Sunday, September 09, 2018

Business As Usual: UN Climate Meeting Deadlocked

At the UN climate meeting in Bangkok, discussions are deadlocked over a number of contentious issues.

Thai fishermen and labourers whose livelihoods are threatened by rising sea levels kicked off an international day of protests in Bangkok Saturday, where key UN talks are attempting to breathe life into the Paris Agreement on climate change.

As global warming races ahead of efforts to contain it, the discussions are deadlocked over a number of contentious issues, with activists demanding immediate action to prevent irreparable damage to the planet. […]

The talks aim to create a draft legal framework for limiting global temperature rises that can be presented to ministers and heads of state at a final round of discussions in Poland in December.

The delegates have been meeting since Tuesday, but have made little progress, according to multiple sources close to the negotiations.

“The negotiators are not taking any action,” Ruchi Tripathi, head of climate justice at charity ActionAid, said.

In particular, the issue of how the fight against climate change will be funded – and how that funding is made available to developing nations – remains a key sticking point.


Antarctica's big secret: Active volcanic heat found under Pine Island Glacier

Secret?  I have been pointing to subsurface vulcanism at both poles for years

Researchers have made a shocking discovery under the Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica — an active volcanic heat source, which they say has played a "critical role" in the movement and melting of the glacier.

The scientists were looking at the role the ocean plays in causing glaciers to weaken when the discovery was made.

“We were looking to better understand the role of the ocean in melting the ice shelf,” Assistant Professor Brice Loose of Newport, R.I., a chemical oceanographer and lead author of the paper, said in a statement.

Loose added that the group was "sampling the water for five different noble gases, including helium and xenon," when the discovery was made.

“We weren’t looking for volcanism, we were using these gases to trace other actions,” Loose said. “When we first started seeing high concentrations of helium-3, we thought we had a cluster of bad or suspicious data.”

Loose said the presence of helium-3 is a "fingerprint for volcanism," noting it's relatively abundant in the seawater at the Pine Island shelf.

University of East Anglia Professor Karen Heywood, who also worked on the study, said the presence of volcanoes just means there's an additional source of heat to melt the ice.

"It will be important to include this in our efforts to estimate whether the Antarctic ice sheet might become unstable and further increase sea level rise," Heywood said.

Last year, significant parts of the Pine Island Glacier separated from the main shelf. In February 2017, a piece of the glacier approximately 1 mile wide separated. And in September 2017, a chunk of ice nearly four times the size of Manhattan separated from the Pine Island Glacier, according to LiveScience.

The amount of ice going into the ocean is staggering, measured in gigatons, Loose said. A gigaton is equal to 1 billion metric tons.

It's well understood that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet lies on top of a large or major volcanic rift system, but there has been no current magmatic activity, Loose noted. The last recorded activity was 2,200 years ago, but the volcanic heat discovered is new. Loose said it's impossible to measure the normal indicators of the volcanism, including heat and smoke, because the rift is so far below the ice.

Despite the discovery of the volcanic heat, the researchers noted that climate change is still the driving force for melting the ice, something other studies have repeatedly backed up, Loose said.  [Evidence?]


BBC says Manmade climate change is 'indisputable'

The BBC says manmade climate change is so indisputable that it does not need to invite ‘deniers’ on to its shows for balance.

Fran Unsworth, who is the corporation’s head of news and current affairs, told journalists the issue should be treated in the same way they would report the score in a football match.

In a note to staff, she said: ‘Manmade climate change exists: if the science proves it we should report it.

‘To achieve impartiality, you do not need to include outright deniers of climate change in BBC coverage, in the same way you would not have someone denying that Manchester United won 2-0 last Saturday. The referee has spoken.’

Miss Unsworth’s email also directed staff to training materials stating that the broadcaster had too often failed to strike the right balance on climate change.

‘Climate change has been a difficult subject for the BBC, and we get coverage of it wrong too often. The climate science community is clear that humans have changed the climate, but specifically how is more difficult to evidence,’ the materials said, according to the Carbon Brief newsletter.

The issue was highlighted last year by a Today programme interview with Lord Lawson, a former Tory chancellor and climate change sceptic.

He claimed on the Radio 4 programme that there was no confirmation that extreme weather events were on the rise. He also said – inaccurately – that global temperatures had ‘slightly declined’.

The Today programme criticised Lord Lawson’s views on air the following day and senior BBC bosses later decided to go further and issue a formal apology.

