After some weeks of tumult on the global climate policy front, it was a business as usual week this week with more positive vibes coming about Paris, the new Australian Prime Minister continued to slowly open the door on climate policy and more (and big) banks starting to close the door on fossil fuel loans and investments.
Climate Week wrapped up in New York last week. With just under ten weeks before Paris, leaders shared their collective confidence in global climate deal. “International, sub-national and business leaders who have the power to steer a global climate deal in Paris later this year, shared their collective confidence in a successful outcome – and their tenacity to ensure it happens,” reported the organiser, the Climate Group. Renew Economy had this summary of the pledges to date: “Here’s the bad news: The sum total of the climate pledges made by countries in the lead-up to the Paris climate change summit fall well short of the 2°C target. In fact, they are only likely to reduce global warming from the “do nothing” trajectory of 4.5°C by 2100 to the “doing something” trajectory of 3.5°C. The world will need to at least double its efforts to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Here’s the good news: That result is pretty much as expected. There was no real hope that Paris would “save the planet” and deliver the 2°C outcome everyone knows is the bare minimum to contain the runaway impacts of climate change. But it should provide a framework to achieve that goal, and these pledges will buy the world some time – about 7 years.” The Sydney Morning Herald reports countries should agree to review their carbon emission reduction policies every five years to ensure dangerous global warming can be avoided, according to a draft United Nations agreement being circulated before the Paris summit. “The provision for regular revisions in the draft accord – which has been slashed from 80 to 20 pages – is a sign UN organisers are increasingly resigned to the fact any pledges in Paris will not be enough to keep temperature rises to less than 2 degrees of pre-industrial levels.
Renew Economy reported the new Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, continued to make positive noises on climate policy saying emissions trading schemes are “valid”, but he’s not for turning yet. He also indicated that the Coalition government will continue with its current Direct Action policy, at least until a full review in 2017. “Turnbull has been a long time supporter of emissions trading as the most effective mechanism to reduce emissions, and from the backbench was a harsh critic of the current policy. But under a deal with the conservative rump of the Liberal Party, Turnbull apparently agreed to make no changes on climate change or gay marriage policies, meaning that he has to defend the policy the policy he once ridiculed.” The comments were made on in an interview on the Radio National breakfast program. A full transcript of Mr Turnbull’s interview is on the Climate Communication blog. Meanwhile, Renew Economy also reports the Australian government has announced that it wants to accelerate the deployment of battery storage in Australian households, chiefly as a means to reduce huge peaks in demand and reduce costs for consumers, but also to cut emissions.
Bill Shorten addressed the All Energy Council meeting in Melbourne on Wednesday stressing Labor’s credentials on climate change and clean energy policy. While he reaffirmed Labor’s commitment to a 50 per cent renewal energy target by 2030, he remained silent on Labor’s emissions reduction target and his party’s support for the Carmichael Mine in Queensland. “Renewable energy is at the heart of our view of the jobs, industries and environment of the next century,” Mr Shorten told the audience.
There’s nothing quite like a foreigner wagging a finger at Australia. Particularly on climate change. Particularly when they’re from the UK. Particularly when they’re considered an eminent person. The ABC this week spoke to the UK’s head climate advisor. He slammed Australia’s efforts to reduce green house gas emissions, labelling targets “sad” and a “disgrace”. John Gummer, Lord Deben, the chairman of the UK’s Committee on Climate Change, has warned that Australia currently looks like it’s on the outside of the international community on climate change. “Everyone else is willing to help but for goodness sake, you’ve already done less than other people,” he told ABC’s The Drum. “You didn’t take on anything like the burden of other advanced countries, so don’t pretend you’re doing better. You’re not, and everyone else outside knows that.”
A dozen governments this week in the United States signed the Trans Pacific partnership document, aimed at making trade between signatories cheaper and easier. The Sydney Morning Herald has reported green groups in Australia are claiming the TPP threatens to undermine environment protection and could limit governments' ability to ramp up necessary action on climate change. "The 12 Parties agree to effectively enforce their environmental laws; and not to weaken environmental laws in order to encourage trade or investment," clause 20 in the agreement reads. Kelly O'Shanassy, chair of the Australian Conservation Foundation, told the Sydney Morning Herald it was "a very silly idea to lock in restrictions to future policy in this country”. Renew Economy reported 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.
