In October Bill Ray, the Anglican Bishop of North Queensland, and Tim Harris, the Catholic Bishop of Townsville, released a joint statement “In the Care of our Common Home: Sister Earth”. Recalling numerous past Christian leaders who have reminded us of our inter-connectedness with all of creation they say, “For Christians, this care for our common home is not an optional or secondary part of our daily living, rather it is “an essential part of our faith”. They go on to say that our dominion over the planet needs to be understood in the sense of “responsible stewardship” especially to future generations.
The Bishops' statement also draws attention to Laudato Si – On Care for our Common Home, the document on the environment released by Pope Francis in June 2015. Laudato Si is not addressed to Catholics or Christians alone but to every person in the world – such is Pope Francis’s concern for a planet where we no longer respect Nature as a shared gift.Read more
Divestment Day 2016 is coming up! Here’s a quick guide to what divestment is, the successes that divestment campaigns have had so far, and what we are doing this year.
Divestment is the opposite of investment. It’s rearranging your finances so that you aren’t supporting the fossil fuel industry through your bank, investments, superannuation or insurance. We have power as consumers to choose financial services products in-line with our strongly held convictions about climate change.Read more
Climate change – global warming – is a constant background to nearly all of our campaign issues. Our opposition to new coal mines and our support for renewable energy are based on the fact that carbon emissions, primarily from coal-fired electricity generation, drive climate change; uranium power is only being considered again because climate change makes coal look like such a bad option; and protection of the Great Barrier Reef and our native vegetation depend crucially on mitigating climate change.
The science of climate change is by now quite clear and generally well understood. In brief, CO2 and other ‘greenhouse gases’ trap the sun’s heat, raising the average temperature of the atmosphere and (indirectly) the oceans. We have emitted so much extra CO2 since the Industrial Revolution (and especially since 1950) that we are on course for dangerous droughts, heat waves, sea-level rise and species extinctions – up to and including mass starvation and massive dislocation of human populations. For authoritative summaries of the science, with links to further information, visit these pages by CSIRO, the BoM or NOAA.
The science has been denied and obscured by vested interests, almost since it was first discovered. Those vested interests, overwhelmingly fossil fuel producers, have campaigned successfully to cast doubt on the science and to corrupt governments, with the object of slowing our vital move away from fossil fuel usage. At this stage (2016) it is fair to say that anyone directly involved in the debate, whether scientist or politician, who denies the science is either lying or incompetent, and to call them a ‘denialist’. For more on denialism, try Skeptical Science and Desmogblog.
A glimmer of hope arose with COP 21 in Paris in December 2015, when world leaders met and agreed to work to keep the increase in global temperatures to less then 2 degrees C - and strive to keep it below 1.5 degrees C (read this Ecowatch article for a review of what the Paris meeting achieved and what is still to be done). Sadly, within weeks of this agreement, the Federal and Queensland governments approved what would be the largest coal mine in the southern hemisphere and the third largest in the world. Despite all the Paris rhetoric, our work as a community is not over.
As a community we need to slow down climate change as quickly as possible and then move towards stopping and even reversing it. Emissions reduction is the crucial strategy here - getting out of fossil fuel through demand reduction (efficiency) and a shift to solar and wind power; one current focus is starving coal mining companies of funds through divestment initiatives, e.g. Kittens for the Reef, a NQCC project. At the same time, we need to work on adaptation and other aspects of mitigation; see this UN Environment Programme page for more.
North Queensland Conservation Council’s members and supporters gathered this morning outside a Reef Summit meeting being put on by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, dismayed at news reports this week that half of the Great Barrier Reef may already be dead. (See: Terry Hughes tweet, Dr Russell Reichelt in Monday’s Senate Estimates)
Dozens of concerned locals met at Townsville Bulletin Square to create a moving visual representation of coral mortality.
“This is an unprecedented tragedy. It appears half of the Reef may be dead following back-to-back bleaching events in 2016 and 2017” said NQCC Coordinator Maree Dibella.
“Climate change isn’t a future possibility. The climate has already changed by 0.7 degrees and we’ve seen how this small increase has devastated the Reef. It’s absolutely crucial we take every effort to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees if we have any hope of the Reef remaining for the next generation.”
“We need smart and swift action right now. This means no new coal projects. That starts by stopping Adani’s mine. Today we’re calling upon the State Government to rule out cutting a royalties deal with Adani. We are also asking the Federal Government to not hand Adani $1 billion of Australian taxpayers’ money to prop up this otherwise failing project.”
