UN Sec’y Gen – “Immoral … suicidal”

This show of 24 slides issued on 15.12.2018 the last day of the event, has been compiled by Jeremy Leggett to justify the claim made by the UN Secretary General at the COP24 gathering in Katowice Poland about failure to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The outcome of the UNFCCC attempt to reach international agreement looks inadequate as this BBC report suggests. The following extracts suggest why:

“… There are 196 countries in the UN and 192 counties agree,” said Mohamed Nasheed [President of Maldives]”We are just talking about four that do not agree, and these four are taking us hostage.” For the more than 20,000 people attending these talks, the end can’t come quickly enough. The expectation is that it will be Saturday afternoon at the earliest. Some are worried that it could go into Sunday, but most delegates have flights to catch on that date sothe pressure will be on to finish by then …

Poland holds the COP presidency but there is a lot of concern among delegates that they lack an overall picture of what should emerge from the meeting. Most people want to see a strong rulebook, a commitment by countries to raise their ambitions and carbon cutting promises before 2020 and some clarity on how much money will be delivered to poorer countries – as well as when it will arrive. While some negotiators say the Poles are doing a good job in difficult circumstances, many are critical, saying they are responding to the needs of the rich and not the poor.

When and where were the poor ever favoured ahead of the rich and powerful?  But greenhouse gas from rich or poor will not differentiate as it warms “Hothouse Earth”,

5 Takeaways from Katowice COP24 – BBC summary 16.12.18

2050 renewable target is technically feasible

This presentation of 20 slides by Jeremy Leggett demonstrates how the world supply of energy could be free of fossil fuels by 2050. Leggett is in the business of solar energy innovation. It is unlikely that the COP24 negotiators in Katowice share his optimism. The vested interests of the big energy producing countries led the US, Saudi Arabia and Russia to disavow the IPCC analysis.

World’s largest shipping line aims for carbon neutrality – Maersk has 20% of world containers shipping trade and has good intentions.

BUT IS IT POLITICALLY AND SOCIALLY FEASIBLE?

Macron’s tax on fuel creates social backlash – how to decarbonize?

Poland Europe’s top climate denier & coal burning country  – a switch from cheap coal to a more costly low-emission economy is politically unpalatable.

Saudi Arabia, the US, Kuwait and Russia block IPCC report at COP24 – 
big oil and gas producers block recognition of relevant science. 
When climate-cycle feedbacks are taken into account, warming would likely be in the range of 4–5°C, which is considered incompatible with the maintenance of human civilisation.

what can we do?

Prof. Nate Hagens teaches at the University of Minnesota in the US. He gave up his job in Wall Street upon realising what impact exponentially growing, fossil fuel-and debt-based, free-market, corporate capitalism was having on the finite earth. When his students ask WHAT CAN WE DO? the article summarises what he tells them. It relates to

  1. Big Universal Movements
  2. Personal Lifestyles

and adds a few links to important readings.

OLDROYD CLIMATE HUB PRESENTATION –  Slides from the presentation – Spaceship Earth presentation short notes

And some positive news from US politics? Is A New Green Deal possible in the USA? – the new generation of progressive Democrats (Ocasio-Cortez, et.al.) are promoting a huge climate policy shift resembling the massive response to the original New Deal that reversed the Great Depression of 1929 (The Atlantic article, 5 Dec 2019)

Vision of an Ecological Civilisation -Jeremy Lent (author of “The Patterning Instinct”) MAHB article

Climate activists must challenge economic growth – Resilience article for COP24 activists, 7 Dec 2018

Open Letter supporting Extinction Rebellion – XR has now spread to 35 countries and is supported by 100 leading progressive signatories

LINKS TO VIDEOS

Welcome to Spaceship Earth (2 mins)

The impossible hamster e(economic growth)

Direct action in Poland -350.org video (6 mins)

Hooked on Growth (50 mins)

Speech for climate justice by Anjali Appadurai at Climate Summit in Durban

 Lecture by Guy McPherson Responding to abrupt climate change” –(75 mins.)

Noam Chomsky lecture on climate change and nuclear war existential crises, 2017

COP24 links

Global HEATING (not just warming) = better term says worried climatologist co-author of “Hothouse Earth” Report

“There will be hell to pay” if no sensible agreement is reached

CNN coverage  

Guardian Editorial 13.12.18 summarises the failure of international cooperation hopes of dealing with global warming due, in large part, to the rise of nationalism

Attenborough speaks for the world’s people  – time is running out (video); UN Secretary General talks of suicidal failure

Simulation game 2040 played by some COP24 delegates – “We got great feedback from players about the way the game made tipping points real”

CO2 emissions reach all time high – timely Global Carbon Project report for COP24 participants to ponder (BBC website article). Contains suggestions for personal action to lower emissions.

At COP24 Greta Thunberg the 15-year old Swedish activist speaks truth to power holders who fail to act and predicts that “people will rise to the challenge” where our leaders have failed to curb CO2 emissions. She called for a school strike on Friday 14 Dec.; About Greta;

David Attenborough warns of civilisation collapse; “If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon. The world’s people have spoken. Their message is clear. Time is running out. They want you, the decision makers, to act now. They’re behind you, along with civil society represented here today. Leaders of the world, you must lead. The continuation of civilization and the natural world on which we depend, is in your hands.”

Academics’ perspectives on  “12 years to disaster”

What to expect

What must be agreed – The urgency for decisive action is the imperative for COP24. The UN must press on with four major strands for meeting the Paris 1.5°C target:

  1. Reduce fossil carbon emissions.
  2. Remove carbon from the atmosphere (NETs).
  3. Halt the rise of emissions of non-CO₂ greenhouses cases (Methane, Nitrous oxide, CFCs).
  4. Investigate techniques for geoengineering, including Solar Radiation Management.

All four of these must proceed simultaneously and in parallel. COP24 must make this perfectly clear. There is utmost urgency and no time to “wait and see”.

Financial sector cannot be trusted in climate transition – sustainability and profitability in conflict.  “… private finance and large investors will play a central role at the COP24 in Katowice, Poland, and in the full implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement.  Representatives from pension funds, insurance funds, asset managers and large banks will attend the meeting and lobby governments, cities and other banks to favour investments in infrastructure, energy production, agriculture and the transition towards a low-carbon economy.  It is difficult to ignore that a strong reliance on private finance means putting the future of Earth in the hands of individuals and institutions that brought the global economy to the verge of collapse. …  global military spending in 2017 reached US$1.7 trillion while poor countries promised funding for climate change adaptation and mitigation in 2015 are still waiting.. COP24 should not legitimise large financial investors as the architects of a transition where sustainability rhymes with profitability”.

The Great Dying – new research on the Permian extinction – an ominous reminder of what climate change can do. NYT article 

On track for 1.5C global limit by 2034 – just 16 years to cross the limit.

Big investors to the rescue? – week 2 of COP24 gets new perspective based on fear of financial system collapse.

Coal in; activists out – Polish organisers of COP criticised; Coal addiction effects in Poland (photo essay);

 

 

THE ELEPHANT IN THE COP24 ROOM

This cartoon based on an Indian fable, shows how blind men perceive the ‘big picture’ of reality. The whole is much harder to see than the parts, so understandings are limited. An example that I witnessed recently was the COP24 Climate Summit in Katowice in December 2018. Two hundred national representatives assembled in yet another attempt to agree on limiting the emission of greenhouse gases which are causing global warming, climate disruption and melting of the cryosphere that is contributing to sea level rise. Carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions are a symptom of the Machine World that has been called a “heat engine” due to the releasing of the energy stored underground for millions of years as coal, oil and natural gas (so-called fossil energy that is used as fossil fuel). So we might say that the ‘elephant in the room’ (the unseen cause of a particular problem) is the debt-driven growth-economy, the pursuit of ever-increasing GDP that is the driver of the Machine World. Put in terms of the Spaceship Earth metaphor, we have an unnoticed elephant on board to which participants attending meetings like COP24 are not paying attention. They are focusing only on one particular part of the elephant – the emission of gases! The big picture is not in their sights.  The climate scientists who offer their dire warning that 1.5C degrees of global warming is now the tipping point for the loss of a sustainable future for humanity by and large are reluctant to put the finger on the Machine World as the root cause of the symptom of global warming. Most scientists focus on understanding only parts of the whole elephant. And scientists often depend on the drivers of the elephant for their livelihoods!


without a wider critique of the toxic relationship between climate change and economic growth, governments will be almost powerless to achieve any net zero targets they set”. 

The above quotation from this article sums up the invisible ‘elephant in the room’ (universal commitment to economic growth which is the root cause of climate change and many other existential threats to a sustainable future) at the mass gathering from 200 nations in Katowice this week that is trying to reach some accord, in the absence of US commitment, in the face of the latest dire warnings from the IPCC scientific consensus about climate disruption, anthropogenic warming and rising numbers of storms & floods, droughts & fires around the world.

The article further suggests that:

“At COP24 environmental movements have an opportunity to use their platform to highlight the relationship between economic growth and environmental impact, and even to discuss radical alternative futures that are not dependent on a growth-based economy.”

This is  precisely the purpose of the presentation that I shall make at the Climate Hub fringe event platform on Friday that I am calling “Prospects for Spaceship Earth in the Anthropocene”. I will add this slide from the above article to my presentation:

I am less convinced about the article’s conclusion that:

“By identifying the root cause of climate change, and our inability to address it, these [protest] groups can go further than demanding action. They can change public mindsets, put pressure on national governments and point to a shared way forward. Here, we have our best shot at limiting the damage of climate change in a meaningful and timely way.”

Pictures of where one consequence of economic growth is leading – From a Guardian article on day one of Katowice COP24. “Climate catastrophe is now looking inevitable. We have simply left it too late to hold rising global temperatures to under 1.5C and so prevent a future of drowned coasts, ruined coral reefs, spreading deserts and melted glaciers”. 

2.7% growth in GHG  emissions for 2018 (NYT, 6 Dec 2018)

Rich countries failing on GHG emissions

BBC CLIMATE SUMMARY BEFORE COP24

Interactive charts from the BBC website on the opening day of COP24 in Katowice. The seven charts illustrate these conclusions:

1. The world has been getting hotter each year

2. The year 2018 set all sorts of records

3. We are not on track to meet climate change targets

4. The biggest emitters are China and the US

5. Urban areas are particularly under threat

6. Arctic sea ice is also in danger

7. We can all do more to help

Yet more data to consider as I finish my presentation for the Climate Hub fringe event alongside the COP mega-event that seems to have spawned far more media attention than normally exists about human impact on Spaceship Earth, at least the temperature, compunction and circulation of our atmosphere. I will try to promote the  metaphor of finite Spaceship Earth and the transformation brought about in the Anthropocene – the geological Epoch of Humans that has accelerated beyond control of its unintended consequences during my lifetime.

I will put my power point presentation on this website when it is complete.

Green new deals

This article includes a video of a panel from the Sanders Institute inaugurated this week to promote progressive solutions to economic, environmental, racial and social justice issues. The panel includes Naomi Klein author of “This Changes Everything” and Bill McKibben the founder of 350.org. The Green New Deal is a  proposal to create a GND committee in the  US Congress that embeds social justice into the transformation required for  keeping global warming under the targets of the IPCC Report.  The IPCC report that radical political and economic  change are rapidly required – the usual systemic tall order for both the environment and society. The original New Deal in the 1930s brought a response to crisis but it was neither ‘green’ nor ‘for everybody’.

 

Progressive International was also launched at the same time by the wife of Bernie Sanders and Varoufakis. It aims to counter the spread of right  wing authoritarianism by building a global progressive movement.

Doughnut economics metric

Kate Raworth’s model for sustainable economics has now been developed into a new metric for locating the degree to which 150 countries are not able to maintain a safe operating space between environmental limits and social well-being indicators. In this short illustrated article the results are set out and classified into four categories. No countries come close to creating a secure future. The four categories are described as follows:

A. Countries that are barely crossing any planetary boundaries, but are falling very far short on meeting people’s needs, including G20 members India and Indonesia. The development path that these nations must now pursue has never taken before. Copying the degenerative industrial path of today’s high-income countries (Group C), would most likely collapse Earth’s life-supporting systems.

B. Many middle-income, ‘emerging’ economies – including G20 members like Brazil, Russia, China, Argentina and South Africa – are both falling short on social needs while already crossing biophysical boundaries. These countries are now making future-defining investments in urbanization, energy systems and transport networks. Will these infrastructural investments take them further away from the doughnut, or start bringing them towards it?

C. Today’s high-income countries ­– including G20 members like the US, UK, France, Germany and the EU 28 itself – cannot be called developed, given that their resource consumption is greatly overshooting Earth’s boundaries and, in the process, undermining prospects for all other countries. These high-income nations, too, are on an unprecedented developmental journey: to sustain good living standards while moving back within Earth’s biophysical boundaries.

D. No country is yet in sweet-spot cluster D (for Doughnut!) – so how many years until some are there, and which will make it there first?

The variables used in the metric are illustrated  here for Argentina where the G20 nations that produce 85% of carbon emissions is taking place this weekend:

 

Climate Assessment Reports

This hugely important report from 12 US government agencies was released at a time when people were preoccupied with Thanksgiving holidays, some believe, in order to minimise its  impact. It has dire conclusions about the impact of climate change on the US economy but appears to remain firmly within the ‘economic growth is good’ paradigm.

“Scientists have understood the fundamental physics of climate change for almost 200 years. In the 1850s, researchers demonstrated that carbon dioxide and other naturally occurring greenhouse gases in the atmosphere prevent some of the heat radiating from Earth’s surface from escaping to space: this is known as the greenhouse effect. This natural greenhouse effect warms the planet’s surface about 60°F above what it would be otherwise, creating a habitat suitable for life. Since the late 19th century, however, humans have released an increasing amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels and, to a lesser extent, deforestation and land-use change. As a result, the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, the largest contributor to human-caused warming, has increased by about 40% over the industrial era. This change has intensified the natural greenhouse effect, driving an increase in global surface temperatures and other widespread changes in Earth’s climate that are unprecedented in the history of modern civilization.”

Here  is a short introduction by a journalist to the report.

Here ‘Resilience’ summarises the impacts studied in the report

And here is the US President’s response to the report

A similar report for Europe Climate Impacts on Economy (European Commission)- impacts examined: Coastal floods; River floods; Droughts; Agriculture; Energy; Transport; Water resources; Habitat loss; Forest fires; Labour productivity; Mortality due to heatwaves.

And a UN Report on the Emissions Gap- a tripling of cuts to CO2 emissions is needed

Three chilling conclusions from the NCA

Predicted regional impact of climate change on US regions

WMO Reports record high GHGs

This BBC article summarises a new report from the World Meteorological Organisation that has been released shortly before the COP24 Climate Summit in Katowice. The report shows no slowing in the concentrations of CO2 (405 ppm in 2017), methane, NO2 in the atmosphere and also reveals new concerns about CH11 a gas that was banned due to its effects on the ozone layer as well as global warming. These GHGs (greenhouse gases) are now at levels not seen since 3 to 5 million years ago when earth temperatures were 2C degrees higher and sea levels 10-20 metres higher.

And here the BBC reports (with video)  on how China is building coal-powered electricity power stations all around the world. The article details and example in Serbia.

The Carbon Gap is here explained –  about the difference between what is needed and what is promised by 2030 – 12 years from now.