Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Some climate change politics . . .

It looks like the Liberal party is having some problems coming to terms with the complexities of climate change. Here is a story from The Australian.

Nelson leaves Libs looking incompetent and inconsistent on emissions

Jennifer Hewett
July 30, 2008
The Australian

SO much for certainty. The Liberals' erratic approach to an emissions trading scheme will leave the business community as confused as the voters.

Brendan Nelson's spectacularly inept handling of the issue still means there is unlikely to be any such scheme in place by 2010 -- no matter how firm the Rudd Government's supposed timetable.

But the Liberals are now ready to argue they will support the introduction of an Australian scheme by 2011 or 2012 no matter what the rest of the world does.

The only question is how tough it should be. That's a pretty big and complicated question, of course.

However, it's a major retreat from the Opposition Leader's insistence of the previous few days that the introduction of any Australian scheme should be conditional on whether the other major emitters had made similar commitments.

That will make for a very angry Liberal party room meeting today after Nelson was comprehensively humiliated by his own dismayed shadow cabinet yesterday. It can only increase the sense of misery about his suitability for leadership.

Courtesy of Brendan on-again, off-again Nelson, the Liberals just look incompetent and inconsistent on an issue of huge importance to the economy and of potential vulnerability for the Government.

None of Nelson's tortured attempts to explain his position post-shadow cabinet altered that sorry equation.

But at least the Liberals seem finally to have a semi-coherent policy to try to sell from now on. The Opposition will claim that the 2010 date is too rushed and that it is pointless to risk the Australian economy with a botched system.

They should have plenty of leeway to argue that the Australian scheme should also have a very soft start because of the likelihood there will be relatively little action by the major emitters any time soon.

Given their recent policy peregrinations, it's hard to guarantee that the Liberals won't change their position on timing yet again. But that's the obvious intention of the moment. Nor will Labor negotiate enough concessions with the Greens in order to get the scheme through the Senate in time for the 2010 deadline.

Kevin Rudd will argue that a responsible government cannot give in to Green demands that would do excessive damage to Australia's economy.

It means the form and deadline for Australia's response to climate change remains as clear as the Beijing skyline on a still, hot day.

Most of the business community will be relieved at the prospect of a modestly delayed start. The yelps of pain that quickly followed the release of the Government's green paper are only going to increase in intensity and scope.

A suddenly much more threatening economic climate will also strictly limit commercial tolerance for experiments that will increase costs and decrease competitiveness. The massive lobbying effort from business under way at the moment is part of the financial reality check on Rudd.

But that doesn't mean there was ever going to be enthusiastic support from the business community for Nelson's big idea of indefinitely blocking any active response by Government either.

Remember, it was big business and particularly the Business Council of Australia that prodded the Howard government into commissioning the Shergold report as part of its intention to introduce a scheme by 2012.

At the time, then BCA president Michael Chaney described this approach as a sensible form of insurance.

It meant Nelson's determination to revert to a pre-Shergold position worried many business leaders. The Opposition was swimming too vigorously against the rising international tide.

The Rudd Government's dire pronouncements on the risks of inaction may verge on hysteria but Nelson's tough-guy approach was hardly risk-free. From a business point of view, this had less to do with Labor's emotive arguments about the fate of the Barrier Reef and far more with the potential difficulties for Australian companies because of the country's perceived inaction.

Business may see through the absurd Labor logic that implies a scheme imposed by Canberra will make the crucial difference on the future of rainfall patterns in Australia, for example.

But by making their support for any Australian scheme contingent on action by other emitters, the Liberals would have ensured that Australia had nothing other than Rudd's good intentions in which to cloak itself.

That would invite retaliation on Australian exports from areas such as Europe, for example.

It's also evident to many Australian chief executives that no matter how long it takes -- and whether or not developing countries sign up to formal reductions in carbon emissions quickly -- the pressure to shift to less carbon-intensive industries is only going to accelerate.

The developing world will be forced into adopting new technologies and approaches themselves -- if only to ensure their own societies remain viable. The Beijing smog is only a modest prelude of what will come otherwise.

That suggests that companies and countries leading in technological adaptation and energy efficiency will have their own version of valuable commodities to sell -- including making the use of Australian resources more attractive.

