08 March 2019

SHOCK, HORROR: Poll finds strong majority support for declaring a climate emergency

Panel discussion at the City of Darebin's climate emergency conference, September 2018. Photo: John Englart.
by David Spratt, published at RenewEconomy on 8 March 2019


In five countries —  Australia, the USA, Canada, the UK and Switzerland  — an impressive 382 local government authorities covering more than 33 million people have recognised or declared a climate emergency. And now polling conducted in Melbourne shows that a sizeable majority in that city support declaring a climate emergency.

That will be a shock for some of Australia’s largest climate advocacy organisations, who have steadfastly refused to use the climate emergency framing, saying that such language is not plausible, is not supported by market research or that appeals to fear do not work.

Perhaps they should tell that to David Wallace-Wells, the author of the just released book, “The Uninhabitable Earth”, which is destined to become a runaway best seller.

18 February 2019

With climate protection, Labor can turn the table on government’s fear agenda

 
French Polynesian President Edouard Fritch and Australian Foreign Minister,Marise Payne leave their handprints during the signing of the Boe Declaration in September 2018 at the Pacific Islands Forum

by David Spratt

National security is a defensive issue for opposition leader Bill Shorten and the Australian Labor  Party. Their approach is to mimic the government at almost every step, lest a crack of difference between the two parties becomes a conservative wedge. We saw this again last week with the fear campaign on the medivac law.

But Labor can turn the table on the government’s security agenda by framing climate change action as the duty of government to protect the people — their livelihood, security and health — from the greatest risk of all to their future well-being and human security.

It will take courage from Labor, but the crushing impacts of climate change — devastating floods in Queensland, destruction of precious World Heritage forest in Tasmania, vital river systems without water, and an extraordinary, month-long, record-breaking heatwave blanketing most of Australia —  are the material conditions on which a new climate and human security narrative can be built.

17 February 2019

Best climate video ever? A Swedish Teenager's Compelling Plea on Climate

On an email list I am on,  this video was described as "the best climate video ever".  Best ever?  I don't know, but it's very, very good. A must watch. -- David

14 January 2019

COP24: Capricious foes, Big Sister and high-carbon plutocrats

Note: If you want to know what really went on at the December UN climate policy talks in Katowice, Poland, Prof. Kevin Anderson, with his characteristic direct and insightful analysis, tells it like it is: the good, the bad and the ugly.  This article was first published at kevinanderson.infohttps://kevinanderson.info/blog/capricious-foes-big-sister-high-carbon-plutocrats-irreverent-musings-from-katowices-cop24/. Kevin described it as “irreverent musings from Katowice’s COP24”, but it is more than that!
by Kevin Anderson

Four weeks on and the allure of Christmas and New Year festivities fade into the grey light of a Manchester January – a fine backdrop for revisiting December’s COP24.

An Orwellian tale: myths & hidden enemies

A quick glance at COP24 suggests three steps forward and two steps back. But whilst to the naïve optimist this may sound like progress, in reality it’s yet another retrograde bound towards a climate abyss. As government negotiators play poker with the beauty of three billion years of evolution, climate change emissions march on. This year with a stride 2.7% longer than last year – which itself was 1.6% longer than the year before. Whilst the reality is that every COP marks another step backwards, the hype of these extravaganzas gives the impression that we’re forging a pathway towards a decarbonised future.

10 December 2018

Big oil and gas nations sideline the science at Katowice, even as emissions rise and warming accelerates

By David Spratt

Delegates at COP24, Katowice. Credit: IISD/ENB - Kiara Worth
Just as four big oil and gas producers block the UN climate policymaking conference in Katowice, Poland from welcoming a report on the science of the 1.5 degree Celsius (°C) target which it had commissioned three years earlier in Paris, new evidence has emerged of the striking contradiction between word and deed at the 24th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP24).

In a deadly diplomatic strike, big fossil fuel nations took a key scientific report out of the Katowice text, replacing acknowledgement of the report’s compelling case for accelerated action, with a more ambiguous formulation which merely notes the report’s existence.

Objections from Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait and Russia to wording to "welcome" the 1.5°C report was enough to sideline it, with Saudi Arabia threatening to disrupt the last stretch of negotiations between ministers this week if the word “welcome” was not replaced by “note”.

20 November 2018

Blue Carbon: an effective climate mitigation and drawdown tool?

by Alia Armistead


Blue carbon is increasingly being championed by organisations and governments as a tool for climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as addressing multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

What is blue carbon, how much potential does it actually have, and how could we use it?

22 October 2018

World acknowledges unprecedented climate challenge, so what should a Labor federal government do?

by David Spratt,  published at RenewEconomy


Quite suddenly, in the wake of the recent IPCC report, it's become commonplace to talk about a global climate emergency. Al Gore told PBS on 12 October: “We have a global emergency. You use a phrase like that and some people immediately say, ‘okay calm down, it can’t be that bad.’ But it it is."

