Afforestation

End extreme poverty, inequality, injustice & Change Change #GlobalGoals #auspol #StopAdani

End extreme poverty.

Fight inequality and injustice.

Fix climate change.

Whoa. The Sustainable Development Goals are important, world-changing objectives that will require cooperation among governments, international organizations and world leaders.

It seems impossible that the average person can make an impact.

Should you just give up?

No!

Change starts with you. Seriously.

Every human on earth—even the most indifferent, laziest person among us—is part of the solution. Fortunately, there are some super easy things we can adopt into our routines that, if we all do it, will make a big difference.

Have a look at just a few of the many things you can do to make an impact!

Things you can do from your couch

• Save electricity by plugging appliances into a power strip and turning them off completely when not in use, including your computer.

• Stop paper bank statements and pay your bills online or via mobile. No paper, no need for forest destruction.

• Share, don’t just like. If you see an interesting social media post about women’s rights or climate change, share it so folks in your network see it too.

• Speak up! Ask your local and national authorities to engage in initiatives that don’t harm people or the planet. You can also voice your support for the Paris Agreement and ask your country to ratify it or sign it if it hasn’t yet.

• Don’t print. See something online you need to remember? Jot it down in a notebook or better yet a digital post-it note and spare the paper.

• Turn off the lights. Your TV or computer screen provides a cosy glow, so turn off other lights if you don’t need them.

• Do a bit of online research and buy only from companies that you know have sustainable practices and don’t harm the environment.

• Report online bullies. If you notice harassment on a message board or in a chat room, flag that person.

• Stay informed. Follow your local news and stay in touch with the Global Goals online or on social media at @GlobalGoalsUN.

• Tell us about your actions to achieve the global goals by using the hashtag #globalgoals on social networks.

• In addition to the above, offset your remaining carbon emissions! You can calculate your carbon footprint and purchase climate credits from Climate Neutral Now. In this way, you help reduce global emissions faster!”

Things you can do at home

• Air dry. Let your hair and clothes dry naturally instead of running a machine. If you do wash your clothes, make sure the load is full.

• Take short showers. Bathtubs require gallons more water than a 5-10 minute shower.

• Eat less meat, poultry, and fish. More resources are used to provide meat than plants

• Freeze fresh produce and leftovers if you don’t have the chance to eat them before they go bad. You can also do this with take-away or delivered food, if you know you will not feel like eating it the next day. You will save food and money.

• Compost—composting food scraps can reduce climate impact while also recycling nutrients.

• Recycling paper, plastic, glass & aluminium keeps landfills from growing.

• Buy minimally packaged goods.

• Avoid pre-heating the oven. Unless you need a precise baking temperature, start heating your food right when you turn on the oven.

• Plug air leaks in windows and doors to increase energy efficiency

• Adjust your thermostat, lower in winter, higher in summer

• Replace old appliances with energy efficient models and light bulbs

• If you have the option, install solar panels in your house. This will also reduce your electricity bill!

• Get a rug. Carpets and rugs keep your house warm and your thermostat low.

• Don’t rinse. If you use a dishwasher, stop rinsing your plates before you run the machine.

• Choose a better diaper option. Swaddle your baby in cloth diapers or a new, environmentally responsible disposable brand.

• Shovel snow manually. Avoid the noisy, exhaust-churning snow blower and get some exercise.

• Use cardboard matches. They don’t require any petroleum, unlike plastic gas-filled lighters.

Things you can do outside your house

• Shop local. Supporting neighbourhood businesses keeps people employed and helps prevent trucks from driving far distances.

• Shop Smart—plan meals, use shopping lists and avoid impulse buys. Don’t succumb to marketing tricks that lead you to buy more food than you need, particularly for perishable items. Though these may be less expensive per ounce, they can be more expensive overall if much of that food is discarded.

• Buy Funny Fruit—many fruits and vegetables are thrown out because their size, shape, or color are not “right”. Buying these perfectly good funny fruit, at the farmer’s market or elsewhere, utilizes food that might otherwise go to waste.

• When you go to a restaurant and are ordering seafood always ask: “Do you serve sustainable seafood?” Let your favourite businesses know that ocean-friendly seafood is on your shopping list.

• Shop only for sustainable seafood. There are now many apps like this one that will tell you what is safe to consume.

• Bike, walk or take public transport. Save the car trips for when you’ve got a big group.

• Use a refillable water bottle and coffee cup. Cut down on waste and maybe even save money at the coffee shop.

• Bring your own bag when you shop. Pass on the plastic bag and start carrying your own reusable totes.

• Take fewer napkins. You don’t need a handful of napkins to eat your takeout. Take just what you need.

• Shop vintage. Brand-new isn’t necessarily best. See what you can repurpose from second-hand shops.

• Maintain your car. A well-tuned car will emit fewer toxic fumes.

• Donate what you don’t use. Local charities will give your gently used clothes, books and furniture a new life.

• Vaccinate yourself and your kids. Protecting your family from disease also aids public health.

• Take advantage of your right to elect the leaders in your country and local community.

Things you can do at work

• If you have a fruit or snack that you don’t want, don’t throw it out. Give it away to someone who needs and is asking for help.

• Does everyone at work have access to healthcare? Find out what your rights are to work. Fight against inequality.

• Mentor young people. It’s a thoughtful, inspiring and a powerful way to guide someone towards a better future.

