R&D

Great Barrier Reef coral recovery slows significantly over 18-year period #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange

Great Barrier Reef coral recovery slows significantly over 18-year period

Nick Kilvert

Over the last three decades the Great Barrier Reef has been hit by a series of intense cyclones, bleaching, crown of thorn starfish outbreaks and flood events that have caused well-documented, but reparable damage.

Scientists have hoped that an extended period of benign conditions would allow the natural processes of reef restoration to flourish, and many of the hardest-hit regions to return to a healthier, more colourful and biodiverse state.

But a new study of coral-recovery rates based on 18 years of data and published in Science Advances today, found the ability of many corals to bounce back after disturbance has significantly slowed down.

Although recovery rates were variable between different reef patches and coral types, the researchers found the overall recovery rate of corals across the Great Barrier Reef declined by an average of 84 per cent between 1992 and 2010.

Following acute disturbance events like cyclones, coral recovery was hindered by poor water quality and high temperature, according to lead author Juan-Carlos Ortiz from the University of Queensland, and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS).

“We noticed that…water quality played a significant role in that reduction in recovery rate,” Dr Ortiz said.

The study looked at data from more than 90 primarily mid-shelf and offshore reefs, comparing the rate of recovery following disturbance events.

“We noticed for the first time a very large decline in the ability of the reef to recover from disturbances over those 18 years,” he said.

The research team classified corals into six groups based on their growth forms. Although all groups showed an overall decline in recovery rate, two groups — the Montipora and branching Acropora both “went into negative”.

What that means is they continued to decline even after the disturbance had ceased.

While increased disturbance events are expected as the impacts of climate change ramp up, the slowed recovery time is a concerning compounding factor.

“It is exacerbating the problem. The assumption that we were working on was that naturally reefs recover fast,” Dr Ortiz said.

Although the results paint a grim picture of the trajectory of the reef, the researchers say there are some very positive things that can be taken from their findings.

The reefs furthest offshore receive less runoff from the catchment area, and because they are generally buffered by deeper water, are less susceptible to short-term fluctuations in temperature.

Although the study only analysed data from up until 2010, Dr Ortiz said there was a period without significant disturbance to the reef following Cyclone Yasi in 2011.

“On the offshore reefs like the Swains, where they are least affected by water quality issues from land … they did recover really fast,” he said.

“Which suggests that this trend is reversible.”

Tackling climate change is vital

In short, the researchers said both improving the water quality of runoff from the reef catchment area and addressing climate change can help reverse the reef’s decline.`

But trying to improve conditions on the reef without tackling climate change is like putting “band-aids on arterial wounds”, according to James Cook University’s Associate Professor Jodie Rummer, who was not involved in the study.

“We definitely need to be controlling problems with water quality and problems with crown of thorns, but first and foremost we need to deal with the big problem,” Dr Rummer said.

“What it does come down to is warming. Everything else just makes it worse, but warming is the primary concern.”

Dr Rummer, who will be presenting some of her work at a two-day reef symposium in Brisbane this week, has been studying sharks in French Polynesia and on the Great Barrier Reef.

Although French Polynesia is a declared shark sanctuary, she said their numbers are still suffering.

“Even the best protected marine parks, shark sanctuaries, and marine sanctuaries are not immune to climate change. We saw that when the reef started bleaching in 2016,” she said.

“I was at Lizard Island, and that’s some of the most pristine parts of the Great Barrier Reef, protected from so much activity, and still, climate change killed it.”

Federal Government pledges cash for farmer ‘champions’

Key to improving the Great Barrier Reef catchment is preventing large-scale deforestation.

Deforestation destabilises soil and increases the sediment and nutrient load carried to the reef during heavy rains, smothering corals and encouraging algal growth.

But the latest Great Barrier Reef catchments report from the Queensland Audit Office shows more than 1.2 million hectares were cleared in Queensland between 2012 and 2016, and nearly 40 per cent of that was cleared in the reef catchment area.

Despite committing $500 million to protecting the reef in the budget, the Federal Government came under fire earlier this year when it granted approval for the clearing of 2,000 hectares of bushland at Kingvale Station, which drains into reef-fringed Princess Charlotte Bay in North Queensland.

This week, the Federal Government committed $3.5 million to help sugarcane farmers “improve fertiliser use and efficiency” in the catchment. That is on top of $3.7 million committed by the Queensland Government.

The investment will help minimise nitrogen-pollution runoff entering the reef, according to a statement from Assistant Minister for the Environment Melissa Price.

“Optimising the rate of fertiliser application helps sugarcane farmers to increase their profitability, while minimising nitrogen pollution run-off entering the reef,” Ms Price said.

Press link for more: ABC.NET.AU

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Who will pay to protect our cities from rising seas? #auspol #qldpol

A public nuisance

By Patrick Parenteau

Since most American state and local governments are cash-strapped, cities and counties fear that they won’t be able to afford all the construction it will take to protect their people and property.

So some communities in California are in a bid to force them to foot the bill. Recently, , when it sued 21 oil and gas companies “for knowingly contributing to climate change and the catastrophic consequences to the State and its residents, economy, eco-system, and infrastructure”.

Does it make sense to hold the industries responsible for global warming liable for the price – in dollars and cents – that everyone will have to pay to adapt to a changed climate?

I believe climate liability cases like these have merit.

The local governments asking the courts to intervene allege that higher sea levels brought about by climate change are a public nuisance.

That may sound odd at first, but I believe that is fair to say. It is also the legal basis on which similar liability lawsuits have been filed before.

The sea level along California’s coasts may have risen about 8 inches in the past century. Scientists project that they may rise by as much as 55 inches by the end of this century.

