Is the nuclear industry having any success winning over environmentalists? Around the margins, perhaps, but the ranks of‘pro-nuclear environmentalists’ (PNEs – an acronym previous used to describe ‘peaceful nuclear explosions’) are very thin.Nuclear lobbyists’ epic COP21 fail. Our next job? Keep their hands off climate funds.
Nuclear lobbyists’ epic COP21 fail. Our next job? Keep their hands off climate funds, Ecologist Jim Green 16th December 2015
nuclear industry has had a disappointing COP21, writes Jim Green. Lobbyists were there en masse desperately trying to get pro-nuclear wording into the Paris Agreement, and they failed. The word does not occur even once in the entire document. But we must prepare for the next battle: keeping nuclear power out of the $100 billion a year Green Climate Fund.
The nuclear industry and its supporters were busily promoting nuclear power – and attacking environmentalists – before and during the COP21 UN climate conference in Paris.
All the usual suspects were promoting nuclear power as a climate-friendly energy source: the World Nuclear Association, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the International Energy Agency, the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency, the US Nuclear Energy Institute, and so on.
The Breakthrough Institute has been promoting its pro-nuclear “paradigm-shifting advocacy for an ecomodernist future” and arguing against the “reactionary apocalyptic pastoralism” of anyone who disagrees with them. Continue reading
As Sea Levels Rise, Are Coastal Nuclear Plants Ready? National Geographic, By Christina Nunez, 16 Dec 15 [EXCELLENT MAPS] National Geographic Just east of the Homestead-Miami Speedway, off Florida’s Biscayne Bay, two nuclear reactors churn out enough electricity to power nearly a million homes. The Turkey Point plant is licensed to continue doing so until at least 2032.
At some point after that, if you believe the direst government projections, a good part of the low-lying site could be underwater. So could at least 13 other U.S. nuclear plants, as the world’s seas continue to rise. Their vulnerability, and that of many others, raises serious questions for the future……. safety concerns have stoked opposition to nuclear. Reactors can’t operate safely without uninterrupted power and vast amounts of cool water, which is why they’re often located near coastlines, rivers, and lakes. Even when a plant isn’t running, its fuel continues to generate heat that needs to be controlled to prevent explosions or radioactive leaks.
The disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi showed what can happen when a massive surge of water hits a nuclear plant……
Storms and Warming
The United States has 100 operational nuclear reactors, and another 17 that are being decommissioned. In the past, historical data about storms and flooding would inform the licensing requirements for a unit.
“We generally thought that backward look was sufficient,” says Dave Lochbaum, director of the Nuclear Safety Project at the nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists. Fukushima and big storms like Hurricane Sandy in 2012 showed “that’s a tenuous assumption at best.”………
“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been slow to implement those Fukushima lessons learned,” says Matthew McKinzie, nuclear program director at the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council. “Nuclear safety is a work in progress.”
Researchers at Stanford University echoed that concern in 2013, flagging four East Coast plants (the Salem and Hope Creek plants in New Jersey; Millstone in Connecticut; and Seabrook in New Hampshire) as especially vulnerable to storm surges and arguing for, among other measures, more and taller seawalls. A more recent analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists found that at least four nuclear plants are vulnerable to storm surges by 2050.
The former rule, to be finalized at the end of next year, requires “an extra level of defense for a plant to deal with events that could interfere with ability to keep the core cool,” says Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesperson Scott Burnell. That defense includes portable backup power generators, battery banks, and additional supplies if needed……..
The more immediate concern from climate change, says Dominion spokesperson Ken Holt, is the water near Millstone getting too warm. One of its units had to shut down temporarily in 2012, because its intake from the Niantic Bay exceeded 75 degrees. It’s a problem that has affected other plants, too…….
Even if the plants aren’t running, though, the industry will need to address the radioactive waste left behind.
The question of what happens with spent fuel left at shuttered nuclear plants is, Lochbaum says, “the biggest wild card.”
