The climate this week – 13 Jul 2021

The climate this week – 13 Jul 2021

A weekly report on the politics, economics and science of climate action

By Jenny Goldie, CCL member from the electorate of Eden Monaro, NSW.

Featured image: The Anglo-Australian multinational Rio Tinto has struck a partnership with South Korea’s POSCO to develop technologies to decarbonise the steel value chain.

A preview of what is to come?

According to a new study from World Weather Attribution and published in Scientific American, the blistering heatwave that scorched the Pacific Northwest last month would have been “virtually impossible” without the influence of climate change. In fact, it was nearly impossible even with it.

Rio Tinto aiming for net zero

Perhaps the steelmakers are seeing the writing on the wall, or maybe they are genuinely trying to do their bit, but Rio Tinto has struck a partnership with South Korean steel giant POSCO. Their goal is to explore and develop a range of technologies to decarbonise the steel value chain. Rio Tinto wants to deliver reductions in steelmaking carbon intensity of at least 30% from 2030, or with potential to deliver carbon neutral pathways from 2050.

It seems that we have a carbon price after all, albeit a de facto one. Pledges from major companies to reach net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions have driven prices for Australia-based climate offsets to $20 a tonne. Prices may reach $50 a tonne by 2050.

A Minister refusing her duty of care

Just as we were all rejoicing about the Federal court ruling that the Minister for Environment Sussan Ley had a duty of care to protect children from personal injury caused by climate change, she decided to appeal. (What? She doesn’t want to protect children from harm?)

Perhaps because of the Nationals’ new leadership, the Federal Government has still not committed to net-zero emissions by 2050. Mike Goldman – chargé d’affaires at the United States embassy in Canberra – has told Prime Minister Morrison that both countries need to set “more ambitious climate goals” and tackle the climate crisis “head on”.

Australia certainly does need to lift its climate ambition. In fact, our country was ranked dead last for climate action in the latest Sustainable Development Report, which assesses the progress of countries towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Australia received the lowest score awarded to any of the 193 members of the United Nations for the level of climate action, “a withering repudiation of the Coalition government’s climate efforts” according to Michael Mazengarb, writing in John Menadue’s blog Pearls and Irritations.

Adani’s latest damages

The fight against the Adani Carmichael coal mine goes on, and on, and on. Apparently, aquifer levels have dropped significantly near the coalmine since 2019. This fact prompted concern that the large volumes of water being pumped may have already locked in irreversible damage to sensitive wetlands – such as the Doongmabulla Springs – that are of significant importance to the local Aboriginal communities. Groundwater monitoring data from one aquifer in the mining lease shows a drawdown of about 50 metres in the past two years.

Close that tap!

Rainfall and run-off in SW Western Australia have been declining for decades now. However, this June was particularly worrying. The monthly rainfall was 32% below average across WA, while in Perth it was 45% lower. The WA Water Minister Dave Kelly stressed this week that “the impacts of climate change reinforce importance of being waterwise all year round”.

You might want to watch this video from Beyond Zero Emissions about Renewable Energy Industrial Precincts.

More resources

The views and wishes expressed in this blog post are those of the author, and not necessarily of CCL Australia.

Creating the political will for a liveable world