NOAA weather watch 2017: Australian summer starts early

Most Australians were again reaching for the short sleeves earlier than normal.

The nation’s September 2017 mean was above average at +1.25°C and the 11th highest in the books for the start of the Southern Hemisphere spring, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US, the world’s leading weather and oceanic information agency.

A new September record was set on the 22nd when the national area-averaged maximum temperature rose to 33.47°C, shattering the previous record set on September 30, 1998 by 0.08°C.

All Australian states had above-average conditions, with the exception of Tasmania which had its 20th coldest mean temperature on record at 0.68°C below the 1961–1990 average.

By spring’s end in Australia, the line between the seasons was hazier than ever, with a national mean temperature of 1.13°C above the 1961–1990 average and the sixth highest on record. Queensland, NSW, Victoria, Western Australia, and Tasmania had a top 10 warm September–November period, with Tasmania, after a slow start, notching its highest spring temperature.

All regions except South Australia and the Northern Territory observed mean temperatures for the season amongst the 10 warmest on record. Both maximum and minimum temperatures were above to very much above average over the majority of Australia.

Since 1994, a cooler than average spring mean temperature for Australia has been observed in only two years.

The average global land and ocean temperature for September was 0.78°C higher than the 20th century average of 15.0°C. This was the fourth highest September temperature on record, behind 2015 (+0.93°C), 2016 (+0.88°C), and 2014 (+0.79°C).

The Southern Hemisphere spring also got off to warmer start at sea – the average global ocean surface temperature was 0.63°C above the 20th century average of 16.2°C, the fourth highest September temperature in the 138-year record, behind 2015 (+0.83°C), 2014 (+0.75°C), and 2016 (+0.74°C).

The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for October was 0.73°C above the 20th century average of 14.0°C. This value tied with 2003 as the fourth highest October mark, behind 2015 (+1.0°C), 2014 (+0.79°C), and 2016 (+0.74°C).

Across Australia in October, the temperature was 1.42°C above the 1961–1990 average and the 10th highest for the month.

Queensland, NSW, Victoria, and Tasmania had a top nine warm October. NSW had the largest positive temperature departure from average at +2.16°C and the fourth highest for the state.

The trend continued in November with Australia’s mean temperature 0.70°C above average, the 18th warmest in the last 108 years.

Tasmania and Victoria had their highest and second highest November on record, respectively. Western Australia had its ninth warmest.

Globally, the NOAA’s January–November period was the third hottest 11-month stretch in the 138-year record for the world’s land and ocean surfaces, with an average temperature that was 0.84°C above the 20th century average of 14.0°C.

Concerns for the Antarctic sea ice extent were also at an all-time high in many scientific circles by the end of spring. The coverage was just 15 million square km, which was 900,000 square km, or 5.66 percent, below the 1981-2010 average. This was the second smallest November Southern Hemisphere sea ice extent on record, only the November sea ice extent in 2016 was smaller.

Image Credit: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global

The world’s greatest environmental success: Yes, the hole in the Earth’s ozone layer is finally healing

Long before the world became fixated on renewable energy, recycling, electric cars and what non-sequitur Trump would tweet out next, one environmental issue dominated the headlines above all else.

In the 1970s, scientists discovered that Earth’s primary protection from harmful UV radiation, the stratospheric ozone layer, was thinning at an alarming rate.

Australia and New Zealand were considered particularly vulnerable due to the biggest ozone hole forming over Antarctica at the beginning of each Southern Hemisphere spring.

The reason for the atmospheric breach, they claimed, was our ever-increasing dependence on products such as aerosols, plastic foams, refrigerants in refrigerators, and air conditioner units in the home and in commercial buildings.

At the time, they all were made with chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), an ozone-depleting gas containing chlorine and bromine, which when broken down could destroy ozone molecules.

