Posts tagged ‘climate change’

CAM February 2014 news

Welcome to the February 2014 edition of the Climate Action Moreland Newsletter.

CAM-banner-brunswickTHA lot has been happening for climate activists since the Abbott Government came to power in September 2013. We urgently need to get climate change back on the political agenda, and build public support for Australia to take strong action on climate change.

Now more that ever, we need all concerned residents to work together to build this support. Climate Action Moreland (CAM) has several events organised. We hope you can join us.

CAM Planning Session: How should Climate Action Moreland work in 2014 to address the climate change emergency?

Monday Feb 17, 2014, 6.30 – 8.30 pm.
Join CAM to review 2013 and consider how we can best work in 2014. The Edy Castle offers generous dining options before 6 pm.

Venue: The Dining Room, Edinburgh Castle Hotel, 681 Sydney Rd (crn Albion), Brunswick

More information: Mark 0432 030 211 SallyRose 0431 445 930

Sydney Rd Street Party: Sunday March 2, 2014, 12 noon to 6pm

CAM is having a stall. Come and join us to help spread the word about climate change. Our stall will be south of Glenlyon Road on the east side. If you can help out for an hour or so, please let us know. Contact SallyRose 0431 445 930 or Michael 0400 054 134

Consultation with Moreland City Council on Community Climate Action Plan: Wed 12 March 2014, 6.30-8.00pm

Moreland City Council is developing a plan to map out Moreland’s strategy for climate action to transition towards zero net greenhouse gas emissions across the community by 2020. This consultation gives CAM members an opportunity to share their ideas with the Council.

Venue TBA. Please contact Mark 0432 030 211 or SallyRose 0431 445 930 or check out our Facebook page.

You can also do the Moreland Council’s survey on climate action before Feb 28.

There are many more activities for climate activists

Sustainable Living Festival: Big Weekend, February 14-16, 2014

Federation Square. There will be lots of stalls and talks related to climate change. For more info see SLF website

Moreland Community against the East-West Tunnel (MCAT): Rally on Sunday March 30, 2014 from 1pm.

Corner of Wilson St and Sydney Rd Brunswick (opp Barkly Sq)

CAM is working with a range of other community members to campaign against the proposed East-West Link and in support of better public transport. Moreland City Council is also supporting this campaign. 

Fast, frequent and accessible public transport – powered with renewable energy, of course – is a vital part of addressing climate change. The anti-tunnel campaign has galvanised much of Melbourne. This is a great opportunity for climate activists to promote public transport as a local climate solution. MCAT meet on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month at 6:30pm at Temple Park Senior Citizens Centre, Hodgson St, Brunswick, and are running community stalls around Moreland to collect signatures and build support. For more info see the MCAT facebook page or contact Sue on 0413 377 978, Michael 0417 354 169,or Riki 0400 877 819

March in March Melbourne, Sunday March 16, 2014 from 12 noon

Starting at State Library of Victoria

The March in March is planned as a peaceful, non-partisan citizen’s march to protest against the current government’s policy decisions that are against the common good of our nation. People will be marching in support of a range of issues. The federal government is axing a range of climate change policies. This is a great opportunity for climate activists to spread the word: we need to build public support for strong climate action!

For more info see the March in March facebook page


Meeting of Grassroots Climate Campaigners

Climate campaigners including members of CAM met on February 2 to discuss building collaboration among climate groups and related campaigns. 47 people braved Melbourne’s searing heat to attend. Next two meetings are scheduled for Sunday 2 March 1-5pm and Sunday 6 April 1-5pm. For more information contact Jane at

Fossil Free Campaign – Divest from fossil fuels

Earth Relay for Climate Action - Brunswick
Go Fossil Free Australia is part of a global campaign aimed at moving public institutions’ and individuals’ money out of fossil fuels and into clean energy. The campaign is targeting super funds, banks, educational and religious institutions and government. It is asking institutions and individuals to ensure that they do not put their money in banks and other financial institutions that invest in fossil fuels. Have you suggestions about local institutions that can be encouraged to divest from fossil fuel? For more info go to their website or contact Michael on 0400 054 134.

Addressing climate change impacts in Moreland

It is clear that the climate is already changing, and Australia is getting hotter. Even if we stopped emitting carbon now, we are likely to experience increased warming. The recent heat waves gave us a taste of what future summers may be like.

Local government can play a strong role in protecting people from some of the immediate impacts of climate change. Some ideas are providing respite centres during heat waves, and reducing the urban heat island effect. Suburbs that have lots of paved areas and little vegetation can be several degrees hotter than suburbs with lots of trees.

