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'Overwhelmed' Greta Thunberg Leaves Climate March Early After Rockstar Welcome

Lethal Heating - 18 hours 9 min ago
Sydney Morning Herald - Aritz Parra | Frank Jordans

Madrid: Activists of all ages and from all corners of the planet demanded concrete action Friday against climate change from leaders and negotiators at a global summit in Madrid.
The march was led by dozens of representatives of Latin America's indigenous peoples - a mark of deference after anti-government protests in Chile, the original host of the summit, resulted in the the talks suddenly being moved to Europe for the third year in a row.
Celebrity climate activist Greta Thunberg declared from a stage that "change is not going to come from the people in power, it's going to come from the masses."
A crowd of thousands responded chanting "Greta! Greta!"
Thunberg was surrounded by supporters and police after arriving in Spain by train from Lisbon. Credit: Getty ImagesOrganisers claimed 500,000 people turned out for the march, but authorities in Madrid put the number at 15,000 without an immediate explanation for the disparity in the count.
Thunberg addresses a demonstration in Madrid. Her placard translates as "Strike for Climate".  Credit: APThe Swedish teen was followed on her first day in Madrid by a swarm of cameras and reporters, as well as curious members of the public wanting to film her on their smartphones, from the very first step she took out of an overnight train from Lisbon.
Two young activists earned cheers as they abseiled from a bridge and strung out a banner saying: "Just 8 years till 1.5 degrees C. HOW DARE YOU?" - a reference to scientists' forecasts of rising temperatures and what activists complain is a lack of a convincing political response to the threat.
The crush as people tried to get a glimpse of Thunberg led her to pull out shortly after the start of the march, saying police had advised her to leave for safety's sake, and she climbed into an electric car.
A Madrid police spokeswoman who spoke on condition of anonymity because she wasn't authorised to be named in media reports said that it had only been "suggested" to that Thunberg leave after she appeared "overwhelmed" by the attention and that police never ordered the activist to abandon on safety grounds.
Earlier in the day, the 16-year-old had said at a press conference that calls for real action against climate change are still being "ignored" by political leaders despite their continuous praise of the global environmental youth movement she helped create.
Thunberg hoped the COP25 summit would lead to "something concrete" and "increasing awareness among people in general," but she said that after more than one year of student strikes"still basically nothing has happened."
"The climate crisis is still being ignored by those in power," she added.

Consensus proving 'difficult'
During the talks, which run from December 2-13, nearly 200 countries are meant to streamline the rules on global carbon markets and agree on how poor countries should be compensated for destruction largely caused by emissions from rich nations.
An official directly involved in the negotiations said that despite a few setbacks, the technical negotiations were progressing, although many issues were being left for ministerial-level meetings in the summit's second and final week.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the discussions, added that a political declaration on greater "ambition" - a buzzword at the summit - was shaping to be "difficult to achieve."
"A summit that doesn't end with enhanced ambition would be something that nobody would understand if we take into account what the streets and science are telling us," the official said.


Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg is just 16 years old, but she has gained global attention for her frank pleas for action from the world's most powerful leaders.

The talks came as evidence mounts about disasters that could ensue from further global warming, including a study published Friday predicting that unchecked climate change could devastate fishery industries and coral reef tourism.
The study commissioned by 14 nations whose economies rely heavily on the sea says climate change could cause hundreds of billions of dollars in losses by 2050, adding that limiting global warming would lessen the economic impact for coastal countries, but that they also need to adapt to ocean changes.

Tipping point for an 'uprising'
Johan Rockstrom, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said social scientists believed that when roughly 3.5 per cent of a nation's population joins "civil and non-violent uprisings" it can be enough to force change, even in a dictatorship.
In Germany, numbers at the climate demonstrations on September 20 were estimated at nearly 2 per cent of the population, and in New Zealand at 3.5 per cent, he said.
"If you start seeing an uprising ... there will be an enormous pressure for the political leadership to step up and start acting," Rockstrom said - though he noted it "can also be quite challenging along the way".
Climate activists march in silence during a 'Fridays For Future' protest in Madrid during the COP25 climate talks. Credit: Getty ImagesHe questioned whether, at some point, it would start to become morally unacceptable to cause people's deaths with car exhaust, as happened with cigarette smoking.
In New Delhi, at some times of the year, young people are inhaling toxic pollution equivalent to smoking 10 cigarettes a day, killing over 7000 people a year in the city, he noted.
On Friday morning, eight-year-old Indian climate striker Licypriya Kangujam, of New Delhi, headed to her country's pavilion at the Madrid talks, clutching a hand-written poster calling on India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi to pass a flagship climate change law in the current parliament session.
She said she had been protesting in front of the parliament building regularly on Fridays to press for the legislation.
She said she had come to the climate talks with her father to tell politicians and others, "you must change your way of thinking".

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Innocent Animals Cannot Do Anything About Climate Change. Only People Can.

Lethal Heating - 18 hours 9 min ago
USA TODAYEditorial Board

As Paris climate agreement negotiators meet in Madrid this week, don't forget the animals that share earth and global warming with mankind: Our view
A koala recovers from burns on Nov. 29, 2019, in Port Macquarie, Australia. Hundreds have died in the nation's recent drought-fueled fires.Caught by a motion-detection trail camera in the Florida wilds, a young panther manages a few steps before its wobbling hindquarters fail and its rear legs collapse to the ground. The cat, among several species stricken by some mysterious neurological ailment possibly connected to environmental changes, struggles to regain footing and continue, only for its legs to fail again steps later.
In New England states, ticks unleashed by milder winters have swarmed and withered moose populations, with tens of thousands of the blood-sucking parasites affixing to just one of the imposing animals or a calf.
Camera crews along the Siberian coast have filmed walruses cartwheeling to their death down cliffs. Forced onto dry land because of sparse Arctic sea ice, according to Netflix's "Our Planet," the animals crowd their way up rocky escarpments only to plunge off.

Human and animal suffering
As the world grows warmer, heart-breaking accounts of animal suffering have multiplied from what scientists suspect, or have established, are the direct result of man-made climate change.
For humans, the consequences of global warming are difficult to internalize because any changes seem, for the moment, to be slow or aberrational. But the impact on the world's delicate ecosystems can be catastrophic:

Vanishing songbirds. Scientists released a study this year calculating that the wild bird populations of the United States and Canada have diminished by almost 30% since 1970. Nearly 3 billion birds are gone, including a quarter of blue jays, nearly half of Baltimore orioles, and hundreds of millions of sparrows and warblers.

►Massive antelope die-off. In three weeks, 200,000 saiga antelopes fell dead across the steppes of Central Asia in 2015, two-thirds of the world's population. Scientists recently solved the mystery when they discovered that warming temperatures might have unleashed a dormant bacterium in the animals, causing massive internal bleeding.

Disappearing state and national symbols. Encroaching heat is driving away state birds, including Alabama's yellowhammer, the California quail, Georgia's brown thrasher, Iowa's and New Jersey's goldfinch, Minnesota's common loon, New Hampshire's purple finch, Pennsylvania's ruffed grouse and Vermont's hermit thrush. A national symbol of Australia — koalas — already threatened by human development, have died by the hundreds in the nation's recent drought-fueled fires.

Negotiating Paris climate agreement
In the past few months, ocean surges generated by ever larger storms have swept away dozens of wild horses in North Carolina. Drought has killed hundreds of elephants in Zimbabwe. And rising temperatures are causing sea turtles in some nesting areas to produce only female hatchlings.
A United Nations study this year found that a million plant and animal species risk extinction because of several human-induced factors greatly aggravated by climate change. More U.N. research recently warned that time is growing short for the world's nations to act drastically if catastrophic consequences are to be avoided.
Signatories to the Paris climate accord are gathering this week in Madrid to discuss plans for meeting emission-reduction goals. President Donald Trump has begun the process of pulling America out of the agreement, so no high-level administration officials will be attending.
While most of the focus is on how the climate emergency affects mankind, the cruelty visited upon animals that share in this planet's fate should not be overlooked. The animals can't do anything about the warming globe. People can.

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Leading Scientists Condemn Political Inaction On Climate Change As Australia 'Literally Burns'

Lethal Heating - 18 hours 9 min ago
The Guardian

Climate experts ‘bewildered’ by government ‘burying their heads in the sand’, and say bushfires on Australia’s east coast should be a ‘wake-up call’ 
Firefighters battle a bushfire near Braidwood, New South Wales, on Friday. Scientists are perplexed that as bushfires have intensified on Australia’s east coast, political commentary on climate change has ‘very much died down’. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian Leading scientists have expressed concern about the lack of focus on the climate crisis as bushfires rage across New South Wales and Queensland, saying it should be a “wake-up call” for the government.
Climate experts who spoke to Guardian Australia said they were “bewildered” the emergency had grabbed little attention during the final parliamentary sitting week for the year, which was instead taken up by the repeal of medevac laws, a restructure of the public service, and energy minister Angus Taylor’s run-in with the American author Naomi Wolf.
Escalating conditions on Thursday and Friday led to dozens of out-of-control bushfires, including in the NSW’s Hawkesbury region, where a fire at Gospers Mountain merged with two other blazes burning in the lower Hunter on Friday.
Sydney has been blanketed with a thick smoke haze that health officials said had led to a 25% increase in people presenting in emergency departments for asthma and breathing problems.
Smoke haze from bushfires blanket Sydney Harbour. Health officials have reported a 25% spike in hospital emergency admissions for breathing problems. Photograph: Steven Saphore/EPA Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, a climate scientist with the University of NSW’s Climate Change Research Centre, said she was “surprised, bewildered, concerned” that the emergency had prompted little discussion from political leaders this week.
“Here we are in the worst bushfire season we’ve ever seen, the biggest drought we’ve ever had, Sydney surrounded by smoke, and we’ve not heard boo out of a politician addressing climate change,” she said.
The government chooses the points they want to discuss in the parliament and the fact they haven’t chosen to discuss [bushfires] sends a message to me. Mark Howden “They dismissed it from the outset and haven’t come back to it since.
“They’re burying their heads in the sand while the world is literally burning around them and that’s the scary thing. It’s only going to get worse.”
Mark Howden, the director of the Australian National University’s Climate Change Institute and a vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said while the fires were raging on, “the commentary in terms of climate change has very much died down”.
“Yesterday they did a public service reshuffle, or there was medevac, or the ‘union-busting’ bill,” he said.
“The government chooses the points they want to discuss in the parliament and the fact they haven’t chosen to discuss it sends a message to me.
“Essentially, it’s a question of priorities, that’s how I interpret it.”
Howden said the general public had already joined the dots about the rising number of extreme weather days that brought heat, wind and dry conditions and high fire danger.
He said all of the indicators of fire danger were starting to change and the effects of this were evident through increased frequency of fires, larger fire areas, more severe fires, fires burning in ecosystems not prone to fire and a longer fire season.
Euan Ritchie, a wildlife ecologist at Deakin University, said he was “deeply concerned” that the extent and severity of the current fires meant that ecosystems that shouldn’t be burning – such as rainforests in NSW – were on fire.
“It’s another example of failure to act on climate change, which is hurting people’s lives as well as nature,” he said.
“There needs to be increased attention on the impact of climate change and it’s relationship with fire and how that threatens humans as well as nature and the environment.”
 Firefighters work to protect a property in Kulnura as the Three Mile fire approaches Mangrove Mountain in NSW on Friday. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/EPA Martin Rice, the head of research at the Climate Council, said the devastating fire conditions predicted by emergency leaders this year when they requested a meeting with the prime minister, Scott Morrison, were unfolding.
He said Morrison had still failed to meet with emergency leaders, however both Taylor and the emergency services minister David Littleproud have now done so.
Rice said the government was “failing to respond” to the climate crisis and to the “health emergency” created by toxic air around greater Sydney.
“This has to be a wake-up call to the federal government,” he said.
Rice said the Reserve Bank, medical practitioners, councils and mayors, emergency leaders and students were just some of the people who had made recent public pleas for a response.
“All walks of life in Australia are demanding action,” he said.

