Electric Cars

How to reverse #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Paul Hawken on how to reverse climate change now

Climate change is often quoted as the most pressing issue of our time. But as individuals it’s hard to comprehend how we can play a part in addressing it. Paul Hawken, environmentalist and author, aims to bridge the gap between urgency and agency, showing how we can use the power we have to create change now.

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming is Paul Hawken’s project and book compiles thinking (and doing!) from scientists to farmers.

‘Drawdown’ is the scientific term for the first time greenhouse gases in the atmosphere – the cause of global warming – begin to decline. Paul Hawken says drawdown is the goal, where reduction of emissions isn’t enough and reversal is key.

The good news is that the 80 ways to get there are based not on emerging technologies or concepts, but practises we already have. The solutions are ranked by effectiveness in their carbon impact through to the year 2050, as well as total and net cost to society and total lifetime savings.

So let’s get this out of the way. Drawdown argues that management of fridges and air-con units is the number one solution. It’s not as sexy as electric cars, but chemical refrigerants, which absorb and release heat to enable chilling, have 1,000 to 9,000 times greater capacity to warm the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Removing and transforming these chemicals into other chemicals that don’t cause warming will reduce 89.74 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2050, according to Drawdown.

But it’s in combination that the solutions will achieve reversal. It’s a welcome perspective that diversity of land, as well as scaled technology, will allow us to adequately reverse climate change. Here are some examples from Drawdown.

Educating girls (ranked #6)

Thanks to One Girl’s Business Brainsprogram, Sarah now has her own small

business selling homemade butterscotch, which has enabled her to pay

for her continuing education.

Drawdown highlights that women with more years of education lead more vibrant lives that positively affect their families and communities. They also have fewer and healthier children, and curbing population growth significantly avoids emissions.

Further, Drawdown maintains that educated women have better nourished families and more productive plots of land, and are more effective stewards of soil, trees and water. Resilience in food production through a changing climate will have impacts that resound throughout the world.

A few key initiatives that enable girls to access education are:

• making school more affordable

• reducing the time and distance to get to school

• helping girls overcome health barriers, and

• making schools more girl-friendly.

One example of this kind of thinking comes from the not-for-profit One Girl, which is equipping women to start their own businesses in Uganda through their entrepreneurship program called Business Brains.

Drawdown calculates that 59.6 gigatons of carbon dioxide will be reduced by 2050 by educating girls.

Wave and tidal electricity generation (ranked #29)

Drawdown suggests that wave and tidal energy is a largely untapped energy source that utilises oceanic flows to generate electricity. Although the constant and hugely powerful nature of tides and waves holds great potential, the challenges of operating in harsh and complex marine environments has stalled developments in energy generation from the ocean.

Carnegie Energy is working to transform theglobal renewable energy market

through its unsurpassed waveenergy technology, CETO

Wave energy typically relies on generator devices floating on the surface of the water that convert wave movement to electricity. Tidal uses underwater turbines that spin and create power from rising and lowering tides. Supporters believe wave power could provide 25% of US electricity, for example, says Drawdown, and around the world technologies are being tested and improved to capture and convert the incredible power of the ocean into energy.

Drawdown approximates tidal and wave energy could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 9.2 gigatons over thirty years.

Indigenous people’s land management (ranked #39)

It makes sense that those who have lived on the land the longest are those best equipped to care for it. Drawdown’s analysis has found lower rates of deforestation and higher rates of carbon sequestration on lands that indigenous people manage. Sequestration is where carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and held in solid or liquid form – although this can be done artificially, forests do that well.

Indigenous communities have long been the frontline of resistance against deforestation. Their land management practices also encourage biodiversity and safeguard rich cultures and traditional ways of life. Growing the acreage under secure indigenous land tenure can sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, says Drawdown. Some actions include:

• engaging the local community to manage forests

• shifting swidden cultivation, which employs slashing and burning to clear land

• agroforestry – growing and conserving trees as part of the agricultural system, and

• using fire as a tool to maintain ecosystem dynamics.

Drawdown estimates that approximately 849.37 gigatons of carbon dioxide captured in the biomass of forests and soil will be protected by indigenous land management.

Finding the most effective way to contribute

The climate has always changed over time. It’s time to acknowledge that we’re contributors to this change and then start focusing on what we can do to positively affect that change. It’s important to reframe the ‘problem’ of climate change to perceive the change as an opportunity for improvement. Hawken pushes to shift the language around climate change away from war-related expressions like ‘fight against’, ‘combat’ and ‘slashing emissions’.

Responding to our changing climate is an opportunity to build a healthier and more inclusive environment and society. It’s also an opportunity for innovation. ‘Coming attractions’ by Project Drawdown is an inspiring collection of new technologies and ideas striving to reverse climate change.

From transitioning to a plant-rich diet (ranked #4) to ridesharing (ranked #75), there are many more solutions to explore, some of which may already be part of your daily life. Hawken says we need all of the solutions to achieve drawdown – so do what you’re passionate about to make a difference.

Want to go in the draw to win one of three copies of Drawdown, signed by Paul himself?! Enter here

The Drawdown Competition Terms & Conditions apply. Australian Ethical has independently chosen to promote the Drawdown Project and has no commercial ties or association with Paul Hawken or the Drawdown organisation.