CAM would like to collect ideas on what Moreland City Council can do to protect local residents from some of the impacts of climate change. We will be starting this discussion on the Climate Action Moreland website. Please join us and send your ideas. Or Click here to send us your ideas in an email

Breaking News:

Following the recent heat wave, CAM members approached a Moreland Councillor about the Council providing relief centres for vulnerable people during heat waves. As a result, the Council passed a motion to investigate use of local buildings to be used as heat refuges next summer. For more details, see our Facebookpage.

Keep in touch with CAM

Keep in touch at or climateactionmoreland at or Find us on facebook at Follow us on Twitter at @camoreland. Or call SallyRose at 0431 445 930
Earth Relay for Climate Action - Brunswick

February 13, 2014 at 7:36 pm Leave a comment

Wills MP Kelvin Thomson speaks strongly against carbon price repeal

Kelvin Thomson pictured with Climate Guardians outside Parliament House, Canberra

Kelvin Thomson pictured with Climate Guardians outside Parliament House, Canberra

Wills Federal MP Kelvin Thomson spoke out strongly against the Coalition’s Carbon Price Repeal Bills on Monday 18 November 2013, while the Federal Government lead by Prime Minister Tony Abbott was trashing Australia’s international reputation at CHOGM and at United Nations Climate talks in Warsaw.

Thomson was elected by citizens of Wills with a strong mandate on carbon pricing and to take strong action on climate change. Watch his speech in parliament below:

Since the election Kelvin Thomson has published two climate change related statements. The first, on the debate within the ALP on whether to fight against the repeal of the Carbon Price (September 19, 2013) and associated clean energy package.

The second statement, Wild Weather But Climate Action Grinds to a Halt (October 18, 2013) was input into the discussion around extreme weather and climate change raised by Adam Bandt’s tweet in relation to the unusually early and intense Sydney Bushfires in the Blue Mountains in October.

I had the priviledge of interviewing Kelvin Thomson at his electorate office in Coburg prior to the September 7 election as part of my citizen journalism coverage of the seat of Wills. Find below the verbatim transcript of the part of my interview dealing with climate change and related questions.

John Englart: You are obviously very concerned about climate change, so I have a couple of questions about that. So you actually do personal things? You have a solar hot water system? solar panels?

Kelvin Thomson: I had all the solar panels and all that stuff installed in my house, and then I moved house towards the end of last year. I’ve got to retrieve that…I have got plenty of rainwater tanks installed in the new house, I’m going well on that front, but there are a couple of things I have to put in place. Lack of time as much as anything proves to be a barrier but I do belive in those things. I do believe that solar panels are environmentally the right thing to do and are good for households over time. I am a strong supporter of that, and I’ve managed to get away without things like clothes dryers, dishwashers for most of my adult life and I think that we do have an individual responsibility to try to reduce or to contain and manage our carbon emissions. It is no good telling the rest of the world to cut your carbon emissions when we are not doing that ourselves.

John: China and the US have indicated this year that they are increasing their actions to limit their emissions. Do you think Australia should be considering lifting our targets from 5% on 2000 levels by 2020. I think there was a leaked report of the Climate Change Authority was considering lifting the target to 15 per cent.

Kelvin Thomson: We have said that we will look at more ambitious targets, subject to what other countries are doing and that will have to be an ongoing consideration. I think at the moment the key thing is that we do get our emissions trending down because the regrettable realty is we’ve been talking about action on climate change for a very long time. But each year those emissions have been going up. That is the thing that has to change. We have got to get the emissions coming down and once we get the trajectory coming down it seems to me yes we can do better.

I have advocated ambitious climate change targets. I advocated an 80 percent reduction target in a report prepared by the Parliamentary Treaties committee which I chaired.

John: By 2050?

Kelvin Thomson: …No…. I need to go and check this John. 60 per cent by 2050 and I think the treaties committee was 80 per cent by 2050. It’s either 2050 or 2060? But the idea of having an ambitious climate change target I think is important. We are moving towards renewable energy at 20 per cent by 2020 target. That is proving to be very useful in my view. It is something that is driving a lot of the solar panels and wind turbines, geothermal projects and so on. And that is another reason I believe the Government is entitled to be re-elected, because if you get the Liberal Party in they will be working away undermining the renewable energy target.

John: Like the State Government with wind farm laws?

Kelvin Thomson: Exactly. The state government position on wind farms is outrageous. To give anybody a power of veto on any windfarm that they live within 2 kilometres of. You try matching that against residents in this area having a 2 kilometre veto over something like the East-West tunnel or the Brunswick terminal station upgrade or something like that. It is farcical and fanciful that the state government should endeavour to ringbark wind energy in the way that they have done.

