Welcome to the October 2018 edition of Carbon Rangers/Ecozoic Times. The news is not good at this time. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released its latest summary report for policymakers at the beginning of this month.
Summary for Policymakers. The IPCC Report serves as a set of guidelines from the science community. It is called the Summary for Policymakers. The policymakers will be in Katowice, Poland in December for the 24th meeting, known as COP24. Meetings since Paris (COP21) were held in Marrakech- (COP22), and Bonn- (COP23). These acronyms serve to keep track of the discussions and mark the different locations. The people at the COP24 will not be scientists, they will be political leaders and diplomats sent to negotiate agreements on behalf of their respective governments.
Over 6,000 References. The Report looked closely at the differences between a warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to a warming of 2 degrees Celsius. The report includes more than 6,000 scientific references cited and reflects the dedicated contribution of thousands of expert and government reviewers worldwide. Ninety-one authors and review editors from 40 countries prepared the IPCC report.
Dig Deeper. I encourage all to read the journalists collected here with their efforts to render the technical jargon of the IPCC accessible to the rest of us. I have included several brief notes from climate specialists in the scientific community who have some encouragement to share. There are a number of good "translations" now of the official UN report which is necessarily dense and technical. I encourage all to dig deeper if you are able and inspect even briefly the documents of the UN panels where you can. Remember, the IPCC Summary for Policymakers is only 33 pages but related documents comprise 6 chapters with hundreds of pages of supporting material.
I have included a word as usual from Thomas Berry and also a piece from Pope Francis in Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home.
Let me hear from you if you have ideas for improving the Carbon Rangers.
Edmund Rice International
Thomas Berry Forum for Ecological Dialogue at Iona
IPCC REPORT GRIM NEWS
The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C
Clicking on the title above brings you to the official documents page for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. There you will find additional links to the full document which is several hundred pages in length with supporting materials for governments and policy makers.
Courage, Resilience, Opportunity
Axios, Andrew Freedman
October 8 2018, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a major new report on the feasibility of meeting a global warming target of 1.5°C, or 2.7°F, above preindustrial levels. It makes for sobering reading, and coverage of it was downright apocalyptic. (I'm as guilty as other reporters in focusing on the disturbing aspects.)
But, but but: There are other frameworks for climate change, including ones that focus on courage, resilience and opportunity. I asked three top climate scientists to comment on the new report in an email conversation. Here are some of their key points.
Reality check: Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech, said climate change is relevant to the here and now. "What the 1.5°C report brings home is that the future is now. The choice is upon us," Hayhoe told me. "We don’t have all the Jetson-era technology we imagined we’d have when the chickens came home to roost. But the world is already changing."
"And yes, it is an opportunity — an opportunity to transform the very fabric of our society, from its current patterns of consumption that will soon exceed our planetary boundaries to one that is able to sustain our human civilization for millennia to come."
— Katharine Hayhoe, Texas Tech University
The big question: Kate Marvel, a NASA climate scientist, discussed the need for facing climate change courageously, rather than getting depressed or scared. "It makes no sense to give up now, even though the future seems very scary," Marvel said. She's unique in climate science for talking about how it feels to be studying this issue. "It's OK to grieve over the things we've lost and will lose. But grief isn't the same as despair. We need to be brave enough to do the right thing."
— Kate Marvel, NASA
Don't forget: Andrea Dutton, a scientist at the University of Florida, said it's important to remember that we all face a choice in determining our future. "If we choose despair, then yes, that doom and gloom can be ours. But if instead, we find the courage to face our fears about the ways in which the future might be different, I am sure that we will be able to carve ourselves a new pathway to a better future."
— Andrea Dutton, University of Florida
Climate Interactive Chart for Comparison of Pathways to 1.5 C. Target
Chart of Ambition? The chart above from Climate Interactive gives a good summary of the challenges we face now. It is based on the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement and reflects carbon emissions from 2000 to 2050. The blue line shows the increase in carbon if we do nothing. The red line shows what the growth in carbon will be if each of the nations follow up their Paris Agreement promises to cut carbon emissions. The red line is labeled "Current NDCs" ; the NDCs are "nationally determined contributions."