Press link for more: Australian Ethical


‘Carbon Bubble’ Could Cost World Trillions #StopAdani #ClimateChange @ANZ_AU @CommBank #auspol #qldpol #Divest

Singapore-Supertrees are generating solar power, acting as air venting for conservatories, and collecting rain water, June 11, 2015 (Photo by Güldem Üstün) Creative Commons license via Flickr

By Sunny Lewis

CAMBRIDGE, UK, June 7, 2018 (Maximpact.com News) – Globally, the consumption of fossil fuels will slow down or decline in the near future as a result of fast-moving technological change and new climate policies, creating a “dangerous carbon bubble,” finds a newly published study by an international team of scientists.

If not deflated early, the carbon bubble could lead to a discounted global wealth loss of between US$1 trillion and $4 trillion, a loss comparable to what triggered the 2007 financial crisis, the study shows.

Relying on groundbreaking modeling techniques, researchers from Radboud University in the Netherlands, the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance (C-EENRG), Cambridge Econometrics, The Open University in the UK and the University of Macau were able to show that the demise of the fossil-fuel industry will have profound economic and geopolitical consequences.

The study is published in the current issue of the journal “Nature Climate Change.”

“If countries keep investing in equipment to search for, extract, process and transport fossil fuels, even though their demand declines, they will end up losing money on these investments on top of their losses due to limited exports,” explains co-author Dr. Jean-Francois Mercure of Radboud University and C-EENRG.

“Countries should instead carefully deflate the carbon bubble through investment in a variety of industries and steady divestment,” he advises. “The way in which this is done will determine the impact of the ongoing low-carbon transition on the financial sector.”

This transition will result in clear winners, importers such as China and the European Union, and losers, exporters such as Russia, the United States and Canada, which could see their fossil-fuel industries nearly shut down.

If these countries keep up their investment and production levels despite declining demand, the global wealth loss could be huge. Even the United States could not pull out from this transition, as it would only hurt itself even more, the researchers warn.

This new study is more conservative in its warnings than a 2013 research paper from Carbon Tracker and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics. That paper calls for regulators, governments and investors to re-evaluate energy business models against carbon budgets, to prevent a $6 trillion carbon bubble in the next decade.

The Underlying Reasoning

Quite a few major economies rely heavily on fossil-fuel production and exports. The price of fossil-fuel companies’ shares is calculated under the assumption that all fossil-fuel reserves will be consumed.

But to do so would be inconsistent with the tight carbon budget set in the 2015 Paris Agreement, which limits the increase in global average temperature to “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.”

According to a 2015 study in the journal “Nature,” an estimated third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves and more than 80 percent of known coal reserves should remain unused in order to meet global temperature targets under the Paris Agreement.

To date the Paris accord has not deterred continuing investment in fossil fuels because of the belief that climate-friendly policies will not be adopted, at least not in the near future.

But the researchers show that ongoing technological change, by itself and even without new climate policies, is already reducing global demand growth for fossil fuels, which could peak in the near future.

Examples are clean technologies in power generation, cars and households that become more efficient and so reduce the use of fossil fuels.

For instance, countries, states and cities representing 75 percent of new passenger car sales in 2016 have established electric vehicle targets totaling 15.1 million, providing policy certainty of a transition away from oil consuming vehicles.

New climate policies would aggravate the impact of policies like this, Dr. Mercure and his colleagues believe.

Because the Trump Administration has proclaimed the United States’ intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the scientists also modeled what would happen if the United States did continue to invest in fossil-fuel assets instead of diversifying and divesting from them.

The analysis shows the GDP of the United States would be reduced even further.

Dr. Mercure clarifies this point, saying, “With a declining global fossil-fuel demand, fossil-fuel production in the USA is becoming uncompetitive, and may shut down.”

“If the USA remains in the Paris Agreement, it will promote new low-carbon technologies and reduce its consumption of fossil fuels, creating jobs and mitigating its loss of income, despite losing its fossil-fuel industry,” he said.

“If it pulls out, it will nevertheless lose its fossil-fuel industry, but by not promoting low-carbon technologies, will miss out on job creation opportunities, while increasing its fossil-fuel imports by not reducing its domestic fossil-fuel consumption. The outcome is therefore worse if the USA pulls out,” said Dr. Mercure.

The process of transition towards a low-carbon economy is now becoming “inevitable,” as policies supporting this change have been developed and gradually implemented for some time in many countries, the authors point out.

Hector Pollitt, study co-author from Cambridge Econometrics and C-EENRG, says, “This new research clearly shows the mismatch between the reductions in fossil fuel consumption required to meet carbon targets and the behavior of investors.”

“Governments have an important role to play in emphasizing commitments to meet the Paris Agreement to ensure that the significant detrimental economic and geopolitical consequences we have identified are avoided,” warned Pollitt.

The authors conclude that economic damage from a carbon bubble burst could be avoided by decarbonizing early.

Divestment is Prudent

“We should be carefully looking at where we are investing our money. For instance, much like companies, pension funds and other institutions currently invest in fossil-fuel assets. Following recommendations from central banks, commercial banks are increasingly looking at the financial risks of stranded fossil-fuel assets, even though their possible impacts have not yet been fully determined,” said Mercure.

