- Date published:
4:59 pm, March 29th, 2017 - 28 comments
Categories: capitalism, climate change, Donald Trump, economy, Economy, Environment, International, political alternatives, Revolution, science, us politics - Tags: action, global warming, inaction, trump
Measures that governments have promised to put in place by way of the Paris Agreement do not address our need to avoid 2° C of global warming. If all emissions pledges are implemented in full, then global warming will be ‘limited’ to something like 3.5 or 4 °C. And nothing’s up for review with regards those commitments or pledges until 2023. By then, we’ll have blown through ~300 billion tonnes of the ~800 billion tonnes of CO2 we might possibly have been able to emit between 2011 and 2100 for any chance of having future warming of only 2°C.
Put that another way. At 35 billion tonnes per year (approximate current emissions) our entire budget for the century (for any chance of 2 °C) will be gone by about 2030 or 2035.
So in a sane world, we’d be rejoicing at the scrapping of the woeful framework put in place by Barack Obama in the US and looking forward to realistic actions being pursued from here on in. But the world of power and privilege isn’t sane. So we now have the prospect of the US tumbling onwards and towards future temperature rises in excess of 4 °C.
Here’s the thing though. It’s kind of academic from a human survival, or well being perspective, whether future temperatures increases will be in the 3.5 – 4 °C range or somewhere above 4 °C. Barack Obama and all the other world leaders were not doing anything that would ‘save the world’ – they’d locked us into an impossible future with their bullshit.
The truth of the matter is that we might just scrape by with worthwhile lives at a temperature increase of 2 °C. But only with a huge amount of luck on our side. (ie, – very low climate and ecological sensitivities) And that luck most definitely will not be extending to the millions upon millions of people in equatorial regions who will die in a world that’s 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.
To get even a look-in at 2 °C, we need cuts somewhere in the order of 15% this year followed by another 15% next year and a further 15% the following year, followed by 15% in the next year and again in the year after that and then in every subsequent year until we have absolute zero carbon emissions (not net zero) from all sources of energy by around 2040. Just four years ago, the required cuts were about 10%. Another five years of inaction will require cuts in excess of 15%.
So where are we at?
A Presidential clown is moving to dismantle a framework that was slated to deliver nothing but suffering and death. And in its place, he’s looking to usher in a future of suffering and death.
But what about you?
Are you kidding yourself that Donald Trump’s robbing the world of salvation and then hoping a framework that was never anythng but the ribs of a hand-basket destined for hell, gets preserved in some way? Or are you ready, finally, to demand that politicians and leaders stop trying to preserve their positions of influence and power at the expense of all our futures?
Can you give up on the notion that our current socio-economic paradigm can somehow conjure up a pricing mechanism ,or magical technological fix, that will limit warming to 2 °C? That seems to be a problem for many of us – giving up on that whimsy. You’ll have your own personal reasons for ‘hanging on in there’ and persisting with the life you’ve mapped out for yourself. No doubt those reasons are convincing. But can you walk away regardless?
Because if you don’t – like, I don’t know, perhaps you just don’t want to, or can’t imagine how to – then maybe you’d care to imagine how well that goes down in the future when the question’s asked –
“Mummy? Daddy? When you said I’d go far, did you really mean that to be as far the end of the world ?” And the answer comes back –
“Yeah sorry, I had a whimsical notion things would be okay if we just kept doing things according to the ways we did things.”
Further reading (and viewing) for those interested.
The Cambridge Climate Lecture Series 2017 (I’d particularly recommend lecture no. 3 and the Live Panel)
Why Carbon Prices Can’t Deliver the 2 °C Target (Short blog post)
Link to the paper underpinning the arguments given above Aviation in a Low Carbon UK (pdf pp 89 – 109)
Carbon and inequality: from Kyoto to Paris Trends in the global inequality of carbon emissions (1998-2013) & prospects for an equitable adaptation fund (pdf) Chancel and Piketty – exploring ways to raise taxes in equitable and effective ways and also working out who emits what from the perspective of the end consumer (10% of people = 50% of emissions).
Extreme Carbon Inequality (pdf) Oxfam paper on the distribution of carbon emissions at the individual or end user level done independently from the Chancel/Piketty study but reaching the same conclusions. (10% of people = 50% of emissions)
New Scientist on Paris (Short piece)
Random Guardian piece on Paris. (Containing a number of direct quotes from scientists in the field)
A brief explanation of carbon budgets accompanied by some pretty straight forward graphics.