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How China Moved From Leader To Laggard On Climate Change

Lethal Heating - 30 November, 2019 - 04:00
Financial Times - Leslie Hook

When the economy was growing robustly, Beijing saw stronger environmental policies as core to its economic transformation. Today, with growth at its slowest pace since the early 1990s, that has changed. The FT reports.
© Qilai Shen/BloombergBaoding, China | The smoggy city of Baoding is known for two things: donkey burgers, and solar panels. An industrial centre just south of Beijing — 45 minutes via high-speed rail — the city’s high-tech zone styles itself as “Power Valley” because it is home to so many solar manufacturers.
But for Vincent Yu, deputy general manager at Yingli Solar, one of the first renewables companies to set up in the city, business has been difficult lately. “These last two years, there has been a lot of pressure. The subsidies for solar projects have fallen,” Mr Yu says. New solar installations in China — running at 53 gigawatts in 2017 when demand peaked — will be about 40 per cent lower this year, he estimates.
A solar PV farm in China's Fujian province. With the US withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, an increasing amount of attention is on China. AP
The photographs in his office show Yingli in its glory days a decade ago. Sales were surging and the company spent millions sponsoring the 2010 and 2014 football World Cup tournaments. Yingli was the world’s largest solar-panel maker in 2012 and 2013, exporting all over the globe and celebrated in China as a national champion. Its huge factory campus in Baoding still nods to that status, with a spacious museum dedicated to the company’s history as a solar pioneer.
Today Yingli is insolvent. It has been defaulting on debt payments since 2016, and in 2018 it was kicked off the New York Stock Exchange because its market capitalisation had sunk below the minimum $US50 million ($74 million) threshold. Although Yingli still makes solar panels, its factories operate at a loss and the most valuable asset it has left is the land underneath them. Some question how Yingli is still operating. But analysts believe the political connections of its founder may have helped stave off creditors.
The company is the highest-profile casualty of a change in policy that is being felt across the renewable energy sector in a country once celebrated as the world’s clean energy champion. Chinese investment in clean energy is plummeting — down from $US76 billion during the first half of 2017, to $US29 billion during the first half of this year.
A solar farm near Jiaxing, Zhejiang province. During the first half of this year, China’s investment in renewable energy fell 39 per cent © Qilai Shen/Bloomberg For the annual UN climate talks, starting next Monday, that is alarming.
Concerns over the impact of climate change have never been higher. But the gap between what countries should be doing, and what they are actually doing — pumping rising levels of carbon dioxide into the air — has never been greater. With the US withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, an increasing amount of attention is on China.
The general momentum on climate and environment issues has been declining [in China].— Li Shuo, senior global policy adviser at GreenpeaceThe country is both the greenest in the world, but also the most polluting. It has more wind and solar power than anybody else, yet it is also the world’s biggest builder of new coal plants. Last year, its emissions hit a record high, accounting for more than half of the global increase in energy-related CO2 emissions in 2018, according to the International Energy Agency.
This year, Chinese emissions are expected to grow about 3 per cent from 2018.
“Everything is at stake for the planet, because the Chinese economy is so much bigger than any other,” says Adair Turner, chair of the Energy Transitions Commission. “Even the whole of Europe is considerably less than Chinese emissions.”
He points to China’s current pledge, that its CO2 emissions will peak by 2030, and says it is nowhere near ambitious enough. “Let’s be clear, if that was all China ever did, then we are on the path to climate disaster,” says Lord Turner, who is lobbying for China to consider a target of net zero emissions by 2050. “That is true of all the [countries that have made pledges under the Paris accord] . . . everyone has always known there would have to be very significant improvements, to get us anywhere close to 2C.”
With a glut of new coal-fired power stations coming online, wind and solar may struggle to compete © Qilai Shen/BloombergThe Paris climate accord, of which China is a signatory, pledges to limit global warming to well below 2C. But that goal looks increasingly out of reach. The world is on track for 3C of global warming by the end of this century, if current trends continue. That would mean higher sea levels of as much as 1m, threatening more than 600m people in low-lying and coastal areas, according to a recent report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The climate pact is under attack from many sides, and the US is withdrawing from the agreement entirely, on President Donald Trump’s orders. Fraying multilateralism has further eviscerated the climate accord, which lacks any enforcement mechanism. China — distracted by a slowing economy, the US trade war and protests in Hong Kong — is not the only reason why the planet is on course for devastating climate change, but it is near the top of the list.
China has more wind and solar power than anybody else, yet it is also the world’s biggest builder of new coal plants. AP“The general momentum on climate and environment issues has been declining [in China],” says Li Shuo, senior global policy adviser at Greenpeace. Climate change has become a lower priority for Beijing. “There is less space for the green agenda,” he says.
China’s investment in renewable energy fell 39 per cent in the first half of this year, compared with the same period in 2018, according to data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Beijing yanked subsidies for solar panel projects in the middle of last year, and is shrinking those for wind, causing an abrupt shift.
“This is probably a low point,” says Li Junfeng, a senior renewable energy policymaker and head of the National Centre for Climate Change Strategy Research, part of the government planning ministry. “The new policy is not in place yet, and the old policy [of subsidies] has been stopped.”
Five years ago, when the economy was growing robustly, Beijing saw stronger environmental policies as core to its economic transformation away from energy-intensive heavy industry. Today, with the economy growing at its slowest pace since the early 1990s, that has changed.
Chinese workers in Pakistan. Chinese banks have earmarked more than $30bn to build coal plants in other countries, as part of the Belt and Road Initiative © Asad Zaidi/Bloomberg“The highest political priority in China is trying to stabilise the economy,” says Kevin Tu, an energy economist who previously led the China desk at the IEA. “Anything else, including environmental protection, especially climate change, will have to make some room for these political priorities.”
On paper, China’s climate targets have not changed: Beijing has pledged that its carbon dioxide emissions will peak by 2030, and that it will draw 20 per cent of its primary energy from non-fossil sources by that same date.
Yet that promise would allow China to keep increasing its emissions for the next decade, with devastating implications for the planet. Its investments in the Belt and Road Initiative, under which state banks have earmarked more than $US30 billion to build coal-fired power plants in other countries, is also adding to global emissions.
In China subsidies for solar have fallen, along with those for other renewables © Qilai Shen/Bloomberg China’s participation in the Paris climate pact in 2015 was heralded as a great victory by activists. Convincing Beijing to set climate targets was a top priority for the Obama administration. But baked into the negotiations was an expectation that China would achieve its emissions target much earlier than 2030.
Next year will be crucial, as countries that signed the Paris accord are supposed to submit enhanced targets — but the mood in Beijing makes a tougher climate goal less likely for China.
China is world's biggest builder of new coal power plants © GettyMr Li says deteriorating relations between the US and China — along with the unrest in Hong Kong — have helped fuel a growing nationalist sentiment and a broader anger at the west.
One of the targets of this nationalist ire has been Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenage activist who is revered as a climate hero in some parts of the world. “Many netizens see [Greta] as representing the general liberal western agenda,” says Mr Li. “There is this larger perspective that the west is ganging up against China.”
At the same time, coal appears to be again in the ascendant with Li Keqiang, China’s premier, last month identifying it as a priority area. China remains the world’s biggest producer. Many see this as part of a growing focus on energy security in Beijing, a result of Chinese leaders being spooked by deteriorating relations with the west. “Energy security anxiety is a blessing for the coal [sector] in China,” says Mr Tu.
Policymakers are also focused on keeping the cost of power cheap to help stimulate the economy, so from January the price of electricity from coal-fired power plants, which is centrally regulated, will be allowed to fluctuate, and is expected to fall.



These factors have compounded the pain for the renewable energy industry. After benefiting from generous subsidies for more than a decade, Beijing axed solar subsidies without warning last year. The payments due have created a deficit of around Rmb200b ($41.3b) in the renewable energy development fund that was paying out the subsidies.
Frank Haugwitz, founder of Asia Europe Clean Energy (Solar) Advisory in Hong Kong, says the subsidies contributed to a solar surge that exceeded the government’s expectations, triggering the sudden cut.
The dice are now loaded in coal’s favour. The new policies for renewable energy are focused on grid parity — only building wind and solar projects that can compete with the price of coal. Yet with coal power prices dropping, and a glut of new coal-fired power stations coming online, it may be challenging for wind and solar to compete.
In the wind industry, there has been a rush of projects this year as developers try to capture the last of the subsidies.


The diplomatic pressure on China to improve its climate targets has been played out in public. During a state visit from Emmanuel Macron, the French president, earlier this month, both sides issued a joint declaration, vowing that the Paris climate deal was “irreversible”, and promising new climate targets aimed at the middle of the century.
Chinese policymakers such as Li Junfeng say the pressure is misplaced, as China is likely to exceed existing climate targets, even if it does not officially adopt new goals. “Now that the US has withdrawn from the Paris agreement, the entire global response to climate change is shifting,” he says. “We have to be realistic . . . There’s no point in being in a rush.”
He also points out that China has achieved, and far surpassed, most of its previous climate targets. A pledge to cut carbon intensity — the amount of carbon produced per unit of GDP — by between 40 and 50 per cent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels, was achieved three years early. It also overachieved on its targets for solar installations, although this runaway growth led to the subsidy deficit.



For many years, action on climate change was the one area that Beijing and western capitals could usually agree on. Even the most hawkish western politician would hold up China’s climate record as an example to be praised.
But that may be changing. “It is going to sour for sure, if China doesn’t move in the right direction, quickly enough,” says Todd Stern, the chief US negotiator for the Paris agreement, who adds there is simply “less leeway” now in terms of global emissions. “We can’t possibly do what we need to do, unless China is doing quite a bit.”
“We are sort of entering a new world now . . . It is not just a sense of urgency, it is the math. Do the math, and you will see whether we are doing enough,” says Mr Stern. “The Paris agreement is going to rise and fall, on the level of political will in constituent countries. That has always been true.
“The fault is that there is a lack of political will in virtually every country, compared to what there needs to be.”

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UNEP Says Global Emissions Must Be Cut By 7.6% Every Year For Next Decade

Lethal Heating - 29 November, 2019 - 04:00
RenewEconomy - 

 Photo by koushik das on UnsplashThe United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) has warned global greenhouse gas emissions must fall by at least 7.6% each year over the next decade or risk missing the 1.5°C temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.
The UNEP’s Emissions Gap Report also highlights seven G20 member nations that are falling well behind their Paris Agreement commitments, including Australia, Japan, South Korea, and the United States.
The UNEP’s annual Emissions Gap Report compares current greenhouse gas emissions against where emissions need to be and where they are heading.
The latest 2019 report shows that things are not going well, and that even if all current unconditional commitments under the Paris Agreement are implemented, temperatures are expected to rise by 3.2°C. Such a dramatic rise in temperature by the end of the century will result in wider-ranging and more destructive climate impacts across the planet.
“For ten years, the Emissions Gap Report has been sounding the alarm – and for ten years, the world has only increased its emissions,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “
There has never been a more important time to listen to the science. Failure to heed these warnings and take drastic action to reverse emissions means we will continue to witness deadly and catastrophic heatwaves, storms and pollution.”



“Our collective failure to act early and hard on climate change means we now must deliver deep cuts to emissions – over 7 per cent each year, if we break it down evenly over the next decade,” added Inger Andersen, UNEP’s Executive Director.
“This shows that countries simply cannot wait until the end of 2020, when new climate commitments are due, to step up action. They – and every city, region, business and individual – need to act now.”
“We need quick wins to reduce emissions as much as possible in 2020, then stronger Nationally Determined Contributions to kick-start the major transformations of economies and societies. We need to catch up on the years in which we procrastinated,” she added. “If we don’t do this, the 1.5°C goal will be out of reach before 2030.”
The report unsurprisingly highlighted the role of G20 member nations, which together account for 78% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and which are “collectively” on track to meet their limited 2020 Cancun Pledges.
However, seven countries – Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, South Korea, South Africa, and the United States – are currently not on track to meet their 2030 nationally determined contributions (NDC) commitments, and it is “not possible to say” for a further three countries.
Further, and to make matters worse, six countries – Canada, Indonesia, Mexico, South Korea, South Africa, the United States – are currently on track to miss their Cancun Pledges, while Argentina, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey have not made any 2020 pledges.
In all, only five G20 member nations have committed to a long-term zero emissions target.
The report notes Australia is proposing to “carry forward their overachievement from the Kyoto period to meet their 2020 Cancun Pledges” thanks in part to the Government’s decision to count cumulative emissions between 2013 and 2020.
It notes that if this “carry-forward” approach is not taken, Australia will not even achieve its 2020 pledge.
The authors of the report specify that “it appears that the Australian Government intends to use carry-over permits from the Kyoto Protocol to do so, and uses a carbon budget approach that accounts for cumulative emissions between 2021 and 2030 in order to assess progress against its NDC.”
Australia is also one of the seven countries deemed as requiring “further action of varying degree to achieve their NDC” – a fact not helped by “the re-election of Australia’s conservative Government in May” which has cemented the fact “there has been no recent material change in Australian climate policy.”
“The dropping of the proposed National Energy Guarantee in 2018 and that the renewable energy target will not be raised for years after 2020 up to 2030 … leaves Australia with no major policy tool to encourage emission reductions from the electricity sector in the short to medium term,” write the authors of the UNEP Gap report.
Looking at the overall picture, the UNEP shows that, in the short-term, developed countries will have to reduce their emissions faster than developing countries – a crucial point which will serve to undermine or clash with many conservative talking points around the world.
But the report also says that all nations must substantially increase ambition in their NDCs in 2020 and follow up with ambitious and long-term policies and strategies to implement them.

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'Dangerously Close': Tipping Points May Trigger Climate Cascade

Lethal Heating - 29 November, 2019 - 04:00
Sydney Morning HeraldPeter Hannam

The planet faces a "global cascade of tipping points" that could lead to an abrupt shift to a warmer world and cause huge disruption to human societies and ecosystems unless nations slash their greenhouse gas emissions.
The warning is contained in an article appearing on Thursday in Nature. The authors identified several "large-scale discontinuities" in the climate system that may be underway, and which could trigger further warming.

Countries need to cut their greenhouse gas emissions much faster than agreed under the Paris Climate Agreement, the UN has warned, or risk "wide-ranging and destructive climate impacts." 

Countries need to cut their greenhouse gas emissions much faster than agreed under the Paris Climate Agreement, the UN has warned, or risk "wide-ranging and destructive climate impacts."
"If damaging tipping cascades can occur and a global tipping point cannot be ruled out, then this is an existential threat to civilisation," the scientists said.
The ice sheets in West Antarctica may be one of several cryosphere tipping points that were "dangerously close", if they hadn't already begun an irreversible retreat. These alone would raise sea levels by three metres if melted.
Active global warming tipping points
Evidence that tipping points are under way has mounted in the past decade.
Source: Nature



Illustration: Matt GoldingThose in the Wilkes Basin of eastern Antarctica may be similarly unstable, with another four metres of potential sea-level rise if they disintegrated.
"The time to act decisively is now. Any more dithering is irresponsible, as the risks are increasing year by year," said Stefan Rahmstorf, head of Earth system analysis at Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and one of the authors.
"But even once we pass a tipping point – and probably we have done so for the West Antarctic Ice Sheet – we will need to reduce emissions even more urgently, to slow down the unfolding effects and to avoid passing further tipping points."

