MERC Newsletter – July 2021

Introduction

Delegates, here is the July MERC Newsletter, please circulate the Newsletter to your fellow Councillors and senior staff, so they can appreciate and understand the excellent work the Association and you are doing on behalf of your Council and community, with regard to mining and energy related matters.

 

COVID-19 Virus Impact on MERC

The NSW Government continues to work very closely with Councils to support communities across the state in response to COVID19 and the changing hotspots. At this stage, given the regional areas are in the spotlight hopefully with the use of contact tracing, masks, sanitiser, social distancing & QR codes in place, the Orange meeting on 15th October 2021 will be a normal face to face meeting with zoom option in case any members are still in lockdown.

Unless there is a more drastic Covid interruption, the meeting will proceed to encourage attendance in person, for networking and to farewell some longstanding delegates.

 

Local Government Elections Postponed

The State Government has postponed the Local Government Elections by three (3) months until 4 December 2021 at this stage, then it is a matter for the NSW Parliament to consider whether it proceeds or is postponed to next year.

This decision poses a lot of complications for the implementation of statutory requirements associated with electing and inducting a new Council over Christmas and January and the appointment of delegates to various entities that would normally occur after the elections in September each year.

This includes LGNSW who is required to give four months notice of their AGM and Conference and have a series of rules it must follow before having their AGM, which are being clarified.

 

Next Meetings for the Association in 2021

The Ordinary meeting on 15th October 2021 will be the last meeting for the year when the AGM will be held and delegates are appointed. If an election is held in December or next year and there are any changes to the election results on 15th October as a result of delegates not being re-elected then the Executive will deal with the situation as per the constitution.

The meeting on 15th October 2021 will be held in Orange Ex Services Club Auditorium under Covid controls with social distancing QR code, sanitising, etc. You may recall we were going to Orange last and this year, but Covid caused a change of plans then where we cancelled the meeting location.

It is proposed that the Executive Committee will have a teleconference meeting on Wednesday 13th October 2021 at 9am and minutes distributed before the meeting on 15th October 2021.

This is yet to be confirmed by the Executive Committee but Monday/Tuesdays to accommodate the majority of members  of the Executive Committee.

Regarding accommodation if not already booked, mention the MERC meeting is being held in the Orange Ex Services Club’s on 15th October 2021 as the Mercure Motel is part of the club and is located next door to the club (Ph 02 63625611 situated at 94 Byng St, Orange), across the road is the Town & Country Motel and de Russie Boutique Hotel around the corner in Hill St. A networking dinner and tour beforehand on 14th October 2021 is being arranged.

 

RDA Orana Proposal

Delegates on 30th July 2021 considered a membership proposal from Orana RDA to be part of the Orana Opportunity Network (ON2) and participation in the UNSW Research Project on the Economic Impacts of Mine Automation in the NSW Orana Region and an offer to present at a future meeting. MERC subsequently resolved to confirm the request from the CEO and Director Regional Development to present the proposals to the next meeting of MERC in Orange on 15th October 2021.The CEO has indicated that RDA Orana will present on 15th.

 

Resources for Regions (R4R) Round 8

Delegates resolved on 30th July 2021 that MERC write to the Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional Development, Hon John Barilaro, thanking the State Government for the Resources for Regions Program and the allocation of $75m for distribution to eligible councils in NSW requesting that it be continued to assist councils impacted by mining.

 

Executive Committee Vacancy

Delegates resolved that Expressions of Interest (EOI) be sought from delegates to fill the current vacancy to replace Cr Sue Moore, Singleton Council, on the MERC Executive Committee for the current term until the next election is held. EOI’s have been called and nominations will be considered in due course and delegates advised of the outcome.

 

CRC for Transformations in Mining Economies (CRC TiME)

MERC is a partner with CRC TiME on a no cost but consultative basis. They have webinars and workshops on their progress with the CRC establishment and their collaboration efforts. The most recent activity is a survey on post mining impacts on communities, networking gatherings on east and west coast and have set up an in kind register portal for MERC to join.

As relevant activities present, delegates will be kept informed on them for participation. The latest is an invitation for the Executive Officer to be involved in a teleconference roundtable conducted by the the Sustainable Minerals Institute at the University of Queensland who have been engaged by the C20 project to facilitate a roundtable to get stakeholder feedback on the project.

