Tag: Australia

Uplifting News from Down Under

At last, some great news from Australia.  But you can bet your bottom Aussie dollar it doesn’t come from the coalition government.  Action over the weekend demonstrated in the clearest possible terms how far off the track they are with the people of Australia. 

On Sunday 60,000 people, from all the state capitals and from tiny Outback towns, took to the streets to set the record straight. To be honest, it takes a lot to get those laid-back Aussies riled up in late spring. But not even torrential rain in Sydney could keep people indoors, with 10,000 showing exactly where Australians really stand. In Melbourne they numbered 30,000. Whether in gumboots or sandals, no matter the increasingly unpredictable weather, the country was on its feet this weekend rallying for climate action.

For years, politicians have ignored a simple fact – the majority of Australians want more action on climate change. On Sunday the message could not have been louder. As we head into week two in Warsaw, let’s get one thing straight: Australians are not happy with what their government is doing on climate change, and they are not happy with what is going on here. They are rightly and loudly demanding more.

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Fossil of the Day-Nov 16

Fossil of the Day, COP19, Warsaw, 16.11.2013

In a case of doubling down on a dastardly display, Australia was handed the First Place Fossil of the Day award for an unprecedented fourth time in a row at the Warsaw climate negotiations.

This is getting silly, folks. It's almost like the new Australian Government is trying to compete with Canada for being handed the most fossils in a UNFCCC session.

After their first fossil on Monday for refusing to make any new finance commitments, Australia has today gone even further with their nasty rhetoric, willfully and completely undermining the very concept of climate finance.

The Australians said obligations for new, predictable and reliable finance from developed countries are 'not realistic' and 'not acceptable'. This is nothing short of an attack on an important cornerstone of the UNFCCC.

In the same statement, Australia said that climate finance ’is not welfare transfer'. Indeed. Climate finance isn’t welfare – it’s a moral obligation (sorry Australia, it might not be acceptable to you, but it’s true) and a legal commitment that developed countries have made because of their responsibility in causing climate change.

New, additional, adequate and predictable finance – which must primarily be public money if it is to reach the poorest countries and communities and meet UNFCCC obligations – is not an optional part of the UNFCCC. It’s a key building block without which the entire international climate architecture falls apart.

Read all the Fossil texts at www.climatenetwork.org/fossil-of-the-day

 

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EU: When 40 Is Only 33

Coming to Warsaw, ECO was feeling somewhat optimistic. Fresh statistics suggested that global CO2 emissions growth has slowed a bit, which could be the first sign of an approaching emissions peak. In September, China announced took a major positive step -- a direction change in its coal policy. Three key industrial provinces must peak and decline coal consumption by 2017 and ban new dirty coal plants.

But then came the damaging announcements by Australia and Japan, whose shifts are in the negative direction.
After a week like this, we certainly don’t need more bad news.  But according to rumours, the European Commission is preparing a proposal for a 2030 climate target of a meagre 40% reduction against 1990 levels.

The EU has long been seen as setting a global high water mark on ambition.  Yet now it is undermining its own objective to keep global temperature below 2°C.

Yes, 40% seems like a lot – so let’s explain what this means.  A 40% target for 2030 would in practice bring the EU on a pathway towards real emission cuts of merely 33% by 2030 due to the amount of surplus emission allowances in the system.  Indeed, in order to accommodate the huge oversupply of surplus pollution permits in the EU’s carbon market, any 2030 target would need to be 7% stricter.

Instead, the proposed level would be inadequate to steer the EU’s energy system away from coal, or to drive transformational investments into renewables and energy savings. Instead of investing in clean technologies, EU industries can largely escape meaningful pollution pricing and rely on the overhang of surplus emission allowances on the EU’s carbon market well into the next decade. Fortunately, 40% is not the only number in the mix. The UK has called for an EU target of 50% by 2030, while Finland’s environment minister stated the EU’s fair share is between 40% and 60% emissions cuts by 2030.

The EU “Green Growth” group, consisting of the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Romania and Estonia, have called for an ambitious EU emissions reduction offer to be put on the table before Ban Ki-moon’s leaders summit in 2014.

So when the European Commission publishes its policy proposal in January and EU leaders discuss it during the EU summit in March 2014, they must insure that the rumour of 40% (remember, that's effectively 33%) doesn’t turn into any kind of reality.

