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UN: Progress on Emission Reduction Too Slow #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

Global Economy Improving, but Progress on Emission Reductions too Slow – UN | UNFCCC

UN Climate Change News, 18 May 2018 – A new UN report shows that whilst short-term prospects for the world economy are improving, with the world gross product expected to expand by 3.2 per cent in both 2018 and 2019, a lot more needs to be done to avert a major economic downturn linked to unchecked climate change.

The study by the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs points towards a 1.4 percent increase of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2017 due to a combination of accelerated economic growth, relatively cheap fossil fuels and weak energy efficiency efforts.

“While recent evidence points to progress in decoupling emissions growth from GDP growth in some developed economies, it is still manifestly insufficient. The rate of global energy efficiency gains has been slowing since 2015, reaching 1.7 percent in 2017—half the rate required to remain on track with the Paris Agreement”, say the authors of the report ‘World Economic Situation and Prospects as of mid-2018.’

Improving energy efficiency and a radical shift to low carbon for the world’s markets is integral to meeting the objectives set forth by the Paris Agreement, which aims to respond to climate change by keeping a global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees C.

The authors of the report say that several steps can be taken to notably align the rate of energy efficiency gains with the goals of the Paris Agreement. These include the reform of fossil fuel subsidies and taxes, deploying renewable energy technology, and decreasing the cost of renewable energy generation.

Warnings of Climate Impacts Setting In

Man-made greenhouse gas emissions account for 2016 and 2017 being the two hottest years on record.

Evidence from the report states that a rising global average temperature could translate into a slower growth of per capita output in countries with a high average temperature, most of which are low-income countries.

The sectors of agricultural production, labor productivity, weather dependent industry, capital accumulation and human health are most at risk for disruption from an unpredictable climate.

Warmer climates create shifting rainfall patterns, rising sea levels, and an increased frequency of extreme weather events. Respectively, these events can move the locations of farmlands, endanger Small Island Developing States, and threaten large population centers.

Policy Reform Crucial to Meeting Paris Agreement Goals

The report says that a reform of fossil fuel policy could increase the rate of energy efficiency gains.

Additionally, the use of new technologies such as wind, solar, electric vehicles and battery storage is critical.

In 2017, renewables accounted for 61 percent of all newly installed net power capacity in 2017 with solar alone encompassing 38 percent.

Falling costs for solar and wind power supported the economic viability for several renewable energy projects.

But even with the newly-installed capacity, renewable energy today only accounts for 19 percent of power capacity and 12.1 percent of power generation around the globe.

At the current rate of change, the pace of power transition would take approximately 55 years for the share of renewables to reach 50 percent of earth’s total energy capacity – too late to ensure the Paris Agreement’s goals can be met.

Read the full report here

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The Fate Of The Planet Is In Our Hands #auspol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

The Fate Of The Planet Is In Our Hands

Anurit Kanti

Even though the damage done to the earth is more or less irreversible, sustained efforts to restore its ecology may avert Armageddon

There are always two ways of  looking at anything, including the future of the earth. Pessimism sadly, presents the more realistic picture.

The  “Tragedy of the Commons”, to quote American ecologist Garrett James Hardin, would lead to a future that is bleak for conservation, biodiversity elimination, and the crossing of planetary thresholds.

Destruction of the ecosystem has been rampant since the Industrial Revolution, which was the turning point in the narrative on climate change. In his 2009 article, ‘A Safe Space for Humanity’ Johann Rockstrom, Professor of Environmental Science at Stockholm University, enlisted nine planetary thresholds on which the resilience of our ecological system depends. Three of the nine planetary thresholds, namely climate change, biodiversity loss and nitrogen cycle, have already been crossed. We are headed toward the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ that Hardin describes in his eponymous essay, in which humanity’s unperturbed carelessness with production and consumption exhausts an already depleted Earth.

The coming decade-and-a-half will be critical for our planet. Even though the damage done is more or less irreversible, as evident in the crossing of the planetary thresholds, sustained efforts to rehabilitate the ecology could avert a catastrophe. Population rise, urbanisation, emissions, deforestation, consumption and other metrics of sustainability are perpetually rising and a two degree rise in global temperatures is inevitable over the next 15 years – even by an optimistic estimate.

Several species of life are turning extinct every day. Some cities are choking with air-pollution. The ocean is smothered with pollutants and the ice-caps are melting. Most of the earth’s population still reels in poverty, illiteracy and gender inequality. Eradication of poverty through unsustainable industrial development could increase environmental degradation.

A Ray of Hope

There are some silver linings to this cloud. The deadline for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is 2030 and the SDGs address almost all economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainability. As member nations of the United Nations strive toward the SDGs, heavy investments are likely to flow into appropriate measures. Investment in clean energy, use of clean energy and investment in clean-technology is at an all-time high.

