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Climate change victims need money to survive, not words. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Climate change victims need money to survive, not words

Published on 20/03/2018, 10:35am

There is an opportunity in May to help people hit hardest by climate change; governments must take it.

Sakina Bibi has lost three homes in 8 years to coastal erosion (Pic: EnGIO)

By Harjeet Singh, Sven Harmeling and Julie-Anne Richards

Sakina Bibi has lost three mud houses to the sea in less than 8 years, at Mousuni island in the Indian Sundarbans.

The 65-year-old is not alone. Since Cyclone Aila hit the region in the year 2009, over 2,000 families have been displaced due to unpredictable coastal flooding destroying their homes and livelihoods.

As climate change causes sea level rise, more than 13 million people living in the low-lying Sundarbans – a Unesco World Heritage Site spread across Bangladesh and India – face an uncertain future.

In May, there will be an opportunity to help people like Sakina Bibi: the Suva expert dialogue on “loss and damage”, to take place during interim UN climate talks in Bonn.

Governments must make sure this is not just a talking shop and leads to new finance for those hit hardest by climate change.

A pre-meeting last week showed promise, but also signs of resistance from rich countries to meaningful action. So what would be a positive outcome?

New money

First and foremost, the dialogue should mobilise money. Rich countries must engage constructively with what finance and support vulnerable countries need, who will provide it and how it will be channeled.

To date, there has been an emphasis on providing insurance against climate risks, but the expectation is that vulnerable populations pay the premiums. This is very unfair, as those people did not cause climate change. Also, insurance does not cover “slow onset events” like sea level rise and glacier melt.

We want to see polluters pay for the damage they have caused. One way would be to equitably implement a “climate damages tax” on fossil fuel extraction, which could raise billions of dollars a year.

The provisional concept does not guarantee to put such innovative financial mechanisms at the heart of the expert dialogue, but they will at least be on the agenda.

Science focus

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is due to release a report later this year on 1.5C global warming, the toughest target in the Paris Agreement. It will detail what would be required to meet the target and the consequences of exceeding it.

This is an ideal opportunity to build up the evidence base around loss and damage. Sadly, some rich country representatives on the executive committee have blocked meaningful engagement with the IPCC, despite the science panel’s willingness to cooperate.

Julie-Anne Richards


At the #WIM #ExCom7 meeting. For the 2nd time reps from US, Australia, UK, Germany all trying to shut down discussions between the #IPCC and this @UNFCCC body tasked with dealing with #lossanddamage from #climatechange. Why? What are they so afraid of?

9:10 PM – Mar 14, 2018


At the Paris climate summit in 2015, governments commissioned a task force to “avert, minimise and address” climate-induced displacement, which according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre already affects an average of 21.5 million people each year.

Made up of specialists from climate negotiations and agencies like the International Organisation for Migration and UN Refugee Agency, the task force is holding a stakeholder consultation mid-May to develop policy recommendations. The process will complement the UN Global Compact on Migration, which concludes this year.

Policymakers must rise above politics and self-interest to protect the life and dignity of people forced to move by climate changes beyond their control.

Sakina Bibi and millions like her depend on it.

Harjeet Singh is the global climate change lead for Action Aid International, Sven Harmeling is global policy lead on climate change for Care International and Julie-Anne Richards is an independent consultant

Press link for more: Climate change news


#ClimateChange makes war worse. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Environmental Issues, Primarily Climate Change, Wreak Havoc On War-torn Mideast Nations

By Nate Nkumbu | The Media Line

March 20, 2018

Amid the fighting in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, the impact of global warming is magnified

As the wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen rage on, the human toll rightfully continues to receive much of the attention.

However, the conflicts in the Middle East have negatively impacted other living organisms, as well as the environment in general, which, in turn, has made the lives of those under fire even more difficult.

According to a United Nations-sponsored report compiled by the human rights group PAX, “climate change is thought to be responsible for an increasing frequency of droughts in Iraq during the last decade.”

It added that, “together with increased damming and upstream water use by neighboring countries, the frequent droughts and increasing urbanization have led to chronic shortages of water.”

Miquel Gonzalez-Meler, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago contended to The Media Line that droughts, in particular, have made already unbearable situations that much more difficult. “The drought has affected many low income crops and created a poor distribution of resources. It has also affected aquifers and contaminated groundwater,” he said.

The war-time mismanagement of vital resources such as water can lead to death in extreme cases, while affecting the yield of crops like barley, wheat and sorghum, which are anyways hard to come by conflict zones.

Gonzalez-Meler highlighted the effects of an ongoing drought in the Zagros Mountains, spanning Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. While the range has been a source of water years—when the snow caps melt water flows down to the valleys below—climate change has caused the snow to recede and, in turn, less water is available to those who need it most.

“Changes in the precipitation means that there is no snow reservoir to increase the flow of the rivers and valleys of the region,” he continued, “which have been the sources and sites of great inventions in human history as well as the location of the demise of great empires like the Babylonians and the Sumerians.”

Adam Rose, Research Professor at the University of Southern California, warns that the current period of global warming is one of the most severe ever and is exacerbating the political and humanitarian situations in the Middle East.

“There have been researchers that have found that drought has been getting more severe and causing more stress [on the environment]. Accordingly, people have become impoverished and it is probably a reason for the outward migration in addition to the conflicts themselves.”

Rose added that the problem is likely to get worse, especially as regards water, which he believes could eventually become valuable than oil. “Political issues and ethnic tensions still dominate the region but water is pretty important. One issue that may come into play is the future redrawing of borders [based on the presence of resources] should the conflicts wind down.”

Already, Ethiopia and Egypt are engaged in a major dispute over a dam the former is building which could impact the flow of the Nile’s water, upon which much of Egypt’s rural population depends. “There are also issues relating to access to water in the Jordan River, the Sea of Galilee and many other rivers and aquifers. Water is a scarce resource,” Rose concluded.

