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Breakthroughs Converging to Completely Derail Fossil Fuels #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #Innovation #StopAdani #NoNewCoal

What will ultimately push fossil fuels back the way of the dinosaur?

Purely and simply, is it our ethics and our resolve as consumers and brands that will end our dependence on dirty energy.

The response to Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement — in which business and civic leaders vowed to continue working towards clean energy, anyway — is easily part of the mix. The response demonstrated a deep level of commitment.

So, too, are efforts from activists, such as the Rise for Climate rally scheduled for September 8th, 2018.

With participants from Australia, East Asia, Africa and Europe planning to take action, Rise for Climate should be a fitting follow-up to the 300,000-strong march that took place in New York in September of 2014.

It will also be good prep for the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, September 12-14.

Brands, business leaders, activists — we also can’t overlook changes that people make to their lifestyles every day in an effort to lessen their climate impacts. Network theory says that individuals are linked to each other via “relationships or structural connections.”

In this case, the relationship is one of producers and consumers, as well as prosumers. There’s a conversation going on between consumers and brands, no doubt because market research says people value sustainability, but also because many people are using their brands to espouse their own values.

Without any incentive to do so, Max Burgers began planting trees in Africa in 2008, and is now making burgers that offset production-related climate emissions by 110 percent. Ambient Bamboo, a company that sells bamboo floors, dedicates its entire blog to more sustainable living and publishes tips on how to “eco-hack” homes, including info on cutting down on energy usage. These brands and many more know that minimizing energy usage is essential for leaving fossil fuels in the ground because many grids still operate on dirty energy; but according to the journal Nature, that will soon change.

A new study shows that there’s a “carbon bubble” that will burst, leaving fossil fuel assets “stranded.”

Regardless of whether nations implement policies, there will be stranded fossil fuel assets because of “an already ongoing technological trajectory.” If nations, particularly the US, adopt new climate policies in keeping with the Paris Accord — in effort to keep the global temperature from rising more than 2℃ — there will be even more stranded fossil fuel assets. But in effect, the damage has already been done. The study’s simulations and analyses show that new technologies will derail fossil fuels by 2050.

The coming technological upheaval

The aforementioned study calls it a “Technology Diffusion Trajectory.” This is the scenario in which countries don’t necessarily adopt additional 2℃ policies, but rather embrace low-carbon technologies, such as solar energy, to replace fossil fuels. The study refers to low-carbon technologies repeatedly, but begs the question, which low-carbon technologies?

The obvious answer is technologies related to wind and solar, but there are also many exciting advances in electrical and computer engineering that will no doubt have an impact:

• “Pee-to-power Technology,” created by Ohio University’s Dr. Gerardine Botte, turns wastewater into hydrogen, which can power hydrogen fuel cells. It also produces clean water. The invention features the GreenBox, an ingenious electrochemical conversion device.

Click to enlarge. | Image credit: Ohio University

• This electrochemical flow capacitor from Drexel University enables efficient renewable energy storage at scale, meaning grids will no longer need huge supercapacitors.

Click to enlarge. | Image credit: Drexel University

• Electric cars are becoming more efficient.

Click to enlarge. | Image credit: Ohio University

Ohio University notes that “an estimated $1 trillion is expected to be spent nationwide in bringing the grid up to date by 2030.” As solar and wind energy gets cheaper, expect grids to adopt technologies like the electrochemical flow capacitor as a solution to storage, which, combined with cheap, clean energy, would eliminate the need for coal and gas.

Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org and Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College, notes that a Nevada solar energy plant recently hit a record low price of 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour, even though the US recently imposed tariffs on Chinese solar panels (in addition to the 30 percent he slapped on foreign panels earlier this year). The Nevada solar plant’s low price on solar demonstrates the inevitability of a low-carbon technology diffusion, as does Volkswagen’s decision to spend $84 billion on electric drivetrains.

The moral of the story: Countries that continue trying to favor fossil fuels will find themselves falling behind economies that adopt renewable and inexpensive methods of producing energy; investors who hold onto fossil fuel assets will see those assets dwindle in value, to the point where it will make no economic sense to hang onto them.

In that sense, environmental stewardship is no longer the primary reason for clean energy. Investors (and governments) who kowtow to the market and care little for ethics and the environment will find themselves sitting high and dry should they continue to support an energy source that makes no economic sense.

Press link for more: Sustainable Brands

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Mass coral bleaching forces review of reef protection plan #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani #NoNewCoal

By Tony Moore

An urgently revised plan to protect the Great Barrier Reef has been bought forward following evidence of damage from the back-to-back coral bleaching incidents in 2016 and 2017.

The Australian and Queensland governments have on Friday released the 2018 mid-term review of their long-term 2050 Reef Plan, after studies in 2017 confirmed serious damage to the reef from climate change.

Great Barrier Reef coral of Port Douglas in 2017.

Photo: Dean Legacy

“The unprecedented instance of back-to-back mass bleaching events shows that climate change is already having impacts on the reef and clearly underlines the importance of urgent action to build the Reef’s resilience and maintain its functionality,” the report says.

