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COP26 is on

Written By: - Date published: 12:02 pm, November 1st, 2021 - 39 comments
Categories: australian politics, climate change, Environment, science, uncategorized - Tags:

The show is now on for Conference of Parties 26 (COP 26), where countries show each other how they will achieve the Paris Agreement climate goals. How will we do?

Set in Glasgow, it will bring together negotiators from nearly every country on earth to assess progress, and to determine the scale of sacrifice we’re all prepared to make. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is hosting, United States President Joe Biden is attending, as is Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Other big economy leaders such as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Russian President Vladimir Putin, aren’t. We’re not even sending someone inside Cabinet; we’re sending James Shaw from the Greens – but he of all people knows our policy commitments and promises better than any.

There’s lots of fun NGO scorching going on, as there should be.

But don’t be fooled: there is no bla bla bla here. There is a set of binding agreements in play with substantial moral, commercial, political and monetary force behind them.

The personalities are good for the news coverage, whereas the actual work is in commitments about how each will individually reduce damaging emissions by a certain year. They communicate these targets to the UNFCCC in the form of ‘nationally determined contributions’, or NDC’s.

COP26 is a critical summit for global climate action. To have a chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees, global emissions must halve by 2030 and reach ‘net-zero’ by 2050, and it’s going to take all those NDC’s together to make it.

The 2021 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report underscores it is still possible to achieve the 1.5-degree-target but only if unprecedented action is taken now.

The NDCs submitted in 2015 were collectively not ambitious enough to limit global warming to ‘well below’ 2 degrees, never mind 1.5 degrees. The signatories of the Paris Agreement are, however, expected to submit new – and more ambitious – NDCs every five years, known as the ‘ratchet mechanism’.

COP26 is the first test of this ambition-raising function. One of the main ‘benchmarks for success’ in Glasgow is that as many governments as possible submit new NDCs and, when put together, these are ambitious enough to put the world on track for ‘well below’ 2 degrees, preferably 1.5.

The difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees is substantial: every increment of a degree translates into increased risks for people, communities, and ecosystems. The UK’s overarching aim for the Glasgow summit is to ‘keep 1.5 degrees alive’.

A successful outcome in Glasgow also requires developed countries to honour a promise they made back in 2009 of mobilizing $100 billion per year by 2020 to support climate action in developing countries. The official figures for 2020 will not be available until 2022, but it is clear the goal was not met last year.

Recent announcements, including President Joe Biden’s pledge to double US climate finance, have brought developed countries closer to honouring the pledge, and New Zealand has to really pony up as well. It’s not currently a high-trust environment between any of the major emitters at the moment. The guilt economy has its limits even when expertly saved and spent.

Strengthening the ability to adapt to climate change impacts is another important element of COP26, as is the question of how to deal with economic and non-economic harms caused by climate change impacts which cannot be avoided through adaptation or mitigation, known as ‘loss and damage’. Hopefully we will get to see a united Pacific Islands position make some good and pointed noise on this, since they are our most vulnerable friends and relatives to this damage.

Discussions on these issues often focus on mobilizing finance but it is also important that parties make progress on other issues such as further operationalizing the Paris Agreement’s ‘global goal on adaptation’ which, at present, is vaguely formulated.

At COP26, parties also need to try and finalize the Paris Agreement’s ‘implementation guide’ – the Paris Rulebook. Agreeing on what rules should govern international carbon markets – the ‘Article 6 negotiations’ – is expected to be particularly difficult. Small states such as ourselves live and die on whether big countries assent to such globally binding rules – and the Pacific countries are watching this part of the conference very closely indeed with huge amounts of pre-meetings and preparation gone in.

As of September 2021, 86 countries and the EU27 have submitted new or updated NDCs to the UNFCCC.

A few governments, like China and Japan, have pledged new 2030 targets but are yet to submit them officially.

Around 70 countries are yet to communicate new or updates targets. And several – Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland and Vietnam – have submitted without raising ambition.

Yesterday New Zealand raised its ambition by reducing net greenhouse emissions by 50% by 2030. The provisional emissions budget for New Zealand’s new NDC is 571 Mt, down from the 2016 NDC budget of 623 Mt. The agreement was reached at Cabinet on Monday in preparation for positioning ourselves well at the conference opening. We’ll do it mostly by paying others to keep trees in the ground.

Our own emissions have peaked in 2006 and haven’t fallen significantly for over a decade and indeed are about the same now as they were in 2005.

