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Insurers Urge Morrison To Take On Climate Action

9 hours 41 min ago
AFRJames Fernyhough

General insurers have lost no time in calling on the re-elected Morrison government to put a "greater focus" on natural disaster mitigation following the Coalition's shock win in Saturday's federal election.
In a statement congratulating Prime Minister Scott Morrison for his win, Insurance Council of Australia chief executive Rob Whelan listed among the industry's priorities to "protect at-risk communities from natural disasters" and "tackle climate change".
"The ICA hopes a greater focus will be placed on investing in nation-building infrastructure that encourages economic sustainability and growth in regions exposed to natural disasters, in the form of permanent mitigation and other resilience programs," Mr Whelan said.
He also called for the "removal of inefficient and unfair state taxes and levies on insurance products".
Insurers around the world have seen a sharp rise in natural catastrophe claims in recent years, which the industry has universally linked to the climate crisis.
This has prompted a global push by the industry for governments and regulators to take the issue seriously.
Australia's biggest insurers IAG, Suncorp and QBE have repeatedly flagged the risks natural catastrophes pose to their businesses, while the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, under the leadership of the head of insurance Geoff Summerhayes, has taken an increasingly stronger position on the financial risks of climate change.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Reserve Bank of Australia have also named climate change as a major risk.
Labor was widely expected to win Saturday's election on a platform that included much more ambitious plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Labor was targeting 45 per cent emissions reductions on 2005 levels by 2030, while the Coalition's target is 26 to 28 per cent.
The Coalition's means of achieving that reduction is a $3.5 billion fund to spend on carbon abatement projects, such as planting trees.
Following the collapse of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull's ill-fated national energy guarantee (NEG), the government's climate policy does not include any attempt to cap businesses' emissions, or incentivise low-emissions activities.
Already a return of the NEG is being mooted, with business leaders reportedly favouring it, and former foreign minister Julia Bishop calling on her ex-colleagues to embrace the policy, which had broadly bipartisan support before the right wing of the Liberal Party, led by Tony Abbott, derailed it.
ICA spokesman Campbell Fuller said that while climate change was likely increasing natural disasters, the insurance industry's main focus was on resilience measures such as flood levies, rather than policies that tackle the root cause of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions.
"The ICA does not believe it is advisable to take a political position on climate change. It seeks to encourage all governments to help communities adapt to the challenges posed by climate change,” Mr Fuller said.
“Permanent mitigation shouldn’t be treated as an afterthought. It should be treated as nation-building infrastructure, because properly designed and maintained mitigation helps ensure that communities can remain economically sustainable.
"In some parts of the country, it can help the economy thrive. So rather than having to be rebuilt every few years through taxpayer funds and insurance, our argument is to reduce the impacts or likelihood of the impact of floods."
He said only 3 to 5 per cent of disaster funding went towards mitigation, with the vast majority going towards recovery.
He called on the government to adopt the Productivity Commission's recommendation that the federal government spend $200 million a year on resilience projects, with state and local governments contributing a further $200 million.
Sixteen of the 20 most flood-prone areas of Australia are in Queensland - the state with the most pronounced swings towards the Coalition in Saturday's election. The rest are in NSW.
Earlier this month, the ICA announced it was developing a climate change strategy.
"The ICA’s goal is to play a thought-leadership role in the transition of our nation to a low-carbon economy by sending a price signal about unacceptable risks and working with governments to help reduce risks through improving the built environment," ICA president Richard Enthoven said.
"This strategy will also assist our member companies to manage the increasing risks to their businesses associated with climate change."

Categories: External websites

The Message Morrison Shouldn't Take Away From The Election

9 hours 41 min ago
Fairfax - Ben Oquist*

If the message the government hears from the election is that the climate does not matter it will not just be energy policy that suffers. Australia’s economy and Scott Morrison’s politics will require a different interpretation.
The election result does not change the scientific imperative to reduce carbon emissions. The climate wars - the battle over effective climate action policy - are not done, but the energy wars - over Australia’s renewable energy uptake - should be.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will forge ahead with his government's climate change policy. Hear what he has said on the topic, after his election win.

The business-led push for the now dumped National Energy Guarantee was driven by this desire. Addressing the energy trilemma – pollution, prices and reliability – requires an integrated approach that takes on all three issues. In short, if emissions policy is ignored there will not be the investor certainty that will drive new investment in the clean energy and storage that will ultimately lead to lower prices and greater reliability.
The economics of electricity production means that a new coal fired power station will never again be built in Australia without large government subsidies and future carbon price indemnity.
The market has spoken and renewables – plus storage – have beaten coal. While making its case for the "Battery of the Nation" Snowy 2.0 Project, Snowy Hydro made public its own market analysis– it is cheaper to build firmed renewables than coal. This victory is decades in the making and will take many years to shake through the system, but there is no doubt about it. While it is clear that a slim majority of Australians voted for a party without a credible policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is not clear that a majority of Australians are happy for the federal government to keep treading water on climate policy.
So what can the Coalition do? Our energy market rules were designed for an era that is ending and we need smarter rules at the wholesale and retail level so that the market can function properly. The good news for the Prime Minister is that better rules will mean lower bills, more reliability and cleaner generation.
The Australian Energy Market Commission is considering a rule change on wholesale demand response. Demand response allows consumers of electricity to get paid to use less energy at peak demands times when prices are high. Increasing grid reliability, lowering costs and cutting pollution all at once. The Australia Institute has co-sponsored a rule change and it has widespread support from business and consumers, everyone except the incumbents, who want to protect their market power.
Ministers genuinely dedicated to guaranteeing lowering electricity costs would be championing these new energy market rules that would lift the regulatory ceiling on renewables, rather than advocate for new coal-fired power stations that will not supply a single electron before 2029.
Supporting contentious coal mines might have proved to be a good way to rally conservative voters in regional Queensland, but automated mines are never going to rally local economies. The Adani coal mine will not solve regional unemployment in Queensland in the way voters have been led to believe. Even if the mine were to go ahead, the vast majority of unemployed Queenslanders will remain unemployed and it would threaten existing coal jobs at older, less automated mines.
However, there is always another election around the corner. Without serious energy and regional development policy delivered soon there is little chance that regional Australians, or anyone with an electricity bill, will be so easily convinced of the benefits of coal in three years’ time.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday. Credit: AAPAustralia’s climate wars are far from over. Arguably, they have yet to begin. While some Queensland Nationals MPs are seemingly pleased that they have helped hold back the tide of renewable energy and electric cars, the fact is Australian energy businesses are not going to invest in coal and Australia’s coal mines are not going to employ more than 0.5 per cent of Australia’s workforce.
Australia’s economy and politics will require better than what the Coalition offered at this election and a smart government will figure this out. Despite the triumphalism of some of coal’s boosters, we have proof that in part the Prime Minister already knows this. Scott Morrison spent almost no time during the election campaign spruiking coal and in fact promoted $25 billion dollars in renewable energy investment. We can be sure he will not be bringing a lump of coal into Parliament again.
And as Tony Boyd in The Australian Financial Review wrote yesterday when assessing what the election lessons were for business: "A rational energy policy that incentivises a more rapid transition from fossil fuels to renewables should not be a hard sell for Morrison given that cheaper energy would underpin increased downstream processing in the mining sector’.

*Ben Oquist is the executive director of independent think-tank the Australia Institute.

Categories: External websites

It Was Supposed To Be Australia’s Climate Change Election. What Happened?

21 May, 2019 - 05:00
New York TimesDamien Cave

A farmer feeding his cattle with purchased cotton seeds in the face of a crippling drought in Narrabri, New South Wales, Australia. David Maurice Smith for The New York TimesSYDNEY, Australia — The polls said this would be Australia’s climate change election, when voters confronted harsh reality and elected leaders who would tackle the problem.
And in some districts, it was true: Tony Abbott, the former prime minister who stymied climate policy for years, lost to an independent who campaigned on the issue. A few other new candidates prioritizing climate change also won.
But over all, Australians shrugged off the warming seas killing the Great Barrier Reef and the extreme drought punishing farmers. On Saturday, in a result that stunned most analysts, they re-elected the conservative coalition that has long resisted plans to sharply cut down on carbon emissions and coal.
What it could mean is that the world’s climate wars — already raging for years — are likely to intensify. Left-leaning candidates elsewhere, like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, may learn to avoid making climate a campaign issue, while here in Australia, conservatives face more enraged opponents and a more divided public.
“There has to be a reckoning within the coalition about where they stand,” said Amanda McKenzie, chief executive of the Climate Council, an Australian nonprofit. “I think it’s increasingly difficult for them to maintain a position where they don’t talk about climate change.”
Even for skeptics, the effects of climate change are becoming harder to deny. Australia just experienced its hottest summer on record. The country’s tropics are spreading south, bringing storms and mosquito-borne illnesses like dengue fever to places unprepared for such problems, while water shortages have led to major fish die-offs in drying rivers.
Lucas Dow, the chief executive of Adani Australia, in front of conservative campaign signs in Clermont, Queensland, on Tuesday. The town was the site of a violent clash last month over a proposed Adani coal mine. Anna Maria Antoinette D'Addario for The New York Times“This is all playing out in real time, right now,” said Joëlle Gergis, an award-winning climate scientist and writer from the Australian National University. “We are one of the most vulnerable nations in the developed world when it comes to climate change.”
And yet the path to victory for Scott Morrison, the incumbent prime minister, will make agreeing on a response more difficult. He and his Liberal-National coalition won thanks not just to their base of older, suburban economic conservatives, but also to a surge of support in Queensland, the rural, coal-producing, sparsely populated state sometimes compared to the American South.
The coalition successfully made cost the dominant issue in the climate change debate. One economic model estimated that the 45 percent reduction in carbon emissions proposed by the opposition Labor Party would cost the economy 167,000 jobs and 264 billion Australian dollars, or $181 billion. Though a Labor spokesman called the model “dodgy,” Mr. Morrison and his allies used it to argue against extending Australia’s existing efforts to reduce emissions and invest in clean energy.
The message resonated strongly in Queensland, where the proposed Carmichael coal mine would be among the largest in the world if it is approved.
The Adani Group, the Indian conglomerate behind the mine project, says it will provide thousands of jobs in nearby towns marked by empty houses and rife unemployment. But in other parts of Australia, particularly among the urban educated left, it faces fierce opposition. “Stop Adani” is a mantra for many, promoted by organizations like Greenpeace and shared with pride on social media, signs and T-shirts.
Even Mr. Abbott, the former prime minister, seemed to grasp this growing political divide.
“It’s clear that in what might be described as ‘working seats,’ we are doing so much better,” he said in his concession speech. “It’s also clear that in at least some of what might be described as ‘wealthy seats,’ we are doing it tough, and the Green left is doing better.”
Neither side seems open to compromise. In some ways, the election was foreshadowed last month in the Queensland town of Clermont, where environmentalists protesting the Carmichael mine were met by pro-coal activists, including a man on a horse who rode into the crowd and knocked a woman unconscious.
Over all, Australians shrugged off the warming seas killing the Great Barrier Reef and the extreme drought punishing farmers. Social Media/ReutersIn some ways it was a clash of cultures as well as political views.
“I feel like there’s quite a lot of scorn about the way Queenslanders feel about environmental issues, and that doesn’t help,” said Susan Harris-Rimmer, a law professor at Griffith University in Queensland. “The predominant Queensland characteristic is pride and you can’t pour scorn on them.”
She said doing so was a strategic mistake for politicians comparable to Hillary Clinton’s description of some Donald Trump supporters as “deplorables” during the 2016 United States presidential election.
“You can’t trigger the pride response,” Ms. Harris-Rimmer said.
Scholars of Australian populism agree, arguing that the weakening of the major parties and the country’s tilt to the right have been driven mainly by class envy and alienation, including the belief that the elite do not understand the needs and values of the working class.
Despite his Sydney upbringing and former career in advertising, Mr. Morrison, 51, won in part by presenting himself as an Australian everyman — a rugby-crazed beer drinker who was the first prime minister to campaign in a baseball hat.
Mr. Morrison’s coalition also benefited from deals with two right-wing groups: One Nation, the anti-immigration party led by the Queensland senator Pauline Hanson, and the United Australia Party led by the mining billionaire Clive Palmer, who spent tens of millions of dollars on a populist campaign with the slogan “Make Australia Great.”
Under Australia’s preferential voting system, votes for candidates from minor parties can be used to help allies reach a clear majority in the lower house of Parliament. Nationally, United Australia secured 3.4 percent of the vote, while One Nation picked up 3 percent.
Neither One Nation nor United Australia did as well as similar parties recently in countries like Italy, Hungary and Brazil. But for Australia, where compulsory voting encourages moderate election outcomes, the results defied expectations and made clear that the country remains deeply conservative and open to the far right on a variety of issues.
The question that now confronts the new government is how much sway to give the forces that led to victory. Climate change may be the first battle in the long war that is reshaping democracy all over the world.