That worst-case scenario would put nearly half a million people at risk of flooding by 2100, and threaten $100bn in property and infrastructure, including roadways, buildings, hazardous waste sites, power plants, parks and tourist destinations.

Superstorm Sandy caused over $60bn in damage along the New Jersey and New York coasts. Several researchers have concluded that sea level rise and a warming ocean played a major role in making that storm so catastrophic.

The Trump administration has released a national climate change assessment, confirming that extreme weather events – storms on steroids – are becoming more frequent and intense.

If anything, characterising these catastrophes as a public nuisance is an understatement.

A question about jurisdiction

Oakland and San Francisco both sued five of the world’s largest oil companies in state court, asserting claims based on California’s own nuisance law. They are seeking billions of dollars for an abatement fund.

But Chevron, one of the five oil majors being sued, objected and sought to transfer the San Francisco and Oakland lawsuit to a federal district court, where Judge William Alsup recently dismissed the case.

Still, it wasn’t a clear win for oil companies.

Alsup accepted the scientific consensus that the defendants’ line of business is driving climate change and therefore poses a clear and present danger to coastal communities and others. But in his ruling, he also questioned whether it’s “fair to now ignore our own responsibility in the use of fossil fuels and place the blame for global warming on those who supplied what we demanded”.

And while the judge also acknowledged that federal courts have the authority “to fashion common law remedies for claims based on global warming”, he opted to “stay his hand in favor of solutions by the legislative and executive branches”. In other words, he said it’s up to Congress and the White House to figure out whether oil companies ought to pay to, say, move San Francisco’s airport to higher ground.

Even if prospects for federal action on this front are next to nil for the foreseeable future, given the Trump administration’s warm embrace of oil, gas and coal, this is no legal dead end. I believe that Oakland and San Francisco will surely file an appeal to the 9th Circuit, which could rule differently.

Even more importantly, there is another case pending that is taking a different course. The counties of Marin and San Mateo and the City of Imperial Beach, California, are also suing oil companies with similar climate liability claims. Judge Vince Chhabria sees things differently than Alsup and ruled that state law, not federal law, should prevail.

He has ordered that case back to state court, a move that Chevron, BP, ExxonMobil and the other oil company defendants are trying to prevent.

In addition to coastal communities concerned about rising sea levels, several Colorado counties filed their own climate liability cases in April 2018. Those lawsuits allege that oil companies should be held responsible for the higher temperatures now reducing the state’s snowpack. Getting less snow is jeopardising Colorado’s agriculture, water supply and ski industry.

Several legal precedents

I maintain that these cases do belong in state court because there are many relevant legal precedents.

U.S. courts have repeatedly held manufacturers liable for the damage their products wreak, especially when those companies knew full well that their products, used as intended, would cause that harm.

The biggest precedent is the tobacco industry’s 1998 settlement with the states, which called for companies to pay out $246bn over the next 25 years.

In addition, there have been many judgments against oil companies and other corporations responsible for manufacturing a potentially cancer-causing chemical called MTBE that used to be a common gasoline additive and has contaminated public water supplies.

And a panel of California judges ordered paint companies to pay more than $1bn to help get lead out of housing that remains contaminated decades after the government banned lead-laced paint. The companies are vowing to take the case to the Supreme Court if they can.

Currently, another new kind of liability lawsuit is emerging against opioid manufacturers. Ohio and at least six other states are seeking damages to help cover the expense of dealing with widespread addiction from the allegedly irresponsible marketing of prescription painkillers – which it says the companies should have known were being abused.

Exxon knew

As for the oil industry, it has evidently known for 60 years or longer that burning fossil fuels would eventually overheat the planet, with monumental consequences.

Rather than alert the public and engage in good-faith discussions to address the problem, oil majors like Exxon sought to mislead and deny what they knew about the risks of fossil fuels. Furthermore, the fossil fuel industries have sought to block any meaningful federal climate response by donating vast sums to the political campaigns of candidates who promised to oppose the requisite policies.

In a perfect world, the nation’s elected leaders at all levels of government would be hard at work passing laws and establishing programs to confront the existential threat of climate change and to help communities prepare for the unavoidable impacts that are already baked into the system.

Alas, that is not the case. The courts are the last line of defense in this epic struggle to deal with the effects of climate change – including the astronomically expensive costs of moving housing, businesses, schools and other structures out of harm’s way.

Patrick Parenteau, Professor of Law, Vermont Law School.

Press link for more: City Metric

#ClimateChange will force us to redefine economic growth. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #NoNewCoal #Longman

Climate change will force us to redefine economic growth

World Economic Forum

Last Friday, Pope Francis called for nothing less than “a financial paradigm shift” in order to tackle climate change.

His comments, made at a conference hosted by the Vatican and uniting business people, policy-makers of different stripes, indigenous leaders, academics and young people, could not be more timely: humanity is at a turning point. But when it comes to the economy, if handled sensibly and without delay, this turning point does not have to be a breaking point.

Over the past 70 years, the world has seen remarkable advances that are unprecedented in its history.

These include an increase in average life expectancy around the world from around 40 to around 70 years, a rise in income per capita by a factor of around four, and huge declines in the number of people living in absolute poverty.

One result of this has been a near trebling of the global population as fewer people die early deaths. These outcomes have in large measure been fostered by a spirit of internationalism, international collaboration and a functioning international economic order, all created after the second world war.

At the same time as this record growth in our numbers and wealth, we have seen fundamental changes in our natural capital, including the atmosphere, oceans, forests, glaciers, rivers and biodiversity. In 142 tropical countries, for instance, the overall area of natural forest declined by 11% between 1990 and 2015. Oceans have recorded a 30% increase in acidity since the start of the industrial revolution, and acidity is projected to increase to a pH level that the oceans have not experienced for more than 20 million years.

