World leaders now need to act on historic climate deal

PARIS, FRANCE - DECEMBER 12: Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Christiana Figueres (L 2), Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon (C), Foreign Affairs Minister and President-designate of COP21 Laurent Fabius (R 2), and France's President Francois Hollande (R) raise hands together after adoption of a historic global warming pact at the COP21 Climate Conference in Le Bourget, north of Paris, on December 12, 2015. (Photo by Arnaud BOUISSOU/COP21/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

PARIS, FRANCE – DECEMBER 12: Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Christiana Figueres (L 2), Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon (C), Foreign Affairs Minister and President-designate of COP21 Laurent Fabius (R 2), and France’s President Francois Hollande (R) raise hands together after adoption of a historic global warming pact at the COP21 Climate Conference in Le Bourget, north of Paris, on December 12, 2015. (Photo by Arnaud BOUISSOU/COP21/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

THE 12-day COP21 in Paris concluded with an agreement among 195 or so countries to limit global average temperature to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels in a bid to significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.

The agreement aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty. Limiting carbon emissions is expected to increase the ability of nations to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and to foster climate resilience. The agreement also encourages low greenhouse gas emissions development to prevent threats on food production.

The agreement will be implemented to reflect equity and the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances.

FULL TEXT HERE.

There have been positive reactions to the agreement:

Academic and climate experts from Australia and beyond have welcomed the agreement. “The signature achievement of the Paris Agreement is a much bolder temperature target than expected: a ceiling of 2℃ warming, plus the pursuit of the safer target of 1.5,” according to Robyn Eckersley, professor of Political Science, University of Melbourne.

“Twenty-three years after signing the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the nations of the world have at last decided to act on it. The Paris Agreement will mark a turning point in so many ways and represents a victory that would have seemed impossible even one or two years ago.” said Clive Hamilton, professor of public ethics, Centre For Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics, Charles Stuart University.

“2015 is set to be the hottest year ever recorded. Appropriately, the Paris Agreement contains the strongest temperature goal of any international climate deal so far. Its aims – to strengthen global action to hold warming well below 2℃ and encourage efforts to limit warming to 1.5℃ – frame and drive the Agreement’s ambition.” said Peter Christoff, associate professor, School of Geography, University of Melbourne.

However, the agreement did not come without shortcomings:

Prof Hamilton notes, “The decisive question now is how powerfully the Paris Agreement will signal to those outside national governments, including business, that the world has entered a new era. Because it is what they do over the next few years that will determine how deep the next round of emission cuts can be. All the indications are that Paris will send a very strong signal indeed.”

Katharine Hayhoe, associate professor and director of Climate Science Center, Texas Tech University said, “The Paris Agreement is not naïve: the majority of its 31 pages lays out the need for ongoing reporting, special IPCC reports, financing for the Green Climate Fund, even naming individual climate Champions, tasked with keeping the process moving. To succeed, it will need all the help it can get; but if it does, all of our work – in climate science, policy, impacts, law, communication, and many other fields – will have not been in vain. That’s worth fighting for.”

More details from The Conversation here.

Stephen Kretzmann, Oil Change International (OCI)executive director said the Paris climate talks highlighted the need to stop funding fossil fuels and to adhere to scientific warnings to keep coal in the ground. He said, “The clear hypocrisy of funding the industry that is destroying the climate cannot withstand scrutiny for much longer.”

Hannah McKinnon, OCI senior campaigner, admits the agreement does not offer a “silver bullet to change the world or save the climate” but rather – “it is the growing climate movement that is already making that happen. Everywhere you look, citizens, front line communities, Indigenous Peoples, business leaders, and politicians are standing up to Big Polluters and taking a clean, safe, and renewable energy future into their own hands.”

“It’s the people on the streets who provide the real hope for addressing the climate crisis. People fighting for climate justice around the world are the ones who will solve this problem and they’re already making headway day by day,” said David Turnbull, OCI campaigns director.

