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Free Petrol Pt I

Written By: - Date published: 1:42 pm, August 1st, 2016 - 3 comments
Categories: climate change, energy, Environment, global warming, political alternatives, science, transport, vision - Tags: , , , ,

The banner headline from Paris – the one that no-one printed – was that the world will experience about 3.5 degrees of warming if governments meet all of the reduction pledges they’ve made.

The unwritten sub-header might have stacked that headline against the multiple commitments governments have made to keep global warming below 2 degrees.

The main text might then have questioned why governments continue to base climate change policy on assumptions of negative emissions (that we don’t have the technology for) and asked why nothing has been done since the first climate change meeting at Rio some twenty-five years ago.

Of course, nothing like that was written.

Instead we got a few days of upbeat headlines based on vacuous rhetoric around holding temperatures to 1.5 degrees before ‘everyone went home’ satisfied with a job well done.

Please watch this communications presentation by Kevin Anderson. The information it contains is critical for understanding where we are and where we must go and for understanding the basis of upcoming posts.

The commitments governments have made are to hold the average global surface temperature rise below two degrees and to achieve that using the best available science and by working on the basis of equity.

According to Kevin Anderson and Alice Bows, working off IPCC global carbon budgets, current emission totals and current rates of emissions, we can possibly still achieve a sub two degrees target.

But we only have an outside chance of achieving that goal. In other words, we are more than likely going to fail even if we pull out all of the stops and exceed all of our own expectations. But that failure will still be a success from the vantage of the millions still alive who would otherwise have died were we to keep on with our current strategy of kicking the climate change can down the road.

Working from the basis laid out above (2 degrees, equity and science), New Zealand is among the group of countries (Developed or Annex 1) that need to cut energy related emissions to net zero by around 2030 and then to have zero carbon energy a few years after that

I’m going to be applying that goal to NZ’s transport sectors. Including aviation and shipping, we’re looking at something like half of all NZ’s energy related emissions.

By all means drive a coach and horses through the framework I’m going to lay out. But don’t bother offering up objections on the defeatist premise that “they’ll never do that”. Everyone is fully aware that “they” will need to be subjected to various degrees of arm twisting. So offer up positive criticism and, I dunno, maybe bring some imagination and humanity along to a process of building and refining a possible way forward.

All posts are taking as read the necessity to both formulate and roll out extensive public awareness/education programmes, and to invest a huge effort in variously retro-fitting, electrifying and otherwise developing swathes of our energy infrastructure.

In the absence of any other less disruptive framework that also delivers the scale of reductions required, work on getting this type of plan adopted has to begin immediately.

All of the NGOs (350.0rg, Gen Zero, Greenpeace etc) have to be brought up to speed on the basic numbers in order that they appreciate the inadequacy of their current positioning from the perspective of limiting average global surface warming to two degrees.

All political parties need to be variously convinced or coerced into facing up to reality and then basing policy on that reality.

We all need to excel.

Beyond that we need good ideas and examples of sufficient and effective policy to spread beyond NZ’s borders like some type of non-carbon wild fire.

Part two.

Part three

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