Not Enough. The red line is what everyone promised in Paris and it is not sufficient, especially now that the USA has announced it is withdrawing from the Paris Agreement.
Ambition Needed. The grey line and the green line show what we actually need to do as a planet if we are to reduce our carbon emissions sufficiently and avoid catastrophic warming. The grey line shows how much we have to cut back if we wait until after 2030 to do this work. The green line shows how much we must cut back if we start in earnest right now in 2018. Clearly we are not doing enough globally right now and need to increase our efforts dramatically.
Six Takeaways from the IPCC Report
By Casey Ivanovich / Published: October 8, 2018
Environmental Defense Fund
Effects Visible Today. The tangible effects of human-induced climate change are increasingly visible. A recent study, for example, found that the 2017 hurricane season was more intense as a result of our changing climate. Limiting global warming levels is essential to curbing the future impacts of climate change, but how much does an additional half a degree Celsius warming change our world?
Comparing 1.5C Pathway to 2C Pathway. The special report issued October 8th by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) considers the impacts of 1.5 *C global warming above preindustrial levels, in contrast to 2 *C, and how this lower warming target can be achieved.The report was written by hundreds of scientists hailing from 40 different countries and based on research from thousands of scientific studies.
Here are 6 key takeaways from the new IPCC report:
1. When it comes to warming, 1.5 *C is much safer than 2 *C...but still riskier than the present.
Limiting warming to 1.5 *C compared to 2 *C has clear and considerable benefits, such as significantly reducing the risks of water scarcity, ill-health, food insecurity, flood and drought, extreme heat, tropical cyclones, biodiversity loss, and sea level rise.
- 10 million fewer people could be at risk from sea level rise
- Several hundred million people may avoid poverty susceptibility by midcentury
- World population exposed to water stress may be reduced by 50%
- Loss of 1.5 million tonnes of global annual catch for marine fisheries could be avoided
- 10-30% of coral reefs could be saved
- Permafrost area three times the size of Texas may be prevented from thawing
- The number of plant and animal species losing over half their habitat could be cut in half
However, the risks of these events in a 1.5 *C warmer world are still higher than today.
Adaptation needs are also more moderate at the 1.5 *C threshold, though adaptation limits (the point at which there are no feasible adaptation options available to avoid a given climate risk) may still be exceeded for threats including partial coral reef loss and stress to coastal-dependent communities.
2. Remaining below 1.5 *C is possible, but requires deep and rapid emissions reductions from all economic sectors.
We are on pace to hit 1.5 *C global warming by 2030 at the earliest. To stay below this level, we must pursue each of the following:
- Decreased energy demand
- Lower emissions from energy supply
- Actively removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
- Fully decarbonizing the electricity sector by mid-century
- Ensuring renewables are the world's dominant energy source by 2050
- Balancing land-use between sustainable agriculture practices, bioenergy production, and carbon storage
Emissions pathways consistent with limiting warming to below or near 1.5 *C require reaching net zero emissions around midcentury, and pursuing carbon dioxide removal mechanisms within this century. While the transitions in energy systems, land, transportation, infrastructure, and industries would be unprecedented in scale, they are not necessarily unprecedented in speed.
3. Cutting methane, black carbon, and other 'super-pollutants' vastly increases the chances of staying below 1.5 *C.
The likelihood that we will reach the 1.5 *C warming threshold is highly dependent upon the emission pathways of non-CO2 climate pollutants, such as methane and black carbon. If the emissions of non-CO2 pollutants are not curbed, there is a 66% likelihood of surpassing the 1.5 *C threshold, regardless of reductions to carbon dioxide.