“Until now, observers mostly paid attention to the likely effectiveness of climate policies, but not to the ongoing and effectively irreversible technological transition,” Mercure concludes. “This level of ‘creative destruction’ appears inevitable now and must be carefully managed.”

Another new study, released June 4, bolsters these findings.

Policymakers are being misinformed by the results of economic models that underestimate the future risks of climate change impacts, according to the new paper by authors in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Published in the “Review of Environmental Economics and Policy” calls for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to improve how it analyzes the results of economic modeling as it prepares its Sixth Assessment Report, due to be published in 2021 and 2022.

The IPCC is the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change. It has 195 member states.

The paper’s authors point to “mounting evidence that current economic models of the aggregate global impacts of climate change are inadequate in their treatment of uncertainty and grossly underestimate potential future risks.”

This study, “Recommendations for Improving the Treatment of Risk and Uncertainty in Economic Estimates of Climate Impacts in the Sixth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report,” was written by Thomas Stoerk of the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund, Gernot Wagner of the Harvard University Center for the Environment and Bob Ward of the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy and Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

They warn that the assessment models used by economists “largely ignore the potential for ‘tipping points’ beyond which impacts accelerate, become unstoppable, or become irreversible.”

Featured image: Heavy seas engulf the Block Island Wind Farm, the first U.S. offshore wind farm, located off the coast of Rhode Island in the Atlantic Ocean. It came online in December 2016. (Photo by Dennis Schroeder / National Renewable Energy Laboratory) Public domain

Press link for more: Maximpactblog

Big Oil CEOs needed a #climatechange reality check. The #Pope delivered #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #TofuTyrant #GreenActivist @CourierMail

Big Oil CEOs needed a climate change reality check. The Pope delivered |

By Bill McKibben

At a gathering of fossil fuel executives at the Vatican, Pope Francis spoke much-needed common sense about climate change

‘Good common sense speaks even more loudly when it comes from unexpected corners.’ Photograph: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images

You kind of expect popes to talk about spiritual stuff, kind of the way you expect chefs to discuss spices or tree surgeons to make small talk about overhanging limbs.

Which is why it was so interesting this week to hear Pope Francis break down the climate debate in very practical and very canny terms, displaying far more mathematical insight than your average world leader and far more strategic canniness than your average journalist. In fact, with a few deft sentences, he laid bare the hypocrisy that dominates much of the climate debate.

The occasion was the gathering of fossil fuel executives at the Vatican, one of a series of meetings to mark the third anniversary of Laudato Si, his majestic encyclical on global warming. The meetings were closed, but by all accounts big oil put forward its usual anodyne arguments: any energy transition must be slow, moving too fast to renewable energy would hurt the poor by raising prices, and so forth.

In response, Francis graciously thanked the oil executives for attending, and for “developing more careful approaches to the assessment of climate risk”. But then he got down to business. “Is it enough?” he asked. “Will we turn the corner in time? No one can answer that with certainty, but with each month that passes, the challenge of energy transition becomes more pressing.” Two and a half years after the Paris climate talks, he pointed out, “carbon dioxide emissions and atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases remain very high. This is disturbing and a cause for real concern.” Indeed.

It’s odd to have the pope schooling energy executives on the math of carbon

What’s really “worrying”, though, “is the continued search for new fossil fuel reserves, whereas the Paris agreement clearly urged keeping most fossil fuels underground”. And in that small sentence he calls the bluff on most of what passes for climate action among nations and among fossil fuel companies. Yes, Donald Trump notwithstanding, most countries have begun to take some steps to reduce demand for energy over time. Yes, oil companies have begun to grudgingly issue “climate risk reports” and divert minuscule percentages of their research budgets to renewables.

(I guess that according to Brisbane’s Courier Mail & Australian resources chiefs the Pope is just another “Green Activist” supporting “Tofu Tyrant “)

But no one has been willing to face the fact that we have to leave more than 80% of known fossil fuel reserves underground if we have any chance of meeting the Paris targets. No company has been willing to commit to leaving the coal and oil and gas in the earth, and almost no nation has been willing to make them do so. Instead, the big fossil fuel countries continue to aid and abet the big fossil fuel companies in the push for more mining and drilling. In Australia, the Turnbull government backs a massive new coalmine; in Canada, the Trudeau government literally buys a pipeline to keep the tar sands expanding; in the US, the federal government might as well be a wholly owned subsidiary of the fossil fuel companies.

In fact, as Francis points out, it’s not just that these companies and countries are committed to digging up the reserves they currently have. Even more insanely, they’re out there exploring for more. Companies like Exxon devote billions and billions of dollars to finding new oil fields, even though we have far more oil than we could ever safely burn.

All of this is morally wrong, as Francis points out. “Decisive progress cannot be made without an increased awareness that all of us are part of one human family, united by bonds of fraternity and solidarity. Only by thinking and acting with constant concern for this underlying unity that overrides all differences, only by cultivating a sense of universal intergenerational solidarity, can we set out really and resolutely on the road ahead,” he says.

Which is great – it’s the job of religious leaders to remind us to think beyond our own self-interest.

