Thursday 22 Feb 2018 | 04:34 | SYDNEY
What's happening on

Climate change

Climate change and security and why it’s so hard

Australian officials have paid increasing attention to the links between climate change and security. The 2016 Defence White Paper and the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper both clearly set out a view that climate change will contribute to insecurity in the Asia-Pacific region, and specifically

The Kyoto Protocol 20 years later: Heroes and villains

He was hailed as the ‘hero’ of the Kyoto climate talks 20 years ago, but the diplomat who oversaw negotiations for the world’s first legally binding emission cuts had some remarkably simple approaches to success. The first was to cut back on time. Raul Estrada Oyuela reduced the length of

Searching for sustainable energy in the Mekong

Southeast Asian governments are starting to wake up to the vast potential of solar energy, under pressure from civil society groups that insist it is time to get on board with a global revolution in renewable energy. Cambodia's former Energy Minister Pou Sothirak, now head of the Cambodian

What keeps global security academics awake at night

At the start of a Global Security course I ask my undergraduate students what they think are the greatest threats to global security. This year I went a step further, surveying academic colleagues around the globe. The results were telling in terms of what was emphasised and what was missing. The

Green power has a long way to go

One factor driving energy policies across the world is repeated claims by activists that green energy is gaining substantial market share over its despised fossil fuel competitors. These claims, made for the likes of the Danish, German, Californian and even Chinese grids, are distorting the energy

Paris agreement: signaling change for decades to come

Years from now, the Paris climate conference may be seen as the point where ambitious long term global climate policy was finally enshrined in an international agreement, and where the world found a formula that enables consistent action. True, there is a massive gap between present policy ambition

COP21 Paris update: Tough and uneven progress

The pace in Paris  is picking up. Delegates are moving from meeting to meeting, negotiating on the elements of the agreement. Even big delegations are struggling to keep up. We will not get a good sense of what will have been accomplished this week for a day or so but it is fair to say that

COP21: Where style is as important as substance

The Paris Climate Conference is underway. This is the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to which 195 states are signatories and, like previous COPs, it has been hailed as the most important climate conference in history. This is

Paris update: Anticipation and hyperbole

The delegates have arrived and the behind the scenes discussions in Paris are well underway. Negotiators are meeting to discuss strategy and informally coordinate positions. The aim is to  ensure formal negotiations proceed smoothly after the fanfare of the leaders' statements tomorrow. Canada 

Witness a global tipping point: The beginning of the end of coal

This is the first in a two part series by Fergus Green, climate policy consultant and researcher, London School of Economics and Political Science and Richard Denniss, chief economist, The Australia Institute. This post examines trends in coal demand. Part two will focus on proposals to regulate

G20 lacking ambition on climate change

G20 energy and resources ministers concluded the first-ever G20 Energy Ministerial in Istanbul over the weekend. Their communique is an initial response to the call from G20 leaders at last November's Brisbane summit to meet and progress nine agreed principles on energy collaboration. With

Humanity's carbon countdown

First, the good news. We have enough fossil fuel to survive until the century's end. Today's proven reserves of coal, oil and gas combined is about 83 years (at current usage rates), so Spaceship Earth could make 2100 – the exact date that IPCC scientists have set for mankind's plan to moderate

Why we still need UN climate negotiations

The Marrakesh Accords, the Bali Roadmap, the Cancun Agreements, the Durban Outcomes, the Doha Climate Gateway, the Lima Call for Climate Action – the grand names given to decisions taken under the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) stand in contrast to the meagre progress made on

China makes its formal climate-change pledge

China's long-anticipated formal pledge to international climate change negotiations, it's 'intended nationally determined contribution' or INDC, has arrived. China's target is a 60% to 65% reduction in the emissions-intensity of the economy by 2030 pegged at 2005 levels, with carbon dioxide

The road to Paris: Ten days and counting

The latest round of negotiations for the UN's Framework Convention on Climate Change closed in Bonn last Friday with mixed results. With ten formal negotiating days left until crucial climate negotiations resume in Paris later this year, the clock is ticking. Bonn Climate Change Conference, 1 June

Is the G20 getting serious about climate change?

The G20 does not have a great track record when it comes to climate change. This is a problem, because the group includes the world's main greenhouse gas emitters. G20 countries have agreed to a global target not to warm the earth more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels as part of the UN

Inclusive growth should not be the G20's game

In 2002 David Dollar and Art Kraay, both at the World Bank at the time, published an article in the Journal of Economic Growth called 'Growth is Good for the Poor'. Dollar and Kraay showed that if an economy's growth increased by a percentage point, then growth of the incomes of the poor increased

Post-2020 emission target a test for Australia

Failure to pay proper, high-level attention to negotiations under the UN's climate convention (UNFCCC) seriously endangers Australia's national interest in areas beyond climate change. This is the important headline conclusion from a timely Lowy Institute paper by Howard Bamsey and Kath Rowley. The

Cyclone Pam: A photo essay from a volunteer

By Eva Westfield, who was an Australian volunteer based in Port Vila. Consistently rated the most dangerous countries in the world in terms of disaster risk, Vanuatu is no stranger to the destruction caused by natural hazards. Talk of Cyclone Pam hitting Vanuatu started about a week before it