The C20 project is a unique coal retirement investment vehicle. The vehicle would acquire thermal coal mines globally and close them early. Beyond certain capped returns, revenue will be channelled to a separate Just Transition Foundation, and the sponsors intend to create an Independent Advisory Panel that would regularly comment on activities of both Coal-to-Zero and the Just Transition Foundation’s activities. 

As a first step, the roundtable process will provide stakeholders with update on the investment vehicle and discuss the role and governance structure of an Independent Advisory Panel. 

Coal-to-Zero is a unique opportunity to invest in the early retirement of coal with support to local communities for a fair and just transition. The Sponsor group, comprised of Trafigura, Resource Capital Funds and Ausenco, have formed an investment vehicle focused on acquiring, responsibly operating, and retiring coal assets meaningfully before the end of their mineable lives. All coal assets will be wound down by 2040 or before, leaving significant resources unmined and unburned.

In addition to providing meaningful financial returns for investors, C20 intends to generate positive and measurable environmental and social impacts, including investment to support a just transition (such as work force retraining, land repurposing and alternative energy investment). Information from this roundtable will be forwarded to MERC delegates in due course. This will be an interesting roundtable for the Executive Officer to assess if MERC needs to be involved further.

 

Strategic Plan 2020 – 2023

The Strategic Plan 2020-23 Strategic Directions, Deliverables and Actions were adopted by delegates at the Ordinary meeting on 27th November 2020 and is full of new strategies to be implemented  over the next three years which will hopefully help with membership growth and involvement of members. It is on our web page for reference.

 

Renewable Energy Zones

Next meeting of the reference groups for the Central West Orana REZ is on 2nd September 2021 in Dubbo and the New England REZ is 24th August in Armidale. Executive Officer to attend both meetings and forward minutes as they are released.

An update on the design and development of the Central-West Orana REZ from Chloe Hicks is as follows: “We are planning to seek information from industry proponents of potential innovative network infrastructure solutions at any stage of development, from conceptual to operational projects. These solutions could help optimise the design and performance of the Central-West Orana REZ.  

This process is being led by EnergyCo’s new Executive Director, Technical Advisory Services, Andrew Kingsmill. This consultation will build on a similar process run by the Australian Energy Market Operator in the Central-West Orana region as part of its Integrated System Plan in 2020. We would like to hear from projects participating in this process as well as additional proponents including of other technical solutions that may have since entered the market.    

Submissions opened 27 July & close Friday 20 August and further information will be available on our website at www.energy.nsw.gov.au/renewable-energy-zones.”  

The NSW Government is also coordinating delivery of an 8 gigawatt Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) in the New England region as part of the Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap as a mirror of the Central West Orana REZ.

To understand the scale, location and types of projects interested in connecting to the Central West Orana REZ and the New England REZ, they are asking generation, storage and network developers to provide information through a Registration of Interest (ROI). This will complement work already underway on detailed technical assessment and community engagement, including through the Central West Orana and New England REZ Regional Reference Group.

For more information about NSW REZs please visit www.energy.nsw.gov.au/renewable-energy-zones or email us at rez@planning.nsw.gov.au.

 

Related Matters of Interest – Mining and Energy Issues

Miners versus Farmers: Nationals Split over Barnaby Joyce’s Climate & Coal Strategy” 3rd July 2021, Michael Mazengarb, writes in Renew Economy “Serious rifts within the Nationals party are already starting to show, following the return of Barnaby Joyce as leader of the federal Nationals, with at least one state chapter already considering severing itself from a national leadership antagonistic towards action on climate change.

The Nationals in Joyce’s camp see backing the resources sector as the key to their electoral prospects – choosing to advocate for an expansion of the mining sector, including a bigger coal and gas industry over their traditional constituency of farmers.

For Joyce’s backers, it is about reinforcing their vote in resources-rich states like Queensland and Western Australia that the broader Morrison government sees as key as necessary to keeping the Labor opposition out of government. Joyce’s offsider, former resources minister Matt Canavan, conceded as much in a podcast interview with the Guardian.

“About five per cent of our voters are farmers. It’s about two per cent of the overall population. So 95 per cent of our voters don’t farm, aren’t farmers or don’t own farmland,” Canavan told the Guardian.

This stat belies the fact, and data produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, that more Australians are employed in agriculture than currently work in the resources sector. It also sees the Nationals party alienate itself from the agricultural sector’s most prominent lobby group, the National Farmers Federation, which has openly embraced calls for Australia to adopt a zero net emissions target by 2050.