That may not require immediate dramatic shifts in the Australian economy, let alone the closing of the coal industry and its exports.

But it means that Australia should head steadily down the path of greater carbon efficiency and technological improvements, including the use of price signals. This can be so gradual that it makes the large reduction targets look much less achievable over the short term. But it's like a version of training wheels. It's more effective to start slow and limit the spectacular crashes rather than advance straight to speed racing in the Tour de France.

It's also more honest than the approach adopted by most other countries so far -- pledging to meet targets that are routinely missed.

And companies will at least be able to invest for the future with some confidence about how the new rules will be applied.

The political dilemma for the Liberals in delaying this beyond the next election is that it also delays the inevitable collision of rhetoric with reality.

It suggests a replay of the 2007 campaign where Rudd can campaign on the need for leadership on climate change without Labor or the voters having to face up to the costs. But that's likely to be a problem for a different Liberal leader to manage.


Monday, July 28, 2008

Greenpeace protests against coal carriers

Source: Fairfax Media

28 July 2008

Australian police have detained four Greenpeace activists after they painted 10 coal ships with anti-coal export slogans off the coast of Mackay in central Queensland.

The four people were in a group of nine protesters who approached the ships in three small inflatable boats early this morning, Greenpeace spokesperson Louise Clifton said.

The protest began about 6am and continued until a police boat arrived at the scene around 9.30am.

The green group is protesting the Queensland Government's plans to double coal exports in the next 20 years.

"The action was all about trying to highlight the contradiction between Prime Minister Rudd and Premier Bligh's stated intention to urgently reduce greenhouse pollution while presiding over a doubling of Australia's coal exports,"

Greenpeace campaigner Simon Roz said.

"Greenhouse pollution doesn't know any borders so coal burnt anywhere will be destroying pristine environments all around the globe including the Great Barrier Reef and the Murray Darling."

Queensland exports roughly 80 per cent of all coal mined in the state, according to a November 2007 report from the Department of Mines and Energy.

Coal exports are worth at least A$16 billion to the Queensland economy each year.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Some info on the IPCC

The IPCC is divided up into 3 working groups.

The IPCC Working Group I (WG1) assesses the physical scientific aspects of the climate system and climate change.

Its latest report "Climate Change 2007 - The Physical Science Basis" was launched on 2 February 2007 in Paris.

The report includes information on changes in greenhouse gases and aerosols in the atmosphere and the extent to which they affect climate. It provides details of recent changes in air, land and ocean temperatures, rainfall, glaciers and ice sheets and considers a large amount of new satellite and other data that have not been assessed previously. A paleoclimatic perspective considers the Earth's past cold and warm periods and the understanding of climate processes that can be gained from these. New information on feedbacks arising from the interaction of climate change with the biosphere and geochemistry is also considered. The most recent climate models are evaluated in detail, as is their use to explain observed climate change in terms of different driving factors. Projections of future climate change using climate models are considered broadly and cover near term climate change, the degree to which this is 'committed' due to past increases in greenhouse gases, and a range of potential longer term climate changes. Patterns of future climate change are considered both globally and regionally.

The IPCC Working Group II (WG2) assesses the vulnerability of socio-economic and natural systems to climate change, negative and positive consequences of climate change, and options for adapting to it.

Its latest report "Climate Change 2007 - Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability" was launched on 6 April 2007 in Paris.

The report assesses the latest scientific, environmental and socio-economic literature on "Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability". It provides a comprehensive analysis of how climate change is affecting natural and human systems, what the impacts will be in the future and how far adaptation and mitigation can reduce these impacts. It also takes into consideration the inter-relationship between adaptation and mitigation, and the relationship between climate change and sustainable development. The report contains chapters on specific systems and sectors (water resources; ecosystems; food & forests; coastal systems; industry; human health) and regions (Africa; Asia; Australia & New Zealand; Europe; Latin America; North America; Polar Regions; Small Islands).

The IPCC Working Group III (WG3) assesses options for mitigating climate change through limiting or preventing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing activities that remove them from the atmosphere.

Its latest report, "Climate Change 2007 - Mitigation of Climate Change" was launched on 4 May 2007 in Bangkok.

