Biochar

Health benefits far outweigh the costs of meeting #climatechange goals #StopAdani #COP24 #WHO #auspol #qldpol #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #TheDrum #QandA

Meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement could save about a million lives a year worldwide by 2050 through reductions in air pollution alone.

The latest estimates from leading experts also indicate that the value of health gains from climate action would be approximately double the cost of mitigation policies at global level, and the benefit-to-cost ratio is even higher in countries such as China and India. 

A WHO report launched today at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland highlights why health considerations are critical to the advancement of climate action and outlines key recommendations for policy makers.

Exposure to air pollution causes 7 million deaths worldwide every year and costs an estimated US$ 5.11 trillion in welfare losses globally.

In the 15 countries that emit the most greenhouse gas emissions, the health impacts of air pollution are estimated to cost more than 4% of their GDP.

Actions to meet the Paris goals would cost around 1% of global GDP.

“The Paris Agreement is potentially the strongest health agreement of this century,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “The evidence is clear that climate change is already having a serious impact on human lives and health.

It threatens the basic elements we all need for good health – clean air, safe drinking water, nutritious food supply and safe shelter – and will undermine decades of progress in global health. We can’t afford to delay action any further.”

The same human activities that are destabilizing the Earth’s climate also contribute directly to poor health. The main driver of climate change is fossil fuel combustion which is also a major contributor to air pollution.

“The true cost of climate change is felt in our hospitals and in our lungs. The health burden of polluting energy sources is now so high, that moving to cleaner and more sustainable choices for energy supply, transport and food systems effectively pays for itself,” says Dr Maria Neira, WHO Director of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health. “When health is taken into account, climate change mitigation is an opportunity, not a cost.”

Switching to low-carbon energy sources will not only improve air quality but provide additional opportunities for immediate health benefits.

For example, introducing active transport options such as cycling will help increase physical activity that can help prevent diseases like diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

WHO’s COP-24 Special Report: health and climate change provides recommendations for governments on how to maximize the health benefits of tackling climate change and avoid the worst health impacts of this global challenge.

It describes how countries around the world are now taking action to protect lives from the impacts of climate change – but that the scale of support remains woefully inadequate, particularly for the small island developing states, and least developed countries. Only approximately 0.5% of multilateral climate funds dispersed for climate change adaptation have been allocated to health projects.

Pacific Island countries contribute 0.03% of greenhouse gas emissions, but they are among the most profoundly affected by its impacts. For the Pacific Island countries, urgent action to address climate change — including the outcome of COP24 this week — is crucial to the health of their people and their very existence.

“We now have a clear understanding of what needs to be done to protect health from climate change – from more resilient and sustainable healthcare facilities, to improved warning systems for extreme weather and infectious disease outbreaks. But the lack of investment is leaving the most vulnerable behind,” said Dr Joy St John, Assistant Director-General for Climate and Other Determinants of Health.

The report calls for countries to account for health in all cost-benefit analyses of climate change mitigation. It also recommends that countries use fiscal incentives such as carbon pricing and energy subsidies to incentivize sectors to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants. It further encourages Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to remove existing barriers to supporting climate-resilient health systems.

WHO is working with countries to:

  • Assess the health gains that would result from the implementation of the existing Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement, and the potential for larger gains from the more ambitious action required to meet the goals of limiting global warming to 2oC or 1.5oC.
  • Ensure climate-resilient health systems, especially in the most vulnerable countries such as small island developing states (SIDS); and to promote climate change mitigation actions that maximize immediate and long-term health benefits, under a special initiative on climate change and health in SIDS, launched in partnership with the UNFCCC Secretariat and the Fijian Presidency of COP-23 and operationalized by the Pacific Islands Action Plan on Climate Change and Health.
  • Track national progress in protecting health from climate change and gaining the health co-benefits of climate change mitigation measures, through the WHO/UNFCCC Climate and Health country profiles, currently covering 45 countries, with 90 due for completion by the end of 2019.

WHO’s COP24 Special Report: health and climate change 

Recommendations

Parties to the UNFCCC could advance climate, health and development objectives by:

  • Identifying and promoting actions that both cut carbon emissions and reduce air pollution, and by including specific commitments to cut emissions of Short Climate Pollutants in their National Determined Contributions. 
  • Ensuring that the commitments to assess and safeguard health in the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement are reflected in the operational mechanisms at national and global levels.
  • Removing barriers to investment in health adaptation to climate change, with a focus on climate resilient health systems, and climate smart healthcare facilities.
  • Engagement with the health community, civil society and health professionals, to help them to mobilize collectively to promote climate action and health co-benefits.
  • Promoting the role of cities and sub-national governments in climate action benefiting health, within the UNFCCC framework.
  • Formal monitoring and reporting of the health progress resulting from climate actions to the global climate and health governance processes, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Inclusion of the health implications of mitigation and adaptation measures in economic and fiscal policy.

Press link for more: World Health Organisation

“Operation Navy Help”Cyclone Tracy Darwin Christmas 1974.Why I became a climate activist. #auspol #qldpol #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #StopAdani Catastrophic #ClimateChange #COP24

In 1974 as a young sailor married with two children I was in Darwin when Cyclone Tracy destroyed Darwin, my wife and I lay under a mattress with our boys while our house was torn apart. I was just learning the power of nature.

Watch the video Operation Navy Help

Naval Headquarters Darwin after Cyclone Tracy

After the clean up I retired from the navy and continued my career in the Australian Airforce.

I read the Club of Rome’s “Limits to Growth”

The message of this book still holds today: The earth’s interlocking resources – the global system of nature in which we all live – probably cannot support present rates of economic and population growth much beyond the year 2100, if that long, even with advanced technology.

In the summer of 1970, an international team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology began a study of the implications of continued worldwide growth.

They examined the five basic factors that determine and, in their interactions, ultimately limit growth on this planet-population increase, agricultural production, nonrenewable resource depletion, industrial output, and pollution generation.

The MIT team fed data on these five factors into a global computer model and then tested the behavior of the model under several sets of assumptions to determine alternative patterns for mankind’s future.

The Limits to Growth is the nontechnical report of their findings.

The book contains a message of hope, as well: Man can create a society in which he can live indefinitely on earth if he imposes limits on himself and his production of material goods to achieve a state of global equilibrium with population and production in carefully selected balance.

Today I do what I can to help people to understand the science, understand the challenge we face.