Scientists revealed that there was such a proliferation of CFCs – the brainchild of mechanical engineer Thomas Midgley, the American responsible for adding lead to petrol in the 1920s – that urgent action was needed.

In 1987, Australia joined 23 other countries and the European Union to sign the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (Montreal Protocol). This international treaty, which today boasts some 197 signatories, aimed to protect and restore the ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of certain ozone destroying substances (ODS) including CFCs, halons, methyl bromide, and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).

Encouraging signs for the future

So, more than 30 years later, just how effective has the ground-breaking treaty been in saving the planet from an environmental disaster?

Our combined efforts to heal the hole, appear to be paying off, according to a new, first-of-its-kind study by NASA that looked at the ozone-destroying chemicals in the atmosphere.

Previous satellite observations had revealed changes in the hole size, noting that it can grow and shrink from year to year. For example, in 2000 and 2006, they were the largest on record, measuring around 32.9 million square kilometres (more than three times the size of Australia) and, for the first time, extending over populated areas.

But the new study is the first to directly measure changes in the amount of chlorine — the main CFC by-product responsible for ozone depletion — in the atmosphere above Antarctica, according to a statement from NASA.

The research, published in January 2018 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, used a Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) instrument aboard the Aura satellite, and showed a 20-percent decrease in ozone depletion due to chlorine between 2005 and 2016.

“By around mid-October, all the chlorine compounds are conveniently converted into one gas, so by measuring hydrochloric acid, we have a good measurement of the total chlorine,” lead study author Susan Strahan, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland, said in the statement.

“This gives us confidence that the decrease in ozone depletion through mid-September shown by MLS data is due to declining levels of chlorine coming from CFCs.

“But we’re not yet seeing a clear decrease in the size of the ozone hole because that’s controlled mainly by temperature after mid-September, which varies a lot from year to year.”

Parallels to climate change

Although former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan called the Montreal accord “perhaps the single most successful international environmental agreement to date”, we’ll still need the SPF50 lotion for a good while yet.

“CFCs have lifetimes from 50 to 100 years, so they linger in the atmosphere for a very long time,” said Anne Douglass, a fellow atmospheric scientist at Goddard and the NASA’s study’s co-author.

“As far as the ozone hole being gone, we’re looking at 2060 or 2080. And even then, there might still be a small hole.”

Meanwhile, Susan Solomon, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, co-author of another comprehensive ozone hole study last year, is hopeful the success of CFCs eradication would be a harbinger for international action to avert the worst consequences of climate change.

“Obviously the economics of global warming are different because the fossil fuel industry is worth a lot more in dollars than the companies making these chemicals,” she said.

“But there are important parallels. It was amazing to see how quickly innovation solved the problem with CFCs so we got rid of them yet still have hair spray and air conditioning.

“We’re starting to see the same thing with global warming. We should look at the ozone problem and realise that nations can get together and come up with solutions.”

 

Image Credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVeTJSIbGm8

 

NOAA weather watch 2017: Australia’s hottest winter on record

Australia’s 2017 winter was hot and dry with the average maximum temperature up nearly two degrees Celsius above the long-term trend.

The average maximum daily figure across all of the country for June, July and August was 23.7°C, which smashed the previous record of 23.4 set in 2009, reported the Bureau of Meteorology.

It was the hottest winter on record for Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory, while New South Wales and South Australia made the top three.

Australia’s mean temperature for the start of winter was 0.47°C above the 1961–1990 average and ranked among the top-30 warmest Junes in the nation’s 108-year record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) global report.

The average maximum temperature was 1.33°C above average and the seventh highest June maximum mark since records began in 1910. Regionally, Queensland had its highest June maximum since 2001 and the ninth hottest recorded, while Western Australia had its third highest June temperature at 1.72°C above average.

Globally, the combined land and ocean surface temperature for June was 0.82°C above the 20th century average of 15.5°C and the third highest June on record, behind 2016 (+0.92°C) and 2015 (+0.89°C).

