Sunday 31 May 2020

Europe’s Recovery Plan Has Green Strings Attached: Bloomberg

  • Green Deal to become motor for growth in EU recovery effort
  • Access to EU funds will require alignment with green goals

Meeting the climate-neutrality goal is a key pillar of a 750 billion-euro ($824 billion) economic recovery plan unveiled by the European Commission, one of the Brussels-based executive’s top officials said.

Read more at Bloomberg

Saturday 30 May 2020

'Some things were out of bounds': Fire chiefs 'gagged' on climate change warnings to government, inquiry told: SMH

climate change wildfire
Decorated former firefighter and climate action advocate Greg Mullins says current fire chiefs have been effectively gagged from raising the bushfire risks created by global warming with politicians.

Mr Mullins said he had "deep concerns over climate change", which was fuelling "unprecedented" bushfires in evidence to a Senate inquiry into the 2019-20 bushfire season on Wednesday.

Asked by Victorian Liberal senator James Paterson if he thought
Climate change key to cause of wildfires
Climate change key to cause of wildfires
"the current serving fire chiefs are gagged in some way", Mr Mullins replied: "yes".

Mr Mullins, a former Fire and Rescue NSW commissioner, said when he was in the role "some things were out of bounds and often climate change was one of those issues, even to the point of having to work around it when preparing documents, and I think that is a tragedy".

Greens senator Janet Rice asked Mr Mullins if it was "still the case" that fire chiefs were discouraged from raising the effect of climate change on bushfire risks with politicians.

"I know it's the case," Mr Mullins said. "I’ve had a number of discussions and it's clear."
Mr Mullins had a 39-year career in NSW Fire and Rescue, and was appointed commissioner in 2003. He retired in 2017.

Mr Mullins was representing the Emergency Leaders for Climate Action group, which comprises 33 former fire and emergency service leaders from around the country.

Mr Mullins said he was pressured not to speak out on climate change when he was a public servant.

"We self-censored because we knew what would be acceptable, and what would not, for certain political masters and if you went outside those bounds life could be made very unpleasant for you," he said.
The Emergency Leaders for Climate Action unsuccessfully sought meetings with Prime Minister Scott Morrison in April and again in May last year, ahead of the long 2019-20 summer bushfire season about the looming "catastrophic" fire season.

Significantly less property may be have been lost to the fires if the government had heeded their warnings, and moved to secure lease agreements for an expanded fleet of water bombing aircraft ahead of the most recent fire season, Mr Mullins said.

"These aircraft weren’t available and arrived too late," he said.

Read the complete SMH article

Friday 29 May 2020

Ex-fire bosses say climate change must be key in bushfire royal commission: SBS

Australia's bushfires
Australia's alliance of former emergency services chiefs has warned Prime Minister Scott Morrison that a bushfires royal commission will fail unless it focuses on climate change.

The Emergency Leaders for Climate Action group has written to Mr Morrison noting that it sees "little value" in a federal inquiry but concedes one will likely go ahead.

Former Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Greg Mullins says it is abundantly clear increased temperatures and extreme weather driven by climate change set the scene for NSW and Queensland's "worst fires" in history.

#jailclimatecriminals #climatechange  #globalwarming

Wednesday 27 May 2020

Greenland shed ice at unprecedented rate in 2019; Antarctica continues to lose mass: EurekAlert

Greenland Ice Melt
Irvine, Calif., March 18, 2020 - During the exceptionally warm Arctic summer of 2019, Greenland lost 600 billion tons of ice, enough to raise global sea levels by 2.2 millimeters in two months. On the opposite pole, Antarctica continued to lose mass in the Amundsen Sea Embayment and Antarctic Peninsula but saw some relief in the form of increased snowfall in Queen Maud Land, in the eastern part of the continent.
These new findings and others by glaciologists at the University of California, Irvine and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory are the subject of a paper published today in the American Geophysical Union journal Geophysical Research Letters.

"We knew this past summer had been particularly warm in Greenland, melting every corner of the ice sheet, but the numbers are enormous," said lead author Isabella Velicogna, UCI professor of Earth system science and JPL senior scientist.

Between 2002 and 2019, Greenland lost 4,550 billion tons of ice, an average of 268 billion tons annually - less than half what was shed last summer. To put that in perspective, Los Angeles County residents consume 1 billion tons of water per year.

Read the EurekAlert story

Tuesday 26 May 2020

Charmian Gooch: Meet global corruption's hidden players: Youtube

The web of global corruption supports the climate criminals raping the Earth and your children's future.

"When the son of the president of a desperately poor country starts buying mansions and sportscars on an official monthly salary of $7,000, Charmian Gooch suggests, corruption is probably somewhere in the picture. In a blistering, eye-opening talk (and through several specific examples), she details how global corruption trackers follow the money -- to some surprisingly familiar faces."

