Australia: Climate change warning to ALP

Michelle Grattan | The

A GETUP poll of its members in the inner-city seat of Melbourne has found 84% of Labor supporters are threatening to switch their vote unless the Government takes strong action on climate change.

Melbourne is held by Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner and the Greens, who take a tougher line on climate change, are strong there.

The Greens polled nearly 23% in the 2007 election, almost as high as the Liberal candidate. Mr Tanner got almost 50% of the vote.

Nearly 1650 GetUp members responded to the survey in Melbourne, including 812 ALP voters. The poll, taken before the release of Treasury modelling, found similar results in two inner-city seats in NSW, Grayndler, held by Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese and Sydney, the electorate of Housing Minister Tanya Plibersek.

The poll asked if the Government weakened its position or failed to deliver strong action on climate change “how likely would you be to vote for a party with a stronger climate change policy at next federal election?” In Melbourne, 51% of the Labor voters said they were “very likely” and 33% said somewhat likely.

GetUp national director Simon Sheikh said the results sent a strong signal to the Government that weak action on climate change could cost Labor critical activist support.

“GetUp members are highly engaged,” he said

The expectation is that Labor will make a very gentle start to its emissions trading scheme.


Event: Insurance Department to Hold Climate Change Forum for Pennsylvania Insurers

HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct 29, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ — Insurance leaders, policymakers, financial and scientific experts will meet in Harrisburg next week to discuss how climate change will impact many segments of business and industry, Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Joel Ario said today.
“The insurance industry is the first in line to face the financial hazards related to climate change,” Ario said. “Insurers must play a lead role in measuring the risks of climate change, and helping to mitigate those risks through their investments and product offerings.”
The Climate Change and Insurance Forum will be held Thursday, Nov. 6, in the auditorium of the Rachel Carson State Office Building, 400 Market St., Harrisburg, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The keynote speakers will be Dr. Brenton Yarnal, a Penn State University geography professor and expert on the interaction of environmental hazards, global environmental change, and socioeconomic development; and Mindy S. Lubber, president of Ceres, a national network of investors, environmental organizations and public interest groups working with companies and investors to address sustainability challenges such as global climate change.
Also headlining the event will be Eric Nordman, director of research for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, who will discuss the work of the NAIC’s Climate Change and Global Warming Task Force.
There is no cost to attend the forum. Complete meeting information is available at
Call 717-787-0636 to register.
CONTACT: Rosanne Placey or Melissa Fox
(717) 787-3289

U.K.: UNICEF praises Climate Change Bill passing


Low Carbon

MPs have been congratulated for passing the “world’s strongest” legislation to combat climate change by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) UK.

The Climate Change Bill, which commits the UK to reducing emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 including aviation and shipping sectors, was passed by an overwhelming majority on Tuesday (October 28).

According to UNICEF UK, a triumph of public campaigning saw some 200,000 people get in touch with their MPs to urge them to vote for the legislation.

Intense lobbying has led to a bill which obliges companies to publicly report carbon emissions and sets ambitious reduction targets.

UNICEF UK climate change project manager Lucy Stone said: “We congratulate the government on this groundbreaking piece of legislation and will continue our lobbying to make sure these targets translate into national and global action.”

Ms Stone added that climate change is already affecting the world’s poorest children.

Earlier this month, the government created a dedicated department for energy and climate change, and placed Ed Miliband at its head.

In one of his first moves he accepted the proposals of the Committee on Climate Change and raised the emissions reduction target from 60 per cent to 80 per cent.

The bill is now to be scrutinised by the House of Lords.  Read it here.

Obama’s potential green team

Grist / Guardian Environment Network

So what exactly does change look like? Barack Obama has ambitious energy and environmental plans. If he wins on November 4, who will he recruit to carry them out? Will he rely more heavily on Washington newcomers or on Clinton administration veterans who know their way around the White House? (See who John McCain might choose to green his White House here)

Obama’s choice for a transition team leader — John Podesta, former Clinton chief of staff — suggests he’s willing to look back to the Clinton years for top staff. But Obama has also surrounded himself with bright and accomplished advisers (note our interviews with energy policy chief Jason Grumet and director Heather Zichal) who are newer to the national scene. Will he fill Cabinet-level environmental jobs with fresh faces or stick to a more traditional path with ex-governors and Washington lawmakers? We asked campaign advisors, nonprofit conservation advocates, think-tank types, lobbyists, academics, and friendly looking folks behind us in line at the co-op. It’s a cardinal sin in Washington to openly speculate on these matters before an election, so we promised confidentiality to many sources.

Secretary of Energy

Managing the nation’s energy policy and nuclear safety is one of the most glamourless, thankless Cabinet-level positions, according to former Department of Energy officials. The secretary oversees the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile and nuclear waste disposal and a lot of private contracts. “You get a whole lot of responsibility for regulating, but you don’t get a lot of credit for achieving good things in the political process,” said Walter Rosenbaum, a former DOE consultant and energy policy scholar. Still, the position could take on more prominence in the next administration, given the amount of attention the candidates devoted to energy during the campaign.