Lima climate conference: Slow movement on Planet UNFCCC

As haggard negotiators left the UN climate change conference in Lima in the early hours of Sunday morning, many observers noted the contrast between the political acrimony that characterised the final days of these tortured discussions and the sense of optimism that many felt going into the talks

China's coal addiction

A recent paper in Nature says that 'no other country is investing so much money or generating so much renewable energy' as China. 'Its build-up of renewable energy systems at serious scale is driving cost reductions that will make them accessible to all.' The International Energy Agency reckons

The environment and the news cycle

I loved this bit from US environmental activist Bill McKibben, who is guest blogging on Andrew Sullivan's site: Every day there’s something more immediately important happening in the world: ISIS is seizing an airbase this morning, and California is recovering from an earthquake, and Michael

A breakthrough in Chinese climate policy? Not likely

I argued back in April that China's 'synthetic natural gas' (syngas or SNG, which is gas made from coal) is 'bad economics, bad science and an environmental catastrophe'. I also said that 'what is striking is the ambition of Chinese plans versus the widespread scepticism of SNG worldwide and

Just how expensive is renewable energy?

I raised this topic recently when The Economist pointed to a new Brookings study which argued that the cost of renewables had been severely underestimated. There was some pushback in the comments thread, and now I see that Green Tech Media, an American green energy industry website, has also

From the comments thread: Green energy

Two reader comments I'd like to flag in response to my piece highlighting new research by the Brookings Institution's Charles Frank, written up in The Economist, which suggests renewable energy is still way too expensive to take over from coal, oil and gas. Here's OfKember: The basic inadequacy

Green power still too expensive

This piece from The Economist would have been useful context for the green-energy puff piece broadcast on the ABC's flagship current affairs show Four Corners on 7 July. The Economist has highlighted new research from the Brookings Institution which looks at the full cost of generating various

Climate action: Public opinion is not the problem

A newly released IPSOS Global Trends Survey  shows, according to a Guardian columnist, that Anglophone countries are particularly inclined towards climate denialism: When you click on the interactive version on the IPSOS website, you see that the bottom red line (for the US) shows 32%

China: Climate wrecker or climate leader?

Lisa Williams is author of the new Lowy Institute Analysis, China's Climate Change Policies: Actors and Drivers. The views expressed here are her own and do not reflect the views of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet or the Australian Government. As the world prepares to fight for (

Carbon tax repeal: Learning from Europe

In September 2010, the Australian Labor Party's Greg Combet sat down with The Australian's Samantha Maiden to explain why the coal industry 'absolutely' had a future. Given Australia is a leading coal exporter, this should have been unexceptional, except that Combet had been put in charge of the

Australia's next climate push must come from the right

Interpreter alumnus Andrew Carr is hardly the first to point this out, but on the day the carbon tax is repealed in the Australian parliament, it is worth repeating this sentiment: The answer to this anomaly probably lies in this Nicholas Gruen piece on The Interpreter from last May, which was a

Australia's carbon price repeal: The global context

With the repeal today of Australia's two-year-old carbon pricing scheme, the Abbott Government has formalised Australia's transition from climate laggard to climate wrecker. But just how serious a blow to global climate efforts is this repeal? To answer this question we can compare Australia

Australians shifting on climate change

A month ago my colleague John Connor wrote an op-ed for the Sydney Morning Herald welcoming the fact that for the first time in years, climate change was a major story coming out of the Lowy Institute's poll of public attitudes to international affairs. Expectation for leadership on the issue was up

Asia's coal demand: You ain't seen nothing yet

Sam Roggeveen yesterday showed us how much demand for coal has risen in Asia during this century. Now consider what the future will hold. A recent joint publication from the International Energy Agency and the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia forecasts what is in store for the

Climate change: Asia leads, but not in a good way

Vox has some remarkable — and depressing — charts on why the world is failing on climate change, all derived from BP's latest Statistical Review of World Energy. Half of the world's greenhouse gas emissions now come from Asia, with China alone consuming half of the world's coal. This is the

Climate and energy policy merging, but where is Australia?

Australia's low level of ambition ahead of next year's climate change talks in Paris reveals more than the negative effect of domestic politics on our international reputation and economic future. The broader message to trading partners, investors and policymakers is that Australia is unwilling

Climate change: The G20 can add value

Yesterday I gave an interview to the Sydney Morning Herald for a story published today: 'Stopping climate change talks "could hurt" G20' (p. 8 in the paper version). Here I want to offer a little more background to the three direct quotes that made it to the final story: Climate change will be

Movie trailer: Godzilla

A new trailer for the Godzilla reboot has just emerged, and it looks pretty awesome: Judging by the trailer, environmentalists should be ecstatic with this one. In fact, maybe James Cameron and his Hollywood actor pals could have saved themselves the effort of making a worthy documentary about

IPCC and clean energy: Easy on the optimism

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report makes for gloomy reading. The world needs 'drastic changes' to reduce carbon emissions and prevent global temperature rises, reports the ABC; investment in renewable energy needs to triple, says the BBC; the emissions problem is

Pages