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human activity and the destruction of the planet


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Australia is burning: is this a portent of what is to come?

As our hearts go out to the people of Australia, as they battle with unprecedented and devastating fires across the country, with lives lost, as well as homes and a billion of their unique marsupial and other wildlife species being burnt to death, I have to ask the question:

Is this one of the first of many such events that we are going to witness over the next decades?  Is this going to be the face of the effects of climate change in the future?  Are we going to witness even more harrowing events and deaths across the world?

AustralianBushfire

koala

Photographs from Australia during the fires in recent weeks

wombat after fire

Animals that survive the fires, like this wombat pictured in New South Wales, will struggle to find food and shelter

How much more dreadful is it going to become globally, as we see multiple fires, floods, hurricanes, monsoons, high temperatures, coastal erosion and mass loss of species? Ecologists are already saying that they fear two rare species (found only on Kangaroo Island, to the south of Australia), may have been wiped out in the recent fires.  These include a small mouse-like marsupial, called a dunnart, and glossy black cockatoos. See:

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/empowering-the-planet/australia-wildfires-entire-species-may-have-been-wiped-out-by-inferno-conservationists-say/ar-BBYDoQk?ocid=spartandhp

dunnart2

The endangered marsupial: Kangaroo Island Dunnart

See also: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/04/ecologists-warn-silent-death-australia-bushfires-endangered-species-extinction

An article in Nature, by an Australian ecologist Michael Clarke, describes the aftermath of such terrible fires.  He says,

“It is deathly silent when you go into a forest after a fire. Apart from the ‘undertakers’ — the carrion eaters like currawongs, ravens and shrike-thrushes — picking off the dead bodies, there’s nothing much left in the forest. It’s a chilling experience.

For survivors, it’s a perilous existence in the months that follow. Any animal that manages to make it through the fire uninjured faces three major challenges. One is finding shelter from climatic extremes — places they can hide from bad weather, like a hollow tree or a hole in the ground. The second is the risk of starvation. And third, they’ve got to avoid predators like feral cats and foxes. They’re exposed; there’s nowhere to hide in a barren landscape.

Even if an animal makes it to an unburnt patch, the density of organisms trying to eke out a living will be way beyond the area’s carrying capacity. After fires in 2007, one unburnt patch I visited in the Mallee [a region in the far north of Victoria] was literally crawling with birds, all chasing one another, trying to work out who owned the last little bit of turf. It was clearly insufficient to sustain them all.

Animals like koalas that live above ground in small, isolated populations and that have a limited capacity to flee or discover unburnt patches of forest are in all sorts of trouble. During past fires, we’ve seen some really surprising creative behaviours, like lyrebirds and wallabies going down wombat burrows to escape fire. But a large majority of animals are simply incinerated. Even really big, fast-flying birds like falcons and crimson rosellas can succumb to fire.

Some animals are more resilient to fire than others. The best adapted are those that can get underground. Termite colonies happily hum along underneath these all-consuming fires. Burrow-dwelling lizards are similar.”

See: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00043-2

michaelClarke

Professor Michael Clarke



 

Australia is not alone in facing wildfires. In 2018, a similar thing happened in California.  The 2018 wildfire season was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire season ever recorded in California, with a total of 8,527 fires burning an area of 1,893,913 acres (766,439 ha), the largest area of burned acreage recorded in a fire season, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) and the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), as of December 21. Through to the end of August 2018, Cal Fire alone spent $432 million on operations. As of May 2019, insurance claims related to this fire season had reached $12 billion, most related to the Camp Fire, in Butte County (see Wikipedia). And wildfires happened in Europe too.

In India, from June to September 2019, the country received the highest amount of monsoonal rain in the past 25 years. According to the India Meteorological Department, those rains are not expected to retreat until at least October 10th, which would be the latest withdrawal of the monsoon in the country’s recorded history.

indian monsoon floods

2019 monsoon flooding in India

According to Wikepedia, climate change in China is having major effects on the economy, society and the environment. The energy structure and human activities caused global warming and climate change, and China suffered from negative effects of global warming in agriculture, forestry and water resources.

Beijing-Smog

Photograph taken in Beijing, China, where smog pollution reaches 24 times the WHO recommended safe level and children are kept from attending school as a result.

I have chosen to mention these three countries – Australia, India and China – because they were exempted from the UN Kyoto Protocol agreement, because at that time, they pleaded that they were only just beginning to industrialise and needed to be given a chance to compete with industrialised countries. This chance was given and, now, they have become amongst the highest polluting countries in the world, with China in the lead, despite its intentions to tackle climate change.  Ironic, isn’t it?

It’s easy to criticise with hindsight but I believe the UNFCCC should have had the confidence to stand firm over the Kyoto Protocol.  Because of this, many countries (including the USA – another high polluter) did not ratify it.

I came across an interesting graph a few months ago, which shows that carbon emissions have continued to climb, despite UN efforts and agreements: Rio, Kyoto and Paris and beyond.  The dates of these initiatives is marked on an ever-upwardly climbing graph of global carbon emissions.

cemissionsgraph

As I’ve watched the events of this summer unfolding, I’ve found myself wondering whether the Earth system has now breached a tipping point, an irreversible shift in the stability of the planetary system.

There may now be so much heat trapped in the system that we may have already triggered a domino effect that could unleash a cascade of abrupt changes that will continue to play out in the years and decades to come.

Rapid climate change has the potential to reconfigure life on the planet as we know it.

 

However, I believe that global warming and climate change will have multiple effects across the world; some of it will be related to food scarcity but the other effects will be more random: fires, floods, hurricanes, heat stroke, coastal erosion and the loss of islands, as well as land in low-lying countries. And, of course, the disappearance of many iconic species of wildlife. And, as a Biologist and an animal lover, I feel enormous grief over this devastating loss – and I know that I am not the only one.

Unless huge co-operative efforts are made to limit the burning of fossil fuels, the future looks bleak for all of us, including some of the wonderful and unique species with whom we share this planet. If we are seeing these effects with just 1 degree of global warming, what will it be like at 1.5 degrees, 2 degrees or even higher?  Three degrees and above are predicted if carbon emissions do not start to fall in the very near future.



 


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New UN report states that 1,000 species are at risk of extinction

A UN Report launched in Paris yesterday (6th May 2019) is the result of 3 years of study of species across the world.  It concludes that up to 1,000 animal and plant species are at risk of extinction and that things are happening faster than we realised.

UN Report: Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’

The IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is the most comprehensive ever completed. It is the first intergovernmental Report of its kind and builds on the landmark Millennium Ecosystem Assessment of 2005, introducing innovative ways of evaluating evidence.

Compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries over the past three years, with inputs from another 310 contributing authors, the Report assesses changes over the past five decades, providing a comprehensive picture of the relationship between economic development pathways and their impacts on nature. It also offers a range of possible scenarios for the coming decades.

The average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900. More than 40% of amphibian species, almost 33% of reef-forming corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened. The picture is less clear for insect species, but available evidence supports a tentative estimate of 10% being threatened. At least 680 vertebrate species had been driven to extinction since the 16th century and more than 9% of all domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and agriculture had become extinct by 2016, with at least 1,000 more breeds still threatened.

Other notable findings of the Report include:

  • Three-quarters of the land-based environment and about 66% of the marine environment have been significantly altered by human actions. On average these trends have been less severe or avoided in areas held or managed by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities.
  • More than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75% of freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production.
  • The value of agricultural crop production has increased by about 300% since 1970, raw timber harvest has risen by 45% and approximately 60 billion tons of renewable and nonrenewable resources are now extracted globally every year – having nearly doubled since 1980.
  • Land degradation has reduced the productivity of 23% of the global land surface, up to US$577 billion in annual global crops are at risk from pollinator loss and 100-300 million people are at increased risk of floods and hurricanes because of loss of coastal habitats and protection.
  • In 2015, 33% of marine fish stocks were being harvested at unsustainable levels; 60% were maximally sustainably fished, with just 7% harvested at levels lower than what can be sustainably fished.
  • Urban areas have more than doubled since 1992.
  • Plastic pollution has increased tenfold since 1980, 300-400 million tons of heavy metals, solvents, toxic sludge and other wastes from industrial facilities are dumped annually into the world’s waters, and fertilizers entering coastal ecosystems have produced more than 400 ocean ‘dead zones’, totalling more than 245,000 km2 (591-595) – a combined area greater than that of the United Kingdom.
  • Negative trends in nature will continue to 2050 and beyond in all of the policy scenarios explored in the Report, except those that include transformative change – due to the projected impacts of increasing land-use change, exploitation of organisms and climate change, although with significant differences between regions.

The Report also presents a wide range of illustrative actions for sustainability and pathways for achieving them across and between sectors such as agriculture, forestry, marine systems, freshwater systems, urban areas, energy, finance and many others. It highlights the importance of, among others, adopting integrated management and cross-sectoral approaches that take into account the trade-offs of food and energy production, infrastructure, freshwater and coastal management, and biodiversity conservation.

Also identified as a key element of more sustainable future policies is the evolution of global financial and economic systems to build a global sustainable economy, steering away from the current limited paradigm of economic growth.

The Chair of the panel launching the report, Sir Robert Watson is quoted as saying, “The health of the ecosystems on which we and other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide. “We have lost time. We must act now.”

BobWatson

Sir Bob Watson, Chair of IPBES

David Obura, one of the main authors on the report and a global authority on corals, said: “We tried to document how far in trouble we are and to focus people’s minds, but also to say it is not too late if we put a huge amount into transformational behavioural change. This is fundamental to humanity. We are not just talking about nice species out there; this is our life-support system.”

Three-quarters of all land has been turned into farm fields, covered by concrete, swallowed up by dam reservoirs or otherwise significantly altered. Two-thirds of the marine environment has also been changed by fish farms, shipping routes, sub-sea mines and other projects. Three-quarters of rivers and lakes are used for crop or livestock cultivation. As a result, more than 500,000 species have insufficient habitats for long-term survival. Many are on course to disappear within decades.

Further information can be found at:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/23/destruction-of-nature-as-dangerous-as-climate-change-scientists-warn



Since 1992, the world’s urban area has doubled – largely at the expense of tropical forests, wetlands and grasslands – a process that is decoupling our consumption habits from the means of production, and severing our understanding of our dependency on the natural world.

“There are people that really understand the linkage, although they don’t live it,” says Sebsebe Demissew, professor of plant systematics and biodiversity at Addis Ababa university. He has spent decades collecting and documenting plants across Africa, often working with indigenous and traditional peoples.

“But there are other people that don’t even think that nature’s contribution to people is so important, because sometimes if you are in town what you are really concerned about is what bread or something would cost, rather than its effect on a poor farmer.”

Prof. Sebsebe Demissew, of Addis Ababa University



 

In short, what is happening can be described by the subtitle of my book “Human Activity and the destruction of the planet.”

Is it too late to reverse the trend? Many of my colleagues in the climate action movement fear it is too late, though others are hopeful that we can turn the corner. But it needs a global realisation of the significance of climate change and loss of biodiversity.



Alan Simpson, a previous Labour MP and now advisor to the Labour party on environmental issues, has written the following in the Morning Star:

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/f/climate-jesus-versus-pharisees

It is entitled “Climate Jesus versus the Pharisees”, with the sub-heading:

We need to stop building more runways, motorways, or shopping malls and replant forests, green our cities and give pollinators places to feed, breed and shelter in.

Alan Simpson

Alan Simpson

“As political parties dust themselves down after the drubbing of local government elections, the good news is that all the answers are to be found in bigger, rather than smaller, issues.  Climate, not Brexit, is the key.

We live in revolutionary times. And we have our children to thank for still filling them with hope rather than despair.

The unthinkable is happening. Parliament, public institutions and the press are waking to the fact that climate change can only be constrained by systems change. This recognition is still in its infancy, but it is already unstoppable.

I recently came across an early version of what will have to be every (credible) party’s next election manifesto. Pasted up on a wall was a simple drawing of an elephant, with the words “climate change” on its back. It summed up what all future political choices revolve around: climate change is the elephant in the room.

Labour can pride itself for having introduced the world’s first Climate Change Act, and for passing the first “climate emergency declaration,” but we shouldn’t pretend that Parliament wasn’t “bounced” into doing so.

Since the 2017 general election, there have been ample opportunities for MPs to show real political leadership on the climate crisis. They never did. Instead, Parliament has preferred to play Trivial Pursuit with Brexit absurdities.

Social movements had to step into the vacuum; addressing the big picture issues politicians had been choosing to ignore. They, and they alone, have been the ones insisting that existential threat to human existence forms the centrepiece of political debate. Across the planet, this has been a debate shaped from outside parliaments, not inside.

We now know how much we owe to our children for doing so. But while the kids may have written the script, they weren’t alone. “One Planet” documentaries helped. So too did insightful journalism, climate physicists and church leaders. With the latest protests taking place over Easter it was really helpful for church leaders to have pointed out that, though protesters were undoubtedly breaking the law, Christ too had entered Jerusalem knowing he would face prosecution. Ultimately, however, it was the creative irreverence of Extinction Rebellion (XR) that has turned this into a movement that cannot be stopped.

