Bishop heads to Lima amid catastrophic warning for Barrier Reef | RenewEconomy

Bishop heads to Lima amid catastrophic warning for Barrier Reef

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Foreign minister Julie Bishop’s recent assertion that the Great Barrier Reef was not at risk from climate change could present difficulties for her in Lima.

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LIMA: Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is due to fly to Lima early next week, amid warnings from the climate change conference that the world’s coral reefs face catastrophic losses, even if we manage to meet a 2°C warming target.

Bishop last month rebuked US President Barack Obama for suggesting that Australia’s Great Barrier Reef was under threat. She said Obama ignored national efforts to manage the reef and, in any case, climate change was not a threat.

“It’s not under threat from climate change because its biggest threat is nutrient runoffs from agricultural land [and] the second biggest threat is natural disasters, but this has been for 200 years,” Bishop told Fairfax Media in New York.23Jan_JulieBishop_800x600

Her comments were dismissed by Australian scientists at the time, and on Tuesday in Lima, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said it was clear that the world’s reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef, were facing major threats.

IPCC scientist Hans Otto Portner, a lead author of the organisation’s latest synthesis report, said even if the world managed to hold warming to an average 1.5°C, more than half the world’s coral reefs could be lost.

“We would not expect them to become completely extinct, but they will not provide the services that they are currently providing,” he said at a meeting in Lima.

“It is a regional disaster, as you call it,” he said in response to a question from the representative of small island states.

There is nothing new in his comments. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute, backed the US President, saying Obama was “right on the money”.

“We have one of the jewels of the planet in our possession and we should care a lot about climate and he wasn’t getting that from our leader [Prime Minister Tony Abbott],” Hoegh-Guldberg told Fairfax. Peer reviewed research conducted by Hoegh-Guldberg says that even global warming limited to 2°C will be devastating to the reefs.

But it is the context of the IPCC remarks which are interesting, and will make things difficult for Bishop.

One of the unsung legacies of the Copenhagen COP was the commitment to consider, between 2013 and 2015, whether the world should in fact push to limit global warming to 1.5°C – as proposed by nations most exposed to climate change – rather than 2°C.

This has created a special stream at the climate talks known as the “The structured expert dialogue”, hailed as the one part of the negotiations where science actually meets policy.

The SED is meeting in two sessions over two days at Lima. The first session, held on Tuesday Lima time, heard from the IPCC.

Among the things it will consider are:

What is the gap between current mitigation and adaptation efforts and those required to achieve the long-term global goal as characterized by a 2/1.5°C level of warming relative to pre-industrial levels? How can this gap be bridged?

And what policy options have been identified for the decarbonisation of the energy system called for by pathways consistent with limiting warming below 1.5 or 2 °C compared to pre-industrial levels? What are the economic and technological risks associated with this decarbonisation?

While organisations such as AOSIS and 350.org are pushing for targets that will limit global warming to 1.5°C, there is little chance that this would be agreed – given the difficulties in even meeting the 2°C target.

UNFCCC secretary general Christiana Figueres conceded this week that even a successful agreement in Paris would be unlikely to elicit pledges required to limit warming to 2°C. But she says the “emissions gap” would be small, and be steadily reduced in ensuing years.

The 2°C scenario ascribes a carbon budget of just one trillion tonnes, or leaving two-thirds of the known fossil fuel reserves in the ground. Something that Big Oil and Big Coal are having a hard time digesting, although the potential of such a target to cause a “carbon bubble” and systemic financial risk has attracted the interest of the Bank of England.

The 1.5°C target ascribes a carbon budget of just 277 billion tonnes – or about 8 years of emissions at current rates. The world will surely overshoot that target, although the IPCC scenarios say the 1.5°C goal could be met if “negative emissions” are used.

“Those numbers are particularly alarming for small islands like ours, where we are already being forced to relocate,” said the representative for the Solomon Islands.

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9 Comments
  1. Marg1 6 years ago

    I hope they sock it to her – the ignoramus that she is.

    • michael 6 years ago

      her ordering of the threat risks was incorrect?

  2. Chris Fraser 6 years ago

    There’s a 50/50 responsibility for the Reef. About half of the problem is bad management of the land catchment draining towards it (which is more a Campbell Newman responsibility). But yes Jules should be lobbying the other polluters and her own government to reduce their emissions.

  3. Alan Baird 6 years ago

    Notice the quiet approach Labor took about the Bishop comments. I still think it was hilarious that Bishop chaired the Ebola meeting as did Ms Plibersek. The part of the Bishop brain devoted to irony has been completely removed. Telling the world to lift its game! HA!

  4. coomadoug 6 years ago

    A friend of mine had illegal gambling operation in Liverpool Sydney. The coppers would ring him up and tell him what time and day they would raid his shop. He would leave two hours early and get a homeless man from the street to attend the raid. He paid them with beer and smokes and paid their fines.
    This is what is happening in Lima for us. But a homeless man might do a better job.

  5. Dale Rhall 6 years ago

    I refuse to be surprised by her parrot fashion rhetoric that simply repeats the ideology of her ideologue leader. This person is quite adept at plagiarism and has been caught out twice before. Whatever she says in Lima it is likely to not be her words!

  6. john 6 years ago

    I think Australia will say we have beaten our goals and will take on board to look at any commitment by the large volume emitters.
    The over riding factor being that no short term economic harm to our industry being accepted.
    Looking at our thermal coal exports as being forefront in this area no real commitment will be undertaken.

  7. Aaren Drunis 6 years ago

    I heard Australia is going to force the climate to return to where it came from in expensive taxpayer funded boats. Then the pollies will stick their heads in the sand and pretend everything is ok..

  8. Stewart 6 years ago

    This attack dog has rabies. It manifests in overt aggression, blindness and cognitive dysfunction. I suggest a drying out spell in the wastelands of opposition ASAP.

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