Listen. To Sir David Attenborough Address to COP24

Sir David Attenborough issues warning at UN Climate Conference #COP24 #StopAdani #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #auspol #qldpol Listen to the scientists. #TheDrum #QandA Collapse of civilisation

Sir David Attenborough addressed world leaders at the UN Climate Change Conference claiming if we don’t take action: “the collapse of our civilisations … is on the horizon.”

How many warnings will it take before we demand climate action?

Not enough is being done in fact our emissions are growing.

A man made disaster of global scale is the mess we are leaving for our children and future generations.

We must demand climate action now.

Time to join the scientists and the students demanding climate action.

This Saturday we can stand with our children and demand a better future.

The Australian Academy of Science released this Video of Sir David Attenborough at COP24

If want to look at solutions for the climate crisis we face watch Bernie Sanders Town Hall with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Solving the Climate Crisis

We urgently need a Global Green New Deal It’s Humanity’s Greatest Moral Challenge.

Let’s hope we can do this.

Stand with the children demanding change.

Portrait of a planet on the verge of climate catastrophe #auspol #qldpol #COP24 #StopAdani #ClimateChange #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion @SenatorWong #TheDrum #QandA

By Robin McKie

On Sunday morning hundreds of politicians, government officials and scientists will gather in the grandeur of the International Congress Centre in Katowice, Poland. It will be a familiar experience for many.

For 24 years the annual UN climate conference has served up a reliable diet of rhetoric, backroom talks and dramatic last-minute deals aimed at halting global warming.

But this year’s will be a grimmer affair – by far.

As recent reports have made clear, the world may no longer be hovering at the edge of destruction but has probably staggered beyond a crucial point of no return.

Climate catastrophe is now looking inevitable. We have simply left it too late to hold rising global temperatures to under 1.5C and so prevent a future of drowned coasts, ruined coral reefs, spreading deserts and melted glaciers.

One example was provided last week by a UN report that revealed attempts to ensure fossil fuel emissions peak by 2020 will fail.

Indeed the target will not even be reached by 2030.

Another, by the World Meteorological Organization, said the past four years had been the warmest on record and warned that global temperatures could easily rise by 3-5C by 2100, well above that sought-after goal of 1.5C. The UK will not be exempt either. The Met Office said summer temperatures could now be 5.4C hotter by 2070.

At the same time, prospects of reaching global deals to halt emissions have been weakened by the spread of rightwing populism. Not much to smile about in Katowice.

Nor will the planet’s woes end in 2100. Although most discussions use the year as a convenient cut-off point for describing Earth’s likely fate, the changes we have already triggered will last well beyond that date, said Svetlana Jevrejeva, at the National Oceanography Centre, Liverpool. She has studied sea-level rises that will be triggered by melting ice sheets and expanding warm seawater in a world 3-5C hotter than it was in pre-industrial times, and concludes these could reach 0.74 to 1.8 metres by 2100. This would be enough to deluge Pacific and Indian Ocean island states and displace millions from Miami, Guangzhou, Mumbai and other low-lying cities. The total cost to the planet could top £11trillion.

Even then the seas will not stop rising, Jevrejeva added. “They will continue to climb for centuries even after greenhouse-gas levels have been stabilised. We could experience the highest-ever global sea-level rise in the history of human civilisation.”

Vast tracts of prime real estate will be destroyed – at a time when land will be needed with unprecedented desperation. Earth’s population stands at seven billion today and is predicted to rise to nine billion by 2050 and settle at over 11 billion by 2100 – when climate change will have wrecked major ecosystems and turned farmlands to dust bowls.

Residents of Anaroro, Madagascar, paddle through the flooded streets in the aftermath of a cyclone. Photograph: Gregoire Pourtier/AFP/Getty

Unfortunately many experts believe Earth’s population will actually peak well beyond 11 billion. “It could reach 15 billion,” said Sarah Harper, of Oxford’s Institute of Population Ageing. “All sorts of factors suggest women, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, will still want to have relatively high numbers of children and this might keep the world’s population approaching 15 billion rather than 12 billion.”

The world will have double its present numbers – but with hugely reduced areas of fertile land to provide food. We will be living in a shrunken, scorched planet bursting with human beings. Somaliland gives a grim vision of this future.

In the past few years climate change has killed 70% of its livestock and forced tens of thousands of families to flee from its scorched interior to live in refugee camps. “You can touch it, the climate change, in Somaliland. It is real. It is here,” the country’s environment minister, Shukri Ismail Bandare, said in the Financial Times last week.

Sudan and Kenya are also victims of a drought that has dried the Horn of Africa faster than at any other time in the past 2,000 years. Similarly, in Vietnam, thousands a year are abandoning the once fertile Mekong Delta as rising seawater pollutes paddy fields. By 2050, the World Bank says more than 140 million will become climate refugees.

It will be bad for humans, but catastrophic for Earth’s other inhabitants. Arctic ice loss threatens polar bears, droughts imperil monarch butterflies, and koala habitats are being destroyed by bush fires. In all, about a sixth of all species now face extinction, say scientists, although in the end no creature or plant will be safe. “Even the most resilient species will inevitably fall victim as extreme stresses drive ecosystems to collapse,” said Giovanni Strona of Europe’s Joint Research Centre in a report last week on climate change.

Scientists warned more than 30 years ago that such a future lay ahead, but nothing was done to stave it off. Only dramatic measures are now left to those seeking to save our burning planet, and these can have grim political consequences. In France, for example, President Macron’s new levies on fossil fuels, introduced to cut emissions and to fund renewable energy projects, triggered riots. Had only modest changes been enacted a few decades ago there would be no trouble today, say analysts.

But the most telling example is provided by the US, which has emitted about a third of the carbon responsible for global warming. Yet it has essentially done nothing to check its annual rises in output. Lobbying by the fossil fuel industry has proved highly effective at blocking political change – a point most recently demonstrated by groups such as the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Heartland Institute, which helped persuade President Trump to pull out of the Paris agreement, thus dashing the planet’s last hope of ecological salvation. “The coalition used its power to slow us down precisely at the moment when we needed to speed up,” said the environmentalist Bill McKibben in the New Yorker. “As a result, the particular politics of one country for one half-century will have changed the geological history of the Earth.”