Over the next 15 years, renewable energy targets will certainly be met to a large extent, given the current push towards sustainability by both the public and private sectors. “There will be close to 11 billion people on earth by the end of 21st Century, and the pressure on resources will be enormous. The next 10 to 15 years will be crucial to bring in a drastic change that will chart the path of sustainability for human survival at the end of the century. There will be ‘disruptive’ innovations in all fronts – the way we consume and use resources; the productivity we expect from each unit of water or energy or material.

Sustainability will not be a separate function in organisations, but every function will embrace sustainability. The ‘asset-based’ economy will give way to ‘user-based’ concepts, where every resource will be used optimally,” says Dipankar Ghosh, Partner, Sustainability and Climate Change at Thinkthrough Consulting.

The future of sustainability and climate change in India will be determined to a great extent by our pursuit of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) set at the Paris Agreement of 2015. The NDCs will be a focus area for the Union Ministry of Environment, in coordination with the other ministries.

Says Dr Hem Dholakia, “The next 10-15 years will see countries act on their climate pledges made in Paris. On the mitigation front, energy (e.g. investments in renewable energy, clean coal technologies, energy efficiency) and mobility transitions (e.g. electric vehicles and public transport) will drive the achievement of India’s Nationally Determined Contributions. We will also witness greater investments in adaptation at the sub-national level across infrastructure, agriculture and the health sector”.

In fact, the pursuit of the sustainability goals and those for mitigating climate change are critical to ensure a future for our planet. Policies will need to be finetuned, investments will have to be made and collaborations will be critical. Most crucial, though, will be our own commitment and attitude towards sustainability of the environment, for sustaining the environment is critical for sustaining humankind.

As Founder and CEO of Envecologic, Alok Raj Gupta says, “The magnitude of the problem of climate change is so big, and efforts made thus far so small that we may not be able to undo the damage. Humanity’s best chance lies in smart adaptation to climate change. The next 15 years will witness various policies and technologies improving our adaptability. Slowly but steadily, sustainability will become the world order, which means that no policy, no economic practice, no new initiatives will be devoid of the concept of   sustainability.”

Progress is critical, but surely, not at the cost of Mother Earth. As pioneering environmental scientist, Donella Meadows, likes to point out, the motto should not be “blind opposition to progress, but rather, opposition to blind progress”. The fate of the planet, is in our hands.

Press link for more: Business World

#ClimateChange is a multifaceted problem. #DiEM25 #auspol #qldpol #Tourism

Climate change is a multifaceted problem.

It roots not only in our views of the environment as a rubbish dump, but also in the indifference of material interests, shallow public scientific debates, and poor allocation of resources.

It’s complex, worldwide.

But one key driver of carbon emissions – previously overlooked – is something that we can control: the tourist industry.

Scientists have been trying to quantify the effect of tourism for decades.

But a recent study suggests that our previous calculations were considering only part of the problem.

In fact, by analyzing the effect of tourism in a more holistic approach, some alarming results emerge: between 2009 and 2013 tourism and tourism-related carbon emissions increased by 20 per cent.

This number significantly escalates the contribution of tourism to global carbon emissions.

Of course, fighting tourism-related emissions is not enough.

Our planet faces multiple crises, and we need to tackle them all at the same time; We have already noted that the fight for poverty and against climate change should not be independent.

This is why we design our policies collectively and holistically.

We envision restoration of democracy in conjunction with sound economic policies and heavy investments in green technologies. Join us here and contribute to our common fight!

Do you want to be informed of DiEM25’s actions? Sign up here.

Press link for more DiEM25

Climate change: Fake news? #auspol #StopAdani #Budget2018 A must read for all politicians.

Climate change: Fake news?

The science involved in energy and climate change explained at a basic level

World Scientific

If you follow either traditional news sources or social media, you would have heard strikingly different assertions about scientific issues such as climate change.

Is it a “hoax created by the Chinese” or “the most urgent issue confronting the world” today?

How is it possible for such contradictory claims to coexist in the scientific community?

Answering such questions requires some understanding of how science is done, on the one hand, and specifically the state-of-the-art of the relevant science. And Science of the Earth, Climate and Energy does just that.

Important problems like energy resources, sustainability and climate change are discussed in the book in terms of basic principles, without much use of mathematics. The reader can then understand the nature of controversial debates which are related to these issues, and so contribute to the discussion from an informed background.

The book begins with a description of the ingredients associated with scientific discovery and debate, in general. A key element is the fundamental premise that “science never proves anything”. Instead, scientific understanding advances through experiments, their analyses and theoretical interpretation by many individuals. If and when a consensus emerges, it is provisional and subject to further testing.

In the case of climate science, such a consensus has been reached: human activities are contributing significantly to climate change. This anthropocentric interpretation implies that global warming, sea level rise, ocean acidification and other consequences of our actions affect our planet adversely. The book describes the evidence for this conclusion and what the troubling situation implies for mitigation of these potential problems.

