Get involved with the Climate Rescue Accord

Start with watching this video recording of a webinar, which was streamed live on 20 September 2023.

Full transcipt below


Webinar video recording overview:
1:56 – Welcome. An intro by Julie Byford OAM
6:58 – Presentation on the 3Rs by David Spratt
28:40 – Climate Rescue Accord working group on purpose and goals
38:11 – Q&A


The purpose of the Climate Rescue Accord is to initiate the required action to stop global heating, maximise survival, minimise suffering, and set a course to restore a safe climate so people, animals, ecosystems can flourish.

  1. REDUCE emissions to zero at emergency speed
  2. REMOVE excess CO2
  3. REFLECT by creating immediate cooling – further research needed

The Climate Rescue Accord is a platform to leverage required action from state, federal and international governments – a vision for which minor parties and independents can unite.

The Climate Rescue Accord’s goals are to:

  • Hold global average temperature rise to the minimum possible, ensuring 2°C above average is not breached and temperatures return below 0.5°C above the average.
  • Set a course to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations to preindustrial safe levels, based on credible scientific evidence.

and:
That individual governments at a minimum must:
– Facilitate urgent R&D in the area of immediate cooling strategies
– Stop fossil fuel expansion
– Stop deforestation and land use change that releases CO2 and reduces sequestration potential
– Stop human induced sources of methane release
– Develop an evidence-based roadmap to near zero across all sectors for emergency implementation (energy, transport, consumption and manufacturing, agriculture, land use, construction).

“What we’re trying to bring together is parties to campaign on the broad level Accord, like: the non-negotiables, but then the details on what particular parties focus on on their policy platforms is really up to them as a party. But those non-negotiables of zero drawdown and repair are really what we’re interested in getting out there into the Australian political system, and wider, and then – as we set up policy working groups – we can start to have conversations about building out those policies. Different parties will have different policies depending on their particular interests, I think, and their particular concerns.”
~ Dr Adam Cardellini, member of the Climate Rescue Accord working group

Background

The Climate Rescue Accord began and is currently led by a group of minor political parties attempting to align climate policy and to tell the big picture story. The Accord is an extension of the Climate Emergency Declaration campaign, but focuses on the critical components that underpin a climate emergency response: the 3Rs reduce, remove and reflect – and their underpinnings.

The current Climate Rescue Accord working group comprises representatives or liaisons from four parties as well as Mik Aidt, who was a co-author of the Climate Emergency Declaration campaign and co-founder of Voices of Corangamite. These four parties are still in the process of explicitly incorporating the 3Rs into their policy. 

Once the Accord has some political traction, the working group plans to approach the larger climate action advocacy organisations (the ‘peaks’) as well as the many smaller environmental NGOs (‘E-NGOs’). 

Climate leadership vacuum
The history of climate leadership in Australia is grassroots. While the peaks and E-NGOs can run effective campaigns in specific areas, such as ‘Get off gas’ or ‘Stop the Beetaloo gas project’, the peaks are not leaders on climate action, and they generally do not support grassroots movements until there is real traction.

An example is the grassroots Australian Climate Emergency Declaration campaign, beginning in 2016. The campaign was rejected by the peaks until 2019 when it took off internationally across the UK and EU. In Australia, the peaks had advocated against use of the term ‘Climate Emergency’ for over a decade, as well as rejecting climate emergency goals and targets. Jane Morton’s 2018 booklet Don’t mention the Emergency? addresses this. 

There’s also the example of the fight for a 100% renewable energy, which was led by Beyond Zero Emissions at a time when the peaks were unable to even conceive of 100% renewables grid as a possibility.

The Climate Rescue Accord is attempting to fill this leadership vacuum.

Other institutions advocating the 3Rs include the Australian-based National Center for Safe Climate Restoration, Breakthrough, the Climate Crisis Advisory Group headed by Sir David King in the United Kingdom, the Overshoot Commission, and the former NASA climate scientist James Hansen. (See more below).

The Accord is requesting that any supporting parties make explicit their support for the 3Rs in their policy statements or conversations.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

Opportunities to get involved with the Climate Rescue Accord:

If you’re an MP, staffer, or member of a political party:

If you’re interested in supporting the Climate Rescue Accord but are not affiliated with a political party:

A recap of the Climate Rescue Accord

We are in the climate end game. Current impacts are unacceptable and the path we are on leads to 3°C-plus degrees of warming and an unthinkable future.

We see campaigns to stop a new coal mine, stop new gas development, rewild denuded areas, even to bring integrity to government. We know that each of these is an essential ingredient of a viable future. However, winning any of these campaigns alone will not get us where we need to be for survival, let alone a safe climate. 

We need the big picture in our climate conversations. The Climate Rescue Accord presents the big picture vision and strategy for survival and ultimately a safe climate. 

The major parties have failed us so we’re reaching out to the cross bench and minor political parties to campaign on this vision. 

Together we can leverage global change.

→ See climaterescue.net for more information


Related links, quotes and resources

→ Anthropocene Magazine – 21 March 2024:
Will geoengineering buy us time to cut carbon emissions or just prolong the pain?
“Some observers say high-tech climate fixes are a moral imperative. Others say they are a moral hazard.” By Mark Harris

→ The Climate Brink by Zeke Hausfather – 5 March 2024:
The Geoengineering Question
“In this piece I’ll try to take a balanced look at the issue; the potential pros and cons of considering geoengineering as part of our toolkit to reduce the impacts of climate change, as well as the potential unintended consequences it might have both to the climate and to our ability to effectively address climate change.”

→ The Guardian – 27 February 2024:
Pumped up: will a Dutch startup’s plan to restore Arctic sea-ice work?
“As the Arctic warms, devastating the climate and ecosystems, an old idea used to create skating rinks could be deployed to restore melting ice caps, despite scepticism from some experts.”

