Saturday, November 15, 2014

Mother Nature's sense of irony

Australia is a large country, but our heatwave (like the world's leaders) has honed in on Brisbane this weekend.

Map of Brisbane's heatwave 14-16 November 2014

The irony is that G20 hosts Australia have refused to put global warming and climate change on the agenda. This has provided lots of material for cartoonists.

Cartoon: Australian Prime minister ignoring heatwave and US-China Climate deal at G20 meeting

Meanwhile, down in Sydney, a group of 400 people have paid tribute to the Australian government's attitude to climate change by sticking their heads in the sand.

400 people at Syndey's Bondi Beach poking fun at the Australian government's ignorance of climate change

Related G20 links:
USA and Chine lead the way - the game-changing agreement
Should Merkel shirtfront Abbott - a farmer's plea
Climate Change at the G20 - satire video
The Banned Ads - and the conflict of interest
G20 or G19? - cartoon

Thursday, November 13, 2014

USA and China lead the way

The USA and China have announced their biggest climate change deal.

This agreement reduces carbon pollution by the equivalent of the entire world's emissions from 1990-2013.

Australia's position, coming into the G20 meeting is best summed up by this cartoon.

David Pope's cartoon showing China and the US working on climate change solutions with Australia represented as a child playing off to one side.

Or maybe this cartoon of the G20.

And while the future commitments are great, China is already doing some amazing things. The Climate Council posted this summary before the announcement.

Infographic of China's carbon reduction achievements

It's an impressive set of statistics:
  • 1st in renewable energy capacity and investment
  • 2.6 million jobs in renewable energy
  • in 5 years have shut down more coal power than exists in Australia

Friday, November 07, 2014

Should Merkel shirtfront Abbott?

I love this "Go Solar" message - made with a plough by a Queensland farmer.

Obviously with extra "2" is a reference to the upcoming G20 meeting. When asked, the farmer said "I hope Angela Merkel shirtfronts Tony Abbott and asks him, if Germany can go solar then why on earth can’t Australia?".

(For non-Australian readers, the word 'shirtfront' is a reference to a bizarre comment recently made by Abbott.)

The farmer also summed up the issue quite well:

Farmers are at the pointy end of climate change. Last year was our hottest on record, this one’s shaping up to be even worse, and we’ve got a raging drought over a vast area. In spite of the overwhelming scientific evidence, our idiotic politicians are hooked on coal and gas, which is the cause of the problem.

We have huge reserves of sunshine, so making use of it is simply a matter of common sense. Our government’s reluctance to do so is an international embarrassment."

And if the farmer's word about the drought wasn't enough, the overhead shot certainly shows just how dry the land is.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Climate Change at the G20

Australia decided to avoid talking about climate change at next week's G20. As usual, the Roast summed this up brilliantly, describing other nation's attitude as:
At a forum to discuss the economy it's a good idea to mention the planet that economy happens on.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Here are the Banned Ads

Australia hosts the G20 next week, and has tried to exclude climate change talks from this year's meeting.

Some non-profit groups got together to put these messages on billboards around the airport. But the airport (whose chairman is also a coal company board member) said no.

Fireman: action on climate change is on my agenda

This man, Dean McNulty, represents the firefighters who put their life on the line more frequently as bushfires become more severe with increased heat.

Farmer: action on climate change is on my agenda

This man, David Bruer, lost $25,000 worth of grapes when a 46°C day hit his vineyard.

The On My Agenda website encourages people to tweet the world leaders to encourage them to talk about climate change even if the Australian government wants to avoid the topic.

Of course, you can also share the images above. Brisbane Airport can't censor your internet.

PS. The hypocrisy of Brisbane Airport has been exposed, as they have allowed mining and oil companies to display political ads, but deem the climate change ones inappropriate, because they are 'political'.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Australia's Hottest October Day

Monday wasn't just a hot day. It was Australia's hottest ever October day - with an average maximum of 36.39°C (97.5F). And it's not even summer yet!

Australia's hottest ever October Day - the weather map

Some places even passed 42°C!

Of course, last October we had spring bushfire - so I guess we can at least be grateful that hasn't happened again. But it's frightening to think that this is only the start of what climate change will bring unless we act to stop it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Getting Satisfaction at the Bank Branch

Two things happen when you take your money out of a bank that finances fossil fuels. First, the good feeling from knowing that your money is no longer being used by the bank to ruin our planet - and that you've done something to improve life for yourself - and people everywhere.

The second is that you get a chance to tell off your old bank.

Move to a non-coal bank - that's the description on my statement of why i'm withdrawing my money.

As I transferred my money, I entered the description "Move to a non-coal bank". I don't know if anyone reads that, but I feel good when I read it on the statement.

I also took the time to write the bank a short note to say that
  • I'd learnt they were funding fossil fuels,
  • I didn't think that was a responsible use of money, and so
  • I'm taking my money elsewhere.
PS. See whether your bank deserves the same treatment, and perhaps switch banks.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tell the Government to Keep Renewable Energy

This is your chance to influence the future of Australia's energy.

Yesterday the government said it wants to reduce the Renewable Energy Target. Now it's negotiating with the opposition to settle on a position. So now is a great time to contact any of the men in the negotiation.