Since this book is addressed at a general reader, who possesses relatively little relevant background, the level of presentation is appropriately qualitative. Such a reader might want to assess the pertinent scientific evidence and its consequences for him or her, as well as for the planet as a whole. A key component of the book is an extended discussion of actions than can be taken by individuals, through both their energy-related actions and as citizens in their societies’ decision-making.

This book currently retails for US$150 / £130 (hardback) at major bookstores. Professors/universities looking into adopting the book may write to sales@wspc.com for an inspection copy. To know more about the book visit http://www.worldscientific.com/worldscibooks/10.114210807.

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About The Authors

Milton W Cole is Distinguished Professor of Physics at Penn State University. He is a co-author of Physical Adsorption: Forces and Phenomena (Oxford, and Dover) and Applications of Modern Physics in Medicine (Princeton). A former Fulbright Scholar at Oxford University, Cole won the 2001 National Academy of Sciences Award for Scientific Reviewing. He is co-translator from the French of a play, The Bomb and the Swastika, written by Amand Lucas (Crossocean Publishing).

Angela D Lueking is Professor of Energy and Mineral Engineering and Chemical Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University, and is a visiting scientist at the National Science Foundation. Along with core engineering courses, she teaches a project-based sustainability course, and is interested in supplementing traditional graduate education with outreach to K-12 students. Her research on material development for energy efficient technologies led to her selection as an International Marie Curie Fellow in 2013. Prior to her academic career, Angela worked as an Environmental Engineer in industry, where she led several environmental initiatives including chemical management, air-permitting, and environmental training.

David L Goodstein is Professor Emeritus of Physics and Applied Physics at the California Institute of Technology, where he served as Vice-Provost between 1988 and 2007. He is the author of many books, including most recently On Fact and Fraud: Cautionary Tales from the Front Lines of Science (Princeton), Out of Gas: the End of the Age of Oil (Norton) and Climate Change and the Energy Problem (World Scientific). He is the recipient of the Oersted Medal of the American Association of Physics Teachers and the John P McGovern Medal of the Sigma Xi Society. He is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the California Council on Science and Technology.

About World Scientific Publishing Co.

World Scientific Publishing is a leading international independent publisher of books and journals for the scholarly, research and professional communities. World Scientific collaborates with prestigious organisations like the Nobel Foundation and US National

Academies Press to bring high quality academic and professional content to researchers and academics worldwide. The company publishes about 600 books annually and 135 journals in various fields. To find out more about World Scientific, please visit http://www.worldscientific.com.

For more information, contact Amanda at heyun@wspc.com.

Thanks to @ProfTerryHughes we know #ClimateChange Threatens the Reef. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Abstract

Global warming is rapidly emerging as a universal threat to ecological integrity and function, highlighting the urgent need for a better understanding of the impact of heat exposure on the resilience of ecosystems and the people who depend on them.

Here we show that in the aftermath of the record-breaking marine heatwave on the Great Barrier Reef in 2016, corals began to die immediately on reefs where the accumulated heat exposure exceeded a critical threshold of degree heating weeks, which was 3–4 °C-weeks.

After eight months, an exposure of 6 °C-weeks or more drove an unprecedented, regional-scale shift in the composition of coral assemblages, reflecting markedly divergent responses to heat stress by different taxa.

Fast-growing staghorn and tabular corals suffered a catastrophic die-off, transforming the three-dimensionality and ecological functioning of 29% of the 3,863 reefs comprising the world’s largest coral reef system.

Our study bridges the gap between the theory and practice of assessing the risk of ecosystem collapse, under the emerging framework for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Ecosystems, by rigorously defining both the initial and collapsed states, identifying the major driver of change, and establishing quantitative collapse thresholds.

The increasing prevalence of post-bleaching mass mortality of corals represents a radical shift in the disturbance regimes of tropical reefs, both adding to and far exceeding the influence of recurrent cyclones and other local pulse events, presenting a fundamental challenge to the long-term future of these iconic ecosystems.

Press link for more: Nature.Com

What genuine, for real, no-bullshit ambition on climate change would look like. #auspol #StopAdani

What genuine, for real, no-bullshit ambition on climate change would look like

New scenarios show how to hit the most stringent targets, with no loopholes.

David Roberts

A new dawn of ambition, or something.

Shutterstock

What would it take to really tackle climate change? No delays, no gimmicks, no loopholes, no shirking of responsibility — the real thing. What would it look like?

To answer that question, it helps to understand the upper threshold of climate ambition. The target agreed upon by the world’s nations in Paris in 2015 is global warming of “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, with good-faith efforts to hold temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

Countries are not moving anywhere near fast enough to hit those targets, so we are currently on track for somewhere around 3 degrees. It is generally agreed that hitting 2 degrees would quite ambitious, while hitting 1.5 would be nothing short of miraculous.

