RSS

Category Archives: climate change

“Guest post” – Clover Moore

Thought I’d share the latest from our Lord Mayor’s newsletter. For updates on Copenhagen see ABC News.**

CITIES WILL ACT ON GLOBAL WARMING

The pivotal role of cities in fighting global warming has been acknowledged in drafts, but the fair, ambitious and binding deal needed from the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen is not yet assured.

I participated in the Copenhagen Mayors’ Summit this week with 80 city leaders from around the world to urge national leaders to commit to ambitious targets with the confidence that cities will deliver if supported. The deep cuts needed to avert dangerous global warming require low-carbon cities and action already underway can be accelerated.

The work needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will only get harder if we delay. Deep and fast cuts in the order of 25 to 40 per cent, as recommended by the UN IPCC, are needed to keep warming below 2 degrees. The growing scientific consensus suggests even this may be too little.

The hopes of the world rely on significant progress during the final day of COP15 negotiations. There are some signs of optimism that the 120 heads of state, the largest group gathered for these climate negotiations, may find the courage and political will to break the deadlock.

Our Mayors’ Summit communiqué, delivered on behalf of the 700 million city dwellers we represent, affirms that the battle against global warming will be won or lost in cities. Cities are home to over half the world’s population and responsible for 75 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

An inspiring Summit program has been provided by our host, Ritt Bjerregaard, Lord Mayor of Copenhagen. The centrepiece was city leaders reporting on innovative and practical action to reduce emissions, and I presented on our work creating and implementing Sustainable Sydney 2030. There is extraordinary consensus on what needs to be done.

We attended the high level opening of COP 15 at the Bella Centre,hearing UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and COP15 President Connie Hedegaard. We met with Sir Nicholas Stern and were presented with new research supporting cities’ role addressing climate change. Our hosts launched the "Copenhagen Wheel", a hybrid bicycle that we hope to introduce to Sydney, and I drove an electric car in a parade of new models as part of our commitment to make this sustainable option a practical choice in Sydney. The opportunity to see practical solutions in action was inspiring, such as a site visit to the Western Harbour redevelopment in the Swedish city of Malmö, with a renewable energy system, district heating and cooling, and renewable biogas facility. Jan Gehl walked me around his home town to show me the practical results of his decades of work reclaiming Copenhagen for pedestrians and cyclists.The City of Copenhagen has set up a stage and huge illuminated globe in the city centre outside the Town Hall, with public art installations focused on climate change. The city has a celebratory feel with live outdoor concerts each night. Only in Copenhagen could you see thousands dancing outdoors in below zero temperatures with their bicycles parked nearby covered in snow!

At a magic Earth Hour in the Town Hall square on Wednesday evening, the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen and I addressed a crowd of around 6000 people amid swirling snow, surrounded by historic buildings. Earth Hour was launched in Sydney in 2007, the idea of WWF, supported by the City and Fairfax media group. In 2009, people from 88 countries and 4400 cities turned their lights off for one hour to send a powerful message to national leaders that they want action to address global warming.

As the week progressed, Community representatives have been increasingly locked out of the COP15 centre at a time when negotiations are stalling and delegates need to hear citizen’s voices. Community consultation initiated by the Danish Board of Technology, which was conducted simultaneously in 38 different countries with 4,400 randomly selected participants in September, found that 91% of people around the world want immediate and urgent action on climate change.

Despite the mounting tension and security difficulties, the sirens and the protests, it’s been inspiring to see thousands of cyclists braving the weather and commuting to work in the dark and the snow. Families on the streets with babies in prams mingle with the climate activists who’ve flocked here, many dressed as polar bears and pandas.

As the Mayor of Seattle reported, 1016 cities across the US committed to meet Kyoto protocol targets, going further than their federal government and paving the way for the their nation to go further. With or without binding national targets, the cities of the world will continue working to reduce emissions on a major scale.

Information: * Mayor’s Summit: www.kk.dk/climatesummitformayors.aspx.

** Update 11.30 am

Tim Flannery’s response to the Copenhagen deal.

Leading Australian environmental scientist Tim Flannery says he is happy with the outcome of the Copenhagen climate change negotiations.

World leaders failed to secure a binding agreement instead opting for a non-binding accord which relies on countries setting their own emissions targets.

Professor Flannery says while the current commitments are not enough to halt dangerous climate change, the outcome is an important first step.

"My overview would be in the absence of any shift in the American target we’re likely to be a few gigatonnes of carbon short of a satisfactory target for 2020," he said. "[It] doesn’t mean we won’t achieve it. The agreement as it looks at the moment is good, but not perfect."

The former Australian of the Year says that it will take a few days for the full implications of the accord to become apparent.