At the same time, indoor and outdoor air pollution were responsible for an estimated 6.5 million premature deaths in 2015. Air pollution is particularly threatening for children, and is especially prevalent in large, rapidly developing countries such as India and China.

The next two decades will be decisive.

They will determine whether we suffer severe and irreversible damage to livelihoods and the natural world or whether, instead, we set off on a more attractive path of sustainable and inclusive economic development and growth.

It is clear from the science of climate change that we must cut emissions by at least 30% in the next two decades to avoid dangerous levels of warming.

If we go on emitting greenhouse gases at current rates for the next two decades, then it is likely that we will far exceed a 3°C increase in average global surface temperature compared with the late 19th century – the usual benchmark.

A rise of 3°C would be extremely dangerous, taking us to a temperature we have not seen on this planet for around 3 million years.

Remember that modern Homo sapiens has been here for only around a quarter of a million years. A warming of this magnitude could transform where we could live, severely damage livelihoods, displace billions of people and lead to severe and extended conflict. And we risk considerably higher temperatures than that if we do not radically change how we produce and consume. Delivery on the global agenda to curb emissions, at scale and with urgency, is now crucial.

We must do that during a period of two decades, during which the world economy is likely to roughly double, and infrastructure more than double. Given the need to cut emissions by 30%, it is clear that we must act now to change radically the relationship between our economic activity and the damage to the environment it causes.

The economics of that change is compelling. For instance, it is now cheaper in many countries to generate electricity from renewable sources than from fossil fuels. Since 2006, the costs for solar power modules has fallen by 79%, and since 2010 the prices of batteries for storage of power have fallen by 72%.

We can build a new form of growth and poverty reduction that is clean, sustainable and inclusive. It is an economic path that is much more attractive, robust and lasting. The world is starting to realise the attractiveness of the new growth model, as well as the risks of unmanaged climate change. We can see what needs to be done, that it can be done, and that it is very attractive. If we act wisely, we can create cities in which we can move and breathe, ecosystems that are robust and fruitful, and living standards that can continue to rise. The alternative route would lead to severe disruption and poverty for many.

There is no horse race between climate responsibility and economic development. But we must build the political will, and quickly, to take the strong decisions that are necessary.

His Holiness the Pope is showing extraordinary leadership in trying to bridge the gap between moral obligation and will to act. He leads us in recognizing the combination of urgency and opportunity in the crisis we now face. He serves as an outstanding and crucial example to those of us in the secular world. Only by combining political and moral leadership, together with social movements and sound economics, will the necessary decisions be taken with the urgency that is now required.

Professor Nicholas Stern is chairman of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics.

Press link for more: EWN.CO

Climate Change Will Change Everything #auspol #qldpol #NoNewCoal #StopAdani #Longman @ElliottShayne CEO @ANZ_AU #Divest

Climate Change Will Change Everything

Stephen Farrell

There is no doubt that climate change is no longer just a threat, it is a real and present danger that is increasingly impacting the lives of many people and the natural world. The question is what are we doing about it?

I think the biggest challenge is leadership.

When the Pope recently spoke to senior members of the petroleum industry and asked why they continued to spend so much effort finding new reserves of carbon polluting resources to dig up at a time when scientists had concluded the consequences for the planet and humankind of digging up any new reserves of carbon-based fuels will be dire, it begs the question of where is leadership on the issue?

Thank you, Pope.

Increasingly, many people in the corporate sector have confirmed that it is financially irresponsible to expose assets to the real threat of climate change – be it investments, assets or production processes.

Figure 1: New Approaches to Climate Thinking and Risk Management – Prof Jean Palutikof, NCCARF director Climate Leadership Conference 2018 Sydney

Think Global, Act Local

One of these conferences was on leadership, with the clear message that rather than get distracted by the partisan climate change politics of the day at a state and federal government levels, we need to think in global and local terms.

The message is that there has never been a more pressing issue around which to think global and act local.

In terms of local, the message has been that we need to think, plan and act on cities, and liveability, since so many of us live in increasing urbanised and built environments.

The Lens of Climate Change

The other key message I took away from the conferences was that we should consider everything we plan to do and how we do it, through the lens of climate change.

Climate change will change everything we know and have experienced until now.  And what’s more, significant change is already locked in.

We have already added the carbon emissions that will change the world’s climate over the next 20 years.

So firstly, be prepared to deal with that – hence the raft of adaptation strategies that many organisations are now considering.

But most importantly decarbonize, decarbonize, decarbonize, so that we don’t continue to lock in more change.

Not only decarbonise our energy production and consumption but decarbonise our product production processes.  For example, we were told of the importance of decarbonising our current cement production processes, since cement production – as a key resource in the building of new cities to house the worlds growing population – is a major contributor to global carbon emissions.  There was some amazing statistics along the lines’ China had used more cement in the 3 years (2011-2013) than the USA did in the entire 20th century.

We were also told of the tremendous efforts in understanding production processes, and refining or replacing the most carbon intensive polluting parts of the process.  Work by groups like the CRC for Low Carbon Living was very impressive and encouraging.

There were also fascinating presentations on reducing the carbon emissions generated in the production of other products, such as smart phone components; or the changes already being observed in health and diseases as our climate changes.  And there was no surprise to hear how many Defence forces have for some time accepted and have been applying scenarios relating to the likely impacts on anticipated climate change.

Starting at the bottom

I particularly liked the graphic related to the climate change activities relevant to the Great Barrier Reef by David Wachenfeld, GBRMA.

The base of the triangle is tackle climate change (directly by reducing carbon emissions).

Above that are changes in land management practices, and at the top point of the triangle were the adaptation strategies, such assisted gene flow, population relocation etc.

The message was that we shouldn’t get distracted talking about how clever we may be in saving the last species of coral on the reef, we need to focus on decarbonizing at a broad and local level as the most important step we can undertake to help the reef, and then changes in land management practices.

