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Even If Australia Raises A Climate Tax, It Won't Meet Paris Targets: IMF

Lethal Heating - 12 October, 2019 - 04:30
SBS - Tom Stayner

Australia is in danger of failing to meet its commitments for the Paris agreement, even with a carbon tax to dramatically shift its dependence away from fossil fuels.
Bayswater coal-fired power station in the NSW Hunter Valley region. AAPEven with the rollout of a steep climate tax Australia would fail to meet its Paris emission reduction commitments, the International Monetary Fund has warned.
The global body is urging ‘urgent policy action’ to guard against the threat posed by climate change but says this action would still see some countries fall short of emissions targets.
The Morrison government has continually defended its response to climate change, saying it is on track to meet its Kyoto and Paris commitments.
But IMF projections comparing the impact of placing a carbon tax ranging from US$25 per ton to US$50 and US$75 on nations around the world have cast doubt on this pledge.
“Whereas a US$25 a ton price would be more than enough for some countries (for example, China, India, and Russia) to meet their Paris Agreement pledges, in other cases (for example, Australia and Canada) even the US$75 a ton carbon tax falls short,” the IMF reported.

The International Monetary Fund has compared nations current Paris pledges and with carbon tax scenarios. International Monetary Fund The Washington-based fund’s findings suggest that even with direct action to push Australia away from its reliance on coal the nation would fail to meet its commitments.
But Energy Minister Angus Taylor has refuted any idea Australia would adopt such a measure, saying it has already laid out its emissions reduction plan.
"The point of a carbon tax is to raise the price of energy so people consume less," he said.
"Labor’s carbon tax did exactly that, and that’s why we abolished it."
"Our $3.5 billion Climate Solutions Package ... maps out to the last tonne how we will ... reduce emissions to 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030."
The International Monetary Fund is advocating for the carbon taxing measure on a global scale calling it the ‘most powerful and efficient’ means to shift nations away from their reliance on coal.
A carbon tax is designed to push countries towards alternative fuel sources by making fossil fuel generated power less economically appealing.
The IMF said ‘ambitious’ policy action is needed to limit global warming to 2°C or less – the level considered safe by scientists
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said Australia is "balancing" its global responsibilities with "practical policies" to secure climate action without adverse economic impacts.
Meanwhile, Labor has been caught up in an internal debate over the way forward on emissions with some in the party calling for less ambitious action.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the Coalition was 'confident' it would 'meet' and 'beat' the nation's emissions targets.
“We are track on track to beat out 2020 target and we are confident that we will meet and beat our 2030 target,” he told reporters on Friday.
“You need to have a cost effective transition, and that’s why we’ve put in place a series of measures to do that.”
Australia’s Paris target is to reduce emissions to 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.
Labor went to the federal election this year with a 45 per cent emissions reduction target, while the Liberals kept the 26-28 per cent goal.
Liddell power station in Muswellbrook, in the NSW Hunter Valley region. AAPThe International Monetary Fund explained that a climate tax could force the price of coal up by 263 per cent in Australia and see a 75 per cent increase in energy prices.
“The longer that policy action is delayed, the more emissions will accumulate in the atmosphere and the greater the cost of stabilising global temperatures,” the IMF said.
Mr Taylor cited the steep energy price hike linked with a carbon tax as a major concern of the government.
"The report ... states that under a US$75 carbon tax, retail electricity prices would increase by 70-90 per cent in Australia," he said.
"That is not something we are going to do to Australian households and small businesses."
The IMF said nations would need to design the policy response in an ‘equitable and socially and politically acceptable' manner that diverted revenues from the tax to support those vulnerable to ‘higher energy prices’.
A carbon tax implemented by the Labor government was repealed by the Coalition in 2014.
Since then Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions have shown year on year increases.
Australia is responsible for around 1.3 per cent of global carbon emissions and is ranked 15th among the world's biggest emitting nations.
While, on a per capita basis its emissions (16.2 metric tonnes) are ranked only second behind Saudi Arabia (16.3 metric tonnes), and well ahead of the United States (15 metric tonnes) and China (6.4 metric tonnes).

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There Are Three Types Of Climate Change Denier, And Most Of Us Are At Least One

Lethal Heating - 12 October, 2019 - 04:00
The Conversation | 

Greta Thunberg’s fiery oration has prompted outrage, but even if you agree with her you might still be ignoring her message. EPA/Justin Lane Last week, amid the cacophony of reactions to Greta Thunberg’s appearance before the United Nations Climate Action Summit, a group of self-proclaimed “prominent scientists” sent a registered letter to UN Secretary-General António Guterres. The letter, headed “There is no climate emergency”, urged Guterres to follow:
…a climate policy based on sound science, realistic economics and genuine concern for those harmed by costly but unnecessary attempts at mitigation.The group, supported by 75 Australian business and industry figures, along with others around the world, obviously rejects the scientific consensus on climate change. But this missive displays remarkably different tactics to those previously used to stymie climate action.
The language of climate change denial and inaction has transformed. Outright science denial has been replaced by efforts to reframe climate change as natural, and climate action as unwarranted.
However, this is just another way of rejecting the facts, and their implications for us. Denial can take many forms.

Shades of denial
The twin phenomena of denial and inaction are related to one another, at least in the context of climate change. They are also complex, both in the general sense of “complicated and intricate”, and in the technical psychological sense of “a group of repressed feelings and anxieties which together result in abnormal behaviour”.
In his book States of Denial, the late psychoanalytic sociologist Stanley Cohen described three forms of denial. Although his framework was developed from analysing genocide and other atrocities, it applies just as well to our individual and collective inaction in the face of the overwhelming scientific evidence of human-induced climate change.
The first form of denial is literal denial. It is the simple, conscious, outright rejection that something happened or is happening – that is, lying. One Nation senators Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts, among others, have at one time or another maintained this position – outright denial that climate change is happening (though Senator Hanson now might accept climate change but denies any human contribution to it).
Interestingly, former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday blamed “climate change deniers” in his own government for blocking any attempt to deal with climate change, resulting paradoxically in higher energy prices today.
It is tempting to attribute outright denial to individual malice or stupidity, and that may occasionally be the case. More worrying and more insidious, though, is the social organisation of literal denial of climate change. There is plenty of evidence of clandestine, orchestrated lying by vested interests in industry. If anyone is looking for a conspiracy in climate change, this is it - not a collusion of thousands of scientists and major science organisations.
The second form of denial is interpretive denial. Here, people do not contest the facts, but interpret them in ways that distort their meaning or importance. For example, one might say climate change is just a natural fluctuation or greenhouse gas accumulation is a consequence, not a cause, of rising temperatures. This is what we saw in last week’s letter to the UN.

The most insidious form of denial
The third and most insidious form is implicatory denial. The facts of climate change are not denied, nor are they interpreted to be something else. What is denied or minimised are the psychological, political, and moral implications of the facts for us. We fail to accept responsibility for responding; we fail to act when the information says we should.
Of course, some are unable to respond, financially or otherwise, but for many, implicatory denial is a kind of dissociation. Ignoring the moral imperative to act is as damning a form of denial as any other, and arguably is much worse.
The treatment of Thunberg, and the vigour with which people push away reminders of that which they would rather not deal with, illustrate implicatory denial. We are almost all guilty, to some extent, of engaging in implicatory denial. In the case of climate change, implicatory denial allows us to use a reusable coffee cup, recycle our plastic or sometimes catch a bus, and thus to pretend to ourselves that we are doing our bit.
Almost none of us individually, or we as a nation, has acted as we ought on the science of climate change. But that does not mean we can’t change how we act in the future. Indeed, there are some recent indications that, as with literal denial, implicatory denial is becoming an increasingly untenable psychological position.
While it is tempting, and even cathartic, to mock the shrill responses to Thunberg from literal and interpretive deniers, we would do well to ponder our own inherent biases and irrational responses to climate change.
For instance, we tend to think we are doing more for the planet than those around us (and we can’t all be right). We also tend to think literal deniers are much more common in our society than they in fact are.
These are just two examples of common strategies we use to deny our own responsibility and culpability. They make us feel better about what little we actually do, or congratulate us for accepting the science. But they are ultimately self-defeating delusions. Instead of congratulating ourselves on agreeing with the basic scientific facts of climate change, we need to push ourselves to action.

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One Thing You Can Do: Talk To Your Children About Climate Change

Lethal Heating - 12 October, 2019 - 04:00
New York Times - Jillian Mock

Tyler VarsellLast month, young people around the world skipped school to join global climate strikes.
Children of all ages marched, chanted and carried signs with slogans like, “You’ll die of old age, I’ll die of climate change.”
Dark messages like that highlighted the worry many young people feel about climate change.
Climate change and related natural disasters can take a toll on mental health, according to a 2017 report by the American Psychological Association.
That can include depression and anxiety.
Children may be one of the hardest-hit groups.
According to a poll by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than seven in 10 teenagers and young adults in the United States say climate change will cause harm to their generation.
That includes young people who identify as Democratics and Republicans.In order to lighten that anxiety, experts say, parents should talk to their children.
To address these fears, find a calm moment to ask your child what they’ve seen or heard about climate change and how that makes them feel, said Dr. Lise Van Susteren, a psychiatrist in Washington and a founder of the Climate Psychiatry Alliance.
She said parents should gently correct irrational fears but not downplay anxieties just to make children feel better. That could just make the child feel she can’t trust adults to be honest with them on this topic.
“Talk about the problem, then pivot to the solution,” Dr. Van Susteren said.
Once you’ve discussed your child’s climate fears, talk about people and organizations that are already working on large-scale climate solutions, said Maria Ojala, a psychologist at Orebro University in Sweden who studies young people and climate change.
If possible, talk about solutions in a personal context. Highlight steps you’ve already taken as a family or as individuals to reduce your carbon footprints and brainstorm new ideas together.
Taking action can be an empowering antidote to fear, Dr. Van Susteren said. Encourage your child to take action with her peers as well, like joining a group at school or volunteering with a local organization.
Collective action has mental health benefits, according to Dr. Ojala.
“We are social beings and it’s very good for our well-being to work together with others and be part of a group,” she said.
You probably won’t get rid of your child’s fears altogether, and that’s O.K., Dr. Ojala said. The goal is to help your child cope with her fears in a constructive way to avoid hopelessness.
Finally, think about your own personal choices and lead by example, Dr. Van Susteren said. Your children are probably watching.

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If Each Of Us Planted A Tree, Would It Slow Global Warming?

Lethal Heating - 11 October, 2019 - 04:30
WiredRhett Allain

Ask a physicist: Just how much carbon could 7.5 billion new trees pull out of the atmosphere?
Photograph: Getty ImagesHere are some self-evident truths: Humans need to produce less carbon dioxide—assuming we care a fig about our children’s well-being. But even that’s no longer enough. CO2 levels in the atmosphere have reached 400 parts per million, a huge increase over historical levels of around 300 ppm. The fact is, we also need to figure out how to remove some of the CO2 that’s already out there.
As a short-term solution, intrepid climate activist Greta Thunberg suggests we plant more trees. It’s a lovely idea. Who doesn't like trees? While R&D labs struggle to come up with viable carbon-capture technologies, we already have this “magic machine,” as her video says, that “sucks carbon out of the air, cost very little, and builds itself.” And we don't need to wait for craven politicians to get on board.
I really want to believe in this. What if every person on Earth took it upon themself to plant a tree. One treetop per child. Just how much carbon dioxide could we hope to scrub out of the atmosphere? Would it help reverse climate change? Let’s do the math!

Carbon Content of a Tree
I’m going to walk through a rough estimation. This is a good way to approach policy questions on a first cut; if the results are promising, you can always loop back and do a more sophisticated analysis.
So to start, let’s figure out how much carbon a single tree can hold. Imagine a generic tree. Since I live in Louisiana, I’m picturing a pine (though we have some awesome oak trees here too).
The pine is nice because it has a tractable shape—it's basically just a long skinny cylinder (ignoring the branches). I’ll say it has a diameter (d ) of 1.5 meters and a height (h ) of 15 meters. I can just plug those values into the formula for the volume of a cylinder to get the amount of wood my tree contains.
Illustration: Rhett AllainThis gives me 106 cubic meters of wood. To convert this to mass, I’m going to assume a wood density (ρ) of 500 kilograms per cubic meter, which is half the density of water. The mass of my generic tree would then be:
Illustration: Rhett AllainThat works out to 53,000 kilograms per tree. But how much of that is carbon? Trees are made of many different elements, like hydrogen and nitrogen, but let’s say it’s about half carbon. At least that's an estimate that agrees with Wikipedia. So the mass of carbon would be 0.5 times the mass of the tree, or 26,500 kg. Simple!

Counting Up the Atoms
So far so good. But to talk about atmospheric concentration, what we really need to know is the number of carbon dioxide molecules eliminated. Since each CO2 molecule contains one carbon atom, I need to convert the carbon mass of a tree to numbers. This is where Avogadro's number comes into play, with a value of around 6.022 x 1023 particles per mole. And one mole of carbon has a mass of about 12 grams. That gives us the number of carbon atoms (n) per tree:
llustration: Rhett AllainThen, since everybody plants a tree, and assuming they’re all the same, the total amount of captured carbon atoms (N) would just be that number times 7.5 billion, the population of Earth.We're not done yet. We still need to find out how this changes the total concentration of CO2 in the air. For that, we need to estimate the total mass of Earth's atmosphere .... well, that’s kind of daunting. What do physicists do in such situations? We Google it. I get a value of 5 x 1018 kilograms (from Wikipedia again).So, to find the concentration in ppm, I need the molar mass of air. Air is 99 percent nitrogen and oxygen; a weighted average of their masses gives an air molar mass of 28.97 grams per mole. With that, I can calculate the number of air molecules. This uses the same formula as above for n, so I just built it into my computation code.