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Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Will Hit Yet Another Record High This Year, Experts Project

Lethal Heating - 7 December, 2019 - 04:00
Washington PostChris Mooney | Brady Dennis 

“We’re blowing through our carbon budget the way an addict blows through cash,” said one author

The trend marks three straight years of rising emissions, and suggests the world is continually failing to live up to its climate ambitions. (Luis Velarde/The Washington Post)

The world has lost another year in the quest to finally start reducing its carbon emissions, which scientists say is crucial to avoid the steadily worsening impacts of climate change.
Instead of beginning a long-awaited decline, global greenhouse gas emissions are projected to grow slightly during 2019, reaching another record high, according to a new analysis published Tuesday. Total carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels and industry totaled 36.8 billion tons, according to an estimate from the Global Carbon Project, an academic consortium that produces the figures annually. That represents a 0.6 percent increase from 2018, which until now stood as the record.
“We’re blowing through our carbon budget the way an addict blows through cash,” Rob Jackson, a professor of Earth science at Stanford University and chair of the Global Carbon Project, said in an interview. “It’s troubling, because carbon dioxide pollution is higher than it’s ever been.”
Global emissions have risen for three consecutive years, at a time when they should be starting to drop sharply if the world is to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement.
The news of still-growing greenhouse gas emissions is the latest in a drumbeat of negative findings that come as world leaders gather in Madrid for an annual climate change conference, where they face mounting pressure to alter the current trajectory.
Last week, a bleak report from the U.N. Environment Program detailed how off-target the world remains in its collective goal of limiting the Earth’s warming. It said global emissions must fall by nearly 8 percent per year over the next decade to stay in line with the goal of limiting warming to just 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels.
A slower pace of cuts of about 3 percent per year would keep the world on track for around 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming by 2100 — a level of warming that would have severe consequences, including the death of nearly all coral reefs and the possible destabilization of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.
The globe already has warmed about 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) since the late 19th century, according to separate findings published Tuesday by the World Meteorological Organization.
The WMO also found that 2019 “concludes a decade of exceptional global heat, retreating ice and record sea levels driven by greenhouse gases from human activities,” and added that this year is on pace to be the second- or third-warmest on record.
Tuesday’s report from the Global Carbon Project, published in several journals, including Environmental Research Letters, makes clear that the transformation necessary to rapidly cut greenhouse gas emissions is nowhere in sight.
But the findings were not entirely negative.
U.S. emissions are projected to fall 1.7 percent in 2019 after rising the previous year, as coal is steadily displaced by natural gas and renewable energy. U.S. coal burning is projected to have fallen 11 percent in 2019 alone. Emissions in the European Union are expected to decline at a similar rate, as nations there also move away from coal.
“We’re not in the same position we were five or 10 years ago,” Corinne Le Quéré, a professor of climate change science at the University of East Anglia and a member of the team that published Tuesday’s figures, said in an interview. “We have demonstrated that making these investments [in renewable energy] do pay off, that emissions can go down.”
Le Quéré noted that not long ago, global emissions routinely grew by 2 to 3 percent each year, a rate that appears to have slowed. But, she added, “Emissions, at the end of the day, need to decrease to zero.”
While emissions fell in the United States and Europe during 2019, they are projected to have grown in China (by 2.6 percent), India (1.8 percent) and the rest of the world (by 0.5 percent).
The Global Carbon Project found, meanwhile, that the burning of natural gas is booming, growing by an additional 2.6 percent this year after strong growth last year. Petroleum use in automobiles, airplanes and other vehicles continues to increase around the globe.
In China, the world’s largest consumer of coal, natural gas burning grew by nearly 10 percent in 2019 and petroleum use jumped nearly 7 percent, according to the projection.
These trends are being driven by multiple factors, researchers said, including growing supplies of liquefied natural gas; increasing vehicle ownership, especially in India and China; and ongoing global economic growth, which traditionally creates greater energy demand.
Deforestation and other forms of land use during 2019 also contributed to the human-caused emissions of methane and other greenhouse gases. The Global Carbon Project said wildfires in the Amazon and elsewhere helped drive land-use emissions to 6 billion tons of carbon dioxide — an increase over 2018 levels. The net result is that the world is projected to have produced 43 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions from all sources in 2019.
While some of that gas will be absorbed into the oceans and some will be consumed by plants, much will linger in the atmosphere, strengthening the greenhouse effect.
Researchers are able to estimate annual fossil fuel emissions before the year is even over by monitoring official government reports on fossil fuel production, imports and consumption in China, the world’s largest emitter. A similar method is used for India. For the rest of the world, the 2019 estimate is based on the linkage between emissions and economic growth rates. For the United States, the group adopts the official projection of the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The estimate of 0.6 percent emissions growth also comes with some uncertainty. The actual number, researchers said, could be a slight emissions decline of 0.2 percent, or an emissions rise as high as 1.5 percent.
Jackson said a faster shift toward cleaner energy could create new jobs, improve national security and have measurable public health benefits. But he also said it would leave a better legacy than the one of inaction on climate change that has defined recent years.
“It’s another lost year, another lost decade,” he said of the trend of rising global emissions. “I don’t want to belittle the important things that have happened and are happening, but they are not enough. People will look back at us and wonder, ‘What were you doing?’”

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(NZ) Climate Explained: How Climate Change Will Affect Food Production And Security

Lethal Heating - 7 December, 2019 - 04:00
The Conversation

According to the United Nations, food shortages are a threat due to climate change. Are food shortages a major threat to New Zealand due to climate change?Many temperate crops require winter chilling to initiate flowering or fruit ripening, and orchards may need to shift to colder areas. from www.shutterstock.com, CC BY-NDClimate change is altering conditions that sustain food production, with cascading consequences for food security and global economies. Recent research evaluated the simultaneous impacts of climate change on agriculture and marine fisheries globally.
Modelling of those impacts under a business-as-usual carbon emission scenario suggested about 90% of the world’s population – most of whom live in the least developed countries – will experience reductions in food production this century.
New Zealanders are fortunate to live in a part of the world blessed with relatively fertile soils, adequate water supplies and mild temperatures. This gives us a comparative advantage for agriculture and horticulture over many other countries, including our main trading partner, Australia.
New Zealand produces more than enough food for its population. Exports exceed local consumption, and climate-change induced food shortages should not be an imminent risk for New Zealand. But behind every general statement like this lies some rather more troubling detail.

Overcoming domestic challenges
As residents of a developed country, we are accustomed to accessing the world’s resources through supermarkets. New Zealanders take for granted that most foods (even those we do not produce, like rice or bananas) will be available all year round.
Asparagus, new potatoes and strawberries are examples of foods New Zealanders may expect to see only at particular times of the year, but if apples or kiwifruit are out of stock, people usually complain. Our expectations are based on imports of products when they are out of season in New Zealand. The availability of those imports may be seriously compromised by climate change.
A recent Ministry for the Environment report describes climate impacts, including detailed projections of the average temperature increase and changes in rainfall patterns across New Zealand. The consistent trends are towards wetter conditions in the west, drier in the east and the largest average temperature rises in the north.
Implications for agriculture are manifold. For example, many temperate crops require cool autumn or winter temperatures to initiate flowering or fruit ripening. Orchards may need to be relocated further south, or novel low-chill varieties may need to be bred, as is already happening around the world.
Insect pests and diseases are normally controlled by our low winter temperatures, but they may become more of a problem in the future. Introduced pests and diseases include fruit flies that have a major impact in Australia and other more tropical countries, but struggle to establish breeding colonies in New Zealand. Strong biosecurity controls are our best bet for reducing this risk.
What matters more than the gradual increase in temperature predicted by climate change models, is the greater frequency of extreme weather events. These include droughts, floods and hail, which can lead to total crop losses in particular regions. One obvious mitigation strategy is to expand the provision of irrigation in our drier eastern regions, but concerns over water quality in our rivers mean this is not a popular option with the public – for example on the Heretaunga Plains or in Canterbury.

Risks to imported products
New Zealand is a net exporter of dairy, beef, lamb and many fruit and vegetables, but for some products, we depend heavily on imports. Figures from the US Department of Agriculture are not perfect, but they highlight trade imbalances for major commodities.
New Zealand imports all rice and most of its wheat. It is a net importer of pork products. Horticultural data released annually in Fresh Facts show New Zealand’s major horticultural imports are (in order of value) wine, nuts, processed vegetables, coffee, bananas and table grapes. These imported products come primarily from Australia, China, the US and Ecuador – all countries that may be less resilient to climate change than New Zealand.
As a recent report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) explains, rising temperatures, rising seas and the increasing frequency of adverse weather events will interact to reduce agricultural and horticultural productivity in many regions around the world. While New Zealand is unlikely to experience food shortages in the near future as a direct result of climate change, the price and availability of imported products may increase significantly.

Food poverty
Unfortunately, there is another important consideration. Some New Zealanders already experience food insecurity. The 2008/9 Adult Nutrition Survey found 14% of New Zealand households reported running out of food often or sometimes due to lack of money.
Perhaps rather than worrying about the future impact of climate change on the price or availability of imported rice or bananas, we should be paying more attention to this social inequity.
As a wealthy agricultural nation and a net exporter of food, it does not seem right that one sector of our society is already regularly experiencing food shortages.

