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Blogging highlights from the 2019 Climate Reality Leadership summit

By 06/06/2019June 8th, 2019No Comments

5 June to 7 June, 2019

By Clare Vernon, coordinator and youth representative on the Landcare NSW council

We’re here at the Climate Reality project! Follow our blogging page for the live updates and highlights of the event.

Wednesday 5 June 2019

10:45am Queensland Minister for the Environment Ms Leeanne Enoch MP is talking about the important ‘speck in time’ we’re currently in. Today is the ‘peak’ day for fossil fuel outputs, if we’re to limit the impact of climate change. And Queensland – and the Pacific Community – is at the forefront of the Climate Reality.

11am An incredible and passionate presentation by Al Gore presenting the facts, impacts and solutions already in place to address climate change. You can watch a snippet of the same presentation here.

Thursday 6 June 2019 8:30am
Another sunny day in Brisbane! We’ve already heard from the student organisers of Strike 4 Climate in Melbourne, with some incredible speakers.

“We must become more responsive to the climate emergency.”

– Schools Strike 4 Climate organisers

8:45am Joseph Sikulu, Tongan man and Sydney local from is talking about youth and the impact of climate change on the coastal communities of Tuvalu and Kiribas.

“If we can save Tuvalu, we can stop climate change.” (On Tuvalu being the most exposed nation in the world to the current climate reality).

– Joseph Sikulu,

9am Chief Mermaid for Save Philippine Seas, Anna Opasa together with Professor Terry Hughes, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies is discussing climate change, impact on the Great Barrier Reef and the Adani coal mine. Three take away messages from the conversation with Anna and Terry:
Terry: (1). Despite the Paris agreement, there has been a woeful Government response to the climate emergency. (2). People can reduce their carbon footprint, but ‘government has a key role’, and ‘we need to push-back on government. (3). The solution is a political one.
Anna: (1). We’re all ‘Seatizens’ – 80% of our oxygen come from the sea. (2). “Stop global whining and start global winning” – we, ourselves, need to take control and make a difference.

10:20 Q&A Session with Al Gore, Prof. Xuemei Bai, Prof. David Karoly, Dr. Anne Poelina

  1. What would our climate look like if we didn’t take action on climate change?
    AG: Most scientists sceptical that we can limit global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius. What would the world look like if it went to five or six degrees?
    DK: Five to six degrees is a scary reality. “Five or six degrees is just what we’d expect of we didn’t reduce fossil fuel emissions.” We’re tracking at the highest rate of emissions calculated by all climate agencies. These projections don’t take into account positive feedback loops… We can expect six to seven degrees of land warming, and even more at higher latitudes. Every extreme temperature and rainfall and wildlife events will be ramped up even more “on steroids”.
  2. On coral bleaching if warming is limited 1.5 degrees celcius with rapid action.
    DK: We’ll still get coral bleaching, but no where near as much – or as signifgant. However, we’ll still see a change in species composition and structure.
  3. On incorporating Indigenous perspectives into climate change.
    AP: “Reflect and understand… that Indigenous wisdom is Indigenous science. We can triangulate Western Science to triangulate solutions…” Sharing the Indigenous lived experience to find solutions to the complexity of climate change.
  4. In places where fossil fuels are a large part of the regional economy, how can we (a) drive growth and (b) what does a career transition look like?
    AG: Relevant question given the Adani coal mine, and also relevant to USA in Wyoming and Montana. In the US, UK and Germany there have been real success stories, for people working in coal to solar and related businesses. In Australia, we also have the hot-spots of the La Trobe Valley and Whyalla, SA.
    DK: La Trobe has brown coal, producing highly inefficient coal system. These old systems are being phased out, and the Victorian government is supporting the transition for the power station and mining sector, including mine rehabilitation. They also recognised the renewable sector – solar and wind – and diversification of the employment sector of the La Trobe Valley is crucial. There are job opportunities in the job and education sector, as well as food (agriculturally-rich region). A diverse range of jobs to provide employment for the future.
    AG: All about framing. The Kimberly has wind, solar, tidal and thermal. These are the ‘forever’ industries, with plenty of social licence to engage with Indigenous people and rebrand their businesses with Indigenous entrepreneurship.
    XB: “Change is never really easy”, its a challenging process for career transitions. There is a time lag for career transitions as demonstrated in China, up to 20 years. It is more ‘destiny’ rather than a choice. “Doing it earlier is much better than doing it late.”
  5. Replacing declining revenues in a economy enabling a just transition.
    AG: Australia is a ground zero nation for climate change and the largest coal exporter in the world. What happens if fossil fuels aren’t bringing in export revenue?
    DK: Development of a hydrogen gas export market, also consider ammonium and ammonium nitrate. Easy transport, and the royalties can replace the fossil fuel royalties. Japan is already signing up for hydrogen to be an energy solution – wind and solar isn’t a solution given the limited land mass of Japan.