He adds: “We do have a number of plants around the country where the spent fuel may remain there for decades, and nature may not give us that much time.”
The concern is that the shorter-term pools used to cool spent fuel rods require continuously circulated water. Loss of power at Fukushima, for example, led to urgent efforts to keep the water in the spent fuel pools from boiling away.
After a few years, fuel can be moved from pools to dry casks made of steel reinforced with concrete. Though the safety risk for casks is much lower—all of Fukushima’s emerged unscathed—some are concerned about how long those casks can remain safe at vulnerable sites, especially those buffeted by salty sea air. At the decommissioned San Onofre plant in California, for example, local activists tried but failed to stop plans to store nuclear waste 100 feet from the coast…….. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/energy/2015/12/151215-as-sea-levels-rise-are-coastal-nuclear-plants-ready/
There is a new form of climate denialism to look out for – so don’t celebrate yet, Guardian, Naomi Oreskes, 17 Dec 15 “………And here, there are some interesting facts that most people don’t know. In a recent study that I did with my colleague Richard Heede, we examined the potential impact of using the proven reserves of fossil fuels in the world. We discovered a surprising fact: if all the reserves in the hands of investor-owned companies were to be burned, we would not exceed the 2C (3.6F) target.
What puts the world at risk are the reserves in the hands of nation-states – which are mostly coal – and the continued exploration for more oil and gas by private companies like Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, BP and Shell. Most of the coal reserves are in developing nations such as China, which increasingly recognizes the very serious damage that coal use entails and is looking for alternatives modes of development. So this leaves us with the investor-owned companies seeking new reserves, and it means that we must find a way to convince – or prevent – these companies from continued exploration.
So far no one has proposed a plan to do that, and we probably won’t get very far if the alternatives to fossil fuel – such as renewable energy – are disparaged by a new generation of myths. If we want to see real solutions implemented, we need to be on the lookout for this new form of denial.
There have been important signs of late of cracks in the Republican rejection of climate science, as some party leaders have signaled their willingness to consider carbon pricing. Still, as new forms of denialism continue to emerge, it is hard to imagine federal implementation of a climate plan any time soon, much less the sort of ambitious plan that would help keep the world below the 1.5-2C (2.7-3.6F) level of warming, per the Paris agreement.
When President Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, many critics of the decision (and even some supporters) said it was merely symbolic. Symbols matter – so even if it were, that would not necessarily be bad. But rejecting XL was a crucial step in the direction of rejecting new commitments to fossil fuel infrastructure. ……….http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/16/new-form-climate-denialism-dont-celebrate-yet-cop-21
Given the lead-time of about ten to fifteen years for nuclear power plant design, approval and construction, a massive program of new construction would need to begin within the next few years to start to replace the soon-to-be-retiring units.
The latest poster child for nuclear climate change salvation is a fleet of advanced reactors, which — on paper — do provide enticing improvements to the current generation of reactors. At best, however, this technology is several decades from becoming commercially viable, too far into the future to be relevant.
The reality with nuclear power is that it has proven time and again to take longer and cost more to develop than predicted. There is nothing in the new designs nor the performance of the industry today that suggests this trend will end.
Nuclear Power and Climate Change http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gregory-jaczko/nuclear-power-and-climate_b_8806792.html?ir=Australia 15/12/2015 Gregory Jaczko Fmr. US Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman and Commissioner As world leaders convene in Paris in an attempt to prevent a rise in global temperatures, the nuclear industry has — not surprisingly — seized this moment to once again promise the perfect solution to the climate challenge. Having witnessed this industry up close for the last decade and a half, I am concerned that the uniquely perfect promise of safe, clean, predictable, and affordable nuclear power will divert our focus from solutions that will actually work to control greenhouse gas emissions. Continue reading
Paris UN climate conference 2015: Is it possible to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees?, SMH, December 11, 2015 Tom Arup Environment editor, The Age In a significant shift, more than 100 countries – including Australia, the US, Germany and France – have agreed to support recognition of a goal to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees.