“Consecutive coral bleaching events and the impact of other stressors have fundamentally changed the character of the Reef. Coral bleaching is projected to increase in frequency. As corals are relatively slow growing they will have too little time to recover between events or to evolve genetically.”

The report identifies four climate change trajectories to try to keep ocean temperature warming below 2 degrees to prevent coral bleaching.

The timeline: Why has this report been bought forward?

• 2015 – The Australian and Queensland governments released the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan

• 2016 – There were major problems with coral bleaching on areas of the Great Barrier Reef

• 2017 – There were more coral-bleaching incidents happened along the Great Barrier Reef. Coral bleaching is linked to ocean warming

• March-April 2017 – There was extra damage was caused by Cyclone Debbie

• September 2017 and May 2018 – Surveys showed “sustained significant coral loss due to coral bleaching, cyclones and crown-of-thorns starfish”

• July 2018 – The Great Barrier Reef Ministerial Forum decided to bring forward a revised Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan

What has changed in policy and direction in this new report?

There is a stronger focus on climate change in the revised report.

1. New climate adaptation actions have been added. A new policy is developing a Reef Resilience Network and working on localised restoration activities to build up this network.

2. Research will begin on climate change trajectories to judge their impact on the Great Barrier Reef. These climate change trajectories will be reviewed in 2020 in the first comprehensive review of the revised plan.

3. Water quality targets have been updated.

What is the big issue?

Water temperature increases around the Great Barrier Reef need to be kept below an increase of 1.5 degrees, according to peer-reviewed scientists, to reduce the frequency of coral bleaching, the report says.

A concerted “international effort” is required.

What are some of the key projects under way now?

This three-page table shows $600 million worth of fertilizer and sediment control projects now underway, funded by the Australian and Queensland governments.

Most of them are directed to cane farmers, banana farmers and graziers.

It includes $8.5 million for two sediment-erosion control and restoration projects run by Greening Australia to stop silt flowing down rivers and on to the reef.

Sediment flowing down the Burdekin River towards Upstart Bay near Bowen.

Photo: Tony Moore

Where is the money coming from?

The Australian government put in $500 million in the 2018-19 Budget.

The Queensland government put in $500 million to a Land Restoration Fund in its 2018-19 Budget.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has $1 billion available “on a commercial basis” for clean energy projects close to the reef.

By December 2017 it has invested $345 million to more than 280 projects including seven utility scale solar farms in central and north Queensland.

Earlier funding promises

In 2016, $1.28 billion was committed to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

That included $716 million from the Australian Government, $409 million from the Queensland government and $161 million from other sources.

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What does the Great Barrier Reef contribute to the economy?

1 Over two million visitors each year

2 64,000 jobs

3 Generates economic activity of $6.4 billion each year, largely through tourism

4 It is a “maze” of 1050 islands and 3000 reefs stretching 2300 kilometres along the Queensland coast

How will results be checked?

There are annual reports to Queensland and Australian environment ministers and updated in five-year Outlook Reports, independently monitored by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

The first major review will be in 2020 before UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee reviews the health of the Great Barrier Reef in 2020.

The Great Barrier Reef has been a UNESCO protected site since 1981.

What do observers say about the revised reef plan?

Climate Council – Acting chief executive Dr Martin Rice said the revised plan failed to acknowledge Australia’s weak greenhouse gas pollution reduction targets and instead relied heavily on $500 million dollars to improve water quality and eradicate the crown-of-thorn starfish to protect the Reef.

World Wildlife Fund Australia – WWF’s Oceans campaigner Richard Leck said the plan showed more effort was needed to keep ocean warming to below 2 degrees centigrade.

He also questioned why farmers were not updating their practices to stop fertiliser run-off.

Press link for more: Brisbane Times

Australian governments concede Great Barrier Reef headed for ‘collapse’ #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #NoNewCoal #ClimateChange

By Nicole Hasham

The world’s climate change path means the Great Barrier Reef is headed for “collapse” according to a plan endorsed by state and federal governments that critics say turns a blind eye to Australia’s inadequate effort to cut carbon emissions.

The federal and Queensland governments on Friday released a “new and improved” Reef 2050 Plan to save the iconic natural wonder, which explicitly acknowledges climate change poses a deadly threat to the reef.

The comments depart starkly from previous official efforts to downplay damage wrought on the reef for fear of denting the tourism industry.

Global temperature rises this century must be kept below 1.5 degrees to ensure the Great Barrier Reef’s survival, the government plan says.

Photo: E.Matson, AIMS

Based on current climate projections, the outlook for coral reefs generally is “one of continuing decline over time, and in many regions, including the Great Barrier Reef, the collapse and loss of coral reef ecosystems”, the plan says.

It concedes that consecutive coral bleaching events and other stressors “have fundamentally changed the character of the reef”, which is one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet.

“Coral bleaching is projected to increase in frequency … those coral reefs that survive are expected to be less biodiverse than in the past,” the plan says.

