Australia caves in to global pressure, supports climate fund

Australia must realise time has changed and it has to abandon its recalcitrant stance on climate change especially when the world is moving away from dirty fossil fuels. Re-blogging:

Once again, Australia could not elude international pressure at the COP20 climate summit in Lima, Peru.  It finally pledged to contribute to the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

The government’s representative to the summit, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop,announced on Wednesday the country has committed it will give $200 million to the fund designed to help poorer nations to tackle climate change.

With Australia’s commitment, the GCF has already reached a threshold pledge of approximately $10.14 billion equivalent contributed by 24 countries. The UN’s CGF is raising $10 billion.

A dramatic turn around, Abbott has been notorious in his anti-climate change stance. A self-confessed climate skeptic, Australia became the first country in the world to have scrapped the carbon tax under his leadership. He did not show up in the UN climate summit in September and he we was also adamant not to include climate change in the G20 agenda which Brisbane hosted last month.

The meeting between US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jingping ahead of the Brisbane summit sealed a historic deal on carbon emissions cuts within the next decade by the two countries. Political observers said the deal is a game changer ushering in a new leadership to step up action on climate change. Abbott battled to ignore the subject throughout the G20 summit, but a communique to culminate the event pressed Abbott to back down. Majority prevailed.

President of COP20, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, speaks at the opening ceremony of the Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru, Monday, Dec. 1, 2014.

President of COP20, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, speaks at the opening ceremony of the Climate Change Conference in Lima, Peru, Monday, Dec. 1, 2014.

In Lima, participants from around 190 countries did it again. Developing countries and conservation groups said it is time for the Abbott camp to admit the urgency of the issue..

Canada,  Australia’s partner in climate denial, also recently pledged about $US250 million.

The money which Australia pledged, will be paid over four years. It will be sourced out from Australia’s aid program budget.

Australian Greens leader Christine Milne said the backflip was evidence of the intense international pressure Australia had been under to commit to the fund. She added there is no way Australia could have continued with its stand against global finance and be viewed as negotiating in good faith,

Blog Link here

‘Big 4′ banks under pressure to rule out funding of coal projects

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) has released a report calling on Australia’s “big four” banks to rule out involvement in financing controversial coal projects proposed for Queensland’s Galilee Basin near the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area.

The report called ‘The Equator Principles and financing of coal projects in the Galilee Basin‘ names Australia’s “big four” banks   – Australia-New Zealand Banking Corp (ANZ), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), National Australia Bank (NAB), and Westpac Banking Corp – as signatories to the Equator Principles (EPs) and calls on all four to rule out any involvement in the Galilee Basin projects.

The report is a result of research undertaken by ACF energy analyst Tristan Knowles which investigates how Australian banks should deal with financing coal projects in the area. The EPs are a voluntary framework the banks have signed up to guide them in the assessment and management of environmental and social risk in the projects they consider financing.

Anti-coal activists hang a huge banner in front of Commonwealth Bank's headquarters, calling on to follow international banks: rule out finance for new coal export terminals at Abbot Point in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.  (Photo: Market Forces)

Anti-coal activists hang a banner in front of Commonwealth Bank’s headquarters, calling on to follow international banks: rule out finance for new coal export terminals at Abbot Point in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. (Photo: Market Forces)

The EPs serve as a guide to the best practices and a “gold standard” in environmental and social risk management. ACF said the EPs are relevant to proposed coal projects in the Galilee Basin because mines and infrastructure require project finance and advisory services to proceed. More notably, the project value is well over US$10 million – the current threshold for coverage by the EPs.

ACF insists that coal projects in the Galilee Basin are a litmus test for the EPs stating, “If they’re truly a gold standard for environmental and social risk management, Australian banks should rule out further financing of these projects because they will result in serious damage to the environment… We hope this report focuses the debate about Galilee Basin Coal projects back on the banks’ commitments to be environmental leaders.”

Anti-fossil fuel protesters call on Australian four major banks to divest from financing coal projects during the Divestment Day rally. (Photo: Market Forces)

Anti-fossil fuel protesters call on Australian four major banks to divest from financing coal projects during the Divestment Day rally. (Photo: Market Forces)

Several foreign banks have already backed out from financing Adani Group’s coal port expansion, including US banking giants Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan Chase.

