'Ocean Elders' urge Malcolm Turnbull to reject Adani coalmine | The Guardian

The letter from the group Ocean Elders, which includes the renowned marine biologist Dr Sylvia Earle, argues that if it goes ahead the coalmine will damage international efforts to mitigate climate change by increasing global carbon emissions.

The Unesco world heritage committee has released a draft report saying that 75% of the world’s 29 listed coral reefs have been exposed to conditions that cause coral bleaching in the past three years, largely due to climate change.

‘We are in a runaway situation with respect to a warming planet, changing [the] chemistry of the ocean,” Earle said in an interview recorded for RN Breakfast. “We know what to do, it’s a matter of being smart enough, courageous enough, bold enough, sensible enough, to go in this better pathway.”

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Australia warned it has radically underestimated climate change security threat | The Guardian

Disaster Alley, written by the Breakthrough Centre for Climate Restoration, forecasts climate change could potentially displace tens of millions from swamped cities, drive fragile states to failure, cause intractable political instability, and spark military conflict.

Report co-author Ian Dunlop argues Australia’s political and corporate leaders, by refusing to accept the need for urgent climate action now, are “putting the Australian community in extreme danger”.

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The Dutch Have Solutions to Rising Seas. The World Is Watching. | The New York Times

"To the Dutch, what’s truly incomprehensible, he (Mr. van Wingerden) added, is New York after Hurricane Sandy, where too little has been done to prepare for the next disaster. People in the Netherlands believe that the places with the most people and the most to lose economically should get the most protection.

The idea that a global economic hub like Lower Manhattan flooded during Hurricane Sandy, costing the public billions of dollars, yet still has so few protections, leaves climate experts here dumbfounded."

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The IEA Says We're Off Track To Meet Climate Goals | Forbes

The International Energy Agency (IEA) reports that clean energy technologies are not decarbonizing global energy systems fast enough to stay on track to meet Paris Agreement goals (limiting warming to a 2°C-compatible trajectory in 2025), but the world can still decarbonize in time – if governments maintain strong policy signals.

IEA’s annual Tracking Clean Energy Progress report highlights technologies that are on track for meeting the 2° goals, those that are improving but need more effort, and those that are wholly off-track. Their assessment covers both technology development with policy for deployment: In practice, it is more useful to separate these two, as expensive or unproven technologies cannot be deployed, and thus require serious R&D, while many technologies that are already cost-effective are instead hitting institutional obstacles. Still, the gist is clear.

Because time is of the essence in abating climate change, and starting as soon as possible makes subsequent action cheaper and easier, it is important to take technologies that are ready for, or in, prime time, and really accelerate them. So IEA’s technological roadmap can help show where governments should double down on the technologies that can help secure a safe climate future at the least cost. 

Schneiderman Says Exxon’s Climate Change Proxy Costs May Be a ‘Sham’ | Bloomberg

New York’s top cop told a judge that an investigation into Exxon Mobil Corp.’s public statements about climate change uncovered "significant evidence" the oil giant may have misled investors.

In a court filing Friday, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman provided detailed findings from the fraud probe for the first time, saying Exxon may have been using two sets of numbers -- one public and one secret -- to calculate the future impact of the Earth’s warming on its assets.

"That evidence suggests not only that Exxon’s public statements about its risk management practices were false and misleading, but also that Exxon may still be in the midst of perpetrating an ongoing fraudulent scheme on investors and the public," Schneiderman said.

Global stocktake shows the 43 greenhouse gases driving global warming | The Conversation

The most comprehensive collection of atmospheric greenhouse gas measurements, published today, confirms the relentless rise in some of the most important greenhouse gases.

The data show that today’s aggregate warming effect of carbon dioxide (CO₂), methane (CH₄) and nitrous oxide (N₂O) is higher than at any time over the past 800,000 years, according to ice core records.

Building on half a century of atmospheric measurements by the international research community, we compiled and analysed the data as part of a group of international scientists, led by Malte Meinshausen from the University of Melbourne in collaboration with CSIRO.

Together, the data provide the most compelling evidence of the unprecedented perturbation of Earth’s atmosphere. They clearly show that the growth of greenhouse gases began with the onset of the industrial era around 1750, took a sharp turn upwards in the 1950s, and still continues today.

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Does best CCS power station in world provide model for Australia? | Simon Holmes à Court

Petra Nova, the leading CCS power project globally, may be an impressive piece of engineering, but makes a tiny difference to the generator’s emissions and demonstrates that the technology is un-investable. It’s highly unlikely that we’ll see another CCS power station built within a decade, if ever, in either the US or Australia.

On 1 May the Federal Minister for Energy and the Environment, Josh Frydenberg, posted a YouTube video (43 views at time of writing, 10 of which, I confess, were me) of his visit to the second ‘significant’ CCS power station in the world, the Petra Nova project at the WA Parish Generating Station in Texas.

In the video Josh claimed that the US$1bn project was “helping to reduce the carbon footprint by some 40%”.