Critics say the revised Reef 2050 Plan ignores Australia’s weak emissions reduction targets.

Photo: Australian Institute of Marine Science

The reef is the world’s largest living structure, covering an area roughly the size of Italy.

Coral reefs are particularly sensitive to the effects of climate change including higher sea temperatures, ocean acidification and more intense storms and cyclones.

The plan recognised that “holding the global temperature increase to 1.5°C or less is critical to ensure the survival of coral reefs”.

“Respected coral scientists have documented in peer-reviewed journals that most of the world’s coral reefs will not survive unless the global temperature increase is limited to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels,” it said.

However WWF-Australia head of oceans Richard Leck said Australia’s emissions reduction efforts were not even in line with limiting warming to 2°.

He cited a 2017 report by the United Nations environment program that found Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions were set to far exceed its pledge under the Paris accord. This agreement aims to limit global temperature rises this century to well below 2° and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°.

“It is simply not good enough for the revised plan to suggest the global community must work to limit warming when Australia is not doing its fair share,” Mr Leck said.

The Australian Marine Conservation Society’s reef campaign director Imogen Zethoven said increased recognition of climate change as a threat to the reef must be followed by action.

Fish swim among bleached coral in the Great Barrier Reef.

Photo: Ove Hoegh-Guldberg

She said scientific research soon to be published showed that if global temperature rises reached an average 2.4°, the Great Barrier Reef would suffer bleaching events twice a decade from 2041. This would occur as early as 2035 if average temperature rises reached 4.3°.

Bleaching events would be far less frequent under an average temperature rise of 1.6°, Ms Zethoven said.

“The onset of twice-a-decade bleaching will then become the onset of annual bleaching and eventually [the entire reef] will be affected,” she said.

Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said Australia’s Paris target was ambitious and the nation was “on track to meet and beat its 2020 target, we will also meet our 2030 target”.

The Queensland government has previously said millions of dollars in federal reef spending is essentially useless unless matched by efforts to tackle climate change

Labor environment spokesman Tony Burke said the federal government had neglected the reef by allowing large-scale land clearing in nearby catchments, which damages water quality.

Press link for more: SMH

We must bridge generational divide to prevent climate & budget crises #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange Intergenerational Debt #Neoliberalism

Progressives must bridge the generational divide to prevent climate and budget crises

BY PAUL BLEDSOE AND BEN RITZ, OPINION CONTRIBUTORS

Amid the daily drama of President Trump‘s tweets and scandals, it can be hard to focus on the most important issues for our future.

An unfortunate consequence of this purposeful turmoil is that few serious solutions are being offered for addressing two of the greatest threats facing the United States: runaway climate change and unsustainable budget policies.

The resignation of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt may end his days of plundering the environment and public treasury, but the Trump administration will continue doing both even in his absence, risking long-term national well-being for temporary political benefits.

It’s critical that progressives offer credible alternatives, especially if they hope to inspire younger voters who will bear the burden of these problems, because we cannot afford to dither on either issue much longer.

We speak from experience.

One of us is a baby boomer who has spent most of his career working on energy and climate policy; the other is a millennial focused on the federal budget.

Although our two fields may seem unrelated, both these existential challenges require our generations to work together to solve.

Our leaders have been warned about the climate crisis for more than a generation.

Thirty years ago last month, NASA scientist James Hansen first testified before Congress noting the irrefutable relationship between growing carbon dioxide emissions and rising temperatures.

Since then, global average temperatures and greenhouse gas emissions have increased relentlessly, leading to enormously expensive climate change impacts around the world.

Just last year, Hurricane Harvey and other major storms made worse by climate change devastated the US costing federal taxpayers over $130 billion so far.

The longer we wait to stem rising temperatures, the higher these costs will grow.

The Long-term Budget Outlook recently published by the Congressional Budget Office tells a similar story.

The gap between federal revenues and spending is growing at an alarming rate, requiring the government to borrow more each year to cover the difference.

If current policies remain in place, the national debt relative to the size of the economy could rocket past the record-high level reached just after World War II as soon as 2029.

From then onward, the federal government will be stuck spending over $1 trillion every year just to pay interest on the debt, making the growing budget deficit increasingly difficult to close the longer we wait.

Both our climate and our budget problems stem in large part from a moral failure by baby boomers.

Rather than investing in their children’s future via sustainable energy and fiscal policies, boomers emitted greenhouse gases and cut their own taxes with reckless abandon, while promising themselves generous retirement benefits paid-for by future workers.

Now millennials will be stuck with a debt and a climate that are far more dangerous than in previous generations.

The two problems exacerbate one another.

As climate change worsens, hundreds of billions each year will need to be spent each year on adaptation and disaster relief, making it that much harder to reduce future budget deficits.

Conversely, the federal government will find it increasingly difficult to invest in technologies to combat climate change when so much of tax revenue is pre-committed to servicing our debt and paying for past promises.

Alas, the Republican-controlled government in Washington (like the LNP government in Australia) has made both problems much worse.