→ The Wall Street Journal – 14 February 2024:
Scientists resort to once-unthinkable solutions to cool the planet
“Three geoengineering projects seek to alter the chemistry of the atmosphere and the ocean. Critics warn of unintended consequences.”

→ Daily Mail – 5 February 2024:
Scientists propose launching ‘umbrella’ the size of Argentina nine million miles from Earth to block our planet from the sun’s rays – and promise it would reduce warming by 2.7°F (1.5°C) in two years
“Climate scientists are developing an umbrella-like shade the size of Argentina that would block the sun’s rays to mitigate the effects of global warming on Earth.”

→ CNBC – 7 January 2024:
Inventor in Baja is testing a plan to cool the Earth by mimicking a volcanic eruption
“Luke Iseman, a serial inventor and the former director of hardware at Y Combinator, has raised at least $500,000 to launch his sunlight reflection company, Make Sunsets. The company plans to launch three balloon test launches releasing sulfur dioxide to cool the atmosphere in January 2024 from the land Iseman owns in Baja, Mexico.”

→ Science – 30 November 2023:
An alkaline solution
“As alarm about climate change grows, scientists explore a strategy for drawing excess carbon dioxide into the ocean.”

→ The Conversation – 17 October 2023:
Could ‘marine cloud brightening’ reduce coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef?
“It might sound like science fiction, but “marine cloud brightening” is being seriously considered as a way to shield parts of the ocean from extreme heat.”

→ The New Yorker – 25 April 2023:
A Heat Shield for the Most Important Ice on Earth
“Engineers might be able to protect Arctic ice by coating it with tiny glass bubbles. Should they?”

→ Science Daily – 15 September 2022:
Refreezing poles feasible and cheap, new study finds
“A subpolar-focused stratospheric aerosol injection deployment scenario. Refreezing the poles by reducing incoming sunlight would be both feasible and remarkably cheap, according to new research.”

→ CarbonBrief – 9 May 2018:
Explainer: Six ideas to limit global warming with solar geoengineering
“Scientists agree that cutting global greenhouse emissions as soon as possible will be key to tackling global warming. But, with global emissions still on the rise, some researchers are now calling for more research into measures that could be taken alongside emissions cuts, including – controversially – the use of “solar geoengineering” technologies.”

→ Chemistry World – 16 December 2016:
Atmospheric limestone dust injection could halt global warming
“Geoengineering using limestone aerosols would also help to stop ozone layer depletion.”



Opposition to, criticism of and concerns about the third R

→ The Conversation – 21 January 2024:
It is time to draw down carbon dioxide but shut down moves to play God with the climate
“We will soon have to focus not only on halting but on reversing global warming.”

→ Terra.do – 22 March 2024:
Why Can’t Solar Geoengineering or Carbon Capture and Utilization Solve Our Climate Problems?
“Not every techno-fix is worth betting the climate on.”


“Eight years after Paris, the evidence is overwhelming that “net zero 2050” was always a bad target, that there is no carbon budget left, and that major system tipping points have already been passed, or are now within range in the short-term. COP28 will not produce a statement that says a word about any of this. If there is to be a modicum of truth-telling, front and centre of the COP outcome would be recognition that fossil fuel expansion is a death trap, that zero emissions fast is absolutely necessary, and that unprecedented interventions to mitigate 1.5°C climate overshoot are now required. That is the focus of another new report The Overshoot: Crossing the 1.5C threshold and finding our way back, from the Climate Crisis Advisory Group. The report again emphasises the need for a three-pronged strategy to reduce, remove and repair.”
~ David Spratt

→ Time – 2 November 2023:
We Need Geoengineering to Stop Out of Control Warming, Warns Climate Scientist James Hansen
“In a controversial new peer-reviewed paper published in Oxford Open Climate Change, James Hansen brings a new warning: Scientists are underestimating how fast the planet is warming. And the crisis will have to be met, in part, with geoengineering.”

Sentiment and emotion towards fast cooling technologies

“According to forecasts, even the strategy to gradually reduce climate gas emissions to zero everywhere will no longer be enough to limit global heating to well below 2°C. Today, the discussion is also about “negative emissions,” i.e., the removal of the most important greenhouse gas, CO2, from the atmosphere. Under the heading of “solar radiation management,” some are even talking about a potential reflection of incoming sunlight.

A new study led by the Berlin-based climate research institute MCC (Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change) now sheds light on the acceptance of such options. The study is published in the journal Global Environmental Change.

The study focuses on the short message service X (formerly Twitter), with an evaluation of a total of about 1.5 million tweets posted in English on this topic area since its launch in 2006, through to 2021, from across the world. The tweets addressed 11 technologies of greenhouse gas removal, plus five variants of solar radiation management, as well as tweets about “geoengineering” as an umbrella term for all these procedures.

A distinctly negative sentiment and the prevalence of emotions such as “disgust” and “fear” are shown by the analysis of X (Twitter) traffic on the potential manipulation of sunlight. In particular, stratospheric aerosol injection is outright rejected. In this context, the researchers point to concerns about uncontrolled environmental consequences and a lack of international coordination. The study culminates in the recommendation that, in view of such fears, the vague umbrella term “geoengineering” should no longer be used, and the debate should focus on the options for greenhouse gas removal.”

→ Phys.org – 30 October 2023:
Study shows support for carbon removal but great concern over solar manipulation

Climate scientist warns about the aerosols effect

“Hang onto your hat. We are in for a helluva ride. Global warming will rise above 1.5° degrees Celsius within several months and above 2° degrees Celsius within a couple of decades, unless we take purposeful actions to restore Earth’s energy balance and climate, in addition to phasing down fossil fuel emissions as rapidly as practical,” said former NASA climate scientist James Hansen as he called for both geoengineering and nature restoration as well as technologies to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

“The September temperature spike is at the very highest edge of what recent climate models projected as possible, and even absent intentional miscommunication, there are divergent views about how fast Earth will warm during the next few decades. That’s partly because even the newest climate models don’t include some of the climate feed backs that amplify warming, like the huge surge of greenhouse gas emissions from wildfires. 

