Saturday, November 28, 2009

NASA Goddard Director against Cap-and-Trade

...Vice President Al Gore, who perhaps has done more than anyone to raise awareness of climate change, is evidently deceiving himself. "I saw him on Larry King last night," says Hansen, "and what really worries me is that he sounds optimistic that we're now on a track to solve this problem." He lets out an incredulous chuckle. "We're not, however, on a track, and that's clear."...

..."There's a huge gap between their public position and the realities of their policies," he says. "That's the situation we have now in Congress," he adds, alluding to the cap-and-trade legislation that is currently being reviewed by the US Senate. He opposes the bill, in large part because of the offsets system that would allow polluters to continue spewing emissions, but also because political horse-trading has brought in provisions that will enable aging coal plants to stay in operation. The only solution, Hansen says, is to "phase out fossil fuels". And the best way to do that, he contends, is through a carbon tax — or, as he puts it, "a rising price on carbon emissions"....

...individuals cannot solve the problem. "If you reduce your carbon footprint, one of the effects is to reduce the demand, and if a lot of people do that, it makes [fossil fuel] cheaper so somebody else can burn it," says Hansen...

Free mass public transit is possible

...The initiative is feasible. The only obstacle for making this project come true is ourselves. Are we as individuals and as society mature enough to act responsibly in unity with the thought for common good? Are we capable of a mental turnabout and be ready to sacrifice something for the good of all? Are we ready to do something now when we still have a chance? Only positive answers will bring positive results... Benjamin Dovečar's comments on the Copenhagen COP15 site click to read all.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Antarctic ice loss worse than IPCC 2007 estimate

...In 2007 the UN Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) predicted sea levels would rise 18 to 59 centimetres (7.2 to 23.2 inches) by 2100, but this estimate did not factor in the potential impact of crumbling icesheets in Greenland and Antarctica.

Today many of the same scientist say that even if heat-trapping CO2 emissions are curtailed, the ocean watermark is more likely to go up by nearly a metre, enough to render several small island nations unlivable and damage fertile deltas home to hundreds of millions.... Independent/UK via CommonDreams

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Climate camp: December 16-21 Wellington

Building a people’s movement to actively address the root causes of climate change. Join us for a week of free sustainability skill shares, climate justice workshops, direct action and DIY grassroots organising.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Join Free Public Transport Advocates in Copenhagen

The UN climate meeting, COP15 in Copenhagen, is approaching at breakneck speed and most of us lay our fears and hopes in the hands of the world leaders, wishing that they will come up with a sustainable climate agreement. But we can't afford to leave it all to them.

We want to make COP15 not only a global, but a local issue as well, because it's only through local actions we can achieve global change. We have to shift focus: from abstract percentages and climate targets to concrete political measures. A powerful climate adjustment requires comprehensive infrastructural changes in the transport sector. The key to climate adjustment is to be found in the cities, where most of the emissions are generated. Through simple reforms such as planning our cities for public transport, bicycle and pedestrian transport, we can actively reduce car traffic and cut the emission rates in our cities.

So far, the local transport sector has been sadly neglected in the climate debate, and we doubt that COP15 will produce any change in that area. It's up to us to make this important issue visible and put it on the agenda. Even though the inflation in car traffic is one of our biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions and unnecessary oil use, few cities have any serious plans to radically decrease their car traffic.

Freeing public transport from fares would effectively create incentives for car drivers to choose public transport instead. With just a marginal tax-raise (in Stockholm, capital of Sweden, all commuters who earns less than 5000 Euros a month would benefit from this), the public transport system could be made free at the point of entry. Free public transport is one solution to pollution!

If you are going to Copenhagen in december, please join us in the pink block in the big demonstration on the 12th. And if you are not – make a demonstration at home and turn to your local politicians with demands for a radical, climate friendly transport policy with investments in public transport and zero fares!

Best wishes from - The Swedish free public transport group

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Looming rail budget cuts undermine public transport

The Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) looks set to submit to the government's agenda to undermine public transport and build more roads.

The NZ Herald report (18 November) of looming cuts to pensioners' free rail travel, Maxx passenger information services and timetable and other improvements, plus planned fare hikes, will reverse all positive and urgently needed moves to promote public transport and cut traffic congestion in Auckland.

Campaign for Free Public Transport wins Respect

...A message to the Respect Conference from Peter Cranie, the Green Party candidate in the North West at the European Elections supported by Respect, was read out to an enthusiastic ovation. Motions on electoral alliances, supporting the People’s Charter, the political content of our election campaign and alternative strategies to deal with the economic crisis were passed... Respect agreed to affiliate to the Campaign for Free Public Transport. [our emphasis]
Campaign for Free Public Transport Website
Respect Party Website

Can we afford free public transit?

