El nino

Cities have the power to lead #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #OnePlanet #StopAdani

Cities have the power to lead climate change

Cities, as hubs of innovation, now stand at the forefront of climate action

By CHRISTIANA FIGUERES, VICE-CHAIR OF THE GLOBAL COVENANT OF MAYORS 12/13/17, 9:38 AM CET

Christiana Figueres, vice-chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors | via Global Covenant of Mayors

Negotiating the Paris Agreement was a monumental achievement.

Nations rallied together and subnational actors, especially cities and local governments, afforded confidence that targets could be met, leading to swift approval and ratification.

As we lean into implementation, leaders in every corner of the world, in cities large and small, are taking bold climate action to ensure we are able to meet these commitments — and, importantly, take even more ambitious action.

However, for some local leaders, implementation of the Agreement comes with challenges. This is especially pertinent when it comes to obtaining the financial support needed to turn ideas into action and make the changes necessary to ensure they can help meet the goals set forth in Paris.

Luckily, one of the many successes of the Paris Agreement was the establishment of mechanisms to increase climate-friendly ideas and investment.

Cities, as hubs of innovation, now stand at the forefront of climate action, ready to accept these investments.

I am proud to serve as the vice-chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, an initiative that supports city leaders in meeting these commitments.

Together with our partner city networks both globally and locally, cities in this alliance are developing cutting-edge solutions to the challenges of climate finance.

They are providing critical leadership and support as national governments move towards a greener future.

The power these cities have to tackle climate change cannot be understated.

Mayors and local leaders often have greater influence over the sectors that most impact carbon emissions.

Buildings, transportation, water and waste are all complex systems, and city leaders’ in-depth knowledge of regional environmental landscapes means they are uniquely suited to pinpoint which areas need the most attention to reduce emissions while increasing sustainability and economic efficiency.

“We must see climate in every facet of the economy, from green buildings and infrastructure to sustainable agriculture, so that our growth will be climate neutral.”

Central to scaling timely global climate action is financing the development of modernized low carbon infrastructure.

We must see climate in every facet of the economy, from green buildings and infrastructure to sustainable agriculture, so that our growth will be climate neutral.

Investments in these priorities now will build the tomorrow we want our children to live in.

As cities work to accelerate the collective impact of their actions, improving city-level access to finance will increase investment flows into cities and other urban areas. It will unlock the potential of cities to be a fundamental part of the global climate solution. It will re-shape the economics of development and reinforce sustainable infrastructure as a stronger investment over high-carbon polluting options.

In Cape Town, this philosophy has been taken to heart as a number of new strategies are pursued to increase investments in our green future. Many climate and resilience solutions, such as renewable energy, green transportation and net-zero buildings, are less expensive to operate than they are to build, meaning it takes partnerships between governments and the private sector to finance them.

“Cape Town is poised to become the first city in Africa to install an electric bus system.”

For example, Cape Town is poised to become the first city in Africa to install an electric bus system. The MyCiTi bus system is an ambitious project and will be made possible by a public-private investment partnership and pay dividends to the city in the future. The strategic partnership goes beyond just buying buses: the buses, currently made by Chinese green energy firm BYD, will soon be manufactured at a new plant in Cape Town in 2018. The implementation of the MyCiTi bus system is not only increasing sustainability and helping to reduce carbon emissions, it is boosting the city’s economy and creating hundreds of jobs. This project will help Cape Town save money with reduced maintenance and operating costs while supporting the city’s ongoing journey to build a strong and prosperous green economy.

The city is also collaborating with the private sector to mitigate the dire effects of drought on Cape Town’s water supply. To accelerate emergency water projects, the city is issuing tax-exempt green bonds to private sector developers to incentivize developments that will enhance sustainability and improve water security. Thanks to the investment spurred by green bonds and other innovative strategies, a platform of climate security is being created from which the city’s future is wide open.

“The implementation of the MyCiTi bus system is not only increasing sustainability and helping to reduce carbon emissions, it is boosting the city’s economy and creating hundreds of jobs.”

Cities like Cape Town are helping to spur the global transformation that spells success for the Paris Agreement. By investing in sustainability and resilience now, we can guarantee not only stable returns for our private sector partners, but a stable future for our cities and the world.

Unlocking a sustainable path for cities allows them to accelerate their impact. By 2050, implementing sustainable urban infrastructure choices could save $17 trillion on energy costs alone.

