10 November 2010

Putting politics before science is a dumb strategy

David Spratt

On the "Rooted" blog today, Tim Hollo asked: Is an ETS automatically more ambitious than a tax?

This debate is urgent, as a grouping of large NGOs enters the public arena to advocate for politically-based climate targets. It's disturbing to see that the Climate Institute and the Southern Cross Climate Coalition (SCCC) are it again, pitching for climate policy targets that fall well short of what the climate science requires.

[It is interesting that the SCCC sees the ACTU still linking with the Climate Institute, which was founded with philanthropic support, but is now financially dependent on big business, including GE, Westpac, KPMG, OgilvyEarth, PacHydro, AGL and Jemena!  This seems an usual relationship for the ACTU to be engaged in.]

The SCCC says a policy foundation is that "Australia’s domestic pollution levels are declining by 2013 and are able to be reduced by at least 25 percent by 2020 (from 1990 levels) as our contribution to an ambitious international climate agreement."

This blog has previously looked at how a number of large environment and NGOs went minesweeping for Labor's crook emissions trading scheme, and what's up with emisions reductions of 25-40% by 2020.

29 September 2010

Testing Victorian Labor's climate credentials

Having watched federal Labor take a battering at the polls over its climate backflips, the Victorian Labor Government has learned some lessons in preparing for the state poll of 27 November.

Labor is working hard to get on the front foot on climate, especially in preparing to defend a number of northern inner-city seats which on the results from relevant booths at the federal poll would either fall to the Greens (Melbourne, Richmond) or are line-ball (Northcote, Brunswick). Whilst the Greens as yet do not appear to have released an election-ready climate and energy policy, Labor is promoting its recent climate initiatives, exemplified by this current local newspaper advertisement, on-the-ground campaign material, and social media.

But how well does Labor stack up? Premier Brumby has made much of the government's climate bill, but the Victorian Government has also promised a $50 million subsidy for a new coal power station in Victoria, to be built by the company HRL-Dual Gas. The project is currently seeking EPA approval. It will increase Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions by up to 4.2 million tonnes each year.

That's the same amount that emissions will be cut with Premier Brumby's plan to close one-quarter of Hazelwood power station. That's a dirty trick, saying you will close a small part of one coal power station because you care about the climate, then handing over taxpayers' money to build a new one!

Hazelwood was due to close in 2009, but instead the state Labor government extended its life past 2030. It is an industrial dinosaur and the dirtiest coal-fired power station in Australia.

Victoria’s brown-coal emissions have increased 10% in the last 10 years, and new, dirty brown coal reserves have been handed over to industry. Deals have been signed to dig up and export more brown coal.

13 September 2010

Key messages of Climate Code Red

On the publication of "Climate Code Red" in mid-2008, we tried to elaborate some of the key themes in the book:

1. Our goal is a safe-climate future – we have no right to bargain away species or human lives

  • No species has the right to consciously determine what proportion of all other species on earth should become extinct — as the compromise 2 and 3-degree temperature rise targets do. Lacking the collective will to act in a sustainable manner is no excuse.
  • Humans have created the looming catastrophe of global warming and we have the capacity and duty to undo the damage and act in a sustainable manner, to cool the earth back to the safe-climate zone.

04 September 2010

Bubbling our way to the apocalypse

Here's an article published in Rolling Stone in November 2008, which while focused on the permafrost issue, made some comments about the trajectory of the Rudd Labor government on climate. They turned out even worse that expected.

Bubbling our way to the apocalypse

Despite some public stunts that suggest concern about carbon, the Rudd Government's global warming plan just doesn't add up

by David Spratt and Damien Lawson

Kevin Rudd should send his climate change minister, Penny Wong, to Siberia.

Not as punishment, but because our future may depend on Penny Wong and climate policy-makers around the world understanding what’s going on there. For beneath its frozen landscape a catastrophe is lurking, and Siberia may about to become the scene of global retribution for our extravagant consumption of fossil fuels.

"Siberia" has become a metaphor for exile and deprivation. In the nineteenth century more than a million prisoners were deported there. Last century at last 18 million people were banished to the Soviet Union's labour camps for political and other prisoners, known as the Gulag, scattered across north-east Siberia.

01 September 2010

What would 3 degrees mean?