(Nate Nkumbu is a Student Intern in The Media Line’s Press and Policy Student Program)

Press link for more: The Media Line

#ClimateChange 140 million #Climate #Refugees #StopAdani #auspol qldpol

Climate change soon to cause mass movement, World Bank warns

140m people in three regions expected to migrate before 2050 unless environment is improved

Fiona HarveyLast modified on Tue 20 Mar 2018 05.09 AEDT

Lalmonirhat in Bangladesh was flooded last year. It is one of the areas likely to be hard-hit by climate change, leading to high levels of migration. Photograph: Zakir Chowdhury/Barcroft Images

Climate change will result in a massive movement of people inside countries and across borders, creating “hotspots” where tens of millions pour into already crowded slums, according to the World Bank.

More than 140 million people in just three regions of the developing world are likely to migrate within their native countries between now and 2050, the first report on the subject has found.

The World Bank examined three regions, which between them account for 55% of the developing world’s population. In sub-Saharan Africa, 86 million are expected to be internally displaced over the period; in south Asia, about 40 million; and in Latin America, 17 million.

Such flows of people could cause enormous disruption, threatening governance and economic and social development, but the World Bank cautioned that it was still possible to stave off the worst effects.

“Climate change-driven migration will be a reality, but it does not need to be a crisis, provided we take action now and act boldly,” said John Roome, a senior director for climate change at the World Bank group.

He laid out three key actions governments should take: first, to accelerate their reductions of greenhouse gases; second, for national governments to incorporate climate change migration into their national development planning; and third, to invest in further data and analysis for use in planning development.

Within countries, the effects of climate change will create multiple “hotspots”: made up of the areas people move away from in large numbers, and the areas they move to.

“Local planners need to make sure the resources are made available, and to make sure it takes place in a comprehensive and coordinated manner,” said Roome.

Globally, many tens of millions more are expected to be similarly affected, creating huge problems for national and local governments. Nearly 3% of the population was judged likely to move owing to climate change in the areas studied – a proportion that might be repeated elsewhere.

Migration between countries has previously taken the spotlight, with its potential for cross-border conflicts, but internal migration may cause as much disruption, putting pressure on infrastructure, jobs, food and water resources.

The 140 million figure extrapolates from current trends, but could be reduced if changes are made. If economic development is made more inclusive, for instance through better education and infrastructure, internal migration across the three regions could drop to between 65 million and 105 million, according to the report. If strong action is taken on greenhouse gas emissions, as few as 30 million to 70 million may migrate.

Climate change is likely to most affect the poorest and most vulnerable, making agriculture difficult or even impossible across large swaths of the globe, threatening water resources and increasing the likelihood of floods, droughts and heatwaves in some areas. Sea level rises and violent storm surges are also likely to hit low-lying coastal areas, such as in Bangladesh.

Kristalina Georgieva, the chief executive of the World Bank, in her introduction to the report published on Monday, said: “There is growing recognition among researchers that more people will move within national borders to escape the effects of slow-onset climate change, such as droughts, crop failure and rising seas.

“The number of climate migrants could be reduced by tens of millions as a result of global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and with far-sighted development planning. There is an opportunity now to plan and act for emerging climate change threats.”

Press link for more: The Guardian

India is most vulnerable to #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

India most vulnerable country to climate change: HSBC report

LONDON (REUTERS) – India is the most vulnerable country to climate change, followed by Pakistan, the Philippines and Bangladesh, a ranking by HSBC showed on Monday (March 19).

The bank assessed 67 developed, emerging and frontier markets on vulnerability to the physical impacts of climate change, sensitivity to extreme weather events, exposure to energy transition risks and ability to respond to climate change.

The 67 nations represent almost a third of the world’s nation states, 80 per cent of the global population and 94 per cent of global gross domestic product.

HSBC averaged the scores in each area for the countries in order to reach the overall ranking. Some countries were highly vulnerable in some areas but less so in others.

Of the four nations assessed by HSBC to be most vulnerable, India has said climate change could cut agricultural incomes, particularly unirrigated areas that would be hit hardest by rising temperatures and declines in rainfall.

Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines are susceptible to extreme weather events, such as storms and flooding.

Pakistan was ranked by HSBC among nations least well-equipped to respond to climate risks.

South and southeast Asian countries accounted for half of the 10 most vulnerable countries. Oman, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Mexico, Kenya and South Africa are also in this group.

The five countries least vulnerable to climate change risk are Finland, Sweden, Norway, Estonia and New Zealand.

In its last ranking in 2016, HSBC only assessed G20 countries for vulnerability to climate risk.

Press link for more: Straits Times

Fighting the mega-mine #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Fighting the mega-mine

Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson of Shoal Collective talk to Ken Peters-Dodd, a First Nations activist fighting against the construction of a mega-mine project threatening to devastate the environment.

Activists from Australia and beyond are joining forces to prevent what is set to be one of the world’s biggest ecological catastrophes.

The massive Carmichael coal mega-mine will devastate the Great Barrier Reef, contribute massively to global climate change, and further marginalise Australia’s First Nations people.

Adani, the controversial Indian corporation planning the mine, is set to extract 2.3 billion tonnes of coal over its planned 60 years of operation.

It is just one of nine mega-mines planned in Australia’s Galilee Basin that would produce 330 million tonnes of coal. According to Greenpeace, that much coal would fill a train long enough to wrap around the world one and a half times.

It will be exported by train from the Galilee Basin to Abbot Point port on the Great Barrier Reef.

More than one million cubic metres of sea floor would be dredged from the Reef in order to extend the port.

The Reef was seriously damaged by unprecedented levels of bleaching in 2016 and 2017 due to rising sea temperatures, and is at risk of further damage in 2018.

With hundreds more coal ships filling the waters, dredging, extra noise and light pollution, and the risk of coal spills, it is feared that the Adani mine will destroy the Reef completely.

This is just the latest massive mining project to threaten First Nations people’s connections to their lands in Australia.

Since the first days of colonisation, Aboriginal land has been exploited for the benefit of Europeans, and now the same thing is being done to increase  the profits of international corporations.

