1. We’ve turned a corner on the central environmental challenge of our time
- For the first time in history, the world is united to cut the carbon pollution that’s driving climate change by moving beyond the dirty fossil fuels of the past to the cleaner, smarter energy options that can power our future without imperiling the planet.
Here's what the #ParisAgreement on world climate will do — and what it won't https://t.co/Ujgm64QXNf https://t.co/TWtg2NgUGa— Los Angeles Times (@Los Angeles Times)1450014914.0
- To do that, 195 countries—rich and poor, large and small and at every stage of development—have pledged to cut, cap or mitigate their carbon footprint.
- This sends a clear message to the world: we’re not stuck with fossil fuels that do more harm than good.
- It sends a clear message to markets: we’re moving to a low-carbon global economy where the future belongs to those who invest in ways to make our homes, cars and workplaces more efficient and to get more clean power from renewable sources like the wind and sun.
- And it sends a clear message to our children: we won’t abandon you to pay the price for reckless habits that bring havoc and ruin to our world and our lives.
2. This agreement is ambitious
- As a whole, we’ve pledged to hold down global warming to well below 2 degrees Centigrade, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above pre-industrial levels; and to work toward holding the increase to 1.5 degrees Centigrade, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit.
BREAKING: A global climate deal has been reached at #COP21! There's more work ahead, but this is a historic step! https://t.co/g8nWWNgh0p— NRDC (@NRDC)1449945073.0
- To date, average global temperatures have risen by about 1 degree Centigrade, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit, above pre-industrial levels, with most of the warming coming in the past 50 years.
- The science tells us we must hold total warming below 2 degrees Centigrade to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
- Even at that level, though, coastal communities and island nations would be at risk of swallowed by rising seas. That’s why it’s important we hold the line at 1.5 degrees Centigrade.
- The pledges made to date won’t get us where we need to go: at best, they’ll take us roughly halfway to the 2-degree limit.
- The agreement, though, calls on nations to assess progress every two years and come back together five years from now to build on those gains by ratcheting up their ambitions and setting more assertive goals going forward.
- That’s a formula for the continuous improvement we’ll need to get the job done.
3. This agreement is comprehensive
- It calls for real action by nearly every country in the world that account for roughly 95 percent of the dangerous carbon pollution that’s driving climate chaos.
- It provides for a climate investment fund of public and private money totaling at least $100 billion a year, starting in 2020, to help low-income countries protect themselves from the threats already backed into global climate change and to invest in the clean-energy options that can help them to fight climate change while improving the lives of their people.
- Last year the U.S. provided some $430 million in public funding specifically to assist developing countries in this way, and Sec. Kerry pledged in Paris that we’ll double that amount to at least $860 million by 2020.
[email protected] Pledges New Support to Vulnerable Countries at #COP21 https://t.co/0kNYTFJVpJ @sierraclub @StateDept https://t.co/kxgLZiOsLW— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1449673738.0
- Overall—public and private, grants and loans—U.S. investment in climate change mitigation and clean energy already tops $2.5 billion a year worldwide.
4. This agreement has teeth
- For the first time, countries must take inventory of their major sources of carbon pollution and share that information with the rest of the world. When we know where the pollution is coming from, we’ll know how to go after it.
- Countries must monitor carbon emissions, using standard measuring practices subject to expert international review, and report regularly on the progress they’re making in reducing those emissions. Knowing what’s working and what isn’t will help speed the innovation and enterprise needed to reach the goals.
- And sharing experiences and lessons learned will help all countries make progress and speed the shift to a low-carbon global economy worldwide.
5. This agreement supports the global transition to a low-carbon economy
- The coal, gas and oil that is driving global climate change accounts for roughly 80 percent of world energy use.
- That, though, is changing, as private corporations, national governments, mayors, governors and others work to recast the global economy around cleaner, smarter energy options.
The world has come together to send a clear signal- the low carbon economy is on its way #ParisAgreement: https://t.co/3cgOlaseVA— WRI Climate (@WRI Climate)1449946509.0
- An estimated $50 trillion will be invested in the global energy system over the next two decades, and much of that will go toward clean, renewable power like wind and solar and to systems to help distribute and store the electricity they produce.
- In the U.S., General Motors, Apple computers, Google, Walmart and 150 other nameplate American corporations have pledged to reduce their carbon footprint, invest in clean energy and otherwise work toward sustainable practices in a private effort to fight climate change.
- The Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup has pledged to invest a total of $325 billion—at least—in clean energy technology over the coming decade.
