The Guardian’s Lenore Taylor put it best: “Malcolm Turnbull needs all his rhetorical skill to bridge the gap between what he knows is true and what he has to say to appease his party”. Mr Turbull got in his latest set of knots when announcing a new Chief Scientist for Australia, Dr Alan Finkel. Climate Change News reports Dr Finkel envisions a world free of fossil fuels. His appointment came on the day 61 prominent Australians called for no new coal mines. At a media appearance with Dr Finkel, Mr Turnbull quickly dismissed the call for a moritorium. “Coal is a very important part, a very large part, the largest single part in fact, of the global energy mix… and likely to remain that way for a very long time.” He variously argued that coal-fired power would reduce poverty in developing countries and that if Australia stopped exporting the black stuff, others would. “It would make not the blindest bit of difference to global emissions,” the Guardian reported him saying.
Reaction was swift. Former Governor of the Reserve Bank and Chairman of the Climate Change Authority, Bernie Fraser, joined the chorus of condemnation, telling the ABC it is “nonsense” and “obscene” for the Federal Government to argue there is a “moral case” to open new coal mines. “It’s the vulnerable people around the world that are going to suffer the most, and have the greatest difficulty adjusting to global warming, even to a two-degree (Celsius) global warming, and a lot of those people are in developing countries, including countries like India,” he said. “It’s a nonsense argument really and to sort of put a moral label to it is quite obscene really.”
Much of the talk about coal being good for humanity relates to energy needs in India. Well, it appears the Prime Minister of India didn’t get the memo about Australian coal being needed in his country. The Hindustan Times reports Prime Minister Narendra Modi could formally announce at next week’s India-Africa forum summit a global alliance of 110 countries aiming to promote solar power for meeting growing energy requirements and fight climate change. Modi floated the solar alliance idea early this year and found several backers such as Australia, New Zealand, China, African nations and Brazil,” the media organisation reported.
The Guardian reports the Prime Minister of Fiji has delivered a blistering broadside at his Australian counterpart over the “climate change deniers” in his government who are helping doom Australia’s “unlucky island neighbours”. Frank Bainimarama criticised Australia and New Zealand for failing to back Pacific island nations over climate change, claiming that the entire region risked being wiped out by rising sea levels, extreme weather and ruined agriculture. “The Australian government, in particular, seems intent on putting its own immediate economic interests first,” Bainimarama said in a speech delivered in Nadi, Fiji.
And Dr Finkel? Renew Economy reports “Dr Finkel, drives a renewable-powered Nissan Leaf electric car and says wind, solar and storage could power all of Australia. But he is also a supporter of debate about the potential of nuclear power. The new chief scientist is in no doubt where the energy system is heading, and should be an eloquent speaker on the major technology trends and their impact.”
Looking at Paris now, Renew Economy reports the last official round of negotiations before the Paris climate change talks have broken up in Bonn, with some progress made but a global climate deal still needing fresh impetus from political leaders to put the world on a course to rapidly decarbonise the global economy. “In Bonn, after a week of talks, a 20-page text was expanded to 63 pages, and will need to be cut back. But at least there appears to be agreement on what needs to be resolved. The principal blockages remain around the scale of ambition, and on issues such as finance and the concept of “loss and damage”. The UN has what it says is a “manageable” text and a good “starting point” for negotiations. The text, say observers, has been expanded as each country or bloc inserts their own “bargaining” chip. They say it is now time for the leaders to step in,” Renew Economy reported.
In other Paris related news this week:
- The UN tomorrow (Friday) will publish its technical report into the targets. Climate Change News reports key issues as ever remain cash on offer to developing countries, climate compensation and diminishing levels of trust between all parties.
- Reuters reports Roman Catholic leaders from around the world made an unprecedented joint appeal this week for the Paris conference to produce “a truly transformational” agreement to stem global warming.
- Prince Charles said the fortunes of fossil fuel companies will be “severely impacted” by a global climate change agreement. (Guardian)
- The Guardian reports a the Paris conference will not be able to come up with a global carbon price. It says the difficulties of bringing together different carbon schemes from countries around the world means the goal of a global carbon price remains elusive.