Through initiatives like the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, over 7,400 cities around the world — 9.35 percent of the population — are showing their potential and making real progress to greatly accelerate the world’s achievements towards the legally binding global commitment to create a carbon neutral world this century.

Authors:

Christiana Figueres, Vice-Chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors

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“Life on earth would suffocate” #COP23 #StopAdani

Donald Trump Is Wiping Out the World’s Coral Reefs and Small Islands And We’re Not Doing Anything to Stop It

By Helena Wright On 11/19/17 at 9:05 AM

The island nation of Fiji hosted the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn last week, bringing attention to the plight of small islands under climate change.

Fiji is already facing migration of its people, loss of coral reefs, and more intense cyclones such as the one last year that wiped out a third of its GDP.

Fiji is also home to the Great Sea Reef, the third longest continuous barrier reef in the world.

All the countries in the world except the U.S. have now backed the Paris Climate Agreement, which aims to keep climate change below 2 degrees of warming and strive for 1.5 degrees.

However, to save coral reefs the world needs to meet the more ambitious goal of 1.5 degrees, a level at which around a third of coral reefs may survive.

Any warmer that this – and scientists expect virtually none of the world’s coral reefs to survive.

There is still hope for the world’s coral reefs, but President Donald Trump’s stance on climate change means he is actively contributing to their destruction.

1.5 degrees: Last call for corals

This year, carbon dioxide reached record levels not seen for millions of years, making oceans more acidic.

This reduces the ability of corals to build skeletons, which combined with rising sea temperatures and stronger storms is contributing to their death.

For this reason, coral reefs have been cited as one of the early causalities of climate change. Sometimes known as the ‘rainforests of the sea’, coral reefs support about a quarter of all ocean fish species.

They are a vital part of ocean food webs and as a nursery for young fish, their loss would be devastating for ocean life.

Not only do more than 500 million people around the world directly rely on coral reefs for their livelihood, income and food, but coral reefs provide an estimated $375 billion per year in goods and services to the world.

President Trump’s rejection of climate science not only affects coral reefs – it could affect life on earth. For instance, phytoplankton in the ocean produce over half the world’s oxygen supplies.

Global warming of six degrees could interfere with this, meaning oxygen levels would plummet and life on earth could suffocate.

If we burn all known fossil fuel reserves, the planet could warm by more than six degrees as soon as the end of this century.

To achieve the Paris Agreement, we need to keep the majority of the world’s fossil fuel reserves in the ground.

However, last week, amid protests from campaigners, the United States hosted an event at the UN Climate Conference to promote fossil fuels.

Trump is actively working against global efforts on climate change, leading to the destruction of the world’s coral reefs and low-lying small islands.

Coral reefs are highly sensitive to climate change, and may experience most damage at relatively low warming thresholds. “

“Once you’ve killed off the coral reefs you are no longer at risk of killing off the coral reefs,” explains Ken Caldeira, an environmental scientist at Stanford University. Dr. Line K Bay/Australian Institute of Marine Science

Raising ambition

Existing climate pledges under the Paris Agreement are not nearly sufficient to achieve the two-degree goal, let alone to keep warming to a level that would save coral reefs.

In fact, national pledges only add up to around 3.2 degrees.   Recent data does not look good either – global emissions are expected to go up again this year after remaining relatively flat for three years.

In order to have a chance of enabling some reefs to survive, global emissions must peak immediately, which means coal power must be phased out within the next ten years.  Some countries are doing this already, with Canada and the U.K. announcing this week a new global alliance on coal phase out.

Efforts have also begun to save coral reefs through coral gardening – growing the most resilient strains of corals and transplanting them into the ocean. However, it is unlikely this can be done on a large enough or fast enough scale to save huge reefs.  There have also been calls for a global ‘seed bank’ for corals to preserve existing coral strains with the hope of restoring them later. This is urgent because damages have already occurred, for example, a third of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef died from bleaching last year.

There is still a fading hope for coral reefs if we raise global ambition on climate change. Globally, renewable energy is getting cheaper which may make this easier, with solar energy costs expected to fall by a further 60% over the next ten years. Earlier this year, solar prices reached a record low in India, making solar cheaper than fossil fuels and prompting a rethink on coal projects.

In addition, many sub-national cities and states are raising ambition on air pollution and climate change.  Several U.S. states including Washington State and Oregon have already joined the new alliance to phase out coal.  There are also individual actions we can take – from buying efficient cars to eating sustainably.