Which isn’t bad going given the increase in population, increase in dairy herds, and increase in kilometres travelled per year.

It’s not of course down to one Minister: the carbon reduction budget action plan is a full and near-unprecedented whole-of-government effort, outlined here by the Ministry for the Environment. You can deep-dive into the functioning of carbon markets and agriculture and carbon finance and all such deep policy stuff.

It’s been helpful that the G20 summit held a few days previously generated useful results including a global corporate tax floor. We can actually still agree on important stuff.

But we’re needing all the positive signals we can get right now.

39 comments on “COP26 is on ”

  1. RedLogix 1

    The only country that matters is China.

    According to one source in the past 20 years some 93% of the new carbon has come from this one nation alone and currently they produce about the same CO2 as all of the other major developed nations combined. And despite the official 'pledges' the reality is they remain heavily dependent on coal and continue to increase consumption. They can talk renewables all they want, the geographic reality is that solar panels and wind make very little economic or carbon budget sense for them. It's either carbon or nuclear – they have no other options.

    And just to pre-empt the tired old 'per capita' excuse – it's not the poor Chinese who emit all this carbon. Modern China is best thought of as two separate nations, a rich highly developed nation on the coastal plains and a very poor one in the interior. Per capita the rich one is right up there with the developed world, but crucially are still on an increasing trend, whereas all the rest of the developed world is declining.

    No conversation on climate change makes any sense if we pretend to ignore this harsh reality.

    • Puckish Rogue 1.1

      Don't know how accurate this is but a picture speaks a thousands words and all that: https://climatetrade.com/which-countries-are-the-worlds-biggest-carbon-polluters/

      Best be keeping an eye on India as well

      • satty 1.1.1

        Do you have an article, statistics, graphs or similar, that shows how much of the carbon dioxide linked to China is split into China-based consumption and products vs exported products, incl. the carbon emitted from their power plants to produce those products?

        We have trade balances (mainly?) in monetary value, I guess it's time to have trade balances in CO2 (and equivalents, like methane) for products and services that are exported and imported.

        If we're so concerned about China emitting so much CO2, maybe we should force their hand by not buying products that required energy from non-renewables and start producing those things a nice clean green way ourselves. This would also reduce the CO2 from transport.

        • alwyn

          " vs exported products, incl. the carbon emitted from their power plants to produce those products?"

          Do we apply that principle within New Zealand? If we did, and that is in effect what we do for things like GST, we would have to exempt the bulk of New Zealand's dairy industry from any form of emissions trading scheme. Their carbon emissions would have to be paid by the countries that import the product.

          Apparently we export 95% of all New Zealand's dairy production. Our producers would, under this principle not be responsible for the carbon emissions from this productions.

          "we export over 95% of the milk produced in New Zealand, to more than 130 different countries worldwide."


          • UncookedSelachimorpha

            "Our producers would, under this principle not be responsible for the carbon emissions from this productions"

            Two options I suppose – either the importer takes the responsibility, or the exporter includes the cost of the emissions in the exported product?

          • satty

            Either we apply it world-wide or we don't. For NZ it means we "import" a lot of CO2, like cars, heavy machinery and all the other stuff, and we "export" some CO2 and a large proportion of CO2-equivalents, like methane.

            I guess it's a move from producing CO2 to a consuming CO2 "accounting", so the transport of the product / service should be added to the consumer-side.

            Finally, add a "carbon-price" or better an "environmental impact cost", covering other pollution, like nitrate in rivers, to all the products and services (globally). This hopefully leads to a move from "polluting" products / services to a "clean" alternatives. The really difficult part is… try to agree the right level, because most countries / economies want to be "competitive", means monetary considerations are beating climate / environmental ones.

            If NZ agricultural products are as "low-emission" as people say (even including the global transport and the cost to clean up our land and rivers from all the piss and shit), we would find buyers and continue exporting them.

            • alwyn

              I don't have any real opinion on which way it should go. I do want something that is consistent though.

              At the moment there seems to be an opinion, from the Green side of the debate, that we should pick it up both ways. People who use cars should be responsible for the emissions from burning oil, which is of course imported. We should also pick up the cost of the emissions from farm animals, even though nearly all that they produce is exported and consumed in other countries.

              I don't really care which way it goes but I really cannot accept that our farmers, in particular, should be bashed from both directions. I confess I also can't really be bothered in examining which way is the most rational.

