This week climate change was front and centre on prime time television screens in the United States when five candidates from the Democratic Party, including Hillary Clinton, came together for the first official presidential candidate debate for the left of US politics. In stark contrast to their Republican opponents, the Democratic candidates put action on climate change firmly on the agenda with four of the five contenders calling speaking to the issue.
The Guardian reports candidates promised repeatedly to take forceful action against climate change. The candidate running second to Mrs Clinton in the polls, Bernie Sanders, ranked climate change as the single biggest threat to America’s national security. “The scientific community is telling us: if we do not address the global crisis of climate change, transform our energy system away from fossil fuels to sustainable energy, the planet that we’re going to be leaving our kids and our grandchildren may well not be inhabitable,” Sanders said. “That is a major crisis.”
On the road to Paris, Europe’s climate chief has acknowledged for the first time that climate pledges made by national governments ahead of a major U.N. conference fall short of meeting the international goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). In an interview Monday with The Associated Press, Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said the EU’s projections show the current pledges to curb greenhouse gas emissions would put world on a path toward 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming. Canete said the fact that almost 150 countries have made pledges ahead of a December climate conference in Paris is “an extraordinary result” - but not enough.
Meanwhile, India submitted its carbon reduction pledge to the United Nations promising to get more electricity from renewables. “India is committed to engaging actively in multilateral negotiations under the UNFCCC in a positive, creative and forward-looking manner,” the country said. Think Progress reports the submission document highlights, though, some of the inherent tensions in the negotiation process. India still struggles with widespread poverty. “Experts who have been watching India’s development said that the country is trying to curb emissions, while lifting its population out of poverty and dealing with a difficult investment climate,” Think Progress reported.
Renew Economy reports green leaders and environmental groups in Australia have added their voices to an outpouring of anger over this week’s progress of the huge Trans Pacific Partnership – a trade deal encompassing a dozen countries that, if ratified, will set economic rules for 40 per cent of the world economy. As Climate Progress reports, the TPP aims to eliminate or reduce tariffs between Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. While it does address some environmental concerns — such as trade of illegally harvested resources or wildlife trafficking — to many Monday’s announcement was “the culmination of a long-watched train wreck.” “Social media sites were peppered with criticism, on Tuesday, describing the preliminary agreement between trade ministers from 12 countries as a “pathetic betrayal” of the environment, a prioritisation of corporate investment over nature, a ticking time bomb for climate policy, and an all-round bad deal,” Renew Economy reported.
A new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers says Australia must double its decarbonisation rate to meet its 2030 emissions reductions goals. The Guardian reports that while the Government claims Australia is making good progress toward cutting emissions by 26 percent by 2030, the report by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows more is needed. “Australia will have to slash its carbon intensity by 4.4 per cent each year if it is to meet its goal of reducing emissions by at least 26 percent by 2030, based on 2005 levels, according to the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) analysis.
There’s all sorts of new, interesting and mixed messages and appointments to things coming from Canberra this week. The Sydney Morning Herald reports the government's clean power regulator has recorded a jump in investor interest and Environment Minister Greg Hunt says there is "no excuse" not to embrace renewable energy. Mr Hunt said Australia's recent greenhouse gas emissions targets must be "flexible", which leaves the way open for deeper cuts in future, and said the government will push for its Asia Pacific rainforest protection measures to be adopted globally at international climate talks in Paris in December.
In another report, the Sydney Morning Herald said the government has appointed former National Farmers Federation head Wendy Craik and four others to the board of the Climate Change Authority for five-year terms, indicating the agency may yet be spared the axe. The five new board members, including Ms Craik as chair, are understood to accept climate change is a serious issue to be dealt with. The Greens, though, say the board has been “stacked” with Coalition-leaning members. Their appointment was welcomed by the Climate Institute saying “the key test for the CCA is how it performs in providing science based advice on targets, policies and progress in pursuit of the bipartisan objective of Australia playing its part in helping avoid global warming of 2°C above preindustrial levels.” Giles Parkinson in Renew Economy said the government has stacked the independent authority with Coalition advisors and former MPs in a bid to redress what it says have been “partisan” politics from the board of the institution that it had tried to dismantle.
The Turnbull government has promised a full review of the so-called “safeguards” mechanism in its climate policy within a year of it starting, amid doubts that it can achieve the greenhouse emission reductions the Coalition is banking on. The Guardian reports that environment minister, Greg Hunt, quietly gazetted the long-awaited final detail of the mechanism, which is designed to ensure increasing industrial emissions do not undo the greenhouse gas abatement that the government buys through its $2.55bn emissions reduction fund. The mechanism begins on 1 July next year, but after discussions with independent senator Nick Xenophon, the government has said it will start a promised review on 30 June 2017, and complete it within five months.
