Australia's Emissions Targets

So with all the climate talk going on at the moment, and ScoMo assuring everyone that we’ll have no problem hitting our targets, I figured I’d go look at the actual data to see what we’re committed to and how we are doing.

Kyoto

Signed in 1997 and then not ratified by Howard. Eventually ratified by Rudd in 2007.

Kyoto Commitment 1: 108% of 1990 emissions, by 2012
Yes, that’s right. We didn’t commit to decreasing our emissions, only to limit their increase. However, in 1997, our emissions were already at 83% of 1990 levels, so we really committed to increase our emissions by at most 30% at time of signing. When Rudd came to power in 2008 we had already increased our emissions by 25% since signing, but by 2012 we’d reduced this back down to a 12% increase.

Result: 12% increase in emissions since signing Kyoto, 8% reduction in emissions since 1990. Target met.

So, how did we hit our target? Well emissions are broken into 5 categories: Energy, Industry, Agriculture, Land Use and Waste. Energy is BY FAR the biggest, accounting for 82% of emissions in 2017.

From 1997 to 2012…
- Energy up 25%
- Industry up 33%
- Agriculture down 4%
- Land Use down 66%
- Waste down 23%

Basically we made no effort to reduce overall emissions from our economy, we just reduced land clearing.

Kyoto Commitment 2: 95% of 2000 emissions, by 2020.
We need to get to 509Gt CO2e by 2020. We are currently at 538Gt (2018) which has been increasing since a low of 530Gt in 2016 and continues to increase in 2019. ScoMo says we’ll meet this in a canter, but it’s not supported by the data.

Paris Accord

Signed in 2016, ratified in 2016.

Paris Commitment: 26-28% reduction from 2005 emissions, by 2030.
Our target is 445Gt and we’re at 538Gt at the moment. We need to reduce our emissions by 17% in the next 12 years.

Again, our emissions are increasing and the only time we’ve ever reduced emissions from the Energy sector is while the carbon tax was in place (July 2012 - July 2014).

I’ve no idea how we’re going to meet our Paris target with our current policies.

Historical CO2 emissions for Australia

Note: all emission figures taken from our official reporting system AGEIS: http://ageis.climatechange.gov.au

Anniversary

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of myself and John arriving in Australia, though as John pointed out, I arrived on the 21st and himself and Gail arrived the following morning. We headed down to J’s Mum’s for the weekend and caught up with himself and Sarah in Brunswick Heads for a few quiet Saturday afternoon ales to reminisce about old times, where has the time gone, and all the usual questions when you realised your immigrant story encompasses almost half your life.

The following morning myself and J went in to Byron for breakfast and a stroll on the beach. I detoured to the local bookshop to pick up my copy of Snowden’s autobiography. Released this week, the US Govt. decided it would sue for all the profits, claiming he didn’t seek NSA/CIA approval of the manuscript! The move backfired somewhat as the book went straight to No.1 on Amazon and they’re at risk of selling out. I wasn’t sure if the LBS would have a copy but they didn’t let me down.

Snowden on the beach at Byron

Back in Brisbane now and have just watch Ireland demolish Scotland in their Rugby World Cup opening game.

Good weekend 🙂

The Sixth Extinction

This article, The Sixth Extinction was written just over ten years ago and has since been expanded to a book, which is on my to-read list. In it, Elizabeth Kolbert uses the die-off of amphibians to illustrate how we’re causing a mass extinction by various means, from transporting animals/plants/insects and their associated viruses/bacteria to places not adapted to them, to reshaping the environment for our accommodation or food, to pollution and climate change.

Amphibians are among the planet’s great survivors. The ancestors of today’s frogs and toads crawled out of the water some four hundred million years ago, and by two hundred and fifty million years ago the earliest representatives of what became the modern amphibian clades—one includes frogs and toads, a second newts and salamanders—had evolved. This means that amphibians have been around not just longer than mammals, say, or birds; they have been around since before there were dinosaurs.

and…

Griffith said that he expected between a third and a half of all Panama’s amphibians to be gone within the next five years. Some species, he said, will probably vanish without anyone’s realizing it: “Unfortunately, we are losing all these amphibians before we even know that they exist.”

Which brings to mind Niemöller’s quote:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

I wonder how far things will have to go before we as a species decide to seriously address the issue?

Black Americans and Democracy

Long article, but worth a read - America Wasn’t a Democracy, Until Black Americans Made It One

From 1619, when the first African slaves were sold to American settlers, to the present day, the article looks not only at the injustices done to black Americans, but also their contribution to the democratic ideals that America was founded on, even if the founders really only meant white people.

No one cherishes freedom more than those who have not had it. And to this day, black Americans, more than any other group, embrace the democratic ideals of a common good. We are the most likely to support programs like universal health care and a higher minimum wage, and to oppose programs that harm the most vulnerable. For instance, black Americans suffer the most from violent crime, yet we are the most opposed to capital punishment. Our unemployment rate is nearly twice that of white Americans, yet we are still the most likely of all groups to say this nation should take in refugees.

The truth is that as much democracy as this nation has today, it has been borne on the backs of black resistance. Our founding fathers may not have actually believed in the ideals they espoused, but black people did. As one scholar, Joe R. Feagin, put it, “Enslaved African-Americans have been among the foremost freedom-fighters this country has produced.” For generations, we have believed in this country with a faith it did not deserve. Black people have seen the worst of America, yet, somehow, we still believe in its best.

Adapting to Climate Change

A good article from a few years back, looking at how some US farmers are adapting to climate change while still being deniers that it’s happening in the first place.

It’s an interesting read, but this passage towards the end stands out…

For the next two hours or so, Ethan and I talked. It wasn’t an interview anymore. It was a conversation between two old men who, while we may come from different ideological camps, have each managed in our lives to cheat catastrophe long enough to learn to listen to each other.

And at the end of the conversation, I rolled a final cigarette, and Ethan took a deep breath when I lit it. “You know what, Ethan?” I said. “We’ve just sat here for the better part of four and half hours, a good old-fashioned rock-ribbed conservative like you and a good old-fashioned dyed-in-the-wool liberal like me, and we’ve touched on most of the major hot-button issues in the culture wars — abortion, same-sex marriage, guns, even climate. On about 85 percent of those issues, you and I could find enough common ground to find a shared purpose. On another 10 percent or so, we could at least reach an understanding. There was maybe about 5 percent where the differences were just too great. But we could set those aside, at least for now.”

He agreed.

“So why is it,” I asked, “that when I hear people talking about you, and you hear people talking about me, the only thing they ever talk about is that 5 percent?”

Unfortunately we’re still only talking about the 5 percent.