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Risks of ‘domino effect’ of #ClimateChange tipping points #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #COP24

Scientists warn policymakers not to ignore links, and stress that ‘every action counts’

Policymakers have severely underestimated the risks of ecological tipping points, according to a study that shows 45% of all potential environmental collapses are interrelated and could amplify one another.

The authors said their paper, published in the journal Science, highlights how overstressed and overlapping natural systems are combining to throw up a growing number of unwelcome surprises.

“The risks are greater than assumed because the interactions are more dynamic,” said Juan Rocha of the Stockholm Resilience Centre. “The important message is to recognise the wickedness of the problem that humanity faces.”

The study collated existing research on ecosystem transitions that can irreversibly tip to another state, such as coral reefs bleaching and being overrun by algae, forests becoming savannahs and ice sheets melting into oceans.

It then cross-referenced the 30 types of shift to examine the impacts they might have on one another and human society.

Only 19% were entirely isolated. Another 36% shared a common cause, but were not likely to interact. The remaining 45% had the potential to create either a one-way domino effect or mutually reinforcing feedbacks.

The destruction of coral reefs can weaken coastal defences and expose mangrove forests to damage. Photograph: Greg Torda/ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Among the latter pairings were Arctic ice sheets and boreal forests. When the former melt, there is less ice to reflect the sun’s heat so the temperature of the planet rises. This increases the risks of forest fires, which discharge carbon into the air that adds to the greenhouse effect, which melts more ice. Although geographically distant, each amplifies the other.

By contrast, a one-way domino-type impact is that between coral reefs and mangrove forests. When the former are destroyed, it weakens coastal defences and exposes mangroves to storms and ocean surges.

The deforestation of the Amazon is responsible for multiple “cascading effects” – weakening rain systems, forests becoming savannah, and reduced water supplies for cities like São Paulo and crops in the foothills of the Andes. This, in turn, increases the pressure for more land clearance.

Until recently, the study of tipping points was controversial, but it is increasingly accepted as an explanation for climate changes that are happening with more speed and ferocity than earlier computer models predicted. The loss of coral reefs and Arctic sea ice may already be past the point of no return. There are signs the Antarctic is heading the same way faster than thought.

Co-author Garry Peterson said the tipping of the west Antarctic ice shelf was not on the radar of many scientists 10 years ago, but now there was overwhelming evidence of the risks – including losses of chunks of ice the size of New York – and some studies now suggest the tipping point may have already been passed by the southern ice sheet, which may now be releasing carbon into the atmosphere.

“We’re surprised at the rate of change in the Earth system. So much is happening at the same time and at a faster speed than we would have thought 20 years ago. That’s a real concern,” said Peterson. “We’re heading ever faster towards the edge of a cliff.”

The fourth most downloaded academic research of 2018 was the Hothouse Earth paper, which considered how tipping points could combine to push the global climate into an uninhabitable state.

The authors of the new paper say their work goes beyond climate studies by mapping a wider range of ecological stress points, such as biodiversity loss, agricultural expansion, urbanisation and soil erosion. It also focuses more on what is happening at the local level now, rather than projecting geo-planetary trends into the future.

“We’re looking at things that affect people in their daily lives. They’re things that are happening today,” said Peterson. “There is a positive message as it expands the range of options for action. It is not just at an international level. Mayors can also make a difference by addressing soil erosion, or putting in place social policies that place less stress on the environment, or building up natural coastal defences.”

Rocha has spent 10 years building a database of tipping points, or “regime shifts” as he calls them. He urges policymakers to adopt a similar interdisciplinary approach so they can better grasp what is happening.

“We’re trying to connect the dots between different research communities,” said Rocha. “Governments also need to look more at interactions. They should stop compartmentalising ministries like agriculture, fisheries and international relations and try to manage environmental problems by embracing the diversity of causes and mechanisms underlying them. Policies need to match the scale of the problem.

“It’s a little depressing knowing we are not on a trajectory to keep our ecosystem in a functional state, but these connections are also a reason for hope; good management in one place can prevent severe environmental degradation elsewhere. Every action counts.”

Press link for more: The Guardian

Scientists like Dr Adam Levy came away from #COP24 Angry. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani it’s time for #ClimateAction #ClimateStrike #SchoolStrike4Climate #StopAdani Stop stealing our children’s future!

As someone with a background in climate science, I was expecting to learn a lot from going to my first climate negotiations: #COP24.

I was not expecting to feel more angry and scared for our future than I have ever felt before.

Watch Dr Adam Levy

Listen to the scientists listen to Greta Thunberg Speaking at COP24

Stepping Up on Climate at #COP24 #auspol #qldpol #ClimateEmergency #StopAdani Demand a #GreenNewDeal #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #SchoolStrike4Climate

Negotiations at the 24th annual UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP) wrapped up in Katowice, Poland on Saturday, December 15, 2018.
The two-week long summit hosted thousands: from ministers to mayors, from students to civil society, and from businesses to banks.
The implementing guidelines of the Paris Agreement, known as the “Paris rulebook”, are now in place.
Of the many announcements and engagements that took place over the two weeks, here are some highlights:

It was warmly received during the session, with a spontaneous round of applause, and was referenced multiple times in plenary speeches and side events as a major boost for greater ambition.

The new plan significantly boosts support for adaptation and resilience, recognizing mounting climate change impacts on lives and livelihoods, especially in the world’s poorest countries.

By ramping up direct adaptation finance to reach around $50 billion over 2021-2025, the World Bank will, for the first time, give this equal emphasis alongside investments that reduce emissions.

Watch Greta Thunberg

MDB Alignment and a Dedicated Pavilion.

Nine MDBs – the African Development Bank Group, the Asian Development Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank Group, the Islamic Development Bank, the New Development Bank, and the World Bank Group – issued a declaration announcing a joint framework for aligning their activities with the goals of the Paris Agreement, reinforcing their commitment to combat climate change.