At sea, the northern Atlantic Ocean had the most notable cool temperature departure from average, with temperatures 0.5°C to 1.0°C below the 1981–2010 average. No land or ocean areas had record cold June temperatures.

Meanwhile, the average global ocean surface temperature during June was 0.70°C above the 20th century average of 16.4°C – the third highest June temperature since global records began in 1880, behind 2016 (+0.78°C) and 2015 (+0.74°C).

In July the global land temperature was 1.20°C above the 20th century average of 14.3°C and the highest July land temperature recorded. This value surpasses the previous record set in 2016 by 0.07°C. The global ocean temperature was third highest on record at 0.69°C above the 20th century average of 16.4°C, behind 2016 (+0.78°C) and 2015 (+0.75°C).

Australia had its highest July mean temperature since 1975 and the third highest in the books, with a mean temperature departure from average of 1.81°C above the 1961–1990 average.

The August 2017 global land and ocean temperature was 0.83°C above the 20th century average of 15.6°C and the third highest August global temperature recorded, behind 2016 (+0.90°C) and 2015 (+0.88°C).

Australia closed out its winter with a mean temperature that was 1.04°C above the 1961–1990 average and the ninth highest August temperature recorded.

Andrew Watkins, manager of extended and long-range forecasts at the Bureau of Meteorology, said the real reason for the warmth was the persistent high pressure seen particularly during early winter.

“But you also have to add to that the long-term warming trend,” he said.

“The higher than average pressure has kept the skies clear and rain away — meaning more heating of the inland from the sun and less evaporative cooling from ample water on the ground.”

The August Antarctic sea ice extent was 17.50 million square km, which was 650,000 square km, or 3.6 percent, below the 1981-2010 average.

This was the second smallest August Southern Hemisphere sea ice extent on record – ice growth nearly stopped for several days at the beginning and end of the month.

Image Credit: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global

2017 Climate Change Champions v The Deniers: Who won the heated debate?

After a year of catastrophic weather on his own doorstep, would 2017 finally be the year the world’s most high-profile climate change sceptic had a change of heart?

Not judging by the end-of-year social media retort below, which President Trump fired off as the eastern seaboard in the U.S. was gripped by an icy winter storm.

Using a cold snap as an argument against the existence of global warming is nothing new for Mr Trump, who has discharged more than 100 climate denialism missives on Twitter since 2011.

In the years before running for president, he called it “non-existent,” “mythical” and a “a total con job”. Indeed, it seemed that whenever snow fell in Manhattan he’d mock the idea of global warming.

“Global warming has been proven to be a canard repeatedly over and over again,” he wrote on Twitter in 2012. In another post later that same year, he said, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” A year later, he wrote that “global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!”

This time, however, was the first occasion he’d tackled the issue head-on as president, and also included an implicit swipe at the Paris climate accord, which Mr Trump has vowed to abandon.

Flawed logic

Climate scientists, however, have long warned against using individual weather events to deliberate the existence, or otherwise, of global warming. Weather, they point out, refers to atmospheric conditions during a short period; climate relates to longer-term weather patterns.

Anthony Leiserowitz, director of Yale University’s project on climate change communication, called Mr Trump’s tweet “scientifically ridiculous and demonstrably false”.

 

“There is a fundamental difference in scale between what weather is and what climate is,” he said.

“What’s going on in one small corner of the world at a given moment does not reflect what’s going on with the planet.”

David Karoly, a climate scientist from the University of Melbourne, was even more blunt, reports The Guardian.

“It’s winter in the US. Cold temperatures are common in winter.”

Climate modelling showed cold snaps like the one in the US were actually becoming less common as a result of global warming, Mr Karoly said, adding that rapid attribution analysis means scientists are now able to look more closely at “classes of events”.

That type of modelling for the north-east of the US, he said, showed that although there was a great deal of year-to-year variability, the average coldest temperature in December in the region has increased in the past 50 years.

