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Five minutes to midnight: climate change action fighting the clock
Right, we finally managed to wrap our heads around the concept that climate change is undeniable and real. And that we have to take action if we are to avert the majority of negative side-effects that this environmental disease, so to speak, brings along. So far, so good. Unfortunately, the close reader will quickly realise the fallacy here.   Yes, we have - some notable exceptions aside - largely agreed on the validity and reality of global warming. The Paris Climate Agreement and Poland COP24 are testament to this. Yet we somehow seem unable to turn this around to actual, hard-hitting action.   Lots of written words. Millions and millions of them, to be exact - these included. Lots of vague promises and pledges. Some half-hearted initiatives of the largest polluting countries and companies, that are all too easily mistaken for a publicity ploy instead. Yet the real urgency seems to be sorely lacking. Take the antibiotics or sit it out? Let’s draw the obvious comparison to your own, personal health. You feel miserable and after some days of calling in sick and staying in bed, there is no real improvement in your situation. You drag yourself to the GP, who claims that you have got a nasty case of the flu, which has led to pneumonia. He prescribes some antibiotics and urges you to take them twice a day for two weeks, to ensure that it does not get worse.   You consider yourself lucky that you are not living back in medieval times, when this ailment would often be considered a death sentence, and haul yourself to the pharmacy and back to bed. Time to take on this bug and get rid of it once and for all. Perhaps you’ll even consider giving up your precious cigarettes to give your lungs some much-needed relief. After all, you’ll still be needing them for the next decades. Why do we refuse the obvious  global warming medicine? So, what is the difference between our personal health vs the health of our environment? There must be one, as we somehow refuse the obvious medicine for global warming that will clear our earth’s lungs of the accumulated poison. We gladly accept the Doc’s explanation that the earth is sick, we’ve even decided on a course of action - to reduce our CO2 emissions, live more sustainably - yet we somehow forego the visit to the pharmacy. As of now, any action is mostly driven by young companies, aspiring eco-engineers and entrepreneurs. Some conscious households and communities, perhaps the odd lobbyist and politician. While we applaud their enthusiasm, most of us lack the real drive. Our minds do not seem to want to accept the small sacrifices we must bring if we are to enjoy this world for just a little while longer. The clock is ticking for climate change action Here is the reality check. If we do not cut our global carbon emissions in half in the next 12 years, we will not be able to avert the worst consequences of global warming. Fact.   And yet, while we read this, our minds already go in overdrive to find excuses for not taking action today, right now. It is a biological result of evolution, dating back to our ancestors living in caves. Their worries were pretty much focused on the present. Hunt. Escape from that sabre tooth tiger. Mate. Sleep. Repeat.   Do you think any of them worried about their retirement plans and next year’s elections? You bet they did not.   We are only human and this is how we have been trained to act and think for centuries and centuries. Our tendency to look towards the future and start worrying about tomorrow is still relatively new and fresh, with most of us still struggling to adjust.   What to change to avoid further climate change? The climate change lobby should therefore focus much more on playing to the psyche of people. It should explore why we are so hesitant regarding this perceived change and how we can turn this around to work in our favour. After all, there is nothing more astounding than human’s capability to adjust and overcome - the exact trait that has led to our survival over time. We have got to tackle the perception that we, as individuals, hold no control over this situation anyhow. So why bother?   Additionally, we’ve got to accept that even the smallest activities that we perform on a daily basis are malignant, such as stepping into our gas-guzzling car to take the kids to school. We have to stop undervaluing the impact of climate change on our lives. It may not be visible right now, but it sure will be in a decade of two.   Most importantly, we’ve got to educate ourselves and others. Ignorance is not a pretty trait in anyone, and in this case might even prove to be our downfall. We should stop telling people that they have to sacrifice and give up some comfort. Instead, start telling them about great new initiatives. Educate them about their personal emissions, open their eyes to their own actions. Get them excited about being a part of a massive movement that will clear our earth’s lungs.   Tell them that they will be the hero that saved the earth’s life. We hold the antibiotics that the earth so direly needs. We just got to start ingesting it. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/climate
Right, we finally managed to wrap our heads around the concept that climate change is undeniable and real. And that we have to take action if we are to avert the majority of negative side-effects that this environmental disease, so to speak, brings along. So far, so good. Unfortunately, the close reader will quickly realise the fallacy here.   Yes, we have - some notable exceptions aside - largely agreed on the validity and reality of global warming. The Paris Climate Agreement and Poland COP24 are testament to this. Yet we somehow seem unable to turn this around to actual, hard-hitting action.   Lots of written words. Millions and millions of them, to be exact - these included. Lots of vague promises and pledges. Some half-hearted initiatives of the largest polluting countries and companies, that are all too easily mistaken for a publicity ploy instead. Yet the real urgency seems to be sorely lacking. Take the antibiotics or sit it out? Let’s draw the obvious comparison to your own, personal health. You feel miserable and after some days of calling in sick and staying in bed, there is no real improvement in your situation. You drag yourself to the GP, who claims that you have got a nasty case of the flu, which has led to pneumonia. He prescribes some antibiotics and urges you to take them twice a day for two weeks, to ensure that it does not get worse.   