"I think that these sort of agreements in the details really only become more evident with time," he said. "Perhaps in the next few days we’ll get to see a little bit more of precisely what has been agreed, and what it means overall. [But] if I was to sum it up in a single phrase I’d say this has been a good, successful meeting. It’s only one step on the road but we are now really in the throes of tackling this very difficult problem and this meeting has been a very significant step forward. I wouldn’t like anyone to undersell what’s been achieved. I think it is very significant."

Professor Flannery said amid the commentary on whether or not the deal should have been binding, it was important not to lose sight of the gains made at the conference…

Advertisements
 

Tags:

“Guest post” – Tim Costello

This comes from Sojourners, where you will also find three relevant videos.

Why Climate Change Matters to the Lives of the Poor

by Tim Costello 12-16-2009

World Vision is at the Copenhagen climate change talks because this is no longer an environmental crisis alone, but a deepening humanitarian crisis. Climate change is already affecting lives and livelihoods in the countries where we work, as described in graphic ways by so many in our national offices. It amplifies a number of humanitarian disasters that we are called on to respond to. Equally, it amplifies key issues of our development efforts by intensifying malaria, diarrhea, compromised water sources, and sustainable futures for many of the communities where we work.

These leading figures in humanitarian relief — John Holmes, Josette Sheeran, and Eric Laroche — spoke passionately today about the challenge.

The chasm between developed and developing countries at this conference with four days to run has tragically widened. The UN Secretary-General, Ban-Ki Moon, in urging a resolution spoke of avoiding 2 degrees warming. This was immediately denounced by more than 100 developing nations, who said 1.5 degrees warming is all they can tolerate because of their vulnerability.

The West, with historical responsibility for the greatest greenhouse gases in the current warming impacts, has not yet tabled GHG cuts that would result in containing rising temperatures to even 2 degrees. This gulf must be bridged.

Tim Costello is CEO of World Vision Australia.

 

Tags:

Carbon chicken-and-eggery?

I was interested to hear Tim Flannery on Lateline articulating what had (believe it or not) occurred to me quite independently – that the recent “cooking the books” accusations against the Australian government over the 82% rise in our emissions since 1990 are an example of chicken and egg confusion rather than dishonesty. The Times of India reported it thus:

MELBOURNE: Australia has allegedly wrongly presented its carbon emissions report by ignoring a massive rise in polluting gases from its agricultural and forestry industries, a report said on Monday.

This “misrepresentation” by the government has led to severe criticism from all quarters at the summit in Copenhagen. Australia has ignored a massive rise in polluting gases from agricultural and forestry industries, and has managed to make its overall emissions seem much lower than they actually are, the ABC said in the report.

While under the Kyoto Protocol, Australia is allowed to up carbon emissions by 8% compared to the 1990 levels, figures supplied to the UN earlier this year say that between 1990 and 2007, the nation’s real carbon emissions actually rose by 82%, the report said.

This dramatic increase is a result of emissions from rural lands, caused by bushfires and drought. But those are the very same agricultural, grazing plains and grasslands that political parties hope will help offset the country’s rising industrial emissions.

Australia has led the charge on proposed land use rule changes to the new global climate deal. The changes will open the door to the bonanza of green carbon that can be stored away in the world’s rural lands, the report said.

But the move is deeply dividing the Copenhagen conference. Christine Milne, climate change spokesperson for Australian political party, the Australian Greens, said in Copenhagen that the country has been trying to “cook the books”.

“The United States has always wanted to use Land Use Land Use Change and Forestry as a mechanism for not having to do as much in its fossil fuel sector, and Australia has always been the fall guy for the US,” she said. “So I think what you are seeing is the umbrella group, chaired by Australia, including the US and Canada, trying to really cook the books in some dodgy deals on land use.”

Flannery rightly sees the additional emissions as typical RESULTS of ongoing climate change rather than causes – though there is that feedback loop going on there too, pretty much as explained by James Lovelock among others.

There is no doubt though that there is much potential for Australia in land management issues as a way round some at least of the climate change problem, but it is far from a panacea as Flannery also notes.

Jim Belshaw has been teasing out this one just lately; I commend what he says to your attention.

On the other hand in part of their book which is online Brian Dawson and Matt Spannagle (2009) have this to say:

carbon1 

 carbon2

See also: Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists for much relevant material: especially 1270 Optimising_Terrestial_Carbon PDF

  • OK, I am off to continue some therapeutic reading of Jane Austen – much needed after all this debate!
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 15, 2009 in Australia, climate change, environment

 

Tags:

Hang on a minute: what tax?

We all know Brer Abbott and The Undead are standing up for us against the dreaded

GREAT BIG TAX ON EVERYTHING!!!!