Florida

No region of the US has more to lose from climate change than southern Florida. If scientists’ worst predictions are realised, an entire metropolitan area, currently inhabited by more than six million people, is likely to be swamped by a 1.5-metre sea-level rise before the end of this century, a rise that could see the tourist mecca of Miami simply disappear.

It’s a doomsday scenario that has united the leaders of Miami-Dade county and the cities of Miami and Miami Beach in an attempt to find solutions to the most severe effects of rising oceans before it is too late. Their plan to combat the physical, economic and social challenges of climate change, as part of the global 100 Resilient Cities programme, will play a key role in determining whether the low-lying region will still be habitable in the coming decades or surrendered to the ever-rising Atlantic.

“It’s a problem that can be managed, it’s not a problem that can be fixed and you walk away from,” said Susanne Torriente, chief resilience officer for Miami Beach, where hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars have already been spent elevating roads, constructing higher sea walls and investing in modern, high-capacity pumps and stormwater drainage systems.

“Every generation will add to the work that we have begun,” Torriente says. “We are always learning, it’s a constant process of learning, re-evaluating and improving.”

A flooded street in Miami Beach, Florida, one of the areas of the US at greatest risk from rising sea levels. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Up to a million Florida homes, worth an estimated $371bn (£290bn, are at risk of tidal flooding by 2100, one recent study calculated, but the threats facing the greater Miami region are not just coastal. Hurricanes are becoming more powerful because of global warming, say scientists, who point to the destruction wrought by Hurricane Michael in October, while the combination of a low water table and high “king” tides – occurring in autumn – causes regular inland flooding even on dry days.

This means that the new joint action plan being worked on by city and county officials has to be further-reaching than anything that has preceded it, Torriente says. “Our resilience journey began with the climate work, the storm water, [but] this strategy will be much broader and will be defining resilience not only in terms of climate and flooding, but also mobility and housing, property, and how to recover quickly in the event of a hurricane in south Florida.” 

These moves reflect the sense of urgency being felt in Florida, where the state leadership has been criticised for neglecting the environment. Its newly elected senator, Rick Scott, banned staff from using the term climate change during his time as governor of Florida, and will be a close Washington ally of President Donald Trump, who took the US out of the Paris climate agreement.

“We’ll be much more successful if we have more cooperation and more attention at all levels of government, [because] it’s a problem for all of us,” Torriente says. “But we do what we can. Everything we are doing is funded locally, so we can continue to invest.”

Richard Luscombe, Miami

Madagascar

It’s a 45-minute canoe journey along the coast from regional capital Morombe to Kivalo in south-west Madagascar. Children frolic in the water, palm trees sway, and fishing nets hang along the beach. This tranquillity is deceptive, however – for Madagascar is ranked as one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change. Higher temperatures, extended drought periods in the south, intensification of cyclones and rising sea levels are all forecast. For good measure, the country’s pervasive poverty restricts its capacity to adapt to such changes.

In Kivalo, this is already a familiar picture. “The southern wind used to start in January and last until July,” says Bikison Thomas, a fisherman. “But it’s still going now in November.” On very windy days, he cannot put out to sea. “There is also more fog,” he adds. Overfishing, higher sea temperatures and the loss of mangrove, a crucial habitat for fish stocks, are also reducing catches.

Villagers deal with the floods in Madagascar after a tropical cyclone. Photograph: Alain Iloiniaina/Getty Images

The Madagascar government is aware of the country’s vulnerability and has ratified the Paris agreement. Climate change is listed in every major policy document but budgets usually fall short of producing effective measures, a point that is demonstrated dramatically down the coast in the town of Morondava, where hotels are grappling with sea-level rise.

Two years ago, Chayune Badouraly bought the Coco Beach hotel. It had a few bungalows and a lovely beach. Badouraly added more bedrooms, a reception area and a restaurant.

But in September, powerful tides destroyed two of his bungalows, and the sea has not returned to its previous level. “We used to have 150 metres of beach,” he says bitterly. “Now it’s minus five.” 

Although there are plans to build sea defences, Badouraly says that could take months, even years, so he’s taken the problem into his own hands and built a 60-metre-long sea wall, a mixture of stone blocks, steel rods and sandbags. “I knew we had coastal erosion problems, but I didn’t think it would be that bad,” he adds. “I would never have bought.”

Emilie Filou, Madagascar

Antarctica

It is hard to get a grip of the sheerscale of the Thwaites glacier in west Antarctica. It’s more than 300 miles long and 200 wide – and more than a mile thick. It drains an area of ice that is larger than England and stealthily slides towards the sea by several metres every day. Only from satellite images have we understood the shape and power of this ice monster.

These now show the beast is waking up. Thwaites’s uptake of falling snow was once matched, fairly finely, by snow and ice being lost as icebergs. Now it has begun to flow faster, along with some of its neighbouring glaciers. More ice is being lost into the ocean than is being replaced, speeding up global sea-level rise.

The cause of the disruption at Thwaites is straightforward, researchers have discovered. Increasing amounts of warm ocean water coming from the north have been melting the floating parts of the glacier and this, in turn, is letting the inland glacier run more quickly into the sea. This much we know, but we have still to understand how this process is likely to accelerate. At present, Thwaites contributes around 4% of observed sea-level rise, but it is widely agreed that this could grow exponentially. Indeed, some glaciologists believe that a complete collapse of the Thwaites glacier over coming centuries is now inevitable – and that would raise global sea level by several metres, drowning coastal ecosystems around the world, damaging coastal investments and displacing millions of people.

The field support team who will be setting up the camps on Thwaites Glacier, Antarctica. Photograph: Tim Gee/British Antarctic Survey

Research on the ice and frigid waters around Thwaites Glacier is urgently needed but carrying that out is tough. Even by Antarctic standards, this area is cold and remote. I have been working in Antarctica for more than 30 years, and I’ve never managed to reach Thwaites. However, the UK and US governments have agreed to send in scientists as part of the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration. We are finally going to get the chance to understand this waking monster. At the moment, it is merely yawning and stretching. The question we must answer, urgently, is whether it is about to wake up and roar.

David Vaughan, British Antarctic Survey

Great Barrier Reef

Coral reefs cover a mere 0.1% of the world’s ocean floor but they support about 25% of all marine species. They also provide nature with some of its most beautiful vistas. For good measure, coral reefs protect shorelines from storms, support the livelihoods of 500 million people and help generate almost £25bn of income. Permitting their destruction would put the planet in trouble – which is precisely what humanity is doing.