The MDBs plan to break the joint approach down into practical work on six core Paris Alignment areas, including ramping up climate finance, capacity building support for countries and other clients, and an emphasis on climate reporting. At next year’s COP25 gathering, the MDBs will report back on their progress with the six building blocks.

For the first time, the World Bank, along with six other MDBs and the CIFs shared a dedicated pavilion. The common space served as a convening and networking hub to promote, discuss and share climate solutions with global leaders, media and online influencers. It also hosted popular daily Facebook Live interviews.

Patricia Espinosa, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, during a speech at the MDB Joint Pavilion. Photo Credits: Kaia Rose, Connect4Climate

A Significant Boost for Climate-Smart Development in Sectors.

For cities: A new IFC report was published which found that cities in emerging markets alone could attract more than $29.4 trillion in climate-related investments in six key sectors by 2030. It analyzed cities’ climate-related targets and action plans in six regions and identified opportunities in priority sectors such as green buildings, public transportation, electric vehicles, waste, water, and renewable energy.

For energy: According to the new RISE report, the number of countries with strong policy frameworks for sustainable energy more than tripled – from 17 to 59 – between 2010 and 2017, and many of the world’s largest energy-consuming countries have significantly improved their renewable energy regulations since 2010. A separate study found that in Poland, host country of COP24, scaling renewable energy sources could provide major benefits for the economy, health and environment. And the report, Managing Coal Mine Closure: Achieving a Just Transition for All, outlined how governments can prepare for and manage coal mine closure, particularly the social and labor impacts, and implement the transition to cleaner, less polluting energy sources.

For food and land use: From 2015-17, 51 countries provided approximately $590 billion in public support for agricultural producers. A new report examined realigning agricultural support to deliver public goods outcomes and promote climate-smart agriculture.

For Infrastructure. Low-carbon, resilient infrastructure has a central role in ensuring development, economic and climate objectives are met. A joint report with OECD and UN Environment laid out what public and private actors can do to align financial flows in infrastructure.

For Transport. A technical paper on Electric Mobility was published to help support countries ensure that climate and environmental concerns as well as regulatory, labor, and fiscal implications were taken on board as they embark on e-Mobility pathways. The report was welcomed by the Polish government who will provide support to a trust fund that will support cutting edge research on e-mobility.

For Disaster Response and Preparedness. 2017 was a stark reminder that disasters have the capacity to destroy in one day what took years to build and they inevitably place a huge financial strain on countries and poor people. A number of announcements were made, aiming to boost support for countries to minimize the impacts, manage the risks of climate change, and support them to access a wider range of financial instruments, including insurance (for instance, the InsurResilience Global partnership, the KfW contribution to the Central America and Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Program and support growing for early warning systems).

The Big Takeaway

Now that the “Paris rulebook is in place, we can move forward on bold implementation.

The big messages that will resonate clearly into 2019 are that the needs for climate action and ambition are great, the opportunities of climate-smart growth are bigger, and our commitment on climate, as the WBG, is as strong as ever.

Press link for more: World Bank

Extreme heat wipes out 23,000 flying foxes #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #COP24 now a #ClimateEmergency #ClimateStrike #TheDrum #ExtinctionRebellion Demand #GreenNewDeal

Extreme heat wipes out 23,000 flying foxes

Photo: Thousands of spectacled flying foxes dropped dead from trees during a week of record-breaking heat in Cairns. (Supplied: David White)

An extreme heatwave in far north Queensland last month is estimated to have killed more than 23,000 spectacled flying foxes, equating to almost one third of the species in Australia.

The deaths were from colonies in the Cairns area where the mercury soared above 42 degrees Celsius two days in a row, breaking the city’s previous record temperature for November by five degrees.

Ecologist, Dr Justin Welbergen from the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment (Western Sydney University) is collating the numbers of bat deathsand said it was the second-largest mass die-off of flying foxes recorded in Australia and the first time it had happened to this species.

“These are certainly very serious wildlife die-off events and they occur at almost biblical scales,” he said.

“[The biggest] was in south-east Queensland back in 2014 where about 46,000 animals (predominantly black flying foxes) died.

“The population size of the spectacled flying fox in Australia is estimated to be about 75,000 individuals, give or take, so for all intents and purpose that means we have lost close to a third of the entire species in Australia.

“Losing a third of the species on a hot afternoon I would argue certainly strengthens the case for both the Federal and Queensland Governments to consider lifting the species from ‘vulnerable’ to ‘endangered’, if not ‘critically endangered’.”

Photo: An army of wildlife volunteers removed thousands of rotting bat carcasses from around Cairns last month. (Supplied: David White)

Dr Welbergen said it was also the first time there had been mass deaths of flying foxes from heat stress in far northern Australia where conditions were typically hot and humid but usually remained below 40 degrees.

“Science pretty much agrees this is a sign of things to come,” he said.

“Extreme heat events are increasing in frequency, also in terms of intensity and duration, and we can expect more extreme temperatures to occur increasingly frequently further north. 

“A certain proportion of such an extreme event can certainly be statistically attributed to climate change for sure. I think the jury is no longer out on that.”

Wildlife carers overwhelmed

Flying foxes dropped dead from roosting trees around Cairns during the heatwave with some residents forced to leave their homes due to the smell from thousands of rotting carcasses.

With no official protocols in place on how to deal with such an event, the task of removing the dead bats was largely left to an army of wildlife volunteers.

Wildlife carer Rebecca Koller said almost 850 bats were rescued and she was looking after about 200 on her property at Kuranda.

“None of our carers were prepared for the numbers we would have. We already had 500 orphans in care prior to this event,” she said.

“To find places for another nearly 850 orphans was just not something that we would ever in a million years anticipate.

“Not having experienced this before, we went in flying blind.”

Photo: The mass deaths occurred at the start of the birthing season, leaving hundreds of orphaned flying foxes. (Supplied: David White)

‘Canaries in the coal mine’

Dr Welbergen said Australia was now averaging one major flying fox die-off (in excess of 1,000 deaths) each year.

Since our paper in 2008 where we had identified more than 30,000 casualties going all the way back to settlement, we have evidence for at least nine other major events [where] the number of casualties combined is now more than 100,000 individuals,” he said.