And it’s also because scientists haven’t been able to study some of the most important atmospheric processes that will determine the pace of climate change, like the interaction between clouds and tiny particles called aerosols that come from industrial sources, primarily from burning fossil fuels, as well as natural sources, said James Hansen, the former NASA climate scientist whose 1988 testimony to Congress put climate change in the political spotlight. 

In 2021, Hansen warned that the rate of warming could double over the next 25 years, heating the planet by somewhere close to 2° degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels (3.6° degrees Fahrenheit) by 2050. 

Aerosols affect cloud particle size, cloud cover and cloud brightness, which, in turn, affect how much heat energy the atmosphere absorbs. Even without directly measuring the climate effect of aerosols, Hansen said other satellite data, including from NASA’s CERES program, show changes in clouds that account for the rapidly increasing energy imbalance in the climate system, with increasing amounts of heat staying in the atmosphere.

Hansen said those measurements show that greenhouse gases can be ruled out as the main cause of September’s anomalous temperature increase.

“The data are all consistent with aerosol reduction being the cause of accelerated global warming,” he said, reiterating his recent warnings about a sudden spike of global warming . “So hang onto your hat. We are in for a helluva ride. Global warming will rise above 1.5° degrees Celsius within several months and above 2° degrees Celsius within a couple of decades, unless we take purposeful actions to restore Earth’s energy balance and climate, in addition to phasing down fossil fuel emissions as rapidly as practical.”

Those actions include geoengineering and nature restoration, as well as technologies to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, he said.

“We need to research, urgently, all of the above because plausible emission reductions will not be enough,” he said. “We have a very limited time to avoid locking in consequences for today’s young people that they will consider unacceptable, and we have allowed the problem to reach a magnitude such that strong actions will be required.”

Preemptively ruling out any method of mitigating climate change “would be the height of irresponsibility” with regard to young people and must be rejected, he said. 

Read more


Full transcript

of the webinar about the Climate Rescue Accord, held on 20 September 2023

Julie Lyford: “Hi everybody, thanks for joining us and welcome to the live stream with David Spratt and the Climate Accord working group. It’s a pretty exciting night, and I hope you really enjoy what David has to impart to us, and also the working group, and the wonderful work that they’re doing.

This is being recorded, and we will stick to 50 minutes or less; that’s our goal. So, it’s great that you’ve joined us tonight.

I’m Julie Lyford. I’m currently the chair of Women’s Environmental Leadership, WELA. I’m a former nurse, a counsellor, a climate campaigner since 1989, a coal and gas activist, and I’m wearing my Rising Tide earrings because the blockade of the Newcastle Port will happen in November – so join us if you can.

I’d like to acknowledge that I’m coming here to you from Worimi Biripi country, which is Gloucester, New South Wales, and these lands have never been seeded. I pay respects to elders, past, present and emerging, and also acknowledge all the lands that we’re all coming together on tonight.

Thanks to the MPs and minor parties and campaigners that have joined us. You are in a constant struggle to engage the public on issues that matter. You are leaders, and that’s why we’re engaging you, whether you’re an MP, a candidate, or supporting a party, or even an independent – and they’re doing some fantastic work.

I hope we can all agree that a safe climate is the most immediate and critical issue because it is one of survival of us and the planet. We’re going to hear a 20-minute presentation by David Spratt on a paper released last week by the National Centre for Climate Restoration, BreakthroughOnline.org.au. We’ll send all these links to you later.

There is a link to the paper posted in the live stream chat if you want to pop over to that, www.breakthroughonline.org.au/3rs – and the presentation is not just on how bad it is – because we all know that – it’s actually what the solutions are, so that’s where our focus really needs to be, and: how is Climate Rescue different?

We are in the Climate End Game, but there’s something lacking in the climate conversations we are having, and that is vision, and that’s what we’re wanting to impart to you tonight, and I’m sure a lot of you have vision as well.

We dream of stopping a coal mine, shutting down a coal plant, stopping new gas, rewilding, sustainable agriculture, and we even dream of bringing integrity to government, and we know there is some integrity in government, but we need a lot more of it, and that’s moral integrity because there’s a lot of moral culpability at the moment – not addressing our climate issues.

None of these actions alone, though, will get us where we need to be for a safe climate and a safe future.

There is a ground shift in rural communities, and they’re unifying, as we had the rally last week in Sydney for the coal seam gas issue in Narrabri. The Great Barrier Reef is a classical example of greenwashing while the trajectory of heating and devastation continues. Winning slowly means losing.

What does that mean? We need the immediate call and the urgency to be recognised and actioned immediately, and that’s the key. What we don’t hear in the Climate End Game is anyone talking about stopping heating, let alone restoring a safe climate.

The Climate Rescue Accord is about that vision because for work that is so gargantuan, we can’t get there if we don’t have a vision, and that needs to guide our strategy.

That’s what we’re introducing tonight: the vision and the strategy.

What do you want to get out of tonight? Climate Rescue buy-in, an understanding of the horror as well as the solutions, and a positive vision for the future. We need some commitment to campaign on Climate Rescue, and we need your engagement in this campaign.

So, I’m going to hand over now to David. David Spratt is research director for the National Centre for Climate Restoration and co-author of [the book] ‘Climate Code Red: The Case for Emergency Action’.

I can tell you now all the Knitting Nannas in New South Wales have read this and are very engaged for many years in David’s work. His work on climate science, tipping points, and existential risk, and on climate politics and the climate emergency has been translated into seven languages.