• Women earn 10 to 30 per cent less than men for the same work. Pay inequality persists everywhere. Voice your support for equal pay for equal work.

• 4 billion people lack access to basic sanitation services. Lend your voice to talk about the lack of toilets in many communities around the world!

• Make sure your company uses energy efficient heating and cooling technology, and adjust the thermostat, lower in winter, higher in summer.

• Stay informed. Read about workers in other countries and business practices. Talk to your colleagues about these issues.

• Does your company invest in clean and resilient infrastructure? It’s the only way to keep workers safe and protect the environment.

• Raise your voice against any type of discrimination in your office. Everyone is equal regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation, social background and physical abilities.

• Bike, walk or take public transport to work. Save the car trips for when you’ve got a big group.

• Organize a No Impact Week at work. Learn to live more sustainably for at least a week: un.org/sustainabledevelopment/be-the-change.

• Speak up! Ask your company and Government to engage in initiatives that will not harm people or the planet. Voice your support for Paris Agreement!

• Much of the waste that we produce on land ends up in the oceans.

• Examine and change everyday decisions. Can you recycle at your workplace? Is your company buying from merchants engaging in harmful ecological practices?

• Know your rights at work. In order to access justice knowing what you are entitled to will go a long way.

• Corporate social responsibility counts! Encourage your company to work with civil society and find ways to help local communities achieve the goals.

These are only a few of the things you can do. Explore this site to find out more about the goals you care most about and other ways to engage more actively.

Press link for more: UN.ORG

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It is overdue to present a planetary confession. #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #StopAdani

Johan Rockström – It is overdue to present a planetary confession.

Author : Johan Rockström

Our human “balance sheet” for the past 50 years is everything else than positive, and that should make us humble.

Above all, it emphasizes Albert Einstein’s wisdom that we cannot solve problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

The industrial period started in Britain towards the end of the 18th century when James Watt invented the coal-driven steam engine.

Industrialization spreads quickly across the world, with increasing local environmental problems.

However, it took until the 1960’s before contamination and environmental disasters cause action on a broad level.

Cars cause smog levels higher than today’s problems in Beijing.

Philadelphia is classified as a disaster zone. Even in Stockholm, smog is a common phenomenon.

Lakes in the USA are so oil-contaminated that they start to burn.

It is impossible to eat fish.

Huge oil spills from tankers occur.

Finally, the world reacts.

The Republican president Richard Nixon establishes the Environmental Protection Agency EPA in 1970.

In that year, millions of Americans demonstrate for clean environment, during the first ever Earth Day.

The Swedish Environmental Agency, Naturvårdsverket, is established in 1967.

The Stockholm Conference, the world’s first meeting for environment and development, starts the UNEP, the United Nations Environmental Program, in 1972. Legislation to tackle environmental problems is initiated.

In the USA, major environmental laws are passed which to this day regulate the environmental administration, and these are the very laws which Donald Trump wishes to limit: Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act.

Right now, things happen which the regulations intended to prevent.

In parallel with our mobilisation to fix environmental problems, the problems accelerate.

We switch from linear increase of environmental problems to exponential increase of humanity’s pressure on the planet.

“Environmental hockey sticks” appear, from carbon dioxide to loss of biodiversity. Things go fast.

In only 50 years, we use up the world’s environmental flexibility, and now we have reached the “saturation point” where the atmosphere, the seas and ecosystems on land no longer can tolerate further unsustainable exploitation.

You probably see the drama unfolding.

Just at the time when we mobilize to solve global environmental problems, the result is exactly the opposite!

Instead of solving problems, environmental problems exacerbate in an exponential manner.

What a total failure!

Here we are.

In addition to all negative environmental trends, we are undermining our standard of living – because the invoices start coming.

For a long time, we could grow both our population and standard of living and “send the bill” to the environment and ecosystems.

That is no more.

Already today, when global warming has increased the average temperature by 1 degree Celsius, we see the costs in terms of social destabilisation such as in Syria, we see the collapse of 30% of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and we see huge costs such as the 350 mio USD bill for the 2017 tornado season in the USA.

One reason for our failure is the belief in the Kuznets graph according to which environmental problems increase at low GNP (read: poor countries) and decrease at high GNP, meaning that environmental problems are solved by economic growth, i.e. by having the resources.

The problem is that Kuznets is wrong.

The richer we are, the more damage to the planet we cause.

Recently, a scientific study showed that rich countries such as Sweden do score great on social indicators regarding standard of living, but they do this by over-consuming regarding the planetary limits.

This is depressing.

There is not a single country in the world which achieves good social development sustainably, i.e. within planetary limits.

Is there any hope?

Yes, most certainly!

Firstly, I claim that the right diagnosis of the patient is the precondition for correct treatment.

We need to be open and lay all our cards on the table.

We need to confess – on a planetary level.

Secondly, there are so many “islands of insight”, sustainable solutions and initiatives of cities and companies.

Surely in an “ocean of ignorance”.

However, all these islands start to form an ever tighter archipelago which can alter the logic towards a sustainable future for this planet.

Wikipedia on Johan Rockström

Johan Rockström appointed director at Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

Press link for more: Heatpower.com

UN: #ClimateChange “A matter of utmost priority” #auspol ignores #StopAdani #NPC #Budget2018

Secretary-General’s remarks at Austrian World Summit [as delivered]

I am very pleased and very honoured to be with all of you today.