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Could Climate Change Become A Security Issue — And Threaten Democracy?

Lethal Heating - 7 December, 2019 - 04:00
ABC Radio National - Farz Edraki | Ann Arnold

Professor Ole Wæver argues that delayed action on climate change could lead to drastic measures. (Unsplash: Markus Spiske)Action to address climate change has been left so late that any political response will likely become an international security issue — and could threaten democracy. That's the view of Ole Wæver, a prominent international relations professor at the University of Copenhagen, who also says climate inaction could lead to armed conflict.
"At some point this whole climate debate is going to tip over," he tells RN's Late Night Live.
"The current way we talk about climate is one side and the other side. One side is those who want to do something, and the other is the deniers who say we shouldn't do anything."

'We are running out of time' - Late Night Live
He believes that quite soon, another battle will replace it. Then, politicians that do 'something' will be challenged by critics demanding that policies actually add up to realistic solutions.
When decision-makers — after delaying for so long — suddenly try to find a shortcut to realistic action, climate change is likely to "be securitised".
Professor Wæver, who first coined the term "securitisation", says more abrupt change could potentially threaten democracy.
"The United Nations Security Council could, in principle, tomorrow decide that climate change is a threat to international peace and security," he says.
"And then it's within their competencies to decide 'and you are doing this, you are doing this, you are doing this, this is how we deal with it'."

A risk of armed conflict?
Professor Wæver says despite "overwhelmingly good arguments" as to why action should be taken on climate change, not enough has been done.
And he says that could eventually lead to a greater risk of armed conflict, particularly in unstable political climates.
Professor Ole Wæver is currently a James Fellow in Social Sciences at the University of Sydney until January 2020. (Supplied: Lars Svankjær)"Imagine these kinds of fires that we are seeing happening [in Australia] in a part of Africa or South-East Asia where you have groups that are already in a tense relationship, with different ethnic groups, different religious orientations," he says.
"And then you get events like this and suddenly they are not out of each other's way, they'll be crossing paths, and then you get military conflicts by the push."
He isn't the first expert to warn of the security risks of climate change.
Climate change and the ADF
Australia's Defence Department has spelled out clearly to a Senate inquiry that climate change will create "concurrency pressures" for the Defence Force as a rise in disaster relief operations continues.
Chris Barrie, former Defence Force chief and honorary professor at the ANU's Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, wrote in October that "climate change is 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," he wrote.
And current Defence chief Angus Campbell has warned that increased incidences of climate change-related natural disasters could stretch the capability of the ADF.

Letting 'the dark forces' loose
Professor Wæver argues that delayed action will lead to more drastic measures.
"The longer we wait, the more abrupt the change has to be," he says.
"So a transformation of our economy and our energy systems that might have been less painful if we had started 20 years ago, 30 years ago.
"If we have to do that in a very short time, it becomes extremely painful.
"And then comes the question: can you carry through such painful transformations through the normal democratic system?"He says classifying climate change as a security issue could justify more extreme policy responses.
"That's what happens when something becomes a security issue, it gets the urgency, the intensity, the priority, which is helpful sometimes, but it also lets the dark forces loose in the sense that it can justify problematic means," he says.

Audio: Hear more from Ole Wæver on climate security Late Night Live17m 20secs
This urgency, he says, could lead to more abrupt action at an international level.
"If there was something that was decided internationally by some more centralised procedure and every country was told 'this is your emission target, it's not negotiable, we can actually take military measures if you don't fulfil it', then you would basically have to get that down the throat of your population, whether they like it or not," he says.
"Aa bit like what we saw in southern Europe with countries like Greece and the debt crisis and so on.
"There were decisions that were made for them and then they just had to have a more or less technocratic government and get it through."

Partnerships as pathways
Major events like bushfires elevate concerns about climate change in Australia, Professor Mark Howden says. (Supplied: Qld Dept of Community Safety)But Mark Howden, director of the ANU's Climate Change Institute, does not see this happening any time soon — and says it would be counter-productive in the long-term.
"I wouldn't support that sort of hypothesised action by the UN, because I think solutions to climate change need to be a partnership," he says.
"The way to generate persistent, long-term and positive action is by partnerships, so actually bringing people along, developing a collective vision of what could be, and making climate change not something to fear but something to take sensible decisions over.
"So for me, taking a security approach — taking a unilateral, very militaristic, interventionist approach — would break apart all those positives.
"It wouldn't necessarily generate partnerships, it wouldn't generate bottom-up action and wouldn't generate innovation."
Paris 2030: Will we make it?
Are Australia's efforts to curb global warming enough to meet our Paris targets? Four Corners investigates.
But, Professor Howden says, there's an "elevated conversation happening across many different domains" about climate change in Australia, particularly because of bushfires and droughts.
He says climate-related disasters create a "step up in terms of public concern in relation to climate change" — whether or not they are linked.
"Climate-related disasters tend to get people reflecting on their lived experience and the things they value and it raises that level of concern and tends to stay high for an extended period."
He recognises "we haven't solved this problem", but says the Paris Agreement — and the national and international greenhouse gas inventories that support it — still shows promise. He says "it is the only global game in town to limit climate change".
The 2015 agreement set targets to block global warming at well below 2C, and 1.5C if possible.
But a recent UN report revealed global fossil fuel output is currently projected to overwhelm these efforts.
"Everyone knows that those initial commitments aren't adequate to meet the temperature targets, but they're a start," Professor Howden says.
"The key to the effectiveness of the Paris Agreement is the mechanism that ratchets up those commitments over time."
Professor Howden says we should give the Paris Agreement "a chance to work" — and if it does, it will "take a chunk out" of greenhouse gas emissions.
"The big question is: is it going to happen fast enough?"

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(AU) More Than 206 Heat Records Broken In Just 90 Days This Year, Climate Council Report Says

Lethal Heating - 4 December, 2019 - 04:00
NEWS.com.auCharis Chang

NSW Rural Fire Service crews watch on as fire burns close to a property on Wheelbarrow Ridge at Colo Heights, northwest of Sydney, on November 19. Picture: Dan Himbrechts/AAPSydney and Melbourne could experience 50C summer days before the end of the century if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, a new report highlights.
The Climate Council’s report said more than 206 heat records had been broken in just 90 days this year including record-highest temperatures in 87 locations.
In NSW, temperatures are 3.41C above average.
“Queensland and New South Wales have both lost more homes (to bushfire) since August 2019 than in any previous year, with the hottest months of the fire season still to come,” the report said.
Recent bushfires have also created a health hazard in cities like Sydney, which were covered in smoke haze for several days.
Dr Kate Charlesworth said air quality had been impacted so badly in some areas, “it’s the equivalent of smoking 40 cigarettes a day”.
In Australia, the main risk to human life from climate change arises from heatwaves, which can lead to illnesses like heat exhaustion and the worsening of heart and kidney disease.
“Climate change is a serious health issue. Health professionals like myself have a duty to speak up just as we did with asbestos and tobacco,” Dr Charlesworth said.
Heatwaves, defined as at least three days in a row of unusually high temperatures, are occurring more frequently in Australia.
They now start 19 days earlier in Sydney and 17 days earlier in Melbourne if you compare the data for 1981-2011 and 1950-1980.
The number of heatwave days each year has also increased in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Hobart since 1950.
The hottest day of the heatwave is also becoming hotter.
Most dramatically, the peak day in Adelaide is on average now 4.3C higher in 1981-2011 compared with 1950-1980.
The report noted Sydney and Melbourne could experience 50C summer days by the end of the century.
Smoke shrouds the Sydney Harbour Bridge on November 21 in Sydney. Picture: Cassie Trotter/Getty ImagesDrought is also an issue, with the central west of NSW facing a dangerous summer.
The period from January 2017 to October 2019 has been the driest on record for the Murray-Darling Basin as a whole.
The current prolonged drought across eastern Australia is threatening crops for the third year in a row, and national summer crop production is forecast to fall by 20 per cent to 2.1 million tonnes in 2019/20.
“Major regional centres such as Orange and Dubbo are currently facing severe water shortages, and this summer is shaping up as a terrible trifecta of heatwaves, droughts and bushfires with no reprieve for the Central West,” Climate councillor and report author Professor Will Steffen said.
“We have seen bushfires starting in winter, a heatwave traversing the country in spring, and a prolonged drought. Climate change is influencing all of these things,” Prof Steffen said.
Rob Lee, a beef and sheep farmer in Larras Lee, northwest of Orange, said he had been anxious about the changing climate for more than 15 years, which is why he joined Farmers for Climate Action.
“We can see the conditions changing out here. We have less rainfall, winters are getting drier, the surface water is no longer reliable and dams are drying up,” Mr Lee said.
“We have never seen a drought as bad as this. In 2018, we sold one-third of our cows, and again this year we sold another third. Once we are through the next calving, we will get out altogether and run just sheep.
“We have also built drought lots to contain our sheep. This protects the topsoil which can turn to dust in the dry conditions.
“We have made a number of changes to our farming practices, but if climate change continues to accelerate, driving more drought conditions, it is going to be very hard to make a living as a farmer.
“Australia needs to take serious, credible action on climate change. Renewable energy is an investment in the future, an opportunity that could create a lot of industries in regional areas like the Central West,” Mr Lee said.
The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting above-average maximum temperatures for most of Australia this summer with eastern Australia likely to be drier than average.
“This long-term warming trend driven by the burning of coal, oil and gas is putting Australian lives, our economy and the environment at risk,” Climate Council chief executive officer Amanda McKenzie said.


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(AU) Dangerous Summer: Escalating Bushfire, Heat And Drought Risk

Lethal Heating - 4 December, 2019 - 04:00
Climate Council

Download ReportA long-term warming trend from the burning of coal, oil and gas is supercharging extreme weather events, putting Australian lives, our economy and our environment at risk.
The Climate Council’s new report, ‘Dangerous Summer: Escalating Bushfire, Heat and Drought Risk‘, has found this summer is shaping up as a terrible trifecta of heatwaves, drought and bushfires, made worse by climate change.

