climate change

"The situation is pretty grim," Reihana Mohideen told Green Left Weekly on August 8 from the frontline of devastating floods that have submerged half of Manila over the last few days. "It's still raining hard and hard to get around." "This is another painful reminder of the global climate change crisis and the pain is being felt most by the poor and most oppressed."
Right now, there is an opportunity to slash Australia’s carbon emissions by 5 million tonnes a year in one stroke. The city of Port Augusta in South Australia has all the right conditions to make it Australia’s first baseload renewable energy hub. The two coal-fired power stations at Port Augusta are getting old. Industry experts say they may be forced to close as soon as 2015.
It can sometimes feel like we’re losing a race against time to avoid environmental catastrophe and social collapse. Climate change is already extinguishing species, destroying essential food production and forcing thousands of people to flee their island homes. People are directly affected by more wars than ever before in history. While the underlying causes of the recent global financial crisis remain, governments are imposing vicious austerity policies on the majority of people in the Global North and South to pay for the capitalists’ greed.
The casual observer might easily conclude that there are just two clear sides in the parliamentary debate over the Labor/Greens carbon price deal. But there is a lot more to the debate than this. Clearly the Greens are in favour, and appear to have won over PM Julia Gillard’s government to an interim carbon tax. On the other hand, opposition leader Tony Abbott has promised a Tea Party-style uprising against it. Abbott will push to rouse a fascistic “people’s” movement to try to bury the deal.
The United Nations global climate summit in Cancun, Mexico, looks set to repeat the failures of Copenhagen. The chances of Cancun producing a binding agreement that would avert climate disaster are next to zero. Many world leaders have not even bothered to attend the summit, which runs from November 29 to December 10. Leaders of rich nations and the media talked much about the “low expectations” of an agreement in the lead-up to the conference.
As indigenous peoples, we are extremely concerned that the principles agreed upon in the Cochabamba People’s Agreement have been unilaterally removed from the negotiating document [for the Cancun climate conference] that was released on November 24. Equally alarming is the misrepresentation of the Copenhagen Accord as a legitimate path forward, despite its widespread denouncement by civil society and its tepid reception last December in Denmark, when the United Nations merely “took note of” it.
If at first you don’t succeed, redefine success. This phrase has become the unofficial motto of this year’s United Nations climate conference in Cancun, Mexico. A week out from Cancun, which runs over November 29 to December 10, there is little hope of meaningful progress. Yet key players have sought to throw a shroud of official optimism over the looming failure. Few Western politicians want a repeat of last year’s Copenhagen climate conference. They consider it a public relations disaster.
The big “greenwash” of gas as the new “green energy” isn’t going down well in inner-city Sydney. On November 14, the Sydney Morning Herald revealed gas exploration would start within two months in the inner-city suburb of St Peters. The article said said Macquarie Energy, which is owned by Apollo Gas, received state government permission for exploration in March. The community had been kept in the dark; even the Marrickville Council, which partly covers the area, knew nothing.
Natural gas is a finite resource. Once it is depleted, it cannot be renewed. It is extracted from coal beds and consists primarily of methane. Methane is 72 times worse than carbon dioxide — the most well-known carbon pollutant — as a greenhouse gas. The City of Sydney plans to use natural gas as the primary fuel to transition away from coal-fired electricity towards low-carbon energy by using a method of energy production known as trigeneration.
Woodside and the Western Australian government’s push to build a massive gas-processing plant at James Price Point will be a key battle in a broader campaign to protect the cultural and environmental heritage of the Kimberley region in WA. This battle is significant for several reasons. First, the government is trying to compulsorily acquire Aboriginal land. Traditional owners, some of who had previously been prepared to support the project, are now united in opposition. Many unions, including the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, are supporting them.
Climate deniers love banging on about media bias. It’s a favourite theme. They claim media outlets suppress the debate, peddle global warming hysteria and refuse to give deniers an equal hearing. Indeed, the evidence (always a knotty issue for deniers) shows that there is a glaring bias in the way the Australian media covers climate change. But it’s a bias for climate denier propaganda, not against it. Take the Rupert Murdoch-owned media empire: Australia’s largest. The editorial line of its flagship broadsheet, the Australian, is notorious for its climate denial.
GasLand A film by director Josh Fox In Palace cinemas from November 18 www.GasLand.com.au In September 2006, theatre director and part-time banjo player Josh Fox received an unexpected letter in the mail: a natural gas company offering him $100,000 for permission to explore his family's upstate New York property, in the lush Delaware River Basin area.
A Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) meeting was planned in La Paz, Bolivia on November 10, for ALBA’s Latin American nation members to advocate for a common position on the defence of the rights of Mother Earth. ALBA is an anti-imperialist bloc of eight nations led by Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia. Bolivian environment minister Maria Esther Udaeta said the meeting would discuss the position of ALBA nations at the next United Nations climate summit at Cancun in December.
Divisions about a carbon price are hardening among Australia’s big businesses. Two distinct positions seem to have emerged in the corporate boardrooms. Some corporate groups are backing the federal government’s call for a price on carbon because they say it will allow for a more certain environment for investment. Nine CEOs of big Australian fund managers and superannuation companies linked to the Investor Group on Climate Change have formed a new panel to lobby the government for a carbon price.
Helensburgh is not renowned for climate activism. A coalmining town, Helensburgh was established around the Metropolitan colliery, Australia's oldest continually operating coal mine, in the 1880s. The coal transnational Peabody Energy, which owns the Metropolitan, sponsors local activities such as school sporting teams and community fairs. However, 35 people attended a climate-focused public meeting in the NSW south coast town on November 2.
The NSW government has decided to cut the solar photovoltaic feed-in tariff from 60 cents per kilowatt hour (kW/h) to 20 cents per kW/h. The October 27 announcement came after the tariff received a strong uptake, particularly in Sydney’s western suburbs and rural NSW. The total capacity once remaining orders are connected will be around 193 megawatts (MW). The Greens and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) slammed the decision to axe the tariff.

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