I thank the government of Austria and the R20 for promoting the low-carbon infrastructure we need to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and to implement the Paris Agreement and with enhanced ambition as the targets that were fixed in Paris, we all know, will not be enough. We need to have an increased ambition in that implementation.

This is a matter of the utmost priority.

Every day, I am faced with the challenges of our troubled and complex world.  But none of them loom so large as climate change.

If we fail to meet the challenge, all our other challenges will just become greater and threaten to swallow us.

Climate change is, quite simply, an existential threat for most life on the planet – including, and especially, the life of humankind.

That is why we must use all our resources to build a sense of urgency.

We must act with common purpose to raise ambition while we still have time to limit temperature rise to well below 2 degrees, and as close to 1.5 degrees as possible.

For that, we need leadership and innovation – the focus of this Summit.

Both are essential for climate action.

Today, I want to focus on solutions.

We do need a new energy revolution.

The Stone Age did not end because we ran out of stones.

We do not need to wait for coal and oil to run out to end the age of fossil fuels.

A great many solutions already exist or are in the pipeline.

In the past decade, prices for renewables have plummeted and investments are on the rise.

Today, a fifth of the world’s electricity is produced by renewable energy.

We must build on this.

There are plenty of examples to inspire us.

Morocco is building a solar farm the size of Paris that will power over a million homes by 2020.

Last July, China surpassed its 2020 goal of 105 gigawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity.

A decade ago it had a mere 100 megawatts.

That’s more than a thousand-fold increase in ten years, and represents nearly one-third of global installed capacity.

In France, the government has announced a bill to end the search for and production of hydrocarbons.

In the United States, renewables are set to provide 69 per cent of new capacity by 2021, as dozens of coal plants are retired.

Just last week, Allianz, a leading insurer, announced it would refuse to cover coal-fired power plants and coal mines with immediate effect and rid itself of all coal risks.

The world is seeing a groundswell of climate action.

It is clear that clean energy makes climate sense.

But it also makes economic sense.  Today it is the cheapest energy.

And it will deliver significant health benefits.

Air pollution affects nearly all of us, regardless of borders.

The World Health Organization reports that more than 80 per cent of people living in urban areas are exposed to poor – and dangerous – air quality.

In China, it is estimated that fewer deaths from improved air quality could lead to savings of nearly $340 billion dollars by 2030 – four times the cost of meeting China’s climate goals.

This, surely, is the definition of win-win-win.

Investments in clean, green infrastructure need to be scaled up globally.

For that, we need leadership from the finance and investment community and by local, regional and national governments who will decide on major infrastructure plans over the coming years.

I encourage private sector leaders here today to announce new sources of financing for clean energy projects.

The International Energy Agency estimates that investment in renewable electricity last year was $242 billion.

That is more than half of what was invested in new fossil fuel development.

That figure is promising, but remains insufficient.  For a full-scale transition to clean energy, we must see billions invested by 2020.

I also encourage you to disclose your climate risk, divest from fossil fuels and forge partnerships that will invest in low-emissions resilient infrastructure.

We need to do this from the biggest cities to the smallest towns.

The opportunities are tremendous.

Some 75 per cent of the infrastructure needed by 2050 still remains to be built.

How this is done will either lock us in to a high emission future or steer us towards truly sustainable low-emissions development.

There is only one rational choice.

Let us also encourage innovative solutions to localize climate finance.

We can take inspiration from Toronto and Cape Town, which have launched their own green bonds.

I also look forward to the outcome of today’s discussions on a Subnational Climate Finance Facility for sub-Saharan Africa.

I applaud this Summit’s emphasis on city and subnational action.

We need financing to reach the people and places that need it most.

Mobilizing and equipping local governments with the capacity and financing to accelerate climate action is necessary if we are to bend the emissions curve.

Despite inspiring climate action in so many places, climate change continues to move faster than we are.

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says: “The more we disrupt our climate, the more we risk severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts.”

But it does not have to be that way.

The economics of solar and wind are on our side.

Cutting edge technologies, such as electric vehicles, or energy from algae, promise a new era of clean air and climate action.

New awareness is growing and new partnerships are being formed.

Let us build on this momentum.

Next year, as it was said, I am convening a Climate Summit to galvanize greater climate ambition.

I count on you to take ambition to new heights today and pave the way for more leadership and innovative action.

Let’s join a race to the top, a race where there are only winners.

Thank you.

Press link for more: UN.ORG

Can we geo-engineer our way out of #climatechange? #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Can we geo-engineer our way out of climate change?

New technologies may one day pull the greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

But at what cost?

Image: REUTERS/Andres Forza/Files

With fires, storms, record-breaking temperatures and changes in the natural environment, there is growing evidence that our earth’s systems are becoming increasingly unstable.

This has potentially catastrophic consequences.

Public debate often places climate risks in the context of “this century” or “by 2100”. But scientists are increasingly highlighting the risks of devastating and irreversible impacts in just 20 or 30 years.

This is within our lifetimes, and certainly within our children’s.