But the 20 per cent by 2020 target is a good strong target and people in the renewable energy industry say to me that it has given them a lot of confidence to invest and to put serious money into renewable energy.

John: We have touched upon the refugee issue but with climate change, there is a World Bank report out recently that a lot of South East Asia, South Asia are going to be affected by rising sea levels. It is likely there are going to be movements of people. We are seeing some boat people now, but I think that in 20 to 30 years time it could be a lot more people, because there is going to be a lot of flooding of low lying areas.

Kelvin Thomson: It is a point I have mentioned myself in speeches gone by, John. It is one thing to think about a place like Tuvalu or Kiribas which maybe has 10,000 people, but that is one order of magnitude, but in Bangladesh my recollection is that 100 million people living in low lying areas, that is potentially subject to inundation. You cannot imagine Australia, you cannot imagine any other country in the world being able to deal with what can be termed climate refugees like that!

It seems to me that we have to… it is one of many reasons why we have to be serious in our response to climate change and be determined to reduce the level of carbon emissions in the world and have serious climate change targets. Otherwise, there is the risk of quite catastrophic outcomes. Tens of millions of people finding their homes uninhabitable, that is a catastrophic outcome.

John: I think our aid budget the Labor Party is aiming to get it up to 0.7 per cent of GDP? It is still not there yet. Do you think it needs to be raised?

Kelvin Thomson: We are quite some way from 0.7. The Labor Party has committed to get to 0.5 per cent by 2017/18. It is presently at 0.37 per cent. It is a $5.7 billion budget, and this year it is gong up by $500 million, and it will go up by $500 million basically each year to get it to the 2017-18 target.

We would all like to see the aid budget increased and I think the 0.7 target, the United Nations target is the right target, it is an appropriate target. But obviously we are in tight fiscal times and you can’t just do these things in the way you would like to. Australia increasing our budget by $500 million on a $5 billion budget is inceasing by 10 per cent, and it’s worth being aware the other OECD countries are on average reducing their budget by 4 per cent. So we are goung up by 10 and others have gone down 4, and I know that in the United Nations Australia is held in high regard in that we are increasing our budget and others are not.

I have had the good fortune to spend time at the UN and experience the goodwill that exists towards Australia and one of the things that drives that good will is that we are upping our aid effort.

Kelvin Thomson provided thorough answers (PDF) to questions on climnate change put to all candidates by Climate Action Moreland before the Federal Election.

During the election campaign three public forums were held and climate change was raised as an issue at all three. The first public forum was organised by Climate Action Moreland focussed on climate change. The second was on food security and agriculture at Coburg Farmers Market. The third forum was organised by Brunswick Uniting Church.

Three very different forums in which Thomson spoke strongly on the Labor Government’s carbon pricing and clean energy package. The Liberal candidate was absent from all three forums. The Greens candidate, Tim Read actually outpolled the Liberals after preferences making the Wills two party preferred vote between the ALP and Greens, a very select group of Federal electorates.

As has been shown this past week, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has trashed our international reputation by rejecting the Commonwealth climate change risk fund at the CHOGM meeting in Sri Lanka.

Our reputation for constructive contributions to international negotiations at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is also in tatters.

Australia has won not one, but four Fossil of the Day awards, which are conferred each day by civil society NGOs at the climate negotiations.

The first rebuke came for Australia not putting forward any new finance commitments at the Warsaw negotiations. The second and third awards were for repeal of carbon pricing and abandoning neighbors on loss and damage.

The fourth award was given for a statement that obligations for new, predictable and reliable finance from developed countries are “not realistic” and “not acceptable.” This statement undermines one of the cornerstones of the UNFCCC: That developed countries due to their historic emissions have an obligation and commitment to provide funding for developing countries for climate mitigation and adaptation.

As Australian civil society observer Mim DiNapoli wrote from COP19 climate talks in Warsaw, “This isn’t just bad press. The refusal to step up to the plate will be remembered by countries around the world. Our absence of leadership, coupled with our unwillingness to listen to the struggles of the outside world, will continue to create holes in the fabric of progress in halting climate change.”

John Englart
Climate Action Moreland member

November 20, 2013 at 8:32 am 2 comments

Join the National Day of Climate Action 17 November

Update: Well done to everyone that attended the 30,000 strong rally (Estimated by the Age reporter) in Melbourne, indeed the 60,000+ people around Australia. CAM member John Englart wrote up a report of the rally for his climate blog, which also provides a wonderful summary of events around Australia. Also see the Getup media summary page.

Come and join the members of Climate Action Moreland and thousands of others at the National Day of Climate Action at 11am Sunday 17 November, Treasury Gardens Melbourne.