However, President Trump is standing in the way.  All countries will need to phase out fossil fuels by mid-century to meet the Paris climate goals.  This will have to include Russia – one of the world’s leading oil and gas producers and exporters.  Trump’s support for fossil fuels is giving Russia an economic gift, but condemning the rest of the world to mass destruction.

Unless Trump changes his stance, the world will hold the U.S. responsible for the damages to coral reefs and small islands.  The clock is ticking, and time is running out.

Dr. Helena Wright is a senior policy adviser at independent sustainability organization E3G currently based in Fiji.

Press link for more: Newsweek.com

Earth too hot for humans! 

A must read in the New York Magazine today.
http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/07/climate-change-earth-too-hot-for-humans.html

Why hasn’t the world become more sustainable? #StopAdani #Auspol 

In 1992, more than 170 countries came together at the Rio Earth Summit and agreed to pursue sustainable development, protect biological diversity, prevent dangerous interference with climate systems, and conserve forests.

 But, 25 years later, the natural systems on which humanity relies continue to be degraded.

So why hasn’t the world become much more environmentally sustainable despite decades of international agreements, national policies, state laws and local plans? 

This is the question that a team of researchers and I have tried to answer in a recent article.
We reviewed 94 studies of how sustainability policies had failed across every continent.

 These included case studies from both developed and developing countries, and ranged in scope from international to local initiatives.


Consider the following key environmental indicators. Since 1970:
Humanity’s ecological footprint has exceeded the Earth’s capacity and has risen to the point where 1.6 planets would be needed to provide resources sustainably.
The biodiversity index has fallen by more than 50% as the populations of other species continue to decline.
Greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change have almost doubled while the impacts of climate change are becoming increasingly apparent.
The world has lost more than 48% of tropical and sub-tropical forests.
The rate at which these indicators deteriorated was largely unchanged over the two decades either side of the Rio summit. Furthermore, humanity is fast approaching several environmental tipping points. If crossed, these could lead to irreversible changes.
If we allow average global temperatures to rise 2℃ above pre-industrial levels, for example, feedback mechanisms will kick in that lead to runaway climate change. 

We’re already halfway to this limit and could pass it in the next few decades.

What’s going wrong?
So what’s going wrong with sustainability initiatives? 

We found that three types of failure kept recurring: economic, political and communication.
The economic failures stem from the basic problem that environmentally damaging activities are financially rewarded.

 A forest is usually worth more money after it’s cut down – which is a particular problem for countries transitioning to a market-based economy.
Political failures happen when governments can’t or won’t implement effective policies. 

This is often because large extractive industries, like mining, are dominant players in an economy and see themselves as having the most to lose. 

This occurs in developed and developing countries, but the latter can face extra difficulties enforcing policies once they’re put in place.


Communication failures centre on poor consultation or community involvement in the policy process. Opposition then flourishes, sometimes based on a misunderstanding of the severity of the issue. It can also be fed by mistrust when communities see their concerns being overlooked.
Again, this happens around the world. A good example would be community resistance to changing water allocation systems in rural areas of Australia. 

In this situation, farmers were so opposed to the government buying back some of their water permits that copies of the policy were burned in the street.
These types of failure are mutually reinforcing. 

Poor communication of the benefits of sustainable development creates the belief that it always costs jobs and money. 

Businesses and communities then pressure politicians to avoid or water down environmentally friendly legislation.
Ultimately, this represents a failure to convince people that sustainable development can supply “win-win” scenarios. As a result, decision-makers are stuck in the jobs-versus-environment mindset.
What can we do?
The point of our paper was to discover why policies that promote sustainability have failed in order to improve future efforts. 

The challenge is immense and there’s a great deal at stake.

 Based on my previous research into the way economic, social and environmental goals can co-exist, I would go beyond our most recent paper to make the following proposals.
First, governments need to provide financial incentives to switch to eco-efficient production. 

Politicians need to have the courage to go well beyond current standards.

 Well-targeted interventions can create both carrot and stick, rewarding eco-friendly behaviour and imposing a cost on unsustainable activities.
Second, governments need to provide a viable transition pathway for industries that are doing the most damage.

 New environmental tax breaks and grants, for example, could allow businesses to remain profitable while changing their business model.


Finally, leaders from all sectors need to be convinced of both the seriousness of the declining state of the environment and that sustainable development is possible. 