Loss of nearly all corals, which support 25% of all ocean life (as documented in the recent film Chasing Coral)

Collapsing ice sheets, which will raise sea-levels, devastating coastal cities and low-lying countries

Warming oceans, which energize storms (to category 6 and higher), with damage that includes breaches of coastal nuclear reactors

Warming of the planet, caused by the greenhouse effect, is the primary stressor of many of these environmental challenges. Carbon dioxide and other pollutants present further complications, such as increasing ocean acidification.

450 parts per million

Humans have long affected their environment. But until we started burning fossil fuels in the mid-1800s, the amount of carbon we added to the air balanced the amount removed. However, over the past 150 years, CO2 emissions have far outpaced the subtractions. Our annual production of carbon is currently around 40 billion tonnes.

Scientists debate how much carbon can be safely stored in our atmosphere before exceeding safe operating limits.

The United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates it to be around 300 billion tonnes, but many scientists suggest a much lower amount.

Climate scientists believe that a CO2 concentration of 450 parts per million is likely to warm the climate by 2°C, the safe upper limit. By 2015, CO2 in the atmosphere rose to 400 parts per million. At our current rate of emissions, we will reach 450 ppm within 20 years.

Even if we achieve the Paris Agreement reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the gases that were generated over the past few decades will be absorbed back into the earth slowly, and will be at an elevated level in our atmosphere for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

To stay below the safe threshold of 2°C, the UN and IPCC plans entail removal of CO2 from the atmosphere using methods that do not exist yet (“negative emissions”).

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Some countries are developing plans for adapting to a warmer, more volatile planet. However, the cost of adaptation starts to rise rapidly as climate-linked incidents become more common.

The Paris Agreement and bold decisions by certain nations to expand renewable energy, introduce electric vehicles and deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals are powerful multilateral steps to mitigate the impact of climate change.

Will all of these efforts be enough? If not, do we have other options? (No, Mars is not an option yet.)

Adaptation to a warmer climate may not be a realistic long-term proposition for certain nations such as small island states and low-lying countries, given rising sea levels. We would still suffer the ecological loss of disappearing sensitive ecosystems, such as coral reefs.

During the agricultural, industrial and digital revolutions of the past 150 years, we have arguably been accidentally engineering the Earth’s system. We lit the planet where it was dark. We transplanted species, paved forests, emitted carbon, moved rivers and changed the Earth’s chemistry.

Could we now apply the advances of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to protect the natural systems we rely on?

Intervening to stabilise the climate

In recent decades, scientists have proposed engineered interventions to counter the effects of climate change. These are called “climate interventions” or “geoengineering”. They are not long-term solutions, but could protect communities and ecosystems, buying time both to reduce emissions and for the climate to cool.

Such technologies fall into three categories: removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, reducing heat by reflecting sunlight, and intervening locally for a specific problem or system.

Greenhouse gas removal, or “negative emissions technology”, uses industrial air filters or even living organisms to capture greenhouse gases and convert them into energy or materials, or store them in the ground. Many of these exist only as proof-of-concepts, and will take decades to deploy at scale. Therefore they could only reduce the heating effect slowly over time.

“The only known means of reducing warming in a timespan of years-to-decades is to reflect additional sunlight away from Earth,” states leading climate researcher, Ken Caldeira.

The most promising means of reflecting sunlight are based on natural processes. They involve dispersing particles to make the stratosphere more reflective, or to brighten clouds. These will take a couple of decades to develop, but if viable, could reduce warming rapidly.

Local interventions range from genetically modifying plants and organisms for survival to cooling parts of the ocean to sustain corals or dampen hurricanes.

We do not have the means to implement any of these options yet.

A global governance effort for geoengineering?

Engineering the climate is not without risks, creating great plotlines for Hollywood blockbusters, and making environmental decisions even more complex.

Reflecting sunlight could alter regional rainfall patterns. Greenhouse-gas removal methods may harm natural ecosystems. We will need frameworks to assess these risks.

Yet as climate threats grow, a wider range of countries, and even other non-state actors, may develop interventions. We will need governance for decisions about when and how these tools might be used, and such decisions must be inclusive.

Experiments are safe on a small scale, and people will need to do them. We must ensure that such research is open, that safeguards are in place, and that findings can be verified.

What next?

Above all, we need options. While many are concerned about controlling geoengineering, these capabilities do not even exist yet, and are very hard to develop. We currently risk having no options at all.

It will take a decade of small-scale research and development to assess the feasibility and risks of these approaches, and another decade to scale any option for meaningful use.

We will need a new generation of Fourth Industrial Revolution platforms, such as satellites, drones, exascale computing, advances in bio-technology, to analyse the climate as we work to sustain it.

At present, we need a sufficient portfolio and pipeline of research and innovation. This ensures that if efforts to reduce emissions are not enough, we have options to protect ourselves, our ecosystems and our society, and leave an inhabitable world to future generations.

(Editor’s note: Surely is easier, safer and far cheaper to rapidly shift to clean energy.

We need a rapid transition to a sustainable economy and we should start planting millions of trees 🌲 make polluters pay for the clean up.)

Press link for more: WEFORUM

Fixing Farming our climate challenge. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

Fixing farming our climate challenge

Rod Oram writes in this week’s column about farming’s massive climate change challenge and New Zealand’s special role in finding ways to reduce emissions.

“As a scientist I’ve never had so much reason to be nervous; and as a scientist I’ve never had so much reason to be hopeful.”