Key Findings
Australia is being battered by extreme weather events, made worse by climate change. The summer of 2019/20 is shaping up as another terrible trifecta of heatwaves, droughts and bushfires.
  • The projections for the summer of 2019/20 are extremely concerning. The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting above-average maximum temperatures for most of Australia with eastern Australia – already plagued by drought – likely to be drier than average.
  • The 2019/20 bushfire season in New South Wales and southeast Queensland began in winter. Already six lives have been lost and more than 600 homes destroyed in New South Wales, mostly in remote and rural areas and small towns. It is now only the beginning of summer, which means the hottest weather and greatest danger period may still be to come.
  • The bushfires have been costly for farmers. In Cobraball, Queensland, for example, an estimated 12,000 hectares of farmland have been destroyed, including 230 hectares of high-value horticultural crops, with an estimated $20 million damage bill for farms in the region.
  • Wildlife has also been badly affected by the ongoing bushfires, with reports of at least 1,000 koala deaths in important habitats in New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia and the habitats of some of the most ancient and globally iconic songbirds have either been burnt or are under threat.
Climate change is making many extreme weather events in Australia worse.
  • Climate change is now making hot days hotter, and heatwaves longer and more frequent. This has implications for bushfire weather, with fire seasons starting earlier and lasting longer.
  • Long-term heating and the reduction in cool season rainfall in mainland southern Australia are exacerbating drought conditions.
  • The period from January 2017 to October 2019 has been the driest on record for the Murray- Darling Basin as a whole. Over the same period of time, new long-term records for low soil moisture have been set, with ten of the Basin’s 26 river catchments recording the lowest soil moisture levels on record.
LARGE IMAGEWorsening extreme events, such as heatwaves, drought and bushfires, are affecting the health and well-being of Australians and important sectors such as farming.
  • The number of heatwave days each year has been increasing in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Hobart, and across Australia as a whole since 1950. Heatwaves can have severe effects on human health, including both direct heat illnesses (e.g. heat exhaustion) and indirect impacts (e.g. cardiovascular failure).
  • The heatwave that occurred during the summer of 2009 is estimated to have resulted in as many as 500 excess deaths in Melbourne and Adelaide (374 deaths in Melbourne and 50-150 deaths in Adelaide).
  • The current prolonged drought across eastern Australia is threatening crops for the third year in a row, and national summer crop production is forecast to fall by 20 percent to 2.1 million tonnes in 2019/20.
  • Bushfires also cause serious health impacts, including direct loss of life, physical injuries and mental health issues. Large populations are also at risk from the health impacts of bushfire smoke, which contains respiratory irritants and cancer-causing substances.
    The catastrophic events that are unfolding in Australia are not “normal”. Now is the time to act decisively and swiftly.
      • A long-term heating trend from the burning of coal, oil and gas is supercharging extreme weather events, putting Australian lives, our economy and our environment at risk. Australia is one of the most vulnerable developed countries to climate change.
      • If greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, the unusually hot weather currently experienced will become commonplace, occurring every summer across the country. Sydney and Melbourne could experience unprecedented 50°C summer days by the end of the century.
      • Australian states, territories, towns and cities are leading the way on climate action. This leadership is hugely important because the Federal Government has no credible pathway for reducing emissions.
      • Australia must contribute to the global effort to deeply and rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and we must prepare our fire and emergency services and communities for worsening extreme weather events.
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      Climate Change: The COP25 Talks Trying To Change The World

      Lethal Heating - 4 December, 2019 - 04:00
      BBC - Imran Rahman-Jones

      GETTY IMAGESWe know the warnings by now.2019 is on course to be in the top three warmest years on record.
      The UK government has declared a national climate emergency.
      And now, UN Secretary General António Guterres says the "point of no return is no longer over the horizon".
      That came ahead of the UN's two-week gathering of countries to discuss climate change and set targets - the 25th Conference of the Parties (COP25).
      So what really gets done at these conferences - and do they actually work?
      Climate activist Greta Thunberg was at last year's COP event in Poland. GETTY IMAGESMany countries have individual targets related to climate change.
      For example, the UK government has committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions right down to net-zero by 2050.
      But there are also worldwide targets for countries which take part in the UN climate change summits.
      The Montreal Protocol, adopted in 1987, was an international agreement to try to heal the ozone layer, which protects Earth from ultraviolet rays but was being destroyed by man-made chemicals.
      By last year it was found to be successfully healing - the Northern Hemisphere could be fully fixed by the 2030s and Antarctica by the 2060s, according to a UN report.
      The COP meetings - which focus on greenhouse gases - started in 1995. But it was 1997 when the first significant targets were set.

      The Kyoto Protocol
      The Kyoto Protocol is named after the Japanese city where it was agreed. GETTY IMAGESThe Kyoto Protocol, agreed in Japan in 1997, set targets for 37 countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
      The targets were different for each country, depending on how developed they were.
      But the US pulled out in 2001 - because they were unhappy that developed countries had legally binding targets, while less developed nations didn't have binding targets.
      Canada pulled out in 2011 and a lot of other countries missed their targets.
      Doha in Qatar was where the Kyoto Protocol was amended. GETTY IMAGESIn 2012, the Kyoto Protocol was updated in Doha, Qatar.
      But the deal only covered Europe and Australia, whose share of world greenhouse gas emissions was less than 15%.
      However, it paved the way for the Paris Agreement in 2015 - also known as COP21 - which was another significant step in climate change talks.

      The Paris Agreement
      GETTY IMAGESThe Paris Agreement went further than any other international climate change deal.
      It was agreed by 195 countries in 2015 and came into force in November 2016.
      Some of the main pledges were:
      • To keep global temperatures "well below" 2C above pre-industrial times and "endeavour to limit" them even more, to 1.5C.
      • To limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity to the same levels that trees, soil and oceans can absorb naturally, beginning at some point between 2050 and 2100.
      • To review each country's contribution to cutting emissions every five years so they scale up to the challenge.
      • For rich countries to help poorer nations by providing "climate finance" to adapt to climate change and switch to renewable energy.
      One of the main differences to the Paris deal was that it allowed countries to submit their own targets - rather than tell countries what their targets were.
      This got the US and Canada back on board.
      But since then, the US has started to withdraw from the agreement, as President Trump says it's unfair on the US economy.
      He has said he wants to make it easier for fossil fuel producers in the US.
      But there's an election in the US in November 2020, and a different president could cancel the withdrawal.

      Do the talks actually work?
      COP25 has started in Madrid and runs until 13 December. GETTY IMAGESAlthough the Paris Agreement was generally well-received, the UN itself has said it doesn't go far enough.
      A report from the UN Environment Programme in 2017 says the Paris Agreement only covers a third of the emission reductions needed.
      It says that the world is still on course to warm by more than 2C.
      The report recommends putting more ambitious targets in place in 2020.


      COP25: What you need to know about the climate conference.

      Next year's targets are what's expected to be discussed at this year's COP25 in Madrid.
      The 2020 summit will be held in Glasgow and countries have committed to submit new and updated national climate action plans.
      The UN Secretary General António Guterres will tell the meeting that the world is now facing a full-blown climate emergency.
      He said before the conference: "In the crucial 12 months ahead, it is essential that we secure more ambitious national commitments - particularly from the main emitters - to immediately start reducing greenhouse gas emissions at a pace consistent to reaching carbon neutrality by 2050."
      It could be seen as an acknowledgement that while the climate change summits can be a step towards a better future, more needs to be done - and time is running out.

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      UN Chief: Climate Change Near 'Point Of No Return'

      Lethal Heating - 3 December, 2019 - 04:00
      Deutsche WelleAP | AFP | Reuters

      Antonio Guterres has taken the world's major economies to task for not "pulling their weight" to reduce emissions. Ahead of the COP25 climate summit, the UN head said we were rapidly approaching the "point of no return."


      Guterres sounds stark climate warning

      "We are confronted with a global climate crisis and the point of no return is no longer over the horizon, it is in sight and hurtling towards us," said United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the eve of the two-week COP25 global climate summit in Madrid.
      "Our war against nature must stop, and we know that it is possible," he said Sunday. "We simply have to stop digging and drilling and take advantage of the vast possibilities offered by renewable energy and nature-based solutions."
      Across the globe, catastrophic weather patterns — from floods to fire to extreme droughts and heavy snowstorms — are wreaking havoc on both human and animal life. Scientists are warning that the world is running out of time to reverse the worst possible effects of man-made climate breakdown.
      Guterres took member nations to task for not sticking to the 2015 Paris climate agreement, which calls on a limit to fossil fuel use in an attempt to curb global temperatures increases.


      Protesters around the world demand action


      World's largest emitters are not pulling their weight'
      "We also see clearly that the world's largest emitters are not pulling their weight," he said, "and without them, our goal is unreachable."
      The world's largest carbon emitter is China and the second-largest, the United States.
      At last year's UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland, member states drew up a framework for monitoring emission reductions and made plans for further cuts in the future. However, there has still been no agreement on key elements like putting a price on CO2 emissions that could allow carbon taxes to be traded between countries.
      On Friday, mass rallies were held around the world as people called on their governments to address climate change before it's too late.

      How is climate change affecting Europe? Record-setting heat wavesThe summer of 2019 saw heat records in Europe broken across the continent. In July, Germany recorded its highest temperature ever at 42.6 C (108 F). France broke its heat record twice in 2019, the highest temperature measuring 46.C (114.8 F) in July. Climate change increases the frequency of heat waves. 
      Venice under waterIn November 2019, the Italian archipelago city of Venice experienced multiple flooding events and the high water mark of 1.5 meters was reached three times in one week for the first time in recorded history. Projected sea level rise due to climate change could make these events more likely in the future.
      Wildfires burning SpainThe same heat wave that brought record temperatures to France sparked the worst wildfires to hit Spain in 20 years. On the Spanish island of Gran Canaria, wildfires in August decimated a national park on the popular tourist island. Hotter temperatures and drier air due to climate change increase the risk of fires. 
      German forests dyingA combination of drought, storms and extreme heat is depleting Germany's forests. According to BDF, a forest advocacy group, in Germany, more than 1 million established trees have died since 2018. "These are no longer single unusual weather events. That is climate change," said a BDF representative. 
      Disappearing glaciers in the AlpsA glacier on the Italian side of Mont Blanc experienced accelerated melting in 2019. And enthusiasts held a "funeral" for the Pizol glacier in the Swiss Alps, which has almost completely disappeared. Scientists say climate change accelerates glacial melting in the Alps. 
      Drought affecting food productionTwo consecutive years of drought in Germany have hit farmers hard. In 2018, record drought caused major crop failures, and heat waves in 2019 also damaged crops. "Climate change means more frequent droughts and extreme weather events in Germany,"said German Weather Service Vice President Paul Becker.
      New EU Commission plans 'Green Deal'
      The newly minted leadership of the European Commission, under former German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, has set lofty climate goals for itself under a policy initiative called the "European Green Deal." Among the goals set out by the campaign is the plan to make Europe the "first carbon-neutral continent."
      As von der Leyen and her cabinet took office on Sunday, she hailed the COP25 summit as the perfect "starting point" for her climate policy plans.
      "Europe is leading in this topic and we know that we have to be ambitious for our planet,'' von der Leyen told reporters.