While there is nothing like a real-world plan in place for hitting those targets yet, climate modelers have come up with many scenarios for how we might do so. However, as I wrote recently, most of those scenarios rely heavily on “negative emissions” — ways of pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. If negative emissions technologies can be scaled up later in the century, the reasoning goes, it gives us room to emit more earlier in the century.

And that’s what most current 2- or 1.5-degree scenarios show: Global carbon emissions rise in the short term, then plunge rapidly to become net negative around 2060, with gigatons of carbon subsequently captured and buried over the remainder of the century. The oil giant Shell released a scenario along those lines a few weeks ago.

Shell’s use of negative emissions, compared to other scenarios.

Glen Peters

The primary instrument of negative emissions is expected to be BECCS: bioenergy (burning plants to generate electricity) with carbon capture and sequestration. The idea is that plants absorb carbon as they grow; when we burn them, we can capture and bury that carbon. The result is electricity generated as carbon is removed from the cycle — net-negative carbon electricity.

Most current scenarios bank on a lot of BECCS later in the century to make up for the carbon sins of the near past and near future.

BECCS.

Sanchez 2015

One small complication in all this: There is currently no commercial BECCS industry. Neither the BE nor the CCS part has been demonstrated at any serious scale, much less at the scale necessary. (The land area needed to grow all that biomass for BECCS in these models is estimated to be around one to three times the size of India.)

Maybe we could pull off a massive BECCS industry quickly. But banking on negative emissions later in the century is, at the very least, an enormous, fateful gamble. It bets the lives and welfare of millions of future people on an industry that, for all intents and purposes, doesn’t yet exist.

Plenty of people reasonably conclude that’s a bad idea, but alternatives have been difficult to come by. There hasn’t been much scenario-building around truly ambitious goals: to zero out carbon as fast as possible, to hold temperature rise as close to 1.5 degrees as possible, and, most significantly, to do so while minimizing the need for negative emissions. That is the upper end of what’s possible.

Three recent publications help fill that gap:

• “Global Energy Transformation: A Roadmap to 2050,” by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), is a plan that targets a 66 percent chance of staying below 2 degrees, primarily through renewable energy.

• The analysts at Ecofys recently released a scenario for zeroing out global emissions by 2050, thus limiting temperature to 1.5 degrees and eliminating (most of) the need for negative emissions.

• A group of scholars led by Detlef van Vuuren of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency published a paper in Nature Climate Change investigating how to hit the 1.5 degree target while minimizing the need for negative emissions.

This graph will be very meaningful once you read the paper.

Nature Climate Change

Here’s how this post is going to go: First, we’ll have a quick look at why targeting 1.5 degrees is so urgent; second, we’ll look at a few things these scenarios have in common, the baseline for serious ambition; third, we’ll look more closely at the third paper, as it offers some interesting alternatives (like, oh, mass vegetarianism) to typical carbon thinking; and finally, I’ll conclude.

Why targeting 1.5 degrees is urgent

Americans can’t make much sense out of Celsius temperatures, and half a degree of temperature doesn’t sound like much regardless. But the difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees of global warming is a very big deal. (The IPCC is coming out with a science review on this in October.)

Another recent paper in Nature Climate Change makes the point vividly: Bumping ambition up from 2 to 1.5 degrees would prevent 150 million premature deaths through 2100, 90 million through reduced exposure to particulates, 60 million due to reduced ozone.

“More than a million premature deaths would be prevented in many metropolitan areas in Asia and Africa,” the researchers write, “and [more than] 200,000 in individual urban areas on every inhabited continent except Australia.”

That’s not nothing! And of course, the difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees could mean the difference between life and death for low-lying islands.

The Marshall Islands, for now.

Shutterstock

There’s no time to waste. In fact, there may be, uh, negative time. Limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees is possible, even in theory, only if the “carbon budget” for that target is at the high end of current estimates.

Again: 1.5 is only possible if we get started, with boosters on, immediately, and we get lucky. Time is not running out — it’s out.

What’s required to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees

The three scenarios I mentioned are different in a number of ways. The first two project through 2050, but the Nature Climate Change paper goes out to 2100. They target different things and use different tools. But they share a few big action items — features that any ambitious climate plan will inevitably involve.

1) Radically increase energy efficiency.

Just how much energy will be needed through 2050? That depends on population and economic growth, obviously, but it also depends on the energy intensity of the world’s economies — how much primary energy they require to produce a unit of GDP.

Increasing energy efficiency (which, all else being equal, reduces emissions) is in a race with population and economic growth (which, all else being equal, increases them). To radically decarbonize with minimal negative emissions, efficiency will need to outrun growth. (Notably, Shell’s scenario shows much higher global energy demand in coming decades; growth outruns efficiency.)