In place of derision, Greta Thunberg is no longer the lonely child outside an indifferent parliament. Without vanity, she trailed an uncompromising challenge to every adult Establishment on the planet. The abuse she received from parts of the press that continue to be at the heart of the problem merely accelerated the growth of the movement.

Britain’s Climate Change Committee (CCC) would not have had the political space to bring forward their own “pull your finger out” report without the occupations that brought London streets to a halt. Nor would they have been listened to. The latest UN report on species extinctions now gets treated as evidence, not argument.
Politicians of all shades queue up, calling for a programme to deliver the CCC rescue plan.

Few grasp the upheavals involved (or that, in itself, this will still not be enough). Over 60 per cent of what the CCC calls for involves behaviour change; all of which is doable. What they duck is that you won’t get behaviour change without systems change.

The gap between Extinction Rebellion and the CCC may be one defined by climate physics, but it can only be delivered through transformative politics. This is precisely what Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have been calling for. For the party as a whole, though, this invitation is where the problems begin.

Internal battle-lines are already being drawn. How can Labour deliver climate stability if large parts of the party are still locked into airport expansions, fossil fuel subsidies, expanding road programmes and the illusion of a new era of global free-trade deals?
Physics tells us there are no “slow track’ survival options left.

Labour traditionalists insist they need longer timescales than the one (decisive) decade in which the science calls for transformation.
Those pushing for faster change already face criticisms of “trying to play Climate Jesus.”

What their critics fail to see is that the imagery puts slow-track traditionalists into the role of Pharisees; defenders of an order that is about to implode.

The Tories have made themselves almost irrelevant to this conversation. Conservative supporters no longer even look to their party for bigger answers. It is a party in free-fall disarray. Bless. But cross-party Brexit negotiations risk dragging Labour down too.

Theresa May should be left to sink on her own. The last thing Labour needs is a to be part of a suicide pact.

A better starting point lies somewhere between Extinction Rebellion and the CCC. To join in, Labour may need to tear up whatever has been its draft manifesto for the next election, replacing it with a new “climate emergency” one.

Tomorrow’s political stability will revolve around societal mobilisation and ecosystems repair. This requires a new economics that can live within contracting carbon budgets, give fresh life to abandoned localities (as key drivers in tomorrow’s sustainable, low-carbon economics) and offer an antidote to today’s obsessive, self-destroying consumerism.

Conventional pledges to fairness, inclusivity and rebooting an industrial economy don’t automatically answer this existential threat. Suggestions that Labour might do so by expanding production, consumption and world trade would be ridiculed by XR, scientists and schools climate strikers alike. In the ballot box, it would be a disaster. We all need a different script.

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband was right in telling Radio 4 that the British economy must be “put on a war footing to tackle climate change.” This “footing” must begin with reversing the damage we’re currently doing. The latest UN report, Nature’s Dangerous Decline, details the risk of 1 million species — not types of plants, animals, birds or insects, but whole species — facing extinction within the coming decades.

The answer isn’t to go building more runways, motorways or shopping malls. What we need is to replant forests, green our cities, and give pollinators places to feed, breed and shelter in. And for the public, we need a national programme to green the nation’s habitat too; delivering warm homes that also produce more energy than they consume.

I don’t care if this gets denounced as “loaves and fishes” idealism. It’s what the science (and the kids) know is our only choice. Today’s Pharisees can protest as much as they like that “the system” needs more time — to cleanse the air, restore the seas and heal the soils.

But time is the one thing they no longer have.

Outside the parliamentary temple, a growing social movement understands that we can either save “the system” or save society, but not both. Like Corbyn and McDonnell, this movement calls out for transformative change. Anyone’s manifesto that offers less will not be seen as Old Testament, just old hat.

 

It’s what the science (and the kids) know is our only choice. Today’s Pharisees can protest as much as they like that “the system” needs more time — to cleanse the air, restore the seas and heal the soils.

But time is the one thing they no longer have.

Outside the parliamentary temple, a growing social movement understands that we can either save “the system” or save society, but not both. Like Corbyn and McDonnell, this movement calls out for transformative change. Anyone’s manifesto that offers less will not be seen as Old Testament, just old hat.”



And another article, published by phys.org, highlights the importance of plant species, and their loss, on human needs:

https://phys.org/news/2019-06-species-extinctionand-danger-poses-life.html

Up to 1 million species may go extinct due to human activity according to a recent report, some within decades. We all know the mammals in trouble—polar bears, giant pandas and snow leopards—but how many of us could name an endangered plant? A 2019 report assessed 28,000 plant species and concluded that about half of them were threatened with extinction.

 

Lost connections

Our lack of appreciation for plants is a fairly recent thing. Our history tells a very different story. The dawn of farming around 12,000 years ago was when people became obsessed with growing plants for food, changing the way we live and our planet forever. Starting with domesticating cereals such as barley, rice and wheat, humanity’s increasing population and sedentary communities depended on their ability to farm, leading to entire civilizations focused on agriculture.

Industrialisation and the more recent “green revolution” in agriculture led to incredible increases in cereal production and farming efficiency, allowing more people to live in cities rather than work on farms. Our agricultural success is a major reason why, for the first time in our history, most humans no longer farm, leaving people free to ignore our complete dependence on plants.

Tragically, our talent for farming has come at a huge cost to biodiversity. Right now, half of the habitable land on earth is used for agriculture, a major reason behind our current extinction crisis.

Should we care about losing the diversity of , as long as we are producing enough food? Absolutely. Plants are the major food producers in most ecosystems, providing nourishment and shelter to microbes, fungi, insects and animal species which themselves play key roles in ecosystems.

While some creatures eat one type of plant—such as the bamboo-dependent giant panda—micro-organisms which live in the soil and make land fertile by recycling plant nutrients, perform better the more different plant species there are growing. Plant diversity also improves how much carbon is pulled from the atmosphere and stored in the soil – vital for mitigating climate change.

Our health is also intimately connected with plant diversity. Just under half of all prescription medicines come directly from plants or by remaking plant chemicals. We’ve screened only a fraction of species for potential medicines—we don’t know how many useful plant chemicals and genes remain to be discovered. Even the most overlooked plants can be enormously important.

You might be surprised to learn that the species most studied to understand how plants work is a genus of tiny weeds called Arabidopsis. Most people have never heard of them and couldn’t identify them, even though they regularly pull them from their garden. By studying Arabidopsis, scientists learned how plants know when to flower, which is being used to improve our understanding of flowering in vegetable crops—key to improving their yield. They also learned how Arabidopsis defends itself from pathogens, which could be used to make crops resistant to disease.