Prior to those banks’ rejection, the Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC and Barclays all ruled out funding the development of the Adani’s $16.5bn project

The report said the massive projects will destroy tens of thousands of hectares of land, consume huge amounts of water and potentially impact on the Great Artesian Basin, and result in significant greenhouse gas pollution.

The UN World Heritage Committee, which visited the site in 2013, also said coal projects will cause irreparable damage to the World Heritage Area and warned the Australian government to delist the site.

News blog link: The Green Journal @ Asian Correspondent

Pacific Ocean floor, the new mining ‘frontier’

Environmental defenders are waging another war in the Pacific– this time, against deep sea mining. As land-based resources continue to deplete amid growing demand for natural resources, private companies are relentless in their quest for minerals beyond the frontier.

Nautilus Minerals Inc. (Nautilus), with corporate office in Toronto Canada and project office in Brisbane, Australia, got a green light to drill the ocean floor in the territorial waters of Papua New Guinea to extract polymetallic seafloor sulphide deposits.

The company has also plans to extend its tenement holdings in the exclusive economic zones and territorial waters of Fiji, Tonga, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Zealand as well as other areas outside the Western Pacific.

A pioneering project, Nautilus went through rigorous negotiations with the PNG government, including settlement of  commercial dispute for equity participation. The company applied for Mining Lease (ML), along with the submission of development proposal, in 2008 and was granted in 2011. The Environmental Permit was also given in 2009 by the PNG’s Department of Environment and Conservation. The lease term covers 25 years until 2035 to exploit the seabed for the prospect of copper, gold and silver.

Nautilus deploys heavy machinery equipment to extract vast mineral deposits on the sea floor. (Photo: Nautilus)

Under the agreement, the State of PNG takes an initial 15 percent interest in the project with an option to take up to a further 15 percent interest within 12 months of the Agreement. PNG paid Nautilus a non-refundable deposit for its initial 15 percent interest of US$7,000,000.

Support from resource industry

The mining industry admits the challenges in the world market and thus supports this development. In Sydney, 13th Papua New Guinea Mining and Petroleum Investment Conference is being held for three days, Dec.1-3, to discuss prospects of mining.

SOLWARA-img1

The theme, “PNG Resources – Expanding Horizons”, articulates the optimism of the PNG oil and gas sector which has been facing challenging times in the world market.  Commodity prices are falling amid rising costs and falling productivity.

The conference highlights how the mining industry can address the changing conditions and significant progress which is being made in responding to the new environment.

Solwara 1 offers a bright prospect. “Development is well under way on the Solwara 1 deep sea mining project and several of PNG’s world class mineral prospects have made further substantial progress,” its conference website reads.

The conference also offers a wide range of prestigious sponsorship opportunities and the large trade exhibition which presents an exclusive opportunity to showcase the company to a very large audience.

Protest in Sydney

On Tuesday noon this week, human rights and environmental activists staged a PNG mining and pollution divestment protest on George Street in Sydney juxtaposing the conference being held at the Hilton Hotel. They said mining has been destroying communities and the environment since 1972.

Dan Jones, Melanesian Studies advocate said, “From Bougainville to Ok Tedi, to Porgera and Ramu Nickel in Madang, the extractive industry continues to cut corners purely to maximise profits causing massive environmental damage and social upheaval which continues to spark social uprising, ecocide and serious conflicts.”

"The Great Commission" arrives in PNG, an image being used by Nautilus in its deep sea mining gallery.

Nautilus is one of the speakers at the conference and organizers want the message to get across.

Natalie Lowrey, acting coordinator for Deep Sea Mining campaign said, “The Nautilus Environmental Impact Assessment is deeply flawed, neither the Precautionary Principle or Free Prior and Informed Consent has been adhered to despite growing opposition in PNG. This only further disenfranchises communities in PNG who have not yet made an informed decision on whether they want to be the guinea pigs of such a new industry.”

PNG locals are gathered to brief them of what is to  happen in their community. (Photo: Nautilus)

Protesters also decry Bank of South Pacific which provided Nautilus funding for Solwara 1. The bank is a sponsor and presenter at the conference. BSP is  criticised for allowing the project to progress after it stalled.