People frequently ask us, "how would you pay for free public transit?" Here is our reply: currently the price of oil is artificially low because many of the costs are externalized. Here is an example of an externalized cost:
"In many villages in the vicinity of the oil facilities, locals are not able to drink the water anymore," said Stieglitz. "Locals who drink this kind of water can get diarrhea and the subsequent dehydration of the body, which might lead to death in those areas if left untreated." read the whole article on Voice of America
If public transit were free, then demand for oil would drop precipitously. The oil suppliers would lose political power, and public policy could force them to internalize their costs. Clean drinking water would be just one of the many benefits of free public transit and would more than justify the investment.

Hi Michael - Welcome to the Free Public Transport Movement!

10 ideas to save the world (or at least to delay the collapse)
1. Higher taxes on fossil fuels, electricity and animal products
2. Decentralisation of the power generation sector
3. Free public short-distance transportation, lower prices (e.g. by waiving taxes) for trains and buses.
4. Public information campaign about climate change in TV, schools etc.
5. Labelling of consumption goods and services with their ecological footprint (or at least carbon + water footprint)
6. Subsidies, binding standards and incentives for ecological renovation of buildings
7. Cancelling subsidies for non-organic agriculture, coal mining, air traffic and other harmful industrial sectors
8. Starting a decarbonisation competition among cities and other local entities
9. Establishing a “Green GDP”
10. High taxes on luxury goods and services

The basic idea is, that polluting goods and practices become more expensive while others should be cheaper. I´m shure, additional cost (e.g. for gratis public transportation) could be compensated with higher revenues for polluting and luxury products. And not to forget the financial side effects of the suggested measures. If we, for instance, reduce private transportation, we also save money for road building and maintainance, less traffic jams save working time, less pollution and accidents help to reduce health costs etc.
Michael's Climate Blog Berlin Germany

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The cost of autosprawl: stronger cyclones

Video of cyclone in Bangladesh.
Gabura :: Oxfam GB

...I think a bloc of carbon-neutral, developing nations could change the outcome of Copenhagen.
At the moment every country arrives at the negotiations seeking to keep their own emissions as high as possible.
They never make commitments, unless someone else does first.
This is the logic of the madhouse, a recipe for collective suicide.
We don’t want a global suicide pact.
And we will not sign a global suicide pact, in Copenhagen or anywhere.
So today, I invite some of the most vulnerable nations in the world, to join a global survival pact instead.
We are all in this as one.
We stand or fall together.
I hope you will join me in deciding to stand.
Address by His Excellency President Nasheed at the Climate Vulnerable Forum
Read the whole speech here...

Lord Mayor Clover Moore calls for public transport tax breaks

Lord Mayor Clover Moore calls for public transport tax breaks

Tax breaks for public transport: Clover Moore. Photo: Alan Place

Sydney Council is demanding the Federal Government introduce tax concessions for people who catch public transport or ride a bike to work.

The council has suggested this be done through concessional salary sacrifice, or personal tax deductions on cycling equipment and monthly, quarterly and annual public transport tickets.

“Australia’s current tax system actively encourages people to drive but does not reward those who make sustainable transport choices by cycling or catching public transport,” Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

According to the Bureau of Transport Economics, traffic congestion costs Sydney close to $4 billion a year, and this is expected to rise to $8 billion by 2020 unless action is taken.

The health and environmental costs of transport are estimated to cost $1.4 billion a year.

“People who contribute to reducing congestion and pollution and the burden on our health system should be rewarded,” Cr Moore said.

The council has argued that creating incentives for drivers would encourage them to change to more sustainable transport options.

The council is also seeking a review of other incentives in the tax system, arguing that Australia is lagging behind other countries that have transformed their taxation system to actively promote public transport.

The United Kingdom’s tax system calculates Fringe Benefits Tax based on the amount of carbon dioxide that a car emits.

In the United States, employers can provide their staff with tax free public transport vouchers, passes or fares.

“Forty per cent of peak hour traffic is corporately owned or subject to Fringe Benefits Tax concessions,” Cr Moore said. “People are getting rewarded for racking up kilometres on their car.

“If we are serious about addressing climate change and fixing the transport system these imbalances need to be addressed.”