    • Sanctuary 1.2

      Role out the tired Sinophobe tropes of the establishment media all you like, but China isn't the biggest problem – at least China is trying and showing real global leadership in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than can be said for the madmen running the Anglo-Saxon nations.


      Take outs:

      Measured per person Chine emits only half the carbon (eight tons) person than the USA, Canada or Australia.

      "…Beyond 2030, and with renewable capacity rising further, researchers from Tsinghua University have predicted that 90% of the country’s power should come from non-carbon sources by 2050, with the country’s ultimate ambition to be ‘carbon neutral’ a decade later…"

      "…. Its 37,900km high-speed rail network, accounting for some two-thirds of all high-speed capacity globally, has been built in just 14 years, with another 32,000km under construction… …This has already had profound consequences for domestic aviation, with the route between the cities of Zhengzhou and Xi’an, for example, being cancelled within two months of a high-speed rail connection opening in 2010…"

      The US hasn't laid a single piece of underground metro for 30 years. China has 41 metro systemsa, all modern, and is building another dozen with dozens more planned.

      China’s reforestation has seen forest coverage increase from 12% in 1978 to 23% today. Beijing’s current plan is to plant 36,000 square kilometres of forest annually until 2025, more than the total area of Belgium, with the target for 2050 being forest coverage of 30%.

      According to Nasa this programme, estimated to have cost more than $100bn since the late 1990s, is the principal reason that the Earth is now greener than it was twenty years ago. Planting 900 million hectares of forest, approximately a trillion trees, might store the equivalent of 25% of atmospheric carbon.

      If things go according to plan, by 2035 China will produce more nuclear power than the USA and France combined. 50% of the world’s growth in renewable energy capacity last year occurred in China.

      • RedLogix 1.2.1

        First of all – that per capita number is a complete distraction. The poor Chinese in the interior provinces are not emitting much carbon – it's the rich highly developed ones in the coastal cities. And all of that development in that part of the nation is being done off the back of coal. Lots of it – and the most recent data tells us they have only increased their rate of extraction of domestic brown coal that burns even dirtier than the Australia black coal they no longer import for import for political reasons. There is zero prospect of this changing anytime soon.

        On your own data, if we separate out the roughly half of the population who are not contributing much, then the other half are logically producing at double the rate you mention, and very much on a par with the rest of the developed world. But the big difference you cannot ignore is that nations like the US have actually declined their CO2 emissions quite dramatically – mainly by substituting coal with natural gas – while by contrast China continues to ramp up. Promises are one thing, the reality is quite another.

        Basic data tells us that anything they tell us about renewables is also bullshit. Their climate simply means there is not the sunshine nor wind to even breakeven on the carbon budget, much less make economic sense.

        And yes nuclear is their only way out of this mess – as it pretty much is for the rest of the world. But we aren't allowed that conversation either.

        • Poission

          Humans through metabolic respiration emit around 3t/co2 per person.That it is not included in emission totals is an obvious problem.

          • RedLogix

            Yes there is an important discussion around the CO2 required to run our agricultural systems – but we already count those numbers.

            But on the other hand you make an important point – just by living humans must consume a certain minimum amount of energy. In pre-industrial times that energy was always in carbon balance, it's only since we started consuming fossil carbon that we tipped that balance.

            But essentially what you are saying is that we cannot simply reduce the amount of energy we consume to zero – unless you're arguing for human extinction – which some people do. The only thing that can get us there are energy sources that are carbon zero. Renewables will help a lot in the short-term; longer term it has to be some form of nuclear.

    • kejo 1.3

      ALL countries matter

    • infused 1.4

      This is why NZ tanking ourselves is fucking stupid. As if China gives a shit.

  2. Sanctuary 2

    Or the video…

    • RedLogix 2.1

      Nicely makes my point that the per capita figure is incredibly misleading.

      The only thing that matters is total planetary CO2 emissions right here, right now. And to that one nation is by far and away the biggest gorilla in the room. And still growing.

      But keep making excuses because – communist.

  3. joe90 3

    The kid's alright.

  4. UncookedSelachimorpha 4

    Our entire civilisation requires vast (and ever increasing) quantities of energy and nearly all comes from fossil fuels. Actual solutions will likely require:

    • Reduction in human population
    • Reduction in quality of life (consumption of goods, quality of food, travel)
    • Abandonment of notion of perpetual economic growth

    These are all deeply unpalatable and have a minor issue of being the bedrock of our modern society. Nuclear might be a solution, but probably can't be implemented quickly enough on the scale required.

