Climate change

Climate change is “a current and existential national security risk”, according to a Senate report released on May 17. It says an existential risk is “one that threatens the premature extinction of Earth-originating intelligent life or the permanent and drastic destruction of its potential for desirable future development”. These are strong words.

Around 60 people unfurled a long blue ribbon on May 19 at Coogee beach five metres from the coast line. The action symbolised future seal level rises and the erosion of Coogee's beautiful coast line if state and federal governments continue to support coal and gas production over renewable energy. 

The “Line in the Sand” action was part of the Repower NSW campaign, which, in the lead up to the state elections next March, is calling on the government to phase out coal-fired power stations and ensure a just transition to 100% clean energy by 2030.

The likelihood of Australia meeting its obligations under the 2015 Paris Climate agreement to cut emissions by 26–28% by 2030 (compared with 2005 levels) is becoming a vain hope if budget provisions are any indication.

It is bad enough that Australia is not on track to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 26–28% on 2005 levels by 2030, as it is notionally committed to doing, but according to the government's own figures, it is only set to reduce them by 5%. What makes it worse is that even the 26–28% target is very conservative and unlikely to be sufficient.

In truth, wealthy industrialised countries like ours should be seeking to become net zero emission economies and societies, both because we can and because it is simply not worth gambling with the continued existence of life as we know it.

Founder of 350.org Bill McKibben addressed a sell-out crowd of more than 500 on May 1, on the Sydney leg of his national tour.

Referring to the rapid progress of climate change McKibben said: “Things are changing fast: what isn’t is government policy. The environment movement is engaged in a fight against money and power."

More than 100 people rallied for renewable energy outside the COAG Energy Council meeting in Melbourne on April 20.

The Yes 2 Renewables campaign called the snap rally to demand greater action on renewable energy and climate change. The rally urged state energy ministers to reject the federal government's dodgy energy policy, the National Energy Guarantee, which would end investment in renewable energy and lock in polluting coal and gas.

Global warming of 1.5°C is imminent, likely in just a decade from now. David Spratt reviews several recent studies that point to this alarming conclusion.

So how does hitting warming of 1.5°C one decade from now square with the 2015 Paris Agreement’s goal of “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C”?

In two words, it doesn’t.

Below are overviews of six new books for an ecosocialist bookshelf, compiled by Climate and Capitalism editor Ian Angus. They look at the Science for the People movement, health care under capitalism, the criminalising of poverty, Yemen in crisis, the origins of everything, and communism and democracy.

***

With North America and Europe experiencing bitter cold snaps and heavy snowfall over the past winter, climate scientists have recorded an exceptionally warm season in the Arctic Circle. Researchers say there is a strong link between the climate crisis marked by the Arctic temperature rises and extreme winter weather events.

Cape Town — in which some of Africa’s most affluent live — is rapidly running out of water. Population growth and a record drought, exacerbated by climate change, are creating one of the world’s most dramatic urban water crises.

Pages

Subscribe to Climate change