Come along to stand in solidarity with Yeb Sano, the Filipino lead climate negotiator at the UN climate Conference in Warsaw, presently on hunger strike in solidarity with the people of the Philippines suffering the devastation of Super Typhoon Haiyan, clearly linked to climate change.

Or stand in support of the people of the pacific island nations under threat from rising seas. Or the residents of the Blue Mountains who so recently faced raging bushfires so unusually early in the season.

It has been the hottest summer on record, the hottest September and October on record, the hottest 12 month period on record according to the Climate Council latest report on Off the Charts: Record breaking October heat & climate change


Today the Abbott Government introduced the legislation to repeal all the work of the previous Labor Government, not only on carbon pricing but also the positive legislation on clean renewable energy.

Our Federal MP for Wills, Kelvin Thomson, stood today with the Climate Guardian Angels in Canberra in opposition to the repeal of the carbon price.


Many nations, including the USA and China, are ramping up action to reduce carbon emissions through carbon taxes, emission trading schemes and even regulatory action. The Federal Government is intent on winding back the small degree of positive action we have in place.

The Climate Change Authority recommended in a draft report recently that our small emissions reduction target of 5 per cent of 2000 levels by 2020 should be lifted to 15 to 25 per cent of 2000 levels by 2020 due to increasing action by a range of other nations and trading partners. Scientists have told us since at least the Bali roadmap in 2007 we should be reducing emissions by 25 to 40 percent on 1990 levels by 2020. Read the Climate Council summary of this draft report.

But the Abbott Government, despite numerous assurances while in opposition of it’s support for the target range commitment of 5 to 25 per cent target by 2020 based upon comparable action by other nations, have now even dropped that pretense of bipartisan support.

All we get now is $3.2 billion as budgeted for emission reduction, mostly to be spent via a reverse auction, with no guarantee we will even achieve the 5 per cent base emissions reduction target. Tom Arup in the Sydney Morning Herald sums up: Tony Abbott stifling Australia’s climate change ambitions

This is a major reversal to ongoing commitments he gave as opposition leader, according to the Climate Institute, who have put together a comprehensive list of assurances (PDF), all now broken.

Already Australia has earned a dubious Fossil of the Day Award at the Warsaw Climate talks, conferred by civil society organisations

The Abbott Government decided not to have ministerial representation at the United Nations climate negotiations in Warsaw. Australia often plays a pivotal role in these negotiations as part of the Umbrella group, and often has a diplomatic importance above our economic status as a middle level power.

“If you are not at the table, you are probably on the menu,” said Erwin Jackson of The Climate Institute. Australia Won’t be missed from these negotiations, which is a missed opportunity and will result in lowering our influence diplomatically on a global level, not only on climate but also on other issues.

John Howard has now stated that the only reason he supported an Emissions Trading Scheme going into the 2007 Federal Election was political expediency in neutralising the issue.

So what we need to do is make repeal of the Australian carbon price an expensive political proposition that will cost Tony Abbott dearly at the next election if not earlier. Malcolm Turnbull is still waiting in the wings and knows Tony Abbott’s climate policy is ‘bullshit’, if anyone had any doubts.


See you on Sunday and hope you can get involved in the grassroots climate action movement.

John Englart
Climate Action Moreland member

November 13, 2013 at 6:36 pm Leave a comment

Newsletter: Climate Change – Bush fires – Emission Targets

Climate Change – Bush fires – Emission Targets have all been in the news but all for the wrong reasons.

It’s time we take action, work together and turn things around.

I was in the South pacific recently and saw first-hand the impact of global warming, evidence of seas rising – erosion of islands, root crops such as Taro harder to grow due to the rise of salinity in the soil…

In Australia we talk about reducing emission, in the South Pacific they are talking about how to survive..

I have returned with fire in my belly to do something that will make a difference. On my own I feel overwhelmed but I believe together as a community we could make a real difference… so I invite you to become involved in Climate Action Moreland, meet like-minded people and put your ideas into action…

To start off there are a few things already organised: Dates for the diary …


A report commissioned by WWF Australia released on 28 October 2013 warned that Australia has nearly blown its carbon budget already. On 30th October the Climate Change Authority released it’s draft report which recommended Australia strengthen its minimum 2020 target and identified two options for further consideration: a 15% cut by 2020, followed by 35-50% cuts by 2030; or a 25% cut by 2020, followed by 40-50% cuts by 2030. Read the Climate Institute statement on this report.