But Francis also understands that our current approach makes no mathematical sense. We can’t have a nice, slow, easy transition because we can’t put barely any more carbon in the atmosphere. We must solve the problem of energy access for the poor by using renewables, not fossil fuel, because “our desire to ensure energy for all must not lead to the undesired effect of a spiral of extreme climate changes due to a catastrophic rise in global temperatures, harsher environments and increased levels of poverty”. Above all, we’ve got to pay as much attention to actual reality as we do to political reality: “Civilization requires energy, but energy use must not destroy civilization!”

Bill McKibben on his recent trip to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

It’s odd to have the pope schooling energy executives on the math of carbon. But actually, no odder than NFL quarterbacks schooling politicians on racial injustice, or high school kids schooling a nation on the danger of guns. Amid the unprecedented wave of nonsense coming from DC, it’s good to remember that there are still people of all kinds able to pierce through the static and the shouting. Good common sense speaks even more loudly when it comes from unexpected corners.

Bill McKibben is the Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College and the founder of the climate campaign 350.org

Press link for more: The Guardian

Reliance on fossil fuels could cause global economic crisis. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani @ANZ_AU @CommBank #Divest

Reliance on fossil fuels could cause global economic crisis.

According to Fiona Harvey over at The Guardian, “plunging prices for renewable energy and rapidly increasing investment in low-carbon technologies” could leave fossil fuel companies with trillions of dollars in stranded assets, sparking a global financial crisis with ramifications well beyond Big Energy itself.

Her (excellent) reporting is based on a study by J. F-. Mercure et al. called Macroeconomic impact of stranded fossil fuel assets, which posits that low-carbon technology diffusion, energy efficiency and climate policy are beginning to have a significant impact on fossil fuel demand. (Think Norwegian oil consumption dropping thanks to electric cars, for example, or UK energy emissions dropping to Victorian-era levels.)

The researchers suggest that stranded fossil fuel assets could result in a discounted global wealth loss of somewhere between US$1–4 trillion. and that—because clean energy technologies are now maturing to become directly competitive—much of this drop in demand will occur regardless of whether or not pro-climate policies are adopted by governments.

I have no argument with any of the above. Indeed we’ve warned of the carbon bubble many times before.

My concern, however, is in how much of the reporting on this story is subtly framed—namely that efficiency, renewables or electrification of transport are potential ’causes’ of such a crash.

While true, to some degree, there’s a danger that this is read by some as a negative consequence of low carbon technologies—as opposed to a negative consequence of our over reliance of fossil fuels in the first place.

Indeed, it’s not a million miles away from the logic that we should keep uncompetitive coal plants burning because of jobs, national security or an electoral college advantage for certain politicians.

You wouldn’t blame withdrawal symptoms on an addict giving up drugs.

You’d blame them on the addiction.

And the same is true here. Indeed the researchers themselves are very clear: Whether or not this crash results in a 2008-like financial crisis will depend on how and if financial markets take proactive steps to lessen their exposure to fossil fuels. For climate stability alone, we need to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels as fast as possible—the threat of financial exposure just provides one more incentive to do so.

Press link for more: Tree Hugger

We’re underestimating the economic risk of #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

We are almost certainly underestimating the economic risks of climate change

The models that inform climate policymaking are fatally flawed.

David RobertsJun 9, 2018, 7:24am EDT

With some stories, you just can’t avoid stock art.

Getty Images/EyeEm

One of the more vexing aspects of climate change politics and policy is the longstanding gap between the models that project the physical effects of global warming and those that project the economic impacts. In a nutshell, even as the former deliver worse and worse news, especially about a temperature rise of 3 degrees Celsius or more, the latter remain placid.

The famous DICE model created by Yale’s William Nordhaus shows that a 6-degree rise in global average temperature — which the physical sciences characterize as an unlivable hellscape — would only dent global GDP by 10 percent.

Projections of modest economic impacts from even the most severe climate change affect climate politics in a number of ways. For one thing, they inform policy goals like those President Obama offered in Paris, restraining their ambition. For another, they fuel the arguments of “lukewarmers,” those who say that the climate is warming but it’s not that big a problem. (Lukewarmism is the public stance of most Trump Cabinet members.)

Climate hawks have long had the strong instinct that it’s the economic models, not the physical-science models, that are missing something — that the current expert consensus about climate economic damages is far too sanguine — but they often lack the vocabulary to do any more than insist.

As it happens, that vocabulary exists. At this point, there is a fairly rich literature on the shortcomings of the climate-economic models upon which so much political weight rests. (Here’s an old post of mine from 2015 bashing them.)

Two recent papers help simplify and summarize that literature. They are addressed to different audiences (one the US, one the international community), but both stress the importance of improving these lagging models before the next round of policymaking. I’ll touch on the US-focused one first, the international one second.

US climate policy is moribund; it’s a good time to update models

The first paper is “Time to refine key climate policy models,” a commentary in Nature Climate Change by Alexander Barron, a former Environmental Protection Agency and congressional staffer (on the Waxman-Markey bill) who is now at Smith College.

He notes that a relatively small set of models — “a handful of computational general equilibrium (CGE) models, sector-specific models, or hybrids like the US Energy Information Administration (EIA)’s National Energy Modeling System (NEMS)” — tends to set expectations and policymaking in the US. And there are reasons to believe those models are systematically underestimating climate change’s economic impacts and overstating the costs of mitigating it.