IRENA’s scenario reduces global energy-related emissions 90 percent by 2050. Of that 90 percent, 40 comes from energy efficiency.

To do this, IRENA says, the energy intensity of the global economy must fall two-thirds by 2050. Improvements in energy intensity will have to accelerate from an average of 1.8 percent a year from 2010 to 2015 to an average of 2.8 percent a year through 2050.

In the Ecofys scenario, energy efficiency is so amped up that total global energy demand is lower in 2050 than today, despite a much larger population and a global economy three times larger than today’s.

The Nature Climate Change paper summarizes the necessary approach to efficiency this way: “Rapid application of the best available technologies for energy and material efficiency in all relevant sectors in all regions.”

“All relevant sectors in all regions” means electricity, transportation, buildings, and industry, all bumped up to the most efficient available materials and technologies, everywhere in the world, starting immediately. Cool, cool, cool.

2) Radically increase renewable energy.

All the scenarios envision renewables (primarily wind and solar) rapidly coming to dominate electricity. In the IRENA scenario, renewables grow sixfold faster than they are currently, supplying 85 percent of global electricity by 2050.

Ecofys has them supplying 100 percent of global electricity — with that sector completely decarbonized — by 2040, even as global demand for electricity triples.

The Nature Climate Change paper notes that the vision of rapid renewables dominance all these scenarios have in common involves “optimistic assumptions on the integration of variable renewables and on costs of transmission, distribution and storage,” which, yeah.

3) Electrify everything!

Notably, all three scenarios heavily involve electrification of sectors and applications that currently run on fossil fuels. In the IRENA case, electricity rises from 21 percent of total global energy consumption today to 40 percent by 2050.

In the Ecofys scenario, it rises to a whopping 70 percent. In the Nature Climate Change study, it rises to 46 percent (compared to 31 percent in the reference case).

I have made the case for electrification before, and it’s not complicated. We know how to radically increase the supply of zero-carbon electricity; increasing the supply of zero-carbon liquid fuels is much more difficult. So it makes sense to move as much energy use as possible over to electricity, particularly vehicles, home heating and cooling, and lower-temperature industrial applications.

The Ecofys scenario makes it particularly clear: If renewable energy and energy efficiency are to be your primary decarbonization tools (more on that in a second), full decarbonization requires going all out on electrification.

The rising yellow wedge at the bottom left — that’s electricity.

IRENA

4) And still maybe do a little negative emissions.

Even though the intentions, of the Ecofys and Nature researchers particularly, was to minimize the need for negative emissions, neither was able to completely eliminate it.

“Regardless of the rapid decarbonisation” in the scenario, Ecofys researchers write, “the 1.5°C carbon budget is most likely still exceeded.” The only way to hold at 1.5 is to mop up that excess carbon with negative emissions. Ecofys thinks CCS applications will mostly be confined to industry and the rest can be taken care of by “afforestation, reforestation, and soil carbon sequestration,” i.e., non-CCS methods of negative emissions. And, it notes, this remaining excess carbon “is significantly less than most other low carbon scenarios.”

In the Nature Climate Change study, the need for BECCS can be completely eliminated only if every single one of the other strategies is maximized (see the next section).

Here’s what those researchers conclude about negative emissions:

[W]hile this study shows that alternative options can greatly reduce the volume of CDR [carbon dioxide removal] to achieve the 1.5°C goal, nearly all scenarios still rely on BECCS and/or reforestation (even the hypothetical combination of all alternative options still captured 400 GtCO2 by reforestation). Therefore, investment in the development of CDR options remains an important strategy if the international community intends to implement the Paris target.

They advise policymakers (wisely, it seems to me) to pursue negative emissions strategies but to think of alternative scenarios as insurance against the possibility that those strategies run up against unanticipated social or economic barriers.

The Kemper Project, meant to capture carbon from coal emissions, died a painful death.

(Wikipedia)

Decarbonization beyond renewable electricity and efficiency

The IRENA and Ecofys scenarios, like most rapid decarbonization scenarios, rely overwhelmingly on renewable energy and energy efficiency. But as environmentalist Paul Hawken reminds us with his Drawdown Project, there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in most climate policy. (For instance, we’re going to talk about fake meat here in a minute.)

Like most climate-economic modelers, the Nature Climate Change researchers use integrated assessment models (IAMs) to generate their scenarios. They tested their decarbonization strategies against the second of five shared socioeconomic pathways (SSPs), which are the modeling community’s set of different visions for the future — different mixes of population, economic growth, oil prices, technology development, etc. SSP2 contains roughly median predictions. (If you’re curious about SSPs, here’s an explainer.)

But they also challenge some of the limitations in how IAMs have typically been used:

As IAMs select technologies on the basis of relative costs, they normally concentrate on reduction measures for which reasonable estimates of future performance and costs can be made. This implies that some possible response strategies receive less attention, as their future performance is more speculative or their introduction would be based on drivers other than cost, such as lifestyle change or more rapid electrification.