“So this is very clearly a very serious issue for the long-term conservation of flying foxes in Australia.”

He said climate change impacts on bats were highly visible given they often roosted near urban areas.

“These sorts of events really raise concerns around what is happening to other species, especially wildlife that have more solitary and cryptic lifestyles,” he said.

“If 30 per cent of all koalas die in a forest, who will be there to see them and count the dead bodies?

“Flying foxes are Australia’s canaries in the coal mine.”

Press link for more: ABC

More evidence showing catastrophic climate

We’re stealing our children’s future

Watch Greta Thunberg

Lots of people support the #GreenNewDeal So what is it? #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #Cop24 #ClimateStrike #ClimateEmergency #StopAdani

THE LIGHTBULB

Supporters of Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed select committee on a “Green New Deal” rally outside the office of House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.). (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/REX)

Before the 2016 midterm elections, it was a campaign slogan little known outside progressive activist circles.

Now after the election, it is supposedly supported by most American voters.

Even if many of them still said they have no idea what it was.

In only a few months, the notion of a “Green New Deal” has earned the support of not just a few dozen Democrats in Congress. It’s also backed, at least according to one new survey, by the vast majority of registered voters.

A poll conducted by researchers at Yale and George Mason universities found that 81 percent of registered voters either strongly or somewhat support the ambitious plan to reduce carbon emissions over the next decade.

Even most Republican voters — nearly two in three — said they supported the Green New Deal when it was described to them by pollsters as a plan to generate all of the nation’s electricity from renewable sources within 10 years while providing job training for those displaced from traditional energy sector jobs.

But that same survey also identified the main weakness surrounding a Green New Deal, an ambitious proposal from progressive activists to tackle climate change that has been adopted by some high-profile Democratic freshman including Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

More than four-fifths of respondents said they had heard “nothing at all” of it before being reached online by survey takers.

Those findings show that left-leaning activists have, at the very least, found an effective slogan to encapsulate the aggressive action they demand to address climate change.

But turning a mantra into law is no small task.

Ocasio-Cortez and others have outlined formidable goals, but have not yet detailed a clear way of achieving them. And the researchers warn Democrats and their climate activist allies that they should expect to see more resistance to the idea of the platform as more people learn about it and associate it one political party over another.

The phrase “Green New Deal” has existed in U.S. political discourse for at least a decade after New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman used it in a 2007 column calling for a plan to transition the American energy system from fossil fuels to renewable sources.

The name harkens back to a series of efforts to build public works and overhaul financial rules under Franklin D. Roosevelt dubbed the New Deal.

Soon after that, Van Jones, the CNN commentator who once served as President Obama’s “green jobs czar,” adopted the phrase in his 2008 book “The Green Collar Economy” to describe a plan to create thousands of low- and medium-skill jobs installing solar panels and insulating homes.

A year later, the United Nations Environment Programme picked up on the phrase when outlining a “Global Green New Deal” for reducing greenhouse gas emissions without sacrificing economic development.

But the current version was perhaps outlined best by Ocasio-Cortez.

Shortly after the election, she called for the creation of a so-called “Select Committee For A Green New Deal” in the House that would develop a plan to “dramatically expand” renewable power to meet 100 percent of the nation’s needs while creating a job guarantee program to facilitate that transition.

Since the election, young activists part of groups like the Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats have staged sit-ins in the offices of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and other Democratic leaders,demanding their endorsement of the committee. So far, at least 40 members of Congress have endorsed the idea of a Green New Deal.

But given House Democrats’ experience with cap-and-trade legislation when they were last in the House majority, grand gestures aimed at climate change are going to be politically divisive, even among Democrats.

Edward Maibach, director of George Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication and one of the co-authors of the survey, said it is “probably not all that surprising” few Americans outside Washington have heard of the Green New Deal.

“It’s quite a new concept and while it is certainly caught hold in in liberal progressive circles, probably not so much in much of the rest of America,” he said.

The poll, which was conducted online between Nov. 28 to Dec. 11, did not tell respondents that so far all of congressional backers of the Green New Deal are Democrats. Public opinion may calcify along party lines as the concept gains publicity and its details — including its costs — are sketched out more thoroughly.

“The Green New Deal isn’t anything yet.

It doesn’t have any guts.

It doesn’t have any inside. It doesn’t have any real specifics other than broad platitudes,” said Frank Maisano, an energy industry specialist at the law and lobby firm Bracewell.

Watch Greta Thunberg TED talk

We need system change not climate change.

For now, the organizers of the Capitol Hill climate protests are fine with allowing the moment to fill out the details of what major climate change action would look like.

“What young people are doing here today, and what Justice Democrats and Ocasio-Cortez have been calling for, is similar to what happened in the 1930s and 1940s,” Justice Democrats’ spokesman Waleed Shahid told reporters before the protest in Pelosi’s office this month. “The original New Deal was not one policy.”

Press link for more: Washington Post

Australia experiencing more heat, longer fire seasons and rising oceans #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani #ClimateStrike we need a #GreenNewDeal

State of the climate report points to a long-term increase in the frequency of extreme heat events, fire weather and drought

Australia is experiencing more extreme heat, longer fire seasons, rising oceans and more marine heatwaves consistent with a changing climate, according to the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO’s state of the climate report.

The report, published every two years, measures the long-term variability and trends observed in Australia’s climate.

The 2018 report shows that Australia’s long-term warming trend is continuing, with the climate warming by just over 1C since 1910 when records began.

That warming is contributing to a long-term increase in the frequency of extreme heat events, fire weather and drought.

“Australia is already experiencing climate change now and there are impacts being experienced or felt across many communities and across many sectors,” said Helen Cleugh, the director of the CSIRO’s climate science centre.

The report’s key findings include:

  1. Australia’s fire seasons have lengthened and become more severe. In some parts of the country, the season has been extended by months.

  2. The number of extreme heat days continues to trend upward.

  3. There has been a shift to drier conditions in south-eastern and south-western Australia in the months from April to October.

