of coral reef protection—will be watching, looking for signs of more damage to the reef as he continues to push for protecting it.

Hughes thinks there are some worthy mitigation efforts to explore, such as reforesting the watersheds that drain into the reef to prevent pollution-bearing runoff. But ultimately he believes the key to saving corals lies in addressing greenhouse gas emissions that fuel global warming.

Professor Terry Hughes. Credit: Arccoe Wikimedia

Hughes’s efforts to raise awareness about the fate of the 2,300-kilometer-long coral reef—the largest on the planet and home to thousands of marine species—have put him at odds with business and political interests. Last month it emerged the Australian Research Council (ARC) would drop its funding of the coral reef institute Hughes directs at James Cook University in Queensland—a move decried by ocean scientists around the world. (The ARC and the current conservative Australian government have said the decision was not politically motivated, according to news reports.) Last week Hughes was awarded The John Maddox Prize for championing scientific evidence in the face of hostility. Scientific American caught up with him at the annual Falling Walls science conference in Berlin earlier this month and spoke about the future of the Great Barrier Reef.

[An edited transcript of the interview follows.]

What is your outlook for the Great Barrier Reef in the coming months?

NOAA [the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology are both projecting a high likelihood of an El Niño event forming later this year. If that happens, the likelihood of bleaching when summer sea temperatures peak next March would be very high, but we won’t know for sure until about January. A well-timed cyclone could cool the water despite the long-term forecast. But you have to be careful what you wish for. In 2016 the southern third of the Great Barrier Reef was rescued by a spent cyclone that brought the [water] temperature down about 2 to 3 degrees Celsius. But with Cyclone Debbie in 2017, the bleaching had already occurred and the storm was a category 4 when it hit the coast—so it was actually very damaging and destructive [to the reef].

How do you monitor a bleaching event?

Our aerial surveys, which we match to satellite temperature data, are reef-wide. It takes us seven or eight days to crisscross the entire Great Barrier Reef in a small plane flying up to eight hours a day. It’s pretty grueling but that’s the best way that we have of getting the full picture. We ground-truth all of that [data] underwater [during dives]. Each event that we study has a different geography. The 2016 event was very much a northern affair. The maps for the 2017 bleaching will show that the hottest part of the reef—the part that had the most bleaching—was in the center.

Dead coral. Credit: J.W. Alker Getty Images

Is there any area of the reef you are especially worried about?

My worst nightmare is that the bottom [southern] third of the Great Barrier Reef, which escaped the last two events, will bleach. It was simply good luck that prevented it from bleaching in 2016 and 2017. Those reefs have very high numbers of branching corals that happen to be the most susceptible to bleaching. So if it does get a blast of heat next summer or some summer soon, there will be high levels of mortality. That would mean all sectors of the reef will have been hit within a handful of years.

How did the Australian government respond to the bleaching events?

The Great Barrier Reef story in Australia, following the unprecedented back-to-back bleaching, is very politically contentious. You would think an appropriate response by the government would be to declare, for instance, that it wasn’t going to proceed with the world’s largest coal mine [with a coal shipping terminal near the reef] or that it would ramp up its renewable energy targets. Neither has occurred. The government has put quite a lot of money into investigating different interventions. Some are downright silly—the [underwater cooling] fans, the floating sunscreen. There’s a campaign to ban plastic straws. If you were cynical, you would say that it was more about giving the appearance of helping reefs when the elephant in the room is still climate change. There’s also money for improving water quality. Runoff of sediment and nutrients from agriculture into the inner part of the Great Barrier Reef is an important issue, but the amount of funding that’s being spent on that is nowhere near sufficient to reach the government’s own targets. As the country responsible for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, Australia should be leading the international efforts to reduce emissions, especially following the latest IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] report. Our current commonwealth government has officially signed on to the 1.5-degree C target [for limiting global temperature rise] of the Paris agreement, but Australia’s emissions are actually increasing.

How will the loss of funding from the Australian Research Council affect your work?

It’s roughly a quarter of our funding and it won’t take effect for another two to three years, so we’ve got time to continue with our current level of activity and to change our funding model by moderate amounts to make up that loss. It’s not good news, certainly. But we will continue to do the research that we’re doing, especially if we see bleaching next year.