      Seychelles: An ecosystem under threat

      On Thursday, European lawmakers voted to declare an EU-wide climate emergency in a symbolic move aimed at increasing pressure on the incoming European Commission to take a stronger stance on climate change.
      On Sunday, European Parliament President David Sassoli also spoke of the need "to turn the promises of the past few months into results that improve people's lives. From the fight against climate change to tackling the rise in the cost of living, Europeans want to see real action.''


      Will a 'climate emergency' make a difference?

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      Scientist's Theory Of Climate's Titanic Moment The 'Tip Of A Mathematical Iceberg'

      Lethal Heating - 3 December, 2019 - 04:00
      The Guardian

      Formula for climate emergency shows if ‘reaction time is longer than intervention time left’ then ‘we have lost control’
      ‘Knowing how long societies have to react to pull the brake on the Earth’s climate and then how long it will take for the ship to slow down is the difference between a climate emergency and a manageable problem.’ Photograph: Topical Press Agency/Getty ImagesWhen is an emergency really an emergency?If you’re the captain of the Titanic, approaching a giant iceberg with the potential to sink your ship becomes an emergency only when you realise you might not have enough time to steer a safe course.
      And so it is, says Prof Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, when it comes to the climate emergency.
      Knowing how long societies have to react to pull the brake on the Earth’s climate and then how long it will take for the ship to slow down is the difference between a climate emergency and a manageable problem.
      Rather than being something abstract and open to interpretation, Schellnhuber says the climate emergency is something with clear and calculable risks that you could put into a formula. And so he wrote one.
      Emergency = R × U = p × D × τ / TIn a comment article in the journal Nature, Schellnhuber and colleagues explained that to understand the climate emergency we needed to quantify the relationship between risk (R) and urgency (U).
      Borrowing from the insurance industry, the scientists define risk (R) as the probability of something happening (p) multiplied by damage (D).
      For example, how likely is it that sea levels will rise by a metre and how much damage will that cause.
      Urgency (U) is the time it takes you to react to an issue (τ) “divided by the intervention time left to avoid a bad outcome (T)”, they wrote.
      Schellnhuber, of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, tells Guardian Australia the work on the formula was just the “tip of a mathematical iceberg” in defining the climate emergency.
      “It can be illustrated by the Titanic disaster, but it applies to many severe risks where you can calculate the do-nothing/business-as-usual probability of a highly damaging event,” he says. “Yet there are options to avoid the disaster.
      “In other words, this a control problem.”
      There is a time lag between the rapid cuts to greenhouse gases and the climate system reacting. Knowing if you have enough time tells you if you’re in an emergency or not.
      Schellnhuber used “standard risk analysis and control theory” to come up with the formula, and he was already putting numbers to it.
      “As a matter of fact, the intervention time left for limiting global warming to less than 2C is about 30 [years] at best. The reaction time – time needed for full global decarbonisation - is at least 20 [years].”
      As the scientists write in Nature, if the “reaction time is longer than the intervention time left” then “we have lost control”.
      Schellnhuber says: “Beyond that critical point, only some sort of adaptation option is left, such as moving the Titanic passengers into rescue boats (if available).”
      Earlier this month, Oxford Dictionaries announced “climate emergency” as the word of the year, defining it as “a situation in which urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change and avoid potentially irreversible environmental damage resulting from it”.
      One website tracking climate emergency declarations says 1,195 jurisdictions in 25 countries, representing 454 million people, have already voted on the emergency.
      This week the European parliament joined them, as did Ballina shire council in northern New South Wales, the 76th local government authority in Australia to make the declaration.
      Prof Will Steffen, of the Australian National University and the Stockholm Resilience Centre, and a co-author of the article, says: “Emergency can mean many things to many people. But there are some hard numbers behind why so many people are saying we are in a climate emergency.
      “This formula sharpens our thinking. So we have 30 years to decarbonise and to stabilise our pressure on the climate system.”
      In the Nature article, the scientists highlight nine “tipping points” that, if crossed, become almost impossible to stop. At least five are already “active”.
      Some of them, like melting permafrost or forest degradation, can start to add more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, making the job of keeping global temperatures down even harder.
      “There are a range of these intervention times left,” Steffen says. “How long do we have before [the Greenland ice sheet] goes? Maybe we have 20 to 25 years and then we might be committed to losing Greenland.
      “But the time we have left to intervene to stabilise coral reefs, for example, is a lot less than 30 years.
      “Our reaction time has to be fast and to decarbonise by 2050 we have to really move now. That’s the point of [Schellnhuber’s] maths.
      “To err on the side of danger is a stupid thing to do.”

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      (AU) Woman Brings Remains Of Home Lost In NSW Bushfires To Parliament In Climate Protest

      Lethal Heating - 3 December, 2019 - 04:00
      The Guardian - Australian Associated Press

      ‘We’ve got no leadership ... we’ve got nothing,’ says Melinda Plesman, who lost her house in Nymboida, near Grafton
      Melinda Plesman stands with the remains of her burnt-out house, destroyed in the NSW bushfires, outside Parliament House in Canberra. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP A woman who lost her home in the New South Wales bushfires has brought the charred remains to Parliament House to send a message to both major parties on climate change.
      Melinda Plesman and her partner, Dean Kennedy, lost their family home of 35 years after bushfires tore through Nymboida, south of Grafton in NSW, last month.
      Plesman said she wanted to show Scott Morrison the direct result of climate change.
      “It’s happening now and this is what climate change looks like,” Plesman said.
      “I’m losing my home, whole communities are losing their homes ... and the prime minister said we’re not allowed to talk about it.
      “He said he was going to pray for us. And that was the last straw.”
      But she also criticised Labor for not wanting to discuss the link between climate change and bushfires.
      “That is what is absolutely terrible. We’ve got no leadership, we’ve got no discussion, we’ve got no debate, we’ve got nothing,” she said.
      “We need a bipartisan approach. I completely understand that the Labor party are absent in this as well.”
      Plesman, who is now living in a motel room, said she didn’t know what the future held for her.
      She said she wanted the government to set a price on carbon, phase out native forest logging, immediately shift Australia towards renewables and stop mining coal.
      “I think it’s the job of the prime minister to bring us together and lead us forward. That’s his job,” she said.
      On a sheet of corrugated iron rescued from the scorched remains her beloved home she had written: “Morrison, your climate crisis destroyed my home.”
      “He’s not acting,” Plesman said.

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      Students Stage Global Strikes To Pressure UN Climate Summit

      Lethal Heating - 2 December, 2019 - 04:00
      The Age - Colin Packham, Reuters

      Lisbon: Thousands of people in Asia and Europe joined rallies demanding more action on climate change on Friday, aiming to force political leaders to come up with urgent solutions at a United Nations conference next week.
      Student activists from School Strike for Climate Australia (SS4C) hold a 'Solidarity Sit-down' outside the Victorian Parliament in Melbourne, Friday. Credit: AAPSwedish activist Greta Thunberg had been due to join a student strike in Lisbon, but her environmentally friendly voyage across the Atlantic from New York by yacht was hit by high winds, delaying her by a few days, she told social media followers.
      Portugal's student movement still expected thousands to join marches on Friday, building on the famous campaigner's imminent arrival to mobilise ahead of the United Nations climate summit in Madrid from December 2 to 13.
      "We wish she'd been here, but the movement has to carry on without her. We've got to send our message and pressure politicians ahead of the climate summit," Marianna Louca, 14, said in Lisbon.
      Friday's climate strikes were expected to take place in 2300 cities in 153 countries around the world, according to the climate campaign group Friday For Future.
      Thousands of demonstrators attend a protest climate strike ralley of the 'Friday For Future Movement' in front of the Federal Administrative Court building in Leipzig, Germany, on Friday. Credit: APThe protests come as experts warn that global temperatures could rise sharply over this century with destructive consequences after greenhouse gas emissions hit record levels.
      Outside Parliament in London, protesters flew a giant blimp in the shape of a baby with "Guess my weight in CO2" written on its vest.
      Students take part in a "Fridays for Future" climate change rally in London. The UK goes to the polls on December 12. The youth climate strike movement started in August 2018, led by the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg. Credit: Getty ImagesOther protests took place in Mumbai, Tel Aviv, Vienna and Frankfurt. In Bangkok, young people chanted: "No more coal, no more oil, keep the carbon in the soil", and staged a "drop dead" flash mob.
      In Warsaw, activists, some in gas masks, waved banners saying: "Save our planet" and "Poland without coal 2030".
      A protester holds a placard as he takes part in a Global Climate Strike protest in Tokyo on Friday. Credit: Getty ImagesIn Berlin, protesters in swimming costumes dived into the chilly river Spree, holding up a white box in a symbolic attempt to rescue the government's climate change package.
      Activists protested at Amazon sites around France in a backlash against the annual Black Friday shopping event driven in part by environmental concerns.
      Several dozen protesters staged a dawn sit-in outside an Amazon building in the Clichy district of Paris, holding a sign saying: "No to Amazon and its world."
      In Australia, students in Sydney and other cities walked out of class, saying more should be done to combat the country's devastating bushfire crisis, which many see as a result of climate change.
      Holding home-made signs, including "The climate is changing, why aren't we?", demonstrators in Sydney accused the government of inadequate action in addressing the bushfire crisis. Smoke from bushfires in New South Wales state formed a haze overhead.
      Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison denies his government is not doing enough on climate change.
      Student activists from School Strike for Climate Australia (SS4C) hold a 'Solidarity Sit-down' outside the office of the Liberal Party in Sydney, on Friday. Credit: AAP
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      Countries From Siberia To Australia Are Burning: The Age Of Fire Is The Bleakest Warning Yet