The Grand Result
OK, let's crank this sucker out! I’m attaching the code here, so if you want to change my assumptions—perhaps, in keeping with the tropical theme of Earth’s future, you’re envisioning palm trees instead of pine trees— you can click the pencil icon to edit it. Click Play to run the calculation.

Hey, that's not bad! This says that if every one of us took a couple of hours this weekend to plant a tree, it would eventually reduce the carbon dioxide level by around 6 percent from the current level.
Yes, we made a lot of assumptions, and some of them are obviously wrong—but they’re not crazy-wrong. For example, we simplified by saying the trees are all the same. But allowing them to be different wouldn’t change the result if our generic tree is a good middle-of-the-pack average. The real question is whether our model is biased in one direction or the other.
One obvious bias is that we assumed away branches. (I'm trying to picture a poor village smithy standing under a non-spreading chestnut tree …) But that means we probably underestimated the carbon reduction. By how much? That would depend on the species, but I could imagine it increasing the benefit pretty significantly.
How about one more quick estimation. If everyone planted a tree, how much land would that require? Let's say they’re planted in a square grid, 5 meters apart, so that each tree takes up an area of 25 square meters. With 7.5 billion trees, that requires 1.8 x 1011 square meters of land, or 72,000 square miles. That's roughly the size of North Dakota.
I think we could do that. And with all due respect, North Dakota could use some more trees. Oh, for comparison, the Amazon rain forest has an area of 2.1 million square miles. Please don't burn it down.

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Climate And Energy Experts Debate How To Respond To A Warming World

Lethal Heating - 11 October, 2019 - 04:00
New York Times

Experts in energy and environmental fields weigh in on the need for an urgent transition to alternative energy.
James O'BrienAs energy demand rises around the globe, so does concern about climate change. The science seems clear: Ninety-seven percent or more of scientists active in the field are convinced the climate has been warming over the past century, the pace of warming is accelerating and human activities — particularly the burning of coal, oil and other fossil fuels — are a primary cause.
Many of these scientists also concur that the best option to mitigate the potentially catastrophic consequences of climate change is to reduce the use of fossil fuels and speed up the transition to renewable forms of energy, such as solar and wind.
We asked experts in the energy and environmental fields whether they concur on the need for an urgent transition to alternative energy. And if so, how the energy industry can make that happen quickly enough to matter. We also asked energy executives how their companies would navigate such a fundamental change. The responses have been edited and condensed.

May Boeve
Executive director, 350.org
May BoeveRapidly phasing out fossil fuels is critical to address the climate crisis because fossil fuels are the biggest driver of the climate crisis. Reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change based on the work of thousands of scientists have confirmed there are no scenarios in which we both keep digging out fossil fuels and keep the world from a climate disaster. We must act now, and decisively, to switch to alternative sources of energy.
What little has been done is not nearly enough. Research published by the Stockholm Environment Institute shows that despite all the rhetoric about transitioning to renewable energy, the world is on track to produce 120 percent more fossil fuels than would be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the goal set by the Paris Agreement in 2015.
I want to be clear: the coal, gas, and oil industries cannot make this happen on their own; markets are not going to get us out of the hole they got us in. We need the political will to fundamentally rethink some of the underlying assumptions about how we organize our societies. This is why we call for a global Green New Deal.
We can do it because people want it and are increasingly demanding it. Technology is an important part of the coming transition, and so is finance. But what is going to make it happen is public outrage, public imagination, and public inspiration.

Sean Comey
Senior adviser, corporate issues, Chevron
Sean ComeyWe believe climate change is real and human activity contributes to it. We recognize the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change  (a United Nations research agency) that the use of fossil fuels contributes to increases in global temperatures. Chevron shares the concerns of governments and the public about climate change.
At the same time, the International Energy Agency (I.E.A.) projects global energy demand will rise more than 25 percent by 2040, driven by population growth and rising incomes. Even in the I.E.A.’s most aggressive low-carbon scenario, oil and natural gas will meet approximately half of that demand. Chevron has responded by establishing targets for emissions intensity — the amount of pollution created per unit of energy produced — and tying these goals to employees’ pay. Chevron also is lowering its carbon intensity at the lowest cost, increasing its use of renewable energy to support its business and investing in promising technologies.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a global issue that requires global action. We support a price on carbon as a possible way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the end user, but governments must decide which pricing system is best for their citizens. We work with governments to address potential climate change risks while continuing to produce affordable, reliable and ever cleaner energy.

Bob Dudley
Group chief executive, BP
Bob Dudley

The world is on an unsustainable path. We need a faster transition to a low-carbon energy system and a net-zero-emissions world. The last thing I want is a delay today that results in an abrupt, precipitous course-correction tomorrow. What’s good for the world is good for BP.
And what’s more, the oil and gas industry has the scale, expertise and resources to help the energy transition happen. This year alone BP will spend around $750 million on low-carbon activities, including wind, solar and electric-vehicle charging.
But a growing, more prosperous world needs growing quantities of energy, and that includes oil and gas. Today, one billion people lack the energy they need, and renewables alone can’t meet those needs. In fact, the International Energy Agency projects the world could still need nearly 70 million barrels of oil a day in 2040 — and that’s in a scenario consistent with the Paris Agreement goal of keeping any rise in global temperatures well below 2 degrees Celsius. Of course, how we use that oil and gas will change. Electric cars don’t burn petroleum, but they do use plastic in their construction and oil in their lubrication. And gas can be decarbonized.
Energy companies like BP have a bright future because we are evolving to serve the energy transition. But it’s a dual challenge; we need to reduce emissions while increasing energy. That’s the goal I have set for BP.

Mark Elder
Director, Research and Publications, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies
Mark ElderObviously the world must reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and accelerate its transition to renewable forms of energy. Who wouldn’t agree? Is it necessary to ask? Soon it may become clear that scientists were too cautious about the speed and magnitude of global heating and its consequences.
Arctic and Antarctic ice is melting much faster than expected, so rising sea levels will threaten coastal cities. The permafrost in Alaska, Canada and Siberia has melted nearly enough to release vast quantities of methane, greatly accelerating global heating. Fossil fuels, including natural gas, need to be rapidly phased out to minimize the worst effects of global heating.
Utility-scale renewable energy combined with battery storage is now technically feasible and economically competitive with fossil fuels in many cases, so many electric utilities are already shifting to renewables. Fossil fuels cannot compete without large government subsidies and assistance. Fossil fuel producers face enormous financial losses as oil and gas reserves and coal mines lose their value, becoming stranded assets.
These companies could shift their focus to ecosystem restoration to repair the damage caused by fossil fuel extraction, possibly with government assistance. It might not offset the losses from stranded assets, but it could provide replacement jobs for the workers. Wind turbines could be erected on old oil drilling platforms. Carbon capture and storage uses large amounts of energy and is very costly, so it probably will not be feasible. Investors are advised to steer clear of companies with large fossil fuel operations.

Nat Keohane
Senior vice president, climate, the Environmental Defense Fund
Nat KeohaneClimate change is an urgent crisis that’s damaging our economy, our planet, and our children’s future. To prevent the worst impacts, we must achieve a 100 percent clean economy in the United States and other advanced nations by 2050 at the latest, and in the rest of the world soon after. A 100 percent clean economy means we produce no more climate pollution than we can remove.
Achieving this ambitious goal will require policies that guarantee steep reductions in emissions, drive massive investment in clean energy and find ways through nature and technology to remove carbon from the atmosphere. The best science says that we must do all these things.
The reality is that solving this fast enough will take action from Congress. The core policy should be an enforceable, declining limit on climate pollution to ensure that we meet the 100 percent clean goal, achieved through a flexible, market-based approach that creates incentives for businesses and entrepreneurs to find the fastest and cheapest ways to get there. We also need to invest in innovation, reduce barriers to clean energy and energy efficiency, support more resilient farms and forests, and ensure a just and equitable transition for communities throughout America.

Mark Little
President and chief executive, Suncor
Mark LittleReliable and affordable energy is critical to our quality of life, and we will need to responsibly harness all forms of energy if we are to meet growing global demand and simultaneously tackle the challenge of climate change.
The choice is not between fossil fuels and renewable energy, but rather, how do we accelerate the growth of renewables while reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the use of fossil fuels.
At Suncor, we’re optimistic that collaboration and innovation enable us to do both. While transforming the energy system is one of the most complex tasks the world has faced, we can accelerate progress. We’re seeing businesses mobilize and collaborate on climate action like never before.
Last year, for example, we invested 635 million Canadian dollars to develop and deploy technology in this field, including innovations that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from operations by up to 80 percent. Our Fort Hills oil sands mine uses paraffinic froth treatment technology to cut the greenhouse gas emissions intensity of each barrel of oil produced there to be on par with the average refined barrel in North America.
We also are investing in energy-efficient cogeneration technology to reduce emissions from burning petroleum coke and export low-carbon power to Alberta’s grid so the province can transition from coal-based power generation. This will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2.5 million tons per year, equivalent to removing 550,000 vehicles from the road.

Mark Anthony Gyetvay
Chief financial officer, Novatek
Mark Anthony GyetvayClimate change is the defining topic of our generation and ultimately impacts everyone and all companies globally. It is our responsibility — the oil and gas industry — to ensure that we are doing everything possible to mitigate our carbon footprint and facilitate the transition to clean-burning energy. With energy demand forecast to rise over the coming decades, we must ensure affordable and secure energy supplies are available in a sustainable manner.
At Novatek, sustainable development is integral to our corporate strategy and embedded in our decision-making process. When we consider development projects, such as our large-scale liquefied natural gas projects, the ecological and environmental impacts are fully studied and plans are implemented to mitigate negative consequences. We engage all of our stakeholders in the review process.
Although climate science is calling for the reduction in fossil fuels, I believe the imminent demise of fossil fuels is overstated and the rapid transition to renewable sources of fuels will not solve this existential question. Natural gas is a clean-burning fuel and will be an important part of this energy transition. We will do our part to facilitate this energy transition by promoting natural gas as part of the climate change dialogue and solution.

Sir Mark Moody-Stuart
Chairman, Global Compact Foundation
Sir Mark Moody-StuartUndoubtedly yes, the world must accelerate its transition to renewable energy.
First, we all need to unite to support regulatory and fiscal frameworks, using taxes or market mechanisms to establish a carbon price high enough to drive significant change, with proceeds used to support those negatively affected parts of society.
However, price is not the whole answer; the poor are more adversely impacted by pricing, so we should mandate strict performance standards for technologies or ban some energy sources unless mitigated.
Cost is no longer a major barrier for renewables; intermittency is. So we need to develop technologies to store energy for periods of little or no wind or sunshine. Batteries are one answer, but they face scale, resource availability and environmental challenges. An alternative is to use spare capacity at times of high renewable availability to split water into oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen can then generate electricity or drive heavy transport, aircraft or processes not easy to electrify.
Finally, renewable-energy projects are currently less profitable than oil and gas projects. The challenge for oil majors and their investors enjoying high dividend yields is how to profitably apply their cash flow and project skills in the new energy world.

Bjarne Pedersen
Executive director, Clean Air Asia
Bjarne PedersenThe science on how human activities — predominantly the use of fossil fuels — have caused and continuously aggravate the impacts of climate change is indisputable. An accelerated shift to renewable energy is necessary not only to mitigate the impacts of the global climate crisis, but also to provide safe and clean air, particularly in Asia, which bears the highest health burden from air pollution.
Only 2 percent of Asia’s cities meet the World Health Organization’s guidelines for exposure to soot and other small particulate matter of 2.5 microns or less in diameter, which cause cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and cancers. Despite this, Asia is set to contribute half of the projected global expansion of coal-fired power plants. In Southeast Asia alone, it is estimated that coal emissions will increase premature deaths to 70,000 annually by 2030, from an estimated 20,000 today.
The role of the private sector is critical to the needed shift to renewable energy. Divesting from coal-powered energy generation and investing in renewable energy is imperative, particularly in Asia, where energy demand is increasing.
With millions of people in Southeast Asia still without access to electricity, and with the rapidly declining costs of renewable energy technologies, there is huge potential for its use on remote islands and in areas not easily accessible to the national grid. Equally important is investing in, and placing emphasis on, sustainable transport and clean energy solutions for buildings and consumers.

Erich Pica
President, Friends of the Earth
Erich PicaTransitioning to renewable energy is not only necessary to fight the climate crisis, it is also the only way we can quickly and effectively meet rising energy demands. It is foolish to think, however, that the fossil fuel industry will eagerly embrace this transition. We must push governments to enact an ambitious climate strategy that phases out all fossil fuels and transitions to a sustainable economy.
Over a billion people around the world lack access to electricity, and increasing fossil fuel-based generation will not fix this. Coal and nuclear power plants are expensive boondoggles. Communities living in energy poverty are continuously left in the dark without access to the grid as corporations sell power to industrial users and for export to recoup the costs.
Renewables, particularly small-scale renewables, are cheaper and faster to install. Small-scale renewables also tend to generate and keep power locally. This becomes a more effective way to fight energy poverty. Renewables are cheaper than nuclear, can compete with gas, and their price continues to fall. Rapidly phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewables is the only choice for the climate and the economy.