You consider yourself lucky that you are not living back in medieval times, when this ailment would often be considered a death sentence, and haul yourself to the pharmacy and back to bed. Time to take on this bug and get rid of it once and for all. Perhaps you’ll even consider giving up your precious cigarettes to give your lungs some much-needed relief. After all, you’ll still be needing them for the next decades. Why do we refuse the obvious  global warming medicine? So, what is the difference between our personal health vs the health of our environment? There must be one, as we somehow refuse the obvious medicine for global warming that will clear our earth’s lungs of the accumulated poison. We gladly accept the Doc’s explanation that the earth is sick, we’ve even decided on a course of action - to reduce our CO2 emissions, live more sustainably - yet we somehow forego the visit to the pharmacy. As of now, any action is mostly driven by young companies, aspiring eco-engineers and entrepreneurs. Some conscious households and communities, perhaps the odd lobbyist and politician. While we applaud their enthusiasm, most of us lack the real drive. Our minds do not seem to want to accept the small sacrifices we must bring if we are to enjoy this world for just a little while longer. The clock is ticking for climate change action Here is the reality check. If we do not cut our global carbon emissions in half in the next 12 years, we will not be able to avert the worst consequences of global warming. Fact.   And yet, while we read this, our minds already go in overdrive to find excuses for not taking action today, right now. It is a biological result of evolution, dating back to our ancestors living in caves. Their worries were pretty much focused on the present. Hunt. Escape from that sabre tooth tiger. Mate. Sleep. Repeat.   Do you think any of them worried about their retirement plans and next year’s elections? You bet they did not.   We are only human and this is how we have been trained to act and think for centuries and centuries. Our tendency to look towards the future and start worrying about tomorrow is still relatively new and fresh, with most of us still struggling to adjust.   What to change to avoid further climate change? The climate change lobby should therefore focus much more on playing to the psyche of people. It should explore why we are so hesitant regarding this perceived change and how we can turn this around to work in our favour. After all, there is nothing more astounding than human’s capability to adjust and overcome - the exact trait that has led to our survival over time. We have got to tackle the perception that we, as individuals, hold no control over this situation anyhow. So why bother?   Additionally, we’ve got to accept that even the smallest activities that we perform on a daily basis are malignant, such as stepping into our gas-guzzling car to take the kids to school. We have to stop undervaluing the impact of climate change on our lives. It may not be visible right now, but it sure will be in a decade of two.   Most importantly, we’ve got to educate ourselves and others. Ignorance is not a pretty trait in anyone, and in this case might even prove to be our downfall. We should stop telling people that they have to sacrifice and give up some comfort. Instead, start telling them about great new initiatives. Educate them about their personal emissions, open their eyes to their own actions. Get them excited about being a part of a massive movement that will clear our earth’s lungs.   Tell them that they will be the hero that saved the earth’s life. We hold the antibiotics that the earth so direly needs. We just got to start ingesting it. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/climate
Five minutes to midnight: climate change action fighting the clock
Five minutes to midnight: climate change action fighting the clock
The Climate Change Act: the 10-year anniversary
Back in 2008, the Climate Change Act was passed as part of the strategy of the United Kingdom to drastically reduce its emission of greenhouse gases. It was quite ambitious, to say the least - with the opening line already clearly stating who is to take care of its execution: "It is the duty of the Secretary of State to ensure that the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 is at least 80% lower than the baseline.” This baseline is 1990, making it a rather significant change. It would, after all, enable the country to transform into a low carbon economy. For this purpose, it allows the ministers to introduce all measures that they deem necessary to reach the set targets. The Act also led to the creation of a Committee on Climate Change, that acts as an advisory body to the government.   Even more dramatically, there are only two possible outcomes: either the targets are met, or the Government will be taken to court.   The pledges of the Climate Change Act Initially, the idea was that a 60% cut in emissions would have to be realised, based on a report of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. This report claimed that, if adopted by other countries, a 60% reduction would suffice in reducing the atmospheric carbon dioxide to below 550 parts per million. This number was deemed sufficient for withholding the worst consequences of global warming, that will follow if global temperatures are to rise with more than 2°C. However, another assessment indicated that even at a level of 550 ppm, the threshold of 2°C would be exceeded. Quite a few  environmental organisations and political parties argued that the 60% target would not be sufficient, and instead proposed a greater cut of anywhere between 80% to 100%. While some might think that this is a far-reaching goal, it should be noted that this does not include emissions from the entire aviation and shipping industry. As these are the largest polluters, the net effect on total emissions would only be somewhere in the range of 35-50%. Even though this does not sound nearly as impressive, it would still be a great first step towards making the world more sustainable. Making it a reality We are already ten years underway since the establishment of the Act. This anniversary is a great checkpoint to see how much progress has been made, and check whether the UK is still on track to meet its targets.   