  4. Rainfall across northern Australia has increased since the 1970s, particularly during the tropical wet season in north-western Australia.

  5. Oceans around Australia have warmed by about 1C since 1910, which is leading to longer and more frequent marine heatwaves that affect marine life such as corals.

  6. Sea levels around Australia have risen by more than 20cm since records began and the rate of sea level rise is accelerating.

  7. There has been a 30% increase in the acidity of Australian oceans since the 1800s and the current rate of change “is ten times faster than at any time in the past 300 million years”.

Karl Braganza, the bureau of meteorology’s manager of climate monitoring, said the increase in average temperature was having an impact on the frequency or amount of extremes Australia experienced in any given year.

“In general there’s been around a five-fold increase in extreme heat and that is consistent whether you look at monthly temperatures, day time temperatures or night time temperatures,” he said.

He said there had been a reduction in rainfall of 20% in south-western Australia and in some places that was as high as 26%. In south-eastern Australia, April to October rainfall had fallen by 11%.

The report also highlights an increase in the number of extreme fire danger days in many parts of Australia, particularly in southern and eastern Australia.

Braganza said there was a “clear shift” towards a lengthened fire season, more fire weather during that season and an increase in its severity.

“Often the worst fire weather occurs when you’ve had long-term drought, long-term above-average temperatures, maybe a short-term heatwave and then the meteorology that’s consistent with severe fire weather and the ability for fire to spread,” he said.

“It’s those types of compound events that are going to be most challenging going forward in terms of adapting to climate change in Australia.”

David Cazzulino, the Great Barrier Reef campaigner for the Australian Marine Conservation Society, said the report confirmed what many Australians already knew about the rising risks of climate change.

“The big line around oceans warming one degree since 1910 is a huge wake-up call,” he said.

“It’s undeniable that warming oceans lead to more marine heatwaves, coral bleaching and coral mortality.”

He said the impact of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef, and climate change policy generally, would be a key campaign issue ahead of the 2019 federal election.

“We are running out of time to keep warming to a safe degree for the reef to have a future,” Cazzulino said.

Press link for more: The Guardian

We’re stealing our children’s future.

Listen to Greta Thunberg TED

Australia urgently needs a Green New Deal

81% of US Voters Support a #GreenNewDeal, #LabConf16 #COP24 #TheDrum #ClimateEmergency #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #SchoolStrike4Climate

It’s been little over a month since newly-elected Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez joined some 200 young climate activists for a sit-in in soon-to-be House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office to demand that Democrats back a Green New Deal, a plan to transform the U.S. energy economy in order to stave off climate change and promote greater equality.

Since then, support has ballooned for the revolutionary policy plan, with 38 Congresspeople now pledging to back a select committee to develop it, and to renounce donations from fossil fuel companies, according to the latest tally from the Sunrise Movement.

But what do voters think?

That is what the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication set out to determine with a survey shared with 966 registered voters between Nov. 28 and Dec.11. The results, published Friday, show that the idea has “overwhelming support” from voters of all parties.

The survey gave a brief explanation of the Green New Deal and then asked respondents, “How much do you support or oppose this idea?”

Eighty-one percent of registered voters either “strongly” or “somewhat” supported it, and, while support was stronger among Democrats, a majority of Republicans were also in favor.

While 92 percent of Democrats supported it, 64 percent of Republicans and 57 percent of conservative Republicans also thought it was a good idea.

However, there is a catch: The survey did not mention that the Green New Deal has so far been promoted by progressive Democrats like Ocasio-Cortez.

The Yale Program on Climate Change Communication explained why this could alter Republican support as the deal and its proponents gain more national attention:

Other research has shown that people evaluate policies more negatively when they are told it is backed by politicians from an opposing political party. Conversely, people evaluate the same policy more positively when told it is backed by politicians from their own party.

Therefore, these findings may indicate that although most Republicans and conservatives are in favor of the Green New Deal’s policies in principle, they are not yet aware that this plan is proposed by the political Left. For any survey respondents who were previously unaware of the Deal, it is likely that their reactions have not yet been influenced by partisan loyalty.

The survey also showed that most of its respondents had not heard of the deal.

Before it offered its paragraph of explanation, the survey’s authors asked if respondents had heard of it. Eighty-two percent answered that they had heard “nothing at all.”

For Yale postdoc Abel Gustafson, who co-authored the report on the survey’s findings, the challenge for the deal’s proponents is how to spread awareness in a way that does not alienate potential supporters.

“Given that most Americans have strong support for the components and ideas of the Green New Deal, it becomes a communication strategy problem,” Gustafson told The Huffington Post. “From here, it’s about how you can pitch it so you can maintain that bipartisan support throughout the rest of the process.” 

Watch 15 year old Greta Thunberg TED Talk Stop stealing our future!

Another survey from Data for Progress also found broad support for a green jobs program, with 98 percent of loyal Democrats and 66 percent of loyal Republicans on board, The Huffington Post reported.

Overall, Data for Progress polling found 66 percent overall either somewhat or strongly supported a green jobs guarantee.

Press link for more: Eco watch

Intensifying #climatechange protests ‘could rival Vietnam War activism’ #auspol #qldpol #LabConf18 #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #SchoolStrike4Climate #ExtinctionRebellion #TheDrum #GreenNewDeal

Mass protests of the scale held during the Vietnam War are just around the corner for people concerned about climate change, environmentalists have warned, as a growing number of activists turn their attention to those who fund fossil fuel industries.

Students strike in Brisbane

Key points:

  • Climate inaction protests and participants rising
  • Major parties fail to implement lasting policy
  • Protesters targeting financers of fossil fuel

Activists on Sunday disrupted Labor’s national conference in Adelaide to oppose oil drilling in the Great Australian Bight and the Adani coal mine in Queensland — two proposals considered “lightning rods” for unilateral climate protests.

It happened weeks after thousands of school students defied Prime Minister Scott Morrison and marched on capital cities to demand significant action to reduce carbon emissions — surprising authorities with the number of participants involved.