Barron summarizes the areas where current modeling falls short.

Technology costs: When it comes to clean energy technology, economics and policy are moving quickly, and because of the vicissitudes of academic review, the cost data used in official models is often years old and well out of date. Plus, models assume learning curves that renewables have exceeded again and again. “Work to incorporate empirically supported learning rates and induced innovation is challenging but possible,” Barron writes, “and research suggests that including innovation can significantly lower required carbon prices for a given target.”

Opportunities outside the electricity sector: As I’ve written recently, climate policy urgently needs to broaden its gaze from the power sector and start taking on other sectors. But models inhibit that. In models, the transportation sector and especially the industrial sector are resistant to carbon prices.

Research is needed to disaggregate those sectors into subsectors and find the places where policy can gain traction, and to explore the effects of electrification, widespread behavioral changes, cutting-edge technologies (like autonomous vehicles), and other things to which models remain largely blind.

Electrification is coming.


Demand and energy efficiency: Though virtually all decarbonization scenarios involve massive amounts of energy efficiency, we remain unable to model it very well. It is often “forced” into models as an exogenous variable, but at a flat per-kWh cost that allows little differentiation between the different potentials of different subsectors. Data on efficiency is not sophisticated enough to allow models to intelligently allocate resources to it and within it.

“All models would benefit from sustained investment in improved efficiency cost estimates, more publicly available data, updated information on adoption behaviors, and careful examination of model responses,” Barron writes.

Social benefits: Models often omit or undercount social benefits like health improvements and reductions in premature mortality from lower air pollution, reductions in disaster management costs, and the, uh, “use value” of a clean environment (hiking and stuff). “In fact,” Barron writes, “none of the modeling platforms historically used to analyze US climate policy produce direct estimates of the economy-wide reductions in air pollutants, let alone their economic impacts.”

(In late 2017, EPA’s Science Advisory Board released detailed recommendations for how to improve cost-benefit analyses along these lines. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is currently working to neuter the board and make cost-benefit analysis even worse.)

Uncertainty: To “reduce fixation on a single scenario,” Barron says, policymakers should be presented with a range of projections emphasizing how outcomes vary with assumptions and sensitivities. Modelers should strain to ensure that journalists and policymakers understand that models are not predictions and that outcomes depend entirely on our choices.

These are fairly technical problems, but solutions are within the grasp of the research community. US climate policy is likely on hold for (at least) four years, as Trump madness is worked out, but this is an area where improvement is both possible and achievable.

“Shortcomings in existing policy models represent barriers to climate policy that could be reduced with modest resources and limited political capital,” Barron writes. It would be nice for better models to be available when the US returns to sane climate policymaking.

The IPCC is working on its next big report and still using models that underestimate economic damages

The second paper, in Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, makes the same point — commonly used models are underestimating the economic impacts of climate change — in a slightly different way, to a different audience.

The audience in this case is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is preparing to pull together its Sixth Assessment Report, to be released over 2021 and 2022. IPCC assessment reports are hugely influential in global policymaking.

The models typically used to estimate effects are integrated assessment models (IAMs), using an “expected utility function” — that is, they add up effects based on their probability of occurring. Such models are “integrated” in that they include economic and climate models in interaction. The economy produces emissions, which feed into the climate models, which produce effects, which are applied as a “damage function” to the economic models.

The problems with IAMs are well-explored at this point (see this collection of papers from the National Academy of Sciences; or, see above), but the paper’s authors — Thomas Stoerk of the Environmental Defense Fund, Gernot Wagner of the Harvard University Center for the Environment, and Bob Ward of the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy and Grantham Research Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science — focus on one in particular.

The expected utility function does not allow modelers to indicate their subjective confidence in various sources of input data. And many difficult-to-quantify effects are omitted entirely; “physical impacts are often not translated into monetary terms and they have largely been ignored by climate economists,” the authors write.

In other words, IAMs have the effect of undercounting risks and masking uncertainty, which is unfortunate since risks and uncertainties are the signal features of climate policymaking.

The heart of the critique is that IAMs do not properly account for “tipping points,” levels of atmospheric change “beyond which impacts accelerate, become unstoppable, or become irreversible.” We do not have a great understanding of tipping points or exactly when they might occur. But we know that they become more likely as temperature climbs and become almost certain as temperatures rise more than 4, 5, or 6 degrees.

Such high temperatures are not the most likely outcome, but they are, shall we say, less unlikely than one might like. The distribution of climate outcomes has a “fat tail,” which means even on the far end of extreme possibilities, a 6-degree apocalypse, the chances are still between 5 and 10 percent.

Wagner & Weitzman

IAMs do not account well for fat-tail risks. Nor do they account for “ambiguity aversion,” the authors write, “a widely held preference to avoid uncertainty.” If they properly understood it, people probably wouldn’t like the idea of betting millions of lives and possibly the future of the species on avoiding an outcome with 5 to 10 percent probability.

The most straightforward way to better integrate tipping points into IAMs would be to increase the steepness of the damage function. In a 2012 paper, famed Harvard climate economist Martin Weitzman “proposes a steeper damage function that relies on input from an expert panel that explicitly considered physical tipping points,” the authors write. “This damage function leads to a loss of global output of around 50 percent for a temperature increase of 6°C.”

