Australia

New Report Identifies The Fossil Fuels We Must Keep In The Ground To Avert Catastrophic Climate Change

As the US Senate haggles over a comprehensive energy bill, climate activist groups have identified the global fossil fuel reserves that must be kept in the ground if we’re to limit global warming to the critical 2-degree-Celsius threshold.

This week saw the Senate debating the hotly contested energy bill, which has been criticized by environmentalists for including a number of fossil fuel industry giveaways, including expedited permitting for liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and subsidies for coal technology, among other troublesome provisions.

Democratic Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Ed Markey (MA) and Brian Schatz (HI) responded by introducing an amendment into the energy bill designed to express Congress’s disapproval of the use of industry-funded think tanks and misinformation tactics aimed at sowing doubt about climate change science.

Senate Democrats ultimately stopped the energy bill from moving forward on Thursday over the fact that a $600-million amendment to address the water crisis in Flint, MI was not included.

The US is not the only country that needs to do some soul-searching when it comes to energy policies, however.

Former Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon Bringing Fracking to Argentina

Aubrey McClendon, the embattled former CEO and co-founder of Chesapeake Energy, has announced his entrance into Argentina to begin hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in the country's Vaca Muerta Shale basin.

Though he retired as Chesapeake Energy's CEO back in 2013 in the aftermath of a shareholder revolt, McClendon wasted little time in creating a new company called American Energy Partners (AEP). AEP, like Chesapeake, has found itself mired since its onset in legal snafus over its treatment of landowners. With AEP not getting a red carpet roll-out in the U.S., McClendon has looked southward for other lucrative business adventures.

Will Australia's New Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull Be A Climate Hawk?

Australia’s new Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, is probably the nearest the country’s conservative ranks have to a climate hawk.

During his short ten years in public office as a member of the Liberal Party, Turnbull has been a staunch defender of climate change science and an advocate for tackling rising greenhouse gas emissions as a “risk management” issue for the planet. 

Late Monday, Turnbull challenged Tony Abbott for the leadership of the Liberal Party and within half a day, had been voted the new leader, 54 to 45.

Climate Science Denial Group CFACT Praises Australia’s War on Renewables

wind farm in Victoria, Australia

Bravo Australia,” came the cry earlier this week from one US-based climate science denial group.

The Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow was reacting to the latest efforts by the Australian Government to stifle its renewable energy industry.

For a country that claims to be a “good global citizen” on climate change, the support from an organisation that claims human-caused climate change is largely a hoax should be seen as a major embarrassment.

CFACT sent an email to supporters saying “you’ve got to hand it to the Aussies” after conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott ordered a government-backed clean energy funding institution to stop financing wind farms and small-scale solar energy projects.

Australians Tour Pennsylvania’s Gaslands as Fracking Threat Looms Over South Australia

A group of Australians who made a fracking fact-finding trip to the Marcellus Shale region will report to the Australian Parliament before any decisions are made about the future of fracking in South Australia. 

In June, the group of twelve Australians—including members of Parliament, farmers, medical and legal professionals—visited communities in Pennsylvania and New York. They saw evidence of contaminated water as a result of accidents and leaks connected to the fracking industry, and met with people both for and against the process. 

Which Advanced Country Has the Most Climate Sceptics? Hint: It's Not the United States

It's not necessarily a competition you should be particularly keen to win, but which country in the world has the most climate change “sceptics”?

Most people would probably hazard a guess at the United States, what with its preponderance of climate science denialist think tanks, conservative television and radio hosts and politicians who think it’s all a hoax.

But a new study that analysed identical surveys carried out across 14 industrialised nations has found that when it comes to climate science denial, Australia tops the pile.

Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey Latest Minister To Tout Coal Industry "Energy Poverty" Spin

Australia's Treasurer Joe Hockey barely missed a beat when challenged to justify the country's massive fossil fuel export industry and bottom-dwelling record for domestic greenhouse gas emissions.

“We are exporting coal so that nations can lift their people out of poverty,” the Liberal Treasurer told the journalist Stephen Sackur on the BBC's HARDTalk interview program.

Hockey's argument should be recognised for what it is - a line straight out of the coal industry's newest campaign playbook.

As I wrote earlier this week on The Guardian, the coal industry is attempting to hijack the issue of “energy poverty” by claiming the only way that the world's poorest can prosper is by purchasing and then burning more of their product.

The United Nations Environment Programme wouldn't agree. In a summary report of climate change impacts, UNEP says: “In Africa and other developing regions of the world, climate change is a threat to economic growth (due to changes in natural systems and resources), long-term prosperity, as well as the survival of already vulnerable populations.”
 
The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on the impacts of climate change found climate change would “exacerbate multidimensional poverty” in most developing countries and create “new poverty pockets” in both rich and poor countries.

Australia Sea Level Rise Will Rack Up $200 Billion Bill by 2100

Major coastal cities in Australia, that vast southern continent of perpetual surf, sun and endless barbeques, are facing a climate change bill of more than $203 billion in commercial, industrial and residential assets by the end of this century.

A new report by the Climate Council of Australia, Counting the Costs: Climate Change and Coastal Flooding, has found that coastal flooding and erosion caused by global warming will become a significantly larger problem with a projected sea level rise of 1.1 metres by 2100.

The report found that Australia is highly vulnerable to increasing coastal flooding because its cities, towns and critical infrastructure are mainly located on the coast.

Australia’s infrastructure has been built for the climate of the 20th century, the report said, and is unprepared for rising sea level.

Coastal flooding is a sleeping giant,” the report said, “If the threat of sea level rise is ignored, the projected increases in economic damage caused by coastal flooding are massive.”

Global Fossil Fuel Companies Running Multiple PR Campaigns Targeting Australians

Both online and on television, one of the world’s biggest oil and gas producers is telling Australians that it cares more about the environment than energy.

How this message might go down with the shareholders of Chevron is anyone’s guess. But then those people are possibly not the target for Chevron’s “We Agree” campaign. 

The targets of this and other campaigns are Australians who might be thinking twice about the social licence to operate that is currently afforded to major fossil fuel companies.

Chevron’s ongoing campaign has been seen on SBS television and on satellite cable channels as well as featured banner ads on popular websites and in print.

The ads ask readers to “agree” to statements like “Value the environment as much as the energy” and “Make Australian Gas Benefit All Australia.” 

Chevron’s multi-billion-dollar gas projects are in the country’s sparsely populated north west where opposition has been weaker than elsewhere.

But the Chevron messaging is just one chunk of a steady barrage of fossil fuel-funded PR flack being fired at Australians by some of the world's biggest mining companies. 

It appears the fossil fuel industry is feeling the pressure from repeated warnings in the scientific literature about the risks of continuing to exploit and burn fossil fuels. 

Nick Minchin

Nick Minchin

 Credentials

  • BEc (Economics), Australian National University 
  • LLB (Law), Australian National University 

Source: Parliamentary Biography.

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