Like indigenous people the world over, First Nations Australians are fighting against their lands being seized for the benefit of global capitalism.

The Adani project is in financial trouble due to the massive campaign against it in Australia. Globally, 28 banks have now ruled out all or part of the Galilee Basin mining projects.

In December 2017, Adani’s application for a AUD$1bn state loan was blocked by the Queensland Premier. But many more companies are still involved, many of which are are based in London.

Some of the international companies involved include WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff, Jefferies, Investec, KY, Marsh, and Baker McKenzie. These companies could also bow to public pressure and withdraw their support from Adani.

Such withdrawals could prove fatal to the project.

In short, it is still possible to stop this project.

A coalition of First Nations activists and groups such as Frontline Action Against Coal and Stop Adani are determined to halt the project in its tracks.

Recently, activists have set up a protest camp near Bowen to oppose the project.

We travelled to Bowen on Australia’s east coast, close to the Abbot Point coal port, and joined both locals and international campaigners for Frontline Action on Coal’s week of action to stop Adani.

Roads were blocked and activists locked themselves to the railway tracks used to export coal.

We interviewed Ken Peters-Dodd, a First Nations elder of the Birriah people, whose traditional country will be affected by the project.

Adani plans to construct the railway line through Birriah land to export the coal to its port. Ken calls on international activists to join the fight against the Adani mine.

He told us: “I am from the Birriah people, of the Bowen river.

I am also from the Widi, the mountain and hill people of the hinterlands.

We are part of the Birri Gubba language group.”

What was the affect of colonisation on your country?

Colonisers came here in the late 1860s.

When they got here their main interest was mining and exploiting the resources on our land. They came with the English police force and began the cutting and logging of our timbers.

The wars and battles carried on for decades.

The massive majority of our people were totally annihiliated.

After that, people were forced to work in pastoralism and cattle.

There was a great roundup and my great grandparents were forcibly moved onto [Christian] missions way up in Cape York and Mission Beach, never to return to their country.

How will the Adani project impact on your people?

The Adani project will have an impact on the environment, our cultural heritage and our rights as caretakers and custodians of our country for generations to come.

The project will also have an impact on neighbouring groups.

It will impact the Juru people, whose country is on the coast where the coal will be loaded onto ships.

It will affect their reefs, wetlands and their rights to protect country.

Were First Nations people consulted by Adani?

There was a process where the company came in and set up a meeting. But it was designed to manipulate and divide people.

People didn’t get the right information [on which] to base their decision.

You had a minority of people only in it for financial gain – influencing the meetings in favour of the mining company.

Expert advice to inform this process was done internally by the company.

Our family was in the negotiations and walked out in disgust at how it was being manipulated.

It was already signed and delivered by the mining company and the company’s lawyers when we walked out.

The financial offerings were peanuts compared to what they would make off the country.

Many of the families never signed.

Can you tell us how you’ve been involved in the campaign against the project?

I’m fully supportive of the campaign against Adani as there’s no difference between Aboriginal and environmental activists standing for ecology, water and the reef.

We’ve gone out and pulled our lines together.

We went on to Abbot Point port with local group Reef Defenders and protested against the project.

With Juru elders we’ve made pledges [to oppose the project].

When we went to Adani’s office to deliver our pledges, they never sent the CEO down to collect them. Adani didn’t want to be seen as having anything to do with it. We’ve also been on campaign roadshows, saying that this project does not have the consent of Aboriginal people.

We had Juru elders, who were part of the negotiations with Adani, speaking about why they didn’t support the project.

We’re encouraging other First Nations peoples to join in and fight this. Our people since day one have been standing in protest, speaking out as custodians of this land.

For over two hundred years we have witnessed the destruction of country and it’s time that we as a people stand up to stop this happening.

It’s a turning point.

We ask all First Nations people to stand in alliance in this struggle.

Is the fight against the Adani project only a struggle for First Nations people?

No. Everyone should participate who has an interest in the impacts these projects will have.

We fully support people from around the world to get involved.

It’s not just a struggle for First Nations people but for everyone who has interests and rights in this country.

We want people to come together and support us on country, build a strong alliance and challenge the separation between First Nations people and the wider Australian people.

The Adani mine will have a massive impact on global climate change for generations to come.

Underground waters are going to be depleted, which will have impacts throughout the Great Dividing Range.

The government has no concern for the future generations, or for the people at all.

[Even if planning permission is legally approved], people can still resist the project and we will carry on our fight to protect our country, including protesting physically and peacefully.

It’s a critical point as it will affect other projects in Australia.

What do you say to those who think that the Adani project is vital for creating new jobs in Queensland?

That’s just a political argument made by people with a relationship with the mining industry, campaigning for their positions.

Everyday Australians know that they won’t get a job: the industry wants a transient community which has no physical connection to country. We need to plan for renewable energy.

Even the other mining industries will feel an impact from this project because the price of coal in the area will be driven down [because of oversupply].

We came together and protested against the Commonwealth Bank and temporarily closed down seven of their branches. [Commonwealth Bank, as well as the other big Australian banks, have now pledged not to finance Adani].

Do you want people internationally to resist the involvement of foreign banks?

Definitely. We send clear support for people globally to put pressure on international banks which may have an interest in funding this project. Go and campaign outside these banks and put pressure on them. We want that clear message to come from people internationally. We’d be prepared to go over and support people in this.

We call on people from all areas: social, political and environmental. We ask people from around the world to support us.

We need to pull together and plan for the future because this project will set a precedent which will diminish the future rights of all First Nations people.

Press link for more:

The temperature is rising … and so is the death toll #bushfire #auspol #nswpol #springst #StopAdani

I’ve investigated the impact of climate change driven extreme weather on public health for 20 years.

The research shows the links between the two couldn’t be clearer – extreme weather events such as severe heatwaves, bushfires and supercharged storms are placing Australian lives at risk.