What do people misunderstand about the Great Barrier Reef?

There are still about 10 billion corals out there alive and kicking. We’ve just gone through one hell of a natural selection event where the so-called losers—the heat-susceptible species—have been badly depleted. The mix of species has changed. The genetic composition of the coral populations is changing. I think that is just the beginning of a transition that hopefully will make the Great Barrier Reef tougher for inevitable future events. Things will generally get worse before they get better. Until CO2 emissions and temperatures stabilize, the corals are going to be in for a rough ride. Because corals have big populations that are geographically widely dispersed, there is light at the end of the tunnel—but it is completely contingent on whether we can keep temperatures to the 1.5-degree C target.

Press link for more: Scientific American

We need to talk about meat. #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateStrike #auspol #qldpol #VicVotes2018 #ClimateChange #Airpollution #StopAdani #ClimateEmergency #Vegan #TheDrum #QandA

Humans and the livestock they consume is a tale that impacts lives in a deep and meaningful sense.

Human history is interwoven with production of meat for consumption, and its availability and nutritional value as a source of protein has played a major part in diet as far back as we can imagine, shaping regional identities and global movements.

The emotionally charged debate over the ethical suitability of meat consumption may never reach a conclusion, but it is only comparatively recently that the climate impact of livestock rearing, and the nutritional and health issues caused by meat have become a pressing concern.

Achieving a healthy diet from a sustainable source is a struggle new enough to countries with an abundance of food that it has proven difficult to enact meaningful change.

Government efforts to curb consumption and thus curb weight gain in high-income countries are yet to display a meaningful effect, and most of these efforts are focused on sugar or fat.

Similarly, the global ecological sustainability of farming habits has not been a major topic of conversation until the last few decades.

It’s only now that we’re beginning to have a conversation about the role of meat in both of these debates, and the evidence suggests a reckoning with our habits is long overdue.

Meat production doesn’t just affect the ecosystem by production of gases, and studies now question the system of production’s direct effect on global freshwater use, change in land use, and ocean acidification. 
A recent paper in Science claims that even the lowest-impact meat causes “much more” environmental impact than the least sustainable forms of plant and vegetable production.
Population pressures, with global population predicted to increase by a third between 2010 and 2050, will push us past these breaking points.
Another important addition to the conversation around meat is the PLoS One paper discussing health-related taxes for red meat.
The paper offers up some compelling claims as justification, including the suggestion that the health-related costs directly attributable to the consumption of red and processed meat will be US$285 billion in 2020, or 0·3% of worldwide gross GDP.
4·4% of all deaths worldwide would be caused by red or processed meat.
Of course, this causal mathematical model should be taken with a pinch of salt, but it does follow on from the 2015 WHO classification of some meats as proven carcinogens, based on the International Agency For Research On Cancer assessment of a “strong” link between red meat and the mechanistic evidence for carcinogenicity.
Politicians aren’t listening it’s time to join the revolution.
The question of what can be done is more challenging than the question of what should be done.
Countries, and their citizens, should look to limit their consumption of intensively farmed meats, both for health and environmental reasons.
The issue of how this change comes about is part of a wider conversation that we all need to start having about meat.
Will a simple tax on red and processed meat change habits to the extent required?
A simple measure enacted alone runs the risk of unfairly targeting those whose budgets only stretched to the cheaper processed meats. Stating that those who can suddenly not afford meat should just switch to a vegetarian diet anyway is not a balanced addition to the debate over meat’s role in society.
However, targeted taxation has shown positive results in areas of strong health concern such as tobacco, although these successes are similarly accompanied by discussions of the regressive nature of such a tax.

The likelihood is that action will need to take a wider systems approach, with a very public conversation about meat informing a host of measures from deciding the appropriate application of government farming subsidies and finding a way to ameliorate the true costs to humans and the planet of certain processing methods, all the way through to slowly changing consumer habits over time, possibly through use of targeted taxation but certainly through an engaging, balanced conversation. No one system fits every country. Meat might be common to almost every society but its role in each is different and deeply culturally engrained.