BSP, who considers itself the ‘greenest’ bank in the Pacific provided a loan of $120 million (2 percent of BSP’s total assets) to PNG for a 15 percent stake. Those finances are due to be released to Nautilus from an escrow account on Dec. 11.

The Deep Sea Mining campaign sent a joint letter with PNG-based NGO Bismarck Ramu Group to BSP asking if they have undertaken a full risk analysis on its loan to the PNG government that is allowing this project to advance. However, the groups had not received an answer.

Jones explained that most Papua New Guineans do  not see any benefit of mining, coal, and gas explorations to the community. They only see exploitation of their land and damage being done to their spiritual connection to land and sea. Jonas said culturally diverse subsistence agricultural communities rely on clean environments and waterways for survival. He added:

“Papua New Guineans want support for their own initiatives, like value adding to existing cocoa and coconut industries. There is an increasing demand for organic health food export markets utilising fair-trade virgin coconut and cocoa in recent years is an industry PNG is failing to tap into.”

“Development to Papua New Guineans is much more than an expedient cash cow benefiting foreign investors and local officials. Real development includes cultural development including environmentally custodial customs, responsibilities and spiritual connections to land and sea.”

Meanwhile, Mining Australia admitted that while deep sea mining generates enormous profits, the risks associated with it cannot be ignored. Potential consequences may include pollution, accidental spillage which may release toxic substance into the surrounding area, and a fear that could damage uncharted area of the sea — just to name a few.

News blog link: The Green Journal at Asian Correspondent

Climate change makes it to the G20 communique

Climate change finally made it to the G20 summit’s communique despite the reluctance of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott who insisted during the sessions that coal will power economic growth for the next decade.

PM Tony Abbott poses with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Barack Obama at the G20 Summit.

PM Tony Abbott poses with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Barack Obama at the G20 Summit.

After so much wrangling on climate change, Abbott had to bow to the pressure of G20 leaders who pledged commitment to reduce carbon emissions in order to avert impending catastrophe brought about by climate change.

G20 nations concluded the summit with a pledge to commit strong action on climate change and to encourage both developed and developing nations to do their share in cutting dirty carbon emissions.

Protesters occupied the streets in Brisbane to push Australia, the host country, to include climate change on the agenda. Several conservation groups around the nation had also pushed for a petition to include the subject in the G20 discussions.

US President Barack Obama vigorously put pressure on Abbott. Obama delivered a speech on the sidelines of the G20 summit on Saturday, stressing the need for all countries to take strong action on climate change. He also confirmed the $3bn US pledge to the UN Green Global Fund (GCF)

Prior to the summit, the US and China announced a historic deal on carbon emissions cut.

G20 plenary session (Photo:G20.org)

G20 plenary session (Photo:G20.org)

The landmark agreement, jointly announced in Beijing, includes new targets for carbon emissions cuts of 26 to 28 percent from the US by 2025, and a first-ever commitment by China to stop its emissions from growing by 2030. China will look to increase the non-fossil fuel share of all energy to around 20 per cent by 2030.

China and the US are the two biggest emitters of carbon, taking the first and second top spots, respectively, and the announcement was welcomed worldwide. Observers said the deal could set a momentum for other countries to agree on mandatory carbon emission cuts.

The two countries emit around 45 per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide, and the deal could be the key to ensuring that a global deal on reducing emissions after 2020 is reached in Paris next year.

Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh reacted to the agreement saying he was “excited” and  that Australia needs to keep in step with what was going on elsewhere in the world. “Obviously, they have a vision of what they can achieve over the next 10 years and it’s important that Australia play its part in this,” he told the ABC’s 7.30 program.

Meanwhile, Australia’s climate target is five per cent cut in carbon emissions by 2020 (compared to 1990 levels), or up to 25 per cent by 2020 if other legally binding cuts are agreed.

Pres. Barack Obama and PM Xi Jinping drink wine after striking a deal on carbon cuts. (Photo: AP)

Pres. Barack Obama and PM Xi Jinping drink wine after striking a deal on carbon cuts. (Photo: AP)

While the US earmarked $3bn to the GCF, Japan has announced plans to give up to $1.5 billion. France and Germany also pledged to contribute $1 billion each, according to reports.

Christiana Figueres, the head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), has called for an initial capitalisation of $10 billion by the end of the year.