While Joyce and Canavan may think it will work on a federal level to abandon farmers for the resources sector, some state chapters of the National party are already beginning to realise that this stance is a threat to their ability to attract and maintain support from younger rural voters.

Such is the perceived threat of a Barnaby Joyce lead Nationals at a federal level that Victorian state Nationals leader Peter Walsh moved a motion at a recent party conference to formally disaffiliate the Victorian Nationals from its federal parent.

The motion was ultimately unsuccessful, but Walsh used it as an opportunity to criticise the backwards stance of Joyce when it comes to climate change and acknowledging the impact that predicted increases in the frequency of drought, bushfires, and extreme weather events are going to have on farming communities.

“Every time some of those New South Welshmen and Queenslanders open their mouths, they do our brand harm,” Walsh said. “I want to see the Victorian Nationals’ brand very much differentiated from the federal Nationals’ brand. The loudest screaming is not the way to achieve the best outcome. Although coal will be in the energy mix in the immediate future, there will be transitions with new technology that will evolve to provide our energy into the future.

“People who, particularly, watch Sky News see the likes of Matt Canavan and his anti-climate change, anti-energy technology stance. People perceive that as The Nationals’ views, which is not the case from a Victorian point of view,” Walsh added.

While a strong pro-mining stance may help the Nationals win and retain seats in resource-rich states like Queensland and Western Australia – it has already seen the party surrender seats to independents and smaller parties willing to take more farmer-focused policy positions. In some cases, the Nationals have even lost seats to the Greens over anti-fracking campaigns.

In Victoria, it is a simple question of mathematics. The Nationals have seen their representation in the state parliament’s lower house fall from ten seats won at the 2010 election to just six seats held at the 2018 election. During that time, the Victorian Nationals have lost three seats to independent candidates. A fourth seat was lost through a process of seat redistributions.

In New South Wales, the state Nationals party has likewise seen their lower house representation slashed, falling from the 18 seats won at the 2011 state election to just 13 held at the 2019 election. Of the five seats lost by the Nationals over that period, three were picked up by the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party and a fourth – the Northern Rivers seat of Ballina – was lost to the Greens.

The Nationals currently have no state representation in either of the South Australian or Tasmanian parliaments. While it is yet to be seen how the return of Joyce will impact the National party’s support at a federal level, former minister for veteran’s affairs Darren Chester, who was dumped from the portfolio by Joyce, warned Australians to brace for “incoherence”.

“The conversation I had with Barnaby was so incoherent yesterday. I couldn’t actually explain what he was even saying to me,” Chester said following the phone call from Joyce, during which Chester was sacked as a minister. People of Australia, brace yourself. There will be more conversations like that.” Refer www.reneweconomy.com.au

Liberals Launch Extraordinary New Anti Electric Vehicle (EV) Campaign as Next Election Looms Giles Parkinson, Renew Economy, writes on 9th July 2021, as an owner of a Tesla Model 3: “The federal Liberal Party has launched a new and extraordinary anti-electric vehicle campaign, raising fears of a repeat of the ludicrous and misleading claims made by the federal Coalition in the lead up to the last federal election in May, 2019.

Senator Zed Seselja, the Minister for International Development and the Pacific, has authored a letter-box campaign targeting the ACT government’s incentives for electric vehicles, most notably its pre-election promise of free registration for electric vehicle owners.

Apparently, this is too much for the ACT-based right winger Seselja, a frequent critic also of renewable energy incentives who has also argued that Australia should quit the Paris climate treaty. Seselja says EV subsidies favours only rich consumers.

It turns out that Seselja actually launched this campaign on his Facebook page in May 2021.

“The Labor-Greens Government are giving free rego to those who can afford a $100,000 electric car, while making those who can’t afford it pay full price. I think this is completely unfair,” he wrote on the Facebook post. In the letter box drop, he goes a few steps further, suggesting that the “average” price of EVs is $107,950 and “simply out of reach for most Canberra families.”

As many commenting on that Facebook post pointed out, the ad is deliberately misleading. It’s not the “average price”, but the “median” price, which is completely different. The median price for petrol cars is probably around the same for EVs if you count the different models of Rolls Royce, Bentley, Maserati and Lotus cars. The “average” price is different, and while EVs are, on average, more expensive than petrol or diesel equivalents, most EVs sold are priced at $70,000 or below. (The MG electric SUV was recently priced at $40,999 before on roads).

