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HSBC pulls the plug on coal. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange #Renewables

Europe’s largest bank HSBC won’t fund new coal power plants, oil sands and arctic drilling, except in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam. (Image courtesy of Håkan Dahlström via Flickr.)

HSBC has joined an increasing list of large banks by announcing Friday it would not longer finance coal-fired plants, oil sands and arctic drilling.

The move, announced by Europe’s largest bank at its annual meeting as part of its new energy policy, seeks to head off criticism from investors who want the institution’s actions to be aligned with the Paris Agreement, a global pact to limit greenhouse gas emissions and curb rising temperatures.

Daniel Klier, HSBC’s sustainability boss, said the decision reflected the bank’s ambition to help its customers make the transition to a low-carbon economy.

“Europe’s largest bank, however, will continue to finance coal-fired power plants in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam.

“We recognize the need to reduce emissions rapidly to achieve the target set in the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rises to well below 2 degrees Celsius and our responsibility to support the communities in which we operate,” he said in a statement.

Other large banks, such as Deutsche Bank, ING, BNP Paribas and BBVA, have all set out similar commitments in the past year.

HSBC, however, will continue to finance coal-fired power plants in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam in order to “appropriately balance local humanitarian needs with the need to transition to a low carbon economy,” the statement reads.

“The bank will consider supporting new coal-fired projects in these countries on a case-by-case basis – and only where a carbon-intensity target is met and independent analysis finds that no reasonable alternative is available to meet the country’s energy needs,” it said.

The exception to the newly created rule triggered immediate criticism from environmentalists, such as Paddy McCully, Director of the Rainforest Action Network Climate and Energy Program (RAN).

“HSBC’s new policy is a mixed bag. That Europe’s number one banker of tar sands is distancing itself from the sector is encouraging. HSBC’s prohibition on direct finance for tar sands mines and pipelines is the latest signal that the financial sector is gradually losing its appetite for those risky projects,” he said in an emailed statement. “But [the bank’s] coal power policy has a glaring, 80 gigawatt-sized loophole, and on both coal and tar sands HSBC still lags far behind its leading global peers.”

McCully believes that HSBC’s coal power policy leaves the door open for the bank to support two of what he calls “the world’s most controversial” proposed coal plants — Rampal and Payra, in Bangladesh. He said those threaten the Sundarbans forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Coal still provides about 40% of the world’s electricity, and many countries aren’t willing to commit to a total phase-out just yet, particularly developing countries in Asia, including India, Vietnam and Bangladesh.

What’s more, according to data released in March by the International Energy Agency, global coal consumption increased in 2017, after two straight years of decline.

Press link for more: Mining.com

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Want to fight climate change? Read these 3 books first #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

Want to fight climate change? Read these 3 books first

Shyla RaghavApril 19, 2018

Climate change is causing sea ice to melt. This threatens the survival of species such as the leopard seal, pictured above, in Antarctica. (© Levi S. Norton)

Climate change can seem like an impossibly large problem — what can any one of us do?

The answer: More than you might think. Three recent books can help point the way: They have shaped my views on how to eat sustainably, what impact the products I buy have on climate change and how important social justice is to tackling environmental issues.

“The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food,” by Dan Barber

Barber, a chef in New York, took a hard look at the way Americans eat and decided that it needs to change. He discusses what it means to cook and eat sustainably in a world obsessed with buying farm-to-table products without knowing whether these products are actually helping the environment. Traditionally, Americans have eaten meals similar to what Barber calls the “first plate”: a large cut of meat with few vegetables. The farm-to-table movement launched the idea of the “second plate,” one with free-range meat and locally sourced vegetables. But, Barber says, the best meal for the planet is actually the “third plate”: a combination of vegetables, grains and livestock that is fully sustainable.

This book got me thinking about my own relationship with food — and how we as humans are integrally linked with the ecosystems we live in, and that sustain us. We’re constantly told about the virtues of eating and purchasing locally, but this book takes it a step further, helping me understand the need to reimagine our current food system. We need to do this sooner rather than later for ourselves, for our communities and for the health of our planet.

“This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate,” by Naomi Klein

Klein exposes plenty of the myths involved in the climate change debate. Perhaps most provocatively, she says that climate change isn’t about carbon — it’s about capitalism. Klein argues that climate change is a wake-up call for the world to update its economic system to one that can sustain the Earth and every living thing on it. She says that either we rise to this challenge or we let it devour us.