Running AMOC
The interconnected nature of the giant mixing processes that distribute heat around the world's oceans is a key reason why one region's changes could reinforce other shifts.
For instance, the melting of Greenland's ice sheets is driving an influx of fresh water into the North Atlantic, slowing the Gulf Stream – also known as the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) – by 15 per cent since the middle of the 20th century.
Another outcome is a further heating of the Southern Ocean, resulting in more Antarctic ice melt.
A view from a NASA aircraft of large icebergs that have broken from the calving side of Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica. Credit: NASAOther effects include drought for the Sahel region because of disruptions to the West African monsoon, and worse fires in the Amazon as that region dries out.
Will Steffen, an emeritus professor at the Australian National University and another author, said some of the processes would add to warming by releasing more carbon dioxide or methane to the atmosphere.
Amazon dieback alone had the potential to release about 90 billion tonnes of CO2 while boreal forests could add another 110 billion tonnes. Even without including the methane, emissions from melting permafrost could total 100 billion more tonnes of CO2, the report said.
Fires in the northern hemisphere's boreal forest will add to the atmosphere's carbon dioxide emissions. Credit: Jason Franson/The Canadian PressBy contrast, humans directly contribute to about 40 billion tonnes of CO2 a year. We also have a total emissions budget of 500 billion tonnes if the world is to have a 50:50 chance of hitting the Paris climate target of keeping warming to 1.5 degrees.
Entire ecosystems, such as the Great Barrier Reef, were also facing tipping points. Half the reef's coral cover had been lost in recent bleaching and only a tiny fraction would remain if warming reached 2 degrees, the paper said.
A red sun among heavy smoke caused by the fires in the Amazon forest in the state of Rondonia, Brazil, in August 2019. Credit: Joedson AlvesAustralia is among the most exposed nations given it is already exposed to droughts and heatwaves.
"The warning signs are clear," Professor Steffen said. "It will be a much tougher climate for us to live in."
Mustering of sheep in a paddock of a failed wheat crop at Rebecca and Dan Reardon's property near Moree, NSW, which has been affected by years of drought. Credit: Alex EllinghausenThe risk was not of runaway global warming but rather of a world stabilising at perhaps 5 degrees warmer.
"The schoolchildren are right," he said. "We indeed have a climate emergency, and an emergency-level response is now needed to ensure that we don’t activate the tipping cascade."

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Climate Emergency: World 'May Have Crossed Tipping Points’

Lethal Heating - 29 November, 2019 - 04:00
The Guardian

Warning of ‘existential threat to civilisation’ as impacts lead to cascade of unstoppable events
‘Part of the west Antarctic ice sheet may be in irreversible retreat,’ said one of the researchers.Photograph: Handout/AFP/Getty Images The world may already have crossed a series of climate tipping points, according to a stark warning from scientists. This risk is “an existential threat to civilisation”, they say, meaning “we are in a state of planetary emergency”.
Tipping points are reached when particular impacts of global heating become unstoppable, such as the runaway loss of ice sheets or forests. In the past, extreme heating of 5C was thought necessary to pass tipping points, but the latest evidence suggests this could happen between 1C and 2C.
The planet has already heated by 1C and the temperature is certain to rise further, due to past emissions and because greenhouse gas levels are still rising. The scientists further warn that one tipping point, such as the release of methane from thawing permafrost, may fuel others, leading to a cascade.
The researchers, writing in a commentary article in the journal Nature, acknowledge that the complex science of tipping points means great uncertainty remains. But they say the potential damage from the tipping points is so big and the time to act so short, that “to err on the side of danger is not a responsible option”. They call for urgent international action.
“A saving grace is that the rate at which damage accumulates from tipping could still be under our control to some extent,” they write. “The stability and resilience of our planet is in peril. International action – not just words – must reflect this.”
Scientists' warning: a cascade of climate tipping points is possible
Guardian graphic. Source: Lenton et al, Nature, 2019
Prof Tim Lenton at the University of Exeter, the lead author of the article, said: “We might already have crossed the threshold for a cascade of interrelated tipping points. The simple version is the schoolkids [striking for climate action] are right: we are seeing potentially irreversible changes in the climate system under way, or very close.”
“As a scientist, I just want to tell it how it is,” he said. “It is not trying to be alarmist, but trying to treat the whole climate change problem as a risk management problem. It is what I consider the common sense way.”
Phil Williamson at the University of East Anglia, who did not contribute to the article, said: “The prognosis by Tim Lenton and colleagues is, unfortunately, fully plausible: that we might have already lost control of the Earth’s climate.”
The new article comes as the UN warns action is very far from stopping global temperature rise, with the world currently on track for 3C-4C. The commentary lists nine tipping points that may have been activated.
The scientists report that 17% of the Amazon rainforest has been lost since 1970. Photograph: Léo Corrêa/AP“We have this alarming evidence that part of the west Antarctic ice sheet may be in irreversible retreat,” said Lenton. “All the signals are that it is.” A similar situation appears to be occurring at the Wilkes basin in east Antarctica. The collapse of these ice sheets would eventually raise sea level by many metres.
The massive Greenland ice sheet was melting at an accelerating rate, the scientists said, while Arctic sea ice is shrinking fast. “Permafrost across the Arctic is beginning to irreversibly thaw and release carbon dioxide and methane,” they said.
The Gulf Stream current in the Atlantic, which warms Europe, has also slowed by 15% since the mid-20th century. “That is just about in the range of natural variability, but it is also hard to rule out that it is part of a longer downturn,” Lenton said.
The scientists report that 17% of the Amazon rainforest has been lost since 1970. The tipping point, where loss of forest leads to it drying out, could lie in the range 20%-40%, they said. In temperate forests, especially in North America, heating has triggered more fires and pest outbreaks, potentially turning some regions from a sink for carbon to a source. In the tropics, corals are predicted to be wiped out by 2C of heating.
A cascade of tipping points could occur because, for example, the melting of Arctic sea ice amplifies heating by exposing dark ocean that absorbs more sunlight. That may increase the melting of Greenland ice and permafrost areas. “Multiple risks can interact, with one change reinforcing another, and with warming of just a degree or two sufficient to result in dramatic cascading effects,” said Williamson.
Prof Martin Siegert, at Imperial College London, said: “The new work is valuable. They are being a little speculative, but maybe you need to be.” He pointed out that the extremely rapid rate at which CO2 was being pumped into the atmosphere was unlikely to have ever occurred on Earth before. “It may mean that tipping points can occur in unexpected ways as there is no geological precedent for this rate of CO2 change.”
The article reports that preliminary results from the latest climate models suggest global heating will be greater than expected, increasing the risk of tipping points. Prof Piers Forster, at the University of Leeds, disagreed on that point. However, he added: “I completely endorse their call for action. Although possibly low probability, the risks they identify are real.”
Lenton said action would still have real benefits, by slowing the impacts and giving more time for people to adapt. He said: “This article is not meant to be a counsel of despair. If we want to avoid the worst of these bad climate tipping points, we need to activate some positive social and economic tipping points [such as renewable energy] towards what should ultimately be a happier, flourishing, sustainable future for the generations to come.”

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Women In Climate Change Hotspots Face Greater Burdens When Under Environmental Stress

Lethal Heating - 28 November, 2019 - 04:00
ABC ScienceSuzannah Lyons

Environmental stress can hamper women's ability to adapt in climate change hotspots, like Bangladesh. (Getty Images: Zakir Hossain Chowdhury/Barcroft Media) Key points
  • After about 100 people made a two-hour hike up a volcano, children installed a memorial plaque to the glacier
  • The plaque, which notes the level of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, warns "we know what is happening and what needs to be done"
  • Iceland's PM says climate change will be a priority when Nordic leaders meet in Reykjavik on Tuesday
Climate change has a negative impact on women's ability to make meaningful decisions in their lives, according to new research looking at climate change hotspots in Africa and Asia.
Even when household structures, social norms and legal frameworks support women's agency, environmental stress and its repercussions can still increase the burdens they face compared to men.
The study, published in Nature Climate Change on Tuesday, analysed 25 case studies from African and Asian climate change hotspots to identify factors that affect women and their ability to adapt.
The researchers wanted to move away from basic climate change and gender analyses that present women as victims, said social scientist and lead author of the paper Nitya Rao of the University of East Anglia.
"What we see in our fieldwork is that women are not sitting there doing nothing. Actually they're quite active in trying to do a lot of things in order to adapt," Professor Rao said.However, Professor Rao and her co-authors found that unless social supports like childcare, health services or minimum wage conditions were in place, it was very hard for women to actually adopt climate change solutions.
This is due to the disproportionate disadvantages women already face, and the extra burdens environmental stress can bring, particularly in societies that mostly rely on agriculture.
These can include gendered labour division, limited access to land, limited access to credit and the reproductive burden women carry, both in bearing and looking after children, Professor Rao said.
Adding to that, women are often left to manage their households alone if their male partners need to migrate to look for work.
"When you double the work of a woman and … she's not able to do any more work, that's a good reason for not taking up climate-resilient rice for instance," Professor Rao said.  11,000 scientists declare 'climate emergency'
More than 11,000 scientists around the world have signed a scientific paper declaring a climate emergency, backing protesters across the world demanding action.
The study addresses a really important gap in our understanding of the gender dimensions of vulnerability to climate change, said human geographer Fiona Miller of Macquarie University, who wasn't involved in the research.
"They might have more responsibility to manage money, but they don't necessarily have more power to make decisions concerning that money," Dr Miller said.
In a positive case study from Nepal, women were able to improve their agency by forming a cooperative.
However, low-caste women were excluded from that cooperative.
"I think one of the wider findings of the work is that yes, we need to focus on gender equity, but we also need to …. focus on those women who are especially marginalised due to caste or class or ethnicity," Dr Miller said.

So, does that mean climate change is sexist?
When men migrate to larger towns for work, more tasks at home fall to women. (Supplied: Nitya Rao)The research really highlights the social impact of climate change, said Climate Council CEO Amanda McKenzie.
"What it's saying is that the people who are most vulnerable will suffer the most, and the most quickly," she said.
  How does climate change affect our health?
It's been dubbed "the biggest global health threat of the 21st century". But how does a warming climate pose risks to our physical and mental health?
And yet, while organisations like Plan International and Marie Stopes International have position papers on gender and climate change, there isn't as much awareness of it in the broader public sphere.
"I think that the social dimensions of climate change haven't been adequately discussed," Ms McKenzie said.
"We're still moving beyond understanding climate as an environmental issue, to understanding it's a human issue [with a] whole range of direct human costs."These can be the immediate risks facing people in the middle of a natural disaster for example, or the longer-term impacts that adapting to climate change can have on people's health and the resilience of their communities.
While climate change itself is not sexist, the nature of gender and power relations means climate stress can exacerbate problems that are already there.
"Whenever there is something occurring that is damaging to our society, it tends to hurt women, people of colour more," she said.
Ms McKenzie believes there isn't enough discussion about who is paying the price and who is profiting from climate impacts.
"I think there's a sexism element there too, because the people who are profiting the most would tend to be powerful men in Western countries."

Is this research relevant to Australia?
Emergency response organisations need to be sensitive to how women and men respond to things like fires in different ways. (Getty Images: Brett Hemmings)While the research focused on climate change hotspots in Africa and Asia, Professor Rao said it also has relevance for other parts of the world.
"[In] labour markets across the world we know there is a gender wage gap," she said.
And that includes Australia.
Talking about how climate change affects women's ability to feed their families is something we can relate to, said geographer Celia McMichael of the University of Melbourne, who wasn't involved in the work.
"When you read of other people trying to cope with climate variability, I think it's something we can increasingly empathise with because that is not removed from our lives in Australia [any more]," Dr McMichael said.
"Yeah, we can turn on the AC but we still are dealing with bushfires and things."
One of the findings the paper identifies is that public institutions are really important in terms of supporting households and communities to respond to environmental stresses, said Dr Miller, and we need to have gender equity within those response organisations.
"If you're thinking about the fires that we're dealing with now across Australia, and particularly in New South Wales, we do tend to see an overrepresentation of men in emergency response organisations," she said.
"If we're thinking about issues around evacuation, for example, men and women may respond to that challenge in quite different ways.
"If you have emergency response agencies that are sensitive to those gendered issues … then you can give advice and support so that people can make appropriate decisions."
Ms McKenzie said the importance of educating women and girls has already been shown to be an important climate change solution by organisations such as Project Drawdown.
"I think that these solutions that involve women and girls and education, maternal health etc. are really important," she said.
"Not just for resilience, but also in getting down emissions in the first instance."

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(AU) The Most Important Issue Facing Australia? New Survey Sees Huge Spike In Concern Over Climate Change

Lethal Heating - 28 November, 2019 - 04:00
The Conversation

Nearly half of Australians aged 18-24 view climate change as the biggest problem facing Australia in new national survey. James Ross/AAP While most Australians still view the economy as the most important issue facing the country, a new survey released today shows climate change is rapidly becoming a major concern, as well.
Now in its 12th year, the Scanlon Foundation survey is the largest- and longest-running poll tracking public opinion on social cohesion, immigration, population and other issues in Australia. The 2019 survey was administered by telephone and the internet in July-August to a representative sample of 3,500 respondents.
The largest change in the survey from 2018 to 2019 came with the open-ended question: “What do you think is the most important problem facing Australia today?”
Both years, the economy ranked as No. 1. But this year, climate change jumped to a clear second with the equal-largest increase from one year to the next, up from 10% to 19% in our telephone-administered survey and from 5% to 17% in the self-completed online survey.
Responses to the most important problem facing Australia in telephone-interview survey. Author providedAs would be expected, there were major variances in the responses depending on demographics.
Nearly half (43%) of those aged 18-24 viewed climate change as the biggest problem facing Australia, compared to 12% of those aged 35-44 and just 8% of those over the age of 75.
The responses also varied by state – 20% of Victoria residents and 18% of NSW residents said climate change was the biggest problem, compared to 8% in Western Australia.
And there was a stark difference depending on political affiliation, with 54% of Greens voters saying climate change was the most important issue, compared to 21% of Labor, 7% of Coalition and just 3% of One Nation voters.

Less worry about immigration numbers
Last year, immigration was a major political issue in Australia. Several polls, variously worded and with different approaches to sampling, found majority support for a reduction in the numbers of immigrants permitted into Australia each year.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his government was listening to the public’s concerns and responded with changes, including a reduction in the annual immigration target.
This year, however, there is evidence of a decline in public concern.
The percentage of people who agreed the immigration intake was too high in the annual Lowy Institute poll fell from 54% in 2018 to 47% in 2019.
And in our poll, the proportion of those who agreed with a reduction in the number of immigrants fell marginally from 43% in 2018 to 41% in 2019 in our interviewer-administered survey and from 44% to 41% in the self-completed version.
Responses to the question about the number of immigrants in Australia in telephone survey. Author providedEndorsement of the value of immigration
There is continuing endorsement of the value of immigration by a substantial majority of Australians.
In the self-completed version of this year’s survey, 76% agree that immigration is good for the economy, 78% agree that immigration “improves Australia by bringing new ideas and cultures” and 80% agree that multiculturalism has been good for Australia.
Since 2015, the survey has tested public support for immigration restrictions on the grounds of race, ethnicity or religion, which have been advocated by minor right-wing and populist parties. The consistent finding is that a large majority – 70% to 80% of Australians – do not support such policies.

But concerns remain over the impact of immigration
While public opinion is generally positive with regard to immigration today, many are concerned about the impact of rising immigrant numbers on their daily lives.
Seventy percent of respondents said they were concerned about “overcrowding”, 60% by the impact of immigration on housing prices and 58% by the impact on the environment.
A new question in 2019 asked for responses to the proposition that “too many immigrants are not adopting Australian values”. Nearly two-thirds of respondents (67%) agreed with the statement.