At a first glance, it looks as if everything is going well. The country has been considerate in setting carbon budgets, and with this, effectively encouraged innovation and awareness. Especially the move towards generating more renewable energy is very promising. While it took almost two decades for Britain to build its first 5GW of wind capacity, they realised the latest 5GW in merely two years. A major improvement. Less than a year ago, an important milestone was reached; after the share of  renewable energy skyrocketed to a high of 30% of the energy generation in the country. This does, however, not deny that there is still a long way to go. In 2017, a report indicated that the overall energy consumption still used a whopping 80% of fossil fuel. The share of wind, solar and hydro energy was only 3%. It illustrates the great potential for cutting back emissions. So yes, the increase in renewables has been remarkable, but it is nowhere near the targets as set forth in the Act and the levels that should be reached in 2050.   The looming clouds Alongside the still dominant position of fossil fuels, there are some other clouds that have been cast over this otherwise relatively blue sky. There is a possibility that, in the future, the government will start exploiting flexibilities in the Act to help them meet the set carbon targets. As such, the government could use the fact that the targets were exceeded in previous years and use this to sit back and relax, missing the targets for the next period but justifying this by offsetting it against the earlier overachievement.   It sounds like a technicality, but this loophole could cause the government to take a backseat instead of pushing the boundaries. The target should be looked at as the bare minimum required, not the end-goal in itself.   Secondly, recent insights have led to even stricter targets for the reduction that should be achieved if climate change is to be countered effectively. In the Paris Climate Accord, it has been pointed out that, to be on the safe side, global temperatures should not increase with more than 1.5°C, rather than the 2°C quoted before. For this to be a feasible option, the world needs to have a net zero economy by 2050 and the reduction in carbon emissions should be almost double of what will be brought forth by the Climate Change Act. What is next? Even though the recommendations of the Paris Climate Accord are not set in stone, and therefore do not render the Act obsolete as of now, it should be noted that predictions are that more should be done than is currently established. Therefore, the successes already achieved should be celebrated, after which they should encourage the government to push even further and find ways to exceed expectations - rather than lean back and pride themselves on compliance.   https://www.whatsorb.com/category/climate
Back in 2008, the Climate Change Act was passed as part of the strategy of the United Kingdom to drastically reduce its emission of greenhouse gases. It was quite ambitious, to say the least - with the opening line already clearly stating who is to take care of its execution: "It is the duty of the Secretary of State to ensure that the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 is at least 80% lower than the baseline.” This baseline is 1990, making it a rather significant change. It would, after all, enable the country to transform into a low carbon economy. For this purpose, it allows the ministers to introduce all measures that they deem necessary to reach the set targets. The Act also led to the creation of a Committee on Climate Change, that acts as an advisory body to the government.   Even more dramatically, there are only two possible outcomes: either the targets are met, or the Government will be taken to court.   The pledges of the Climate Change Act Initially, the idea was that a 60% cut in emissions would have to be realised, based on a report of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. This report claimed that, if adopted by other countries, a 60% reduction would suffice in reducing the atmospheric carbon dioxide to below 550 parts per million. This number was deemed sufficient for withholding the worst consequences of global warming, that will follow if global temperatures are to rise with more than 2°C. However, another assessment indicated that even at a level of 550 ppm, the threshold of 2°C would be exceeded. Quite a few  environmental organisations and political parties argued that the 60% target would not be sufficient, and instead proposed a greater cut of anywhere between 80% to 100%. While some might think that this is a far-reaching goal, it should be noted that this does not include emissions from the entire aviation and shipping industry. As these are the largest polluters, the net effect on total emissions would only be somewhere in the range of 35-50%. Even though this does not sound nearly as impressive, it would still be a great first step towards making the world more sustainable. Making it a reality We are already ten years underway since the establishment of the Act. This anniversary is a great checkpoint to see how much progress has been made, and check whether the UK is still on track to meet its targets.   At a first glance, it looks as if everything is going well. The country has been considerate in setting carbon budgets, and with this, effectively encouraged innovation and awareness. Especially the move towards generating more renewable energy is very promising. While it took almost two decades for Britain to build its first 5GW of wind capacity, they realised the latest 5GW in merely two years. A major improvement. Less than a year ago, an important milestone was reached; after the share of  renewable energy skyrocketed to a high of 30% of the energy generation in the country. This does, however, not deny that there is still a long way to go. In 2017, a report indicated that the overall energy consumption still used a whopping 80% of fossil fuel. The share of wind, solar and hydro energy was only 3%. It illustrates the great potential for cutting back emissions. So yes, the increase in renewables has been remarkable, but it is nowhere near the targets as set forth in the Act and the levels that should be reached in 2050.   