Garnaut: Australia will lose competitive advantage if no clean energy transition

Michael Mazengarb, Renewable Economy,  

A strong future Australian economy can be created by embracing a low emissions economy, and risks sacrificing much of its economic advantages if its doesn’t, according to one of Australia’s leading economists.

Addressing the Stimulus Summit co-hosted by the Smart Energy Council and RenewEconomy, leading economist Professor Ross Garnaut said that there is an increasing appreciation of the benefits of acting on climate change, and the opportunities that exist in accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy.

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Climate crisis: in coronavirus lockdown, nature bounces back – but for how long?

Jonathan Watts @jonathanwatts

Fri 10 Apr 2020 02.40 AEST

European countryside – changed forever?

The environmental changes wrought by the coronavirus were first visible from space. Then, as the disease and the lockdown spread, they could be sensed in the sky above our heads, the air in our lungs and even the ground beneath our feet.

While the human toll mounted horrendously from a single case in Wuhan to a global pandemic that has so far killed more than 88,000 people, nature, it seemed, was increasingly able to breathe more easily.

As motorways cleared and factories closed, dirty brown pollution belts shrunk over cities and industrial centres in country after country within days of lockdown. First China, then Italy, now the UK, Germany and dozens of other countries are experiencing temporary falls in carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide of as much as 40%, greatly improving air quality and reducing the risks of asthma, heart attacks and lung disease

For many experts, it is a glimpse of what the world might look like without fossil fuels. But hopes that humanity could emerge from this horror into a healthier, cleaner world will depend not on the short-term impact of the virus, but on the long-term political decisions made about what follows.

Australia suffers not only the loss of coral reefs.

Research just in reveals that extreme events from climate change (2011-2017) have damaged 45% of Australia’s coastal habitats, including coral reefs, mangroves, kelp forests and seagrass.  These habitats provide food and shelter for a huge range of marine and estuarine species, including large fish, turtles and dugongs.  Vital for fisheries, these key habitats are also used and much loved by local and international visitors. 

The rate of their loss is extremely worrying, especially given that these changes have essentially occurred during an increase in global temperature of 1°C above the preindustrial era. As we go towards warming of 1.5oC, these serious impacts are more than likely to be amplified.

Extreme weather likely behind worst recorded mangrove dieback in northern Australia (Photo: Norm Duke)

Much of the damage has been driven by unusually long and hot underwater heat waves.  Other changes have been due to knock-on effects.  For example, large amounts of kelp forests have disappeared from the south-east coast of Australia due to the spread of sea urchins and tropical grazing fish species as higher latitudes warm.

The future is of concern.  The authors used ecosystem models to evaluate long-term outcomes from changing extreme events, which are predicted to become more frequent and intense with return times diminishing rapidly.  In the latter case, this means that many ecosystems are failing to recover in time prior to the next extreme event.

Check out the peer-reviewed study here.

Tropical Coastal Ecosystems

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The IPCC has spelled out the risks – now what do we do?

SPM AR5 FlameOve Hoegh-Guldberg, Global Change Institute, University of Queensland.  From The ConversationMarch 31 2014.

Despite the mounting evidence, there are still some who would deny the veracity of human-caused climate change and its potential to disrupt and harm our communities. Most dissenters rely on non-expert sources, which tend to have low grades of analysis, review and scientific integrity. Not so with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, the latest part of which has been released today. Continue reading

IPCC preview: deep trouble brewing in our oceans

nr3g7tvk-1394507397Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Global Change Institute, University of Queensland.  From The Conversation, March 26, 2014

Scientists are meeting this week in Yokohama, Japan, to finalise and approve the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group II – the part of the IPCC process that seeks consensus on the likely impacts of climate change, as well as how it might change the vulnerability of people and ecosystems, and how the world might seek to adapt to the changes.

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Bernie Fraser: ‘brazen falsehoods’ and ‘misinformation’ have confused a switched-off and fed-up public

Bernie FraserLenore Taylor, political editor, The Guardian, March 11 2014

One of the country’s most experienced policy thinkers draws a brutal conclusion about Australia’s climate change debate: the “good guys” have lost the argument because they failed to contest untruths peddled by “bad guys”, including the federal government.

Bernie Fraser, the chairman of the independent climate change authority, which the Abbott government intends to abolish, is a softly spoken former governor of the reserve bank and former secretary of the federal treasury, not known for simplistic assessments of major policy discussions. Continue reading

Is Australia shooting itself in the foot with reef port expansions?

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Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Global Change Institute, University of Queensland.  From The Conversation, March 14, 2014

With the approval of dredging as part of the Abbot Point port expansion, Australia has given the green light to an increase in coal exports. While opposition to the plan has focused primarily on the effects of dumping dredge spoil near the Great Barrier Reef, climate change has been missing from the discussion.

Increasing coal exports will play a significant part in the decline of the Great Barrier Reef, and will prove to be a very uneconomical decision for Australia.

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