After describing the GHGs emission trends, the report analyses mitigation options for the main economic sectors in the near-term ? between now and 2030, providing an in-depth analyses of the costs and benefits of different approaches. It further evaluates long-term mitigation strategies for various stabilization levels, paying special attention to implications of different short-term strategies for achieving long-term goals. Cross-sectorial matters such as synergies, co-benefits and trade-offs are taken into consideration. The report, oriented at assessing the solutions to respond to climate change, considers the policy measures and instruments available to governments and industries to mitigate climate change. It also addresses the significant relationship between mitigation and sustainable development.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lessons learnt ???

These are the 12 lessons outlined by the European Environment Agency:

(1). Acknowledge and respond to ignorance, uncertainty and risk in technology appraisal.

(2). Evaluate alternative options for meeting needs, and promote robust, diverse and adaptable technologies.

(3). Provide long-term environmental and health monitoring and research into early warnings.

(4). Ensure use of ‘lay’ knowledge, as well as specialist expertise.

(5). Identify and work to reduce scientific ‘blind spots’ and knowledge gaps.

(6). Account fully for the assumptions and values of different social groups.

(7). Identify and reduce interdisciplinary obstacles to learning.

(8). Maintain regulatory independence of interested parties while retaining an inclusive approach to information and opinion gathering.

(9). Account for real-world conditions in regulatory appraisal.

(10). Identify and reduce institutional obstacles to learning and action.

(11). Systematically scrutinize claimed benefits and risks.

(12). Avoid ‘paralysis by analysis’ by acting to reduce potential harm when there are reasonable grounds for concern.


Monday, July 14, 2008

More George Pell Madness !!!

Populate or perish: Pell
Linda Morris
July 14, 2008

The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, today warned Western nations such as Australia to populate or perish.

"There is a crisis in the Western world. No Western country is producing enough babies to keep the population stable, no Western country," he said.


George Pell madness!!!

I was so happy to read that the Pope understands that global warming is a serious problem.

But then I saw this story and all I can say is that I hope the Pope can make sure that George Pell is severely punished here on Earth for his stupidity!!!!

Cardinal Pell disagrees with Pope on climate change


THE Pope may have put climate change on the agenda, but the head of the church in Australia, Cardinal George Pell, is a self-proclaimed sceptic.

During his flight to Sydney yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of environmental concerns and "our responsibility towards creation".

"We have to face up to this great challenge and find the ethical capacity to change the situation of the environment for the good," the 81-year-old Pontiff told reporters aboard his Alitalia flight.

Dr Pell was today questioned about those remarks and whether there was a division within the Australian church on the issue of climate change.

"I myself am a little bit of a sceptic, but that means I'm open to evidence," Dr Pell said.

"I'm a bit of a sceptic about the claim that human activity is likely to produce a man-made catastrophe."Even though the Pope made his views clear on the environment, Dr Pell said the pontiff did not weigh into the scientific debate on climate change.

"It's very difficult to predict what will happen tomorrow," Dr Pell said.

"It's even more difficult when you're trying to predict what will happen in five or 10 or 15 or 20 or 100 years."

The archbishop acknowledged climate change had taken place over the centuries, but questioned the cause.

"I'm well aware that over hundreds of years there has been great changes in the climates," he said.

"Whether we are going through one of those changes or whether we are contributing to that I don't know.

"I'm pretty certain if you look at the figures, the temperature dropped worldwide in the past 12 months."

But, Dr Pell said, everyone had "an obligation to care for our environment - a moral obligation".

"We also very clearly have a moral obligation not to damage and destroy or ruthlessly use the environment at the expense of future generations."

Also check out:

Pope believes in Global Warming !!!

Here is a story about the pope wanting to raise awareness about global warming while in Australia.
Pope in Australia will highlight climate change

By Victor Simpson

Pope Benedict XVI began a pilgrimage in Australia Sunday, saying he wants to use his visit to raise awareness about global warming and to address the crisis of clergy sexual abuse.

The pope met with reporters aboard his plane during the flight, and was asked about climate change following discussions on the environment during this month's Group of Eight summit in Japan.

There is a need to "wake up consciences," Benedict responded. "We have to give impulse to rediscovering our responsibility and to finding an ethical way to change our way of life."