    The severity of the changes required are avoided by most politicians and even climate activists. You won't hear a lot about the need to rethink economic growth at COP26 I doubt.

    All just my opinion.

    • RedLogix 4.1

      Nuclear might be a solution, but probably can't be implemented quickly enough on the scale required.

      Probably the irrational objections of all the environmental activists will delay matters. As it stands those supporting nuclear have had to argue hard even to be included in the agenda and scope of the COP26 discussions.

      We can now name four generations of nuclear power designs:

      Gen I. The original research reactors and early piles that were little more than experimental efforts or had obvious shortcomings like the Chernobyl machines

      Gen II. The majority of the existing PWR fleet that have delivered safe reliable energy for decades, but had several inherent weaknesses, primarily around the need to keep the reactor under high pressure to prevent steam explosions and loss of cooling.

      Gen III. The French and others responded to this concern over the past two decades by addressing these limitations directly within the PWR paradigm. Highly successful from a safety perspective, but unfortunately also prone to being expensive and slow to build.

      Gen IV. Is an umbrella term for a wide range of new reactor types that design out the limitations of using water as the moderator and coolant in a number of ways. In addition most people in this area understand that in order to be an effective solution they have to build plants cheaper than coal-fired. In order to do this they have to shift to factory built, mass-produced machines that can use automation to drastically reduce cost and time-frames.

      There is about another decade of design, testing and regulatory work to be done before these designs can make an impact at scale. Some may come online sooner, but realistically a decade is a reasonable number to think about. In the meantime solar and wind can be very useful to bridge the gap – and I'm happy for it's supporters to take this tech as far they can. But we should also be realistic about it's limits, we cannot power anything like an inspiring future for humanity on renewables alone.

      But every year the anti-nuclear lobby (often secretly funded by some pretty dubious players) delay governments from getting serious on nuclear – the tighter the numbers will get.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 4.2

      Agreed – consumption of energy and material goods will continue to grow even as the infrastructure and ‘greed is good’ ideology that facilitates ‘consumer culture’ begins to fail.

      While capitalism remains the dominant economic system of ‘our’ globalised world, the climate crisis won't be resolved. Buckle up buckaroos!


      The Anthropocene
      The report blames humans alone for the “dire” state of the planet. It points to the exponential growth of human consumption, population, global trade and urbanization over the last 50 years as key reasons for the unprecedented decline of Earth’s resources — which it says the planet is incapable of replenishing.

      We Are Losing Our Suicidal War against Nature’, Secretary-General Tells Biodiversity Summit, Urging Bold Actions towards Sustainable Future [11 October 2021]
      Humanity’s reckless interference with nature will leave a permanent record — just as today’s scientists study the traces of previous extinctions. We are well into the Anthropocene extinction. The rate of species loss is tens to hundreds of times higher than the average of the past 10 million years — and accelerating. Over a million species of plants, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates are at risk — many within decades.

      1.5-Degree Lifestyles: Towards A Fair Consumption Space for All [PDF; 2021]
      Keep oil in the ground. Governments of several countries, including New Zealand, Belize, Costa Rica, France, and Denmark have all enacted total or partial bans on oil and gas exploration. New Zealand has a ban on new offshore oil and gas exploration permits, and has established a “Just Transitions Unit” to support parts of the country most dependent on the oil and gas industry (SEI et al. 2019)

      • RedLogix 4.2.1

        Agreed – consumption of energy and material goods will continue to grow even as the infrastructure that facilitates ‘consumer culture’ begins to fail.

        Wrong. Per capita energy consumption in most developed nations is either flatlined or declining already. And given population is already projected to stabilise or decline in many developed nations as well – you get to be double wrong.

        What will continue to grow is the demand from developing countries to escape poverty. If you think this is nothing more than the fripperies of 'consumer culture' I suggest go and tell them they have to remain poor.

        • Drowsy M. Kram

          I really do hope the per capita decline will turn the tide, but I have such doubts.


          If you think this is nothing more than the fripperies of ‘consumer culture’ I suggest go and tell them they have to remain poor.

          I’d rather suggest that you donate 90% of your wealth to the poor, but I know stony ground when I see it. Maybe future generations won’t have to pay too high a price for our oh-so-important fripperies.