What is hydrogen export, and what it is the value of the hydrogen economy?
AG: It’s extremely expensive to crack apart water (H2O) to create hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O2). So whats different now? The advances in solar and wind have occurred so quickly, the costs have plummeted and the costs will continue to fall. We now have a situation in Texas and California that it is cheaper to give away – or even pay the consumer – to use electricity, as it’s cheaper than shutting down the systems. If these trends continue, we’re continuing to a world where we have an abundance of free electricity to crack apart water and produce hydrogen. We’d be able to export non-polluting hydrogen and invest in high-capacity long transmission DC current power lines, to places like Indonesia, Singapore and beyond to areas demanding clean electricity.

  1. Political power and donations from the fossil fuel sector.
    AP: We need a different way to frame the economy in this country – renewables are good and ethical for business, and turn the accountability back to the citizens of the nation state.
    AG: The role people can play in their own workplaces to help encourage change and leadership is important – particularly form business leaders in the Climate Reality audience.
  2. Vested interests delaying the transition. How do we unpick the power of Big Coal?
    AG: We know we have to change – and we can. We rely on media on how proposals are communicated and we’ve seen the transition from print to social media, and this will enable real connections, real physical meetings and organisation to bring back democracy and unpick Big Coal from the people.
    DK: Substantial investments in coal and mining, often with misleading lobbying groups funded by mining companies. These lobby groups often sound innocuous and have objectives to support the status quo. Rupert Murdoch, and The Australian, together with US Fox News has editorial policy to undermine climate change and action. We also need to build up the power of voices for a cleaner future – including in the business sector. Build up the other side of the debate, and give hope to people.
  3. How can developing and developed countries engage Indigenous cultures and create positive differences for climate change?
    XB: Developing countries are undergoing social transformation with urbanisation; at the cost of four times more than the equivalent developed country urban expansion. This substantially influences our world carbon budget – 260 Gt of carbon, out of the world budget of 800 Gt. China is once of the largest emitters in the world, and one of the fastest developing countries. We need to encourage countries to follow a low-carbon development pathway. We need to enable low income countries to leap-frog the carbon-intensive development steps. We need to embrace low-carbon innovations from developing countries, and move away from the dichotomy of developed/developing. It is both a mind – and technologist – shift.
    AP: We’re talking about equity and justice – systemic violence in public policy. If we can convince the government to enforce corporate tax payment, we can use this to address the climate inequity and social poor – both of which are growing. We are seeing a separation of equity and distributions. We need to make governments and companies more accountable. It needs to be more than just monetary wealth. “We need to combine social, human, environment and monetary capital for human wellbeing”.
  4. How to invigorate people to advocate for climate solutions without scaring them?
    AG: Use humour!
    AP: Use culture and the arts to tell the story. AP created a play based on the sharing of water between two rivers – the Fitzroy and the Muir, France, with both rivers sharing with themselves, and their stewards the story of human interaction. We need to take the message of fear and hope through the culture and arts to bring the people together.
    DK: Exhibition ‘Art + Climate = Science’, new one opening in the Dandenong Ranges this weekend.
    AG: Despair can be paralysing. We need to keep hope alive.

