Wednesday, September 23, 2020

China targets net zero by 2060

China has for the first time announced targets for reaching a net zero emissions economy, leaving Australia increasingly isolated as major countries lock in climate plans. In a speech to the virtual United Nations summit, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases would aim to hit its emissions peak before 2030, before reaching “climate neutrality” by 2060. Greenpeace called for more detail and an explanation of how the move fits with China’s ongoing coal expansion. United States President Donald Trump, who plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accord in November, used his speech to criticise China’s record on pollution. It comes as the Morrison government on Tuesday announced a technology roadmap for energy that did not include a specific year to reach net zero emissions, and as Labor’s draft policy platform commits to “responsible” development of gas reserves.

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has revealed a rise in the number of violent right-wing extremists under surveillance. ASIO deputy director-general Heather Cook told Parliament's Joint Intelligence and Security Committee that up to 40 per cent of the agency’s counterterrorism efforts are now focused on right-wing groups or individuals, up from between 10 per cent and 15 per cent prior to 2016. “Some of the circumstances of COVID have contributed to an increase in radicalisation, in particular, because of the amount of time that individuals are spending in isolation or working from home or not in school,” she said.

South Australia will lift border restrictions to New South Wales from midnight tonight, provided no detections of community transmission are detected today. People entering SA from NSW will no longer need to undergo mandatory quarantine if that plan goes ahead, with Qantas will resume flying between the two states, Virgin reintroducing daily flights between Sydney and Adelaide, and Jetstar to ramp up services to twice daily. Queensland will also relax its borders to five New South Wales local government areas from 1am on October 1: Byron, Ballina, Lismore, Richmond Valley, and Glen Innes.

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has hit back at Clive Palmer ($), responding to the mining magnate’s legal action with a defamation lawsuit of his own. McGowan will seek damages from Palmer to “vindicate his reputation” and compensate him for “distress and embarrassment”, reports The West Australian. It comes after Palmer followed up his legal challenge against the state’s border closure with a defamation lawsuit against McGowan, who described Palmer as “an enemy of the state”.  

The truth about hospital transmission
Confidential documents leaked to The Saturday Paper show that hospitals remain a key area of coronavirus transmission, while doctors and nurses in Melbourne complain that they’re still not getting access to proper protective equipment.

“Government grants and the Australian Defence Force helped Med-Con build new machines and greatly increase its output, moving to a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week operation. It was a rare feel-good story: the plucky little Australian company coming to the rescue. But underneath lies a darker narrative.”

The Hoopla, Australia’s bureau of HuffPost, Whimn, ABC Life, 10 Daily, BuzzFeed Australia and many others have been lost entirely, while much of the mainstream print media has similarly dropped their women-centred sections, including RendezView in News Corp papers and the Corporate Woman column in The Australian Financial Review. Those that remain, including Daily Life, have generally lost their feminist edge. And women’s magazines themselves, once the powerhouse of Australian publishing, are quickly disappearing.”

THE NATION REVIEWED

“Ginnie – part-greyhound, full name Virginia Woof – has a long stride. Once she’d bolted out the front door, she was away with the wind. Without thought, Katerina Bryant sprinted after her. The house is on a main road and, losing sight of Ginnie, Bryant started to feel the familiar pressure of a panic attack in her chest.”

“Australia will have access to some of the world's leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates after the Federal Government committed more than $120 million to enter a global vaccine agreement ... More than 150 countries, representing 64 per cent of the world's population, have signed on to the scheme, which aims to develop and distribute 2 billion doses of safe, effective vaccines by the end of 2021.”

“We have estimated the loss of international student revenue due to COVID-19 will mean the discretionary income available to support research will decline to less than 30% of external funding for 2020 and beyond. This is equivalent to a decrease of between $6.4 billion and $7.6 billion from 2020–24. The associated reduction in the Australian university research workforce will be in the range 5,100 to 6,100 researchers. This includes graduate research students, research assistants and academic research leaders.”

“The virus has been billed as the NBN’s biggest test because, for the first time, many households will be seeking to upload content to the internet, not just download it. According to the NBN’s own data, up to the end of February – prior to the pandemic outbreak – the average weekday traffic was about five terabits a second (Tbps) across the NBN between 9am and 5pm ... already records have been broken.”

“New York-based artist Kathleen Ryan harvests inspiration for her oversized sculptures from natural sources: cherry orchards, vineyards, and mineral mines below the earth’s crust. She’s known for her fruit pieces that appear to be covered in mold, whether in the form of a deflated bunch of grapes or a pair of cherries spotted with fungi.”

Max Opray is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.