Climate change risk through a corporate governance & liability lens | Sarah Barker

Climate change risk through a corporate governance and liability lens - presented by Sarah Barker, Special Counsel, MinterEllison at the 2017 May Director Forum in Sydney.

Exxon Investors Rally to Back Climate Change Plan Opposed By Exxon Board | Bloomberg

Almost 90 Exxon Mobil Corp. investors plan to back a proposal that would pressure the company to bolster its disclosure of climate change risks and opportunities.

The shareholders include the New York State and city pension funds and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, according to data compiled by investor advocacy group Ceres. Vanguard is evaluating the proposal in line with its proxy policies.

“Vanguard, like other investors, views direct engagement with the board as a critical channel through which important matters can be discussed,” said Glenn Booraem, the firm’s investment stewardship officer. “Directors at any company who don’t engage with those on whose behalf they serve risk losing investor support.”

The proposal will be taken up at Exxon’s annual meeting on May 31 in Dallas.

How a possible two-metre sea level rise would flood thousands of Melbourne homes | The Age

Tens of thousands of homes and businesses in Melbourne face a bigger risk of tidal flooding by century's end, and major roads, tram routes and industrial areas could disappear under water due to future sea level rises, new modelling shows.

The updated modelling of possible sea level rises caused by climate change predicts Victoria's coastline could be hit by sea level rises of two metres or more by 2100, due to the rapid melting of ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland.

A two-metre rise would flood several low-lying suburbs in Melbourne including South Melbourne, Albert Park, Port Melbourne, Southbank, Docklands, Altona, Williamstown, Elwood, St Kilda, Seaford, Carrum, Bonbeach and Aspendale. Large areas in Geelong and the seaside towns of Barwon Heads, Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale would also be heavily inundated at high tide by century's end, it is predicted.

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Winds of change? Why offshore wind might be the next big thing | McKinsey & Co

The landscapes of Rembrandt glow with the great painter’s rendering of light. And they are distinctive for another reason: windmills are everywhere. As far back as the 13th century, the Dutch used windmills to drain their land and power their economy. And now, 800 years later, the Netherlands is again in the vanguard of what could be the next big thing, not only in wind power but also in the global energy system as a whole: offshore wind.

In December, the Netherlands approved a bid for its cheapest offshore project yet—€54.50 per megawatt-hour, for a site about 15 miles off the coast. Just five months before, the winning bid for the same site was €72.70. Denmark has gone even further, with an auction in November 2016 seeing a then record-winning bid of €49.90 per megawatt-hour, half the level of 2014.

Europe, which has provided considerable economic and regulatory support, accounts for more than 90 percent of global capacity. As a result, Europe now has a maturing supply chain, a high level of expertise, and strong competition; it is possible that offshore wind could be competitive with other sources within a decade. By 2026, the Dutch government expects that its offshore auctions will feature no subsidies at all. But it might be even sooner: in the April 2017 German auction, the average winning bid for the projects was far below expectations, and even less than the Danish record set only six months before. Some of the bids were won at the wholesale electricity price, meaning no subsidy is required.

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Climate change poses ‘nightmare scenario’ for Florida coast, Bloomberg warns | Think Progress

“Pessimists selling to optimists.” That’s how one former Florida coastal property owner describes the current state of the market in a must-read Bloomberg story.

Right now, science and politics don’t favor the optimists. The disintegration of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets is speeding up, providing increasing evidence we are headed for the worst-case scenario of sea level rise — three to six feet (or more) by 2100.

The impacts are already visible in South Florida. “Tidal flooding now predictably drenches inland streets, even when the sun is out, thanks to the region’s porous limestone bedrock,” explains Bloomberg. “Saltwater is creeping into the drinking water supply.”

At the same time, President Trump is working to thwart both domestic and international climate action while slashing funding for coastal adaptation and monitoring. E&E News reported earlier this month that the EPA has already “disbanded its climate change adaptation program” and reassigned all the workers.

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CalPERS' Climate Risk Reporting Proposal Passes At Occidental | MondoVisione

Vicki Hollub, president and CEO, Occidental Petrol

Vicki Hollub, president and CEO, Occidental Petrol

The California Public Employees' Retirement System's (CalPERS) climate risk reporting shareowner resolution, Proposal #5, passed today (13th May) at the annual shareowner meeting of Occidental Petroleum.

The resolution requires the international oil and gas company to report on environmental risks and opportunities associated with climate change. It was co-filed by CalPERS and other investors, including Wespath Investment Management, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, and the New York State and Connecticut pension funds.

"The passing of this resolution is a sign of progress. It is a first in the United States," said Anne Simpson, CalPERS investment director, sustainability. "The vote at Occidental demonstrates an understanding among shareowners that climate change reporting is an essential element to corporate governance. I believe that we will see many more companies move in this direction. This vote shows that investors are serious about understanding climate risk."

The proposal at Occidental Petroleum calls for an assessment of the company's portfolio under the "2 Degree Scenario." This assessment will include:

  • Long-term impacts due to climate change
  • Short and long-term financial risks of a lower carbon economy
  • Evaluation of resources based on changes to demand and pricing
  • Public policy positions relating to climate change

CalPERS believes companies should provide accurate and timely disclosure of environmental risks and opportunities associated with climate change. As outlined in CalPERS' Investment Beliefs (PDF), the System believes the effective management of environmental factors, including those related to climate change risk, increases the likelihood that companies will perform well over the long-term.