Australian scientists from the Institute of Public Affairs John Abbot and Jennifer Marohasy managed to publish an alternative view for the sceptics in the journal GeoResJ, citing data from six 2,000 year-long proxy temperature series from different geographic regions.

“Proxies” are the markers scientists use – tree rings, sediments, pollen, etc – to try and assess global temperature trends in the days before the existence of thermometers.

All the evidence suggested that the planet was about a degree warmer during the Medieval Warming Period than it is now; and that there is nothing unnatural or unprecedented about late 20th century and early 21st century “climate change”, trumpeted far-right publications Breitbart and The Daily Caller.

But when The Guardian canvassed five genuine climate scientists for their view on the findings, they variously summarised the research as “junk science” and seriously flawed.

Climate change is good for us

Another outspoken climate change denier, former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, also didn’t let established science derail his ‘message’ to the world in 2017.

In an October speech called Daring to Doubt to the Global Warming Policy Foundation in the UK, he likened climate change policy to “primitive people killing goats to appease volcano gods”.

 

Mr Abbott argued that “at least so far it is climate change policy that is doing harm; climate change itself is probably doing good — or at least more good than harm”.

“In most countries far more people die in cold snaps than in heatwaves, so a gradual lift in global temperatures, especially if it is accompanied by more prosperity and more capacity to adapt to change might even be beneficial.”

Mr Abbott also used the platform to outline his opposition to renewable power by arguing it was possible to have “too much of a good thing”.

“The only rational choice is to put Australian jobs and Australia’s standard of living first; to get emissions down but only as far as we can without putting prices up,” the former prime minister said, arguing anything else would be a “dereliction of duty as well as a political death wish”.

He described the reality of climate change as very modest but the consequences of the policy to deal with it as “increasingly dire”.

That’s not a rhetoric likely to book Mr Abbott any speaking gigs with economic superpower China anytime soon.

So long reviled as a climate change villain, in 2017 China transformed into a green energy colossus.

The world’s top clean energy investor pledged to increase the amount of energy coming from non-fossil fuels to 20% of its total output by 2030.

To that end, China’s energy agency vowed to spend more than $360bn on renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind by 2020, cutting smog levels, carbon emissions and creating 13 million jobs in the process.

Time to act is now

In June, it unveiled one of its early jewels in that masterplan, the world’s biggest floating solar farm off the shores of Huainan, in the central, coal-rich Anhui province, which can generate 40 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 15,000 homes.

More recently, China has also launched the world’s biggest ever mechanism to reduce carbon, in the form of an emissions trading system that will initially cover the country’s heavily polluting power generation plants, then expand to take in most of the economy.

“This is a game-changer,” said Nathaniel Keohane, vice president at the Environmental Defense Fund, a US-based environmental group.

“This shows global leadership on the part of the Chinese government.”

Ironically, the very country whose leader and has routinely scoffed at the notion of mankind causing global warming, was also behind an indirect vindication of China’s stand.

The November-released Climate Science Special Report (CSSR) in the US – the most comprehensive summary of climate science since 2013 –  concluded with 95 to 100 per cent certainty that global warming is man-made, mostly from the spewing of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas.

“Over the last century, there are no convincing alternative explanations,” the report said.

In a year that also saw Scott Pruitt, the controversial new head of the Environmental Protection Agency end the US war on coal-fired emissions, one of the father’s of climate science James Hansen concluded that the best way forward was in the courts.

The former Nasa scientist ended 2017 by calling for a fresh wave of lawsuits against governments and fossil fuel companies on what he describes as the growing, mortal threat of global warming.

He tells The Guardian that the litigate-to-mitigate campaign is needed alongside political mobilisation because judges are less likely than politicians to be in the pocket of oil, coal and gas companies.

“We are entering a period of consequences and are in danger of being too late,” he warned.