The GCF will hold its High-Level Pledging Conference in Berlin, Germany on Nov. 20. The conference is open to all governments interested in making a financial contribution to the GCF. “It a great opportunity for countries to show leadership in tackling one of the greatest threats to humankind,” said Ms. Héla Cheikhrouhou, Executive Director of the Fund. “Each dollar invested in the Fund will trigger a multiplier effect across private and public investments in the developing world,” she further explained.

Obama reiterated the fund would help vulnerable communities with early warning systems, stronger defences against storm surges and climate-resilient infrastructure, while supporting farmers to plant more durable crops.

Abbott has not committed  any amount to the fund. “We are all going to approach this in our own way obviously,” Abbott said. “And there’s a range of funds which are there – and the fund in question is certainly one of them.”

Australian negotiators at the G20 summit have argued against including a call for contributions to the fund in the final communique.

In conclusion to the G20 summit, Abbott delivered a final speech seconded the pledge to support strong and effective action to address climate change consistent with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its agreed outcomes.

We will support sustainable development, economic growth, and certainty for business and investment. He also commit to work with G20 leaders to together  to adopt successfully a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the UNFCCC that is applicable to all parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris in 2015.

We encourage parties that are ready to communicate their intended nationally determined contributions well in advance of COP21 (by the first quarter of 2015 for those parties ready to do so). We reaffirm our support for mobilising finance for adaptation and mitigation, such as the Green Climate Fund.

G20 Leaders’ Communiqué, Climate Change item No. 19
Blog Link Asian Correspondent

G20 People’s Summit planned for Brisbane

An alternative G20 People’s Summit led by an indigenous people’s group will be held separately in Brisbane in response to the Coalition Government’s exclusion of climate change from the G20 Summit 2014 agenda. The three-day People’s Summit will take place on Nov. 12-14, ahead of the G20 leaders summit on Nov. 15-16.

While Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott will welcome delegations of the G20 for talks on global economic issues and cooperation, climate activists and  civic groups will take to the streets and other venues in Brisbane to highlight what is missing in the leaders’ summit agenda.

Trade Ministers from  the G20 member countries and invited guests, along with representatives of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, World Bank Group and World Trade Organization in Sydney,19 July 2014 (Photo: DFAT)

The Brisbane Community Action Network – G20 (BrisCAN–G20) was created to question the policies enshrined in the free market ideologies of the G20. BrisCAN-G20 wants “to reframe public G20 discourse around issues that impact people, communities and environment; issues that are not addressed or have been ridden roughshod over by the G20 to date.”

Abbott argued that G20 is an economic summit, not a climate summit. He stands by his word, ignoring his disappointed European counterparts and US President Barack Obama.

In September this year, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hosted the UN Climate Summit in New York, but Abbott did not show. Managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, later noted that climate change should be discussed during the G20 Summit in Brisbane, but Abbott said the G20 is meant to focus primarily on economic growth. He said other issues would only clutter the issue and distract from the summit’s focus. Obama’s international adviser, Caroline Atkinson, also expressed disappointment and was reported to have said, “the idea that Abbott is preventing a discussion on climate change is laughable.”

List of leaders attending the G20 Summit 2014.

Abbott will be meeting three UN Climate Summit absentees, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

In preparation for the leaders’ summit, Abbott has been reportedly making phone calls to leaders to rally support for the G20 agenda.

The NY summit concluded with a modest target. The EU suggested it would agree to bigger cuts to emissions, 40 per cent by 2030 on 1990 levels, although other countries aim to keep their existing goals.

Abbott is a self-confessed climate sceptic. He already scrapped the carbon tax, and the nation’s renewable energy target is under threat. For Abbott and the rest of his Coalition Government, policies on mitigating climate change can only put a “handbrake on the economy”. The carbon tax, he says, pressures businesses with extra costs, and thus any climate-related issues can significantly discourage production.

BrisCAN-G20 leades the alternative people's summit in time of the G20 Summit 2014 in Brisbane. (Photo: Supplied)

BrisCAN-G20 will stage Visioning Another World: The G20 Peoples Summit, a three-day festival packed with events. Programs include conversations, symposiums, creative activities, cultural performances, education, and peaceful demonstrations. It will take place in various locations in Brisbane, aiming to bring together local and international thinkers to collaborate on broad themes such as the economy, growth vs sustainability, environment, climate change, earth rights, dispossession decolonisation, and other issues of social justice. BrisCAN–G20 is concerned about social and economic disparities perpetuated by G20 and the systems it represents.