“The divide between the Government and the young people of Australia is probably the greatest it’s been since those huge protests of the Vietnam War era, and I think it’s for a similar reason,” Greenpeace chief executive David Ritter said.

Stop Adani protestors at Labor National Conference

“Back then, 18 to 20-year-olds [facing conscription in the 1960s] felt their future was being callously taken away by a war they could see no justification or point for.

“The young people of Australia today can see the future being callously taken away to prop up the old fossil fuel industries that have to go if we are to have a flourishing future.

“A 14-year-old is perfectly capable of looking at the news and seeing terrible wildfires in California, bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, the Arctic burning.

“People can see the climate consequences [of inaction] and they are not going to stand around and watch their future disappear.”

Photo: The Vietnam War divided opinion across Australia in the 1960s. (ABC Archives)

Australia’s School Strike 4 Climate campaign started earlier this year in Victoria, after children were inspired by the actions of 15-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg.

Greta has pledged to protest outside Parliament House in Stockholm until her country catches up on its Paris Agreement commitments.

Some students have also taken inspiration from a landmark climate lawsuit filed by 21 teenagers in Oregon against the US Government for failing to take meaningful action against climate change.

Watch Greta Thunberg’s Ted Talk Stop Stealing our future

Protesters with multiple targets

Professor Quentin Beresford is joining Mr Ritter to speak at Womadelaide’s Planet Talks program in March at an event called Adani, Coal Wars and the National Interest.

The author of Adani And The War On Coal said a strong protest movement was well underway, and pointed out the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), which is comprised of several different youth organisations, already had more than 150,000 members.

Professor Beresford said protests today were a blend of non-violent direct-action protests witnessed during the Vietnam War and social media activism.

“What we’re seeing now is a maturing of the broad environment movement and they’re developing multiple strategies,” he said.

“One of the effective strategies is to go for the institutional funders, the big corporations, the big banks and investment houses.

“The rely on their reputation, because if there is no social licence for a project, no public approval, [vocal criticism] can have a powerful effect.”

It has resulted in banks refusing to support projects like the Adani coal mine, even if it has the backing of some politicians.

“Targeting political parties is necessary, but it doesn’t necessarily bring you success and effectiveness because of the power of the fossil fuel industry and how it’s captured the political system,” Professor Beresford said.

“When both major parties more or less support the project, where are you going to get the break-off?”

Professor Beresford said Adani had been “a lightning rod for the climate movement and for activist politics in general”.

“It just doesn’t make sense for Australia to allow this mine to release catastrophic levels of CO2 into the atmosphere in an era of climate change,” he said.

Australia rudderless on carbon reduction

Although it ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2007 and signed the Paris Agreement in 2015, Australia remains without a significant federal policy to reduce emissions.

Both major parties have proposed varying strategies to appease public sentiment since 2007, only to be abandoned, repealed or put on the backburner.

In the meantime, emissions are on the rise after a marginal fall between 2007 and 2013.

Photo: Scott Morrison once used a lump of coal to get his point across in Parliament. (ABC News: Nick Haggarty)

Mr Morrison, when he was treasurer, infamously brought in a lump of coal to Question Time in 2017 while making a point about renewable energy versus base-load coal-fired power.

When asked about last month’s school strike, he said the Government wanted “more learning in schools and less activism in schools“, to which the young protesters said that if “he was doing his job properly, we wouldn’t be here”.

AYCC campaigns director Kelly Albion said there were 160 different “stop Adani groups” across Australia in an “organic movement” that was growing on its own.

“We saw a couple of weeks ago high school students and primary students alike willing to make their voices heard about an issue that affects their generation,” she said.

“Climate change is an issue that affects us all and we need to make sure our political leaders are doing everything they can to make sure we avoid the worse impacts.”

The Womadelaide world music, arts and dance festival runs from March 8 to 12 at Botanic Park in Adelaide.

South Australian students protest at Parliament House Adelaide

Press link for more: ABC

The great’ COP out #COP24 #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #LabConf18 Demand #GreenNewDeal #ClimateEmergency

The Conference of the Parties 24 – or COP24, as the branding goes – opened with an emotion-grabbing call on world leaders by Sir David Attenborough.

But at the end of the first week, the mood of optimism went into a spasm when it was clear that the United States, Russia, and Saudi Arabia, would oppose accepting the recent report by the IPCC stating that the difference between a global average heating of 1.5°C and 2°C is the difference between two very different worlds that climate change will deliver.

Of course, whether we accept a report or not does not change its validity.

In fact, in a UK Met Office presentation at the COP, Dr. Richard Betts stated that currently, we are on track for around 3.3°C, a death knell for many of the world’s poorest people and a likely scenario of the collapse of the global economy, agriculture and general human well being.

Barefaced lying

Professor John Schellnhuber, a German climate scientist speaking at the same session as Betts, started his talk with the following: “If you thought this conference can deliver on [the less safe] 2°C then you have been fooled!”

All this brings us back to that tawdry slogan smeared like cream across the British Pavilion. Green may indeed be great but to imply in any way that we are honouring our Paris Agreement commitments is a barefaced lie.

This lie was made very explicit to me by British climate scientist, Professor Kevin Anderson.

He passed the stand and said: “Why don’t you go and ask them about the new Clair Ridge oil platform coming online, that the Energy and Clean Growth Minister, Claire Perry, has been celebrating?

“That is something like 50,000 tonnes of CO2 every single day from that one platform in the North Sea. They expect it to have 640 million barrels of recoverable oil for the duration of its life, equal to a quarter of a billion tonnes [of CO2 pollution].”

This is the same government who continues in its efforts to pursue shale gas from fracking, while at the same time refusing to back renewable energy projects such as the tidal energy project in Swansea, and placing a moratorium on onshore wind power, despite record growth.

It is not only the low-carbon energy potential that they have thrown out of the window, but it is also the lead position we have held in these industries that attract investments, leading to more jobs and a brighter future.

In this context, it is hard to see how Green Is Great, or even the open bragging of The Climate Change Act can be more than barefaced lying, both to the British people and again here at COP to delegates looking for hope in a dark place.