#jail-climate-criminals   #criminales-climáticos-de-la-cárcel    #cambio-climatico  #repercusiones-climatico

Monday 25 May 2020

Gas lobby seizes Covid moment, and declares war on Australia’s future: RenewEconomy

And so it is with the extraordinary attack launched on Australia’s future by its incumbent fossil fuel industry, and the gas lobby in particular. Its casus belli is the Covid-19 pandemic, and the fossil fuel industry has been enabled to do this after being invited by the Morrison regime to do more or less at it pleases and design its own future.

The reach and sheer audacity of the proposals unveiled over the past week is extraordinary, and the lasting impact on Australia’s future may dwarf anything that Tony Abbott and his Far Right cheerleaders may have done; notwithstanding his white-anting of the Carbon Pollution Reductions Scheme more than a decade ago, the scrapping of the carbon price in 2014 and the unceasing campaign against science and engineering.

This is the critical decade. Scientists tell us, repeatedly and with a near unanimous voice, that serious emissions reductions must be achieved in the next 10 years if the world is to flatten the emissions curve and give itself half a chance of capping average global warming at less than 2°C. A target of 1.5°C may already be out of reach.

Australia finds itself at a critical juncture. It benefits from the stunning cost reductions in solar, wind and battery storage, and key institutions have mapped out a path to a high renewable energy grid. Experts are shining the light on a future of green manufacturing and “green energy exports” that could enhance the position of the country as a significant energy superpower.
But the fossil fuel industry and its backers, with their focus almost entirely on short-term profits and ideological claptrap, have other ideas. They have decided to throw a live grenade into Australia’s own economic bunker, and its environment, and put the future of the current and emerging generation at risk.

Consider the list of what has emerged from the government-appointed gas-industry led reviews in the past week, including the King Review, the Covid Commission, the technology investment roadmap, and from the intense pressure being put on energy regulators.

– Bastardising the remit of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency in an attempt to to force them to invest away from renewable and smart and enabling technologies and into gas and carbon capture and storage

– Polluting the already controversial and ineffective Climate Solutions Fund by creating a “base-line” that industry experts suggest will allow big polluters to increase their emissions and get paid for doing so.'

– Delaying critical energy market rule changes and reforms that might have encouraged smart new technologies such as battery storage and demand management, and end the rorting of the current system by incumbent coal, gas and hydro generators.

– Pushing the case for gas and CCS in a “technology investment roadmap” that otherwise clearly identifies wind, solar, storage and other technologies such as EVs, heat pumps, energy efficiency and demand management as the cheapest and most reliable options.

However, none of these quite reaches the breadth, depth and cynicism of the so-called Covid-Commission, which appears entirely possessed with the narrow interests of the gas industry, from where many of these commissioners have emerged.

Read more of this Renew Economy story

Thursday 21 May 2020

The UK government was ready for this pandemic. Until it sabotaged its own system: UK Guardian

"We were second in the world for preparedness. Then Boris Johnson et al deliberately de-prepared us.


"Exercise Cygnus, a pandemic simulation conducted in 2016, found that the impacts in care homes would be catastrophic unless new measures were put in place. The government insists that it heeded the findings of this exercise and changed its approach accordingly. If this is correct, by allowing untested patients to be shifted from hospitals to care homes, while failing to provide the extra support and equipment the homes needed and allowing agency workers to move freely within and between them, it knowingly breached its own protocols. Tens of thousands of highly vulnerable people were exposed to infection.

In other words, none of these are failures of knowledge or capacity. They are de-preparations, conscious decisions not to act. They start to become explicable only when we recognise what they have in common: a refusal to frontload the costs. This refusal is common in countries whose governments fetishise what we call “the market”: the euphemism we use for the power of money.

Johnson’s government, like that of Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro, represents a particular kind of economic interest. For years politicians of their stripe have been in conflict with people who perform useful services: nurses, teachers, care workers and the other low-paid people who keep our lives ticking, whose attempts to organise and secure better pay and conditions are demonised by ministers and in the media.

This political conflict is always fought on behalf of the same group: those who extract wealth. The war against utility is necessary if you want to privatise public services, granting lucrative monopolies or fire sales of public assets to friends in the private sector. It’s necessary if you want to hold down public sector pay and the minimum wage, cutting taxes and bills for the same funders and lobbyists. It is necessary if corporations are to be allowed to outsource and offshore their workforces, and wealthy people can offshore their income and assets.

