A weekly report on the politics, economics and science of climate action
By Jenny Goldie, CCL member from the electorate of Eden Monaro, NSW.
PM on the defensive at the G7
The G7 nations are meeting in Cornwall this weekend and our Prime Minister has gone off to join them, though we are not a G7 member. Mr Morrison will likely protest the imminent imposition of carbon border tariffs against nations like Australia, which do not promise strong climate action. It is estimated that in Australia 43 export industries are expected to be affected by these new tariffs. Let’s see how that goes.
Also on the international front, a critical joint report by the top organisations on climate (IPCC) and biodiversity (IPBES) concluded that both crises must be solved together, or not at all. The full report – with a harrowing picture of a starving polar bear – can be found here.
The highest CO2 level ever recorded
We had hoped that Covid might have had reduced overall levels of carbon dioxide in the air. However, that’s not the case. All that happened was that annual emissions fell, but net emissions did not go negative. The Mauna Loa station in Hawaii, well away from all pollution in the mid-Pacific, recorded 419ppm CO2 levels in May, the highest level in 63 years of operation.
It was freezing cold – snow even fell – earlier this week. This prompted the pro-coal and gas former Resources Minister Matt Canavan to sneer at the idea of global warming. “Why is fire climate change but snow not climate change?” he asked on Twitter. Good question, I guess, given snow is rare in Queensland. Nevertheless, it is a common phenomenon on the Central and Northern Tablelands of NSW so, no Mr Canavan, the world is not on a cooling trend.
There were a couple of victories through the week. A court sided with Greenpeace after AGL had taken them to court alleging breach of copyright. Greenpeace had parodied AGL’s logo. The other victory was the NSW Planning Department strongly recommending against Hume Coal’s proposed mine at Sutton Forest, since it would not be compatible with rural land use in the area.
In the absence of effective climate action at federal level, the states are doing the work for them. The Queensland government announced a $1.86 billion jobs fund, a feasibility study for 1GW of pumped hydro, and a $2 billion investment for renewable energy and hydrogen.
In NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance promised to electrify the entire NSW railway fleet by 2025 and eventually all vehicles, though more for air quality and health reasons than climate. NSW’s Treasury also predicts coal will be dead in 20 years.
Petitions to sign
- Call on the NSW Government to sign the Fossil Fuels Non-Proliferation Treatyhere.
- Call on all governments to commit to climate and environmental literacy at the COP26 meeting in Glasgow in Novemberhere.
Manufacturing for a zero-emissions economy. Tuesday June 15 1 to 2pm. Register here.
- Fears Antarctic glacier could melt faster as it speeds up and ice shelf ‘rips apart’. Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier is speeding up again as its ice shelf is breaking up, and scientists say they’ve underestimated how quickly it may disappear.
- Bright side: what Australia’s rooftop solar can teach us about electric cars. Our solar rollout has been world-leading and can point the way to get us moving on EVs.
- We don’t need supersonic travel—in the “new normal,” we should slow down. If we’re going to take climate change seriously, it also needs to come with a new aesthetic.
- Morrison government’s $600m gas power plant at Kurri Kurri not needed and won’t cover costs, analysts say. Little demand is likely for the ‘peaking’ plant before 2030, calling into question the Coalition’s claim it will reduce electricity prices.
- Electric vehicle taxes not needed to offset falling fuel excise revenue: report. The report argues the federal government should instead upgrade the nation’s energy grid and push the mining sector to convert from diesel to electric-powered off-road vehicles.
- Climate change a security threat: report. A new report by former defence and security leaders suggests climate change presents a clear and present danger to the world’s collective security.
- Climate crisis to shrink G7 economies twice as much as Covid-19, says research. G7 countries will lose $5tn a year by 2050 if temperatures rise by 2.6C
- An enormous missing contribution to global warming may have been right under our feet. Long before the era of fossil fuels, humans may have triggered a massive but mysterious “carbon bomb” lurking beneath the Earth’s surface, a new scientific study suggests.
- Warm clouds are cooling Earth, confounding climate models. While the amount of carbon dioxide emissions steadily increases in the atmosphere, the formation of warmer clouds appears to have a cooling effect that has been underestimated by widely used climate models.
- My new hero, Mathias Cormann, now valiant for truth and on the winning side. Now he is head of the OECD, new insight has come to Cormann in a blinding flash: market principles work to cut carbon.
The views and wishes expressed in this blog post are those of the author, and not necessarily of CCL Australia.