Climate change going beyond dangerous- brutal numbers and tenuous hope…
Climate change going beyond dangerous- brutal numbers and tenuous hope (Anderson 2012)
The threshold between acceptable and dangerous climate change, the numbers are brutal and hard to accept, begging fundamental questions in how we live our lives.
If we are not honest about the situation we will continue witht eh same ineffective policies we have pursued for the past two decades- cognitive dissonance
We have failed over the years as the growth in emissions has risen, failed to secure any control over emissions
The void between rhetoric and reality
Supposedly our collective aim is to hols the increase in global temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius (Copenhagen Accord)
Staying below 2 degrees rise pivotal to any discussions of mitigation
However, at the same time promoting policies that create a very high chance of exceeding that threshold
What does 2 degrees mean?
Refers to the global mean surface temperatures rise compared to pre-industrial period
2 Degrees more like 6 degrees in parts of Africa and the poles, and because oceans absorb large amounts of heat, land surface temperatures may rise by more than 3 degrees. Repercussions are huge
After decades of research, 2 degrees has been established as a guard rail between scientists, policy-makers, companies and civil society, between acceptable and dangerous climate change
Not the threshold between acceptable and dangerous climate change, but dangerous and extremely dangerous
1 degrees may seem like the de facto appropriate target, almost impossible to imagine stabilising at 1 degrees, already exceeded that through current emissions
What are the implications of 2 degrees warming?
What level of carbon reduction is needed tp stay at or below temperature rise of 2 degrees?
The 2050 goals conveniently pass on the problem to future generations, carry on as business as usual
However, carbon emissions remain in the atmosphere, cumulative emissions is the quantity that matters, we shy away from addressing this, however we have to make changes to our lifestyles today
What is the scale of the problem?
Clear from the data, the situation is deteriorating at a fast rate, global emissions of co2 rising
The rate of increase has gone up not down, was 2.7% rise a year, now 3.5% rise a year
Without rapid and immediate mitigation, e are likely to see global emission increases of 3-5% per year from 2012
WHat are the possible emission reduction pathways?
The earlier emissions peak the better, continually reducing emissions, while fostering economic growth hard
The msot hopeful curves become horizontal and flatten out by 2050 where emisions will need to be zero
The least demanding curves will require radical emissions reduction of 10% a year from 2020 until 2040
Global energy related co2 emissions have to decrease by 10-20% hitting zero betweeen 2035-2045, everythign we do would need to eb zero carbon
2012- emissions at historically high levels and economic growth, we have no precedent for transforming our economies in line with commitments to avoid dangerous climate change
Why does this sound different from the standard analyses?
Expectation of a peak in carbon emissions by 2016, reduction rates far more challenging that other estimates of 2/3/4% a year
How fast can large-scale supply-side technologies solve the problem fast enough to avoid global warming of more than 2%
Lo carbon technology is important but reductions are needed urgently and large-scale technology cannot deliver under such temporal constraints
neoclassical (market) economists continue to propose marginal-based theories of small changes, regardless of the scale of the problem; this is not only academically disingenuous but also dangerously misleading. With global warming, we are dealing with non-marginal, major changes occurring very rapidly; a type of problem that market economics is ill-equipped to address.
What would a 4 degrees world mean?
Global mean surface temperatures rise of 5-6 warming of global mean land surface temperatures
Europe Heatwaves would be 8 degrees on top of the highest tmperatures, New York 10-12 degrees hotter
Dire repercussions for the most vulnerable commmunities
30-40% reductions in the yields of important staple crops such as maize and rice, at the same time population heads towards 9bn by 2050
Future will be devastating for the majority of ecosystems
A fair deal for non-Annex 1 countries- whats left for Annex1?
Industrialising and industrialised countries
China's growth rate cannot be sustained , same trend for India- if and how long can this continue?, substantial number of people in China that can sustain its substantial economic and emissions growth for many years to come, per capita incomes are low across the country
Many people expect China's emissions to peak in 2030 and plateau , the same with India
2 degrees- a political and scientific creed?
Prevailing orthodoxy that informs policy-makers is couched in a 'can-do' language, far from reality
However: short term emission growth is seriously downplayed withing every single low-carbon model, assumed reduction rates are dictated by economists and are unrealistic, the split between annex and non-annex countries is neglected or hidden in many analyses
We can act
We are almost uncertainly not going to be able to adapt to temperature increases if we don't cut emissions drastically
So what can we do?
Equity- How many people on earth need to make a substantial change in terms of emissions
Need to focus on the rich countries of the world- where policies to reduce emissions need to be enforced- those whoa re admitting significantly and disproportionately
Technology- Demand side opportunities dwarf supply side- can change demand in the very short term, stringent regulatory framework setting minimum standards.
Tightening of cars emission standards could deliver a 50% reduction of emissions from cars in the early 2020s, could see a 70% reduction based on added electric and hybrids
The current political and economic framework seems to make this impossible, however we can still keep temperature increase below 2 degrees
There is real hope but it reduces significantly everyday