The interests of wealth extractors are, by definition, short term. They divert money that might otherwise have been used for investment into dividends and share buybacks. They dump costs that corporations should legitimately bear on to society in general, in the form of pollution (the car and road lobbies) or public health disasters (soft drinks and junk food producers). They siphon money out of an enterprise or a nation as quickly as possible, before the tax authorities, regulators or legislators catch up.

Years of experience have shown that it is much cheaper to make political donations, employ lobbyists and invest in public relations than to change lucrative but harmful commercial policies. Working through the billionaire press and political systems that are highly vulnerable to capture by money, in the UK, US and Brazil they have helped ensure that cavalier and reckless people are elected. Their chosen representatives have an almost instinctive aversion to investment, to carrying a cost today that could be deferred, delayed or dumped on someone else.

It’s not that any of these interests – whether the Daily Mail or the US oil companies – want coronavirus to spread. It’s that the approach that has proved so disastrous in addressing the pandemic has been highly effective, from the lobbyists’ point of view, when applied to other issues: delaying and frustrating action to prevent climate breakdown; pollution; the obesity crisis; inequality; unaffordable rent; and the many other plagues spread by corporate and billionaire power.

Thanks in large part to their influence, we have governments that fail to protect the public interest, by design. This is the tunnel. This is why the exits are closed. This is why we will struggle to emerge.

George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist"

Read more

Wednesday 20 May 2020

While the world looked the other way, corporate giants abandoned coal: SMH

"The decisions to exit coal by big financial institutions is carefully tracked by Australian energy finance analyst Tim Buckley, who says 133 globally significant financial institutions have announced their exit from coal, 10 in the past two weeks. That, he says, is "triple the run-rate of last year".

On April 17 Austria eliminated coal from its grid when it closed its last coal-fired plant. "Coal power in Austria is history," said the utility chief. 

"The future belongs to renewable energy."
In the same week Sweden closed its last coal-fired plant two years earlier than planned. The two countries join Belgium celebrating coal-free status."

"On the last day of the month Allianz, one of the world’s biggest insurers with an astronomical investment book, said it would not invest in coal or insure it.

Coal-fired power would be verboten. It will exclude dealings with any corporate that derives more than 30 per cent of its revenue from coal (in two years to be 25 per cent). Farewell also to any partner owning infrastructure that services coal, such as ports or rail, which it now views as long-term toxic and stranded assets.

Once a huge financier of coal, Allianz confirms a massive pivot to renewables."

Read more

Monday 18 May 2020

Australia’s most senior former public servants and scientists reveal their anger about climate policy failure: ABC

"For more than 30 years, Australian politics has been grappling with climate change and the nation's most senior public servants have been there through it all.   

Usually they keep their thoughts private, rarely making a foray into public debate, even in retirement.   

Now, after the devastating "black summer" fire season, the former heads of the Office of Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Department of the Treasury, along with former chief scientists, have decided they can no longer stay silent. 

They believe there has been a colossal failure by politicians of all stripes to comprehensively tackle climate change.

These senior policy makers and scientific minds describe climate policy as perhaps the greatest public policy disappointment of their generation, and a story of power and personal ambition triumphing over the national interest.

Martin Parkinson, who served as secretary of the Department of Climate Change between 2007 and 2011, described politicians as "incapable of grappling with this".

"I don't know how many reports have been put in front of them," he said.

Thursday 14 May 2020

False Solutions to Climate Change: Agriculture: Resilience

"A veritable cornucopia of false solutions is being pushed these days, not only by corporations and think tanks but by the UN’s IPCC, the international body responsible for research and action on climate.  We could have made a gentle transition if we had begun when we first became aware of this problem decades ago, but for various reasons we did not. There is no time left for barking up one wrong tree after another; no time to waste in false solutions. Hence this series pointing out the fallacies behind such proposals as electrifying everything, carbon trading, geoengineering or switching to “gas—the clean energy fuel!”

I’ve divided the issue into sectors: electricity generation, transportation, agriculture, buildings, and then there are two sections on false solutions that aren’t part of an energy sector—geoengineering schemes, and some other policy options. Finally, we look at real solutions. I am not an expert on anything except maybe gardening, so my hope is to spur discussion.

Part 3: The Agricultural Sector"

Read the excellent complete Resilience article

Sunday 10 May 2020

On land, Australia’s rising heat is ‘apocalyptic.’ In the ocean, it’s worse.: Washington Post

"The Washington Post’s examination of accelerated warming in the waters off Tasmania marks this year’s final installment of its global series “2C: Beyond the Limit,” which identified hot spots around the world. The investigation has shown that disastrous impacts from climate change aren’t a problem lurking in the distant future: They are here now. 

Nearly a tenth of the planet has already warmed 2 degrees Celsius since the late 19th century, and the abrupt rise in temperature related to human activity has transformed parts of the Earth in radical ways. 