We can cultivate an appreciation of plants and their importance by improving access to parks, botanic gardens and forests, as well as including plant biology throughout the science curriculum in schools. But we also need to ensure there is a future for the thousands of threatened with extinction. We need to produce more food on less land, so that natural habitats can thrive.

Plants could contribute even more to society’s needs in the future. Technologies already exist for making fuels and plastic from the agricultural waste of straw, grain husks and potato peel. These alternatives sadly won’t compete with cheap oil until we pay the full cost of our current lifestyles with a carbon tax. To avoid mass extinctions, we need transformative change in our politics, economics and technology to preserve and sustainably use the incredible natural resources that Earth provides.

A painless first step towards making this change is something you could do every day: our one minute cure for plant blindness. If we stop, think and appreciate how enrich our lives, we will learn to respect our agricultural heritage and natural habitats and better manage the trade-offs between them.




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Arctic is now locked into destructive climate change: new UN Report

According to a new commissioned UN Report, there is no chance now of saving the arctic from devastating destruction:

http://www.grida.no/publications/431

The report describes scenarios where arctic winter temperatures increase by 3-5 degrees by 2050, compared to 1986-2005 levels, and by 5-9 degrees by 2080.  It is expected to happen regardless of the success of measures introduced since the Paris climate change Agreement in 2015.

According to the report, even if global emissions were to stop overnight, winter temperatures in the Arctic would continue to rise by up to 5 C by 2100 compared to average temperatures in the late 20th century. The temperature rise is described by the report as “locked in” because of greenhouse gases already emitted and heat stored in the ocean. This is because carbon emissions and greenhouse gas emissions have a delayed effect; the emissions being produced today (and which continue to be produced) will have effects for decades. The momentum of climate change is very strong in the Arctic.

According to the report, this would devastate the region and cause sea level rises across the world.

jan-dusik

Jan Dusic, author of the report

A massive melting of ice and a thawing of the permafrost is to be expected, threatening biodiversity and changing the living conditions of Arctic communities.

It appears that the thawing trend is now irreversible.

For further details, see:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/arctic-warming-locked-in-1.5056548?cmp=rss



And now, another report about changing Arctic temperatures from the Washington Post on 14th May 2019:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/weather/topstories/it-was-84-degrees-near-the-arctic-ocean-this-weekend-as-carbon-dioxide-hit-its-highest-level-in-human-history/ar-AABlBAQ?fbclid=IwAR2zQVt-AncQSZMfLRquEWKScHGttqeTsqJMTzfboKoz0a8-zoguLE1sREk

“Over the weekend, the climate system sounded simultaneous alarms. Near the entrance to the Arctic Ocean in northwest Russia, the temperature surged to 84 degrees Fahrenheit (29 Celsius). Meanwhile, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eclipsed 415 parts per million for the first time in human history.”

CarbonData

The recordings were taken in Arkhangelsk, Russia, where the average high temperature is around 54ºF this time of year. The city of 350,000 people sits next to the White Sea, which feeds into the Arctic Ocean’s Barents Sea.

The abnormally warm conditions in this region stemmed from a bulging zone of high pressure centred over western Russia. This particular heat wave, while a manifestation of the arrangement of weather systems and fluctuations in the jet stream, fits into what has been an unusually warm year across the Arctic and most of the mid-latitudes.

These changes all have occurred against the backdrop of unremitting increases in carbon dioxide, which has now crossed another symbolic threshold.

Saturday 11th May’s carbon dioxide measurement of 415 parts per million at Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Observatory is the highest in at least 800,000 years and probably over 3 million years. Carbon dioxide levels have risen by nearly 50 percent since the Industrial Revolution.



 


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Tracking progress of the climate turning point: Mission2020

Mission2020, a global coalition of several climate analysis organisations, headed by Christiana Figueres, the former UN climate chief who negotiated the Paris accord. Mission 2020 has calculated that if these milestones are achieved by 2020, it will make the longer-term Paris goals possible – because progress now on reducing emissions will make it easier and cheaper to reduce them in the longer term – and wants to spur sufficient progress on climate change to bring that about.  It was set up by the World Resources Institute.

Mission2020 has set milestones, to track whether climate targets are being reached, and tracked progress on each of them.  The milestones are:

  1.  Energy – renewables out-compete fossil fuels as new electricity sources worldwide.
  2. Infrastructure – cities and states are implementing policies and regulations, with the aim to fully decarbonize buildings and infrastructure by 2050;
  3. Transport – zero emission transport is the preferred form of all new mobility in the world’s major cities and transport routes;
  4. Land use – large scale deforestation is replaced with large-scale land restoration and agriculture shifts to earth-friendly practices;
  5. Industry – heavy industry, including iron and steel, cement, chemicals and oil & gas commits to being Paris compliant;
  6. Finance – investment in climate action is beyond USD $1 trillion per year and all financial institutions have a disclosed transition strategy.

Now, it is reporting that insufficient progress has been made in the milestones to comply with the Paris 2015 target of keeping global warming within 1.5°C.

Removing coal from the global energy mix is taking too long, too many forests are still being destroyed, and fossil fuel subsidies are ongoing despite their distorting effect on the market, the study has found. Coal-fired generation is still increasing, with coal-fired power plants continuing to be built in some areas, while existing plants are not being removed from service fast enough. Electric vehicles, meanwhile, comprise 1.4% of overall sales, making a 2020 milestone of 15% of new car sales hard to reach.

There has also been insufficient progress in agriculture to stop harmful practices that increase carbon dioxide production, and heavy industry is not doing enough to use energy more efficiently.

But the analysis has found important steps forward, on renewable energy, curtailing greenhouse gas emissions from shipping, and public sector investment in reducing emissions. These suggest progress in other aspects of tackling climate change is also possible, with greater effort from the public and private sectors.

The Mission2020 website has produced a simple diagram to demonstrate what the targets are (or have been), in order to keep within 1.5°C and to monitor progress with them:

road-to-success

The most important one is 2020, as carbon emissions need to peak (i.e. not get any higher) by then if we are to keep within 1.5°C. If emissions continue to rise after 2020, then it will be too late to keep within 1.5 degrees, as carbon dioxide will have built up in the atmosphere and will take thousands of years to remove.

Further details about the Mission2020 analysis are reported in the Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/22/analysis-warns-lack-progress-2020-global-emissions-target



An earlier blog I wrote on this website is also relevant to view in this context.  It is entitled “Three generations left – or is it only three years?  New report published in Nature.”



 


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What was agreed at COP24 in Katowice, Poland?

The latest United Nations talks (UNFCC) at COP24 seem to have been engulfed in controversy.  The main agenda item was to put together a framework for different countries to implement in working towards their Paris 2015 targets. This included how governments will measure, report on and verify their emissions-cutting efforts, ensuring all countries are held to proper standards, which they will find it hard to wriggle out of.  However, they seem to have got bogged down with disagreements, mainly to do with carbon credits and carbon sinks.