My problem is that I naively thought you could have a carbon tax, which the government has opted against, or an Emissions Trading Scheme (Cap and Trade), which the government has opted for.

Does it not follow then that while one is a tax the other is not? Sure, it may well be a cost, but a tax?

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Tags:

There is a sensible discussion to be had

Former chief of the Australian Defence Force Peter Cosgrove is a good exemplar of such a discussion.

…The climate change debate is probably more rigorously based than the usual military intelligence estimate because the forward projections are based on some widely agreed formulas whereas military intelligence estimates have to try to get into the mind of the potential adversary (always very tough: think about Saddam Hussein and the weapons of mass destruction).

We are left with a preponderance of scientific opinion pointing to dire outcomes and presently a minority of climate change sceptics. So you and I have to balance what we have been told and decide if and how we will pay it forward.

I come at this from the viewpoint that while I really don’t know if all that I have been told is true, if we are at risk of quite catastrophic climate change outcomes, say during the life of grandkids who might come along for my wife and I, then I am very uneasy about dicing with their future. I am very conscious of the huge change in direction and the expense and the turmoil and the impact on jobs entailed in a radical move to non-carbon energy for Australia.

But if we don’t do it, a country with our values, a country in the top 20 wealthiest countries in the world, a country depended on by millions of powerless friends and neighbours, how can we expect other nations to act and thus offset our lack of action?

So let’s not muck about any more, let’s start now to solve the problems that we own…

On the other hand there is Piers Akerman.

Since so much seems to depend on “Climategate” here are a few more resources for you:

I must say I was amused by Laurie Oakes: Liberal dose of alliens leading us to insanity.

…Nick Minchin obviously comes from another planet – one where there is no global warming caused by human activity. Eric Abetz, the hardliner’s hardliner, is a political Dalek. “Exterminate! Exterminate!”

Film buffs will recall the 1985 movie Cocoon, about elderly people revived by aliens. It is the only plausible explanation for the resurrection of Bronwyn Bishop, Philip Ruddock and Kevin Andrews.

Climate spokesman Greg Hunt must have been taken over by some kind of shape-shifting organism similar to The Thing From Outer Space. How else to explain how a strong believer in putting a price on carbon (he wrote his university thesis on it) can become a harsh critic of the whole idea overnight?

And then there’s National Party Senate leader Barnaby Joyce. His first few days as shadow finance minister convinced quite a few of his Liberal colleagues – those wanting to preserve the economic legacy of John Howard and Peter Costello – that he is definitely an alien life form…

There is of course a very sensible debate to be had about policy in response to climate change and I am happy to see Jim Belshaw addressing the issue, even if today he is taking a break from it.

Because some of my recent entries have leaned away from the ETS, I am today balancing that by including Ross Garnaut’s arguments in favour of it: garnaut1109 pdf

 

Tags:

So that’s where Clover is!

Sydney’s amazing Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, is a very busy woman. (She is also my local representative in the NSW Parliament, and remarkably approachable, as I can testify from experience.)

Her latest email newsletter tells what she is up to now:

MAYORS CALL FOR LOW-CARBON CITIES

The deep greenhouse gas reductions needed to avert dangerous global warming will require low-carbon cities, with urban areas transformed by green technologies that will strengthen our economy, improve living standards and reduce energy costs.

This is the message that I will put to the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen, together with Mayors from major cities across the globe.

We will tell our national leaders that they can and must go further, forging a binding agreement for emission reductions between 25 and 40 per cent by 2020, with greater reduction likely to be needed and supported by many people.

Cities are home to more than half the world’s population and are responsible for 75 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. It is in our cities that we can make the biggest difference. Our research shows that Australia’s capital cities could achieve half (41 per cent) of the Federal Government’s guaranteed emissions reduction target if environmental strategies comparable to Sustainable Sydney 2030 were implemented, and that assessment is based only on inner urban areas!

With the right tools and support from national and state governments, cities can go even further to contribute to national target reductions for greenhouse gas emissions.

Our City is implementing Sustainable Sydney 2030 to achieve an ambitious target of 70 per cent reductions on 2006 levels. Our action is focused on the three big causes of emissions in cities:

* Buildings: We promote sustainable design excellence for all new buildings; are reducing greenhouse gas emissions across our own property portfolio by 48 per cent by 2012; and our CitySwitch program enables commercial property owners to improve the energy efficiency

* Transport: We are spending $76 million over four years on a 200km cycle network safe enough for everyone to use; making our city more walkable; expanding car share; and advocating better public transport networks.

* Energy: Former CEO of the London Climate Change Agency, Allan Jones, is working with us on our green energy infrastructure plan that will create a local network of combined cooling, heat and power (trigeneration) and renewable energy, removing our reliance on coal-fired power generation.