Policy towards asylum seekers
In 2018 and 2019, a new question asked respondents “are you personally concerned that Australia is too harsh in its treatment of asylum seekers and refugees?”
Opinion was found to be almost evenly divided. In 2019, 49% said they were “a great deal” or “somewhat” concerned, 50% “only slightly” or “not at all” concerned.
Here, too, there were major variances in viewpoints depending on demographics.
For instance, 87% of Greens voters and 61% of Labor voters were “a great deal” or “somewhat” concerned, compared to just 30% of Coalition voters and 16% of One Nation.
A similar split could also be seen with age, with 70% of those aged 18-24 “a great deal” or “somewhat” concerned, compared to just 39% of those aged 55-64. And with location: 55% of Victoria residents were “a great deal” or “somewhat” concerned, compared to 37% of those in Western Australia.

Social cohesion still relatively stable
On the much broader question of social cohesion, our survey continues to find a large measure of stability in Australia.
One indication is provided by the Scanlon Monash Index (SMI), which aggregates responses to 18 questions and measures attitudes in five areas of social cohesion: belonging, worth, social justice, political participation and acceptance of diversity.
Over the course of our 12 national surveys, the SMI registered the highest level of volatility during 2009-2013, the period of the Rudd and Gillard governments, when it declined by more than 10%. It has been largely stable since 2014.
On the individual factors that comprise the SMI, however, there have been some significant changes. When it comes to sense of belonging, for instance, just 63% said they felt this to a “great extent” in 2019, compared to 77% in 2007.
And on the acceptance of diversity, 19% of respondents said they had experienced discrimination on the basis of race, ethnic origin or religion, which was significantly higher than the 9%-10% from 2007 to 2009.

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(AU) It's The Climate, Not Immigration, That Keeps Australians Awake At Night

Lethal Heating - 28 November, 2019 - 04:00
The Guardian - David Marr

The Scanlon Foundation’s annual report on social cohesion finds a country still largely welcoming of migrants, although 40% hold negative feelings towards MuslimsOnly 6% of Australians say immigration is the biggest issue facing the country, while 19% nominate climate change. Photograph: James Ross/AAP
Something happened in 2017. Australia is second only to Canada in welcoming immigration on a large scale. Our faith in the benefits of accepting newcomers of all faiths and races is rock solid. But a couple of years ago we began to grow impatient about the government’s management of the immigration program, impatient in particular about overcrowding in our cities.
This is the verdict of the Scanlon Foundation’s 2019 Mapping Social Cohesion report, published on Tuesday. The mission of the foundation for the past decade or so has been to measure how this migrant nation hangs together. In that time an extraordinary 50,000 of us have been polled to track the hopes and fears that sweep Australia – and not just about immigration.
The author of the reports, Prof Andrew Markus of Monash University, finds most Australians now share “an underlying concern about the government not properly managing the situation – the impact on overcrowding, house prices, environment”.
Markus is one of this country’s leading authorities on the politics of race and this is the 12th report he has written for the Scanlon Foundation. His findings are a civilised rejoinder to those who skew politics to the far right in this country that their racist constituency does not speak for the nation.But in 2019 Markus fears impatience with government management might imperil majority support for Australia’s immigration program. “This has not yet occurred, but the potential is evident.”
We are not Europe. Asked every year to name the most important problem facing their countries, Europeans have lately nominated immigration. “It’s sort of cooled down a bit now,” says Markus, “but even to the present day when people are asked what’s the main issue for the EU, they still nominate controlling population movement and immigration.”
Concern about the climate crisis is surging. Photograph: Steven Saphore/AAP
Not in Australia. We always put the economy at the top of the list. Immigration came in fourth in 2019, nominated by 6% of us. In second place on the list, after an abrupt rise, is the environment and climate change.Markus has never seen such a sudden surge. The last was after the the Lindt cafe siege, when for a few years about 10% nominated national security and terrorism as the great problem facing the nation. “But this year climate change went not to 10, it went to 19,” says Markus. “And that’s so far ahead of the third issue. There’s a lot of daylight there.”
The importance of the shift is underlined by the discovery that climate sceptics have all but lost traction. In 2011, when 11% of us said climate change was our biggest worry, another 6% nominated overreaction to those fears as the great problem facing Australia. The following year, the sceptics outnumbered the climate worriers almost two to one.
Not any more. Against the 19% nomination for climate change in 2019, the sceptics could muster, at best, a contrary 1%. Markus sees this shift as an acute challenge to Canberra. “Morrison has got an opportunity to actually rebuild some capital in effective government,” he says. “But he’s got this issue of climate change. If he doesn’t deal with that, which is emerging as a major issue, that could very seriously damage this government.”
What do you think is the most important problem facing Australia today?Showing the % who selected the issue as ‘most important problem’, by year of survey*Indicates change between 2018 and 2019 statistically significant
Guardian graphic Source: Scanlon Foundation
Steady as she goes
Markus began his work at the end of the Howard era and the arrival of Kevin Rudd. In those years of hope and renewal, the Scanlon survey showed nearly half of us believed government did the right thing for the Australian people almost always or most of the time.
But with Rudd’s collapse in 2010 went a good measure of trust in government. It has never recovered. In the weeks before Malcolm Turnbull’s downfall, the Scanlon survey of 2018 revealed only 29% believed in the good intentions of Canberra. After the re-election of the Morrison government this year, the figure is essentially unchanged at 30%.
It’s a long slide, but Marcus disputes claims in other surveys that Australia is experiencing a catastrophic loss of faith in democracy. “There are some people out there who do surveys with small samples,” he says. “And with small samples from one year to the next you will get variability. And that produces headlines.
“But we’ve got I think the most rigorous way of surveying. We actually do it in two different modes – by telephone and by self-administration – and what that is showing is much more a picture of ‘steady as she goes’ rather than dramatic decline.”
The education line cuts across the immigration debate like a mighty trenchThey shift a little, and the shifts have lately been gloomy, but year in and year out the steady findings of the Scanlon surveys define Australia:
  • 90% of us have a sense of belonging to this place.
  • 87% are proud of the Australian way of life.
  • 85% agree multiculturalism has been good for Australia.
  • 84% report having a happy 2019.
  • 80% welcome resettlement in Australia of refugees assessed abroad.
  • 79% oppose selecting immigrants by race.
  • 73% believe Australia is a land of economic opportunity where, in the long run, hard work brings a better life.
  • 71% believe globalisation is good for the country.
  • 68% believe accepting immigrants from many different countries makes Australia stronger.
  • 62% are optimistic about Australia’s future.
Then there’s the darker side:
  • 61% of Australians disapprove of asylum seekers making their way here by boat.
  • 47% of us have little or no concern about the treatment we mete out to asylum seekers in PNG and Nauru.
  • 40% in 2019 admit negative or very negative feelings towards Muslims.
The level of hostility to Muslims was masked until a couple of years ago, when the Scanlon Foundation began parallel tracking its research. Telephone interviews over the years showed 21% to 25% of us hostile to Islam. But these figures essentially double when surveys are completed in private and online.
The gap between the two sets of results shows us to be a polite people. We hesitate to admit personal unhappiness or gloom for the future of the country. We clearly don’t enjoy confessing to strangers that we’re in financial trouble. A little of our optimism about the impact of mass immigration evaporates online. We’re even shy of confessing to strangers that we don’t much like Christians – only 4% would own up to that on the telephone in 2019, but 14% said so clearly online.
Markus argues that while our sunny picture of the country darkens a little when we answer in private, those Australians most hostile to race speak loud and clear however they are surveyed.
“The views of the hardcore negative types are pretty constant irrespective of the surveys,” says Markus. “And often it’s around 10% of the population. Now it would be a worry if self-completion surveys then showed it wasn’t 10% but it was 20% to 25%. But it’s actually pretty constant.”
So who are the most hostile to immigration?
Easy answer: One Nation voters. The 2019 report shows One Nation voters are profoundly pessimistic about Australia’s future; loath globalisation; don’t give a rats about the environment; are scathing about the motives of government; dismiss multiculturalism; are fiercely hostile to Muslims; couldn’t care less how harshly we treat asylum seekers; and are the only group in the survey – young and old, rich and poor, city and country – where most still hanker for the old White Australia policy of selecting migrants by race and religion.

What divides us?
How important here is the city/country divide?Not at all on the importance of climate change. Wherever we live in cities or the bush, we agree that after the economy, the climate is the single biggest problem facing Australia today. But on immigration, the gap between city and country widens significantly.
The 2019 survey found that outside the capital cities there was an 8% drop in support for multiculturalism; a 4% rise in those wanting immigrants selected by race and religion; a 6% fall in those concerned about the treatment of refugees; and, though the bush is where migrants don’t settle and governments are desperate to send them, a nine-point jump to 49% of those who believe Australia’s immigration intake is too large.
The fundamentals are sound, even as about one in 10 of us continue to rage against this new Australia of many faiths and many culturesBut this is not the most dramatic divide revealed in the Scanlon surveys over the years. The education line cuts across the immigration debate like a mighty trench:
  • Only 27% of university graduates say Australia takes too many immigrants, but for those who never finished high school the figure is 70%.
  • Nearly 90% of graduates applaud multiculturalism but only 61% of those who never finished school.
  • Among graduates, 58% worry we treat refugees too harshly, but their fears are shared by only 32% of who never finished school.
  • While a rump of 14% of graduates still wish immigrants could be chosen by race, support for the old White Australia position more than doubles to 35% who never finished school.
Western Australia emerges from the survey as a fascinating puzzle: wildly optimistic about the future of the nation, peculiarly trusting in government, little perturbed by climate change and not particularly worried about the size of the immigration intake. But of all mainlanders, West Australians are most keen to select immigrants by race and are, by a long shot, the most hard-hearted about Australia’s treatment of refugees.
Nothing Canberra has done to its prisoners in PNG and Nauru in the past couple of years has budged the national 50:50 split between the indifferent and the sympathisers. Markus says: “It’s pretty rock solid.”
But when these figures are broken down by political alignment, Markus sees signs of movement.
ALP Senator Kristina Keneally during a September rally in support of a Tamil asylum seeker family. Markus says refugee policy is ‘huge problem for Labor’. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP Thirty per cent of the Liberal constituency say Australia is being too harsh, compared with 87% of Greens. The 2019 figure for refugee sympathisers in Labor ranks is 61%.“It is a huge problem for Labor,” says Markus “because the government with its constituency can keep doing what it’s been doing, but it really wedges Labor.”
Are Christians notably more compassionate? Certainly not Anglicans. In 2019 only 39% of them could muster some sympathy for the asylum seekers Australia is putting through the mill out in the Pacific. Markus doesn’t blame their God. He says gently: “Conservative old Australia.”
Though not quite so bleak, the figures for the other faiths put paid to the notion that the churches are mighty reservoirs of sympathy for refugees. On the subject of the Pacific solution, Catholics come in slightly under the national split, with only 46% of them reporting some or a great deal of concern for what Australia is doing to refugees.
That’s typical. On issues such as the size of the immigration intake, support for multiculturalism, a hankering for the right to pick migrants by race and confidence that immigrants improve our society by introducing new ideas and cultures, the churches don’t put the attitudes of the rest of the community to shame. At best they merely mirror them.
Markus ran some figures for Guardian Australia which show that on nearly all questions asked in the survey – including concern for climate change – the progressive horse to back is those who nominate No Religion.
Overall, Markus is a grim optimist. Reports of discrimination are too high, but not for the moment growing higher. The fundamentals are sound, even as about one in 10 of us continue to rage against this new Australia of many faiths and many cultures. It’s in the government’s hands whether we continue to support what is in world terms very high support for large scale immigration.
Markus is at pains to emphasise that multiculturalism backed by almost all of us is a two-way street. “They’re saying we recognise that diversity is good, that diversity has made us a better country. You get very high levels endorsing the notion that immigration improves society by bringing new ideas and cultures.
“But on the other hand, it’s two-way because the expectation is that immigrants will, over time, be more like us. It’s not an endorsement of pluralism. It’s an endorsement of a two-way change and obviously in that change the immigrants are changing more than the host society.”
But we’re all changing? “Yes. We’re moving. But they’re moving more.”

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Greenhouse Gas Levels Have Hit A Record High And There's No Sign Of A Slowdown

Lethal Heating - 27 November, 2019 - 04:00
SBS - AFP | SBS

Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere hit a new record in 2018, rising faster than the average rise of the last decade and cementing increasingly damaging weather patterns, the World Meteorological Organisation says.
The Extinction Rebellion movement has organised climate change protests in scores of cities, including across Australia. Source City of SydneyGreenhouse gases levels in the atmosphere, the main driver of climate change, hit a record high last year, the UN said Monday, calling for action to safeguard "the future welfare of mankind".
"There is no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline, in greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere despite all the commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change," the head of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Petteri Taalas said in a statement.
#Greenhouse gas concentrations hit a new record high.
Future generations will face increasingly severe impacts of #climatechange, incl rising temperatures, extreme weather, water stress, sea level rise, ocean acidification, disruption to ecosystems. #COP25https://t.co/xA9sblfJrD pic.twitter.com/JfL1YQUgPE— WMO | OMM (@WMO) November 25, 2019The WMO's main annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin listed the atmospheric concentration of CO2 in 2018 at 407.8 parts per million, up from 405.5 parts per million in 2017.
That increase was just above the annual average increase over the past decade.
CO2 is responsible for roughly two-thirds of Earth's warming.
The second most prevalent greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is methane - emitted in part from cattle and fermentation from rice paddies - which is responsible for 17 per cent of warming, according to WMO.
Nitrous oxide, the third major greenhouse which is gas caused largely by agricultural fertilisers, has caused about six per cent of warming on Earth, the UN agency said.
Atmospheric concentration levels of both methane and nitrous oxide both hit record highs last year, the UN said.



"This continuing long-term trend means that future generations will be confronted with increasingly severe impacts of climate change, including rising temperatures, more extreme weather, water stress, sea-level rise and disruption to marine and land ecosystems," WMO said.

'More hopeful'?
Emissions are the main factor that determine the amount of greenhouse gas levels but concentration rates are a measure of what remains after a series of complex interactions between atmosphere, biosphere, lithosphere, cryosphere and the oceans.
Roughly 25 per cent of all emissions are currently absorbed by the oceans and biosphere - a term that accounts for all ecosystems on Earth.
A schools climate strike rally in Melbourne earlier this year. Source AAPThe lithosphere is the solid, outer part of the Earth while the cryosphere covers that part of the world covered by frozen water.
The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said that in order to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, net CO2 emissions must be at net zero, meaning the amount being pumped into the atmosphere must equal the amount being removed, either through natural absorption or technological innovation.
While Mr Taalas made clear that the world was not on track to meet UN targets, he did highlight some reasons for cautious optimism.
"The visibility of these issues is the highest (it has) ever been," he told reporters in Geneva, noting that the private sector was increasingly investing in green technology.
Police officers remove climate change activists from their road blockades around the Bank of England in the City of London financial district. Source AFPEven in the United States, where President Donald Trump's administration this month began the process of formally withdrawing from the Paris agreement, "plenty of positive things are happening," Mr Taalas said.
While Washington may have renounced its Paris agreement commitments, he added: "we have plenty of states and cities who are proceeding in the right direction."
"Personally, I am more hopeful than I used to be 10 years ago but of course we have to speed up the process."