The looming clouds Alongside the still dominant position of fossil fuels, there are some other clouds that have been cast over this otherwise relatively blue sky. There is a possibility that, in the future, the government will start exploiting flexibilities in the Act to help them meet the set carbon targets. As such, the government could use the fact that the targets were exceeded in previous years and use this to sit back and relax, missing the targets for the next period but justifying this by offsetting it against the earlier overachievement.   It sounds like a technicality, but this loophole could cause the government to take a backseat instead of pushing the boundaries. The target should be looked at as the bare minimum required, not the end-goal in itself.   Secondly, recent insights have led to even stricter targets for the reduction that should be achieved if climate change is to be countered effectively. In the Paris Climate Accord, it has been pointed out that, to be on the safe side, global temperatures should not increase with more than 1.5°C, rather than the 2°C quoted before. For this to be a feasible option, the world needs to have a net zero economy by 2050 and the reduction in carbon emissions should be almost double of what will be brought forth by the Climate Change Act. What is next? Even though the recommendations of the Paris Climate Accord are not set in stone, and therefore do not render the Act obsolete as of now, it should be noted that predictions are that more should be done than is currently established. Therefore, the successes already achieved should be celebrated, after which they should encourage the government to push even further and find ways to exceed expectations - rather than lean back and pride themselves on compliance.   https://www.whatsorb.com/category/climate
The Climate Change Act: the 10-year anniversary
The Climate Change Act: the 10-year anniversary
Solar geo-engineering as the ultimate answer to climate change
It sounds like the concept of a super futuristic, sci-fi blockbuster movie starring a handful of the earth’s most brilliant geniuses as well as a few brave, daring astronauts and engineers. Solar geo-engineering is a fancy term for spreading particles in our earth’s stratosphere, that will effectively block the sun from ‘breaking through’. Although in all of these movies, it usually goes wrong whenever one country tries to take over control of the system. What better weapon could there be, after all, than the mighty sword of playing God and changing the global climate for good? Rather unfounded fears, thankfully, as scientists that are hoping to one day make this dream a reality now claim.   How does solar geo-engineering work? The process of solar geo-engineering most closely resembles major volcanic eruptions, that effectively reduces the temperature on earth through the release of small sulphate particles. Perhaps surprisingly so, it actually adds up to be a rather affordable solution for climate change.   In the most cost-effective way, specially designed aircrafts are used to release the sulphate particles in the atmosphere, at a altitude of about 20 km. Releasing it from regular commercial jets would not be effective enough, as it will lead to the particles falling out of the sky within a very short time. These modified airplanes will be able to carry a huge amount of particles to the 20 km mark, at which the particles can remain afloat for at least a year. For this, it needs four engines instead of two and substantially larger wings. Nothing that science hasn’t invented yet, and therefore fairly simple. Estimations as made by Harvard University, based on a hypothetical deployment program, show that it could come in at a remarkably low 2 million dollar per year. When compared to the annual budget currently spent on green technologies - an amazing 500 billion dollar - it seems to be a no-brainer. Why, then, has it not been implemented yet? Facing the opponents of geo-engineering Well, for starters, the entire topic of geo-engineering is very controversial. First of all, for the argument given before, where hostile countries or persons could attempt to gain control of the system and eventually harness its power for bad intentions. Although experts are stating that this is theoretically impossible to do, as it would require thousands and thousands of high-altitude flights in order to affect the global temperature significantly - something that would not go by unnoticed. A second argument that opponents frequently bring to the table is the effect that it would have on people’s attitude towards global warming and sustainability. After all, it does sound and feel like a quick, easy fix for global warming. As such, it would drastically weaken any attempts made to actually tackle the root causes for global warming in the first place. Why should we try so hard to cut back on our emissions if we can neutralise them in this way? Finally, there are some side-effects that it could have on the planet, including lengthy  droughts and damage to crops. This effect of the particles on the land have not been properly investigated yet, adding fuel to the fire of those fears. Geo-engineering: a long-term solution or a last resort? The effects of geo-engineering are suspected to be quick and quite significant. Projections of its impact are that it will reduce global warming by 0.1 degrees Celsius per year, with a total reduction of 1.5 degrees Celsius. This would be sufficient according to recent reports, that indicated that there will be an increase in temperature of 3 degrees Celsius if emissions will continue to rise - which would be catastrophic - and naming a maximum increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius as much more desirable.   Hence, geo-engineering would be capable of bringing the earth’s climate back down from the brink of disaster to a much more manageable level. The advocates of this technology claim that it is definitely worth investigating, as it has the power to serve as the ‘last resort’ for nations if climate change becomes too bad. Yet they are also quick to emphasise that it should only be used - if ever - in combination with a climate change policy that includes hefty cuts in emissions, adaptation and carbon removal from the atmosphere. And this is probably what it is. Geo-engineering seems suitable as a final lifeline, yet it is not a solution in itself. It merely combats the symptoms of an underlying illness and does not, nor will it ever be, a cure of its own. Therefore, nations should - while taking it seriously as an option - never see it as a quick way out, allow them to sit back and relax.   The only way to combat climate change is by permanently changing our behaviour. As for geo-engineering: it will only be a feasible plan of action if it serves an ultimate goal, rather than being the goal in itself. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/climate
