Climate Newsletter 16 June 2018

US President Trump may deserve praise this week for negotiating with Kim Jong Un over denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. Before the talks, however, he behaved badly at the G7 talks in Canada in which he even failed to even attend the formal climate discussions. Nor did he sign the communique which reaffirmed commitment to the Paris Agreement.

While Trump cosies up to his long-term enemies, he is doing his best to alienate his traditional friends, not least Canada, over tariffs. Many renewable energy developments in the US were threatened by the tariff-led increase in the cost of Chinese imports of solar panels. Fortunately, because the costs of solar panels are falling by a third, this balances out the tariffs and the US developments can proceed.

Indeed, Renew Economy (see below) describes how this energy transition we are in is gathering pace, with large-scale solar falling to the low $A40s/MWh, and battery storage proving to be cheaper and more valuable than previously thought.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the scientific body set up by the UN to provide the world with an objective, scientific view of climate change and its political and economic impacts. Its next report is due in October, but the draft was leaked this week and reveals that the world will have reached 1.5C degree warming by 2040 unless countries rapidly implement “far-reaching” actions to reduce carbon emissions.

When the Climate Institute lost its funding and closed last year, the Australia Institute (TAI) based in Canberra took over its climate work. In a new paper released this week, the TAI finds the Turnbull government’s target of a 26-28% reduction on it 2005 levels is “inadequate according to any recognised principle-based approach” and the Labor target of a 45% reduction is “the bare minimum necessary …” The report’s author, Richie Merzian, says Australia’s reduction target is “unambitious, unfair and irresponsible”.

A study by Australian researchers published in Nature this week, reveals that Antarctica lost 3 trillion tonnes of ice between 1992 and 2017, caused by warming of the ocean and atmosphere. Unless we limit greenhouse gas emissions, it says, irreversible changes will take place and rates of sea level rise will be similar to those at the end of the last ice age 10,000 years ago.

We are already seeing some sea-level rise, of course, but even now coral reefs are not keeping pace. Nor are the rules which govern international fisheries, for the fish are moving habitat faster than the systems that allocate fish stocks.

What with the plummeting cost of renewables and coal being increasingly uncompetitive, you would have thought Adani would have given up by now to build the Carmichael coal mine in Central Queensland.  But, no, he wants to pump 12.5 billion litres of water a year from the Suttor River 61 km away (not a way to win the hearts and minds of drought-stricken farmers) and contracted the company Wagners to build a $30m airstrip for the mine. Protests have already begun against Wagners by members of the Galilee Blockade, wonderfully dressed as super-heroes.

Newsletter from Jenny Goldie
President Climate Action Monaro

Six of the G7 commit to climate action. Trump wouldn’t even join conversation
Trump skipped the formal climate discussions, had the U.S. negotiators promote fossil fuels instead, and then renounced the group’s official communiqué.

China’s dramatic solar shift could take sting out of Trump’s panel tariffs
Analysts expect solar panel costs to drop by a third. That could be a lifeline for U.S. developers, who sidelined billions of dollars in projects over the tariffs.

Solar2.0: PV and storage deals show signs of rapid energy transition

Giles Parkinson & Sophie Vorrath

China, Gupta, storage. This past week has seen landmark developments that signal the pace of the energy transition is gathering speed, with huge implications for consumers (mostly good) and incumbent utilities (mostly not so good).

Leaked UN draft report warns of urgent need to cut global warming
IPCC says ‘rapid and far-reaching’ measures required to combat climate change

Australia’s emissions reduction target ‘unambitious, irresponsible’
New Australia Institute paper finds neither Coalition nor Labor’s pollution reduction targets would see us doing our fair share

Antarctica has lost 3 trillion tonnes of ice in 25 years. Time is running out for the frozen continent
Steve Rintoul, CSIRO and Steven Chown, Monash University
What will Antarctica look like in 2070? Will the icy wilderness we know today survive, or will it succumb to climate change and human pressure? Our choices over the coming decade will seal its fate.

Coral reefs losing ability to keep pace with sea-level rise
Many coral reefs will be unable to keep growing fast enough to keep up with rising sea levels, leaving tropical coastlines and low-lying islands exposed to increased erosion and flooding risk, new research suggests.

Climate change means fish are moving faster than fishing rules, Rutgers-led study says
Climate change is forcing fish species to shift their habitats faster than the world’s system for allocating fish stocks, exacerbating international fisheries conflicts, according to a study led by a Rutgers University-New Brunswick researcher.

Anti-Adani protesters target construction firm Wagners over $30m contract
Queensland company contracted to build airstrip for troubled Carmichael coalmine

‘Australia doesn’t realise’: worsening drought pushes farmers to the brink
Liverpool plains farmer Megan Kuhn says cows are being slaughtered because there is no way of feeding them after years of extreme weather.

Letter published in Canberra Times 15 June 2018

Unviable project

According to your report (‘‘Adani shuns water trigger’’, June 13, p9) Indian mining giant Adani wants to pump up to 12.5 billion litres of water a year from the Suttor River in a 61km pipeline to its proposed mega coal mine. As if the direct and indirect effects of the proposed mine on the climate and the Great Barrier Reef aren’t bad enough, now the company wants to rob Queensland farmers of much needed water in a time of drought.

The website Renew Economy, tells us that in the last two months India has seen 2.5 gigawatts (GW) of wind tenders completed at record low US$36-37/MWh tariffs. Adani’s Mundra facility, the largest coal import plant in India, is idle, unable to compete. Why on earth would Adani want to dig up coal in Australia when it cannot compete economically with renewable energy? Please, would the ALP just tell us it will not allow Adani’s Carmichael mine to go ahead, should it be elected at the next federal election?
Jenny Goldie

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