David deconstructs IPCC climate science, and working with climate scientists, reconstructs what is known into an actual way out of our current trajectory. David wants you to know that his presentation will be available to you after the event.

The paper ‘Accelerating Climate Disruption and the Strategy to Reduce, Remove, and Repair’ – the three Rs – was released on the 13th of September 2013. The Climate Rescue Accord working group, following David’s presentation, will present the Accord goals and the next steps. So, with no further ado, I hand you over to David Spratt.”


David Spratt: “Thanks, Julie. I will share my screen, and we hope this will all work.

So, as we know, we’ve had some incredible events of the climate system, recently. It seems to be accelerating and disrupting. July was 1.45°C degrees warmer than pre-industrial levels – August 1.68°C, which is sort of mind-blowing. There’s been record heat. There has also been record sea surface temperatures around the world.

The heat is really building up, and it is leading scientists to say things like this: “We are hitting record breaking extremes much sooner than I expected. That’s frightening, scary, and concerning, and it really suggests that we’re not as aware of what’s coming as we thought we were.” That’s Dr Sarah Perkins-Fitzpatrick from University of New South Wales. And Walter Meier, one of the great glaciologists, talking about Antarctica: “It is so far outside anything we have seen, it’s almost mind-blowing.”

So, that’s the sort of response to the disruption we’re seeing at the moment.

I just want to ask the question: where are we going?

This graphic is really stunning. This is the U.S. government’s projection of emissions of the electricity sector out to 2050, and it’s only going to drop 20% by 2050. So while governments might talk about ‘Net Zero,’ in fact, this is not net zero, this is not zero.

The same thing is happening in Australia. If we look at the emissions since 2005, that is in 17 years, have dropped 1.4 per cent in total, if you exclude the land use change. So in terms of actual greenhouse gas emissions, they have actually gone up in the last 10 years.

This is from the Financial Times, this is estimates of what the three largest exporters of liquefied natural gas will do over the next 10 years. And those three big ones are Australia, Qatar, and the U.S. And between now and 2030, the amount of LNG that they plan to export, will actually double.

The UNFCCC – the United Nations’ climate body – says that by 2030, emissions might be 0.3% lower than 2019, which means in the next ten years, emissions are not dropping sharply, as is necessary. We remember a few years ago, scientists said: If you want a chance of 2°C degrees, emissions must halve between 2020 and 2030, and that is simply not going to happen on the current indications.

Here’s a really important graph that explains what is going on. When you burn fossil fuels, a biproduct is called sulfate aerosol, or sulphur dioxide, which are in the atmosphere for a short period of time. But they have a really strong cooling effect before they are rained out. And that cooling effect of sulfate aerosols traditionally is said to be half a degree. Jim Hansen said up to 1.5°C degrees. So if those sulfates weren’t a biproduct of fossil fuels, the system would already be 1°C degree hotter than it is.

And we can see that impact in this chart on the left where it was decided to reduce the amount of sulfates in shipping because they use very dirty bunker oil, and you can see after 2019 – this gray line… The amount of sulfates coming out of ships dropped to almost zero, and then the amount of energy imbalance in the system went up – which might be a clue to what’s happening at the moment.

So, in terms of Earth’s energy imbalance, which is the difference between the amount of radiation coming and going at top of the atmosphere – so, Earth’s energy imbalance is actually an indicator of the amount of future warming, and it’s ramping up, particularly in the last few years.

If we lose the temporary aerosol cooling effect, warming will accelerate.

Jim Hansen, the godfather of modern climate science and the former director of Climate Science at NASA, thinks that warming will accelerate by as much as 50% to 100% in the next few decades. That’s why he says that the amount of warming per decade from now on will be greater than it has been up till now.

Now, what are the consequences of this?

A study earlier this year looked into the future – this is probably 20-30-50 years away – and found that a quarter of Australia, as well as a good deal of India, Pakistan, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and the Amazon. In this areas it may not be possible to live in summer without airconditioning.

Johan Rockström from the Potsdam Institute said that a third of the planet would be uninhabitable, and that’s maybe 30 years away. That heat will also impact crop yields, with estimates suggesting a 25% to 50% drop in Australia, India, China, and the United States. We’re going to have a real decrease in crop yields.

We’re seeing the sort of stories we’re getting now. The U.S. Special Envoy two weeks ago in Australia talking about a food shortage. In August, because of the extreme weather there in India, the largest exporter of rice in the world, banned rice exports.

China has got similar food security problems, and El Nino in itself will threaten the world rice supply.

Food and water are pretty much at the basis of what we do, and a great report was done by Chatham House, the leading United Kingdom think tank two years ago, a climate risk assessment, where they looked at all the climate hazards relating to food and water: rainfall, heatwaves, weather patterns, extreme events, and then worked their way systematically through the consequences. Here’s what they came up with. They said – and this is by 2050: “Climate disruption will cause social tensions, unrest, protests, riots, which will lead to state failure” – that is governments failing – “largescale migration and conflict.”

So that is where we’re heading.

Then they looked at the more systemic risks, so not only food and water, but things like health and pests, and business disruption. And they came up with a list of what they thought climate change would produce by 2050, which is – as you can see – largescale migration and displacement of people, both internally and externally. Armed conflicts, a rise of extremist groups, conflict between people and states, civil war, and war.

In terms of the economy: fall of asset prices, rapidly rising commodity prices, falling stock markets, and last, financial market collapse.

So, Chatham House, whose charts we just saw, said they think by 2050, on the current trajectory – the one we’re on – that cascading climate impacts will “drive political instability and greater national insecurity, and fuel regional and international conflict.”

That’s where we’re heading.

We’re at about 1.2°C degrees trend at the moment. Even though we have these 1.5’s… In the long run, over centuries, each one degree rise will result in 10 to 20 metres of sea level rise.

