Tuesday, 25 June, 2019

Ex-EPA chief says burning coal is worst thing for climate change

A woman rides a bicycle past a display of letters reading “#Reasons for hope” set up by Greenpeace activists prior to a press conference of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change at Songdo Convensia in Incheon. — AFP Ex-EPA chief says burning coal is worst thing for climate change
Sandy Nunez | 10 October, 2018, 03:34

He says, "One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of one degree Celsius of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes".

What is of particular concern is that the report lowers the level after which disastrous climate change is anticipated: Previous research had set the critical threshold at 2ºC of warming.

Recognizing both Nordhaus and Romer together acknowledges the need to start using the power of the market economy to address unsustainable trends and the increasingly apparent reality that we can only achieve the necessary ends through technological advances, many of which do not yet exist.

The report landed on the same day that the Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics to two American scientists for their work highlighting the role of government policy in promoting sustainable economic growth.

According to the authors of the study, limiting the rise in temperature to 1.5 °C, rather than 2°C is vital if humanity hopes to mitigate some of the most devastating effects of climate change.

"I can give you reports that are fabulous and I can give you reports that aren't so good", Trump said. All 193 United Nations member states signed up to this deal - a rare feat in worldwide diplomacy - which acknowledges the existential threat climate change poses to us all. In their conclusions, environment ministers recall the progress made in recent months by the European Union on legislation which delivers on its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

To provide sufficient incentive to reduce carbon emissions that quickly would require a carbon tax of $27,000, the report estimates-almost double the current price of emitting a ton of carbon under California's cap-and-trade program. The sea level will still rise, and there always be more extreme weather events and natural disasters, but these won't be as extreme as the worst case scenario we're now headed for.

Time is running out: the IPCC report is unequivocal that the world - including Australia - needs to take unprecedented action, and it needs to do it soon.

Trump sceptical of United Nations climate change report findings
But those past predictions appear to have been far too conservative (a common critique of IPCC reports in general). Even still, it will be extremely hard to achieve and will require drastic and immediate action on an global scale.

Romer pointed out that "once we start to try and reduce carbon emissions, we'll be surprised that it wasn't as hard as we anticipated".

The IPCC's next major report will appear in 2022.

"There are material differences between 1.5 C and 2 C", says Cleetus.

The special report on global warming by a United Nations body has set the tone for the upcoming climate conference in Poland where countries will now have to make efforts to align their pledges with the 1.5-degree celsius goal - a more stringent target than the existing agreement to limit average temperature rise within 2 degree celsius by 2100.

But no matter how many warnings we receive - and let's be honest, at this point we have had far too many - no one is willing to put their foot down and pump the brakes.

Countries will need to bring down their greenhouse gas to about half of 2010 levels by 2030 and to net zero by about 2050. "Those pathways, at least in the special report, do not change with the updated carbon budget, as the calculations were done before the carbon budget was revised". But even with its description of the increasing impacts that lie ahead, the IPCC understates a key risk: "that self-reinforcing feedback loops could push the climate system into chaos before we have time to tame our energy system, and the other sources of climate pollution". "These are impossible targets but will contribute to future discussions".

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