This was the essential message Johan Rockström, one of the world’s leading earth scientists, delivered this past week about climate change and our responses to it during his visit to New Zealand.

He entrusted a particular task to us: agriculture and food production globally present the greatest climate change challenge of all.

Their big adverse effects on the ecosystem are compounded by associated impacts through deforestation, agricultural monocultures, biodiversity loss and the declining health of soils and water.

It’s harder for farmers

All up agriculture broadly defined is the largest single source of greenhouse gases globally, says Rockström, who founded and leads the Stockholm Resilience Centre. But their technological and economic pathways to sustainability are far less clear than those for energy, transport and the built environment.

There are agricultural examples but we need much more innovation and ways to scale them up.

He believes New Zealand has a leading role to play globally in this agricultural transformation. On one hand, agriculture emissions are 49 percent of our total emissions, by far the highest proportion for a developed economy. On the other, our farmers and the scientists and businesses that support them, are among the most innovative in the world.

As an aside on that latter point, agricultural innovation is remarkably slow compared with all other industrial sectors. The average time from innovation to peak deployment of a new piece of agri-tech is 19.2 years here versus 52 years in the US. This insight was delivered recently to a symposium of Our Land and Water, one of our government’s 11 long-term National Science Challenges. Clearly, we have to innovate far faster.

Get moving now

But, Rockström stresses, the window of opportunity to address the totality of climate change is very small. Humankind is still generating a rising volume of emissions. If we are to stand any chance of keeping the rise in global temperatures to under 2 degrees C we have to start bending the curve down by 2020 then accelerate our emission reductions to a rate of about 6-7 percent a year.

While that might seem like a manageable rate, it will actually require transformational shifts in technology across all sectors of the economy. Pathways that are technologically practical and economically viable are increasingly clear in electricity and other sources of power, in transport and industrial processes.

For example, renewable electricity and other forms of energy, after growing by 5.5 per cent a year for the past 15 years, are starting to demonstrate exponential growth. A world free from fossil fuels is possible by 2045, Rockström says.

Earth scientist Johan Rockstrom from the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

The ‘Moore’s law’ of climate change

If, though, humankind can reduce its emissions by 6 to 7 per cent a year, we would halve emissions every decade and achieve near-zero emissions by 2050.

This is the Global Carbon Law Rockström and colleagues are proposing, equivalent to Moore’s Law in computing. It is the latest development of the work of the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

But maintaining that rate of reduction in carbon emissions over the next 30 years will take far more than just a complete switch to clean energy and sustainable agriculture.

We will also need to engineer carbon sinks, such as burning wood and other biofuels then capturing and storing the carbon emissions from them; and we will have to improve and monitor carefully the ecosystem health of land sinks such as forests and soil, and the ocean which currently absorbs a large proportion of the carbon emissions, and subsequent heat, generated by human activity.

If we do all that, “we have a 66 percent chance of staying under 2 degrees C,” Rockström says. But even that will cause ecosystem changes, moving us away from the Holocene, the geological epoch over the past 11,000 years which never saw temperature variations greater than plus or minus 1 degree C. This climate sweet spot was a “Garden of Eden”, Rockström says, in which humans have flourished.

Risks of feedback loops and tipping points

“We are already at 1.1 degree C. Even 1.5 degree C will be a challenge to adjust to.” Moreover, there are substantial risks that climate tipping points will trigger greater rises in temperature. Such feedback loops include forest dieback that would create savannahs that absorb far less carbon, and the loss of ice sheets, which not only raise sea levels but also reduce the white reflective surface of the planet, thereby increasing warming.

Responding to climate change will also take much more than science, technology change, targets and policies, he adds. All societies will need to progress a great deal so they have the capability to rise to the challenge of planetary stewardship.

For the first time we have a guide to that in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which are applicable to all countries, developing and developed.

Usually, the 17 goals are presented in a matrix that doesn’t differentiate their priorities. Rockström’s Stockholm Resilience Centre, however, has arranged them with the four goals on the biosphere as the essential and critical base, with eight societal goals sitting above to help build healthy societies capable of rapid change, with four economic goals above, topped with the goal on partnerships for achieving the goals.

The Centre is renowned for its work identifying the nine biological-chemical-physical boundaries of the planet and measuring the extent human activity is overshooting them. So far, only climate change has a clearly defined target, which is based on zero carbon emissions by 2050 and a 1.5-2 degrees C temperature goal. That was extremely hard for scientists to establish and for the United Nations to get some commitments to steps towards it by nations in the Paris climate agreement of 2015.

The next big phase of the Centre’s research is to work with other scientists to devise numerical measures of a “safe place” for humankind within some of the other planetary boundaries. Like the crystal clear signals temperature sends on climate change, these will focus people, politicians, policy makers, and all other participants in society on the urgent need to bring human activity back within the boundaries.

The biodiversity challenge

Their top priority is biodiversity. Their extremely difficult scientific task is to develop a measure that not just expresses the rapid loss of species but also the impairment these losses have on ecosystem health and resilience, and thus the ability of those systems to provide for human needs. Some major multinationals, highly conscious of their impact on natural resources, are among the leaders of the push for a biodiversity measure, Rockström says.

While Rockström didn’t mention a particular role for New Zealand in that work, we have a lot to offer. Among developed countries, we are the most dependent on the natural environment for earning our living, most of our National Science Challenges are focused on ecosystems in whole or part and the relevant sciences are the ones we are best at commercialising.