Senator Seselja

Bizarrely, the advertisement doesn’t even feature a car in Australia. It features a man driving a left hand drive car, so is likely from Europe (where the EV incentives are even greater) or the US, and is breaking the law by being on the phone (assuming he is actually driving).

It is not even clear if the car is electric. The only recognisable feature of the photo is that the man is what some many imagine a Liberal voter might look like.

The campaign against EV policies in the ACT – a result of the pre-election campaign promises by Labor and the Greens – is ironic given that NSW Liberals have gone several steps further, providing an exemption to stamp duty and a $3,000 rebate for the first 25,000 cars – although these are limited to vehicles that cost less than $68,000.

It also comes amid news of the first federal Liberal MP to buy an EV, Victorian-based Katie Allen who has a Tesla Model 3, as does NSW Liberal energy minister Matt Kean, one of the main driver’s behind what is now the country’s most progressive EV policy.

It remains to be seen if federal energy and emissions reduction minister Angus Taylor will take the cue from Seselja and reprise his relentless and misleading anti-EV rhetoric that became one of the most depressing aspects of the last election campaign.

But the signs are not good, and Taylor’s department could barely bring itself to mention EVs in its “future fuels strategy” (dubbed FFS), and the government’s main road transport initiative has been a $2.3 billion subsidy to support the country’s last two oil refineries, much of which will go straight into Ampol shareholders’ pockets.

And if Seselja and his followers are unable to cope with the idea of free registration for EVs, what hope is there that the Coalition government will follow with its own incentives to match those of the federal Labor, still keen to deliver tax relief, particularly for the business leasing market that accounts for half of new car sales in Australia.

 

See also: Bowen says Labor’ FBT exemption will make electric cars very affordable

And: Explainer: Which Australian states offer the best incentives to buy EVs?

Note: We asked Senator Seselja’s office about the origin of the photo, and we will let you know if we get a reply”. Refer www.reneweconomy.com.au

“Clean Energy Outlook Confidence Index” Kane Thornton, Clean Energy Council, 9th July 2021 reports: This index provides an insight into the status of the industry from leading CEOs and senior managers. 

Since July 2018, the Clean Energy Council has conducted a bi-annual survey of senior leaders from across the clean energy industry to measure their investment confidence, employment trends and the business challenges across the industry. The July 2021 report is based on a survey conducted in June 2020 and consisted of the responses from over 60 CEOs and senior managers.

The results show an overall decrease in investor confidence since the last survey in December 2020. Industry leaders cited grid connection issues and unhelpful and unpredictable government intervention are the primary reasons for the sector’s second-lowest confidence level since 2019.

Concerns relating to the grid connection process was once again ranked as the top business challenge. The industry also rated network capacity and transmission concerns, lack of long-term federal energy policy and future market design uncertainty as major challenges.

Compared to 12 months ago, investment confidence has dropped from 7.3 in July 2020 to 6.3, now at its second-lowest level since December 2019. The industry cites grid connection, political interference and grid connection concerns as key reasons for declining investment confidence. Investment confidence continues to differ across states, with NSW, VIC and QLD scoring highest despite dropping since July 2020.

The response from industry leaders on employment opportunities has increased slightly, with just over half of all responders expecting to employ more staff in the next 12 months. The top business challenge rated by the industry was once again concerns and challenges related to grid connection process and technical requirements, with the industry citing this as the top challenge since July 2019.

Unpredictable or unhelpful government intervention in the energy market was cited as the second biggest business challenge, followed by under-investment in network capacity and unpredictable or lack of long-term integrated federal energy and climate policy. The top five and six challenges relate concerns around future market design and climate policy and concerns around marginal loss factors (MLFs). Refer www.cleanenergycouncil.org.au

“Federal Court Says Minister Owes Duty of Care to Young People Over Carbon Emissions” Michael Mazengarb, 8th July, Renew Economy, writes: “The Federal Court has ordered that the federal environment minister owes Australia’s young people a duty of care to protect them from the potential harms caused by carbon dioxide emissions.

In a landmark decision that will impact any future project proposing to expand Australia’s production of fossil fuels, Federal Court Justice Mordecai Bromberg said that when exercising powers under the EPBC Act, the environment minister had a “duty to take reasonable care” to “avoid causing personal injury or death” to Australians under 18 years of age that arose “from emissions of carbon dioxide into the Earth’s atmosphere.”