Figure 2: Climate change activities relevant to the Great Barrier Reef by David Wachenfeld, GBRMA

How can spatial sciences and technologies help?

My particular interest was to better understand how spatial sciences and technologies can help us understand the likely impacts.

Understand what will change, and by how much when, and which assets are more or less exposed?  And rather than the traditional likelihood consequence matrix approaches to risk management, it seems we need to consider scenarios, and hence use spatial techniques to expose the what-ifs.

What if there is an increased intensity and frequency of storms, and they come from a different direction? – such as the storms that hit Sydney’s coastline a few years ago – coming more from the east than the south east.

Figure 3: Coastal Impacts of the June 2016 East Coast Storm – Prof Ian Turner University of Sydney Climate Leadership Conference 2018 Sydney

A key theme in recent times has been the uncertainly in climate change forecasts. Which model, what assumptions, what timeframes etc. should be used?  The message from these conferences was unequivocally that uncertainly is no excuse.  Change is coming, get on and plan for it.  There are tools and support available.  Make sure that your assumptions and the data you use are clear or transparent and share what you do.

As better tools and data become available the process can be repeated and refined. Another key message was that we are poor at predicting the extremes, the real events we experience are often worse than our worst case modelled scenarios.  So, use the current scenarios in this context.

The power of spatial technologies is also assisting us better understand and plan for change in our cities – particularly their liveability and sustainability in a changing and more climate challenging world.

Identifying city footprints, or thermal heat distribution were two examples of spatial approaches to better understand and inform planning responses.

Figure 4 & 5:Towards a low carbon future – Scientia Prof Deo Prasad Low Carbon Living CRC Climate Leadership Conference 2018 Sydney

There were a couple of great presentations that highlighted how spatial technologies are increasingly applied to natural disasters, both in traditional ways, such as in the planning and being prepared, and to inform those of the threat and by emergency agencies to respond – but in increasingly innovative ways such as the harvesting of twitter feeds to the help track the fire front.

Climate change will change everything.

It is a societal and moral challenge and dilemma.

We can all play a role and do more.

When future generations ask us where we were and what we did, I think we will want to feel comfortable with our answer.

The conferences were:

Climate Leadership conference in Sydney, 2018

Climate Adaption Conference in Melbourne, 2018

For more information, please contact Spatial Vision at info@spatialvision.com.au

Press link for more: Spatial Vision

Dutch proposal puts #ClimateChange at the center of national politics. #auspol #qldpol #NoNewCoal #StopAdani #Longman

The Netherlands contemplates the world’s toughest climate law

A new Dutch proposal would put climate at the center of national politics.

By David Roberts on July 8, 2018 8:23 am

Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands Jack Taylor/Getty Images

A coalition of seven Dutch political parties recently unveiled a climate policy proposal that is breathtaking in its ambition.

If it becomes law, it will codify the most stringent targets for greenhouse gas reductions of any country in the world.

There are still several steps between the proposal and passage, including debate in both houses of Parliament, and lawmakers may make changes. But given the broad political support — the parties involved control 113 of 150 seats in Parliament — it is widely expected to pass in something like its current form by late next summer.

It would be the world’s eighth national climate law (after the UK, Mexico, Denmark, Finland, France, Norway, and Sweden), but it boasts a few features that make it particularly notable.

It’s bipartisan! Or rather, heptapartisan.

Here in the US, we’ve grown depressingly accustomed to climate battles breaking down along partisan lines: Democrats push (inadequate) solutions; Republicans deny that the problem exists or that anything needs to be done about it.

In contrast, the Dutch proposal is supported by a coalition of parties ranging from the far left to the center-right, together representing a large majority of seats in the Dutch Parliament. (One notable absence: the right-wing populist party, Party for Freedom, led by notorious Islamophobe Geert Wilders.)

The current prime minister, Mark Rutte, leads the center-right People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), which is one of the bill’s primary supporters.

Dutch Parliament Carl Court/Getty Images

The proposal represents a degree of social and political consensus that is almost unthinkable in the US — not only that climate change is “real” (an absurd debate only the US is having), but that it’s urgent and that national policy should support the goals agreed to in Paris. Those goals obligate developed countries like the Netherlands to virtually eliminate carbon emissions by mid-century.

It would be like John McCain throwing his weight behind Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s climate policies.

It’s ambitious AF!

If passed as proposed, the Dutch law would be the world’s most stringent, putting into statute the following targets:

• 49 percent reduction in greenhouse gases (relative to 1990 levels) by 2030

• 95 percent reduction by 2050

• 100 percent carbon-neutral electricity by 2050

The targets are based on a report last year from the country’s environmental agency, which revealed that the Netherlands (like every other country on Earth) would not accomplish its portion of the Paris targets with current policy.

Paris targets imply that all developed countries need to be at or near carbon-neutral by 2050.

Hitting these goals will involve a wide range of investments in everything from district heating to carbon sequestration. The new government has also committed to phasing out coal by 2030, which will mean shutting down three coal plants that only finished construction recently.

It ensures climate will get ongoing attention

Under the bill, every year, the Dutch Parliament and the Cabinet will discuss and debate the year’s progress toward decarbonization goals. With independent advice from the Council of State, they will adjust programs as necessary to stay on track, in something analogous to a yearly budgeting process.

Then, on the fourth Thursday of October — “Climate Day” — the government will issue a public memorandum reviewing progress toward climate goals and laying out plans for the year ahead.

If nothing else, yearly reviews will keep climate in the forefront of Dutch politics, and in the public eye.

Queen Maxima (yes, that’s her name) of the Netherlands contemplates a wind turbine at an exhibition in Hamburg, Germany. Christian Augustin/Getty Images

Every five years, the climate law will be revised and updated, to ensure the country stays in alignment with Paris targets.