- The U.S., France and 17 other countries that together account for 80 percent of global research and development in clean energy technologies have promised to double that investment over the next five years.
- And Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and 25 other billionaire investors are creating a private-public initiative to help bring clean energy ideas to market.
6. Every country will do its part, through plans tailored to each nation’s circumstances
- This is the basis of all international relations.
- Where we can gather around common values and goals, we form partnerships that seek to advance the agenda we share. Then we look at the best way each of us can contribute, based on where each country is in its development arc and the resources each brings to the table.
- We agree on the principles and then map out a way forward that recognizes where each nation is in its development arc and its capacity to help.
- That’s what we do with every international partnership we’ve ever developed.
- That’s what we do with our military alliances, in Europe, Asia and around the world.
- It’s how we’ve structured our trade agreements.
- It’s how peace talks get done and global summits are held.
- And that’s what we’ve done in Paris.
- We’ve said, as a world, we have a problem. It’s a problem for all of us. We know the solution. And it’s a solution we can all help advance.
- In the U.S., we’ve promised to do our part.
- So have the Chinese. So has India. So have more than 180 other countries around the world.
- These promises have meaning, because, in the connected world we live in, credibility matters.
- And the way you build credibility on the world stage, the way countries build trust, is by following through with our commitments—doing what we say we’ll do.
- These are promises each country has made. We’ll know who keeps their promises and, if there are countries that don’t, we’ll know that too, and we’ll know why.
7. We’ll get back together again every five years, beginning in 2020, to build on the progress we’ve made
- This is about global progress, global transformation, global change.
- It’s going to play out over many decades.
- And revisiting our progress, assessing where we are and determining how best to move forward, is essential to its success.
- It’s the only way we’ll know how well we’re doing at the game, what kind of halftime adjustments must be made and how we can keep getting better.
- And here’s what we’ll have then that we don’t have now.
- We’ll have five years of action, by countries contributing, in their own way, to a common goal: cut the carbon pollution that’s driving climate change by investing in efficiency, cleaning up dirty power plants, cars and trucks, and getting more power from the wind and sun.
- We’ll have five years of experience, by countries doing their best to find out what works, to find out how to do it even better going forward through innovation, markets and enterprise, then sharing all that with the rest of the world.
- And we’ll have five years of results, real change that helps to move us away from the fossil fuels that are driving climate change and toward the cleaner, smarter energy options that can power our future without imperiling our world.
- That’s what we’ll bring to the table five years from now, when we meet to take stock of where we are and set the course for future change.
8. We’re doing what’s best for our country
- Under President Obama’s leadership, we’re cutting our carbon footprint to fight the climate change that’s threatening our future.
- This agreement ensures the rest of the world does its part.
- There’s a lot the rest of the world can learn from what we’re doing in the U.S., there’s a lot we can learn from others, and there are a lot of American jobs to be created coming and going.
- President Obama has pledged to cut carbon pollution and other U.S. greenhouse gases between 26 and 28 percent by 2025, compared to 2005 levels.
- We’re already down 10 percent, by the way, even as our economy has grown 16 percent since the base year.
- We’re doing it by cleaning up our cars, trucks and dirty power plants.
- By investing in efficiency so we can do more with less waste.
- By building the best all-electric and hybrid cars anywhere in the world.
- And by powering them with more electricity from the wind and sun.
- That’s the way of the future for our country.
- The Paris agreement makes clear, it’s the way of the future for the world.
9. No country has a more comprehensive plan to cut carbon pollution than China, and this agreement both enshrines those efforts and aligns it with the larger global movement.
- China is doing something no other country in history has done: moving hundreds of millions of people from abject poverty to the global middle class in the span of a single generation.
China hails #ParisAgreement fair in splitting duty between developed & developing countries https://t.co/9izLe3JpMg https://t.co/IqHTN3VuOo— China Xinhua News (@China Xinhua News)1450014449.0
- The economic growth that supports that transition, though, has come at a high and unsustainable cost.
- China is the world’s largest producer of carbon emissions, just one of a litany of horrendous pollution problems the people of China face.
- China has pledged to cap its carbon emissions by 2030, and is working to do so sooner if possible, even as it does something no other nation in history has ever done: move hundreds of millions of people from abject poverty to the global middle class in the span of a single generation.
- Cleaning up this carbon pollution is in China’s own interest.
- Every day during the Paris talks, we read news reports about the horrendous air pollution plaguing China’s cities. It was so bad on some days people were advised to stay inside. In Beijing, air pollution was 40 times what the World Health Organization recommends as the maximum safe levels.