Promoting positive case studies of successful green businesses would be a start.
There will of course be resistance to these changes. 

The policy battles will be hard fought, particularly in the current international political climate.

 We live in a world where the US president is rolling back climate policies while the Australian prime minister attacks renewable energy.

Press link for more: WEFORUM

We’re at War to save the planet! #auspol #climatechange #science 

By Paul Mason

It hits you in the face and clings to you. 

It makes tall buildings whine as their air conditioning plants struggle to cope.

 It makes the streets deserted and the ice-cold salons of corner pubs get crowded with people who don’t like beer. 

It is the Aussie heatwave: and it is no joke.

Temperatures in the western suburbs of Sydney, far from the upmarket beachside glamour, reached 47C (117F) last week, topping the 44C I experienced there the week before.

 For reference, if it reached 47C in the middle of the Sahara desert, that would be an unusually hot day.
For Sydney, 2017 was the hottest January on record. 

This after 2016 was declared the world’s hottest year on record. 

Climate change, even in some developed societies, is becoming climate disruption – and according to a UN report, one of the biggest disruptions may only now be getting under way.

El Niño, a temperature change in the Pacific ocean that happens cyclically, may have begun interacting with the long-term process of global warming, with catastrophic results.
Let’s start by admitting the science is not conclusive. 

El Niño disrupts the normal pattern by which warm water flows westwards across the Pacific, pulling the wind in the same direction; it creates storms off South America and droughts – together with extreme temperatures – in places such as Australia. 

It is an irregular cycle, lasting between two and seven years, and therefore can only be theorised using models.
Some of these models predict that, because of climate change, El Niño will happen with increased frequency – possibly double. 

Others predict the effects will become more devastating, due to the way the sub-systems within El Niño react with each other as the air and sea warm.
What cannot be disputed is that the most recent El Niño in 2015/16 contributed to the extreme weather patterns of the past 18 months, hiking global temperatures that were already setting records.

 (Although, such is the level of rising, both 2015 and 2016 would have still been the hottest ever without El Niño.) 

Sixty million people were “severely affected” according to the UN, while 23 countries – some of which no longer aid recipients – had to call for urgent humanitarian aid. 


The catastrophe prompted the head of the World Meteorological Association to warn: 

“This naturally occurring El Niño event and human-induced climate change may interact and modify each other in ways that we have never before experienced.”
The warning was enough to prompt the UN to issue a global action plan, with early warning systems, beefed-up aid networks and disaster relief preparation, and calls for developing countries to “climate proof” their economic plans.
Compare all this – the science, the modelling, the economic foresight and the attempt to design multilateral blueprint – with the actions of the jackass who runs Australia’s finance ministry.

Scott Morrison barged into the parliament chamber to wave a lump of coal at the Labor and Green opposition benches, taunting them: 

“Don’t be afraid, don’t be scared. 

It’s coal. 

It was dug up by men and women who work in the electorate of those who sit opposite.” 

Coal, argues the Australian conservative government, has given the economy “competitive energy advantage for more than 100 years”. 

Labor and the Greens had called, after the Paris climate accord, for an orderly shutdown of the coal-fired power stations that produce 60% of the country’s energy.
The Aussie culture war over coal is being fuelled by the resurgence of the white-supremacist One Nation party, led by Pauline Hanson, which is pressuring mainstream conservatives to drop commitments to the Paris accord and, instead, launch a “royal commission into the corruption of climate science”, which its members believe is a money-making scam.
All over the world, know-nothing xenophobes are claiming – without evidence – that climate science is rigged. 

Their goal is to defend coal-burning energy, promote fracking, suppress the development of renewable energies and shatter the multilateral Paris agreement of 2015.


Opposition to climate science has become not just the badge of honour for far-right politicians like Ukip’s Paul Nuttall.

 It has become the central tenet of their appeal to unreason.
People facing increased fuel bills, new taxes on methane-producing cattle farms, dimmer light bulbs and the arrival of wind and wave technologies in traditional landscapes will naturally ask: is this really needed? 

Their inner idiot wishes it were not. 

For most of us, the inner rationalist is strong enough to counteract that wish.

What distinguishes the core of the rightwing populist electorate is its gullibility to idiocy-promoting rhetoric against climate science. 

They want to be harangued by a leader who tells them their racism is rational, in the same way they want leaders who tell them the science behind climate change is bunk.