      Lethal Heating - 2 December, 2019 - 04:00
      The Guardian - Julian Cribb

      It is time not only to think the unthinkable, but to speak it: the world economy, civilisation, and maybe our survival as a species are on the line
      Realms as diverse and distant as Siberia, Amazonia, Indonesia, Australia and California are aflame. Photograph: Andrew Merry/Getty Images Julian CribbJulian Cribb is an author, journalist, editor and science communicator.
      His career includes newspaper editor, science editor, director of national awareness at the CSIRO, membership of numerous scientific boards and advisory panels, and president of national professional bodies for agricultural journalism and science communication.
      His published work includes eight books. Food or War is the latest.
      Julian has received 32 awards for journalism.
        On any day, between 10,000 and 30,000 bushfires burn around the planet.
        Realms as diverse and distant as Siberia, Amazonia, Indonesia, Australia and California are aflame. The advent of “the age of fire” is the bleakest warning yet that humans have breached boundaries we were never meant to cross.
        It is time not only to think the unthinkable, but to speak it: that the world economy, civilisation, and maybe our very survival as a species are on the line. And it is past time to act.
        It isn’t just fires. It’s the incessant knell of unnatural (human-fed) disasters: droughts, floods, vanishing rivers, lakes and glaciers and the rise in billion-dollar weather impacts.
        It is the spate of extinctions, the precipitous loss of sea fish, birds and corals, of forests, mammals, frogs, bees and other insects. It is the march of deserts and the waxing of dead zones in the oceans.
        It is an avalanche of human chemical emissions poisoning our air, water, food, homes, cities, farms and unborn babies, slaying nine million a year.
        It is the probability there will be no Arctic before the end of this century and rising seas expelling 300 million from their homes.
        It is the ominous seepage of methane from the world’s oceans, tundra, swamps and fossil fuels, threatening runaway heating of 7 to 10 degrees or more.
        It is the drift of billions of tonnes of soil from lands that feed us into the blind depths of the ocean, placing food security on a knife-edge as farming systems fail amid a turbulent climate and degraded landscapes.
        It is the rising toll of noncommunicable disease killing three people in every four.
        It is the $1.8tn spent weaponising nations for the true “war to end all wars”. Unchained by political malice or blunder, robot weapons of mass destruction commanded by artificial intelligence will choose who lives and who dies.
        Yet a global citizen movement of scientists, youth, elders and women is demanding urgent action in the face of a growing risk of collapse. Its scientific warnings, Extinction Rebellion and the school strike for climate are flooding the streets of the world’s cities.
        Pope Francis plans to add “ecological sin against the common home” to the Catholic catechism. The Bank of England’s governor, Mark Carney, warns of “abrupt financial collapse” due to climate change. In its annual assessment of catastrophic risks the Global Economic Forum sees mounting danger.
        Prof Jem Bendell, of the University of Cumbria, UK, is among voices warning that the collapse of civilisation may have begun. Because we cannot easily predict its pace, trajectory or magnitude is no reason for inaction, he says. His paper, Deep Adaptation: a Map for Navigating our Climate Tragedy, predicts: “There will be a near-term collapse in society with serious ramifications for the lives of [citizens].” Catastrophe is “probable”, it added, and extinction “is possible”.
        Yet so far only a handful of countries – France, Canada, Britain, Ireland and Argentina – have declared even a climate emergency. Most governments continue to move at glacial pace and turn a blind eye to the nine other mega-threats threats menacing humanity. Why?
        Because a worldwide counter-revolution is under way, intended to paralyse action on climate, environmental loss, extinction, toxic air water and food. It is financed by “dark money” from a terrified fossil fuels sector through shady institutions. It pours hundreds of millions of dollars into global propaganda to discredit climate and environmental science, seduce government and deceive the public.
        More sinister still is the growing control of the fossil fuels lobby over governments and the world media – not only in floundering western democracies, but also Russia, China, Brazil, India and Saudi Arabia.
        Now a new UN report says fossil corporates plan to ramp up carbon emissions 50% to 120% by 2030 beyond the limit for a safe human future (1.5C degrees). Despite the renewables boom, fossil infrastructure investment has rebounded in 2019 after three years of decline, the International Energy Agency says. On the face of it, the fossil lobby has turned the tide.
        There are only three motives to so hazard civilization: greed, malice and ignorance. Either the returns are so great that fossil executives are willing to cook their own grandchildren, or they are blind to the risks. Since these are technical people, the latter does not ring true: oil majors like Shell and ExxonMobil have revealed in court they understood exactly what they were doing to the planet for nearly 50 years. Ignoring it, they then sought to deceive humanity while ramping up carbon output.
        The world is dividing into two opposing movements: the concerned “survivors” – the young, the old, the wise, the educated, the informed and the pragmatic – and the cynics backing the very global system that will precipitate collapse.
        Some scientists’ estimates for how many lives collapse will cost range from 50%-90% of the human population. The number is not knowable because human behaviour, as war, cannot be foretold. The process starts with famines and water crises, both already in evidence, leading to refugee tsunamis and multiplying conflicts.
        As this truth sinks in, the part of humanity committed to survival is seeking legal redress. Columbia Law School documents more than 1,640 ongoing lawsuits against fossil fuel companies and/or governments. But the law is slow, and justice can be bought.
        It is time to speak the unspeakable.
        Without urgent action to terminate fossil fuel use, return the planet to a state of ecological health and address all 10 mega-threats in an integrated way, our worst fears will become our fate. Collapse becomes inexorable.
        Doing nothing or too little sentences humanity to collapse – economic, societal, even existential. It is time to discuss this, openly, honestly, truthfully.
        We have only one rational choice: to choose to survive.
        This demands all necessary actions – although they spell the end of existing systems of energy, food, water, money, defence, transport and politics – and their replacement with new ones, universally dedicated to a viable, just and sustainable human and planetary future.

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        Trade Deals May Be An Effective Method Of Enforcing Climate Action

        Lethal Heating - 2 December, 2019 - 04:00
        Sydney Morning Herald - Editorial

        As world leaders gather this week in Madrid to try to breath some life into the Paris Agreement climate accord, it has its work cut out. With US President Donald Trump triggering the one-year get-out clause and the latest United Nations Emissions Gap Report starkly revealing a world further off course than ever from meeting its emission goals, it's increasingly looking like an agreement in name only. It may explain why some countries are looking elsewhere to enforce change.
        Australia's Trade Minister Simon Birmingham recently got a taste of this. During negotiations with the European Union, France proposed tying a free trade deal to Australia adopting climate change targets enforceable by sanctions. As part of a government that has repeatedly defied pressure on it to set more ambitious targets, Senator Birmingham was always going to baulk, stating: "I think it would be unprecedented to see those type of provisions proposed in an agreement."
        Global trade deals increasingly take account of nation's climate policy. Credit: Jessica Shapiro

        Not quite. Only last week, in the midst of the British election, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn revealed leaked government documents detailing the United Kingdom's attempts to include reference to climate change in a future trade agreement with America. As expected, while Mr Trump remains  president, the request was rebuffed.
        And this year the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, promised in a speech to the European Parliament a carbon border tax, which is meant to protect local companies from "unfair" competition by raising the cost of products from countries that fail to take adequate action against climate change. As long as it does not turn into protectionism under another guise, it's an idea with some merit.
        Big business has become much more vocal about the need to do more on climate change.Even the World Trade Organisation is starting to discuss ways in which climate change could become part of future negotiations. As global trade has greatly expanded, there is a growing awareness of the detrimental impact more economic activity will have on greenhouse gas emissions. Extreme weather will also play havoc with the roughly 50,000 cargo ships at sea at any one time and coastal infrastructure, especially ports, will become highly vulnerable.
        So when Senator Birmingham says he believes trade agreements were "overwhelmingly commercial undertakings between countries" and should "focus on commercial realities", he is most likely in the land of wishful thinking. And it's not like those most affected by these changes to trade negotiations are going to be too surprised or possibly put out.
        Much to the annoyance of the Coalition, big business has become much more vocal about the need to do more on climate change. It should also be remembered that trade negotiations are increasingly about non-trade matters. The recent free trade agreement with Indonesia included a deal over the number of work visas for young Indonesians coming to Australia.
        While the Herald is hopeful the climate talks in Madrid this week prove surprisingly successful, what seems more likely is that many countries will continue to put national interest in front of the need for collective global action. As climate warnings become more dire, the heavy lifting on getting countries to move quicker may end up in unlikely forums. Trade deals may be just the forum that turns action on climate change into an enforceable reality.

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        The Five Corrupt Pillars Of Climate Change Denial

        Lethal Heating - 1 December, 2019 - 04:00
        The Conversation

        Don’t let the green naysayers drown you out. Component/Shutterstock The fossil fuel industry, political lobbyists, media moguls and individuals have spent the past 30 years sowing doubt about the reality of climate change - where none exists. The latest estimate is that the world’s five largest publicly-owned oil and gas companies spend about US$200 million a year on lobbying to control, delay or block binding climate policy.
        Their hold on the public seems to be waning. Two recent polls suggested over 75% of Americans think humans are causing climate change. School climate strikes, Extinction Rebellion protests, national governments declaring a climate emergency, improved media coverage of climate change and an increasing number of extreme weather events have all contributed to this shift. There also seems to be a renewed optimism that we can deal with the crisis.
        But this means lobbying has changed, now employing more subtle and more vicious approaches – what has been termed as “climate sadism”. It is used to mock young people going on climate protests and to ridicule Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old young woman with Asperger’s, who is simply telling the scientific truth.
        Anti-climate change lobbying spend by the five largest publicly-owned fossil fuel companies. StatistaCC BY-SA




        At such a crossroads, it is important to be able to identify the different types of denial. The below taxonomy will help you spot the different ways that are being used to convince you to delay action on climate change.

        1. Science denial
        This is the type of denial we are all familiar with: that the science of climate change is not settled. Deniers suggest climate change is just part of the natural cycle. Or that climate models are unreliable and too sensitive to carbon dioxide.
        Some even suggest that CO₂ is such a small part of the atmosphere it cannot have a large heating affect. Or that climate scientists are fixing the data to show the climate is changing (a global conspiracy that would take thousands of scientists in more than a 100 countries to pull off).
        All these arguments are false and there is a clear consensus among scientists about the causes of climate change. The climate models that predict global temperature rises have remained very similar over the last 30 years despite the huge increase in complexity, showing it is a robust outcome of the science.\
        Model reconstruction of global temperature since 1970. Average of the models in black with model range in grey compared to observational temperature records from NASA, NOAA, HadCRUT, Cowtan and Way, and Berkeley Earth. Carbon BriefCC BY






        The shift in public opinion means that undermining the science will increasingly have little or no effect. So climate change deniers are switching to new tactics. One of Britain’s leading deniers, Nigel Lawson, the former UK chancellor, now agrees that humans are causing climate change, despite having founded the sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation in 2009.
        It says it is “open-minded on the contested science of global warming, [but] is deeply concerned about the costs and other implications of many of the policies currently being advocated”. In other words, climate change is now about the cost not the science.