- The main problem: 80 percent of China’s power is now coming from coal.
- That has to change, and the country is working hard to change it.
- Over the past five years, 40 percent of all the world’s investment in wind and solar power has been in China, which invested some $90 billion in those renewable power sources last year alone.
- By 2030, China will be producing as much electricity from the wind and the sun as the U.S. currently produces in its entire generating system.
- China is putting a price on carbon, by creating the world’s largest cap and trade system, to launch in 2017.
- In March, China will adopt its 13th five-year plan, a blueprint for the nation’s long-term social and economic development. “Green Development” is one of five overarching principles guiding the plan.
- It’s already affecting everything from the design and construction of new buildings to China’s massive investment in subways, bus systems and rapid rail transit.
- And China has pledged $3.1 billion in climate and clean energy aid to developing nations.
10. India is working to hold down the growth of its carbon footprint while improving lives in a country with a fast-growing population and rapidly expanding economy.
- India is working to hold down the growth of its carbon footprint while improving lives in a country with a fast-growing population and rapidly expanding economy.
- To do that, India has pledged to cut its carbon intensity—the amount of carbon it emits as a share of economic output—by about a third by 2030.
- That’s an ambitious goal that will have real impact.
- By 2030, India’s economy is projected to be up to seven times larger than it is today. Its carbon footprint is expected to grow by less than half that much. That’s going to prevent billions of tons of carbon pollution per year.
- How will India get there? The country has launched the Indian equivalent of an Apollo Mission to install as much wind and solar power over the next seven years as would be generated by 350 coal plants. By 2030, the country plans to get 40 percent of its power without burning fossil fuels - focusing largely on wind and solar power and energy efficiency.
- In addition, India is embarked on a historic effort to reclaim forests and other green spaces by planting billions of trees. By 2030, these trees will absorb between 2.5 billion and 3 billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere every year, going a long way to offset the country’s total carbon footprint.
- India is showing how a country with a growing population and expanding economy can strike a blow against climate change while improving the lives of its people.
11. It is time for Congress to get on board with the progress we need
- The Paris agreement is a public document. Every member of Congress can read it, and we expect every member will weigh in on it. That’s how our democracy works.
- But this is the kind of international agreement presidents make all the time as part of their executive authority and in their Constitutional duty to oversee the conduct of foreign policy and represent the U.S. in its dealings with other countries.
- It’s not a formal treaty and it doesn’t commit us to any new international legal obligations.
- It doesn’t contain legally binding carbon targets.
- Each country has put forth its own voluntary proposals for ambitions carbon reductions.
- That’s good for the U.S..
- We’re going to cut our carbon footprint 26-28 percent by 2025, compared to our 2005 level, because that’s what’s good for our people at home.
- We’re already down 10 percent—even as our economy has grown 16 percent.
- So we’re making real progress.
- We hope the Congress will get on board with policies that help us to build on our success, not try to drag us backward.
12. American leadership, American interests
- The Paris agreement is a tribute to unprecedented effort and cooperation on behalf of every nation represented.
- The global stakes have demanded nothing less.
- The agreement could not have happened, though, without American leadership and, as always, our leadership abroad begins with leadership at home.
- President Obama has done more to help protect future generations from the widening dangers of climate change than any other leader at any time anywhere on the face of the planet.
- At every step of the way, he’s been opposed by Republican leaders in both houses of Congress.
- Even now, the GOP leaders in the House and Senate are doing all they can to block the centerpiece of the president’s fight against climate change, the Clean Power Plan to cut the carbon pollution from our single largest source—the dirty power plants that account for 40 percent of the U.S. carbon footprint.
- Republican leaders in Congress want to block this initiative, with no plan of their own for dealing with the central environmental challenge of our time.
- They won’t get away with it, but there’s a larger problem here.
- The refusal of congressional Republicans to join in the fight against climate change has put the majority party in both houses of Congress at odds with sound science, out of touch with the hardship already being visited upon our nation and all others by climate change and missing in action from the clean energy revolution that is remaking the global economy.
- As of Saturday, they’re at odds with the collective will of the world.
- That’s no way to conduct the people’s business.
- It’s long past time for Republican obstructionism on the climate change fight to end.
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Thousands of Superfund sites exist around the U.S., with toxic substances left open, mismanaged and dumped. Despite the high levels of toxicity at these sites, nearly 21 million people live within a mile of one of them, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Currently, more than 1,300 Superfund sites pose a serious health risk to nearby communities. Based on a new study, residents living close to these sites could also have a shorter life expectancy.