Subsequent research has supported the contention that proper consideration of tipping points raises both expected economic impacts and the optimal size of a carbon price.

The authors summarize their conclusions about the state of climate economics:

First, the expected utility framework fails to capture important dimensions of the climate decision problem. Second, when uncertainty is explicitly considered within the expected utility framework, estimates of the economic damages from climate change generally increase, often by as much as an order of magnitude. [my emphasis]

The authors urge the IPCC to look beyond the expected utility framework and explore other models of decision-making under uncertainty. “Instead of the technical expert calculus that is currently used,” the authors write, “decisions concerning optimal climate policy should ideally move to public debates about the ethical choices that underlie different decision frameworks.” (Amen to that.)

And they urge the IPCC to better account for tipping points, which will have the effect of raising economic impact estimates and reducing estimated policy costs.

Model talk is kind of boring, but models underlie everything

There’s a lot of technical mumbo-jumbo flying around in these conversations about models, so it’s important to step back and recall the point of all this.

Policymakers want to know how much climate change will hurt the economy. They want to know how much policies to fight climate change will cost. Models provide them with answers. Right now, models are (inaccurately) telling them that damage costs will be low and policy costs will be high.

Political mobilization on climate change is going to fight a headwind as long as policymakers are getting those answers from models.

We need models that negatively weigh uncertainty, properly account for tipping points, incorporate more robust and current technology cost data, better differentiate sectors outside electricity, rigorously price energy efficiency, and include the social and health benefits of decarbonization.

One, such models would be more accurate, better at their task of informing policymakers. And two, they would justify far more policy and investment to fight climate change than has been seen to date in the US or any other major economy. We shouldn’t let the blind spots and shortcomings of current models undermine political ambition.

Save the models, save the world.

Press link for more: Vox.com

Pope to Oil Executives “#ClimateChange May Destroy Civilisation” #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Pope warns oil executives: Climate change may ‘destroy civilization’

Avery Anapol06/09/18 07:21 AM EDT

Pope Francis on Saturday issued a dire warning to top oil executives, saying that climate change could “destroy civilization.”

At a two-day conference at the Vatican, the pope called climate change a challenge of “epochal proportions,” according to Reuters.

He also said that the world must move toward using clean energy and a reduction in the use of fossil fuels.

“Civilization requires energy but energy use must not destroy civilization,” Francis said.

The conference, organized by the University of Notre Dame in the United States, brought together executives from asset manager BlackRock, BP and Norwegian oil and energy company Equinor, among others.

The event was prompted by Francis’s 2015 papal encyclical blaming humans for climate change and criticizing world leaders for not acting swiftly enough to address it.

The conference comes a little less than a year after President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord. Trump has referred to global warming as a “hoax” and drawn criticism from the scientific community for stacking his administration with officials who deny the human role in climate change. During a meeting with Trump, the pope gave him a copy of the encyclical.

The pope told the group Saturday that global issues like poverty are “interconnected” to concerns about global warming and access to electricity.

“We know that the challenges facing us are interconnected,” he said, according to Reuters. “If we are to eliminate poverty and hunger … the more than one billion people without electricity today need to gain access to it.”

“But that energy should also be clean, by a reduction in the systematic use of fossil fuels,” he added. “Our desire to ensure energy for all must not lead to the undesired effect of a spiral of extreme climate changes due to a catastrophic rise in global temperatures, harsher environments and increased levels of poverty.”

Press link for more: The Hill

Can a New Kind of Consumerism Help Fight #ClimateChange ? #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Can a New Kind of Consumerism Help Fight Climate Change?

By Matt Simon

Matt writes WIRED Science’s Absurd Creature of the Week column and occasionally a check or IOU.

Boy, it’s hard to stay optimistic these days, what with the impending doom of our species at the hands of … our species.

Namely, human-caused climate change.

Climbing temperatures are ripping apart ecosystems, and rising seas are already forcing people from their homes.

If an asteroid was going to destroy our planet, now would be the time to just get it over with.

But today lands an uplifting and intriguing, if not counterintuitive, study in the journal Nature Energy.

An international team of scientists has developed a global scenario called Low Energy Demand, arguing that humanity’s appetite for things like electric cars and cellphones, as well as the development of better building standards, can drive a revolution in efficiency that could help lower energy demand and encourage the proliferation of renewable energy.

The researchers claim that if several trends fall into place, we’d be able to make the idealistic goal set by the Paris Climate Agreement to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees C.

To be clear: This is a highly theoretical scenario, not a certainty.

It’s based on assumptions—technological adoption, population growth, etc.—and it is necessarily imperfect, like any model.

These researchers aren’t saying, “Hooray, salvation!” They’re saying that given lots of converging trends in sustainability and efficiency, humanity could yet make big progress in tackling the problem of climate change.

“This seems to be a positive story,” says the study’s lead author, Arnulf Grubler of Austria’s International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. “We can promote sustainable development.

We can stay below 1.5 degrees if we focus on energy end use, on the way people use energy and promote sustainable development, and here the key aspect is efficiency.”

This is how the researchers went about it.

They identified major drivers of change in energy use, for example cities becoming test beds for innovations like the sharing economy.