Well, in Australia, people are quickly finding out where such rhetoric gets you: more devastating bushfires; a longer fire season; more extreme hot days; longer droughts. And an energy grid so overloaded with demands from air conditioning systems that it is struggling to cope.
And, iIf the pessimists among climate scientists are right, and the general rise in temperature has begun to destabilise and accentuate the El Niño effects, this is just the start.
The world is reeling from the election victory of Donald Trump, who has called climate science a hoax.

 Dutch voters look set to reward Geert Wilders, whose one-page election programme promises “no more money for development, windmills, art, innovation or broadcasting”, with first place in the election. 

In France, 27% of voters are currently backing the Front National, a party determined to take the country out of the Paris accord, which it sees as “a communist project”.
The struggle against the nationalist right must, in all countries, combine careful listening to the social and cultural grievances of those on its periphery with relentless stigmatisation of the idiocy, selfishness and racism of the leaders and political activists at its core.
It’s time to overcome queasiness and restraint. 

We, the liberal and progressive people of the world, are at war with the far right to save the earth. 
The extreme temperatures and climate-related disasters of the past 24 months mean this is not some abstract struggle about science or values: it’s about the immediate fate of 60 million people still recovering from a disaster.

Press link for more: The Guardian.com

I Don’t Believe in Climate Change #Auspol #science 

I don’t believe in climate change: A line in the sand

Mark Robinson 

Meteorologist

Tuesday, February 7, 2017, 12:01 PM – I don’t believe in climate change.
Wait! Before you start smashing a nasty reply back to me, keep reading.
As a trained meteorologist, storm chaser who also studied wildlife biology as an undergraduate, I don’t believe in climate change.
I accept the overwhelming evidence for it.
And that’s the critical point. When you’re talking about science, there’s no such thing as believe. There’s an acceptance or a rejection of the evidence presented. I hear far too often, from both side of the “debate” that this person or that person BELIEVES in climate change.
It drives me up the wall.

But it’s also the crux of the issue.

 I have talked to many people about climate change and why I accept the evidence for it. 

One commonality that I find with people who reject the evidence is an almost religiosity in their belief (and I use this term correctly) that the evidence is either not there or has been faked, or manipulated, or… whatever. There’s a long list.


I have no issue talking with people about their point of view.

 I like it. 

It’s my way of getting out of my own echo chamber that’s so easy to fall into. 

The only thing that I ask is that if you want to debate this, bring your science to the table. 

Otherwise it’s bringing a chihuahua to a badger fight. It’s not going to be pretty and it’s not going to last long.

What I continuously find is that the people who want to discuss it have no science, but a metric (expletive)-tonne of belief. 

I get told that the planet’s been cooling for the last 10 years, or that Climategate is still a thing.

 Or that Michael E. Mann’s graph has been debunked. 

Sources for this information are almost inevitably a blog post or a web page. 

It’s almost never credible peer-reviewed journals; which constitute the gold standard for science.

It’s the exact same tactics I practiced in my wildlife biology undergrad, but substitute evolution for climatology. 

 The same lack of real science, the same conspiracy theory tactics, the same Gish Gallops, it’s all there again.
I don’t believe in evolution either.

 I accept the overwhelming evidence for it. 

Scientific truth isn’t something you “feel”. 

It doesn’t depend on your political preferences.
Science is the single most powerful method humans have ever come up with to get as close to “truth” as possible.
And I for one, am not going to let it be destroyed because some people don’t like its conclusions.
This is my line in the sand.

Press link for more: The Weather Network

Expect Climate Catastrophe: Paris Agreement Lacks Enforcement #auspol

By Andres Corr

Enforcement mechanisms for climate change targets are not being implemented, including in the Paris Agreement of December 2015. 

We are actually sliding backwards on this critical element of a global climate deal.
Sanctions were agreed in 2001, that any developed countries that missed emission limits between 2008 and 2012 would have even steeper limits in the future. 

That has since lapsed. 

In 2011, all countries agreed that a climate agreement should have “legal force.” Legal force requires an enforcement mechanism, which the Paris Agreement lacks. The E.U. pushed hard for binding targets in the Paris


Agreements, including international sanctions for noncompliance. Those did not come about. Bolivia called for an International Climate Justice Tribunal with the mandate to penalize countries for lack of compliance. There is no tribunal in the Paris Agreement.
Rather, most developed and emerging economies have systematically resisted international enforcement mechanisms. China (the world’s biggest emissions producer), Russia, the U.S., Canada, India, Japan, Australia, and major energy exporters, resisted the toughest climate change countermeasures over the years, including international monitoring and sanctions. Some in these countries have bemoaned the loss of sovereignty from transparency and enforceable international climate deals.

