Bendigo Peoples Climate March MC #COP21 Thoughts

The latest UN Climate Change Conference is happening right now in Paris. Last weekend saw the biggest day of protest in human history, with 2300 marches taking place in 150 countries to put the spotlight on world leaders. I was asked to MC the Bendigo march and ABC Local Radio recorded my introduction to the March and played the first three minutes on local radio. Nice! I thought I'd add the text of my entire speech here, along with the soundcloud file from the ABC, a gallery of photos from the Bendigo March and a climate change timeline that I put together in 2008. Enjoy!

MC Climate March Notes

Peoples climate March: 2300 events registered in 150 countries. 

To start the official proceedings I would like to acknowledge that we are meeting on Jaara Country of which the members and elders of the Jaara community and their forebears have been custodians for many centuries and have performed age old ceremonies of celebration, initiation and renewal.

We acknowledge their living culture and their unique role in the life of this region, and today we especially acknowledge their care of country and lasting relationship with the earth.

Today’s people’s march is a Global event. 

World summit in Paris

World leaders have now met for 27 years on climate: RIO, Kyoto, Joberg, Bali, Copenhagen: they have created tiny incremental improvements in that time.

Climate: 2015. 

I’m 37 years. old. I have never lived in a year of below average global temperatures. 

We are seeing extreme weather events, sea level rises, conflict.

Great divide between reality and politics: Environment Minister saying we'll fix climate change and expand coal is like trying to end smoking by expanding Philip Morris. 

Pope: Encyclical - our common home. Calling for an “ecological conversion”. What does that mean? In the 90s we changed the light bulbs and began recycling. In the 2000s we put up solar panels. But we haven’t yet changed our values. We haven’t changed who we are. That is what the Pope is calling for. Conversations and dialogue on a deeper level.

Today he’s in Nairobi: He said the international community had to listen to the “cry rising up from humanity and the earth itself”.

Barack Obama said earlier this year that “the people keep marching in the streets and we need to heed their call.”

Around the world? Exponential growth in all of the following: Renewables, energy efficiency, batteries, storage, networked smart grids, coal shares, 

Global emissions this year did not rise! First time. 

The Canadian research company Corporate Knights examined the stock holdings of 14 funds, worth a combined $1tn, and calculated how they would have performed if they had dumped shares in oil, coal and gas companies three years ago. Overall, the funds would have been $23bn better off with fossil fuel divestment. 

Turn to person next to you and talk about Hope …

Final thought after the three speakers: courage. Do we have the courage to spend the rest of our lives changing everything about who we are to ensure that we can be here for the long haul?

A Climate Change Timeline: 1880 – 2008

Put together by Ian McBurney: not referenced. If in doubt – google it!

1880s – Industrial Revolution: large scale burning of fossil fuels begins.

1896 - Svante August Arrhenius, Nobel Prize winning scientist publishes first work on the greenhouse effect, finding that "if the quantity of carbonic acid [CO2] increases in geometric progression, the augmentation of the temperature will increase nearly in arithmetic progression."

1950s – Measurements of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere begin with 350 parts per million CO2. Growth in CO2 is steady since.

1970s – Climate Change lectures delivered in Universities. “Limits to Growth” report published which predicted 2050 CO2 levels similar to those of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2005.

1980s – cfcs and ozone hole the big issue: As a result of the 1988 Montreal Protocol the ozone hole is now stabilizing.

1988 – International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) set up with the following starting points:

  • We think climate change is a big problem and is caused by the burning of fossil fuels

  • We think we’ll need cuts of 60% by 2050

1989 - Global Climate Coalition founded (an industry lobby group) by 50 oil, gas, coal, car and chemical corporations. Over 11 years it gave $US60 million in political donations, and spent millions on propaganda. It’s stated purpose: "to cast doubt on the theory of global warming."

1992 – Rio Earth Summit fails to set targets

1995 – IPCC Report: human impact on climate is discernable

1996 – Kyoto Summit Protocol created: Only first world countries not to sign are Australia and the USA.