Carbon credits are awarded to countries achieving their targets. Carbon sinks relate to forests, which absorb carbon dioxide.  Brazil, with its large rain forest cover, insisted on a change of wording but critics of this said it would lead to a form of double counting.  The issue was postponed for another year.

All of this took place within the scenario of the IPCC-commissioned October report, which warned that, allowing warming to reach 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, would have grave consequences, including the death of coral reefs and loss of many species.

Four countries joined forces to weaken the conclusions of the report.  These were: USA, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait who would only agree to the timing of the scientist’s report.  In addition, Brazil, with its new right-wing president, who is sceptical of climate concerns, withdrew its offer to host next year’s talks in Brazil.

However, 196 200 countries agreed to rules for how they’ll adhere to the Paris climate agreement. The rules define how nations will record their emissions and their progress toward climate goals.

Katowice

President Michal Kurtyka celebrating the final agreement in Katowice

The poorest and most vulnerable countries felt that the final agreement demanded too little of industrialized countries, whilst expecting developing countries to agree on common reporting requirements to bring their climate promises into line with those of more developed countries. However, the richest countries must now be more open about their financial support to those countries most affected by global warming.

One of the downsides to the COP24 event was the hosting of a pro-coal fringe meeting, during the proceedings by the USA.  The only other country attending this meeting was Australia.  Perhaps not surprising in view of other postings on this site over the last two years.

See: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/11/australia-only-nation-to-join-us-at-pro-coal-event-at-cop24-climate-talks

Further reports on COP24 can be found at:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/16/what-was-agreed-at-cop24-in-poland-and-why-did-it-take-so-long

https://www.politico.eu/article/5-takeaways-from-the-cop24-global-climate-change-summit-poland-katowice/

https://environment-analyst.com/72855/cop24-deal-to-put-paris-agreement-into-practice?view=print

https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/cop24-climate-change-summit-live-latest-update-poland-katowice-global-warming-paris-agreement-a8663481.html

COP25 will be in Chile.



 


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Global Pact for the Environment

One of the things I discuss in my book is the need for global co-operation to implement the changes that are needed to reduce carbon emissions and global warming and to save the planet. A new initiative by a panel of international jurists seems to be taking the first steps to bring this about, by looking at the legal aspects of such co-operation.

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See: http://pactenvironment.org/



Text of a letter published in the Guardian on 9th October 2018 to draw attention to the pact:

The Time is now for a global pact for the Environment

“On 10 April 2018, the United Nations general assembly adopted a resolution that paved the way for negotiations on a global pact for the environment. This international treaty would combine the guiding legal principles for environmental action into one single and far-reaching text. In 2015, the adoption of the sustainable development goals and the Paris climate agreement represented major progress. However, environmental damage persists and is more serious than ever before. The years 2017 and 2018 have seen record-breaking temperatures. Biodiversity continues to decline at a rapid pace.

With the global pact for the environment, the international community would be equipped for the first time with a treaty of a general nature that covers all environmental areas. It would be the cornerstone of international environmental law, therefore overseeing the different existing sectoral agreements (climate, biodiversity, waste, pollution, etc), filling the gaps and facilitating their implementation.

The treaty would gather principles found in key national and international texts, giving them legal value. Each state legislator would find references to the adoption of more robust environmental laws. The supreme courts would draw from it as a common source of inspiration to build the foundations for global environmental law. Citizens and NGOs would see their environmental rights strengthened while businesses would benefit from the harmonisation of the rules of the game.

While we celebrate the 70-year anniversary of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the moment has come for a new chapter in the history of international law. We are calling for the adoption of a third pact, enshrining a new generation of fundamental commitments: the rights and duties of states, public and private entities, and individuals relating to environmental protection.”

131 Signatories to the letter:

List of signatories of the Jurists Call for a Global Environment Pact for the Environment (131 jurists) Paris October 9, 2018

