As New South Wales mops up after a days of destructive, once-in-a-lifetime ‘cyclonic’ storms, talk turns to climate change. While the jury is still out on whether this storm was climate-related, the threat to Australia’s coast from storms is clear: lost beaches and threatened houses along the coast demonstrate just how vulnerable parts of the heavily populated coastline are to sea level rise and storm surges. That Australia is on the front lines of climate change underscores the need for it to do its part in international efforts to reduce carbon emissions, and according to a new report from the Climate Change Authority that part needs to be a 30 per cent reduction by 2025. Another report this week from WWF notes that this can pushed to zero net emissions by 2050, at low cost and while achieving a transition to 100 per cent renewable energy. Such suggestions would help Australia transition away from its soon-to-be-stranded dirty underbelly industries, whose products have to stay in the ground, according to a new Climate Council report. However, such suggestions are likely to, and have already fallen on deaf ears in the Abbott government, which continues to source support for its “feelpinions” from business and places of convenience rather than from experts. This selectiveness is set to continue, with the Prime Minister’s office today admitting it pushed to have climate contrarian Bjorn Lomborg’s new think tank put into a position to advise it. While the Abbott government tries to hide behind manufactured doubt, the global community will be keeping a close eye, especially given the ‘direct action’ scheme blew its budget in its inaugural auction.
- RT @OxfamAustralia: The world is questioning Australia’s ambition on #climate action. Want answers too? Ask the PM http://t.co/0djHZ5kyhu
- Satire: Australians Recovering From Their Fifteenth ‘Once In A Lifetime’ Disaster (SBS)
- Cartoon: Heresy (David Pope)
- Wild weather in NSW this week has highlighted how vulnerable coastal communities and infrastructure is to rising sea levels and storm surges. While the remarkable once-in-a-lifetime weather event may not be directly attributable to climate change, if global emissions are allowed to grow unchecked and sea levels rise, a similar event may lead to severe threats to property and life along the coast.
- To reduce the likelihood of future extreme weather events, the world has to reduce emissions massively and quickly, and Australia’s contribution should be 30 per cent by 2025 according to the Climate Change Authority. The Government has rejected this despite its current targets being totally “inadequate”. Its ability to even meet this unacceptable target is being questioned given its attacks on renewable energy has seen investment in the sector plunge 90 per cent in 12 months, and its budget to pay polluters being blown in its first ‘Direct Action’ Auction.
- The Abbott Government needs to learn that climate change is too important for dogma. It is high time for it to stop sourcing factoids from non-experts for dodgy arguments, to stop funding climate contrarians and surrounding itself with denialists that tell it what it wants to hear, and to listen to real experts and respected science.
- Climate Change Authority calls for 30% emissions cut by 2025 (The Conversation)
- Climate Change Authority presents a compelling case for deeper Australian emissions cuts (SMH)
- Climate Change Authority targets too big a burden, says government (SMH)
- Report calls for emissions cuts, but plays down the opportunities (The Conversation)
- Climate Change Authority gives new emissions target, but ANU says we can cut more (fifth Estate)
- Unburnable carbon: why we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground (The Conversation)
- Fewer big storms expected for Sydney as climate warms (SMH – Oct 2014)
- Sydney weather: It’s not a cyclone but it sure felt like one (Sydney Morning Herald)
- Sydney storm erodes sandy beaches, giving a taste of the future (New Scientist)
- Bjorn Lomborg: Senior academic says Government approached UWA on $4m centre for ‘sceptical environmentalist’ (ABC)
- Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s office the origin for controversial Bjorn Lomborg centre decision (Sydney Morning Herald)
- Climate change too important for dogma (The Age)
- Fossil fuels to be stranded by economics, innovation and climate (RenewEconomy)
Tools and resources
- Explainer: The wild storms that lash Australia’s east coast (The Conversation)
- Report: Australia’s Future Emissions Targets (Climate Change Authority)
- Report: Australia can Cut Emissions Deeply and the Cost is Low (ANU/WWF)
- Report: Unburnable Carbon: why we need to leave fossil fuels in the ground (Climate Council)
- Rebuttal: Tim Flannery Did Not Say Australia’s Dams Would Never Fill Again (UTMW)
- Research: Climate detectives reveal handprint of human-caused climate change in Australia (UNSW)
- Analysis: Australia’s climate action: Inadequate (Climate Action Tracker)
- Map: If all the ice melted (National Geographic)
Images and video
- Video: Tim Flannery interview (ABC Lateline)
- Graphics: Country emission trajectories (CCA), What is our carbon budget (Climate Council)
- “By 2030, the European Union is offering to cut its emissions by 40%, Norway by 40%, Switzerland by 50% – each using their 1990 emissions as a baseline. As Australia’s 2030 target is calculated from a higher emissions baseline (2000), its level of ambition is reduced accordingly. Australia, despite present budgetary pressures, can afford to make this effort more easily than many of its economic partners, which are nevertheless opting for high targets.” University of Melbourne’s Peter Christoff.
- “Deep cuts to Australia’s emissions can be achieved, at a low cost. With our abundant renewable resources we are one of the best placed countries in the world for moving to a fully renewable electricity supply. Australia can achieve zero net emissions by harnessing energy efficiency, moving to a zero-carbon electricity system, switching from direct use of fossil fuels to decarbonised electricity, and improving industrial processes.” ANU Centre for Climate Economics and Policy, Frank Jotzo.
- “April is quite early in the coastal storm season and it is therefore likely that further storms will arrive over the coming months.Though there are still uncertainties about how these storms’ intensity might be affected by climate change, Australia could end up losing sandy beaches if the storms get stronger. What we may also see is that the sand moves so far offshore during these extreme events that it might not be able to come back onto the dry beach, like it has in the past. In other words, the sand would get ‘lost’ from the beach system.” University of New South Wales coastal erosion expert Mitchell Harley.
- “I say as far as that storm goes, it’s too early to say. But it’s important to look beyond that storm. I mean, people tend to forget that parts of NSW are still in record drought at the moment as we speak. And the long-term drying trend is now well entrenched. You know, rainfall in April overall compared with, say, 40 years ago or so is about 15 per cent down. Rainfall in May’s 25 per cent down. So there’s a long-term drying trend. That is being strongly influenced by climate change, by these warming conditions. It doesn’t mean we won’t see extreme storms every now and again. Whether those storms themselves are an effect or being influenced by climate change or to what extent, it’s too early to say, but we need to look at that bigger picture.” The Climate Council’s Tim Flannery on Lateline.
Related Tree Alerts
- Challenged on climate policy, Australian Govt hides behind contrarians
- Fighting the future will see Australia fail climate test, lose huge benefits of action
- Studies show: Australia the proverbial frog in the pot of climate change
- Coalition government attempts to silence NGOs with tax inquiry
- French banks join stampede away from Australian coal projects
- MT @JadenHarris95: Timely reminder aft #SydneyStorm were not doing enough: CCA recommend 40-60% cut by 2030 #Auspol http://t.co/DAN65MDohF
- MT @AussiePeteC: If #climate predictions correct what we’ve seen Sydney – Newcastle will happen more frequently & occ stronger #SydneyStorm
- RT @P_Hannam: #SydneyStorm: Of record waves, heavy rain and fierce winds – a statistical recap: http://t.co/PQis4H2dOl #climate
- RT @AndrewbradleyHC: But climate change is no biggie right? #Climate Change Authority #targets too big a burden, says #government – http://t.co/tHL2qm0C55