Al Gore and Mike Cannon-Brookes (Atlassian CEO) are talking about the future of energy generation in Australia – and the need for investment and government policy support. They’re exploring big ideas, including exporting solar energy to Indonesia, Singapore and beyond, as the price falls and efficiency increases of electrical transmission systems.

Ken Berlin, CEO of Climate Reality is discissing the Paris Agreement, the limitations of US withdrawl (not technically possible until one day after the next election) and how they use social media and commitments of change (‘Acts of Leadership’) to create real engagement and change.

And now we’re off to sector based networking! I’m heading to the advocacy, community engagement and first nations group – it best reflects our Landcare, Bushcare and environmental communities throughout Sydney.

Friday 7 June
We’re at a faith breakfast this morning, with leaders from the Catholic and Anglican Church in Australia, the UK and the Pacific. ABC’s RN Editor of Philosophers Zone and Religion and Ethics has spoken about the intersection of faith and climate, and the mirroring of Thoreau and Emmersons observations – in the 1850s – of loss of the conversation between people – substituted for the shall and superficial newspapers (social media) and headlines (failure to dive deep). The Anglican Lecturer David Clough has spoken about animal welfare and the wider division of a lower and upper class, where the upper doesn’t want to know, or engage, or acknowledge the suffering and the animal, human and climate change cost of their unsustainable, excessive, shallow and unjust privellaged lifestyles. And we’ve just heard from Casper Susa and Bruce Narroah, Fijian Anglicans who have experienced first hand the impact of climate change. They’re discussing the power of faith – and the community who values leaders over government, they walk actually side-by-side with the people of Fiji.

We’ve heard an inspirational opening quote from members of the Torres Strait community, who are facing inundation, unable to grow their own food and seeing the graves of their ancestors, and the trees planted for their children dissapearing into the sea. I’m inspired by the hope and passion of these people, and their determination in the face of ‘time that isn’t on their side’.

Al Gore has just given a 10 minute presentation on climate change.

An interesting discussion of the job market and security – the immediate concern of people in our fossil fuel economy, and in mining-eccentric Queensland. Featuring Emma Heard, Dr. Zhenrong Shi, Alison Tate and Al Gore. The future of higher paid, and more jobs under a transition economy and ultimate renewable economy is huge; and it’s up to our entrepreneurs, business leaders, and a transitioning fossil fuel energy to lead the way. Dr. Shi, an entrepreneur in PV cells, is stating that 15,000 jobs per year in Australia alone are created with our burgeoning solar economy. And it could grow much faster; but we’re limited by engineers and installers. Globally, it employs more than 2 million people. The situation is mirrored in wind energy too, and the potential for hydrogen is huge.

We’ve moved into the power of the Australian superannuation holder to move funds to more ethical investments, and the tie of executive salaries with carbon emissions.

A panel discussion of diversity and incorporation of culturally and linguistically-diverse communities in climate change solutions. We’re hearing from Kellie Caught, Liuanga Halaifonua Palu, and Karrina Nolan with moderator Dr. Rebecca Huntley.

We’re work shopping how to incorporate diversity and inclusive into the work that we do. I’m contemplating how to bring CALD and first nations people into our group, and bring more awareness to climate injustice, particularly in the Torres Straight and Pacific.

We’re also contemplating strategics and acts of leadership that:
– Limit warming
– Bringing in new voices
– Work with others?
– How will we work with Climate Reality Leaders?
I’m getting ready to shadow some mentors, and learn from them!

We’re now planning how to make a difference and become our own climate leaders.

Inspirational Climate Reality leaders from previous summits are talking about their work following their first training session. We’re hearing from Natalie Issacs (founder of 1 Million Women), Uili Lousi (Pacific Islands leader), Vic McGrath (NSW Greens MP) and Caroline Perks.

And that’s a wrap! Al Gore has just awarded the Green Ring award. It’s been a fantastic three days at the conference. Thanks for joining us!

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