Party leaders deny or ignore the overwhelming scientific consensus around climate change, with the president calling it a “hoax” while his administration is pushing to replacing the Obama-era Clean Power Plan with a pro-pollution alternative that props up dying industries at the expense of our planet and economy.

The GOP exhibits the same pattern of willful ignorance on the federal budget: just recently, National Economic Council Chairman Larry Kudlow erroneously claimed that the deficit is falling even as it does the exact opposite – a problem which was made worse by the $2 trillion tax cut Republicans enacted at the end of last year without making any serious effort to pay for it.

Democrats and Labor have to do better.

Just as the far right wants to play chicken with our climate, some on the far left want to play chicken with our national debt.

Neither is a risk worth taking.

Democrats must resist the far left’s calls to pursue expensive expansions of social insurance programs before making our current obligations financially sustainable.

When it comes to climate change, most of the party understands the need for action but has yet to coalesce around practical approaches for solving the problem that would attract rather than alienate swing voters.

Democrats must realize there is little value in having the moral high ground, on either climate or the budget, without the political power to implement solutions.

The responsibility for making these changes thus lies with voters as much as their leaders, and both of our respective generations must do our part to promote responsible solutions.

Baby boomers need to accept responsibility for the unresolved problems they leave millennials and be willing to contribute to solutions.

But millennials need to take ownership of their future by showing up at the polls and making these challenges core voting issues.

Young voters already overwhelmingly support Democrats – it’s time they show up and demand Democrats support them in return by addressing the two greatest threats to our future prosperity.

Paul Bledsoe is strategic advisor for the Progressive Policy Institute, and Ben Ritz is the director of PPI’s Center for Funding America’s Future.

Press link for more: The Hill

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

The new renewable energy bridge #India #China #StopAdani #NoNewCoal #auspol #qldpol

The new renewable energy bridge

Atul Aneja

This time, the stars could not have been better aligned. China had accumulated excess stock of renewable energy hardware.

Too many factories were churning out solar panels and wind turbines to fulfill Beijing’s clean energy dreams.

Workers installing solar panels at a floating solar plant in Huainan, Anhui province, China, in December 2017.   | Photo Credit: CHINA STRINGER NETWORK

The Chinese government had earlier declared that it intended to spend a whopping $360 billion on renewable energy wherewithal, such as solar panel and wind turbines, by 2020.

On the demand end, energy-hungry India was positioning itself to absorb a significant portion of this surplus.

Renewable energy has continued to remain one of the top items on New Delhi’s power and environmental agenda. “The driving force is the Paris climate agreement,” said Sanjay Sharma of Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI), referring to the deal which set limits to greenhouse gas emissions, with 2020 as the starting point.

Speaking at a Beijing seminar on renewable energy, he stressed that India was looking at 2030, when renewables would cover 40% of the country’s total installed capacity. Consequently, clean energy targets were being revised. By 2022, India has plans to develop 100 GW of renewable energy.

China’s own plans to funnel copious doses of renewable energy into its energy mix have been rattled over the last few years. An economic slowdown has reduced overall energy demand, resulting in growing accumulation of excess capacity. Besides, the resistance from the coal lobby has also proved unusually hardy. The trade war with the U.S., which many anticipate will dry up exports of renewables to America, is adding further pressure on the Chinese energy producers, forcing them to seek new markets. “Under these difficult circumstances, India offers a natural lifeline to Chinese manufacturers of renewable energy products,” said an Indian official, who did not want to be named.

India’s fault lines

During the brainstorming in Beijing, India’s own fault lines in the renewable energy domain were also exposed. For instance, the chronic problem of land acquisition at home was forcing Indian planners to consider wider use of water as a platform for floating solar panels. “We can use reservoirs or even backwaters as in Kerala or in Lakshadweep for floating solar PV projects,” said Y.B.K. Reddy, deputy general manager at SECI. He pointed out that three months ago, a team of Indian experts had been sent to tap Chinese expertise in this field. “The team visited the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydro project, on the Yangtze river. It has a massive reservoir ideally suited for floating renewable energy projects,” remarked Mr. Reddy.

The delegation also went to a plant in China’s Anhui province, where solar floats were being built on an industrial scale. Mr. Reddy also spotlighted that India was seeking Chinese expertise for developing “hybrid projects”, where solar and wind energy would be combined. “We need to co-locate and combine wind and solar capacities on land as well as water. Complementary battery storage may be necessary to ensure uninterrupted supply of power to the grid.”

As the candid back and forth between Indian and Chinese technocrats and business people accelerated, it became evident that the mood has changed markedly over the last one year. There is now buzz that in the backdrop of the Wuhan summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in April, the moment has finally arrived to ignite the engine of China-India trade, commerce and investments.

Atul Aneja works for The Hindu and is based in Beijing

Press link for more: The Hindu

So far the Dodos are winning in the U.S. & Australia #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #NoNewCoal #StopAdani #Longman

Republicans try to save their deteriorating party with another push for a carbon tax

Dana Nuccitelli

The Republican Party is rotting away. The problem is that GOP policies just aren’t popular.