The legal proceedings had been brought against federal environment minister Sussan Ley by a group of eight Australian high school students, who sought to pre-empt a decision by Ley to issue environmental approvals to the expansion of Whitehaven Coal’s Vickery Coal mine.

The decision will compel Ley to consider the potential climate change impacts of the coal mines expansion when considering its approval under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act and implement suitable measures that would work to mitigate the risk young people resulting from the increased extraction of coal from the Vickery mine.

The expansion of the mine would allow for an additional 33 million tonnes of coal to be extracted from the mine. The additional coal production is expected to result in 100 million tonnes of additional greenhouse gas emissions.

The decision will also have wider reaching implications, impacting upon any project seeking federal environmental approval that could create a ‘reasonably foreseeable’ risk to young people due to increase in carbon dioxide emissions. “Throughout the world, countries such as Canada and Ireland have promised no new coal projects. However, Australia remains a global outlier, with no firm plan other than continuing to encourage new fossil fuel projects,” high school student Ava Princi said. “We hope this ruling will be an important step to getting Australia – and the world – on the right path to a safer future for us all.”

Justice Bromberg, however, stopped short of declaring that the duty of care was owed to all young people, including those who resided outside of Australia – meaning Ley may not need to consider the impacts of climate change felt on a global basis.

“It’s heartbreaking that young people even have to take to the courts to fight for basic protection against the climate crisis, when we’re so obviously facing its impacts right now, with temperatures increasing year upon year and natural disasters taking lives all around the globe,” one of the students, Anjali Sharma, said. “But after too many years of politicians turning a blind eye, today’s historic ruling will make it harder for them to continue to approve large-scale fossil fuel projects that will only fast track the climate crisis. We are delighted that the law of the land now states that the government has a duty to avoid causing harm to young people.”

In an earlier decision, the Federal Court had indicated that the group of students launching the legal challenge had established that the minister’s duty of care existed. Shortly after the delivery of that earlier decision, Ley indicated that she did not agree with the conclusions of the Federal Court.

Lawyers representing the environment minister had tried to argue that if a duty of care existed, that it only applied to a limited set of established ‘reasonably foreseeable risks’ – covering just bushfires and extreme heatwaves.

However, the federal court ruled that while the risks considered by the environment minister under the EPBC Act did need to be ‘reasonably foreseeable’, they were not limited to just those two risks and could extend to any consequence of climate change that could result in personal injury or death to young Australians. “The nature of the risk of harm that the Minister must take reasonable care to avoid is personal injury or death to the Children arising from the emission of carbon dioxide from the burning of coal extracted from the Extension Project,” Justice Bromberg wrote.

A lawyer representing the students, David Barnden, said that the decision now made clear what responsibilities the federal environment minister has when assessing environment approvals that would expand the extraction of fossil fuels. “Today’s historical outcome provides a safe harbour for the Environment Minister to act sensibly to not only protect the environment but to ensure that she does not increase the risk of death and injury to children by approving new coal mines,” Barnden said. “It is now law in Australia that people in power have a responsibility to not harm children. We hope this breaks the political deadlock that is condemning young people to a treacherous future.”

While the Federal Court denied an additional request from the students for an injunction to be issued that would prevent the environment minister from issuing environment approvals to the mine, the court did order that the environment minister was required to pay legal costs of the students, given their success on the ‘duty of care’ question.

The Federal Court decision is the latest in a recent flurry of legal proceedings that focus on the issue of climate change. The decision follows a win by Greenpeace Australia Pacific in proceedings brought against it by AGL Energy, following the use of the AGL’s logo and branding in campaign materials that targeted the energy company for its status as Australia’s single largest greenhouse gas emitter.

It also comes as a legal challenge is launched in New Zealand by a group of 300 climate change concerned lawyers, challenging the process used by the Ardern government to determine the country’s carbon budgets, arguing that the budget was not consistent with limiting global warming to just 1.5 degrees.

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has been contacted for comment”.

“Scientists Issue Desperate Climate Warning: Australia Already at 1.4°C” Michael Mazengarb from Renew Economy, reporting on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 6th Assessment report issued 9th August 2021: “Scientists have delivered a stark warning to the world about the impacts of climate change, saying that extreme heat, flooding, and drought are being observed in every region of the world and that these will increase in their intensity extreme unless rapid action is taken to reduce emissions.