On 9 October, a stunning editorial was published in the UK. “The Guardian view on climate change: a global emergency” opened with the sentence: “Climate change is an existential to the human race.” A year ago, that would have been extraordinary, but no longer. (An existential risk is one that poses permanent large negative consequences to humanity which can never be undone, or an adverse outcome that would either annihilate intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential.)

15 October 2018

New IPCC climate report actually understates threat, researchers say

Aftermath of Hurricane Michael, Florida, October 2018
By Scott Waldman, first published at E&E News

The United Nations climate report released this week had some stunning revelations, claiming that the 2020s could be one of humanity's last chances to avert devastating impacts. But some say its authors were being too cautious.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report states in plain language that averting a climate crisis will require a wholesale reinvention of the global economy. By 2040, the report predicts, there could be global food shortages, the inundation of coastal cities and a refugee crisis unlike the world has ever seen.

10 October 2018

The UN chief calls for emergency climate action, but what does that actually mean in practice?

by David Spratt

Download guide as PDF
“We face a direct existential threat” on climate for “the emergency we face”, UN Secretary General António Guterres told the world on 10 September. This was a most powerful voice in the rising chorus of recognition that existential climate risks requiring a global emergency response.

But what does an emergency response mean in practice?

The Melbourne-based Breakthrough - National Centre for Climate Restoration has just published a short guide to answer that question. Here is what is says.

Understanding climate emergency mode

Many of us have experienced emergency situations such as bushfires, floods or cyclones where, for the duration, nothing else matters as much as responding to the crisis. If we want to survive, or help others effectively, we don’t rush thoughtlessly in, but focus on a plan of action, implemented with thought and all possible care and speed to protect others and get to safety. Everyone chips in, with all hands on deck.

03 October 2018

How to communicate the climate emergency

Download guide as PDF
What are effective ways of engaging people in conversation about the gathering climate crisis and the need for an emergency response? Let's start with some key content:

1. Urgency and courage   
 

The Earth is already too hot: we are in danger now, not just in the future. Warming will accelerate, and 1.5°C is only a decade away, yet annual emissions are still growing and the current, post-Paris emissions trajectory will result in catastrophic warming. The Great Barrier Reef and other coral systems are dying. We are greatly exceeding Earth’s limits, and food and water shortages are contributing to conflicts and forced migration.

19 September 2018

IPCC's political fix on 1.5°C will undermine its credibility

by David Spratt

[updated 19 September 2018]


The forthcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on 1.5°C will suggest a significant "carbon budget" for the 1.5°C climate warming target, in a political fix that will further undermine the organisation's credibility.

The report will use unwisely low assumptions about the Earth's climate sensitivity to pull a rabbit out of a hat: a carbon budget that from any sensible risk-management perspective simply does not exist. The political effect will be to say that the climate crisis is less bad than it is, and that we can "allow" more fossil fuel emissions.

In fact, recent research shows that climate sensitivity is higher that the median used in recent IPCC reports, but now the 1.5°C report will go in the opposite direction. The final report will likely have an even higher 1.5°C "carbon budget" figure than in the drafts leaked in recent months.

This is a scandalous outcome that may finish the IPCC as a credible and dispassionate compiler of climate science research.   A report released on 20 August, What Lies Beneath: The understatement of existential climate risk, shows that IPCC reports tend toward reticence and caution, erring on the side of “least drama”, exhibiting a preference for conservative projections and scholarly reticence, and downplaying the more extreme and more damaging outcomes, such they are now becoming dangerously misleading with the acceleration of climate impacts globally.

13 September 2018

When we look at the crisis rationally, the only logical response is to declare a climate emergency

Participants in this week's Darebin Climate Emergency conference in Melboure.
Photo: John Englart
by Paul Gilding

People engaged in the climate debate are often bewildered by society’s lack of response. How can we ignore such overwhelming evidence of an existential threat to social and economic stability?

Given human history, we should never have expected anything else. Humans have a consistent tendency that when change is uncomfortable we delay action until a threat becomes a crisis. The scale of the threat or the existence of powerful evidence makes little difference.

There are countless examples – personal health issues, a business’ declining success, or global financial and credit risks. Historically, though, World War Two (WWII ) remains the best analogy.

20 August 2018

Take unprecedented action or bear the consequences, says eminent scientist and advisor

By David Spratt and Ian Dunlop

“Climate change is now reaching the end-game, where very soon humanity must choose between taking unprecedented action, or accepting that it has been left too late and bear the consequences.”

Those are the challenging words from Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, for twenty years the head of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and a senior advisor to Pope Francis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European Union.  In the foreword to a new report, Schellnhuber says the issue now "is the very survival of our civilisation, where conventional means of analysis may become useless”.

The report, What Lies Beneath: The understatement of existential climate risk, is released today by the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration.