Published in Nature Communications, the study, led by Hanadi S. Rifai, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Houston, and a team of researchers, found that living in nearby zip codes to Superfund sites resulted in a decreased life expectancy of more than two months, the University of Houston reported.
"We have ample evidence that contaminant releases from anthropogenic sources (e.g., petrochemicals or hazardous waste sites) could increase the mortality rate in fence-line communities," Rifai told the University of Houston. "Results showed a significant difference in life expectancy among census tracts with at least one Superfund site and their neighboring tracts with no sites."
The study pulled data from 65,000 census tracts – defined geographical regions – within the contiguous U.S., The Guardian reported. With this data, researchers found that for communities that are socioeconomically challenged, this life expectancy could decrease by up to a year.
"It was a bit surprising and concerning," Rifai told The Guardian. "We weren't sure [when we started] if the fact that you are socioeconomically challenged would make [the Superfund's effects] worse."
The research team, for example, found that the presence of a Superfund site in a census tract with a median income of less than $52,580 could reduce life expectancy by seven months, the University of Houston reported.
Many of these toxic sites were once used as manufacturing sites during the Second World War. Common toxic substances that are released from the sites into the air and surface water include lead, trichlorethylene, chromium, benzene and arsenic – all of which can lead to health impacts, such as neurological damage among children, The Union of Concerned Scientists wrote in a blog.
"The EPA has claimed substantial recent progress in Superfund site cleanups, but, contrary to EPA leadership's grandiose declarations, the backlog of unfunded Superfund cleanups is the largest it has been in the last 15 years," the Union wrote.
Delayed cleanup could become increasingly dangerous as climate change welcomes more natural hazards, like wildfires and flooding. According to a Government Accountability Office report, for example, climate change could threaten at least 60 percent of Superfund sites in the U.S., AP News reported.
During the summer of 2018, a major wildfire took over the Iron Mountain Superfund site near Redding, CA, ruining wastewater treatment infrastructure that is responsible for capturing 168 million gallons of acid mine drainage every month, NBC News reported.
"There was this feeling of 'My God. We ought to have better tracking of wildfires at Superfund locations,'" Stephen Hoffman, a former senior environmental scientist at the EPA, told NBC News. "Before that, there wasn't a lot of thought about climate change and fire. That has changed."
In the study, researchers also looked at the impacts of floodings on Superfund sites, which could send toxins flowing into communities and waterways.
"When you add in flooding, there will be ancillary or secondary impacts that can potentially be exacerbated by a changing future climate," Rifai told the University of Houston. "The long-term effect of the flooding and repetitive exposure has an effect that can transcend generations."
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A weather research station on a bluff overlooking the sea is closing down because of the climate crisis.
The National Weather Service (NWS) station in Chatham, Massachusetts was evacuated March 31 over concerns the entire operation would topple into the ocean.
"We had to say goodbye to the site because of where we are located at the Monomoy Wildlife Refuge, we're adjacent to a bluff that overlooks the ocean," Boston NWS meteorologist Andy Nash told WHDH at the time. "We had to close and cease operations there because that bluff has significantly eroded."
Chatham is located on the elbow of Cape Cod, a land mass extending out into the Atlantic Ocean that has been reshaped and eroded by waves and tides over tens of thousands of years, The Guardian explained. However, sea level rise and extreme weather caused by the climate crisis have sped that change along.
"It's an extremely dynamic environment, which is obviously a problem if you are building permanent infrastructure here," Andrew Ashton, an associate scientist at Cape-Cod based Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, told The Guardian. "We are putting our foot on the accelerator to make the environment even more dynamic."
This was the case with the Chatham weather station. It used to be protected from the drop into the ocean by about 100 feet of land. However, storm action in 2020 alone washed away as much as six feet of land a day.
"We'd know[n] for a long time there was erosion but the pace of it caught everyone by surprise," Nash told The Guardian. "We felt we had maybe another 10 years but then we started losing a foot of a bluff a week and realized we didn't have years, we had just a few months. We were a couple of storms from a very big problem."
The Chatham station was part of a network of 92 NWS stations that monitor temperature, pressure, humidity, wind speed and direction and other data in the upper atmosphere, The Cape Cod Chronicle explained. The stations send up radiosondes attached to weather balloons twice a day to help with weather research and prediction. The Chatham station, which had been observing this ritual for the past half a century, sent up its last balloon the morning of March 31.