Jason Grumet
The Obama campaign’s lead energy and environment advisor first started working with the senator when he arrived in Washington in 2005. In helping Obama develop his energy platform, Jason Grumet drew from his experience as head of the National Commission on Energy Policy and the Bipartisan Policy Center. Grumet’s think-tank work has focused on building consensus among diverse interests, though the NCEP’s 2004 energy report annoyed many environmentalists by calling for pollution permits to be given free of charge to polluters and by supporting a “safety valve” that would limit the price of pollution credits. This job has traditionally gone to seasoned governors and lawmakers, but Obama has shown affinity for policy wonks like Grumet. (Read a Grist interview with Grumet.)

Ed Rendell
With energy issues in the national spotlight, a veteran politician with deal-brokering experience could be at a premium. The Pennsylvania governor has worked to curb mercury emissions from the state’s coal-fired power plants, adopted California’s tough clean-car regulations, and pushed tax credits and other measures to attract renewable energy companies. Ed Rendell was one of Hillary Clinton’s key supporters during the Democratic primary, but has since campaigned for Obama. If he delivers his swing state next month, this spot (or another in Obama’s Cabinet) could be his for the taking.

Dan Reicher
Dan Reicher [PDF] has recently talked up geothermal energy as the potential “killer app” of the energy world. He gets his techie metaphors at, the philanthropic arm of the search engine giant, where he is director of climate change and energy initiatives. Before that he worked as an assistant energy secretary under President Clinton, a lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, and a sales executive at a renewable energy firm. Reicher’s knowledge of venture capital and commercializing green technology make him an appealing candidate to Bill Becker, executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project. “We’re facing one of the most promising worldwide market opportunities that we’ve ever had, and we need this kind savvy business experience,” Becker said. (Watch a Grist interview with Reicher.)

Read on about further positions here.

Utah: Dew ‘naive’ on nuclear waste, Climate Change, Demo says


Bob Bernick Jr. | Deseret News

The Utah Legislature, or perhaps a voter referendum, should decide whether EnergySolutions can dump foreign low-level radioactive waste in Utah.

So believes GOP 2nd Congressional District candidate Bill Dew, who added it should be a state’s rights issue.

During a KUED Ch. 7 debate with Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, Dew modified a previous stand on the low-level waste issue — he said in an earlier debate that he supported EnergySolutions’ plan.

Matheson said the U.S. Constitution clearly states that foreign commerce belongs in the purview of the Congress. “No other country takes such radioactive waste, and we shouldn’t either.”

Dew’s answer “is naive,” said Matheson, who leads his GOP challenger in recent public opinion polls. Utah is taking internal low-level waste from 36 states now, and ultimately will take it from all 50, Matheson said.

There is a limited amount of space for low-level nuclear waste at EnergySolutions’ Clive site in Tooele County. And the United States shouldn’t allow any of that storage capacity to be used for such waste from foreign countries, Matheson added.

Matheson vowed to fight to outlaw foreign importation of low-level nuclear waste.

Read on here.

Australia: Climate change fight as important as ever: Rudd


ABC News

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says the threat of climate change remains as significant as it was before the global financial crisis.

Yesterday the Government released Treasury modelling showing that an emissions trading scheme would have an impact on economic growth of around 0.1 per cent, as well as possibly increasing household energy costs by around $7 per week.

The Opposition has criticised the modelling as flawed because it does not take into account the impact of the recent economic turmoil.

But speaking at a Business Council of Australia dinner in Sydney last night, Mr Rudd said the Government’s response to climate change would take into account the needs of both businesses and households.

“Only that kind of response will provide a firm foundation for investment and job creation in the future,” he said.

“The challenge of climate change is no less real today than it was before the financial crisis. Addressing climate change is part of laying the foundations for long term economic growth.”

Scientists Confirm Global Warming at North and South Poles


| Voice of America

While studies are reasonably clear on the role of carbon emissions by humans in causing global warming in the Arctic, less is know about the causes of warming in Antarctica because of its remoteness.

Some experts believe it is due to greenhouse gases while others believe changes in the Antarctic landscape are due to natural fluctuations in climate.

In a study in this week’s issue of Nature Geoscience, an international team of scientists reports on the results of a new model they say proves the human footprint in global warming in the Antarctic.

The model incorporates 100 years worth of temperature data from the Arctic and about 50 years of recorded temperatures from stations in Antarctica.

The temperatures in the Antarctic were gathered along the coastal areas, according to scientists, because it is too difficult to get to the continent’s interior.  

When the temperature data from both continents were plugged into the model, scientists say it clearly showed the human effects of global warming in the South Pole.

Andrew Monaghan is with the US National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. He wrote the News and Views article in Nature.

“That’s why this study is so important because it formally demonstrates the human contribution to [global warming] for the first time,” he said.

In a teleconference with reporters, Monaghan said substantial warming has been detected along up to half of Antarctica’s frozen coastlines that will lead to an even greater rise in sea levels.

“While nothing catastrophic is envisioned in the next century, there could be a substantial acceleration in the [ice] melt,” he said.

Monaghan expects the effects of global warming will at the Poles even after humans stop putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.