Yann Aguila, President of the Environment Commission of the Club des juristes, Antonio Herman Benjamin, Justice at the National High Court of Brazil, Chair of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law, Laurent Fabius, former President of the COP 21, Bruce Ackerman, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science, Yale Law School, Laurence Boisson de Chazournes, Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Geneva, David Boyd, Professor of Law, Policy and Sustainable Development, University of British Columbia, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, Lord Robert Carnwath, Justice UK Supreme Court, Parvez Hassan, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of Pakistan Chairman Emeritus IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law, Marie
Jacobsson, former Member of the UN International Law Commission and Special Rapporteur, Donald Kaniaru, former Director of Environmental Implementation at UNEP, Swatanter Kumar, former Judge at the Supreme Court of India, former Chairperson of the Indian National Green Tribunal, Luc Lavrysen, Judge at the Constitutional Court of Belgium, President of the European forum of Judges for the
Environment, Professor of Environmental Law, Ghent University, Pilar Moraga Sariego, Professor at Environmental Law Center of Faculty of Law, University of Chile, Head of the Human Dimension research line of the Center for Climate and Resilience Research (CR)2, Tianbao Qin, Professor at the Wuhan University, Secretary General of Chinese Society of Environment and Resources Law, Nicholas A. Robinson, Professor at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law, Pace University, Executive Governor, International Council of Environmental Law (ICEL), Jorge E. Vinuales, Harold Samuel Chair of Law and
Environmental Policy Fellow of C-EENRG Fellow of Clare College, University of Cambridge, Chairman of the Compliance Committee of the UNECE/WHO-Europe Protocol on Water and Health, Margaret Young, Associate Professor, Melbourne Law School, Pauline Abadie, Lecturer, University Paris Saclay, Domenico Amirante, Full Professor of Comparative Law and Environmental Law, Director of the PhD School in Human Sciences, University “Luigi Vanvitelli”, Marisol Angles Hernandez, Full-time researcher
at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Institute for Legal Research, Dr. Virginie Barral, Associate Professor in International Law, University of Hertfordshire, Mishig Batsuuri, Presiding Justice of Chamber for Administrative Cases, The Supreme Court of Mongolia, Ben Boer, Distinguished Professor, Research Institute of Environmental Law, Wuhan University, Emeritus Professor, University of Sydney, former Deputy Chair, IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law (2012-2016), Klaus
Bosselmann, Professor, University of Auckland, Chair, IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law Ethics Specialist Group, Chair, Ecological Law and Governance Association, Simone Borg, Legal Expert in International Law, President of the Institute for Climate Change and Sustainable Development, Head of the Department of Environmental and Resources Law, Professor of International Law, University of
Malta, Ioana Botezatu, International Civilian – Environmental Safety, Michael Bothe, Professor Emeritus of Public Law, J.W. Goethe University Frankfurt/Main, former President, European Environmental Law Association, former Vice-Chair, IUCN Commission for Environmental Law, former Secretary General, German Society for Environmental Law, Thomas Boudreau, Ph.D. Interdisciplinary Professor Salisbury
University Maryland, Edith Brown Weiss, Francis Cabell Brown Professor of International Law, Georgetown Law, Soukaina Bouraoui, Director of the Centre of Arab Women for Training & Research, Stefano Burchi, Chairman of the Executive Council International Association for Water Law, Mingde Cao, Professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, Joëlle Casanova, former Director of legal and administrative affairs, Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, Fernando Carillo Florez, Inspector Attorney General of Colombia, Nathalie Chalifour, Associate Professor, Center for
Environmental Law and Global Sustainability, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, Leila
Chikhaoui, Professor of Public Law, University of Tunis, Member of the Tunisian provisional Constitutional court, Dino Bellorio Clabot, Dean of the University of Belgrano, Professor of Environmental Law, Sarah H. Cleveland, Louis Henkin Professor of Human and Constitutional Rights, Columbia Law School, Marie-Anne Cohendet, Constitutional expert, Professor of Public Law, Sorbonne Law School, University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Bradly Condon, Professor, Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM), founding Director of the Centre of International Economic Law, Carina Costa De Oliveira, Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Brasilia, Neil Craik, Associate Professor of Law, University of Waterloo, Luca D’Ambrosio, Research Fellow at the Collège de France, Peter Darak, President of the Curia of Hungary, Pierre D’Argent, Professor of international law, Catholic University of Louvain, Associate Member of the Institute of International Law, Carlos De Miguel Perales, Lawyer, Professor, Faculty of Law, Pontificia Comillas University (ICADE), Madrid, Olivier De Schutter, Professor, Catholic University of Louvain and the College of Europe, Member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Dr. Bharat H. Desai, Professor of International Law, Chair in International Environmental Law, Chairman, Center for International Legal Studies,
University of Jawaharlal Nehru, Leila Devia, Professor of Environmental Law, Universities of Salvador and of Buenos Aires, Director of the Basel Regional Center in South America, Stéphane Doumbé-Billé, Professor, University of Jean-Moulin Lyon, Geneviève Dufour, Professor at the University of Sherbrooke, President of the Quebec International Law Society, President of the francophone network for International Law, Wolfgang Durner, Professor, Institute for Public Law, University of Bonn, LeslieAnne
Duvic Paoli, Lecturer, The Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College London, Jonas Ebbesson, Professor of Environmental Law, Director Stockholm Environmental Law and Policy Centre, Department of Law, Stockholm University, Daniel C. Esty, Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law & Policy, Yale University, Alexandre Faro, Lawyer at the Paris Bar, Michael Faure, Professor of Comparative and International Environmental Law, Maastricht University, Professor of Comparative Private Law and Economics, Institute of Law and Economics (RILE), Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Wahid
Ferchichi, Associate Professor of Law, University of Carthage, Rosario Ferrara, Professor, LUISS University, Roma, Liz Fisher, Professor of Environmental Law, Faculty of Law & Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford, Dan Galpern, Attorney at law, Eugene, Oregon, Patrícia Galvão Teles, Member of the UN International Law Commission, Professor of International Law at the Autonomous University of Lisbon, Senior Legal Consultant on International Law at the Legal Department of the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maria Gavouneli, Associate Professor of International Law, National &
Kapodistrian University of Athens, Jan Glazewski, Professor in the Institute of Marine and Environmental Law, University of Cape Town, former Advisor to the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Juan Manuel Gomez Robledo, member of the UN International Law Commission, Jenny Hall, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Johannesburg, Paule Halley, Professor, Lawyer, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Law, Faculty of Law, Laval University, Quebec, Delphine Hedary, former Head of
the preparation of the Environmental Charter, former President of the General Assembly for the Modernization of Environmental Law, Joel Hernandez, Member of the Inter American Commission on Human Rights, Isabel Hernandez San Juan, Professor of Administrative Law Carlos III de Madrid University, Davide Jr. Hilario G., former Chief Justice of the Philippines, former Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, Angel Horna, Peruvian diplomat and public international lawyer, Harold Hongju Koh, Sterling Professor of International Law, Yale Law School, former Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State (2009-2013), Océni Hounkpatin Amoussa, Jurist in
Environmental Law, President of the African Jurists for the Environment Association, Maria Ivanova, Associate Professor of Global Governance and Director, Center for Governance and Sustainability, John McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston, Maria Magdalena Kenig-Witkowska, Professor of legal sciences, University of Warsaw, Yann Kerbrat, Professor, Sorbonne Law School, University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Director of the Sorbonne Research Institute of International and European Law, Louis J. Kotze, Research Professor
North-West University, South Africa, Marie Curie Research Fellow, University of Lincoln, United Kingdom, Pascale Kromarek, Lawyer, Sophie Lavallée, Professor, Lawyer, Faculty of Law, Laval University, Quebec, Marja-Liisa Lehto, member of the UN International Law Commission, Special Rapporteur on Protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts, Qingbao Li, Professor, University of North China Electric Power, Ibrahima Ly, Associate Professor of Public Law and Political Science, Director of the Laboratory for Studies and Research in Politics, Environmental and Health Law,
Faculty of Juridical and Political Sciences, University Cheikh Anta Diop Dakar, Sébastien Mabile, Lawyer, Doctor of Law, President of the Law and Environmental Policies Commission of IUCN France, Luis Fernando Macias Gomez, Environmental Law Attorney, President of the Colombian Institute of Environmental Law and Sustainable Development, Sandrine Maljean-Dubois, Research Director at CNRS, Director of the mixed research unit International, Comparative and European Law, Professor of
International Law, University of Aix-Marseille, Gilles J. Martin, Professor Emeritus, University Côte d’Azur, CNRS, GREDEG, Benoit Mayer, Assistant Professor, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Mohamed Ali Mekouar, Vice-President of the International Center for Comparative Environmental Law, Shinya Murase, Member and Special Rapporteur of the UN International Law Commission, Bouchra Nadir, Professor, Mohammed V University of Rabat, Martin Ndende, Professor, University of Nantes,
Senior Legal Advisor at the UN, Laurent Neyret, Professor, University of Versailles Paris Saclay, Nilufer Oral, Professor, Faculty of Law, Istanbul Bilgi University, Member of the UN International Law Commission, Hermann E. Ott, Professor, Head of the ClientEarth Berlin Office, Hassan Ouazzani Chahdi, Member of the UN International Law Commission, Luciano Parejo Alfonso, Administrative Law Professor Emeritus Carlos III de Madrid University, Teresa Parejo Navajas, Associate Professor of Law Carlos III de Madrid University, Senior Advisor UN SDSN, Cymie Payne, Associate Professor, Rutgers
University, Alain Pellet, Professor Emeritus, University Paris Nanterre, former Chairperson, UN International Law Commission, President, French Society for International Law, Member, Institute of International Law, Michel Prieur, President of the International Center for Comparative Environmental Law, Fabienne Quillere Majzoub, Professor, IODE-CNRS UMR 6262, University of Rennes 1, Lavanya
Rajamani, Professor, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, Rama S. Rao, former Director of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Yvan Razafindratandra, Environmental Affairs Advisor, Vincent Reberyrol, Professor of Law, EM Lyon Business School, Eckard Rehbinder, Professor Emeritus of economic and environmental law, Research Centre for Environmental Law, Goethe University Frankfurt, former member and chair of the German Advisory Council on the Environment, former Regional Governor of the International Council of Environmental Law (ICEL), José Luis Rey Pérez, Ph. D. Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Pontificia Comillas, Madrid, Carol Rose, Gordon Bradford Tweedy Professor Emeritus of Law and Organization, Professorial Lecturer in Law, Yale Law School, Susan Rose-Ackerman, Henry R. Luce Professor of Law and Political Science, Emerita, Yale Law School, Montserrat Rovalo Otero, Professor of Environmental Law, National Autonomous University of
Mexico, Douglas A. Ruley, General Counsel, ClientEarth, Gilberto Saboia, Member of the UN International Law Commission, Lisa Sachs, Director, Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, Columbia Law School, James Salzman, Bren Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law, UCLA Law School, Borja Sánchez Barroso, Professor, University of Pontificia Comillas, Madrid, Dr. Meinhard Schröder, Professor, Institute for Environmental and Technology Law, Trier University, Tullio Scovazzi,
Professor of International Law, University of Milan-Bicocca, Tim Stephens, Professor of International Law and ARC Future Fellow, University of Sydney Law School, Marcin Stoczkiewicz, Senior Lawyer, Head of Central & Eastern Europe, ClientEarth, Hennie Strydom, Professor, University of Johannesburg, President of the South African Branch of the International Law Association (ILA), Sophie Thériault, Associate Professor, Civil Law Section, University of Ottawa, Patrick Thieffry, Lawyer at the Paris and New York Bars, Associate Professor at the Sorbonne Law School, James Thornton, Founding CEO of
ClientEarth, Amado Jr. Tolentino, Professor of Environmental Law, Philippines, François-Guy Trebulle, Professor, University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Director of the Sorbonne Law School, Eduardo Valencia Ospina, Chair, International Law Commission of the United Nations, Canfa Wang, Professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, Director of the Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims (CLAPV), Gerd Winter, Research Professor for Environmental Law Research Unit for European Environmental Law (FEU), University of Bremen, Guillerma Yanguas Montero, Spanish Judge, Doctor in Law, Jinfeng Zhou, Secretary General of China Biodiversity
Conservation and Green Development Foundation, Vice Chairman of World Green Design Organization.