“I have come to note that greenhouse gas climate forcings are accelerating, not decelerating, and sea-level rise and ocean acidification are accelerating.

“We confront a mortal threat, now endangering the very existence of island and low-lying nations in the Pacific and around the planet. Accordingly, ambition must be increased and enforced.”

NOAA weather watch 2017: Another scorching summer Down Under

By the end of the Australian 2016/17 summer, more than 205 national weather records were broken, according to climate scientists.

Professor Will Steffen, a scientist with the Climate Council of Australia, and the lead author of the report Angry Summer 2016/17: Climate Change Supercharging Extreme Weather, said it’s a trend that’s likely to continue for years to come.

“Even if we could magically reduce emissions to zero tomorrow, we would still have another decade or two where the climate system plays out its built-in momentum,” he said.

Worldwide, January 2017 was the third hottest beginning to a year since records began 138 years ago, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the US, the world’s foremost scientific agency for climate and oceanic research.

The globally averaged temperature over the land and world’s oceans was 0.88°C above the 20th century average of 12.0°C. Only January 2016 (highest) and 2007 (second highest) have been hotter since 1880.

The NOAA’s state of the climate report also revealed that the global land surface temperature was also third highest for the month of January at 1.54°C above the 20th century average of 2.8°C.

At sea, the globally-averaged surface temperature was 0.69°C above the 20th century average of 15.9°C, the second highest for the month, behind the record-breaking year 2016 (+0.80°C) and besting 2015 by +0.08°C.

Australia’s mean temperature for the month was 0.77°C above the 1961–1990 average, and the 17th highest January recorded. NSW had its third warmest January, while Queensland had its sixth warmest on record.

February proved to be even more volatile. The combined average temperature over land and ocean surfaces was 0.98°C above the 20th century average of 12.1°C — a number only topped by the +1.20°C record set in February 2016.

The globally-averaged sea surface temperature was 0.69°C above the 20th century average of 15.9°C, the second highest for February, behind the record-breaking year 2016 (+0.80°C) and surpassing 2015 by +0.08°C.

Australia’s oppressive summer continued with warmer-than-average temperatures, with a national average 0.33°C above the 1961–1990 average. NSW and Queensland had their highest temperature departure from average since 2004 and 2006, respectively, and the fifth highest on record.

Regionally, NSW had its warmest summer (+2.57°C), surpassing the previous record set in 2006 by +0.13°C. Queensland had its second highest summer (+1.55°C) behind 2006 (+2.07°C).

“If you look at the east of Australia, particularly New South Wales and Queensland, the records that have really been tumbling there are high temperatures, heatwave type records,” Professor Steffen said.

“Over in the west in Perth and up in the Kimberley in the north-west, they’ve been setting extreme rainfall records, so we’ve seen extremes of all types across the continent in the past three months.”

Across the world’s oceans, the December–February average sea surface temperature was 0.66°C above the 20th century average of 15.8°C – the second highest for December–February on record, trailing 2015/2016 by 0.17°C, according to the NOAA.

The Southern Hemisphere summer was also the forerunner to a run of record lows in Antarctica sea ice extent.

The January total was 4.04 million square km, which was 1.19 million square km, or 22.8 percent, below the 1981-2010 average.

This was the smallest tally on record and 280,000 square km smaller than the previous record set in 2006. Most of the Amundsen Sea off the west coast of Antarctica was ice free by early February with near-average ice across other regions, reported the NOAA.

Image Credit: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global

Australian Endured Exceptional Heat This September

22nd September is still remembered and has gone down in history in terms of having extreme weather. It was the hottest day in September with the majority of the country recording new highs.

As per the published statement of the Bureau of Meteorology, the mean maximum temperature was 33.47°C on 22nd September, and that is almost six degrees warmer than the average of the month.

The Bureau called the heat as ‘exceptional heat’ as it literally broke the previously set record in September 1998, having temperatures of 33.39°C, being the warmest since the beginning of records in 1911.