Categories: External websites

In Coal We Trust: Australia's Voters Back PM Morrison's Faith In Fossil Fuel

21 May, 2019 - 05:00
ReutersSonali Paul

MELBOURNE - Australia’s re-elected Prime Minister Scott Morrison once brandished a lump of coal in parliament, crying, “This is coal - don’t be afraid!” His surprise win in what some dubbed the ‘climate election’ may have stunned the country, but voters should know what comes next in energy policy - big coal.
A reclaimer places coal in stockpiles at the coal port in Newcastle, Australia, June 6, 2012. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz/File PhotoBattered by extended droughts, damaging floods, and more bushfires, Australian voters had been expected to hand a mandate to the Labor party to pursue its ambitious targets for renewable energy and carbon emissions cuts.
Instead, Saturday’s election left them on course to re-elect the Liberal-led center-right coalition headed by Morrison, a devout Pentecostal churchgoer who thanked fellow worshippers for his win at a Sydney church early on Sunday.
The same coalition government last year scrapped a bipartisan national energy plan and dumped then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull because he was viewed as anti-coal.
Power companies and big energy users, who last year rallied behind the national energy plan to end a decade of policy flip-flops, said on Sunday they wanted to work with the coalition anew to find ways to cut energy bills and boost power and gas supply.
“We just need this chaotic environment to stop and give us some real direction,” said Andrew Richards, chief executive of the Energy Users Association of Australia, which represents many of the country’s largest industrial energy users.
The country’s power producers - led by AGL Energy, Origin Energy and EnergyAustralia, owned by Hong Kong’s CLP Holdings - want the government to set long-term goals to give them the confidence to invest an estimated A$25 billion ($17 billion) needed for new power supply.
“Customers are looking to energy companies and the government to get bills down and secure our energy supplies,” said EnergyAustralia Managing Director Catherine Tanna.
“We have an opportunity now to reset our relationships and recommit to working toward a clear, stable and long-term energy policy,” she said in comments emailed to Reuters after Saturday’s election.
At Origin Energy, Chief Executive Officer Frank Calabria said in emailed comments he would be looking for appropriate policy that would allow the company to invest in a pumped hydro project and gas exploration in the Northern Territory.

Divisive Debate
Australia has endured years of divisive debate on energy policy, with attacks by the Liberal-led coalition on Labor’s “carbon tax” policy helping to bring down the government of then-leader Julia Gillard in 2013.
Despite top companies, from global miner BHP Group to Australia’s biggest independent gas producer Woodside Petroleum, calling for the country to put a price on carbon emissions, the Liberal-led coalition killed the carbon price mechanism in 2014.
Its own attempts to fashion a bipartisan national energy policy foundered amid fierce opposition from coal supporters and climate skeptics on its right-wing.
Its policy now is focused on driving down power prices and beefing up power supply. For the moment that includes underwriting one new coal-fired power plant and providing A$1.38 billion toward a A$4 billion energy storage expansion at state-owned hydropower scheme Snowy Hydro, designed to back up wind and solar power..
While the coalition stuck to an official target to cut carbon emissions by 26-28% from 2005 levels by 2030, the United Nations warned last year Australia was unlikely to meet this goal.
The opposition Labor party campaigned on more aggressive targets, aiming to cut carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and reach 50 percent renewable power by 2030. The re-elected Liberal-led coalition has no renewable energy target beyond 2020.

Adani Jobs = Votes For Coalition
In the election, stopping a coal mine in the northern state of Queensland proposed by Indian conglomerate Adani Enterprises was the catchword for inner city voters in the south pressing for tough action on climate change.
Labor, torn between its traditional union base and its urban environmentally conscious supporters, made no commitments on the Adani mine. The move backfired in the mining heartland of Queensland, where voters with jobs in mind handed the Liberal-led coalition crucial seats in the election.
Adani’s mining chief Lucas Dow was not available on Sunday to comment on whether the election outcome might speed up approvals for the long delayed mine.
“There is now a clear mandate for resources projects that have lawful approvals to proceed, such as the Adani coal mine,” the Minerals Council of Australia’s chief executive Tania Constable said in a statement on Sunday.
Energy users and the power industry, however, see the transition to cleaner energy as inevitable, with states pushing ambitious targets out of line with the national government.
At the same time, Australia, the world’s second-largest exporter of coal for power, faces falling demand for coal as its biggest customers - Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan and India - are shifting toward cleaner energy, said Tim Buckley, a director at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.
“I would expect the coalition to fight a rearguard action that will slow the transition, but they can’t stall it,” he said.

Categories: External websites

Election 2019: What Happened To The Climate Change Vote We Heard About?

21 May, 2019 - 05:00
ABC News - Matt McDonald*

Scott Morrison's Coalition Government was re-elected despite offering limited ambition on emissions reductions. ABC News: Taryn SouthcombeIt was supposed to be the big issue of the 2019 Australian federal election: climate change. A range of polls and surveys had left many analysts, myself included, with the sense that this would be a crucial issue at the ballot box.
The annual Lowy Institute Poll demonstrated stronger support for climate change action in Australia in 2019 than in any previous survey since 2006.
In the survey more than 60 per cent of Australians agreed with the sentiment that "Global warming is a serious and pressing problem. We should begin taking steps now even if this involves significant cost".
And while a self-selecting sample, those filling out the ABC's Vote Compass survey consistently emphasised climate change as a crucial issue for them at the election.

How Bob Brown handed victory to the LNP
If there's one thing Queenslanders don't like, it's being told what to do, so when Bob Brown's anti-Adani convoy demanded voters shun coal in Adani country, it led to Bill Shorten's undoing, writes Allyson Horn.
Crucially, those identifying it as the most important issue had risen from 9 per cent in 2016 to 29 per cent in 2019.
Advocacy groups and even media outlets also encouraged the view that 2019 was, and should be, Australia's climate election.
This was prominent in pre-election statements from NGOs like ACF and Oxfam. GetUp! ran this argument strongly before and during the campaign, and The Guardian's editorial on the eve of the election exhorted all Australians to view the election as an opportunity to vote for substantive action on climate change.
But in the end, we saw a decline in the primary vote for the Labor Opposition, who had announced a more significant reduction target than the Government and a suite of measures — from investment in renewable energy to an energy guarantee — to get there.
And we saw a rise of only around 0.5 per cent of the primary vote for the party with the most progressive and ambitious climate policy: the Greens. More consequentially, of course, we saw the re-election of a Government with limited ambition on emissions reductions.
Federal election 2019: Live resultsHow did this happen?
While it's too early for fine-grained analysis, we can draw a few conclusions at this point.
First, the seats where climate change was significant as an issue at the election tells us something. As the most significant political issue for Greens supporters in the election, climate change clearly played a role in the re-election of Adam Bandt in Melbourne, and in strong primary votes for the Greens in nearby electorates of Higgins, Kooyong and Macnamara.
In Sydney, it was clearly prominent in Wentworth (undecided at the time of writing), and most prominently Warringah where Zali Steggall won the seat from Tony Abbott.
In Warringah, not only was the LNP's position on climate change inconsistent with the views of most in this constituency, but Mr Abbott was (rightly) seen as the chief architect of an extended period of climate inaction in Australia.

Zali Steggall giving her victory speech in Manly. ABC News
Simply put, he was (in Opposition, in Government and in public debate) the chief contributor to the toxic politics of climate change in this country over the past decade.
What's happening in my electorate?
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Mr Abbott's re-election was, in short, a bridge too far for his constituency.
But in this case and in other inner-city seats, support for climate action looks broadly consistent with a 'post-materialist' sensibility.
Here the emphasis on quality of life over immediate economic and physical needs encourages a focus on issues like climate change. But this is a sensibility that speaks to those in higher socio-economic brackets, and principally with higher levels of education.
It isn't particularly applicable to regional Queensland, for example, especially when constituents in the latter view large scale mining operations as a crucial potential source of income and employment.

A protest convoy aimed at stopping the Adani coal mine, united agriculture and mining sectors. ABC News

Voters feared climate policy more than climate change
Second, the Lowy Institute polling data also tells us something about when climate support rises and falls.
Simply put, climate concern is at its highest in Australia when there's a perception (eg 2006, 2019) that the government isn't doing anything about the issue and isn't taking it seriously. Conversely, climate concern has been at its lowest as the Government began to pursue substantive climate action, bottoming out when the so-called carbon tax was legislated in 2012.
In this election, Australians were suddenly faced with a prospective Labor Government ready with a suite of measures to tackle climate change.
And they were presented with an account of these measures as a devastating economic blow to Australian prosperity and growth.
However discredited much of this modelling ultimately was, and the broader fear campaign about everything from electricity prices to the end of petrol-based cars, it raised the spectre of immediate economic sacrifice for Australians.
Coalition policies have limited ambition on emissions reductions. ABC News: Ian CutmoreWe're already in a climate emergency
So what would it take to make climate change a major political concern in Australia, and a crucial issue in future Australian elections?
A climate emergency, perhaps? The problem with this argument is that by most accounts, we're in one.
The five hottest years on record have been the past five, natural disasters have increased in intensity and frequency, we're in the midst of an extinction crisis and the average global temperatures suggest that we've almost reached the agreed Paris target for warming: no more than 1.5 degrees.
So the issue is not whether there's a problem. Rather, it's how to get Australian policy makers and voters to recognise and respond to it credibly and seriously. It should be easier to do.
We're confronted more than ever with manifestations of climate change.
Parties claiming to represent rural voters are presiding over policies that make the droughts and their effects more severe and undermine agricultural viability. And the case for economics and jobs over the environment is getting harder and harder to make on cost-benefit grounds given the costs of climate change itself and the danger of stranded mining assets in particular.
The key for policy makers will ultimately be to effectively challenge the economics/environment justification for inaction, and build communities of concern that genuinely extend beyond the inner cities to those communities (paradoxically) most vulnerable to manifestations of climate change.
Clearly, it's long past time this happened.

*Matt McDonald is an associate professor in the School of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Queensland.

