The current crisis has revealed a sobering truth: the global economic shutdown, which has been achieved at a devastating social cost, has barely dented our carbon emissions. The latest analysis, by the International Energy Agency (IEA), expects this year’s annual emissions to be down by just 6-8%. Such a small drop in emissions would have no measurable effect on the world’s carbon concentration, or its warming potential. Indeed, 2020 is currently on track to be the hottest year ever recorded. Considering that emissions have to fall by at least 7.6% every year to 2050 in order to keep global warming below 1.5C (above pre-industrial levels), this internationally agreed target now feels alarmingly unachievable. Perhaps because we’ve experienced a cleaner, quieter and kinder alternative, most people don’t actually want to get back to normal (one poll found only 9% of Britons wanted to return to pre-pandemic conditions). We should perhaps recognise this as a mandate for change, and look at the alternative to normal, taking lessons from this catastrophe to create a better world from its broken parts.
Guardian 17th May 2020 read more »
Labour is drawing up ambitious proposals to rescue the post-coronavirus economy with a radical green recovery plan focused on helping young people who lose their jobs by retraining them in green industries. Seeking to seize the initiative on the country’s future direction once the pandemic abates, Ed Miliband, the shadow business secretary, has called for the plans to include creating a “zero-carbon army of young people” doing work such as planting trees, insulating buildings and working on green technologies. Miliband told the Guardian that the combination of the economic damage caused by the virus and the imperative to tackle issues such as the climate emergency and pollution required ambition on the scale of Clement Attlee’s postwar Labour government. The plans would build on elements of Labour’s “green industrial revolution” plan, put together under Jeremy Corbyn, which calls for a zero-carbon economy by 2030, but with an urgency and focus reflecting the post-Covid-19 economic situation.
Guardian 17th May 2020 read more »
One effect of the coronavirus pandemic is lower air pollution across much of the world because road traffic has fallen and many industries have suspended their operations. The air has cleared so much that the filthy smog that often hangs over many big cities has given way to crystal-clear views. Has climate change caused by CO2 emissions also eased? Scientists from the Met Office and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego report that global CO2 emissions have fallen but over the whole year they predict that this will have only a slight effect. “We estimate that CO2 levels will rise by 2.48 parts per million (ppm). This increase is 0.32ppm smaller than if there had been no lockdown, equivalent to 11 per cent of the expected rise,” the scientists wrote in a report published in Carbon Brief [bit.ly/2ArqMx3]. “We would not expect this to have a detectable impact on the climate.” The stark truth is that climate change is carrying on, just at a slightly slower rate. You can think of it like running a bath. If the taps are turned down, the water flows more slowly but it is still filling up the bath. To stop the bath filling up altogether you need to turn off the taps completely.
Times 18th May 2020 read more »