“People at the rally want to see the Reef survive bleaching events and sea temperature rise. We need to protect the near 70,000 jobs that rely on a healthy Reef ecosystem. We want investment in our region for long-term, sustainable jobs, not coal jobs liable to a typical mining boom and bust cycle.”
“DOING BUSINESS WITH ADANI A RISK TO NORTH QUEENSLAND”
North Queensland Conservation Council (NQCC) is shocked by a new report that shows that not even the Federal Minister responsible, Senator Matt Canavan, knows where a $1 billion taxpayer-subsidised loan would go to within the Adani group of companies which operate many of their entities in tax havens.Read more
This is a post by outgoing Community Campaigner Jacob Miller.
The Adani Carmichael Project has increasingly benefited from State and Federal Government support while the list of financial institutions distancing themselves the project continues to grow. Supporters of the mine try to justify the project, citing the supposed economic benefits for North Queensland and even go so far as to claim coal from the mine will help India reduce its carbon emissions. This post is going examine and dispel the myths that are being used to prop up the case for the Carmichael project.Read more
Between them, the very low level of Ross Dam, TCC's water restrictions (currently Level 3) and the continuing lack of rain focused unprecedented attention on Townsville's water security from 2015 onwards and particularly from 2016 after the city recorded its driest-ever year in 2015 (2016 was not much better). It seems that most people realise there is no single solution - that we will have to approach the problem on several fronts to fix it - but there is little agreement on priorities.
NQCC published four blog posts under the heading NQCC Water Security Series towards the end of 2016:
- Part 1: Townsville Water Discussion Paper (Gail Hamilton)
- Part 2: Water Wonderland or Pipe Dreams? (Vern Veitch, re Hell's Gate Dam)
- Part 3: Hell’s Gate Dam Forum (Maree Dibella for NQCC)
- Part 4: How will climate change affect Townsville’s water security? (Malcolm Tattersall)
A Case For a Floating Solar Farm in Townsville’s Ross River Dam (Elly Hanrahan) is not nominally part of the series but follows naturally from it.Read more
This, the fourth post in our water security series, began as a response to the first of them, the Townsville Water Discussion Paper, and addresses an issue which none of the first three looked at. Parts 2 and 3 are here and here. This is a guest post by Malcolm Tattersall. Once again, views expressed are the author’s, not those of NQCC.
When I read Gail Hamilton’s post six weeks ago I agreed with nearly all of it but noticed a gap which was potentially important, i.e. the impact of climate change on our water security: the ‘Regional Water Supply Security Assessment’ from the Department of Water and Energy Supply (2014) (pdf here), upon which she relied for her ‘current situation’ section, didn’t consider climate change effects at all.
That seemed quite odd to me since we know that climate change is with us already on a global level – that most of the hottest years on record have occurred this century, that desertification is a key driver of conflicts in the Middle East, and that sea level rise is drowning low-lying islands and threatening major cities around the world. Some of us have also been feeling, on a much more local and personal level, that Townsville has been having weaker Wet seasons and hotter summers than ever before, and I happened to know, because I looked at it recently, that Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) data backs up our feelings.Read more
New laws are being introduced by the Queensland Government to change the way mining companies obtain water licences. This was originally written in the Townsville Bulletin as a “roadblock” for the project, without even naming what the proposed legislation is or about.
NQCC responded with this letter to the editor, but under a different headline (the title of this post) than what was published . Despite gaining the necessary environmental approvals at the State and Federal levels, it is not our position that the project “has the environmental green light”. This is highlighted by our support of continued legal challenges of the environmental approvals not taking into consideration the impact that emissions from burning coal will have on the Reef. We wholly support the Australian Conservation Foundation and Environmental Defenders Office appealing the recent decision of the Federal Court on this matter.Read more
Paperbark is a monthly e-update of NQCC activities, campaigns, news and events.
Welcome to this month’s issue of Paperbark. We’d like to welcome a new staffer to the NQCC community – Jacob Miller. In the role of community campaigner, Jacob will be organising some big events coming up this year, producing media and written content on our site and improving NQCC’s community outreach. Welcome Jacob!
In this issue: Proposed funding cuts to ARENA – ACF loses court case to Adani – Queenslands climate change action policy – Toxic lead dust from Townsville port – Burdekin Dry Tropics Regional NRM published – Interactive sea level rise modelling launched – Upcoming events – General notices.Read more