1999 – Vostok Ice core: CO2 levels are 30% higher than any time in the past 400,000 years and rising fast.

2000 – Laviosier Group set up in Australia. See Global Climate Coalition above.

2001 – Nicolas Stern, British economist releases a report on the economic impact of climate change: unmitigated Climate Change will ruin economy: we could spend 1-2% of GDP fixing it now, or 20% later.

2005 – George Monbiot Releases “Heat”

  • Scientists now telling us an urgent CO2 cut of 90% is required by 2030

  • 2 degree temperature rise the ‘tipping point’

2005 – Vostok ice core: 30% higher figure now true for last 650,000 years.

2005 – USA National Science Foundation: Category 5 hurricanes have doubled since the 1970s.

2005 – Tim Flannery releases “The Weather Makers”: Growing scientific consensus indicates that a rapid increase of more than 2 degrees constitutes "dangerous climate change", causing mass extinctions and social and economic disruption.

2006 – Royal Society of London releases public letter asking Exxon Mobil to cease giving $2.9 million annually to 39 named right wing think tanks to “misrepresent the science.”  

2006 – World Health Organisation estimates 150,000 deaths pa due to climate change.

2007 – IPCC Report (based on 2003 science: it takes that long to get agreement from all countries).

  • 384 parts per million of C02 in the atmosphere. Growth rates in CO2 emissions trebled in the first 6 years of this century.

  • Current climate change (a 0.8 degree temperature rise this century) is human caused

  • Global emissions must peak by 2015 and we need a 90% cut in CO2 emissions by 2050

  • Feedback loops (such as ocean acidification, melting permafrost and artic sea ice which all add to the problem) are now looking dangerous

  • Carbon Sinks (such as the ocean and soils) are drying up

2007 – Centre for Alternative Technology in Britain: 80 – 90% cuts required ASAP

2008 – Most IPCC predictions are underestimating the rates and seriousness of change.

2008 – Ross Garnaut (Australian economist) Climate Change Review

  • By 2100, unmitigated Climate Change will remove 4.8% of GDP, household consumption will drop 5.4% and a 7.8% drop in real wages.

  • A 2 degree temperature rise will mean no inflow into the Murray Darling Basin, Kakadu, the Great Barrier Reef and possibly starts an irreversible loss of the Greenland ice sheet (which would cause a 7m sea level rise)

2008 – CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology Report

  • We are set for exceptionally high temperatures every on to two years

  • Drought will now occur twice as often, with twice the severity

  • Eleven of the hottest years on record have occurred in the past 12 years.

2008 - Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics Report says exports of key commodities will fall by 63% by 2030

2008 - Tim Flannery: “There is now a better than even chance that, despite our best efforts, in the coming two or three decades Earth’s climate system will pass the point of no return.”

  • 2008 - Ocean acidity is rising: this means less carbon will be stored and less life can survive.

2008 - 40% of Arctic summer ice is gone since 1970: by 2013 it could be ice free.  The poles are warming 5 times faster than the world.

2008 - Pacific Island nations including Tuvalu and the Cararet Islands are planning to move as surge tides are rendering their islands unliveable.

2008 – The scientific predictions:

  • A 2 degree temperature rise could mean the death of half of all species of life

  • A 5 degree rise would make the Mediterranean uninhabitable and the Amazon rainforest would disappear in smoke.

  • Bendigo will receive less than 11% less rain than now and be more than 3 degrees hotter

  • The loss of the Greenland Ice sheet would lead to a seven metre sea level rise, putting the land of billions of people underwater.

  • 200 million people will be without drinking water as the Himalayan glaciers melt.

  • Climate Change Research Centre at UNSW: acidity in the Southern Ocean will reach destructive levels where it will dissolve the shells of marine organisms by 2030.

2009 - Copenhagen Climate Summit fails on nearly every measure, except that world leaders agree to limit waning to 2 degrees. 

Check out the images from the marches around the world on the Guardian