It’s a miniature Paris agreement

The climate law does not specify any policies — only targets and timelines — and it says nothing about legal enforcement mechanisms to guarantee that targets are met. It implicitly relies on the power of transparency to do the work of forcing future governments to implement actual policies.

The assumption is that governments will be embarrassed and suffer politically if they report inadequate progress year after year. The Paris agreement relies on a similar dynamic: the power of reputational risk to do the work of accountability.

That aspect of the proposal has drawn some criticism. Dennis van Berkel of the Dutch NGO Urgenda, which sued the Dutch government in 2013 for failing to address climate change, told Green News that the law is a “paper tiger.” A legally binding target for 2030 was removed from the initial draft, he said, along with short-term carbon budgets.

“What remains is unfortunately a largely symbolic act which only ensures that a yearly climate debate is organised which reports on the route towards the 2050 target,” he said, “but which gives very little assurance that real action is taken.”

I get why Dutch climate campaigners want to keep the pressure on (that’s their job), but this seems a bit uncharitable. Since only the 2050 target is legally binding, it would be possible for Dutch politicians to fritter and fail for the next 30 years, to do nothing but have annual meetings to no effect, but to believe that will happen is to completely dismiss the power of transparency and democratic accountability. Politicians don’t want to be seen as failing!

The bill will ensure that climate change is put in the spotlight every year. And it contains an unambiguous long-term target, with required adjustments every five years. If Dutch politicians do fail on climate goals going forward, they won’t be able to hide or downplay it. The failure will be extremely public. That matters.

Netherland’s Prime Minister Mark Rutte speaks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Jack Taylor/Getty Images

The Dutch are now pushing Europe forward

Along with the newly aggressive domestic policy has come a newly aggressive posture toward European Union climate policy. Rutte recently called upon the EU to revise its collective carbon target up to 55 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. (Germany’s outgoing environment minister dismissed the call as “unrealistic.”)

Alongside the UK, which also recently signaled that it might aim for a zero-carbon goal, the Netherlands is going from laggard to leader on climate at a dizzying pace.

I wasn’t sure I’d live to see it, but it looks like a substantial bloc of nations is forming that is taking climate change science seriously and making policy around it. The more nations that put carbon neutrality on record as the appropriate mid-century goal, the more difficult it will become for other industrialized nations to justify planning otherwise.

Meanwhile, as countries across the world plot a course toward a sustainable future, US policy falls farther and farther behind. America, increasingly alone among nations, still clings, eyes shut tight, to the dirty past.

Press link for more: Vox.com

Increased passenger numbers spark $55 million upgrade at Cairns Airport #auspol #qldpol ignores #ClimateChange #NoNewCoal #StopAdani

Cairns Airport’s domestic terminal will be future-proofed to accommodate increasing passenger traffic under a $55 million redevelopment plan set to begin in August.

The project will create more than 300 jobs during construction and a further 150 permanent jobs on completion and be completed by 2020.

CEO Norris Carter said the multi-million dollar transformation would create a “world-class airport experience” for travelllers, with domestic terminal traffic expected to grow by 40% over the next decade, equating to around six million passengers a year.

The plan will expand the domestic terminal footprint to 10,000 square metres, the departures hall will boast additional seating and passengers will enjoy easier navigation of the terminal. A range of extra food and beverage and retail offerings will also be added.

“In the last year we’ve announced new international flights and an upgrade of the food and beverage options in the international terminal. Now it’s the domestic terminal’s turn,” Mr Carter said.

“With this upgrade we are aiming to take customer experience to new heights from touch down to take off. We want our customers to arrive excited and depart delighted.”

Chief Commercial Officer Tracey Groves said feedback showed passengers value new and innovative

shopping and dining experiences as an important part of their journey.

“The importance of food, beverage and high-quality retail offerings as an overall part of the travel experience cannot be underestimated,” Ms Groves said.

“We want to give departing passengers one last chance to experience the best of the diverse and exciting Cairns and Tropical North Queensland foodie scene, showcasing the wonderful local produce from the region in our menus.”

Cairns Airport is the seventh busiest by passenger movements in Australia, and the second busiest regional centre behind the Gold Coast. Work on the redevelopment is expected to commence in August with completion set for 2020.

Press link for more: Tropic Now

Future-proofed?

Totally ignores climate change.

Cairns Airport will be underwater

CAIRNS Mayor Bob Manning says he will not lose any sleep over new ­online maps that suggest the city’s airport and CBD will be under water by the end of the century at the current rate of sea-level rise.

A new website being launched today has mapped the effect of predicted sea-level rise upon several Australian cities, including Cairns.

Mapping on the Coastal Risk Australia site, which is run by WA based business management consultants NGIS, uses updated data from the US’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to show which homes, streets and critical ­infrastructure will be swamped under a “business as usual” scenario of a 2m sea-level rise by 2100.

Press link for more: Cairns Post

Latest science

More money, more emissions

“Our estimates indicate that, due to higher than assumed economic growth rates, there is a greater than 35 per cent probability that year 2100 emissions concentrations will exceed those given by RCP8.5,” says Peter Christensen of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Press link for more: New Scientist

Who will pay for the sea walls to protect Cairns Airport or will the airport have to be relocated?

Who will come to Cairns to see dead coral?

Scientists are sending up flares, once again, to warn the world that the Great Barrier Reef could face a tragic end sooner rather than later. Indeed, a new report published by the Climate Council adds to the mounting research suggesting that the world’s largest reef system — one that is even visible from outer space — is likely to reach an irreparable state in the next few decades if greenhouse gas pollution levels are not curbed.

Press link for more: Salon.com

Ignores Aircraft Emissions and climate change.