In the United States, New Jersey is among the fastest-warming states, and its average winter has grown so warm that lakes no longer freeze as they once did. Canadian islands are crumbling into the sea because a blanket of sea ice no longer protects them from crashing waves. Fisheries from Japan to Angola to Uruguay are collapsing as their waters warm. Arctic tundra is melting away in Siberia and Alaska, exposing the remains of woolly mammoths buried for thousands of years and flooding the gravesites of indigenous people who have lived in an icy world for centuries. 

Australia is a poster child for climate change. Wildfires are currently raging on the outskirts of its most iconic city and drought is choking a significant portion of the country."

Wednesday 6 May 2020

'Blown away': Safe climate niche closing fast, with billions at risk: SMH


As much as one-third of the world's population will be exposed to Sahara Desert-like heat within half a century if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at the pace of recent years.

Scientists from China, the US and Europe found that the narrow
climate niche that has supported human society would shift more over the next 50 years than it had in the preceding 6000 years.

"As many as 3.5 billion people will be exposed to "near-unliveable" temperatures averaging 29 degrees through the year by 2070. Less than 1 per cent of the Earth's surface now endures such heat.
That heat compares with the narrow 11- to 15-degree range that has supported civilisation over the past six millennia, according to research published Tuesday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."

Xu Chi, a researcher at China's Nanjing University and one of the paper's authors, said: "We were frankly blown away by our own initial results. As our findings were so striking, we took an extra year to carefully check all assumptions and computations."

Read the complete SMH article

Tuesday 5 May 2020

Australian businesses call for climate crisis and virus economic recovery to be tackled together: The Guardian

Innes Willox, chief executive of the Australia Industry Group, says Covid-19 and climate are ‘urgent’ challenges that overlap.

A leading Australian business group is calling for the two biggest economic challenges in memory – recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and cutting greenhouse gas emissions – to be addressed together, saying it would boost growth and put the country on a firm long-term footing.

Innes Willox, chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, representing more than 60,000 businesses, says economic recovery from the virus and the transition required to meet net-zero emissions by 2050 are overlapping issues that should be taken on together.

“There’s a lot that we can do to rebuild stronger and cleaner,” Willox planned to say on Tuesday, according to a speech released in advance.

“The need is urgent. Covid-19 and climate are bigger than any economic challenge we’ve faced in the last century.” 

Read the complete The Guardian article

Monday 4 May 2020

NSW and Queensland coal industry uses as much water as all Sydney households, report finds: The Guardian

"The coal industry in New South Wales and Queensland is using as much water as all of Sydney’s households, according to new research.

A new report by University of Adelaide water resources academic Ian Overton, commissioned by the Australian Conservation Foundation, used public data to examine the impact of coal mining and coal-fired power on water resources.

It finds the amount of water consumed by coal mining and coal-fired power in NSW and Queensland is about 383bn litres a year, roughly equivalent to the household water needs of 5.2 million people."


Read the complete The Guardian article 

 ' “While farmers recover from the last devastating drought and prepare for the next, each year the coal industry uses as much freshwater as every household in Queensland or the entire population of Sydney,” she said.

“When you add coal-fired electricity’s water consumption and contamination to its climate pollution, it’s clear Australia should rapidly replace coal-fired power with clean energy.

“Becoming a modern renewable energy nation will enable us to weather future shocks and become a safer, more sustainable and resilient country.”  '

Saturday 2 May 2020

‘A Bomb in the Center of the Climate Movement’: Michael Moore Damages Our Most Important Goal: Rolling Stone

'Basically, Moore and his colleagues have made a film attacking renewable energy as a sham and arguing that the environmental movement is just a tool of corporations trying to make money off green energy. “One of the most dangerous things right now is the illusion that alternative technologies, like wind and solar, are somehow different from fossil fuels,” Ozzie Zehner, one of the film’s producers, tells the camera. When visiting a solar facility, he insists: “You use more fossil fuels to do this than you’re getting benefit from it. You would have been better off just burning the fossil fuels.”

That’s not true, not in the least — the time it takes for a solar panel to pay back the energy used to build it is well under four years. Since it lasts three decades, it means 90 percent of the power it produces is pollution-free, compared with zero percent of the power from burning fossil fuels. It turns out that pretty much everything else about the movie was wrong — there have been at least 24 debunkings, many of them painfully rigorous; as one scientist wrote in a particularly scathing takedown, “Planet of the Humans is deeply useless. Watch anything else.” Moore’s fellow filmmaker Josh Fox, in an epic unraveling of the film’s endless lies, got in one of the best shots: “Releasing this on the eve of Earth Day’s 50th anniversary is like Bernie Sanders endorsing Donald Trump while chugging hydroxychloroquine.” '

Read the Rolling Stone article