Patrick Pouyanné
Chairman and C.E.O., Total
Patrick PouyannéScience and market trends are clear: the world energy mix will evolve. But the debate is about the capacity of the world to adopt the right pace of change. The energy world is facing two challenges: providing affordable energy to a growing population and efficiently addressing climate change. For many emerging countries, the first challenge is paramount. This is why we engage resolutely in adapting the energy pattern and finding an acceptable gradual pace.
With the digital economy, a host of products and services are “going electric.” As a result, demand for electricity is surpassing demand for other forms of final energy. In this environment, all fossil fuels are not equal. For an equivalent energy content, gas emits half as much carbon as coal in power generation.
Total has been an “oil producer” for nearly a century, but now it is a major “energy player” that produces and markets fuel, natural gas and low-carbon electricity. Climate issues are central to our strategy in all four of our priority areas. In particular, we aim to:
Develop our leadership in the integrated gas value chain, the cleanest fossil fuel and an essential alternative to coal.
Grow in low-carbon electricity from power generation to power storage and sale to end customers.
Focus on low-cost oil for petroleum products and develop sustainable biofuels.
Develop businesses necessary to carbon neutrality, such as energy storage technologies, energy efficiency services, nature-based solutions and carbon capture and storage.

Shyla Raghav
Vice president, climate change, Conservation International
Shyla RaghavOur dependence on fossil fuels for energy — and, actually, the entire global economy — is unquestionably the largest cause of the greenhouse gas emissions driving the climate breakdown. Science suggests that avoiding the worst impacts of climate change requires global emissions to peak in 2020 and decline rapidly to net-zero by 2050. This will be possible only through a large-scale shift to clean, renewable energy.
This may seem nearly impossible, but wind and solar technologies are doubling in capacity every four years. If we prioritize policies such as carbon taxes and shift to circular production and consumption systems, achieving net-zero emissions is possible, even in the sectors that are the hardest to abate such as cement and chemicals.
However, just decarbonizing our economy will not by itself be enough to solve this crisis — for that, we need nature. The world’s carbon-rich ecosystems — tropical forests, mangrove swamps and peat lands — store more carbon than the entire atmosphere. Their destruction contributes to climate change, so we need a transformative shift in how we protect and manage such ecosystems as well as how we produce and use energy.
These fundamental transformations won’t happen on their own. Business and political leaders must heed consumers’ and voters’ demands for action, and promote changes via tax incentives, carbon pricing and investments in solutions available today. People can help by limiting their air travel, avoiding single-use plastics and shunning products that drive deforestation. This may all seem daunting, but with the right incentives and leadership, change will be inevitable. Our future depends on it.

Ajay Singh
Head of strategy and commercial, Japan Petroleum Exploration Company
Ajay SinghI agree completely that the world must rely less on fossil fuels and accelerate its transition to renewable forms of energy. But it’s a tall order. Consumption of fossil fuels is actually increasing, whereas scientific assessments call for it to reduce drastically — for instance a total phase out of coal and a 50 percent reduction in hydrocarbons by 2050 — if we are to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).
The fact is that the world has an abundance of hydrocarbons, the cost of producing them remains relatively low, they can be conveniently used in most applications, and investment in oil and gas assets generally remains financially more attractive than that in renewable energies. Shareholders do not necessarily like the prospect of lower returns that might result from a greater push into renewable energies. More widespread carbon taxation would help align investment behaviors with societal imperatives.
Meanwhile, further growth in renewable energies such as photovoltaic solar and wind — which are competitive in their own right against hydrocarbons and coal in certain regions — is being impeded by the lack of cost-effective electricity-storage solutions.
Next-generation technologies — such as using electrolysis to produce hydrogen fuel by splitting water — can accelerate the transition by providing effective energy storage and, in some cases, by exploiting synergies with the oil and gas industry.

Jean Su and Kelly Trout
Co-chairwomen, Energy Working Group, Climate Action Network
Kelly TroutJean SuThe science is clear: We must rapidly slash fossil fuel consumption by 2030 and keep 80 percent of the remaining fossil fuels in the ground to avoid climate catastrophe. At the same time, renewable energy is reaching cost parity with fossil fuels. The barrier to a 100 percent clean and renewable energy future is no longer technology and economics — it’s sheer political will.
But our political system is broken. Despite their knowledge that fossil fuels drive the climate emergency, fossil fuel producers have been suppressing this science, obstructing clean energy from reaching the grid and delaying this transition for decades. When companies like Exxon, Shell and BP invest in extracting more fossil fuel out of the ground, they lock us into high-carbon infrastructure, and that drives more fossil fuel consumption — exactly what these companies want.
The public, reflected in the millions of students and adults striking around the world last month, knows we cannot rely on the fossil fuel industry to stop drilling us into disaster. Instead, our political leaders must say no to new fossil fuel projects and finance and invest in a 100 percent clean and renewable energy system, creating good-paying jobs and protecting communities in the process.
Ms. Su also is the energy director and staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity; Ms. Trout also is a senior research analyst at Oil Change International.

Mark Watts
Executive director, C40 Cities
Mark WattsWe are in a climate emergency, and we need to start acting like it.
Despite all the scientific evidence, a small group of powerful nations and companies are still blocking attempts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Allowing global temperatures to rise far beyond 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels risks the extinction of human civilization. That is why mayors of the world’s big cities are so committed to urgent action.
They also recognize the benefits that will come from shifting our economies off fossil fuels: Cities in the future could enjoy affordable and reliable public transport; clean air; buildings that could be cheap to heat and cool; waste that can be reused or recycled rather than going to landfills. Mayors are using all the powers they have to shift markets and shape consumer choices — buying electric buses, for example, and creating low-emission zones in their city centers.
In the absence of meaningful leadership from the intergovernmental system, more than 70 mayors are gathering in Copenhagen for the C40 World Mayors Summit. Working with business leaders, investors, civil society, scientists, and young climate activists, mayors will be taking responsibility for stimulating a scale and pace of action that can avert climate breakdown. This is the future we want, and it is still within our grasp.

Categories: External websites

Australia’s Vast Carbon Sink Releasing Millions Of Tonnes Of CO2 Back Into Atmosphere

Lethal Heating - 11 October, 2019 - 03:00
The Guardian

Australia’s mangroves and seagrass meadows absorb 20m tonnes of CO2 a year but report warns damage to ecosystems contributing to climate change
Mangroves at high tide on the western side of Curtis Island on the Queensland coast. Australia’s vast coastlines represent 5%-11% of all the so called ‘blue carbon’ locked up in mangroves, seagrasses and tidal marshes globally. Photograph: Matthew Abbott/The Guardian Australia’s mangroves, tidal marshes and seagrass meadows are absorbing about 20m tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, according to a major new study that is the first to measure in detail the climate benefits of the coastal ecosystems.
But the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, warns that degradation of these “vegetated coastal ecosystems” was already seeing 3 million tonnes of CO2 per year being released back into the atmosphere.
The study reveals Australia’s vast coastlines represent between 5% and 11% of all the so called “blue carbon” locked up in mangroves, seagrasses and tidal marshes globally.
Some 44 scientists from 33 different research institutions collaborated on the study, which began in 2014.
Dr Oscar Serrano, at Edith Cowan University’s Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research, said it found the coastal ecosystems stored between 4,000m tonnes and 6,300m tonnes of CO2. Australia’s annual emissions hit a record high in 2018 of 558.4m tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.
Serrano said: “When these ecosystems are damaged by storms, heatwaves, dredging or other human development, the carbon dioxide stored in their biomass and soils beneath them can make its way back into the environment, contributing to climate change.
“Globally, vegetated coastal ecosystems are being lost twice as fast as tropical rainforests despite covering a fraction of the area.”
Coastal ecosystems store carbon in their soils as well as in the plants themselves and, once absorbed, the carbon can be locked away for thousands of years if undisturbed. They are able to absorb at up to 40 times faster than forests.
“They also protect the coasts from erosion, are important nurseries for fisheries and they clear up the water so it’s very important for several reasons that we preserve these ecosystems,” Serrano said.
He said the ecosystems were being impacted by coastal developments, dredging and by climate change.
The annual losses of carbon from the coastal ecosystems was the equivalent of a 12% to 21% increase in Australia’s land-use emissions from activities such as land-clearing.
In 2015, mangroves on the Gulf of Carpentaria suffered an unprecedented mass dieback along a 1,000-kilometre stretch of coastline that coincided with a major heatwave.
Prof Norman Duke, of James Cook University, who was not part of the study, said the advantage of quantifying the carbon stored in mangroves was that it created a “marketable commodity” that could be used as part of carbon trading schemes.
Duke, who is leading a project to assess the mass dieback event, said mangroves were a particularly powerful tool to cut emissions because they had about five times more capacity to store carbon than trees on the land.
He said: “Because we’re trying to reduce the release of carbon into the atmosphere, this gives us a very strong incentive [to protect them]. But that’s not the only benefits that mangroves deliver – they give habitats to fisheries and protect our coastlines.”
Recovery of mangroves in the gulf has been hampered by dead mangroves, broken up by subsequent storms, piling up on areas of new growth. A seperate study has found the Gulf of Carpentaria’s dead mangroves emit eight times the amount of powerful greenhouse gas methane than live mangroves.
Dr Andy Steven, coasts research director at CSIRO and a co-author of the research, said: “When we started this work in 2014, we had no real numbers. We didn’t know how significant it was, or even if they were worth thinking about. But we’ve shown demonstrably that these ecosystems are very significant.”
To calculate the carbon content of the ecosystems, the researchers combined satellite data on the extent of mangroves and tidal marshes with direct measurements of the carbon stored in soils and plants.
Serrano and Stevens said there was hope the methodology used to calculate the climate benefits of vegetated coastal ecosystems would be used as part of Australia’s official national greenhouse accounts in the future.
Serrano said the research could position Australia as a “world leader” in protecting blue carbon ecosystems, adding other countries could use their work to make their own national measurements.

Categories: External websites

Malcolm Turnbull Blasts Liberal Party For Being 'Incapable' Of Climate Change Action

Lethal Heating - 10 October, 2019 - 04:00
SBS - Tom Stayner

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has lashed the Liberal Party’s response to dealing with climate change.
Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull speaks to media after delivering an address at the NSW Smart Energy Summit. Source: AAPMalcolm Turnbull has lamented the Liberal party’s failure to act on climate change saying it has proven 'incapable' of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
In an interview with The Australian, Mr Turnbull revealed his biggest regret as prime minister was the rejection of his national energy policy.
He said climate change scepticism from a group of denialists had influenced his party and led to Australians paying higher power bills and more emissions.
Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull conducts his farewell press conference at Parliament House in Canberra. AAP“The Liberal Party has just proved itself incapable of dealing with the reduction of greenhouse gases in any sort of systemic way,” he said in the interview.
“The consequence … is without question that we are paying higher prices for electricity and having higher emissions."
Malcolm Turnbull’s own plan for a national energy policy would have provided a framework for mixing traditional generators and renewable energy sources but was scrapped after his ousting as prime minister last August.
However, the Morrison government insists it is on track to meet its greenhouse reduction commitments under the Paris agreement.
At the UN General Assembly last month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison strongly rejected criticism of his government’s action on climate change, despite the nation’s total emissions rising year on year since 2015.
“Australia is doing our bit on climate change and we reject any suggestion to the contrary,” Mr Morrison said.
"We are successfully balancing our global responsibilities with sensible and practical policies to secure our environmental and economic future."
In his interview, Mr Turnbull called for the science behind climate change to be recognised.
“Conservatives are practical,” he said.
“There is nothing conservative, for example, [in] denying the science of climate change. That’s not a conservative position. That is just, well, that is just denying reality. You might as well deny gravity.”
He said a national energy policy was needed to deal with the increasing transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.
“We [need to] have an effective set of rules to govern our energy market and ensure a low cost and stable transition from burning fossil fuels to renewable energy.
“We are paying higher prices for electricity than we should and we are having [more] emissions than we should, so it is a lose-lose. And if you talk to anybody in the industry, the energy sector, they will confirm what I just said to you.”
When Mr Turnbull was ousted as Prime Minister, his national energy policy was seen as one of a series of flash-points clashing with ‘conservative’ elements within his party.

Categories: External websites

Climate Explained: Why Some People Still Think Climate Change Isn’t Real

Lethal Heating - 10 October, 2019 - 04:00
The Conversation

Why do people still think climate change isn’t real?
Even people who accept the science of climate change sometimes resist it because it clashes with their personal projects. www.shutterstock.com, CC BY-NDAt its heart, climate change denial is a conflict between facts and values. People deny the climate crisis because, to them, it just feels wrong.
As I’ve argued elsewhere, acknowledging climate change involves accepting certain facts. But being concerned about climate change involves connecting these facts to values. It involves building bridges between the science of climate change and peoples’ various causes, commitments and convictions.
Denial happens when climate science rubs us up the wrong way. Instead of making us want to arrest the climate crisis, it makes us resist the very thought of it, because the facts of anthropogenic global heating clash with our personal projects.
It could be that the idea of climate change is a threat to our worldview. Or it could be that we fear society’s response to climate change, the disruption created by the transition to a low-emissions economy. Either way, climate change becomes such an “inconvenient truth” that, instead of living with and acting upon our worries, we suppress the truth instead.