Rising sea temperatures are already causing irreparable bleaching of reefs, while rising sea levels threaten to engulf reefs at a faster rate than they can grow upwards. Few scientists believe coral reefs – which are made of simple invertebrates related to sea anemones – can survive for more than a few decades.

Yet those who have sounded clear warnings about our reefs have received little reward. Professor Terry Hughes, a coral expert at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia, recently studied the impact of El Niño warmings in 2016 and 2017 on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef and its largest living entity – and wept when he saw the damage.

Close to half the corals on the Great Barrier Reef have died in the past three years, according to expert Prof Terry Hughes. Photograph: Greg Torda/ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

“The 2016 event killed 30% of corals, the one a year later killed another 20%. Very close to half the corals have died in the past three years,” he said recently.

For his pains, Hughes has faced demands from tourist firms for his funding to be halted because he was ruining their business. “The Australian government is still promoting new developments of coal mines and fracking for gas,” Hughes said, after being named joint recipient of the John Maddox prize, given to those who champion science in the face of hostility and legal threats. “If we want to save the Great Barrier Reef, these outdated ambitions need to be abandoned. Yet Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions are rising, not falling. It’s a national disgrace.”

This grim picture is summed up by the ethnographer Irus Braverman in her book Coral Whisperers: “The Barrier Reef has changed for ever. The largest living structure in the world has become the largest dying structure in the world.”

Queensland Australia

Press link for more: The Guardian

Ocasio-Cortez-backed #GreenNewDeal sees surprising momentum in House #auspol #qldpol #Insiders #TheDrum #ClimateChange #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateStrike #StopAdani

Fifteen Democrats have committed to the proposal touted by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

More and more Democrats are committing to supporting a sweeping, historic green effort that would transform the U.S. economy in an effort to fight climate change, in the latest indicator that environmental issues will be a dominant force in 2019.

As of Wednesday morning, the Sunrise Movement, a climate group led by young people, said at least 15 Democrats are willing to sign onto supporting the formation of a select committee to create a “Green New Deal” endorsed by Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). The most recent supporter, Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME), voiced her support with a statement on Tuesday.

“We don’t need another report to tell us climate change is a threat to our health, environment and economy,” the congresswoman wrote. “We must take urgent action to end our nation’s reliance on fossil fuels and stop the damage greenhouse gases have done to our way of life.”

“The Green New Deal is an important blueprint for us to fight this crisis on all fronts. Congress should not leave any thoughtful climate change solution unexplored,” she continued.

Pingree, an organic farmer and a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, highlighted the impact of climate change on her state, Maine, where warming waters are threatening the lobster industry and the state’s economy.

“I see the crisis of climate change every day in my state and believe a new committee dedicated exclusively to this crisis can support the long-standing work of other House committees and help to fast-track solutions,” she wrote.

Pingree’s not alone. Other senior party members have since the midterms voiced their support for urgent climate action. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) quickly gave a Green New Deal his support the week before Thanksgiving, handing activists a major win. In the time since, the list of backers has grown — Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) endorsed the proposal on Monday, shortly before Pingree gave her support.

In addition to those lawmakers, Democratic Reps. Ro Khanna (CA), Carolyn Maloney (NY), Jared Huffman (CA), Jose Serrano (NY), Ted Lieu (CA), and Earl Blumenauer (OR) have all voiced support, as have Reps.-elect Deb Haaland (NM), Ayanna Pressley (MA), Rashida Tlaib (MI), Ilhan Omar (MN), and Joe Neguse (CO).

Increasingly, the Green New Deal is becoming a litmus test for Democrats grappling with a massive shift in the party.

A wave of progressive newcomers will join the House of Representatives in 2019 as Democrats take over, many of whom have taken the unusual step of highlighting climate issues, which rarely garner significant attention from either party.

A draft resolution of what a blueprint for the deal might look like has already circulated. Proposed by Ocasio-Cortez, the Sunrise Movement, and the left-wing political action committee Justice Democrats, the draft establishes a select committee with the authority to create a “detailed national, industrial, economic mobilization plan” allowing the United States to swiftly become carbon-neutral.

Calling for input from business and labor along with state and local governments, the draft nonetheless gives a timeline of no more than a decade for the deal’s execution.

Creating jobs is a core element of the plan, but the deal also emphasizes “social, economic, racial, regional, and gender-based justice and equality” in any final draft.

Support for a New Green Deal began on the campaign trail, along with a broader conversation about environmental justice. Then-candidates like Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, and Omar all highlighted issues like environmental racism, while speaking to the increasingly pressing issue of climate change.

Now, those talking points are moving closer to reality, albeit not without resistance.

Green New Deal Democrats have faced pushback from entrenched Democrats wary of broad action on climate issues, including Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), the incoming chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Pallone has declined to turn down donations from fossil fuel companies, a central demand of many Democrats embracing climate justice.

As part of the momentum building behind calls for a Green New Deal, a policy group is also being formed to support the effort. The New Consensus, a 501c(3) non-profit, is emerging as the muscle supporting Green New Deal efforts.

An E&E report on Tuesday noted that the group is building a “climate mobilization office” in order to create a hub for fleshing out and administering the plan.

That rapid mobilization is giving heart to environmental activists, who are used to seeing climate action downplayed by lawmakers, or postponed to a future date. Mere weeks after the midterm elections, climate issues are still dominating conversations for Democrats, a trend green groups hope will continue into 2019.

Still, any Green New Deal that emerges requires votes, something it won’t have in the near future, with both the Senate and the White House controlled by Republicans who have largely signaled an opposition to climate action. But activists and lawmakers in the House plan to lay the foundation for future efforts now before pushing them through once an opportunity opens up, potentially after the 2020 election.

They also have an added incentive. The congressionally-mandated National Climate Assessment (NCA), released last week, shows that every region of the country is currently suffering the impacts of climate change, with far worse crises set to follow without immediate action. For Green New Deal Democrats, the report’s warnings only underscore the need for action.

“People are going to die if we don’t start addressing climate change ASAP. It’s not enough to think it’s ‘important.’ We must make it urgent,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter. “That’s why we need a Select Committee on a Green New Deal, & why fossil fuel-funded officials shouldn’t be writing climate change policy.”