I believe that humanity will rise to this challenge — in fact, it already is. Klein highlights how climate change is fundamentally an issue of justice and equity and integral to how our society is structured. One of the key tenets driving Conservation International is the understanding that people can thrive and economies can grow without destroying nature or increasing carbon emissions. Klein’s book inspires us to action while respecting and empowering communities that we live in.

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The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems,” by Van Jones

Jones explains how to simultaneously solve socioeconomic inequality and the world’s environmental problems — no small task. This concept struck home for me because of Conservation International’s rights-based approach to conservation: Local communities who help the environment should be as fully supported and included as the nature that we try to protect. Jones lays out what he calls “the Green New Deal” — a proposal that would create thousands of new jobs that focus on conserving energy in local communities. I think that forms of climate resilience, such as the plan that Jones lays out, is the next wave of the environmental justice movement. Jones shows us how being green isn’t incompatible with prosperity, income generation and livelihoods of people. It’s an inspiring call to action to make the green movement part of the future we envision for our country.

Shyla Raghav is Conservation International’s climate lead.

Want to read more stories like this? Sign up for email updates here. Donate to Conservation International here.

Press link for more: Blog Conservation

I’ll add one more

Doughnut Economics

The Hidden Coral Crisis: Loss of Fish Diversity. #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange

The Hidden Coral Crisis: Loss of Fish Diversity After Bleaching Strikes

Scientists in Australia have documented how the composition of coral species affects the survival of fish populations following bleaching events.

As small fish key to coral health disappear, reefs’ resilience to future catastrophes could decline.

By Todd Woody

April 10, 2018

Todd Woody is executive editor for environment at News Deeply.

A veteran environmental journalist based in California, Todd previously served as editorial director for environment at TakePart, a digital magazine owned by Participant Media.

He formerly was the environment editor at Forbes magazine, a senior editor at Fortune magazine, an assistant managing editor at Business 2.0 magazine and the business editor of the San Jose Mercury News.

He has been a frequent contributor on environmental issues to The New York Times, The Atlantic, Quartz and other publications.

Clown fish at Lizard Island during the 2016 coral bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef.ARC CoE for Coral Reef Studies/Laura Richardson

When coral reefs turn deathly white as ocean temperatures spike, the kaleidoscope of marine life surrounding them dims, as well, becoming more functionally monochromatic and less ecologically diverse, according to researchers who studied a section of the Great Barrier Reef before, during and after a catastrophic coral bleaching event in 2016.

This “biotic homogenization” of fish populations could make coral reefs even less resilient as the frequency of climate change-induced coral bleaching accelerates, said Laura Richardson, lead author of the study published Thursday in the journal Global Change Biology.

Phd Students James Cook University Laura Richardson & Edmond Sacre

“In the case of our study, what we found was that prior to bleaching the fish communities among these different coral habitats varied quite substantially,” said Richardson, who conducted the research as a PhD student at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia. “But by six months after the bleaching, the variation among these communities was almost entirely lost. If the abundance of particular species declines, you have less of these fishes carrying out important ecosystem functions.”

For instance, Richardson – now a postdoc at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom – and her colleagues documented declines in populations of damselfish and other small herbivorous fish following a bleaching event in February 2016. Water temperatures rose to 32.8 C (91 F) that month and the marine heat wave persisted for more than eight weeks. Damselfish and similar species are coral cleaners, removing algae and seaweed so that corals can thrive and then revive after a bleaching event.

“If a reef has fewer fishes carrying out particular functional roles or particular tasks in the ecosystem, then when there is ongoing disturbances such as bleaching events or storms, the ecosystem as a whole will be less resilient as they have less insurance to play with,” noted Richardson.

The study is the first to document biotic homogenization on coral reefs. Previous studies have shown that the apparent richness of wildlife in any given ecological community can mask a loss of diversity among ecosystems as species are shuffled due to various pressures, including climate change; this is sometimes called a hidden biodiversity crisis. In research published in 2015, scientists analyzed 29 years of surveys for North Atlantic groundfish that had begun in 1985. The researchers discovered that, off Scotland, “the species identity of colder northern localities increasingly resembles that of warmer southern localities.” The changing composition of fish communities tracked rising ocean temperatures, they noted.

Branching corals and small‐bodied reef fish are often more affected by coral bleaching. Pictured here, a bleached branching acroporid colony with associated reef fish, right next to a healthy (or yet to bleached) Porites colony, on Lizard Island, northern Great Barrier Reef, in January 2016. (ARC CoE for Coral Reef Studies/ Laura Richardson)

“As long as species are not globally extinct this homogenization is potentially reversible,” the researchers wrote. “However, this crisis is largely unrecognized, and adds to the challenges already facing marine biodiversity.”