So what is a healthy amount of red or processed meat?

It’s looking increasingly like the answer, for both the planet and the individual, is very little.

Saying this is one thing.

Getting the world to a place where we have the ability to balance the desire to eat whatever we want with our need to preserve the ecosystem we rely on to sustain ourselves is quite another.

The conversation has to start soon.

Press link for more: The Lancet

#ClimateChange ‘will inflict substantial damages on US lives’ #ExtinctionRebellion demand a #GreenNewDeal #StopAdani #ClimateStrike We’re stealing our children’s future! #auspol

By Oliver Milman

Climate change is already harming Americans’ lives with “substantial damages” set to occur as global temperatures threaten to surge beyond internationally agreed limits, a major US government report is set to warn.

The influence of climate change is being felt across the US with increases in disastrous wildfires in the west, flooding on the east coast, soil loss in the midwest and coastal erosion in Alaska, a draft of the US national climate assessment states.

The draft outlines that “impacts of climate change are intensifying across the country, and that climate-related threats to Americans’ physical, social, and economic wellbeing are rising.”

Climate change-related risks “will continue to grow without additional action”, it adds.

The quadrennial report, the combined work of 13 federal agencies, is due to be released by the Trump administration on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

Scientists who worked on the report said their research wasn’t watered down but claimed the release was timed to bury the findings during the holiday season.

Global temperatures could be limited to 2C above pre-industrial era if greenhouse gas emissions are slashed but “without significant reductions, annual average global temperatures could increase by 9F (5C) or more by the end of this century,” a previously released chapter states.

Even 2C warming is likely to have major ramifications for societies, as the recent IPCC report spelled out.

Heating the planet well beyond this would create a “totally different world,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a climate scientist at Princeton University. “It would be indescribable, it would turn the world upside down in terms of its climate.

There would be nothing like it in the history of civilization.”

Oppenheimer, along with many other scientists, have said warming of around 3C is more likely given the advance of renewable energy and expected emissions reductions in the future. “That is more of an economic, political and technology question,” said a report author, who wished to remain unnamed. “It’s hard to say what we are on track for right now.”

The draft report warns that the current response is insufficient to stave off the worst impacts, stating that “neither global efforts to mitigate the causes of climate change nor regional efforts to adapt to the impacts currently approach the scales needed to avoid substantial damages to the US economy, environment, and human health and well-being over the coming decades.”

Another report author said: “Climate change is loading the dice against us, it’s going to affect our water, food and ecosystems. This report is important because it shows it’s already happening where we live, not on far off islands or at the poles.”

Included in the dozens of draft report chapters –

  • The summary states the “earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities. The impacts of global climate change are already being felt in the United States and are projected to intensify in the future.”

  • Average sea levels along the US coast have increased by around nine inches since the early 20th century as the oceans have warmed and land ice has melted. If emissions aren’t constrained then “many coastal communities will be transformed by the latter part of this century.”

  • Fisheries, tourism, human health and public safety are being “transformed, degraded or lost due in part to climate change impacts, particularly sea level rise and higher numbers of extreme weather events.”

  • Wildfires have burned at least 3.7m acres of the US in all but three years from 2000 to 2016. “More frequent and larger wildfires, combined with increasing development at the wildland-urban interface portend increasing risks to property and human life,” the report states.

  • More than 100m people in the US live in places with poor air quality and climate change will “worsen existing air pollution levels.” Increased wildfire smoke risks heightening respiratory and cardiovascular problems, while the prevalence of asthma and hay fever is also likely to rise.

  • Major groundwater supplies have declined over the last century, with this decrease accelerating since 2001. “Significant changes in water quantity and quality are evident across the country,” the report finds.

  • Climate change will “disrupt many areas of life” by hurting the US economy, affecting trade and exacerbating overseas conflicts. Low-income and marginalized communities will be worst hit.

Members of the coast guard help a stranded motorist in the flood waters caused by Hurricane Florence in Lumberton, North Carolina. Photograph: Jason Miczek/Reuters

The national climate assessment is mandated by congress to compile the latest research on climate change, with the last report coming out in 2014. Donald Trump has since announced the US will withdraw from the Paris climate deal, with his administration working to dismantle every major policy designed at lowering emissions.