It sounds like the concept of a super futuristic, sci-fi blockbuster movie starring a handful of the earth’s most brilliant geniuses as well as a few brave, daring astronauts and engineers. Solar geo-engineering is a fancy term for spreading particles in our earth’s stratosphere, that will effectively block the sun from ‘breaking through’. Although in all of these movies, it usually goes wrong whenever one country tries to take over control of the system. What better weapon could there be, after all, than the mighty sword of playing God and changing the global climate for good? Rather unfounded fears, thankfully, as scientists that are hoping to one day make this dream a reality now claim.   How does solar geo-engineering work? The process of solar geo-engineering most closely resembles major volcanic eruptions, that effectively reduces the temperature on earth through the release of small sulphate particles. Perhaps surprisingly so, it actually adds up to be a rather affordable solution for climate change.   In the most cost-effective way, specially designed aircrafts are used to release the sulphate particles in the atmosphere, at a altitude of about 20 km. Releasing it from regular commercial jets would not be effective enough, as it will lead to the particles falling out of the sky within a very short time. These modified airplanes will be able to carry a huge amount of particles to the 20 km mark, at which the particles can remain afloat for at least a year. For this, it needs four engines instead of two and substantially larger wings. Nothing that science hasn’t invented yet, and therefore fairly simple. Estimations as made by Harvard University, based on a hypothetical deployment program, show that it could come in at a remarkably low 2 million dollar per year. When compared to the annual budget currently spent on green technologies - an amazing 500 billion dollar - it seems to be a no-brainer. Why, then, has it not been implemented yet? Facing the opponents of geo-engineering Well, for starters, the entire topic of geo-engineering is very controversial. First of all, for the argument given before, where hostile countries or persons could attempt to gain control of the system and eventually harness its power for bad intentions. Although experts are stating that this is theoretically impossible to do, as it would require thousands and thousands of high-altitude flights in order to affect the global temperature significantly - something that would not go by unnoticed. A second argument that opponents frequently bring to the table is the effect that it would have on people’s attitude towards global warming and sustainability. After all, it does sound and feel like a quick, easy fix for global warming. As such, it would drastically weaken any attempts made to actually tackle the root causes for global warming in the first place. Why should we try so hard to cut back on our emissions if we can neutralise them in this way? Finally, there are some side-effects that it could have on the planet, including lengthy  droughts and damage to crops. This effect of the particles on the land have not been properly investigated yet, adding fuel to the fire of those fears. Geo-engineering: a long-term solution or a last resort? The effects of geo-engineering are suspected to be quick and quite significant. Projections of its impact are that it will reduce global warming by 0.1 degrees Celsius per year, with a total reduction of 1.5 degrees Celsius. This would be sufficient according to recent reports, that indicated that there will be an increase in temperature of 3 degrees Celsius if emissions will continue to rise - which would be catastrophic - and naming a maximum increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius as much more desirable.   Hence, geo-engineering would be capable of bringing the earth’s climate back down from the brink of disaster to a much more manageable level. The advocates of this technology claim that it is definitely worth investigating, as it has the power to serve as the ‘last resort’ for nations if climate change becomes too bad. Yet they are also quick to emphasise that it should only be used - if ever - in combination with a climate change policy that includes hefty cuts in emissions, adaptation and carbon removal from the atmosphere. And this is probably what it is. Geo-engineering seems suitable as a final lifeline, yet it is not a solution in itself. It merely combats the symptoms of an underlying illness and does not, nor will it ever be, a cure of its own. Therefore, nations should - while taking it seriously as an option - never see it as a quick way out, allow them to sit back and relax.   The only way to combat climate change is by permanently changing our behaviour. As for geo-engineering: it will only be a feasible plan of action if it serves an ultimate goal, rather than being the goal in itself. https://www.whatsorb.com/category/climate
Solar geo-engineering as the ultimate answer to climate change
Solar geo-engineering as the ultimate answer to climate change
CO2 emissions on the rise for first time in four years, UN agency warns