Various groups and NGOs will join the summit including the Friends of the Earth, OXFAM,  National Congress of Australia’s First People, International Trade Union Confederation, Australian Greens and Palm Island Community.

Church Communities call for stewardship

Church groups have also been pressing for environment to be included in the G20 summit.Eleven Brisbane ministers from five churches have formed alliance to call for the Abbott government to pay attention to one of the most pressing issues of the time.

Dean of St John’s Anglican Cathedral, Reverend Peter Catt. (Photo: Supplied)

The dean of St John’s Anglican Cathedral, Reverend Peter Catt, who also serves as the group’s spokesperson, said the government did not understand how the economy and the environment are deeply linked, and how the economy operates and how it depends on the environment. Dr Catt views the environment as the foundation of economic growth, prosperity, and “human flourishing”. Noting Christianity’s principle of stewardship, he said, “the Earth is a precious gift and that humans are called to act as stewards.” He added:

Climate change is a deep concern. The G20 leaders should be showing leadership and discussing it at the top of their agenda when they meet in our city.“It would be wonderful if a meeting held in our city led the way to sustainable life and a healthy economy.

The ministers call on the Australian Government, which has control of the agenda, to deal with climate change as a priority.

Blog Link

Abbott rallies leaders’ support on the phone

The G20 Summit 2014 will kick-off in Brisbane next week, Nov 15-16, to gather prominent leaders and players in the global economy. However, this summit, which will focus on economic growth, is sure to juxtapose not-so-pleasant scenes from the opponents of free market ideologies. The Brisbane local government is all set to deploy police force in various locations to ensure of peaceful demos. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been reported hitting the phone to rally leaders to support his G20 agenda–excluding climate change. Thanks to The Australian to have covered the phone calls. The Green Journal AU is re-blogging the article:

: David Crowe, Political Correspondent, Canberra

TONY Abbott is urging other G20 leaders to raise their ambitions for a summit in Brisbane next month to tackle the slowdown in world economic growth, using a series of phone calls with US President Barack Obama and others to set out an ambitious meeting agenda.

The Prime Minister spoke to Mr Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper yesterday and is due to speak to other G20 leaders in coming days to smooth the way for a reform pact that might one day add $2 trillion to the world economy.

His office said he spoke to Mr Obama for “around half an hour” yesterday on the terrorist threat in Iraq, the spread of Ebola and the G20 meeting. “The President thanked Australia for its efforts in Iraq and continued commitment to disrupting and degrading ISIL,” the Prime Minister’s office said in a statement.

“They agreed that the inter­national community needed to act swiftly to arrest the Ebola epidemic and the President thanked the Prime Minister for Australia’s contribution to date.”

Mr Abbott also spoke to Mr Harper yesterday to express Australia’s solidarity with Canada after a soldier was killed by a suspected jihadist in Quebec.

The conversations are part of a series of phone calls Mr Abbott is holding with his G20 counterparts to ensure a big economic agenda at the Brisbane summit, focused on a “Brisbane Action Plan” that commits to hundreds of reforms across the world’s 20 biggest economies.

Joe Hockey and his fellow G20 finance ministers have cleared the way for the agreement by proposing reforms that range from infrastructure investment to labour-market reform.

Italy has begun legislating new workplace laws that would make it easier for employers to hire and fire workers, for instance, while Germany is said to be preparing an infrastructure plan that could lift growth.

The International Monetary Fund and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development have examined the proposals and said they would add 1.8 per cent to world economic growth over the next five years if they were all implemented.

Mr Abbott is seeking further commitments to lift that figure to 2 per cent, the goal agreed by Mr Hockey and his counterparts at a meeting in Sydney in February.

Some doubts hang over the Brisbane summit on November 15 and 16, with the new Indonesian President Joko Widodo unsure about whether he will attend as he has yet to name his new ministry.

News Link: The Australian Got the link? Otherwise, you’ll come up with this:

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Mission to hunt toothfish poachers in Antarctic

Marine conservation group, the Sea Shepherd, is gearing up for another Southern Ocean expedition in time of Antarctic summer.