So to the casual snorkeler, even a bleached coral reef might look alive with an abundance of fish. But the numbers hide a uniformity. It’s like walking into a crowded cafe in San Francisco once patronized by artists, activists and surfers. It’s still packed but now everyone works for Twitter and is staring at a MacBook Air.

Richardson and her colleagues’ research has also has broken new ground on how the bleaching of specific species of coral affects the composition of fish populations.

She did not set out to study coral bleaching impacts when she began surveying fish populations or “assemblages” in September 2015 at 16 reef sites surrounding Lizard Island off Australia’s far northeast coast. “I went out to the island to look at how the different communities of coral influence the structure of different habitats,” Richardson said.

She and a colleague would jump in the water and establish survey transacts by attaching yellow tape at one end of a reef. “As the tape rolls out, the person who counts the fish goes first and counts all the fish within a 5m [16ft] belt along that transact,” Richardson said. “And the second person follows and counts the corals along the tape.”

Shortly after the team completed the surveys, scientists issued a warning of a coming bleaching event at the Great Barrier Reef. Richardson returned to Lizard Island in April 2016 to survey the same sites as the bleaching was in full swing.

As waters warm, corals expel their zooxanthellae, the symbiotic single-cell algae that provide them with nutrition and their eye-popping color in exchange for shelter in the coral polyp. Zooxanthellae can turn toxic to corals when water temperatures rise by as little as 1 C (1.8 F).

Bleaching at Lizard Island in 2016. Some species decline and others survive severe bleaching events. (ARC CoE for Coral Reef Studies/ Laura Richardson)

Six months after the bleaching episode ended, Richardson made a third trip to Lizard Island in October 2016 for another round of surveys at the 16 sites.

The scientists’ analysis concluded that the types of corals affected by bleaching had more consequence for certain fish species than the percentage of coral cover lost. The surveys from April 2016 showed that bleaching affected 51 percent of coral cover, but that branching corals were particularly hit hard.

“The fishes that we specifically noted that declined were the small-bodied reef fishes like the damselfishes and cardinal fishes that are really dependent on live branching coral for habitat – and they use those live branching coral as refuge from predation by larger reef fishes and also from environmental stresses like sunlight and strong currents,” said Richardson. “The loss of these live branching specialists meant that other fishes were able to take their place and use the reef space.”

The fish that disappeared tended to be small specialist species that filled a specific ecological niche. They were replaced by generalist species that could tolerate the coral ruin left by bleaching.

Richardson cautioned that the Lizard Island surveys offer a “short-term snapshot” of the impact of coral bleaching on fish populations. “Corals are highly dynamic systems and they can change a lot.” Still, she said, “In the paper we advise that managers will benefit by taking note of coral species composition as that’s likely to affect the fishes that you find there and that’s likely to affect the overall resilience of those coral reef ecosystems.”

Press link for more: News Deeply

Dear Mr Adani “Invest in Solar not Coal. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

50+ RELIGIOUS LEADERS CALL ON ADANI TO INVEST IN SOLAR, NOT COAL

For our common home

Dear Mr Adani,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours in peace,

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

Dr Rateb Jneid, President, Muslims Australia

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

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

Sheik Riad Galil OAM, Senior Imam, West Heidelberg Mosque

Bhante Sujato, Project Leader, Sutta Central

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

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

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

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

The Reverend Dr Patrick McInerney, Columban Coordinator NSW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reverend Alex Sangster, Uniting Church Minister, Fairfield

Reverend Rex Graham, Uniting Church Minister, Wollongong

Pastor Jarrod McKenna, Cornerstone Church, Perth

Reverend John Brentnall, Chairperson, Uniting Eco Group

Sister Barbara Daniel PBVM, Presentation Sisters

Sister Elizabeth Young RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Sister Elaine Wainwright RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Sister Caroline Vaitkunas RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Sister Claudette Cusack RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Sister Mary Tinney RSM, Sisters of Mercy, Earth Link

Sister Marie Britza RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Sister Veronica Lawson RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Sister Julie O’Brien RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Sister Barbara Bolster RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Sister Tricia Nugent RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Sister Ruth Wyatte RSM, Sisters of Mercy

Ana Freeman, Rahahim Ecology Centre

Dharmachari Arthacarya, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Buddhankapali, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Dantachitta, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmachari Dharmalata, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmachari Dharmamati, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Dharmamodini, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmachari Dharmananda, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Hrdayaja, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Khemayogini, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Maitripala, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Nagasuri, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmachari Nandavani, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Prakashika, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmachari Saddhavijaya, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Samacitta, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Shubhavyuha, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmachari Siladasa, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Sudaya, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmachari Tejopala, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Vimoksalehi, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Vimuttinandi, Triratna Buddhist Order

Dharmacharini Moksavajra, Triratna Buddhist Order

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

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

ARRCC.ORG.AU

Earth, Wind and Liars. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Earth, Wind and Liars

By Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman joined The New York Times in 1999 as an Op-Ed columnist.