The 350.org Executive Director May Boeve and Co-founder Bill McKibben issued a press release following the latest text of the climate agreement in Paris.

McKibben said every government seems now to recognize that the fossil fuel era must end and soon. But the power of the fossil fuel industry is reflected in the text, which drags out the transition so far that endless climate damage will be done. Since pace is the crucial question now, activists must redouble our efforts to weaken that industry.

Boeve notes the agreement marks the end of fossil fuels era, and there is no way to meet the targets laid out in this agreement without keeping coal, oil and gas in the ground. The text should send a clear signal to fossil fuel investors: divest now.

“Our job now is to hold countries to their word and accelerate the transition to 100 percent renewable energy. Over ten thousand of us took to the streets of Paris today to demonstrate our commitment to keep up the fight for climate justice, while many more demonstrated around the world. Our message is simple: a livable climate is a red line we’re prepared to defend, ” Boeve said.

The organisation recognises the final text still has some serious gaps. Specifically, it excludes the rights of indigenous peoples. Finance for loss and damage is also lacking, and while the text recognizes the importance of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees C, the current commitments from countries still add up to well over 3 degrees of warming.

Despite the ban on climate marches following the Nov 13 terror attacks, people cannot be silence to press for climate action. (Photo: Indigenous People’s Network/Flickr)
Despite the ban on climate marches following the Nov 13 terror attacks, people cannot be silence to press for climate action. (Photo: Indigenous People’s Network/Flickr)

Members of the Indigenous Environmental Network are not convinced of the outcome of the 12-day talks. At the last day of the conference, they held the morning prayer circle and was moved down the street to the infamous Pont des Arts, also known across the world as the ‘Love Lock Bridge’ where they staged a direct action. Their collective message was clear – “People discuss ‘red lines’, we are the red line. We are the keepers of the land, protectors of animals, the seas, the air. We are the solution.”

Indigenous representatives from Indigenous nations of Circumpolar, Amazon, South Pacific and North America joined for an early morning sunrise ceremony prayer at the foot of the historic Notre Dame Cathedral, to close the climate negotiations.

Indigenous representatives from Indigenous nations of Circumpolar, Amazon, South Pacific and North America joined for an early morning sunrise ceremony prayer at the foot of the historic Notre Dame Cathedral, to close the climate negotiations.

Indigenous representatives from Indigenous nations of Circumpolar, Amazon, South Pacific and North America joined for an early morning sunrise ceremony prayer at the foot of the historic Notre Dame Cathedral, to close the climate negotiations.

Quoting Alberto Saldamando, human rights expert and attorney, they flashed in their website:

“The Paris accord is a trade agreement, nothing more. It promises to privatize, commodify and sell forested lands as carbon offsets in fraudulent schemes such as REDD+ projects. These offset schemes provide a financial laundering mechanism for developed countries to launder their carbon pollution on the backs of the global south. Case-in-point, the United States’ climate change plan includes 250 million megatons to be absorbed by oceans and forest offset markets. Essentially, those responsible for the climate crisis not only get to buy their way out of compliance but they also get to profit from it as well.”

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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
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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.

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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.)        

Australia’s climate policy in limbo, carbon tax is dead

Australia’s carbon tax has been repealed leaving the nation’s climate policy in a vacuum with no concrete alternative.

Australia’s Coalition Government has begun celebrating the repeal of carbon tax which was voted down in a Senate marathon on Thursday.  It is a landmark victory for Prime Minister Tony Abbott since he assumed office last year. From day one, he wanted to abolish clean energy legislations which the previous Labor Government had enacted.

The Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 [No. 2] was voted down last week, July 10, after  crossbench senators under the Palmer United Party (PUP) joined the opposition block. But Abbott was relentless over the weekend. He worked with PUP leader Clive Palmer to sort out a last minute amendment. 