Negating reality
Sigmund Freud and his daughter Anna were the great chroniclers of denial. Sigmund described this negation of reality as an active mental process, as “a way of taking cognisance of what is repressed”. This fleeting comprehension is what distinguishes denial from ignorance, misunderstanding or sheer disbelief. Climate change denial involves glimpsing the horrible reality, but defending oneself against it.
Contemporary social psychologists tend to talk about this in terms of “motivated reasoning”. Because the facts of climate science are in conflict with people’s existing beliefs and values, they reason around the facts.
When this happens – as social psychologist Jonathan Haidt memorably put it – they aren’t reasoning in the careful manner of a judge who impartially weighs up all the evidence. Instead, they’re reasoning in the manner of a defence lawyer who clutches for post hoc rationalisations to defend an initial gut instinct. This is why brow-beating deniers with further climate science is unlikely to succeed: their faculty of reason is motivated to defend itself from revising its beliefs.
A large and growing empirical literature is exploring what drives denial. Personality is a factor: people are more likely to deny climate change if they’re inclined toward hierarchy and against changes to the status quo. Demographic factors also show an effect. Internationally, people who are less educated, older and more religious tend to discount climate change, with sex and income having a smaller effect.
But the strongest predictor is one’s politics. An international synthesis of existing studies found that values, ideologies and political allegiances overshadowed other factors. In Western societies, political affiliation is the key factor, with conservative voters more likely to discount climate change. Globally, a person’s commitment to democratic values – or not in the case of deniers – is more significant.
This sheds light on another side of the story. Psychology can contribute to explaining a person’s politics, but politics cannot be entirely explained by psychology. So too for denial.

The politics of denial
As the sociologist Stanley Cohen noted in his classic study of denial, there is an important distinction between denial that is personal and psychological, and denial that is institutional and organised. The former involves people who deny the facts to themselves, but the latter involves the denial of facts to others, even when these “merchants of doubt” know the truth very well.
It is well established that fossil fuel companies have long known about climate change, yet sought to frustrate wider public understanding. A comprehensive analysis of documentations from ExxonMobil found that, since 1977, the company has internally acknowledged climate change through the publications of its scientists, even while it publicly promoted doubt through paid advertorials. The fossil fuel industry has also invested heavily in conservative foundations and think tanks that promote contrarian scientists and improbable spins on the science.
All this is rich manure for personal denial. When a person’s motivated reasoning is on the hunt for excuses, there is an industry ready to supply them. Social media offers further opportunities for spreading disinformation. For example, a recent analysis of anonymised YouTube searches found that videos supporting the scientific consensus on climate change were outnumbered by those that didn’t.

Undoing denial
In sum, denial is repressed knowledge. For climate change, this repression occurs at both the psychological level and social level, with the latter providing fodder for the former. This is a dismal scenario, but it shines some light on the way forward.
On the one hand, it reminds us that deniers are capable of acknowledging the science – at some level, they already do – even though they struggle to embrace the practical and ethical implications. Consequently, climate communications may do well to appeal to more diverse values, particularly those values held by the deniers themselves.
Experiments have shown that, if the risks and realities of climate change are reframed as opportunities for community relationship building and societal development, then deniers can shift their views. Similarly, in the US context, appealing to conservative values like patriotism, obeying authority and defending the purity of nature can encourage conservatives to support pro-environmental actions.
On the other hand, not all deniers will be convinced. Some downplay and discount climate change precisely because they recognise that the low-emissions transition will adversely impact their interests. A bombardment of further facts and framings is unlikely to move them.
What will make a difference is the power of the people – through regulation, divestment, consumer choice and public protest. Public surveys emphasise that, throughout the world, deniers are in the minority. The worried majority doesn’t need to win over everyone in order to win on climate change.

Categories: External websites

Build A Better Battery For Wind And Solar Storage, And The Energy Sector Will Beat A Path To Your Door

Lethal Heating - 10 October, 2019 - 03:30
EnsiaBianca Nogrady

As demand for renewable electricity surges, so too does demand for efficient, safe and sustainable storage
Photo © iStockphoto.com/Petmal  For all their many virtues, wind and solar power have one major flaw: at some point, even in the windiest, sunniest parts of the planet the wind stops blowing and the energy-giving rays of the sun disappear over the horizon. So as the world works to decarbonize its energy supply by reducing its reliance on coal, natural gas and petroleum and increasing its use of these variable renewable sources of electricity for the grid, one technology in particular is experiencing a renaissance: the stationary battery.
In a nutshell, stationary batteries are devices that use chemical interactions between materials to store electricity at a set location for later use. These batteries make it possible to store the electricity generated when sun and wind are at their peak so it can be made available to the grid when electricity demand is at its peak — such as when people get home from work and turn on their lights, air-conditioning or heating, television, and kitchen appliances.
The class of battery most modern electronics users and electric vehicle owners are familiar with is the lithium-ion, or Li-ion, battery. Li-ion batteries also predominate in the stationary battery market, mainly because they’ve been around longer and have had more time to mature as a technology, according to Jessica Trancik, associate professor of energy studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Institute for Data, Systems and Society
But just because Li-ion batteries are commonly used in consumer electronics and EVs, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best option for storing electricity in a renewable energy–dependent grid. Today’s lithium-ion batteries have their risks, costs and limitations. And while they might be first out of the blocks on the battery market, they will soon face stiff competition from a variety of alternatives and amendments that aim to match or beat their efficiency, with greater safety and sustainability. As the incentives increase for the development of more large-scale electricity storage and the business case for better battery storage technology becomes evident, there’s plenty of innovation happening.

Li-Ion 101
Li-ion batteries consist of a graphite electrode and a lithium-based electrode — most commonly lithium-cobalt — immersed in a liquid. When the battery is in use, charged lithium atoms (ions) flow from the graphite electrode to the lithium-based electrode through the liquid, and that flow of charged particles generates electricity. When the battery is recharged the flow is reversed, sending the lithium ions back to the graphite anode where they are stored ready for discharge.
The Li-ion made its first commercial appearance in 1991 in Sony camcorders. Use has since expanded into a huge range of small and large electronic devices, electric vehicles, military and aerospace applications, and for large-scale energy storage, such as the 100-megawatt lithium-ion Tesla battery built to support the energy grid of South Australia in 2017.
“In terms of the voltage it can produce, lithium is really a champion,” says Jenny Pringle, materials engineer and senior research fellow at the Institute for Frontier Materials at Deakin University in Melbourne. Lithium is very good at driving a strong flow of electrons, and therefore efficient at generating electricity, so has offered the best bang for buck of battery materials to date.
However, lithium ion batteries have their downsides as well. They contain toxic, volatile and flammable fluids that have earned them notoriety for bursting into flame or exploding. And lithium is a finite resource. Demand for this so-called ‘white petroleum’ has skyrocketed in recent years, with one forecast predicting demand will increase from 300,000 metric tons (330,000 tons) per year in 2019 to at least 1.1 million metric tons (1.2 million tons) per year by 2025, and another suggesting battery production will consume 70% of global lithium supplies by 2025.
Concerns about the mineral’s availability have led to price spikes in recent years, but with the number of lithium mines set to double, no one is yet talking about running out of the stuff. However there are growing concerns about the environmental cost of lithium mining and extraction in areas such as Tibet and Bolivia, where scarce water resources are being used to harvest the mineral from vast salt flats, and there are reports of local Tibetan water sources being contaminated with toxic by-products of mining.
Not only that, but cobalt — another essential element in many Li-ion batteries — is a conflict mineral. At least half the world’s supply is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where some of the workers — including children — face appalling and dangerous conditions.

Solid State
Pringle says one option to reduce the fire risk Li-ion batteries pose is to use ionic liquids — non-flammable molten salts with low melting points — as the liquid component. A more attractive idea is to use a solid, which sidesteps the problem of volatile and flammable liquids. But the trade-off is that electrically charged atoms don’t move as freely and easily through a solid as they do through a liquid, so less electricity is generated.
Some early contenders in the solid-state stationary battery space include those made with a lithium-rich ceramic as a substitute for the liquid currently being used. But these don’t avoid the other problems with lithium, such as its finite availability and the justice issues associated with mining.
This raises the question of whether cheaper and more abundant elements could be used instead of lithium. There’s particular interest in elements such as silicon, sodium, aluminum and potassium. But the electrochemical potential of these metals is lower than lithium, so the energy density of the battery might be reduced, Pringle says.

Sodium-sulfur batteries, in which the electrodes are molten sodium and molten sulfur and the electrolyte is solid, have been a promising avenue of investigation for large-scale energy storage for the grid because they are highly efficient at producing electricity, and are long-lasting. One challenge is that these batteries currently need to operate at very high temperatures. But researchers at institutions including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Wollongong in Australia are now investigating the possibility of sodium-sulfur options that can operate at room temperature.

Flow Batteries
Among the frontrunners for large-scale stationary storage of wind and solar power are flow batteries, which consist of two tanks of liquids that feed into electrochemical cells. The main difference between flow and conventional batteries is that flow batteries store the electricity in the liquid rather than in the electrodes. They’re far more stable than Li-ion, they have longer lifespans, and the liquids are less flammable. Not only that, but a flow battery can be scaled up by simply building bigger tanks for the liquids.

One type of flow battery, known as the vanadium flow battery, is already available commercially. A grid-scale 50 megawatt vanadium flow battery is planned for energy storage in the South Australian town of Port Augusta, and China is building the world’s largest vanadium flow battery, expected to come online in 2020. There are two main downsides: the liquids can be costly, so there’s a greater up-front cost for the batteries, and flow batteries aren’t quite as efficient as Li-ion batteries.

Plenty of Innovation
There are plenty of other developments happening in this space, making it an exciting time for battery research and development, Trancik says.
For example, researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne are developing a proton battery that works by turning water into oxygen and hydrogen, then using the hydrogen to power a fuel cell. Several other research teams around the world are exploring completely lithium-free ion batteries using materials such as graphite and potassium for the electrodes and aluminum salt liquids to carry the charged ions. Researchers in China are looking at improving the existing technology of nickel-zinc batteries, which are cost effective, safe, nontoxic and environment-friendly but don’t last as long as Li-ion. There is even work going on related to saltwater-based batteries, with one design already being used for residential solar storage.
“Now we see a lot more incentive, we see falling costs for lithium-ion batteries, we see the stationary energy storage market benefiting from growth of electric vehicles,” Trancik says. “It’s definitely still early days, particularly for stationary energy storage, but it’s a really important area and I think people are starting to realize that.”

Categories: External websites

Extinction Rebellion Kick Off Two Weeks Of International Protests Against Climate Change

Lethal Heating - 9 October, 2019 - 04:00
NEWS.com.au - Natalie Brown | AAP | AFP

Climate protesters in New York stage a graphic “die-in”, as two weeks of international civil disobedience to “save the Earth from extinction” begin.
Extinction Rebellion protesters covered in fake blood gather around the Wall Street Bull in New York. Source: AFPTourists gawk at a bloody scene in New York City as a series of protests begin around the world, demanding much more urgent action against climate change.
Activists with the Extinction Rebellion movement smeared themselves — and emblems of Wall Street — in fake blood and staged a “die-in” in front of the New York Stock Exchange.
“The blood of the world is here,” said Justin Becker, an organiser who made a link between the fossil fuel industry and the financial interests of Wall Street. “A lot of blood has been spilled by the decisions of the powerful and the status quo and the toxic system that we live in.”
New York City is one of many big cities around the world — from Sydney to Amsterdam — where activists are protesting as part of a two-week-long campaign.Demonstrators stopped traffic in European cities including Berlin, London, Paris and Amsterdam from Monday. In some cities, they chained themselves to vehicles or pitched tent camps and vowed not to budge. Hundreds of protesters have been detained by police around the world.
“Getting arrested sends a message to the government that otherwise law-abiding citizens are desperate,” British IT consultant Oshik Romem, told AFP. In London — where Extinction Rebellion was founded — 276 people have already been arrested.
Hundreds of climate change protesters have been detained by police in major cities around the world. Picture: Timothy A. Clary/AFPA protester covered in fake blood is arrested by NYPD officers after staging a ‘die-in’ near the Wall Street bull. Source: AFPThe activists are demanding that governments drastically cut the carbon emissions that scientists have shown cause devastating climate change.
“People are rebelling in these numbers because they realise the time to address this is right now, not in 2050, or even 2025,” Extinction Rebellion tweeted, referring to “net zero” climate emissions pledges by some governments.

What Is Extinction Rebellion?