At a roundtable discussion at the Copenhagen City Hall next Tuesday, I will join Mayors presenting practical examples from their cities. I will focus on our work to create and implement Sustainable Sydney 2030.

See also Clover’s Copenhagen Diary.

Surry Hills: the super-green Library and Community Centre 2009

I couldn’t help noting (while tearing my hair out) the abysmal comments on the YouTube; for example: “They have been planning to create a climate crisis and push it with the media so they can set up a one world government as a solution. It’s all a massive fraud.”

On the other hand see Worldwide Views on Global Warming and note the Sydney Morning Herald series Planet Earth’s Last Chance.

I’ll leave the last word, also from the Herald, to 17-year-old Christina Ora:

…In the Solomon Islands, my homeland, communities on low-lying atolls are already being displaced by rising sea levels. Communities have lived on these atolls for generations. Moving from one province to another in the Solomon Islands is not just like moving house. Your land is your identity. It is part of your culture. It is who you are.

I am scared, and so too are the people from these atolls about what this means for our culture, our communities and our identity.

Because of climate change, I am uncertain about what is to come. How can I feel that my future is safe? How can I be sure that my home village won’t disappear in 10 years’ time? How can I be sure that my community won’t have to find a new home? How can I be sure that I will be able to raise my children in the same place that my mother and father raised me? I am not sure. I am scared and worried.

At the global negotiations, many nations, including Australia, have focused on avoiding 2 degrees of global warming. While this may not sound like much, it will threaten the survival of many small island nations.

Sea-level rise and unprecedented storm surges caused by climate change are already affecting communities across the Pacific and are expected to get significantly worse if climate change is not immediately and adequately tackled…

Solomon Islands, as a small island nation, is one of the smallest emitters of greenhouse gas in the world, and yet we are being hit the hardest and the fastest by climate change. I ask Australia, as our closest developed neighbour, to please help us: assist us financially in adapting to climate change and commit to strong mitigation targets to ensure the lowest temperature rise.

This conference has the power to transform the way the world responds to climate change, but only if all countries realise the true urgency of the problem and commit to an ambitious, fair and legally binding agreement now.

For my entire life, world leaders have been negotiating a climate agreement. They cannot tell me they need more time. There is no more time. I hope world leaders realise this week that my generation’s future is in the palm of their hands.

Not quite the last word after all!

Remember John Howard? Well here’s what was really happening in his time, at least until the 2007 election and Malcolm Turnbull brought some degree of sense to bear.

The Federal Government has said it will not pursue carbon trading at this stage. It accepts that global warming is real and poses a threat to the Australian environment, but does not support mandatory targets for reducing carbon emissions.

Dr Pearman, who headed the CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research for 10 years until 2002, said he was admonished by his Canberra superiors for “making public expressions of what I believed were scientific views, on the basis that they were deemed to be political views”.

“In 33 years (with CSIRO), I don’t think I had ever felt I was political in that sense. I’ve worked with ministers and prime ministers from both parties over a long period of time, and in all cases I think I’ve tried to draw a line between fearless scientific advice about issues and actual policy development, which I think is in the realm of government,” he said.

Dr Pearman is one of three leading climate experts quoted on the ABC’s Four Corners tonight who say they have been repeatedly gagged in the public debate on greenhouse gas cuts.

Dr Barrie Pittock, who was awarded a Public Service Medal for his climate work, has told Four Corners he was instructed to remove politically sensitive material from a government publication on climate change.

And Barney Foran, a 30-year CSIRO veteran, cited a case in August when CSIRO managers told him they had fielded a call from the Prime Minister’s Department suggesting he should say nothing critical about ethanol as an alternative fuel…

Here is Dr Pearman 2009:



Last of four parts. See Resilient Futures Channel.

** Further to Jim Belshaw’s comment below see The Greenhouse Mafia for Pearman, and John Quiggin at that time. Later in 2006 Four Corners ran What Price Global Warming? which included an interview with John Howard.

You know what? I probably won’t be around to see the outcome of all this, but many of my readers will be. When Thomas, for example, is around the age I am now just how wrong or right we have been will have become indisputable.

 

Tags:

Two videos found on the God’s Politics blog

I am a regular reader of Jim Wallis and friends, which is not to say I always agree with what I find there but it is good to see a Christian presence that is worth anyone’s reading!

  • The Burning Season is Aussie-made and was shown on ABC in October. It is excellent.
  • star_icons25 star_icons25star_icons25star_icons25 The second video above is also excellent; I urge you to watch it. I find it quite persuasive; it is certainly a great example of plain language argument. On the other hand Dawson and Spannagle are rather more positive on the potential of cap and trade.

Update

I found two more on Maximos62.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 11, 2009 in Christianity, climate change, environment

 

Tags: