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human activity and the destruction of the planet


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European Environmental Agency’s report shows EU greenhouse gas emissions continue to fall

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/29/eus-greenhouse-gas-emissions-continue-to-fall-as-coal-ditched

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Greenhouse gas emissions in the EU continued their fall in 2018, the latest year for which comprehensive data is available, according to a new report from Europe’s environment watchdog.

Emissions fell by 2.1% compared with 2017, to a level 23% lower than in 1990, the baseline for the bloc’s emission cuts under the UN’s climate agreements. If the UK is excluded, the decline since 1990 was smaller, standing at 20.7%.

Greenhouse gas emissions in the EU continued their fall in 2018, the latest year for which comprehensive data is available, according to a new report from Europe’s environment watchdog.

Emissions fell by 2.1% compared with 2017, to a level 23% lower than in 1990, the baseline for the bloc’s emission cuts under the UN’s climate agreements. If the UK is excluded, the decline since 1990 was smaller, standing at 20.7%.

However, emissions must be brought down much further and faster to satisfy the EU’s obligations under the Paris agreement, campaigners said. Annual falls of about 7% are estimated to be needed to keep global heating within the Paris upper limit of 2C above pre-industrial levels.

The economic turmoil and disruption caused by the coronavirus is likely to result in a short-term drop in emissions, as it has so far this year across the world, but the longer-term impact is unknown.

Green groups urged governments to link the recovery from the coronavirus with the need to reduce carbon, ahead of the Cop26 talks, and said the year’s delay must not be allowed to slow down action on the climate crisis.

“A 2.1% emissions drop isn’t nearly enough to avert massive climate breakdown, and we absolutely cannot lose sight of the urgency of this task,” said Aaron Kiely, a campaigner at Friends of the Earth. “Postponement of the climate talks cannot come at the cost of international climate action – it doesn’t give governments a get-out clause from their international responsibilities. There is a way out of both [the climate and coronavirus] crises if we collaborate, listen to the science, and stop losing time.”



 


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UN experts warn that the world is way off track in reaching climate targets

Targets set through the Paris Agreement 2015 are not currently being met on a global basis, at a time when actions to limit global warming are off track, and climate change damage becomes more apparent.

Increasing heat, accelerated sea level rises and extreme weather in 2019 were all indications of failure to rein in carbon emissions, according to a report compiled by the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). Their report had input from national meteorological services, international experts, scientific institutions and other UN agencies and the trends have continued into 2020.

AustralianBushfire

Every year, WMO issues a Statement on the State of the Global Climate. It is based on data provided by National Meteorological and Hydrological Services and other national and international organisations.  Further details of the report can be found at:

https://public.wmo.int/en/our-mandate/climate/wmo-statement-state-of-global-climate

Last year was the second hottest year on record, with a global average temperature of 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels. Each decade since the 1980s has been hotter than any preceding decade.

Under the Paris Agreement, countries are expected to increase their action this year to tackle greenhouse gas emissions, to prevent the worst impacts of global warming.

In a foreword to the report, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, said, “We are currently way off track to meeting either the 1.5° or 2°C targets that the Paris Agreement calls for. This report outlines the latest science and illustrates the urgency for far-reaching climate action.”

He thought it would only be a matter of time before a new world record hottest temperature was reached, perhaps within the next 5 years.

Alongside temperature increases, rainfall changes are having a major impact on several countries and sea levels are rising at an increasing pace, exposing coastal areas and islands to a greater risk of flooding and submersion.

Greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere have continued to rise in 2019 and carbon emissions from fossil fuels grew by 0.6% last year.

There were two major heat waves in Europe in June and July, with new national temperature records set in UK, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France.

Climate change is facilitating the spread of dengue fever, with around half of the world’s population being at risk of infection.

World hunger also increased, with an estimated 22 million people forced to leave their homes by events, such as storms and floods.

Drought or low rainfall hit many parts of the world, including Australia, which also saw its hottest year, with an exceptionally long and severe season of wildfires.

Greenland ice melt

The Greenland ice sheet lost 329 billion tonnes of ice in 2019.

A map showing all the countries with weather extremes can be found at:

https://wmo.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=56fc71ac6dcf4bcf826dea2adf94c255

Another report from the WMO, entitled “The Global Climate in 2015-2019” can be found at:  https://library.wmo.int/index.php?lvl=notice_display&id=21522#.Xmj5J6j7TIV

as well as previous WMO Reports.

 



 


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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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Research shows that a Carbon Tax helps achieve Paris Targets without harming the economy

In Chapter 7 of my book (pages 160-162), I describe the carbon tax and how it has helped reduce carbon emissions in the countries that have introduced it.  I particularly cite the the example of Australia, which introduced a carbon tax in 2012, whilst led by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, under a coalition with the Greens. In Australia, the act was very unpopular, particularly amongst business leaders, and it was repealed two years later by Prime Minister, Tony Abbot.  In my book, I provide a figure (Figure 67 in chapter 7), showing that during the two years of a carbon tax being in operation, carbon emissions in the country fell, only to start rising again after the act was repealed.

An OECD Environmental Review, published in 2014, describes how Sweden introduced a carbon tax in 1991. Since that time, their economy has grown by 50% and their emissions of greenhouse gases have declined.  See: https://issuu.com/oecd.publishing/docs/sweden_ar_brochure_web

Now, new comprehensive research has shown that a carbon tax has the effect of reducing carbon emissions of a country and, at the same time, enabling the growth of the economy in that country. An American study on the effects of a carbon tax has been reported in detail in the Guardian by Dana Nuccitelli on 16th July 2018.  See:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2018/jul/16/comprehensive-study-carbon-taxes-wont-hamper-the-economy

The study was carried out by the Stanford Energy Modeling Forum (EMF) project and involved 11 teams who examined the economic and environmental impacts of a carbon tax.  The findings consistently showed that a carbon tax is effective at reducing carbon pollution and that it has a very modest impact on the economy, as measured by GDP.

The study looked at four different types of carbon tax policy and the following quote is included in the Guardian article:

“in every policy scenario, in every model, the U.S. economy continues to grow at or near its long-term average baseline rate, deviating from reference growth by no more than about 0.1% points. We find robust evidence that even the most ambitious carbon tax is consistent with long-term positive economic growth, near baseline rates, not even counting the growth benefits of a less-disrupted climate or lower ambient air pollution”

They found that coal power plants would be the biggest losers if the carbon tax were implemented, which may explain the resistance encountered in Australia.  In addition, there were substantial cost savings in relationship to health improvements.  Some of the pollutants released by burning coal (eg soot, mercury) have a severe impact on health.

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The article also argues convincingly that curbing global warming, in line with the Paris agreement, also has a positive economic effect.

So, it sounds like a WIN WIN situation.

The following website gives details of those countries which have implemented a carbon tax:

https://www.carbontax.org/where-carbon-is-taxed/

 

 

 

 


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UK Government seeks to weaken commitment to Paris 2015 targets before Brexit

An article in The Guardian by Arthur Nelson (9th May 2018) claims that a secret plan, to stretch targets backwards to comply with the Paris 2015 commitments, has been leaked by MEPs.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/09/secret-uk-push-to-weaken-eu-climate-laws-completely-mad

The EU has committed to a 20% in energy use by 2020, as a first stage in its more ambitious promise to the Paris conference of a 40% emissions cut by 2030.

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?qid=1399375464230&uri=CELEX%3A32012L0027

The secret documents seen by The Guardian show that the UK plans to stretch its timeline backwards by four years, in order to use pre-2014 energy efficiences to be compliant with the EU directive. Then, once the UK has left the EU, it will no longer have to comply with the directive.

A member of the EU’s Environment Committee told The Guardian that:

“The UK’s proposal to widen ‘flexibilities’ is completely mad and undermines the principle of additionality, as well as the overall ambition of the energy efficiency directive. This approach would risk failure in our efforts to reach even moderately ambitious overall targets, while the higher – and beneficial targets – that we need to strive for could become lost altogether.”

According to the Shadow International Trade and Climate spokesman, the UN has asked countries to ratchet up their commitments on climate change in 2018.  Instead the UK government is weakening ours.

At present, almost all of the UK environmental policy derives from EU law but Michel Barnier, has insisted that a ‘non-regression article’ be included in any final EU-UK agreement to prevent backsliding.

what-is-climate-change

Sunday May 20th 2018

And now, the United Nations is getting in on the act.  In a report in the Huffington Post today, it is said that Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the UN’s environment programme, has said that Britain must keep its promise to deliver a green exit from the EU.  This story is also reported in The Observer.

Solheim has said that “Any dilution and the UK reputation would be damaged. People in government need to make sure that does not happen. We need to make sure they have those standards or improve them, or meet the ones under the European Union.”