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Labor Lost The Unlosable Election – Now It's Up To Morrison To Tell Australia His Plan

20 May, 2019 - 05:00
The Guardian

The big losers are action on the climate emergency and the likelihood that Labor will never be as ambitious with its policies again
Scott Morrison has won the 2019 Australian election. Now he will have to come up with a more substantial policy offering than was apparent in the campaign. Photograph: Rick Rycroft/AP There are a number of unknowns with Saturday night’s result – including whether Scott Morrison will govern in majority or in minority.
But some things can be known. This was an election in large part about the climate emergency, and the field evidence shows Australia in 2019 is deeply divided about the road ahead.
Some voters clearly want action. Inner metropolitan Australia swung to Labor in its safe seats and in safe Liberal seats, such as Kooyong, North Sydney and Higgins, and the voters of Warringah also showed Tony Abbott, the chief climate wrecker, the door – but the outer suburbs and regional Australia swung in the other direction. Queensland was an absolute disaster zone for Labor, with the ALP clubbed, with the help of Clive Palmer and Pauline Hanson, in coal country.
Bill Shorten is finished as Labor leader, and Anthony Albanese is his most likely successor, although others are weighing up their options.
Chris Bowen, who suffered a 7% negative swing on Saturday night, has not ruled out running, and the Victorian rightwinger Richard Marles ducked a question about his intentions on Saturday night. It will be interesting to see the intentions of the Queensland rightwinger Jim Chalmers, and Tanya Plibersek.
Bill Shorten led Labor to a shock defeat in Saturday’s election. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian Given that Labor is shellshocked by this result, shellshocked and shattered, it is unclear whether the party will stick with its big-target election policies, including the climate offering.
While some on Saturday night were more inclined to blame franking credits, Shorten’s substantial unpopularity with voters and a poor campaign rather than climate policy for the defeat, it is unclear, as of now, whether the opposition will have the resolve to go to another election championing an ambitious policy.
In his concession, Shorten noted that the divisions on the climate crisis were etched into Saturday night’s result, and he said “for the sake of the next generation, Australia must find a way forward” on the issue.
Albanese – who will certainly stay the course on climate if he is the succession plan – sent a strong signal on Saturday night that Labor was a progressive political movement and would remain so. Labor existed, Albanese said, “to change the power balance in society, whether that be economic power, political power or social power – that is our task and it is one that I will continue to pursue whether in government or, if we aren’t fortunate to be in government in whatever capacity over the coming days, weeks, months and years”.
While Labor attempts to recover and recalibrate after losing the unlosable election, Scott Morrison, victorious in Sydney, gave thanks to miracles, and the Liberal party’s campaign director, Andrew Hirst, and to Queensland and the “quiet Australians” who stuck with the Coalition despite the government spending two terms in office giving them every reason not to.
Morrison is the hero of the hour for the Liberal party and rightly so, having pulled them out of the fire with a negative, ruthlessly efficient, gravity-defying solo act that convinced a majority of Australians in the right seats that if they didn’t trust Shorten, they couldn’t trust Labor.
The Liberal leader will emerge from the experience of the past six months with his authority enhanced among colleagues who have lived to roil, particularly if he pulls them all back into governing in majority, which is what backroom strategists in the Liberal party are predicting will be the end result.
Morrison spent zero time during this campaign telling anyone what he would do with this authority in the event it was conferred upon him by the voters – so that task awaits Australia’s prime minister-elect, beginning Sunday.

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Here There Be Monsters (Made Of Coal, Plastic And Pesticides)

20 May, 2019 - 05:00
The Revelator - John R. Platt

A series of paintings by artists Laura and Gary Dumm seeks to challenge viewers with images of pop-culture monsters facing ecological collapse. 
© Laura and Gary DummSometimes the latest bad environmental news makes us want to scream like someone in a horror movie who’s just come face to face with Frankenstein’s monster.
Frankenstein’s monster isn’t too happy about the news, either.
Neither are the Creature from the Black Lagoon, King Kong, Chucky or other horror-movie monsters who appear in a recent set of paintings by artists Gary and Laura Dumm of Cleveland, Ohio.

“Old King Coal” © Laura and Gary DummThe paintings — exhibited as the “Here There Be Monsters” series — depict the iconic characters surrounded by smog, pesticides, plastic pollution, oil, fracking flames and soon-to-be extinct species.
It’s a quirky, powerful series of paintings created by a duo with a long history of commenting on society through their work. Gary, 71, is a cartoonist and graphic novelist perhaps best known for his decades-long collaboration with “American Splendor” writer Harvey Pekar. Laura, 68, is a pop-art painter whose work often touches upon issues related to animals or social rights. Together they’ve worked together on numerous projects, with their environmental series being one of their most striking.

“Burning in Water, Drowning in Plastic” © Laura and Gary DummWe contacted the Dumms to talk about protest art and their look at the real-life monsters affecting the environment.

What inspired you to develop this monstrous series?
Gary: We were looking for a way to do some serious collaborative works about the environment, and Laura first suggested doing a series about bugs and how certain issues like pesticide overuse were affecting them and the environment. We tried our damnedest to come up with something viable, but nothing was working well enough…until I came up with the broader idea of using classic horror monsters from movies as the main characters. Thinking about the fact that most of the monsters were failed scientific experiments made them a good match as recognizable vehicles for expressing some complex ideas. We agreed that these icons could be the “hook” to draw in viewers and also be the messengers for things that we had to say about threats to our environment. And the addition of humorous touches, to leaven the serious subject matter, has proven to be both popular and thought provoking in peoples’ reactions to this series.

Did you have any challenges in completing the series?
Laura: The only challenge is the usual one: coming up with good ideas that resonate with both of us. There’s lots of research, thinking, discussion and sketching done to get each resulting piece to say what we want in a manner that simultaneously strong while not being a diatribe. We feel that we’ve come up with some wonderfully surrealistic and humorously bizarre paintings that hopefully resonate and stay with most viewers. Unfortunately, it appears that there are still too many dire subjects left for us to tackle about the future of our planet. We won’t be short of subject matter.

“The Four Horsemen of Extinction” © Laura and Gary DummWhat do you hope viewers will learn or experience through this work? 
Gary: We hope to inform the public. When someone looks at any of the paintings they are first attracted by the monster or the color. After they stop, read the title, enjoy the monster, then they focus on the message and hopefully a conversation will follow. We had one person tell us he “doesn’t buy water in plastic anymore because of our painting.” One college-educated person had no idea what GMOs or Monsanto were. After talking about our “Scream of the Butterflies,” she did more research and became more informed.

“Scream of the Butterflies” © Laura and Gary DummWhat comes next — for this series, or for you?
Laura: We do love collaborating for a cause, so when the right ideas hit us we will make time to continue this series.
Here There Be Monsters
Click to enlarge image

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These Are The Cities Doing The Most To Combat Global Warming

20 May, 2019 - 05:00
Bloomberg | 

➤Group’s ‘A-list’ shows Boston, London and Sydney in the lead
➤Reykjavik says it already is running 100% on renewables

The U.K.'s Roadmap to Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050

Cities, which are home to more than half the world’s population, are stepping up efforts to slash pollution, often wresting the fight against climate change away from national governments.
That’s the conclusion of CDP, a non-profit group that pushes institutions to detail their greenhouse-gas emissions. Often able to move faster than their national counterparts, metropolitan authorities from London to Sydney and Boston are among a group of 15 setting out the most rigorous plans to achieve carbon or climate neutrality by 2050.

Pushing Green Ambition
Cities across the globe that are front-loading aggressive climate change goals
Note: Includes only cities with target of 50% or more cut in emissions from their respective baseline yearSources: CDP Climate A List, Bloomberg The moves are evidence of ambition by local authorities to do their part in reining in global warming, almost two-thirds of global emissions come from cities. CDP wants to draw attention to their actions to encourage others to make similar commitments.
“Cities are doing a lot of the work, but they can’t get there alone,” said Kyra Appleby, global director of cities, states and regions at CDP. “Businesses need to act, national governments need to act as well, people need to change their own behavior in order for us to limit carbon emissions.”

Source: CDPA smaller group consisting of five cities including Paris and San Francisco have set themselves 100% renewable energy targets. Reykjavik, population 123,000, says it already uses 100% renewable power. How fast other cities get to that point is largely down to the policies they enact.
Paris gets 35% of its energy from clean sources, and San Francisco gets almost 60% of its power from renewables, CDP said.
Almost 7% of the 625 cities that took part in the report were given the highest rating -- joining the CDP “A-list.” Among the top scoring, only 28 have set goals for carbon neutrality (balancing emissions of greenhouse gases), climate neutrality (designing wider policies to reduce the overall impact of human activity to the environment) or cutting emissions by half or more.
More than 20 U.S. cities got the highest rating showing how mayors and city level lawmakers can take the initiative on climate change in spite of a president who has repeatedly played down the effects of global warming.
Since the 2015 Paris Agreement that committed the world to slowing down global warming, the narrative has shifted from a problem that the world faces in the future to an issue that exists today. That was sped up by a 2018 United Nations report that spelled out the need for rapid action to grapple with a warming planet -- and what would happen to ecosystems if temperatures increased another half degree Celsius.
Cities have formed alliances to share knowledge and push for change -- like the C40 initiative that has 94 cities committed to implementing ambitious climate goals. Protests over the global warming have become more urgent with activists calling for climate emergencies to be declared.
CDP gives an “A” rating to any city that reports publicly on its climate adaptation and action plans as well as reporting on emissions inventories and reduction targets. The worst performing cities are handed a “D” although CDP doesn’t make those public.
“Cities are real hot spots of innovation, business and human life on earth so it’s crucial that cities are acting in order for us to meet the targets,” Appleby said.

Categories: External websites

Why The Guardian Is Changing The Language It Uses About The Environment

19 May, 2019 - 05:00
The Guardian

From now, house style guide recommends terms such as ‘climate crisis’ and ‘global heating’
The destruction of Arctic ecosystems forces animals to search for food on land, such as these polar bears in northern Russia. Photograph: Alexander Grir/AFP/Getty Images The Guardian has updated its style guide to introduce terms that more accurately describe the environmental crises facing the world.
Instead of “climate change” the preferred terms are “climate emergency, crisis or breakdown” and “global heating” is favoured over “global warming”, although the original terms are not banned.
“We want to ensure that we are being scientifically precise, while also communicating clearly with readers on this very important issue,” said the editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner. “The phrase ‘climate change’, for example, sounds rather passive and gentle when what scientists are talking about is a catastrophe for humanity.”
“Increasingly, climate scientists and organisations from the UN to the Met Office are changing their terminology, and using stronger language to describe the situation we’re in,” she said.
The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, talked of the “climate crisis” in September, adding: “We face a direct existential threat.” The climate scientist Prof Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, a former adviser to Angela Merkel, the EU and the pope, also uses “climate crisis”.
In December, Prof Richard Betts, who leads the Met Office’s climate research, said “global heating” was a more accurate term than “global warming” to describe the changes taking place to the world’s climate. In the political world, UK MPs recently endorsed the Labour party’s declaration of a “climate emergency”.
The scale of the climate and wildlife crises has been laid bare by two landmark reports from the world’s scientists. In October, they said carbon emissions must halve by 2030 to avoid even greater risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. In May, global scientists said human society was in jeopardy from the accelerating annihilation of wildlife and destruction of the ecosystems that support all life on Earth.
Other terms that have been updated, including the use of “wildlife” rather than “biodiversity”, “fish populations” instead of “fish stocks” and “climate science denier” rather than “climate sceptic”. In September, the BBC accepted it gets coverage of climate change “wrong too often” and told staff: “You do not need a ‘denier’ to balance the debate.”
Earlier in May, Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager who has inspired school strikes for climate around the globe, said: “It’s 2019. Can we all now call it what it is: climate breakdown, climate crisis, climate emergency, ecological breakdown, ecological crisis and ecological emergency?”
The update to the Guardian’s style guide follows the addition of the global carbon dioxide level to the Guardian’s daily weather pages. “Levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have risen so dramatically – including a measure of that in our daily weather report is symbolic of what human activity is doing to our climate,” said Viner in April. “People need reminding that the climate crisis is no longer a future problem – we need to tackle it now, and every day matters.”