He is distinguished professor in the Graduate Center Economics Ph.D. program and distinguished scholar at the Luxembourg Income Study Center at the City University of New York.

In addition, he is professor emeritus of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School.

Damon Winter/The New York Times

Peter Thiel, Facebook investor and Donald Trump supporter, is by all accounts a terrible person. He did, however, come up with one classic line about the disappointments of modern technology: “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.” O.K., now it’s 280, but who’s counting?

The point of his quip was that while we’ve found ever more clever ways of pushing around bits of information, we are still living in a material world — and our command of that material world has advanced much less than most people expected a few decades ago.

Where are the technologies transforming the way we deal with physical reality?

Well, there is one area of physical technology, renewable energy, in which we really are seeing that kind of progress — progress that can both change the world and save it.

Unfortunately, the people Thiel supports are trying to stop that progress from happening.

Not that long ago, calls for a move to wind and solar power were widely perceived as impractical if not hippie-dippy silly.

Some of that contempt lingers; my sense is that many politicians and some businesspeople still think of renewable energy as marginal, still imagine that real men burn stuff and serious people focus on good old-fashioned fossil fuels.

But the truth is nearly the opposite, certainly when it comes to electricity generation.

Believers in the primacy of fossil fuels, coal in particular, are now technological dead-enders; they, not foolish leftists, are our modern Luddites. Unfortunately, they can still do a lot of damage.

About the technology: As recently as 2010, it still consistently cost more to generate electricity from sun and wind than from fossil fuels.

But that gap has already been eliminated, and this is just the beginning.

Widespread use of renewable energy is still a new thing, which means that even without major technological breakthroughs we can expect to see big further cost reductions as industries move “down the learning curve” — that is, find better and cheaper ways to operate as they accumulate experience.

Recently David Roberts at Vox.com offered a very good example: wind turbines. Windmills have been around for more than a thousand years, and they’ve been used to generate electricity since the late 19th century. But making turbines really efficient requires making them very big and tall — tall enough to exploit the faster, steadier winds that blow at higher altitudes.

And that’s what businesses are learning to do, via a series of incremental improvements — better design, better materials, better locations (offshore is where it’s at). So what we’ll be seeing in a few years will be 850-foot turbines that totally outcompete fossil fuels on cost.

To paraphrase the science-fiction writer William Gibson, the renewable energy future is already pretty much here; it’s just not very evenly distributed.

True, there are issues of intermittency remaining — the wind doesn’t always blow, the sun doesn’t always shine — although batteries and other energy storage technologies are also making rapid progress.

There are also some energy uses, especially transportation, where fossil fuels retain a significant advantage in cost and convenience. And exactly how we’re going to have carbon-neutral air travel is still, well, up in the air.

But there is no longer any reason to believe that it would be hard to drastically “decarbonize” the economy. Indeed, there is no reason to believe that doing so would impose any significant economic cost. The realistic debate is about how hard it will be to get from 80 to 100 percent decarbonization.

For now, however, the problem isn’t technology — it’s politics.

The fossil fuel sector may represent a technological dead end, but it still has a lot of money and power.

Lately it has been putting almost all of that money and power behind Republicans.

For example, in the 2016 election cycle the coal mining industry gave 97 percent (!) of its contributions to G.O.P. candidates.

What the industry got in return for that money wasn’t just a president who talks nonsense about bringing back coal jobs and an administration that rejects the science of climate change. It got an Environmental Protection Agency head who’s trying to suppress evidence on the damage pollution causes, and a secretary of energy who tried, unsuccessfully so far, to force natural gas and renewables to subsidize coal and nuclear plants.

In the long run, these tactics probably won’t stop the transition to renewable energy, and even the villains of this story probably realize that. Their goal is, instead, to slow things down, so they can extract as much profit as possible from their existing investments.

Unfortunately, this really is a case of “in the long run we are all dead.” Every year that we delay, the clean-energy transition will sicken or kill thousands while increasing the risk of climate catastrophe.

The point is that Trump and company aren’t just trying to move us backward on social issues; they’re also trying to block technological progress. And the price of their obstructionism will be high.

