Rich Nations Failing to Do 'Fair Share' to Fight Climate Change
Friends of the Earth International warned today that rich countries—those most responsible for climate change—are putting us on course for irreversible and more devastating climate change, instead of taking the urgently needed radical action to reduce their carbon emissions.
Rich countries seek to shirk responsibility as #Bonn #climate talks open. Press Release: http://t.co/LP8he08Ewp http://t.co/M6KrREQ3SA— FoEScot (@FoEScot)1445246107.0
The warning was issued as governments from around the world start a week-long gathering at the UN climate talks in Bonn to negotiate, for the first time, the text of a new global climate treaty to be agreed in Paris in December.
“Emission cut pledges made by rich countries so far are less than half of what we need to avoid runaway climate change," said Susann Scherbarth, climate justice and energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe. "The draft Paris agreement on the negotiating table this week shows that many seem ready to accept irreversible and devastating consequences for people and the planet.
"This draft would even dismantle several key principles of the UN climate convention, such as equity. This is simply unacceptable. Richer countries must do their fair share. The new treaty must protect poorer countries and people, not let richer countries off the hook."
“Politicians are on track to fail us at their summit in Paris," said Dipti Bhatnagar, Friends of the Earth International's climate justice coordinator. "Many politicians, under pressure from transnational corporate polluters profiting from fossil fuels and dirty energy, are promoting coal, fracking and nuclear at the UN and nationally. Instead, they should commit to drastic emission cuts and a transformation of our energy system.”
Hundreds of thousands of people are paying with their lives for our governments’ continued inaction. But the real leaders, the people, are taking action and showing the way with real solutions, such as community controlled renewable energy.
Thousands of people from all over the world, including Friends of the Earth supporters, plan to go to Paris to make their voices heard during the United Nations climate summit and to mobilize further in 2016 and beyond.
“Our governments must stop dirty energy and urgently follow the real leaders—the people, not the polluters. More and more people are supporting the real solutions, resisting fossil fuel extraction and leading us towards climate-safe societies,” said Bhatnagar.
Climate justice organizations, social movements, faith groups, trade unions, environmental and development organizations released a new report today: Fair Shares: A Civil Society Equity Review of INDCs.
The report shows that many developing countries are pledging to do more than their "fair share" to cut emissions while rich countries are dangerously failing to pull their weight.
The report is based on the information governments have submitted to the UN about their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), which outline by how much they pledge to cut their emissions.
The report argues that while "equity" is a core principle in the UN process to find a global deal, countries have so far been allowed to determine their own targets on a purely national basis without reference to the scale of the global effort needed.
In the report, the fair share that each country should have in tackling climate change is measured based on their level of responsibility in causing the crisis as well as their capacity to tackle climate change at this moment in time.
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If weather is your mood, climate is your personality. That's an analogy some scientists use to help explain the difference between two words people often get mixed up.
Size Matters<p>Climates are a bit like woven tapestries. The big picture is important, no question. But so are all the seemingly minor details found inside the larger whole.</p><p><a href="https://research-information.bris.ac.uk/en/persons/tommaso-jucker" target="_blank">Tommaso Jucker</a> is an environmental scientist at the University of Bristol. In an email, Jucker says he'd define the term microclimate as "the suite of climatic conditions (temperature, rainfall, humidity, solar radiation) measured in localized areas, typically near the ground and at spatial scales that are directly relevant to ecological processes."</p><p>We'll talk about that last bit in a minute. But first, there's another criteria to discuss. According to some researchers, a microclimate — by definition — must differ from the larger area that surrounds it.</p><p><a href="https://www.cfc.umt.edu/research/paleoecologylab/publications/Davis_et_al_2019_Ecography.pdf" target="_blank">Forests</a> provide us with some great examples. "The climate near the ground in a tropical rainforest is dramatically different from the climate in the canopy 50 meters [164 feet] above," says University of Montana ecologist <a href="https://www.cfc.umt.edu/personnel/details.php?ID=1110" target="_blank">Solomon Dobrowski</a> in an email. "This vertical gradient among other factors allows for the staggering biodiversity we see in the tropics."