• The Government escalated its war on renewables
• The Government signalled it was going weak on new emissions targets
• The Government and News Ltd attacked Labor over climate change action policy
• The rest of the world moved forward on renewable energy, technology and adapting to climate change
A normal week really. Thank you. Good bye. Oh, sorry, I forgot to mention that the government felt unloved.
The Abbott government does not get enough credit for its emissions reduction policies, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said, as he revealed Australia will not announce post-2020 climate targets until August, reported the Sydney Morning Herald. Mr Abbott told a media conference on Monday that targets Australia will take to a global climate summit in Paris at the end of the year will not be made public until after a cabinet meeting at the beginning of August. But he said the difference between Australia and the rest of the world was that "when we make commitments to reduce emissions we keep them. Other countries make all these airy fairy promises, that in the end never come to … anything.. We don't get enough credit for the environmental protection that has already been achieved,” Mr Abbott said.
Airy Fairy? What’s the truth? The Conversation took a look at the facts. “There are two parts to the Prime Minister’s statement: in the first, he affirms that to date Australia has been true to its emissions reduction commitments; in the second, he suggests that other countries have not. Have other countries failed to meet their 'airy fairy' climate targets? Anita Talberg and Malte Meinshausen show that while Australia did meet its target, so did most other developed nations.”
Renew Economy reported the Abbott Government is headed for ‘big fail’ on emissions reduction. “Emissions reduction targets being considered by the Abbott government fell well short of the targets adopted by comparable countries, and would establish Australia as the most polluting of any developed economy in 2030”. It was quoting Erwin Jackson from the Climate Institute in response to media speculation (a well briefed ‘leak’ in The Australian) that the federal government was considering an emissions target of between 15 to 25 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. Mr Jackson said either number would amount to a “big fail”, considering that Australia would need to aim for around a 65 per cent reduction on 2005 levels by 2030 to do its bit to limit global warming to less than two degrees celsius.
Over in Labor land, Bill Shorten was saying the government’s post-2020 emissions target may not win bipartisan support. Asked on Tuesday whether he would seek a bipartisan position with the government on the new 2030 target, Shorten told reporters: “There’s no doubt that it’s important to have emissions reduction targets being bipartisan, but it is also important therefore that Mr Abbott doesn’t force Australia into the path of lowest common denominator. Mr Abbott loves to talk about bipartisanship so long as it’s agreeing with him; the issue here is that we need to have renewable energy as part of our energy mix in the future,” the Labor leader said, as reported by the Guardian.
Meanwhile, Labor spent 24 hours hosing down a ‘leak’ on a policy proposal for an emissions trading scheme, which the government and News Corp labelled as Carbon Tax MkII. The Sydney Morning Herald reported “Labor has again emphatically ruled out reintroducing a carbon tax but confirmed it is still examining a new climate change policy that will include an emissions trading scheme”. Labor leader Bill Shorten on Wednesday dismissed as "complete rubbish" reports that his party was planning to resurrect the controversial policy at the next federal election.
Finally on targets, last week, I said I could smell a rat regrind NZ. I am of the view that the NZ target is a precursor to Australia’s target. RTCC reports ‘creative accounting’ means New Zealand emissions could rise. New Zealand last week pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 30 per cent from 2005 to 2030 – equivalent to 11 per cent below 1990 levels. But analysts say under the government’s proposed accounting rules, the country’s emissions could actually increase 11 cent over the 40-year period.
Now to renewables. Where to begin? It started last Sunday when the Sydney Morning Herald reported “the government has ordered the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation not to make any new investments in wind power projects.” Then the Sydney Morning Herald reported the Abbott government has opened up another front in its war on renewable energy by pulling the plug on investments in the most common form of alternative energy, rooftop and small-scale solar. As a storm raged over the government's directive to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to no longer back wind energy projects, it emerged that it has also put a stop to solar investments other than the largest industrial-scale projects.
The Guardian reported the solar power industry vows to step up campaign to topple Abbott government. The Conversation reported on the latest movement in the renewable energy goalposts saying ”although many would question whether they have held any stationary position in Australia over the past few years”. Giles Parkinson in Renew Economy bought it all together “But it’s not really the details that count. It is the big picture and the optics that matter in global financial flows. The Abbott government has long declared its interest in technologies that are “on the horizon” – hence the interest in wave and tidal – and its horror of technologies that are being deployed in scale now, and threaten the primacy of fossil fuels. And having tried everything else to stop renewable energy, it has now turned its focus on big financial institutions. The message it wants to make to domestic and international banks is clear: Don’t finance that stuff down here.”
While politics dominated there were several notable happenings in climate change communications:
• QZ: Denmark’s wind farms generated 140 per cent of the country’s electricity needs yesterday. The extra energy didn’t go to waste; it was exported to Germany, Norway, and Sweden via interconnectors between the countries’ electricity grids.
• Guardian: Climate change threat must be taken as seriously as nuclear war according to the UK Government. A foreword to Foreign Office report highlights holistic risks of global warming, including food security, terrorism and lethal heat levels. The threat of climate change needs to be assessed in the same comprehensive way as nuclear weapons proliferation, according to the Cameron Government.
• Pew Research: Climate change is seen as top global threat, according to a new Pew Research Center survey measuring perceptions of international challenges. The Guardian looked at the results for Australia which indicated people in this country are more worried about ISIS than climate change (ISIS 69%, climate change 37% and economic instability 32%)
• New Scientist: The Antarctic wind vortex is strongest for 1000 years. Our greenhouse gas emissions are helping to spin up a giant vortex of winds around Antarctica.
I hate cliches but after this week in Australian climate change politics, I really need a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down. But I can’t…. the Zombies are coming!
Read The Week That Was with links to source articles on FlipBoard.
A selection of good reads on climate change politics, policy, innovation and science from Climate Reality Leader Andrew Woodward.
The Age: What you should - and shouldn't - believe about climate targets, via Mark Twain
Associated Press: Wary of climate change, Vanuatu villagers seek higher ground
Australian Renewable Energy Agency: ARENA announces new priorities
Business Spectator: Is Australia driving recklessly into climate-financial headwinds?
Canberra Times: The moral imperative of climate action
EcoWatch: David Suzuki: The Realities of a Warming World
EcoWatch: David Suzuki: Is the Climate Crisis Creating a Global Consciousness Shift?
Esquire: When the End of Human Civilization Is Your Day Job
Esquire article - response from Union of Concerned Scientists: Esquire Falls into the Despondency Trap--We’re Not “F’d” on Climate Change
Globe and Mail: Al Gore says climate change fight will spur global economic growth
GreenBiz: A thoughtful conversation about the Pope’s Encyclical
Grist: Climate change is a security threat. Make it a foreign policy priority
Grist: Europe is so hot right now -- and only going to get hotter
Guardian: New studies link pollution to a variety of health risks
Guardian: Fossil fuel industry must 'implode' to avoid climate disaster, says top scientist
Guardian: The Coalition's push against renewables is bizarre, contradictory, risky nonsense
LA Times: Jerry Brown aims to lead a climate change revolution
National Journal: Hillary Clinton Wants to Run on Climate. And She Thinks Democrats Should Too.
National Geographic: 7 Cool Ways Cities Are Thinking Ahead on Climate Change
NRDC: The Latest Health Trend: Cutting Out Climate Change
New Republic: Scott Walker Is the Most Dangerous Candidate on Climate Change
New York Times: Climate change and health: unravelling the relationship
RenewEconomy: Fossil fuels are finished – the rest is just detail
Washington Post: Northern Hemisphere snow cover is near record lows. Here’s why that should worry you.
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