Australia 'most vulnerable' to climate change
Australia is responsible for around 1.3 per cent of global emissions, according to the Federal Environment Department.
The government has set a target to reduce emissions to 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.
But a new study commissioned by the Climate Council revealed that more than 53 per cent of Australians thought more action, such as increased focus towards renewable energy, is needed.
"We are the biggest iron ore exporter in the world and there are ways you can turn iron ore into steel using the Australian sunshine, to create effectively zero emissions steel," Climate Council Senior Researcher, Tim Baxter, said.
"We're the sunniest and windiest continent that's inhabited on the planet so we are best placed to lead the global emissions reduction effort."
More than half of those polled in a recent survey agreed climate change had made the threat of bushfires worse in Australia.

53.3% also thought the government should be doing more to reduce the impact of climate change on bushfires. @CharisChang2https://t.co/g8R0NKqPm0— Climate Council (@climatecouncil) November 25, 2019The report also found more than half of the 1500 people surveyed believed climate change had made the threat of bushfires worse.
About 42.9 per cent “strongly agreed” with the statement, while another 13.7 per cent agreed. A further 39.9 disagreed or strongly disagreed, and 3.5 per cent were unsure.
"Australia is probably the most vulnerable developed country in the world when it comes to the impact of climate change," Mr Baxter said.
"This spring we've had five states subjected to fires that can only be described as catastrophic."

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(AU) Ecoterrorism? Maybe We Should Start With Ringing The Doorbell Of A Mining Magnate’s House

Lethal Heating - 27 November, 2019 - 04:00
Categories: External websites

(AU) Media Watch: Fire Haze

Lethal Heating - 27 November, 2019 - 04:00
ABC - Media Watch

Powerful media commentators dismiss the link between climate change and fires.


Media Watch: Fire Haze
Transcript


SALLY BOWREY: Our top story today is the bushfire emergency unfolding across the state. More than 90 fires are burning right now, a staggering 14 at emergency watch level. Something that has not been seen before …CHRIS REASON: … as you say, this is unprecedented stuff — 96 active fire zones around the state at the moment. And I'm being told by RFS that they’re jumping up the number of emergency level fires to 16 now and, as you say, that is unprecedented.- Seven Afternoon News, 8 November, 2019Hello, I’m Paul Barry, welcome to Media Watch. And since that report on the New South Wales bushfires two weeks ago, Australia’s fire emergency has spread to five states and destroyed more than 630 homes. And in the meantime our political leaders have been doing their best to avoid addressing the role of climate change in making those bushfires more severe:SCOTT MORRISON: My only thoughts today are with those who’ve lost their lives …- ABC News, 9 November, 2019GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN: … I certainly don’t think it’s appropriate to get into political argument …- ABC News Breakfast, 11 November, 2019JOHN BARILARO: … I tell you this, I’m not gonna cop it, and if that’s the rest of this interview, well you’ve lost me for the morning.- Sky News, 11 November, 2019But 11 days ago, after four people died in those New South Wales fires, former fire chiefs of Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania tackled the issue head on:LEE JOHNSON: So there’s something going on and certainly climate change is exacerbating the very, very dry conditions that we’re all experiencing.NEIL BIBBY: Bushfires are a symptom of climate change.MIKE BROWN: I’ve had 39 years of Tasmanian Fire Service and I didn’t see too many dry lightning strikes earlier on in my career but now, and due to climate change, we’re seeing this as a regular event. - NewsDay, Sky News, 14 November, 2019But leading the charge was a former New South Wales fire boss, Greg Mullins, who said in multiple interviews that a warmer climate was making it harder to fight our bushfires and reducing our ability to prepare for them: GREG MULLINS: … look, it’s very clear, any fire service will tell you, that the windows for hazard reduction through the winter are getting narrower and narrower. Now, a slight lift in temperature overall, average temperature, means the extremes are more extreme. The scientists are very clear, the numbers are very clear, more days of very high fire danger and above.- The Project, Channel Ten, 11 November, 2019But some powerful media commentators are convinced that they know better. Like shock jock Alan Jones in this full-page column in News Corp’s Daily Telegraph:The ABC were at it again last week, fawning over 23 former fire and emergency leaders who commented, outside their area of expertise, about an alleged relationship between bushfires and climate change.- The Daily Telegraph, 19 November, 2019And that was just the start of it, because Jones was also assuring readers: It is worth asking how the non-expert views of such people are even newsworthy.- The Daily Telegraph, 19 November, 2019Yep, according to Jones, 23 former fire and emergency chiefs are not worth listening to when comes to bushfires. Unlike him, who’s paid millions of dollars to tell us, on repeat, that man-made global warming is a hoax.  But Jones is not the only one to rubbish or ignore the fire chiefs’ warning. 2GB’s news bulletins that day barely gave them a mention, even as the stations’s talk-show hosts, like Ray Hadley, had a crack at fireman Mullins with barbs like this: RAY HADLEY: He’s not an economist and that’s quite evident by his rantings just at the moment, Greg Mullins.- The Ray Hadley Morning Show, 2GB, 14 November, 2019And 2GB’s Steve Price was even more scathing:STEVE PRICE: … Greg Mullins reckons he had a crystal ball, that he wanted to warn the government about what was coming ...But if you listen carefully to his words you find his real game here — climate change ...He’s now a fully-fledged member of the climate change hysteria brigade ...- The Steve Price Show, 2GB, 14 November, 2019Price’s guest, Peter Gleeson, who’s employed as a commentator by Sky and The Courier-Mail to tell us what’s what, also got into Mullins — a firefighter with 39 years experience — to declare:PETER GLEESON: … he’s joined a cult. He’s been brainwashed ...- The Steve Price Show, 2GB, 14 November, 2019And predictably, several other News Corp columnists and TV hosts were singing from the same song sheet, either attacking Mullins and his fellow chiefs or denying that climate change is making the bushfires worse.Or claiming that increased Australian action to fight global warming is pointless:PETA CREDLIN: … climate change isn’t the cause of these bushfires. But there’s no doubt, and I’m not alone here, that two decades plus of climate change activism is making them worse.  - Credlin, Sky News, 12 November, 2019CHRIS KENNY: … the bushfire and climate change debate. It’s dumb, it’s reckless, it’s offensive, we know that, but the Greens and others, so many cheerleaders in the media, are still doubling down on this stuff.- Kenny on Sunday, Sky News, 17 November, 2019ANDREW BOLT: There are, for instance, the retired fire chiefs today who actually claimed, actually claimed, forget blaming the fierceness of the fires on the fact that not enough burning off was done to keep fuel levels in the bush under control, no no no no. The real problem, it seems, was that the Morrison government hadn’t magically turned down the world’s temperature by cutting Australia’s tiny emissions.- The Bolt Report, Sky News, 14 November, 2019And in the Herald Sun, veteran business columnist Terry McCrann went even further, by accusing the non-News Corp media of, quote, “dishonesty, distortion and hysteria”:It has been unremitting, unrelenting, wall-to-wall coverage ...The fact none of these bushfires were in any way extraordinary compared to not just the last 50 years but indeed the last 150 years was an ‘inconvenient truth’ ...- The Herald Sun, 18 November, 2019 So, what is the truth? And is it actually inconvenient for all those know-it-alls? Well, it’s certainly true that fires have devastated Australia since time began. But the CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology, fire chiefs and climate scientists all tell us the fires are getting worse. The season’s growing longer, the fires are more extreme and what’s really unprecedented is so many are burning at the same time:SHANE FITZSIMMONS: Never before have we had 17 concurrent emergency warning fires burning at once, all competing desperately for resources, desperately for support, desperately for assistance. The reality is we simply couldn’t get to every individual.- ABC News Channel, 10 November, 2019Last Thursday, the ABC was running emergency broadcasts for fires in South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales and Queensland, and we’re told that’s a record.But what’s unfolding now is what we’ve all been warned of for years.In 2007, the ABC reported on research from the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology, which predicted:TANYA NOLAN: Within the next 12 years, the number of extreme days of fire danger — that's the highest risk rating — could grow by more than 60 per cent.- The World Today, ABC Radio, 26 September, 2007 And three years before that, in 2004, the National Inquiry on Bushfire Management had warned state and federal governments that fires would become larger and more intense as rainfall patterns changed:The projected hotter, drier, windier conditions associated with climate change caused by greenhouse warming would extend the period of fuel drying and increase rates of fire spread.- National Inquiry on Bushfire Mitigation and Management, COAG Report, 31 March, 2004And the latest advice from the CSIRO, updated this month, confirms that’s already happening and will get worse: Over recent decades, we've seen an increase in the frequency and severity of fire weather in Australia.We predict that many regions will see a significant increase in the probability of the highest levels of fire danger in the years ahead.- Bushfire Research, CSIRO, 6 November, 2019And, to cap it all, according to Professor Ross Bradstock from Wollongong University’s Bushfire Research Centre, it’s all coming faster than expected: These unprecedented fires are an indication that a much-feared future under climate change may have arrived earlier than predicted. - The Conversation, 11 November, 2019So, will this make any difference to the doubters and denialists? Almost certainly not. If they can call the media’s acceptance of expert opinion “dishonest, reckless and offensive”, it’s likely no amount of science or fires or drought will ever make them change their tune.So, what does the man who employs so many of these crusaders against the science have to say?Last week, at News Corp’s AGM in New York, a proxy for Australian shareholder activist Stephen Mayne asked Rupert Murdoch this question:JESSICA CRAIG: If you do believe in climate change, Mr Mayne is interested to hear why News Corp gives climate deniers like Andrew Bolt and Terry McCrann so much airtime in Australia.- News Corp AGM, 20 November, 2019And after detailing a 25 per cent reduction in the company’s carbon footprint, Rupert replied:RUPERT MURDOCH: There are no climate change deniers around, I can assure you.- News Corp AGM, 20 November, 2019Rupert Murdoch is renowned for knowing what his papers and commentators are saying all across the world.Seems he’s also adept at claiming black is white. Because denial is what News Corp’s campaign against the facts and the experts on climate change amounts to. And two days after Rupert spoke came another example, from Ian Plimer in The Australian, urging us not to “pollute minds with carbon fears”, telling us:  There are no carbon emissions. If there were, we could not see because most carbon is black.- The Australian, 22 November, 2019Hard to believe, isn’t it?
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(AU) The Political Classes Are Stuck And The Consequences Could Be Catastrophic

Lethal Heating - 26 November, 2019 - 04:00
Sydney Morning HeraldSean Kelly*

In the odd hours following Donald Trump’s election victory, many of us traced our shock to the obvious fact the world had just changed. But soon enough we realised that this obvious fact was wrong. The world had changed some time ago. It was just that we had missed it, caught in old ways of seeing, old ways of being. We often take a while to catch up to the present.
Those memories have come back to me over the past couple of weeks, as heavy grey-smoke skies have pressed down on Sydney, and the scent of bushfire has made its way inside. Yes, there have been fires before, just as there had been election upsets before – but to many of us this year feels different. You strike up conversations with people you don’t know about the fact this is the way it’s going to be from now on. And you know, too, that really we’ve been heading this way for some time, it’s just that we are now beginning to comprehend the scale.
And yet debate in this country, as conducted by politicians and the media, remains stuck, unproductively nostalgic for what debate once was, unwilling to concede the change that many citizens feel instinctively.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack attacked the Greens. Credit: Alex EllinghausenTo briefly rehearse facts: after the fires began burning, the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, said now was not the time to be talking about climate change. Those doing so were “pure, enlightened and woke capital-city greenies”. Then Greens senator Jordon Steele-John attacked those who would prop up coal: “You are no better than a bunch of arsonists.” His colleague, Adam Bandt, said the government was putting “lives at risk”.
But you’ve already heard all this in one of the many pieces of commentary that condemned these comments equally as examples of extreme and unhelpful language.
Illustration: Simon BoschTwo things amazed me about this ubiquitous analysis.
The first was that while opinions differed on whether it was the right moment to talk about climate change, there was near unanimity on the idea that it was precisely the right moment to have a long national discussion about civility in political discourse and the correct uses of rhetoric. I’m sure the farmers and the firefighters were grateful.
The second was that little of this commentary drew a distinction between the two comments on the basis of truth. What McCormack said was false – it was not just “greenies” linking the fires to climate change - and this was widely noted. But wasn’t it also the case that what the two Greens were saying was true, or at the very least arguable? If we know that climate change comes from rising emissions, and that it is causing natural disasters to intensify, isn’t there a clear line between failing to cut emissions, more destructive fires in the future and more deaths?
The Greens were criticised for point-scoring, which was a curious phrase, suggesting they were treating politics as a game. But it seemed to me it was their critics who were treating politics as though it were a local cricket match, after which everyone could leave the field, shake hands, and go politely on their way. Bandt and Steele-John, in contrast, were treating matters as deadly serious, insisting that politics has consequences, sometimes fatal, and that its practitioners should not be protected from this fact.
They should certainly not be protected from this fact by the media, whose job description you might think lies in the opposite direction.
The difficulty of the current moment is that we are caught between two eras. Behind us lies a period in which debate and compromise between two sides, each of which had reasonable points, was a useful way to achieve progress. When the GST and interest rates were the most important issues, this was fine.
On many issues, it still is fine. And of course political analysis will always include discussion of what is possible. But on more urgent, defining issues like climate change – or the rise of far-right nationalism – we fail when we substitute what change might be achievable for an honest appraisal of what change is necessary.
Similarly, points about the disappearance of civility and the rise of partisanship are important critiques, broadly speaking. But they are not equally applicable to every topic. Our political classes have been handed a hammer, and now they think everything’s a nail.
A final example of politics lagging reality. Our politicians are still debating who to blame for events of 10 years ago, when Kevin Rudd’s emissions trading scheme was voted down. As a matter of history, it’s fascinating. As part of the current debate, who cares? Nobody knew then what we know now, not in the way we know it, in our bones.
The only failures that matter now are the ones ahead. “Accepting the science” no longer means believing in climate change, it means accepting that catastrophic events are on their way unless we act pretty much immediately. We can ignore this if we like, go on deluding ourselves that politics can be discussed the way it used to be. But if we do, there will be consequences, and nobody will be able to protect us from them.

*Sean Kelly is a columnist for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald and a former adviser to Labor prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard

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(AU) The World Burns All Year. Are There Enough Planes to Douse the Flames?