Until now, the common goal has been to keep warming to less than two degrees above pre-industrial levels.
So why is there sudden momentum for this more ambitious target? And what is the real world difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees?
The 1.5 degree goal has been the focus of a long-term push by small island states and least-developed African nations – the most vulnerable countries to climate change due to their geography and economic position.
A recent review by the UN climate body found that when temperatures do rise above 1.5 degrees, polar regions, high mountains, tropics and low-lying coastal regions will be most in the gun. In Africa, the ability to grow food will be hit, particularly for the sub-Sahara..
What needs to be done to get there?
This is the problem: the 2 degree goal is hard enough. The scientific models show 1.5 degrees is almost impossible.
Global emissions remainhigh, and the world has already warmed by one degree since industrial times. Glen Peters, a senior researcher with Oslo-based organisation CEIRCO, says at current rate of emissions the world will have produced enough carbon dioxide by 2020 to lock in 1.5 degrees warming.
And even if sharp cuts to emissions are made, there is a kicker. Temperatures would almost certainly first go over the threshold, meaning technology to draw carbon from the atmosphere will be needed to help cool the planet and bring it under 1.5 degrees……
If there are two targets in any Paris agreement, would having 1.5 degrees mean anything?
Its inclusion in the text would ensure the more ambitious target is considered alongside two degrees in any official reviews or assessments by the UN. And coupled with strong measures to encourage countries to cut emissions faster, those in favour say it could drive greater climate ambition.
For vulnerable countries, it could help them set a legal threshold to trigger a form of compensation – called loss and damage – to help them recover from climate change driven natural disasters. Loss and damage is another of the moving elements at the Paris talks.
Ultimately is 1.5 degrees scientifically realistic?
Let’s give the final word to Peters, who suggests: “Take a cold shower”. http://www.smh.com.au/environment/un-climate-conference/paris-un-climate-conference-2015-is-it-possible-to-keep-global-warming-below-15-degrees-20151209-gljtzu.html#ixzz3u4Qn6qB6
Nuclear Champions go into Overdrive http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/recent-additions/nuclear-champions-go-into-overdrive/ 11 Dec 15
They seem to be making a desperate last-ditch effort to convince us all that nuclear power is an important part of the answer to the climate crisis with blatant attacks on those who envisage a future based on renewable energy without nuclear. (1) But the truth is that nuclear power is a dangerous distraction from what we really need to be doing. Because every pound spent on nuclear power could have been spent more effectively, making greater reductions in carbon emissions, nuclear is actually damaging efforts to tackle climate change.
NASA scientist James Hansen was in Paris to berate climate campaigners for failing to support nuclear power. But Hansen ignores renewables and energy efficiency, setting up a false choice between fossil fuels and nuclear. (2) Hansen doesn’t just want more nuclear power, but he wants next-generation nuclear power stations fuelled with weapons-useable plutonium, extracted from spent fuel in reprocessing plants like Sellafield, which runs the risk of more weapons proliferation problems in future. (3)
A big part of the pro-nuclear argument seems to be based on the idea that renewable energy currently provides only a tiny part of global electricity supply and cannot scale up rapidly enough to replace fossil fuels. Nuclear power, on the other hand, the argument goes, could do so. Hansen wants 115 new reactors to be built every year – yet the world has never built more than 40 a year. (4) Fortunately the concept of a world powered by 100% renewable energy is no longer seen as a pipedream but as a necessary and, more importantly, achievable goal at every level–from individuals to large corporations, and from small communities to large cities. (5)
Meanwhile the UK Government seems intent on demonstrating to the rest of the world that nuclear power is too expensive to play a part in tackling climate change and leads to the slashing of budgets for faster and much more effective ways of reducing carbon emissions. References …..
From Paris with love: US policy leaders see elegance in a carbon tax http://www.theage.com.au/comment/from-paris-with-love-us-policy-leaders-see-elegance-in-a-carbon-tax-20151211-gll7ye.html#ixzz3u4Og6BLZ Scot Lehigh
A group of influential academics say a carbon tax offers greater potential to combat
global warming than any other policy As negotiators labour away in Paris on climate change solutions, some United States policy luminaries are urging a simple, elegant remedy: a carbon tax.