The spotlight is really on Germany, where coalition talks are also rumoured to be considering a minimum 40% climate target by 2030. Germany, of all countries, should know how important it is to get the incentives and infrastructure correct across Europe in order to deliver its own Energiewende – and a 40% target wouldn’t do that. Climate Action Network Europe is calling on the EU to commit to at least 55% domestic emission cuts by 2030, on top of which would come the EU’s international effort. Moreover, a binding EU renewable target of at least 45% and an energy savings target of 40% are needed to provide certainty for investors and drive  true transformation of the energy system.

Does the Commission have in mind any kind of equity indicators whatsoever when planning for a 40% target?  And how big a global emissions budget is assumed? It doesn’t sound like the EU is assuming anything that would give a reasonable chance of staying below 1.5/2°C.  

To be sure, the EU has a long-term emission reduction goal of 80 to 95% reductions from 1990 levels by 2050. Achieving this would be in the EU’s own economic interests as well as inspiring others to follow suit – a real ‘ambition driver’. But 40% by 2030, with all the loopholes in the system, would take the EU off track. We will hear reassuring voices next week as ministers arrive, but what will they be assuring us?  We need to see the EU we have until recently known – all about ambition, action and the clean energy future.

 

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Fossil deja vu as Aussies abandon their neighbors on loss and damage

Fossil of the Day, COP19, Warsaw, 14.11.2013

   
Photo Credit: David Tong, Adopt A Negotiator

The First Place Fossil goes to – again - Australia. Withdrawing from climate action and finance for developing countries is already like a slap in the face of those suffering from the impacts of climate change. Simply expressing solidarity with the Philippines, as they did on Wednesday in the loss and damage negotiations, is not sufficient to repair the damage Australia caused.

Even worse, in the same negotiations, Australia gave a gold star performance in obtrusiveness.  Their first point was to attach conditions and list the things Australia would not broach talking about. This included objecting to rehabilitation funds – even though this is an area of work already agreed to last year.  Then Australia objected to provisions of insurance in the Convention process – even though insurance is even mentioned in the Convention. They insisted that the work programme on loss and damage should be ended when institutional arrangements are agreed, although many Parties have highlighted the usefulness of past work programme activities in their submissions, and a substantial discussion on the future activities has yet to happen.

Happily in contrast to Australia – the majority of other countries showed a constructive spirit. However, Japan gets a dishonorable mention for supporting Australia's obstructive and belligerent stance.

                                                       
                                                       Photo Credit: David Tong, Adopt A Negotiator

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‘I am an Australian . . .’

I am an Australian. Which is quite an admission in these halls at the moment.

People keep coming up to me and asking what’s going on? Why is my government doing such terrible things on climate policy? Why are they so addicted to coal? Why are they so determined to go backwards? How can they trash their climate policies when the rest of the world is meeting here in Warsaw to try and move forward on climate? And particularly when our neighbouring countries, especially the Philippines, are suffering such devastation.

But the main question they ask me is - do the Australian people support all of this negativity and destruction?

The answer to that question is they categorically do not. The majority of Australian people do not support repealing the carbon price, trashing renewable energy support, dismantling the Climate Change Authority and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and winding back support for a long-term target of reducing carbon pollution by 80% by 2050.

If you want evidence of that look no further than the story of Australia’s Climate Commission. One of the first things the new government did was shut down this publicly funded body. But within only one week, over 20,000 Australians donated to get this vital organization back on its feet.

Ordinary Australians are keen for action on climate change because we’ve lived through its beginnings. We’ve seen “one in a hundred year floods” happen in Queensland twice in a period of just twelve months. And in the same period Queensland copped it with Cyclone Yasi – the worst cyclone in nearly 100 years. We’ve had the worst drought ever within the last decade – and parts of the country are in drought again. In Sydney, where I live, we just had devastating bushfires, in October – mid Spring! But of course none of this comes close to the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan.

Recent polling showed that the majority of Australians want a higher target (15% or 25%), as our country’s independent Climate Change Authority recommended. And 65% of people said they wanted stronger action on climate change.

The Coalition that Prime Minister Abbott leads have a long-standing policy of supporting this target range, set back in 2009, along with the conditions for moving up the range. We need immediate clarification from our the government on where they now stand.

Most Australians know it’s in our national interest to get serious about climate change. Not only because we along with so many of our neighbours are so vulnerable to climate change, but also because unless we increase our target and take more action, we’re in danger of falling behind the rest of the world.