Lethal Heating - 26 November, 2019 - 04:00
New York Times

ReutersSYDNEY — Sharing the giant air tankers that fight fires 5,000 gallons of water at a time used to be simpler. California’s wildfires faded before Australia’s bush fires surged, leaving time to prepare, move and deploy planes from one continent to another.
But climate change is subverting the system.
Fire seasons are running longer, stronger, hotter. The major fires now blanketing Sydney in smoke started early, within days of the last California blazes.
And the strain is global. Countries that used to manage without extra help, like Chile, Bolivia and Cyprus, have started competing for plane and helicopter contracts as their own fires intensify. That is stretching capacity for the companies that provide most of the globe’s largest firefighting aircraft, and increasing anxiety for fire officials worldwide.
“We’re all feeling it,” said Richard Alder, general manager of Australia’s National Aerial Firefighting Center. “As fire seasons ramp up and get longer — and they definitely seem to be doing that, the science tells us that — it places more demand on aircraft to support the firefighting. And it’s only one part of the equation.”
The age of fire is upon us, scientists say, and the public and private system built to contain it is being pushed to its limits. While firefighting is still primarily done on the ground, governments and frightened residents are increasingly demanding costly assistance from the air.
The European Union created a reserve fund this year for firefighting aircraft, with contracts allowing for deployments across national borders. Bolivia leased the world’s only Boeing 747 water bomber to fight fires in the Amazon in August, after the plane had been used in Israel in 2016, Chile in 2017 and California in 2018.
Meanwhile in Asia, South Korea is reaching out to companies like 10 Tanker Air Carrier in New Mexico, while Indonesia borrowed an air tanker from Australia a few years ago that came from Coulson Aviation in Canada, which is now doubling the size of its contract fleet, while developing new technologies for mapping and fighting fires at night.
What these companies and fire officials say they are planning for is a world ablaze year-round.
“It’s coming from all over,” said John E. Gould, president of 10 Tanker Air Carrier, who started his career fighting fires in Alaska in the 1970s. “Fires are affecting climates and places they never used to affect.”
That has forced firefighting “to be a global effort, not a state or national effort,” said Stuart Ellis, the chief executive of the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council, which manages fire planning for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.
“It’s not just a firefighting issue,” he added. “We need to be more critical of our planning decisions. We need to examine building in bush-fire-prone areas. People love living in the bush, but as the bush is becoming more vulnerable, is that viable?”
In Australia, the conservative government has yet to confront such difficult questions as it rejects a discussion of climate change and its impact. But the country is fast becoming a fiery test case for the pressures that are building worldwide.
Australia is more vulnerable than most: It is arid and expansive, with large cities sprawling toward wilderness. Climate change is already delivering a sharp shift in precipitation, spurring a lengthy drought. Dry areas are now drier and larger, with forests that used to be reliably moist becoming tinderboxes waiting for a spark.
This week, more than 1,000 firefighters have been battling more than 120 blazes in four states as dangerous fire conditions and record temperatures persist. In some areas, no significant rainfall is expected until January.
“We’re starting to see unprecedented conditions,” said Joëlle Gergis, a climate scientist at the Australian National University. “We had bush fires starting as early as winter — and by the time spring came around, we had fires in subtropical rainforest.”
Fire officials and scientists say they are being forced to imagine, for the first time, overlapping and intensifying demands.
“Something is clearly changing,” said Richard Thornton, the chief executive of the Melbourne-based Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Center. “And the climate is driving all of that.”
The fires of this new era cannot always be tamed. Neither aircraft nor ground crews can do much for the blazes that spread quickly with powerful winds. The Tubbs Fire that destroyed parts of Santa Rosa, Calif., in 2017 jumped an eight-lane freeway. The winds supercharging the Camp Fire that burned through the town of Paradise, Calif., last year pushed water bombers too high into the air to drop their payload.
Nonetheless, aircraft use, and fire management costs, are soaring.
Chile, which expanded its contracts with Coulson this year, spent more than three times as much on firefighting from 2014 to 2018 as it did during the previous five-year period. The United States Forest Service spent more than $1 billion on fire suppression in 13 of the 18 years between 2000 and 2017.
Costs surpassed $2 billion for the first time in 2017 and 2018, when California’s fire seasons were especially severe.
In Australia, too, firefighting expenses are rising. And because the responsibility largely resides with individual states, fire officials are increasingly worried whether the system can handle what’s on the way.
Firefighters are already hard to deploy across state lines: Of Australia’s 300,000 fire and emergency service personnel, roughly 85 percent are volunteers who tend to stay where they live. Large airplanes and helicopters that dump water or other firefighting materials are thus increasingly seen as the most vital weapons for what officials call “surge capacity” — the ability to add resources as fires defy control.
Two years ago, the National Aerial Firefighting Center — which coordinates air support for all of Australia’s states and territories — sent a proposal to Parliament asking for a more than 70 percent increase in its annual federal funding, to 26 million Australian dollars ($17.7 million).
But the request was ignored. And state governments are now bearing the burden. There will be seven large air tankers in Australia this fire season; a DC-10 owned by 10 Tanker touched down in New South Wales last weekend, ahead of the usual Dec. 1 start date, after fighting the recent fires in California.
The state also recently bought a 737 Fireliner — along with two lead planes — from Coulson Aviation for 26.3 million Australian dollars ($17.9 million). It can carry 4,000 gallons of liquid along with 72 passengers.
Other states — and countries — have signaled they may follow.
But buying or leasing a water tanker is not as easy as ordering hoses, or even sharing a few hundred firefighters, as the United States and Australia do now as well. The planes being modified are typically decades old. It can take years to turn them into firefighting weapons, and officials are anxious about whether the market will meet their needs.
All 18 of the large air tankers that the United States Forest Service plans to use through 2022 will come from private contractors, according to the agency’s aviation strategy.
The more that fires surge into fall for California, the worse it may be for Australia and the rest of the world when it’s time to share.
“I suspect we’re all becoming more nervous,” said Mr. Alder, who has been fighting fires in Australia for decades. “We’re keeping a watchful eye on it.”

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(AU) Scott Morrison And The Big Lie About Climate Change: Does He Think We're That Stupid?

Lethal Heating - 26 November, 2019 - 04:00
The Guardian

Australians everywhere are ready to get on with the job of dealing with the climate crisis. We just need a prime minister to lead us
Scott Morrison comforts 85-year-old Owen Whalan, who was evacuated from his home to the Taree evacuation centre on the NSW north coast. Photograph: Darren Pateman/EPAOf all the horrors that might befall the burnt out, the flooded, the cyclone ravaged and the drought stricken Australian this summer, perhaps none could be viewed with more dread than turning from their devastated home to see advancing on them a bubble of media in which enwombed is our prime minister, Scott Morrison, arriving, as ever, too late with a cuddle.
It’s fair to say that Morrison has pulled off other roles with more conviction – the shouty Commandant of the Pacific camps perhaps his most heartfelt to date, the Gaslighter-in-Chief his most audacious, his Mini-Me to Donald Trump’s Dr Evil not without tragicomic charge – but sorrowful Father of the Nation has begun to feel a firebreak too far.
In Australia we are all now being treated as children, quietened Australians, most especially on the climate crisis. While the climate crisis has become Australians’ number one concern, both major parties play determinedly deaf and dumb on the issue while action and protest about the climate crisis is increasingly subject to prosecution and heavy sentencing.
In Tasmania, the Liberal government intends to legislate sentences of up to 21 years – more than many get for murder – for environmental protest, legislation typical of the new climate of authoritarianism that has flourished under Morrison. As Australia burns, what we are witnessing nationally is no more or less than the criminalisation of democracy in defence of the coal and gas industries.
In this regard, the climate crisis is a war between the voice of coal and the voice of the people. And that war is in Australia being won hands down by the fossil fuel industry.Which brings us back to that industry’s number one salesman, the prime minister, standing there in the ash in the manner of Humphrey B. Bear on MDMA, as, mollied up, he pulls another victim in the early stages of PTSD into his shirt, his odour, his aura – such as it is – and holds them there perhaps just a little too long. Sometimes, at his most perplexing, he lets that overly large head loll on the victim’s shoulder and leaves it there. Prayers and thoughts naturally follow.
Perhaps it is just his way. Certainly, the prime minister is an unusual issue of two stock types frequently derided in broader Australian culture: the marketing man and the happy-clappy. But in fairness to both tribes, he seems to draw on the worst in both traditions and make of them something at once insincere, sinister and vaguely threatening.
Perhaps it’s the slightly up and down smile, the uneven mouth and crooked teeth, a lack of symmetry that can be attractive in some here seems to suggest nothing more than an untrustworthy menace. After all Elvis made of his sneer an alluring smile. Scott, with his reverse magic, makes of his every smile a sneer. Still, his wisdom would seem to be that if he is seen to be very good at feeling our pain we won’t ask him what caused the wound.
The prime minister must accept that public men are judged by public acts. Real empathy would mean speaking honestly to our nation about what the climate catastrophe means for our economy, our environment, our society, and each of us and for each of us personally.
All this theatre hides a deeply cynical calculation: that Australians will keep on buying the big lie, a lie given historic expression last Thursday morning when on national radio the prime minister declared that Australia’s unprecedented bushfires were unconnected to climate change.
The same day the New South Wales government announced that Sydney dams had in the last 12 months received just 10% of the normal water inflows and declared Stage 2 Water Restrictions as numerous country towns face the prospect of no water.
And on this day, when Sydney was blanketed in bushfire smoke, when much of Victoria was declared Code Red, fires were burning out of control in South Australia, and climate emergency was declared word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries, Morrison said that “to suggest that at just 1.3% of emissions, that Australia doing something more or less would change the fire outcome this season – I don’t think that stands up to any credible scientific evidence at all.”
This is an argument entirely in bad faith.
Two days before saw the release of a major UN report that forecast Australia to be the sixth largest producer of fossil fuels by 2030. Between 2005 and 2030 Australia’s extraction-based emissions from fossil fuel production will have increased by 95%. By 2040, according to the report, on current projections the world’s annual carbon emissions will be 41 gigatonnes, four times more than the maximum amount of 10 gigatonnes required to keep global heating below 1.5 C.
According to the Economist: “The report lays much blame on governments’ generosity to fossil-fuel industries.” The report details at length how Australia supports its fossil fuel industries.
Actively working through legislation, subsidy, and criminalisation of opposition to enable Australia to become one of the world’s seven major producers of fossil fuels makes Australia’s actions directly and heavily responsible for the growing climate catastrophe we are now witnessing in Australia. It gives the lie to the nonsense that we will make our Paris commitments “in a canter”.
It cannot be explained away. It cannot be excused. Australia is actively working hard to become a major driver of the global climate crisis. That is what we have become.
The same day Morrison went to the Gabba, got photographed with cricketers and tweeted: “Going to be a great summer of cricket, and for our firefighters and fire-impacted communities, I’m sure our boys will give them something to cheer for.”
To the question does he think we are that stupid, the answer was implicit in an interview the same day when the prime minister justified not meeting with 23 former fire chiefs and emergency services leaders calling for a climate emergency declaration in April, claiming the government had the advice it needed. He went on to say that: “We’re getting on with the job, preparing for what has already been a very devastating fire season.”
Only he’s not.
Getting on with the job would be calling a moratorium on new thermal coalmines and gas fracking. Getting on with the job would be announcing a subsidised transition to electric vehicles by 2030. Getting on with the job would be working to close down all coal-fired powered stations as a matter of urgency. Getting on with the job would be calling a summit of the renewable energy industry and asking how the government can help make the transition one that happens now and one that creates jobs in the old fossil fuel energy communities.
And getting on with the job would be going to the world with these initiatives and arguing powerfully, strongly, courageously for other countries to follow as we once led the way on the secret ballot, women’s suffrage, Antarctic protection, the charter of human rights.
We are not a superpower, but nor are we a micronation. We have an economy the size of Russia’s. Our stand on issues whether good or bad is noted and quoted and used as an example. And one only has to look at the global standing of New Zealand to see the power of setting a moral and practical example, and the good that flows from it for a nation and its people. Australians everywhere are ready to get on with the job of dealing with climate change. We just need a prime minister to lead us. In the meantime though we are left with a mollied-up Humphrey B. Bear.
That same day, news broke of a panicked attempt by the federal government to administer some desperate triage over the growing costs to ordinary Australians of climate change in the form of perhaps the most ill-considered piece of policy in recent political history: to underwrite insurance premiums in north Queensland where premiums on homes in cyclone-affected areas are becoming unaffordable.
Major insurers have been warning for years that many homes will no longer be insurable as the consequences of climate change are felt and have been demanding action on climate change. The government has done nothing and now wishes to use taxpayers’ money to hide the growing costs to individual Australians of climate change. If the government does go ahead with this panicked response the precedent established is pregnant with catastrophe for the public purse.
According to a detailed report by SGS Economics and Planning released at the beginning of this year more than 1.6 million Sydneysiders are at high risk of flooding or bushfires, about 2 million Brisbane residents face extreme risks from cyclones, and more than 4.4 million people in NSW and Queensland live in areas with extreme or high risk of cyclones. It will be impossible for any government to subsidise the premiums of Townsville residents with cyclone risk and not offer it to those in Huonville whose fire risk also increases yearly.
And yet the government will not act on the fundamental problem that leads to those risks, choosing instead to use the public purse to hide the growing evidence of its failure.
The man who brandished a lump of coal and told us not to be scared, the man who last October told farmers to pray for rain, the man who says there is no link between the climate emergency and bushfires, the man whose party has for 30 years consistently and effectively sought to prevent any action on carbon emissions nationally and internationally will finally have to answer for the growing gap between his party’s ideological rhetoric and the reality of a dried out, heating, burning Australia. And as the climate heats up ever quicker, and as the immense costs to us all become daily more apparent, that day draws ever closer.
Many political commentators tend to view Morrison as some political genius, the winner of the unwinnable election. But history may judge him differently: a Brezhnevian figure; the last of the dinosaurs, presiding over an era of stagnation at the head of a dying political class imprisoned within and believing its own vast raft of lies as the world lived a fundamentally different reality of economic decay, environmental pillage and social breakdown.
A corrupted, sclerotic system incapable of the change needed, surviving only by and through a dull repression of dissent and dissenters can, nevertheless, seem eternal – until the hour it crumbles. At some point something gives. Something always gives. The longer the impasse, the more denied the common voice, the greater and more terrible that future moment.
We still have other, better choices. We need leaders who will enable us to make them.
Morrison’s Pentecostal religion places great emphasis on the idea of the Rapture. When the Rapture arrives, the Chosen – that is, those Pentecostalists with whom the prime minister worships and their controversial pastor – will ascend to Heaven while the rest of us are condemned to the Tribulation – a world of fires, famine and floods in which we all are to suffer and the majority of us to die wretchedly, while waiting for the Second Coming and Scott and co wait it out in the Chairman’s Lounge above. Could it be that the prime minister in his heart is – unlike the overwhelming majority of Australians – not concerned with the prospect of a coming catastrophe when his own salvation is assured?
In any case, as a Christian whose faith is built on a direct reading of the gospels, the prime minister would know the most compelling and convincing form of betrayal has always been the embrace and kiss.

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(AU) The Day That Plunged Australia's Climate Policy Into 10 Years Of Inertia

Lethal Heating - 25 November, 2019 - 04:00
ABC NewsAnnabel Crabb

One man's plan would not only see the overthrow of his leader, it would blow apart Australia's two great political parties. (AAP, Emma Machan)

 Australia TalksAustralians ranked climate change as the number one problem for them personally in the Australia Talks National Survey Ten years ago today, Andrew Robb arrived at Parliament House intent upon an act of treachery.
No-one was expecting him. Robb was formally on leave from the Parliament undergoing treatment for his severe depression.
But the plan the Liberal MP nursed to himself that morning would not only bring about the political demise of his leader, Malcolm Turnbull, but blow apart Australia's two great parties irrevocably just as they teetered toward consensus on climate change, the most divisive issue of the Australian political century.
They have never again been so close.
A decade later, according to the ABC's Australia Talks National Survey, climate change is a matter of urgent community concern. Eighty-four per cent of respondents said that climate change was real and that action was warranted. When offered a range of 19 issues and asked which were of gravest personal concern, climate change ranked at number one.
As bushfires ravage the landscape and drought once again strangles vast tracts of the continent, the inability of the Australian Parliament to reach agreement on how to answer the threat of climate change — or even discuss it rationally — may well be one of the drivers of another shrieking headline from the Australia Talks research: 84 per cent of respondents also feel that Australian politicians are out of touch with the views of the people they represent.
This is the story — told on its 10th birthday — of a political event that changed the course of a nation's history.

