At U.N. climate talks, Trump team plans sideshow on coal

At U.N. climate talks, Trump team plans sideshow on coal

SOURCE: Reuters DATE: November 15, 2018 SNIP: The Trump administration plans to set up a side-event promoting fossil fuels at the annual U.N. climate talks next month, repeating a strategy that infuriated global-warming activists during last year’s talks, according to three people with knowledge of the matter. As with the 2017 gathering in Bonn, Germany, the administration plans to highlight the benefits of technologies that more efficiently burn fuels including coal, the sources said. This year’s talks in Katowice, Poland – located in a mining region that is among the most polluted in Europe – are intended to hammer out a rule book to the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change. The United States, the world’s top oil and gas producer, is the only country to have announced its intention to formally withdraw from the Paris accord. The event is expected to be led by Wells Griffith, Trump’s international energy and climate adviser, the sources added. Griffith’s main energy policy experience involves a year at a political job at the Department of Energy and helping to set up a deal last year to supply Ukraine with U.S. coal after the country lost control of mines to Russian-backed separatists. Last year, the fossil fuels event set up by the White House drew widespread protest and condemnation from climate activists. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wrote on Twitter that “Promoting coal at a climate summit is like promoting tobacco at a cancer summit.” Environmentalists should not get excited that any State Department cooperation in Poland signals the Trump administration is eyeing a return to the Paris agreement, one of the...
‘Tipping points’ could exacerbate climate crisis, scientists fear

‘Tipping points’ could exacerbate climate crisis, scientists fear

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: October 9, 2018 SNIP: Key dangers largely left out of the IPCC special report on 1.5C of warming are raising alarm among some scientists who fear we may have underestimated the impacts of humans on the Earth’s climate. The IPCC report sets out the world’s current knowledge of the impacts of 1.5C of warming and clearly shows the dangers of breaching such a limit. However, many scientists are increasingly worried about factors about which we know much less. These “known unknowns” of climate change are tipping points, or feedback mechanisms within the climate system – thresholds that, if passed, could send the Earth into a spiral of runaway climate change. Durwood Zaelke, founder of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, said: “The IPCC report fails to focus on the weakest link in the climate chain: the self-reinforcing feedbacks which, if allowed to continue, will accelerate warming and risk cascading climate tipping points and runaway warming.” He pointed to water vapour in the air, which traps heat in the atmosphere, as well as the loss of polar ice, the collapse of permafrost, and the migration of tropical clouds towards the poles. Further unknowns include the effects of climate change on carbon sinks, such as soils and forests: higher temperatures could dry out some soils, causing them to release stored carbon into the air. But increased rainfall – a symptom of climate change in some regions – could in other areas be making it harder for forest soils to trap greenhouse gases such as...
What’s Not in the Latest Terrifying IPCC Report? The “Much, Much, Much More Terrifying” New Research on Climate Tipping Points

What’s Not in the Latest Terrifying IPCC Report? The “Much, Much, Much More Terrifying” New Research on Climate Tipping Points

SOURCE: Common Dreams DATE: October 9, 2018 SNIP: If the latest warnings contained in Monday’s report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—which included pronouncements that the world has less than twelve years to drastically alter course to avoid the worst impacts of human-caused global warming and that nothing less than keeping all fossil fuels in the ground is the solution to avoid future calamities—have you at all frightened or despondent, experts responding to the report have a potentially unwelcome message for your already over-burdened heart and mind: It’s very likely even worse than you’re being told. Jamie Henn, co-founder and the program director for the international climate group 350.org, stated in a tweet on Tuesday, the “scariest thing about the IPCC Report” is the fact that “it’s the watered down, consensus version. The latest science is much, much, much more terrifying.” Henn was actually responding to Penn State University climate scientist Michael Mann who was pushing back against those criticizing the IPCC report as too “alarmist” in its declarations and warnings. “If anything,” Professor Mann declared, “it is the opposite. Once again, with their latest report, they have been overly conservative (ie. erring on the side of understating/underestimating the problem.)” This is very possibly true and there is much scientific data and argument backing this up. As Henn and Mann both indicate, the IPCC report is based on the consensus view of the hundreds of scientists who make up the IPCC – and its been consistently true that some of the most recent (and increasingly worrying) scientific findings have not yet found enough support to make it...
U.N. climate report shows civilization is at stake if we don’t act now

U.N. climate report shows civilization is at stake if we don’t act now

SOURCE: Grist DATE: October 8, 2018 SNIP: Absent heroic efforts, the world has locked in dangerous climate change. That’s according to a much-anticipated report released on Monday in South Korea by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.N.-sponsored collection of the world’s top scientists. That stark, blunt assessment comes after years of deliberation at the request of the world’s most vulnerable nations to assemble pathways that could limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees C, now believed to be the upper limit that would preserve the stability of the world’s interconnected ecological and societal systems. Some key conclusions: The world has already warmed by about 1 degree C and without a global coordinated effort, the world will reach 1.5 degrees in as little as 12 years. “Several hundred million” lives are at stake, according to the IPCC, and the actions that are required to ensure a just transition to a fossil-fuel free world have significant overlap with the actions that would be needed to reduce global poverty. Some of the initial coverage frames the IPCC’s stark conclusions in the too-familiar phrase of a time limit for action. “The world has just over a decade to get climate change under control” reads the Washington Post’s headline. That’s absolutely the wrong way to frame this. We only have a decade left to finish our initial coordinated retooling of society to tackle this challenge. The scientists were quite clear about this. By 2030, we’ll need to have already cut global emissions in half (45 percent below 2010 levels, according to the report), which (again, according to the IPCC) would...
World at risk if warming exceeds 1.5C, UN warns

World at risk if warming exceeds 1.5C, UN warns

SOURCE: The Guardian and The Guardian DATE: October 8, 2018 SNIP: The world risks catastrophic flooding, drought and poverty unless the rise in global temperatures can be limited to 1.5C, leading climate scientists warn today. Urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to reach the target which is at the most ambitious end of the Paris agreement pledge to keep temperatures between 1.5C and 2C, the report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says. The half-degree difference could prevent corals from being eradicated and ease pressure on the Arctic, it adds. Speaking after the report was approved in Incheon, South Korea, on Monday, Debra Roberts, a co-chair of the working group on impacts, said it was a “line in the sand” from the science community. The authoritative new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sets the world a clear target: we must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to net zero by the middle of this century to have a reasonable chance of limiting global warming to 1.5C. Every government should read this report and recognise the clear choice we now have. Accelerate the transition to clean and sustainable growth or suffer the mounting damage from sea level rise, floods and droughts that will severely hinder efforts to tackle poverty, raise living standards and improve prosperity. Human activities are currently emitting about 42bn tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, and at that rate the carbon budget – allowing us a 50-50 chance of keeping warming to 1.5C – would be exhausted within 20 years. Even 1.5C of warming would have brutal consequences, according to the report....