- The Sydney Morning Herald reports the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Malta, just before the Paris Conference, will include a special session on climate change. Malta's environment minister said was aimed at generating support for an "ambitious, equitable and inclusive outcome" at the following week's negotiations in Paris over a new global climate change plan.
- The World Resources Institute reports Japan officially submitted its new climate action plan late last week, and it falls short of what many had hoped for.
- Climate Change News reports the International Monetary Fund is to start factoring in climate change to its macroeconomic models from next year, Climate Home has learned. That means its much-cited World Economic Outlook could expose how moves to curb greenhouse gas emissions threaten growth in oil-exporting countries, for example.
- The International Energy Agency reports on a boom in renewables. “Half of new power plants were renewables last year. Looking at the next five years, about two-thirds of total power plants will be filled by renewables, in particular hydropower, solar and geothermal,” CBC reported Fatih Birol, chairman of the International Energy Agency (IEA) telling conference in Singapore. He also said that while alternative energy sources are competing with cheap coal prices, new government policies are giving renewables extra leverage.
- Climate change has already begun to cost us, and it’s only going to get worse, reports Vice. Hurricanes, intensified in size and frequency by climate change, are taking a massive financial toll already, according to a new paper. The study, published in Nature Geoscience this week, found that an increase in property dollar amounts lost over the past several decades in a case study was due to hurricanes intensified by global warming. “We estimate that, in 2005, $2 to $14 billion of the recorded annual losses could be attributable to climate change,” the researchers write.
- Australia has an opportunity to exploit a growing trillion dollar market for clean goods and services, a new report into the growth of the sustainable business sector has found. The Fifth Estate reports The Next Boom: A surprise new hope for Australia’s economy? report found that sustainability was best viewed as a business opportunity rather than a cost, particularly in light of Australia’s ailing mining sector and a desperate need to diversify the economy.
All the more reason to turn up the heat on government and business.
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
AOL - Jared Leto: Al Gore
The Atlantic: The (Planet-Saving, Capitalism-Subverting, Surprisingly Lucrative) Investment Secrets of Al Gore
ABC Online: Fact Check: Was the cost per tonne of carbon under Labor's carbon price 100 times higher than the Government's scheme?
ACF: Government needs to get on board the energy transition
The Conversation: Renewable energy is ready to supply all of Australia's electricity
The Conversation: Worldwide, climate change is worse news for women
Cosmos Magazine: Race to store renewable energy (Alan Finkel)
Climate Change News: 7 climate change data tools and what they tell you
Climate Communication: Responsibility Plus Bulletin for brands and reputation
CTV: Trudeau invites May, other leaders to join UN climate summit delegation
Guardian: IEA report on benefits of coal is 'deeply misleading’
Guardian: There is no 'moral case for coal' in Australia, just an imported PR line
Guardian: Coalition committee tries to balance climate science briefings by inviting denialists from thinktank
EcoWatch: Naomi Klein: Electing Trudeau Isn't Enough, We Need 'Relentless Pressure From Below’
Labor Herald: Climate skeptics and cheap sophistry – is this the new deal for the environment? (Andrew Giles - Member for Scullin)
Medium: Climate Change Is Our Problem. We Can Solve It. — Natural Resources Defense Council
New York Times: Greenland Is Melting Away
New York Times: 2015 Likely to Be Hottest Year Ever Recorded
NPR: How U.N. Climate Negotiations Are Like Splitting A Bar Tab
Politico: Al Gore: Optimist?
Renew Economy: Australian Academy of Science President: why we divested ourselves of fossil fuel investments
Renew Economy: Garnaut heads energy company willing to take consumers, communities off grid
Renew Economy: The long-term future of Australian coal is drying up
Renew Economy: UK kills wind and solar support as it seeks to reboot nuclear
Saturday Paper: How the Minerals Council of Australia has govt’s ear on coal
Sierra Club: We Are Changing the World: New Report Finds U.S. Leads the World in Moving Beyond Coal
Sydney Morning Herald: Ready or not, climate change will challenge Australia's military
US Government: Weekly Address: Protecting our Planet for Future Generations
World Bank: Climate action does not require economic sacrifice
Weekend Reads Flipboard Editions are at Climate Communication