That rate will keep on going like that. This is well established.

It will be at 1.5°C by 2030, in fact perhaps before. We’re certainly up or close to a 1.5°C degree for the year that started in the middle of this year.

On present trends, we will be at 2°C degrees before 2050.

Why does this matter? Well, because of that sulfate problem. When you reduce fossil fuels, you reduce the sulfate, you remove the cooling, and you get more warming. So – and this is why it’s in red: reducing emissions alone will have no significant impact on warming trends over the next two decades.

That’s not a reason not to reduce emissions, but relying on reducing emissions to bend down the curve in the short run will simply not work because of the aerosol dilemma.

Mitigation alone, and this is part of our strategy, will not stop 2°C degrees of warming.

Of course, the situation is already dangerous. Just at 1.2°C degrees, we have already passed past tipping points for the Arctic sea ice, for coral reefs and for the poles, both north and south. And for the Amazon. That is, those systems are already moving to a discreetly different state, and there’s a cluster of further tipping points that will happen between 1.5°C and 2°C – that is, before 2050. In the next 30 years.

The other point we made is that 2°C degrees is not a point of system stability. By the time you get to 2°C degrees, there are so many feedbacks in the system, as Rockström from the Potsdam Institute says: “If we go beyond 2°C degrees, it’s very likely we have caused so many tipping points that you have probably added another degree just through self-inforcing changes.”

So we’re actually heading towards 3°C degrees, which U.S. intelligence analysts say would likely result in war and outright conflict around the world.

So that’s where we’re headed.

Will Steffen, the great Australian scientist who died earlier this year, says: “There’s a critical point in all of this beyond which we lose control of the system.”

We lose control of the system. Where’s that point? I think it’s not at 2°C degrees. I think it’s between 1.5°C and 2°C, and some scientists have said that is where we’re heading.

So this is our great existential dilemma, and John Schellnhuber, the former director of the Potsdam Institute, said: “If we continue down the present path, there’s a very big risk that we will just end our civilisation. The human species will survive somehow, but we will destroy almost everything we have built up over the last 2,000 years.”

And that, I think, is the truth of the matter. Look at the chart. It’s a fancy way of saying the following: “Climate change is an existential risk, so particular focus must be given to one question above all others, and this is really important: What is the plausible worst-case scenario, and what do we have to do to avoid it?”

And that’s the question I want to answer.

The worst-case scenario is that we will get to 2 degrees in the next 30 years, and there’ll be so many feedbacks that the system will run away from us.

So what’s safe?

You will talk a lot about “a safe climate”. Andrew King from the University of Melbourne says: “From a geologic perspective, a justifiable aim for a future climate is one akin to pre-industrial conditions.” That is taking the atmosphere back to where it was before we started putting fossil fuels in the atmosphere. That is 280 parts per million.

James Hansen, the great NASA scientist, said: “We will need to return to a global climate no warmer than the middle of the 20th century, and likely somewhat cooler.” And in the middle of the 20th century, the warming was about a quarter of a degree.

And Schellnhuber likewise: “Our survival may well depend on how well we’re able to draw down CO2 back to 280 ppm,” back to pre-industrial level.

So this is what a safe climate is: going back to where we were before fossil fuels drove up greenhouse gases by more than 50 percent.

So how do we do that? Schematically: Impacts and temperature up on this scale, and Time [on the other]… This is our path: with emissions just going up and up and up.

If we get to zero fast, we can obviously bend that temperature and impact curve down. But if that danger level for the system running away from us is down here, which I think is reasonable, then obviously getting to zero is not enough.

So what else can we do?

We can draw down carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and that will slowly reduce the temperature and the impacts back to a safe level over time.

But we’ve still got this long period of time, perhaps most of the rest of this century when the temperature and the impacts are going to be above that critical level.

And so the only way to answer that dilemma is to try and actively cool the planet for that period of time until the drawdown can work. That is what is called the three-lever strategy: to reduce, remove, and reflect.

So active cooling is vital. I fear that if we don’t have active cooling, then we will trip tipping points and a cascade of warmings that will take the climate system beyond the capacity of humans to control it – and for human civilisation to survive.

In our report, which Julie mentioned, which I’ll show in a minute… The sort of carbon drawdown, carbon dioxide removal options are the nature-based solutions like ecosystems, regenerative land management, marine upwelling, iron fertilisation. And then there are technical solutions and negative emissions, constructing using wood instead of cement for construction and so on.

In terms of cooling, there’s work that some of you may know of by Yale and Howard about surface mirrors to reflect more radiation back. Marine cloud brightening, which has been tested in Queensland at the moment.

The big one, solar radiation management: that is putting some sulfates back in the atmosphere to cool it down. Some of these are obviously well-established like ecosystem sequestration. Some of them are tentative, and some of them haven’t been proved, but that’s the range of options we need to look at.

Sir David King and the Climate Crisis Group in the UK have termed this language, which we’ve adopted: reduce emissions urgently, remove CO2, and repair the system by cooling.

As Julie said, we released a report last week called ‘Accelerated Climate Disruption and the Strategy to Reduce, Remove, and Repair’, which summarises the argument I’ve just given to you. It can be downloaded from the site at the bottom: www.breakthroughonline.org.au/3rs

And to reiterate the main messages out of my talk: zero emissions at emergency speed within a decade is crucial. But the Earth is already too hot. We’re seeing that at the moment with the incredible events around the world. Large-scale carbon drawdown is vital. The damage is and will become dangerous before these longer-term solutions are effective. So, a safe climate means that immediate cooling is critical to protect people and nature and return this to a safe climate.

That’s the end of my talk. I’ll just leave that up for one second if you want to email us at info@breakthroughonline.org.au, and we can send you this PowerPoint if you would like a copy.