Press link for more: Think Progress

Doing the Doughnut at the G20? #auspol #qldpol #COP24

By Kate Raworth

This weekend the G20 are meeting in Argentina, with the aim (they say) of ‘building consensus for fair and sustainable development’. Since they collectively generate 85% of global GDP, whether they do or don’t transform their economies will profoundly affect us all. So how close to the Doughnut’s safe and just space are the G20?

Here’s one way of assessing it, using the pioneering national doughnut analysisby Dan O’Neill, Andrew Fanning, Julia Steinberger and Will Lamb at the University of Leeds. Using the best-available, internationally comparable data, they scaled the global concept of the Doughnut down to the national level for over 150 countries (only including those for which there were sufficient data – as a result, Saudi Arabia is unfortunately missing from this G20 analysis. The EU28 group is also not available for this analysis).

In essence, national doughnuts aim to reflect the extent to which a country is meeting its people’s essential needs while at the same time ensuring that its use of Earth’s resources remains within its share of the planet’s biophysical boundaries.

Since Argentina is hosting the talks, let’s take its national doughnut as an illustration. The aim is to fill the centre circle in blue, while not overshooting the green ring of the biophysical boundary. Like many countries worldwide, Argentina is both falling short on some social dimensions while already overshooting multiple biophysical boundaries.

The methodology for these national doughnuts is a work in progress, of course, but the indicators and data underlying them are improving year-on-year, and when taken as an overview of 150 countries, the initial analysis reveals some valuable 21st century insights.

In the chart below (made in collaboration with Andrew Fanning), humanity’s sweet spot – living in the Doughnut – lies in the top left-hand corner: a place where all social thresholds are met, without transgressing any biophysical boundaries.

So what does this 150 country overview reveal? Three insights jump out.

1. We are all developing countries now. The Doughnut challenge turns all countries – including every member of the G20 – into ‘developing countries’ because no country in the world can say that it is even close to meeting the needs of all of its people within the means of the planet. (If you are wondering which is that one country closer than the rest, it’s Viet Nam – but is it heading for the Doughnut, or moving straight past it?)

2. New development pathways need new names. There are currently three broad clusters of countries making very different 21st century journeys, as labeled in the version of the diagram below:

A. Countries that are barely crossing any planetary boundaries, but are falling very far short on meeting people’s needs, including G20 members India and Indonesia. The development path that these nations must now pursue has never taken before. Copying the degenerative industrial path of today’s high-income countries (Group C), would most likely collapse Earth’s life-supporting systems.

B. Many middle-income, ‘emerging’ economies – including G20 members like Brazil, Russia, China, Argentina and South Africa – are both falling short on social needs while already crossing biophysical boundaries. These countries are now making future-defining investments in urbanization, energy systems and transport networks. Will these infrastructural investments take them further away from the doughnut, or start bringing them towards it?

C. Today’s high-income countries ­– including G20 members like the US, UK, France, Germany and the EU 28 itself – cannot be called developed, given that their resource consumption is greatly overshooting Earth’s boundaries and, in the process, undermining prospects for all other countries. These high-income nations, too, are on an unprecedented developmental journey: to sustain good living standards while moving back within Earth’s biophysical boundaries.

D. No country is yet in sweet-spot cluster D (for Doughnut!) – so how many years until some are there, and which will make it there first?

Given that the labels ‘developing’ and ‘developed’ no longer make sense in the 21st century context, how can we best rename these four clusters of countries? In comments on this blog, and on Twitter, please do share suggestions for inventive and memorable names for these very different country clusters facing the Doughnut challenge. Naming is framing, so let’s rename and reframe the future of development…

3. Transformative goals demand transformative approaches. Given that none of these three development paths have been pursued before – let alone have yet been achieved – it would be bizarre to think that last century’s economic theories, policy prescriptions and business models would equip us for what lies ahead. Getting into the Doughnut is our generational challenge and it demands transformational mindsets, models and action in economics, policymaking, and business.

As the world’s major economies, the G20 should be leading this transformation, with countries starting in all three country clusters. But since a key current criterion of G20 membership is having a large GDP, each country is geopolitically locked in to pursuing GDP growth to keep its place in the annual G20 Family Photo. So for leadership on the Doughnut Challenge, look, instead, to the Wellbeing Economy Governments, or #WeGO, an emerging grouping of countries – among them New Zealand, Scotland and Iceland – that are focusing on economic wellbeing and have a far greater chance of putting regenerative and distributive policies into practice.

Let me leave the G20 with the question that this summit should be asking:

Press link for more: Kate Raworth

For more on Doughnut Economics watch Kate Raworth’s TED Talk

Climate change: Australian students skip school for mass protest #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #TheDrum #COP24 #TakeYourSeat

Protests were organised in 27 places across Australia

Thousands of Australian school students have urged greater action on climate change in protests across the country.

The students skipped school on Friday to highlight what they say are inadequate climate policies by the Australian government.

On Monday, Australian PM Scott Morrison rebuked their plans for “activism” during school hours and insisted his government was tackling climate change.

Many students said his remarks had bolstered their resolve to protest.

“We will be the ones suffering the consequences of the decisions they [politicians] make today,” protester Jagveer Singh, 17, told the BBC.

Organisers say they were inspired by Greta Thunberg, a 15-year-old girl in Sweden who has undertaken similar protests .

Students protest in central Sydney on Friday

Australia has committed to reducing its emissions by 26-28% on 2005 levels by 2030, under the Paris climate agreement.

Mr Morrison most recently cited a renewable energy target, a clean energy purchasing fund, and a hydropower project as evidence of Australia’s progress.

He told parliament on Monday: “What we want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools.”

Resources Minister Matt Canavan, meanwhile, angered protesters by saying students would not learn anything from “walking off school and protesting”.

“The best thing you learn about going to a protest is how to join the dole [welfare] queue because that’s what your future life will look like,” he told a radio interviewer.

Many students held placards criticising the government, and PM Morrison specifically. “I hate ScoMo [Scott Morrison] more than I hate school,” one said.

Earlier this week, the UN said Australia and many nations were falling short of their emission commitments .

Australia had made “no improvement” in its climate policy since last year, according to the emissions gap report .

School Strike 4 Climate Action protests have been held in every state capital and 20 regional towns.

The BBC asked several students why they were taking part.

‘Education is our only power’

Milou Albrect (l) and Harriet O’Shea Carre organised the protest

The idea started with Milou Albrect and Harriet O’Shea Carre, both 14, in the state of Victoria.

“The climate change emergency is something we have been thinking about for a long time,” Harriet said.

