Bill Hare: It is almost five years since the landmark Paris deal was struck. Nearly 200 countries agreed to work towards limiting global warming to 1.5℃, beyond which the planet is expected to slide irreversibly towards devastating climate change impacts. But few nations are on track to reaching this goal. Right now, we’re heading to warming above 3℃ by 2100 – and this will have catastrophic consequences for the planet. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has called a major climate summit in New York on September 23, where countries are expected to announce more ambitious climate targets than they set in Paris, and solid plans to achieve them. Ahead of the summit, let’s take stock of the world’s best and worst performers when it comes to tackling the climate emergency.
Renew Economy 18th Sept 2019 read more »
‘Without rapid action to curb greenhouse gas emissions and efforts to safeguard the environment we risk causing irreversible damage to the planet. This is already having a significant and growing impact on human health, with impacts set to become more severe’ – Our Planet, Our Health. A high dependency on imported fresh food, coupled with failure to act on climate breakdown, is risking national food security, say MPs. The EAC’s report Our Planet, Our Health highlights the extent to which climate change could affect the health and well-being of the UK’s population. The Planetary Health inquiry considered the effect of environmental damage and climate change on health, food security, life in cities and air quality.
House of Commons 17th Sept 2019 read more »
The climate change activist Greta Thunberg has praised a Cardiff centre set up to tackle the issue. The new £5m Centre for Climate Change and Social Transformations (CAST) will explore ways people can directly reduce their own carbon emissions and influence others. It commissioned a survey looking at attitudes towards climate change. Swedish environmental activist Ms Thunberg, 16, is credited with raising global awareness of the issue. She said in a video message to CAST: “I think what you’re trying to achieve with CAST is extremely important and essential because we need to take drastic measures to change our lifestyles and our current social and economic system because we cannot go on like we are today, it is too unsustainable.
BBC 18th Sept 2019 read more »
Role-play games and “community operas” are part of official proposals to persuade coastal towns and villages that their homes must be sacrificed to the sea because of climate change. A report by the Environment Agency says it will be impossible to protect all of Britain’s coastline as the oceans rise. It suggests using the arts to engage with “communities facing difficult choices such as managed retreat”. The study looks at ways of communicating bad news to residents who will be forced to move, a task described as a “tricky engagement”. Next steps include testing tactics for 18 months in two locations – Caterham Hill in Surrey and Hemsby in Norfolk. Seven cliff-top homes in Hemsby collapsed during a tidal surge in 2013, while Caterham Hill has been hit by severe flash floods. With more than five million people in England at risk from flooding or coastal erosion, the report argues that storytelling of various kinds can help people cope with “tough decisions” arising from “drastic change”. It suggests books to help children deal with moving home or the trauma of being caught in floods. Virtual reality goggles would show what neighbourhoods might look like as the seas rise, forcing adults to face up to the likely impact of global warming.
Times 18th Sept 2019 read more »
Some of Wall Street’s largest asset management companies are failing to live up to commitments to use their voting power to fight the climate crisis, according to a new report. The report, published on Tuesday by the Washington DC-based Majority Action and the Climate Majority Project, claims that BlackRock Inc, the world’s largest asset manager with more than $6tn under management, and Vanguard, with assets of $5.2tn, have voted overwhelmingly against the key climate resolutions at energy companies, including a resolution at ExxonMobil’s annual shareholder meeting, and at Duke Energy.
Guardian 17th Sept 2019 read more »
A new effort to rally governments and corporations behind technologies that suck greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to help stave off disastrous global heating will be launched at the United Nations on Tuesday. The first annual Global Climate Restoration Forum, held in New York, aims to spur international support for emerging and sometimes controversial methods to claw back planet-warming gases after they have been emitted from power plants, cars, trucks and aircraft. The Foundation for Climate Restoration, the group behind the forum, has released a manifesto for its goal to “restore” the climate by reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to those of a century ago. Atmospheric CO2 is rising sharply, peaking at 415 parts per million this year, far above the level during most of human history, around 300ppm. The foundation aims to restore this historical norm by 2050, saying success would be on a par with the moon landing or the eradication of smallpox. It warns that the current climate is leading us “down a path toward the probable extinction of our species and thousands of others”.
Guardian 17th Sept 2019 read more »
Climate activists are wasting their time lobbying investors to ditch fossil fuel stocks, according to Bill Gates, the billionaire Microsoft co-founder who is one of the world’s most prominent philanthropists. Those who want to change the world would do better to put their money and energy behind the disruptive technologies that slow carbon emissions and help people adapt to a warming world, Mr Gates told the Financial Times. “Divestment, to date, probably has reduced about zero tonnes of emissions. It’s not like you’ve capital-starved [the] people making steel and gasoline,” he said. “I don’t know the mechanism of action where divestment [keeps] emissions [from] going up every year. I’m just too damn numeric.” Pension funds, the Church of England and even a vehicle for the Rockefeller family’s oil fortune are among a growing group of investors that have divested their fossil fuel holdings in recent years, driven by a belief that finance can be a tool to combat climate change.
FT 17th Sept 2019 read more »
One possibility relies on the idea that political leaders are not the only powerful actors on the planet—that those who hold most of the money also have enormous power, and that their power could be exercised in a matter of months or even hours, not years or decades. I suspect that the key to disrupting the flow of carbon into the atmosphere may lie in disrupting the flow of money to coal and oil and gas. Following the money isn’t a new idea. Seven years ago, 350.org (the climate campaign that I co-founded, a decade ago, and still serve as a senior adviser) helped launch a global movement to persuade the managers of college endowments, pension funds, and other large pots of money to sell their stock in fossil-fuel companies. It has become the largest such campaign in history: funds worth more than eleven trillion dollars have divested some or all of their fossil-fuel holdings. And it has been effective: when Peabody Energy, the largest American coal company, filed for bankruptcy, in 2016, it cited divestment as one of the pressures weighing on its business, and, this year, Shell called divestment a “material adverse effect” on its performance. The divestment campaign has brought home the starkest fact of the global-warming era: that the industry has in its reserves five times as much carbon as the scientific consensus thinks we can safely burn. The pressure has helped cost the industry much of its social license; one religious institution after another has divested from oil and gas, and Pope Francis has summoned industry executives to the Vatican to tell them that they must leave carbon underground. But this, too, seems to be happening in too-slow motion. The fossil-fuel industry may be going down, but it’s going down fighting. Which makes sense, because it’s the fossil-fuel industry—it really only knows how to do one thing.
New Yorker 17th Sept 2019 read more »