CLUB OF ROME CLIMATE EMERGENCY PLAN

See the pdf of the plan here.It has 6 pages of text and outlines a 10-point strategy under 5 headings:

  1. Transform Energy Systems

2. Rethink Pricing and Growth Indicators

3. Scale up Transformational Technologies

4. Accelerate Low-Carbon Land Use, Mitigation & Adaptation tools

5. Guarantee the Human Dimension

The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on the impact of 1.5 °C and 2°C warming above pre-industrial levels sends a stark reminder to humanity about the existential threat posed by climate change. To avoid the worst of the predicted outcomes, global carbon emissions must be cut by half by 2030, to zero by 2050. This is an unprecedented task, requiring a reduction rate of at least 7% annually; no country has to date achieved more than 1.5%. The only possible response is emergency action that will transform human social, economic and financial systems.

The Club of Rome and its partners call on all stakeholders – governments, civil society, scientific institutions, business – to adopt the following emergency action plan, based on the Carbon Law Initiative approach to halve global GHG emissions every decade till 2050 , and the industrialised countries’ Paris commitment to provide a minimum of US$100 billion dollars annually to low-income countries in support of low-carbon technology development and adaptation.

“The ravages of a rapidly warming climate are happening every day and will only get worse especially for the world’s most vulnerable. Transformational climate action is an opportunity for a societal renaissance of the proportions never seen before. This is a global emergency plan for a shared and just future. We have the technology and capital but most NDC’s and industry efforts are not ambitious enough. The only option now is adopting an emergency plan! Time is not going to be forgiving.” — Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Co-President of the Club of Rome

striker Thunberg and 1 trillion euro eu promise

The remarkable story of a young Swedish climate strike activist and a commitment of 25% of EU budget from 2021 to attempting to respond to the effects of fossil-fuel driven emissions of CO2. She has really manged to speak truth to power if the promise of Jean Claude Junker to redirect EU budget is to be believed. The attention of media around the world has been captured by this sole agent who has activated school age students around the world to take to the streets and “march4climate.” Even in coal-dominated Poland small stirrings of student activism are emerging – one in Katowice on 15 March which has been identified as a date for action around the world.

It is likely that human agency is unlikely to have the time or power to shift the system-level dynamic of economic growth that is the ‘elephant in the room’ behind the existential threat of climate change. But if one young girl in her mid-teens can exercise her agency to this extent, then hope for system change is still alive.

In this article, G/eorge Monbiot reflects on what mass movements of activists need to do to avoid the failures of previous activist movements such as Occupy Wall Street.

Not just climate – food production at risk

Yet another scientific report comes out to worry Guardian readers:
“The world’s capacity to produce food is being undermined by humanity’s failure to protect biodiversity, according to the first UN study of the plants, animals and micro-organisms that help to put meals on our plates“a “debilitating” loss of soil biodiversity, forests, grasslands, coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass beds and genetic diversity in crop and livestock species and a third of ocean fishing areas are being over-harvested”… “Over the last two decades, approximately 20% of the earth’s vegetated surface has become less productive”.  

“Agriculture was often to blame due to land-use changes and unsustainable management practices, such as over-exploitation of the soil and a reliance on pesticides, herbicides and other agro-chemicals.

Most countries said the main driver for biodiversity loss was land conversion, as forests were cut down for farm fields, and meadows covered in concrete for cities, factories and roads. Other causes include over-exploitation of water supplies, pollution, over-harvesting, the spread of invasive species and climate change.”

Two-thirds of crop production comes from just nine species (sugar cane, maize, rice, wheat, potatoes, soybeans, oil-palm fruit, sugar beet and cassava),

Over-dependence on a narrow range of species was a major factor in the famine caused by potato blight in Ireland in the 1840s, cereal crop failures in the US in the 20th century, and losses of taro production in Samoa in the 1990s.

“There is an urgent need to change the way food is produced and ensure that biodiversity is not something that is swept aside but is treated as an irreplaceable resource and a key part of management strategies.

Biodiversity loss finally linked to food production.

This is a crisis: environmental breakdown

This report published in February 2019 is from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) in the UK. It is yet another appeal to politicians to act in the face of the gravity of environmental breakdown due to human activity. It warns that the world is on a path toward “environmental breakdown” that will likely trigger “runaway collapse” of social and economic systems in the vein of the 2008 global financial crisis, and it calls for major shifts in understanding the scale and pace of environmental change, the implications of it, and the need for a radical transforming response.

It is almost half a century since warnings of this type have been appearing and have been ignored by those who are in a position to initiate the radical changes required to reverse the exponential acceleration of the damage that the “Machine World” is inflicting on Spaceship Earth. Crises are not what most leaders wish to recognise and the status quo that assumes that economic growth and human dominance can continue indefinitely is preferable to radical reversals of public policy. The dynamic of corporate profit-seeking remains all-powerful to allow serious attention to environmental breakdown.

Existential risks – the Centre for the Study of Existential Risks at Cambridge University contributed this article to the BBC website.