Most Americans unsurprisingly oppose climate denial, tax cuts for the wealthy, and putting children (including toddlers) in concentration camps, for example.

The Republican Party has thus far managed to continue winning elections by creating “a coalition between racists and plutocrats,” as Paul Krugman put it.

The party’s economic policies are aimed at benefitting wealthy individuals and corporations, but that’s a slim segment of the American electorate.

The plutocrats can fund political campaigns, but to capture enough votes to win elections, the GOP has resorted to identity politics. Research has consistently shown that Trump won because of racial resentment among white voters.

While that strategy has worked in the short-term, some Republicans recognize that it can’t work in the long-term, and they’re fighting to save their party from extinction.

Can a carbon tax save the GOP?

Climate change is one of many issues that divides the Republican Party.

Like racial resentment, climate denial is a position held mostly by old, white, male conservatives.

There’s a climate change generational, ethnic, and gender gap.

61% of Republicans under the age of 50 support government climate policies, compared to just 44% of Republicans over 50.

Similarly, a majority of Hispanic- and African-Americans accept human-caused global warming and 70% express concern about it, as compared to just 41% of whites who accept the scientific reality and 50% who worry about it.

But the plutocratic wing of the GOP loves fossil fuels.

Republican politicians rely on campaign donations from the fossil fuel industry, and quid pro quo requires them to do the industry’s bidding.

It might as well be called the Grand Oil Party.

There is no other reason why the GOP should not unify behind a revenue-neutral carbon tax.

This free market, small government climate policy – which taxes carbon pollution and returns all the revenue to American households – is indeed supported by many conservatives.

A group of Republican elder statesmen created a coalition called the Climate Leadership Council to build conservative support for a revenue-neutral carbon tax. They’re now backed by Americans for Carbon Dividends (AfCD), led in part by former Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott with a renewed effort to build support for this policy.

AfCD recently released polling results showing that 55% of Americans believe US environmental policy is headed in the wrong direction (29% say it’s on the right track), 81% of likely voters including 58% of Strong Republicans agree the government should take action to limit carbon emissions, and by a 56% to 26% margin (including a 55% to 32% margin among Strong Republicans), Americans support a revenue-neutral carbon tax.

It’s not a wildly popular policy proposal, but it does have broad bipartisan support. It’s also a smart way to curb climate change with minimal economic impact, and in fact with a massive net economic benefit compared to unchecked climate change. That’s why economists overwhelmingly support a carbon tax.

The GOP was on the wrong side of history on civil rights and gay marriage and has paid the price, having largely become the party of old, straight, white men. Climate change is a similarly critical historical issue, but one that will directly impact every single American. Some smart Republicans recognize that the party can’t afford to be on the wrong side of history again on this issue.

Racial politics slapped a band-aid on the GOP’s gaping wound

Donald Trump managed to win the presidency in 2016 by stoking racial resentment among white Americans, but still lost the popular vote by a margin of nearly 3 million, and Republicans have only won the presidential popular vote once in the past two decades. They’re winning elections by relying on structural advantages (gerrymandering and weighting of rural votes), voter suppression, and mobilizing older white voters.

Trump seems to be doubling down on the latter strategy ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, for example by claiming that illegal immigrants are “infesting” America and by putting immigrant children in concentration camps. While only 25% of Americans support separating immigrant children from their parents, 49% of Republicans favor the policy. It’s a recipe for turning out the racist base (who also tend to be climate deniers), but not for winning a general election. Especially over the long-term as America becomes less white and as younger, more tolerant Americans become a larger proportion of the electorate.

When asked about the child concentration camps at a press conference, Senator David Perdue (R-GA) made the connection between the GOP coalition of plutocrats and racists, telling reporters:

we came here to talk about a crisis. Your job is to inform the American people, our job is to provide solutions. … God help us if we don’t solve this debt crisis. This is the No. 1 topic in America today … I want to make sure that the few minutes that we have didn’t get hijacked by the current shiny object of the day. [The national debt] is the current crisis in America.

The national debt might be less of a crisis had the GOP not added well over $1tn to the deficit in order to give wealthy Americans a tax cut. But apparently, it’s now a greater crisis than the American government taking immigrant children from their parents and putting them in concentration camps, or the existential threat posed by climate change. In other words, GOP priority #1 is further enriching plutocrats, priority #2 is reducing the national debt by cutting programs that help non-plutocrats; keeping families together and preserving a livable climate fall somewhere down the list.

Outside of the Republican base, these are unpopular priorities and policies. But as Katie Arrington, who recently beat Climate Solutions Caucus member Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) in a primary put it, “We are the party of President Donald J. Trump.” That’s a party that can only win races that are decided by white racial resentment. It’s a party that, given demographic changes, has become an endangered species.

Some Republicans are trying to save the party by embracing smart policies like a revenue-neutral carbon tax. But so far, the party dodos are winning.

Press link for more: The Guardian

Conservation isn’t winning. Extinction is. #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #NoNewCoal #StopAdani

Conservation isn’t winning. Extinction is.

by Erik Vance

Erik Vance is a science writer based in Baltimore.