This is broken down into more specific trends, like the rise of shared electric vehicle fleets. “If everybody buys an electric car, well then you have to wait 12, 14 years for innovations to be rolled out into the marketplace, because people will not prematurely sell their car or scrap it,” says Grubler. “But in a car-sharing scheme, or shared mobility, we use these assets so much that it’s actually natural to replace these assets very regularly.”

This brings rapid innovation. And say you’ve got solar panels at home to charge your electric car. Not only can you send that energy into the grid when you’re not at home, but the battery in your electric car can store energy for someone else to tap into.

You’re no longer just a consumer of energy, but an active participant in the dynamics of the grid.

Or take mobile phones. Now in the hands of billions people, users want their phones to do more, to replace more energy-hungry devices, like TVs. They want them to be more energy efficient. Those kinds of market forces—or consumerism, depending how you look at it—could in a way drive down energy usage.

The researchers then reviewed studies that showed what services humans would need to raise their living standards, particularly in the global south. “At this stage, we look at given these rising activity levels, how can we provide for those with dramatically less energy?” says Charlie Wilson, a coauthor on the paper and climate change scientist at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in the UK. “And part of the answer is technologies can become much more energy efficient.”

Using those inputs, they could calculate energy demand in the coming decades. “Then,” Wilson says, “we used a global model of the energy system to work out well how can we meet that energy demand in 2050,” using strategies like renewables. “That gives us then the emissions which we could work out and test whether they were consistent with our 1.5 degree C target.”

They were—even with a population that could grow to over 9 billion, a factor this scenario considered. “All other scenarios predict ever increasing energy demand,” says Grubler. “This scenario actually predicts a declining energy demand, despite having vast increases in activities.

People travel more, eat better, have more material well being and wealth, but in a more efficient, organizational way.”

All well and good, but why would so many other scenarios predict increased energy use? “A lot of these narratives that are used to shape long-term scenarios, they’ve been focused on these really narrow ideas of what technology will look like in the future,” says Justin Ritchie, an energy economist at the University of British Columbia’s Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, who wasn’t involved in the study.

Standard practice for modelers is taking historical growth since WWII and extrapolating it forward. “Then this study is kind of turning that on its head, and saying, let’s take all of the kinds of discussions that people are having on the frontiers of technology and imagining that as the basis of climate impacts.”

This is important, so I’ll repeat it: We’re talking about a scenario here, not a certainty.

Take the smartphone example—consolidating a slew of devices into one, thus cutting how much energy you’re burning. “The question would be: Are you really prepared to watch TV on your smartphone?” asks Swiss Federal Institute of Technology climate scientist Reto Knutti, who also wasn’t involved in the study. “Of course you could, it’s technically OK, but the reality has been that whenever things get cheaper and more energy efficient, you just buy a bigger TV.”

Beyond the behavior of consumers, scenarios are also affected on a larger scale by the behavior of governments.

So, ahem, the United States isn’t exactly on a course to abandon coal and pour mountains of money in renewables. But again, no model is perfect. Scientists can’t predict the future, but they can make good judgements about it based on past and current trends.

“Is it robust to possible political issues going on today or into the future?” asks Wilson. “Well, no. We’re not saying this scenario will happen no matter what.

There could be lots of reasons for continued emphasis on, for example, fossil fuel burning, in which case the 1.5 degree warming target set in the Paris Agreement would not be met.”

But. This scenario teases apart not just the future of technological innovation, but attitude innovation.

The abandonment of the let’s-all-own-cars-and-sit-in-them-in-traffic-alone model in favor of car sharing. “It does require an enormous, if you like, openness to innovation in our daily lives, as well as in the technological and infrastructural systems which provide the useful services we consume in our daily lives,” Wilson says.

Maybe this all won’t pan out.

Maybe the developing world won’t build as efficient buildings as they could.

Maybe electric cars won’t take over as soon as we’d like. And maybe Trump decides America’s grid should run entirely on coal.

Nothing is certain, but good scenarios can go a long way in mapping out a stubbornly uncertain future.

Press link for more: Wired.com

Clean Energy & Environment worth $4 Trillion #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #Innovation #ClimateChange

Green economy now worth as much as fossil fuel sector

Caitlin TilleyPublished on 05/06/2018, 3:42pm

FTSE Russell reports 6% of global equity market, roughly $4 trillion, comes from clean energy and environmental service sector

The green economy now holds roughly the same market share as the fossil fuel sector, according to market analysts FTSE Russell.

In a report released last week, 6% of globally listed equity was derived from renewable and alternative energy, energy efficiency, water, waste and pollution services. This ‘green economy’ was now worth approximately $4 trillion, roughly the same as the fossil fuel sector.

The green economy is also growing, the analysts said, in contrast to fossil fuels, which has shrunk.

“No longer a loose concept the green economy is now a measurable and definable investment priority,” said the report.

FTSE Russell found that if the sustainable economy maintained its current course, it could represent 7% of the global market capitalisation by 2030, even reaching 10% with $90 trillion in green investment – a target called for by UK economist Nicholas Stern in 2016.

The green economy was widely spread across companies of different size and nature. It also covered a large geographical range.

Whilst approximately two thirds of green market capitalisation was comprised of large companies, small and mid-sized firms represent a higher number of green companies and are more deeply exposed to the need for economic transition.

The energy industry comprises more than half of the green economy. Food and agriculture, water and transport are other important sectors.