Next CAM Meeting: Monday 11th November

Monday 11th November – the monthly CAM meeting at the at the Edinburgh Castle Hotel 681 Sydney Rd Brunswick VIC 3056
6 for dinner (not mandatory )and networking with the meeting starting 6.30 pm. We meet in the meeting room just ask for CAM at the bar.

Things that have been raised to discuss:

  • How to improve the communication amongst members
  • Actions what do we want to focus on ?
  • Updates of Moreland Community Forum relating to the East west Tunnel project
  • Environment Victoria and Tax the Sun petitions – street stall ?
  • Protest Meeting No East West Tunnel Expand public transport
  • Divestment

East West Tunnel Meeting: Tuesday 12th November

Tuesday 12th November – City of Moreland Public Information Meeting on the East West Tunnel.
Estonian Club, 43 Melville Road, Brunswick West.
Time still to be confirmed –

National Climate Rally Day: Sunday 17th November

Sunday 17th November 11:00 am – Treasury Place Melbourne 3000

Climate Rally – Australians want a Stronger Action On Climate Change.

WEAR HOT SUMMER COLOURS. Think red, orange, yellow – shirts, clothes, signs, banners, facepaint, hats, umbrellas and any other creative ideas. Together we will turn up the heat on climate action! Also bring water, hat and sunscreen. See Getup for other locations around Australia, or the AYCC website.

Look out for the Climate Action Moreland Banner


Protest Meeting No East West Tunnel: Thursday 28 November

Thursday 28 November, 6.30pm Protest Meeting No East West Tunnel Expand public transport
Venue: Temple Park Senior Citizens Centre, 24 Gray St, Brunswick West

This meeting has been called to launch a grassroots campaign group in Moreland against the East West tunnel. CAM has been asked by Sue Bolton if they will endorse this event — I said yes in principle but want your thoughts before confirming – so please contact me if you wish to discuss or oppose endorsement .. SallyRose 0431 445 930 4th Nov so flyers can be developed etc.

Initiated by Sue Bolton, Socialist Alliance Moreland councillor

Possible endorsing organisations: Brunswick Residents Network; Climate Action Moreland; Sustainable Fawkner; Sustainable Coburg; Royal Park Association; Friends of Moonee Ponds Creek; PTUA; SLIMS; RATS, VITAL

Introduction by Sue Bolton

Possible speakers: Kay Oddie, Friends of Moonee Ponds Creek; A CAM member (Climate Action Moreland) ARE YOU INTERESTED ? please contact SallyRose 0431 445 930

Other Actions: Fossil Fuel Divestment

Other actions you may want to be part of:
Fossil Fuel Divestment

Do you have your money in one of the four big banks-ANZ, Commonwealth, NAB or Westpac?

Have you heard of Fossil Fuel Divestment?

On 26th October, at the ANZ branch in Melbourne’s Bourke St Mall, dozens of customers came out to close their accounts in protest over ANZ’s role as a leading lender to the coal and gas industries. This is part of our “put your bank on notice” campaign that has been running for the past six months.

Earlier the organization called Market Forces revealed that ANZ and the rest of the big four banks have been lending billions of dollars to dirty coal and gas export projects – many of them inside the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Hundreds of Australians – you might even be one of them – have put their bank on notice, saying that unless loans to coal and gas projects stop, they’ll be taking their money elsewhere.

20131926-ANZ-divestment-350org conducted a day of divestment from ANZ Bank in Melbourne on October 26. Visit – See Photos on Facebook

Hope to see you at one or ALL of the events …

Sally Rose

October 30, 2013 at 9:25 pm Leave a comment

IPCC: Climate change is unequivocal with rapid and substantive emissions reduction required

Science panel at AMOS answering questions on IPCC report

Science panel at AMOS answering questions on IPCC report

A packed hall last thursday night (3 October) in Melbourne heard from Australian climate scientists on the latest science report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). I was one of four members of Climate Action Moreland who attended.

The Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (AMOS) organised the free public event in Melbourne to explore the findings and significance of the latest comprehensive report on the science of climate change. It was so popular that 700 people registered to attend – the capacity of the hall, and a further 200 people enquiring had to be turned away or put on a waiting list.

The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, IPCC Working Group 1: the Physcical Science, a review of the science of climate change, was released the previous Friday, September 27 in Stockholm Sweden. The scientific report found that the Science is now unequivocal on human caused climate change – deep and rapid cuts to carbon emissions are needed for a safe climate.

Upon publication of the report Professor Andy Pitman, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at The University of New South Wales, and a review editor and previously a lead author on AR4 said in a comment to the Australian Science Media Centre:

“This is a bad news, and a good news story. The bad news is that the 2013 IPCC report finally puts to rest the role humans play in causing global warming. The good news is that it highlights we can still avoid 2 degrees of warming if we deeply and rapidly cut emissions of greenhouse gases. The future scale of climate change is therefore still within human control provided the global community does deeply and rapidly cut greenhouse gas emissions.”