The release of the report comes as California is wracked by its most deadly wildfire on record, the so-called Camp fire, which razed the town of Paradise. More than 80 people have died and tens of thousands of people have had to flee the fire, which has occurred at the same time as a smaller blaze further south near Los Angeles.

Politicians are ignoring the people demanding climate action.

Trump has downplayed assertions by scientists and firefighters that climate change is making California more wildfire-prone, instead pointing to “gross mismanagement” of forest areas. Ryan Zinke, the interior secretary, has said conservationist lawsuits by “radical environmental groups” were to blame.

While visiting devastated parts of California last weekend Trump was asked if what he had seen and heard had changed his mind about climate change, which he has previously called a “hoax”. Trump responded to the question with a firm: “No.”

“When there are daily images of California burning up it’s hard for the administration to argue climate change isn’t happening,” said Oppenheimer. “The strategy seems to be let sleeping dogs lie and hope the public doesn’t pay much attention to it.”

Press link for more: The Guardian

HopeLess Realism #GreenNewDeal @Ocasio2018 #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateStrike #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #TheDrum #QandA #ClimateChange

No effective means of stopping climate breakdown is deemed “politically realistic”. So we must change political realities.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 14 November 2018

It was a moment of the kind that changes lives.

At a press conference held by Extinction Rebellion last week, two of us journalists pressed the activists on whether their aims were realistic.

They have called, for example, for carbon emissions in the UK to be reduced to net zero by 2025.

Wouldn’t it be better, we asked, to pursue some intermediate aims?

A young woman called Lizia Woolf stepped forward.

She hadn’t spoken before, and I hadn’t really noticed her, but the passion, grief and fury of her response was utterly compelling. “What is it that you are asking me as a 20-year-old to face and to accept about my future and my life? … this is an emergency – we are facing extinction.

When you ask questions like that, what is it you want me to feel?”.

We had no answer.

Softer aims might be politically realistic, but they are physically unrealistic.

Only shifts commensurate with the scale of our existential crises have any prospect of averting them.

Hopeless realism, tinkering at the edges of the problem, got us into this mess.

It will not get us out.

Public figures talk and act as if environmental change will be linear and gradual. But the Earth’s systems are highly complex, and complex systems do not respond to pressure in linear ways.

When these systems interact (because the world’s atmosphere, oceans, land surface and lifeforms do not sit placidly within the boxes that make study more convenient) their reactions to change become highly unpredictable. Small perturbations can ramify wildly.

Tipping points are likely to remain invisible until we have passed them.

We could see changes of state so abrupt and profound that no continuity can be safely assumed.

Only one of the many life support systems on which we depend – soils, aquifers, rainfall, ice, the pattern of winds and currents, pollinators, biological abundance and diversity – need fail for everything to slide.

For example, when Arctic sea ice melts beyond a certain point, the positive feedbacks this triggers (such as darker water absorbing more heat, melting permafrost releasing methane, shifts in the polar vortex) could render runaway climate breakdown unstoppable.

When the Younger Dryas period ended 11,600 years ago, Greenland ice cores reveal temperatures rising 10°C within a decade.

I don’t believe that such a collapse is yet inevitable, or that a commensurate response is either technically or economically impossible.

When the US joined the Second World War in 1941, it replaced a civilian economy with a military economy within months. As Jack Doyle records in his book Taken for a Ride, “In one year, General Motors developed, tooled, and completely built from scratch 1000 Avenger and 1000 Wildcat aircraft … Barely a year after Pontiac received a Navy contract to build antishipping missiles, the company began delivering the completed product to carrier squadrons around the world.” And this was before advanced information technology made everything faster.

The problem is political.

A fascinating analysis by the social science professor Kevin Mackay contends that oligarchy has been a more fundamental cause of the collapse of civilisations than social complexity or energy demand.

Oligarchic control, he argues, thwarts rational decision-making, because the short-term interests of the elite are radically different to the long-term interests of society. This explains why past civilizations have collapsed “despite possessing the cultural and technological know-how needed to resolve their crises.” Economic elites, that benefit from social dysfunction, block the necessary solutions.