</p><p>Likewise, scientists observed that a 2015 partial <a href="https://animals.howstuffworks.com/insects/bees-stopped-buzzing-during-2017-solar-eclipse.htm" target="_blank">solar eclipse</a> caused the air temperature of an Eastern European meadow to <a href="https://rmets.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/wea.2802" target="_blank">change more dramatically</a> than it did in a nearby forest. That's because trees provide not only shade, but their leaves also reflect solar radiation. At the same time, forests tend to reduce wind speeds.</p><p>All those factors add up. A 2019 review of 98 wooded places — spread out across five continents — found that forests are 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) <a href="https://natureecoevocommunity.nature.com/posts/47363-forests-protect-animals-and-plants-against-warming" target="_blank">cooler on average</a> than the areas outside them.</p><p>Now if you hate the cold, don't worry; there's a cozy exception to the rule. According to that same study, forests are usually 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) warmer than the external environment during the wintertime. Pretty cool.</p>
A Bug's Life<p>When does a microclimate stop being, well, micro? In other words, is there a maximum size we should be aware of when discussing them?</p><p>Depends on who you ask. "In terms of horizontal scale, some have defined 'microclimate' as anything that is less than 100 meters [328 feet] in range," Jucker says. "I'm personally less prescriptive about this."</p><p>Instead, he says the "scale at which we want to measure [a particular] microclimate" ought to be "dictated" by the questions we're trying to answer.</p><p>"If I want to know how temperature affects the photosynthesis of a leaf, I should be measuring temperature at centimeter scale," Jucker explains. "If I want to know if and how temperature affects the habitat preference of a large, mobile mammal, it's probably more relevant to capture temperature variation across [tens to hundreds] of meters."</p><p>For instance, solitary plants have the power to generate itty-bitty microclimates. Just ask <a href="https://www.colorado.edu/geography/peter-blanken-0" target="_blank">Peter Blanken</a>, a geography professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder and the co-author of the 2016 book, "<a href="https://amzn.to/2XN6FT8" target="_blank">Microclimate and Local Climate</a>."</p>
The urban heat island effect is a good example of how microclimates work. NOAA
Microclimates on a Grand Scale<p>It's no secret that our planet is going through some rough times at the macro level. The global temperature is <a href="https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/global-temperature/" target="_blank">climbing</a>; nine out of the <a href="https://www.noaa.gov/news/2019-was-2nd-hottest-year-on-record-for-earth-say-noaa-nasa" target="_blank">10 hottest years on record</a> have occurred since 2005. And by one recent estimate, roughly 1 million species around the world are <a href="https://ipbes.net/sites/default/files/2020-02/ipbes_global_assessment_report_summary_for_policymakers_en.pdf" target="_blank">facing extinction</a> due to human activities.</p><p>"One of the big questions that ecologists and environmental scientists are trying to answer right now is how will individual species and whole ecosystems respond to rapid climate change and habitat loss," says Jucker. "...To me, [microclimates are] a key component of this research — if we don't measure and understand climate at the appropriate scale, then predicting how things will change in the future becomes a lot harder."</p><p>Developers have long understood the impact small-scale climates have on our daily lives. <a href="https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/green-science/urban-heat-island.htm#pt0" target="_blank">Urban heat islands</a> are cities that have higher temperatures than neighboring rural areas.</p><p>Plants release vapors that can moderate local climates. But in cities, natural greenery is often scarce. To make matters worse, plenty of our roads and buildings have a bad habit of absorbing or re-emitting heat from the sun. <a href="https://www.google.com/books/edition/Microclimate_and_Local_Climate/LHUZDAAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=urban%20heat%20island" target="_blank">Vehicle emissions</a> don't exactly help the situation.</p><p>Still, it's not like Boston or Beijing are thermal monoliths. Sometimes, the documented temperatures <a href="https://e360.yale.edu/features/can-we-turn-down-the-temperature-on-urban-heat-islands" target="_blank">within a single city</a> vary by 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (8.3 to 11.1 degrees Celsius).</p><p>That's where metro parks and city trees come in. They have nice cooling effects on nearby neighborhoods. "Several cities around the world have developed programs to increase urban green spaces," says Blanken. "Tree planting programs and green roof programs, have been shown to lower surface temperatures, decrease air pollution and decrease surface water runoff (urban flash-flooding) in urban areas."</p>
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