“We wrote letters and did different things but they never seemed to make a difference. Really, education, is our only power. By sacrificing that [on Friday], it’s making a big point.”

Milou said: “We want our government to acknowledge publicly that climate change is a crisis. Stop digging coal, stop making new coal mines, switch to renewable energy.”

‘It’s really scary for us’

Jean Hinchcliffe, 14, organised a rally in Sydney

Jean Hinchcliffe, 14, saw the idea to protest grow in Victoria and decided to start one in her home city, Sydney.

“I can’t just sit around until I’m old enough to vote,” she said.

“Everyone, all young people, we can see that climate change is a real issue and we’re completely sick of politicians’ inaction. 

“It’s really scary for us, to see how it’s going to impact our future,” she said, citing fears about rising sea levels and extreme weather events.

‘It’s been an issue our whole life’

Ruby Walker says her generation has grown up thinking about climate change

Ruby Walker, 16, organised a protest in her town of Inverell, about 570km (350 miles) north of Sydney, after seeing others’ plans on Facebook.

She had also been inspired by the activism of high school students in the US during environment and gun control debates, she said.

“I think social media is a big part of it. You’re constantly seeing these issues happening around the world and seeing other students stick up for things you believe in,” she said.

“I feel like Australia is an embarrassment when it comes to climate change.”

Press link for more: BBC News

More photos of Australia’s Climate Strike

Children outside Warren Entsch’s Office in Cairns Queensland

Great Barrier Reef: record heatwave may cause another coral bleaching event #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion we urgently need a #GreenNewDeal #StopAdani

42.6C temperature in Cairns broke a November record that has stood since 1900 by 5.4C

By Ben Smee

A record-breaking heatwave in north Queensland will further increase above-average marine temperatures, heightening the risk of another coral bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef next year, scientists say.

Dozens of record November temperatures have been recorded in the region, most along the reef coastline, this week.

The most remarkable was at Cairns, where consecutive days reached temperatures of 42.6C and 40.9C. The maximum temperature on Tuesday broke a November record that has stood since 1900 by 5.4C.

Extreme weather fuelled more than 130 bushfires, which the premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Twitter was “not the kind of fire we have seen in Queensland before”.

“Heatwave records and fire weather is unprecedented,” Palaszczuk said.

A dust storm, brought by strong westerly winds, covered the southern inland parts of the state. In the north, thousands of native flying foxes died due to the high temperatures.

Reef scientist Terry Hughes, from the coral centre of excellence at James Cook University, said the summer heatwave was “terrifying” and lifted the chances of coral death on the Great Barrier Reef early next year.

The reef sustained successive marine heatwaves, in the early part of 2016 and 2017, which killed corals and badly damaged the northern and central sections.

Hughes said the bleaching forecasts were “trending upwards” but scientists would not have a clear picture until the end of January.

Coral ecophysiologist Dr Neal Cantin, from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, said ocean temperatures remained below those recorded at the same time in 2015 and 2016, but warmer than historical averages.

Cantin said the current heatwave would “add heat and warm up the ocean. It certainly adds heat to the system. We’ve seen record breaking land temperatures this week, which we expect to see into the future with climate change and everything heating up.

“We’re in a watch phase. There’s definitely the potential and how the local weather patterns pan out in January and February will really determine whether we get a large scale bleaching event or not.

“There are some signs we may avoid [bleaching] this summer. At this stage it’s less likely to be as bad as 2016, but we’ll be ready to respond [if bleaching occurs].”

Reality of climate change sinking in

“The hazard I worry most about is heatwaves,” Andrew Gissing, a disaster management expert from the firm Risk Frontiers, said.

“Australia needs to be better prepared for heatwaves, with climate change we are already predicting they will get more severe.”

Gissing told Guardian Australia people often respond to extreme weather events and natural disasters based on their previous experiences. But he said governments, businesses and individuals were often not prepared for the increasing severity and frequency of such events.

“We did a lot of work in Lismore after Cyclone Debbie. So many people sheltered in their homes because that’s what they always did when it flooded. They just didn’t realise this flood was that much bigger

“People really need to be attuned to what’s actually happening … how the nature of climactic hazards is changing.”

Gissing said businesses needed to start investing in climate change mitigation and adaption measures.

“It’s going to be very hard to mitigate a lot of the [predicted climate] impacts, so adaptation for the future is going to be really important. Especially when you overlay climate change on a growing population base.

“The [number of people living on the Queensland coast] is likely to double by about 2030.

Because of climate change, we’re looking at there being more exposure [to disaster risks] there as well.”

Press link for more: The Guardian

Game-Changing Promise of a #GreenNewDeal #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #ClimateStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #TheDrum #StopAdani

By Naomi Klein

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks to activists with the Sunrise Movement protesting in the offices of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in Washington D.C., on Nov. 13, 2018.

Photo: Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times via Redux

Like so many others, I’ve been energized by the bold moral leadership coming from newly elected members of Congress like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley in the face of the spiraling climate crisis and the outrageous attacks on unarmed migrants at the border. It has me thinking about the crucial difference between leadership that acts and leadership that talks about acting.

I’ll get to the Green New Deal and why we need to hold tight to that lifeline for all we’re worth. But before that, bear with me for a visit to the grandstanding of climate politics past.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

It was March 2009 and capes were still fluttering in the White House after Barack Obama’s historic hope-and-change electoral victory. Todd Stern, the newly appointed chief climate envoy, told a gathering on Capitol Hill that he and his fellow negotiators needed to embrace their inner superheroes, saving the planet from existential danger in the nick of time.

Climate change, he said, called for some of “that old comic book sensibility of uniting in the face of a common danger threatening the earth. Because that’s what we have here. It’s not a meteor or a space invader, but the damage to our planet, to our community, to our children, and their children will be just as great. There is no time to lose.”

Eight months later, at the fateful United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, all pretense to superheroism from the Obama Administration had been unceremoniously abandoned. Stern stalked the hallways of the convention center like the Grim Reaper, pulling his scythe through every proposal that would have resulted in a transformative agreement. The U.S. insisted on a target that would allow temperatures to rise by 2 degrees Celsius, despite passionate objections from many African and Pacific islander delegates who said the goal amounted to a “genocide” and would lead millions to die on land or in leaky boats. It shot down all attempts to make the deal legally binding, opting for unenforceable voluntary targets instead (as it would in Paris five years later).