How bipartisan policy fell apart
Robb was on sick leave from his job as shadow minister for climate, managing the notoriously difficult transition from one anti-depressant medication to another.
In his absence, acting shadow minister for climate Ian Macfarlane had successfully negotiated, with the authority of Liberal leader Malcolm Turnbull, a deal with the Rudd government to land the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, or CPRS.
Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull speaks to shadow emissions trading spokesman Ian Macfarlane on the day the CPRS deal fell apart. (Alan Porritt: AAP)
The concept of an emissions trading scheme was — nominally at least — bipartisan policy at the time.
John Howard campaigned promising an ETS in 2007, and so did Kevin Rudd. The Greens were ferociously in favour.
But the detail of Rudd's plan created difficulties. The Greens wouldn't have a bar of what the Rudd government bowled up.
Even 10 years later, Rudd can still remember the tick-tock of the CPRS in pellucid detail.
I reach him by telephone in a nameless Chinese airport. He is about to be served something billed as a Japanese burger, he reports.
Kevin Rudd says negotiating with the Greens was a "a bullshit exercise". (ABC News: Tom Hancock)
"They wanted 40 per cent, which would have put us far and away above any other country in the developed world," Rudd says of the Greens.
"There was no scientific justification for a 40 per cent cut. They just knew it was 15-20 per cent higher than anyone else was prepared to offer. They designed it in a manner to cause the negotiations to fail. The negotiations with them were a bullshit exercise.
"And so we had to go to Plan B which was to negotiate with the Liberals."
Turnbull was of the view that a market mechanism was inevitable. He had Howard's advocacy of an emissions trading scheme as authority within the party.
And so it came to pass that on Monday, November 23, a deal was concluded between the government and the opposition that Turnbull resolved to put to his shadow cabinet and party room the following day.

Enter the quiet assassin
Robb obtained a confidential copy on the Monday afternoon. He says it horrified him.
"It was a total sell-out, but it was so cleverly crafted that it would look, to the less informed, like we'd won the lottery in the negotiations," Robb would later write in his memoir, Black Dog Daze.
He sat up until late that night in his Canberra flat, studying the detail of the deal, rereading Turnbull's public speeches, and composing an ambush.
As Robb arrived at Parliament House on November 24, shadow cabinet was already meeting to approve the CPRS agreement. Shadow ministers Nick Minchin, Eric Abetz and Tony Abbott were staunch opponents, but were in the minority. All that remained was for the party room to rubber-stamp the deal.
"Malcolm really played it pretty cleverly," says Robb now. "He got them all in a position where they didn't have enough information to contradict it so it was all going to go through in a morning. It was all set up, because he'd been negotiating with Labor for months."
"You fight fire with fire," Andrew Robb says. (AAP: Mick Tsikas)Robb knew that he could not possibly telegraph to Turnbull that he was an opponent.
"I think his biggest regret, and subsequent verbal attacks, were because I didn't tell him," Robb says.
"I didn't want to do it like that. But you fight fire with fire."
What happened was this. Robb seated himself in a row near the front of the room, expressed his interest in speaking and waited for the call. Hours passed, as speakers selected by Turnbull spoke in support of the deal, interspersed with opponents who — unfamiliar with the detail — simply restated their generic reservations about outpacing comparable nations in addressing climate change. Robb couldn't catch Turnbull's eye.
He became anxious that Turnbull and his lieutenants — manager of opposition business Christopher Pyne and shadow cabinet secretary Michael Ronaldson — had twigged to his scepticism.

An extraordinary tactic
And so it was that Andrew Robb made one of the most extraordinary and — by most conventional measures — indefensible tactical decisions in the history of political chicanery.
Parliament House is no stranger to mental illness. Historically, its sufferers have covered their tracks, loath to be seen as vulnerable.
But this must be the only recorded occasion on which mental illness has been used as a tactic.
Robb ripped himself a scrap of paper and scrawled a note to Turnbull.
"The side effects of the medication I am on now make me very tired. I'd be really grateful if you could get me to my feet soon," he wrote.
Turnbull called Robb to speak soon after. He rose, and denounced the proposed scheme in forensic detail, his words carrying significant weight as the erstwhile bearer of the relevant portfolio.
The deal never recovered. The meeting went on for six more hours. Turnbull — a streetfighter when cornered — added the numbers of shadow Cabinet votes to the "yes" votes in the party room and declared that he had a majority.
The party room wasn't buying it. Turnbull was cooked.
Tony Abbott makes his way back to his office after defeating Malcolm Turnbull in the 2009 leadership ballot. (AAP: Glen McCurtayne)One week and one day later — December 1, 2009 — a ballot was held for the leadership of the Liberal Party.
Tony Abbott — who nominated against both Turnbull and shadow treasurer Joe Hockey — won by a single vote.
The Abbott opposition was born, with its strident campaign against Labor's "great big new tax on everything".
The next day, the emissions trading scheme legislation went to a vote in the Parliament and was defeated soundly.
Both the Coalition and the Greens voted against.
The Rudd government relinquished its attempts to put a price on carbon. Rudd himself was overthrown mid-2010. Julia Gillard staked her political life on installing a carbon price, but lost it at the 2013 election in the face of Abbott's muscular anti-carbon-tax campaign.
Abbott installed his "Direct Action" model which survives to this day, despite Turnbull's subsequent prime ministership, during which he tried and failed to introduce the National Energy Guarantee, a legislative device aimed at establishing reliable supply and reduced emissions from the energy sector.
Julie Bishop noticed a wave of defiance within the Liberal party in 2009. (ABC News: Adam Kennedy)
'There were divided views'
Julie Bishop, who was deputy leader to Turnbull at the time of the 2009 meeting, says the turn history took that day "was about more than just climate change".
"It came down to a judgment about the political fortunes of the Liberal party," she says.
In the previous months, with Turnbull's knowledge, Bishop had canvassed the views of a great many Liberal MPs about which way the party should jump. It was a party room depleted by the 2007 defeat, intimidated by Rudd's vaulting popularity, and damaged by the consequences of the Howard government's overreach on Work Choices, its controversial industrial relations reforms.
What she discovered was a new wave of defiance gathering among the party's ranks.
"A minority believed that humanity hasn't had the claimed effect on the climate," she says.
"There were divided views. But the majority simply wanted to draw a line in the sand on the issue and they wanted to fight Rudd."

'You can still see the scars'
For Kane Thornton, chief executive of the Clean Energy Council, the past 10 years are a tale of intense frustration.
"What happened back then has just so fundamentally shaped the direction and the context for climate and energy policy ever since," he says.
Kane Thornton, CEO of the Clean Energy Council. (ABC News)"Even now, in discussion and debate you can still see those scars. Every political leader — across both major parties — has been very substantially impacted by this issue. Going right back to John Howard in 2007.
"What that means is that what is otherwise a very sensible and accepted approach — putting a price on carbon — is now so difficult that governments either aren't prepared to go there or it's done in such a way that there's such a narrow field of politically palatable options that it's almost pointless."
Rudd despairs of the contemporary impasse on climate policy.
"Where has the complacent country got to, where in the case of the major geostrategic risks washing over our shores — the climate change debate and the China debate — we seem to have reduced these issues to a juvenile slanging match rather than a mature debate?"
Visiting Sydney this week, the founder of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, British-born Michael Liebreich, was brutal in his assessment of Australia's contemporary energy situation."It's unbelievable how you can have a country with such cheap solar power, such cheap wind power, frankly such cheap natural gas and yet you still have expensive power and an unreliable grid," he told ABC's AM.
"I mean, how do you do that? It's a government failure."
Dear Australians. I woke up this morning choking on the smell of bushfire smoke in my hotel room. This is your Opera House. UK got off coal in 7 years; Norway is preparing for life after oil. What is your plan? Where is your leadership? Where are your leaders? This is shameful! pic.twitter.com/tA9wzpJW6A
— Michael Liebreich (@MLiebreich) November 20, 2019 Turnbull, in an interview published yesterday by The Guardian, said the climate debate in Parliament was hostage to "insurgents" inside the Coalition.
"There are plenty of odd beliefs out there and conspiracy theories but what I have always struggled to understand is why climate denialism still has the currency that it has, particularly given the evidence of the impact of climate change is now so apparent, and it is particularly apparent to people living in regional and rural Australia," he said.
"Precisely what has been forecast is happening."

Dashed chances
Rudd believes that the CPRS — if legislated — would have stuck.
"Had the Greens and the others acted responsibly, we'd be 10 years into an adjustable carbon price which would have brought about the transition away from coal," he says.
Turnbull, too, has assured associates that if legislated, the CPRS would have become "part of the fiscal furniture, like the GST".
The Greens, incidentally, are so accustomed to being accused of blowing Australia's chances at an emissions trading scheme that they've taken out space on their website to address the charge.
The response reads:
"Here's the short answer: we voted against the CPRS because it was bad policy that would have locked in failure to take action on climate change.
"According to Treasury modelling, under the CPRS there would have been no reduction in emissions for 25 years. The CPRS was incredibly generous to polluters, allowed unlimited access to dodgy international permits and would have resulted in a carbon price of around $1 over the past decade.
"It simply would not it have led to any change in behaviour by big polluters, while any attempt to strengthen the scheme would have resulted in billion dollar compensation payouts to big polluters."How did the UK do it?
In the UK, notwithstanding the compelling train wreck of Brexit, Westminster has somehow found time this year for bipartisan agreement to the target of a zero-emissions economy by 2050.
So why, in Australia, is climate still such a lancingly divisive issue?
"I think there's got to be something about how the issue was first dealt with," Kane Thornton says. "There was a tipping point where in this country this issue became highly contentious."
It was Margaret Thatcher who first brought the greenhouse effect to the broad attention of the British voting public; this was in the 1980s, when her temporary "green phase" coincided neatly with her forced closure of British coal pits amid an industrial war on militant miners' unions.
Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. (Reuters: Kieran Doherty) Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, who governed in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, pushed an ambitious climate agenda in his party and suffered minimal internal damage compared to the Turnbull experience.
"I do reflect on where we would be right now if John Howard won the 2007 election with an ETS and a commitment to a higher but still modest [Renewable Energy Target]," Thornton says.
"My guess is we'd be in a very different position right now."
According to Julie Bishop, the strength of feeling on the issue within the modern Coalition is both economic and political in origin.
"Australia's economy has been built on the back of abundant supplies of low cost coal," she says.
"We've had the competitive advantage of being a coal-based economy.
"For some people, it's about that. That we're turning our backs on our own competitive advantage.
"For others, it's seen as symbolic of the divide between the economic wets and dries."

The one sliver of common ground
One shred of bipartisanship has survived the 10-year political impasse — the Renewable Energy Target (RET), introduced by John Howard in 2001 and expanded by the Rudd government with support from the Turnbull opposition to a mandatory 20 per cent of generation by 2020.
Back then, the RET was intended to work with the ETS; an industry policy for the emerging renewables sector, while the price on carbon set a longer-term investment signal.
Are you worried about climate change?We asked 54,000 people about their lives. See what they told us — and how you compare.
But for 10 years now, the RET has batted on unaided, surviving a fairly serious attempt on its life by the Abbott government in 2015. The target for high energy users was met in September this year.
"The regrettable truth is that right now, the only policy mechanism that is effectively working on Australian carbon emissions reduction is the policy brought into effect by my government 10 years ago, and that's the mandatory Renewable Energy Target," Rudd says.
"It's the only instrument doing the heavy lifting."
Kane Thornton says the RET has provided a measure of certainty.
On this continent, renewables are growing at the fastest rate in the world, on a per capita basis — 10 times faster than the global average. Australia has seen $25 billion of investment in big wind and solar farms in the past two years.
"That's been driven fundamentally by the economics — that the cost of renewables just keeps coming down — it beats coal, gas and nuclear," Thornton says.
"Despite the policy wars, despite the brawling between the Commonwealth and the states, the fundamental economics have just kept trucking on."
Will anyone seize the opportunity
to be a leader during this crisis?

If our political conversation really is at a point when the culture war can't be downed in the face of a crisis, we really are in a lot of trouble, writes Laura Tingle
Households, too, have made a startling investment in renewables.
"Look at rooftop solar, which is up there as a world leader in terms of the numbers of households and small businesses that have taken it up," Thornton says.
"There are now over 2 million homes where the owners have said, 'well, energy prices keep going up and it seems really messy. I want to take some kind of control. I want to push on despite the chaotic politics around energy'."
The RET has delivered support for the growth of renewables. And the conventional resources sector is in a state of transition: BHP is reported to be moving ahead with plans to exit thermal coal, while coal giant Glencore has announced plans to limit production and Rio Tinto has removed its exposure to thermal coal entirely.

A sliding-doors moment
Andrew Robb conquered the black dog and subsequently served as trade minister in the Abbott government. When the prime ministership fell to Turnbull in September 2015, he was retained for several months as a cabinet minister by the man whose downfall he had hastened back in 2009.
Robb says while he is not proud of the method he employed, he has never entertained second thoughts about what he did that day.
"I've got absolutely no regrets because we've still got a lot of industries that we wouldn't have had otherwise," he says.
"We've got cleaner coal, cleaner everything. If you're going to wind down coal, we should be the last place to go, not the first. But there we were, opening the door to Africa and lots of places with no restrictions."
Andrew Robb says "democracy's an amazing thing". (AAP: Mick Tsikas)Robb admits that his was an extraordinary intervention in a sliding-doors juncture of Australian political history.
"I've seen so often in my career where something monumental gets down to one vote. Then when the vote's taken, it sticks, and the world adjusts. It was the beginning of Tony — who won by one vote. Democracy's an amazing thing, really. And it does show you that if you've got half of the votes or just over half or just under, that can reflect community attitudes too," he says.
"This is not a fault of democracy, it's a fact."
He mentions that when he was a much younger man, he was "a great student" of the Club of Rome, an association of scientists, bureaucrats, politicians and public thinkers who in 1972 published the book Limits To Growth, warning that the world's resources could not withstand the depredations of ceaseless economic growth indefinitely.
Limits To Growth is still the highest-selling environmental book in the history of the world, having sold 30 million copies in more than 30 languages.
But Robb's early fascination with the work gave way to distrust of its conclusions and primitive computer modelling; he says its warnings of resource exhaustion and economic collapse towards the end of the 20th century were overstated.
"The thing they didn't talk about was technology. That you could find gas 300 kilometres offshore, for example, and find a way to bring it onshore. Because of this, the Club of Rome — which was quite a reputable group of people — looked more and more ridiculous as the years rolled on."
The Club of Rome has its critics and its defenders; Limits To Growth was commonly derided by the 1990s as a misguided Doomsday scenario, but has enjoyed something of a renaissance lately. The CSIRO published a paper in 2008 finding that the book's 30-year modelling of consequences from a "business as usual" approach to economic growth was essentially sound.
But what's not deniable is that this work influenced one young man who grew up to be one member of a parliamentary party with a singular role to play in one vote on a policy that would either change or not change the course of a country.
Democracy, he says, is an amazing thing.
Or an infuriating thing. Or mysterious. Or random.