A new report released on 27-11-2018 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) shows that global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rose again during 2017 after a three year hiatus, highlighting the imperative for countries to deliver on the historic  Paris Agreement  to keep global warming to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The report comes just days before the key UN climate change conference known as COP 24, taking place in Katowice, Poland, with the agency urging nations to triple their efforts to curb harmful emissions. {youtube} For all the ambitious climate action we’ve seen, governments need to move faster The UNEP report comes hot on the heels of the watershed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)  report on global warming , released in October, which cautioned that emissions had to stop rising now, in order to keep temperature increases below 1.5°C, and reduce the risks for the well-being of the planet and its people. “If the IPCC report represented a global fire alarm, this report is the arson investigation,” said UNEP’s Deputy Executive Director Joyce Msuya. “The science is clear; for all the ambitious climate action we’ve seen – governments need to move faster and with greater urgency. We’re feeding this fire while the means to extinguish it are within reach.” Global emissions have reached historic levels. Heat-trapping CO2 gas in the atmosphere is largely responsible for rising global temperatures, according to the overwhelming body of scientific evidence. UNEP’s 2018 Global Emissions Report, show global emissions have reached historic levels. Total annual greenhouse gases emissions, including from land-use change, reached a record high of 53.5 Gigatons in 2017, an increase of 0.7 compared with 2016. “In contrast, global GHG emissions in 2030 need to be approximately 25 per cent and 55 per cent lower than in 2017 to put the world on a least-cost pathway to limiting global warming to 2°C and 1.5°C respectively,” said the report. What’s worse, the report notes that there is no sign of reversal of this trend and that only 57 countries (representing 60 per cent of global emissions) are on track to bridge their “emissions gap” – meaning the gap between where we are likely to be and where we need to be. Increased emissions and lagging action means the gap published in this year’s report is larger than ever. Nations would need to triple their efforts on climate action UNEP stresses that while “surging momentum from the private sector” and “untapped potential from innovation and green-financing” offer “pathways” to bridge the emissions gap globally, the “technical feasibility” of limiting global warming to 1.5°C “is dwindling”. The authors of the report note that nations would need to triple their efforts on climate action without further delay, in order to meet the 2°C-rise limit by mid-century.  To meet the 1.5°C limit, they would have to quintuple their efforts. A continuation of current trends will likely result in global warming of around 3°C by the end of the century, with continued temperature rises after that, according to the report findings. “The kind of drastic, large-scale action we urgently need has yet to been seen,” said UNEP. The report offers concrete ways for Governments to bridge their emissions gap, including through fiscal policy, innovative technology, non-state and subnational action, and more. This ninth UNEP emissions report has been prepared by an international team of leading scientists, assessing all available information. “When governments embrace fiscal policy measures to subsidize low-emission alternatives and tax fossil fuels, they can stimulate the right investments in the energy sector and significantly reduce carbon emissions,” said Jian Liu, UNEP’s Chief Scientist. Global carbon emissions could be reduced by up to 10 per cent by 2030 “Thankfully, the potential of using fiscal policy as an incentive is increasingly recognized,” said Dr. Liu, referring to the 51 initiatives already in place or planned across the world to charge for carbon emissions (called “carbon pricing”). “If all fossil fuel subsidies were phased out, global carbon emissions could be reduced by up to 10 per cent by 2030,” he added, explaining that “setting the right carbon price is also essential. At US$70 per ton of CO2, emission reductions of up to 40 per cent are possible in some countries.” The 2018 Global Emissions Report report adds yet another building block of scientific evidence to inform decision-making at the upcoming UN climate change conference – the COP 24 in Poland – which starts on Sunday and will last for two weeks. The key objective of the meeting will be to adopt an implementation plan for the 2015 Paris Agreement. Cover photo: Havard.udo By: news.un.org
A new report released on 27-11-2018 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) shows that global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rose again during 2017 after a three year hiatus, highlighting the imperative for countries to deliver on the historic  Paris Agreement  to keep global warming to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The report comes just days before the key UN climate change conference known as COP 24, taking place in Katowice, Poland, with the agency urging nations to triple their efforts to curb harmful emissions. {youtube} For all the ambitious climate action we’ve seen, governments need to move faster The UNEP report comes hot on the heels of the watershed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)  report on global warming , released in October, which cautioned that emissions had to stop rising now, in order to keep temperature increases below 1.5°C, and reduce the risks for the well-being of the planet and its people. “If the IPCC report represented a global fire alarm, this report is the arson investigation,” said UNEP’s Deputy Executive Director Joyce Msuya. “The science is clear; for all the ambitious climate action we’ve seen – governments need to move faster and with greater urgency. We’re feeding this fire while the means to extinguish it are within reach.” Global emissions have reached historic levels. Heat-trapping CO2 gas in the atmosphere is largely responsible for rising global temperatures, according to the overwhelming body of scientific evidence. UNEP’s 2018 Global Emissions Report, show global emissions have reached historic levels. Total annual greenhouse gases emissions, including from land-use change, reached a record high of 53.5 Gigatons in 2017, an increase of 0.7 compared with 2016. “In contrast, global GHG emissions in 2030 need to be approximately 25 per cent and 55 per cent lower than in 2017 to put the world on a least-cost pathway to limiting global warming to 2°C and 1.5°C respectively,” said the report. What’s worse, the report notes that there is no sign of reversal of this trend and that only 57 countries (representing 60 per cent of global emissions) are on track to bridge their “emissions gap” – meaning the gap between where we are likely to be and where we need to be. Increased emissions and lagging action means the gap published in this year’s report is larger than ever. Nations would need to triple their efforts on climate action UNEP stresses that while “surging momentum from the private sector” and “untapped potential from innovation and green-financing” offer “pathways” to bridge the emissions gap globally, the “technical feasibility” of limiting global warming to 1.5°C “is dwindling”. The authors of the report note that nations would need to triple their efforts on climate action without further delay, in order to meet the 2°C-rise limit by mid-century.  