He said, she said, he said, she said. That’s the Australian federal election campaign this week when it comes to climate change, energy and conservation policy. It is great that the issues are getting pretty high levels of attention from the nation's political leaders and media. It can only be a good thing.
Climate change was a major discussion point in the Australian election campaign this week after the subject received significant attention in Sunday’s televised leaders’ debate. According to the Guardian, “Malcolm Turnbull conceded bipartisanship on climate change was desirable and committed to meet higher targets if set by the global community in the second leaders’ debate of the Australian election campaign. But the prime minister failed to outline how Australia would reach the 2030 emission reduction targets agreed to in Paris. Bill Shorten, the Labor leader, baited Turnbull, asking: “Whatever happened to the old Malcolm Turnbull on climate change?” “You were so impressive when you were leading on climate change,” Shorten said. “Now you’re just implementing Tony Abbott’s policies,” the Guardian reported.
The Guardian reports the Australian Conservation Foundation has described the Coalition’s environmental policies as “woefully inadequate” in its traditional election scorecard. It gave the Coalition 11 points out of a possible 100, Labor 53 and the Greens 77. The ACF’s chief executive, Kelly O’Shanassy, said: “The politicians who want to lead the country must have real plans to protect people, rivers, reefs, forests and wildlife for the future.” “The Coalition’s 11 out of 100 on the environment is woefully inadequate. If they are not prepared to lead on climate and nature, they are not fit to lead the country. The full scorecard is available on the ACF website.
The Guardian also reported battery storage technology has the potential to reshape not just the energy and transport sectors but also the upcoming Australian federal election, according to a new report. The Australia Institute report Securing Renewables: How Batteries Solve the Problem of Clean Electricity includes polling indicating that 71% of Australians would be more likely to vote for a party that supported distributed small-scale solar and storage. Based on a national opinion poll of 1,412 people undertaken between February and March 2016, the study also found 63% of respondents would be more likely to support a party that aims to transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030 and that 45% would be more likely to support a party that attempts to accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles.
Still in Australia, Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton said although 2015 was a tough year for the Australian renewable energy industry, it ended with a lot of optimism as the sector turned its eyes towards the future. “Even though hydro power was down, largely as a result of the historically low rainfall in Tasmania, the proportion of Australia’s electricity provided by renewable energy increased in 2015 due to a good boost from wind and solar power. Renewables delivered 14.6 per cent of our electricity, enough to light up the equivalent of approximately 6.7 million average homes,” Mr Thornton said.
The Guardian reports the risk that houses in some areas of Australia are likely to become uninsurable, dilapidated and uninhabitable due to climate change is kept hidden from those building and buying property along Australia’s coasts and in bushfire zones, a Climate Institute report says. “The report says there is untapped and unshared data held by regulators, state and local governments, insurers and banks on the level of risk, but that most homebuyers and developers are not told about the data and do not have access to it. The full scale of risk may only be recognised through disaster or damage, or when insurance premiums become unaffordable,” the Guardian reported.
The US election now and some good news for Hillary Clinton. The Washington Post reports a major environmental group, the NRDC Action Fund, endorsed the Democrat front runner on Tuesday in its first political endorsement in a presidential election. In a statement, the NRDC Action Fund, a political affiliate of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the unprecedented endorsement reflects a need for left-leaning groups to unite against Donald Trump, the likely Republican nominee. “Hillary Clinton is an environmental champion with the passion, experience and savvy to build on President Obama’s environmental legacy,” Rhea Suh, president of the NRDC Action Fund, said in a statement. “More than any other candidate running, Hillary Clinton understands the environmental challenges America faces, and her approach to solving them is grounded in the possibility and promise our democracy affords us.”
Climate Change News reports China expects coal use to fall and greenhouse gas emissions to flatline through 2016, according to analysis of the government’s energy strategy by Greenpeace. “The environmental group says coal use and carbon emissions could be 10% lower than expected by the end of the decade as the country’s transition to a greener economy gathers pace. Citing a recently published workplan by China’s National Energy Agency, Greenpeace analyst Lauri Myllyvirta argues China could be on the cusp of a dramatic fall in emissions. “A key dilemma for energy planners is that targets for total energy consumption and CO2 emissions were already set in the overarching five-year plan released in March, and these targets do not yet take into account the dramatic shifts that have taken place in the past few years,” he writes, according to Climate Change News.
Reuters reports a record amount of renewable power capacity was installed worldwide last year as solar and wind costs fell, becoming more competitive with fossil fuels, research by renewables policy organisation REN21 showed on Tuesday. “New installations of renewable power generation capacity (including hydropower) rose to 1,848.5 gigawatts (GW) globally in 2015, an increase of 147.2 GW from the previous year, Paris-based REN21's annual renewables global status report showed. This is the largest ever annual increase in installed capacity and was mainly driven by renewables becoming more cost-competitive with oil, coal and gas in many markets and an increase in government policies to support the growth of clean energy, it added. Global new investment in renewable power and fuels (excluding large hydropower) rose to $285.9 billion last year from $273 billion in 2014, the report said,” according to Reuters.
The New York Times reports on anew report looking at the impacts of climate change on world landmarks. “Stonehenge eroding under the forces of extreme weather. Venice slowly collapsing into its canals. The Statue of Liberty gradually flooding. Images like these, familiar from Hollywood climate-catastrophe thrillers, were evoked by a joint report, released on Thursday by Unesco, the United Nations Environment Program and the Union of Concerned Scientists, that detailed the threat climate change could pose to World Heritage sites on five continents.(The Australian continent was originally included in the report, but its government requested it be removed because of concerns that the information would hurt its tourism industry.),” the NY Times reported.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports more than one-third of the coral reefs of the central and northern regions of the Great Barrier Reef have died in the huge bleaching event earlier this year, Queensland researchers said. “Corals to the north of Cairns – covering about two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef – were found to have an average mortality rate of 35 per cent, rising to more than half in areas around Cooktown. The study, of 84 reefs along the reef, found corals south of Cairns had escaped the worst of the bleaching and were now largely recovering any colour that had been lost,” the SMH reported.
Daily Pakistan reports winters shrinking by one day every year due to climate change. Global warming and subsequent climate change, caused by multiple environmental hazards, has brought on a slow and gradual reduction in cold weather conditions in Pakistan. “Around 15 years ago, the summer season in Pakistan spanned over 145 days (almost five months), but now it has reached 170 days, which means more or less one-day addition per year in hot days,” Dr Muhammad Hanif said. Now that makes me sweat!
Disclaimer: Andrew Woodward is the endorsed Australian Labor Party Candidate for Warringah but contributes this column as a Climate Reality Leader and as such its content is strictly politically non-partisan.
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