Press link for more: New York Times

Time to abandon economic growth #auspol #qldpol

It’s Time To Abandon Economic Growth As The Only Indicator Of Success

Instead, we need systems that focus on regenerating our planet, and equitably distributing its resources.

The story of mankind that we most like to tell ourselves is one of growth, says economist Kate Raworth at TED 2018 in Vancouver.

We’re all used to that image of the silhouettes, marching forward from ape to fully-upright human. “

“We readily believe that economic progress will take the same shape–an ever-rising line of growth,” Raworth says.

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That, she says, will be a difficult shift to bring about. “We’re financially, politically, and socially addicted to growth,” Raworth says.

Perhaps no one better enshrined our dependence on GDP than the economist Walter Rostow, whose 1960 book, The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto outlined the “ideal” trajectory for a country’s development, using a rather blunt airplane metaphor.

Countries prepare for takeoff by building up institutions and banks, which continue to grow until the country truly takes off and reaches peak prosperity and mass consumption. “But this plane is never allowed to land,” Raworth says. “Rostow left us flying into the sunset of mass consumerism.”

In other words, Rostow left no space to imagine a country driven to succeed by any metric other than that of continual growth.

That, Raworth says, has created a system that prioritizes GDP over the health of the planet and the well-being of the people who inhabit it, and that, she says, is fundamentally unsustainable.

“Humanity’s 21st-century challenge is clear: To meet the needs of all people,” Raworth says. “Progress on this goal is not going to be measured by money–we need a dashboard of indicators.”

When Raworth drew up a diagram of how those indicators might interact, it ended up looking like a donut (she wrote a book last year called Donut Economics, explaining her theory).

On the inner ring of this donut are things that are crucial to our survival and our societies: water, energy, food, health, housing, social equity, education, income, and work.

At the outer edge are the potential consequences of achieving these things: climate change, freshwater withdrawals, biodiversity loss, air pollution, ocean acidification, land conversion, nitrogen and phosphorous loading.

Between the two border rings, though, Raworth draws a middle ground she calls “the safe and just space for humanity.”

That safe space falls right between our social foundation (the base layer of resources we need to survive) and our ecological ceiling (the amount of resources we can extract from the world while still allowing it to regenerate).

Currently, we’re overtaxing the Earth’s resources: We’re already seeing the effects of climate change, nitrogen and phosphorous loading, land conversion, and biodiversity loss. Yet at the same time, we’re failing to meet the needs that keep our foundation strong, because our economy is structured in such a way as to funnel resources and wealth toward people who already possess it. Our current growth-driven strategy will only exacerbate this dynamic.

What Raworth is calling for is an “economy that tackles this shortfall and overshoot together, by design.” She imagines implementing regenerative systems at scale–things like universal basic income and renewable energy–while ensuring that our systems and governments prioritizing distributing resources, rather than hoarding them in the name of growth. “If we can harness today’s technology in service of distributive design, we can ensure that healthcare, political voice, financial resources reach and empower people,” she says.

Why is it, Raworth wonders, that we understand that when another human tells us, “I have a growth,” we know that indicates a health failure? “When something tries to grow forever within a healthy, thriving system, it’s a threat to the whole,” she says. “Why do we imagine our economies can buck this trend and grow forever?”

Press link for more Fast Company.com

A plan for serious action on #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

A plan for serious action on climate change

Below is a part of the Socialist Alliance’s climate action plan.

For more information go to the policy page.

1 Set immediate emissions cuts targets to reduce net emissions to zero as soon as possible, including a target to achieve 100% renewable energy within a decade. Introduce emissions reduction targets of at least 5% a year. Nuclear power is not a clean energy solution.

2  Begin new international treaty negotiations aimed to get all countries to agree on a global target aiming for 90% emissions cuts on 1990 levels by 2030. Prioritise emissions cuts to rich industrial nations and increase aid to exploited countries to help them to use clean energy for their development.

3 Start the transition to a zero-waste economy. Legislate to end industrial energy waste. Improve or ban wasteful consumer products, such as those with built-in obsolescence. Engage with workers and their unions to redesign their products and jobs so they are sustainable.

4 Require advanced energy efficiency measures and solar photovoltaic panels be fitted to existing buildings with measures to subsidise owner-occupiers for excessive costs. Require landlords to progressively install the same technology in rental properties. Improve mandatory energy efficiency standards for all new buildings.

5 No to nuclear. End uranium mining. Close Ranger (NT), Roxby Downs and Beverly (SA) and no new mines to be approved. No dumping of nuclear waste. Shut down the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor and switch to clean, safe medical technologies.