Benedict said politicians and experts must be "capable of responding to the great ecological challenge and to be up to the task of this challenge."

"We have our responsibilities toward creation," Benedict said, stressing, however, that he had no intention of weighing in on technical or political questions swirling around climate change.

Also check out:

Archbishop says "give up carbon emissions for Lent"

'Saving God's Creation'

Monday, July 07, 2008

Not looking good . . .


Just a few days after the Garnaut preliminary report comes this story.

Growing calls to delay emissions trading

7th July 2008

Federal Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson has backed away from emissions trading any time soon, warning it would be “economic suicide” for Australia to go it alone.

The coalition made a pre-election promise to introduce emissions trading in 2012, but Dr Nelson today refused to stand by that and said he had not made up his mind when the scheme should start.

Dr Nelson wants the focus to be on a global solution to climate change, and has urged Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to be a “human blowtorch” on the issue at this week's G8 meeting in Japan.

The federal government appears to have its own doubts about a quick start to emissions trading, which will levy a tax on carbon pollution and force up prices for some goods.

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has downgraded the government's promised 2010 start date to an “ambition”.

“Well look (the 2010 start date) is the ambition and we've said that before the election,” she told Fairfax radio.

“That is the intention ... that is what we have said we will do.”

There are growing calls for emissions trading to be delayed due to concerns about price rises, and concerns by business and electricity generators that they will suffer.

Dr Nelson said Australia should only start emissions trading when the rest of the world was ready to follow suit.

“It will be an act of environmental suicide, an act of economic suicide, if Australia were to be so far in front of the world implementing an ill-considered ... emissions trading scheme, if we haven't got a genuinely global response,” Dr Nelson said.

Dr Nelson wants Mr Rudd to take action at the G8 meeting.

“Now he's actually going to be able to eyeball these people,” Dr Nelson told reporters.

“And he ought to be a human blowtorch and put direct pressure on them to actually commit to a global response to climate change.”

Mr Rudd hit back at Dr Nelson's doubts about emissions trading, saying the coalition was incapable of sticking to one position on climate change.

“The reality is the Liberal Party changes their position on the emissions trading scheme every time the headlines change,” a spokesman for Mr Rudd said.

“The Liberal Party is engaged in short-term politics when it comes to the ETS, which is bad for the economy and bad for the environment.”

Mr Rudd's spokesman said over the past 13 months the Liberals had fluctuated between 2010, 2011 and 2012 as a start date for emissions trading - and now wouldn't give a date at all.

The Australian Workers Union has also called for emissions trading to be delayed by at least two years to ensure its design is right.

As key groups get cold feet on a quick start to emissions trading, the nation's top climate change adviser Ross Garnaut reiterated his message that there was no need to delay past 2010.

Prof Garnaut says Australia has the resources to share the leadership role on tackling climate change, and has more to lose than most countries from global warming.

Prof Garnaut also took aim at NSW Treasurer Michael Costa for saying “Chicken Little” warnings about the dangers of climate change were no substitute for a proper debate.

Mr Costa says emissions trading could send electricity generators broke, and he wants free permits to pollute as compensation.

But Prof Garnaut said Mr Costa was a “well-known denier” of the science of climate change.



Thursday, July 03, 2008

Great photo . . .

I saw this photo of Peter Garrett talking to Conan (sorry, I mean the Governator) and had to put it up.
The open box in the background contains the sword from Conan the Barbarian.
Hopefully Peter Garrett is learning how to fight his way out of a plastic bag (LOL).

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Some money for the environment

There were a couple of stories in the news today about large sums of money being made available to help the environment.

First: the World Bank agreed to set up two investment funds (Clean Energy Fund and Strategic Climate Fund).

"The G8 is likely to broadly support the establishment of the climate investment funds," Warren Evans, director of the World Bank's environment department, told reporters.

He said the World Bank was counting on an initial $4 billion to $5 billion in donations by G8 nations for the Clean Technology Fund, adding that media reports that $10 billion would be raised for the fund "are on the high side".

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSN0131191820080701

Second: Gerhard Andlinger (chairman and founder of the investment company Andlinger & Co. ) donated $100 million to Princeton University to create a center for energy and the environment.

Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=azWcHx7jec.0&refer=us