Above all we are ambitious and innovative about ecosystems, witness our goal of being predator free by 2050 and the wave of science, research, development and creativity this is unleashing. The Cacophony Project is an impressive example but just one of a rapidly growing number.

Likewise, we have a burgeoning ecosystem of organisations in business and civil society focused on these enormous opportunities. Two examples are the Next Foundation (http://www.nextfoundation.org.nz/), which invests heavily in environmental programmes, and the Hillary Institute of International Leadership (http://www.hillaryinstitute.com/), based in Christchurch, which chooses each year a global leader in environmental issues.

Rockström is its 8th laureate and this award has brought him here to share his knowledge widely, including with the government, and to learn more about New Zealand. His biggest engagement was with the twice-a-year New Frontiers gathering of local and international experts on these intensely integrated issues of deep sustainability, which is run by the Edmund Hillary Fellowship.

“We are rolling in the right direction. We will decarbonise the world eventually – but are we moving fast enough?” He made it very clear to the New Frontiers audience that we are not.

But above all, he makes it abundantly clear that climate change is just one manifestation of humankind’s need for deep sustainability.  We are the greatest driver of planetary change, greater than any natural force. Thus, this geological epoch is truly the Anthropocene.

*Disclosure: I’m an Edmund Hillary Fellow, participated in New Frontiers, and was MC at the Our Land and Water symposium.*

Press link for more: Newsroom.co.nz

Philippines holds world’s biggest corporations to account on climate change #StopAdani #auspol

The Philippines holds world’s biggest corporations to account on climate change.

Corporations and governments around the world increasingly stand accused of causing or failing to prevent the damaging effects of climate change.

Test cases are being filed in many countries to establish who is responsible and what action should be taken.

In 2016, after a series of particularly violent typhoons hit the Philippines, a group of Filipino citizens and civil organisations, including Greenpeace, accused 47 corporations of having significantly contributed to climate change, and called for them to be held accountable. Dubbed the “Carbon Majors”, these included the likes of Shell, BP and Chevron.

The group asked the Philippines Human Rights Commission to investigate the Carbon Majors’ responsibility for alleged breaches of Filipinos’ human rights to “life, health, food, water, sanitation, adequate housing and self determination” that are associated with climate change.

The lion’s share of emissions have been attributed to the largest oil, gas, coal and cement producers (Shutterstock)

The Carbon Majors petition bases its claims on a study by climate expert Richard Heede, which attributes “the lion’s share of cumulative global CO2 and methane emissions since the industrial revolution” to the world’s largest producers of crude oil, natural gas, coal and cement.

Taking on the big guns

In an unprecedented move, in December 2017, the commission agreed to investigate the Carbon Majors petition. Its powers are relatively modest: the commission can only make recommendations to the Filipino authorities and those found to have breached human rights, but it cannot award damages and it has no enforcement powers. Still, its decision could be a game changer for climate change litigation.

In 2005, a group of Inuit petitioned the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to assert the United States’ responsibility for human rights violations associated with climate change in the Arctic. But the petition was dismissed on procedural grounds. So what has changed since then?

In recent years, a long string of United Nations Human Rights Council resolutions has emphasised the role of human rights in tackling climate change. The most recent international climate change treaty – the 2015 Paris agreement – explicitly links human rights and the obligations of climate change law. These developments seem to have emboldened efforts to use human rights law as a means to tackle climate change.

Far from being an isolated complaint, the Carbon Majors petition is part of a global upsurge in climate change litigation. Yet, there are complex legal obstacles to attributing responsibility for breaches of human rights caused by climate change.

First, applicants have to demonstrate that the obligations of corporations encompass human rights violations associated with the adverse effects of climate change. Second, they have to prove that a specific corporation has contributed to climate change, in such a way that amounts to a breach of human rights.

But a balance has to be struck between environmental protection and other legitimate interests, such as providing energy for consumers. However, John Knox, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, has pointed out that this cannot result in unjustified, foreseeable breaches of human rights. He has also suggested that improved scientific knowledge, such as that used to identify the Carbon Majors, has made it easier to trace the links between particular emissions and resulting harm.

Survivors of recent typhoons have joined civil organisations and Greenpeace to launch the campaign (Shutterstock)

A petition for justice

All of these elements come together in the Carbon Majors petition, which concerns harm caused by corporations that was largely foreseeable. Recent research suggests that corporations have long known about climate change and its likely consequences, but have failed to act on it.

So the petition can be likened to groundbreaking litigation for harm caused by smoking tobacco or by driving cars. Before successful court cases were brought, liability for either of these hazardous activities was hard to establish. It was only when courts started to attribute responsibility that victims were provided with redress, and dedicated insurance schemes and liability regimes were created.

The decision of the Philippines Human Rights Commission to investigate the Carbon Majors petition is, then, potentially revolutionary. In 2018, the commission will carry out a series of fact-finding missions and public hearings in the Philippines, London and New York to establish whether multinational corporations can be held responsible for human rights violations associated with climate change and, if so, recommend ways to mitigate them.

Far from being a symbolic gesture, this acknowledgement of multinationals’ role in causing climate change would be a primer, and could potentially spark a domino effect in climate change litigation elsewhere.

