Turning up the heat: How 1.5? got up in Paris

The inclusion of a 1.5? temperature limit in the new Paris climate agreement was a major victory for the poorest countries and island nations who came to Paris saying they wanted the world to act.

By placing the 1.5? limit alongside the legally binding goal to hold global temperatures “well below 2? above pre-industrial levels”, the deal offered hope to the many who had begun to despair about the prospects of an ambitious enough global climate agreement ever being reached.

The Conversation:  Bill Hare: 18 Dec 2015

Key Words: Climate Change, politics, international
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Coalition environment policy jumble

Bulldozers and chains being used to clear vegetation in Queensland. The loss of native vegetation undermines efforts to tackle climate change.
Bulldozers and chains being used to clear vegetation in Queensland. The loss of native vegetation undermines efforts to tackle climate change.

The federal coalition is spending big to retain native vegetation – while the NSW coalition is reversing protection of native vegetation.

The coalition Direct Action policy has committed $673 million dollars (55 per cent of the total bucket) on projects avoiding emissions via retaining native vegetation: the cornerstone of federal efforts to reduce emissions.  One hundred and twenty eight of the 236 contracts awarded are in NSW.  And what is NSW doing? Putting in place legislation that will almost certainly result in an increase in land clearing. Or, to put it another way, undo the emissions reductions achieved via the federal Direct Action policy.

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Hottest year on record 2015: Second hottest 2014

Global Temperatures 1880 - 2015 (NOAA)

Global Temperatures 1880 – 2015 (NOAA)

  • The 2015 global temperature smashed the record
  • That record was only set last year in 2014.
  • Global temperature in 2015 was 1.13°C above the 1880-1920 baseline.
  • This exceeds the previous record, set last year in 2014, by a gob-smacking margin of 0.16°C.
  • 2015 is Earth’s warmest year by the widest margin on record. (NOAA)
  • You can see the 2015 temperature soaring above the record 20154 temperature on the NOAA temperature graph.  It is the right-most red vertical line on the graph.
  • Accounting for annual variability, it is fair to say that global warming has now reached 1°C above 1880-1920 baseline.
  • El Nino only made a “small contribution” (25%) to the record heat.
  • 2016 is likely to be at least as warm, if not warmer than 2015 (UK Met Office)
  • December 2015 was the hottest December on record, blowing out the previous December record, set in 2014, by a staggering 0.29°C.

Carbon Brief analysis of the UK Met Office, NOAA and NASA announcements about 2015 global temperature.

Climate Council

Key Words: Climate Change, extremes
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Gas export boom threatens price rises

Liquefied natural gas carrier leaves Darwin.

Something new is happening in Australia’s eastern gas market.  On December 14, for the first time in its 40-year history, the Moomba-to-Sydney gas pipeline began to run in reverse.  Pipeline operators have completed modifications to allow reverse flow. A name change to Sydney-to-Moomba pipeline may now be in order!  This reflects big upheavals in Australia’s gas market as exports expand significantly.

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Humans push the planet into a new geological epoch: the anthropocene

There is now compelling evidence to show that humanity’s impact on the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans and wildlife has pushed the world into a new geological epoch, according to a group of scientists.

The question of whether humans’ combined environmental impact has tipped the planet into an “anthropocene” – ending the current holocene which began around 12,000 years ago – will be put to the geological body that formally approves such time divisions later this year.

The Guardian: Adam Vaughan: 8 January 2016

Key Words: Climate Change, risks
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Regulations can reduce emissions and save people money

Tom Switzer attacks “command-and-control” mechanisms as a way of reducing carbon emissions (The Age: 29 Dec 2105). Citing the carbon tax as an example, Switzer claims these mechanisms lack broad public support and impose higher prices. In fact, command-and-control mechanisms, better known as regulations, can reduce emissions while saving people money. And unless they are politicised, as the carbon tax was, the public – and the planet – would quietly reap the benefits.

Consider one regulation: minimum energy performance standards on appliances.  The last fridge I bought – “a cheap model” – uses less than half the electricity of my previous fridge, saving me more than $100 per year. According to a 2014 review, minimum energy performance standards reduce Australia’s emissions by about 4 per cent, while saving us $4.60 for every $1 spent.

Making our buildings, equipment and vehicles more energy efficient is probably the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions. But we can only capture these savings by requiring manufacturers and builders to comply with performance standards.

Andrea Bunting, Brunswick
Letter to The Age: 5 Jan 2016
(now a broken link)

Key Words: Climate Change, transformation
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December 2015: Wettest UK month on record

December 2015 was the UK’s wettest month on the records kept since 1910.

Storms delivered a total of 230mm of rain across the UK, according to the Met Office analysis. That’s nearly twice as much as the long-term December average between 1981-2010.  The second wettest December was in 1929.  In 1929 the rain was widespread, whereas in 2015 a greater amount of rain fell over a much smaller area, mostly in the north of the country.

Carbon Brief: 5 Jan 2016: Roz Pidcock

Key Words: Climate Change, extremes
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Climate Chaos, Across the Globe

What is going on with the weather?  With tornado outbreaks in the South, Christmas temperatures that sent trees into bloom in Central Park, drought in parts of Africa and historic floods drowning the old industrial cities of England, 2015 is closing with a string of weather anomalies all over the world.

The year, expected to be the hottest on record, may be over at midnight Thursday, but the trouble will not be. Rain in the central United States has been so heavy that major floods are beginning along the Mississippi River and are likely to intensify in coming weeks. California may lurch from drought to flood by late winter. Most serious, millions of people could be threatened by a developing food shortage in southern Africa.

New York Times: Justin Gillis: 30 Dec 2015

Key Words: Climate Change, extremes, risk
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Sand used to store solar heat

Researchers from Masdar Institute have successfully demonstrated that desert sand in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) could be utilised as an alternative to molten salts for concentrated solar power (CSP) thermal energy storage.  Using the sand, rather than importing the salts will be cheaper and more sustainable.

Energy Matters: 30 Dec 2015

Key Words: Climate Change, technology
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Renewables can’t do it: The new form of climate denial

No Problems
No Problems

After the signing of a historic climate pact in Paris, we might now hope that the merchants of doubt – who for two decades have denied the science and dismissed the threat – are officially irrelevant.

However, a new, strange form of denial has appeared on the landscape, falsely asserting that renewable sources can’t meet our energy needs.

Oddly, some of these voices include climate scientists, who insist that we must now turn to wholesale expansion of nuclear power. Just this past week, as negotiators were closing in on the Paris agreement, four climate scientists held an off-site session insisting that the only way we can solve the coupled climate/energy problem is with a massive and immediate expansion of nuclear power. More than that, they are blaming environmentalists, suggesting that the opposition to nuclear power stands between all of us and a two-degree world.

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