The northern white rhino isn’t going out with the thundering charge that it’s due. It won’t go out in a blaze of glory, fighting a pride of lions, as would befit such an inspiring creature. It’s going to die sad and old, withering away under armed guard in central Kenya while dozens of scientists — and millions of other humans around the world — look on, helpless.

It’s not that scientists have given up on the animal.

They haven’t.

But even the researchers who are pouring immense resources into technology to preserve the subspecies, which recently lost its last male, acknowledge that we are past the point of no return.

If you feel like you’ve heard this story before, you have.

It’s the same way the western black rhino and Vietnamese Javan rhino went out.

It’s the same story as the Chinese river dolphin, the Pinta Island tortoise (including the famous “Lonesome George”) and the passenger pigeon.

And if you’re tired of hearing it, that’s too bad. Because dozens of iconic species are lining up to join them. You see, the stories we have seen in recent years — where a species tilts ominously toward extinction and scientists rush in at the last second to save them — that used to be the exception.

Today, it’s the new normal.

Modern conservation is increasingly about maintaining insanely thin populations with shallow gene pools. Not only is this expensive and often futile, but also it undermines the whole point of wildlife management.

Last year, I spent six months writing about the doomed vaquita, the world’s smallest porpoise and rarest marine mammal. I was struck by two things: first, how preventable the mess was.

Only 12 Vaquita left

Mexico has been focused on the vaquita since the early 1990s, and yet its policies have only served to inflame locals and encourage poachers, who catch the animal in their nets while chasing a valuable fish for traditional Chinese medicine.

Second, everything changes when a population gets too low.

In the past, managing for a species such as a spotted owl or a bald eagle wasn’t really about that species but about the ecosystem in which it lives — such as preserving old-growth forests or getting rid of toxic chemicals.

But if a species gets down to just a couple dozen individuals, a whole new problem emerges: genetics. Scientists need to be careful with breeding to stave off health problems. When Florida panthers dropped to about 20, scientists were forced to breed them with Texas cougars.

This saved the subspecies but also changed it forever.

Red wolves dropped to even lower numbers, but a targeted captive breeding program brought them back to a couple hundred (pretty inbred) animals. Will that be a problem? Are there so-called lethal alleles — fatal genes that sometimes pop up in very small populations — that will cause them to suddenly die? Should we go in and edit their genes to fix what inbreeding has done, as experts are trying with the pink pigeon? Or maybe, as has been argued with tigers, we should just change the classification of the animals so that there are fewer subspecies and thus fewer barriers to carting them across a continent to refresh the gene pool.Because all it takes is one bad season or one disease (or one mistake while transporting them, as we saw with black rhinos this week) to cripple the species.

Seeing a trend?

These are profoundly disturbing choices.

In the old days we used to worry about how many acres were needed to maintain a species and whether a corridor might keep animals connected.

Today we have to figure out if there is a gene that will kill off the entire population before we can get them all into zoos and breed them in test tubes.

And we’re still not sure how living in captivity for generations on end might change an animal. In 1987, when biologists put every California condor in captivity to save the species, it was front-page news for years. Today, there are about 200 species of birds alone in similar endangered straits.

This is not to blame the environmental community or take away from the accomplishments of biologists and activists across the globe. (We have them to thank for rebounding bald eagles, Siberian tigers, giant pandas and all the southern rhinos.) But they are just no match for all the things pushing animals toward extinction.

When I was a kid, my first exposure to science writing was a magazine called Zoobooks that would profile different animals.

I remember being baffled as to why so many were endangered. But I also remember being comforted by the magazines themselves. It meant people would do something. Orangutans will be just fine; Zoobooks was on the case.

But as someone who has been covering this topic for years now, I can tell you, it probably won’t be fine.

Conservation is not winning. And even when it does, like with the red wolves near Kitty Hawk, N.C. , it still loses.

This was an animal that successfully returned from just 14 individuals. But in a story eerily similar to the vaquita, local and national politics forced local managers to all but give up on the animal.

My Zoobooks used to tell me that when an animal goes extinct, it’s one more step toward our own extinction. But I know this isn’t true. Humans don’t need pink pigeons or rhinos to survive.

This isn’t about saving humans, or even animals. It’s about saving our humanity.

Press link for more: Washington Post

#ZeroHour It’s Time for a Revolution #auspol #qldpol #NoNewCoal #StopAdani #ClimateChange #Longman

These Young Climate Justice Advocates Say It’s Time for a Revolution

On July 21, youth climate marchers will converge on Washington and around the country to demand a better future.

Yvette Cabrera

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for HuffPost

Jamie Margolin of Seattle, Washington, left, is an environmental activist who co-founded Zero Hour with Nadia Nazar of Baltimore, Maryland, right. With a team of volunteers, they are preparing for the first Youth Climate March in Washington, D.C.

Jamie Margolin can’t remember a time in her life when climate change wasn’t a crisis. The signs were everywhere, from the disappearing sea life in the 16-year-old’s hometown of Seattle, to the climate-related disasters in Colombia where her mother’s family lives.