PM Tony Abbott claps and celebrate Coalition’s victory to scrap carbon tax. (Photo: Supplied)

The repeal bill was defeated in both houses of the Parliament since Abbott introduced the proposed legislation.  Last week, the bill reached a double dissolution trigger, but Abbott was determined to quash the tax once and for all.

On Monday, the Senate resumed deliberations and in the final vote on Thursday, the senators from the PUP backflipped as expected.  They voted for the repeal, along with Motoring Enthusiast Senator Ricky Muir, Family First Senator Bob Day, Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm and Democratic Labour Party Senator John Madigan. Labor and the Greens voted against.

The jubilant prime minister reiterated the tax is a big obstacle to businesses and a hand brake to the national economy. “We are honouring our commitments to you and building a strong and prosperous economy for a safe and secure Australia,” he enthused. He said it would save the average family $550 a year and the first benefits would be seen in coming power bills although oppositions and observers said the savings is unclear and without consensus.

Australian Greens Senator Christine Milne defends carbon tax. (Photo: AAP)

While Abbott is celebrating, Greens Leader Christine Milne condemned the government and crossbench senators for “the legacy of their political career”. Milne declared the vote  a “failure” that would see Australia a “global pariah” and” backwater” going against the flow while other countries marched towards pricing carbon and stronger action on climate change. Labor senator Lisa Singh said with one vote, Australia had moved backwards and it “will today be a laughing stock to the rest of the world”.

Conservationists, grassroots to fight back

Grassroots declare Thrusday as the black day for the planet. They said Australia is the first country in the world to repeal a carbon tax, with no clear carbon emissions plan being put in place.

Greens and grassroots stormed Twitter to vent their anger over the carbon tax dumping.

GetUp is now galvanising a campaign that would be ”the largest open letter in Australia’s history”  condemning Australian government’s inaction on climate change.  The group has already gathered more than 73,600 signatures as of noon time on Thursday.

Rallies are already being scheduled on important dates when governments around the world meet to tackle climate change, including a United Nations meeting in New York this coming September, G20 summit in Brisbane in November, and Conference of Parties in Paris next year.

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) joins conservationists across the nation to express dismay over the dumping of carbon tax. In an email to supporters, the ACF said,

Today our government failed us. The senate just voted to repeal our working price on carbon pollution. You, with Australia’s leading scientists, economists, health experts, firefighters and ambulance workers fought loud and clear to keep our climate safe. But the senate didn’t listen to us. Instead they chose to listen to big polluters and abolish our carbon price.

Now is the time to show Australia that while the government voted against climate action, we won’t give up. In Bono’s words “The power of the people is greater than the people in power”.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific also expressed disappointment on the government for making Australia the first country in the world to abolish a price on carbon. It told supporters that as the rest of the world moves to tackle climate change, “the Australian government is doing everything it can to remain wedded to fossil fuels.” It urged Australians, “to come together and take action to secure a cleaner, healthier safer future.”

 

Blog Link: Asian Correspondent

 

Gore praises Obama ahead of climate leaders training in Australia

Former US Vice President Al Gore is scheduled to visit Australia this month to lead a climate leadership training drive, shortly after US President Barack Obama’s historic announcement early this week directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to initiate massive cuts on dirty carbon emissions.

Climate Reality Project Chairman and former US Vice President Al Gore (Photo: CRP)

The 25th Climate Reality Leadership Corps training program will kick off on June 25-27 in Melbourne in partnership with Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) to teach participants about the science of climate change and how to communicate its effects.

US President Barack Obama announces historic cuts in carbon emissions (Photo: AP)

Gore’s leadership training  will mark another important event following initiatives of various NGOs towards decarbonising Australia. Last month, US economist Jeffrey Sachs led the launch of a low carbon economy initiative.

Gore, the Climate Reality Project chairman, praised  Obama’s announcement to cut the nation’s dirty carbon emissions from the power sector by 30 percent nationwide below 2005 levels by 2030. This is equal to the emissions from powering more than half the homes in the United States for one year. The former VP said the clean energy initiative is the most crucial step towards combating the climate crisis.