The total carbon dioxide emissions from global passenger air travel in 2017 amounted to 590.5 Million tonnes. This represents an increase by 6.6% compared with the 553.8 Million tonnes emitted in 2016. The temporary decrease is likely due to changes in the emission factors and a break in the methodology.

Press link for more: Tourism Dashboard

Global warming may be twice what climate models predict #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #Divest @ElliottShayne CEO @ANZ_AU #NoNewCoal #StopAdani

Global warming may be twice what climate models predict

Past warming events suggest climate models fail to capture true warming under business-as-usual scenarios

UNIVERSITY OF NEW SOUTH WALES

Future global warming may eventually be twice as warm as projected by climate models under business-as-usual scenarios and even if the world meets the 2°C target sea levels may rise six metres or more, according to an international team of researchers from 17 countries.

The findings published last week in Nature Geoscience are based on observational evidence from three warm periods over the past 3.5 million years when the world was 0.5°C-2°C warmer than the pre-industrial temperatures of the 19th Century.

The research also revealed how large areas of the polar ice caps could collapse and significant changes to ecosystems could see the Sahara Desert become green and the edges of tropical forests turn into fire dominated savanna. “Observations of past warming periods suggest that a number of amplifying mechanisms, which are poorly represented in climate models, increase long-term warming beyond climate model projections,” said lead author, Prof Hubertus Fischer of the University of Bern.

“This suggests the carbon budget to avoid 2°C of global warming may be far smaller than estimated, leaving very little margin for error to meet the Paris targets.”

To get their results, the researchers looked at three of the best-documented warm periods, the Holocene thermal maximum (5000-9000 years ago), the last interglacial (129,000-116,000 years ago) and the mid-Pliocene warm period (3.3-3 million years ago).

The warming of the first two periods was caused by predictable changes in the Earth’s orbit, while the mid-Pliocene event was the result of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations that were 350-450ppm – much the same as today.

Combining a wide range of measurements from ice cores, sediment layers, fossil records, dating using atomic isotopes and a host of other established paleoclimate methods, the researchers pieced together the impact of these climatic changes.

In combination, these periods give strong evidence of how a warmer Earth would appear once the climate had stabilized. By contrast, today our planet is warming much faster than any of these periods as human caused carbon dioxide emissions continue to grow. Even if our emissions stopped today, it would take centuries to millennia to reach equilibrium.

The changes to the Earth under these past conditions were profound – there were substantial retreats of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets and as a consequence sea-levels rose by at least six metres; marine plankton ranges shifted reorganising entire marine ecosystems; the Sahara became greener and forest species shifted 200 km towards the poles, as did tundra; high altitude species declined, temperate tropical forests were reduced and in Mediterranean areas fire-maintained vegetation dominated.

“Even with just 2°C of warming – and potentially just 1.5°C – significant impacts on the Earth system are profound,” said co-author Prof Alan Mix of Oregon State University.

“We can expect that sea-level rise could become unstoppable for millennia, impacting much of the world’s population, infrastructure and economic activity.”

Yet these significant observed changes are generally underestimated in climate model projections that focus on the near term. Compared to these past observations, climate models appear to underestimate long term warming and the amplification of warmth in Polar Regions.

“Climate models appear to be trustworthy for small changes, such as for low emission scenarios over short periods, say over the next few decades out to 2100. But as the change gets larger or more persistent, either because of higher emissions, for example a business-as-usual-scenario, or because we are interested in the long term response of a low emission scenario, it appears they underestimate climate change.,” said co-author Prof Katrin Meissner, Director of the University of New South Wales Climate Change Research Centre.

“This research is a powerful call to act. It tells us that if today’s leaders don’t urgently address our emissions, global warming will bring profound changes to our planet and way of life – not just for this century but well beyond.”

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Press link for more: Eureka Alert

Young to pick up #climatechange bill #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #Neoliberalism = Intergenerational theft.

Young will pick up climate change bill, advisers warn

By Roger Harrabin BBC environment analyst

Getty Images

Transport pollution is rising

Young people will be left to pick up the bill for climate change because politicians are dodging the issue, a UK report warns.

The government must act faster to cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from road traffic, homes and farming, the Committee on Climate Change says.

Without action, the coming generation will have to pay much more to curb emissions in a heating world.

The government says it is committed to being a world leader on climate change.

It will introduce its low-carbon transport plan soon.

Why does this matter?

The advisers are “acutely concerned” at the UK’s lack of progress in cutting the carbon emissions overheating the planet.

The committee says the UK made a good start with the power industry but emissions cuts have effectively stalled in the past five years.

Members say it will be much cheaper, for instance, to begin a steady changeover to electric cars now than to have to rush the technology in years to come.

Climate change ‘hurts women more’

2017: ‘Warmest year without El Niño’

A manifesto to save Planet Earth (and ourselves)

What’s doing well, what’s doing badly?

• Power: The electricity industry is a star performer. Emissions from power generation have more than halved (-55%)

(Meanwhile in Australia)

• Waste: Emissions from waste are down by almost a quarter (-23%)

• Farming: Emissions from farming have barely dropped (-3%)

• Transport: The villain is transport, where emissions have actually gone up (+3%)

Why is the power industry best?

Since 2012, 75% of emissions cuts have come from power.

Coal power stations in the UK are being phased out – they are the worst polluters.

Renewables have proved far cheaper than anyone thought.

The government has banned subsidies for onshore wind – even though analysts say that will add to energy bills. In addition, communities have been given the say as to whether they can go ahead or not. This means that just a few objections are needed to block the progress of wind projects.

But the committee says onshore wind and solar will be even cheaper than burning gas for electricity in the 2020s.

How has the waste industry cut emissions?