This year and the last year too, Australia has been a victim of severe climatic conditions. On many occasions, the country and its different regions have endured extreme temperatures, breaking many previous records. The Bureau considers the heat faced in September as a significant change in climatic conditions and all of this takes us back to the same debate of taking strong measures against climate change and carbon emissions.

While Australia has great tendency to meet the challenges of climate change, the country never took a step back in contributing towards the growing issue of climate change worldwide.

What the Bureau suggest as the most probable reason behind the exceptional heat endured by Australians this September is that much of the rising temperature was actually caused by the high-pressure system which is located at the Tasman Sea and New South Wales, and that kept a large portion of northern and eastern Australia absolutely cloud free.

The parched soil and low rainfall rapidly allowed the high sunny temperature to heat the overlying air and the land surface.

Exceptional Heat Hit Different Territories in Australia

In September, many regions of Australia met with record-breaking temperature whereas some made it to the top ten warmest days’ list.

Queensland and New South Wales took the lead and experienced the hottest days of September –so far on record – the following week.

Whereas other regions such as Victoria and the Northern Territory along with South Australia, have days in the list of the top ten warmest for September.

As per the statement of the Bureau “More than 20 percent of Australia by area recorded its hottest September day on record during 22-29 September”.

As a whole, New South Wales suffered from its hottest day in September so far on record on 23rd September. The mean maximum temperature recorded on that day was 35.18°C, almost 1.5°C greater than the previous mark and in terms of long-term average, nearly 15°C warmer.

The Bureau also noticed some other climatic conditions according to which, since the year 1910, the spring season has warmed up around one degree all across Australia, which is consistent with what has been seen around the globe.

The Bureau said that “Studies undertaken by the Bureau and other scientific institutions have shown that climate change has contributed to the severity and frequency of recent heat events, including spring warmth,”

The effects of climate change are inevitable and the last option left to the nations worldwide is to seek well strategic measures to cut down the impact of climate change, and to stay prepared for meeting more challenges down the line.

Biogas from waste can oust fossil fuel

A recent analysis shows that waste can now be used to generate biogas as an alternate form of renewable energy instead of fossil fuels or nuclear energy. Waste is now found to have economical uses and countries have begun utilizing their forest and agricultural waste to transform them into sustainable energy.

Industries are using waste to produce heat and turn it into biogas. Whenever wind and solar energy are scarce, biogas can be used along with natural gas in pipelines, create power supply and power transport. Switzerland and Sweden have been making use of biogas to eliminate nuclear energy and fossil fuels. Although Sweden has an abundant supply of straw, it has so far been facing difficulties in using straw efficiently.

Scientists at RISE Scientific Research Institutes and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences have concluded that straw could be turned into biogas by breaking down microbes in a digester. Straw could also be combined with food waste to create biogas.

Since straw is a dry substance, it would take less time to generate a high amount of gas. Biogas production could be profitable to biogas industries and agricultural sectors. Over 30 countries have signed up for the Biogas 2020 Project.

Switzerland, being rich in agriculture and forestry, is already using biogas from wood to fulfil 5% of its energy needs. An assessment showed that manure, sewage mire and agricultural waste could also be used as energy sources. Furthermore, it was possible for Switzerland to use biofuel and yield around 20% energy.

The current issue is that Switzerland cannot extract all wood because some of it is in unreachable locations of mountains. Moreover, the far-flung agricultural sectors produce only little amounts of valuable materials for energy. Therefore, their best options include forest wood and manure as barely half of other resources are sustainable.

Switzerland can use merely 2% of its biomass to produce electricity and heat. Biomass can generate energy more efficiently than solar or wind power. Thus, it can be used efficiently without obstacles when there are fluctuations in other sources of renewable energy.