          • RedLogix

            I really do hope the per capita decline will turn the tide,

            If you had been paying the slightest bit of attention you would know that I've already explicitly rejected this. In my series on the Kaya Identity and total Carbon I clearly separated out population, wealth and energy efficiency as three of it's four components that cannot be reasonably reduced to zero. The only one that can is the carbon intensity per unit of energy.

            A most common mistake is thinking that because capitalism has been correlated with the greatest expansion of human development it is therefore the root cause of this growth.

            Human development and the resulting consumption of energy and resources is first and foremost driven by a set of forces that starts with philosophical innovation, science, technology, engineering, medicine and industrialisation. From 1800 onward this drove two centuries of population growth that took us from short lives and lots of children, through to a demographic inversion with long lives and fewer children. In ecological terms we've virtually become a new species.

            But the hard left's ideological obsession with Capitalism as the great evil, imagines that it's the cause of this growth, and that because capitalism does not innately speak to limits that therefore this growth will be unlimited – which is of course a nonsense. Capitalism is really nothing more than a set of economic tools that evolved over the course of the past two hundred years, and will have to adapt yet again to the new post-growth world we're entering into. The real story that drives the fate of nations is not political ideology – it's geography, demography, security and continuity and transformative technology.

            I’d rather suggest that you donate 90% of your wealth to the poor,

            Ah – the mass 'just out of poverty' solution. Zero sum game thinking.

            • Drowsy M. Kram

              I really do hope the per capita decline will turn the tide,

              If you had been paying the slightest bit of attention you would know that I've already explicitly rejected this.

              I'm not following – weren't you trumpetting the decline in per capita energy consumption of the golden billion in your comment @4.2.1?

              Wrong. Per capita energy consumption in most developed nations is either flatlined or declining already. And given population is already projected to stabilise or decline in many developed nations as well – you get to be double wrong. – @4.2.1

              Do you think that this decline in per capita energy use is good, or do you explicitly reject it?

              Imho these are wonderful trends, but, just as you're fond of pointing out that the golden billion sharing more of their wealth with the have-nots won't solve anything ("zero sum game thinking"), I'm pointing out that the decline in per capita energy use in some developed countries has not stopped the upward trend in global energy use, either per capita or total gigawatt hours.

              Ah – the mass 'just out of poverty' solution. Zero sum game thinking.

              I can think of a few reasons why transferring personal wealth to poor people might not appeal. It's OK to examine those reasons honestly and rationally.

              Also absolutely get the attraction of the idea that spaceship Earth can keep at least nine billion souls in the lifestyle to which the golden billion, in all their finery and frippery, have become accustom.

              I believe it’s a pipe dream, but time will tell.

              1.5-Degree Lifestyles: Towards A Fair Consumption Space for All
              [PDF; 2021]
              History of government commitments and failures on climate change shows that technological interventions and offsetting emissions, which is central to the net-zero strategy, has been teased for over three decades leading to the worsening state of affairs in which we now find ourselves—what the IPCC describes in its most recent report as “irreversible” damage to the environment, with worse to come unless we change course. As this report demonstrates, changes in predominant lifestyles, especially in high-consuming societies, will determine whether we meet commitments in the Paris Agreement and avoid dire consequences of climate change. Overall reductions in levels of consumption must be achieved, while attending to growing social tensions.

            • RedLogix

              I'm not following – weren't you trumpetting the decline in per capita energy consumption of the golden billion in your comment

              It was merely a response to your claim above that energy and resource consumption would continue to grow without limit. At least in the developed world that isn't necessarily true – for the reasons I described. Both population growth and energy use per person among the 'golden billion' are either stable or declining.

              Of course the developing world is where all the real growth in demand will continue to come from for at least the remainder of this century as they continue to develop and match our energy use per capita. And rightly so – we have zero right to demand they must stay poor.

              To understand this you need to go back to the Kaya Identity which helps untangle the role that population, development, efficiency and carbon intensity all play toward total carbon.

              • Drowsy M. Kram

                I followed that link to your Escape Velocity post, and found this:

                Consider carefully if you decide to reply to this.

                towards the end of a wide-ranging 'debate'.

                I don't really understand the Kaya Identity, and note that it has its critics.

                It has been pointed out that the Kaya identity is a tautology because it is nothing but a rewrite of the identity: {\displaystyle F=F}, i.e., "Carbon is carbon". This implies there are a number of alternative formulations for calculating net carbon emissions, which highlights the different possible ways of thinking about emissions reductions (e.g. Eco-sufficiency).

