Richard Dixon: A very important legal case in the Netherlands shows the power of the law in protecting the planet. Just before Christmas the Dutch supreme court ruled that the Dutch government must do much more to protect citizens from the threat of climate change. It has taken six years to reach this final judgement, based on a case taken by the non-profit Urgenda Foundation using arguments about citizens’ human rights. They won in 2015 but the government repeatedly appealed the ruling. This judgement has been called the most important climate change court decision in the world so far. It is based on the argument that articles in the European Convention on Human Rights on the right to life and the right to private and family life, mean that governments have a duty to protect their citizens from climate change. Because the decision is based on a European convention, the same arguments can be made in any other country which is a member of the European Union, and, because the European convention draws on the 1948 UN Declaration of Human Rights, similar arguments can be made around the world.
Scotsman 31st Dec 2019 read more »
This is the decade we knew we were right. It began with the warmest year on record; it then broke that record at least five times. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached levels unprecedented since humans were hominins. There were droughts and floods and brutal heat waves. Coral reefs turned white and gave up. Australia is in drought. The Amazon is on fire.
Scientific American 30th Dec 2019 read more »
It’s still possible, but it’s far from certain: stopping Greenland’s melting can be done, but it must be done soon. Norwegian and US scientists have taken a close look at the ice age history of Greenland and come to a grim conclusion. All it takes to set the island’s ice cap melting away is a mean sea surface temperature higher than seven degrees Celsius. And the present mean sea surface temperature is already 7.7°C. Greenland is the northern hemisphere’s single richest store of frozen water: the island’s bedrock holds enough to raise global sea levels by seven metres and drown or wash away the world’s coastal communities, including the great cities of New York and Miami, Shanghai and Kolkata, Amsterdam and London. And the pattern of geological evidence – outlined in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – combined with climate models suggests that any sustained temperature rise could trigger an irreversible melt of the entire southern Greenland ice sheet. The scientists suggest that the threshold for this calamity could be between 0.8°C above the post-Ice Age norm, and 3.2°C.
Climate News Network 30th Dec 2019 read more »
Half of the nation’s farmland needs to be transformed into woodlands and natural habitat to fight the climate crisis and restore wildlife, according to a former chief scientific adviser to the UK government. Prof Sir Ian Boyd said such a change could mean the amount of cattle and sheep would fall by 90%, with farmers instead being paid for storing carbon dioxide, helping prevent floods and providing beautiful landscapes where people could boost their health and wellbeing. Boyd said the public were subsidising the livestock industry to produce huge environmental damage. The professor spent seven years at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs before stepping down in August. Half of farmland, mostly uplands and pasture, produces just 20% of the UK’s food and would be better for used other public goods, he said.
Guardian 31st Dec 2019 read more »
Thousands of people have fled to beaches on Australia’s east coast to escape the wildfires tearing towards the coast. Around 4,000 people have left their homes in Victoria and have been urged to move into the sea if the blazes around them continue to worsen. Some have been forced to camp on wharves or have been evacuated by boat after multiple fires surrounded the town of Mallacoota, cutting off road access.
Independent 31st Dec 2019 read more »
Telegraph 31st Dec 2019 read more »