Road to hell 

The fossil fuel energy pathway this government is locking us into for decades to come will contribute significantly to shattering the myth that we will avert dangerous climate change.

Combined with all the lies of other developed nations, including those in Scandinavia, Germany, and Canada, not to mention China and India, our global emissions are set to keep rising and with it, the cost to all life on Earth.

This was expressed in the morning while talking to the scientist, Christoph Thiel from Greenpeace: “we don’t just have a climate change problem, we are also into the first human caused mass extinction!”

People like me

People like me feel a sense of sadness and anger when Russia or the US deny obvious truths, especially on existential issues such as climate change. Yet, in reality, there is very little difference between what UK policy is doing underlying banners such as Green Is Great. The reason they can get away with it is because we all know they are doing it and choose to turn a blind eye in case it impacts our own way of life.

There is now clear evidence that the top 10 percent of society’s highest emitters are responsible for 50 percent of global emissions. Kevin Anderson raised this point numerous times over various presentations both in and out of the COP. Within this group emissions from flying drastically impact our individual carbon footprints and Anderson cites frequent flying as being emblematic of the kind of lifestyle that speaks much louder than rhetoric on climate action:

“The airports are full of frequent fliers, who are the wealthy people in our society. Emissions across the board are being driven by a relatively small cohort of very high emitters.

“At the global level, we know that 50% of emissions come from 10 percent of the population and it looks like the UK is not dissimilar to that, nor is the US. In the US the top one percent emit around 300-350 tonnes of CO2 pollution [per person] each year, and yet the average in the US is around 23 tonnes. In the EU, it’s nearer 13 tonnes. But I bet you there are a lot of poorer people in the EU who are running well below the average at about 4-8 tonnes!”

Axis of Evil?

All of this sheds light on why the UK, US, and pretty much all other governments in developed nations, ignore their Paris Agreement commitments and focus on the job of keeping us in the profligate and destructive lives that we have become accustomed too.

At an individual level, it is the choices that we make every day that collectively make up the staggering true cost of climate change. As Anderson puts it:

“Emissions relate very closely to income and that is because we use a lot more energy, but also then, above a certain threshold, it means we consume lots more goods. That stuff uses lots of energy; the raw material, the manufacturing of it, and then to import it.”

The consequences of every decision

Scientists have created a set of carbon budgets that tell us how much carbon we can emit depending on whether we are aiming to achieve a global warming of 1.5ºC, 2ºC, or anywhere over 3.3ºC. These budgets are very tight and, yet, this year global emissions rose 2.7 percent – much larger than last years 1.6 percent.

After 24 years of COP’s, to achieve an international agreement that no one is honouring, and the wealthy people, who have the power to change, are ignoring, is a disgrace. The decisions I make going forward, from flying to eating meat, or air freighted avocados, they all consume another part of that carbon budget that is rightly the property of the poorer people in the global society, who have emitted virtually nothing but face the worst consequences.

In addition, careful consideration should be given to our children and grandchildren who will have to try and live in the environmental mess that we have created for them. It should not surprise anyone as to why they are taking to the streets and will continue to do so as the crisis worsens.

Anderson ends leaving this question hanging in the air: “What’s worse, Russia, America, and Saudi Arabia being honest about their rejection of the science, or us, lying about it so we can go on doing what we are doing?”

This Author

Nick Breeze is a climate change journalist also publishing on https://envisionation.co.uk and organising https://climateseries.com. Follow him on Twitter at @NickGBreeze

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12 Reasons Labor Should Demand a #GreenNewDeal #LabConf18 #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #SchoolStrike4Climate #ClimateChange #Airpollution

Only protecting humanity from climate catastrophe can unify the political forces needed to meet labor’s demands for jobs, union rights, economic security, full employment, and worker empowerment

Labor shouldn’t just back the Green New Deal, it should help lead the way. (Photo: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Workers have gotten a raw deal.

Employers and their Republican (Liberal) allies are trying to eliminate workers’ rights both in the workplace and at the ballot box.

But even when Democrats controlled the presidency and both houses of Congress, they did little to protect, let alone expand, the rights of working people. Workers need a new deal.

Now, an alliance of social movements and members of Congress are proposing a Green New Deal to create millions of jobs by putting Americans to work making a climate-safe economy. This program meets the needs of—and has the potential to unite—the labor movement, environmentalists, and all those who have been the victims of inequality, discrimination, racism and, now, climate change.

In the week following the 2018 midterm elections, a group of 150 protesters led by young people with the Sunrise Movement occupied the office of likely Democratic House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, urging her to support a Green New Deal. Newly-elected House Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) joined the protest with a resolution in hand to establish a Select Committee for a Green New Deal. The proposal has since amassed growing support among Congressional representatives, progressive organizations and young people across the country.

The Green New Deal is poised to become a factor in the 2020 elections. Labor unions should take this opportunity to embrace the proposal—and fight to make sure it’s a strong vehicle for advancing workers’ rights.

What was the New Deal?

In the depths of the Great Depression, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt launched the New Deal—a set of government programs to provide employment and social security, reform tax policies and business practices, and stimulate the economy. It included the building of homes, hospitals, school, roads, dams and electrical grids. The New Deal put millions of people to work and created a new policy framework for American democracy.

New Deal programs included public employment (Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps); farm price supports (Agricultural Adjustment Act); environmental restoration (reforestation and land conservation); labor rights (Wagner Act); minimum wages and standards (National Recovery Act and Fair Labor Standards Act); cooperative enterprises (Works Progress Administration support for self-help); public infrastructure development (TVA and rural electrification); subsidized basic necessities (food commodity programs and Federal Housing Act); construction of schools, parks, and housing (Civil Works Administration); and income maintenance (Social Security Act).

Besides its famous “alphabet soup” of Federal government agencies, the New Deal was part of a larger process of social change that included experimentation at a state, regional and local level; organization among labor, unemployed, urban, the elderly and other grassroots constituencies; and lively debate on future alternatives that went far beyond the policies actually implemented.