In terms of financial value, the US is the largest contributor to the green economy. But Japan and Europe were above average. Germany and France are significant European participants, with higher than average green exposure, each providing around 4% of the green sector.

Press link for more: Climate Change News

Will we see GFC II when the carbon bubble bursts? #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange #ParisAgreement

‘Carbon bubble’ could spark global financial crisis, study warns

Advances in clean energy expected to cause a sudden drop in demand for fossil fuels, leaving companies with trillions in stranded assets

Fiona HarveyTue 5 Jun 2018 01.00 AEST

Advances in clean energy expected to cause a sudden drop in demand for fossil fuels, leaving companies with trillions in stranded assets.

Plunging prices for renewable energy and rapidly increasing investment in low-carbon technologies could leave fossil fuel companies with trillions in stranded assets and spark a global financial crisis, a new study has found.

A sudden drop in demand for fossil fuels before 2035 is likely, according to the study, given the current global investments and economic advantages in a low-carbon transition.

The existence of a “carbon bubble” – assets in fossil fuels that are currently overvalued because, in the medium and long-term, the world will have to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions – has long been proposed by academics, activists and investors. The new study, published on Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, shows that a sharp slump in the value of fossil fuels would cause this bubble to burst, and posits that such a slump is likely before 2035 based on current patterns of energy use.

Crucially, the findings suggest that a rapid decline in fossil fuel demand is no longer dependent on stronger policies and actions from governments around the world. Instead, the authors’ detailed simulations found the demand drop would take place even if major nations undertake no new climate policies, or reverse some previous commitments.

That is because advances in technologies for energy efficiency and renewable power, and the accompanying drop in their price, have made low-carbon energy much more economically and technically attractive.

Dr Jean-François Mercure, the lead author, from Radboud and Cambridge universities, told the Guardian: “This is happening already – we have observed the data and made projections from there. With more policies from governments, this would happen faster. But without strong [climate] policies, it is already happening. To some degree at least you can’t stop it. But if people stop putting funds now in fossil fuels, they may at least limit their losses.”

By moving to a lower-carbon footing, companies and investors could take advantage of the transition that is occurring, rather than trying to fight the growing trend. Mercure said fossil fuel companies were likely to fight among each other for the remaining market, rather than have a strong impact on renewable energy businesses.

Prof Jorge Viñuales, co-author, said: “Contrary to investor expectations, the stranding of fossil fuel assets may happen even without new climate policies. Individual nations cannot avoid the situation by ignoring the Paris agreement or burying their heads in coal and tar sands.”

However, Mercure also warned that the transition was happening too slowly to stave off the worst effects of climate change. Although the trajectory towards a low-carbon economy would continue, to keep within 2C above pre-industrial levels – the limit set under the Paris agreement – would require much stronger government action and new policies.

That could also help investors by pointing the way to deflation of the carbon bubble before they make new investments in fossil fuel assets.

The paper supports the view of some policy and investment experts that economics and technology are now driving action on climate change, where before impetus was all from policymakers. Former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres told the Guardian, a year after Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of the US from the Paris agreement: “There is a big difference between the economics of climate change and the politics of climate change. Is Trump going to stop that advance [by businesses towards low-carbon technologies]? I don’t think so.”

Frédéric Samama, of Europe’s biggest asset manager Amundi, also believes investors have reached a “tipping point”, in relation to taking action on greenhouse gases through their portfolio management. He told Bloomberg last month that “until recently, the question” of climate change was “not on their radar screen”.

Separately, an analysis in Nature Energy forecast that global energy demand would be about 40% lower than today by 2050, despite rises in population and income, and a growing global economy. The authors found that such a scenario would allow the world to stay within 1.5C of warming, the aspirational goal set under the Paris agreement.

Press link for more: The Guardian

Transport Emissions: Driving Down Car Pollution in Cities #auspol #qldpol #ClimateChange #AirPollution #StopAdani

Transport Emissions: Driving Down Car Pollution in Cities

Cars are a major source of greenhouse gas pollution in Australian cities, our latest report explains.

Transport is Australia’s third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, with emissions from transport increasing nearly 60% since 1990, more than any other sector.

Cars are responsible for roughly half of all transport emissions. Collectively, Australian cars emit roughly the same per year as Queensland’s entire coal and gas fired electricity supply.

In ratifying the Paris Agreement, Australia committed to rapidly reduce our carbon emissions, by reducing emissions by 26- 28 percent on 2005 levels by 2030 and transitioning to zero emissions before 2050. A number of state governments have also committed to zero net emissions targets by 2050. Despite these pledges to tackle climate change, Australia’s emissions continue to rise, particularly from the transport sector.

Key Findings:

• Transport is Australia’s third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, with the highest rate of growth.

• Cars are responsible for roughly half of Australia’s transport emissions. Australian cars emit about the same as Queensland’s entire electricity supply.

• An international scorecard ranked Australia second-worst for transport energy efficiency.

• Key climate solutions for transport involve:

◦ providing viable alternatives to driving, such as expanding access to reliable, comfortable public transport.

◦ electrifying and powering cars, buses, trains and trams with 100% renewable energy.

◦ adopting stringent, mandatory greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and other vehicle

Press link for more: Climate Council