David Spratt

Last year was by far the hottest year in the observation record, with the global average surface temperature 1.24° Celcuis warmer than the late nineteenth century, according to NASA data. This broke the record set the previous year of 1.12°C, which in turn broke the previous mark set in 2014 of 1.01°C.

Although the El Nino conditions of 2015–16 had some influence — perhaps 0.2°C — it is clear that the warming trend is 1°C or more.

The warnings were clear and now it’s happened: bending over backwards with carbon tax compensation to appease Australia's dirtiest electricity generators, the Gillard government has handed big coal billions in windfall profits, whilst consumers are effectively paying twice for the carbon price.

The global community is supposed to be negotiating an agreement to contain greenhouse gas emissions to manageable levels. But with less than two months to the Copenhagen climate change conference, the big players are stuck in an elaborate game of chicken.

Can we expect decent climate policy when most of the decision-making elite are ignorant of the real scientific imperatives, or believe they can negotiate with the laws of physics and chemistry? The answer is bleak, judging by the lead-up talks to the climate summit in Copenhagen in December.

PM Kevin Rudd’s announced changes to the proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) has again split the climate movement, and this time it’s very serious, with three large, rusted-on-to-Labor groups running cover for an appalling policy that won’t guarantee a reduction in Australian emissions for decades.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is a technique to remove carbon dioxide from industrial pollution — and especially from power stations — and compress, transport and store it perpetually in secure underground structures such as expired gas and oil fields and other geological formations.

Commissioned by the British government, the October 2006 Stern report on global warming was greeted sceptically by PM John Howard, and lauded by the ALP and green organisations. But does the Stern report go far enough, or is it an unholy compromise between the science of climate change and the economics of responding to global warming while trying not to rock the foundations of capital’s global order?

The Stern report makes recommendations that will allow for a temperature rise of around 3°C, but this is likely to be devastating for the planet. George Monbiot says that, “Two degrees is the point at which some of the most dangerous processes catalysed by climate change could become irreversible”.

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