On Monday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) delivered the first of three major reports being prepared as part of its sixth assessment of climate change, providing an authoritative statement on the current understandings of climate science. The report – the first of its kind in eight years – “unequivocally” confirms that global warming is occurring, attributed to human-caused increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases.

The IPCC report confirms that global temperatures have already increased 1.09°C compared to pre-industrial temperatures – an increase more significant than anything that has occurred for more than 100,00 years – and that over the next 20 years, average global temperatures are expected to reach or exceed 1.5°C of warming.

“Global surface temperature will continue to increase until at least the mid-century under all emissions scenarios considered,” the report say’s “Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.”

The shocking news for Australia – already criticised for doing little on climate change – is that average temperatures have already risen 1.4°C. The authors say that the current and future impacts of global warming are now well understood with unprecedented levels of certainty thanks to improved climate observations and advances in the scientific understanding of the human influence on the world’s climate.

“This report is a reality check,” IPCC Working Group I co-chair Valérie Masson-Delmotte said. “We now have a much clearer picture of the past, present and future climate, which is essential for understanding where we are headed, what can be done, and how we can prepare.”

The report was authored by 234 leading climate scientists, drawn from 66 countries, who cited more than 14,000 pieces of research in preparing the authoritative statement. Its publication had been delayed by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. “This report reflects extraordinary efforts under exceptional circumstances,” chair of the IPCC, Hoesung Lee added. “The innovations in this report, and advances in climate science that it reflects, provide an invaluable input into climate negotiations and decision-making.”

The key message from the scientists is that “every faction of a degree matters” – a warning to the world about the worsening consequences of global warming, including more extreme weather events, higher temperature extremes and higher risk of fire, droughts and flooding. But it is also a message about the need to act – the faster action is taken and the greater the emissions cuts that can be achieved, the greater the chance of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.

“With every additional increment of global warming, changes in extremes continue to become larger,” the report says. “For example, every additional 0.5°C of global warming causes clearly discernible increases in the intensity and frequency of hot extremes, including heatwaves (very likely), and heavy precipitation (high confidence), as well as agricultural and ecological droughts in some regions. “There will be an increasing occurrence of some extreme events unprecedented in the observational record with additional global warming, even at 1.5°C of global warming,” it adds.

The report’s authors said the report should serve as a message to governments that the severe impacts of climate change can be limited by early and ambitious action to reduce emissions and that delays will lead to irreversible changes to the Earth’s climate. “The climate we and the young generations will experience depends on future emissions,” the report says. “Reducing emissions rapidly will limit further changes, but continued emissions will trigger larger, faster changes that will increasingly affect all regions. Some changes will persist for hundreds or thousands of years, so today’s choices will have long-lasting consequences.”

The IPCC report compares five different potential futures – based on differing levels of expected global warming – finding that limiting global warming to below 2°C will almost certainly require negative emissions to be achieved by the second half the century. For Australia, the IPCC found that it had already warmed by 1.4°C above pre-industrial levels and could expect higher heat extremes and an increase to the frequency and severity of both extreme fire events and heavy rainfall and river flooding.

The report added that these impacts were expected to get more extreme with each incremental increase in global warming. “Heat extremes have increased, cold extremes have decreased, and these trends are projected to continue (high confidence),” the IPCC’s regional report on Australasia says.

“Frequency of extreme fire weather days has increased, and the fire season has become longer since 1950 at many locations (medium confidence). The intensity, frequency and duration of fire weather events are projected to increase throughout Australia (high confidence) and New Zealand (medium confidence). “Changes in several climatic impact-drivers (e.g., heatwaves, droughts, floods) would be more widespread at 2°C compared to 1.5°C global warming and even more widespread and/or pronounced for higher warming levels,” the report adds.

Scientists have also attempted to give an indication of the very long term impacts of global warming, giving a stark warning that even modest increases in global temperatures continue to irreversibly impact global climate systems for thousands of years into the future. “In the longer term, sea level is committed to rise for centuries to millennia due to continuing deep ocean warming and ice sheet melt, and will remain elevated for thousands of years,” the IPCC report says.

“Over the next 2000 years, global mean sea level will rise by about 2 to 3 m if warming is limited to 1.5°C, 2 to 6 m if limited to 2°C and 19 to 22 m with 5°C of warming, and it will continue to rise over subsequent millennia.”