“This single policy change … offers greater potential to combat global warming than any other policy, with minimal regulatory and enforcement costs,” they say in a public letter to the Paris participants.
So far, that idea has been embraced more by the left than the right, but signatories include George Shultz, who held four cabinet-level posts under Republicans presidents, culminating in his more than six years as secretary of state under Ronald Reagan; and Greg Mankiw, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under George W. Bush.
Three Nobel prize winners in economics have signed on: Columbia’s Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist at the World Bank; University of Maryland economist Thomas Schelling; and Kenneth Arrow, professor emeritus at Stanford. And add a Nobel winner in physics to that list: Stanford’s Steven Chu, President Obama’s first secretary of energy.
So why a carbon tax? Because it’s comparatively easy to administer and would help get prices right. Although carbon dioxide emissions are the primary contributor to man-made global warming, the price of carbon-based energy doesn’t reflect the environmental harm it causes.
“This is pollution just like water pollution and other forms of air pollution,” notes Chu. “There are long-term costs … that should be incorporated in the cost of the fuel.” If a tax were assessed based on an energy source’s carbon content, the price of fossil fuels would rise significantly, rendering it less attractive compared with cleaner energy. Then markets could work their wonders.
The letter, sent under the auspices of the nonprofit Carbon Tax Center, lists these guiding principles: The tax should be calibrated to an energy source’s carbon content (the heaviest impact, obviously, would be on coal) and assessed at the industry level, which means on extractors or importers of coal, oil, and natural gas. The levy should start low but rise relatively quickly, on a predictable trajectory, to a substantial level. At least some of the resulting revenue should be used to offset the effect on lower-income households.
Chu, who wants all the carbon-tax revenue to be returned to citizens, says that could be done by giving seniors a bump in government-funded retirement pensions, employees a tax break, and the self-employed an income tax cut.
A common-across-multiple-countries carbon tax would be much easier to agree on and administer than a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions, because there are far fewer points of potential disagreement, notes Harvard economist Martin Weitzman.
Further, there’s an easy solution to the free-rider effect: If several large countries implemented such a tax, they could then assess tariffs on products from countries that failed to do so. A desire to recoup that revenue for themselves “could be enough to induce countries to participate,” says Weitzman.
There’s one big problem, however: political resistance in the US, where, unlike in other countries, the conservative approach to global warming has been to wish it away.
But that’s changing. And as it does, the logic of a revenue-neutral carbon tax that complements markets may become more apparent.
“One scenario is that one, and then three, and then a dozen, and then a few dozen Republicans will peel away from the monolith, enough to allow for a congressional majority,” says Charles Komanoff, executive director of the Carbon Tax Center.
After all, it’s an idea with real appeal. Once you resign yourself to living in the real world, that is.
MASS PARIS PROTEST ON 12-12 TO CONCLUDE HISTORIC CLIMATE SUMMIT See more at: http://www.occupy.com/article/mass-paris-protest-12-12-conclude-historic-climate-summit#sthash.ZyIzAQ5c.dpuf , – BY NADIA PRUPIS THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON COMMON DREAMS N PARIS EARLIER THIS WEEK, A PANEL OF ACTIVISTS, INCLUDING AUTHOR NAOMI KLEIN AND U.K. LABOUR PARTY LEADER JEREMY CORBYN, SPOKE TO A PACKED CROWD ON THE ROLE OF THE GLOBAL LABOR SECTOR IN THE CLIMATE JUSTICE MOVEMENT AND CALLED FOR MASS CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE TO BREAK FRENCH PRESIDENT FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE’S BAN ON DEMONSTRATIONS DURING THE COP21 SUMMIT.
Klein spoke candidly about the global climate agreement being hammered out by world leaders this month, stating, “The deal that will be unveiled in less than a week will not be enough to keep us safe. In fact, it will be extraordinarily dangerous.”