Stern categorically rejected the argument that wealthy developed countries owe compensation to poor ones for knowingly pumping earth-warming carbon into the atmosphere, instead using much-needed funds for climate change protection as a bludgeon to force those countries to fall in line.

As I wrote at the time, the Copenhagen deal — cooked up behind closed doors with the most vulnerable countries locked out — amounted to a “grubby pact between the world’s biggest emitters: I’ll pretend that you are doing something about climate change if you pretend that I am too. Deal? Deal.”

Almost exactly nine years later, global emissions continue to rise, alongside average temperatures, with large swathes of the planet buffeted by record-breaking storms and scorched by unprecedented fires. The scientists convened in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have confirmed precisely what African and low-lying island states have long-since warned: that allowing temperatures to rise by 2 degrees is a death sentence, and that only a 1.5-degree target gives us a fighting chance. Indeed, at least eight Pacific islands have already disappeared beneath the rising seas.

Not only have wealthy countries failed to provide meaningful aid to poorer nations to protect themselves from weather extremes and leapfrog to clean tech, but Europe, Australia, and the United States have all responded to the increase in mass migration — intensified if not directly caused by climate stresses — with brutal force, ranging from Italy’s de facto “let them drown” policy to Trump’s increasingly real war on an unarmed caravan from Central America. Let there be no mistake: this barbarism is the way the wealthy world plans to adapt to climate change.

The only thing resembling a cape at the White House these days are all those coats Melania drapes over her shoulders, mysteriously refusing to use the arm holes for their designed purpose. Her husband, meanwhile, is busily embracing his role as a climate supervillain, gleefully approving new fossil fuel projects, shredding the Paris agreement (it’s not legally binding after all, so why not?), and pronouncing that a Thanksgiving cold snap is proof positive that the planet isn’t warming after all.

In short, the metaphorical meteor that Stern evoked in 2009 is not just hurtling closer to our fragile planet — it’s grazing the (burning) treetops.

And yet here’s the truly strange thing: I feel more optimistic about our collective chances of averting climate breakdown than I have in years. For the first time, I see a clear and credible political pathway that could get us to safety, a place in which the worst climate outcomes are avoided and a new social compact is forged that is radically more humane than anything currently on offer.

We are not on that pathway yet — very far from it. But unlike even one month ago, the pathway is clear. It begins with the galloping momentum calling on the Democratic Party to use its majority in the House to create the Select Committee for a Green New Deal, a plan advanced by Ocasio-Cortez and now backed by more than 14 representatives.

The draft text calls for the committee, which would be fully funded and empowered to draft legislation, to spend the next year consulting with a range of experts — from scientists to local lawmakers to labor unions to business leaders — to map out a “detailed national, industrial, economic mobilization plan” capable of making the U.S. economy “carbon neutral” while promoting “economic and environmental justice and equality.” By January 2020, the plan would be released, and two months later would come draft legislation designed to turn it into a reality.

That early 2020 deadline is important — it means that the contours of the Green New Deal would be complete by the next U.S. election cycle, and any politician wanting to be taken seriously as a progressive champion would need to adopt it as the centerpiece of their platform. If that happened, and the party running on a sweeping Green New Deal retook the White House and the Senate in November 2020, then there would actually be time left on the climate clock to meet the harsh targets laid out in the recent IPCC report, which told us that we have a mere 12 years to cut fossil fuel emissions by a head-spinning 45 percent.

Pulling that off, the report’s summary states in its first sentence, is not possible with singular policies like carbon taxes. Rather, what is needed is “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.” By giving the committee a mandate that connects the dots between energy, transportation, housing and construction, as well as health care, living wages, a jobs guarantee, and the urgent imperative to battle racial and gender injustice, the Green New Deal plan would be mapping precisely that kind of far-reaching change. This is not a piecemeal approach that trains a water gun on a blazing fire, but a comprehensive and holistic plan to actually put the fire out.

If the world’s largest economy looked poised to show that kind of visionary leadership, other major emitters — like the European Union, China, and India — would almost certainly find themselves under intense pressure from their own populations to follow suit.

Now, nothing about the pathway I have just outlined is certain or even likely: The Democratic Party establishment under Nancy Pelosi will probably squash the Green New Deal proposal, much as the party stomped on hopes for more ambitious climate deals under Obama. Smart money would bet on the party doing little more than resuscitating the climate committee that helped produce cap-and-trade legislation in Obama’s first term, an ill-fated and convoluted market-based scheme that would have treated greenhouse gases as late-capitalist abstractions to be traded, bundled, and speculated upon like currency or subprime debt (which is why Ocasio-Cortez is insisting that lawmakers who take fossil fuel money should not be on the Green New Deal select committee).

And of course, even if pressure on lawmakers continues to mount and those calling for the select committee carry the day, there is no guarantee that the party will win back the Senate and White House in 2020.

And yet, despite all of these caveats, we now have a something that has been sorely missing: a concrete plan on the table, complete with a science-based timeline, that is not only coming from social movements on the outside of government, but which also has a sizable (and growing) bloc of committed champions inside the House of Representatives.

Decades from now, if we are exquisitely lucky enough to tell a thrilling story about how humanity came together in the nick of time to intercept the metaphorical meteor, the pivotal chapter will not be the highly produced cinematic moment when Barack Obama won the Democratic primary and told an adoring throng of supporters that this would be “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” No, it will be the far less scripted and markedly more scrappy moment when a group of fed-up young people from the Sunrise Movement occupied the offices of Pelosi after the midterm elections, calling on her to get behind the plan for a Green New Deal — with Ocasio-Cortez dropping by the sit-in to cheer them on.

Sunrise Movement activists outside Nancy Pelosi’s office in Washington D.C. on Nov. 13, 2018.

Photo: Briahna Gray/The Intercept

I realize that it may seem unreasonably optimistic to invest so much in a House committee, but it is not the committee itself that is my main source of hope. It is the vast infrastructure of scientific, technical, political, and movement expertise poised to spring into action should we take the first few steps down this path. It is a network of extraordinary groups and individuals who have held fast to their climate focus and commitments even when no media wanted to cover the crisis and no major political party wanted to do anything more than perform concern.

It’s a network that has been waiting a very long time for there to finally be a critical mass of politicians in power who understand not only the existential urgency of the climate crisis, but also the once-in-a-century opportunity it represents, as the draft resolution states, “to virtually eliminate poverty in the United States and to make prosperity, wealth and economic security available to everyone participating in the transformation.”

