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Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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Emissions reduction fund finally springs into (direct) action

The Clean Energy Regulator has announced the results of the first auction of carbon abatement contracts from the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF), part of the Abbott Government’s Direct Action Plan climate change policy. The regulator announced that the Government has committed to buy emissions abatement totalling 47.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent (Mt CO2-e), at an average price of $13.95 per tonne, over the next three to ten years. This undoubtedly represents a successful first auction for the ERF, but what does it mean for the future? Read more...

Can the Direct Action Plan be blocked in the Senate?

The leader of the Palmer United Party (PUP), Clive Palmer, has this week expressed an intention not to support the Abbott Government’s Direct Action Plan, the Coalition’s climate change policy, in light of reports that the Government was planning to tighten eligibility for the aged pension. Mr Palmer has suggested that his party would block the policy in the Senate when three PUP senators take their seats after the first of July. The Environment Minister, Greg Hunt, cast doubt on this by saying that the Direct Action Plan will be part of the federal Budget, which is traditionally passed by the Senate. Mr Palmer replied that PUP could ‘reconsider its stance’ on passing... Read more...

The IPCC's fifth report: the time for adaptation is now

On Monday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the second part of its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) - Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Unlike the first instalment of AR5, which reviewed the physical science basis of climate change, this report reviews research that outlines how climate change might affect ecosystems and societies. In Australia, most public and political discussion of climate change policy has centred on mitigation strategies – that is, how best to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions – rather than on the impacts that climate change could have, or how best to adapt to those impacts. AR5 makes it clear that... Read more...

Chronology of climate change in Australia

The Parliamentary Library has published a timeline of climate policy in Australia. The chronology begins in the 1970s, around the time that the Australian Academy of Sciences published a report asserting that human activities are likely to contribute to warming. The document charts the journey of Australian climate policy from then until today.The chronology reminds us that in the 1980s Australia considered an emissions reduction target of 20% on 1988 levels by 2005. This target was indeed adopted but only as a 'no regrets' strategy, under the proviso that the reduction would not be at the expense of the economy. A decade later, emissions had continued to rise but the government warned that ... Read more...

Stronger targets proposed in Climate Change Authority draft report

Today the Climate Change Authority (CCA) released a draft version of its ‘Targets and Progress Review’. The review, which according to the Clean Energy Act 2011 must be finalised by 28 February 2014, is to be used by the Minister in determining Australia’s emissions reduction goals under the carbon price mechanism. The draft report proposes two sets of caps; each set of caps defines a different emissions trajectory between now and 2020, and then to 2030. The CCA is calling for stakeholder input until 29 November 2013.The proposed targetsTwo scenarios are put forward. The more ambitious scenario aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25% below 2000 levels by 2020 and 40 to 50% by 2030. The l... Read more...

What the latest IPCC report says about Australia

Since the 1900s the world has warmed an average of 0.85 degrees and the sea has risen an average of 19 cm. So affirms the 2,216-page draft report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released on 27 September 2013 (see separate FlagPost on the IPCC). The first instalment of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) presents the latest science on global climate change. But Australia has a unique climate, influenced by both Indian Ocean events and the highly variable El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon. What does the latest IPCC report say about Australia? Understanding IPCC scenariosIn order to model the climate system and propose possible futures, climatologists u... Read more...

What is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and how does it work?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released on 27 September the first instalment of its eagerly anticipated Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). As with past reports, this one is likely to spark ongoing discussion about the threat from climate change and how to deal with it. But what is the IPCC and what exactly does it do?What is the IPCC?The IPCC is an intergovernmental body established by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organisation in 1988 to provide the world with a clear statement of the current scientific knowledge of climate change, and potential environmental and socio‑economic impacts.Open to all member countries of the United Natio... Read more...

Countries trading greenhouse gas emissions

Over the last three years, the global carbon market has more than doubled in volume but almost halved in value. In that time a further eight countries, states or cities have adopted a carbon market as their primary means for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Yet the price for one tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent has dropped by as much as 100 per cent in some markets. A new paper from the Parliamentary Library provides a basic overview of the size and value of the global carbon market and details exactly which countries and regions are covered by a mandatory emissions trading scheme (ETS). Here is a snapshot of that paper. The table below provides details of all mandatory legislated ETSs... Read more...

Latest US climate Bill follows Australian lead

The US seems to be following in the footsteps of Australia, at least in terms of climate policy. Last week, Senators Sanders and Boxer introduced into Congress a Bill that establishes a carbon price. Like Australia’s Clean Energy Act, the US’s proposed Climate Protection Act would see the majority of carbon tax revenue flowing back to households to assist with rising energy prices. Also proposed, and comparable to Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation, is a $500 billion program to co-invest in, or provide guarantees for, energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Details of the US BillThere are a number of components to the Bill. It sets a 2050 target to reduce greenhouse gas em... Read more...

Introducing the Doha Climate Gateway

On 8 December 2012—a day later than scheduled—the 18th Conference of the Parties (COP18) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) concluded. With it, ended the Bali Roadmap (see previous FlagPost) and began the new era of climate change negotiations: that of the grandly-named Doha Climate Gateway. This FlagPost describes what the Gateway opens onto, and outlines some other items that were discussed (although possibly not resolved) at Doha. Remembering the scienceOn 10 December 2012, the academic journal Nature Climate Change published research confirming that early predictions of possible temperature increases have proved accurate. The new research reinforces 200... Read more...