If it’s dumped in a landfill, food and plant matter will rot and create methane, which contributes to climate change.

Councils have been asking people to separate food and garden waste from general waste.

Now, companies are increasingly trying to capture methane from food waste and harness it to make useful biogas.

But after a good start, emissions cuts are stalling.

Emissions from transport have bucked the trend and gone up

What’s up with farming?

Making fertiliser emits greenhouse gases. And so does spreading animal dung on the fields to help crops grow.

Farm machines pollute. And cutting wood for farms is problematic for the climate too, because trees soak up CO2.

The government says it will help more farmers combat climate change.

Why are transport emissions going up?

People are buying bigger and heavier cars.

The government removed the fuel duty incentive for low-pollution cars, so now a Porsche can be taxed at the same rate as a clean Toyota Prius.

What is more, concern about pollution from diesels has shifted some drivers to petrol cars.

They create less pollution but more greenhouse gases.

The committee says sales of electric cars and installation of charging points are both too slow.

What are the other challenges?

Getting people to insulate their homes to save wasting heat is a big challenge.

The committee says insulation rates in homes are 95% lower because of grants cuts.

It wants ministers to insist that all new homes are zero-carbon.

We also have to start experiments on a large scale with actually capturing the CO2 gas from industry and storing it in rocks underground, it says.

Why is the government struggling to cut emissions?

The committee says part of the problem is that responsibility for cutting emissions is split between various government departments.

They don’t all see tackling climate change as a key priority.

But a spokesperson for the UK government said: “We’ve proven ourselves to be world-leaders in tackling climate change – cutting emissions faster than any other G7 country and producing record levels of low carbon energy.

“We’re confident of cutting emissions across the wider economy to meet our carbon budgets while seizing the economic opportunities of clean growth.”

What can you do if you are concerned about the climate?

People committed to personally tackling climate change can avoid flying and eating meat – two of the biggest sources of greenhouse gases.

They maybe walk or cycle instead of taking the car – and they try to insulate their homes or turn the heating down.

They recycle too – but that probably helps less with the climate than many people think.

Follow Roger on Twitter.

Press link for more: BBC.COM

Australia deemed a world laggard in energy efficiency #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani

By Angela MacDonald-Smith

Angela Macdonald-Smith writes on energy specialising in gas, oil, electricity. Based in AFR Sydney newsroom, Angela is chief of staff for resources and energy.

More efficient power use would cut bills. Mark Piovesan

Australia has gone into reverse on energy efficiency and now ranks behind India, Indonesia and China in what is a huge, largely untapped opportunity to cut energy bills and carbon emissions.

In a 2018 international ranking on energy efficiency, released overnight, Australia ranks 18th among the world’s 25 largest energy users, down from 16th in 2016 and at the bottom of the list of major developed economies.

Italy and Germany tied for top place, scoring almost double Australia’s points, while Saudi Arabia was last.

Without stronger measures to improve, it will be “impossible” for Australia to meet the carbon reduction goals necessary to cap global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius, said report author Shruti Vaidyanathan at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

It will also be more expensive, said Australian Energy Efficiency council chief Luke Menzel, pointing to CSIRO research last year that found ambitious improvements in energy productivity would cut household energy bills and reduce wholesale power prices.

“We are a way behind our international competitors in terms of the energy efficiency and productivity of our economy but that means there are a lot of fairly straightforward options and opportunities that we have to bring down energy bills pretty quickly by pursuing those demand-side savings,” Mr Menzel said.

Wake-up call

“It’s a bit of a wake-up call and hopefully a timely reminder that the NEG [National Energy Guarantee] is not the only game in town. There’s a whole other conversation we need to have about what’s happening behind the meter.”

The strongest score for Australia was in building energy efficiency, the only area where it outperformed the median thanks to building codes, its commercial building labelling program and appliance labelling.

But in industrial and transport energy efficiency, Australia ranks near the bottom. In industrial energy efficiency it was particularly poor, putting it 22nd out of 25, with the report highlighting the absence of accords with the manufacturing sector on efficiency or requirements for regular energy audits at sites.

In transportation Australia also lags behind, being the only developed economy without fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles and a low use of public transit. Australia invests only about 26¢ in rail transport for every dollar on road construction, it noted.

Australia has a national energy productivity plan which aims to lift productivity by 40 per cent between 2015 and 2030, but implementation of the goals are seen as “slow”.

“Our global competitors are saving energy and money with smart energy-efficiency policy and investments, while Australia lags at the back of the pack,” Mr Menzel said.

Press link for more: AFR.COM

50+ RELIGIOUS LEADERS CALL ON ADANI TO INVEST IN SOLAR, NOT COAL #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani Stop #ClimateChange #NoNewCoal

For our common home

Dear Mr Adani,

We are leaders from many faith traditions and communities across Australia. We are writing to you to ask you to abandon your proposed mine and instead use the same money to invest in solar energy in North Queensland.

Our common home, the Earth, is now in great danger due to the effects of our actions as human beings on the climate. On this point the scientific community is united. Today, we too are united as people of faith.

Let us be clear. We are not merely opposed to this one mine. We are opposed to all new coal development in the Galilee Basin. We are at a crossroads. One way lies destruction; the other way, sanity. We need to turn immediately in the direction of a stable and compassionate future based on ambitious investment in renewable energy.

We wish to stress that we strongly support good local jobs. Yet people need jobs with a realistic future. Grasping at short-term profits from a thermal coal industry in worldwide structural decline will not provide this. Meanwhile, investment in renewables is booming. And the evidence shows that investment in renewable energy creates far more jobs per dollar than coal does. Coal communities need serious investment to make the transition from the dirty energy of the past to the clean energy of the future.