Corporations are already being brought to courts in the US, where the cities of New York and San Francisco are seeking to hold the world’s biggest oil companies responsible for present and future damage caused by climate change.

All eyes are now on the Philippines to see what conclusions its Human Rights Commission will draw; for many, it has already made history by deciding to investigate the Carbon Majors petition in the first place.

Annalisa Savaresi is a lecturer in environmental law and co-director of LLM/MSc environmental policy and governance at the University of Stirling, Ioana Cismas is a senior lecturer at the University of York and Jacques Hartmann is a senior lecturer and director of the LLM in international law and security at the University of Dundee. This article first appeared on The Conversation (theconversation.com)

Press link for more: Independent.co.uk

An economics for the 21st Century #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #doughnuteconomics

An economics for the 21st Century

An excellent interview on Late Night Live.

Phillip Adams interview with Kate Raworth Author of DoughNut Economics

Economist Kate Raworth argues that the way economics is practised needs to dramatically change to meet 21st century challenges.

As the world continues to overshoot the use of its finite resources, and 11 per cent of people don’t have enough food, 9 per cent of people don’t have access to clean water, and 1 in 3 people has no access to a toilet, what is the next step that corporations, governments and individuals urgently need to take?

Press link for more: ABC.NET.AU

Climate Change & Terror Security Risks. #auspol qldpol #StopAdani

While the risks of terrorism should not be downplayed, the extensive nature of climate change risks should not be downplayed either.

Often times, the impacts are less visible but more significant, argues Janani Vivekananda.

Janani Vivekananda is a senior project manager at the international think tank adelphi, where she specialises in climate change and peacebuilding.

World leaders on international security policy meet in Munich this week to discuss the most pertinent security risks facing the world today.

High on the agenda will be the big ticket risks: nuclear proliferation, the ongoing tensions in the Middle East, the new world order vis-à-vis the U.S., Russia and the EU.

Also on the agenda is climate change.

The inclusion of non-traditional security risks such as climate change is very welcome.

It is a step towards better understanding the inter-linked risk landscape we face.

However, whilst climate change-related security risks are on the table for discussion, the extent of the risks climate change poses to international security is not matched by the financial resourcing which goes towards tackling these risks.

A look at defence balance sheets reflects this asymmetry.

Terrorism was responsible for 265 deaths in OECD countries in 2016.

In the same year, 688.5 million people or 9.3 percent of the world’s population suffered from severe food insecurity, exacerbated by climate-related events, and 24.2 million people were displaced as a consequence of slow-onset climate disasters.

The EU budget contributing to counter terrorism was €4,052 million in 2016.

Spending on climate-related security risks by the EU in 2016 was €5 million in 2016.

Policy makers in Munich deciding security and foreign policy budgets need to balance low probability, high impact risks (such as terror attacks) with high probability, low impact risks (such as climate change) – especially when the latter can actually catalyse the risk of the former.

Recent research shows that climate change-related drought in the Lake Chad region contributed to the worsening of livelihood prospects for young people in Northeastern Nigeria.

With few other prospects available, securing a decent job to put food on the table or afford to marry, and no support from the national government which had neglected and marginalised the region for decades, these unemployed young people were left ripe for recruitment by armed groups such as Boko Haram, who offer cash, loans and food.

While the risks of terrorism should not be downplayed, the extensive nature of climate change risks should not be downplayed either.

Whilst the impacts are often less visible than a terror attack, they are a highly pervasive and significant risk to international security, interacting with various other risks, with the potential to catalyse or accelerate their impacts.

The Munich Security Report – the annual synthesis of international security risks which accompanies the conference, rightly notes that climate change impact on international relations will go beyond natural disasters and should be a major factor when states consider security risks.

The report notes that “while climate change will affect economic, security and political systems all over the world, it will mainly act as a ‘threat multiplier’ in those states with limited capacities to deal with it”.

However, this consideration should go on to be reflected in actions: starting with the adequate financing of measures to address these risks, and also, importantly, including climate change risks in other security engagements such as post-conflict reconstruction and ex-combatant reintegration processes.

When it comes to risks, we know that prevention is better – and cheaper – than cure. But prevention means truly understanding all the linked issues which underlie conflict and risk – including climate change, and adequately factoring them into responses. This needs the right kind of analysis.

It also requires the right kind of resourcing. If the decision makers in Munich really want to have a serious shot at addressing some of the most serious risks we are facing today, they need to be ready and willing to put in the funding required to address the lower impact risks like climate change, which often catalyse bigger shocks.

Fear or the perceived need to respond to the most visible risks might drive some countries to spend vast amounts of money on low-probability risks like terrorism. But far-sighted foreign policies, which invest sufficiently in preventing risks such as vulnerability to climate change, would have great and lasting rewards.

Press link for more: Euractiv.com

U.N. Draft report on staying below 1.5C global warming.

11 takeaways from the draft UN report on a 1.5C global warming limit

Megan Darby

Climate Home News

Under the Paris Agreement, governments worldwide agreed to hold global warming “well below 2°C” and to aim for 1.5°C.

The inclusion of that second, tougher, goal was a victory for small island states and other countries on the front line of climate change. It was an acknowledgement of fears that higher temperature rise posed an unacceptable threat to their futures.

But the vast bulk of research and analysis prior to 2015 centred on the 2°C threshold, a more established international target. What would it take to bend the curve to 1.5°C?