Established in the UK in May 2018 by members of the social and environmental justice organisation Rising Up!, Extinction Rebellion (XR for short) is an international movement that “uses nonviolent civil disobedience in an attempt to halt mass extinction and minimise the risk of social collapse.”
Its founders include former organic farmer Roger Hallan and Gail Bradbrook, who formerly worked for an organisation seeking better internet access for the disabled.
The organisation launched last October, when more than 1500 people assembled on Parliament Square in London, in a peaceful civil disobedience to announce a Declaration of Rebellion against the UK Government.
Since then, the movement has staged a series of protests around the world, often featuring marchers in white masks and red costumes, splashed in copious amounts of fake blood.
The group — which uses an hourglass inside a circle as its logo to represent time running out for many species — wants governments to declare a "climate and ecological emergency” and take immediate action to address climate change.
According to its website, XR has three demands: tell the truth about what is happening to the planet and declare a climate emergency; act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025; and to reform democracy to create a citizens assembly on climate and ecological justice.
Activists outside the New York Stock Exchange. Picture: AP Photo/Richard DrewAn activist is arrested by police in Amsterdam. Picture: Romy Fernandez/AFPPolicemen carry away an activist in Vienna, Austria. Picture: Helmut Fohringer/APA/AFPA climate protesters sits outside Britain's Parliament in central London. Picture: AP Photo/Matt DunhamGreta Thunberg looks on during the climate change rally in Rapid City, South Dakota. Picture: Adam Fondren/Rapid City Journal via APSwedish teenager Greta Thunberg — whose searing UN address in September made international headlines — and academics studying the world’s rising temperatures and sea levels have backed the group, who have rejected the idea that they’re “a bunch of law-breaking anarchists or economic terrorists or ecofascists.”
“We are strictly nonviolent and reluctant law-breakers” from all ages and walks of life, they say on their website.
While nonviolent civil disobedience is central to XR’s tactics, though the group urges members to accept that they’ll risk arrest and charges, and should step outside of their comfort zone.
“We have a duty to disobey this system which destroys life on Earth and is deeply unjust,” its website says.

Action So Far
Tens of thousands of people from major cities around the world have heeded Extinction Rebellion’s call since last October, with the group saying that emergencies like the one heating up the climate demands action from everyone around the world.
In the weeks that followed their launch, 6000 protesters blocked five bridges across the Thames and, on other occasions, members performed stunts such as supergluing themselves to the gates of Downing Street — where this year, they poured buckets of fake blood on the road outside to represent the threatened lives of children.
On Monday — the first day of the fortnight’s protests — Metropolitan Police in London had already made 217 arrests in relation to the protests, with XR expecting the demonstration to be five times bigger than those held in April.
In Madrid, around 300 activists occupied a bridge that serves as a major traffic artery in the Spanish capital; and in Amsterdam, Dutch police detained 50 people who had refused to leave a roadblock they had set up on a main thoroughfare in the city centre.
More than 30 New Zealanders were yesterday arrested in Wellington, where hundreds blocked central roads, ministries and stormed a bank branch in the city.
And in Dublin, hundreds of environmental activists took part in a mock funeral procession through the city, with a large pink boat unveiled outside the heart of the Irish parliament in Leinster House.
Protesters dance on the Pont au Change bridge as they take part in an Extinction Rebellion demonstration in Paris. Source: AFPPolice arrest a climate activist in London. Picture: AP Photo/Alberto PezzaliProtesters hold banners reading ‘Pollute, consume and shut your mouth’ and ‘Burn the capitalism not oil’ during a demonstration in Paris. Picture: Jacques Demarthon/AFPBack in April, more than 1100 protesters were arrested when XR brought major disruption to London, where over the course of 11 days some of the city’s busiest routes were brought to a standstill.
Internationally, XR estimates an additional 440 of its activists have been arrested since their launch, including close to 70 in New York, where in June activists blocked traffic.
Several German protesters chained themselves outside Angela Merkel’s Chancellery in Berlin earlier this year — where more than 3000 protesters participated in actions, and in Paris, the police used pepper spray to clear activists blocking a bridge over the Seine.

What’s Happening In Australia?
The organisation’s Australian branch makes similar demands to the UK’s, stating that the government must declare a climate and ecological emergency, and must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
Dozens of climate change activists have been arrested across the country — with the first day of their “spring rebellion” seeing 30 arrests, including four teenage girls, in Sydney.
Extinction Rebellion protesters are arrested at Hyde Park in Sydney. Source: News Corp AustraliaActivists dressed as bees take part in a die-in protest in Sydney. Picture: AAP Image/James GourleySydney protests. Picture: AAP Image/James GourleyIn Melbourne, 10 people were arrested, with one activist refusing to enter a bail agreement, and who will now appear in Melbourne Magistrates Court.
“We have tried petitions, lobbying and marches, and now time is running out,” Australian activist Jane Morton told AFP.
“We have no choice but to rebel until our government declares a climate and ecological emergency and takes the action that is required to save us.”
Demonstrators have blocked roads in Sydney — where they had to be forcibly removed — and in Melbourne, there were similar scenes as the group took over the city’s streets.
In Canberra, protesters played dead on one of the busiest roads in the nation’s capital, while in Brisbane, they used poles and chains to make arrests difficult.
Protester Miriam Robinson said the group must “get right up in people’s grills” to convince governments to take firm action on climate change.
“We always apologise for causing inconvenience,” the retired public servant told Sydney Morning Herald.
“But this is nothing compared to the inconvenience that is going to start happening when we start to run out of food and water.”
An activist from Extinction Rebellion with his arm in a barrel of cement on George Street, Brisbane. Source: AAPPolice make arrests on Spring and Collins streets in Melbourne. Picture: David Crosling Source: News Corp AustraliaProtesters are seen in Russell Street in Melbourne. Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty ImagesXR first emerged in Australia in March, in a 24-hour protest at a railway affecting coal miner Adani, where a young woman suspended herself from a tree above the trailway and other protesters stormed the tracks, with one locking themselves to a train.
In May, thousands of activists staged a “die-in” in the streets of Melbourne’s CBD, and in August, 70 protesters were charged by police after a rally brought traffic to a standstill.
Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth are among the 60 cities around the world who will participate in this fortnight’s rallies.

Categories: External websites

Climate Change Poses A ‘Direct Threat’ To Australia’s National Security. It Must Be A Political Priority

Lethal Heating - 9 October, 2019 - 04:00
The Conversation

Climate change is expected to increase the severity of natural disasters in the Asia-Pacific region, straining Australia’s ability to respond through humanitarian missions and fuelling more climate migration. Vlad Sokhin/UNICEF handout It is evident from Australia’s increasingly severe droughts and record-breaking heatwaves that time is running out to take action on climate change.
Yet, despite persistent calls from eminent scientists to reduce global dependence on fossil fuels, a call to action has gone unanswered by our political leaders.
And we aren’t just facing an environmental threat alone in Australia – there are significant implications for our national security and defence capabilities that we haven’t fully reckoned with either.
This point was made abundantly clear in a speech prepared for Defence Force Chief Angus Campbell at an event in June, excerpts of which have been recently published by the media. It noted that Australia is in
the most natural disaster-prone region in the world … [and] climate change is predicted to make disasters more extreme and more common.
If the predictions are correct, [climate change] will have serious ramifications for global security and serious ramifications for the ADF [Australian Defence Force].
Defence chief Angus Campbell sounds climate warning. The speech leaves "the government open to criticism its lukewarm approach to combatting climate change is becoming a national security issue." @AngusGrigg @FinancialReview @auspol https://t.co/YKfSgVr8jl— Climate Council (@climatecouncil) July 14, 2019What kinds of security risks do we face?
Climate change works as a threat multiplier – it exacerbates the drivers of conflict by deepening existing fragilities within societies, straining weak institutions, reshaping power balances and undermining post-conflict recovery and peacebuilding.
This year’s IISS Armed Conflict Survey noted how
climate-related drivers for armed violence and conflict will increase as climate change progresses. The survey points out that the 2011 uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that escalated into civil war was preceded by the country’s deepest and most prolonged drought on record. One study has found the drought was two to three times more likely to happen due to climate change, and that it helped fuel migration to large cities, which in turn exacerbated the social issues that caused the unrest.
In May 2018, I was among numerous experts who provided evidence to a Senate committee examining the potential impacts of climate change on Australia’s national security.

Increased climate migration and disasters
One of the biggest threats I identified was the possibility of mass migration driven by climate change.
There will be nearly 6 billion people in the Asia-Pacific region by 2050. And if the region has become increasingly destabilised due to climate change, many people will likely be affected by rising sea levels, water and food shortages, armed conflicts and natural disasters, and desperate to find more secure homes.
This is already happening now. Since 2008, it’s estimated that an average of 22.5 million to 24 million people have been displaced globally each year due to catastrophic weather events and climate-related disasters.
And a new World Bank report estimates that 143 million people in three developing regions alone – sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America – could become climate migrants by 2050.
They will migrate from less viable areas with lower water availability and crop productivity and from areas affected by rising sea level and storm surges. The poorest and most climate-vulnerable areas will be hardest hit. Australia, with its very low population density, will likely be an attractive place for climate migrants to attempt to resettle. The World Bank has called on Australia to allow open migration from climate-affected Pacific islands, but successive governments haven’t exactly been open to refugees and asylum seekers in recent years.
If we don’t have a plan in place, our estimated 2050 population of 37.6 million could be overwhelmed by the scale of the national security problem.
Other experts agreed. American climate security expert Sherri Goodman described climate change as a “direct threat to the national security of Australia”, saying the region is
most likely to see increasing waves of migration from small island states or storm-affected, highly populated areas in Asia that can’t accommodate people when a very strong storm hits. Australia would also struggle to respond to worsening natural disasters in our region either caused by or exacerbated by climate change.
As part of the Senate inquiry, the Department of Defence noted an “upwards trend” in both disaster-related events in the Asia-Pacific region and disaster-related defence operations in the past 20 years.
As alluded to in the speech prepared for Campbell in June, we could easily find ourselves overwhelmed by disaster relief missions due to the severity and scale of future weather events, or due to a series of events that occur concurrently in dispersed locations.
This would stretch our available first responder forces – defence, police, ambulance, firefighters and other emergency services – even in the absence of any other higher priority peacekeeping missions around the world.
The HMAS Canberra transporting Army vehicles to Fiji to assist with disaster relief following Cyclone Winston in 2016. LSIS Helen Frank/Royal Australian NavyRecommendations for a way forward
The Senate report listed 11 recommendations for action by national security agencies and the government.
Among these were calls for:
  • the government to develop a climate security white paper to guide a coordinated government response to climate change risks
  • the Department of Defence to consider releasing an unclassified version of the work it has undertaken already to identify climate risks to the country
  • the government to consider a dedicated climate security leadership position in Home Affairs to coordinate climate resilience issues
  • and the Department of Defence to create a dedicated senior leadership position to oversee the delivery of domestic and international humanitarian assistance and disaster relief as climate pressures increase over time.
Some of these findings were contested. In their comments, the Coalition senators made a point of saying how well the government has been doing on climate change in the defence and foreign affairs portfolios. Sufficient strategies are in place
to ensure Australia’s response to the implications of climate change on national security is well understood and consistent across the whole of government. They also considered that a separate recommendation on defence emissions reduction targets fell outside the spirit of the inquiry. They did not support it.

A lack of urgency and response
The findings in the report are a cause for concern. The recommendations lack timetables for action and a sense of urgency.
The Senate committee also admitted its own shortcomings. For instance, it couldn’t adequately examine the potential impacts of climate change on Australia’s economy, infrastructure and community health and well-being due to a lack of substantial evidence on these issues.
Furthermore, and most worryingly, it seems the government just doesn’t care enough. It has yet to table a response to the report more than a year later.
A welcome development would be if the government announced a climate change security white paper that clearly spells out where ministers stand on the issue and the specific measures we need to take to prepare for the threats ahead. It would also dispel the concerns of many Australians about our future readiness.
But the Coalition’s response to the Senate report is breathtakingly complacent and smacks of reckless negligence since Australia is on the front line when it comes to climate change and our national security faces undeniably serious risks.
Climate change is already presenting significant challenges to governance, our institutions and the fabric of our societies. It’s time we recognise the potential threats to security in our region, as well.