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The Climate Crisis Is A Story For Every Beat

19 May, 2019 - 05:00
Columbia Journalism Review - Rosalind Donald

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, in the Mojave Desert. Photo via Climate Visuals.Ten years ago, climate journalist Brian Kahn watched coverage of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. At the time, the momentum seemed unstoppable. There were negotiations over a global framework for tackling climate change. Climate scientists’ conclusions in reports leading up to the meeting were stark and urgent. He felt the dam would break, and climate change would be everywhere: in political debate, in bars, at PTA meetings, certainly on the news.
Now he can’t imagine what he was thinking.
Coverage by climate journalists has never spurred a comprehensive social response, nor has it reshaped journalism itself. We now better recognize the difficulties of communicating climate change, but it still gets scant attention and resources in newsrooms. Many outlets still insist on  false balance, in which fringe views are presented on a par with the more established scientific consensus.
“The timeframe in which science happens and the timeframe in which news happens are just fundamentally mismatched,” Susan Matthews, Slate’s science editor, says. “That problem is just so much larger when it comes to climate change.”
Climate change is an economic story and a public health story; global warming shapes supply chains, water resources, tech infrastructure, community development and loss, and on and on. Yet climate coverage has historically been relegated to the science and environmental beats, outside the realm of hard news.
“There’s a feeling still amongst a certain generation of editor that being an environmental journalist is a bit campaigner-y,” Leo Hickman, editor of Carbon Brief, a publication focused on explaining climate science and policy says. “And that’s reinforced the ghettoization of climate change as a subsection of environmental journalism.” (Disclosure: I previously worked for Carbon Brief.)
It’s both an environmental issue and an everything issue. It’s what’s going to happen to mountain goats, but at the end of the day we’re also talking about the most pressing economic story of our time.That perception of climate coverage has only started to shift. Science and environmental journalists have looked for new angles on climate change in order to demonstrate its impacts in ways that appeal to new audiences. Kahn, now a senior reporter for Gizmodo’s Earther and a lecturer in the Climate and Society program at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, covers classic climate science stories such as new research and threats to beloved species, but also looks at the implications of US cities’ climate policies, climate discussions in the presidential race,  and the ways inequality dramatically exacerbates the impacts of extreme weather.
“Climate change is a strange kind of dual issue—it’s both an environmental issue and an everything issue,” Kahn says. “It’s what’s going to happen to mountain goats, but at the end of the day we’re also talking about the most pressing economic story of our time.”
Journalists outside the science and environment beats are slowly beginning to pick up on climate stories. In 2017, the Carbon Disclosure Project released a report attributing more than 70 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions to just 100 companies. Sara Law, CDP North America’s Vice President of Global Initiatives, says journalists picked up the news as a business story. “More and more journalists are understanding that the corporate world has a major role to play,” Law says.
Still, research shows the overall volume of climate coverage remains thin, and mainstream coverage is episodic. Last year, an analysis of news coverage following two key climate reports in CJR showed a lack of sustained attention from US news media; big spikes in reporting fell away almost immediately. And a study by Media Matters for America showed that coverage of climate change on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox—primary sources of news for most people—fell by 45 percent between 2017 and 2018.
James Painter, a research associate at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, says other parts of the world also fail to cover climate change as much as he would hope. “It is worrying that in some parts of the world, like Russia and parts of eastern Europe, and in parts of the global south, the amount of coverage remains relatively low,” he says. “Television is key, as it remains the most trusted and used source in many countries.”
Environmental journalists identify a few popular impediments to climate-change coverage. Last year, more than 500 members of the Society of Environmental Journalists completed a survey by George Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication. Of those respondents, two-thirds identified insufficient time for field reporting as an obstacle, and more than half identified a lack of time or space at their new outlet. Forty-one percent said insufficient training in climate science hampered their reporting, and one-in-four respondents said they lacked support from management.
Climate Matters in the Newsroom—a new collaborative program run by the grant-funded Climate Communication nonprofit, George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication, and Climate Central—hosts in-person training sessions to help local newsrooms work through obstacles such as those flagged in the SEJ survey. “It’s not always about creating another story,” Susan Hassol, Climate Communication’s director, says. “It may be about incorporating climate change into a piece you’re already doing. So people are reading and hearing stories they are interested in, and they can see how climate change relates to those topics, even though they may not necessarily be seeking out a climate change story.”
Climate-change coverage can seem repetitive. Journalists too often fit new events into existing narratives—something Andrew Revkin, who has covered climate change for ProPublica and The New York Times, terms “narrative capture.” Stories that link extreme weather and climate change can overlook other relevant factors; Revkin mentions the California wildfires, and notes the role that development played in contributing to damage and loss.
“You have to have a systems approach to thinking, ‘Well, what actually happened here?’” Revkin says. “But when you do that, it misses the narrative that everything that’s burning or flooding is global warming.”
Since Elizabeth Kolbert’s influential New Yorker feature, “The Siege of Miami,” national outlets regularly cover the city’s vulnerability to rising seas and the hubris of its building boom. But  they pay less attention to the climate-related policies the city is putting in place, including a resilience strategy that includes a commitment to address affordable housing. “These narratives tend to miss resilience efforts—which are just getting started and are not always well-run, but still, they’re happening,” Kate Stein, a climate reporter based in Miami, says.
Homogeneous newsrooms are particularly vulnerable to narrative capture. “Imagine how much more informative the media landscape would be if newsrooms stopped simply hiring in their own image,” Leah Cowan, a writer for gal-dem, a British magazine written by women and non-binary people of color, says. “So often, analysis of critical issues such as climate change are rooted in a particular ethnocentric and Eurocentric perspective.”
Cowan cites the UK’s role in the global climate crisis, which stems from a history of extractive colonialism and continues through entities such as UK-traded fossil-fuel companies operating across Africa, as an example. Rather than thinking about how empire and its legacies continue to drive the climate crisis, Cowan says, the media tend to focus on “individual actions to combat environmental degradation, such as high-profile campaigns to reduce single-use plastic straws in the UK which are harmful to turtles,” while ignoring or misreporting efforts by minority-led groups such as Black Lives Matter to call attention to the ways privilege protects some people from climate change’s effects. As companies continue to make money out of the spotlight in regions vulnerable to climate impacts and political unrest, the UK—which does not count offshore emissions in its carbon emissions totals—holds itself up as an international climate leader.
People just don’t think it’s normal to talk about climate change, and that’s not just true of journalists. It’s true across society.Science, the bedrock of climate journalism, also suffers from structural biases. “Science can can be just as extractive as any other kind of industry,” Brentin Mock, a staff writer at CityLab, says. For example, Hawaii’s thin air is particularly conducive to both stargazing and measuring atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. But Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, volcanoes which house NASA- and NOAA-constructed research facilities, are sacred areas for native Hawaiians, who have objected to the sites’ expansion since their creation in the 1960s.  Should optimal conditions for observation take priority over thousands of years of cultural connection? How might scientists work with traditional ecological knowledge while showing it appropriate respect? More journalists might ask such questions of scientists. And, as  journalism scholar Dr. Candis Callison wrote earlier this year, learning from and hiring indigenous journalists could help their efforts.
Discussions about climate-change journalism often overlook newsrooms’ visual vocabularies for talking about it. A quick image search on Google for “climate change” reveals a dismal selection of lone polar bears, melting ice, and anonymous smoke. But humans need to see themselves in the climate change story in order understand the human connection to its causes, consequences, and potential solutions, Dr. Adam Corner, Research Director at Climate Outreach and an Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Psychology, Cardiff University, argues. Climate Visuals, an image repository co-founded by Corner, provides hundreds of pictures for use, with explanations based on research about why certain images might connect with audiences.
“There’s no shortage of amazing climate and energy photography out there, but it doesn’t get the mainstream bandwidth,” he says. “A more diverse, human-focused visual language that joins the dots between climate impacts, our health and wellbeing, and the human impact of low-carbon technologies would revolutionize the visual meaning of climate change.”
Collaborations such as such as Mother Jones’ Climate Desk  and The Invading Sea, a joint effort from four Florida news outlets, have opened up new avenues for reporting as cash-strapped news organizations search for ways to share expertise. By pooling efforts, outlets can complement each other’s strengths: specialty outlets such as  Inside Climate News have time and space to do deep dives into data, science, and policy; Earth Journalism Network offers a global platform to climate reporting from around the world; national newspapers such as the Times can invest in specialized climate desks and have an unmatched ability to set the agenda for discussion; many local outlets enjoy high levels of trust from their audiences.
Climate change is not yet what sociologists call a “social fact.” Silence is still the norm, even among people who say they accept that climate change is happening. “People just don’t think it’s normal to talk about climate change, and that’s not just true of journalists,” Dr. Alice Bell, a writer and co-director at 10:10 Climate Action, says. “It’s true across society.” Journalism too often reflects and reinforces this problem of silence, abetting years of lackluster policy debate and ever-rising emissions. But journalists should not underestimate their role in helping to change that landscape, no matter their beat.
“It’s really hard to say that this is something you should care about as much as affordable housing, as much as national security,” Alex Harris, the Miami Herald’s climate change reporter, says. “But it affects each and every one of those things. So if you’re doing a service to your beat—no matter what you write about, nationally or locally—if you are including this context, it makes you smarter.”

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Can Comedy Help Communicate Climate Change?

19 May, 2019 - 05:00
Australian Geographic

ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), comedy AND climate change? You have to see it to believe it.

MEET ISSY Phillips, a young Australian comedian who believes she can harness the power of comedy to make people listen to the stories of climate change, with the help of autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) – sounds that evoke a visceral reaction in people, like fingers scraping down a blackboard.
Last month, at the TedX Youth event Issy performed her new show, Could ASMR be the Answer to Climate Change? She’d been approached by TedX, who were interested in her ASMR work, but she wanted to make the performance meaningful.
“I’m passionate about climate change,” Issy says. “And I thought by framing it as a talk, but making it into a performance, would catch people.”
For her, it was risk. “Whenever I do stand-up or ASMR people are prepared to laugh, but I thought how is this going to go down with an audience that’s ready to have their thoughts ‘disrupted’?
The audience loved it.
“People switch off if it feels too big,” she says. “So picking things that wouldn’t isolate the audience and then presenting them through the lens of ASMR, that’s how I wanted to represent those ecological issues. The way it sounds, the crunching, it gets people.”
Issy’s hoping more comedians catch on. “It’s a part of a broader consciousness of people who know we have to do something and we have to act.
“For me I’m a comedian, so if I can use my tool set to get people to recognise that we have to do something and then they use their tool set, it kind of tumbles.
“We don’t have time to sit on our hands.”

