This week the church takes a stand against fossil fuel extraction, the oil fields of Abu Dhabi are home to the world’s largest solar power plant, Bill McKibben is in town, wine is under the gun and Garnaut tells Australians a few harsh home truths about our future as coal exporters ….
"This is the church taking direct action and showing that it's not willing to profit from destroying the earth…"
- Justin Whelan Paddington, Uniting Church mission development manager
The synod of the Uniting Church in NSW and the ACT votes unanimously to divest from firms engaged in fossil fuel extraction and place them on its ‘excluded stock list’. This move in the week that dynamic modeling of sea level rise paints a bleaker picture for low lying Pacific Islands – and campaigners tell us slashing fossil fuel subsidies will save us billions.
And we are told that in Antarctica ice is melting at a record breaking rate ….
As if that isn’t bad enough we are told Australia’s wine regions are receding due to climate change. I believe the same is the case for hop growers. In fact research out of the UK tells us that climate change is responsible for more than half the changes detected in the world's vegetation, researchers say, and direct human activities for only about a third. Wow.
While we are still enjoying the news that Woodside will not continue with the offshore development at James Price Point, the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant has opened in March in the middle of Abu Dhabi’s western region, amid the country’s giant oil fields. This is one example of the potential able to be tapped by desert countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
Back in the Asia Pacific region, economist Ross Garnaut says the fall in China’s use of coal for electricity generation is a forerunner of its shift to a new, less resource-intensive phase of growth, which would trigger a plunge in Australian mining investment.
While at an economic summit just now, the head of BHP Billiton, Jac Nasser, literally asked for a return to 1980’s government policy to help the mining sector stay competitive. In the meantime this piece on Lateline is a simple explanation of how Australia can use its mineral wealth for the good of the entire nation – forever.
The UN tells us that renewable energy brings with it health benefits, as air pollution kills more people than Aids and malaria. Moreover, peer reviewed research tells us that coal kills more than 210,000 people annually.
But the news is not all bad - if we all had domestic solar PV on our rooftops we would have approximately 134 per cent of Australia’s residential electricity needs met. And the Macarthur wind farm in Victoria is, finally, open.
The Federal government are considering some proposals which would see energy guzzling appliances such as air conditioners and pool pumps to be turned down – or off - during peak demand times on hot days.
In theme of the extreme weather and critical decades – the news is that northern summers have been the warmest since the 1400s. And the good folk at the Bureau of Meteorology have developed this nifty extreme weather map – useful for those wanting to talk about their local conditions in Australia. While their colleagues at the CSRIO recently received an email saying expect job cuts to the tune of 200 L
Christine Milne tells us that Margaret Thatcher should be remembered for taking action on climate change. And a man who has well established green credentials as the founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben is in the country – you never know when you might bump into him.
And the man dubbed ‘the grandfather of climate change’ James Hansen has resigned from his day job at NASA to concentrate on talking more about what needs to be done to solve the climate crisis.
Stay safe and see you next week…
Image by GAD (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0] via Wikimedia 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