The oligarchic control of wealth, politics, media and public discourse explains the comprehensive institutional failure now pushing us towards disaster.

Think of Trump and his cabinet of multi-millionaires, the influence of the Koch brothers, the Murdoch empire and its massive contribution to climate science denial, the oil and motor companies whose lobbying prevents a faster shift to new technologies.

It is not just governments that have failed to respond, though they have failed spectacularly. Public sector broadcasters have deliberately and systematically shut down environmental coverage, while allowing the opaquely-funded lobbyists that masquerade as thinktanks to shape public discourse and deny what we face. Academics, afraid to upset their funders and colleagues, have bitten their lips. Even the bodies that claim to be addressing our predicament remain locked within destructive frameworks.

For example, last Wednesday I attended a meeting about environmental breakdown at the Institute for Public Policy Research. Many of the people in the room seemed to understand that continued economic growth is incompatible with sustaining the Earth’s systems. As the author Jason Hickel points out, a decoupling of rising GDP from global resource use has not happened and will not happen. While 50 billion tonnes of resources used per year is roughly the limit the Earth’s systems can tolerate, the world is already consuming 70 billion tonnes. Business as usual, at current rates of economic growth, will ensure that this rises to 180 billion tonnes by 2050. Maximum resource efficiency, coupled with massive carbon taxes and some pretty optimistic assumptions, would reduce this to 95 billion tonnes: still way beyond environmental limits. A study taking account of the rebound effect (efficiency leads to further resource use) raises the estimate to 132 billion tonnes. Green growth, as members of the Institute appear to accept, is physically impossible.

On the same day, the same Institute announced a major new economics prize for “ambitious proposals to achieve a step-change improvement in the growth rate.” It wants ideas that will enable economic growth rates in the UK at least to double. The announcement was accompanied by the usual blah about sustainability, but none of the judges of the prize has a discernible record of environmental interest.

Those to whom we look for solutions trundle on as if nothing has changed. They continue to behave as if the accumulating evidence has no purchase on their minds. Decades of institutional failure ensures that only “unrealistic” proposals – the repurposing of economic life, with immediate effect – now have a realistic chance of stopping the planetary death spiral. And only those who stand outside the failed institutions can lead this effort.

Two tasks need to be performed simultaneously: throwing ourselves at the possibility of averting collapse, as Extinction Rebellion is doing, slight though this possibility may appear. And preparing ourselves for the likely failure of these efforts, terrifying as this prospect is. Both tasks require a complete revision of our relationship with the living planet. Because we cannot save ourselves without contesting oligarchic control, the fight for democracy and justice and the fight against environmental breakdown are one and the same. Do not allow those who have caused this crisis to define the limits of political action. Do not allow those whose magical thinking got us into this mess to tell us what can and cannot be done.

http://www.monbiot.com

Press link for more: Monbiot.com

Stepped up Global #ClimateAction Can Close the Emissions Gap | UNFCCC #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateStrike #GreenNewDeal @Ocasio2018 #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #TheDrum #QandA

UN Climate Change News, 20 November 2018 – Two key UNFCCC milestone publications released today  highlight that success in tackling the global climate crisis can be achieved, but only if public and private sector actions are urgently stepped up.

The reports:

The Talanoa Dialogue Synthesis Report and Yearbook for Global Climate Action 2018 – take the pulse of where the world stands on its journey towards full carbon neutrality by mid-century.

The Synthesis Report was prepared using submissions to the Talanoa Portal – launched on 10 January 2018 – which received a total of 471 inputs throughout the year, including notably the IPCC’s special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius. It also drew from stories that were presented by government and non-government representatives during the intersessional climate change session held  in May 2018.

The Yearbook for Global Climate Action takes account of some 9,000 commitments – spanning cities, regions, businesses, investors and civil society – incorporating 128 countries (16 per cent of the global population), around 240 states and regions and more than 6,000 businesses in 120 countries representing USD 36 trillion in economic activity.