The threats to our lives from extreme weather isn’t limited to heatwaves, but extends to more severe storms and floods and more intense and ‘out of season’ bushfires. Photo: AFP

As we continue to burn fossil fuels such as coal and gas, more carbon pollution is released into our climate system, causing more intense, more severe and more frequent extreme weather events, which in turn, will continue to place increasing pressure on health systems, emergency services and our communities.

Globally, we’ve just experienced the hottest five year period ever recorded, stretching from 2013 to 2017, and this month parts of Queensland were hit with a severe heatwave, breaking February averages by more than  10 degrees.

The reality is that Australia will become warmer and drier as a direct result of intensifying climate change as heatwaves continue to become hotter, longer, and more frequent.

Severe heatwaves are silent killers, causing more deaths since the 1890s than all of Australia’s bushfires, cyclones, earthquakes, floods and severe storms combined.

Over the past decade, severe heatwaves around Australia have resulted in deaths and an increased number of hospital admissions for heart attack, stroke, respiratory illness, diabetes and kidney disease.

Older people, young children, and those with chronic health conditions are at high risk, but so are outdoor workers and our emergency responders.

In January 2009, Melbourne suffered three consecutive days of above 43 degrees, while elsewhere in Victoria it came within a whisker of 49.

There were 980 heat-related deaths during this time, which was around 60% more than would normally occur at that time of year.

Morgues were over capacity and bodies had to be stored in refrigerated trucks.

A few years earlier in 2004, Brisbane experienced a prolonged heatwave with temperatures reaching up to 42 degrees in February, which increased overall deaths by 23%.

The threats to our lives and livelihoods from extreme weather isn’t limited to heatwaves, but extends to more frequent and more severe storms and floods, more intense and ‘out of season’ bushfires, and widespread and prolonged drought.

Of course, we’re used to extreme weather in Australia, so much so that it is embedded in our cultural identity.

From ancient Indigenous understandings of complex seasons and use of fire to manage landscapes, to Dorothea McKeller’s 1908 poem My Country, to Gang Gajang’s 1985 anthem Sounds of Then (This is Australia), we sure like to talk about the weather.

But climate change is making these events more and more deadly, and we can’t afford to be complacent.

So what do we do to protect ourselves and our loved ones from extreme heat and other events?

We can check in with our friends, family and neighbours on extreme heat days and we can strive to make our health services more resilient and responsive, but this doesn’t deal with the cause.

Without rapid effective action to reduce carbon emissions we’re locking ourselves into a future of worsening, out of control extremes.

Ultimately, to protect Australians from worsening extreme weather events and to do our fair share in the global effort to tackle climate change, we have to cut our greenhouse gas pollution levels quickly and deeply.

Reducing our carbon pollution means a healthier Australia, now and in the future, with fewer deaths, fewer ambulance call-outs, fewer trips to the hospital, and reduced costs to the health system.

The only thing standing in the way of Australia tackling climate change is political will.

Professor Hilary Bambrick is a member of the Climate Council and heads the School of Public Health and Social Work at QUT.

Press link for more: Canberra Times

Battle against climate change can still be won #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Image Credit: Niño Jose Heredia/©Gulf News

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) closed its 30th anniversary meeting on Friday with darkening storm clouds gathering around international efforts to tackle global warming.

Not only did last week see United States President Donald Trump install climate sceptic Mike Pompeo as US Secretary of State, but the IPCC moved closer to producing what is likely to be the single biggest agenda-setting, climate science report of the year with bad tidings.

The pending report, due for release this September, comes in the context of Trump’s continuing scepticism about global warming and his decision to sack Rex Tillerson who favoured Washington staying in the Paris treaty.

His replacement by Pompeo underlines how the US president continues to fill the upper ranks of his administration with officials who are fellow climate change sceptics.

In this context, an early draft of the IPCC report for release this Autumn asserts “there is a very high risk that, under current emissions trajectories and current national pledges, global warming will exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels”.

This 1.5 degree Celsius mark, which was the target set by Paris, was made to avoid the worst impacts of so called ‘runaway’ climate change.

This is not the first time this claim has been made — for instance a group of senior climatologists warned in September 2016 that the planet could as soon as 2050 see global average temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Yet, the IPCC enjoys special credibility in this debate, hence the importance of its findings.

In these circumstances, pessimism may grow in coming months about the future of global efforts to combat climate change.

Yet, while the scale of the challenge remains huge, the Paris deal does allow for countries to ratchet up their emissions cuts in future.

This underlines that while the deal — reached in 2015 by more than 190 countries as the successor treaty to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol — is a welcome shot in the arm for attempts to tackle global warming, even more ambition is very likely to be needed in the future.

Indeed, rather than viewing the agreement as the end of the process, it is only the beginning of a longer journey that governments and legislators must now make in 2018 and beyond, with or without Trump.

The roadmap for moving forward after the IPCC meeting is already clear.

Firstly, implementation of the Paris deal will be most effective through national laws where politically feasible.

The country ‘commitments’ put forward in 2015 will be most credible — and durable beyond the next set of national elections — if they are backed up by national legislation where this is possible.

In the US, part of the reason Trump can potentially unravel Paris ratification so relatively straightforwardly is that it was, politically, impossible to get the treaty approved in the US Congress.

Former US president Barack Obama therefore embedded the agreement through executive order which was also being challenged in the US courts before Trump set his own counterpart executive actions reversing his predecessor’s order.

Legislation is more difficult to roll back. And this is especially when supported — as in many countries — by well informed, cross-party lawmakers from across the political spectrum who can put in place a credible set of policies and measures to ensure effective implementation, and hold governments to account so Paris delivers.

While the pledges made in Paris may not be enough yet, the treaty has crucially put in place the domestic legal frameworks which are crucial building blocks to measure, report, verify and manage greenhouse gas emissions.

Specifically, countries are required under the agreement to openly and clearly report on emissions and their progress in reaching the goals in their national climate plans submitted to the UN.

States must also update these every five years to highlight measures being pursued to implement the goals.

“Improving resilience to the impacts of global warming also makes economic sense. And domestic laws also give clear signals about direction of policy.”