Master of Ceremonies was environmental entrepreneur Rob Gell, who is Chairman of UNESCO Western Port Biosphere, and also Chair of Wildlife Victoria. The evening consisted of a keynote address, followed by questions posed to a panel of Australian climate scientists, some of whom were lead authors or reviewers of the report. Some questions had been gathered from twitter and facebook in the days leading up to the event, as well as questions from the audience.

Dr Scott Power, Senior Principal Research Scientist, Bureau of Meteorology and Coordinating Lead Author of Chapter 11, Fifth Assessment Report, IPCC Working Group 1, presented the keynote address which presented the major scientific conclusions and summary of the report. Watch it as a basic introduction to the report. (27’32”)

You can also watch the keynote filmed by AMOS here on youtube. They also have the full Q and A full session by the scientific panel.

The Scientific Panel who answered questions included Dr Scott Power, as well as:

Dr Julie Arblaster
– Senior Research Scientist, Bureau of Meteorology
– Lead Author of Chapter 12, Fifth Assessment Report, IPCC Working Group 1

Professor Neville Nicholls
– Professor, School of Geography and Environmental Science, Monash University
– Past President, Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society

Dr Penny Whetton
– Senior Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research
– Lead Author of Chapter 25, Fifth Assessment Report, IPCC Working Group 2

Dr Malte Meinshausen
– Honorary Senior Research Fellow, University of Melbourne
– Senior Researcher, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany

About 30 questions were asked including questions on: the carbon dioxide lag effect in the atmosphere, sea level rise, capacity of the ocean to continue as a CO2 sink, the problem of ocean acidification, longer term projections past 2100, impact on tropical cyclones, likelihood of increasing desertification in Australia, high risk low probability outcomes and how they are treated by the IPCC, whether reduction in short term emissions is useful, impact of 2 degrees warming on food production, whether climate change will impact on volcanic activity, Geo-engineering, adaptation and heatwaves, and emission scenarios and current (business as usual) trajectory.

The IPCC and high Risk, low probability impacts

The question asked by Dr Barrie Pittock from the audience was one of the more interesting and thought provoking ones. Barrie Pittock led the Climate Impact Group in CSIRO until his retirement in 1999. He contributed to or was a lead author of all four previous major reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. His question was on how the IPCC considers high risk low probability outcomes.

I asked a similar question on twitter, which wasn’t raised at the meeting, with regard to sea level rise (Read more on this on my blog: Is Climate Change causing an exponential rate of Ice sheet Mass Loss, sea level rise?)

“#askamos James Hansen thinks multi-metre sealevel rise by 2100 due to non-linear dynamic ice sheet loss is quite possible with BAU global warming of 3-6°C. There are still many scientific unknowns to model ice sheet collapse accurately. Could the IPCC AR5 process for sea level rise projections still be too conservative?”

Here is what Barrie Pittock asked: “I had trouble right from the beginning with the IPCC on communication and I think it is explicitly brought out in this report with the definitions of uncertainty.” he said, “A critical point is that climate change is a matter of risk assessment.”

He used the example of the probability of a 2 metre rise in sea level by 2100, that even if it is unlikely, it needs to be communicated. “A 1 in 10 chance or a 1 in 3 chance of something terrible happening is important and politicians and others should take note of it.” he explained.

Dr Penny Whetton from CSIRO responded to the question:

“I think Barrie expressed it very well. Neville mentioned earlier the evolution of very careful language in the IPCC. One of the down sides to that is the IPCC has tended to focus on statements that it can make confidently. As a consequence it probably doesn’t put enough emphasis on rare but possible events. That’s one of the things you always have to look at when managing risky issues, for risky issues such as this. You don’t take out fire insurance on your house because you think it is likely to burn down, you do it because it may burn down in a 1 in 100 case. It is those warmings of 5 or 6 degrees which may be treated as low liklihood according to the IPCC. What they are also saying is that they are still possible and we need to actually look at those, particularly when it comes to responses.”

The 2 Degree Limit is a political value judgement, not science

One of the few important outcomes of the 2009 Copenhagen UNFCCC meeting was there was agreement by all Governments to limit global warming to a maximum of two degrees, although small island nations in particular argue for a lower level. This was further confirmed at the meeting in Cancun in 2010, and Durban in 2011. Although we talk about the importance of a 2 degree limit, this is an arbitrary point and value judgement which the intergovernmental political process has decided upon as beyond which lies ‘dangerous’ impacts of climate change. But the science tells us we may see high impacts and tipping points crossed even below this arbitrary point.