This image is from the Yearbook – drawing on data from the Global Climate Action portal (NAZCA) – and depicts the number of stakeholders taking action in all regions of the world. Whilst Europe is the region that has seen the greatest increase in stakeholders between 2016 and October 2018, the number of stakeholders in Asia, Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean also shows clear growth, increasing by approximately 30, 20 and 20 per cent respectively.

Tomasz Chruszczow, Special Envoy for Climate Change and Poland’s High Level Climate Champion said, “Global Climate Action remains the best response to the challenges of changing climate. 2018’s Yearbook documents how the action can deliver on existing NDCs, on adaptation, mitigation, capacity building, etc.

Every climate related initiative, programme or action contributes to laying a solid foundation for the climate neutral, peaceful, climate resilient and sustainable future for all.

Parties and non-Party stakeholders act together and prove that cooperation may lead to more emission reductions, faster delivering on existing NDCs and strengthening of biosystems’ capacity to store atmospheric carbon, while life standards get improved, economies grow and the nations approach all the goals of the Paris Agreement in an accelerated manner.

The examples from this year’s Yearbook will surely inspire more ambitious action by the governments and the stakeholders.

Responding to climate change related threats is an opportunity that no one can afford missing.”

Together the publications illustrate  that global climate action can close the gap to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement: to limit average global warming to 2 degrees Celsius and to strive for the safer 1.5-degree limit.

However, what the reports  also make clear is that all actors – government and non-governmental, public and private – need to urgently step up the pace of  action if the world is to achieve the Paris targets and to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

According to key findings in the Synthesis Report, the reality is that, despite current efforts, greenhouse gas emissions and global warming are still on the rise.

The Report also describes how these atmospheric changes are already having devastating impacts, citing a total of 11,000 extreme weather events between 1997 and 2016, which have resulted in approximately 524,000 deaths and trillions of dollars of opportunity lost in economic development

The publications are sober reading, but they do signpost the solutions that can exponentially drive the transition towards a low carbon economy.

That is, if global actors adhere strictly to the Paris Agreement process and its principles.

This theme of exponentiality is a major focus of the Yearbook for Global Climate Action, which states that if countries were to fully implement their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, and if cooperative initiatives were to meet their commitments, global emissions in 2030 would be in a range consistent with the long-term trajectory to meet the Paris Agreement goal of well below 2°C.

Similarly, the Synthesis Report, which emphasizes ways of increasing ambition, points to ‘untapped potential’ that, if properly fulfilled, could yield economic gains of US$26 trillion and 65 million jobs in clean energy.

Inia Seruiratu, Minister for Agriculture, Rural & Maritime Development, National Disaster Management and Meteorological Services, and Fiji High-Level Climate Champion said, “This year, the entire Talanoa process – as reflected in the Synthesis Report – shows how we can put in place holistic approaches and policy frameworks across all sectors of the economy and the natural environment.

With the right policy frameworks, NDCs could address not only mitigation but also adaptation, disaster resilience and efficient use of resources.

Crucially, non-Party engagement will be essential in delivering on all these objectives.”

Significantly, these reports are published  just two weeks before governments gather for the global  climate summit in Poland (COP 24), where they are set to complete the implementation guidelines for the Paris Agreement, known as its Work Programme. A finalized Paris Agreement Work Programme has the potential to  unleash practical actions from the whole global climate action community commensurate with a 1.5 pathway.

For any media enquires, please contact mphillips(at)unfccc.int

More information on the Talanoa Dialogue

The Talanoa Dialogue’s Synthesis Report was issued by the Polish and Fijian COP Presidencies.

The fulll Report can be read here

More information on Global Climate Action

The Yearbook for Global Climate Action 2018 was issued by the two High-Level Climate Champions, Inia Seruiratu Fijian Minister for Agriculture and the Minister for Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management, and Tomasz Chruszczow, Special Envoy for Climate Change from the Ministry of Environment in Poland

The full Yearbook can be viewed here

Press link for more: UNFCCC

What exactly is the ‘Green New Deal’? @QandA #auspol #qldpol Australia needs to join a Global #GreenNewDeal #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateStrike Real innovation for jobs. #StopAdani #ClimateChange

By Hannah Northey

Hannah is an enterprise reporter for E&E News focusing on high-profile stories from across the energy sector.