        2. Economic denial
        The idea that climate change is too expensive to fix is a more subtle form of climate denial. Economists, however, suggest we could fix climate change now by spending 1% of world GDP. Perhaps even less if the cost savings from improved human health and expansion of the global green economy are taken into account. But if we don’t act now, by 2050 it could cost over 20% of world GDP.
        We should also remember that in 2018 the world generated US$86,000,000,000,000 and every year this World GDP grows by 3.5%. So setting aside just 1% to deal with climate change would make little overall difference and would save the world a huge amount of money. What the climate change deniers also forget to tell you is that they are protecting a fossil fuel industry that receives US$5.2 trillion in annual subsidies – which includes subsidised supply costs, tax breaks and environmental costs. This amounts to 6% of world GDP.
        The International Monetary Fund estimates that efficient fossil fuel pricing would lower global carbon emissions by 28%, fossil fuel air pollution deaths by 46%, and increase government revenue by 3.8% of the country’s GDP.

        3. Humanitarian denial
        Climate change deniers also argue that climate change is good for us. They suggest longer, warmer summers in the temperate zone will make farming more productive. These gains, however, are often offset by the drier summers and increased frequency of heatwaves in those same areas. For example, the 2010 “Moscow” heatwave killed 11,000 people, devastated the Russian wheat harvest and increased global food prices.
        Geographical zones of the world. The tropical zones span from the Tropic of Cancer in the North to the Tropic of Capricorn in the South (red shaded region) and contains 40% of the World population. Maulucioni/WikipediaCC BY-SA





        More than 40% of the world’s population also lives in the Tropics – where from both a human health prospective and an increase in desertification no one wants summer temperatures to rise.
        Deniers also point out that plants need atmospheric carbon dioxide to grow so having more of it acts like a fertiliser. This is indeed true and the land biosphere has been absorbing about a quarter of our carbon dioxide pollution every year. Another quarter of our emissions is absorbed by the oceans. But losing massive areas of natural vegetation through deforestation and changes in land use completely nullifies this minor fertilisation effect.
        Climate change deniers will tell you that more people die of the cold than heat, so warmer winters will be a good thing. This is deeply misleading. Vulnerable people die of the cold because of poor housing and not being able to afford to heat their homes. Society, not climate, kills them.
        This argument is also factually incorrect. In the US, for example, heat-related deaths are four times higher than cold-related ones. This may even be an underestimate as many heat-related deaths are recorded by cause of death such as heart failure, stroke, or respiratory failure, all of which are exacerbated by excessive heat.
        US weather fatalities for 2018 alongside the ten- and 30-year average. National Weather ServiceCC BY





        4. Political denial
        Climate change deniers argue we cannot take action because other countries are not taking action. But not all countries are equally guilty of causing current climate change. For example, 25% of the human-produced CO₂ in the atmosphere is generated by the US, another 22% is produced by the EU. Africa produces just under 5%.
        Given the historic legacy of greenhouse gas pollution, developed countries have an ethical responsibility to lead the way in cutting emissions. But ultimately, all countries need to act because if we want to minimise the effects of climate change then the world must go carbon zero by 2050.
        Per capita annual carbon dioxide emissions and cumulative country emissions. Data from the Global Carbon Project. Nature. Data from the Global Carbon Project
        Deniers will also tell you that there are problems to fix closer to home without bothering with global issues. But many of the solutions to climate change are win-win and will improve the lives of normal people. Switching to renewable energy and electric vehicles, for example, reduces air pollution, which improves people’s overall health.Developing a green economy provides economic benefits and creates jobs. Improving the environment and reforestation provides protection from extreme weather events and can in turn improve food and water security.

        5. Crisis denial
        The final piece of climate change denial is the argument that we should not rush into changing things, especially given the uncertainty raised by the other four areas of denial above. Deniers argue that climate change is not as bad as scientists make out. We will be much richer in the future and better able to fix climate change. They also play on our emotions as many of us don’t like change and can feel we are living in the best of times – especially if we are richer or in power.
        But similarly hollow arguments were used in the past to delay ending slavery, granting the vote to women, ending colonial rule, ending segregation, decriminalising homosexuality, bolstering worker’s rights and environmental regulations, allowing same sex marriages and banning smoking.
        The fundamental question is why are we allowing the people with the most privilege and power to convince us to delay saving our planet from climate change?

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        2019, The Year The World Woke Up To Climate Change

        Lethal Heating - 1 December, 2019 - 04:00
        European Bank for Reconstruction and Development - Vanora Bennett

        Until recently, for most people, climate change was firmly in the realm of the hypothetical.
        It wasn’t that nothing was happening. In the past decade, an estimated one person per second has been forced to leave home following sudden weather disasters - in 2017 alone, 18 million people – and slower changes from desertification to sea level rises have forced more people on to the move. A World Bank report in March 2018 said 143 million people worldwide could be displaced by 2050 if nothing is done to halt climate change.
        But Joe Average had nothing much to say about the melting polar ice caps or permafrost, or the growing risk of floods and freak storms and forest fires that worry policymakers who link these phenomena with ever greater greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity. Even after the international community had decided, through the Paris Agreement of 2015 and annual global policy meetings since, to try to limit man-made global warming to 2C and if possible 1.5C, fear of the dangerous consequences of global warming was surprisingly muted outside administrative and scientific circles. Was it lack of understanding, or feeling overwhelmed, or suspicion of the elites calling for change, or just plain apathy? Whatever it was, popular interest in the topic seemed restrained.
        And then the world woke up.
        The change of consciousness began at about the time of a stark warning by leading climate scientists in October 2018. We only have 12 years to limit impending climate change catastrophe, said the report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC ). Beyond that, even half a degree of warming will significantly worsen the risks for hundreds of millions of people from drought, heat, floods and poverty. To keep temperature rises below 1.5C by 2100, emissions of carbon dioxide would have to be dramatically cut, by 45 per cent in the 12 years to 2030 and to “net zero” – carbon neutral, with no more greenhouse gases emitted than are disposed of – by 2050.
        Such warnings began to work on the popular imagination. The catchphrase “only 12 years to save the planet,” suddenly became part of the global conversation. Teenagers talked about it, and their mums and dads tweeted it.
        A little earlier in 2018, a second phenomenon was underway. In Stockholm, a solemn schoolgirl with plaits and a placard sat down outside the Swedish parliament to mark her anger at her government’s climate inaction. Her placard read "Skolstrejk för klimatet" … ("School strike for the climate"). Greta Thunberg, who was 15, began her strike on 20 August 2018 and was there daily for several weeks, before switching to striking every Friday.
        Greta Thunberg wasn’t the only one willing to protest. Early that September, a few strikers also started gathering every day outside the House of Representatives in The Hague, and, starting a few days later, more gathered in front of the Bundestag in Berlin. By September 21, in the Dutch town of Zeist, 10-year-old Lily Platt had begun weekly climate strikes, and on November Canadian sixth-grader Sophia Mathur started her own protest in the town of Sudbury.
        By the end of October, a bigger protest movement had also come alive.
        This started in the UK, where the radical climate protest movement Extinction Rebellion was born with a “Declaration of Rebellion” in London’s Parliament Square. Greta Thunberg came, in an electric car.  The assembly – which included respected figures such as Green MP Caroline Lucas and environmental writer George Monbiot - occupied the road in front of Parliament. On 31 October, 15 people were arrested. In the next two weeks, the total rose to more than 60. Exuberant acts of civil disobedience ranged from people gluing their hands to government buildings to unveiling a “Climate Change …. We’re Fucked” banner over Westminster Bridge. By 17 November, “Rebellion Day”, 6000 people blocked five bridges over London’s River Thames. The Guardian called it “one of the biggest acts of peaceful civil disobedience in the UK in decades.”
        Outside the UK, a “Rebellion Day” in New York was followed by protests in Australia, Stockholm, Dublin, Copenhagen, Berlin and Madrid. In Zurich, demonstrators dyed the River Limmat luminous green.
        By the time global policymakers turned up for their annual climate action summit in December – COP24 in Katowice, Poland - schoolchildren in multiple countries had started a school climate strike movement, Fridays for Future. Greta Thunburg was one of the speakers at COP24.
        Katowice saw some stirring speeches. British TV naturalist Sir David Attenborough told the conference “we are facing ... our greatest threat in thousands of years. If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon”. Thunberg said, “we are facing an existential threat. This is the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced”.
        By the time 2019 started, with more news that – far from emissions being stopped, they were actually still rising, as were record high temperatures – student and other strikes had captured the zeitgeist. A global strike on 15 March gathered more than one million supporters, with around 2200 protests in 125 countries. On 24 May, a second global strike included 1600 events across 150 countries, coinciding with the 2019 European Parliament election. The 2019 Global Week for Future was a series of 4500 strikes across over 150 countries on the last two Fridays of September. Four million people joined the first, and two million the second.
        By the time Greta Thunberg went to the next global climate policy event, the UN Climate Action Summit in New York on 23 September, she was a Nobel Peace Prize nominee. Arriving by yacht, she berated world leaders for their “betrayal” of young people.
        “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” she said. “The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us I say we will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line.”
        The period of protest has also seen an upturn in worrying weather events.
        June 2019 was the hottest June since records began in 1880. Nine out of the ten warmest Junes have occurred since 2010.
        Cyclones in Mozambique in March and April wiped out entire cities, leaving millions homeless. June saw India facing its worst water crisis, with Chennai the first of 21 cities forecast to run out of groundwater by 2020. In August, wildfires in Brazil destroyed tracts of the world’s biggest rainforest, the Amazon, pumping record – and alarming - quantities of carbon into the atmosphere. September brought Hurricane Dorian, the most powerful cyclone ever to strike the Bahamas. October brought wildfires to large tracts of California.
        It's not just the protest-prone part of the population taking note of this, but even the silent majority as well. A slew of 2019 studies show a record number of people now say they understand climate change is real, and are worried about its effects.
        One study described in the New York Times in January 2019 showed 73 per cent of Americans believe global warming is happening – up 10 percentage points from 2015 and three since March 2018. And 62 per cent understand global warming is caused mostly by human activities, up 10 points since 2015.
        In the year since the “12-years-to-go” IPCC report, the situation has evolved.There’s been a shift in climate financing patterns towards more (and perhaps more pessimistic) spending on adaptation and resilience. This involves allocating part of the money earmarked for climate action to adapting our lives and technologies to filter out climate change’s worst results rather than purely on preventing it in the first place.
        The timetable of fear has changed too. In 2019, policymakers are talking about the need for decisive climate action in the 18 months to the end of 2020, a much smaller window than the 12 years from 2018 to 2030.
        The reason is that - if the necessary steps are to be taken to allow enough cuts in carbon emissions to take place by 2030 and let the world reach a goal of net zero emissions by 2050 – they must be agreed before the end of next year.
        One less well-known conclusion of the IPCC report was that global emissions of carbon dioxide must peak by 2020 to keep the planet below 1.5C. Current plans, set out in individual countries’ National Defined Contributions, are nowhere near enough to keep temperatures below this limit.
        In fact, the world is still heading towards a more dangerous 3C of heating, or more, by 2100. And the latest UN report on climate change, released in November 2019, says that, to meet the 1.5C target, world leaders will have to cut greenhouse gas emissions by a staggering 7.6 per cent every year for the next decade.
        With plans made in five- and ten-year timeframes, it is vital to agree the way forward by the start of the new time-frame in 2020, and define the bigger and better emissions-cutting targets that countries have promised for the next period from 2020-2025.
        At a climate summit in New York in September, the host, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, asked guests to bring significant offers to improve their national carbon-cutting plans. Many did.
        Sixty-five countries pledged to reach net zero emissions by 2050, and 70 to boost their national action plan by 2020. The European Union promised to allocate at least 25 per cent of its next budget to climate action, and Russia to become the 187th country to ratify the Paris Agreement. Greece promised to close its coal power plants by 2028. The world’s biggest pension funds and insurers, which direct over US$ 2 trillion of investment, committed to carbon neutral portfolios by 2050. Major industrial firms including steel, cement and shipping companies, as well as 100 banks worth a collective US$ 35 trillion, aim to move towards carbon neutrality by 2050 too. Last but not least, as EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti reported to the Bank’s Board, “significant extra funding was promised by MDBs for the 2020-25 period, including much more money from the private sector whose growing support is vital to transform the climate action sums ‘from billions to trillions’”. The EBRD has been coordinating these efforts.
        At the next summit, COP25 in Madrid, delegates hope to agree measures known as “Article 6” including market mechanisms for carbon trading that will help the private sector to become a more powerful force in climate action. The final stage of the current cycle will be at COP26, where the agenda for still more radical action in the next cycle will be set.
        The world is at a tipping point. Climate change threatens economies. But there are reasons for hope.
        Companies who now see a threat to their own bottom line are identifying climate change as one of the biggest risks of systemic change and putting pressure on governments to do more. There is better and cheaper new technology for renewable energy, allowing the price of “good” renewables to fall below that of fossil fuels in many places. And a new generation has become more aware of the dangers and willing to protest at the slow pace of change.With people in so many walks of life demanding significant action, politicians are that much more likely to find ways to push through change.