 As a result, the 2°C limit in the Paris Agreement on climate change, which started this month, is unenforceable and therefore solely an aspiration if the world can achieve carbon neutrality by 2100. The way things are going, that is unlikely. The Paris Agreement is now among over 500 similarly powerless global and regional environmental agreements.

President-elect Trump and other Republicans have dismissed global warming and the international coordination required to stop it.

 The countries most responsible for lagging in their pledges and policies since the Paris Agreement include Russia, Canada, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. 


The U.S., China, India, Brazil, and E.U. countries also lag in their pledges and policies to achieve a climate-neutral future. Those countries that most opposed enforcement, unsurprisingly, also lag in their policy measures to achieve the Paris goals.

Given current pledges, temperature rise is predicted to be 2.8°C by 2100. But even these pledges to limit greenhouse gases have not been fulfilled. 

Factoring in current policies, rather than just aspirational pledges, temperature rise is predicted to be 3.6°C. So despite the political fanfare in Paris, the planet is likely headed for irreversible catastrophic climate change. 

 To bequeath a livable planet to our grandchildren, citizens must demand of their governments greater global transparency and enforcement measures against emissions.

Press link for more: Forbes.com

This Film Festival Offers Solutions to Climate Change #auspol

A photograph featuring the Jury members and attending winners of the Film4Climate Global Video Competition.
As the COP22 Film4Climate Global Video Competition begins, the mood is somber: it’s the end of the first week of the Conference of Parties and just five days after the announcement of Trump’s election win. While uncertainty and fear for the future are palpable, there’s also a sense of hope, as this is where the efforts for taking action on climate change merge with the creative medium of filmmaking.
Part of the World Bank Group’s Connect4Climate initiative, the Film4Climate competition features the winners of various categories for under-one-minute PSA videos, and short films under five minutes. Winning productions portray both singular and comprehensive, oftentimes highly self-made movies that reflect the realities of and actions taken by many on the ground.


Jeffrey Sachs, Professor at and director of Earth Institute at Columbia University, addressing the audience at Film4Climate Global Video Competition. 

“So much talent in this room,” he begins, “and you have to listen to an economist. Go figure that.”
“It’s extremely important to use your voice and your reach to explain what’s at stake,” says Professor and director of Earth Institute at Columbia University, Jeffrey Sachs, during his opening speech. 

“The people that want their grubby hands on the steering wheel in Washington are ExxonMobil and Chevron and people who bought this [American] election,” he says. 

Citing “the names that are being kicked about in the US media”—including Trump’s selection of Myron Ebell to oversee the EPA transition team—Sachs expounds a stern but necessary reminder of the battle ahead. 

“It’s fine to be ignorant, just don’t do it in Washington. 

Because we’ve got important things to do, and we really don’t have time for really greedy, nasty, or completely scientifically ignorant people to be anywhere near decision-making right now.”

Press link for videos: The Creators Project

World War II mobilisation for climate action #auspol 

Drawing upon episodes of World War II mobilisations Dr. Delina lays out contingency climate action strategies based upon the relative optimism provided by rapid deployment of demonstrated and proven sustainable energy technologies.

In this assessment of accelerated sustainable energy transitions, Dr. Delina describes in a thought experiment how we could quickly mobilise the required technologies, finance, and labour resources, as well as how these processes can be coordinated by governments. 

Although wartime narratives can provide some lenses for getting us back to a safer climate, Dr. Delina acknowledges that this analogy is far from perfect.


Dr. Laurence Delina discusses his recent book, ‘Strategies for Rapid Climate Mitigation: wartime mobilisation as a model for action?’.

Press link for audio presentation: Breakthrough online

Radical Realism About Climate Change #auspol

Lili Fuhr heads the Ecology and Sustainable Development Department at the Heinrich Böll Foundation.

BERLIN – Mainstream politics, by definition, is ill equipped to imagine fundamental change. But last December in Paris, 196 governments agreed on the need to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels – an objective that holds the promise of delivering precisely such a transformation. Achieving it will require overcoming serious political challenges, reflected in the fact that some are advocating solutions that will end up doing more harm than good.

