Saturday 30 May 2015

Human Rights, Climate Change, Fossil Fuels and Civil Society

Last week I participated in the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre's event on Climate Change and International Human Rights Law. Below are my speaking notes.

My name is Julie-Anne Richards, and I’m here today partly in my capacity as Oxfam and also as Climate Justice Programme.  Oxfam needs no introduction.  Climate Justice Programme has been working in this area for a long time.  In 2003 CJP sent letters formally placing the major polluters and emitters of greenhouse gases on notice, reminding them of their potential legal liability if they failed to address the risks of climate change posed by their activities.  CJP also commissioned the Carbon Majors work - more on that later.

I feel the need to start with a reality check:
With less than 1 degree of warming we have already gone beyond the most vulnerable people’s capacity to adapt to climate change.  

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Julie-Anne's media statement at Warsaw Climate Conference, 13 November 2013

You can watch my statement here (at 09:31):

My name’s Julie-Anne and I’m an Australian.  Which is quite an admission in these halls at the moment.

People keep coming up to me and asking what’s going on?  Why my government is doing such terrible things on climate policy?  Why are they so addicted to coal?  Why are they so determined to go backwards?  How can they trash their climate policy when the rest of the world is meeting here in Warsaw to try and move forward on climate?  And, particularly when our neighbouring countries, especially the Philippines, are suffering such devastation from the worst ever (worst ever!) Typhoon.    

But the main question they ask me is - do the Australian people support all of this negativity and destruction?

The answer to that question is they categorically do not.  The majority of Australian people do not support repealing the carbon price, trashing renewable energy support, dismantling the Climate Change Authority and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and winding back support for a long term target of reducing carbon pollution by 80% by 2050.

Sunday 4 August 2013

The International Climate Negotiations ... is there hope? And what does it mean for Australia? (and other countries?)

I was recently asked to give a presentation on the international climate negotiations - is there hope?  As you'll see I assess what went wrong in the lead up to Copenhagen, and whether things are different in the lead up to 2015.  I won't give away the punchline - you've only got to get to slide 8 to read my answer to "is there hope".  The rest of the presentation is thoughts on what we need to get a good international climate agreement - within the negotiations and domestically.

The presentation can be downloaded from slideshare here, and via google docs here.  And for the super keen the video of me delivering it is here (but I have added a slide to the slideshow version, based on the discussion we had when I delivered it in Melbourne and Sydney).

I'd welcome your comments below on whether you think I'm on the money. 

Thursday 17 January 2013

44 degrees and still rising

Today's my day off.  But I'm trapped in the study as a heat wave beats down.  The study is a very small room in our very small apartment.  But the only room that our even smaller air conditioner can handle cooling on this 44oC and rising day.  So instead of going shopping, to yoga, for a swim or a walk – I'm writing about climate change!

Not that I need do the writing, actually.  Because an excellent bunch of scientists from the Australian Bureau of Metereology (or the BOM as I like to call them as in “it’s da BOMb”) have done the writing for me here.  But as they are scientists, writing in an age where being a scientist seems to be a license for people to persecute you, the article is not super short nor snappy.  So, the summary (with some ‘colour’ from me) is:
  • The first two weeks of January 2013 now hold the records for the hottest Australian day on record, the hottest two-day period on record, the hottest three-day period, the hottest four-day period and, so on up to the hottest 14 day period on record (for Australia-wide average daily temperatures)

Sunday 12 August 2012

Will climate change constrain China's development? Part 2: Green growth pathways

There are two key ways in which climate change will affect China’s development.  Firstly the impacts of climate change on China (such as increasing droughts and water shortages, increases in severe weather events and rising sea level, and the costs of air pollution) will affect China’s population and its economic development.  These effects were discussed in a previous post.  The second consideration is to how difficult it will be to shift China’s current economic model to one of low carbon development and the costs and benefits of doing so. 

China has developed very rapidly in a very resource intensive manner which has grown the economy and reduced poverty in China whilst simultaneously producing huge levels of pollution that are now having a substantial impact on the Chinese quality of life and a negative impact on continuing economic development.  China was able to borrow ideas for its development from both Soviet and western examples, and has followed a fairly familiar development path.  China has also borrowed the idea of “develop first clean up later”.  Given the dire state of the Chinese environment, and the global imperative to reduce emissions, this is unlikely to be a viable pathway for China.  But there are obstacles with Chinese characteristics in China shifting its economy to a low carbon pathway. 

Saturday 21 July 2012

Will climate change constrain China's development? Part 1: climate impacts

Will climate change constrain China's development?  It's likely to do so in a number of ways.  First and most obviously the impacts of climate change, such as increasing droughts and desertification and more extreme weather events such as typhoons, could impact China’s development.  Second side effects from the causes of climate change, including air pollution from burning coal, are already having negative health impacts and a subsequent detrimental impact on the economy.  Third these pollution and weather/climate impacts could affect the political stability within China.  Finally the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions may impose a cost on the economy and have international implications relevant for China’s growth.  I’ll explore the first points in this post, and the final point will be explored in the second part of this series.

Monday 18 June 2012

Inclusive Wealth Index aka: markets are not god-given-formulas

The UNEP recently launched a new report/index - the Inclusive Wealth Index (IWI).

The IWI looks beyond the traditional economic and development yardsticks of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Human Development Index (HDI) to include a full range of assets such as manufactured, human and natural capital, showing the true state of a nation's wealth and the sustainability of its growth.  It aims to show whether we are building or destroying the productive base that supports our well being.

Some country examples:
Australia has an annual GDP growth rate of 2.2% over the last 19 years, but an IWI of only 0.1%.
China – GDP 9.6%, IWI 2.1%
US – GDP 1.8%, IWI 0.7%