Wealthy nations have set up inadequate climate targets that could allow average global temperatures to rise by 3 or 4 degrees Celsius, Klein said – far higher than the agreed-on threshold of 2°C, which scientists say would cause catastrophic extreme weather events. The deal is going to “steamroll over crucial scientific red lines… it is going to steamroll over equity red lines… it is going to steamroll over legal red lines.”
“Which is why on December the 12 at 12 o’clock – that’s 12-12-12 – many activists will be peacefully demonstrating against the violation of these red lines,” Klein said, prompting a round of applause from the audience of roughly 800 trade unionists and other workers and activists.
The march will protest the French government’s crackdown on activism following the November 13 attacks that killed 130 people – and sparked a cross-border manhunt that many said flouted Europeans’ civil liberties. Klein has been an outspoken critic of the ban.
“We will be mourning the lives already lost to climate disruption, in solidarity with the lives lost to the tragic attacks here in Paris and enlarging that circle of mourning,” Klein said. “By taking to the streets, we will be clearly and unequivocally rejecting the Hollande government’s draconian and opportunistic bans on marches, protests, and demonstrations.”
“We will be rejecting the shameful preemptive arrests of climate activists… the restrictions on free speech and movement,” she continued. “Liberté is not just a word, and it doesn’t just apply to Christmas markets and football matches.”
Corbyn added, “We’ve taken the responsibility on ourselves to do something here and now. To stop the destruction of the world’s environment, to bring people together to prevent that happening, and above all, to bring people together not through fear, but through hope, through imagination, through optimism. Unleash the optimism, unleash the imagination, unleash the hope. That is the way forward.”
The panel also discussed the importance of a “just transition” to a clean future, particularly by converting to a system of community-owned renewable resource infrastructures—a process also known as energy democratization.
“When communities have control over the production and distribution of clean energy, that’s environmental justice,” said Judy Gonzalez, president of the New York State Nurses Union, who also spoke on the panel.
Corbyn also hit back at criticisms that a focus on sustainable energy, in tandem with a fossil fuel phase-out, is financially nonviable. “A more sustainable energy policy… one that would help the issues we face on a global level, would actually be an economic generator, rather than a problem,” he said.
Clara Paillard, president of the Public & Commercial Services Union culture sector, added, “If we want a just transition, we will need jobs – many, many jobs. Climate is a trade union issue.”
“In 2008, the U.K. found 800 billion pounds to save the bank. And in the U.K., tax avoidance and evasion represent over 100 billion pounds every year,” Paillard continued. “Let’s be clear, if the planet was a bank they would have already saved it.”
Follow the money to climate science denial https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/follow-the-money-to-climate-science-denial,8472 Graham Readfearn 10 December 2015, A Greenpeace investigation uncovers a complex climate science denial machine involving cash from big business in exchange for “peer review” studies.Graham Readfearn from DeSmogBlogreports.
AN UNDERCOVER INVESTIGATION by environment group Greenpeace has found some of the world’s most vocal climate science denial groups were willing to accept cash from fossil fuel interests in return for writing articles and reports that reject the impacts of greenhouses gases. Continue reading
10 facts that show why cities are the key to climate change and global health
To mark cities day at the UN Climate Conference in Paris, here’s why urbanisation should be at the heart of any conversation about the planet’s future http://www.theguardian.com/cities/gallery/2015/dec/08/statistics-show-cities-key-future-planet-un-climate-change
Feted by Hollywood, city mayors take starring role in Paris climate talksWhen Leonardo di Caprio and Robert Redford arrived at the UN Climate Conference, their first priority was to talk to city leaders. It’s one indication of where the power to reduce climate emissions now lies, writes John Vidalhttp://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/dec/07/hollywood-city-mayors-paris-climate-talks-di-caprio-redford
ExxonMobil is OK with a carbon tax Even Big Oil is ahead of the Republican Party when it comes to climate changeDecember 8, 2015. Even ExxonMobil says climate change is real. So why won’t the GOP?To understand how dangerously extreme the Republican Party has become on climate change, compare its stance to that of ExxonMobil.http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/2015/12/08/ExxonMobil-is-OK-with-a-carbon-tax/stories/201512080009
a series of incidents in recent years, extreme weather events, environmental degradation and major seismic events can directly impact the safety and security of nuclear installations.