In the future, the ambition must be that these frameworks are replicated in even more countries, and progressively ratcheted up. And there are clear signs of this happening already in numerous states, from Asia-Pacific to the Americas, as countries seek to toughen their response to global warming.

What this movement towards a more robust stance on climate change shows is the scale of the transformation in attitudes already taking place amongst many governments and wider societies across the globe. As has been shown yet again last week at the IPCC, many countries now view tackling global warming as in the national self-interest and see, for instance, that expanding domestic sources of renewable energy not only reduces emissions, but also increases energy security by reducing reliance on imported fossil fuels.

Reducing energy demand through greater efficiency reduces costs and increases competitiveness. Improving resilience to the impacts of global warming also makes economic sense. And domestic laws also give clear signals about direction of policy, reducing uncertainty, particularly for the private sector.

Going forward, all of this underlines why legislators must be at the centre of international negotiations and policy processes not just on climate change, but also other sustainability issues, including the 2030 development goals. With or without Trump, lawmakers can now help co-create, and implement, what could be a foundation for global sustainable development for billions across the world, starting with implementation of Paris from 2018 onwards.

Andrew Hammond is an Associate at LSE IDEAS at the London School of Economics.

Press link for more: Gulf News

50 years since climate change was first seen. Now time is running out #auspol #qldpol #sapol #StopAdani

It’s 50 years since climate change was first seen.

Now time is running out |

Richard WilesFri 16 Mar 2018 01.47 AEDT

Making up for years of delay and denial will not be easy, nor will it be cheap. Climate polluters must be held accountable

Scientists attribute 15-40% of the epic rain of Hurricane Harvey to climate change.’ Photograph: Marcus Yam/LA Times via Getty Images

Fifty years ago, the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) delivered a report titled Sources, Abundance, and Fate of Gaseous Atmospheric Polluters to the American Petroleum Institute (API), a trade association for the fossil fuel industry.

The report, unearthed by researchers at the Center for International Environmental Law, is one of the earliest attempts by the industry to grapple with the impacts of rising CO2 levels, which Stanford’s researchers warned if left unabated “could bring about climatic changes” like temperature increases, melting of ice caps and sea level rise.

The year was 1968, and the term “global warming” would not appear in a peer-reviewed academic journal until 1975. Famed Nasa scientist James Hansen would not testify before Congress that “global warming has begun” for another 20 years. And the US would not enter into – only to later pull out of – the Paris climate accord for nearly half a century.

The anniversary of SRI’s report to the API on climate change represents not just a damning piece of evidence of what the fossil fuel industry knew and when, but a signal of all that we have lost over the decades of policy inaction and interference. It should also serve as a potent motivator in the fight for climate accountability and justice.

At the time, CO2 levels in the atmosphere stood about 323ppm. The planet was warming but was still well within the historical norm. Sea levels had risen by about 4in compared with 1880 levels. The report, however, cautioned that “man is now engaged in a vast geophysical experiment with his environment, the Earth” and that “significant temperature changes are almost certain to occur by the year 2000”.

Those predictions proved to be correct: by the turn of the century, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere had risen to 369ppm, causing a temperature increase of nearly half a degree over pre-industrial averages. Today, virtually all climate scientists agree there is little or no chance the world can stay within the goal of 1.5C, the limit of what scientists believe to be safe.

With each decade of delay and denial the impacts and costs of climate change have continued to mount

Over the next 20 years, the scientific community and policymakers around the world began to reach a consensus on the threat posed by rising CO2 levels. Scientists at least one major oil company, Exxon, did their own climate modeling, which agreed with the scientific consensus. During this period a budding movement to cut emissions began.

To counter and slow down that effort to address climate change, the fossil fuel industry began its long and powerful strategy of climate denial and obstructionism. Even though they knew the science, they also realized that attempts to control emissions could seriously damage their bottom lines.

In 1998, as the first global attempt to rein in climate pollution, the Kyoto protocol, was headed to the Senate for ratification, API circulated what has come to be known as the Victory Memo, a detailed road map to undermining science and promoting denial of climate change. According to API’s top strategists: “Victory will be achieved when: those promoting the Kyoto treaty on the basis of extant science appear to be out of touch with reality.”

California’s deadly wildfires which were set up by five years of drought.’ Photograph: Kurod/Zuma Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

The memo’s end goal was clear: create doubt about science where none existed, deceive the media and Congress about the risks of climate change, and block the momentum that was building to address rising emissions through the Kyoto protocol, a precursor to the Paris accord. ExxonMobil alone would go on to spend upwards of $30m on ads, front groups, and pseudoscience intended to carry out the plan. That’s in addition to the cash that flooded the coffers of climate deniers in Congress who are rewarded amply for willful ignorance.

API’s strategic deception campaign was a success, which is why we now stand at the brink of the highest global temperature considered safe. Just what it will mean to cross that line remains an ongoing question for atmospheric scientists, but we’ve already started to get a glimpse and it doesn’t look good.

The damage is all around us, from hurricanes on steroids – scientists attribute 15-40% (8in-24in) of the epic rain of Hurricane Harvey to climate change – to California’s deadly wildfires which were set up by five years of drought, followed by record snowfall, then record heat that turned huge areas of the state into tinderboxes. In 2017 there were 16 separate billion-dollar disasters in the US, resulting in a total of $306bn of damages, nearly $100bn more than the second highest year 2005 (Katrina). While technically climate change did not “cause” these disasters, most of the carnage was aggravated in some way by climate change and the fossil fuel emissions that cause it in the first place.

Other impacts are more long-term and irreparable. Anyone born after 1985 has never experienced a month with average temperatures that fall below the historical norm and, without action, probably never will. Mass coral bleaching events due to warming waters and ocean acidification have rendered large swaths of some of the ocean’s most diverse ecosystems lifeless. The vanishing Arctic ice cap appears already to be affecting global weather patterns, and the loss of ice in Antarctica may have reached a tipping point that many now view as irreversible, a development that will require tough and costly decisions for coastal cities.

