Those climate goals our politicians keep talking about don’t match with the climate reality. There is a huge gap between what the world needs for climate restoration, and where we are heading. At best, Paris will deliver commitments that will lead to over 3°C degrees of warming.
The United Nations’ FCCC process, after the 2009 Copenhagen conference, asked a scientific panel to assess the adequacy of the 2°C degree cap. This year, the panel reported that a 2°C degree cap is too dangerous and is not an acceptable cap (Climate Analytics summary, official report).
» ABC News – 2 September 2015:
Global emissions ‘far above’ levels needed to hold warming below two degrees Celsius
Inadequate national targets for curbing climate-altering greenhouse gases meant emissions would be “far above” the level required to stave off disastrous global warming, analysts warn.
A look at global emissions reveals a huge gap between what the world needs for climate restoration, and where we are heading. To see this gap, compare the Paris emissions trajectory with that of the safe climate pathway.
According to the Australian author Philip Sutton, the huge gap highlights the need for an impending shift in the purpose of climate campaigning: to press for maximum protection delivered at emergency speed and calls for the most effective action in the new ‘post-Paris’ era.
“The principal struggle must shift, from the clash between no action and some action, to the crucial struggle between those who want to constrain reform to levels that are not too disruptive and those who want action that will provide highly effective and timely protection,” Philip Sutton writes in his discussion paper ‘Striking Targets’, which was released in a series of Breakthrough discussion papers in August 2015.
» Right-click to download Philip Sutton’s ‘Striking Targets’ discussion paper (PDF with doublespread pages)
» More about Breakthrough’s discussion papers: www.breakthroughonline.org.au
Extract from ‘Striking Targets’:
Igniting a new era
“The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris this year should mark the end of one era of climate campaigning and the beginning of a new one.
The global effort on climate began, officially at least, as early as 1988 when the IPCC was founded. That’s 27 years ago. And the policy negotiations got underway in earnest in 1992, with the creation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – 23 years ago.
For all that time, the principal struggle has been between the forces that don’t want to act on climate and those that do. In this context it hasn’t made sense to many people to be too concerned about what ideally needs to be done on the climate – because some action was better than no action.
In Paris this year at COP 21, it looks like there might, at last, be an accord that engages all countries in the world. It seems that the recent climate agreement between China and the USA will provide the anchor for a global agreement that will probably be strong enough to prevent +4°C warming but not be strong enough to prevent +3°C.
While the fossil fuel industry and its industrial and ideological allies will keep up rearguard action, 2015 probably represents the moment in history when the world finally commits to treating climate as a serious issue requiring non-trivial, ongoing action by all nations. So, most likely, the climate movement is about to achieve its primary goal of the last 27 years. That’s something to celebrate.
Given this likely success, it is now time to take stock and consider what our primary goal should be for the next stage of climate activism.
Over those last 27 years, while all the research, activism and negotiation has been going on, the climate has actually become dangerous. So, the key goal now must be to provide, at the 11th hour, real protection for the vulnerable people, species and ecosystems of the world.
The principal struggle must shift, from the clash between no action and some action, to the crucial struggle between those who want to constrain reform to levels that are not too disruptive and those who want action that will provide highly effective and timely protection.
As we come up to the Paris milestone, each group and person active on climate needs to prepare for the impending shift in the purpose of climate campaigning and to work out how they can play the most effective role in the new era that opens up ‘post-Paris’.”
As 2015 smashes temperature records, it’s hotter than you think
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It’s more important than ever for our political leaders to aim higher on climate. According to new research by Climate Action Tracker current pollution reduction targets for 2030 would make the 2°C goal “almost infeasible”.
» Send our political leaders a message asking them to aim higher:
» Truthout | News Analysis – 16 August 2015:
The Clean Power Plan Is Barely Better Than Kyoto; IPCC Says: We Must Remove CO2 From the Atmosphere
By Bruce Melton. Detailed References
» Climate News Network – 3 September 2015:
Pledges on GHG cuts too weak to achieve safety limit
“New analysis of promises made by governments on emissions reductions show they are not enough to stop global warming rising above the 2°C danger level.” By Alex Kirby
“Like the French, we should require all new roofs to be planted or solar. Like the Germans, we must pledge 85 per cent reduction on 1990 levels by 2050.
This conjures improbable fantasy of an honest, principled and backboned Australian political leadership. Imagine the panic that would cause among the policy-rorters and trough-guzzlers.
But on the comfort side is Cuba which, in 1990, with Russia’s connivance, became the no-oil test case. Everyone expected disaster but found, when forced to walk, work and cycle more, to mend and invent, to produce bio-fuel and farm organically, they lived healthier, longer lives and formed stronger, more energised communities.”
» Sydney Morning Herald – 20 August 2015:
Two degrees or four? It’s a personal choice for survival in the near future
Article by Elizabeth Farrelly