                1.5-Degree Lifestyles: Towards A Fair Consumption Space for All
                [PDF; 2021]
                An indictment of the current unsustainable economic development paradigm is the widening gap between the rich and the poor. The emissions share of the 10% richest, highest-emitting individuals ranges from 36-49% of the global total, while that of the poorest, lowest-emitting 50% of the world’s population ranges from 7-15% of the total (UNEP 2020). There is observed inequality among countries, inequality within countries, inequality across races and between genders, and inequality across generations. And there are multiple expressions of inequality: of income, of health, of access to natural resources and public services, of participation in decision-making processes, for example, and notably in terms of inequality of carbon emissions. Calls for climate justice are already growing loud; these tensions will only get worse as competition heightens over diminishing resources and the remaining carbon budget to stay within sustainable limits.

            • UncookedSelachimorpha

              "Human development and the resulting consumption of energy and resources is first and foremost driven by a set of forces that starts with philosophical innovation, science, technology, engineering, medicine and industrialisation. "

              I think this is part of the explanation, but the other equally great (and possibly greater) factor has been access to a vast energy surplus courtesy of finite fossil fuels. This energy is in part a 'result' of the factors above – but it is also a fundamental cause of the expansion of our civilisation and population. If this energy is not replaced, civilisation as we know it will end…and seems to me it might not be able to be replaced.

              This worldindata graph is another good one to illustrate the scale of the problem.

              I support nuclear power and think it is essential if people are to maintain access to the amounts of energy we are accustomed to. On the other hand I have heard it said that maintaining access to vast amounts of energy will enable humankind to degrade the biosphere even further (by continued expansion of resource use).

              I have often thought that climate change is just one of the symptoms of excessive resource use by humans. There are plenty of others waiting in the wings.

              • RedLogix

                On the other hand I have heard it said that maintaining access to vast amounts of energy will enable humankind to degrade the biosphere even further (by continued expansion of resource use).

                Yes that is a reasonable question and less easy to answer. My thinking on this at the moment comes in three parts.

                One is that cheap, clean abundant energy would directly enable closing the loop on many resources. There are plenty of people working in this recycling space and very often the biggest constraint they discuss is energy.

                Secondly as we transition to post-growth societies over the remainder of this century it's reasonable to think our resource demand will decline as well.

                And perhaps the most underappreciated branch of technology that changes our lives is materials engineering. Much of the transformative methods we have available to us now are the direct result of material that not only perform better, but are cheaper and consume less. One good example is the humble water pipe – for over a century these were always metal, either steel or copper. Now we use a variety high tech plastics that perform far better and can be easily recycled at the end of life. That sort of thing is quietly happening in many places.

    • pat 4.3

      "You won't hear a lot about the need to rethink economic growth at COP26 I doubt."

      Not from official sources, I agree…thought i expect plenty on the fringe will be expressing such thoughts.

  5. Drowsy M. Kram 5

    1.5-Degree Lifestyles: Towards A Fair Consumption Space for All [PDF, 2021]
    We are in a planetary emergency and governments must act as such. Emergency plans of action must focus on the essential goal of curbing GHG emissions and immediately halt dangerous feedback loops between biodiversity loss and ecosystems destruction. By focusing on consumption, we can solve several problems at once, reducing our carbon emissions whilst regenerating our biodiversity stocks and safeguarding ecosystems. Since 1970, when the Club of Rome’s seminal report, “The Limits to Growth” was written, the global extraction of materials grew from 27 billion tons a year to 92 billion tons by 2017. This is likely to double again by 2060, given current trends.

    The bitter truth is that the use of natural resources cannot continue to increase year after year. It must level off quickly – and then contract. Otherwise, there is no possibility of managing the well-being of 9–10 billion people in the long run—perhaps more—within the planetary boundaries. The challenge is that this contraction must take place at the same time as both energy and material use in low-income countries increases. This is required for the peoples of these countries to acquire a decent standard of living. The inequality in the use of materials is flagrant today, with low-income countries using 2 tons of materials per capita in 2017 compared to 27 tons per capita in high-income countries. In fact, while the material footprints of low-income countries managed to drop from 2.5 to 2 tons per capita, those of high-income countries grew from 20 to 27 tons per capita.

  6. We live in a seriously over populated planet. We keep seriously stripping the planet of the things that give us a livable existence.

    I am grateful I have no grandchildren.

    How does this country survive without petroleum?

    Exports/imports need transport fuelled by ?????????

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