6 Ban fracking. Shut down and cap unconventional gas wells. Begin phasing out coalmining and coal-fired power immediately. Provide replacement jobs and retraining on full pay for affected communities. Build new sustainable industries in these areas.

7 Redirect heavy industry, including remaining steel, aluminium and traditional car manufacturing industries, to manufacture essential products and infrastructure for the transition such as renewable energy generators, public transport vehicles and infrastructure and electric cars.

8 Bring power industries under public ownership. Set up public bodies to coordinate local, regional and national energy networks/grids. Plan and build a mix of renewable energy and energy storage technologies to supply 100% renewable energy. Technologies to be used include wind turbines, solar photovoltaic, solar thermal and storage, pumped hydro storage and batteries. New technologies such as wave or geothermal power should be included as they become available. Support community-owned renewable power generation and grids and upgrade the national grid to facilitate the new renewable energy system.

9 Ban the logging of native forests and move to tree plantations and alternative crops for fibre and timber. Begin an urgent program of agroecological revegetation to sequester carbon and restore and protect biodiversity in the face of a changing climate. Promote synthetic-fertiliser-free and pesticide-free cropping pastures and decentralised farm forestry instead of industrial plantation monocultures where practical.

10 Create measures to support farmers to move from industrial agriculture to agroecology and integrated pest management, starting with less productive land where practical, for carbon sequestration and biodiversity. Provide education, research and direct assistance to move to “carbon farming”, which stores carbon in soils, or causes reduced carbon loss from soils. Encourage new farming practices ending the use of chemical fertilisers, fungicides, pesticides and herbicides for pastures, organic and urban food production. Oversee the process to enhance regional employment and maintain or improve food sovereignty.

11 Transition to free public transport, starting with elimination of fares for concession holders, and expand services to enable all urban residents to use it for their regular commuting. Electrify all public transport networks. Encourage urban bicycle use through more cycleways and better facilities for cyclists. Nationalise and upgrade interstate freight, passenger train and ferry services including high-speed rail from Adelaide and Melbourne to Sydney and Brisbane. Transition to making all new private cars and other road vehicles electric other than special-use vehicles, such as long distance vehicles for remote areas. Replace petrol stations with charging stations.

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Renewables record breaking 2017. #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

New renewable energy capacity double fossil fuel growth in record-breaking 2017

Nick Kilvert

China was responsible for more than 50 per cent of the world’s solar investment in 2017.

(Getty Images: Xinzheng)

Solar power is continuing to surge ahead as the world’s emerging energy technology, according to a United Nations report that found global spending on solar was higher than any other energy source in 2017.

Key points:

• Australia increased renewable investment by 147 per cent to $8.5 billion

• Based on 2017 rates, Australia could replace coal power stations in next 20 years

• 45 per cent of worldwide renewable energy investment came from China

In a record-breaking year for renewable energy creation worldwide, the 98 gigawatts of new solar capacity was higher than all other technologies, including other renewables, nuclear and fossil fuels.

Australia’s own spending on solar skyrocketed with a significant boost in investment from South Australia, according to Iain MacGill from UNSW.

“We have the highest [per capita] rooftop residential solar market in the world, and by quite a big margin,” Dr MacGill said.

“A large proportion of Australia’s investment has gone into South Australia [and that means] we’re at the leading edge of working out how to integrate that renewable power into the electricity market.”

But Australia was starting from a low base, according to the ANU’s Energy Change Institute director Ken Baldwin, who said our transition to renewables still has some way to go.

“What will be interesting to see is whether this can be maintained,” Professor Baldwin said.

“There was 6 gigawatts of solar, both residential and commercial installed in [Australia] in 2017.

“If that keeps going, that’s a huge number and combined with wind that will be more than sufficient to replace the ageing fleet of coal-fired power stations in the next decade or two.”

According to the UN report, the proportion of the world’s electricity being generated by wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-energy, geothermal, marine and small hydro, rose from 11 to 12.1 per cent in 2017.

That equals a potential reduction of around 1.8 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels – more than three times Australia’s entire carbon emissions for 2016.

The 157 gigawatts of new renewable power commissioned in 2017 was more than double the 70 gigawatts of net fossil fuel generating capacity added.

Integrating variable electricity sources into the grid and managing the energy market is now the key challenge for countries investing in renewables, according to report co-author and head of research at the Frankfurt School UNAP Centre, Ulf Moslener.

“The coming phase is mastering the structural change within the electricity sector,” Professor Moslener said.

“[Working out] how to apply business models to energy systems where the energy production costs are effectively zero.”