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - -- - -

Good on you, Lord Mayor Clover Moore - but if we are really serious: why not make it so much easier and provide a real incentive for people to switch to public transport: make it fare-free for all! [Ed]

Transport is not an island

So Sydney’s CBD will be in ”complete gridlock” unless there is “radical” action to stem traffic and reduce the number of buses from the northern suburbs, the State Government’s own research has forecast (SMH, Nov 9th 2009). Wow that’s a headline to sell papers!…….. “A line of buses, stretching for more than a kilometre, sitting idle on Sydney Harbour Bridge“….that’s fantastic, the imagery is very tempting.

The Government’s Transport Data Centre says if nothing is done then high levels of bus congestion and delays for all passengers will result (not to mention the buses enjoying views from the bridge). Of course if “nothing is done” this will eventuate. It is unclear from the SMH article what methodology was used to come to this conclusion but the SMH suggests that there are “serious implications” for the Government’s public transport strategy for north-west Sydney, which relies entirely on buses.

I’m not about to support the current NSW Government who are useless at best, but I want to say this; there are four sectors in transport: road, rail, sea and air. Three of the four do not exist in NW Sydney, the one that does is road. At the moment the only viable alternative is to put a plethora of buses in the NW. Like it or not this is the REALITY. Link this thought with my previous writings on Free Public Transport and what do you get? You get a mechanism to get people out of their cars and onto public transport. If public transport was free, congestion would be halved like it has in other parts of the world where such ventures have been undertaken. Having an army of buses using our existing infrastructure is not a pie in the sky idea. It is an immediate and cheap option while we play catch up with the last 20 years of neglect.

The results of the ‘do nothing’ scenario revealed that the network, with current traffic management arrangements, would not be able to cope with a 30 per cent growth in bus demand.” Again, I highlight the fact that this is a “do nothing” result. If public transport was made free then the game can be replayed, the pieces reset and we can start to reap the benefits that will filter through all of society. Free public transport would enable those in outlying or housing commission areas of Sydney to travel without making a dent in their meagre wages. It would facilitate less demand on emergency and health services. It would free up people’s income to help “stimulate” the economy (which is an often talked about must in financial circles).

Sydney’s Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, has said that “the city cannot cope with more buses” – but this is assuming nothing changes. What has not been reported in the SMH is what (if any) other modelling was run by the Transport data centre. I suspect that if they ran a scenario under the auspices of Free Public Transport then they would see a result that shows a very different pattern. One that has freight moving around freely, one that reduces congestion to insignificant levels, one that makes the notion of “peak hour” a historical relic in the same class as “clean coal”. So while Clover Moore says the city cannot cope with more buses, the city and the Government had reached an agreement to build a new bus layover areas?

Once again the Road Transport network is seemingly being analysed in isolation from all other sectors of society. It does not operate in a vacuum, getting the system right is a balance of many forces and these should always be assessed. Transport, Health, Finance, Infrastructure, Housing, Planning, Local Government, Tourism and others are all inextricably linked and cannot be entirely separated as they usually are. The sooner this is realised the better.

Adam Butler: Be the Change You Want To Be.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mobilising to challenge 'feudal era' management

by Matt McCarten
from NZ Herald
8 November 2009

Every thinking New Zealander should go and see Michael Moore's film Capitalism: A Love Story that is now out in cinemas.

I've been a fan of Moore ever since his first film, Roger & Me, which had him chasing down Roger Smith - the then head of General Motors - after Moore's father and thousands of other auto workers were laid off in Flint, Michigan.

His Oscar-winning documentary, Bowling for Columbine, and his last film Sicko, posed serious challenges to corporate capitalism. Moore's latest film is the most politically potent of all.

It's a full-frontal attack on his usual target of corporations and on the whole capitalist system. It has all the usual "corporate greed versus ordinary people" stories, which have parallels in New Zealand. But what particularly resonates is his defiant critique - that corporate capitalism is evil, immoral and undemocratic.

What we need is a just transition to a low carbon economy

by Tane Feary
8 November 2009

Mining in national parks in New Zealand is one of the National Governments suggested "solutions" to the economic crises and New Zealand's place in the financial world. This is yet another example of short term profit and long term environmental destruction. Nick Smith, the New Zealand climate and environment minister talks about balancing economics and the environment, what he is really talking about is bank balances.

New Zealand plays on a brand and image of being a "clean and green" country, yet reality suggests otherwise. Dirty dairy from corporate agriculture companies, coal mining and energy, motorway expansion and a raft of industries are being given the go ahead as they are financially lucrative, and provide a fast buck, the long term cost is not factored in, neither is the environmental cost.

Creating pollution markets does not alter the unsustainable nature of an economy built to make economic growth and profit out of the destruction of ecosystems. Until economics has environmental and social considerations, big business will continue to profit from ecologically and socially destructive activities. A low carbon economy would provide what carbon pollution markets never can.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Copenhagen: mass protests planned

Simon Butler
24 October 2009

Tens of thousands of people are expected to take part in climate action protests in the Danish capital of Copenhagen during the United Nations-sponsored climate talks in December.