To meet the 1.5°C limit, they would have to quintuple their efforts. A continuation of current trends will likely result in global warming of around 3°C by the end of the century, with continued temperature rises after that, according to the report findings. “The kind of drastic, large-scale action we urgently need has yet to been seen,” said UNEP. The report offers concrete ways for Governments to bridge their emissions gap, including through fiscal policy, innovative technology, non-state and subnational action, and more. This ninth UNEP emissions report has been prepared by an international team of leading scientists, assessing all available information. “When governments embrace fiscal policy measures to subsidize low-emission alternatives and tax fossil fuels, they can stimulate the right investments in the energy sector and significantly reduce carbon emissions,” said Jian Liu, UNEP’s Chief Scientist. Global carbon emissions could be reduced by up to 10 per cent by 2030 “Thankfully, the potential of using fiscal policy as an incentive is increasingly recognized,” said Dr. Liu, referring to the 51 initiatives already in place or planned across the world to charge for carbon emissions (called “carbon pricing”). “If all fossil fuel subsidies were phased out, global carbon emissions could be reduced by up to 10 per cent by 2030,” he added, explaining that “setting the right carbon price is also essential. At US$70 per ton of CO2, emission reductions of up to 40 per cent are possible in some countries.” The 2018 Global Emissions Report report adds yet another building block of scientific evidence to inform decision-making at the upcoming UN climate change conference – the COP 24 in Poland – which starts on Sunday and will last for two weeks. The key objective of the meeting will be to adopt an implementation plan for the 2015 Paris Agreement. Cover photo: Havard.udo By: news.un.org
CO2 emissions on the rise for first time in four years, UN agency warns
International Day of Climate Action - We Have a Deadline to Meet
Earlier this month we were hit by a terrifying report – according to United Nations' IPCC(Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), we have only 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe.We already know that change is happening (as evidenced by Antarctica's ices melting at alarming rates ), but it’s the first time the deadline for taking action is set so soon. The report has attracted a lot of attention from the media – but this attention was short-lived and the headlines dedicated to issue have all but disappeared. The deadline set by the report makes spreading awareness of causes of and solutions to climate change more crucial than ever, which is why we want to keep this conversation going. International Day of Climate Action, celebrated every year on October 24 th , is the perfect opportunity to look at some of the most pressing issues we are facing today and learn how we can make a difference. Turning up the heat on climate action Most climate scientists agree that human activity is the biggest contributor to climate change that has occurred in the past few decades. The greenhouse effect is a natural process that allows our planet to maintain its temperature, but it relies on a careful balance of greenhouse gases to keep that temperature at a comfortable level. However, some human activities release an excess of those gases and upset that balance, resulting in the global warming that we are experiencing today. Electricity and heat production is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2016 80% of total world energy came from fossil fuels and only 5% was generated by renewable sources. Burning fossil fuels for energy accounts for 25% of all greenhouse gases released every year and this is a clear sign that change is needed. Wind power is currently the fastest growing energy source , with many countries investing in it in a bid to produce more energy domestically and become more sustainable. Another promising alternative to fossil fuels is harvesting the energy produced by trash incineration, which makes waste management both more efficient and eco-friendly. While change is already underway, it will take a while before renewable energy can displace fossil fuels, so reducing your energy consumption and voting for green energy initiatives is a simple way you can contribute to slowing down global warming. Image by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen for Unsplash Another major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions is the agricultural sector. Meat production is a significant part of the problem – it is estimated that producing one kilogramme of bovine meat requires 200 kilos of CO2 emissions .Farm animals require a large amount of feed(some sources suggest that 95% of world’s soy production is consumed by farm animals), producing which also contributes to CO2 emissions. While switching to a vegan diet might not be for everyone, skipping one or two meat-filled dinners a week is certainly worth considering for the sake of our future.  