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(US) Her Message About Climate Change: It’s Not Too Late

Lethal Heating - 25 November, 2019 - 04:00
New York Times - Katie Robertson

Kate Marvel is committed to spreading the word about climate science. Her TED Talk on the subject drew more than a million viewers.
Kate Marvel teaching at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in Manhattan. After earning a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, she decided to explore a field “that was more relevant to people’s lives and would make more of a difference.” Credit...Jackie Molloy for The New York TimesKate Marvel is an energetic spokeswoman for climate science at a time when misinformation about climate change seems to be at its peak and world leaders appear confused about a way forward.
Dr. Marvel, an associate research scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University, has committed herself to clearly communicating to the public the facts about a changing climate through her writing and talks.
Her TED Talk in 2017 was watched by more than a million people and she writes the Hot Planet column for Scientific American. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge and did postdoctoral research at Stanford University and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

How did you become a climate scientist?
I got my Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Cambridge. Then I got kind of frustrated with the field that I was in while I was in graduate school and I wanted to do something more applied. I wanted to do something that was more relevant to people’s lives and would make more of a difference. And I got a postdoc fellowship at Stanford, where they let me work on whatever I wanted as long as it had a science component and a policy component. I dabbled in a couple things and then I found climate science and I haven’t looked back since.

What was it that captured your attention?
I love that everything on the planet is connected. I love that things are both predictable and very complex. I say I went to grad school to study the whole universe and then I realized that this is the best place in the entire universe. Things like the fact that the rising air from the tropics sinks and when it sinks that’s where it creates the great deserts of the world. So we wouldn’t have deserts if it weren’t for the tropics. I think that’s beautiful.

Your TED Talk focused on the role of clouds in climate change. What are you researching right now?
My research goes in two directions. One is this question of what does climate change look like and is it happening. That means how is climate change affecting the variables that we care about. Not just temperature, but things like rainfall, globally and locally, things like cloud cover. So a lot of my research is focused on understanding the changes that we are experiencing and putting them in context.
I’m also interested in something called climate sensitivity, which is basically: How hot is it going to get? The number one reason we don’t know how hot it’s going to get is we don’t know what we’re going to do. We don’t know what emissions are going to look like. Even if we were to remove that uncertainty, we still couldn’t say with 100 percent confidence how hot it was going to get. That’s because there is a lot we don’t understand about a changing climate.

What does your day-to-day look like?
I’m teaching in the Columbia master’s program in climate and society right now. I’m just teaching one class. And then I am mostly focused on my research. I am basically a computational and theoretical scientist. I work with models, I work with satellite observations, I work with paleoclimate reconstructions to look at what the climate was like millions of years ago or thousands of years ago. I am not a field scientist, I don’t go out and collect samples. I love teaching, but I really love talking to other scientists. I’ve been incredibly lucky where I am pretty much supported to do whatever is interesting to me. So I’ve been able to work on a really wide variety of different projects that interest me.

We often hear about how few women there are still in science, both in colleges and in the industry. What would help to get more women into fields like yours?
There are definitely structural barriers: the structure of the academic career track, where generally you are expected to move to wherever there is a job and you are expected to be very portable. And you are expected to do short-term contracts, during the time when a lot of people are interested in building families and settling down. It can be a major disincentive for not only women but anyone who is not economically comfortable or has a certain degree of privilege. I think there is so much focus on “how do we get girls interested in science?” Girls are interested in science! We need to focus on systemic changes.
Dr. Marvel on the campus of Columbia University, where she teaches. Talking about climate change, she said, “We still have time to prevent that catastrophe.” Credit...Jackie Molloy for The New York TimesYou’ve done a lot of writing and talks and have a public profile. Do you ever encounter sexism in that realm?
I’ve definitely had gendered pushback. But I also think being a woman in climate, being a woman scientist, I am in just fantastic company. The other women scientists who work in climate who have public profiles, they’ve all had pushback as well, but we support each other. I’m just incredibly fortunate to know a lot of these people. It definitely helps when people are calling you ugly things on the internet.

How do you approach people who are climate change skeptics?
The more I’ve been talking about climate change in public, the more I’ve realized my urge to counter that by giving people facts and figures and graphs and equations, that doesn’t really work. People don’t reject climate science because they need more facts. A lot of times, rejection of climate science comes from another place, it comes from “this is fundamentally conflicting with some deep organizational principle that I believe, the story that I tell myself that makes everything make sense.” I’m really not always going to be able to change someone’s mind. I’ve also been kind of forgiving myself; you’re not going to get to everybody.

Are we doomed? Is there hope?
We can be doomed, if we choose to be. I think it is true that our choices in this coming decade really, really matter. We have to take drastic action A.S.A.P. That is true. A lot of people say catastrophic climate change is inevitable. Climate change is inevitable; it’s already happening. But there is a difference between bad, disruptive and completely catastrophic. And we still have time to prevent that catastrophe.

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(AU) Centrism Is A Dead Weight In Australian Politics – And It's Dragging Us All Down

Lethal Heating - 25 November, 2019 - 04:00
The Guardian*

Those wanting to appear reasonable and balanced are actually condemning us to inaction on the climate crisis
Centrists may deplore movements like Extinction Rebellion, but it’s activism that gets things done. Photograph: Olivia Vanni/APThere is an invidious strain of centrism in Australian media and politics that is one of the most powerful forces against effective action on climate change.
It is a strain that has become more virulent in response to protests by Extinction Rebellion and the raised voices of those who care not to genuflect to the systems that have led us to the current crisis.
It is a strain that conservatives use to their advantage.
Two weeks ago, as New South Wales and parts of Queensland burned, the prime minister was at pains to argue that now was not the time to talk about climate change.
And the centrists agreed.
This week Scott Morrison was ready to talk about climate change and he had the script all prepared.
Morrison told the ABC’s Sabra Lane that “the suggestion that any way, shape or form with Australia accountable for 1.3% of the world’s emissions, that the individual actions of Australia are impacting directly on specific fire events, whether it’s here or anywhere else in the world, that doesn’t bear up to credible scientific evidence either”.
It’s a line straight out of the climate-change denial playbook.
No one is suggesting if we had a price on carbon there would be fewer bushfires, or it alone would significantly reduce global temperatures, but that does not mean Australia cannot make a difference.Only on climate change do you ever hear conservatives argue we are powerless. Our economy is only around 1.5% of the world’s total GDP and yet we have no qualms in going to the G20 every year and pushing our agenda.
But on climate change? Sorry, we are impotent.
Except we’re not.
We are the 15th biggest emitter in the world, the biggest on a per capita basis among advanced economies. We have massive power, because we are wealthy enough to show what can be done. If we do nothing, it becomes a strong reason for anyone who emits less than us either in total or per capita to do the same.
And the problem is we are using what power we have to obstruct action on climate change.
Morrison argued that “if anything, Australia is an overachiever on our commitments, on global commitments, and for 2030, we will meet those as well with the mechanisms that we’ve put in place and we’ll ensure we do achieve that”.
What utter tosh.
Our Kyoto commitment is based on the dodgy counting of land use; and our commitment to Paris targets doubles down on that dodginess by using carry-over credits from the Kyoto target – something nations such as the UK are now fighting hard to have removed.
Our target is also well below what scientists say is needed to keep temperature rises below 1.5C.
Thirteen months ago the UN issued a report that concluded we have 12 years to do something to limit climate change, after which it will be too late to keep the rise in temperatures below 1.5C.
The science has not changed in that time; all that has is we now have only 11 years.
But this week it was reported that fossil fuel production by 2030 is set to be double that which is needed to keep temperature rises below 1.5C.
We are failing, and Australia’s own policy is ensuring that failure will continue.
But heck, pointing that out will seem biased, and so the centrist looks for a chance to appear balanced.
It is why they have grabbed onto the disruption of Extinction Rebellion and loud claims by the Greens – because the centrist loves nothing more than being able to tell both sides to calm down.
A clear example of this came this week from former ALP cabinet minister Craig Emerson, who wrote an opinion piece in the AFR denouncing tribalism that he argues is killing civil discourse.
In it he suggested that “national socialism is resurgent. But so is international green socialism – a variant of white supremacism”.
Yes, nothing like suggesting sections of the environmental movement are racists to get that civil discourse going.
Emerson suggested this white supremacism occurred when “well-off greens demand the races of Asia and Africa forgo economic development using fossil fuels to rectify the sins we white, affluent humans have inflicted on the planet”.
Yes “the races” of Asia and Africa.
Emerson didn’t help his case against tribalism by spending most of the week on Twitter berating Greens supporters and suggesting the ALP was the only major party doing anything good on climate change (if the ALP isn’t the biggest force of tribalism in Australian politics, I clearly need to invest in a new dictionary).
He further weakened his cause by suggesting that people were arguing that poorer nations needed to shift immediately to 100% renewable energy.
No organisation or person of any note is arguing this (although Emerson did find a random person on Twitter).
But worse, this argument that fossil fuels help poorer nations is a retread of the old argument that “coal is good for humanity” that Tony Abbott was pushing in 2014, and which was easily debunked at the time.
It was the same argument that saw coal mining companies argue to leaders of the G20 that coal was needed because the WHO had reported that 4 million people die prematurely from household air pollution because “nearly 3 billion people use primitive stoves to burn wood or biomass to cook and heat homes”.
Except what the WHO actually noted was that “around 3 billion people cook using polluting open fires or simple stoves fuelled by kerosene, biomass and coal”.
And yet Emerson’s article, which pushed specious arguments about demands for immediate change to renewables, which likened sections of the environmentalist movement to white supremacists, and which echoed lines from mining companies was met with gushing praise from some very senior journalists.
That’s because the column called for calm and reason, and centrists love calm and reason and love even more to praise anyone calling for it.
And so in the space of five years we went from an argument pushed by Tony Abbott and mining companies to encourage more coal mines being shown to be clearly fallacious to it now being praised as part of a reasonable approach.
This is because centrists care more about being seen to be neutral than whether that neutrality is worthy, or worrying if the centre has moved.
It is the force that has journalists and politicians arguing that we should not make the perfect the enemy of the good, and yet spending little time examining how good something has to be before the perfect becomes its enemy.
Not all extremism is equal and no force of social or economic change happened due to people refusing to make waves. It happened because people were prepared to go to prison, be attacked, and seek to disrupt those who would go about their lives ignoring the issue.
Centrists love the final vote that sees change occur – where politicians from both sides sit together and agree; they care only in retrospect for the work, suffering and effort over decades that leads to that change.
And they ignore that throughout those decades, the powerful in the media and politics actively prevented change occurring by spending more time calling for calm and reason than noting reality.
And so long as powerful journalists believe that arguments are worthy purely because they call for a middle ground, then ever will they be a force that prevents effective action on climate change.

*Greg Jericho is a columnist for Guardian Australia

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(AU) Australia Bushfires Factcheck: Are This Year's Fires Unprecedented?

Lethal Heating - 24 November, 2019 - 04:00
The Guardian |  | 

Conservative commentators have pointed to a long history of bushfires to suggest there is nothing unusual about this season. Experts disagree
Firefighters tackle the Gospers Mountain fire outside Sydney. Parts of eastern Australia have had record low rainfall in 2019, contributing to an unusually ferocious early bushfire season. Photograph: Dean Lewins/EPAAustralia has suffered a devastating early bushfire season with fires across several states burning through hundreds of thousands of hectares and destroying hundreds of properties with the loss of six lives.
New South Wales has been the most severely hit, with more than 1.65m hectares razed, an area significantly larger than suburban Sydney. All six deaths occurred in there and more than 600 homes were destroyed. At one point firefighters were battling a fire front about 6,000km long, equivalent to a return trip between Sydney and Perth.
In Queensland, 20 homes have been lost and about 180,000ha burned. In Victoria, where the bushfire season usually starts later, 100km/h winds fanned more than 60 blazes during an unprecedented heatwave on Thursday. The most extreme warning, a code red, was issued for the north-western and central regions. The state’s emergency services minister, Lisa Neville, compared it to “the worst conditions you’d see in February or March”.
Seven districts in South Australia were rated as being at catastrophic risk of fire on Wednesday as temperatures soared into the 40s. A blaze on the Yorke peninsula burned through about 5,000ha, damaging at least 11 properties and injuring 33 people. Western Australia has also experienced early bushfires in several regions, with fears of much worse to come over summer, and there were minor bushfires this week in Tasmania.

Is this unprecedented?
Australia has always had devastating bushfires, a point emphasised by some columnists and newspaper editorials, but scientists say the fire conditions this year are without parallel on several fronts.
Let’s start with the situation in NSW. Over the past 50 years, there have been just two calendar years in which more of the state has burned than this year: 1974 and 1984. With this year, those two were much larger than any other year, as this graph shows, based on data from the University of Wollongong’s centre for environmental risk management of bushfires:

NSW fires: total area burned
Showing the total area burned in hectares per year,
with a year-to-date figure for 2019
Guardian graphic
Source: Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfire

This year, which still has six weeks to run, sits fractionally behind 1984. Both are a long way behind 1974, when more than 3.5m hectares burned.
But scientists says fire conditions today are fundamentally different, and fundamentally worse in many ways, when compared with some of the fires experienced in the past.
The centre’s director, Ross Bradstock, says the 1974 fires burned through largely remote country mostly in the state’s far west, devouring green, non-woody herbaceous plants. The conditions were created by above average rainfall which produced ample fuel in outback grasslands.
By contrast, the fires in the east of the state this year have been fuelled by a lack of rain. The extent of the fires is in significant part driven by the amount of dry fuel available, some of it in highly unlikely places, and the amount of dry fuel is linked to the record-breaking drought.
Rainfall between January and August 2019 was the lowest on record in some areas, including the northern tablelands of NSW and Queensland’s southern downs. Parts of both states experienced record low soil moisture. As temperatures and wind speeds increased but humidity remained low, conditions were primed for small fires to become major conflagrations.

Drought in Australia
Rainfall deficiency from January 2017 to August 2019

Rainfall deficiency compares rainfall over a given period with the long-term average, and then determines if it is below average, and by how much. Here, you can see how bad the drought has been over a 32 month period with rainfall percentiles showing areas with the lowest rainfall on record, a severe deficiency in rainfall, or a serious deficiency.Guardian graphic
Source: BoM



Bradstock says it has put NSW in uncharted territory: “For the forests and woodlands in the eastern half of the state, this is unprecedented.
“Natural features in the landscape which often impede fires, like these wetter forest communities, are just burning. There is likely to be long-term ecological and other environmental consequences.”
The director of the fire centre at the University of Tasmania, David Bowman, says the unprecedented nature of the fires this spring can be seen through their intensity and geographical spread across the country, noting at time of writing there were fires in five states.
The extent of the bushfire risk is illustrated through Bureau of Meteorology data of the cumulative forest fire danger index across winter.

Winter bushfire weather conditions, 2019
Showing the cumulative forest fire danger index (FFDI) for winter (June to August) 2019 compared with all winters since 1950. The FFDI combines measurment of rainfall, evaporation, wind speed, temperature and humidity, and the cumulative FFDI is the sum of daily values over the specified period.  Guardian graphic
Source: BoM

The map shows the overwhelming majority of the country, with a few exceptions in Victoria, central Queensland and western Tasmania, experienced between “above average” and “highest on record” fire conditions in winter when compared with the average since 1950.
Bowman says the extraordinary nature of the fire season is clear on several measures: the extent of area burned, and the underlying dryness and poor air quality affecting people across the country. Smoke in NSW and Queensland has prompted a rise in people seeking emergency treatment for respiratory problems.
But as illustrative evidence he emphasises the areas affected in which fire has never or rarely burned in the past, including rainforests, wet eucalypt forests, dried-out swamps and organic matter in the soil where the water table has dropped.
He says one of the most striking images of the extreme fire conditions in recent weeks were those of a devastated banana plantation at Taylors Arm, west of Macksville, in northern NSW. He lists it alongside the loss of other landscapes – including Gondwana-era vegetation in the Tasmanian world heritage wilderness area that in some cases had not burned for more than 1,000 years – as evidence of change.
“There’s just layer upon layer upon layer of differences,” Bowman says. “If you narrow your frame you can say ‘nothing to see’. But if you broaden your aperture, it’s clear.
“I wrote a book on Australian rainforests. I’ve seen every Australian rainforest biome, and the fact that multiple versions of these ecosystems right around the country are burning all within the same couple of years … This is a really confronting warning light.”