The Climate-Nuclear Nexus: Two Key Threats Endangering Future Generations, Huffington Post Jakob von Uexkull 5 Dec 15 Over the next two weeks, Heads of States are meeting in Paris to finally agree on a plan to curb climate change. Considering that climate change can exacerbate a range of interconnected transnational threats and crises that our generation faces today, such as extreme poverty, hunger, violent conflicts and pandemic disease, meaningful action is urgently needed.
Despite this, the proposed measures are again nowhere near proportional to the problem. In fact, the climate negotiations have so far been subjected to lack of information and misguidance on so-called solutions that should enable us to limit the rise in temperatures to 2°C. One particular problem is that too many of the intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) still build on nuclear energy as a way for low-carbon development.
This is extremely problematic given that increased reliance on nuclear energy to reduce carbon emissions will contribute to the risks of nuclear proliferation. In these crucial times, current instabilities and geopolitical tensions are an important dynamic to consider. The increasingly aggressive nuclear threat postures between Russia and NATO in Europe, the rising nuclear tensions between China and US allies in the South China sea, and the excessive expenditures (over US$100 billion annually) on nuclear weapons consume resources required and undermine conditions conducive for tackling climate change in a cooperative manner. Further proliferation of nuclear weapons would make this even worse……
Nuclear energy is neither required for nor capable of solving the climate crisis. Nuclear energy lacks the capacity potential to significantly replace the huge amounts of fossil energy. In addition, the nuclear ‘fuel chain’ contains a variety of problems and risks, including the release of radioactive materials at every stage of the cycle and trans-generational safety problems from nuclear waste disposal. A very serious problem is the possibility, at various stages of the nuclear fuel chain, to divert nuclear technologies and know-how towards nuclear weapons development.
As the Word Future Council has highlighted in a recent report, climate change and nuclear weapons interact with each other in additional ways. Conflicts induced or exacerbated by climate change could contribute to global insecurity, which, in turn, could enhance the chance of a nuclear weapon being used, could create more fertile breeding grounds for terrorism, including nuclear terrorism, and could feed the ambitions among some states to acquire nuclear arms.
Furthermore, as evidenced by a series of incidents in recent years, extreme weather events, environmental degradation and major seismic events can directly impact the safety and security of nuclear installations. Moreover, a nuclear war could lead to a rapid and prolonged drop in average global temperatures and significantly disrupt the global climate for years to come, which would have disastrous implications for agriculture, threatening the food supply for most of the world. Finally, climate change, nuclear weapons and nuclear energy pose threats of intergenerational harm, as evidenced by the transgenerational effects of nuclear testing and nuclear power accidents and the lasting impacts on the climate, environment and public health from carbon emissions……
The World Future Council has been highlighting how climate change and nuclear weapons interact with each other through its ‘Climate-Nuclear Nexus’ project. Foreign Minister of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Tony deBrum, received together with the People of the Marshall Islands the Honorary Right Livelihood Award on 30 November for initiating litigation in the International Court of Justice to ensure the nuclear-armed states uphold their disarmament obligations. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jakob-von-uexkull/the-climate-nuclear-nexus_b_8707016.html?ir=Australia
Even If Paris Climate Talks Succeed, Pacific Islanders Will Be Looking For New Homes, New Matilda, By Thom Mitchell on December 4, 2015 Australia’s Pacific Island neighbours already face poverty, and soon they’ll be facing even worse. Thom Mitchell reports from Paris.
More than 70 per cent of households in the Pacific Islands of Tuvalu and Kiribati to Australia’s north east say they’re likely to migrate if the impacts of climate change become any worse than they already are, according to research presented in Paris at a global summit on climate change yesterday.