What a Green New Deal would do 

The Green New Deal is a program that all trade unionists and advocates for working people can and should get behind.

While there are a variety of detailed proposals for a Green New Deal, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ proposal promises to create millions of jobs through building a new 100%-renewable electrical system and a national “smart grid,” retrofitting residential and industrial buildings, and building a new, low-emission transportation system.

It also seeks to end the epidemic of poverty by mitigating deeply entrenched racial, regional and gender-based inequalities in income and wealth and distributing federal aid and other investment equitably to historically impoverished and marginalized communities.

At its core, the Green New Deal would work toward saving the climate by meeting scientific targets for the reduction of greenhouse gases, investing in the drawdown and capture of greenhouse gases, and making “green” technology a major export of the United States to help other countries transition to carbon-neutral economies.

Why labor should support a Green New Deal 

American workers, like most Americans, are dissatisfied with the status quo and want change. Organized labor is in a position to help lead that change. But all too rarely is labor’s program directed to a vision of what we want for the future.

The Green New Deal provides a visionary program for labor and can provide a role for unions in defining and leading a new vision for America.

At the same time, the Green New Deal projects a program that is not far-fetched. It includes plans for a public works programs, the expansion of human rights and new entitlement programs. Americans have made such goals a reality before in U.S. history—with organized labor playing a leading role.

Why a Green New Deal? Only protecting humanity from climate catastrophe can unify the political forces needed to meet labor’s demands for jobs, union rights, economic security, full employment, and worker empowerment.

There are 12 key reasons why labor should get on board with a Green New Deal:

  1. Avert climate catastrophe: We are in a climate emergency. The current threat to humanity rivals that of Nazi armies that once threatened to establish a “thousand-year Reich” whose master race would rule the world. Millions of workers mobilized to build the tanks, planes and ammunition that defeated the Nazis. Today we need a mobilization that similarly puts millions to work building the windmills, solar collectors, grids and other tools needed to defeat climate change. Working people have no greater collective interest.
  2. Provide jobs for all: The production of equipment and construction of infrastructure for the new climate-safe economy will provide manufacturing and construction jobs for millions of workers. The Climate Jobs Guarantee contained within the Green New Deal would provide jobs for all who want them at a base wage of $15, including healthcare and other benefits. The ongoing conversion to a sustainable economy will continue to provide good jobs for generations.
  3. Abolish poverty: In addition to a jobs guarantee providing wages that will lift workers out of poverty, the Green New Deal will also include basic income programs and universal health care for those who are not in the workforce.
  4. Rebuild the labor movement: Put simply, a Green New Deal can help rebuild the U.S. labor movement. With input from labor, the plan can guarantee the right to organize, bargain collectively, engage in concerted action and retain basic Constitutional rights on the job for all workers.
  5. Unite the working class: President Donald Trump, the Republican Party and corporate America have been working overtime to divide the working class. The Green New Deal embodies the common interests of all working people in climate protection, jobs for all and greater equality. At the same time, it addresses the legacy of race, gender, and other forms of discrimination and injustice. And it expresses human values that recognize the equal worth and common fate of all people.
  6. Win wide popular support for a labor-friendly program: Public opinion polling shows that the programs of the Green New Deal are extraordinarily popular. A recent poll shows that over half of voting-eligible adults said they would be more likely to support a candidate running on a Green Job Guarantee, including 35 percent of Trump voters. And young people are far more likely to support a candidate running on a platform of 100 percent renewable energy and Green jobs.
  7. Build a powerful labor-friendly coalition: The original New Deal coalition brought together diverse constituencies including labor, African Americans, city dwellers and farmers. That coalition was a dominant force in American politics for more than 40 years. The Green New Deal similarly provides the basis for a broad, long-lasting coalition that can again transform American politics and society. By helping lead that coalition, organized labor can secure the rights and well-being of all workers.
  8. Unify environmental and labor forces in the Democratic Party: Labor and environmentalists have too often been at loggerheads in the Democratic Party. This has undermined both the protection of the environment and of workers. A Green New Deal can become a common program unifying the environmental and labor constituencies of the Democratic Party. By making protecting the climate the way to provide jobs for all, it puts an end to the phony conflict between “jobs and the environment.”
  9. Challenge corporate dominance of the Democratic Party: For far too long, the Democrats’ corporate wing, representing the interests of the wealthy, has dominated the party. Even when Democrats controlled the Presidency and both houses of Congress, the corporate wing of the party helped stymie both labor law reform and effective climate protection—screwing workers twice. The Green New Deal provides a program that represents the views of the great majority of Democrats that can allow the party’s rank-and-file to take control and advance both workers’ rights and climate protection.
  10. Strengthen workers bargaining power: The tremendous demand for labor created by the transition to a fossil-free economy, combined with the Climate Jobs Guarantee, will eliminate that “long line of workers at the gate” that employers use to strengthen their hands in negotiations. The Climate Jobs Guarantee will set a new floor for wages and benefits that all employers will need to exceed if they wish to sustain a workforce.
  11. Expand union apprenticeship and training: As with the economic mobilization for World War II, climate mobilization will require training a new workforce. The Green New Deal defines union apprenticeships and other training programs as a central way to do so. That will provide both a major source of financial support for unions and a chance to show the benefits of unionization to millions of workers entering the workforce or being retrained for new jobs.
  12. Establish a standard for those who claim to be labor’s friends: One reason for organized labor’s declining clout has been the lack of a clear standard for those who seek labor’s support. The Green New Deal provides a clear statement of how candidates and organizations can show support for labor—and therefore what politicians must fight for if they want labor’s support.

What the New Deal did for labor 

The New Deal established jobs programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC), Civil Works Administration (CWA), and the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The WPA employed more than 8.5 million workers who built 650,000 miles of highways and roads, 125,000 public buildings, as well as schools, bridges, reservoirs, irrigation systems, parks and playgrounds.

In 1936, when many American employers were violently opposing unions, WPA director Harry Hopkins signed an agreement assuring the Workers Alliance of America, a merger of several unemployed organizations, the right to organize relief workers.

