Thursday, April 15, 2021

The world will break through the more ambitious Paris climate target of 1.5 degrees as soon as 2030 but may still avoid a more catastrophic 2 degrees of warming if governments act immediately to dramatically reduce emissions, according to a new report.

Just another prophecy based on guesswork and bound to be as wrong as all the ones before it

The Climate Council report, Aim High, Go Fast, is based on new data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and echoes similar findings by the Australian Academy of Science issued last week, but has prompted a dissenting report from one prominent Australian climate scientist, Bill Hare.

It warns that the more ambitious Paris target of holding warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels cannot be achieved without what it calls “significant overshoot” and “drawdown”. Drawdown refers to the possibility of using as yet non-existent large-scale carbon dioxide removal technology to help cool and stabilise the climate after overshooting the target.

In the report the Climate Council says that in view of Australia’s historical contribution to global warming, its high emissions and its natural advantages in renewable energy generation, the government should now aim to reduce emissions by 75 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 and reach net zero by 2035.

So far the government has committed to reducing emissions by 26-28 per cent by 2030 and has set no net-zero target, but said it would prefer to reach that milestone earlier than 2050.

Barrier Reef doomed as up to 99% of coral at risk, report finds
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to face more pressure to commit to more ambitious actions at a climate summit to be hosted by United States President Joe Biden next week and during the lead-up to the next UN climate talks in Glasgow in November.

Asked if such an abrupt reduction was possible, one of the report’s authors, executive director of the Australian National University Climate Change Institute Will Steffen, cited the example of allied nations transforming their economies in five years to defeat the Axis power in World War II.

“The point is, it’s going to be a tough decade, no doubt about it,” he said. “There’ll be some disruption soon, but it’ll be an exciting decade and it’ll set us up for a much brighter future after 2030.”

To reach such targets Professor Steffen said the government would need to immediately halt the expansion of coal and gas and plan to support affected communities as fossil fuels were phased out. Secondly, Australia would have to reach almost 100 per cent renewables in its energy system by 2030.

The report finds “multiple lines of evidence” that the world will break through 1.5 degrees: the increasing pace at which the world has been warming since 2016; new scientific understanding of the climate system’s sensitivity; and the increasing rate of sea levels rising. There is also an analysis of global greenhouse gas emissions which are now in line with the highest of four scenarios considered in the fifth assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the UN’s lead climate change body.

“We now face a more dangerous future, with further risks and damages locked in,” says the report.

“We have reached the endgame and if we are to limit further disruption then we must dramatically step up the scale and pace of action. Inaction or delay in the face of so much evidence is in fact an active commitment to massive global climate disruption and damage.”

Counting the increasing costs of droughts and flooding rains
Professor Steffen said the impact of temperature rises did not go up in a linear fashion, and that 2 degrees of warming was far worse than 1.5 degrees.

“The issue here is that past inaction on climate change has cost us dearly. There is plenty of momentum in the climate system, it is like trying to turn a battleship around,” he said.

“The mantra I keep going back to is that every tenth of a degree matters.”

But Bill Hare, a lead author on the fourth IPCC assessment and founder of Climate Analytics, said he believes both the Climate Council and the Australian Academy of Science had found further evidence for the need for immediate and dramatic action. But he did not agree with the view that holding global temperatures rises to 1.5 degrees was virtually impossible.

His dissenting report, co-authored by his colleague Dr Carl-Friedrich Schleussner, said it is not possible to draw conclusions on temperature rises over short time periods used by the Climate Council report; that sea level rise is a lagging rather than leading indicator of climate change; and that the Climate Council had made mistakes in its interpretation of so-called carbon emissions budgets. They further question the report’s analysis of climate sensitivity.

“The evidence presented in the Climate Council of Australia report itself does not support their claim that 1.5°C will be exceeded,” they write.

Mr Hare told the Herald and The Age he believed the evidence of physics and economics showed that 1.5 degrees was still achievable and that the target itself was a critical policy tool supporting international efforts to tackle climate change.

“[The 1.5 degree target] has become mainstream in the global climate debate, it is why nations are talking about net zero by 2050 rather than 2070.”


Sweeping changes made to sexual harassment laws which could change the Australian workplace forever and see staffers fired for unwanted compliments

Scott Morrison will move to toughen up sexual harassment laws with a series of changes that will make it easier to fire offenders.

The government will change the Fair Work Act to categorise harassment as serious misconduct, meaning an employee can be terminated for offences such as making unwanted sexual advances or suggestive comments or jokes.

Mr Morrison also wants to include sexual harassment in stop bullying orders which allow employees to request to work different shifts to a bullying boss or colleague.

The government will also change the Human Rights Act to extend the time victims have to make sexual harassment complaints from six months to two years.

Attorney-general Michaelia Cash said the new rules will bring clarity for employers.