She has also covered Congress and leadership changes at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, with a focus on the policy and politics of oil and gas pipelines and exports.

She was previously a political and regulatory reporter at Argus Media in Washington, D.C., and worked as a reporter for several news outlets in Virginia and Michigan, including The Ann Arbor News, Lansing State Journal and Michigan Public Radio. Hannah recently completed fellowships in Japan and Detroit and has a master’s degree in environmental journalism from Michigan State University’s Knight Center.

In a Democratic clash on Capitol Hill, progressives are pushing an ambitious plan to wean the U.S. off fossil fuels, boost renewables and build a “smart” grid.

Meet the “Green New Deal.”

The proposal, drawing inspiration from President Franklin Roosevelt’s Depression-era New Deal, is one that progressives — led by Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), a rising star on the left — want Democratic leaders to embrace.

The thinking is that a newly revived Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming in the House would produce a draft of the plan by Jan., 1, 2020, and finalized legislation no later than March 1, 2020.

The scope of the plan, laid out on Cortez’s campaign website, is cast as a work in progress. House leaders would be able to review the results of investigations and studies, along with detailed findings and interim recommendations. And there’s time for collaboration.

Pushing the proposal is the youth-driven Sunrise Movement, a growing grassroots movement that’s taken over the office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California this week and Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey today.

Varshini Prakash, co-founder of the group, told E&E News earlier this week that progressives are calling on Pelosi to start building consensus around the ideas. That way, Democrats can move quickly if they regain power in 2021 and beyond (Climatewire, Nov. 14).

And yet disagreement is brewing, even among those eager to tackle climate change policy. Also outstanding are specifics on what programs would be included in a Green New Deal and how Congress and the federal government would pay for the plan.

“Democrats are united in decarbonizing our economy and addressing climate change in stark contrast to Republicans. But House leaders have to be strategic in how they approach climate change,” said Paul Bledsoe, an energy fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute who worked on climate change in the Clinton White House. “Impossible-to-reach targets will only disappoint.”

Here’s a look at what the plan calls for — so far — within a decade of being enacted:

100 percent renewables

The plan calls for the United States to shift to all renewable energy within a decade.

Such a move has been at the heart of ongoing debates within the energy sector for years. Experts have clashed on whether such a move is possible and on the definition of “100 percent renewables” (Greenwire, April 20).

Some researchers have suggested that moving to all renewables isn’t the best way to address climbing temperatures (Climatewire, June 20, 2017).

Build a ‘smart’ grid

The plan also calls for the creation of a national, energy-efficient “smart” grid.

Billions of dollars around the world has been invested in clean energy technologies, and grid experts for decades have been innovating ways to link them together, from solar arrays and wind turbines to electric cars.

Upgrade homes and businesses

Boosting efficiency is also on the menu. The plan calls for “upgrading every residential and industrial building for state-of-the-art energy efficiency, comfort and safety.”

That push could directly confront the Trump administration’s decision to leave energy efficiency on the back burner.

Multiple efficiency standards do not have set timelines for release, despite deadlines by Congress, and regulations for portable air conditioners, commercial packaged boilers and uninterruptible power supplies remain among the administration’s long-term goals (Greenwire, Oct. 17).

Decarbonize, decarbonize, decarbonize

Progressives are also calling for deep decarbonization across the nation.

The plan includes language that would reduce emissions from manufacturing, agricultural and other industries, as well as decarbonizing, repairing and improving transportation and other infrastructure.

The plan would also call for “funding massive investment” in the drawdown and capture of greenhouse gases, but the proposal hasn’t outlined the specifics of how to do that.

Jobs, jobs, jobs

In addition to boosting clean energy and exports, the plan would also lay out a national jobs program.

Specifically, the plan calls for “training and education to be a full and equal participant in the transition, including through a national “job guarantee program” to “assure every person who wants one, a living wage job.”

Press link for more: EENews

For more on the Green New Deal

Watch this video

https://youtu.be/fT8gW8o3Sxo