For more than eight decades, CalPERS has built retirement and health security for state, school, and public agency members who invest their lifework in public service. Our pension fund serves more than 1.8 million members in the CalPERS retirement system and administers benefits for nearly 1.4 million members and their families in our health program, making us the largest defined-benefit public pension in the U.S. CalPERS' total fund market value currently stands at approximately $320 billion. For more information, visit www.calpers.ca.gov.

The Doomsday Glacier | Rolling Stones

The trouble with Thwaites, which is one of the largest glaciers on the planet, is that it's also what scientists call "a threshold system." That means instead of melting slowly like an ice cube on a summer day, it is more like a house of cards: It's stable until it is pushed too far, then it collapses. When a chunk of ice the size of Pennsylvania falls apart, that's a big problem. It won't happen overnight, but if we don't slow the warming of the planet, it could happen within decades. And its loss will destabilize the rest of the West Antarctic ice, and that will go too. Seas will rise about 10 feet in many parts of the world; in New York and Boston, because of the way gravity pushes water around the planet, the waters will rise even higher, as much as 13 feet. "West Antarctica could do to the coastlines of the world what Hurricane Sandy did in a few hours to New York City," explains Richard Alley, a geologist at Penn State University and arguably the most respected ice scientist in the world. "Except when the water comes in, it doesn't go away in a few hours – it stays."

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Investors worth $20 trillion call for climate change action | SMH

Some of the world's biggest investors have pleaded with governments of the world's largest economies, including Australia, to stick with their commitments to tackle climate change and to introduce carbon pricing to help achieve them.

There is strong speculation that American President Donald Trump could renege on his country's commitments under the Paris Accord signed in 2015, which aimed to hold temperature rises well below 2 degrees Celsius.

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Pathways and obstacles to a low-carbon economy | McKinsey and Company

Technological advances and falling prices are driving the momentum toward low-carbon energy production across the globe. In this episode of the McKinsey Podcast, McKinsey partner Arnout de Pee and Lord Adair Turner, chair of the Energy Transitions Commission and the Institute for New Economic Thinking, speak with McKinsey Publishing’s Cait Murphy about the shift toward renewable resources and the future of sustainable development.

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Most global investors recognise financial risk of climate change, report finds | The Guardian

For the first time a majority of global investor heavyweights recognise the financial risks of climate change, according to the results of a major global index rating how investors manage such risks.

But despite the advances, the Asset Owner Disclosure Project chairman, John Hewson, has warned there is still an “enormous resistance” to managing climate risk.

The AODP releases its fifth global index on Wednesday, ranking the world’s largest 500 asset owners and, for the first time, the 50 largest asset managers on their performance managing financial risks associated with climate change.

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AUSTRALIA’S ENERGY: How did we get into this mess? And what do we do to get out of it?

Australia appears to have converted a national advantage – cheap and plentiful energy – into a national energy crisis, for business and consumers. We ask – how did this happen? And is there a way out!

Join the John Cain Foundation for a lively discussion with two experts in energy policy and pricing.

Journalist and writer Tim Colebatch will facilitate a discussion between energy experts Tony Wood, Grattan Institute, and Alan Pears, RMIT University. A Q&A will follow presentations by the speakers.

Join us for drinks at 5pm prior to the presentations.

Wednesday 3rd May, 5.30 to 7.30 pm

Graduate House University of Melbourne
220 Leicester Street

To book


About the speakers

Tony Wood - Tony has deep experience in the energy sector. Prior to joining Grattan Institute in 2011, he worked at Origin Energy for 11 years, and was an adviser to the first Garnaut climate change review. He was also program director of Clean Energy Projects at the Clinton Foundation. 

Tim Colebatch - Tim is a freelance journalist and writer, mostly writing on economic and political issues for the website Inside Story. He earlier spent four decades writing for The Age, the last half of them as economics editor and columnist. He is the biographer of former Victorian Premier Sir Rupert Hamer (Dick Hamer: the liberal Liberal), and recently won the Melbourne Press Club's Quills award as the best columnist of 2016.

Alan Pears AM - Alan Pears AM is a Senior Industry Fellow at RMIT University and consultant. Alan is a well-known researcher, commentator and educator on energy policy issues, in particular related to energy efficiency, clean energy policy, energy markets and climate policy. He has worked in this field for 40 years, with governments, businesses and community groups. Alan worked in Victorian energy agencies from 1980 to 1991, and has worked on energy and climate policy and program development across Australia since then.

Bloomberg to world leaders: Ignore Trump on climate | CNBC

New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg urged world leaders not to follow President Donald Trump's lead on climate change and declared his intention to help save an international agreement to reduce carbon emissions.

Bloomberg, who considered a presidential bid after serving three terms as New York City's mayor, addressed his intensifying focus on climate change in an interview with The Associated Press.

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