David Spratt

The failure of international climate negotiations means that if all countries acted on ALL their commitments, the world would still warm by more than 3 degrees, according to Climate Tracker

So what would a world 3 degrees warmer llok and feel like? Scientists draw on a number of disciplines and methods to answer the question, including paleo-climatology (study of past climate history), complex mathematical models of the world's climate system tested and refined against past climate data, observation of current events and specific research testing hypotheses. Mark Lynas surveyed much of this research for his book "Six degrees: our place on a hotter planet" (Harper Collins, 2007). Drawing from his work and other sources, the following is an overview of some of the scientific projections as the world warms. These are not all certain events, but they are what scientific research thinks is likely. A full set of references on pp. 301-327 of "Six Degrees".

Three degrees of warming

Three degrees may be the “tipping point” where global warming could run out of control, leaving us powerless to intervene as planetary temperatures soar. America's most eminent climate scientist, James Hansen says warming has brought us to the "precipice of a great “tipping point”. If we go over the edge, it will be a transition to “a different planet”, an environment far outside the range that has been experienced by humanity. There will be no return within the lifetime of any generation that can be imagined, and the trip will exterminate a large fraction of species on the planet" ["Wild" magazine, April 2007].

19 May 2010

Liberals would cut $1.5 billion in climate funding

A detailed statement outlining the savings measures or cuts that would be made by the Coalition has been released by the opposition's finance spokesman Andrew Robb.
Based on the content of the statement it seems the Coalition would cut over $1.5 billion in climate related funding set out in the Budget over the forward estimates (next four years). This includes the $653 million renewable energy and energy efficiency fund announced in the Federal Budget.
In addition they would also reduce funding to the Carbon Capture and Storage Flagships Program by $200 million.
Further evidence that the Coalition like Labor don't have a real plan to tackle climate change.

02 May 2010

Door knocking in Coburg

Climate Action Moreland and the Climate Action Centre held our second day of door knocking in Coburg today.

Hundreds of residents of the city of Moreland found out about the campaign to Replace Hazelwood with Clean Energy and signed our petition.

Many commited to asking the local Labor candidate where she stood on the Hazelwood election test.

More door knock days are planned for inner city electorates to find our more sign up for email updates and keep an eye on the Replace Hazelwood page of the Climate Action website.

10 lessons for the climate movement

Damien Lawson

[First published for the second Australian climate action summit, Canberra, March 2010]

For the 2009 climate summit, I wrote a short article titled “Looking back - moving forward: ten lessons for the climate movement”. It attempted to articulate some of the challenges and opportunities for the community climate movement after two years of rapid growth in scope and capacity.

A lot has happened since the last summit: the dominance of the debate on the government’s carbon-trading plan, the failed Copenhagen conference, the division over climate in the Liberal Party and the emergence of the climate denier Tony Abbot as leader. In many ways the harsh reality of the terrain in which we are working is even more stark than it was a year ago, and requires us to face up to the enormous challenge we face.

26 April 2010

Taking "Replace Hazelwood" to the streets

The Labor member for Northcote, Fiona Richardson, is greeted by members of Darebin Climate Action Now, Fairfield shops, Saturday 24 April 2010.
More on the campaign...
and help door-knock in Moreland

A climate of can-do

by David Spratt

[First published in Earth Song Journal (Perspectives in Ecology, Spirituality and Education), Autumn 2010]

In an Australia Day speech this year, prime minister Rudd evoked the "two great spirits, that of the can-do, that of the fair go, (which) essentially hold together the narrative of our nation" and "this great... ennobling attitude of Australians where we have the sense and the spirit of the fair go etched deeply into the Australian soul".

But are those attitudes simply to be lauded in others when the nationalist "spirit" peaks on ceremonial occasions, or they should they inform our national leadership in facing global warming, the great challenge of our time?

14 April 2010

The greens’ proposal for a carbon tax

by David Spratt
[First published for the second Australian Climate Action Summit, 12 March 2010]

On 21 January, The Greens proposed a “levy on polluters” or carbon price/tax to break the Senate deadlock on climate change. The Greens are currently negotiating with the government on the plan.

20 January 2010

How the Murdoch press got it wrong on the Himalayan big melt

Published in Crikey, 20 January 2010

by Damien Lawson and David Spratt

Drawing on a January 13 New Scientist story by Fred Pearce reporting on a debate among glaciologists about the IPCC's claim, The Times (UK) and subsequently The Australian and other Murdoch papers have tried to shift from a debate about timing to a questioning of global warming.