tip off

CRIKEY | May 09, 2012 | CLIMATE CHANGE | 5 |

Climate change & the Murray Darling: when our most divisive enviro issues meet

Crikey intern David Donaldson writes: Climate change and the Murray-Darling Basin plan are two of the most divisive environmental issues in Australia. They are also two of the most important. But what does the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) plan to do about climate change in its Murray-Darling Basin plan?

Not enough, says John Williams of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists. “The estimate of the sustainable diversion limit, which is the amount of water we need to have in the system to maintain a healthy river, doesn’t have any provision for climate change at the moment,” he told Crikey.

Williams served as the NSW Natural Resources Commissioner from 2006-11 and is a former chief of land and water at the CSIRO.

“They haven’t looked at what the river needs to be healthy,” said Williams. “Society may choose to have unhealthy rivers, but we need the science to say how we have a healthy river, and they haven’t provided that.”

CRIKEY | May 07, 2012 | CLIMATE CHANGE | 8 |

Heartland unleashes the Unabomber in its newest advertising campaign

Graham Readfearn writes: In a promotional video for the upcoming Heartland Institute’s climate change sceptics’ conference in Chicago, the think-tank’s president Joseph Bast said the scientists coming together for the shindig “deserve a lot of attention”.

So how would Joe Bast help them to gain that richly deserved attention?

How about sticking a picture of murderer and terrorist Ted Kaczynski — a.k.a the Unabomber — on a giant billboard next to the words “I still believe in Global Warming. Do you?”

CRIKEY | May 04, 2012 | CLIMATE CHANGE | 2 |

Hate campaign against climate scientists hits the denier spin-cycle

Graham Readfearn writes: Right now we’re in the middle of the global dissemination of a gross misrepresentation of facts.

The line currently being spun by climate change sceptic commentators and bloggers is that climate change scientists have lied about getting death threats.

At the same time a campaign of systematic abuse of climate scientists in an attempt to get them to withdraw from public debate is being ignored.

This spin-cycle started yesterday in The Australian, with a story reporting the findings of a report from the Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim.

Pilgrim ordered that 11 documents turned up through a Freedom of Information request to the Australian National University could, against the wishes of the university, be released to the public.

Pilgrim concluded that ten of the 11 documents “contain abuse in the sense that they contain insulting and offensive language” but did not contain “threats to kill or threats of harm”.

Oh. Well that’s OK then?

AMBER JAMIESON | April 20, 2012 | CLIMATE CHANGE | 8 |

CEFC: a look at green loan programs around the world

Australia’s new $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which will provide investment and green loans to businesses, is similar in concept to policies underway in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Half of the money from the CEFC will go to energy efficiency and low emissions measures and the other half will go to renewable energy projects. But success overseas has been varied, with high expectations, company collapses and problems with financial viability.

In the UK — where Prime Minister David Cameron promised to lead the “greenest government ever” — his administration is still in the processing of developing its Green Investment Bank. Its executive director Oliver Griffiths announced this week that the GIB should be fully operational by the end of 2012 — several months later than originally planned — although initial investments were beginning this month.

The £3 billion project will be the world’s first environmental investment bank, and plans to invest £775 million in its first financial year. It won’t have any borrowing power until at least 2015, but there are other programs already up and running, including UK Green Investments which will invest in green infrastructure — £200 million in total — until the GIB receives state aid approval.

CRIKEY | April 19, 2012 | CLIMATE CHANGE | 1 |

How to get poverty-stricken communities to adapt to climate change

Paul Mitchell, climate change advisor at Save the Children Australia, writes: Today, politicians, academics, the UN, aid agencies and community workers from around the world are all gathering in Vietnam. They’re there to talk about community-based adaptation. Adaptation to what, how and where? That’s where it gets interesting.

Three weeks ago the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a landmark report that shows the connections between climate change and extreme weather events. Climate change, as we know, is largely the result of greenhouse gas emissions that come from all communities, everywhere in the world. The impact caused by these emissions will also be felt around the world.

According to the report, the effects of climate change can already be felt through extreme weather events like heat waves, which have significantly increased over the past 60 years. Other extremes that already affect vulnerable communities, are projected to worsen — flooding, intense rains, rising sea levels, droughts, and stronger tropical storms will strike communities more often and be less predictable. Knowing in advance that these events may lead to disasters, allows donors and agencies to help communities adapt to the changes and be better prepared for current and future impacts before disaster strikes.