“When you’re growing up with all this beautiful wildlife around you, it gives you a better idea of what you want to protect,” said Margolin, who will start 11th grade this fall. “And also it’s more painful when, for example, things go wrong, when you see that that habitat is being destroyed.”

Margolin said she wanted to take action when she was younger, but avoided it because the problem was so terrifying. But Donald Trump’s election spurred her to action.

“As young people, we find ourselves in this really awkward place in history where we are going to be alive for the worst effects of climate change, but we’re not old enough to make the decisions right at that tipping point where they need to be made,” she said.

She joined Plant-for-the-Planet, a youth initiative to fight the climate crisis. But Margolin had bigger plans. The 2017 Women’s March on Washington, D.C., planted a seed in her mind for a similar youth march to end “business as usual on climate change,” but she knew it would be a big undertaking.

Then the summer of 2017 happened ― the hottest and driest summer on record in Seattle, compounded by suffocating, smoke-filled air from wildfires throughout the region. Margolin also attended a summer leadership program at Princeton University and met teens from around the globe, including places already affected by rising sea levels like the Marshall Islands.

“I read that the Marshall Islands are sinking, but then suddenly [these students are] your friends, and they’re like ‘Yeah, my house got flooded the other day,’ and I was like ‘Oh, damn,’” said Margolin.

She decided to mobilize a youth climate march in Washington, D.C., on July 21, and along with three fellow teen co-founders, launched the organization Zero Hour to emphasize the urgency needed to act on climate change.

A diverse group of students is spearheading the march. They’ve created a platform shared exclusively with HuffPost that recognizes the environmental impact of climate change on marginalized communities such as indigenous, homeless, queer and trans people, communities of color, and people with disabilities.

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for HuffPost

Elsa Mengistu of Greensboro, North Carolina, 16, Nadia Nazar of Baltimore, Maryland, 16, and Mikaela Hutchinson, of Hunterdon, New Jersey, 15, left to right, prepare for the first Youth Climate March.

“You really can’t fight for climate justice without fighting all of these other systems of oppression, because those systems of oppression are why we’re here in the first place,” said Margolin. More than 40 groups have endorsed the movement, including the global grassroots climate organization 350.org, which described the upcoming event as the largest youth-of-color-organized climate march in U.S. history.

“As the Trump administration disregards the dignity and human rights of young people and their families, we have a responsibility to stand with youth who are fighting to protect our collective future and prevent the worst impacts of climate change,” said May Boeve, 350.org’s executive director, in a statement announcing the endorsement last month.

High among the movement’s principles is the goal of ensuring that youth voices are not just heard, but are at the center of the conversation around how climate change will be addressed. Youth have historically shifted culture toward progress, Zero Hour states in its principles.

“When you’re young, you don’t really have power, and you question the world around you,” said Margolin. “You haven’t been trained in most systems, and so you question what’s being forced on you.”

Zero Hour co-founder Nadia Nazar, of Baltimore, Maryland, said she thought she could wait until she was older to take action on climate change, but the more learned about issues like species extinction, the more she realized she couldn’t wait.

“If one person can make a difference and if I could get my community to get on board and to become a global movement, then I could make a difference just like anyone else can,” said Nazar, 16.

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for HuffPost

Nadia Nazar creates artwork to be used by marchers.

Nazar designed and sold T-shirts to raise $600 to help save endangered elephants, a symbolic cultural touchstone in India, where her family is from. She also organized and participated in clean-ups along the beaches and river shoreline in the Chesapeake Bay as part of the youth outreach work she does for Kairali of Baltimore, a cultural roots organization that connects immigrants from Kerala, India, her parent’s home state.

Her firsthand encounters with the devastation that’s laying waste to the sea animals in the bay led Nazar to conclude that her environmental activism couldn’t wait.

“There’s just so much death in the bay, and if the fish are dying, the fisherman can’t fish and create their business and they lose their livelihood,” said Nazar, who has grown up visiting and learning from the researchers at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology where her mom, a marine biologist, works. “The whole bay is just really polluted and not doing very well.”

For Zero Hour, the July 21 march in Washington and accompanying sister marches across the country and world are just the beginning. The group’s three-day event will include an art festival and a day dedicated to lobbying members of Congress to sign the Zero Pledge to take action to “meaningfully address the climate crisis and protect the future of the youth.”

The students’ platform — which, for example, calls for the elimination of all fossil fuel subsidies, as well as for taxing corporations that have historically emitted the most greenhouse gases — will also guide their actions long after the march is over.

The organizers see their work as an interconnected movement that’s both global and local. They also plan to engage their local and state officials, and encourage residents to come up with climate solutions.

“There has to be revolution in, really, the way we live. You can’t take down climate change without taking down rampant consumerism and all of these other oppressive systems,” said Margolin. “It’s more about the larger human change that has to happen. I always like to say that we’re not just fighting climate change, we’re fighting for human change.”