Reducing methane and black carbon emissions is also crucial for limiting the rate of warming in the near-term. It is clear that we must reduce emissions of these pollutants in addition to CO2, and several broad mitigation measures in areas such as the energy sector tackle the reduction of both.
4. Waiting to cut emissions may have severe, irreversible effects on the planet.
Long-term warming scenarios depend upon carbon dioxide, a gas whose emissions build up in the atmosphere over its long lifetime. Delaying emissions reductions would overshoot the 1.5 *C target, though it is technically possible to return below this threshold through intense mitigation. However, even temporarily overshooting 1.5 *C may have irreversible impacts on our natural systems, including biodiversity loss or pushing past various climate tipping points.
5. Mitigation efforts may not only benefit our climate, but lead to more resilient communities.
Vulnerable communities will be disproportionately affected by changing phenomena, through socioeconomic impacts such as food insecurity, income loss, health impacts, displacement, and increased conflict. Thankfully, the benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions are often twofold, as many mitigation strategies also support sustainable development through improvements to water and air quality, public health, and ecosystem stability.
This is especially true when reducing short-lived climate pollutants, such as methane and black carbon, which simultaneously cuts down on air pollution and mitigates health threats such as asthma and other respiratory diseases.
6. More ambition is needed to stay below 1.5 *C.
Even if all countries fulfilled their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) as outlined in the Paris Agreement, there is very high likelihood that we will reach 1.5 *C warming by mid-century and remain above this threshold through year 2100.
Avoiding 1.5 *C global warming requires rapid and intense global reductions in both carbon dioxide and non-CO2 climate pollutants beyond current NDC pledges.
Recent technological advances have already shaped our ability to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and new developments will undoubtedly be discovered. In the meantime, the benefits of limiting global warming should inspire us to continue our fight to provide a safe planet for current and future generations.
Remaining below the 1.5 *C global warming target is not a simple feat, but today's report shows that it is a worthy endeavor. As working group co-chair Valerie Masson-Delmotte stated during the report's press conference, "Nothing is impossible when you build on collective human intelligence."
Go deeper: Slaying the Climate Dragon, Kate Marvel's new climate fairytale, in Scientific American.
Solutions on Offer?
Climate Action Roadmap
FUTURE EARTH. http://www.futureearth.org/about
Solutions Available Now. Future Earth’s co-designed Exponential Climate Action Roadmap report, launched on September 10, 2018, offers a timely reminder that there are solutions available to take action. The IPCC report also emphasizes the need to halve global emissions every decade, and the 2017 publication, "A roadmap for rapid decarbonization" (Johan Rockstrom, Owen Gaffney) is referenced in several chapters of the report. The Exponential Climate Action Roadmap underpins the Step Up Declaration signed by 21 front-running companies and the Entrepreneurs Call to Action signed by over 300 CEOs at the Climate Summit in San Francisco in 2018.
Halve Emissions By 2030. “The IPCC report makes it clear that we need to halve carbon emissions by 2030 or faster to limit risk for dangerous climate change for humanity,” according to Johan Falk, co-lead author of the Exponential Climate Action Roadmap and Senior Innovation Fellow at the Stockholm Resilience Centre and Future Earth. “We now need leading companies, industries, cities, nations and individuals to set the target to halve emissions combined with powerful policies to scale-out solutions exponentially.”
Knowledge Base Critical. Also crucial to the gathering of data on emissions is the Global Carbon Project, a Global Research Project of Future Earth. It was formed to work with the international science community to establish a common and mutually agreed knowledge base to support policy debate and action to slow down and ultimately stop the increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Public Health Implications. Kristie L. Ebi, co-chair of the Future Earth Health Knowledge-Action Network and a professor of public health at the University of Washington, is one of the lead authors of the report’s chapter on climate impacts. She has been quoted in the New York Times in response to the report.
IPCC Report: What Information Do We Need About 1.5 C Global Warming?