The ground for this moment has been prepared for decades, with models for community-owned and community-controlled renewable energy; with justice-based transitions that make sure no worker is left behind; with a deepening analysis of the intersections between systemic racism, armed conflict, and climate disruption; with improved green tech and breakthroughs in clean public transit; with the thriving fossil fuel divestment movement; with model legislation driven by the climate justice movement that shows how carbon taxes can fight racial and gender exclusion; and much more.

What has been missing is only the top-level political power to roll out the best of these models all at once, with the focus and velocity that both science and justice demand. That is the great promise of a comprehensive Green New Deal in the largest economy on earth. And as the Sunrise Movement turns up the heat on legislators who have yet to sign onto the plan, it deserves all of our support.

Of course there is no shortage of Beltway pundits ready to dismiss all of this as hopelessly naive and unrealistic, the work of political neophytes who don’t understand the art of the possible or the finer points of policy. What those pundits are failing to account for is the fact that, unlike previous attempts to introduce climate legislation, the Green New Deal has the capacity to mobilize a truly intersectional mass movement behind it — not despite its sweeping ambition, but precisely because of it.

This is the game-changer of having representatives in Congress rooted in working-class struggles for living-wage jobs and for nontoxic air and water — women like Tlaib, who helped fight a successful battle against Koch Industries’ noxious petroleum coke mountain in Detroit.

If you are part of the economy’s winning class and funded by even bigger winners, as so many politicians are, then your attempts to craft climate legislation will likely be guided by the idea that change should be as minimal and unchallenging to the status quo as possible.

After all, the status quo is working just fine for you and your donors.

Leaders who are rooted in communities that are being egregiously failed by the current system, on the other hand, are liberated to take a very different approach. Their climate policies can embrace deep and systemic change — including the need for massive investments in public transit, affordable housing, and health care — because that kind of change is precisely what their bases need to thrive.

As climate justice organizations have been arguing for many years now, when the people with the most to gain lead the movement, they fight to win.

Press link for more: The Intercept

World must triple efforts or face catastrophic #climatechange, says UN #auspol #qldpol #COP24 #StopAdani demand #ClimateAction #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateStrike #TheDrum

Rapid emissions turnaround needed to keep global warming at less than 2C, report suggests

New taxes on fossil fuels, investment in clean technology and much stronger government policies to bring down emissions are likely to be necessary.

Governments must also stop subsidising fossil fuels, directly and indirectly, the UN said.

Gunnar Luderer, one of the authors of the UN report and senior scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, said: “There is still a tremendous gap between words and deeds, between the targets agreed by governments and the measures to achieve these goals.

“Only a rapid turnaround here can help. Emissions must be reduced by a quarter by 2030 [to keep warming to no more than 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial levels] and for 1.5C emissions would have to be halved.”

In all, a tripling of effort may be needed to keep warming to less than 2C, meeting scientific advice on avoiding the most dangerous effects of climate change.

Greenhouse gas emissions continued their long-term rise last year, according to the UN, but they could be brought under control.

There are promising signs, such as investment from the private sector in renewable energy and other technologies to cut carbon, but these are currently insufficient to meet scientific advice.

Joyce Msuya, deputy executive director of UN Environment, said: “The science is clear: for all the ambitious climate action we’ve seen, governments need to move faster and with greater urgency.

We’re feeding this fire, while the means to extinguish it are within reach.”

Australia is feeding the fire with coal.

Global emissions have reached what the UN has called “historic levels” of 53.5 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, and are showing no signs of peaking, despite a levelling off in the past decade.

The report came a day after Donald Trump said he did not believe his own administration’s latest report warning about the dire risk of inaction on climate change.

Australia’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions soaring since government axed the carbon price.

Last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of the dire effects of allowing global warming to reach 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. The world has a little over a decade to bring down greenhouse gas emissions before such dangerous levels of warming become inevitable.

Only 57 countries, representing 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions, are on track to cause their emissions to peak before 2030. If emissions are allowed to rise beyond that, the IPCC has said countries are likely to breach the 1.5C limit, which will trigger sea-level rises, droughts, floods and other extreme weather events.

On Monday, the biggest review of climate change in the UK for a decade found that flooding was likely to become more severe and summers could become more than 5C hotter within 50 years.

The UN’s warning comes before key talks in Poland next month, when governments will meet to discuss how to implement the commitments made in Paris in 2015. According to the Paris agreement, the first global pact to bind both developed and developing countries to a specific temperature goal, governments must do all they can to stop warming reaching 2C above pre-industrial levels, with an aspiration to limit warming to no more than 1.5C.

Jian Liu, the chief scientist at UN Environment, said some of the necessary policies were clear and available, if there was political will to implement them. “When governments embrace fiscal policy measures to subsidise low-carbon alternatives and tax fossil fuels, they can stimulate the right investments in the energy sector and significantly reduce carbon emissions. If all fossil fuel subsidies were phased out, global carbon emissions could be reduced by up to 10% by 2030.”

Carbon pricing is one way of achieving this, but has run into difficulties as taxes are often unpopular and schemes to reduce carbon through emissions tradingare often contested by businesses and other interests.

Greenhouse gas emissions stalled soon after the global financial crisis of a decade ago, then quickly resumed their rise, to the consternation of climate experts. For three years before 2017 they fell once again, but last year there was an increase. Emissions are expected to rise further this year, pointing to an emissions gap between what countries promised in Paris and what their policies are delivering.

Looking for human remains after recent fires in California

Another problem is that infrastructure such as buildings, transport networks and energy generation that is built now to rely on fossil fuels will in effect lock infuture emissions for the lifetime in which that infrastructure operates, usually up to 50 years.

Changing the way we construct infrastructure is therefore essential, but many companies and governments still rely on old measures of economic performance and old ways of generating energy and constructing buildings.

Jennifer Morgan, the executive director of Greenpeace International, said: “The window of opportunity is starting to close and if we fail to act now the opportunity will be gone.

Failure to act will lock in catastrophic global warming that will change the planet irrevocably and condemn millions to suffering. What are governments waiting for?”

Stephanie Pfeifer, the chief executive of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, said some businesses were taking action. “Investors understand the opportunity presented by the move to a low-carbon economy. The right signals from government will help to unlock low-carbon investment from the private sector.”

Press link for more: The Guardian