Categories: External websites

How Extinction Rebellion Put The World On Red Alert

Lethal Heating - 9 October, 2019 - 04:00
The Guardian
The radical group has galvanised young and old. But in the year since it formed, what has life been like inside the movement?Extinction Rebellion’s ‘blood protest’ outside the Treasury last week. Photograph: Simon Dawson/ReutersIn the last week alone, members of Extinction Rebellion have been described as ecomaniacs (Daily Mail), ecoradicals ignoring our economic doom (Times), dangerous and a bloody mess (Daily Telegraph). They have been accused of “pulling 83,000 officers away from their normal duties” according to the police and costing Scotland Yard £16m. In London last week, dressed in funereal black, rebels tried to paint the Treasury red using 1,800 litres of fake blood and an old fire engine with a sign reading “stop funding climate death”.While its actions may seem controversial in some quarters, Extinction Rebellion’s rise and influence have undoubtedly been extraordinary, galvanising young and old across party lines. Last October, the journalist and activist George Monbiot introduced the group in the national press, a homegrown movement “devoted to disruptive, non-violent disobedience in protest against ecological collapse”. The hope was to turn a national uprising into an international one by March. In fewer than 12 months, Extinction Rebellion has become the fastest-growing environmental organisation in the world.
“We have seen protest movements on climate change before, but they haven’t attracted anywhere near as many people or had as much impact,” said Clare Saunders, professor in environmental politics at Exeter University. “For the first time, you have ordinary people engaging with radical action. It’s unique – I can’t think of any [protest movement] historically happening in that way.”
There are now an estimated 485 Extinction Rebellion affiliates across the globe and, over the next fortnight, they are promising to shut down 60 cities, including London, New York, Buenos Aires, Sydney, Cape Town and Mumbai. Government buildings, airports and financial districts will all be targeted with protests aiming for maximum disruption to provoke urgent political action. In a bid to pre-empt the action, on Saturday police raided a warehouse in south London and arrested nine activists, charging them with conspiracy to cause a public nuisance and obstruct the highway.
People think going vegan and recycling will stop climate change – it won’t. Government has to act
Jules Bywater, Cardiff protester
How did they come so far, so quickly? The Observer has watched the movement at work in city centres, at festivals and meetings across the UK to try to find out.
“It’s maintaining hope in people because people are feeling so worn out by the inaction,” said Steven from Cardiff, who joined the summer uprising in the city in July. When the Observer met him, he and his partner Clare were sitting on the green outside the town hall, where Extinction Rebellion had set up base with a boat, an impromptu campsite and stalls serving free food to the public. “I’m not sure the damage to the planet is irreversible at this point – all the science points that way, it’s grim reading – but this is pricking people’s ears up more than any other group, and that can only be a good thing.”
The Cardiff rebellion, staged over three days, saw a massive police presence deployed as a procession of families and activists marched through the city centre. Jules Bywater, a builder of eco-homes, had travelled from Powys to join the action. “People think going vegan, banning single-use plastic and recycling will stop climate change – it won’t. Government has to act, and it’s on us to cause these disruptions to force them to. This has to be a mass movement.”
Alice Taherzadeh, a PhD student and one of the key organisers, was buoyant but exhausted. “We had less than a month to get this together,” she said. As a decentralised organisation, XR, as it is known, claims no hierarchy: it is open to all and operates a “regenerative culture”.
In theory, this means responsibility and workload is designed to be a shared, collaborative effort with heavy emphasis on community, and mental and physical wellbeing. In practice, a hierarchy does still exist, albeit under the surface, where some people are in the loop, go to the pub together and have access to the latest comings and goings from HQ, while others volunteer more on the periphery. Still, to witness it across uprisings in London in the spring, and across the UK over the summer at festivals and meetings, the spirit of XR is warm and often moving. The culture it has fostered also allows for a surprising amount of internal criticism of its founders, Roger Hallam and Gail Bradbrook.
“The movement and its principles are far bigger than both of them; they’re not these messianic figures they’re made out to be,” said Taherzadeh wearily.
Hallam is a former organic farmer who went on to study civil disobedience at King’s College London after “the weather went weird” and caused his business to fail. He formed XR with Bradbrook, an academic involved with Occupy and anti-fracking protests, and the two have championed non-violent resistance and civil disobedience. Their methods, including advocating a shutdown of Heathrow, have been effective but divisive.
“I don’t think Roger is the best spokesperson, necessarily,” said Taherzadeh. “Some of his tactics – drones at Heathrow for instance – have caused huge conflict. But the unity in the movement exists because of the three core demands: get government to tell the truth, get government to act now, and to draw up citizens’ assemblies.”
There is a quiet desperation and sometimes despair at how hard and possibly futile any personal effort seems in the face of the climate crisis. But those touched by Extinction Rebellion find it impossible to ignore the ways in which they are contributing to global heating. This isn’t just about recycling, switching to bamboo toothbrushes and buying in bulk; people are re-insulating their homes, dramatically scaling back family holidays to eradicate air travel and, in increasing numbers, deciding not to have children at all.
The movement’s Summer Uprising occupied Bristol city centre in July. Photograph: Miriam Quick“I’m scared of my own future,” said Dahlia, a 20-year-old student at the Bristol uprising. “How could anyone think about having kids now? It’s not even just about the carbon footprint and population growth … what kind of world are you thinking they’re going to live in?”
The summer rebellion in Bristol took over the city centre and installed a pink boat and white gazebos on the Bristol Bridge. Billy Bragg performed, and hundreds joined talks and workshops explaining how activism works, how to get involved and what legal rights might be for protesters who get arrested.
But it isn’t just for the loud and energetic, or those willing to go to prison for the cause. At a crafting session in Totnes, a dozen women quietly work on their “craftivist” skills; almost every one joined XR in the last few months, and they volunteer as behind-the-scenes environmentalists making flags, banners and the like. Some are put off by the noise and physical toll of being on the streets; others describe themselves as too introverted to protest in that way. Yet the zeal is still palpable.
“We’ve just spent our family holiday in the UK,” said Sarah Strachan. “Once you learn about it, read up on it … I can’t countenance how we could fly somewhere. You just can’t, and it does consume you. But how can you not try?”
Strachan works as an artist in Totnes and lives with her partner and their son and daughter. She began making tiny doll figures of the school strikers last year, as a casual distraction from the puppets she was already crafting in her home studio. Nine months ago, she had barely heard of Extinction Rebellion, but in the summer she joined the rebellion in Bristol and is working for the next one.
At home and at work, the climate crisis has engulfed her; last month, Ghost, her biggest piece yet, went on display in a local church and is set to tour next year. In it, she assembled 1,000 donated and secondhand toy plastic animals, painted them white and installed them as an eerie-looking herd. “It came from the horrible realisation that these plastic animals will be around for hundreds of years and will outlive some, if not all, of the animals they’re modelled on. How have we let this happen?”
Extinction Rebellion’s success goes beyond the efforts of its volunteers, known as rebels, who are determined, as they are often heard to say, to be on the right side of history. Business has also been under by pressure to respond to a shift in public opinion. A sustainable building designer, who asked not to give his name, said: “Extinction Rebellion have had a tangible impact. Would things be moving as fast otherwise? Shortly after [the spring rebellion], the UK government became the first to pledge to cut [greenhouse gas emissions] to almost zero by 2050. Every architectural and engineering practice has been or should be trying to work out how net-zero carbon can be delivered.”
Since XR’s launch, the architecture, engineering and construction industries have all declared a climate emergency, committing to work together to reduce emissions and work in a sustainable fashion. At least 232 councils out of 408 across the UK have followed suit. Possibly as a gesture, 15 universities including Bristol, Newcastle, Manchester and Goldsmiths have done the same, as has the UK music industry and “Culture”, an umbrella group of more than 50 organisations and artists. The National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company have severed financial ties with Shell and BP respectively. It remains to be seen what all this activity translates into: while some organisations have simply adopted the vernacular, many are actively working to force change in their industries. Either way, Extinction Rebellion has been credited as a catalyst – albeit not one without criticism within the environmental movement.
Extinction Rebellion’s Rebel Rebel stage at this year’s Bluedot festival in Cheshire. Photograph: Tomm Morton“Some grassroots groups hate them because they’re not anti-capitalist [enough], they are for-profit and pro-arrest,” said one anonymous worker from a major environmental organisation. “The pro bono lawyers’ group Green and Black Cross [GBC] have been working with activists for decades and they’ve taken on so much casework for XR – for free, despite them raising so much money and the core crew being paid – that it’s taken away from other crucial activism work.”
Earlier in the summer, GBC ended its relationship with XR, citing “serious concerns about the safety of both legal observers and those taking part in action associated with Extinction Rebellion”. Meanwhile, Wretched of the Earth, “a grassroots collective for indigenous, black, brown and diaspora groups and individuals demanding climate justice”, wrote an open letter to XR asking that their voices and experiences not be erased from the fight.
“Making people feel guilty without offering anything else is a waste,” said Sylvia Kingston on the bridge at the Bristol rebellion, when asked whether XR could do better to engage marginalised communities. She described herself as a pensioner standing up for my grandchildren” who, like so many others at XR gatherings, claimed she wasn’t an activist, “or a hippy”, or particularly on the left. “You want people to feel energised, which is why things like this are so necessary. Perpetual despair will burn you out … My generation, people like me, can afford to be here – and they should be.”
While the momentum behind XR shows no sign of slowing yet, answers for what happens next aren’t in easy supply. “We’re not claiming to have solutions,” said Bywater. “There are experts for that, there is a great deal of technology, there is plenty of knowledge to be harnessed. What we’re doing is telling government to listen to that. To act. And that pressure can only come from more of us being here.”
It’s seen as good that minds are being changed, even if XR’s demands are not always perceived as realistic. “They must know what they’re asking for – net zero carbon by 2025 – is virtually impossible. I guess their statement is a calculated risk,” said the building designer.
Saunders agreed. “There are very good reasons that Greenpeace and WWF will have to publicly distance themselves from XR – if you have more radical actions out there, your organisation’s demands might seem reasonable and palatable to a government taking steps to act.”

Categories: External websites

Extinction Rebellion Activists To Use Disruption Tactics From Hong Kong Demonstrators In Australian Protests

Lethal Heating - 8 October, 2019 - 04:00
ABC 7.30Michael Atkin

Extinction Rebellion protesters stop traffic by locking themselves to portable barricades in Brisbane. (ABC News: Michael Atkin) Key points
  • Extinction Rebellion activist are demanding action on climate change
  • Organisers say they are trying out tactics used by demonstrators in Hong Kong
  • They are using bike locks, cable ties and street barricades to create public disruption
Extinction Rebellion protesters are planning to copy civil disobedience tactics from the unrest in Hong Kong to try to disrupt Australian cities.
The climate change activists have begun a week of protest dubbed the International Rebellion across 60 cities from Paris to Mumbai to demand action about what they say is a climate emergency.
"We've got barricades that have recently been used in Hong Kong so we're going to try out what's been happening in Hong Kong," Tom Howell, one of the group's Brisbane organisers, told 7.30.
"Cable ties and street barricades together, you can go and get a $40 bike lock, this is a really accessible thing.
"So it's great that we can show that if people do want to take action, disrupt the economy … it only takes a few bike locks, cable ties and some street furniture."'Wilful and deliberate disruption'
An Extinction Rebellion protester demonstrates using a bike lock to chain himself to a portable barricade. (ABC News: Michael Atkin)Extinction Rebellion has already been holding regular protests where they superglue themselves to roads or use devices to lock onto infrastructure.
Since April, the group says 160 people have been arrested in Brisbane alone.
The activists regularly meet in secret locations to practice protests before they're deployed on the streets.
7.30 obtained access to one of these secret meetings, where they were practicing using bike locks to chain themselves to barricades, just one tactic they have copied from the Hong Kong protests.
Chief Superintendent Tony Fleming says the protesters are refusing to cooperate with Queensland Police. (ABC News)Queensland Police Chief Superintendent Tony Fleming said it was concerning that the protesters would adopt those tactics.
"I think that would be very disappointing if people were to behave that way," he told 7.30.
"I think the issues in Hong Kong and the issues in Australia are probably different and, whilst we are not in the business of taking sides in any particular issue — we're very keen to be agnostic — the fact is … we can all see that is having a significant impact on Hong Kong."
Chief Superintendent Fleming thinks the Extinction Rebellion protests are already at an unprecedented level and still escalating.
"It seems that their tactic is to deliberately not cooperate with us and not take our help to help them protest peacefully and effectively," he said.
"Anywhere you're using power tools or other heavy equipment in order to extract someone, there is a risk there. But of course, we have no choice because we're asking these people to undo themselves and they're refusing."The consequence of that is we're having bridges shut down, and we're having all sorts of traffic flow [issues]. And the feedback we're getting from the community is that they're not grateful for that.
"It appears to be wilful and deliberate to try and disrupt the activities of ordinary citizens."

'Activist tyranny'
Resources Minister Matt Canavan says protesters don't have the right to impose their views on others. (ABC News)The protesters believe they have no other options left to get their message across, and claim Australia isn't pulling its weight in addressing climate change.
"We take no pleasure in disrupting individuals' lives, stopping people getting to work," Mr Howell said.
"But we recognise the decades of protest, petitions, everything else that has been tried, has not worked. There has been no change; emissions are still rising."
They are calling for the Morrison Government to declare a climate emergency, make a rapid transition away from coal, and reduce emissions to zero by 2025.
"We are not on track to meet any kind of target that would essentially get us out of this mess," Mr Howell said.
"Emissions are going up — that is not dealing with the problem. We're exporting more than ever before."

7.30 Report
Resources Minister Matt Canavan said he recognised the right of protesters to hold their particular point of view.
"But they have no right to impose those political views on the vast majority of other Australians who do not support their position," he told 7.30.
"What Extinction
Rebellion is effectively asking for is a tyranny of the activist groups to overtake free and fair democratic processes in this country.
"What they're asking for is the Government should succumb to blackmail, so that any particular group with a handful of members should somehow be able to dictate to an elected government what should happen, because otherwise they'll do certain things."Well, of course, we're not going to succumb to such ridiculous threats."
Ministers in the Government like Peter Dutton have suggested cutting off the benefits of protesters who are on welfare.

Protests trying to 'attract dramatic attention'Economist John Quiggan says the protests are getting more attention than most other attempts to call for serious action on climate change. (ABC News)Economist John Quiggan agrees with the protesters that Australia needs to do more to address climate change but he believes their demands are unrealistic.
"I think it's what used to be called an ambit claim," he told 7.30.
"Clearly, [the protesters' demands] would be very difficult to achieve. But I think in the nature of public protest one slogan used to be, 'demand the impossible'.
"What people want to do when you're making these protests is attract dramatic attention, which they've succeeded in doing. Far more so than more-measured responses from climate scientists, economists and so forth, calling for serious action."
The Queensland Government is fed up with the protests and is now proposing new laws which would include jail terms for activists who block transport or business access, and use locking devices.
The Queensland government is considering new laws and greater police powers to deal with protesters. (ABC News: Melanie Vujkovic)Queensland Police would also be given new search powers.
Chief Superintendent Fleming said the Extinction Rebellion protests were a drain on the resources.
"We're taking away police officers from other roles that are designed to keep the community safe," he said.Extinction Rebellion organiser Tom Howell says the protesters won't give up until there is change. (ABC News: Colin Hertzog)"Whether it's actually responding to calls for service — and we certainly have got certain crime types like robberies and domestic violence, which we consider really high priorities."
He said police would also take a tougher stand against those they arrested.
"When you continue to commit the same offences over and over again, we will look to oppose bail," he said.
None of which will deter the protesters.
"We're going to keep going until it's done and dusted or until we've failed, which will be some years before we decided," Mr Howell said.
"So, yeah, people aren't giving up on this one."