So listen up, Prime Minister Abbott. We’re expecting you to come to the Ban Ki-moon Summit in September 2014. We’re expecting you to put a real target for 2020 on the table, along with long term goals for mitigation and climate finance that reflect Australia’s fair share. And we Australians will be pushing every day to make sure you do this. Starting this Sunday – where Australians in every corner of the country will be at a National Day of Action (www.theheat.org.au).

(This is an edited version of a statement by Julie-Anne Richards at yesterday’s CAN press conference.)  

 

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AUSTRALIAN CARBON PRICE REPEAL DRAGS COUNTRY BACK TO THE FOSSIL ERA

Fossil of the Day, COP19, Warsaw, 13.11.2013


Photo Credit: David Tong, Adopt A Negotiator

It has been millennia since the rumble of dinosaurs has been heard, but now in 2013 at COP19 to the UNFCCC we find ourselves among prehistoric fossils once more. 

Overnight, the Australian government tabled legislation to repeal effective climate policy. Instead they hope to bring in an almost Orwellian-named “direct action plan” which they claim will meet their paltry 5% reduction target. Though if it doesn’t, which most leading economists agree it will not, further funding or even a Plan B are low on the list of the new government’s priorities.

As well as repealing the carbon price (hence hurling Australia back into the abyss of time, as opposed to the more than 40 countries, states and provinces who have moved into the modern times with a carbon price), in equally grim news, the bills will also strip $435 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and remove $10 billion of investment in clean energy. This comes amongst uncertainty around Australia’s 2020 targets, with a lack of clarity on whether the new policy regime will meet 5% and a review of a review of a possible review to take place in 2015 as to any further commitments.

In an extra outrageous statement the Prime Minister Tony Abbott opened the new parliament with the bold claim to the Australian people that “as far as the government is concerned, the adults are back in charge.”  All of this earns Australia today’s first place Fossil of the Day award.

For the people who might not know this country, let’s us describe it a bit. This country has increased its carbon emissions 124% from 1990 levels. In the past few years, this country is recording the largest relative increase in annual carbon emissions. If you still don’t know what country this is, here is an other clue: this country is the 4th biggest coal investor in the world. If you still cannot figure it out, this is an Annex 1 country without any pledges. Also, this country has recently issued an exemption to all state owned electricity production companies on all environmental permits and legally binding environmental investments until 2021.

38% of this country’s electricity production comes from state owned plants. Have you guessed yet? Today’s second place Fossil goes to Turkey.

It seems that previous fossils were not enough for Turkey to take its responsibility so we're hearing rumours like the country has closed down their Interministrial Climate Change Coordination Council as well as they dismantling other institutions that have to work on climate change. But the last thing we saw from participant list was unbelievable. Turkey didn't bring one single person from the Ministry of Environment, even from Climate Change Department. We don't want to believe that Turkey came to UNFCCC for a tour of Warsaw’s sights. We also don't want to believe that Turkey is here with Ministry of Energy to participate to Coal & Climate Summit. We're giving this fossil to Turkey for their love of coal and dismantling climate policies and institutions but we also want you to know that you still have a chance to be loved. Now be responsible and take your pledge!

What is worse than appalling action on climate change? Having an appalling record on climate change AND congratulating others for their appalling climate policies. With Australia taking steps to dismantle its climate protection program and its carbon price, the Canadian government jumped at the opportunity to take Question Period talking points to the international stage. Canada’s rejection of carbon pricing in favour of an ineffective regulatory approach has been demonstrated to be the wrong way to actually get emissions down – with the government’s own estimate putting their projected 2020 emissions 20% above their Copenhagen target. We shake our heads in disbelief that a government publicly congratulates others on moving backward and dodging their responsibility on climate change while people are dying from climate impacts. That’s why we award Canada the Fossil of Disbelief today.

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Developing countries behind growing push for stronger climate action in Warsaw

[Warsaw – Poland] – November 13, 2013: Momentum is building for a mechanism to deal with the loss and damage caused by climate change to be established within the UN system, according to policy experts from Climate Action Network at the Warsaw negotiations. 

Sven Harmeling, from CARE, said more than 130 developing countries had put forward a proposal today for a international institutional mechanism that could, for example, channel fast financial support - beyond initial emergency relief - to countries devastated by climate impacts such as tropical storms.  
 