“the World Health Organization and the World Economic Forumboth listed climate change and its effects as one of their top risks for 2019.Recent UN talks heard climate change was already “a matter of life and death” for many regions. While many, including Sir David Attenborough, believe it could lead to the collapse of civilisations and the extinction of “much of the natural world”. The threats are complex and diverse, from killer heatwaves and rising sea levels to widespread famines and migration on a truly immense scale.
Also increasing are the potential risks from novel technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI). The scenarios range from increasingly sophisticated cyber-weapons that could hold an entire nation’s data to ransom, to autonomous algorithms that could unwittingly cause a stock-market crash. Another threat is the possibility of a nuclear war. While many focus on rising tensions between global powers, new technologies may also be making us less safe.”

Plastic pollution a distraction from worse threats

A new ‘Montreal Protocol’ needed?

This article and short film present the case for renewed international cooperation to repeat, for many other pollutants including plastics, the success that the 1987 Montreal Protocol represented in banning CFC s that were causing a hole in the ozone layer above the Antarctic. The 5 minute film is narrated by David Attenborough.

Today scientists predict that stratospheric ozone concentrations will rebound to 1980 levels by the middle of this century. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Montreal Protocol has prevented millions of cases of skin cancer and cataracts from exposure to ultraviolet radiation. In 2016 nations adopted the Kigali Amendment, which will phase out production and use of hydrofluorocarbons, another class of ozone-depleting chemicals.

Why has the Montreal Protocol worked so well? One key factor is that every nation in the world has joined it. They did so because alternative materials were available to substitute for chlorofluorocarbons. The treaty also provided financial support to countries that needed help transitioning away from the banned substances.

Another pact, the 2001 Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, banned or severely limited production and use of certain chemicals that threatened human and environmental health, including specific insecticides and industrial chemicals. Today 182 nations have signed the treaty. Concentrations of several dangerous POPs in the Arctic, where global air and water currents tend to concentrate them, have declined.

Nations have added new chemicals to the list and created “elimination networks” to help members phase out use of dangerous materials such as PCBs. And producers of goods such as semiconductors and carpets that use listed chemicals are working to develop new, safer processes.

Even though the United States has not signed the Stockholm Convention, U.S. companies have largely eliminated production of the chemicals that the treaty regulates. This shows that setting a global standard may encourage nations to conform in order to maintain access to global markets.

Green New Deal?

This article offers some hope amongst all the negative news coming out of the USA concerning human impact on the planet that threatens a sustainable future. And this additional article claims that the Green New Deal is a good first step. And here The Green New Deal explained. And from The Atlantic – Democrats put out an official blueprint for a Green New Deal on Thursday. The plan, released by freshman New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, would completely transform just about all facets of the American economy to drastically lower carbon emissions. The bill has virtually no chance of becoming law—it’s dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled Senate—but it’s nevertheless consequential, suggesting that a new crop of Democratic politicians is poised to make mammoth climate bills central to the party’s platform going forward. Further comment here. 

Heinberg – Could a GND save civilisation?

GND update 1 March 2019

Vox article re critics of the GND

Washington Post improved version of the GND

We have just launched in Tychy, Poland a small effort to raise local awareness and hope relating to the existential threats to Spaceship Earth. The small group ranging in age from 15 to 78 is tentatively using the acronym SEAT – (Spaceship Earth Action Tychy). Initially the mostly young professionals (psychologists, teachers, IT specialists, architect, school student) are working together in the English language and looking at offering workshop activities to local citizens in the town. At its first meeting, the group agreed to focus on hopeful reasons for community action.

REASONS FOR HOPE FOR SPACESHIP EARTH

“Once we start to act, hope is everywhere” Greta Thunberg.

Hope is less intellectual than emotional; it’s a feeling.

Hope increases if people feel part of a community dedicated to a common purpose.

More people are becoming involved in Spaceship Earth action every day. There’s plenty of fellowship

“Climate solutions and possibilities already exist. Together we can limit global warming to 1.5˚.”

https://medium.com/@UNDP/talking-about-climate-change-walking-the-line-between-hope-and-despair-6605cf757ba5

The UNDP (United Nations Development Program) Strategy:

A. Make sure everyone is sufficiently alarmed, and knows how desperate and urgent the crisis is — so that they act.

B. Give people a sense of hope so that they know what actions to take that will have a strong impact — so that they act.

Ten reasons for hope:

  1. Technological and industrial innovations, such as cheap renewable energy, are coming faster and faster.
  2. Local, city and national governments are committing to cut carbon, ban pollutants, protect species and replant forests.
  3. People are rising up in popular protests to pressure policymakers and companies to change direction.
  4. Humans have not, since 1945 in Japan, used the nuclear weapons that have been available.
  5. The CFC chemicals causing a hole in the ozone layer (discovered in 1973) were banned when nations agreed to cooperate (Montreal Protocol, 1987).
  6. Slavery that was once seen as normal is now seen as immoral, so maybe growth economics can be replaced by circular regenerative economics.
  7. The scientific evidence of the effects on health of smoking were recognised despite 40 years of denial and delay by the tobacco industry, so maybe the same will happen in relation to greenhouse gas emission from human activity.
  8. School pupils are starting protest to thanks to Greta Thunberg, who started this, and is still inspiring our youth to take action around the world.
  9. A political movement for a “Green New Deal” is emerging in the USA.
  10. Huge amounts of evidence for change now available: http://case4all.org

There are powerful obstacles to change – e.g. Deep vested interests are resisting climate action: those are the economies, businesses and political systems dependent on fossil fuels, polluting industries, or biodiversity destruction. We must speak truth to power. “Power concedes nothing without a demand.”