The Workers Alliance functioned as a proto-union in the WPA, striking, protesting grievances, and organizing mass demonstrations and marches to maintain and expand the program. It worked with the AFL and the nascent CIO to demand union scale for skilled workers, a minimum payment for WPA workers and collective bargaining for all workers on work-relief projects. Many WPA workers used their experience to become organizers in the new CIO. As the WPA wound down and the private economy revived, many former Workers Alliance activists became leaders in the new industrial unions.

The 1935 Social Security Act established retirement pensions, unemployment insurance, and welfare programs that remain the primary basis for economic security for many American workers to this day.

The 1935 National Labor Relations Act—aka the Wagner Act—guaranteed workers the right to bargain collectively through unions of their own choosing. Union membership virtually tripled in the decade following the passage of the act.

The 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act set maximum hours, minimum wages and abolished child labor.

Through its role in the administrative agencies of the New Deal and its growing role in the New Deal coalition, organized labor achieved an unprecedented, if still subordinate, voice in the halls of governmental and political power.

What labor should ask of a Green New Deal

While current proposals for a Green New Deal align with workers’ interests, organized labor brings traditions and insights that can make them even more compelling.

Incorporating worker demands in the Green New Deal program will pay benefits long before they can be implemented at a national level. It will ensure that labor’s approach is understood and adopted by a wide coalition. And it will provide guidelines for what policies that coalition will fight for at a local, state, regional and industry level.

Labor needs to begin the discussion on what it wants in a Green New Deal. It needs a program that will transform the role of organized working people at least as profoundly as the programs of the New Deal. But that can’t simply be a matter of going back to labor’s past glories.

The rights of working people have been eroded under both Democratic and Republican administrations. Labor law as amended by Congress and interpreted by the courts has become less a protection for workers and unions than a means to restrict their freedom. Simply rolling back recent conservative victories like the Supreme Court’s Janus decision is not enough. Labor can and should demand that the Green New Deal—like the original New Deal—establish a new framework that protects workers’ fundamental Constitutional and human rights.

Labor should demand that any Green New Deal:

Restore the right to organize, bargain collectively and engage in concerted action on the job: These rights were originally protected by the New Deal’s National Labor Relations Act, but they have been eroded by legislation, court decisions and the power of employers to discipline and fire their workers.

Guarantee the Constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly in the workplace: These rights are essential to workers’ freedom to organize as they see fit. They are also essential aspects of human rights and human dignity that should not be eliminated once you enter the workplace.

Restore the right to strike: In the half-century following the Civil War, American workers’ movements maintained that the right to strike was a fundamental Constitutional right, guaranteed by the 13th  Amendment’s prohibition of “involuntary servitude.” It’s time to enforce that right.

Guarantee the right to a safe and healthy work environment: The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) of 1970 supposedly assured “safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women,” but it was deeply flawed from the outset and has been gutted over time. A Green New Deal can help meet both labor and environmental goals by banning all unsafe practices in workplaces.

Provide a fair and just transition for workers whose jobs may be threatened by economic change: This should include but not be limited to change that results from the transition to a climate-safe economy. It should include an updated version of the GI Bill of Rights that gave returning World War II veterans education, housing, medical and other benefits to make a new start on life and economic development support for communities affected by economic transition.

Establish fair labor standards: The 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provided minimum wages, limited the hours of work, and established other protections for workers. Today the minimum wage is so low that it fails to ensure even a poverty-level income. In practice, workers can be made to work for as few or as many hours as their employers want. New labor standards should ensure that anyone who works gets a living wage; employees are provided predictable hours of labor; and that workers may not be fired without just cause.

Establish strong state and local prevailing wage laws: The Davis-Bacon Act, passed on the eve of the New Deal, requires that all contractors and subcontractors performing federally-funded construction, alteration, or repair work must pay their workers no less than the prevailing wages and benefits for corresponding work on similar projects in the area. A Green New Deal should implement prevailing wage laws for all climate-protection jobs, all state- and locally-funded projects, as well as other industries.

Encourage industry-wide bargaining: The labor relations system established by the New Deal often led to industry-wide collective bargaining in which all steelworkers or auto workers were united in their confrontations with management. Today, workers in each industry and each corporation are often represented by dozens of different unions who all bargain separately with little coordination. A Green New Deal can encourage bargaining councils and other forms of coordination that promote higher wages and prevent a race to the bottom by taking wages out of competition.

Establish a “buy fair” and “buy local” procurement policy: A Green New Deal can provide incentives for quality jobs which provide family-sustaining wages and benefits; the right to form a union and engage in collective bargaining free of intimidation and reprisal; and hiring opportunities for workers in disadvantaged communities.

What trade unionists can do right now to win a Green New Deal

The idea of a Green New Deal has rapidly and unexpectedly broken through into public discussion. Here’s how unions can build on this momentum right now:

Support the Sunrise Movement’s Green New Deal actions: Show up for demonstrations at your Congressional representative’s office to demand they support a Green New Deal.

Ask politicians who depend on labor support to sign on to Congressional resolutions calling for a Green New Deal

Educate your membership about the Green New Deal: Materials are available at the Labor Network for Sustainability website.

Pass a resolution demanding a Green New Deal: The organization Labor for Single Payer first passed resolutions through hundreds of local unions, then dozens of national unions, and ultimately turned the labor movement into a powerful advocate for universal healthcare. The labor movement’s support for a Green New Deal can send a strong message that the plan is critical to building working-class power.

Push for elements of the Green New Deal in your collective bargaining demands: “Bargaining for the common good” is a growing trend for American unions. Many aspects of the Green New Deal can be won through union bargaining. For example, unions can bargain for their employers to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to apply prevailing wage standards to their own workers or outside contractors who perform the necessary work.

Join together with other unions and allies to demand a Green New Deal: Coalitions that advocate for protection for both workers and the climate have emerged at the local, state and national levels. You can join with them to form a powerful force to ultimately win a strong and bold Green New Deal.

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