George Monbiot 'We need to create the biggest movement that has ever been...'

Categories: External websites

Timeline: Greta Thunberg's Rise From Lone Protester To Nobel Favorite

Lethal Heating - 8 October, 2019 - 04:00
ReutersSonia Elks

Greta Thunberg: From lone protest outside the Swedish Parliament demanding more action on climate change to millions joining her in cities worldwide in a Global Climate Strike. MICHAEL CAMPANELLA/Getty Images and REUTERS/Kate MunschLONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is the favorite to win the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, bookmakers have said, after she rose to lead a millions-strong youth movement demanding action on global warming.
The 16-year-old is tipped to become the youngest ever recipient of the award, which will be announced next week and has previously been won by major figures such as Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter and Mikhail Gorbachev.
She was named as the frontrunner by a number of European bookmakers, with betmaker Ladbrokes putting her at 4/6, above potential rivals including the Pope and the U.N. refugee agency.
“It’s hard to argue against the impact Thunberg’s actions have had globally, and that’s reflected in her odds as the favorite,” said Ladbrokes spokeswoman Jessica O’Reilly.
Here is a timeline of how Thunberg rose from a solo campaigner to the leader of a global movement:

August 20, 2018: Swedish student Thunberg, then aged 15, skips school to protest outside parliament for more action against climate change.

August 26, 2018: She is joined by fellow students, teachers and parents at another protest and begins attracting media attention for her climate campaign.

September 2018: Thunberg begins a regular ‘strike’ from classes every Friday to protest climate issues. She invites other students to join her weekly “Fridays for Future” campaign by staging walkouts at their own schools.

November 2018: More than 17,000 students in 24 countries take part in Friday school strikes. Thunberg begins speaking at high-profile events across Europe, including U.N. climate talks in Poland.

February 2019: Protests directly inspired by Thunberg take place across more than 30 countries, from Sweden to Brazil, India and the United States.

March 2019: Thunberg is nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. The number of students taking part in school strikes hits more than 2 million people across 135 countries.

May 2019: Thunberg is named one of the world’s most influential people by Time magazine, appearing on its cover. “Now I am speaking to the whole world,” she wrote on Twitter.

July 2019: Conservative and far-right lawmakers urge a boycott of Thunberg’s appearance in the French parliament, mocking her as a “guru of the apocalypse” and a “Nobel prize of fear”.

August 1, 2019: Thunberg hits back at “hate and conspiracy campaigns” after by conservative Australian commentator Andrew Bolt described her as a “deeply disturbed messiah”.

August 5, 2019: Some 450 young climate activists from 37 European countries gather in Switzerland to discuss the movement’s development.

August 14, 2019: Thunberg sets sail from Britain for the United States to take part in a U.N. climate summit. Meanwhile, the total number of climate strikers reaches 3.6 million people across 169 countries.

August 28, 2019: Thunberg arrives at New York Harbor in a zero-carbon emissions vessel, completing a nearly 14-day journey from England to take part in a U.N. climate summit.

September 13, 2019: Thunberg takes her mission to U.S. President Donald Trump’s doorstep with a protest outside the White House.

September 18, 2019: Thunberg is one of four students invited to a U.S. congressional hearing to provide the next generation’s views on climate change.

September 23, 2019: Thunberg delivers a blistering speech to leaders at the U.N. summit, accusing them of having “stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words”.

September 24, 2019: The teenager hits back at mockery from the U.S. President Donald Trump, changing her Twitter biography to quote his comments.

September 25, 2019: Thunberg is named as one of four winners of the 2019 Right Livelihood Award, known as Sweden’s alternative Nobel Prize.

Categories: External websites

Why Is Everyone Afraid Of Greta Thunberg?

Lethal Heating - 8 October, 2019 - 04:00
The AustralianNikki Gemmell*

Greta Thunberg speaks at the Climate Action Summit at the UN last month. Picture: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images/AFPPassivity is written into the Australian vernacular. No worries. She’ll be right mate. Throw another shrimp on the barbie. For most of us, our default is passivity; or it’s at least how we want the world to see us. Laid-back, chilled, relaxed. Passivity is easy, non-threatening. Deadening. Because it means an acceptance that someone is going to look after us; we let go, we trust. “Passivity may be the easy course,” Noam Chomsky wrote, “but it is hardly the honourable one.”
And so to honour. To seizing the truth and the lies and shaking them up. To the valuing of those who live with dynamism and courage and grit; who refuse to be passive. Because by succumbing to it we’re supporting the status quo — even when that status quo could be leading us down a path of irreversible destruction.
A short 14 months ago a young, awkward, Anne of Green Gables-like girl sat outside the Swedish parliament holding a hand-drawn sign that read Skolstrejk för klimatet (school strike for the climate). She seemed haloed by alone-ness, on her little blue mat with her grimly determined face and plaits. Yet in just over a year Greta Thunberg has created a worldwide movement galvanising millions of people, forcing the world to listen to the children — and what an indictment that is on the elders of this planet. What a moment in history. When the young turn on the old; with history on their side.
Thunberg has demonstrated the heroic opposite of passivity. How worlds can be changed by the lone action of a single voice. Yet there are those who cannot bear her; the outspokenness, the audacity, the persistence, the fact this young woman will not stay in the meek, quiet little box expected of her. There are people afraid of the power she’s unleashed. And she hasn’t done it by shouting or haranguing; she’s merely talked powerful truths, and people naked in their insecurity have tried to silence her. Yet she endures.
Thunberg has not only history but science on her side. There’s change to the very texture of our air, from decades ago; we who are old enough know this to be true. We can swim in our seas earlier in the season, bushfires are encroaching on our winters, our windscreen wipers no longer slough off great swathes of insects out bush. All the little signs, all the little pricks. Bigger picture: a struggling reef. Regional towns gasping for water. Dry lightning strikes igniting fires in old-growth forests in Tasmania, destroying trees that have endured for thousands of years. In the Gold Coast hinterland, bushfires too early in the season in places not meant to be burning like this.
This feels like national vandalism. Government-enabled, national vandalism. We cannot trust our government to look after us on this one. Its climate change policy is, woefully, almost non-existent. And this is no time for repose, for she’ll be right mate and no worries. “The biggest lesson is you get the country you work for,” novelist Mohsin Hamid said. “If you sit back and simply allow your country to be, it is highly unlikely to be the kind of country you want. You have to be active.” The issue matters, to a lot of Australians. Climate denialists are the dinosaurs of our world, which is why perhaps they’ve been squealing so loudly and viciously about a 16-year-old girl in plaits. What are they afraid of? The truth? Effectiveness?
I hope that year after year these protests continue; and of course all the galvanised, angry young Australians are getting closer to becoming voters. Passivity is too easy. As Hannah Arendt said, “It is quite conceivable that the modern age — which began with such an unprecedented and promising outburst of human activity — may end in the deadliest, most sterile passivity history has ever known.”

*Nikki Gemmell is a bestselling author of thirteen works of fiction and five non-fiction books. Her work has received international critical acclaim and been translated into many languages. 

Categories: External websites

‘Incredibly Worrying’: Legal Fight Looms Around Australia Over Clampdown On Protest

Lethal Heating - 7 October, 2019 - 04:00
The Guardian

Peter Dutton has described protesters as ‘a scourge’, with the threat of increased penalties and imprisonment in several states
Extinction Rebellion protesters in Brisbane have been the target of Peter Dutton’s anger, as protesters around Australia face a series of new laws to curb the scope of their actions. Photograph: Dan Peled/EPA Today the activist group Extinction Rebellion will begin a week of global protests.
In Brisbane, home to the grassroots organisation’s first Australian chapter, activists are preparing to stage protests around the city. At the group’s headquarters in Woolloongabba, a busy training schedule is under way. It is hosting introductory sessions at local libraries planning two large-scale marches, with a litany of other “non-violent disruptive actions”.
Since the group conducted its first action in Australia in April, there have been more than 170 arrests, with penalties ranging from a warning to a $1,500 fine.
When new laws designed to target the tactics used by Extinction Rebellion pass parliament, those penalties will escalate. The use of a purpose-designed “dangerous attachment device to disrupt lawful activities”, referring to the Extinction Rebellion tactic of locking on to railways and roads, will attract a $6,500 fine or two years’ imprisonment.
Peaceful protest, the Queensland government says, is only acceptable if it does not disrupt people going about their ordinary business.
But disruption is the point.
“We are using civil disobedience to cause economic disruption and a disruption to business as usual,” Extinction Rebellion south-east Queensland member Emma Dorge says. “Without disruption, our voices are not being heard.”
She is not deterred by harsher penalties.
“We are fighting against extinction,” she says. “People are doing what’s necessary in the face of complete inaction from governments on climate change.”
Queensland has proposed two new amendments this year designed to clamp down on protests: increased trespass penalties aimed at animal welfare protests, currently going through a parliamentary committee, and the lock-on laws. It has also introduced biosecurity regulations with on-the-spot fines for entering an agricultural premises.
New South Wales has also introduced new $1,000 on-the-spot penalties through biosecurity regulations and is considering draft laws with broad new trespass penalties.
When the Western Australian premier, Mark McGowan, was opposition leader in 2016, he ceremonially ripped up anti-protest laws proposed by his predecessor, but his government has also said it will increase penalties for trespass. The reforms are aimed at animal welfare protesters described by the attorney general as “mushy-headed vegans”. Without disruption, our voices are not being heard.Emma Dorge, Extinction Rebellion
Victoria is holding a parliamentary inquiry to determine if it ought to strengthen trespass laws, following uproar about a $1 fine levied against an activist who stole a goat from a Gippsland cheese cafe. The Law Institute of Victoria has suggested the government instead introduce laws promoting greater transparency in the agriculture industry.
Tasmania, still bruised from a 2017 high court decision that struck down its anti-protest laws, is working on amended legislation to reintroduce the laws.
That high court ruling – that environmental protests are political and protected under the constitutional implied freedom of political communication – could potentially apply to Queensland and NSW laws as proposed.
“When we see the positioning that’s been coming out of the government we tend to look at it through two filters,” the Wilderness Society national director, Lyndon Schneiders, says. “One is: is what they are proposing actually legal? And secondly, what are they trying to achieve politically?”
The NSW Nature Conservation Council chief executive, Chris Gambian, says the NSW legislation is framed as a narrow provision supporting farmers but could actually work against their interests by penalising almost all protest actions.
Farmers have been heavily involved in environmental protests in Australia, particularly against coal seam gas. The Bentley Blockade, a seven-year protest in the Northern Rivers region which successfully halted gas exploration and is cited as inspiration by Dorge and other Extinction Rebellion members as an example of successful activism, was underpinned by farmers.
And when more than 300,000 people join climate strikes around Australia, can protesting still be considered a fringe activity?
“There is a culture war going on that is trying to pit those people that care about the environment against other people, and I think that’s incredibly worrying,” Gambian says.
Take these comments from Peter Dutton.
The home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, says disruptive protesters deserve to be shamed. Photograph: Glenn Hunt/AAP “People should take these names, and the photos of these people, and distribute them as far and wide as we can so that we shame these people,” said the home affairs minister in his regular spot on Sydney’s 2GB radio. “Let their families know what you think of their behaviour … We should push back on it because these people are a scourge, they are doing the wrong thing. If you want to protest, do it peacefully.”
In this context, “peaceful” can be taken to mean “unobtrusive”.
Dutton also suggested protesters should face mandatory minimum sentences and murmured support for host Ray Hadley’s suggestion that the welfare payments of protesters be restricted. In the world of talkback radio, the Venn diagram of ordinary working Australians and people who protest are two circles that never meet. Reality has more overlap.
Gambian is a spokesperson for a loose coalition of environment groups, Unions NSW and legal groups that have banded together to oppose the proposed NSW anti-protest laws, which would result in protesters facing fines of up to $22,000.
A similar coalition of 80 organisations, from unions to religious groups, staved off the most recent anti-protest laws in WA and is waiting to see the draft of the new proposed laws.
“It was a matter that brought together a really broad cross-section of society,” Perth-based public advocacy lawyer Kate Davis says. “I don’t think any laws that are targeted at restricting the right to protest have a place in our democracy.”
The proposed NSW laws, like new federal laws passed in August, are targeted at “farm invasion” protests from animal activists who have targeted abattoirs, factory farming operations and family-run farms in the past 18-months.
They make use of the Inclosed Lands Protection Act and are “breathtakingly broad,” says Gambian, and would capture protests on environmental grounds, including anti-mining protests.
That act was amended in 2016 to introduce a $5,500 penalty for aggravated unlawful entry to enclosed lands. It was up for review next month, but that review has now been superseded by the proposed Right to Farm Bill.
The proposed amendments would increase the penalty for aggravated trespass to $13,200 or 12 months’ jail. If a person was accompanied by two or more other people, or taken to be interfering with the conduct of the business, they would face a $22,000 fine or three years’ jail.
“Enclosed land is any land that has a fence around it,” Gambian says. “Including a temporary fence. Including a temporary fence erected while the protest is going on.”
It includes public land, such as state parliament.
Emily Howie, legal director for the Human Rights Law Centre, says the proposed laws could run afoul of the same constitutional provisions that allowed the former Greens leader Bob Brown to win his high court challenge against the Tasmanian anti-protest laws.
If the laws were found to be denying Australians their constitutional freedom to talk about things that are politically important, Howie says, they could be found to be invalid.
Moves by governments to protect businesses from disruption are legitimate, Howie says, but they must be “reasonable and proportionate”.
“The last thing that we want is for laws that are meant to be protecting business to in fact be deterring people from engaging in peaceful and lawful protest and our concern about this bill in New South Wales is that is exactly what it does,” she says.