Enter the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The climate science body agreed to produce a special report on 1.5C, summarising all the available evidence.

Climate Home News has obtained an early version of the five-chapter report, which is due to be finalised in September.

The IPCC stressed it was a work in progress and may change substantially. It is open for review by experts and governments, and may incorporate further studies published by 15 May. Read the draft summary for policymakers in full here.

What is clear from the content so far, though, is there is not much time left. Here are the main takeaways.

1. We’re close to the line

The world has already warmed 1C since pre-industrial times. At the current rate, we will pass 1.5C in the 2040s.

Definitions are important here. This is based on a 30-year average global temperature, centred on the year in question, compared to 1850-1900.

Parts of the world, for shorter periods of time, are almost certain to exceed 1.5C warming sooner than that. The UK Met Office sees a one in 10 chance the global average will flicker over 1.5C within five years.

2. 1.5C is risky

The fingerprints of climate change are already visible on extreme weather events, sea level rise and related impacts on ecosystems and human society. Each notch of warming brings more disruption.

At 1.5C, tropical reefs are at “high risk” of no longer being dominated by corals. The Arctic could become nearly ice-free in September. There will be “fundamental changes in ocean chemistry” that could take millennia to reverse.

3. 2C is riskier

The next half-degree ramps up the risk of flood, drought, water scarcity and intense tropical storms. There are knock-on effects: reduced crop yields, species extinction and transmission of infectious diseases like malaria. And these pressures multiply the threat of hunger, migration and conflict.

An extra 10cm of sea level rise is predicted this century with 2C compared to 1.5C. It also raises the risk of Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets collapsing over the long term, dooming future generations to multi-metre sea level rise.

4. Poor and coastal communities will be hit hardest

Vulnerable communities are already experiencing threats from climate change. At both 1.5C and 2C these effects scale up. When crops fail, smallhold farmers may lose their livelihoods and be compelled to leave their homes, while the urban poor suffer from food price spikes.

Fishing communities may see their catches dwindle. Coastal settlements are particularly exposed to storm surges and flooding.

5. “Rapid and deep” emissions cuts are needed…

Meeting the 1.5C goal is a huge ask. It implies cutting greenhouse gases faster than ever before across all sectors of the economy.

With the exception of recent upheaval in electricity supplies, the rate of change required “has no documented historic precedents”.

These shifts “require more planning, coordination and disruptive innovation across actors and scales of governance than the spontaneous or coincidental changes observed in the past”. They won’t happen by chance.

6. …and negative emissions…

At the same time, carbon dioxide needs to be sucked out of the atmosphere. It gets little attention from politicians or policymakers, yet every single pathway to 1.5C relies on this to some extent.

Depending on the scenario, 380-1130 gigatonnes of CO2 should be removed. Firstly, this is to cancel out the leftover emissions after everything that can be cut has been cut. Secondly, it makes up for overshooting the emissions limits that would keep temperatures below 1.5C.

The more emissions cuts are delayed, the more rests on negative emissions technology, which could be problematic.

7. …and luck

All of these models are probabilistic: assumptions about population, the economy, climate dynamics, policies and technologies go in and the likely impact on temperatures comes out. Some uncertainties are beyond human control.

Scenarios that give a 66% chance of holding temperature rise below 1.5C throughout this century are “already out of reach”, according to the draft summary.

That leaves a narrow path to walk to stay within the 1.5C threshold, or the prospect of overshooting and using negative emissions to restore the balance by 2100.

8. It’s all about the overshoot

As global warming outpaces efforts to curb it, models increasingly rely on “overshoot” to keep international targets within reach. That goes for 2C as well as 1.5C.

The bigger the overshoot – and scenarios in this report reach up to 1.9C before returning to 1.5C by 2100 – the more drastic action is needed to correct it.

And while temperature rise may be reversible, some impacts are not. An ice sheet cannot un-collapse or an extinct species be brought back to life.

9. Radical action has trade-offs

Scaling up negative emissions in line with the 1.5C goal may clash with efforts to end hunger.

The main two measures relied on to remove CO2 from the air are increasing forest cover and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (Beccs).

The latter, which involves burning wood or other plant matter to generate electricity and pumping the emissions underground, is particularly controversial. Both require large amounts of land, potentially conflicting with food production.

“There is a high chance that the levels of CO2 removal implied in the scenarios might not be feasible due the required scale and speed of deployment required and trade-offs with sustainable development objectives,” the draft states.

The report does not make a judgement on which poses a greater threat to global food supply: bioenergy demand or 2C warming.

10. Beware techno-fixes

The draft takes a sceptical line on solar geoengineering, a prospective technology to cool the planet by reflecting heat into space.

Ethical implications, governance issues and public resistance could make it “economically, socially and institutionally infeasible”.

11. Prepare for social change

As much as any technology, 1.5C depends on people changing their behaviour.

That means the rich eating less meat, using energy sparingly and forgoing private cars. And it means tackling institutional barriers to action like public attitudes, lack of resources or special interests.

Source: Climate Home News.

It’s Time For Revolution! #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #Inequality kills millions!

For years I have begged for change.

I have copied thousands of links to science warning of catastrophic climate change.

Others have shone light on the inequalities built into our current political system.

We are running out of time!

It’s time for a revolution!

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xFHXDuVA-dk&t=33s