It never had to be this way. But with each decade of delay and denial the impacts and costs of climate change have continued to mount. Now taxpayers are left holding the bill for a literal rising tide of impacts that pose the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. Meeting that challenge must begin with accountability on the part of climate polluters, and justice for citizens who did nothing to cause the problem other than drive to work and heat their homes when they had no other alternatives.

We can’t turn back the clock, but we can turn off the fossil fuel firehose that’s been pumping CO2 into our atmosphere and demand that those who left it running help foot the bill for the cleanup. Already we’ve seen cities like New York, San Francisco, and other coastal cities file lawsuits against climate polluters, seeking to recover costs associated with planning for and adapting to a warming world. With massive costs facing hundreds more cities and no remedy in sight, more litigation will follow.

Making up for 50 years of delay and denial will not be easy, nor will it be cheap. But taxpayers should not have to shoulder the burden alone. The API and its climate polluters knowingly and deliberately caused this mess. They must help pay to clean it up.

Richard Wiles is the executive director of the Center for Climate Integrity

Press link for more: The Guardian

Global warming puts nearly half of species in key places at risk: report #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

An elephant splashes at sunset in the waters of the Chobe river in Botswana in 2015.

(CNN)About half of all plants and animals in 35 of the world’s most biodiverse places are at risk of extinction due to climate change, a new report claims.

“Hotter days, longer periods of drought, and more intense storms are becoming the new normal, and species around the world are already feeling the effects,” said Nikhil Advani, lead specialist for climate, communities and wildlife at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

The report, a collaboration between the University of East Anglia, the James Cook University, and the WWF, found that nearly 80,000 plants and animals in 35 diverse and wildlife-rich areas — including the Amazon rainforest, the Galapagos islands, southwest Australia and Madagascar — could become extinct if global temperatures rise.

The 35 places were chosen based on their “uniqueness and the variety of plants and animals found there,” the WWF said.

“The collected results reveal some striking trends. They add powerful evidence that we urgently need global action to mitigate climate change,” the report said. A corresponding study was also published by the scientific journal Climate Change.

If temperatures were to rise by 4.5 degrees Celsius, animals like African elephants would likely lack sufficient water supplies and 96% of all breeding ground for tigers in India’s Sundarbans region could be submerged in water.

An Indian tigress wearing a radio collar wades through a river after being released by wildlife workers in Storekhali forest in the Sundarbans, some 130 kilometers south of Kolkata, in 2010.

However, if temperature rise was kept to below 2 degrees Celsius — the global target set by the landmark Paris Climate Accord in 2015 — the number of species lost could be limited to 25%.

“This is not simply about the disappearance of certain species from particular places, but about profound changes to ecosystems that provide vital services to hundreds of millions of people,” the WWF said in its report.

CNN’s Mayra Cuevas contributed to this report

Press link for more: CNN.COM

The Market Can’t Solve a Massacre or the #ClimateCrisis #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #sapol #neoliberalism

By Patrick Blanchfield

The massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, one month ago today, left seventeen children and school staff dead.

It was the third highest-casualty mass shooting at an educational institution in American history (after Virginia Tech—32 dead—and Sandy Hook—27) and the ninth highest-casualty single-shooter mass shooting in modern American history.

Assembling such ranked lists, surveying body count subtotals, and tracking the fatalities balance sheet is nauseating, and it was perhaps in the spirit of that enterprise that South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds told NPR the day afterward: “You have to recognize, our most valuable assets are our kids.”

As a Republican with an “A” rating from the NRA, it would be entirely defensible to say Rounds’s words are belied by his deeds: He may say children are our greatest “assets,” but he certainly seems to value an NRA endorsement far more. But what’s striking about Rounds’ phrase isn’t its hypocrisy, but the way it captures a central truth about contemporary American politics.

Our political rhetoric, like our moral imagination, uses the vocabulary and logic of the market, of assets and investments, of incentives and innovation.

Your personal health is an asset, which you must safeguard through savvy navigation of insurance markets, shopping for doctors and medications, and close-reading complicated medical bills.

Immigrants, too, are assets, human resources whose financial contributions to their communities and potential for entrepreneurship become the pivot on which we hang appeals for empathy and support (This man being tragically deported by ICE is a successful small business owner!

This drowned child refugee could have been the next Steve Jobs!). And so on.

There is a word to describe this state of affairs, a word that describes both the way we’ve organized our current political and economic system, and the way we have let that system shape our social and emotional lives.

That word is neoliberalism.

What is neoliberalism?

The many competing definitions can be confusing and even misleading. And, since the history of neoliberalism has played out in many different countries, what the word denotes in one place is not necessarily the same in others. But we shouldn’t let nuance and complexity dissuade us from using the term, because neoliberalism is an incredibly powerful concept for understanding not just contemporary American life and politics in general, but our reactions to gun violence and school shootings specifically.

Neoliberalism is at once a subspecies of capitalism and a model of governance, a vision of what politics can and should be.

It sees political and social life almost exclusively through the lens of the free market, and asks us to consider ourselves and our fellow citizens primarily in terms of our economic activities: as consumers, as workers, as competitors, as human resources.

Under neoliberalism, in other words, the individual is less a human subject with rights that entail obligations from the government, but rather a variable in a broader calculus of efficiency, a site for maximizing revenue and minimizing expenditure.

Simply put, neoliberalism is about the withdrawal of government responsibility for political problems in favor of market-based “solutions” and individual “choices.”

In a very granular and insidious way, neoliberalism narrows the bounds of what counts as a “political” problem as such.

Dramatic political change becomes increasingly unthinkable, dismissed as unrealistic, impracticable, and naïve.

Transmuting hopes for radical transformation into market-based “innovation” as a primary driver of social change, neoliberal governance recedes into technocratic administration, busying itself with ever-more-arcane and bloodless policy tweaks intended merely to keep capital flowing smoothly and efficiently.

Meanwhile, as state responsibility for political problems evaporates, individuals are left to pick up the slack, obligated to perform vast amounts of compensatory emotional and material labor even as they grow ever more vulnerable, atomized, and overwhelmed.