Negotiators of the Renewable Energy Target - MacFarlane, Hunt, Hockey, Butler, Gray and Bowen

Here are their contact details:
Ian MacFarlane - facebook or (02) 6277 7070
Greg Hunt - facebook or (02) 6277 7920
Joe Hockey - facebook or (02) 6277 7340
Mark Butler - facebook or (02) 6277 4089
Gary Gray - facebook or (02) 6277 4913
Chris Bowen - facebook or (02) 6277 4822

This suggested policy, described as a free kick for fossil fuels (which would also increase the price of electricity) would be a 64% cut in future investment, according to the Clean Energy Council.

Already, just a day after this announcement, one wind turbine manufacturer has had to let go of 100 jobs.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

More Dramatic than Terrorism and Ebola

"For all the immediate challenges that we gather to address this week - terrorism, instability, inequality, disease - there's one issues that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate."
That's how Obama began his address to the UN Climate Summit.

He describes the effects on the USA, recognises that "the climate is changing faster than our efforts to address it", and acknowledges that we have to cut carbon pollution in our own countries and work together as a global community before it is too late.

"We cannot condemn our children, and their children, to a future that is beyond their capacity to repair.

This is the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and last generation that can do something about it.

In the US, there is triple the wind power, and 10 times more solar than when Obama became president. Cars are going to be twice as fuel efficient in the next decade, and every major car maker offers electric vehicles. Over the last 8 years, the USA has reduced carbon pollution by more than any other country - and is well on target to reduce emissions by 17% by 2020.

In Obama's words "the United states of America is stepping up to the plate. We recognise our role in creating this problem. We embrace our responsibility to combat it." He goes on to say that to be successful we must all work together.

Of course, Australia's leader failed to attend the Summit. Our foreign minister attracted a much smaller audience.

Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop speaking to a very small audience at the UN Climate Summit

Perhaps this not surprising. Australia has no effective climate policy at this time and a much smaller goal of a 5% reduction by 2020. Even as I write this, Australia's 20% renewable energy target (small by world standards) is being further reduced.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Uruguay - You are Great

At the recent UN Summit, Uruguay committed to reduce its greenhouse emissions by 85% by 2030.

Uruguay commits to reducing emissions by 85% by 2030

Of course there are many other nations with admirable and responsible commitments. (Not Australia though. Still just a 5% reduction)

I've been tagging all my posts like this one, about other nations doing great things, with the tag 'the world'.

But the Climate Council has put it all together in a clickable map.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Getting our money back

On the weekend hundreds of bank customers around Australia took their money back and closed their accounts.

It was an ethical move - to stop the banks using our money to finance fossil fuel burning.

Man with a large novelty cheque to celebrate his divestment from banks investing in fossil fuels

This man with the novelty withdrawal slip was completely serious about taking his quarter of a million dollars elsewhere - for the sake of his kids' future. Others brought their kids along - to feel the experience of taking a moral stand.

father and daughter cancelling the family account with ANZ

A couple of news outlets covered the day. Here's the best tv coverage.

To hear from the people themselves, check out this compilation video.

See Divestment Day Live, for more pictures of the event - from cities and towns around Australia.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Celebrity Endorsement

Missy Higgins is taking part in, and promoting, this Saturday's Divestment Day.

It's a day to encourage people to move their money from banks that invest in fossil fuels, to banks that don't. (In case the interest rate difference wasn't enough reason).

Missy Higgins endorses Divestment Day

As Missy Higgins wrote on her facebook account:

"... my bank has loaned over $6.5 billion to dirty fossil fuels since 2008. I don't know about you but I don't like my money being used to accelerate climate change, it seems insane in this day and age. I'd much prefer my money to be funding renewable energy projects and development, things that might actually save our planet rather than destroy it. So I've written to my bank and told them that if they keep funding fossil fuels I am going to leave. It's our money, we should be able to decide what it's invested in, don't you think? The big four banks have all lent billions to fossil fuels, so if you bank with ANZ, CommBank, NAB or Westpac, join 'Divestment Day' and tell the banks that, "if you choose fossil fuels, we'll choose another bank."

See how your bank invests your money - and look for a better deal on my bank comparison table.

PS. This comes after Felix Riebl joined a previous divestment event.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Warmest September Ever

Following hot on the heels of the warmest August on record, September 2014 was the warmest September so far.

temperature chart of September 2014 warmest September on record

The way things are going, it looks like 2014 may become the hottest year we've ever experienced.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The "Value" of Coal

I've talked a bit about divestment - the idea of getting money out of fossil fuels.

Part of the reason is to make an ethical stand. But the other part is pure finance - taking money out of something that's losing value.

This chart is an example of what I'm talking about. It shows how Australia's coal companies have been losing value and dropping in share price over the past couple of years.

I'm no financial analyst, but to me they seem to past their 'best before' date.

In related news, this Saturday is Divestment Day - a day for taking money out of banks that still invest in fossil fuels.

(Of course, you could do it any day you like, but it's fun to make a special day.)

PS. I was surprised at how much these companies had collapsed in the past few years, so I checked up each company on the Australian Stock Exchange website. It's shocking stuff.

New Hope Corporation (NHC)
Whitehaven Coal (WHC)
Aquila Resources (delisted) High of $11.07 - Jan 2012 $5.85 - Sold at $3.40
Yancoal (YAL)
Cockatoo Coal (COK)
Bandanna (BND)
Carabella (delisted) High of $2.50 - Jan 2012 $1.10 - Sold at 45c
NuCoal (NCR)
MetroCoal (MTE)
Stanmore (SMR)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Why Not?

For the recent UN Climate Summit, 8 young people combined to put together the questions Why Not? to the world's leaders.

It's a good video, and it's a very good question.

why not solar power?