I hope I was almost within time.”

Julie Lyford: “Actually, you were fantastic – you were five minutes early. So yeah, that was brilliant. Is there something that you personally really want to say to people that are listening?”

David Spratt: “Well, when we did our book Climate Code Red, a journalist rang me up and said, “What do you think?” and I said: Well, look, the problem with climate politics is that people think you can negotiate with the laws of physics and chemistry. And it actually turned up in an editorial in The Age the next Saturday. This is the foundation of politics – that everything is subject to negotiations and deals. Trade-offs. That’s how all politics work. But when we come to the Earth system, we actually can’t negotiate with the Earth system. If we don’t do the right thing, it will simply roll along, and roll over. I think we have to be brutally honest about the science. We can’t negotiate with it, as policymakers tend to.

The other thing I think that is important, really, is encouraging recognition of these three levers is now really on the public agenda compared to even five years ago. I’m seeing more and more people, even people working for NGOs, saying, “Yeah, I can see your point now, we do need these three.”

Obviously, a lot of the drawdown options are already available, and I think there’s a real appreciation. The fact that Sir David King, who was the chief scientist in the UK for 12 years, and he advised two Labour Prime Ministers and one Conservative Prime Minister, is out saying we need to do these three things. He’s got a large group on Cambridge University researching this stuff. Shows that these ideas are not out on the fringe; they’re actually in the centre of the work of some really great scientists and researchers around the world.”


Julie Lyford: “Wow, oh thank you, that was pretty profound stuff, and it’s also pretty exciting. You know, climate despair sits with me sometimes, and it’s so good to actually have this window of opportunity, kind of like that’s been happening, but now becoming aware of that. I think it will also help a lot of other people to actually become really proactive in looking at these solutions.

David Spratt: “I mean, Julie, I think… A lot of people say, you know, this relationship between hope and despair, I mean, ‘This contradiction, how do you resolve that?’ And I say, ‘Look, it’s neither. It’s about courage.’ It’s absolutely about courage to face the face of science, to understand what the solutions are, and to work with all our might to do it.

Julie, the other thing I’ll mention is that a longer version of this, which goes through it more thoroughly, we used a couple of years in a project called ‘Climate Reality Check’. So if people want to go to www.ClimateRealityCheck.net, they’ll get a fuller presentation of these ideas. Thank you.”

Julie Lyford: “That was wonderful. Okay, we will move on to the Climate Accord Working Group now, and I’d like to introduce Antoinette, Carmen, Adam, and Bryony, who will say just a few quick words about themselves. Over to you, and then that will be for 10 minutes, and then we will go into a Q&A.”


Antoinette Pitt: “No worries, I think I’m up first. Thank you, Julie. My name is Antoinette. I am from the Australian Progressives. I’m an executive on the board for that minor political party. I’m also a nurse. It seems to be a common factor. Also, I have a recycling business of my own, and this is one of my passions: the environment. It’s so important.

I’m just going to continue the slides so you can get to the next person.

We’re from the working group of the Climate Rescue Accord. A few months ago, representatives from a number of federally registered political parties started working on a common climate framework, and this is what has come out of it. This is the name and the logo that we created for the campaign that we are starting. It is the three Rs that David has just been talking about – Reduce, Redraw, Repair. We’ve got the website up and running now, which is www.climaterescue.net.

We are representatives from several federally registered parties. We’re putting aside any differences that we have because we all need to get on board for this issue, championing goals and actions that will actually save us, and demanding that current governments act on these. We are all looking at each other, and we’re all agreeing that the major parties have failed us. They won’t even produce a roadmap to get us to zero, and they’re still opening mines and subsidising our destruction. So we decided we needed to move.

Next slide – over to Adam.”

Dr Adam Cardellini: “So the things I’m going to cover in the next couple of slides, David covered very well, so I’ll just highlight some key points that brought us together as a working group.

The current goals that we have around climate change are inadequate and don’t actually reflect what we need, which is a safe climate. We need a safe climate for the survival of people, animals, and the planet.

At the moment, we talk about Net Zero; what’s Net Zero? It’s ridiculous. We talk about 1.5°C degrees or even 2°C degrees; people are giving up on 1.5°C degrees, but as David has already said, those are dangerous levels of climate change and dangerous for many other people, animals, and the planet.

Zero is just not enough; zero will see us get into 1.5°, 2°C degrees and higher. As David pointed out, that could see runaway climate change where we end up in places that we cannot live. If we want to achieve a safe climate, we must go beyond just zero, certainly Net Zero. We need to use all the levers that are available to us.

David went through this figure really well, but I think this is a really important figure for us to become familiar with in this campaign and the work that we do around a safe climate and climate rescue: We have to go to zero as fast as possible; then there’s a lot of work to be done to draw down. But as David pointed out, there’s this period that we may be in dangerous climate change if we don’t use active cooling as a safe passage from where we are now through to a point where we’ve drawn down enough of the carbon out of the atmosphere to be back in a safe climate.

Now I’ll just quickly introduce myself before I move on. My name is Dr Adam Cardellini; I am a delegate from the Animal Justice Party. I’m liaison with the Animal Justice Party on this project, and I’m an environmental scientist in my day job.”


Bryony Edwards: “Thanks, Adam. My name is Bryony Edwards, and I’m on the Fusion Executives. I’ll talk about the purpose of the Accord. The purpose of the Accord is to initiate the vision, which is a safe climate and survival. The purpose of the Accord is to get us there and initiate the required action to stop global heating, secure survival, and set a course to restore a safe climate, so people, animals, and ecosystems can flourish.

The Accord’s goals that would underpin that are to hold average temperature rise to the minimum possible, ensuring that 2°C degrees is not breached, or reached, and that temperatures return below half a degree of warming. We need to set a course to reduce greenhouse gas concentrations to pre-industrial or safe levels based on credible scientific evidence.

