This week in climate change has been about looking forward and back. Forward to the United Nations climate change conference in Paris and back at two years of climate policy under the Abbott government in Australia.
With the United Nation's climate conference in Paris less than three months away, negotiation and lobbying efforts have stepped up a gear. An intriguing story emerged from Europe this week about concern there about Australia's position on climate change. Politico reports "Australia is an unlikely ground zero in the EU’s fight to push through ambitious carbon emission reductions. Ahead of the Paris climate summit at year’s end, European officials increasingly fear that if this large and wealthy industrialized economy Down Under bucks the trend of major greenhouse gas cuts, then other big countries could follow their lead. The EU’s climate and energy chief, Miguel Arias Cañete, pressed Australia’s environment minister by phone last week as diplomats from all corners of the globe gathered in Bonn to negotiate the draft agreement for the Paris talks."
Prime Minister Tony Abbott is in Papua New Guinea this week attending the Pacific Island forum where he will come under pressure from member states to act on climate change. SBS reports the smallest Pacific island states are calling for no new coal mines and a ‘polluter-pays’ system to compensate the countries most affected by climate change. Climate change is top of agenda at the annual summit. "We are simply seeking the right of small island states to survive," said prime minister of Tuvalu and chair of the Smaller Island State grouping, Enele Sosene Sopoaga. “We feel our security is compromise and survival of the people of the Pacific is compromised.”
The United Nations reports the latest round of UN climate change negotiations have ended on track to produce the first comprehensive draft of the new, universal climate change agreement that governments are committed to reaching. “The draft, to be drawn up by Ahmed Djoghlaf of Algeria and Daniel Reifsnyder of the United States will present clear options and ways forward on all elements of the agreement and the decisions that will operationalize it from 2020. “At this session, countries have crystalized their positions and have requested the Co-Chairs to produce a concise basis for negotiations with clear options for the next negotiating session in October. This means that we will arrive in Paris on time without too much turbulence-- not before, not later,” said Mr Djoghlaf, Co-Chair of the ADP, the negotiating body tasked with reaching the agreement that must put the world on a path to stay beneath a 2 degree Celsius temperature rise.
This week marked the second anniversary of the election in Australia of a government led by Tony Abbott. The anniversary attracted the expected analysis with climate change and clean energy policy featuring throughout, particularly given that one of the government’s key boasts was the removal of the previous Labor Government’s carbon tax. industry website, Renew Economy, did a report card on the government. It gave it zero out of tend for clean energy policy and one out of ten for climate policy. On clean energy: “The Abbott government’s not-so secret policy objective, from the moment it was elected, and despite denials not to change the renewable energy target , was to bring the large-scale renewable energy industry in Australia to a halt. And it has been devastatingly successful in doing so.” On climate policy: “Abbott’s action on climate policies bear a strong relation to some people’s gardening skills – not much good at growing anything new, and too afraid to try, but pretty adept at cutting things down.”
In a blow to climate policy administration in Australia, the chairman of the Climate Change Authority, Bernie Fraser, has quit – apparently after a long period of bad relations with Environment Minister Greg Hunt, according to The Conversation. "It is believed Fraser – who is a former secretary of the Treasury and former governor of the Reserve Bank – had found the minister very difficult to deal with. Hunt was seen as hostile to the authority. The tension with the minister apparently wore Fraser down," Michelle Grattan wrote.
The Guardian has reported on an advertising campaign from Australia’s mining industry that hails the mineral’s ability to “create light and jobs”, as well as claiming that new technology will drastically slash its emissions. “But environmental groups have criticised the ads as a “ludicrous” and “desperate” attempt to bolster coal in the face of the falling cost of renewable energy alternatives and looming international action to limit greenhouse gas emissions,” the Guardian reported. “This is a ludicrous ad,” said Kelly O’Shanassy, chief executive of the Australian Conservation Foundation, told the Guardian. “Coal is a dangerous little black rock. Every climate scientist and almost every politician in the world knows that coal is very polluting and very dangerous. The only people who don’t get that are the Minerals Council and our government.” The Sydney Morning Herald looked at the social media angle on the story saying it had been “widely mocked”. Leading industry website, Mumbrella, asked obvious questions of the the mining industry’s advertising and PR advisers: “Did anyone at the Minerals Council of Australia or their PR agency really think a new ad campaign spruiking how “amazing” coal is wasn’t going to create a bit of a kerfuffle?”
