My grandmother had a phrase. As a child, whenever I would ask her to buy me something, the reply would come "Do I look like the Bank of England?". This week the Bank of England did its own looking - into the future - and what it sees has jolted governments and financial and insurance markets. It was a message with wide ranging ramifications.
The Governor of the Bank of England says the global economy is at risk from climate change. The BBC reported on a speech by Mark Carney saying global warming could become one of the biggest risks to economic stability. "If there is no action now, global warming could become one of the biggest risks to economic stability in the future," he told the broadcaster. Mark Carney said that the world was changing, and whether you were a "sceptic or an evangelist" on global warning, governments and investors should be aware of the possible effects on financial stability. "In the insurance industry, extreme weather events were becoming more costly, he said, with losses increasing from $10bn a year in the 1980s to $50bn in the last decade. In banking, billions of pounds of loans to energy companies and mining businesses might have to be re-assessed. Mr Carney said that wasn't a job for him, but for investors, who would need to be given more information," the BBC reported. The Bank of England has published the full speech on its website as well as a link to a video of its delivery by the Governor.
Meanwhile, the Guardian reports almost £6 billion of the UK’s foreign aid budget will be spent on tackling climate change in poor countries over the next five years, David Cameron has said, as Britain steps up its contributions by 50 percent to help meet international targets. Climate Change News reports the Chinese government says it will spend $3.1 billion in helping developing countries cope with the impacts of climate change and invest in green technologies, in a move hailed as historic by observers.
The United States and China made more significant commitments this week on addressing climate change. Think Progress reports on U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a suite of wide-ranging actions that clarify how serious the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter is about cutting greenhouse gas emissions. These include prioritizing green energy on China’s grid, a cap-and-trade or emissions trading system for China, additional low-carbon financing to developing countries, and emissions standards for heavy duty vehicles. The fact that these announcements were made during the world’s most important bilateral meeting and official state visit lends them further significance. The full official announcement is on the White House website.
On the road to Paris, Reuters reports Brazil has locked in for a 43 percent emissions reduction target. President Dilma Rousseff presented the country's pledges during a speech at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, saying that the targets, based on a reference year of 2005, are more ambitious than those of most developed countries. "It's significant that Brazil, among the world's largest emitters, has the largest reduction target. But it is insufficient considering the potential the country has to do more," said Carlos Rittl, head of Climate Observatory.
It was 'the official' Climate Week this week. There were no big marches around the world like we saw this time last year but there were some hugely significant happenings. The World Resources Institute had this summary: "Even for those of us who work on climate change every day, last week was one of the most inspiring events in a long time. From the Pope’s messages to renewed business engagement to major countries throwing their support behind action, the sense of momentum was striking. With the Paris climate summit only two months away, leaders harnessed the opportunity to raise their voices and make it known that business, the public, governments, faith groups and civil society are taking climate action to catalyze the transformation to a low-emission economy."
The Climate Group released a report showing that over 170 major companies, states, regions and cities around the world have committed to reducing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80-100 percent, or procuring 100 percent of their power from renewable sources. "Bringing together information from several trusted sources, the findings demonstrate a trend toward increasingly ambitious climate action on the part of “non-state” actors (i.e. non-national governments), in the lead up to the Paris Climate Conference later this year," Climate Group said.
In Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald reports Australia has scope to make more ambitious cuts to its carbon emissions after the initial targets are agreed at the Paris climate conference in December. This comes from an interview with Environment Minister Greg Hunt. While the initial targets set by the Abbott government for a 26-28 per cent cut to 2005 emissions levels by 2030 remain, the government will consider enlarging the target in follow-up talks, he said. "It's highly likely that the outcome from the Paris meeting will be a process for review of global and national targets, perhaps every five years, and that will prepare us for 2020, 2025 and 2030," Mr Hunt said in an interview with Fairfax Media. "As we get to 2017 and 2018 and we see how we're travelling, we'll have the ability to progressively tighten targets and standards. The way we think of it is buying an option for the future."
Renew Economy reports that Australian clean energy jobs could be worth $370 billion in ten years. "The report, released on Tuesday by Beyond Zero Emissions, aims to illustrate how Australia can transition from coal-fired power to renewables, shifting the economy along with it. “Our research with Melbourne University into energy generation in Australia shows that we can create $370 billion of green energy jobs with current technology, instead of using coal-fired power stations,” said Beyond Zero Emissions CEO Stephen Bygrave. When you add to this smart homes and buildings, as well as low-carbon land use, high speed rail and electric vehicle options, the green jobs climb towards $1 trillion dollars in value, Dr Bygrave told Renew Economy.