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Waste Not — If You Want To Help Secure The Future Of The Planet

18 May, 2019 - 05:00
New York TimesTatiana Schlossberg

Keiran Whitaker, the chief executive of Entocycle, which takes so-called pre-consumer local food waste and feeds it to fly larvae, which eats the waste and converts it to protein. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York TimesIf there’s one vital, but underappreciated, subject in the conversation about climate change, it’s waste: how to define it, how to create less of it, how to deal with it without adding more pollution to the planet or the atmosphere.
The issue has gained some acceptance, whether in the form of plastic straw bans or anxiety about e-commerce-related cardboard piling up.
But experts say these aren’t necessarily the biggest problems. Reducing the damage from waste might require expanding the traditional definition of waste — not just as old-fashioned garbage, but as a result of wild inefficiency in all kinds of systems, which often results in emissions of greenhouse gases, among other problems.
Companies and organizations around the world are taking on the challenge. Some are using materials traditionally considered waste and making them into something entirely new — and often unrelated — to their original purpose.
Others are avoiding the creation of waste through greater efficiency and new technologies. Here are three examples of efforts underway:

A British company trying to revolutionize the animal feed industry

When Keiran Whitaker was working as a scuba diving instructor, witnessing the destruction of tropical rain forests, often because of industrial food production, he decided he needed to put his environmental design degree to good use.
“We’re obliterating our natural ecosystems predominantly to produce monocrops that go into the industrial food web, and what’s bad on land is even worse underwater,” he said, referring to the destruction of rain forests and the bleaching of coral reefs.
According to a 2013 study from the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, just under 40 percent of global crop calories are used to feed animals, most of them from corn and soybeans grown at an industrial scale. It’s a particularly inefficient way to feed people: It takes about 100 calories of grain to produce just three calories’ worth of beef, or 12 of chicken.
Counting dead Black Soldier flies, and flies in an atmosphere and light controlled room where they will produce eggs. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York TimesPart of the Entocycle team at work in one of its labs, and flour made from its dried larvae. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York TimesSo he is trying to fix the system, mostly by changing the food our food eats. The result is Entocycle, Mr. Whitaker’s start-up based in London, which takes so-called pre-consumer local food waste — created in the manufacturing of food products — and feeds it to Black Soldier fly larvae, which eat the waste and convert it to protein.
He said that about 97 percent of the insects are then ground into a flour high in amino acids, which, combined with other ingredients, can be made into feed pellets for animals. The flies’ excrement, known as frass, can be used as crop fertilizer. Eventually, the insect flour could be directly consumed by people. (While that might make some people cringe, Mr. Whitaker said he’s not “grossed out” by the insects.)
Timothy G. Benton, a professor at the University of Leeds, who is focused on food security and sustainability, said he doubted that a company like Entocycle could do enough to transform the food system.
But Mr. Whitaker, the chief executive, is more hopeful. If his model takes off (it currently is not producing at scale), more land could be used to feed people, and fewer forests would be razed for cropland or pasture; fertilizer production, responsible for 1 percent to 2 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, according to a report from the Australian government, would be avoided, as would the nutrient pollution created from runoff. Enormous quantities of wild fish are also used to make animal feed, so this could also help ease global overfishing.
“How do you produce enough food to feed the world, and how do you produce a safe environment for us to live in?” Mr. Whitaker said. “They seem to be mutually exclusive, but they have to be fundamentally tied together.”
Dried Black Soldier fly larvae. Credit Andrew Testa for The New York TimesSpinnova
A company in Finland that produces clothing fiber from plants

According to its government, Finland’s forests have about 10 trees for every person in the world. It is perhaps not surprising then that a company aiming to reinvent the way we make clothing from wood is Finnish.
The second and third most common textile fibers are already made from plants — cotton and viscose rayon.
Most viscose rayon is made from wood pulp, but the process of making it typically uses so many chemicals in such vast quantities that some experts said it shouldn’t really count as a natural plant fiber.
Additionally, traditional rayon production has been linked to harmful forestry practices. The Rainforest Action Network has found that about 120 million trees from existing forests are cut down for textiles every year.
Enter Spinnova, a Finnish textile fiber company founded by two former physicists, Janne Poranen and Juha Salmela, who used to work in pulp and paper development and research at Finland’s national research center.
After learning how spiders make silk, Mr. Salmela wondered if it might be possible to spin plant fiber in the same way.
It is. Spinnova uses a mechanical method to produce fiber, currently in a pilot stage. Their process uses about 99 percent less water than cotton production (one study showed that about 2,900 gallons of water can be produced to make a pair of jeans), without any harmful chemicals.
They use wood pulp harvested from Brazilian wood, in partnership with Suzano, one of the world’s largest paper pulp producers and one of Spinnova’s shareholders. The forestry practices and the wood pulp produced are certified as sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council. This has a climate benefit as well because forests (especially well-managed ones) absorb much of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Spinnova plans to eventually use agricultural waste material and discarded clothing to produce fibers.
Lenzing, a manufacturer of wood-based textile fibers that uses a closed-loop chemical production process, is one of Spinnova’s shareholders. Spinnova has also received support from Marimekko, a Finnish retailer.
“Sustainability is our main driver,” Mr. Poranen said. “For me, it has been extremely important that you don’t have to think why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s totally new and totally sustainable for the whole globe.”

Tokyo 2020
The Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo

Paralympic torches to be used in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games. They are 30 percent recycled aluminum. Credit Koji Sasahara/Associated PressAlthough Japan has a relatively sophisticated recycling system, like other countries it has a problem with electronic waste, or e-waste.
It’s the result of the disposal of vast — and growing — amounts of appliances and gadgetry, including cellphones, computers and TVs, which can leak dangerous chemicals into the environment.
The Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games thought it could bring attention to the problem by making the medals for next year’s games — about 500 — from metals retrieved from donated e-waste.
At sites in more than 1,500 of Japan’s municipalities and about 2,400 NTT Docomo electronics stores, over 47,000 tons of discarded electronics were collected, including more than five million cellphones, according to Masa Takaya, a spokesman for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
By June 2018, the organizers had already collected enough bronze; by October 2018, they had more than 93 percent of the gold and 85 percent of the silver, he said, adding that the organizing committee anticipates that it will be able to make all of the medals from the donated items.
Recovering these metals also avoids additional mining, which is environmentally destructive and energy intensive.
The recycling industry, in which people break apart devices and remove copper, gold and other materials, has negative health consequences, according to the Lancet, and toxic chemicals from improper disposal can also get into the environment, causing pollution. And the problem could get worse. About a third of the global population was expected to have an internet-connected phone by 2017, according to a report from eMarketer. In the United States, the typical home has 65 electronic appliances, according to a study from Natural Resources Defense Council.
This initiative will not solve the e-waste crisis — that will likely come from governments and electronic companies, said Vanessa Gray, an official at the International Telecommunication Union, a U.N. agency specializing in information and communications technology. But she said attention to the issue is important, because many people don’t know even what e-waste is and why it matters.
“Just for that, the Olympics story is really good,” she said. “In the end, it shows that the way we do things at the moment has terrible consequences for society, in terms of the negative health impacts and obviously impacts to climate change.
“It’s time for a system update.”

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Australians Disagree On How Important Climate Change Is: Poll

18 May, 2019 - 05:00
The Conversation | 

There is more consensus around climate than politicians would have Australian voters believe. Darren England/AAP Climate change, the environment and energy policy are all key issues in this election campaign, fuelled by compelling evidence of our accelerating impact on the environment and climate. While voters agree more than you might think, there’s still a serious split on the importance of acting on climate change and preventing harm to the environment.
Australia’s major political parties fall into two broad camps on these issues. The Labor party is spruiking policies that control emissions and move towards renewables, consistent with its rhetoric about taking on the “top end of town” – including the mining industry.
In the Liberal-National view, concerns about energy and the environment are attacks on the businesses that deliver Australia’s prosperity. Moving away from coal towards renewables is typical of an opposition that has neither the ability nor inclination to support a thriving economy and control government finances: all symptomatic of the “Bill Australia can’t afford”.
But are Australians really that divided? Between April 29 and May 3, 2019, we asked 1,170 people about their attitudes and behaviours, including questions about voting intentions for those respondents eligible to vote in the upcoming election.

Energy and environment attitudes
We wanted to know how our respondents intended to vote. How did that correlate with their attitudes towards climate change, and policies around energy and the environment?
We asked respondents to rate various statements about their behaviour and attitudes on a Likert five-point scale, where 1 means “strongly agree” and 5 means “strongly disagree”.
These statements included eight questions about attitudes towards climate change, and five questions on various policies (a tax on carbon, an emissions trading scheme, business incentives for carbon-neutral production, and regulation of mining and plastic use).
We also asked respondents to rate the importance of the broad statement: “How important is it for the government to implement policies to address environmental damage and climate change?”
(Note: the main purpose of the survey was to explore people’s likely choices about smart meters. In common with any survey, there may be many sources of sampling bias. Our survey was not designed to be a representative sample of political constituencies, and so is not an attempt to predict the election outcome.)

Then we divided the responses roughly into the two “camps” – Liberal-affiliated and Labour-affiliated – excluding the 14 responses for people intending to vote for the Centre Alliance. This gave us 635 right-leaning voters and 541 left-leaning voters.
Perhaps surprisingly, we discovered a lot of agreement across the right- and left-leaning camps. On average, our respondents agreed about their commitment to recycling and also with the statement “I think it’s important that households do their bit for the environment”.

In terms of their attitudes towards conserving energy, both camps agreed that conserving energy was important because they want to control their energy bills. The left-leaning camp had no strong opinions about conserving energy to help limit climate change; the right-leaning camp disagreed that they would conserve energy because of climate change.
This suggests that – for the broadest impact – demand-side management policies should focus on how households can save money by conserving energy – and smart meters could be a key ingredient in this strategy.
Behavioural tools are likely to be important too and smart meters have capabilities to combine economic incentives and behavioural motivators, as we’ve explored in previous research into behavioural insights for encouraging energy savings.

Both camps agreed that businesses should be given incentives towards carbon-neutral production. They disagreed that current government policies were good policies. So there is a strong appetite for policy change.
Neither camp had strong opinions about carbon tax or emissions trading policies. Perhaps this is because debates around these policies are old news from the Gillard-Rudd-Abbott era, or perhaps most people just aren’t sure what these policies would mean for them personally.
There were still areas of disagreement. The left-leaning camp had generally stronger opinions about climate change, agreeing that environmental damage and climate change are problems. The right-leaning camp on average neither agrees nor disagrees that these are problems.

The left-leaning camp tends to agree that the government should introduce policies to regulate plastics and mining – unsurprising given that this camp includes a substantial number of people intending to vote Green. The right-leaning camp was neutral on these issues.
Overall, this survey suggests more consensus across Australian voters than politicians might like us to believe. Once the election is over, and there is no more political mileage to be had from the mud-slinging that has characterised this campaign, then perhaps we can hope our political leaders will start expending some energy on judiciously analysing and assessing the policy challenges ahead.
This will be essential if we are to come up with policies to mitigate climate change and environmental damage, whilst also ensuring Australia’s jobs, wages and prosperity.

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Stark Climate Policies On Offer At This Election But Will Voters Bite?