The actions that underpin this – these are like the non-negotiables – is to facilitate urgent R&D in the area of immediate cooling, or repair strategies, that would stop fossil fuel expansion, deforestation, and land use change that releases CO2 and also reduces the sequestration potential. They would stop human-induced sources of methane release.

We’re over 500 parts per million if we include all the carbon dioxide equivalents out there. We talk about 420 ppm in terms of CO2, but we’re over 500 in terms of greenhouse in terms of CO2 equivalence.

We develop an evidence-based roadmap to near zero across all sectors for emergency implementation that includes energy, transport, consumption, manufacturing, agriculture, land use, and construction.

Our general theory of change – or strategy – for the Accord is to unify as many political groups and entities in Australia as we can, but quickly, we want to take this international as well and start talking to minor parties. The major parties have failed us, so we’re starting with crossbenches and minor parties, and we’ll support any candidate that is campaigning on the three Rs and will leverage action from sitting governments.”

Carmen Lahiff-Jenkins: “My name is Carmen Lahiff-Jenkins. I am a Reason party representative and executive, and I run the policy committee, write the policies for the party.

I’m living in climate-terror, as I am sure many of us are. It is really scary times. And I am really pleased to have been invited to being a part of this Accord. So thank you, Bryony, for pulling so much of this together. It has been really fantastic. Thanks David for frightening the absolute crap out of me even more.

We have talked about our strategy, but what we want from you is to sign up for our campaign at www.climaterescue.net, and for every minor party, every candidate, all grassroots to be campaigning on survival and a safe climate based on the three Rs.

I think what we want to do now is move toward this language and how important it is for this language to shift from Net Zero to this reduction, the redraw, the three Rs. We’ll be going with that.

Then the next steps, which Julie will also cover, will be signing up for the newsletter, establishing an Accord Executive Committee – so we’re the working group, but there’ll be an executive committee that can keep driving this process – which will be around policy options and taking the Climate Rescue Accord global.

I guess the last word is: The major parties have given up. We won’t survive the current path, and we just won’t make it unless we can focus on the three Rs. What we need is hope, and we’d really like you to join us in a shared strategy for Climate Rescue. Thanks.”


Julie Lyford: “Everyone, that was a great overview, and now we will go to some questions. The questions are for David and the working group to respond to. I’ll just reiterate that any unanswered questions that may be in the chat can be responded to after the live stream if we don’t get around to all of them.

There are some really good comments. From Miles: ‘Glad to hear a research-backed approach; it’s often a rarity in politics.’ There’s a question here: ‘Is this an argument to introduce slow lead-time power sources like hydrofusion and nuclear fission?’ That’s passover to you, David.”

David Spratt: “Obviously, in all the three Rs, what we’ve got to do is what is ecologically safe, the most efficient, and at the lowest cost. Nuclear power is out because it’s too expensive. We shouldn’t be pejorative about technologies, but the test is for anything we do to have a net social and environmental benefit. I think that’s the rule that sits above all the decisions that are made. We must research a wide range of technologies and see what is feasible, see what we can get quickly down the cost-curve, and take it from there, with that net social and environmental benefit as the guideline.”

Julie Lyford: “Thank you. William has said: ‘The best drawdown method should be biological, self-reproduction allows scalability to a global extent of these ocean fertilisation coupled with farming of selected phytoplankton and larger consumers.’

There are quite a few comments in the chat. but with the working group like to address any of the questions that we’ve had so far? Or are there other questions that you have heard about?”

Dr Adam Cardellini: “I’ll address one a couple of the questions. People are asking: What’s the best approach from here? – and I think one of the things about the Climate Rescue Accord is that what we’re trying to bring together is parties to campaign on the broad level Accord, like: the non-negotiables, but then the details on what particular parties focus on on their policy platforms is really up to them as a party. But those non-negotiables of zero drawdown and repair are really what we’re interested in getting out there into the Australian political system, and wider, and then as we set up policy working groups we can start to have conversations about building out those policies, and different parties will have different policies depending on their particular interests, I think, and their particular concerns.”

Julie: “Right. Look, and there’s a couple more questions but Simon from Fusion: “The science is not negotiable but sadly we live in a post-truth world and having the facts and evidence is not enough to speak for itself. We have to come together to sell it.”

So I think that’s a really great comment.

Natasha’s question is: “Is there any thinking about joining with Teal candidates and/or Climate 200 with this Accord?”

Bryony: “We invited the cross bench. We sent formal invites to all cross bench members and that of course including the Teals. We also invited every minor…. every progressive minor party that hasn’t demonstrated their own outright climate denial in their policies and the way they talk. So yes, absolutely: we’ve reached out to the Teals. I think we had some… there was some commitment for staffers to attend tonight. So that’s really good.”

Julie: “That’s great and the second question from Ruth is: “What would you want elected politicians e.g. cross benches to do right now?” What are we asking?”

Bryony: “Declare a climate emergency. And actually mean it. And then commit to it.

A number of years ago, Philip Sutton wrote a model Climate Emergency Act. It wasn’t all the detail of what would happen, but it was how government would restructure to make that change happen. So, it wasn’t about the detail, and I think that’s really important. It was about how government, which is just so terrible at doing, or can, you know … Covid demonstrated that governments could do things quickly and it could mobilise at every level.”

Adam: “I think in addition to declaring a climate emergency, because I think we’ve seen that the climate emergency approach has been important to shift the discussion, but a lot of governments around the world have used it as a piece of performance, really, and haven’t actually backed that up with action.

And I think the Climate Rescue Accord is sort of building off of the climate emergency, and it should happen in conjunction with a climate emergency to say, ‘Okay, we recognise there’s an emergency. The actions that we need to take are zero drawdown, and repair.’