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        Paris Agreement Targets Need To Be 5 Times Stronger To Actually Work

        Lethal Heating - 1 December, 2019 - 04:00
        Grist

        AP Photo / Michel EulerIn almost exactly a year’s time, nearly 200 countries will have the chance to go back to the drawing board and make revisions to their Paris Agreement commitments. It sounds boring, but those voluntary commitments are pretty much the only global tool humanity currently has at its disposal to fight the looming climate crisis. What these countries decide to do when they get together in Glasgow next November to update their commitments will quite literally determine whether the planet devolves into a climate-wrecked hellscape or starts tracking a far more livable course.
        A new U.N. report published on Tuesday, a week before many of those nations gather in Madrid for an annual climate change conference, shows exactly what the world needs to do to avoid catastrophic warming. Spoiler alert: it will not be easy.
        The report says that nations need to make their emissions-reductions goals five times more ambitious in order to limit warming to 1.5 degrees C — the threshold scientists say is the danger line for global warming. Even if all of the countries involved in the Paris Agreement bring emissions down to the levels they initially pledged to meet, the world would still be on track for 3.2 degrees C of warming. That’s 5.76 degrees F, a scenario that would make the wildfires, hurricanes, heat waves, and droughts of 2019 look like child’s play.
        The worse news is that many of the world’s biggest emitters aren’t even on track to meet their Paris accord pledges. Members of the G20, which includes 19 countries and the EU, produce 78 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Of those countries, only China, the EU, India, Mexico, Russia, and Turkey are on track to meet their nationally determined contributions to the Paris Agreement. Meanwhile, Australia, Brazil, Japan, Canada, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, and the United States of America — which is in the process of pulling out of the agreement — need to take stronger action to achieve the targets that they voluntarily set in 2016. (There’s conflicting data on whether the remaining G20 members are on or off track.)
        All these countries need to revise their targets significantly in 2020 and then start actually meeting their targets to “close the emissions gap” and avoid a terrible warming scenario. Inger Andersen, the executive editor of the U.N. Environment Programme and the lead author of the report, gives humanity two options: “set in motion the radical transformations we need now, or face the consequences of a planet radically altered by climate change.” Those radical transformations she’s talking about involve cutting emissions 7.6 percent every year between 2020 and 2030 if we want to limit warming to 1.5 degrees, or 2.7 percent per year if we’re willing to resign ourselves to 2 degrees of warming.
        It would be the understatement of the century to call these objectives daunting. Luckily, the report lays out exactly what each country in the G7 can do to help achieve those cuts. The United States, for one, can put a price on carbon, shore up fuel efficiency standards for new cars, and implement clean building standards so developers build more efficient buildings. It can also regulate its power plants better and work toward a carbon-free electricity sector. China and India can ban coal-fired power plants, invest in public transit, and work toward zero-emissions cars and buildings. The E.U. can stop investing in fossil fuel-powered infrastructure, cut the natural gas cord, phase out its coal-powered plants, ban combustion-engine vehicles, and retrofit existing buildings to make them cleaner.
        Here’s the good news: several G20 members have said they aim to achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century. In the U.S., many presidential candidates are running on platforms that include that ambitious goal. Furthermore, the technology to accomplish the recommendations laid out in the report already exists. What nations need now is the political willpower to make it happen. “We have to learn from our procrastination,” Andersen writes. “We cannot afford to fail.”

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        (AU) Australian Students Kick Off Global Climate Change Protests

        Lethal Heating - 30 November, 2019 - 04:00
        Reuters - Colin Packham

        A student activist poses for a portrait during a 'Solidarity Sit-down' outside of the office of the Liberal Party of Australia in Sydney © Reuters/STRINGERSYDNEY (Reuters) - Thousands of Australian students walked out of class on Friday to join rallies demanding stronger action to rein in climate change, which they said is contributing to the country's bushfire crisis.
        Australia has been battling wildfires for weeks, which have killed at least four people, burnt about 2.5 million acres (1 million hectares) of farmland and bush and destroyed more than 500 homes.
        The rallies, in Sydney and other major Australian cities, were the first in a series of protests by students across the globe demanding governments do more to protect the environment. The protests come ahead of the annual U.N. climate conference that starts in Madrid on Monday.
        Red Rebels from Extinction Rebellion are seen during a School Strike for Climate Australia (SS4C) 'Solidarity Sit-down' outside of the office of the Liberal Party of Australia in Sydney © Reuters/STRINGERHolding home-made signs, including "The climate is changing, why aren't we?", protesters in Sydney accused the government of inadequate action in addressing Australia's bushfire crisis. Smoke from the bushfires in New South Wales state formed a haze overhead.
        Student activists from School Strike for Climate Australia (SS4C) hold a 'Solidarity Sit-down' outside of the office of the Liberal Party of Australia in Sydney © Reuters/STRINGER"Our government's inaction on the climate crisis has supercharged bushfires," said 18-year-old Shiann Broderic, one of the event's organisers, whose home was destroyed in a bushfire.
        "People are hurting. Communities like ours are being devastated. Summer hasn't even begun."
        Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously rejected suggestions his government is not doing enough to address climate change.
        Australia has pledged to cut carbon emissions by 26% from 2005 levels by 2030, but recent data shows emissions are unchanged.
        However, data released on Friday showed Australia's greenhouse gas emissions were roughly unchanged in the 12 months ended June.
        The release of the data came as firefighters continued to battle more than 150 blazes still alight across the country that has left more than 5 million people residing in Sydney struggling under hazardous air pollution that has lingered for much of the last week.
        While a cool change has eased the threat of more fires, Australia's Bureau of Meteorology on Thursday said much of the country will suffer from continued hot and dry conditions this summer, increasing the chances of more bushfires.

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        'Our House Is On Fire': EU Parliament Declares Climate Emergency

        Lethal Heating - 30 November, 2019 - 04:00
        SBSAAP

        The European parliament has made a symbolic move to declare a global climate emergency in a bid to force member states into action.
        European politicians have voted to declare an EU-wide climate emergency. Source: APA "climate emergency" has been declared by the European Union's legislature in a symbolic bid to push the issue as high as possible on the agenda of the EU's executive team.
        The parliament in Strasbourg, France, voted by 429 to 225, with 19 abstentions, to call the increasing environmental challenges linked to climate change an emergency.
        Renew Europe MEP Pascal Canfin, who initiated the move, said it made Europe "the first continent to declare a climate and environmental emergency".
        Mr Canfin said the parliament is meeting the expectations of European citizens.
        Climate activists in Berlin earlier this month. AAPBut environmental campaigners said the declaration was not backed by sufficient action.
        “Our house is on fire. The European parliament has seen the blaze, but it’s not enough to stand by and watch,” said Greenpeace’s EU climate policy adviser, Sebastian Mang, shortly before the vote.
        The EU has long been at the forefront of the global climate debate, a role that has been reinforced since the United States pulled out of the Paris climate agreement.
        With increasingly erratic weather patterns from wildfires in Australia to floods in Europe being linked to climate change, governments are under scrutiny to find urgent solutions at the United Nations' summit in Spain on December 2-13.
        Dissenters objected to the word "emergency", saying it was too drastic, and "urgency" would suffice.
        Day 16. In the middle of the ocean I’m struck by the news that the EU Parliament has declared a climate emergency.
        We can’t solve a crisis without treating it as one. Let’s hope they now take drastic sufficient action.
        Join the #climatestrike to put pressure on them! pic.twitter.com/PcWPU8yowf— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) November 28, 2019Frustrated scientists and activists warn that despite such declarations, action is still lagging to hit the Paris Agreement target of curbing emissions enough to keep temperature rises to within 1.5-2 degrees celsius of pre-industrial levels.
        However, the EU parliament's vote should help shape policies for the bloc's incoming executive head, Ursula von der Leyen, who assumes office on December 1.
        The 28-nation EU is the first multilateral bloc to call a climate emergency, but joins numerous individual countries and cities from Argentina and Canada to New York and Sydney.

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