The biggest action will be a six-kilometre march under the slogan “People First — Planet First”. More than 115 organisations have endorsed the protests, which will demand the richest countries “take the urgent and resolute action needed to prevent the catastrophic destabilisation of the global climate”.

It will take place on December 12, midway through the Copenhagen conference. Organisers have called for the date to be a global day of protest.

The protest call to action says: “We demand that those industrialised countries that have emitted most greenhouse gases take responsibility for climate change mitigation by immediately reducing their own emissions while investing in a clean energy revolution in the developing world.

“Developed countries must take their fair share of the responsibility in paying for the adaptive measures that have to be taken, especially by low-emitting countries with limited economic resources.

“Climate change will hit the poorest first, and hit them hardest. All those who have the economic means to act therefore must do so urgently and decisively.”

A range of other protest events are also planned to coincide with the Copenhagen talks. Climate Justice Action, an international activist network, announced it will organise a mass action to shut down Copenhagen Harbour on December 13.

Spokesperson Tadzio Mueller said: “The UN climate talks will not solve the climate crisis. We are no closer to reducing greenhouse gas emissions than we were when international negotiations began 15 years ago: emissions are rising faster than ever, while carbon trading allows climate criminals to pollute and profit.”

The network will also organise a People’s Climate Justice summit on December 16.

In an October 18 statement, Climate Justice Action said it opposed the false, market-based solutions that are likely to come out of Copenhagen.

Instead, it called for a safe climate policy that includes: leaving fossil fuels in the ground; reasserting peoples’ and community control over production; and recognising the ecological and climate debt owed to the peoples of the global South and making reparations.

[For more details of protests planned during the Copenhagen climate talks, visit and]

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Make public transport free and people will make the switch

Wollongong free shuttle bus shows: Make public transport free and people will make the switch

Monday October 26, 2009 - The success of the free shuttle bus in Wollongong has stirred the Socialist Alliance to renew calls for public transport to be made free across the state of NSW.

Illawarra Socialist Alliance convener, Chris Williams, said: 'Wollongong's free shuttle bus has been used over 1 million times now - an amazing uptake. It proves that when public transport is made free and frequent, people will make the switch. Given the success of the shuttle, the NSW government should commit to a publicly owned and upgraded, free public transport system. It's a socially just answer to the chronic problem of traffic congestion, lack of parking and lack of mobility for poorer sections of the community'

'Encouraging people to leave their cars at home by providing a real alternative would also greatly assist efforts to reduce global warming. Transport is responsible for 14% of Australia's greenhouse-gas emissions, and road transport accounts for around 90% of that share. Trains are 40 times more energy efficient than cars, so enabling people to make the switch would have huge implications for Australia's emissions reduction targets.

'Making public transport free would also massively reduce costs associated with air pollution, car accidents, traffic congestion, motor vehicle waste disposal, noise pollution and road maintenance. It would more than pay for itself in addition to the social and environmental gains. Our health and environment demand this kind of action; the outstanding success of Wollongong's free shuttle shows it's viable', Williams concluded.

For more information or interviews contact Chris Williams on 0425 329 963

Socialist Alliance Illawarra

The High Cost of Cheap Oil

Someone has to pay for keeping oil cheap

Why are we in the fix we are in? Why is the auto everywhere in our face? Why do we have sprawl? Why is the the climate disrupted and the biosphere in danger? Because oil has a low price. That is right the price is low. But the cost of oil is high, very high. What is the difference? The difference is that "someone else" will pay for the cleanup when oil makes a mess, "someone else" will pay for the traffic congestion, "someone else" will pay for the dust storm damage.

Sydney - A Thai oil exploration company said Sunday its leaking Timor Sea oil well had caught fire. The West Atlas drilling platform operated by PTTEP Australasia in the Montara field 690 kilometres west of Darwin has been leaking around 400 barrels of oil and gas a day since August 21.EarthTimes

Public Transport Should Be Free

How to have free public transport - Adam Butler

No I’m not mad. Public Transport should be free. For the time being I will concentrate on rail. In NSW, only 22% of the running costs for rail comes from the travelling public. 53% already comes from taxpayers and the rest from other revenue like property rental, interest, access fees etc….On top of this, Railcorp recorded a surplus of $194M in 07/08. So to have free rail transport we only need to find the 22% received from passengers. Here’s how we can do it (and do it easily)....Adam Butler