Renew Economy reports the Australian government appears to have softened its stance on key bodies such as the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and may even allow the CEFC to invest in wind energy. "Environment minister Greg Hunt told ABC Radio National on Tuesday that the Coalition – which had sought to ban the CEFC from investing in wind energy under the Abbott regime – may now support investment in emerging wind energy technologies. Hunt’s most interesting comments came on the future of the CEFC, and the fact that it could be allowed to invest in emerging wind technologies. He said the CEFC had a mandate to focus on emerging technologies, but there was no blanket ban," Renew Economy reported.
From another a ministry, however, the Sydney Morning Herald reports Australia's freshly minted Resources and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg has signalled the government's intention to use taxpayer funds to help the coal mining industry establish new projects. In an interview with Fairfax Media publication the Australian Financial Review, Mr Frydenberg, who is also the Minister for Northern Australia, said a $5 billion infrastructure fund announced in the May budget could contribute to infrastructure for mining projects in the Galilee Basin.
In science this week, Climate Progress reports the world appears to have bought itself a little time in the fight to avoid climate catastrophe, according to a new analysis. "Virtually every major country has made pledges to limit or reduce carbon pollution in advance of the Paris climate talks this December. These pledges generally end in 2025 or 2030, and so they only matter if the world keeps ratcheting down its greenhouse gas emissions in future agreements until we get near zero by century’s end. Otherwise we will blow past the 2°C line of defense against very dangerous-to-catastrophic global warming, and hit 3.6°C warming by 2100. That’s the key finding of a new analysis from Climate Interactive and the MIT Sloan School of Business, tallying up the global pledges to limit carbon pollution leading up to the big Paris climate talks later this year."
For the first time in a while, it looks like it was a 'two steps forward - one step back' week.
The Flipboard edition of The Week That Was will not be available until Tuesday, 6 October 2015.
A selection of great reading on climate change politics, policy, innovation and science from Climate Reality Leader Andrew Woodward. @climatecomm and www.climatecommunication.net
ABC: Environment ministers hope to implement Australia's first National Clean Air Agreement by the end of the year
ABC: Household solar: Australia leads the world
The Australia Institute: Australian public support environmental advocacy
Bloomberg: Why Shell Quit Drilling in the Arctic
Celsius: Barnaby Joyce was asked on Q&A how much it would cost to reduce emissions. Then it got awkward
Climate Communication: Responsibility Plus Bulletin #048
The Conversation: With a single sentence, Malcolm Turnbull can end Tony Abbott’s war on renewable energy
The Conversation: People around the world will act on climate change to create a better society: study
The Conversation: Creative self-destruction: the climate crisis and the myth of ‘green’ capitalism
EcoWatch: Sweden to Become One of World’s First Fossil Fuel-Free Nation
EcoWatch: 96 Cities That Are Quitting Fossil Fuels and Moving Toward 100% Renewable Energy
Guardian: Forget your dreams and follow the money if you want to help the world
Guardian: Abbott considered investigation into 'exaggerated' Bureau of Meteorology temperature data
Harvard Business Review: What VW Didn’t Understand About Trust
The Hill: Obama: I should have acted sooner on climate change
Mashable: Climate change activist takes aim at the 'most irresponsible companies in the world'
New Republic: Pope Francis's Address to the United Nations: Read His Full Speech
New York Times: Enacting Cap-and-Trade Will Present Challenges Under China’s System
Northern Star: Young Bundjalung woman named Environmentalist of the Year
One Earth: A new map shows air pollution data from around the world in real time
physics.org: New ways to motivate climate change action around the world
Renew Economy: Coalition dumps chief climate denier Newman, Hunt still hamstrung
Review Economy: Why Far Right should embrace solar + storage energy revolution
Renew Economy: Nine huge US corporations pledge to go 100% renewable
Reuters: Coal isn't amazing - how to lose the PR war, and why it may not matter
Reuters: Royal Dutch Shell pulls plug on Arctic exploration
Sydney Morning Herald: AGL Energy embraces global warming policies before Paris talks on climate change
Tech Insider: Elon Musk says the current refugee crisis is just a glimpse of what's to come if world ignores climate change
Yale Climate Connections: Hawaii Commits to 100 Percent Clean Energy
This Week in Climate Change (formally The Week That Was), a weekly review of climate change politics, policy, innovation and science from Climate Reality Leader Andrew Woodward. @climatecomm