Biogas sector is expected to grow rapidly for the next 20 years in generating sustainable energy as some countries take measures to preserve the environment. Countries are expecting a growing demand for biogas in the upcoming years. Currently, Asia Pacific is the leading market for biogas-derived global market due to rich, rural agricultural sectors and growth of biogas industries.

A study by Global Market Insights reported that the European Biogas Market is expected to expand by $2 billion by 2024 as governments now devise policies for environmental protection and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The EU 2020 aims to lower emissions and increase renewable energy emissions by 20%.

Research concludes that biomass is potentially a valuable source of energy; however, more assessments need to be conducted on how these raw materials can be made profitable. As awareness about waste management and urbanization increase, businesses are investing more on biogas-derived renewable energy.

Vancouver and Sydney Hold on to the Commitments of the Paris Accord

The impacts of a warmer world are already in place, drowning us in the rising temperatures day by day. There is something that we can learn by looking at the recent flooding catastrophes in the United States, Caribbean Islands, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Staying inactive is only going to worsen the situation.

So far, the leaders around the world, which carry immense hopes of tackling climate issues, have actually set a collective intent to achieve net zero emission of carbon by 2050 to save the world.

The achievement of this goal, however, requires them to navigate two major checkpoints. The first one is to pull down the trajectory of emission on a global level by 2020 –keeping humanity on a better path towards reaching full de-carbonization. In achieving this, it will support us on our way to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by the year 2030, putting an end to poverty, and ensuring planet protection and prosperity.

The serious threats of climatic conditions are becoming more and more obvious at the end of each day since climate change is costing us human lives more than anything else. From destruction to flood, fire, or storms, global warming has already touched 1°C. The destination of reaching net zero de-carbonization is not an easy one but it is indeed achievable.

While some nations continue to neglect the issue, focusing on undermining the so-called ‘exaggerated issues’, others are working hand in hand, making coalitions like the Global Covenant of Mayors on Climate and Energy and the C40 Cities, with the help of which, urban populations are striving to settle the task at hand.

Vancouver and Sydney Step up to Meet Climate Commitments

The city of Vancouver is striving to reduce GHG emissions by almost 33% (below 2007 levels) through 179 municipalities in British Columbia. Vancouver is doing great in reducing figures and leading North America with the construction of new zero-emission constructions.

Sydney too, is leading at transforming the southern precinct into a sustainable and vibrant urban environment through $8 billion projects in Green Square.

However, Vancouver and Sydney are not the only cities achieving a milestone. All the Mayors in the country are committed to the path of net zero emissions and with absolute intent. From 2011 to 2015, all the cities in C40 invested collectively almost US$1.5bn towards low carbon projects and have expanded the portfolio into many sustainable infrastructure projects.

Efforts are being directed after realizing the scale of the climate challenge and actions must be expedited to achieve the 2020 checkpoint.

Moreover, to show commitment to the Paris Agreement, California will host a summit in 2018, to collect new climate commitments from regional governments, cities, investors, and businesses, in order to fully demonstrate the possibility to the national leaders in terms of raising ambitions.

We hope to get new commitments from fellow nations and wish for them to step up in this time of trouble because tackling the climate issue and meeting this challenge is only possible if we leave no stone unturned.

Donald Trump faces another Climate Hurdle

The well-known president Donald Trump is about to face another important decision, in terms of his willingness to undo federal efforts, to alleviate climate change effects.

It’s been more than three months since the US president Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Change Accord.

The president is also likely to decide soon if the endangerment finding put into place by the Obama administration, and on which the rules of climate change are built, must be overturned.

Despite the pledge, Trump seems to discover that it is much easier to promise and say things on the campaign trail than getting it done through the complex bureaucracy of the government.

And again, the President is still walking a line between pragmatists seeing court battles for years ahead despite uncertain results, and some true believers who expect Trump to follow through on the pledge and knock over the endangerment findings.

