Internationally, several countries have signalled their commitments on post 2020 emissions targets:
• United States: The Guardian reported the White House as saying it will be ‘very tough’ to change its proposals, boosting prospects for a global climate change agreement at talks in Paris in December. "The White House pledged to cut carbon pollution by up to 28 percent on Tuesday, boosting the prospects for an international agreement on climate change at the end of the year." “That’s a big deal,” Brian Deese, the White House climate adviser wrote in a blog post announcing the pledge. “The United States’ target is ambitious and achievable, and we have the tools we need to reach it," the Guardian reported.
• Russia: RTCC reported the Kremlin has suggested it could slash greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30 precent on 1990 levels by 2030, although it said the level of its ambition would depend on offers other countries put forward. It said this goal would “allow the Russian Federation to step on the path of low-carbon development compatible with the long-term objective of the increase in global temperature below 2C”.
• Mexico: Bloomberg reported Mexico has become the first developing nation to formally promise to cut its global-warming pollution."Mexico expects greenhouse-gas emissions to peak by 2026 and then decline. The nation has pledged to curb the growth of pollutants 25 percent from its current trajectory by 2030," the report said.
Analysis of the submissions found "Limiting climate change could have huge economic benefits," the Guardian reported. "Stopping global warming at two degrees would create nearly half a million jobs in Europe and save over a million lives in China". In other positive positive economic news, Renew Economy reports "the adoption of targets for 100 per cent renewables by 2050 could deliver combined energy savings of more than $500 billion a year to the major economies of the EU, the US and China, and create millions of new jobs. That's the end of the good news.
Last Saturday, the Abbott Government used Earth Hour day to release a discussion paper on Australia's post 2020 targets. Well, it ignited lots of discussion and little of it was good.
The Sydney Morning Herald's Peter Hatcher used the issues paper and talk of a deal on the renewable energy target to praise embattled Environment Minister, Greg Hunt with the headline "A real fixer has won the climate debate". That was the only piece of positive coverage. Giles Parkinson in Renew Economy headlined "Abbott chooses to follow fossil fuel route to Paris" and derided the Fairfax column: "Despite some glamorous press coverage claiming that Prime Minister Tony Abbott is now taking climate change seriously – Fairfax Media on the weekend claimed that Prime Minister Tony Abbott is “a leader committed to the next big global climate commitments” – the options paper is a parody of any such idea."
That was just the beginning:
• Business Spectator (Tristan Edis): "Abbott Government trying to pull another Kyoto con". "Yet one gets a sense a déjà vu that they’re actually hoping to do what the Howard Government managed under the Kyoto Protocol – plead special consideration and get let off with a less onerous task. The paper trots out a series of old excuses we saw given by the Howard Government for why Australia should get an easy ride."
• The Guardian (Lenore Taylor): "Australia's climate change policy on course for 'disastrous' 4C warming"
• The Guardian (Graham Readfearn): "Australia's blind spots on the road to Paris climate deal"
• Lowy Institute (Howard Barney and Kathy Rowley): "Australia and climate change negotiations: at the table, or on the menu?"
• grist.org: "Even climate villain Australia might be thinking about cleaning up its act" and the same story at Mother Jones headlined: "The World's Worst Climate Villain Just Showed Us Exactly How to Stop Global Warming"
And then there's the Renewable Energy Target (RET) impasse. "Peak bodies call for end to 'detrimental' deadlock in open letter to politicians. Peak bodies representing clean energy companies and electricity users have written an open letter to Australia's politicians urging them to resolve the renewable energy target (RET) impasse," said the ABC. Renew Economy said the impasse was starting to impact: "Spain’s Banco Santander, the biggest bank in Europe by market value and once the world’s largest financier of renewable energy projects, has decided to sell its only Australian renewable energy investment and quit the country’s renewables market, due to Australia’s policy uncertainty around the renewable energy target." Former Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party, John Hewson, in the Guardian, blamed the three big energy companies for the impasse saying they were "villains". Renew Economy summarised the situation by saying "Abbott’s divide and conquer rule crucifies renewables industry. First the Abbott government brought the renewable energy industry to a standstill. Then, this week, it brought it to its knees. Now, it has effectively told it to go and get stuffed. The Abbott government – doing the bidding of the incumbent fossil fuel industry – has crucified the renewable energy industry in Australia by preying on its three major weaknesses: it’s lack of financial muscle; its disparate interests; and it’s craving for policy certainty."
There was other (bad) news from Canberra this week:
• Renew Economy looked at the Direct Action Scheme: "The climate and clean energy policy of the Abbott government has descended further in pure farce with the release of critical details of the Direct Action scheme that reveals there will be no requirement on major energy polluters to limit greenhouse gas emissions."
• The Sydney Morning Herald reported "Emissions slide began to reverse after the end of the carbon price."
• Business Spectator looked at the government encouraging coal subsidies overseas saying it is another sign Canberra "is yet again illustrating its willingness to derail international processes in order to further its climate denying agenda."
• The Guardian wrote about a government investigation into the tax-deductible status of green groups saying some environmental groups are ‘using their status for political activism’. Kelly O’Shanassy, the chief executive of the Australian Conservation Foundation, told The Guardian the inquiry felt like “another assault” on environment groups. “I’m proud of what we do and I’m sure some politicians would be more comfortable if advocacy groups didn’t exist. But I don’t think they should be able to draw the line where it suits them just because they don’t like what we say from time to time. This government seems happy to give away $10 billion over the next budgetary cycle to big polluters through fossil fuel subsidies – how is that in the best interest of Australia?” she said. “This just feels like a distraction.”
Finally, some science. Think Progress reported that "Antarctica recorded its hottest temperature on record this week". The Guardian detailed a new Climate Council study indicating "Climate change (is) making droughts in Australia worse as rain patterns shift". The Sydney Morning Herald reported on a University of Oxford study, which indicates Australia has "by far the most carbon intensive power stations globally (and) the least efficient of all the major economies."
Surely, there must be some more good news to end on? Somewhere, anywhere, give us something, please, I hear you say. OK... Bloomberg reported "Beijing, where pollution averaged more than twice China’s national standard last year, will close the last of its four major coal-fired power plants next year." Happier now?
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Photo credit Target by Jasper Johns courtesy cliff1066™ on Flickr.com