The details about some of those, like zero and drawdown, we’ve got a lot of science around that. Repair and some R&D need to be done before we can make decisions, but we need to be committing to looking into those things and getting onto them. And for zero and drawdown, we just need to do those things far faster.

I think – Miles has mentioned – if there is a diversity of policy options, then clearly science is negotiable in a certain sense. Well, I’m not sure that that’s necessarily true. I just think that we are in a political world, and we’re talking amongst a range of different political groups who have different interests. Some things that some political groups find palatable, others may not.

I know my positions on things, people in this live stream probably wouldn’t be particularly interested in pursuing, but I think that’s in the details for specific parties.”

Bryony: “I think there’s a really important point about the climate emergency declaration that has been made with your group. What we’re asking for is similar in some ways, but they ask for more broken down, and repair, which is the critical part of it, was not explicitly addressed in the climate emergency declaration. So this is pretty important.”

I just want to go super simple and say that immediately what we need to do is not opening up mines and stop subsidising fossil fuels.

Absolutely, and that’s part of the work that I’m involved in. Some of us have been successful, but there is a lot out there still to do.

So, what more can we do at the local government level in your opinions? As a former local government counselor, we had a climate declaration in 2009, which is National Party heartland, very conservative council, so it’s about the courage to push and actually make sure the conversation is happening. Local government is such a vital part of this conversation and the platform to get change. It’s where we can really be effective. But I’ll hand over to the panel for other comments.

Bryony: Even if a federal climate emergency declaration was declared, they would then turn to state and local government and say, ‘Now what are you going to do?’ So, they wouldn’t be prescribing the actions for the local governments; the local governments would have to work it out themselves, and that’s so much of that has happened since 2016 when the first local government declared a climate emergency.

I honestly think that even if a federal climate emergency declaration was declared, they would then turn to state and local government and say, ‘Now what are you going to do?’ So, they wouldn’t be prescribing the actions for the local governments; the local governments would have to work it out themselves, and that’s so much of that has happened since 2016 when the first local government declared a climate emergency.

What good large-scale drawdown processes so that we can all engage in or encourage our groups to get involved in?

David: “Well, the obvious ones are the natural-based solutions. Restoration of degraded forests is really important. Restoration of degraded wetlands is important, so I guess the first thing to do is to undo the damage before we move forward. We say, ‘Oh, we’ve got to do this,’ but undo the damage, which is being done because the degradation of forests and the degradation of wetlands is actually driving more emissions, more methane. So, they’re obviously the big ones, and all those issues around restorative farming, restorative agricultural practices because all three are available. They’re being done now; they can be done at a large scale, and they’re not controversial. That would be my starting trio.”

Adam: “I’d add agricultural transitions that reduce the amount of animals that we produce and transition towards plant-based agriculture. It releases a large amount of land that’s currently used for grasing cows that can be re-vegetated and rewilded. Australia in Queensland, in particular, currently, and a couple of years ago, had the largest levels of deforestation anywhere in the world, including the Amazon, where they were destroying forests at an incredible rate. That was largely for animal agriculture.”

Julie: “There are some great comments in the stream I can’t read them also apologies to everyone. It’s so great to see the engagement. I was actually at a talk on Monday, Ken Henry was giving about accounting for nature – that’s a little bit controversial, I think, because we’re still looking at offsets where we destroy something while we save something. But the whole talk around regenerative agriculture is really gaining traction, and Farmers for Climate Action, they’re very heavily involved in all of that conversation as well.

The really exciting thing is lots of people are getting engaged in all sorts of areas and all sorts of platforms. But the exciting thing for me is actually now learning about the work that you are all doing. This is great stuff; it’s very hopeful.

So we are kind of at the end of the presentations now – unless the working group, or David, you wanted to have any final comments – I will wrap up with the clear message that we really want to get across.

One of the key things is: campaigning vanquishes despair. We all know when we get active… As I say, November: Rising Tide Newcastle Port blockade, be there if you can! The climate grief leads to climate action. It means that we actually get involved, and obviously, you’re on this live stream because you’re involved and you’re already invested. So thank you to everybody and all the work that you’re doing out there.

People who struggle at the fringes often turn out to be the leaders, and the leadership that we see through the Women’s Environmental Leadership Australia organisation and the programs is always inspiring. So check that out if you’d like to have a look at what’s going on with WELA. Very proud of the group and what will be our legacy as the human race.

We have run out of time now to do the same old same old. I’ve been to every politician in both Parliament Houses, and you know, they cannot get out of their… No one can put the spoke in the wheel. And I actually say to them, you’re morally culpable for not acting, and I think that moral culpability is a word we should have on our lips when we’re not aggressively but firmly, assertively saying: you are morally culpable if you don’t act as a leader in a position of power.

So the next steps: a short email will go to everyone attending with links and the opportunities to get involved. Sign up to the newsletter at climaterescue.net. All of these links will be in the newsletter email that you receive. The working group will be looking for interested people to join an executive committee to shape the Accord going forward. Anyone interested, please get in touch.

And just seeing some of the names on the live stream, there’s some wealth of experience and brilliance out there, so please get in touch.

Talk to others about Climate Rescue. And the three Rs, if the Knitting Nannas are talking about it all over New South Wales, we should be too. We can have hope with a goal and strategy that is actually meaningful, and meaningful campaigning, as we said before, vanquishes despair.

Most importantly, we want everyone, every party, every candidate, and everybody that works with them to be campaigning on the three Rs: reduce, redraw, and repair. Climate Rescue, survival, and a safe climate.

So get involved. Thank you to our panel. It’s been really fabulous, and the work that you’re doing is to be applauded. And thank you to everybody that’s joined the live stream tonight. So go and have a good evening and get involved. You probably are already, but we need you in this as well. Thank you.”