The Nature Climate Change paper attempts to model some of these more ambitious, uncertain, or non-cost-driven strategies, assembling a whole suite of decarbonization scenarios in different combinations.

Several of them are familiar: There’s a “uniform carbon tax in all regions and sectors,” along with maximized energy efficiency and renewable energy. But others are more novel in these modeling contexts.

Agricultural intensification: “High agricultural yields and application of intensified animal husbandry globally.”

Low non-CO2: “Implementation of the best available technologies for reducing non-CO2 emissions and full adoption of cultured meat in 2050.” (Non-CO2 greenhouse gases include methane, nitrous oxide, black carbon, fluorocarbons, aerosols, and tropospheric ozone. Cattle are a big source of methane, thus the cultured meat.)

Lifestyle change: “Consumers change their habits towards a lifestyle that leads to lower GHG emissions. This includes a less meat-intensive diet (conforming to health recommendations), less CO2-intensive transport modes (following the current modal split in Japan), less intensive use of heating and cooling (change of 1°C in heating and cooling reference levels) and a reduction in the use of several domestic appliances.” Though they don’t call it out specifically, this would very much involve less flying, one of the most carbon-intensive habits of the affluent.

Low population: “Scenario based on SSP1, projecting low population growth.” Population growth can be curbed most effectively through access to family planning and education of girls (which, notably, have many other benefits as well).

Good climate policy.

(Drawdown)

You can decide for yourself how likely you find any of these changes. The researchers say they are modeling “ambitious, but not unrealistic implementation.”

Reducing non-CO2 GHGs and widespread lifestyle changes have the most short-term impact on emissions. However, “by 2100,” they write, “the strongest reductions are found in the renewable electrification and low population scenarios.” This echoes what the Drawdown Project found, which is that educating girls and making family planning widely available (thus reducing population growth) is the most potent long-term climate policy.

Deep thoughts

Needless to say, accomplishing any one of these goals — a global carbon tax, maximized efficiency, an explosion of renewable energy, a wholesale revolution in agriculture, rapid reduction of non-CO2 GHGs, a rapid shift in global lifestyle choices, and successful measures to curb population growth — would be an enormous achievement.

To completely avoid BECCS while still hitting the 1.5 degree target, we would have to accomplish all of them.

That is highly unlikely. Still, the important point of the Nature Climate Change research remains: “alternative pathways exist allowing for more moderate use and postponement of BECCS.” Given the substantial and uncharted difficulties facing BECCS, policymakers owe those alternative pathways a look.

Obviously these strategies face all kinds of social and economic barriers. (I’m trying to envision what it would take to rapidly shift Americans from beef to cultured meat … trying and failing.) But they also come with co-benefits. Reducing fossil fuels reduces local air pollution and its health impacts. Energy efficiency reduces energy bills. Eating less meat and driving less are healthy.

Overall, a radical energy transition would mean a net boost in global GDP (relative to the reference case) in every year through 2050.

IRENA

An energy transition would also create millions of net jobs. But that doesn’t mean it will be easy.

Engineering any of these shifts, the Nature Climate Change researchers write with some understatement, “requires not only insights from IAMs, but also in-depth knowledge of social transitions.” They suggest (and I heartily endorse) that subsequent research focus on social and political barriers and strategies.

In the end, perhaps the most important conclusion in the Nature Climate Change paper is the simplest and the one that we already knew: “a rapid transformation in energy consumption and land use is needed in all scenarios.”

At this point, whether it’s possible to hit various targets is almost beside the point. All the science and modeling are saying the same thing, which is that humanity faces serious danger and needs to reduce carbon emissions to zero as quickly as possible.

The chances of us getting our collective shit together and accomplishing what these scenarios describe are … slim. There are so many vested interests and so much public aversion to rapid change, so many governments to be coordinated, so many economic and technology trends that must fall just the right way. It’s daunting.

Conversely, the chances of us overdoing it — trying too hard, spending too much money, reducing emissions too much or too fast — are effectively nil.

So the only rule of climate policy that really matters is: go as hard and fast as possible, forever and ever, amen.

Press link for more: VOX.COM

Climate leadership emerging from the shadows of Paris? #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani #ClimateChange

Climate leadership emerging from the shadows of Paris?

by Jennifer Morgan | @climatemorgan | Greenpeace International

Thursday, 3 May 2018 12:30 GMT

In a critical year for raising climate ambition, some leaders are finally realising the need to step up.

Will others follow?

Just a little over two years since the world agreed in Paris to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, we are witnessing signs of climate leadership emerge from the shadows.

Despite the often strong words of world leaders who spoke of meeting the Paris goals, they have mostly failed to deliver an adequate amount of action.

Consequently, we’ve seen inertia as progress languished behind the transformational change envisioned in the Paris Agreement.