Climate change already exists as a key driver of migration in the region, according to the study presented by the United Nations University’s Dr Koko Warner, which found it motivating 23 per cent of Kiribati’s migration and eight per cent of Tuvalu’s.
In Nauru – an island nation Australia uses to arbitrarily and indefinitely detain many of its asylum seekers – more than 40 per cent of households said they feel migration would be their likely response if sea level rise or flooding worsened.
All three islands are extremely vulnerable to the climate change impacts like sea level rise, saltwater intrusion, and storm surges, and the survey of more than 7,000 people across the three countries found that climate change was already affecting agriculture and fish stocks, and reclaiming or spoiling land.
Pacific Island leaders have been pushing the issue of climate-induced migration in the opening days of the Paris talks, arguing for a more ambitious target than the two degrees of average global warming the negotiations are aiming for. Tuvaluan Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga said the two degree target was about “saving economies,” and that for Pacific Islanders their preferred target of a 1.5 degree rise in temperatures is about “saving our people”……..
The President of Kiribati, Anote Tong, has repeated his calls for Australia to stop approving new fossil fuel developments at the talks, arguing that to be serious about cutting emissions you’ve got to be serious about not approving new coal mines.
“They use the excuse of the poor. But we are the poor, and we are speaking on our own behalf and we will be affected,” Tong said in November. Yesterday, Australia’s Environment Minister Greg Hunt argued that the reason he approved the massive Carmichael coal mine in Queensland is that, as a government minister, he makes assessments of projects against the existing law, that greenhouse gasses do not form part of that law, and that it would be “neo-colonial” to make decisions about another countries’ “energy future”…….
Greens Deputy Leader Larissa Waters is also at the Paris climate talks, and she said it is “dishonest and deceptive for Minister Hunt to say he hopes there are no climate refugees at the same time as he approves mega coal mines that he knows full well drive dangerous global warming and threaten our Pacific Island neighbours”.
“President Tong yesterday said that politicians have no compassion, only election cycles; and looking at the Turnbull Government’s dangerous climate policies it’s hard not to agree,” she said………
Phil Glendenning is the Director of the Pacific-focused Edmund Rice Centre and the Refugee Council of Australia, and he said a two degree rise in temperatures would be devastating for Tuvalu and Kiribati.
“Where will these people go? And more importantly, if there was some sort of arrangement where they had some sort of certainty of their future, that would give them a choice and ease the burden they feel at the moment, where they feel it’s all inevitable,” he said.
“I think Australia could play a creative role to become part of the solution rather than a fence or a barrier, but having said that most people want to stay in their homes,” he said. “If they do choose to move, though, Australia should make it easier rather than harder.”
Glendenning said it would be good to see “some sort of freedom of association that would be different but similar to the arrangements that New Zealand has with the Cook Islands and Niue; different but similar to what the Marshall Islands have with the United States”.
“Kiribati and Tuvalu do not have that access,” he said, “and yet both of those countries use Australian currency, and look to Australia as their largest neighbour”.
“Why not have a look at that, because if we look at it Tuvalu has a population the size of Lithgow (to Sydney’s north west) and Kiribati is the same size as Toowoomba (in Queensland’s Darling Downs).”
The study found that while the majority of respondents would prefer to migrate if climate impacts worsen, the average monthly per capita income is just US$12 across the three countries studied, and only a quarter of the population felt their households will have the financial means to relocate. https://newmatilda.com/2015/12/04/even-if-paris-climate-talks-succeed-pacific-islanders-will-be-looking-for-new-homes/
New research finds that global warming is intensifying wildfires, Guardian, John Abraham, 3 Dec 15 A new study finds a human fingerprint in growing California wildfire risks A new paper was just published which provides a glimpse into the future of wildfires. The paper is titled “Extreme fire season in California: A glimpse into the future?” It was published as the second chapter of “Explaining Extreme Events of 2014” which is from by the American Meteorological Society and it is available here. The lead-in summary to the article is very much to the point. It states,
The fire season in northern California during 2014 was the second longest in terms of burned areas since 1996. An increase in fire risk in California is attributable to human-induced climate change.