We simply cannot continue to use the atmosphere as an open sewer for dirty and dangerous global warming pollution that endangers our health and makes storms, floods, mudslides and droughts much more dangerous and threatening – not only in the future, but here and now.

Gore reiterated that actions are taking place worldwide to address climate change but remained wary about special interest groups that continue to deny and spread misleading information to muddle and obfuscate the issue. He said denial of the linkage between carbon emissions and climate change is like denial of the link between tobacco and lung cancer. He warned that further inaction would be extremely dangerous and destructive for America and the rest of the world. He added that there are now technologies that can offer alternative sources of clean, efficient, and competitive renewable energy.

He backs Obama for facing challenges through a series of critical actions and empowering the EPA to enforce limits on CO2 emissions for new power plants and accelerating the shift to  renewable energy.  He said America has taken another historic step in leading the world towards a green and sustainable economy.

Not all businesses are happy

Smoke billow from coal-fired power plants (Photo: AP)

Not all businesses are happy and merchants of doubt are expected to block climate initiatives. Christopher Helman of Forbes notes the “casualties” of the plan: “Coal miners and owners of coal-fired power plants. Don’t expect their shares to sell off on today’s rule revelation though — EPA has been telegraphing its plans for months, so the bad news is baked in.”

…..it is clear to analysts that coal will bear the brunt of this anti-carbon crusade, while natural gas will be the big winner. Coal-fired power plants are responsible for about 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions in America. Per megawatt-hour, coal plants emit about 1 metric ton of carbon dioxide. Compare that to natural gas turbines, which emit just .4 metric tons per mWh.

The EPA reportedly estimates that investments needed to meet the emission limits will cost about $8 billion a year, but would save 6,600 lives and more than $50 billion a year in health care costs tied to air pollution.

While the announcement is widely praised, not everybody is positive. Bloomberg reported how the US zero emission would only be defeated by the rising emissions of China, India, and Indonesia, for example.

Burning fossil fuels in the U.S. released 5.3 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2012. China emitted 9.0 billion tons and by 2020 is forecast by the U.S. Energy Department to reach 11.5 billion metric tons, while the U.S. stays flat. India, Indonesia and other developing nations are expected to grow, as well.

Were U.S. emissions cut to zero, “global emissions would continue to increase,” Robert Stavins, director of Harvard University’s Environmental Economics Program, said in an e-mail. “So, the direct impacts of the new power plant rules on atmospheric greenhouse-gas concentrations will be small.”

Optimism in the Pacific

Solar panels station on Port Augusta, Victoria (Photo: Supplied)

Scientists in the Pacific welcome Obama’s clean energy plan. Radio Australia interviewed Dr. Padma Lal,  an independent researcher on Climate Risk in the Pacific, who applauds the announcement and said it is urgent to take action to make the plan a reality.

She noted other countries – the major polluters – have already started taking action to reduce their carbon emissions, such as China, India, Brazil.

…..we would like to see other countries such as Australia and European nations to follow suit. Perhaps it’s a bit too early to say that this is actually going to happen, it’ll be interesting to see in tangible terms what actions are taken by the American state. From the Pacific point of view it really is urgent that they do take such measures…

Gore leads climate training in Australia

The former US VP will lead the leadership training in Australia, alongside world-class climate scientists, political strategists, communication experts, community organisers and activists. He said:

We have taken these trainings around the world, and in every community committed leaders are standing up to take action on the climate crisis. Our goal is to provide them with the best possible tools to become even more effective leaders in their schools, businesses, houses of worship, and local and national governments.

The intensive program is expected to formally train a new group of Climate Reality Leaders, who can become change agents in their own communities. They will emerge from the program as “energised and skilled communicators” with the knowledge, tools and drive to educate diverse communities on the costs of carbon pollution and what can be done to solve the climate crisis.