The decision of US President Trump to abandon the Paris Agreement last year led to the rest of the world fighting to hold the line.

Although leaders reconfirmed their commitment to the Paris Agreement at the G7 and G20 meetings, climate action was still insufficient.

Critics could easily say the euphoria of Paris was colliding against reality because the world is off track, hurtling towards global warming of 3 degrees rather than 1.5.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has since shown the type of bold leadership we need.

Her ban on new offshore oil and gas exploration in the world’s fourth largest Exclusive Economic Zone has helped to define what climate leadership means today.

Jacinda Ardern

It’s time other leaders stepped up.

As host of a Climate Action Summit in September, California governor Jerry Brown must also draw a line in the sand and say no to new fossil fuel infrastructure if his summit is to be called a success.

Non-state actors have so far driven climate momentum.

Paris and Copenhagen are banning petrol and/or diesel vehicles.

An increasing number of corporations are starting to align themselves with the Paris goals.

The baton now needs to pass to governments, such as in the UK, where Minister for Climate Change Claire Perry has asked for a review of the UK’s decarbonisation targets.

Her announcement – if backed up by domestic action – could be a valuable lead for other countries.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, known for her climate leadership internationally, has also been a shameful symbol of domestic inaction. But in March her new coalition government agreed to set up a National Coal Commission to work on a plan to phase out the nation’s coal power.

This plan must put forward a bold and detailed rapid phase-out of coal starting immediately and concluding by 2030.

Addressing the US Congress last month, French President Macron was strong on climate talk, but to be truly credible, he must lead the transformation in France – which he is so far sadly failing to do.

The European Commission has been asked to review the EU’s efforts and seven EU member states are now calling for higher climate ambition. This higher ambition, however, must be translated into action and a new target must be put forward to give momentum to the international negotiations.

China, which met its 2020 emissions reductions targets three years early, can advance the global climate agenda, but with emissions rising last year, Beijing, like the EU, still has much to do at home.

The next step in advancing the climate policy agenda takes place this week and next at the UNFCCC intersessional meeting in Bonn when preparations for the first global stocktake of climate action – the Talanoa Dialogue – will occur.

This is where countries need to deliver the mechanisms to capture and drive further leadership, because what is overlooked by those who focus on the inertia and engage in fatalistic defeatism is the possibility for rapid change to achieve the Paris goals.

Climate action is aligned with many goals that our leaders claim commitment to, such as improving public health, innovation or cost-effectiveness. As the cost of renewables falls and the awareness of climate risk grows, climate leadership makes sense on multiple levels.

Climate leadership demands of our leaders the integrity to accept and understand the urgency of our time and the strength of purpose to embark on the unprecedented scale of change required. There are no second chances.

Jennifer Morgan is executive director of Greenpeace International

Press link for more: News Trust

Bank of England governor warns #ClimateChange catastrophic impact. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

Mark Carney warns of climate change threat to financial system.

Bank of England governor says firms must acknowledge risks to avoid ‘catastrophic impact’

Richard PartingtonLast modified on Sat 7 Apr 2018 07.00 AEST

The governor of the Bank of England has warned of the “catastrophic impact” climate change could have for the financial system unless firms do more to disclose their vulnerabilities.

Telling banks and insurers they would need to provide more information about the risks they might face from climate change, Mark Carney said failure to do so would have damaging effects for financial stability.

He said the finance industry could be forced into making rapid adjustments if they did not gradually expose where their climate change risks might lie, which he said could trigger steep losses.

The governor warned of a “climate Minsky moment”, referring to the work of the economist Hyman Minsky, whose analysis was used to show how banks overreached themselves before the 2008 financial crisis.

“Given the uncertainties around climate, not everyone will agree on the timing or scale of the adjustments required … [but] the right information allows sceptics and evangelists alike to back their convictions with their capital,” Carney said.

Speaking at a summit of central bank governors in Amsterdam, Carney said there were growing opportunities for firms to finance the transition to a low carbon economy. He said new technology investments and long-term infrastructure projects would need to be financed at roughly quadruple the current rate.

His intervention comes as Threadneedle Street ramps up its assessment of how well insurers are identifying, measuring and mitigating weather-related risks this year. Insurers were exposed to steep losses by extreme weather events, such as Hurricane Harvey, in the US last year.

Press link for more: The Guardian

The World’s Largest Mass Extinction May Have Been Caused by Burning Coal #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

The World’s Largest Mass Extinction May Have Been Caused by Burning Coal.

The Permian Extinction saw over 90 percent of marine species die. New evidence has been discovered that suggests a cause.

By Avery Thompson

Mar 14, 2018

The Permian Extinction, 200 million years ago, was the single greatest species die-off in the history of the world.

Over 90 percent of marine species and 70 percent of land species died.

Despite being such a large event, its direct cause has eluded scientists so far.