Dr Malte Meinshausen made clear that two degrees is not the IPCC target, “There are thresholds and the more warming you have, the more surprises you have to expect, and the more impact we are going to see. In fact small island states say ‘2 degrees is too high for us. We are not going to have our islands here for another 100 years with sea level rise projected. We want to survive’ so they want a 1.5 degrees target. It is important. It is a value judgement about where do you want to stop climate change. The value judgement has been done by most of the Governments, but it is not a value judgement that can come or should come from science.”

Dr Penny Whetton, in responding to another question, made it clear that 2 degrees of global warming is too hot for coral reefs, including Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. (For more information see my blog post on Global Warming imperils coral reefs: 2 degrees warming is too hot say scientists)

Climate Adaptation and heatwaves

Climate adaptation is going to be essential, even if we mitigate and rapidly and drastically reduce emissions because of the substantial inertia in the climate system and the cumulative lag effect of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Days over 35 degrees C for Melbourne

I asked a question on climate adaptation and heatwaves, which wasn’t raised at the meeting. But Professor Nicholls did give a response to a question on the relative importance of climate adaptation and heatwaves. Here is my question:

#askamos Australia has just experienced its hottest 12 month period on record. Extreme heatwave events are predicted to become of longer duration and more intense as global average temperatures increase in coming decades, even if we rapidly decarbonise our society in best case scenarios.

Heatwaves also exacerbate and amplify the Urban Heat Island Effect so that the impact is magnified (Li et al 2013). This affects infrastructure (think warped train lines, power spikes), reduces work capacity (Dunne et al 2013) and increases heat stress related mortality. These are direct economic and health impacts which we experience now in our cities with climate change. (think 2009 heatwaves associated with Black Saturday bushfires, 2013 Angry Summer)

These questions are less about science more about adaptation. Prof Nicholls might like to answer:

1. What are the future projections for extreme heat events in Australian cities?

2. Are our health authorities, hospitals and mortuaries adequately prepared?

3. Are all levels of Government taking adequate measures to upgrade urban infrastructure and the urban environment for more climate resilience?

4. Are current programs in place to inform and prepare the public on extreme heat events adequate and sufficient? What more should be done?

Professor Nicholls explained we need to engage in adaptation regarding the impact of climate change on heatwaves, which will affect people especially in urban areas like Melbourne.

“I am sure adaptation is going to be part of the way we react to climate change and we already are. Since 2003 when we had a massive heatwave with massive mortality in Europe, most cities in most developed countries around the world have been developing heat wave alert systems in an attempt to make sure that doesn’t happen. Now that has benefits now even if we don’t get any further climate change. It has even more benefits in the context of global warming. Those systems, we have one in Melbourne and Victoria; there are ones under development in the rest of Australia. They are already saving lives, and they will save lots of lives, but they won’t save everyones life. It will be hot from this global warming. So adaptation is an essential tool in our weaponry against climate change but it can’t do it alone without mitigation to actually slow things down it is very very difficult for us to attack. Even in what is quite a simple area: human mortality related to heat is actually not too hard to actually think about what we can do. When you get to technical infrastructure in the context of a continuing warming planet, that is actually a much harder to adapt to. It really is difficult. If we don’t mitigate it is going to be tough.” said Professor Nicholls.

Carbon budgets and current emission trajectory

Carbon budgeting was included in this IPCC report for the first time as a major section. Dr Malte Meinshausen made the point that the first carbon budget study was actually published in 1978 and said that we can burn no more than 10 per cent of our known fossil fuel reserves without getting into trouble.

Dr Malte Meinshausen also highlighted in answer to the very last question that we are currently tracking at the largest emissions scenario.

Hottest September and hottest 12 months on record for Australia

Even though the global land surface temperatures have appeared to plateau since 1998 – a global hiatus – other measurements show global warming has continued with continued warming of the oceans, sea level rise, melting of Arctic sea ice, continued retreat of mountain glaciers. 2000 to 2010 was also the hottest decade on record.

Significantly, Australia has broken many temperature records this year with the extreme January heatwave and Angry Summer, sizzling warming into late Autumn, a relatively warm Winter, and now the hottest September on record averaged across Australia, and the hottest 12 months on record. Australia is also on track for the hottest calendar year this year.

The Bureau of Meteorology issued a Special Climate Statement updated on 13 October: Exceptionally warm late winter/early spring with unusually persistent warm conditions over the last 12 months (PDF). You can read the Climate Council analysis on this statement: ’OFF THE CHARTS – Record breaking September Heat and Climate Change’.


