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Issue No. 100 - March 15, 2017

1. Fracking banned in Victoria, Australia

Victoria is officially gasfield free

Victoria has become the first Australian state to permanently ban fracking.

On March 7, the Resources Legislation Amendment (Fracking Ban) Bill 2016 passed through the upper house of the Victorian Parliament without amendment. The legislation permanently bans all onshore unconventional gas exploration and development, including hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) and coal seam gas, and extends the moratorium on conventional onshore gas exploration and development to 30 June 2020.

The following is from a statement issued by the Minister for Resources, Wade Noonan:

"Farming communities across Victoria have been calling for a ban on unconventional gas for years – while also expressing serious concern about the potential impacts of onshore conventional gas exploration and development. Today, that uncertainty comes to an end.

This is a win for farmers. This is a win for regional Victoria. And this is a win for all the people who have campaigned to end fracking in this state.

The permanent legislative ban will protect the ‘clean, green’ reputation of Victoria’s agriculture sector, which employs more than 190,000 people."

In a blog post Friends of the Earth Melbourne said: "We have achieved an incredible victory today. It is already inspiring campaigns around Australia and the world because it shows that the community can win against the gas industry."

2. Poll shows Europeans feeling climate change impacts, support climate action

Climate change impacts are already hitting us

A major new polling study conducted in 2016 in four European countries (France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK) found that when asked when the impacts of global warming would be felt, 60% of survey participants said the impacts were already being felt.

As the Guardian reports, this study was the first in-depth climate change research conducted in multiple countries. More than 1,000 people were interviewed in each country, and the results were then weighted to be nationally representative.

The research shows that global warming is seen as a present problem, and that there is strong support for action to address climate change, including subsidies for clean energy. Renewable energy was viewed very positively in all nations. There was very little support for fracking, with only 19% of people seeing it positively in the UK, 15% in Germany, 9% in France (where fracking is banned), and 7% in Norway. The most positively perceived methods of energy generation were those using renewable sources (70% or more positive opinions) such as solar, onshore and offshore wind, and hydroelectric power.

The survey also revealed a lack of trust in public institutions (local and national governments, energy companies, and the European Commission) in terms of transforming the energy system toward the use of cleaner forms of energy. Distrust in public institutions was highest in France and the UK, while trust was highest in Germany.

In each country, a majority of respondents indicated agreement with the statement: "I am prepared to greatly reduce my energy use to help tackle climate change". Support was highest in France, at 80%. In Norway, 69% of respondents agreed, compared to 59% in the UK and 53% in Germany.

When asked about the measures they would support to address climate change, subsidies for renewable energy received strong support (69-88%). There was also high support for subsidies to improve home insulation (60%-74%). In all four countries, more than half of respondents favoured giving public money to developing countries to help them deal with the extreme weather. There was most support for this in Norway (79%) compared to 51%-59% in the other three countries.

There was more opposition than support for increasing taxes on fossil fuels and increasing the price of electricity.

In all four countries there was strong support for the Paris Agreement and for high economic penalties for countries who refuse to be part of the agreement.

3. Shell film from 1991 warns of catastrophic risks of climate change

In 1991, oil giant Shell made a 28-minute film, called Climate of Concern, primarily for public viewing in particularly schools and universities, that warned of extreme weather, floods, famines and climate refugees due to global warming caused by burning fossil fuels, as the Guardian reports. The film noted that its serious warning was "endorsed by a uniquely broad consensus of scientists in their report to the United Nations at the end of 1990".

According to scientists, the predictions in the film for temperature and sea level rises and their impacts have proved to be remarkably accurate. The full video can be viewed here: Climate of Concern - Royal Dutch Shell (1991).

The film was obtained by the Dutch online journalism platform The Correspondent. Damian Carrington of the Guardian collaborated with Jelmer Mommers of The Correspondent to produce an English-language version of the report.

The report cites Professor Tom Wigley, who was head of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia when it helped Shell with the film: "It’s one of the best little films that I have seen on climate change ever. One could show this today and almost all would still be relevant." He also said that Shell's actions since 1991 had "absolutely not" been consistent with the films warning.

Since 1991, Shell has lobbied successfully to undermine European renewable energy targets and is estimated to have spent $22 m in 2015 lobbying against climate policies
How much big oil spends on obstructive climate lobbying

Tom Burke, of the green thinktank E3G and a former member of Shell's external review committee (2012-2014), said: "They knew. Shell told the public the truth about climate change in 1991 and they clearly never got round to telling their own board of directors...Shell’s behaviour now is risky for the climate but it is also risky for their shareholders. It is very difficult to explain why they are continuing to explore and develop high-cost reserves."

Bill McKibben of had this comment: "Imagine if Shell had taken their own advice and we’d spent the last quarter century in all-out pursuit of renewables, energy efficiency, and conservation. We wouldn’t have solved the problem of global warming, but we’d be well on the way. Shell made a big difference in the world – a difference for the worse."

As reported last year in the SGBI, Exxon has also known about the consequences of human made climate change for decades.

See What Exxon knew about the Earth's melting Arctic and the short video below for a summary of the facts.

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