The group suspects the Japanese will not return to kill whales this hunting season, but if they do, they will drive them back to Japan. The International Court of Justice declared in March this year Japanese whaling in the area is illegal.

Sea Shepherd is launching the next mission called Operation Icefish to catch poachers of Patagonian and Antarctic Toothfish.

Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) is the most valuable fishery in Antarctic or subantarctic waters. (Photo: AFMA)

Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) is the most valuable fishery in Antarctic or subantarctic waters. (Photo: AFMA)

The group said toothfish poaching is another threat in the area that has had a devastating effect on icefish population. They warn illegal fishers they will seize nets and will work with authorities to confiscate illegal boats.

The Sea Shepherd ship, Sam Simon, arrived in Auckland’s harbour yesterday after a voyage from Melbourne. The ship, carrying 25 crew from around the globe, arrived in New Zealand to source supplies and to prepare for the upcoming operation.

Operation Icefish will be the first campaign of its kind, using innovative direct action tactics to fill a law enforcement void exploited by illegal toothfish operators.

The Bob Barker and the Sam Simon will leave Hobart and Wellington, respectively, to patrol the Antarctic.

Peter Hammarstedt, Captain of M/Y Bob Barker and Director of Ship Operations said in a statement illegal fishing operations will be documented, reported, and confronted. He added, “they will be physically obstructed from deploying their illegal gillnets and unlawful fishing gear will be confiscated and destroyed.”

Michael Lawry, Sea Shepherd New Zealand welcomed the Sea Shepherd ship. He said Sea Shepherd launched a pioneering work to patrol the seas in 2002 with one ship that left Auckland  to confront illegal whalers. On its 12 years of operation, thousands of whales were saved. Come down and welcome the ship and brave crew into our port,” he said

Patagonian Toothfish

Toothfish is served as a gourmet dish in upscale restaurants. (Photo: Gourmet Traveller)

Upscale restaurants serve toothfish gourmet (Photo: Gourmet Traveller)

An Australian Government report said there is a large-scale illegal toothfish fishing around Southern Ocean which was first  noticed in 1997. Surveillance and monitoring were then put in place. According to the report, there was a spike in catch up to three to four times higher than the allowable and legal catch of species in all areas. According to the Coalition of  Legal Toothfish Operators Inc,  illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing for toothfish “has been reduced by about 95% since peak levels in the 1990s.” At present, IUU fishing for this specie is restricted to the high seas and mostly, they are caught by gillnet.

Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) is the most valuable fishery in Antarctic or subantarctic waters. Prices could fetch up to $US10 per kilo for headed, gutted and tailed fish in major markets in Japan and the United States. Toothfish can grow to a large size (over 2 m long and 100 kg in weight). Its white flesh is considered to be of top quality with few bones. Tootfish is served as a gourmet dish in upscale restaurants around the world.

Blog Link: The Green Journal AU @ Asian Correspondent

Families, kids join People’s Climate March

Families and children were ubiquitous in Melbourne’s climate rally held on Sunday as part of the People’s Climate Mobilisation Australia.

Around 30,000 people gathered in Melbourne  while huge crowd also converged in other cities including Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart, and Canberra. Organised by GetUp! and 350.org, the rallies were held in conjunction with People’s Climate March organised in major cities worldwide–  a prelude to the UN Climate Summit which will  kick off on Sept 23.

Parents join the rally the fight for the future of their children. (Photo: R. Yoon/The Green Journal AU)

The rallies and the UN summit call for an agenda to cut carbon emissions and a shift to renewables.

In Melbourne, Professor Tim Flannery spoke before the crowd standing side by side with Greens Senator Christine Milne. Both thanked supporters and urged the Tony Abbott Government to save the Renewable Energy Target (RET). The RET pushes for 20 percent of Australia’s energy that comes from renewables. Prime Minister Abbott has already abolished the carbon tax in July to encourage businesses, including investment in the mining sector. The RET is now on the chopping board awaiting its fate.

Unlike most rallies, families with children stole the show in Melbourne. Children marched alongside their parents and little ones rode on prams. A banner flashed, “I am here for my kids!” while kids were also carrying a sign, “Use crayons not coal!”