Not coincidentally, neoliberalism has become our dominant system against the backdrop of decades of corporate deregulation, privatization, and the dismantling of social services, developments that it celebrates and champions.

The emotional and political landscape of American gun violence and school shootings specifically reads like an atlas of neoliberalism.

To be sure, our singular problem with gun murder—of which mass shootings are only a fractional percentile, one with no real analogue anywhere in any other nation in the world, neoliberal or otherwise—has deep roots in America’s unique history of ethnic cleansing, racial oppression, globalized militarism, entrenched inequality, and violent ideologies of masculinity; these forces shape how gun violence plays out in and determines which Americans must bear its traumas most. But how our society has chosen to frame and respond to the problem of mass shootings, and school shootings specifically, over the course of the past two decades illustrates neoliberalism’s corrosiveness.

Consider, first, the scope of mainstream reactions to mass shootings.

The problem of random massacres in public spaces is a properly political problem.

It strikes at the core of our basic ability to live together and interact safely with each other in the public sphere. And yet the primary themes in responses of our politicians from across the political spectrum have been disavowal, indifference, resignation, and opportunism.

Conservatives who are otherwise unabashed about endorsing heavy-handed and repressive responses to the evils of terrorism respond to gun massacres by waxing theological and proclaiming that evil cannot be “legislated.”

Liberals, meanwhile, have long operated from a position defined by a self-fulfilling preemptive concession to “reality” whereby entertaining the idea of an outright gun ban is taboo, foreclosed from the get-go.

Whatever one may think of a total gun ban as either a moral or a practical matter, the fact that it is a position currently espoused in public by precisely zero national-level politicians is significant.

The outcome of any political debate partially reflects a middle ground defined by the most extreme positions espoused by mainstream political actors.

American politics accommodates plenty of extreme positions, and the Republican party has been particularly successful in normalizing and leveraging the obstinacy of its most extreme politicians and constituents to consistently move policy and discourse rightwards.

Yet while voices calling for an elimination of the minimum wage or abortion bans are commonplace among conservatives, the signal absence of prominent Democrats stridently demanding a blanket gun ban—even as an ideal principle, deployed for purposes of bargaining—markedly predetermines the entire national conversation on guns.

The idea that the Democratic party is militantly dead-set on nationwide gun confiscation or the repeal of the Second Amendment is simultaneously laughable and a potent staple of paranoiac right-wing fantasies.

The reality is that many Democrats leap to pacify this fear as a token of their reasonableness. For decades now the horizon of political imaginability for gun control has thus been constricted from the outset, and the party has long condemned itself to measures that are so much triage and tinkering, to fundraising off the NRA rather than targeting the problem of money in politics or arms industry influence more broadly, and to publicity stunts and cynical legislative bids that are more about expanding the security state than about sustainably lowering gun deaths.

Even an assault weapons ban, despite its undeniable potential as a wedge issue, has long been seen by most Democrats as a nonstarter.

In the immediate wake of Parkland, the DCCC’s first instruction to Democrats was to avoid “politicizing” the massacre, steer clear of gun ban talk, and mirror the Republican language of “Thoughts and Prayers” themselves.

To be clear: Blame for America’s longstanding inertia on mass shootings cashes out differently for our two main parties.

Republicans playing hardball is not the same thing as Democrats playing catch-up. But the causes of this inertia, which have everything to do with the influence of market incentives—from corporate money to regulatory capture to political careerism—implicate each party, and have produced a state of affairs that is bigger than both of them.

For the sake of appearing “reasonable” and “realistic,” and for the sake of preserving their continued electability and “political capital” (a thoroughly neoliberal concept), our political elites reject responsibility for what could not more obviously be a political problem: mass murder in public spaces.

In consequence, a kind of fatalistic resignation has settled over most Americans—a common wisdom that, on guns, nothing can or will ever get done.

Very literally, Americans teach their children to understand the intrusion of rampaging killers with assault rifles as a random force of nature analogous to a fire or an earthquake.

But neoliberalism means that as government responsibility recedes, and as the bounds of what is politically imaginable constrict, other players step in to pick up the slack—and make a buck.

The social contract gets traded in for a profusion of End User Agreements, gig opportunities, and handshake deals with grifters and loan sharks.

The mushrooming market for security equipment in schools and on college campuses reached $2.68 billion in 2017 alone, and school districts around the country have steadily devoted increasing sums to security even as their overall budgets have dwindled.

These products look and sound like weapons and gear from America’s endless wars abroad: bulletproof whiteboards, School Shooter Kits (complete with tourniquets and trauma dressing), The Barracuda (a reinforced doorstop), The Raptor (a web-based “visitor management system,” the ad copy for which asks “Are you ready to take the next steps in protecting your school?”).

The market isn’t just for school administrators. Parents can buy their kids bulletproof backpacks and folders or invest in literal ballistic security blankets (available with free shipping from Walmart). This burgeoning cornucopia of products for protecting children does little to address the fact that not all schools and parents are equally capable of buying them, of course. But that’s neoliberalism for you: The choices and the opportunities to ameliorate societal problems exist, but only if you can afford them.

The withdrawal of political responsibility in favor of market solutions occurs without any correlative empowerment of the citizen as a consumer—in fact, as American inequality increases and social mobility drops, the end result is quite the opposite.

While the private sector flourishes, public institutions are hollowed out, and the people who depend on them are left in ever-more-precarious conditions.

It should not be surprising—although it is rarely observed—that the overwhelming majority of school shootings have thus far occurred in public, not private schools, even as our leaders pursue massive cuts to federal expenditures on public school safety (including funds used for post mass-shooting trauma counseling).

Meanwhile, advocates for the further hollowing out of the public sector seize on school massacres as an opportunity to argue for increased homeschooling.

The enrichment of the private sector is only one consequence of the neoliberal abdication of political responsibility for a political problem.

The other half of the picture is the burden that devolves from the government onto private individuals.

This burden demands labor and energy, but the costs are not just material.