Climate Home News: http://www.climatechangenews.com/author/megan-darby/
Good Summary from UK. Gives a readable and lengthy summary of the IPCC report in 37 distinct areas.
They have followed the structure of the IPCC report, in four sections.
* Understanding 1.5C warming
* Impacts and threats
* Pathways to 1.5C
* Ramping up action.
By Megan Darby and Sara Stefanini
What Can I Do?
Overwhelmed by climate change? Here's what you can do
From campaigning to installing insulation and solar panels, some practical steps you can take to help avoid climate breakdown
Although individual choices and actions are important, experts say people need to unite if the scale of this challenge is to be met, making the political space for politicians and big businesses to make the necessary changes.
Bill McKibben, a leading climate campaigner and founder of 350.org, argues that the most important thing people can do is come together to form movements – or join existing groups – that can “push for changes big enough to matter”, from city-wide renewable energy programmes to large-scale divestment from fossil fuels.
Eat less meat – particularly beef
According to a report earlier this year, avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet.
Relatively simple measures such as insulating lofts and draft-proofing doors and windows on a large scale would see a big drop in energy consumption. However, the UK government substantially cut the amount that energy companies are forced to spend on helping households with energy efficiency measures. All that money is now focused on helping fuel-poor households, with no incentive for better-off households to improve their energy efficiency.
Switch to renewable energy wherever possible. In the UK, consider installing solar panels before April, when government incentives will end and the costs will increase for most people.
Walk or cycle where possible and if not – and it is available and affordable – use public transport. If you need to go by car, consider an electric one.
Reduce, recycle, reuse
Buy fewer things and consume less. Recycle wherever possible and – even better – reuse things. Demand a low carbon option in everything you consume, from clothes to food to energy.
Many experts – including the IPCC – say there is still a chance to create a sustainable, cleaner and more equal global system. Individuals can hold politicians to account by supporting political parties that put the environment at the heart of their economic and industrial policies.
However the IPCC is clear that the real challenge from its report is to politicians, political systems and corporations rather than individuals
Good News You Probably Didn't Hear About
SOURCE: FUTURE CRUNCH # 65
California has just unveiled the most ambitious climate target ever, with a commitment to making the world's fifth biggest economy carbon neutral by 2045. Vox
New Zealand has become the latest country to outlaw single-use plastic shopping bags, and will phase them out over the next year. Time
France has become the first country in Europe to ban all five forms of neonicotinoid pesticides that researchers believe are killing off bees. Telegraph
The Malaysian government has announced it will not allow any further expansion of oil palm plantations, and that it intends to maintain forest cover at 50%. Malaymail
Solar energy with batteries is now cheaper than gas in parts of the US Southwest. These are the states leading the way in solar.
India installed 4.9GW of solar in the first half of this year, meaning it is now the second largest installer in the world for 2018 (first place is China). #MEGA. The Hindu
This one goes out to all our Malthusian fans. The United Nations says India’s fertility rate has halved since 1980, thanks to better family planning and fewer unwanted pregnancies.
Thanks to stricter catch limits and better monitoring, the population of eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna has increased from 300,000 tons in 2005 to 530,000 tons today. NatGeo
Big brands pledge to turn tide on global plastic waste. Link: Isabelle Gerretsen
The pledge by 250 organizations included many of the world’s biggest packaging producers, leading consumer brands, retailers and recyclers, as well as governments and NGOs.
Laudato Si': On Care For Our Common Home
"The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. At the global level, it is a
complex system linked to many of the essential conditions for human life. A very solid scientific
consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In. recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events, even if a scientifically determinable cause cannot be assigned to each particular phenomenon. Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it." (23)
Message from Thomas Berry
"Perhaps the most valuable heritage we can provide for future generations is some sense of the Great Work that is before them of moving the human project from its devastating exploitation to a benign presence. We need to give them some indication of how the next generation can fulfill this work in an effective manner." (Thomas Berry, "The Great Work," in The Great Work, 7).