Australia leads the world’s highest per capita carbon emissions (Image: Supplied/ Carbonworks)

ACF CEO Kelly O’Shanassy said that is the absence of government support to educate and train leaders on the urgency of climate change, her organization welcomes Gore’s project to Australia.

Australia is on the front line when it comes to climate change impacts, yet our national government is unravelling hard-won progress to price pollution and boost renewable energy. In the absence of government leadership on climate change, the people need to lead the way.

 

 

Blog Link: The Green Journal/ Asian Correspondent

US economist launches low carbon mission in Australia

While the global community is stepping up plans and actions to respond to climate change, Australia is responding otherwise. Under the current political leadership, Australia’s attitude towards global cooperation has been recalcitrant.

The Tony Abbott’s budget cuts on environment , along with the anti-climate change initiatives, remain a controversial issue triggering non-stop protests and rallies nationwide. But in the midst of chaos, the budget welcomes the re-known economist and professor, Jeffrey Sachs, who arrived in Australia  to launch a clean energy initiative.

Professor Jeffrey Sachs leads the launching of low carbon project in Melbourne (Photo: Rowena Dela Rosa Yoon)

“This is not a great budget, but a great debate,” Professor Sachs quipped.

Noting the crucial role of Australia in preventing a tipping point of the planet, Sachs led the launching of ‘How Australia can Thrive in a Carbon World, Pathways to Prosperity in 2050’ in Melbourne on May 21. The launch was sponsored by Monash Sustainability Institute and The Myer Foundation.

Obviously disappointed and not amused with the budget, Sachs said Australia has a critical role in leading the world towards a low carbon and yet still a prosperous global economy. For one thing, Australia’s per capita emissions are amongst the highest in the world driven by agriculture, industry and coal-based electricity.

He said decarbonisation has been underway,  including Australia’s trading partners with a goal of economic prosperity – yet with improved air quality, energy security and improved standards of living. The project underlies a tough challenge for Australia’s competitiveness driven by emissions from the country’s key exports, including coal, gas, oil and beef. The Monash University team, however, underscores that Australian economy is resilient and diverse, besides the largest industry which occupies 52 percent of the  GDP is the service sector. The carbon emissions sector such as mining, manufacturing, agriculture and forestry share lesser portion to the GDP.

The mission of the project is to map up viable pathways to reduce dangerous carbon emissions. Pathways may include increasing energy efficiency, shift to low carbon resources, and non-energy abatement and sequestration. Sachs said there has been a lot of talks going on and what the global community needs to see is a showcase of a pathway that is viable and achievable. The working paper outlines:

This means that each country will gain insights such as what China is predicting in terms of renewable energy growth, what Europe and the US are assuming with regards to take up of energy efficiency, and what India’s demand for coal may be.

Decarbonization is coordinated globally but driven locally with the participation of 13 countries which collectively represent more than 75 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The project is being coordinated by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) – which is an international network of universities and research institutions. Countries participating include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea and the United States. 

SDSN appointed ClimateWorks Australia and the Australian National University to jointly lead Australia’s involvement, with modelling by CSIRO and the Centre of Policy Studies at Victoria University. After the launch, the project expects each of the participating countries to prepare summaries of example pathways modelled and demonstration of the technological solutions for deep decarbonisation. The summaries will be included in a SDSN ‘Phase 1’ report to be released in July 2014. It will be presented to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in preparation for the UN General Assembly meeting and Climate Change Summit in New York City this coming September. Australia’s story will be presented to a global audience.  

Q & A during the launch. Professor Jeff Sachs is seated second from the right. (Photo: Rowena Dela Rosa Yoon)

Q & A during the launch. Professor Jeff Sachs is seated second from the right. (Photo: Rowena Dela Rosa Yoon)

Professor Sachs is known for his work on poverty eradication, including his bestselling books – Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet and The End of Poverty. He is the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and a special adviser to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.