The report is the first of three major reports to be published by the IPCC over the coming year. A report detailing the “impacts, adaptation and vulnerability” triggered by climate change will be published in February 2022. The third report on possible approaches to mitigating the causes of climate change will follow in March 2022.

Check out a list of the report’s key takeaways here, and reactions from key stakeholders and scientists. Here are nine key takeaways from the IPCC’s latest landmark climate change assessment:

  1. “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred.”

Scientists say that their understanding of the world’s climate, and the potential future impacts of climate change, is better than it has ever been. The updated observations and forecasts issued by the IPCC have been made with greater accuracy and certainty.

  1. “Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe. Evidence of observed changes in extremes such as heatwaves, heavy precipitation, droughts, and tropical cyclones, and in particular, their attribution to human influence, has strengthened since AR5.”

Scientists say the impacts of climate change are already becoming more evident since the IPCC’s last assessment report, published in 2014. Things are getting more extreme in every part of the world.

  1. “Global surface temperature will continue to increase until at least the mid-century under all emissions scenarios considered. Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.”

Scientists have warned that global temperatures are on track to exceed 2°C of warming this century. Global warming of 1.5°C is expected to be exceeded before 2040 and a draw-down of emissions from the atmosphere will be necessary to keep warming below this level.

  1. “Many changes in the climate system become larger in direct relation to increasing global warming. They include increases in the frequency and intensity of hot extremes, marine heatwaves, and heavy precipitation, agricultural and ecological droughts in some regions, and proportion of intense tropical cyclones, as well as reductions in Arctic sea ice, snow cover and permafrost.”

As global warming intensifies, global weather events are predicted to become more extreme. For Australia, this means more frequent and intense droughts, flooding and bushfires. Scientists also predict Australia will see more frequent sand and dust storms.

  1. “Many changes due to past and future greenhouse gas emissions are irreversible for centuries to millennia, especially changes in the ocean, ice sheets and global sea level.”

Scientists predict that the impacts of global warming will continue to influence the global climate for thousands of years into the future, pushing the climate to levels not seen for thousands of years prior. Even modest temperature increases will continue to impact the global climate, including ongoing melting of glaciers and the polar ice-caps, leading to significant levels of sea level rise centuries into the future.

  1. “From a physical science perspective, limiting human-induced global warming to a specific level requires limiting cumulative CO2 emissions, reaching at least net zero CO2 emissions, along with strong reductions in other greenhouse gas emissions.”

There is only one way to avoid worsening impacts of climate change: rapidly and significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Predictions suggest that to avoid the most extreme outcomes, reaching net-zero emissions won’t be enough, as the world will need to plan to begin drawing down existing greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere. While the world still emits greenhouse gases, the world will continue to warm.

  1. “Australian land areas have warmed by around 1.4°C between 1910 and 2020 (very high confidence), and annual temperature changes have emerged above natural variability in all land regions (high confidence).”

Observations show that Australia is warming at a faster than average rate compared to the rest of the world, already reaching an increase of 1.4°C over the last century. Across all parts of Australia, the warming signal is clear, above normal levels of variability and pushing parts of the country to new record high temperatures and projections suggest this is only going to get worse.

  1. “Frequency of extreme fire weather days has increased, and the fire season has become longer since 1950 at many locations (medium confidence). The intensity, frequency and duration of fire weather events are projected to increase throughout Australia (high confidence).”

Australia felt the impacts of global warming during a devastating 2019-20 summer, when bushfires destroyed thousands of homes and claimed the lives of dozens of Australians. The IPCC has warned that such events are predicted to occur more often and with greater severity, as higher global temperatures exacerbate the conditions in which bushfires thrive.

  1. “Changes in several climatic impact-drivers (e.g., heatwaves, droughts, floods;) would be more widespread at 2°C compared to 1.5°C global warming and even more widespread and/or pronounced for higher warming levels.”

The message from scientists is clear – every fraction of a degree matters. The higher global temperatures are pushed by increased concentrations of greenhouse gas emissions, the worse the resulting impacts of climate change on human health.

 

 

Disclaimer The comments and details in the articles in this newsletter do not reflect the views, policies or position of the Association or its member Councils and are sourced and reproduced from public media outlets by the Executive Officer to provide information for members that they may not already be exposed to in their Local Government areas

Contacts

Clr Peter Shinton (Chair) peter.shinton@warrumbungle.nsw.gov.au 0268492000 or Greg Lamont (Executive Officer) 0407937636, info@miningrelatedcouncils.asn.au.

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