They are emotional, too. Neoliberalism is not just a way of organizing political economy.

It imposes a regime of feelings and behaviors as well.

Neoliberalism doesn’t just pull the rug of basic social welfare out from under people’s feet—it makes them responsible for getting back on their feet, and blames them for landing on their ass in the first place.

And so in schools across the country, Americans make their children participate in Active Shooter drills.

These drills, which can involve children as young as kindergartners hiding in closets and toilet stalls, and can even include simulated shootings, are not just traumatic and of dubious value.

They are also an educational enterprise in their own right, a sort of pedagogical initiation into what is normal and to be expected.

Very literally, Americans teach their children to understand the intrusion of rampaging killers with assault rifles as a random force of nature analogous to a fire or an earthquake.

This seems designed to foster in children a consciousness that is at once hypervigilant and desperate, but also morbid and resigned—in other words, to mold them into perfectly docile citizen-consumers. And if children reject this position and try to take action, some educational authorities will attempt to discipline their resistance out of them, as in Texas, where one school district has threatened to penalize students who walk out in anti-gun violence actions, weaponizing the language of “choices” and “consequences” to literally quash “any type of protest or awareness.”

It’s not just children that the neoliberal system demands suffer the burden of responsibility for its failure to deal with school shootings.

Even as legislators crush teachers’ unions and ask educators to do ever-more labor—to act as test-prep coaches and job trainers, substitute parents and grief counselors—they also seriously contemplate giving them guns.

Many do this without ever really thinking too much about the emotional and cognitive onus that puts on them: not just to foster creativity and learning while safely controlling access to a firearm in overcrowded classrooms, but to be prepared, at any moment, to exercise lethal force against an assailant who may even be one of their own students.

Teachers, the people on the front lines of a broken system, are demanded, unremunerated or with the promise of meager “bonuses,” to reconcile its contradictions: to educate, but also to be constantly ready to kill. The on-the-face-of-it obscenity of this as a “solution” to anything falls out in favor of dithering over incentives and efficiency, to Trump promising that “Shootings will not happen again – a big & very inexpensive deterrent.”

Only two weeks after Parkland, both Democrat and Republican leadership decided to forgo any legislative debates over gun control and instead agreed to focus on a project with bipartisan appeal—deregulating banks.

Meanwhile, the massacres continue.

And so after each new bloodbath America’s leaders call on the general public to perform mass rituals of affective labor—moments of silence, sending thoughts and prayers, rituals that are excruciatingly draining, formulaic and tokenistic, and utterly useless.

When people reject these rituals as hollow, they are shamed, condemned for “politicizing” or “capitalizing” upon tragedy, a prospect anathema to the neoliberal status quo, which seeks to depoliticize everything. And, like Trump after Parkland, authorities blame victims and their communities for failing to prevent their own murder by not adequately performing as unpaid forensic profilers, social media surveillance professionals, and police informants. The blame is especially fierce when the shortcomings of the authorities and current laws have been exposed and humiliated, as in Parkland, where police responded to incidents involving the future shooter at his home no less than 39 times in seven years, and where multiple armed officers wasted precious minutes waiting outside the school as gunfire continued instead of going in. This apportionment of blame should not be surprising: Under neoliberalism, the system can never fail you, you can only fail it—and your suffering is the proof that you deserve it.

Perhaps the most twisted and tragic feature of the neoliberal script for how American society metabolizes mass shootings is a hollowing out of grief itself.

Americans have constructed an elaborate series of increasingly familiar rituals and performances for honoring the “sacrifice” of exemplary victims of senseless, entirely preventable butchery while doing precious little about it.

Yet this heartbroken, anguished praise of children and teachers who are martyred holding open doors or shielding other people from gunfire indexes how normal and inevitable the demand for these acts—the ultimate unpaid, supererogatory labor—has actually become in our system. If you pay attention, you’ll notice how the statements of school security professionals and the scripts for active shooter response trainings inevitably emphasize delaying or containing the shooter, slowing their progress, keeping them in one place. We expect unarmed people to rush killers carrying military-grade weapons, to improvise weapons and stage ambushes, to use their own bodies as barriers, to soak up bullets and force shooters to reload, to buy time and keep them localized until the authorities arrive. In the tight confines of a classroom or school hallway, facing high-powered rifles firing bullets designed to cause massive wounds, that can penetrate multiple bodies, and can turn flying fragments of shattered bone into devastating projectiles, the carnage this entails is beyond description—and yet we ask people to volunteer for it as part of our safety protocols. It is hard to imagine a more nutshell image of contemporary American neoliberalism than this: Demanding our citizens, training our children, to throw themselves like human sandbags against a problem that we decline to attempt to solve.

None of this has to be this way.

If the essence of neoliberalism lies in the denial of responsibility and the foreclosure of the political, the first step is to recognize this, to take responsibility, repoliticize the political, and demand radically better and more.

Corporations and the individual consumers cannot possibly fix our national problem of gun violence. But mobilized coalitions of politically conscious citizens can.

Nor can change come from our political elites, especially since, only two weeks after Parkland, both Democrat and Republican leadership decided to forgo any legislative debates over gun control and instead agreed to focus on a project with bipartisan appeal—deregulating banks.

In the wake of Parkland, the brave voices of student survivors have been a clarion call and beacon of hope. Once, our nation forced generations of school children to respond to the threat of thermonuclear war by hiding under desks in Duck and Cover drills. Those children grew up, leaving the existence of that threat—our world’s massive nuclear arsenals—unchanged, normalized away from regular consciousness.

It is frankly incredible and genuinely inspiring that today, a generation raised with Active Shooter drills has responded to trauma and horror not by disavowing or normalizing it, but by confronting it head-on. What these young people are demanding is properly political and legitimately radical: not just an opportunity not to be the next victims, but that there not be any next victims at all. Their testimony and demands should galvanize us into reflection, solidarity, and action.

America cannot and must not leave it to them to save us from neoliberalism, from gun violence, or from ourselves.

Press link for more: Splinter News