One strategy that has gained a lot of momentum focuses on the need to develop large-scale technological interventions to control the global thermostat. Proponents of geo-engineering technologies argue that conventional adaptation and mitigation measures are simply not reducing emissions fast enough to prevent dangerous warming. Technologies such as “carbon capture and storage” (CCS), they argue, are necessary to limit damage and human suffering.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change seems to agree. In its fifth assessment report, it builds its scenarios for meeting the Paris climate goals around the concept of “negative emissions” – that is, the ability to suck excess carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

But this approach ignores serious problems with the development and deployment of geo-engineering technologies. Consider CCS, which is the process of capturing waste CO2 from large sources like fossil-fuel power plants and depositing it in, say, an underground geological formation, thereby preventing it from entering the atmosphere.

It sounds good. But what makes it economical is that it enables enhanced oil recovery. In other words, the only way to make CCS cost-effective is to use it to exacerbate the problem it is supposed to address.

The supposed savior technology – bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) – is not much better. BECCS begins by producing large amounts of biomass from, say, fast-growing trees which naturally capture CO2; those plants are then converted into fuel via burning or refining, with the resulting carbon emissions being captured and sequestered.

But bioenergy is not carbon neutral, and the surge in European demand for biomass has led to rising food commodity prices and land grabs in developing countries. These realities helped persuade the scientists Kevin Anderson and Glen Peters recently to call carbon removal an “unjust and high-stakes gamble.”

What about other geo-engineering proposals? Solar Radiation Management (SRM) aims to control the amount of sunlight that reaches the Earth, essentially mimicking the effect of a volcano eruption. This may be achieved by pumping sulphates into the stratosphere or through “marine cloud brightening,” which would cause clouds to reflect more sunlight back into space.

But blasting sulphates into the stratosphere does not reduce CO2 concentrations; it merely delays the impact for as long as the spraying continues. Moreover, sulphate injections in the northern hemisphere could cause serious drought in the Africa’s Sahel region, owing to dramatic reductions in precipitation, while some African countries would experience more precipitation. The effect on the Asian monsoon system could be even more pronounced. In short, SRM could severely damage the livelihoods of millions of people.

If geo-engineering can’t save us, what can? In fact, there are a number of steps that can be taken right now. They would be messier and more politically challenging than geo-engineering. But they would work.

The first step would be a moratorium on new coal mines. If all currently planned coal-fired power plants are built and operated over their normal service life of 40 years, they alone would emit 240 billion tons of CO2 – more than the remaining carbon budget. If that investment were re-allocated to decentralized renewable-energy production, the benefits would be enormous.

Moreover, with only 10% of the global population responsible for almost 50% of global CO2 emissions, there is a strong case to be made for implementing strategies that target the biggest emitters. For example, it makes little sense that airlines – which actually serve just 7% of the global population – are exempt from paying fuel taxes, especially at a time when ticket prices are at an historic low.

Changes to land use are also needed. The 2009 International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development charts the way to a transformed agricultural system – with benefits that extend far beyond climate policy. We must apply this knowledge around the world.

In Europe, the waste sector could make a significant contribution to a low-carbon economy. Recent research, commissioned by Zero Waste Europe, found that optimal implementation of the European Commission’s “circular economy package” waste targets could save the European Union 190 million tons of CO2 per year. That is the equivalent of the annual emissions of the Netherlands!

Available measures in the transport sector include strengthening public transportation, encouraging the use of railways for freight traffic, building bike paths, and subsidizing delivery bicycles. In Germany, intelligent action on transport could reduce the sector’s emissions by up to 95% by 2050.

Another powerful measure would be to protect and restore natural ecosystems, which could result in the storage of 220-330 gigatons of CO2 worldwide .

None of these solutions is a silver bullet; but, together, they could change the world for the better. Geo-engineering solutions are not the only alternatives. They are a response to the inability of mainstream economics and politics to address the climate challenge. Instead of trying to devise ways to maintain business as usual – an impossible and destructive goal – we must prove our ability to imagine and achieve radical change.

If we fail, we should not be surprised if, just a few years from now, the planetary thermostat is under the control of a handful of states or military and scientific interests. 

As world leaders convene for the 22nd United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to bring the Paris agreement into force, they should repudiate geo-engineering quick fixes – and demonstrate a commitment to real solutions.

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