Finally in news from Canberra, Renew Economy reports the federal government has announced the appointment of a National Wind Farm Commissioner, and the members of a scientific committee, as part of its agreement with cross-bench Senators and some government backbenchers who wanted to try and close down the wind industry in Australia. Large-scale solar industry veteran, Andrew Dyer, had been appointed to the role for a period of three years, to “facilitate resolution of complaints” about wind farms, and to submit an annual report on this to Parliament.
Leading economist Professor Ross Garnaut and two government renewable energy agencies are championing the use of hydrogen to exploit Australia’s massive solar and wind resources. Renew Economy reports they say it would make Australia a renewable energy powerhouse, allowing to build huge arrays of solar fields, and creating an export industry of “solar fuels” to northern Asia that would rival the coal and gas export industries. “At a conference in Sydney this week, Professor Garnaut – who was the Labor government advisor on climate change – also said the use of zero emissions hydrogen could also attract energy intensive industries to Australia using cheap renewable energy, making Australia a super-power” of the global low-carbon economy,” Renew Economy reported.
Bloomberg reports wind power is now the cheapest electricity to produce in both Germany and the U.K., even without government subsidies, according to a new analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). It's the first time that threshold has been crossed by a G7 economy. Meanwhile, the World Bank has pledged to boost by up to $29bn the financial assistance pledged to poorer nations to cope with climate change, bringing closer the possibility of reaching a target of $100bn a year by 2020. According to the Guardian Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank Group, said it could boost funding by a third, from 21 percent to 28 percent, in response to client demand. In 2014 rich countries and businesses provided close to two-thirds, nearly $62bn, of the “climate finance” which is part of the global climate change negotiations, before the Paris conference this December, according to the OECD.
Finally in science this week, the Guardian reports on new research indicating Antarctic ice is melting so fast that the stability of the whole continent could be at risk by 2100. “Widespread collapse of Antarctic ice shelves – floating extensions of land ice projecting into the sea – could pave the way for dramatic rises in sea level. The new research predicts a doubling of surface melting of the ice shelves by 2050. By the end of the century, the melting rate could surpass the point associated with ice shelf collapse, it is claimed. If that happened a natural barrier to the flow of ice from glaciers and land-covering ice sheets into the oceans would be removed.”
Now that leaves me cold.
The Week That Was Flipboard Editions are at Climate Communication.
A selection of great reading on climate change politics, policy, innovation and science from Climate Reality Leader Andrew Woodward. @climatecomm and www.climatecommunication.net
Ad Week: Al Gore's Stirring New Climate Change Ad Calls on World Leaders to Be Accountable
The Age: Westinghouse on front foot in early debate over nuclear power
Australian Wind Alliance (via Fairfax): It's not too late for Malcolm Turnbull to wind up Tony Abbott's war on wind farms
Asia Development Bank: Using Clean Energy to Power Asia
Climate Communication: Responsibility Plus Bulletin #050
Climate Institute - Kate McKenzie (via the Financial Times): Why the outrage over Carney’s climate speech? (requires free registration)
Climate Reality: Telling the Story: Eight Great Infographics on Climate Change
The Conversation: 25 years ago the Australian government promised deep emissions cuts, and yet here we still are
The Conversation:” Australia's climate policy is messier than a teenager's bedroom, but is Turnbull the man to tidy it up?
The Conversation: Climate models too complicated? Here’s one that everyone can use
End Coal: BHP Billiton’s carbon bomb
Guardian: 10 green leaders on the best ways you can fight climate change
Huffington Post Canada: The Planet Can't Handle 5 More Years of Harper in Power
Mumbrella (Andrew Woodward): The sustainable development goals – why marketing and business need to be across them
observer.com: 'We Are Winning': Al Gore Hails New York Greenhouse Gas Initiative
Politico: Susan Rice: Climate change 'an advancing menace'
Renew Economy: How coal and gas industry get their way in fossil fuel rich Queensland
Radio National - Interview with Associate Professor Peter Christoff, Political scientist and Associate Professor in the Department of Geography, University of Melbourne: Turnbull and Climate: Where's he headed?
Royal Australian College of Physicians: Consensus statement- Act now to reduce the damaging health impacts of climate change
Think Progress: Now Is The Time For A Carbon Tax, IMF Chief Says
Wall Street Journal: New York Unveils Climate Change Plans
Weekend Reads Flipboard Editions are at Climate Communication
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