Value for money undermined by policy uncertainty

In total, Australia invested a record $8.5 billion in renewables in 2017 and got far greater value for money than just a few years earlier.

The price per watt of solar photovoltaics in Australia in 2017 was just $1.40, compared to $6.40 in 2010, according to the report.

Professor Baldwin said although the increased investment in renewables is encouraging, Australia’s ability to develop our renewable infrastructure is being stunted.

“Government policy uncertainty has sent a wrecking ball through the energy industry over the last decade,” he said.

“It may be that we can get agreement between the states on the national energy guarantee…[and] this might enable renewables to move forward, but at the moment there is too much uncertainty.”

He said potential investors in renewables and fossil fuels are afraid of the impact future policies will have on energy values.

“In the future something will be introduced into the market in order to account for the damage that greenhouse-gas emissions are putting on the economy and putting on society, and that creates a risk for investment.”

China invests almost half of entire world renewable budget

While Australia’s renewable spending is locally significant, it pales in comparison to China’s record-breaking investment of more than $126 billion, or around 45 per cent of the total global renewable energy budget.

China’s huge solar budget took even the report authors by surprise, according to Professor Moslener.

“The costs are still falling which makes the dominance in investment terms in China even more thrilling,” he said.

Air pollution in China is believed to kill around a million people every year, and is also likely to be a key motivation behind their huge investment in clean energy technology, according to Dr MacGill.

“If we think about what’s motivating China in this space, climate change is a factor but regional air pollution is definitely significant,” he said.

“They’re investing in lots of renewables but they’re also doing other things as well – trying to close down coal, and switching to more nuclear and more gas.

“But we’re also seeing significant investments in developing countries – parts of the Middle East and Mexico as well.”

2015 was the first year that developing countries invested more in renewable energy than developed countries, and have done so ever since.

Although solar was the energy source of choice in 2017, wind power is a cheaper option in many regions according to Professor Baldwin.

“Wind has also decreased [in cost] considerably and in many countries is now the lowest price form of renewable energy, and that’s certainly true in Australia,” he said.

Large-scale hydro electric projects were outside the scope of the report, however investment in these projects was significantly less than wind and solar.

Press link for more: ABC.NET.AU

UN secretary general: ‘Climate change the most systemic threat to humankind’ #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

UN secretary general: ‘Climate change the most systemic threat to humankind’

By James Murray

António Guterres admits he is “beginning to wonder how many more alarm bells must go off before the world rises to the challenge”

UN secretary general António Guterres last week offered a bleak assessment of escalating climate risks, warning the “tsunami” of recent climate change data should spark a “storm of concern”.

“The headlines are naturally dominated by the escalation of tensions and conflicts, or high-level political events,” he said at a press conference in New York late last week. “But the truth is that the most systemic threat to humankind remains climate change and I believe it is my duty to remind it to the whole of the international community.”

Guterres pointed to a recent raft of concerning updates on climate impacts and efforts to curb emissions, warning the “world reached several dire milestones in 2017”.

“The economic costs of climate-related disasters hit a record: $320bn,” he said. “Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.4 per cent, to 32.5 gigatonnes – a historic high.

In 2017, the hurricane season in the Caribbean was the costliest ever, un-doing decades of development in an instant.

In South Asia, major monsoon floods affected 41 million people.

In Africa, severe drought drove nearly 900,000 people from their homes.

Wildfires caused destruction across the world. And Arctic sea [ice] recorded its lowest winter maximum ever.”

However, he warned governments were still failing to deliver the ambitious reforms required to reduce climate risks and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

“I am beginning to wonder how many more alarm bells must go off before the world rises to the challenge,” he said. “We know it can be hard to address problems perceived to be years or decades away.

But climate impacts are already upon us.”

He added the UN was struggling to mobilise the $100bn a year of climate finance from 2020 that was promised under the Paris treaty, and argued that while “technology is on our side” enormous subsidies for fossil fuels continue to hinder the low carbon transition.

Guterres is planning to host a UN Summit next year to crank up pressure on governments to strengthen the pledges they have made to curb emissions under the Paris Agreement before 2020.

He said he would “continue to call on world leaders to focus on bending the emissions curve and closing the emissions gap”.

“Climate change is still moving faster, much faster than we are,” he said. “What the world needs is a race to the top – with political will, innovation, financing and partnerships. And I remain convinced we have what it takes to prevail.”

Asked if he held out any hopes that he could re-engage the US administration with the Paris Agreement, nearly a year after President Trump said the government would quit the accord.