Cheryl Diaz Meyer for HuffPost

Jair Carrasco, center, shows new posters to Jamie Margolin and Nadia Nazar.

This includes upholding democracy and supporting voting rights, and challenging the power of the fossil industry, said Margolin, who is also part of a lawsuit the advocacy group Our Children’s Trust filed against the Washington state government over climate change. Lawsuits can take time to wind through the court system, Margolin said, and Zero Hour doesn’t want to limit the group’s work to just one system.

“Kids are suing the government, we’re marching, we’re lobbying, we’re just pretty much just getting down and just begging them: Can I not have a world that’s totally falling apart?” said Margolin.

People often ask what she wants to do when she grows up, but making those decisions is tough when climate change is a factor in that future, said Margolin.

“Everything is on the line, so it’s very hard to plan your future assuming that everything is going to be the same when you know it’s not,” she said. “It’s really scary, especially for a young person who is looking into what I want to do with my life … I just want to have a world to grow up in where I can live my life and not have to worry about such existential fears.”

Press link for more: Huffington Post

Australia’s Climate Policy is disgraceful! #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #NoNewCoal #StopAdani #Longman We’re stealing our children’s future

There has been no improvement in Australia’s climate policy settings over the last year, and the 2018 CAT assessment confirms all previous assessments that its emissions are set to far exceed its Paris Agreement NDC target for 2030.

We rate the NDC target itself “Insufficient“, with a level of ambition that—if followed by all other countries—would lead to global warming of over 2°C and up to 3°C. In addition, if all other countries were to follow Australia’s current policy settings, warming could reach over 3°C and up to 4°C (“highly insufficient”).

While the Federal Government continues to maintain, most recently in its “2017 Review of Climate Change Policies”, that Australia is on track to meet the 2030 target, the Climate Action Tracker is not aware of any factual basis, published by any analyst or government agency, to support this.

To the contrary, Australia’s emissions are increasing, and the latest projection published by the government at the same time as the Climate Policies Review shows that emissions are still projected to grow instead of leading to a reduction in line with the 2030 target.

While the Federal Government continues to promote coal as a solution to energy security issues, downplay renewable energy and obfuscate on its climate policies, the reality on the ground at the state level, public opinion and across the business sector in Australia, is very different.

The Federal Government is proposing an electricity sector emissions reduction pathway with proportional reductions to the overall emissions reductions, contrary to independent advice and analysis that shows the electricity sector needs to and can reduce emissions faster than other sectors such as industry or agriculture.

All states and territories (except Western Australia) now have strong renewable energy targets and/or zero emissions targets in place (Climate Council, 2017) Victoria has recently introduced legislation. South Australia is widely seen as a global leader with uncertainty about the continuation of policy in South Australia with the recent change in government (The Guardian, 2018a): it has one of the highest shares of variable renewable energy, with 48% share of wind and solar total generation in 2017) (IEEFA, 2018), the world’s largest lithium ion battery, and innovative projects for renewable hydrogen and virtual power plants. Households across Australia are massively deploying small-scale solar (the 15% share of households deploying solar PV is among the highest in the world (ESAA, 2015)) and increasingly combining this with battery storage, and public opinion (Essential, 2017) is supportive of renewable energies and climate policy.

The federal government of Australia decided not to accept the recommendations of the 2017 Finkel-Review (commissioned by Federal and State governments) to adopt a Clean Energy Target. It has instead proposed an alternative instrument: a reliability obligation and an emissions reduction target on energy retailers and a small number of large electricity users (so-called National Energy Guarantee, NEG) (COAG Energy Council, 2018; Energy Security Board, 2018).

The electricity sector emissions reduction pathway suggested by the government (26–28% reduction from 2030 levels from 2005) is not consistent with the Paris Agreement, as its reductions only track the (already insufficient) 2030 reductions proposed for the entire Australian economy, whereas the electricity sector needs to—and can—reduce emissions faster (Hare et al., 2017). Other suggested elements such as the inclusion of domestic and international offsets, and the possibility of delaying emissions reductions—increase both the risk of slowing down investments in renewable energy below business as usual, and the risk of locking-in carbon intensive fossil fuel infrastructure (coal and gas) (Jotzko & Mazouz, 2017) (Energetics, 2018).

The Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF)—the so-called “centrepiece” of the Australian Government’s policy suite to reduce emissions—does not set Australia on a path to meeting its targets as has been reiterated in the latest review by the (Climate Change Authority, 2017). Instead of introducing new policies to address the structural change needed (CCA 2017), the government is now considering allowing international units to be used for compliance. In addition, the recently-established safeguard mechanism risks counteracting the emissions reductions the ERF is supposed to deliver and further undermining the achievement of the 2030 target (Reputex, 2018) by increasing emissions allowances for large industry facilities.

Australia ratified the Paris Agreement on 6 November 2016. Its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), includes a target of reducing GHG emissions, including land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF), by 26–28% below 2005 levels by 2030. This target is equivalent to a range of around 1% to 3% above 1990 levels of GHG emissions excluding LULUCF in 2030.

Press link for more: Carbon Action Tracker