The public display of hand-wringing sparked criticism from climate change sceptics and free speech advocates, who said green campaigners were ‘the book-burners of our age’.

Lord Lawson scored a victory over the BBC in January, when it was forced to admit that it had distorted the facts in a television programme. The BBC2 travelogue, Russia with Simon Reeve, claimed that reindeer populations across the north of the country were ‘in steep decline because of climate change’.

However, Lord Lawson pointed out that 17 out of 19 types of Eurasian reindeer were either stable or increasing in numbers.

The BBC’s claim is ‘a distortion of known facts and constitutes a serious factual error’, he wrote. ‘Given that climate change is such a controversial subject, extra care should be taken.’ This time the corporation stopped short of issuing an apology – but it did admit it should have been clearer.

‘This programme suggested that many reindeer populations are in steep decline because of climate change,’ the BBC said. ‘It would have been more accurate to say that many reindeer populations are threatened by it.’


Trump Just Stumped All The Critics Of His ‘Energy Dominance’ Agenda

The Department of the Interior’s (DOI) latest oil and gas lease sale brought in nearly $1 billion bonus bids and broke all previous records, the DOI announced Thursday.

The DOI sold 142 leases in New Mexico and brought in more revenue in two days than the all of the oil and gas lease sales in 2017 combined. Revenue totaled $972,483,619.50 and roughly half of that will be reinvested in New Mexico’s roads and public services, such as education.

“Critics of the Administration’s American Energy Dominance policy often falsely claim there is little to no interest in Federal oil and gas leases. Today they are eating their words and once again President Trump’s policies are bearing fruit for the American people,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement.

A 1,240-acre parcel in southeastern New Mexico set the record for the highest per-acre bid at $81,889 per acre. The single parcel brought in more than $101.5 million in revenue.

On “bonus bids,” companies pay a one-time premium to secure exclusive access and rights to develop an area for oil and gas for at least a decade. The lease will extend as long as the area remains in use producing oil.

Bonus bids are used by experts to gauge companies’ long-term confidence in particular areas.

The Trump administration is continuing to push the president’s “energy dominance” agenda that includes rolling back regulation and opening more federal land and waters to potential development. The DOI held the largest oil and gas lease sale in U.S. history in March, offering 77 million acres in federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico. The sale brought in $139 million worth of bids. (RELATED: Trump’s DOI Releases The Results Of The Largest Oil Lease Sale In US History)

Recent sales of oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico have produced somewhat stale results and caused some to question whether oil and gas companies were interested in investing in more long-term oil and gas development.


Australia backing out of climate committments

The Leftist article below says the world is horrified.  The reality is that only a few Greenie ideologues are even noticing

Well, that didn’t take long. Little more than a week after the elevation of Scott Morrison to the prime minister’s office, Australia has returned to the bad old ways that were a feature of Tony Abbott’s engagement on climate change, and John Howard’s involvement with Kyoto.

In separate arena this week, Australia has been accused of attempting to water down the language of the Pacific Islands Forum declaration on climate change. And in Bangkok it has sided with the Trump administration and Japan in attempting to weaken climate finance obligations in a move that has horrified some observers.

Australia is coming under increasing scrutiny since Malcolm Turnbull announced the country was dumping the emissions obligation proposed for the National Energy Guarantee, and was then dumped by the party’s climate denying conservative wing anyway.

Morrison has shown no interest in climate change, and has instructed new energy minister Angus Taylor to focus only on “bringing down prices” and ensuring the country retains as much “fair dinkum” coal in the system as it can.

Even environment minister Melissa Price, a former mining company lawyer who is supposed to be responsible for emissions, is talking up the idea of having new coal-fired generators.

The international community is looking on in horror, and so are the main business lobby groups in Australia, such as the Business Council of Australia – who have campaigned vigorosuly for a decade to minimise Australia’s contribution to climate action, but understand the considerable reputational, trade and business consequences of choosing to do nothing.

Morrison has so far resisted calls from the party’s far right to follow Trump out of the Paris climate treaty, but in crucial and complex climate talks in Bangkok this week, sided with the US and Japan in a dramatic attempt to weaken climate finance obligations.

The Bangkok talks were called to give negotiators extra time to put together the so-called “rule-book,” which will provide the fine details of the Paris agreement, particularly as countries gear up to increase their climate targets to try and drag the collective efforts closer to the target of limiting global warming to “well below” 2°C, and possibly 1.5°C.