Banks continued to talk up their positions on coal investments this week. In the United States, global super bank, Citi, announced it will cut back on financing for coal mining projects. “Climate change is a global challenge of tremendous magnitude, and Citi is helping to accelerate the transition from a high-carbon to a low-carbon economy,” according to the guidelines reported by Bloomberg. “Going forward, we commit to continue this trend of reducing our global credit exposure to coal mining companies.” In Australia, ANZ bank has pledged not to finance traditional coal mining projects and to provide at least $10bn in funding for renewable energy, reforestation and energy efficiency. The Guardian reported: “In the most significant steps yet by one of Australia’s big four banks on climate change, ANZ said its new policies would help a “gradual and orderly transition” from fossil fuels to clean energy such as solar and wind. The bank has ruled out funding “conventional coal-fired power plants” that do not use commercially proven technologies that significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions below 800 kilograms per megawatt hour. The $10bn commitment, over five years, will fund a range of low-carbon initiatives such as renewables, low-emissions transport, reforestation and carbon capture and storage (CCS).”
In science and research this week, we learned that deforestation has surged in Queensland ahead of crackdown on land clearing. The Guardian reports the surge has continued under the new Labor government, suggesting landholders are “panic clearing” before protections can be restored, according to conservation groups. Climate change will be front and centre in the news over summer thanks to El Nino. The Sydney Morning Herald reports the impacts of the “monster El Nino” in the Pacific are likely to intensify across much of Australia, including worsening drought and an elevated bushfire threat, after conditions that were nullifying its effects suddenly retreated, the Bureau of Meteorology has said. The paper reported on a rare move to reflect "a significant shift towards a drier October nationwide", the bureau on Wednesday updated its three-month seasonal outlook for October to December just a fortnight after it was issued.
Finally, Sustainable Brands reports two Australian cities were amongst ten which recently presented ambitious climate action plans in accordance with the planning and reporting requirements of the Compact of Mayors. Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Melbourne, New York City, Oslo, San Francisco, Stockholm, Sydney and Washington, DC joined Rio de Janeiro on the list of cities to meet the Compact compliance milestone.
It is nice to see Australia leading on climate change - for a change.
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
ABC Radio (audio): Tim Flannery explains how climate change is affecting food and threatening food security
Albury City: Albury City votes for fossil fuel free investments
Business Spectator: Coal and emissions stall as renewables rise
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The Conversation: FactCheck Q&A: Will China have a 150% increase in carbon emissions on 2005 levels by 2030?
The Conversation: People around the world will act on climate change to create a better society: study
Ecogeneration: NSW set to become a renewables powerhouse: Amy Kean
Grist: China’s climate action plan is pushing Brazil and other big developing countries to step up
Guardian: A story of hope: the Guardian launches phase II of its climate change campaign
Guardian: Perth’s water worries: how one of the driest cities is fighting climate change
Guardian: UN drops plan to help move climate-change affected people
The Monthly: Coal Crash
New York Times: Companies Struggle to Make Carbon Capture Viable
New York Times (Paul Krugman): Enemies of the Sun
New York Times: Review: ‘This Changes Everything’ Sweetly Confronts Climate Change
New York Times: Getting to $100 Billion in Climate Change Aid
New York Times: California Leads a Quiet Revolution
New Yorker: Defunding Climate Change
Renew Economy: There is one thing the Coalition can do for climate change that Labor cannot
Sustainability Report: China "grown into" role as climate change leader
US and World Report News: Renewables Will Generate a Quarter of the World's Electricity by 2020
World Bank: Faster track to better carbon prices
World Bank: Maldives, World Bank, EU and Australia Launch Climate Change Partnership
Weekend Reads Flipboard Editions are at Climate Communication.
Photo courtesty of Alex Garland, licensed under Creative Commons.
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