Climate Newsletter 26 Jan 2019

As Prof Mark Howden of the Climate Change Institute says, climate change is embedded in this prolonged and extreme heatwave. Temperature records have been broken right across southern Australia:

  • Globally, 2018 was the fourth warmest on record,
  • Nationally, it was the third warmest,
  • State-wise, NSW had its warmest year,
  • December 2018 was Australia’s the hottest December on record, and
  • January 2019 will probably follow suit.

One would have thought it might have concentrated the minds of those in government, particularly at the federal level, but no sign yet of our leaders making the slightest connection with climate change. While some Victorians experienced blackouts in extreme heat yesterday, a few politicians even advocated coal or gas-fired power stations not be closed when due, or that more be built, ignoring the fact that three of the ten existing power plants were not operational through the week. Fossil fuel power has hardly been a bastion of reliability.

Their calls failed to impress the Chief of the Australia Energy Market Operator (AEMO), Audrey Zibelman, who compared the nation’s coal-fired power plants to ageing cars that break down more frequently over time.

And the Australia Institute has found that new coal-fired plants are even less reliable than the old ones!

Some politicians are trying to do the right thing. Our federal, local Labor MP Mike Kelly AM has organised a climate change and renewables forum at the Roos Club in Queanbeyan on 14 February from 7 to 8.30pm. Guest speaker is Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Mark Butler. This is an important meeting so come along! See

In the first week of March, Repower-Monaro will be holding a pre-state election candidates’ meeting in Queanbeyan with all candidates (four so far). We’re just waiting for sitting Member John Barilaro to get back to us about availability.

While we are just about expiring in the heat, other parts of the world are buried in snow, not least in Davos, Switzerland, where world leaders have gathered for the World Economic Forum. A new young heroine has emerged, namely Greta Thunberg 16, a Swedish school strike activist who has urged leaders to take action, as have NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Adern along with Sir David Attenborough.  

Also in support is IMF Chief, Christine Lagarde, who says even the central banks have to take climate change into account.

As you know, if the Adani mega-coal mine in Queensland goes ahead, it will add massively to emissions and global warming. The federal government  has just failed to hold Adani accountable for illegal drilling into aquifers of the Great Artesian Basin despite the CSIRO saying Adani’s water management plan is flawed. So, it’s important to make the Queensland Labor Party do the right thing and you can help by signing this petition.

Meanwhile, the UN has asked that work on the Adani mine be suspended, concerned that the project might violate Indigenous rights under international conventions relating to racial discrimination.

The  Australian National University Climate Updates are always informative and worthwhile as they present an overview of how our climate is changing and how we are responding to these changes in Australia and around the world. This year it is on Feb 7 from 2.15 to 6.45pm at the Coombs Theatre ANU. It is already sold out.

Depressingly, there is evidence that Greenland ice is melting even faster than first thought, adding inexorably to sea-level rise. An item below contains the most extraordinary video of the largest calving of an ice berg ever filmed. Watch it if you have a spare five minutes.

On the good news front, in Britain renewables (mainly wind) will provide more power than fossil fuels as early as 2020, and back home, Aldi is planning solar panels for all its store roofs around the country.

Newsletter by Jenny Goldie,
President of Climate Action Monaro.

2018 was the fourth warmest year on record — and more evidence of a ‘new normal,’ scientist group reports.
The year was at least the fourth in a row a full degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, warmer than the late 19th century.

Adani coal mine should be suspended, UN says, until all traditional owners support the project. (broken link)
The United Nations has asked the Australian Government to consider suspending the Adani project until it gains the support of a group of traditional owners who are fighting the miner in court.

Lagarde: even central banks need to take climate change into account.
Terming climate change as one of the most pressing issues for the global economy, IMF chief Christine Lagarde on Friday said even central banks would need to take it into account in their policy decisions.

‘Our house is on fire’: Greta Thunberg, 16, urges leaders to act on climate.
Greta Thunberg, Swedish school strike activist demands economists tackle runaway global warming. Read her Davos speech here

Jacinda Ardern tells world leaders they have nothing to fear from acting on climate change.
The New Zealand Prime Minister appears on a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos with Sir David Attenborough and issues a strong message for world leaders.

Greenland’s ice is melting faster than we thought. Here’s why that’s scary.
“Once you hit that tipping point, the only question is: How severe does it get?”

New study establishes link between climate change, conflict, and migration.
Research involving a University of East Anglia (UEA) academic has established a link between climate change, conflict, and migration for the first time.

‘Old car’ coal plants aren’t going to get any better warns AEMO.
The energy market operator has warned the nation’s coal-fired power plants will break down more often after it had to ask businesses to shut down to keep the lights on during a scorching day in Victoria.

The stubborn high-pressure system behind Australia’s record heatwaves. Steve Turton. Parts of Australia have broken multiple heat records over the past week.

Reliability of newer coal power questioned.
Newer coal-fired power stations break down more often per gigawatt than older power generators, the Australia Institute has found.

A letter published in Canberra Times on 15 January 2019

Climate elections

Bravo, bravo, Louise Freckleton. In her splendid article (“With heatwaves like this, what of our future?”, Comment, January 5, p11) she rightly notes that while those of us who care about the environment and climate change are reducing, reusing, recycling, changing farming practices and more, while our politicians are obfuscating.

Where she lives, in NSW, there are not one but two elections coming up within months — state and federal. As she says, we do need to interrogate all candidates on their respective stances on climate change and attitude to renewables. We have to make a rapid transition to renewable energy and rapidly phase out coal and other fossil fuels.

Those candidates unwilling to see the problem of climate change and unable to come up with solutions do not deserve to be elected.

Jenny Goldie, Cooma, NSW

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