“Of course, it is necessary to permanently engage all those that are doubtful about climate change,” Guterres said. “But I would like to underline that, in the US society, we have seen in the business community; we have seen in the cities, and we have seen in many states a very strong commitment to the Paris Agreement, to the extent that some indicators are moving even better than in the recent past. And I had the occasion to receive that information by my Special Envoy on climate change, Michael Bloomberg, that there are expectations that, independently of the position of the administration, the US might be able to meet the commitments made in Paris as a country.”

He added that more broadly businesses and investors had a critical role to play in delivering on the goals of the Paris Agreement. “All around the world, the role of governments is less and less relevant,” he said. “The role of the economy, the role of the society is more and more relevant. And I have to say I’m encouraged by the very positive reactions of the American business community and the American local and regional authorities.”

Guterres also revealed he had talked to the government of Bangladesh about steps to protect Rohingya refugees who have entered the country in recent months from flood risks.

“We believe that about 150,000 people are in areas that are flood‑prone or can be negatively impacted by the monsoon in a dangerous way for the people, and I had the opportunity to discuss with the Government of Bangladesh the best way to relocate these people,” he said. “And I think the best way to relocate these people is in higher areas.”

Guterres’ intervention came as a new study raised fears that Antarctic ice melt is proceeding faster than previously thought.

A new study by the UK Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling at the University of Leeds published in Nature Geoscience warned hidden underwater melt-off is doubling every 20 years.

It raises the prospect of Antarctic ice sheets replacing Greenland as the biggest source of sea-level rise – a scenario that could lead to an upgrade in projections for future increases in sea level, which experts already fear could rise between one and two metres this century.

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What’s the biggest threat to humanity? #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Biggest Threat to Humanity? Climate Change, U.N. Chief Says

March 29, 2018

António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general, said, “I am beginning to wonder how many more alarm bells must go off.”Giuseppe Lami/European Pressphoto Agency, via Shutterstock.

UNITED NATIONS — Nuclear weapons? Famine? Civil war? Nope.

The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, on Thursday called climate change “the most systemic threat to humankind” and urged world leaders to curb their countries’ greenhouse gas emissions.

He didn’t say much, though, about the one world leader who had pulled out of the landmark United Nations climate change agreement: President Trump.

Instead, Mr. Guterres suggested that Mr. Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris accord nearly a year ago didn’t matter much.

The American people, he said, were doing plenty.

“Independently of the position of the administration, the U.S. might be able to meet the commitments made in Paris as a country,” the secretary general said. “And, as you know, all around the world, the role of governments is less and less relevant.”

That may be overly optimistic. Sixteen American states and Puerto Rico have pledged to stick to the commitment that the United States made in the Paris agreement to reduce emissions by at least 26 percent by 2025.

Those states are on track to keep their promise.

But they represent less than a half of the country’s population, and the United States as a country will most likely fall short of its Paris pledge as Mr. Trump dismantles environmental regulations, according to a 2017 study by the Rhodium Group, a private economic research company. And a group led by Michael R. Bloomberg, the United Nations special envoy on climate change, and Gov. Jerry Brown of California, came to the same conclusion in a report that relied on the same data.

The Paris accord is written in such a way that the United States, in fact, remains in the pact even though it announced its intent to pull out.

The actual withdrawal does not happen until 2020.

Mr. Guterres is planning a summit meeting next year to goad world leaders to raise their emissions reductions targets. But few countries are even close to meeting the targets they set under the Paris agreement, which was drafted in November and December in 2015, according to independent analyses.

His warnings came a week after the World Meteorological Organization, a United Nations agency, reported that a barrage of extreme weather events had made 2017 the costliest year on record for such disasters, with an estimated $320 billion in losses.

Speaking at the United Nations headquarters on Thursday, Mr. Guterres said floods in South Asia had affected 41 million people and that drought had driven 900,000 people from their homes in Africa.

“I am beginning to wonder how many more alarm bells must go off before the world rises to the challenge,” he said. “We know it can be hard to address problems perceived to be years or decades away. But climate impacts are already upon us.”

Asked about the looming danger of floods and landslides facing hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, Mr. Guterres said he had urged Bangladesh’s government to relocate them to higher ground. Bangladesh’s government has said it is preparing to relocate the most vulnerable refugees to an island in the Bay of Bengal, itself vulnerable to the rising sea.

Mr. Guterres would not comment on those specific efforts except to say that “we believe higher ground is the best place.”

Somini Sengupta covers international climate issues. She has reported from Congo, Liberia and other war-torn areas of West Africa, was the bureau chief in Dakar and New Delhi, and served as The Times’s United Nations correspondent. @SominiSenguptaFacebook

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