Full details of a draft Global Environmental Pact for the Environment, written in ten different languages, can be found at: http://pactenvironment.org/

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There have been discussions about whether such a pact is workable, such as the following:

The Global Pact for the Environment continues to raise questions about ways to harmonize it with the current international rules, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, commenting on Russia’s decision to vote against a resolution to take steps toward establishing the pact.“The idea to draw up such a pact initially caused serious concern to us and a number of other countries, raising questions about ways to combine the new document with international law,” the statement reads. “In this regard, we called for adopting a balanced approach to the process of drawing up the document, refraining from hasty decisions and providing countries with an opportunity to make sure this initiative is feasible. Unfortunately, our concerns were not taken into consideration,” the Russian Foreign Ministry added.
At the same time, the statement emphasized Russia’s commitment to the implementation of international environmental agreements it took part in. “We believe that ensuring the timely and effective implementation of goals enshrined in relevant documents to be a top priority,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
France presented the Global Pact for the Environment to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2017. The document calls for protecting nature and preserving it for the future generations.
The Global Pact particularly provides for liability for polluting environment, emphasizes the need to ensure access to necessary information about that and creating conditions for judicial procedures. However, the document does not define any mechanisms to achieve these goals, reports TASS.”

See: http://greenwatchbd.com/global-pact-for-environment-raises-questions-russian-foreign-ministry/

 



 


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New 2018 UN Report shows that climate change is worse than predicted

A new report, published by an international panel of climate scientists, describes the impact of global warming at 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels and compares the impact of global warming at 2ºC above pre-industrial levels. Basically, it is saying that 1.5ºC is the better target.  Indeed, a representative of the Marshall Islands is said to have reported that allowing global warming to reach 2º is genocide. But the report also points out how difficult it will be to keep warming below 1.5 degrees because of actions that have already been taken, so that too much carbon is already in the atmosphere.

There is now increasing use of the word anthropogenic, which means relating to, or resulting from the influence of human beings, on nature”.

A summary of the report, which was commissioned by the United Nations IPCC, can be found at:

http://report.ipcc.ch/sr15/pdf/sr15_spm_final.pdf

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Chair of the IPCC, Hoesung Lee (centre), speaks during a press conference on Oct 8 2018

Basically, the IPCC is now saying that the 1.5 ºC goal is technically and economically feasible, but it depends on political leadership to become reality.

The panel says capping global warming at 1.5 deg C above pre-industrial levels will require “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”.

Earth’s average surface temperature has already gone up about one degree, which has been enough to unleash a surge of deadly extreme weather – but it is on track to rise another two or three degrees unless there is a sharp and sustained reduction in carbon pollution.  This is demonstrated by the graphic below:

Capture

 



Below is part of the summary document.