02 August 2018

This northern summer’s heat waves could be the strongest climate signal yet

In El Salvador, many farmers have lost their lost corn crops to drought this summer. Agriculture is suffering in the high heat and dry conditions in several parts of the world. Credit: Oscar Rivera/AFP/Getty Images
 by Bob Berwyn, Inside Climate News

Earth's global warming fever spiked to deadly new highs across the Northern Hemisphere this summer, and we're feeling the results—extreme heat is now blamed for hundreds of deaths, droughts threaten food supplies, wildfires have raced through neighborhoods in the western United States, Greece and as far north as the Arctic Circle.

At sea, record and near-record warm oceans have sent soggy masses of air surging landward, fueling extreme rainfall and flooding in Japan and the eastern U.S. In Europe, the Baltic Sea is so warm that potentially toxic blue-green algae is spreading across its surface.

23 July 2018

Minerals Council still dangerously wrong on coal and climate, says former senior coal executive

by Ian Dunlop, first posted at RenewEconomy

After 30 years of inaction, the focus on climate risk is accelerating as the physical impact of climate change worsens and the transition risks to a low-carbon world intensify. Despite effusive official rhetoric, nothing has been done to seriously address climate change, notwithstanding increasingly urgent warnings.

To prevent temperatures rising above the upper 2C limit of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, it is no longer possible to follow a gradual, incrementalist glide path. We have left it too late; emergency action, akin to wartime regulation, is inevitable, which further increases the transition risk. Market-based measures alone are insufficient.

09 July 2018

The straight-forward climate question Josh Frydenberg will not answer

by David Spratt

Climate warming has been a factor in the Darfur crisis. Photo: Albert Gonzalez Farra

Is climate change an existential risk to Australian society and the world community? It's not a difficult question, but one that climate minister Frydenberg has failed to answer.

The response should not be too challenging. An Australian Senate report released on 17 May this year, after an inquiry into the implications of climate change for Australia’s national security, found that climate change is “a current and existential national security risk”. It says an existential risk is “one that threatens the premature extinction of Earth-originating intelligent life or the permanent and drastic destruction of its potential for desirable future development”.

17 June 2018

Our energy challenge in 6 eye-popping charts

Renewable energy is winning and coal is on the skids. Disruption of the fossil fuel industry is well under way, and the global energy system is being decarbonised. We’re right on track, right?

To avoid dramatic climate system tipping points, the world needs to decarbonise very quickly and start drawing down the level of carbon in the atmosphere, because it’s already unsafe. As one dramatic example, in past periods when greenhouse levels were similar to the current level, temperatures were 3–6°C higher and sea levels around 25–40 metres higher than in 1900.

17 May 2018

Senate report recognises climate change as existential risk, but fails to draw the obvious conclusions

Download the Breakthrough report
on climate and security risks
by David Spratt

Climate change is “a current and existential national security risk”, according to an Australian Senate report released on Thursday 17 May. It says an existential risk is “one that threatens the premature extinction of Earth-originating intelligent life or the permanent and drastic destruction of its potential for desirable future development”. These are strong words.

The report by the Senate’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee follows an Inquiry into the Implications of Climate Change for Australia’s National Security. Whilst many of the findings accord with the growing international recognition of climate change as a “threat multiplier” or an “accelerant to instability”, the inquiry’s recommendations lack a sense of urgency, especially since the “current existential risk” is being triggered today by the Australian Government’s insistence on  expanding the use of fossil fuels.

10 May 2018

What goes up must come down: It's time for a carbon drawdown budget


  by David Spratt

There is no carbon budget left for 1.5°C climate warming target, which means that to achieve this outcome every tonne of emissions must be matched by a tonne of drawdown of atmospheric carbon from now on. For that reason, carbon budgets and emissions target should be complemented by a carbon drawdown budget and target.

That's the proposal made by Breakthrough, the Melbourne-based National Centre for Climate Restoration, to the Victorian climate change targets 2021-2030 expert panel, last week.

30 April 2018

The fiduciary responsibility of politicians and bureaucrats in the era of existential climate risks

by Ian Dunlop

First published at Renew Economy 
“Fiduciary: a person to whom power is entrusted for the benefit of another”“Power is reposed in members of Parliament by the public for exercise in the interests of the public and not primarily for the interests of members or the parties to which they belong. The cry ‘whatever it takes’ is not consistent with the performance of fiduciary duty”
— Sir Gerard Brennan AC, KBE, QC
Ian Dunlop
After three decades of global inaction, none more so than in Australia, human-induced climate change is now an existential risk to humanity. That is, a risk posing large negative consequences which will be irreversible, resulting inter alia in major reductions in global and national population, species extinction, disruption of economies and social chaos, unless carbon emissions are reduced on an emergency basis.

The risk is immediate in that it is being locked in today by our insistence on expanding the use of fossil fuels when the carbon budget to stay below sensible temperature increase limits is already exhausted.