'So we are going to ensure they know... that if you want, if sexual harassment is occurring in the workplace and it is proven, you can terminate a person for that,' she said.

'We will amend the definition of "serious misconduct" in the Fair Work regulations to include sexual harassment.

'We will also clarify that sexual harassment can be a ground or a valid reason for dismissal.

'This will give employers the certainty they need to take action, but what it also says to employees and victims of sexual harassment is there are consequences for this action in the workplace,' Senator Cash said.

Also under the changes - which the prime minster wants to pass parliament by July with bi-partisan support - MPs and judges will no longer be exempt from the Sex Discrimination Act, meaning they can be subject to discrimination complaints.

Independent MP Rebekha Sharkie tried to make that change in March but the government shut her down.

The changes come in response to the 2018 Respect@Work Report by Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins.

Mr Morrison said his government has agreed in whole, in part or in principle to all 55 recommendations.

'Sexual harassment is unacceptable,' he told reporters on Thursday. 'It's not only immoral and despicable and even criminal, but particularly in the context of the Respect@Work report it denies Australians, especially women, not just their personal security but their economic security by not being safe at work.' 'Everyone has a right to be safe at work. Sexual harassment must be prohibited in the work place,' he added.

The government has been under pressure to take action on harassment after former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins alleged in March she was raped in Parliament House in 2019.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is defined as any unwelcome sexual advance, unwelcome request for sexual favours or other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in circumstances where a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would anticipate the possibility that the person harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated.


Australian children's cartoon about dogs is attacked for not having 'disabled, queer or single-parent dog families'

Hit children's cartoon show Bluey has come under attack for not having disabled, queer, poor or 'gender diverse' characters.

Journalist Beverley Wang slammed the ABC program's lack of diversity in a piece for the national broadcaster's own Everyday website, where she opened-up about her 'struggles' with the Emmy award-winning show.

She asked why Bluey, set in Brisbane, was not 'more representative' of the city it is based in, while acknowledging her comments 'may come across as asking too much of a show that's already so tender, nuanced and joyful'.

'Where are the disabled, queer, poor, gender diverse, dogs of colour and single-parent dog families in Bluey's Brisbane?,' wrote Ms Wang, who describes herself on her Twitter profile as an 'Asian female broadcaster

Ms Wang said as a parent of colour, she was 'conscious of the presence - or absence - of diverse representation in kids' pop culture'.

Bluey, dubbed Australia's most popular children's television show, follows the adventures of 'a loveable, inexhaustible six year-old Blue Heeler dog' along with her family which includes her mum, dad and younger sister, and her friends.

One person who slammed Ms Wang's piece said: 'These people are obsessed with pushing their unhinged ideology onto two-year children who literally have no idea about sexism, racism etc'.


Australian of the Year Grace Tame says 'men are not the enemy' as she opens up about her relationship with 'soulmate' Max, the teacher she confided in after being raped

Australian of the Year Grace Tame has defended the male gender by highlighting the men in her life who steered her towards 'positivity and hope'.

Tame, 25, will be the first non-celebrity to appear on Maire Claire's cover next month, since the magazine was founded the year she was born.

The feminism activist opened up about her marriage to American actor Spencer Breslin - best known for his role in the 2003 movie The Cat In The Hat - and described her current partner Max as her 'soulmate' who she met last year.

'We've both been in long-term relationships. I was even married [to Breslin]. But I'm already closer to Max than I was to my husband,' she said.

She also described her 11-year-old brother Oscar, as her 'little hero'. 'He's a very, very special person. He came into the world right when the abuse started, and pardon the pun, he was a literal saving grace.'

Ms Tame also spoke highly of Dr Simon Williams, the teacher to whom she first detailed the sexual abuse she suffered for years when she was just 15 years old.

Ms Tame was a young schoolgirl battling anorexia when her high school maths teacher Nicolaas Bester, raped her on the classroom floor at St Michael's Collegiate School in Hobart.

A decade later she was named Australian of the Year for her tireless efforts to fight an archaic gag order that banned sexual assault survivors like herself from telling their stories publicly.

Ms Tame made a powerful acceptance speech in January that paved the way for Brittany Higgins and others to go public with rape accusations against powerful people.

She insists she is just a 'tiny domino' that helped prompt others into action - such as the March for Justice of 100,000 women last month.

'People are sometimes deterred from action or doubt the value of their contribution in change,' she said. 'There's a whole set of dominoes waiting to be pushed over. Just be that one domino. Your tiny little contribution has enormous catalytic potential.'

Tame said a frenzied uprising is not the answer, instead advocating a more 'manageable, reasonable momentum that's not so overblown, it's just measured'.

But the activist said she would keep fighting until child sexual abuse was eradicated and the laws around consent have a standard national definition.

'I won't stop until I see the end of child sexual assault,' she said. 'It's as simple as that.'




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