"We're going to miss the observations," Nash told The Cape Cod Chronicle. "It gives us a snapshot, a profile of the atmosphere when the balloons go up."
The station was officially decommissioned April 1, and the two buildings on the site will be demolished sometime this month. The NWS is looking for a new location in southeastern New England. In the meantime, forecasters will rely on data from stations in New York and Maine.
Nash said the leavetaking was bittersweet, but inevitable.
"[M]other nature is evicting us," he told The Cape Cod Chronicle.
By Douglas Broom
- If online deliveries continue with fossil-fuel trucks, emissions will increase by a third.
- So cities in the Netherlands will allow only emission-free delivery vehicles after 2025.
- The government is giving delivery firms cash help to buy or lease electric vehicles.
- The bans will save 1 megaton of CO2 every year by 2030.
Cities in the Netherlands want to make their air cleaner by banning fossil fuel delivery vehicles from urban areas from 2025.
"Now that we are spending more time at home, we are noticing the large number of delivery vans and lorries driving through cities," said Netherlands environment minister Stientje van Veldhoven, announcing plans to ban all but zero-emission deliveries in 14 cities.
"The agreements we are setting down will ensure that it will be a matter of course that within a few years, supermarket shelves will be stocked, waste will be collected, and packages will arrive on time, yet without any exhaust fumes and CO2 emissions," she added.
She expects 30 cities to announce zero emission urban logistics by this summer. City councils must give four years' notice before imposing bans as part of government plans for emission-free road traffic by 2050. The city bans aim to save 1 megaton of CO2 each year by 2030.
Help to Change
To encourage transport organizations to go carbon-free, the government is offering grants of more than US$5,900 to help businesses buy or lease electric vehicles. There will be additional measures to help small businesses make the change.
The Netherlands claims it is the first country in the world to give its cities the freedom to implement zero-emission zones. Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht already have "milieuzones" where some types of vehicles are banned.
Tilburg, one of the first wave of cities imposing the Dutch ban, will not allow fossil-fuelled vehicles on streets within its outer ring road and plans to roll out a network of city-wide electric vehicle charging stations before the ban comes into effect in 2025.
"Such initiatives are imperative to improve air quality. The transport of the future must be emission-free, sustainable, and clean," said Tilburg city alderman Oscar Dusschooten.
Europe Takes Action
Research by Renault shows that many other European cities are heading in the same direction as the Netherlands, starting with Low Emission Zones of which Germany's "Umweltzone" were pioneers. More than 100 communes in Italy have introduced "Zonas a traffico limitato."
Madrid's "zona de baja emisión" bans diesel vehicles built before 2006 and petrol vehicles from before 2000 from central areas of the city. Barcelona has similar restrictions and the law will require all towns of more than 50,000 inhabitants to follow suit.
Perhaps the most stringent restrictions apply in London's Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which charges trucks and large vehicles up to US$137 a day to enter the central area if they do not comply with Euro 6 emissions standards. From October, the ULEZ is being expanded.
Cities are responsible for around 75% of CO2 emissions from global final energy use, according to the green thinktank REN21 - and much of these come from transport. Globally, transport accounts for 24% of world CO2 emissions.
The Rise of Online Shopping
Part of the reason for traffic in urban areas is the increase in delivery vehicles, as online shopping continues to grow. Retailer ecommerce sales are expected to pass $5billion in 2022, according to eMarketer.
The World Economic Forum's report The Future of the Last-Mile Ecosystem, published in January 2020, estimates that e-commerce will increase the number of delivery vehicles on the roads of the world's 100 largest cities by 36% by 2030.
If all those vehicles burn fossil fuels, the report says emissions will increase by 32%. But switching to all-electric delivery vehicles would cut emissions by 30% from current levels as well as reducing costs by 25%, the report says.
Other solutions explored in the report include introducing goods trams to handle deliveries alongside their passenger-carrying counterparts and increased use of parcel lockers to reduce the number of doorstep deliveries.
Reposted with permission from the World Economic Forum.
The bill, SB467, would have prohibited fracking and other controversial forms of oil extraction. It would also have banned oil and gas production within 2,500 feet of a home, school, hospital or other residential facility. The bill originally set the fracking ban for 2027, but amended it to 2035, The AP reported.
"Obviously I'm very disappointed," State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), one of the bill's two introducers, told the Los Angeles Times. "California really has not done what it needs to do in terms of addressing the oil problem. We have communities that are suffering right now, and the Legislature has repeatedly failed to act."