This week, Syria has been dominating the headlines globally as focus on the humanitarian crisis intensifies. The Guardian has reported on a little covered angle that global warming contributed to Syria's 2011 uprising. "The prolonged and devastating drought that sparked the mass migration of rural workers into Syrian cities before the 2011 uprising was probably made worse by greenhouse gas emissions, US scientists say. The study is one of the first to implicate global warming from human activities as one of the factors that played into the Syrian conflict which is estimated to have claimed more than 190,000 lives," the Guardian reported.
Takepart reports the planet last year lost enough forest to cover Portugal. Twice. An insatiable hunger for tofu, cookies, steak, and tires is fueling the devastation that resulted in the disappearance of 45 million acres of trees in 2014. “Researchers at Global Forest Watch, a monitoring network started by the World Resources Institute, found that more than half of the loss occurred in highly biodiverse tropical forests in West Africa, the Congo Basin, Madagascar, the Greater Mekong region, Paraguay, Uruguay, and other regions of South America.”
International car giant Toyota announced this week Australia would see one of its hydrogen powered small car on its streets later this year. According to the Fairfax auto site, Drive. While Toyota will not sell the car to the public, the groundbreaking machine will be at the core of a campaign intended to raise awareness surrounding what hydrogen cars can offer. The fuel-cell powered Mirai transforms hydrogen into electricity and water, giving it an emissions-free range of around 550 kilometres. Toyota will exhibit the car at Sydney's World Hydrogen Technologies Convention in October before using it in a road show intended to win over government authorities, the public and press in Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney. The Department of Energy in the United States has a high opinion of hydrogen energy: “Hydrogen can be produced from diverse domestic resources with the potential for near-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Once produced, hydrogen generates power in a fuel cell, emitting only water vapor and warm air. It holds promise for growth in both the stationary and transportation energy sectors.”
Finally, coverage of climate change in Australia took an unusual twist this week with the online betting industry getting in on the action. Australia's favourite beaches are at risk of disappearing into the sea as global warming drives sea levels ever higher, prompting a betting agency to start offering odds on which strips are likely to vanish first,” reported the Sydney Morning Herald. "We'll keep the market open and running but hopefully it'll never happen," Will Byrne, a spokesman for Sportsbet said. Mr Byrne said the company decided to start taking bets on beaches after US space agency NASA recently released data showing sea levels were rising faster than previously reported because of global warming.
There's no shortage of news on climate change. You can bet that.
A selection of great reading on climate change politics, policy, innovation and science from Climate Reality Leader Andrew Woodward. @climatecomm and www.climatecommunication.net
Business Insider: Glaciers are warming so fast they are causing earthquakes
Climate Desk: California Is About to Do Something Great That No State Has Ever Done Before
The Conversation: Economic modelling may overplay the costs of Australia’s 2030 climate target
The Conversation: Bank exposure to coal projects drowning in greenwash
Generosity: Why it’s time for philanthropy to flex its muscle on climate change
Grist: Climate change will cause the death of one Earth and the birth of another
Grist: Google-powered map shows that deforestation isn’t just about the Amazon
Inter Press Service: Who Will Pay the Price for Australia’s Climate Change Policies?
Renew Economy: Economic modelling may overplay the costs of Australia's 2030 climate target
World Economic Forum: These countries are best prepared for climate change
Read The Week That Was with links to source articles on FlipBoard.
The Week That Was and Weekend Reads - Flipboard editions
Read The Week That Was and Weekend Reads on your smartphone, tablet or computer with Flipboard. Flipboard pulls together web pages and Tweets and organises and presents them in a magazine format - best read on an tablet or smart phone.
• Apple iOS:
• Google Android
• Windows Phone
The Week That Was and 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