Indeed, some close fellows of Trump’s Administration expect that EPA will eventually stop short of the endangerment finding repeal, and merely water down the regulations of the climate change including the Clean Power Plan. This would, however, force shuttering of various coal plants of the country.

“I think they’re going to come up with something far less onerous. Taking on the endangerment finding, it’s such a sensitive topic. That’s an 800-pound tiger the left will fiercely resist.” – said Trump’s campaign Adviser and Economist – Stephen Moore – at the Conservative Heritage Foundation.

The Health Risks

After railing against climate change, Trump has to make a decision against the deadly storms’ backdrop including Hurricane Harvey. These hurricanes have brought the policy of climate change to the forefront again but it remains unclear as to how EPA and the administration will act towards it.

“Administrator Pruitt encourages the exchange of ideas and is committed to a robust dialogue on the science related to carbon dioxide,” says EPA Spokesperson- emphasizing that the review is just about the endangerment rule.

The Legal Challenges

Conservative groups have now started to take a step back, despite pressurizing Donald Trump previously to follow through on the pledge, as they can clearly see the legal challenges that are on its way.

According to Myron Ebell, Trump’s campaign advisor, alleviating the endangerment finding is likely to make it a lot more difficult for the next administration to take on climate policies.

However, anyone that has an idea that Trump is softening towards the climate change issue better think again. As per the recent statement from the White House, it has absolutely no plan to continue the Paris Agreement, unless the accord is renegotiated, and that is a request which has already been claimed as unacceptable from the world leaders.

Australia only wealthy nation still breaking energy emissions records

A recent analysis showed that Australia is the only affluent country that is generating the highest amount of greenhouse gas emissions, even though it recently launched a carbon-pricing scheme. Sales of petroleum products – petrol and diesel – sky-rocketed in Australia and were followed by an increase in carbon emissions.

The record was higher than the emissions of 2009, which still continue increasing. More people are now using petroleum products, therefore; the country is heavily reliant on coal to meet the growing demand. Presently, there is nothing being done to reduce dependency on coal.

The think tank analysis estimated Australia’s carbon dioxide emissions at 383 million tons in June, which was approximately a 49% increase since the base year of 1990. Australia is still burning fossil fuels when other countries are undertaking strategies to switch to renewable energy sources.

Although energy emissions keep rising, Australia is keeping up with the goals of 2020 Kyoto Protocol, largely due to land clearance, that aims for at least a 5% reduction in energy emissions. Australia refused to rescind its carryover credits to accomplish targets of reducing emissions.

The government stated that it had a forum on transport emissions that sought to improve quality and efficiency of fuels. Dr. Hugh Saddler stated that lack of investment in efficient modes of transportation was causing increased usage of roads. Australia does not have fuel-efficiency standards, which is why the vehicles used are less efficient than those of other countries. Mining, agricultural and construction activities are also causing increased diesel usage.

Political leaders still disagree on policies of providing subsidies for coal and supporting renewable or green technology. Businesses are campaigning for durable climate and energy strategies to generate investments for new power plants. About twelve old, dysfunctional coal factories have shut down since 2012, although lignite and black coal account for 75% national electricity.
Presently, Australia has not devised an alternative strategy for renewable energy when the Protocol ends in 2020. The government repealed carbon pricing scheme of 2012, which was the only goal for renewable energy and encouraging private investment.

Former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, was a serious advocate about combating climate change while in office. However, during his speech in London, he claimed that taking measures to combat climate change could be detrimental to the economy and referred to climate science as “absolute crap”. He further stated that climate change policy was doing more harm than good and climate change was actually beneficial. He said that more people died due to extreme cold rather than heat waves, asserting that our adaptability to climate change could be good for us. Abbott has suggested the government to revoke renewable energy policies.

Josh Frydenberg said that the ministers were collaborating with stakeholders and using an evidence-based approach to deal with the issue. It was further stated that they were committed to the Paris Agreement and aiming to reduce about 30% energy emissions, below 2005 levels, by 2030.