18 May, 2019 - 05:00
FairfaxPeter Hannam

If our politicians are supposed to be driven by polls and focus groups, why is it that climate change isn't a policy that attracts bipartisan or even tripartisan support?
As we learnt again last week from the respected Lowy Institute, the threat of a warming world is of growing concern for Australians and now tops even terrorism or North Korean nukes.
Respondents to surveys say they want more renewable energy and action on climate change - but will they vote that way at the ballot box? Credit: Fabrizio Bensch
While the full findings won't be out until next month, support for renewable energy is likely to remain high, too. Last year, backing was 84 per cent - numbers "that we don't really see on other issues", Lowy's poll chief Natasha Kassam told the Herald.
Britain, of course, offers good and bad models when it comes to governance of late, but the Conservative government under Theresa May cheered the fact that the country had gone a week without burning coal for electricity for the first time since those dark satanic mills started spinning.
That response even drew a rueful reaction on Twitter from Malcolm Turnbull, whose term as prime minister was abruptly ended last August with his effort to get his optimistically named National Energy Guarantee policy through his party room one last time.
With the Morrison government dropping the NEG, it is not clear what the Coalition is offering voters on the energy front.
Yes, investors have earmarked about $25 billion for wind and solar projects over the past three years of the Renewable Energy Target, and that is no small change.
However, there is little indication what will follow after 2020 if the Morrison government is returned, and the industry is fearful they are facing a cliff.
AGL''s Liddell power station in the Hunter Valley - barring some unexpected closure elsewhere - willb e the next to halt production in 2022. Credit: Janie BarrettReading the polls, the Liberal-led NSW government of Gladys Berejiklian is working on the assumption that the remnant of the NEG - replete with deeper emission-target cuts for the power sector - will be revived under a Labor government as Opposition Leader Bill Shorten promised.
Labor's promise of securing 50 per cent of electricity from renewables by 2030 is a key arrow in its policy quiver. Even though it looks like a long shot - roughly doubling where we are now in the eastern states that make up the National Electricity Market - in fact it's probably not much more than business-as-usual.
(The caveat, though, is that investors in that sector have barely known a "usual" period in the past decade.)
The likelihood is the surge in clean energy alternatives to coal and gas in power generation will continue, meaning there's a reasonable chance that 50-50 target will be exceeded and then some by 2030.
The Greens say 100 per cent renewables should be the goal by then, and that a bonanza of new jobs - in the order of 180,000 - will offer employment opportunities to aid the transition for the Hunter and Latrobe valleys that will fare worst from the demise of coal-fired plants.
They also advocate a policy whose name the two main parties dare not utter - a carbon price. That's despite seasoned commentators such as Tony Wood from the Grattan Institute supporting a market solution.
"The major parties seem to prefer an unproductive debate on cost [of taking climate action], while the Greens have arguably the best core policy - an economy-wide carbon price," Mr Wood told readers of our sister paper The Australian Financial Review last week.
Transport is one sector that will have to cut emissions sooner or later. Labor plans to toughen efficiency standards and aims for half of new car sales to be electric by 2030 - up from about 0.2 per cent now. Credit: Dmitry PanchenkoLabor's climate policy will indeed generate a carbon price as companies face a "cap" on carbon pollution, with those able to reduce emissions more quickly able to trade their surplus achievements with laggards.
The problem is that Labor's goal of cutting emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels will be complicated by adjustments for all the sectors or enterprises that will be partly or fully exempt. These include the agriculture sector and trade-exposed firms such as aluminium smelters - which is a key reason that Labor can't come up with a pat answer to the question of what its climate plan will cost.
But Labor is at least taking a stab. It has a declared net-zero emissions target for 2050 and, although Australia arguably signed up for a similar goal when it agreed to the Paris climate goals, the Coalition appears not to have a policy to get there.
The Morrison government says its rebadged direct action plan - now called the Climate Solutions Fund - will earmark $2 billion over a decade to pay polluters to cut emissions to farmers - and other sectors - to sequester emissions such as boosting the carbon content of soils or restraining land-clearing.
The Coalition's headline goal of cutting 2005-level carbon emissions by 26 per cent masks a couple of backtracks. Australia's official Paris goal is 26-28 per cent, but the upper end of the range has quietly been dropped.
More contentious, though, is the Coalition's plan to use expected carry-over credits from the current climate policy to which Australia has signed up, the Kyoto Protocol, as the Herald and The Age first reported last December.
Most nations with such credits, including Germany, Britain, New Zealand and Sweden, have voluntarily decided to extinguish any such "surplus" generated by exceeding goals up to 2020 when the Paris accord kicks in.
The slogan "NO PLAN B" is projected on the Eiffel Tower as part of the COP21, United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015. Credit: APThe consequence is that Australia's abatement effort of 695 million tonnes of carbon dioxide shrinks to about 325 million tonnes at the stroke of a pen - assuming global negotiators don't blow the whistle on this plan.
Labor could have used this short cut to count towards its higher target of 45 per cent reduction in emissions but decided not to use it. One consequence could be that Australia will end up turning to international markets to import such reductions if domestic abatement efforts are too costly. (Again, modelling that cost is difficult, not least because we don't know how well Australia will go nor how much other countries will turn to such credits.)
Dylan McConnell, an energy analyst at the University of Melbourne, has joined a few dots to show that Australia has a lot of work to do if it wants to meet both the current targets for Paris and higher ones in the future.
Source: Dylan McConnell/University of Melbourne using data presented by Professor Ross Garnaut Remember that almost 200 nations agreed in Paris in late 2015 to limit global temperatures to 1.5 degrees and "well below 2 degrees".
We are more than halfway to that level of heating, with global surface readings more than a degree above pre-industrial levels, and further warming all but locked in because of the time-lag effect emissions have in trapping extra heat from the sun in our atmosphere.
Climate Analytics, an advocate for strong climate action, has a so-called "fair share target" that takes into account both domestic emissions and also the aid wealthier nations should offer poorer ones (which have contributed much less carbon pollution but will likely be less able to adapt to the more extreme weather on the way).
In Australia's case, that goal should be at least a 55 per cent cut on 2005 levels by 2030 and as much as 87 per cent if the lower end of the Paris accord target is to be achieved.
Australia is obviously just one player, but with among the highest per-capita emissions anywhere, it is difficult for our diplomats to argue a free pass. With an already fluctuating climate - especially for rainfall - the country is also highly exposed to increases in extra weather expected as the planet warms.
As the United Nation's extinction report out last week showed, Australia has much at stake in the achievement of the Paris goals, saying: "Coral reefs are particularly vulnerable to climate change and are projected to decline to 10-30 per cent of former cover at 1.5 degrees warming and to less than 1 per cent at two degrees."
Great Barrier Reef tour operators will struggle to attract visitors to bleached corals, as happened twice in two years in 2016 and 2016, killing about half the corals. Credit: Dean Miller, Great Barrier Reef LegacyFuture generations aren't likely to be very forgiving when they snorkel over, or try to fish in, reef regions that will be 99 per cent smaller than they were, say, in 1870.Australia's emissions are unhelpfully rising, reaching their highest quarterly rate in the year to September 2018 for seven years. The arc, therefore, is not yet bending down, and the longer they continue to rise, the harder for any future government to get emissions down to where they need to be.
The Greens, though, also highlight what they see as a sleeper issue masked by the Adani coal mine kerfuffle.
Labor plans to inject $1.5 billion into developing the gasfields of the Northern Territory and Queensland's Bowen and, yes, Gallilee basins - site of that particular coal mine proposal and eight others.
The Greens point out that, even assuming a conservative leakage rate, the greenhouse gas emissions of the new gasfields will dwarf those of Adani's Carmichael mine.
They predict trouble ahead for Labor if the Greens hold sway in the Senate, not least because soaring domestic emissions will make it harder for Australia to stem the rise of national carbon pollution, let alone hit targets such as net zero by mid-century.

Categories: External websites

62 Experts Urge Next Parliament to Make Climate Action a Top Priority

17 May, 2019 - 05:00
Australia Institute

Scientists and experts say the next government will need to prioritise action on climate change. OPEN LETTERTo the NextParliament of AustraliaAustralia’s greenhouse gas emissions are rising, moving the country further away from its Paris Agreement obligations.Whichever party wins government on Saturday, urgent action on climate change must be a top priority for the 46th Parliament of Australia.The consequences of climate change are already upon us; including harsher and more frequent extreme weather, destruction of natural ecosystems, severe property damage and a worldwide threat to human health.Australia Institute research shows current emission reduction targets are incompatible with the goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement that aims to hold the rise in global temperature to 1.5°C and no more than 2.0°C above pre-industrial levels.The solutions are all available to address climate change, all that is missing is the political will.Add your name 62 scientists and experts have signed an open letter to the next Parliament of Australia, calling for whichever party that wins Government this Saturday to make urgent action on climate change a top priority for the 46th Parliament of Australia.
Prominent signatories of the open letter include: Nobel Prize winners Professor Peter Doherty AC and Dr. Sue Wareham OAM, former Australian of the Year Professor Fiona Stanley AC, former Chief Scientist for Australia Professor Penny Sackett and many of Australia’s leading scientists from disciplines including climate change, health, economics, energy, and finance, including Professor Hilary Bambrick, Professor Will Steffen and Professor Barbara Norman.
“Australia is failing when it comes to addressing climate change and whichever party wins government this Saturday needs to make urgent action on climate change a top priority for the next Parliament of Australia,” said Richie Merzian, Climate & Energy Program Director at the Australia Institute.
“However you assess the fairness of a country’s emissions reduction target: by population, economic cost, or a combination, Australia Institute analysis shows Australia’s current reduction target is unambitious, unfair and irresponsible.
“The Government is relying on the climate outlier advice of Brian Fisher to terrify Australians about the alleged cost of climate action, while Australians struggle to deal with the very real costs of climate inaction.
“Climate change is an enormous threat to the security and wellbeing of all Australians. Climate change is already increasing the frequency of fires, floods and drought, as well as serious health impacts. Climate change is already a major threat to key industries, including agriculture and tourism and is already costing Australians billions of dollars every year, and will continue to rise unless we act.
"Beginning with my time as Australia’s Chief Scientist, I have made it my life’s work to push governments to listen to the science,” said Professor Penny Sackett, former Chief Scientist for Australia.
“Australians have paid dearly for the chain dragging of previous governments on climate action: we are now in a climate crisis.
“The next Australian Government must take the immediate and drastic action required to keep global warming on the safer side of 2 degrees. The time is not 2050, or even 2030. The time is now.”

Categories: External websites

Climate Change Threatens 26 Native Species In Great Dividing Range, Study Finds

17 May, 2019 - 05:00
The Guardian

Australian researchers say governments must step up and protect critical habitats to give wildlife a chance
Warming temperatures put 26 species at risk in the Great Dividing Range, University of Queensland and Australian Conservation Foundation researchers say. Photograph: Simon Mossman/AAP More than 20 native animals would disappear from the Great Dividing Range before the end of the century if global emissions continue at business as usual rates, according to new analysis by Australian researchers.
The University of Queensland and Australian Conservation Foundation study, published this week in Global Ecology and Conservation, examines native fauna in a part of the country that is home to three-quarters of the population and much of Australia’s biodiversity.
The scientists and policy experts used climate models from the UN’s intergovernmental panel on climate change to assess how many endemic species could face extinction in the Great Dividing Range due to warming temperatures.
They examined 1,062 native species, and found 26 would go extinct by 2085 if the currently high global emissions trajectory continues. In that scenario, they assumed global warming of 3.7C by 2085.
Of the 26 species the researchers said would not survive, 11 are found only in the Great Dividing Range and nowhere else on earth.
Under a lower emissions pathway of 1.8C the Great Dividing Range would become climatically unsuitable for 16 species by 2085, including the 11 endemic species.
“The way emissions are tracking, we will lose a raft of species found nowhere else in the world, including the blue-winged parrot, Mount Claro rock wallaby, magnificent brood frog and painted spadefoot toad,” the study’s lead author, Sean Maxwell, said.
Another author, James Watson, said: “The fact is that there are 11 endemic species, which based off of this research, it appears they will be blasted off the face of the earth because there’s nowhere suitable for them to live.”

Why Australia's biodiversity is in trouble - video explainer.

“That’s the really sad thing from this piece.”
But the researchers identify some hope for the remaining 1,036 animals for which they forecast some climatically suitable habitat would remain even under the most aggressive scenarios they modelled.
The paper identifies two large sections of habitat, one in northern Queensland and another in northern New South Wales, that would benefit the survival of hundreds of species if they were protected.
Watson said that could be done by governments establishing protected areas in those spaces, or through other means, such as stewardship programs that reward farmers and other landholders who keep habitat intact rather than clear it.
Another author, James Trezise from the Australian Conservation Foundation, said the research found at least 673 animals would benefit from protecting intact habitat, which he said was a strong argument for Australian governments prioritising policies to avoid deforestation.
They found another 270 species would be heavily reliant on governments committing to restoring habitat areas in southern Queensland, southern NSW and northern Victoria that had already been modified in some form by agriculture and other activities.
“We need to rapidly protect critical habitats and climate refuges for species if we are to give wildlife a chance in the face of climate change,” Trezise said.
“The next Australian government will have to step up on protecting the environment. This means introducing stronger national environment laws and investing in new protected areas, wildlife corridors and ecosystem restoration.”

Categories: External websites

Climate Change Election: Where Do Parties Stand And What Can We Expect After Saturday?

17 May, 2019 - 05:00
RenewEconomy - 

Six years ago, following the election of the Abbott Government, the renewable energy industry, and prospects for climate change were cast into a pretty dark period. Strong climate policies were unwound, and investment in new clean energy projects came to a standstill.
At times there seemed to be little hope that climate change could register as a major vote-winning issue in Australian politics.
However, the political environment has turned dramatically in recent years, as the impacts and threats of climate change grow more apparent. According to ABC’s Vote Compass, the economy was by far the most important issue to voters six years ago –  climate change ranked fourth place, behind asylum seekers, and health and hospitals.
In 2019, Vote Compass finds that environment is now top, followed by the economy and then health and super/pensions.
RenewEconomy has taken a look at where each of the three largest parties, the Liberal-National Coalition, the Australian Labor Party, and the Greens stand on climate change, what key groups have had to say about their platforms and their prospects for this year’s election.
We also take a look at some of the independents to watch.