The authors, Jin-Ho Yoon and colleagues make the point that California has been under drought conditions since 2012 and that the drought worsened recently. As is obvious, drought exacerbates the threat from wildfires. Last year, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection saw many more fires than have occurred in the prior five-year averages……
The authors then project into the future and ask what the current trends portend over the next few centuries. The predicted results are striking. We can expect to see increases in the drought index, the area under extreme threat of fires, and the days of fire danger. The following statement from the report provides a great summary.
The increase in extreme fire risk is expected within the coming decade to exceed that of natural variability and this serves as an indication that anthropogenic climate warming will likely play a significant role in influence California’s fire season…..http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2015/dec/03/new-research-finds-that-global-warming-is-intensifying-wildfires
The President of the Rockefella Brothers Fund sees fossil fuel investments as increasingly risky, and the former Development Minister of France is heralding a “cultural shift” in financial markets. Thom Mitchell reports.
Over 500 funds managing nearly three and half trillion dollars have joined the global fossil fuel divestment movement, a panel of environmentalists and financial heavyweights announced at the United Nations climate change summit in Paris today.
Campaigners spearheading the fast-growing movement at climate advocacy groups 350.org and Divest-Invest said that in the past 10 weeks alone more than 100 institutions had promised to ‘divest for Paris’, including the city of Melbourne and the insurance company Allianz.
The $3.4 trillion figure represents funds ‘under management’, not funds invested directly in fossil fuels, and many of the commitments represent only a partial pull-out from polluting energy of at least one form of fossil fuel (coal, oil, or gas).
“Because of their varying degrees of disclosure with these commitments, we don’t have the exact total of the amount divested, but we do know that standard portfolios contain around 3.7 per cent of fossil fuels,” said May Boeve, Executive Director of 350.org. “But the point here has never been exactly how much is pulled out in that way… and that’s for a simple reason: A growing number of investors, representing a growing amount of capital, do not want to be associated with this industry any longer,” she said.
“It is a rogue industry, and that is what these commitments represent. It demonstrates that investors are taking climate risk extremely seriously.”
The $860 million Rockefella Brothers Fund was one of the first big institutions to divest from fossil fuels, in September last year, and the philanthropic organisations’ President Stephen Heintz told media that since that time the divestment movement had grown from around $50 billion in assets under management, to $3.4 trillion.
“You can see that this movement is rapidly growing, and it’s because of two things: There is a moral imperative to save the planet, and to do so we need to end the fossil fuel era now, and it also makes economic sense,” he said.
“As governments from around the world come together to set the framework in place for moving us quickly into the fossil fuel-free era, those assets are going to become less and less valuable.”…….https://newmatilda.com/2015/12/03/fossil-fuel-divestment-reaches-3-4-trillion-globally/
COP21: France to spend billions on African renewable energy projects Guardian, 1 Dec 15
François Hollande tells Paris climate summit that his government will double investments in wind, solar and hydropower to €2bn France plans to spend billions of euros in renewable energy and other environmental projects in its former west African colonies and across Africa over the next five years, President François Hollande said on Tuesday.
Africa produces little of the greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, produced by burning fossil fuels, linked by scientists to rapid climate change. But it is particularly vulnerable to a changing climate, as much of its population is poor, rural and dependent on rain-fed agriculture.
Hollande told a conference on Africa, held as part of climate change talks in Paris, that his government would double investments in renewable energy generation, ranging from wind farms to solar power and hydroelectric projects, across the continent to €2bn between 2016 and 2020……..
African leaders want the biggest polluting nations to commit to financing as part of contributions to an internationally administered Green Climate Fund, that hopes to dispense $100bn a year after 2020 as a way to finance the developing world’s shift towards renewables. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/dec/01/cop21-france-to-spend-billions-on-african-renewable-energy-projects
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