Agricultural sector not only emits greenhouse gases though cultivation of crops and livestock, but it also prevents CO2 removal by being a major contributor to deforestation. Trees are nature’s carbon dioxide absorbers and play a crucial role in maintaining the aforementioned balance of greenhouse gases. Deforestation undermines this function and can inflict serious damage to our environment if not regulated properly. You can read more about the negative impacts of deforestation in our piece about Australia’s National Tree Day . Image by StockSnap for Pixabay In 2010, transportation accounted for about 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Many European countries and individual cities are now imposing restrictions on older cars as they are less efficient and are a major contributor to pollution. Currently, 95% of world’s transportation energy comes from petroleum-based fuels and many companies and research teams are working on developing more eco-friendly alternatives, such as hydrogen fuel and of course electric transport.Re-thinking our daily commute is a great first step towards making a difference. If you’re interested in the future of sustainable transport or want to know what options are out there today, be sure to check out this article .  Take a step in the right direction Avoiding climate change catastrophe isn’t a one-person job, but you can still play a key role in it. It is our responsibility as a global community to inspire and support change and we should lead by example. Taking action is easy: start by challenging yourself to having your own zero emissions day by reading our guide here (and you certainly don’t have to wait until the next September 21 st !). Do you agree with IPCC’s timeline? What do you think our governments should focus their efforts on to slow down climate change? Let us know in the comments! https://www.whatsorb.com/category/climate
Earlier this month we were hit by a terrifying report – according to United Nations' IPCC(Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), we have only 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe.We already know that change is happening (as evidenced by Antarctica's ices melting at alarming rates ), but it’s the first time the deadline for taking action is set so soon. The report has attracted a lot of attention from the media – but this attention was short-lived and the headlines dedicated to issue have all but disappeared. The deadline set by the report makes spreading awareness of causes of and solutions to climate change more crucial than ever, which is why we want to keep this conversation going. International Day of Climate Action, celebrated every year on October 24 th , is the perfect opportunity to look at some of the most pressing issues we are facing today and learn how we can make a difference. Turning up the heat on climate action Most climate scientists agree that human activity is the biggest contributor to climate change that has occurred in the past few decades. The greenhouse effect is a natural process that allows our planet to maintain its temperature, but it relies on a careful balance of greenhouse gases to keep that temperature at a comfortable level. However, some human activities release an excess of those gases and upset that balance, resulting in the global warming that we are experiencing today. Electricity and heat production is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2016 80% of total world energy came from fossil fuels and only 5% was generated by renewable sources. Burning fossil fuels for energy accounts for 25% of all greenhouse gases released every year and this is a clear sign that change is needed. Wind power is currently the fastest growing energy source , with many countries investing in it in a bid to produce more energy domestically and become more sustainable. Another promising alternative to fossil fuels is harvesting the energy produced by trash incineration, which makes waste management both more efficient and eco-friendly. While change is already underway, it will take a while before renewable energy can displace fossil fuels, so reducing your energy consumption and voting for green energy initiatives is a simple way you can contribute to slowing down global warming. Image by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen for Unsplash Another major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions is the agricultural sector. Meat production is a significant part of the problem – it is estimated that producing one kilogramme of bovine meat requires 200 kilos of CO2 emissions .Farm animals require a large amount of feed(some sources suggest that 95% of world’s soy production is consumed by farm animals), producing which also contributes to CO2 emissions. While switching to a vegan diet might not be for everyone, skipping one or two meat-filled dinners a week is certainly worth considering for the sake of our future.  Agricultural sector not only emits greenhouse gases though cultivation of crops and livestock, but it also prevents CO2 removal by being a major contributor to deforestation. Trees are nature’s carbon dioxide absorbers and play a crucial role in maintaining the aforementioned balance of greenhouse gases. Deforestation undermines this function and can inflict serious damage to our environment if not regulated properly. You can read more about the negative impacts of deforestation in our piece about Australia’s National Tree Day . Image by StockSnap for Pixabay In 2010, transportation accounted for about 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Many European countries and individual cities are now imposing restrictions on older cars as they are less efficient and are a major contributor to pollution. Currently, 95% of world’s transportation energy comes from petroleum-based fuels and many companies and research teams are working on developing more eco-friendly alternatives, such as hydrogen fuel and of course electric transport.Re-thinking our daily commute is a great first step towards making a difference. If you’re interested in the future of sustainable transport or want to know what options are out there today, be sure to check out this article .  Take a step in the right direction Avoiding climate change catastrophe isn’t a one-person job, but you can still play a key role in it. It is our responsibility as a global community to inspire and support change and we should lead by example. Taking action is easy: start by challenging yourself to having your own zero emissions day by reading our guide here (and you certainly don’t have to wait until the next September 21 st !). Do you agree with IPCC’s timeline? What do you think our governments should focus their efforts on to slow down climate change? Let us know in the comments! https://www.whatsorb.com/category/climate
International Day of Climate Action - We Have a Deadline to Meet
International Day of Climate Action - We Have a Deadline to Meet
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