Because the truth is, although the impact of climate change will be felt by all, the extremes will hit some harder than others. The irony is that the people and communities least responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions will bear the brunt of the impacts. While this is in part due to geography, the overwhelming reason is poverty.

AMBER JAMIESON | April 17, 2012 | COAL | 4 |

A new VIC power plant put on hold as Mac Gen cuts its assets by $700m

Energy company HRL announced yesterday that it was putting on hold its plan to build a new coal-and-gas-fired power plant at Morwell, Victoria following a decision by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Late last month VCAT approved HRL’s plan to build a 600MWe project under its subsidiary Dual Gas — in May 2011 the Victorian Environmental Protection Agency had ruled that HRL was only allowed to build a 300MWe power plant — but stated that HRL could only proceed with construction when the federal government has entered contracts for the closure of other power plants under its Contracts for Closure program.

“VCAT in granting approval for a new 600 MWe project, has also imposed a new condition that effectively puts the future of the project in the hands of the Australian government and takes the commencement date out of the company’s control,”  said Paul Welfare, the general manager of Dual Gas, in a statement announcing a freeze on the project.


Not a match in sight at the final round of Murray-Darling meetings

As 20 weeks of consultations on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan draft end — and just 12 hours remain for public submissions — it’s worth examining just how effective the latest lot of public meetings by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority have proved to be.

The searing image of furious town hall meetings and irrigators setting the first iteration of the guide on fire back in 2010 helped to inform how the MDBA approached public consultations this time around, in a bid to canvass public reaction to the draft plan released in November 2011.

There have been over 100 consultations since the draft plan was released including; 34 invitation-only round table meeting, 24 opening to the public meetings, 20-30 technical meetings working with particular groups, 18 open houses with indigenous communities, 10 bank  briefings and five water trade meetings.

There’s been no public burnings of the plan this time — although rumours abounded that the MDBA had printed the plan on non-burnable paper (not true) and “I think someone tried to mulch it in Deniliquin,” Katrina Maguire general manager of stakeholder engagement at the MDBA told Crikey, “but the mulcher broke or it bounced back out quite quickly”.

AMBER JAMIESON | April 12, 2012 | CLIMATE CHANGE | 32 |

Global warming projections from 1981 prove tellingly accurate

A seminal article by climate scientists in 1981 has proved eerily accurate at predicting global temperature rises over the past three decades, with its lead author James Hansen telling Crikey that his early research on global warming “seems to hold up remarkably well”.

Hansen, now one of the world’s leading experts on climate science and the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, was one of seven scientists who wrote the 10-page report in Science in 1981 that examined the impact of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The New York Times ran a front-page story on it at the time, noting that “the seven atmospheric scientists predict a global warming of ‘almost unprecedented magnitude’ in the next century.”

Dutch scientists Geert Jan van Oldenborgh and Rein Haarsma recently dug up the old report and compared Hansen et al’s projections of global mean temperatures to the actual temperatures of the past three decades and found the 1981 projections to be surprisingly close.

CRIKEY | April 10, 2012 | CLIMATE CHANGE | 10 |

Conservatives and climate change: it’s complicated

Noel Turnbull, adjunct professor of media and communications at RMIT University, writes: New research provides some intriguing insights into why, and what sort of, conservatives oppose climate change and distrust scientists.

Gordon Gauchat of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, has recently found that there are significant differences in how certain groups think about science and the scientific community — particularly discovering that the conservatives most likely to distrust the scientific community tend to better educated than those who do trust it.

AMBER JAMIESON | April 04, 2012 | CLIMATE CHANGE | 11 |

The Climate Commission: one year on

Australians are concerned about climate change and they think Australians should take action to reduce carbon emissions, says the Climate Commission in its first “year in review” report, released yesterday.

The seven-page end of year report is fairly general, but outlines that many Australian businesses are already preparing for a carbon price and many communities. It names the Illawarra region as particularly proactive in bringing together businesses, politicians and community groups in helping to combat climate change.

The aim of the Climate Comission is engage to provide independent and authoritative information for the general public on climate change issues. The Commission has held 15 public forums, 15 business and local leaders forums and launched 10 reports in its first year (the commission was established last February). A significant 92% of feedback from attendees said they found community forums good or very good.