A. Understanding Global Warming of 1.5°C
A1. Human activities are estimated to have caused approximately 1.0°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels, with a likely range of 0.8°C to 1.2°C. Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate. (high confidence) {1.2, Figure SPM.1}
A1.1. Reflecting the long-term warming trend since pre-industrial times, observed global mean surface temperature (GMST) for the decade 2006–2015 was 0.87°C (likely between 0.75°C and 0.99°C) higher than the average over the 1850–1900 period (very high confidence). Estimated anthropogenic global warming matches the level of observed warming to within ±20% (likely range). Estimated anthropogenic global warming is currently increasing at 0.2°C (likely between 0.1°C and 0.3°C) per decade due to past and ongoing emissions (high confidence). {1.2.1, Table 1.1, 1.2.4}
A1.2. Warming greater than the global annual average is being experienced in many land regions and seasons, including two to three times higher in the Arctic. Warming is generally higher over land than over the ocean. (high confidence) {1.2.1, 1.2.2, Figure 1.1, Figure 1.3, 3.3.1, 3.3.2}
A1.3. Trends in intensity and frequency of some climate and weather extremes have been detected over time spans during which about 0.5°C of global warming occurred (medium confidence). This assessment is based on several lines of evidence, including attribution studies for changes in extremes since 1950. {3.3.1, 3.3.2, 3.3.3}
A.2. Warming from anthropogenic emissions from the pre-industrial period to the present will persist for centuries to millennia and will continue to cause further long-term changes in the climate system, such as sea level rise, with associated impacts (high confidence), but these emissions alone are unlikely to cause global warming of 1.5°C (medium confidence) {1.2, 3.3, Figure 1.5, Figure SPM.1}
A2.1. Anthropogenic emissions (including greenhouse gases, aerosols and their precursors) up to the present are unlikely to cause further warming of more than 0.5°C over the next two to three decades (high confidence) or on a century time scale (medium confidence). {1.2.4, Figure 1.5}                                                                                                    A2.2. Reaching and sustaining net-zero global anthropogenic CO2 emissions and declining net nonCO2 radiative forcing would halt anthropogenic global warming on multi-decadal timescales (high confidence). The maximum temperature reached is then determined by cumulative net global anthropogenic CO2 emissions up to the time of net zero CO2 emissions (high confidence) and the level of non-CO2 radiative forcing in the decades prior to the time that maximum temperatures are reached (medium confidence). On longer timescales, sustained net negative global anthropogenic
CO2 emissions and/or further reductions in non-CO2 radiative forcing may still be required to prevent further warming due to Earth system feedbacks and reverse ocean acidification (medium confidence) and will be required to minimise sea level rise (high confidence). {Cross-Chapter Box 2 in Chapter 1, 1.2.3, 1.2.4, Figure 1.4, 2.2.1, 2.2.2, 3.4.4.8, 3.4.5.1, 3.6.3.2}



It is obviously a very technical document so it may be best to direct the reader to other summaries of its text.  The first is very alarmist:

http://nymag.com/intelligencer/amp/2018/10/un-says-climate-genocide-coming-but-its-worse-than-that.html?__twitter_impression=true



The Fossil Free News has the following statement:

“A month on from the mass #RiseforClimate mobilizations around the world, we’re seeing public discourse turn back to climate change this week. A new United Nations report, detailing the dangers of a world above 1.5˚C of warming, has just been published – and it’s a tough wake up call. 

All over, people are speaking out about what the new report on 1.5 means – that science itself necessitates an end to fossil fuels as fast as we possibly can. 

This has the potential to be a turning point. People everywhere are waking up to the fact that a livable world is a Fossil Free world. Wherever you are, you can help deliver this urgent message to local leaders this weekend and encourage them to go Fossil Free.”

They also post this piece of video:


 


Friends of the Earth sent out the following statement:

“Today, the world’s leading panel of climate change experts released its latest report [1]. And it doesn’t make for cheerful reading.

The report lays bare how crucial it is that we keep global warming below 1.5 degrees. If we don’t stop burning coal, oil and gas, the damage to wildlife, ecosystems, and vulnerable communities around the globe will be almost unimaginable.  

But the UK government seems determined to do the opposite. As you know, it actually wants to make it easier for fracking companies to drill in search of gas. And thanks to its narrow-minded pursuit of fracking, later this week we could see the first fracking in this country since 2011 – when Cuadrilla’s operations near Blackpool were halted due to earth tremors.”  



The Guardian says the following:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/08/world-leaders-have-moral-obligation-to-act-after-un-climate-report?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX0dyZWVuTGlnaHQtMTgxMDEy&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GreenLight&CMP=greenlight_email

The headline states the following:

World leaders ‘have moral obligation to act’ after UN climate report

Even half degree of extra warming will affect hundreds of millions of people, decimate corals and intensify heat extremes, report shows

The article goes on to state:

“But the muted response by Britain, Australia and other governments highlights the immense political challenges facing adoption of pathways to the relatively safe limit of 1.5C above pre-industrial temperatures outlined on Monday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

With the report set to be presented at a major climate summit in Poland in December, known as COP24, there is little time for squabbles. The report noted that emissions need to be cut by 45% by 2030 in order to keep warming within 1.5C. That means decisions have to be taken in the next two years to decommission coal power plants and replace them with renewables, because major investments usually have a lifecycle of at least a decade.”

 



Martin Wolf writing for the Financial Times on 23rd October 2018, in an article entitled “Inaction over climate change is shameful: we need to shift the world onto a different investment and growth path immediately”.  He starts his article with the words:

It is five minutes to midnight on climate change. We will have to alter our trajectory very quickly if we wish to have a good chance of limiting the global average temperature rise to less than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. That was a goal of the Paris agreement of 2015. Achieving it means drastic reductions in emissions from now. This is very unlikely to happen. That is no longer because it is technically impossible. It is because it is politically painful. We are instead set on running an irreversible bet on our ability to manage the consequences of a far bigger rise even than 2C. Our progeny will see this as a crime.”

He goes onto to provide graphical data demonstrating the reality of climate change, as well as suggestions for implementing a radical reduction in climate emissions. See:

https://www.ft.com/content/b1c35f36-d5fd-11e8-ab8e-6be0dcf18713?accessToken=zwAAAWalWQ5okdOxw1821f0R6NOrjmvg3PGHEw.MEQCIHrSnzLknveTTsC_gpNj8MSfIAypDMWaqbPtXV1e1jyWAiBhn-zEUulScTd0cRx3rzhLa_aSSb6WujzjV3YvfDzGQg&sharetype=gift

On the same page is an advertisement offering information about “Climate Change Investment”.

https://blogs.cfainstitute.org/marketintegrity/2018/03/16/esg-qa-principles-for-climate-conscious-investment/?s_cid=dsp_BRAND18_Smartology_FT_EMEA_300x600



Following on from Martin Wolf’s excellent Financial Times article, a reader sent in the following letter:

Climate change must be part of the FT’s reporting From Claire James, London, UK.  “Martin Wolf’s excellent article “The shameful inaction over climate change” (October 24) about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report sets out with brutal clarity what is at stake if we delay action on climate change. Will the Financial Times now move to acknowledge this in its wider news and business coverage, in particular for high-carbon sectors such as fossil fuel extraction or aviation? The climate impact of particular projects should be included as standard information for your readers. Unfortunately, investment in these industries’ continued expansion, rather than in sustainable alternatives, is precisely why a safe climate for future generations is now almost unachievable. Claire James London W5, UK.”