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French Citizens' Panel To Advise On Climate Crisis Strategies

Lethal Heating - 7 October, 2019 - 03:30
The Guardian - 

Body of 150 non-experts to explore ways of cutting carbon emissions by 40% before 2030
Protesters march in Paris in September to highlight the global climate crisis. Photograph: Abdulmonam Eassa/Barcroft Media A sample group of 150 French citizens — from unemployed people to pensioners and factory workers — will this week begin advising the French president Emmanuel Macron on how France can cut carbon emissions to tackle the climate emergency.
The panel was chosen by selecting people, aged from 16 to over 65, from towns and villages across France. More than 25,000 automatically generated calls were made to mobile numbers and landlines to find a representative “sample of national life”.
Coming from various backgrounds and professions, the citizens are not experts on environmental issues but are expected to have views on the difficulties of combating the climate change and to offer ideas. They will be asked to consider the role of individuals, and society as a whole – covering housing, work, transport, food, shopping and methods of production — and suggest solutions for cutting emissions, which will be put before parliament.
Julien Blanchet, who is overseeing the process, said the citizens would represent “the diversity of the French population”.
Environmental campaigners said the process, which will run until February, should not be used as an excuse to delay urgent climate action.
Macron, the French president, had promised to appoint a citizens’ consultation body after he faced a crisis in climate policy last year when the anti-government gilets jaunes (yellow vests) protesters took to the streets against a new carbon tax intended to urge motorists to change their behaviour. People in the countryside said it was deeply unfair to raise taxes on fuel use where there was no alternative transport to private cars, and while vast corporations were not doing enough. The tax was later abandoned.
Macron has presented himself as a world leader on the climate emergency. But despite France’s ambitious promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in reality the country is far from delivering its goals, the French independent advisory council on climate has warned. Everyday life in France does not match political promises – particularly with regard to transport, car use and building renovation – and the government is seen as not doing enough to meet a net-zero emissions target for 2050.
The citizens’ panel will advise on how France can cut carbon emissions by 40% before 2030, in terms of building construction and housing, transport methods, food production and consumption
At their first meeting, the participants will be briefed by climate experts and will then meet over several weekends until the end of January.
Of the thousands of French people contacted by phone to join the consultation, 30% quickly expressed interest, 35% asked to consider the idea, and 35% refused.

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Commonwealth Targets Climate Change With Regeneration Projects

Lethal Heating - 7 October, 2019 - 03:00

Demonstrators take part in a climate march in Hendaye, south-west France on August 24, 2019, to protest against the annual G7 Summit. AFP/File / GEORGES GOBETThe Commonwealth on Friday launched an ideas-sharing network to tackle the effects of climate change through replicable regeneration projects.
The 53-country bloc held a two-day brainstorming of indigenous groups, environmentalists, scientists and experts at its headquarters in London.
The Common Earth initiative will be a network of projects that can be copied and adapted to suit communities around the world.
While the Commonwealth contains G20 industrial powers like Britain, Canada and Australia and emerging forces like India and Nigeria, many of its members are developing island microstates which feel exceptionally vulnerable to climate change.
Ideas that can hold sway in the diverse Commonwealth tend to be taken up more widely, such as its climate change accords which were instrumental in the Paris COP21 UN conference deal in 2015.
"This about looking at practical, existing strategies to clean streams, restore forests and damaged ecosystems, protect marine health, educate our populations and challenge the economic and development approaches that led to the decline of our planet," said Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland.

Planning for hurricanes
Nichie Abo, a farmer from the indigenous Kalinago territory in Dominica who grows mangos and avocados, said 95 percent of the homes in his community were destroyed by Hurricane Maria in September 2017.
The electricity network—all above ground on poles—was vulnerable to hurricanes and the area was left without power for more than a year.
The indigenous Kalinago community in Dominica wants to make its electricity network independent of the national grid, such as by building wind turbines, to protect against hurricanes. dpa/AFP/File / Julian StratenschulteThe community wants to make its electricity network independent of the national grid, with each home having its own power source such as solar panels or a wind turbine.
They also want to construct a central building that can withstand hurricanes for use during emergencies and act as a community centre at other times.
"We're looking for funding," Abo told AFP.
"It is going to happen again, so we need to be prepared.
"This idea could be replicated across the Caribbean," he added, citing the Bahamas, hit last month by the devastating Hurricane Dorian.
The gathering also heard from contributors on developing more sustainable economic models.
"We're in a time of crisis. Emergencies, historically, are a time of great innovation and often bring out the best in us," said Stuart Cowan, regenerative development director at Capital Institute, a US-based finance think-tank.
"We need to start from scratch. We need to design economies that allow people to flourish within the limits of a finite planet," he told AFP.
With a eye on funding, Secretary-General Scotland is to take forward the meeting's initiatives to upcoming summits of Commonwealth trade and finance ministers.

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Reserve Bank Warns Climate Change Posing Increasing Risk To Financial Stability

Lethal Heating - 6 October, 2019 - 04:00
The Guardian - Katharine Murphy
The Reserve Bank says climate change can result in a decline in the income or value of collateral that banks are lending against. Photograph: Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty ImagesAustralia’s central bank has delivered a clear warning that climate change is exposing financial institutions and the financial system more broadly to risks that will rise over time if action isn’t taken.
The RBA’s financial stability review, released Friday, concluded that while climate change is not yet a significant threat to financial stability in Australia, it is becoming increasingly important for investors and institutions to actively manage carbon risk.
The bank notes Australian insurers are the most directly exposed to the physical impacts of climate change, and points out that inflation-adjusted insurance claims for natural disasters this decade are more than twice what they were in the previous 10 years. It notes “this impact is likely to grow over time”.
“An increase in the frequency and severity of natural disasters will increase the incidence of damage to, or destruction of, physical assets that are insured or used as collateral,” the RBA said.
“Assets that are exposed to increasing physical risk – such as property located in bushfire-prone or coastal areas – could decline in value, particularly if these risks become uninsurable.“Climate change could also reduce certain types of business income that is used to service loans. Examples include changing rainfall patterns that result in lower or less predictable income from agriculture, more frequent storms disrupting supply chains and therefore sales, and damage to natural assets that reduces tourism income.”
The RBA says banks and other lending institutions are also exposed to physical risks because climate change can result in a decline in the income or value of collateral that they are lending against.
It says Australian financial institutions that have exposure to carbon-intensive industries – such as power generation and mining, or to energy-intensive firms – “will also be exposed to transition risk”.
“Transition risk will be greatest for banks that lend to firms in carbon-intensive industries and to individuals or businesses that are reliant on these firms,” the bank said.
“Other financial institutions investing in carbon-intensive industries, such as superannuation and investment funds, are also exposed to the risk that climate change will diminish the value of their investments. This could occur both through direct investments in carbon-intensive industries, or indirect investments in banks that lend to these industries”.
It warns financial institutions “also face reputational damage if they are seen to be contributing to climate change or failing to manage climate risks”.
The RBA concludes that climate change poses a clear systemic risk, but it is not yet an imminent threat to financial stability. But it warns this could change. “Climate change could emerge as a risk to financial stability if it is not properly managed, or if the size of climate-related losses increased materially.
“Rising climate-related losses could also erode confidence in an institution or the financial system, leading to a withdrawal of funding. This would be more likely if the physical impacts of climate change are more severe or occur sooner than currently projected, or if the transition to a low-carbon economy occurs in a disruptive and costly manner.”
The RBA notes that both the banking regulator Apra and the corporate watchdog Asic have become proactive in managing carbon risk, and the Council of Financial Regulators has established a working group on the financial implications of climate change to help coordinate agencies’ actions.
Friday’s analysis builds on a warning by the Reserve Bank deputy governor, Guy Debelle, who said in March climate change posed risks to Australia’s financial stability.
Debelle said policymakers needed to consider warming as a trend and not a cyclical event. He said policymakers and businesses needed to “think in terms of trend rather than cycles in the weather”.
“Droughts have generally been regarded, at least economically, as cyclical events that recur every so often. In contrast, climate change is a trend change. The impact of a trend is ongoing, whereas a cycle is temporary.”
The deputy governor said there was a need to reassess the frequency of climate change events, and “our assumptions about the severity and longevity of the climatic events”.
In March, Apra flagged an intention to increase scrutiny of how banks, insurers and superannuation trustees are managing the financial risks of climate change to their businesses.
Last year Asic said climate change was “a foreseeable risk facing many listed companies in the Australian market in a range of different industries” and warned directors and management of listed companies “to understand and continually reassess existing and emerging risks including climate risk that may affect the company’s business”.
In that same assessment by the corporate watchdog, 17% of listed companies in the Asic sample identified climate risk as a material risk in their operating and financial reviews.
The RBA noted on Friday, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it will take significant effort to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, as targeted in the Paris agreement.
“Even if targets are met, this level of warming is likely to be accompanied by rising sea levels and an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather including storms, heatwaves and droughts,” it said. “Some of these outcomes are already apparent. These changes will create both financial and macroeconomic risks”.

Categories: External websites

Australia’s Biggest Property Companies Are Making Net-Zero Emissions Pledges – Now We Can Track Them

Lethal Heating - 6 October, 2019 - 04:00
The Conversation

Huge crowds marched last week to demand progress towards net zero emissions – and companies are listening. AAP Image/James RossCorporate Australia is taking action on climate change. Most recently, at the UN Climate Summit, Atlassian cofounder Michael Cannon-Brookes announced the A$26 billion Australian software company’s commitment to net zero emissions by 2050.
Net zero pledges like this are becoming more common but currently there is no way to really track momentum towards net zero emissions across different sectors of the economy.
Now, a Net Zero Momentum Tracker initiative has been established by ClimateWorks Australia and the Monash Sustainable Development Institute to track emissions reduction commitments made by major Australian companies and organisations, as well as state and local governments.
The tracker aims to place all commitments to net zero emissions in Australia in one place and evaluate how well they align with the Paris climate goals.

Property sector tracking towards net zero emissions
We began by assessing Australia’s property sector. Last week we released a report examining all property companies listed in the ASX 200, plus all of those required to report their emissions under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act.
Among the companies we looked at are Dexus, Mirvac, Stockland Corporation, GPT Group, and Lendlease. They develop, own or manage some of Australia’s largest corporate offices, commercial properties, retail centres, retirement villages, and residential developments.
The report found almost half – 43% – of Australia’s largest listed property companies have made commitments that closely align with the Paris Climate Agreement, aiming to achieve net zero greenhouse emissions before 2050 for their owned and managed assets.
Significantly, the six companies with the most ambitious net zero targets represent 36% of the ASX 200 property sector. Among these six, several major companies – Dexus, Mirvac, GPT Group, and Vicinity – are aiming for net zero emissions by 2030, demonstrating the business case for strong climate action.

Sector leaders can inspire copycat action
By highlighting what action organisations are taking and how, the Net Zero Momentum Tracker initiative aims to encourage more organisations to make and strengthen commitments to reduce their emissions, in line with the goal of net zero emissions by 2050.
For example, Australia’s largest owner and manager of office property, Dexus, has a comprehensive strategy for reaching its goal of net zero emissions across the group’s managed property portfolio. This includes reducing energy use, shifting to renewable electricity, electrifying their buildings, and reducing their non-energy emissions from waste, waste water and air conditioning.
Of particular significance is Mirvac’s pledge to be “net positive” by 2030. This means the company aims to go beyond net zero, reducing emissions by more than its operations emit. Mirvac has established an energy company to install rooftop solar on their commercial buildings and is selling power to occupants, among other initiatives. The company also has a “house with no bills” pilot project, to explore how their upstream indirect emissions can be minimised for residential developments.
Another major company, the GPT Group, has extended its commitment beyond the assets it owns and manages to all buildings it has an ownership interest in, including buildings it co-owns or does not manage.
These companies will get multiple benefits from their action, including reduced operating costs, better health and productivity for occupants, and increased sales prices, rents and occupancy rates.

Need to accelerate action
While many property companies are tracking in the right direction, none of the companies we considered had net zero targets which comprehensively covered all of their emissions – such as those from co-owned assets, their supply chains and investments.
There is still significant opportunity for property companies to strengthen their commitments towards net zero emissions. This requires targets which address the full scope of direct and indirect emissions within each company’s influence, supported by detailed plans to achieve this.
By making these public commitments to reduce emissions, the property sector is helping build momentum towards achieving this goal across the entire Australian economy.
The next assessments to be undertaken by the Net Zero Momentum Tracker initiative include the banking sector and state and local governments.

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