Where does the Liberal-National Coalition stand on climate change? Where do you start?
Rather than presenting a credible plan for tackling climate change, the Coalition has spent the 2019 election campaign focused on trying to scare voters about other party’s policies.
Brandishing discredited modelling from Brian Fisher, the Coalition has tried to characterise Labor policies as expensive, and the Labor Party itself as coming to take your utes away.
This falls into the classic mistake of ‘fighting the last war’. The Coalition took Government in 2013 on the basis of a relentless campaign against the carbon price. The Coalition thinks that by running the same playbook as 2013, it can retain power in 2019.

What the Coalition is promising:
  • 26% to 28% emission reduction target by 2030.
  • $2 billion to be provided to the Climate Solutions Fund, a rebranded Emissions Reduction Fund that will directly purchase emissions reductions
  • Committed to the construction of Snowy 2.0.
  • Committed to the establishment of a second interconnector between Tasmania and the Australian mainland.
  • Will use carry-over units from the Kyoto protocol to meet its 2030 Paris agreement target.
  • The Coalition has previously withdrawn funding for the international Green Climate Fund.
  • Supports the Adani Carmichael coal mine.

In their own words, Scott Morrison:
“This is coal. Do not be afraid. Do not be scared. It will not hurt you.” Question Time, 9 February 2017.
“Our position is based on you can have your economy and you can have your cleaner environment; you don’t have to sell one out for the other” – 3 April 2019
“The Carmichael mine has always had our support, and to facilitate it. The approvals have been provided, and the approvals have to be delivered on, by the company, and of course that has to be. Right across the Galilee Basin, we want to see the continued growth of this industry”, on the Adani Coal Mine, 7 November 2018.

What others have said about the Coalition:
The Climate Council considered the Coalition’s failure to act on climate change over the last six years as “the defining leadership failure of the past decade.”
Analysis by Climate Analytics found that the Coalition’s emissions targets were “very far away from the Paris Agreement”.
The analysis also showed that the Coalition’s policies were likely to lead to overall increases in greenhouse gas emissions, and is not at all consistent with preventing global warming.
The Australian Conservation Foundation gave the Coalition a score of 4 out of 100, with a catastrophically bad set of climate and environmental policies. The Coalition failed in each category assessed by the ACF, with a small number of points awarded for a commitment to fund indigenous rangers.
The Australian Youth Climate Coalition went further and gave the Coalition a negative score (minus 1 out of 25) for their climate change policies, losing marks for its enthusiastic support of the Adani Coal mine.
“This inaction is putting us at war with a climate that has no more room for atmospheric pollution,” – Former UNFCCC executive secretary Christiana Figueres.

Coalition Prospects
While predicting the outcomes of an election are equal parts science and guesswork, the Coalition are facing increasingly diminishing prospects of retaining power.
It’s not impossible for the Coalition to retain Government, but it will need to fight off challenges from some formidable independent campaigns and will need to take seats off Labor to regain a majority.
The Coalition’s open co-operation with potential crossbench members in One Nation and Clive Palmer could leave a booby-trapped Senate for any new Labor Government.

If the polls and the betting markets are to be believed, the Australian Labor Party, and its leader Bill Shorten, is on the cusp of winning power this Saturday.
After six years in the wilderness, and six years of relative leadership stability under Shorten, the Labor Party has regained the confidence to embrace climate change as a core pillar of its platform for re-election.
After getting booted from office following its failure to sell an otherwise successful carbon price policy, the Labor Party has borrowed from Coalition policies toolkit to use the Coalition’s toolkit against itself.
Buoyed by consistent polling showing that climate change and the environment is a top concern of voters, the Labor Party has developed a comprehensive set of policies and targets that give it credibility in acting on climate change, while dampening blows that the Morrison may seek to land during the election campaign.
The Labor platform has not been without its criticisms, with the issue of the Adani Carmichael Mine being the most notable source of friction. Labor has attempted a fine balancing act, between its own dislike of the project, and not wanting to spook Queensland voters.

What the Labor Party is promising:
  • 45% emissions reduction target by 2030.
  • 50% renewable energy target by 2030
  • Introduction of Turnbull’s National Energy Guarantee, to reduce emissions in the electricity sector
  • Will adapt the safeguard mechanism, strengthening the emissions cap on other industries
  • Will provide additional $10 billion to the CEFC to finance new clean energy and storage projects
  • Electric vehicle target of 50% of new car sales by 2030 and the development of a new national electric vehicle strategy.
  • Will support completion of Snowy 2.0
  • Will provide $2000 rebates to households for the installation of up to 100,000 batteries.
  • Has pledged $1.5 billion for the development of new gas pipelines.
  • Will not use Kyoto “carry-over” units to meet its 2030 target, but will consider the use of international offsets.
  • Has said the Adani Carmichael coal mine must “stack up environmentally and financially” but has stopped short of opposing the mine outright.

In their own words, Bill Shorten:
“Electricity bills, well they are out of control – so we’re going to fill the void and the thirteen energy policies of failure of this government and we are going to get more renewables into the mix, to get prices down.“ – Address to Labor campaign launch, 5 May 2019
“We choose renewables and we choose real action on climate change.” – budget in-reply speech, 4 April 2019
“I have no plans to review the approvals. But if we want to be fair dinkum, let’s be fair dinkum and let’s tell the voters the truth here, all of us. First of all if I’m Prime Minister I will adhere to the law of the land. I’m not going to be intimidated or bullied by environmental activists or big mining companies. For me it is all about the best science, the law of the land and not creating sovereign risk.”- on the Adani Mine, 23 April 2019.

What others have said about Labor:
Analysis by Climate Analytics rated the Australian Labor Party targets as being consistent with a Paris Agreement pathway, but only just.
Labor’s target scraped in at the low end of being compatible with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees under the Paris Agreement, but fell short of being considered a “fair share” commitment.
The Australian Conservation Foundation gave the Labor Party a pass mark for their policies on climate change. The ACF score of 56% reflects stronger policies on renewable energy and for environmental protection. However, the ACF scored the Labor Party poorly on their policies to phase out fossil fuels, and a for its ambiguous position on the Adani coal mine.
The Australian Youth Climate Coalition likewise gave the Labor Party a middle-of-the-road score. AYCC awarded the Labor Party full marks for their policies to support solar on schools, but penalised the Labor Party for its commitment of funding to build new gas pipelines.
“Labor has a much better climate change policy than the Coalition.” – Former Liberal Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Labor Prospects
By all measures, Labor is the favourite to seize Government at this year’s election, however, it will be a close contest.
Polling and betting markets suggest that Labor will secure more seats than the coalition, but it’s unlikely to be a landslide result.
Projections from the ABC and Poll Bludger likewise suggest that Labor should win enough seats to control the House of Representatives in its own right, but depending on results in a few contests involving key independents, Labor may need to negotiate a hung parliament.
Either way, the prospects for stronger policies for climate change and renewable energy look good.

As they have always done, the Greens have led the pack when it comes to climate change and energy policies. Which is no surprise for a party founded by environmentalists.
It’s therefore no surprise that the Greens have developed the most ambitious package policies and targets for climate action in 2019.
The Greens policy package, by design, is outlines targets and indicatives that aim higher and would deliver more than both the Labor and Liberals respective platforms.
The Greens will be aiming for securing the balance of power in either, or both, houses of parliament – with a likely strategy of seeking to negotiate with a potential new Labor Government, as they were able to do under Julia Gillard in 2010.

What the Greens are promising:
  • 63% to 82% emissions reduction target by 2030.
  • 100% Renewable Energy Target by 2030
  • Will provide additional $10 billion to the CEFC
  • Will provide an annual budget to ARENA of $300 million
  • Create a $1.7 billion Clean Energy Export Development Fund
  • Will introduce a ban on new coal mines, fracking and conventional gas and oil fields.
  • Establish Power Australia, a publicly owned, not for profit, electricity retailer
  • Opposes the Adani Carmichael coal mine.

In their own words, Richard Di Natale:
“This is the climate change election. Only the Greens have a real plan to tackle dangerous climate change and transition Australia out of coal to a jobs-rich, renewable economy. The Greens have a plan that is based on science, not politics.” – 11 April 2019
“We are in the middle of a climate emergency, and we can’t be opening up any more coal, oil or gas fields if we are going to hand over a sustainable environment to our children and grandchildren,” – 23 April 2019
“A transition away from coal is urgent and necessary, but the Greens want to ensure that it doesn’t leave workers and communities stranded.”- 26 February 2019

What others have said about the Greens:
Analysis by Climate Analytics found that the Australian Greens’ emissions reduction targets were within the “fair share” range based on scientific research.
The Greens’ targets were the most ambitious of the three largest parties and were compatible with a 1.5-degree warming target under the Paris Agreement.
The Australian Conservation Foundation gave the Greens an almost perfect score for their environment and climate change policies, awarding the Greens a score of 99%.
The Australian Youth Climate Coalition went one better and gave the Greens a perfect 25 out of 25 in their own election scorecard.
“[Greens Senator] Sarah Hanson-Young is one of the few in our parliament who has a genuine commitment to decisive and urgent climate action — a leader when so many lag,”, former Liberal leader Dr John Hewson.

Greens Prospects
The Greens face a tough test at the 2019 election. Due to the way Senate terms are allocated following a double dissolution election, the Greens have a senator up for re-election in each of the six States.
Polls suggest that the Greens have held their vote at similar levels to that of the 2016 election, which should see Senators returned from WA, Tasmania and Victoria. However, the battle for re-election in South Australia, NSW and Queensland will be a lot tougher.
Polling suggests they should also retain Adam Bandt’s lower house seat in Melbourne and will be very competitive in the contests for the seats of Higgins and Kooyong.
If the Greens can hold on to most of their representation within the Senate, they will be in a strong position to hold the balance of power in the Senate.

One of the unique features of the 2019 election has been the emergence of a large number of independent challengers that are looking to win seats in Parliament on a platform of strong action of climate change.
Five of the independent candidates to watch:
  • Zali Steggall – Warringah
    Steggall has run the strongest campaign of all of the independents, in her bid to unseat former Prime Minister Tony Abbott from his north-shore Sydney seat of Warringah. The former winter Olympic medallist turned barrister has tapped into growing dissent amongst Warringah voters, is a slight favourite to end the political career of one of parliaments most notorious climate wreckers.
  • Kerryn Phelps – Wentworth
    Phelps won the eastern suburbs seat of Wentworth at last year’s by-election following the resignation from Parliament of another former Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. Phelps won on a platform of climate change action and compassionate treatment for refugees. Phelps faces a tough task for re-election, as her electorate’s anger from the ousting of Turnbull as PM may have subsided, but incumbency is always an advantage.
  • Oliver Yates – Kooyong
    The former head of the CEFC has run a high profile campaign in an attempt to unseat Treasurer and former energy minister Josh Frydenberg. Frydenberg holds the seat with a 12.8% margin, but may be defeated by strong campaigns in the seat run by Yates, along side Labor and the Greens, whose candidate Julian Burnside remains an outside chance.
  • Helen Haines – Indi
    Helen Haines is contesting the regional Victorian seat of Indi, with the endorsement of Cathy McGowan, who has retired from federal politics. The former nurse and midwife has campaigned strongly for action on climate change
  • Rob Oakshott – Cowper
    Rob Oakshott is tipped to return to the Federal Parliament through the regional NSW seat of Cowper. Oakshott played a key role in the passage of the Gillard Government’s clean energy future package, having shared the balance of power in the House of Representatives following the 2010 election.
  • Wildcard – Clive Palmer
    Clive Palmer has spent up big during the 2019 election – a tactic that worked for him in 2013, which saw him both the hero and enemy of climate campaigners and the renewable energy sector. Palmer is hoping to win a seat or two in the Senate, where we previously controlled a set of balance-of-power crossbenchers, before the alliance disintegrated.
    Palmer used his position to repeal the carbon price, but also to protect funding for ARENA and the CEFC and to prevent efforts to repeal the RET. Palmer is running on a populist platform, driven primarily out of self-interest – and perhaps his coal assets in the Galilee Basin next to Adani – so its hard to predict what impact he may have on the 46th parliament.
Categories: External websites

Federal Election 2019: Vote Compass Finds Broad Desire For More Action On Climate Change

16 May, 2019 - 05:00
ABC NewsCatherine Hanrahan

A striking 89 per cent of younger voters want the Government to take more action on climate change. (ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton) Key points:
  • 81 per cent of voters want more government action on climate change
  • Among Coalition voters, 60 per cent now back more climate action
  • More than two-thirds of voters favour efforts to boost renewable energy and electric cars
A majority of Coalition, Labor and Greens voters all want more government action on climate change, Vote Compass data has found.
A majority of voters also support more renewable energy, a higher uptake of electric cars and a price on carbon, with renewables amassing the most support.
More than 80 per cent of Australians want the Government to take more action on climate change, up 20 percentage points since 2013.
Strikingly, support for more action was almost universal among Labor and Greens voters, the strongest response to any Vote Compass question during this election.
Nearly 60 per cent of Coalition voters agreed with the desire for more climate action.
One Nation supporters were more divided — more action was their most common response (40 per cent), closely followed by less action (34 per cent).