Children join the climate march along Swanston St. in Melbourne. (Photo: R. Yoon/The Green Journal AU)

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The UN climate summit aims to galvanise a new international treaty to cut carbon emissions beyond 2020. The final stages of the agreement will be sealed at the Conference of Parties (COP) in Paris next year.

About 125 leaders are expected to attend, but Australia’s prime minister chose to snub the meeting. He will join Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, President Xi Jinping of China, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who will not show up in the event.

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop will represent Australia in lieu of Abbott at the climate conference.

See more photos at  The Green Journal AU Gallery

Gallery: People’s Climate Mobilisation Australia

Gallery

This gallery contains 51 photos.

Around 30,000 people, including families and their children join the People’s Climate Mobilisation March on Sunday in Melbourne. These are the photos. (Please do not copy or distribute otherwise contact the Green Journal AU for permission.)        

Lynas wins full mining licence despite protests

This is one of the latest developments on Lynas’ bid to get a full licence amid public outcry against its business operations in Malaysia. Re-blogging my post earlier this week:

Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon (left) and Natalie Lowry (right) flash an eviction notice for Lynas in Sydney. (Photo: Supplied)

Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon (left) and activist Natalie Lowrey (right) flash an eviction notice for Lynas in Sydney after she was released from detention. (Photo: Supplied)

Protesters against the Lynas Advanced Material Plant (LAMP) operating in Kuantan, Malaysia face bleak days ahead after the Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) granted the controversial plant a Full Operating State Licence (FOSL) after the Temporary Operating Licence (TOL) issued in 2012 expired Tuesday.

A full licence granted to rare earths mining company Lynas Corp Ltd. may be a big win for the industry, but for ordinary citizens battling for their health and safety it is a major setback.

Amin Abdullah, corporate communications manager of Lynas Malaysia SDN BHD, confirmed the board  granted the company a two-year full licence. Amin said in an email to Asian Correspondent: “We are pleased to inform that AELB has awarded us with the Full Operating Stage License (FOSL) yesterday.” He said this has been announced to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).

AELB Director-General Hamrah Mohd Ali said the FOSL as a proof Lynas has fully complied with the conditions set by AELB during its TOL operating stage. Lynas can apply for further renewal when the FOSL expires in two years.

Hamrah added that, “Lynas deserves a three-year FOSL but the board decided only to grant a two-year licence.” He said the board members have the right to decide on the period of the licence, and he was unable to provide the details of the decision-making process since he was not involved.

Activist groups including Stop Lynas, Save Malaysia and Stop Lynas! have been urging the company to reveal the location of its waste disposal facility. The permanent disposal facility (PDF) is one of the five conditions set in the licence applications. The groups have been fighting against toxic and radioactive wastes from the plant which they claim to be posing health threats to the local community. The location of waste disposal facility has been undisclosed up to this time.

However, Amin noted that during the two years of the TOL, Lynas fulfilled a list of conditions set by the regulators and was continuously being monitored by various regulatory bodies, including AELB and Department Of Energy in Kuantan. “We are pleased to inform that Lynas complies with all relevant National and International regulations & standards set by IAEA, AELB, DOE etc, “ he said.

LAMP’s upstream and downstream extraction sections. (Photo: Lynas)

Hamrah dismissed criticisms on Lynas’ undisclosed facilities, saying they were merely “interpretations”.

“The problem you raised that members of the public had said that the condition of the (temporary operating) licence had not been complied with, that was their interpretation. But we (act) based on facts, science and figures, we are not (acting) based on hearsay,” he stressed.

The AELB issued the two-year TOL to Lynas on Sept 3, 2012 with five conditions, including disclosure of the PDF of the radioactive waste.

The Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry later imposed two extra conditions over the licence, which required Lynas to come up with a method to immobilise the radioactive elements in its waste, as well as an emergency response plan on dust control.

Amin said Lynas has been operating in Gebeng Industrial Estate in Kuantan, Pahang since November 2012 after being granted a TOL which has fulfilled all the regulatory requirements set by the AELB and the Malaysian government.

“These regulatory requirements include the Environmental Impact Assessment as well as Radiological Impact Assessment that must be done first and concluded at the initial stage of the application  for the license. Public engagements were also done at the start of the application and it is an ongoing continuous activity until today,” he added.