Wednesday, January 28, 2015

New Climate Change Projections

The Government must stop undermining the Renewable Energy Target and return to the bipartisanship we had before the election about this. We need to move completely to renewable energy by 2060 – over the next forty-five years. We should cut our emissions by 20% by 2020, and another 20% each decade after that.
And if we don’t do that, and take advantage of the international leadership being shown by the US, China and others, who are getting ahead of us on climate change action, then the latest projections from the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology re-inforce the science that southern Australia will cop it and cop it through year in year out droughts and bushfires.


  1. The Climate Change Authority 2014 report found that a 19% target by Australia for 2020 could be justified on the basis of what was occurring internationally, and that was before the USA-China bilateral agreement was negotiated. Our present 5% target places us near the bottom internationally for taking action on climate change, and it is doubtful that under present Federal Government policy even this small target can be achieved without major new expenditure.

    But the actions by the Abbott Govt to abolish carbon pricing and the large scale energy efficiency program, and destabilise renewable investment with the RET review to cut the RET has put Australia in a poor situation. Reputex reported in January that Australia will struggle to cut domestic greenhouse gas emissions by just 15 per cent on 2000 levels by 2030 – or 300 million tonnes of CO2e – at a cost of A$10.6 billion. Abbott has only budgeted $2.55 billion to emissions reduction. So Australia's capacity to easily cut emissions has massively reduced without major legislative and structural change.

    All this is happening while the science grows stronger about the impacts. There were three major news items yesterday: the CSIRO/BOM report that Australia could see average temperatures 5 degrees hotter by the end of the century, as well as changes in rainfall making Eastern and southern Australia drier. Here in Moreland we will feel this in the amplification of the urban heat island effect during hot days and heatwaves which are expected to increase and intensify. This poses a major health problem, as well as threatening dislocation to economic infrastructure (such as electricity supply and public transport) as heat tolerances are exceeded.

    The second science story was on the intensification of ENSO: that we are likely to see as well as stronger and more frequent El Ninos, the number of strong La Ninas will also double creating more intense rain and flooding with the damage and social dislocation that creates.

    The third story was on the susceptibility to collapse of the Totten Glacier in East Antarctica which could contribute up to 5 metres of sea level rise over a few hundred years. In 2014 scientists in a number of studies told us that collapse of major parts of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet was now unstoppable and now we find some sections of East Antarctica may also be vulnerable. The CSIRO report highlights that predicted sea level rise is 0.59 to 0.8 metres this century, but with perhaps another 50-70cm from marine ice sheet collapse. That means we are looking at up to 1.5 metre rise by the end of the century. Most of our current coastal planning is done for a 1 metre maximum sea level rise by 2100.

    So Australia is slowly cooking while Abbott Government fiddles with 'coal for prosperity' that makes a few people richer at the expense of the common person.

  2. An economy based on coal and gas exports, and housing growth, can't expect to have a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. How can technology for renewable energy, really still in its infancy, be expected to outpace population growth and demands? A growth-based economy is contrary to any reduction - especially greenhouse gas emissions. We need a transition to a steady-state model!