This mine would also create far fewer than the 10,000 jobs you have claimed. Your own economist stated under oath in the Queensland Land Court that the average number of new jobs per year would be around 1464. Likewise, your Australian CEO has said that “everything will be autonomous from mine to port”. This is no recipe for jobs.

We are very concerned that there is nothing approaching a broad acceptance of the use of the land for the mine from the indigenous peoples in the area. This is abundantly clear from the longstanding legal opposition on the part of the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council.

We know that this mine would use huge volumes of scarce water from the Great Artesian Basin. This ‘Pearl of Great Price’ is an ancient and precious source of water and must not be squandered. The effects on farmers and on our ecosystems would be too great.

For thousands of years, our traditions have taught us to care for the Earth. This responsibility is now extremely urgent. And it is those least responsible for this threat that suffer the greatest impacts of a warming climate.

Here in Australia this moral responsibility is inescapable. By itself, the amount of carbon dioxide from burning the coal in the Galilee Basin would be one tenth of what the whole world can ever emit if we are to avoid the safe upper limit in temperature before many island nations and coastal cities start to disappear (1.5 degrees C above pre-industrial levels). This is already starting to happen. Australians in the Torres Strait Islands are already suffering serious inundation as are our close neighbours in Kiribati and Tuvalu. It would lead to many more bushfires, droughts, cyclones and floods both here and all over the world. Already we see the impending loss of the famous Great Barrier Reef, a place of magnificent beauty, full of life and astonishing colour, which has experienced back-to-back yearly coral bleaching. The single largest and overriding cause of this is climate change. The reef is World Heritage listed – and the world is watching. Such an increase in temperature also poses serious security risks as world civilisation starts to feel the strain of so many natural disasters.

Your own mine would emit a staggering five billion tonnes of CO2.

Our love and concern for the wellbeing of people, other forms of life and our planet leaves us convinced that building this mine would be a giant leap in a very dangerous direction. We therefore call on you to abandon it and to work instead with state and federal governments to invest in good local jobs in solar and wind. You have the capacity to do enormous good.

Protecting our common home and all those who live here is an essential part of each of our faiths. We each ask the faith communities to which we belong to join us in creating this future. An easy first step is to support the Sun Powered Queensland campaign for an ambitious target for solar energy. We also ask our communities to contact the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, who have organised this letter, to help them in their work.

Yours in peace,

Bishop Philip Huggins, Anglican Church, President, National Council of Churches, Australia

Dr Rateb Jneid, President, Muslims Australia

The Very Reverend Dr Peter Catt, Dean of St. John’s Anglican Cathedral, Brisbane

Jeffrey B. Kamins OAM, Senior Rabbi, Emanuel Synagogue, Woollahra

Sheik Riad Galil OAM, Senior Imam, West Heidelberg Mosque

Bhante Sujato, Project Leader, Sutta Central

Reverend Dr Denis Edwards, Professorial Fellow, Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry, Faculty of Theology and Philosophy, Australian Catholic University, Adelaide Campus

The Right Reverend Professor Stephen Pickard, Executive Director, Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Charles Sturt University

Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black, Jewish Ecological Coalition, Board member, ARRCC

The Reverend Dr Jo Inkpin, Lecturer in Theology & Senior Tutor and Anglican Priest, St Francis College, Brisbane

The Reverend Dr Patrick McInerney, Columban Coordinator NSW

Professor Gerard Moore, Academic Dean, United Theological College, Associate Head of School of Theology, Charles Sturt University

Rev Brian Vale, Regional Director, Missionary Society of St Columban, ANZ Region

Associate Professor Mehmet Ozalp, Islamic Sciences and Research Academy Australia (ISRA)

Reverend Dr Jason John, Uniting Earth Ministry, Uniting Church NSWACT

Reverend Dr Ormond Rush, Associate Professor and Reader, Institute for Religion & Critical Inquiry, Faculty of Theology and Philosophy, Australian Catholic University

Dr Neil Ormerod, Professor of Theology, Institute for Religion & Critical Inquiry, Faculty of Theology and Philosophy, Australian Catholic University

Father Claude Mostowik MSC, President, Pax Christi Australia, Director, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart Justice and Peace Centre (Australia)

Pastor Darren Cronshaw, Head of Research and Professor of Missional Leadership, Australian College of Ministries, Pastor, Auburn Life Baptist Church

Reverend Alex Sangster, Uniting Church Minister, Fairfield

Reverend Rex Graham, Uniting Church Minister, Wollongong

Pastor Jarrod McKenna, Cornerstone Church, Perth

Reverend John Brentnall, Chairperson, Uniting Eco Group

Sister Barbara Daniel PBVM, Presentation Sisters

Sister Elizabeth Young RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Sister Elaine Wainwright RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Sister Caroline Vaitkunas RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Sister Claudette Cusack RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Sister Mary Tinney RSM, Sisters of Mercy, Earth Link

Sister Marie Britza RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Sister Veronica Lawson RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Sister Julie O’Brien RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Sister Barbara Bolster RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Sister Tricia Nugent RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Sister Ruth Wyatte RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Ana Freeman, Rahahim Ecology Centre

Dharmachari Arthacarya, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmachari Aryadharma, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Buddhankapali, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Dantachitta, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmachari Dharmalata, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmachari Dharmamati, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Dharmamodini, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmachari Dharmananda, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Hrdayaja, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Khemayogini, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Maitripala, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Nagasuri, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmachari Nandavani, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Prakashika, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmachari Saddhavijaya, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Samacitta, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Shubhavyuha, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmachari Siladasa, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Sudaya, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmachari Tejopala, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Vimoksalehi, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Vimuttinandi, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Moksavajra, Triratna Buddhist Order

Ms Thea Ormerod, President, Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC)

The public is invited to contribute to ARRCC’s current fund-raiser. Click here to view the video and donation page.

Press link for more: ARRCC.ORG