But little progress has been made in Bangkok, forcing the UNFCCC, which runs the climate talks, to call for the annual talks scheduled this year in Poland to begin a day earlier, in the hope that visiting heads of state have something to work with when they turn up.

One of the biggest road-blocks has been erected by Australia, the US and Japan, who put in a joint submission that seeks to water down climate finance guidelines, and casts doubt that this week’s Bangkok negotiations will deliver the clear climate rules UN leaders have been calling for.

Climate campaigners say the proposed text on article 9.7 of the Paris accord, which refers to accounting and is meant to establish rules about how developed countries report what finance they provide to developing countries, serves to muddy the rules rather than clarify them.

The campaigners say that the proposal would allow countries to report whatever items they like – including commercial loans ≠ as climate finance, in contrast to demands of clear financial and technical packages to help them developing countries cope with future extreme weather-related events.

“(This) does not create any meaningful rules on how climate finance is accounted for, and instead it essentially says ‘countries should report what they want,’” Brandon Wu, director of policy and campaigns for ActionAid USA, told Devex.

“This would completely let rich countries off the hook and deprive developing countries of real money for real action,” Wu said. Other campaigners said this meant climate finance could just be re-badged existing aid.”

Indeed, some are accusing Australia and other western countries of “disgracefully” and “sheepishly” hiding behind Trump’s announced exit from Paris to further their own agenda

They note that the Paris treaty was made weaker for the rich countries than the Kyoto Protocol, because of the politics in the US, and the efforts of most negotiators to bend over backwards to accommodate the US demands, only to find the US withdrawing.

“They should have acted as a firewall to stop the virus of the US approach from infecting the climate negotiations, but instead they have allowed US interests to once again paralyse progress,” writes by Mohamed Adow from Christian Aid International.

“Putting developing countries further in debt might be Donald Trump’s idea of what climate finance should look like, but it is not the real money for real action that’s needed to solve the climate crisis.

“Other wealthy countries must stop Trump in further weakening the Paris Agreement and instead honour their commitments by delivering a rulebook that is fit for protecting people and planet, not polluter’s profits.”

Don’t expect the Coalition government in Australia to pay much heed to that.

These problems are being felt acutely in the Pacific, where island nations are furious with Australia’s stance on climate, its attachment to coal, and its refusal to act on its declarations that “it takes climate change seriously.”

The current Coalition government still has no policy in place to try and reach what is regarded as a very low interim target of a 26-28 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030. So while it has signed a declaration recognising that climate change is the biggest security threat to the Pacific, it has no plans to do anything about it.

A new report by ClimateWorks  says Australia is well off track, but it actually has the opportunity to meet the target through some low cost abatement. Much of this comes in the energy sector, but the Coalition is now talking about building new “fair dinkum” coal-fired generators, and making threats against companies that dare contemplate closing older, dirty, and increasingly unreliable and expensive power plants.

Numerous reports this week have pointed to the potential economic consequences of failing to act on climate change – at a global level, a national level, and even a state level. A new report suggested that – despite all the claims – coal was not the cheapest option because even existing plans would soon be more expensive to run than new renewables and storage facilities.

In Nauru, at the Pacific Forum, Australia was accused of seeking to water down the language of the declaration and issuing qualifications to part of the Pacific Islands Forum communique over the Paris climate agreement.

The Guardian quoted the prime minister of Tuvalu, Enele Sopoaga, saying that the name of the country seeking qualifications “[started] with capital A”. Australia is the only country in the PIF beginning with A.

It quoted Vanuatu’s minister for foreign affairs Ralph Regenvanu saying: “I was there, and can confirm this is true. And unfortunate.”

Bill Hare, managing director of Climate Analytics and a lead author on the IPCC fourth assessment report, told Guardian Australia that Pacific leaders were growing increasingly disenchanted with Australia’s refusal to commit to cutting carbon emissions.

“The leaders are not fools, and they are increasingly confronted by the problems of climate change, in all its different dimensions,” Hare said. “The problem for Australia is it doesn’t have credibility on climate. Australia is an important player for many of the Pacific Island countries, well-respected and well-liked by the populations and the political leaders, but on climate change there is a chasm opening up.

He said the real test for Australia would be in its actions to address its own emissions, and in helping the Pacific with adaptation.

“The actions will not match the gravity of the declaration or the gravity of the need. There is a credibility gap: Australia is not acting on reducing its own emissions. All the leaders know that whenever the prime minister or energy minister says Australia will meet its Paris targets ‘in a canter’, that that it is wrong, it is factually incorrect – it is bullshit.”




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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