The mechanism could assess the risk countries face, and provide new knowledge to help countries cope with ever more extreme climate impacts and to rehabilitate environments and communities after losses are experienced.
“Now that developing countries have taken the lead, it is up to developed countries to seriously engage with this comprehensive proposal,” Harmeling said. 
The increased momentum behind loss and damage comes as the most vulnerable nations called for 2014 to be the year of delivering increased ambition on climate action. 
Greenpeace’s head of delegation Martin Kaiser said that carbon pollution levels had to be reduced now, not only to keep the door ajar to a safe climate, but also to boost political impetus towards the comprehensive global climate action plan that will be signed in Paris in 2015. 
“Here in Warsaw, rich countries can commit right away to boost deployment of renewable energy and energy saving measures as put forward by the Alliance of Small Island States,” Kaiser said.
“Failure to aggregate climate, renewable energy and energy saving targets here in Warsaw sends a cynical message that government leaders aren’t serious about climate action, but are handcuffed by the dirty fossil fuel lobby,” he said. 
The need to reduce emissions now was thrown into stark relief by the tabling of legislation by the Australian Government to repeal that country’s carbon price, said Julie-Anne Richards of Climate Action Network Australia. 
“Dismantling our already weak climate action measures is against our national interest not only because we are so vulnerable to climate change, with record breaking floods, fires and droughts plaguing the continent, but also we’re in danger of falling behind the rest of the world,” she said. 
 
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Australia! Please Explain!

Australian PM Tony Abbott said yesterday that he will cut greenhouse gases by no more than 5% below 2000 levels by 2020. This shock move would back away from Australia's longstanding commitment to a 15% to 25% target range.

However, the PM has previously indicated that his "off the cuff" remarks can't really be taken as gospel. Sometimes, you see, he gets carried away in the heat of the moment, and so only written statements could really be trusted as actual policy.

Obviously, it would be more than just a smidge of bad karma if Australia would walk away from the higher end of its target range at the same time as the worst ever typhoon wreaked havoc on their neighbours, the Philippines. This is particularly notable as the PM’s Coalition has endorsed the 15% to 25% range on more than one occasion – twice so far in 2013 alone.

Now let’s turn to the notion that Australia would review the conditions for moving to the 15% level because it is not "looking to make further binding commitments in the absence of very serious like binding commitments from other countries".

ECO suggests maybe Australia should have a word with their red-white-and-blue Umbrella Group mate. Even the US has committed to a 17% reduction by 2020 – weak as that may be, it’s now higher than Australia's 5% including adjustment for a different start date.  And as the Australian Climate Change Authority made clear only a week ago, Australia's 5% target puts it behind not only the US, but also China, in terms of targets and action.  Imagine that!

So we assume that this was simply one of those Abbott-branded “off-the-cuff gaffs” – and the government will promply set the record straight. Maybe you might ask a friendly Aussie delegate how that is going.

Surely, in the face of the devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan, Australia will move to at least the top end of its range and – need we add, commit as well to substantial future climate finance.

 

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Climate Policy Experts Update on Negotiations as Countries Air Opinions on Loss and Damage in Wake of Typhoon

Warsaw, Poland - November 13, 2013:  NGO experts will offer a briefing to media today on developments in UN climate negotiations being held in Warsaw which have been overshadowed this week by the tragic typhoon in the Philippines which will cost that country USD14 billion in loses, not to mention the human cost.

They will detail ways in which the recent super typhoon has changed the dynamic here in the workshops and plenary sessions of COP19, including in a workshop yesterday on the loss and damage mechanism which is expected to be agreed here in Warsaw. 

In addition, countries have made their voices heard in a workshop on how the urgent need to cut carbon pollution in the short term is starting to influence the kind of global agreement that will be signed in 2015 to deal with climate change after 2020.

Meanwhile, the Australian Government continues its efforts to dismantle climate action, tabling legislation overnight to repeal its carbon tax. 
 

Who:

  • Sven Harmeling, Climate Change Advocacy Coordinator, CARE
  • Martin Kaiser, head of delegation, Greenpeace    
  • Julie-Anne Richards, international coordinator, Climate Action Network Australia

What: Climate policy experts to brief journalists on developments in the negotiations in Warsaw.

When: 11am CET, today Wednesday November 13th. 

Where: COP19 Venue, National Stadium Warsaw, Press Conference Room 2 located on Level -2/Zone E6, right next to Plenary 2.

The press conference will also be webcast live here: http://unfccc4.meta-fusion.com/kongresse/cop19/templ/ovw_live.php?id_kongressmain=259

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