Support for government tackling climate change is rising
Proportion of Vote Compass responses to the question: "How much should the federal government do to tackle climate change?"Based on 513,335 respondents to Vote Compass between April 10 and May 12, 2019
Where do you stand?
Find out how your views compare to Australia's major political parties. Simply answer a few questions via Vote Compass.
As a part of its climate solutions package, the Coalition is committed to Australia's Paris Agreement target of reducing emissions by 26 to 28 per cent by 2030.
Labor has promised to cut emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 and ensure half of Australia's energy comes from renewable sources.
Rosemary Lyster, co-director of the Australian Centre for Climate and Environmental Law at the University of Sydney law school, said Australians were understanding that the Paris targets were a modest contribution, not only on Australia's part, but on all countries.
"I think the Coalition is sticking to their climate policies and the electorate is a bit more sceptical about whether or not we're going to achieve emissions reductions through those policies," she said.The desire for more action was even stronger among young Australians.

More young voters want climate action than older voters
Proportion of Vote Compass responses to the question: "How much should the federal government do to tackle climate change?"Based on 513,335 respondents to Vote Compass between April 10 and May 12, 2019 On the surface, the mood for climate action detected in Vote Compass was higher than was reported in two surveys conducted in 2018, where 56 per cent and 62 per cent said Australia was not doing enough to address climate change. Those questions, however, were about "Australian" action overall while Vote Compass asked specifically about "the Federal Government".
Majority of Coalition voters want government to do more to tackle climate change
Proportion of Vote Compass responses to the question: "How much should the federal government do to tackle climate change?"Based on 513,335 respondents to Vote Compass between April 10 and May 12, 2019 Voters back renewable energy and electric cars
Nearly 90 per cent wanted to see more renewable energy, including a majority of voters from all parties.
Three quarters wanted to see the Government do more to increase the number of electric cars, though Coalition voters were more uncertain than left-leaning voters.
Professor Lyster said people found the idea of technological and innovation solutions very appealing.
"They see that as contributing to the economy and they see lots more jobs, which is good for the economy," she said.Strongest support for more renewable energyProportion of More/Less or Agree/Disagree Vote Compass responses to each question/statement
Based on 513,335 respondents to Vote Compass between April 10 and May 12, 2019; electric car question of the day based on 137,226 respondents Neither the Coalition nor Labor is promising a price on carbon this election, though voters now broadly favour one.
About 70 per cent of respondents back a price on carbon emissions, up from 63 per cent in 2016 and only 46 per cent in 2013.
Climate change took centre stage in that election, when Opposition leader Tony Abbott promised to "axe the tax" — Labor's carbon pricing scheme.
The Greens promised net zero emissions by 2040, via a range of mechanisms that include a price on carbon.

About the data
  • Vote Compass responses have been weighted by gender, age, education, language, religion, place of residence and past vote to match the Australian population, creating a nationally representative sample.
  • The sample size for this report is 513,335 respondents and 137,226 respondents for the electric car question of the day
  • Find about more about the methodology in this explainer.
Categories: External websites

Greta Thunberg Became A Climate Activist Not In Spite Of Her Autism, But Because Of It

16 May, 2019 - 05:00
VoxSteve Silberman*

The 16-year-old climate activist’s radical approach to autism.
Greta Thunberg speaks to protesters as the Extinction Rebellion protests enter their seventh day on April 21, 2019, in London. Jack Taylor/Getty ImagesWatching video of Greta Thunberg addressing the House of Parliament in London on April 24, it’s hard not to think of Cassandra, the brash young warrior of Greek myth who beseeched Apollo for the gift of prophecy. The petulant god granted her wish, but then punished the girl by decreeing that her predictions would be ignored “as idle wind in the hearers’ ears.”
“You lied to us. You gave us false hope. You told us that the future was something to look forward to,” said the 16-year-old environmental activist, who has become the stern face of a global movement of young people enraged by the idea that careless decisions made by their parents’ generation will doom them to an apocalyptic future. “Those who will be affected the hardest are already suffering the consequences. But their voices are not heard. Is my microphone on? Can you hear me?”
A poet wrote that as Troy was sacked by the Achaeans, just as Cassandra had predicted, the spurned oracle roared “like a lioness,” but Thunberg’s style is more low-key and surgical. “You only speak of green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular,” she told the attendees of the United Nations’ COP24 conference in Poland in December. “You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake. You are not mature enough to tell it like is. Even that burden you leave to us children. But I don’t care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet.”
Thunberg’s fearless rhetoric has proven to be enormously influential. A week after Thunberg shamed the MPs in Parliament, following a successful lobbying effort by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party and a wave of protests in London by activists calling themselves the Extinction Rebellion, British lawmakers declared the climate crisis an “emergency.” In August, Thunberg began a one-woman student strike against climate change, standing alone with a distinctive hand-lettered sign on the steps of the parliament building in Stockholm for three weeks. Six months later, nearly 1.5 million young people in 100 countries worldwide followed suit, making March 22 the single largest day of climate action in history.
Thunberg also wields her considerable moral authority at home. Her mother, Malena Ernman, a celebrated opera singer, has opted to travel by train and bicycle instead of flying to her performances, and Thunberg has persuaded her parents to eat mostly vegan. How did she do it? “I made them feel guilty,” she told an interviewer. That’s her way: no nonsense, no vacuous chitchat before getting to the point — there is no more time for hand-waving, dithering, and compromise on climate.

Thunberg makes a radical statement about autism through her climate activism
Bluntness is also the way of many people on the autism spectrum, and both Thunberg and her young sister Beata have been diagnosed with autism and ADHD. A few years ago, Thunberg’s ascent to fame likely would have been framed in the media as that of an inspiring young girl “overcoming” her disability to become the leader of a worldwide movement. But Thunberg herself makes a different, more radical argument: that she became an activist not in spite of her autism but because of it.
“I see the world a bit different, from another perspective,” she explained to New Yorker reporter Masha Gessen. “It’s very common that people on the autism spectrum have a special interest. … I can do the same thing for hours.” Thunberg discovered her special interest in climate change when she was just 9 years old, and she couldn’t understand why everyone on the planet wasn’t similarly obsessed with preventing it.
A visceral feeling of repulsion toward deceit and hypocrisy is also common among people on the spectrum. As Thunberg told the BBC, “I don’t fall for lies as easily as regular people, I can see through things.” She has a particular contempt for the professional propagandists and apologists who prop up the fossil fuel industry and discourage the development of renewable energy resources, dismissing UK claims about reductions in carbon emissions as the result of “very creative accounting.”
”You don’t listen to the science,” she went on, “because you are only interested in the answers that will allow you to carry on as if nothing has happened.”
Indeed, Thunberg is not the only person with autism in public life raising her voice in defense of the Earth at this critical juncture in history. Another teen on the spectrum, Dara McAnulty in Northern Ireland, is also an outspoken climate activist, as well as being one of the most lyrical nature writers on Twitter at age 15. In 2017, autistic naturalist and TV presenter Chris Packham “came out” about his diagnosis in a candid BBC documentary called Asperger’s and Me. “What these protesters are saying is think about tomorrow,” Packham said recently in a video for Extinction Rebellion. “That’s what our politicians are not doing.”

People with autism have been ignored and condemned throughout history
Being autistic does not protect these environmental advocates from the usual attacks leveled against anyone who raises the alarm about the oncoming climate catastrophe; instead, it gives the trolls another angle of attack.
In one particularly egregious recent example, Brendan O’Neill, the British editor of a webzine called Spiked, trotted out a hit parade of toxic stereotypes in a crass attempt to paint Thunberg as a “millenarian weirdo” with a “monotone voice” and a “pre-modern” lack of affect. (One of the deep-pocketed funders of Spiked is Koch Industries, a hothouse of climate change denialism.) Meanwhile, a recent court victory by Packham’s Wild Justice, a nonprofit he set up to defend threatened species, inspired bullies to send him death threats and string up dead birds on his garden gate (prompting a characteristically cheeky response from Packham).
Though it’s rarely discussed in the clinical literature, the fact that some people on the spectrum feel an intense connection to the natural world has been known for a long time. My history of autism, NeuroTribes, explores how autistic scientist Temple Grandin’s love for animals inspired her to become a designer of more humane technology for the livestock industry (though I doubt vegan Thunberg would approve). In one of the first case reports of Asperger’s syndrome from 1954 — long before there was a name for it — a boy teaches himself the names of the plants that flourished around the residential facility where he was forced to live, while offering lectures on nuclear fission and corporate finance to his peers.
Many people with autism throughout history have been ignored and shunted to the margins of society, and condemned as weird, insane, or worse. But the idea that people like Greta Thunberg have valuable insights not in spite of their autism but because of it is gaining ground as part of a global movement to honor neurodiversity, a word based on the concept of biodiversity — the notion that in communities of living things, diversity and difference means strength and resilience. Great minds, in other words, don’t always think alike. It’s not surprising that people who feel an intuitive love for nature and an instinctive disdain for dishonesty are now taking leadership positions in the global fight against climate change.
Unlike Cassandra’s dire warnings to the doomed occupants of Troy, Thunberg’s words are getting picked up and amplified by media around the world, which is a sign of hope. She is also being recognized as a major influencer by political leaders, and has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Freddy André Øvstegård, a member of Norwegian parliament who submitted Thunberg’s name for the prestigious award, told the international news agency AFP, “If we do nothing to halt climate change, it will be the cause of wars, conflict, and refugees. Greta Thunberg has launched a mass movement which I see as a major contribution to peace.”
Her emergence on the world stage has been particularly meaningful to other autistic people and their families, says Ari Ne’eman, who co-founded the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and is the author of the forthcoming book The Right to Live in This World: The Story of Disability in America. “It’s noteworthy that Thunberg has chosen to be open about being autistic, because by being openly autistic while serving in positions of leadership, autistic people can help transform how society views us, opening up opportunities for other autistic people around the world,” he says. “By being proudly autistic in our moments of excellence as well as our moments of struggle, we help to change the public image of autism and tell the world that we have much to offer.”
As deceit and hypocrisy reign at the highest levels of the debate about how best to tackle climate change, we need more warriors like Greta Thunberg and Chris Packham on the front lines.

*Steve Silberman is the author of NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity.

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