What do other professionals dealing with fire say?
They largely back the scientists.
As has been widely reported, 23 former fire and emergency services chiefs from across the country have jointly warned climate crisis is making bushfires deadlier and the season longer, and called on the government to act.
Neil Bibby, former chief executive of Victoria’s Country Fire Authority and one of the 23, says: “It has been the last couple of years where we have been realising things have started to change and this is the new future … It will only get worse.”
The chief executive of the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council, Stuart Ellis, says this bushfire season already has an “enduring nature”. “[It’s] just relentless,” he says.
Andrew Gissing, an emergency management expert at the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and a consultant with Risk Frontiers, says an analysis of building losses from bushfire seasons back to 1925 suggests this season is already the third worst in NSW. In Queensland, about a third of all financial losses from burned buildings since 1925 have occurred this year.

Is this climate change in action?
No fire can be blamed on climate change alone, but Bowman says the rise in higher temperatures, extreme dryness, worsening fire seasons, extreme bursts of fire weather and behaviour and the spread of fire across the country all align with scenarios painted by climate change projections.
Greenhouse gas emissions have a clear impact on rising temperatures and, through that, an indirect link on increased dryness in eastern Australia. A recent study found the extreme temperatures that drove historic 2018 bushfires in northern Queensland were four times more likely to have happened because of human-caused climate change
In short, climate change can and does makes bushfires worse.
Bradstock says a range of published research has found escalating atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases are increasing the risk of the type of fires affecting NSW’s eastern forests, but reducing the likelihood of a similar fire to that experienced in 1974.
The elevated scores on the forest fire danger index in winter this year meant not only that the risk of bushfires was significantly heightened as the warmer seasons began, but opportunities for hazard reduction burning had been limited in some parts of the country – although NSW authorities still managed to meet its annual target of 135,000ha of prescribed burning.
Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, from the University of New South Wales’ climate change research centre, says studies by the CSIRO and others have found the fire season has got longer, particularly in eastern Australia, where it is starting earlier. This is expected to continue until 2050 at least.
“We know that catastrophic conditions are now more likely to occur, and into spring as well,” she says.
On this year, Bradstock says: “I guess the most concerning thing to emphasise is it’s not over. We’re not even into summer yet.”

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(AU) Why It's So Wrong To Play Down Australia's Role In Fighting Climate Change

Lethal Heating - 24 November, 2019 - 04:00
Sydney Morning HeraldPatrick Suckling

Patrick SucklingPatrick Suckling was Australia’s Ambassador for the Environment.
He recently joined Pollination, a specialist climate investment and advisory firm. One of the more solemn yet uplifting duties during my time as high commissioner to India was commemorating Anzac Day – 2.5 million Indian soldiers served in World War II.
Australia has made the Anzac spirit part of our national soul. Our contribution to total forces in World War II was around 1.3 per cent.
Never did I hear in Delhi nor can I imagine anyone thinking in the well attended Anzac commemorations around Australia that our effort was irrelevant.
Yet as Sydney this week ranked among the most polluted cities in the world and fires torched our communities and country, we heard rehearsals of the view that whatever Australia does on climate change is irrelevant because our emissions are only around 1.3 per cent of the global total, and that Australians pressing for climate action are merely virtue signalling.
Smoke haze from bushfires blanketed Sydney this week. Credit: Renee NowytargerIts companion is the argument that amid the tragedy of our bushfires now is not the time to talk about climate change.
This argument has its equivalent in the US where, in the aftermath of all too familiar mass shootings, it is distressing to hear comment that it is not the time to talk about gun control.
Like the bleaching of our Great Barrier Reef, the scorching of these fires is the face of the future in a heating world.
Yes, we have always had fires: but they will be worse because we will be hotter, and drier.
Scientists constantly work to validate their theories. That’s their method. For decades now they’ve rigorously tested the evidence on the threats of climate change; and it keeps mounting.
Once, we may have thought them lost in an abstract world. Now, around the world, increasingly we see and feel ourselves the trauma from climate change.
Australia is among the most vulnerable to climate change. That is why our Parliament ratified the Paris Agreement. It is in our national interest.
No one country can solve the challenge but each must play its part.
Countries with emissions under 2 per cent of the global total make up around 40 per cent of global emissions. This includes Germany whose leadership on the renewable energy revolution would not have happened had it thought itself irrelevant and balked.
If we shrink through self-ascribed irrelevance instead of stretching to influence concerted global action on climate change then we desert our national interest.
More than most, we need to be on the front foot: increasingly active at home and pressing for more action overseas.
Absent the strongest collective effort, we reduce the prospect of limiting global temperature rise; ensuring more ferocious fires into the future where we will be condemned by our children and theirs for not having done all we could, individually and collectively.
Already we see glimmerings in their  school strikes against us not having done enough in the past, or now.
Much of the world looks to us for leadership.
This is not only because we are one of the wealthiest and most capable, often punching well above our weight, but also because Australia is an environmental icon known for its outstanding natural beauty and stewardship of country – reaching back 60,000 years for our Indigenous peoples.
The Hillville fire that destroyed homes two weeks ago. Credit: Nick MoirIf we shirk it is hard to see why developing countries, now the major source of emissions growth, should listen or lift.
If we falter we weaken the Paris Agreement, where for the first time developed and developing countries alike are committed to increasing climate action and being held accountable.
We all need to do more but a good start has been made, for example, China looks like its emissions will peak well before its 2030 target, possibly before 2025.
Bolstering the gains won’t occur with a mindset of our own impotence.
We also risk not making the most of the extraordinary opportunities in climate action.
It’s not a question of emissions reduction or jobs and growth, as the UK is demonstrating, having reduced emissions 40 per cent while growing the economy 70 per cent.
It’s a matter of harnessing our considerable competitive advantages in transition to a lower-emissions, more climate resilient  global economy; as two of our best entrepreneurs showed this week by embarking on a $22 billion solar investment intended to supply power to Singapore, among other things.
One of our best minds – Ross Garnaut – has just published a book on Australia's potential in a low-carbon future that everyone should read.
To reach this potential and address the magnitude of the climate challenge we are facing we can no longer be equivocal, or dismissive.
The fires in all their fury are telling us we must recognise the full seriousness of what is in front of us and step up.
That needs a plan, with policies for coming decades; uncertainty is no guide for the massive investments required for clean, green economic transformation and a defeatist view of our relevance is no compass for Australia to be the agent of our destiny.
Ask the Anzacs.

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It’s not just Venice. Climate change imperils ancient treasures everywhere.

Lethal Heating - 24 November, 2019 - 04:00
Grist

The future of the past
FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP via Getty ImagesSaltwater rushed into St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice last week, submerging marble tombs, intricate mosaics, and centuries-old columns.
A man was spotted swimming across St. Mark’s Square, normally bustling with tourists, as the highest tide in 50 years swept through.
The “Floating City” of bridges, vaporetti, and gondolas is hardly a stranger to high tides. Venetians are accustomed to acqua alta, or “high water,” arriving in the fall. But as the city’s foundation sinks and sea levels rise, the floods are getting worse.
The basilica has submerged six times over the last 1,200 years. Tellingly, four of those instances were in the last two decades.
The rising saltwater presents a threat to the city’s prized architecture, including wall paintings and frescoes from the Renaissance. Early estimates put the damage around $1 billion so far.
It’s a vivid testament to the risks climate change poses to many of the world’s cultural treasures. In a fitting irony, minutes after Venice’s regional council rejected measures to fund renewable energy and replace diesel buses with cleaner ones, the council’s chamber was swept by floodwaters.
Since 2003, the city has been working on an infrastructure project known as Mose (as in Moses) for protection against high tides, but it’s still not up and running, having been bogged down in scandal, cost overruns, and other delays.
Venice has plenty of company — some 86 percent of UNESCO World Heritage sites like Venice in coastal regions of the Mediterranean are at risk from flooding and erosion, according to a study last year in the journal Nature.
The fate of cultural heritage — including museums, historical landmarks, and archaeological sites — often gets ignored in conversations about how to adapt to an overheating planet, said Linda Shi, an assistant professor of city and regional planning at Cornell University.
But it will likely play a bigger role in the coming years, she said, as people wake up to the threat. Last month brought the launch of the international Climate Heritage Network, a coalition of cities, tribes, businesses, universities, and other organizations that promise to recognize the harm climate change poses to iconic cultural places and harness “the power of cultural heritage for climate action.”
Many UNESCO World Heritage sites have survived wars, floods, and other disasters over the course of hundreds and even thousands of years.
Can they survive the climate crisis? Here’s a sampling of the landmarks at risk:
  • The statues of Easter Island
    The remote Pacific island, 2,200 miles off the coast of Chile, is known for its giant monolithic statues of heads carved more than a thousand years ago. (PSA, they’re not just heads — the rest of their bodies are buried underground.) The island’s coastline is rapidly eroding, and waves are beginning to lap at the statues and ancient burial sites.
  • The cedars of Lebanon
    The trees mentioned so often in the Bible are imperiled. The famous Forest of the Cedars of God is one of the most vulnerable sites in the world to climate change, which has brought hot and dry conditions inhospitable to the trees.
  • An ancient burial site in Russia
    The frozen tombs that are part of the Treasures of the Pazyryk Culture in Siberia risk thawing out — and therefore rotting — as temperatures rise. The site includes 2,500-year-old burial mounds and rock carvings from the ancient Scythian people.
  • Archaeological ruins in Tanzania
    At a 13th-century trading center called Kilwa Kisiwani, on a small island just off Tanzania’s coast, merchants handled a good chunk of the trade in the Indian Ocean — gold, perfumes, porcelain, and more — and spread Swahili culture far and wide. But the ruins could get washed away before archaeologists have more time to explore them.
  • The Stone Age villages of Scotland
    The Orkney Islands off Scotland’s north coast contain some of the oldest sites in the world, with some structures built around 5,000 years ago, before the Great Pyramid of Giza. Of the 3,000 archaeological sites on the islands, some have already crumbled under heavy rains and erosion, and roughly half are under threat.
  • Unique habitat in Yellowstone National Park
    Climate change is bringing ferocious fires and less snowfall to the greater Yellowstone region, which spans from Wyoming into parts of Montana and Idaho. Changing conditions could totally reshape its landscape, draining half of the area’s wetlands and turning its dense forests into open woodlands.
So what will get preserved, and what will the world lose? There’s a financial incentive to save Venice. Some 20 million tourists bring in billions of euros every year.
“We might be willing to pay to preserve places like Venice,” Shi said in a statement, “but few other cultural heritage sites and systems will benefit from such attention and funding.”
Many places are too remote to draw crowds, affording them a measure of protection. No tourists means no trampling. But it also means governments might not find the money to protect them. And that’s to say nothing of other legacies that tourists can’t visit, like oral histories and indigenous languages. They, too, could be submerged as communities are displaced by rising seas, hurricanes, and other climate disasters.

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(US) Kelsey Juliana: 'What If Fashion Came To Represent A New Way Of Living?'

Lethal Heating - 23 November, 2019 - 04:00
The Guardian - Jess Cartner-Morley

The climate activist who joined forces with a billionaire designer
Kelsey Juliana: ‘We need a new way of living and fashion can help us do that.’ Photograph: Robin Loznak/Robin Loznak/Our Children's TrustKelsey Juliana, a youth climate activist from Oregon, is joining forces with Gabriela Hearst, a fashion designer whose clothes are worn by Lady Gaga and the Duchess of Sussex, to ignite a trend they hope will become a global sensation.
Juliana, 23, is the lead plaintiff in a group lawsuit suing the US government for breaching the human rights of her generation by failing to take action to protect the environment.
The case, Juliana v United States – which goes by the unofficial name of Youth v Gov – aims to have the US supreme court order the government to dramatically change energy policy.
Hearst – who, with her husband, John Augustine Hearst, the scion of the magazine empire, has a net worth estimated at £1.5bn – is providing financial backing for the case.
As they prepare to speak in front of an audience of designers, supermodels, editors and luxury industry CEOs at the Business of Fashion Voices conference, Juliana and Hearst hope that their constitutional action to protect the rights of young people to a clean environment can snowball into the next decade’s most era-defining trend.
Kelsey Juliana (right), Gabriela Hearst designer (centre) and Kelsey’s fellow plaintiff, Levi Draheim (left) Photograph: max.tobias@camronpr.com“Fashion sets the tone for society. Right now, we need to imagine a new way of living and fashion can help us do that,” says Juliana. “And fashion has young people driving it, just like climate action does.”
 Juliana, who filed her case aged 15, has taken part in many protest events, including marching 1,600 miles from Nebraska to Washington DC in 2016, but believes that lawsuits give those too young to vote a way to stand up for their right to a habitable planet.“All movements – the women’s movement, the gay rights movement – have cemented themselves in law and in the culture with a constitutional change,” says Hearst of their choice of a legislative rather than protest-based challenge. “It’s important to solidify this by going through the traditional route.”
There are currently 1,390 lawsuits against governments and fossil fuel corporations in more than 25 countries, according to the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. Last month, a group of 15 young Canadians filed La Rose v Her Majesty the Queen, alleging that the Canadian government’s energy policies have violated their rights to a stable climate. Juliana notes that “there are more cases coming up all over the world”.
Many climate activists would decline an invitation to speak at a fashion event, given that it represents one of the world’s most polluting industries and sits uncomfortably at the crossroads of still-growing consumerism and increasing awareness of the need for change, but Juliana is “excited to be here. All facets of our society currently operate in a way that is problematic – the way we eat, the way we travel, what we buy. I am totally guilty of buying fast fashion, because I don’t have the resources to buy luxury fashion. But I was in Amsterdam recently and it was inspiring to see how much secondhand clothes and taking care of clothes are part of the culture there. What if we saw fashion come to represent a new way of living?”
New York fashion week’s first carbon-neutral catwalk show, hosted by Hearst in September 2019 Photograph: PIXELFORMULA/SIPA/REX/ShutterstockFashion has always symbolised intergenerational strife and is, in that sense, a fitting stage for a crisis in which the Greta Thunberg generation are voicing increasing anger towards older people.
“I want to be on stage to showcase how young people are stepping up to the bat, and ask the professionals and heads of industries in the audience to stand with us,” says Juliana. “My future is at risk in a way that isn’t the case for old people. I won’t sugarcoat it – I feel disappointment, disgust and rage. But my primary emotion is love – a deep, deep love for life and for the planet.”
Hearst staged New York fashion week’s first carbon-neutral catwalk show in September, working with the consultancy EcoAct to calibrate and offset each element of the carbon footprint. However, shesays: “Sometimes, I think I should just stop producing products. Definitely, people should buy less.”
Britain, she says, is better placed to lead a change of lifestyle than the US, “because here you experienced world war two and so you understand frugality and resilience, which is the mentality we are going to need to access. In America, those challenges haven’t been seen since the civil war.”
Other speakers at the Voices conference, which begins on Thursday, include the Observer journalist Carole Cadwalladr, Clare Farrell of Extinction Rebellion and the photographer Juergen Teller.

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