The BOM statement said:

Averaged over Australia, monthly maximum temperatures were 3.41 °C above average for September and monthly minimum temperatures 2.09 °C above average, combining to a monthly mean temperature 2.75 °C above average.

All of these have set new September records for Australia, with the monthly mean temperature more than a degree above the previous record. The monthly maximum and mean temperatures have also set Australian records for the largest positive temperature anomaly observed in any month. (The previous records are respectively, 3.16 °C above average in August 2009, and 2.66 °C above average in April 2005).

Some key facts from the BOM statement regarding mean temperature records for Australia from the last 12 months:

  • Australia’s warmest month on record (January)
  • Australia’s warmest September on record
  • Australia’s largest positive monthly anomaly on record (September)
  • Australia’s warmest summer on record (December 2012 to February 2013)
  • Australia’s warmest January to September period on record
  • Australia’s warmest 12-month period on record (broken twice, for the periods ending August and September)
  • Indeed, Australia’s warmest period on record for all periods 1 to 18 months long
    ending September 2013
  • Two significant daily maximum temperature records were also set this year: Australia’s hottest summer day on record (7 January) and Australia’s warmest winter day on record (31 August)

Rob Gell read from the BOM statement and asked the science panel about the significance of these new records.

October 6, 2013 at 2:44 pm 2 comments

Part 3: Labor’s climate policy: so will we reach our paltry targets?

And we continue our special series on the Labor Party’s 2010 climate policies. Part one is here, and part 2 here. This edition, we discuss rewarding businesses for being responsible, chopping down trees that according to Labor don’t really exist, and we look at where we’re headed under Labor and where we need to go.

Rewarding business for energy efficiency

(hopefully they’ll turn off some lights too)

A one-off bonus tax deduction for businesses that undertake energy-efficiency capital works, starting from mid-2011. Cost of $180 million over four years, and $1 billion over a decade. Plus, in the meantime an extra $30 million for the Green Building Fund, which provides grants for retrofitting buildings. This is sensible, and could go even further. Wonder how long it will be before they start taking funding away from this one?

Rewarding business by freezing time

The government will keep emissions baselines frozen in time, rewarding businesses that reduce or constrain emissions before an ETS is introduced. If only we could freeze the entire world in time until Labor is ready to implement meaningful climate policies.

Green Start

(another embarrassing name change)

This policy replaces the Greens Loans Scheme, which offered interest-free loans to improve household energy efficiency, another scheme which had… issues. To make a fresh start (see what they did there?) Green Start scrapped the loans part and now offers energy assessments and some other vague unspecified energy efficiency help. Nobody knows, basically.

Photo: Peter Halasz

Native forest logging and logging and logging

Labor is arguing in international forums that emissions created from native forest logging should not be counted. Even though Victoria’s native forests are the most carbon rich in the world. And even though deforestation of native forests accounts for 20% of Australia’s net greenhouse gas emissions. Labor also says it is committed to a ‛net increase’ in Australia’s ‛vegetation cover’. Oooh, goody, more pine tree plantations where there used to be native forests!

Emissions target shooting

(too little, too late)

Just to recap. The IPCC is a group of scientists who issue comprehensive assessments on climate science. Their report states that to keep global warming at under 2 degrees celsius, Australia as a developed country needs to reduce emissions 40% lower than 1990 levels by 2020. HOWEVER, the IPCCs reports are always on the conservative side because it is a U.N. body and the world’s governments must approve their contents.

So here comes the really hard to take bit. Don’t worry, we’ll get through it together. (more…)

August 18, 2010 at 1:26 am 1 comment

Politics in the Pub

Worried about the future? Don’t panic. Pour a drink and let’s talk.

Our next Politics in the Pub is on 29 April 6.30pm at the Edinburgh Castle with the topic ‘What Would a Sustainable World Look Like?’

  • Would we be living on self sufficient farms, high density urban housing, or caves?
  • Will we be working less, or working from home?
  • Will we have flying cars that run on our rubbish?
  • And most importantly will we have to wear white jumps suits?

Our first Politics in the Pub, held on March 23 was a great success, with new and old faces discussing climate change well into the night. There was plenty of animated discussion after a short presentation on ‘Melbourne in a Warmer World’ by author David Spratt.

Download this pdf for more details CAM_PITP_V1F_1004

Please note that this event has changed dates from Tuesday 27th to Thursday 29th April.

April 11, 2010 at 2:50 pm 1 comment

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This is the current C02 in our atmosphere. We need to get it below 350 for a safe climate.

Current CO2 concentration in the atmosphere


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