Theories range from asteroid impacts to volcanic eruptions to increased ocean acidification.

A new study submitted to the journal Global and Planetary Change provides new evidence for a different option: too much burning coal.

The research was conducted by Benjamin Burger, a professor at Utah State University. Burger was studying rock layers in Sheep Creek Valley in Utah when he found some surprising elements in one of the layers.

According to the analysis, the rocks contain high levels of lead, mercury, carbon, and zinc.

Together, these point to extreme levels of coal burning as a cause of the extinction.

Burning coal produces mercury, lead, zinc, and other metals, and as we all know releases large quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

This can lead to high levels of carbon in the rock layer.

Trace amounts of other elements also found in the rocks reinforce the hypothesis.

Burning coal has been one possible explanation for the Permian Extinction for several years, but until now there was never a whole lot of evidence for it.

The idea is that volcanic eruptions released lava that found their way into underground coal deposits built up over previous eons and ignited them.

The fallout released tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, increased the acidification of the oceans, and triggered global warming and other forms of climate change.

This study is still awaiting publication, so the finding has yet to be confirmed by peer review. But if the study holds up, it could show us what’s in store for our planet in the present.

It’s no coincidence that coal burning led to the largest mass extinction in the Earth’s history: it’s very bad for life and for the planet.

Right now, we’re in the middle of another mass extinction caused by our insatiable appetite for fossil fuels, and there’s a good chance that our own species could be one of the casualties.

Source: EarthArXiv via The Guardian

Is the doughnut economy just pie in the sky? #auspol #qldpol Or a way forward from #Neoliberalism

Is the doughnut economy just pie in the sky?

by Sarah DeWeerdt | Feb 6, 2018

Doughnut economics, an idea developed by University of Oxford economist Kate Raworth, envisions a world where everyone has enough to meet their needs (the inside circle of the doughnut) but we don’t exceed the capacities of the biophysical world (the outside circle of the doughnut).

It’s a popular idea in sustainability circles.

Until now, however, there has been no global-scale analysis of what it actually takes to meet people’s needs compared to the resources available.

So is the doughnut economy just pie in the sky?

No, it isn’t—according to a study by University of Leeds researchers published yesterday in Nature Sustainability.

They found that the way things are currently going, providing a healthy, fulfilling life to every person on the planet would require two to six times the natural resources that are actually available.

That’s a stark calculation.

But their analysis also suggests that the way things are currently going isn’t the best we could do: we could find more efficient ways of meeting people’s needs so that a lot more of us could live a lot better without trashing the planet.

The researchers identified seven measures of natural resource consumption – climate change, land-system change, freshwater use, nitrogen use, phosphorus use, ecological footprint, and material footprint.

They divided the “planetary boundary” for each measure by 7 billion (the global population in 2011, the reference year for other data used in the study) to determine each individual’s fair share of the planet’s resources.

They also chose 11 measures of a good life, ranging from electricity and adequate nutrition to democratic quality and life satisfaction.

Then, they analyzed data from nearly 150 countries around the world to quantify the relationships between resource use and social outcomes.

Which countries are achieving the measures of a good life, and are they using more than their share of natural resources in the process?

At first glance, the results of that analysis are unsurprising and pretty grim.

Currently, “no country meets basic needs for its citizens at a globally sustainable level of resource use,” the researchers write. “In general, the more social thresholds a country achieves, the more biophysical boundaries it transgresses.”

Lots of wealthy nations achieve most of the measures of a good life, but at steep environmental cost. And on the flip side, many poorer nations are within the bounds of sustainable resource use, but their citizens struggle.

But a closer look reveals a more hopeful picture. (And if you want to look at the results in very fine detail, the researchers have built an interactive website where users can explore the analysis for individual countries.)

The basic physical goals – nutrition, income, access to electricity, and sanitation – show the strongest links to resource use, but they also require relatively low resource use to meet. “In fact, our results indicate that a sufficient level of performance on these four indicators could likely be achieved for all people without significantly exceeding planetary boundaries,” the researchers write.

The more abstract goals – democratic quality, equality, social support, secondary education, life satisfaction – are generally only met by countries with the highest resource use.

Yet they need not be coupled with high resource use, the results suggest. That’s because some countries achieve these goals with lower levels of resource use, so other countries could learn from the best performing nations (which differ for each biophysical boundary/social outcome pair – there’s no single top performer).

Overall, the study demonstrates the need to rework our infrastructure, technologies, and economies in order to meet people’s needs with a much lower level of resource use. But it’s not just about efficiency.

Even trickier — but just as urgent —  will be finding new ways of characterizing a healthy economy, that do not rely on the pursuit of GDP growth but foster “sustainable and equitable human well-being,” as the researchers write.

Source: O’Neill D.W. et al. “A good life for all within planetary boundaries.” Nature Sustainability. 2018.

Press link for more: Anthropocene Magazine