The bill was introduced after California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he would sign a fracking ban if it passed the legislature, though his administration has continued to issue permits in the meantime, Forbes reported. Newsom has also spoken in favor of a buffer zone between oil and gas extraction and places where people live and learn, according to the Los Angeles Times. The latter is a major environmental justice issue, as fossil fuel production is more likely to be located near Black and Latinx communities.
Urban lawmakers who want California to lead on the climate crisis supported the bill, while inland lawmakers in oil-rich areas concerned about jobs opposed it. The oil and gas industry and trade unions also opposed the bill.
This opposition meant the bill failed to get the five votes it needed to move beyond the Senate's Natural Resources and Water Committee. Only four senators approved it, while Democrat Sen. Susan Eggman of Stockton joined two Republicans to oppose it, and two other Democrats abstained.
Eggman argued that the bill would have forced California to rely on oil extracted in other states.
"We're still going to use it, but we're going to use it from places that produce it less safely," Eggman told The AP. She also said that she supported the transition away from fossil fuels, but thought the bill jumped the gun. "I don't think we're quite there yet, and this bill assumes that we are," she added.
Historically, California has been a major U.S. oil producer. Its output peaked in 1986 at 1.1 million barrels a day, just below Texas and Alaska, according to Forbes. However, production has declined since then making it the seventh-most oil-producing state.
Still, California's fossil fuel industry is at odds with state attempts to position itself as a climate leader.
"There is a large stain on California's climate record, and that is oil," Wiener said Tuesday, according to The AP.
Wiener and Democrat co-introducer Sen. Monique Limón from Santa Barbara vowed to keep fighting.
"While we saw this effort defeated today, this issue isn't going away," they wrote in a joint statement. "We'll continue to fight for aggressive climate action, against harmful drilling, and for the health of our communities."
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By Brett Wilkins
As world leaders prepare for this November's United Nations Climate Conference in Scotland, a new report from the Cambridge Sustainability Commission reveals that the world's wealthiest 5% were responsible for well over a third of all global emissions growth between 1990 and 2015.
The report, Changing Our Ways: Behavior Change and the Climate Crisis, found that nearly half the growth in absolute global emissions was caused by the world's richest 10%, with the most affluent 5% alone contributing 37%.
"In the year when the UK hosts COP26, and while the government continues to reward some of Britain's biggest polluters through tax credits, the commission report shows why this is precisely the wrong way to meet the UK's climate targets," the report's introduction states.
The authors of the report urge United Kingdom policymakers to focus on this so-called "polluter elite" in an effort to persuade wealthy people to adopt more sustainable behavior, while providing "affordable, available low-carbon alternatives to poorer households."
The report found that the "polluter elite" must make "dramatic" lifestyle changes in order to meet the UK's goal — based on the Paris climate agreement's preferential objective — of limiting global heating to 1.5°C, compared with pre-industrial levels.
In addition to highlighting previous recommendations — including reducing meat consumption, reducing food waste, and switching to electric vehicles and solar power — the report recommends that policymakers take the following steps:
- Implement frequent flyer levies;
- Enact bans on selling and promoting SUVs and other high polluting vehicles;
- Reverse the UK's recent move to cut green grants for homes and electric cars; and
- Build just transitions by supporting electric public transport and community energy schemes.
"We have got to cut over-consumption and the best place to start is over-consumption among the polluting elites who contribute by far more than their share of carbon emissions," Peter Newell, a Sussex University professor and lead author of the report, told the BBC.
"These are people who fly most, drive the biggest cars most, and live in the biggest homes which they can easily afford to heat, so they tend not to worry if they're well insulated or not," said Newell. "They're also the sort of people who could really afford good insulation and solar panels if they wanted to."
Newell said that wealthy people "simply must fly less and drive less. Even if they own an electric SUV, that's still a drain on the energy system and all the emissions created making the vehicle in the first place."
"Rich people who fly a lot may think they can offset their emissions by tree-planting schemes or projects to capture carbon from the air," Newell added. "But these schemes are highly contentious and they're not proven over time."
The report concludes that "we are all on a journey and the final destination is as yet unclear. There are many contradictory road maps about where we might want to get to and how, based on different theories of value and premised on diverse values."
"Promisingly, we have brought about positive change before, and there are at least some positive signs that there is an appetite to do what is necessary to live differently but well on the planet we call home," it states.
The new report follows a September 2020 Oxfam International study that revealed the wealthiest 1% of the world's population is responsible for emitting more than twice as much carbon dioxide as the poorest 50% of humanity combined.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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