By Rex Weyler
The world's youth have finally seen and heard enough from the deplorable political process, from compromised delegates, corrupted political appointees, and criminal corporations who sabotage these critical international discussions.
The truth of our ecological crisis is not difficult to see. Fragile ecosystems are unraveling all around us. We have been warned by scientists for two centuries: by the 1972 "Limits to Growth" study, William Catton's 1980 book Overshoot, by reliable scientists, and by millions of ecology activists. We were warned by the 2009 Nature article, "Planetary Boundaries" showing that humanity has breached seven critical tipping points; and by the 2012, Nature article, "Approaching a State Shift in Earth's Biosphere," by 22 international scientists warning of an "irreversible" planetary-scale transition, "unknown in human experience."
And yet, politicians and delegates travel around the world, stay in luxury hotels and dither about our children's future, as carbon emissions rise, species blink from existence, rivers run dry and ancient forests burn. It is no wonder, and a welcome sight, that the world's youth have seen enough and are not impressed.
Thirty Years of Pep Talks
On Dec. 12 2018, at the COP 24 UN climate conference in Katowice, Poland, Swedish student Greta Thunberg finally said what the politicized delegates have failed to say. Thunberg is a direct descendant of Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius, who predicted global heating from carbon emissions in 1896.
During this year's heat wave and wildfires in Sweden, Thunberg gained world attention by staging a school strike outside the Swedish Riksdag, holding a sign that read, "Skolstrejk för klimatet" (school strike for climate). She demanded that the Swedish government reduce carbon emissions. Her actions inspired student strikes in over 270 cities around the world.
Greta Thunberg full speech at UN Climate Change COP24 Conference youtu.be
Speaking on behalf of Climate Justice Now, Thunberg chastised the delegates and member nations for failing to take action appropriate to the climate crisis: "Until you start focusing on what needs to be done rather than what is politically possible, there is no hope. We can't solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis. We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground."
Thunberg pointed out that "if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, maybe we should change the system itself," and she spoke directly to the errors and injustice of our economic system. "Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few."
She exposed the errors of convenient but false solutions that have displaced the genuine solutions to climate change and ecological collapse. "You only speak of green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular," she said. "You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake."
"We've had thirty years of pep-talking and selling positive ideas," she said in Stockholm prior to departing for Poland, "And I'm sorry, but it doesn't work. Because if it would have, the emissions would have gone down by now—they haven't."
Meanwhile, outside the conference, 330 organizations from 129 countries presented six "People's Demands for Climate Justice," beginning with "Keep fossil fuels in the ground and end subsidies to fossil fuel industry."
The youth leaders urged nations to "reject false solutions"—techno-fixes and offsetting schemes—in favor of "real solutions that are just, feasible, and essential." They particularly called out corporations and rich nations, who use the excuse of carbon sinks to seize indigenous land.
They called on the rich nations, whose historical carbon emissions have caused the climate crisis, to accept their fair share of climate reparation costs by honoring their Green Climate Fund obligations.
Finally, the coalition demanded that UN conferences end "corporate interference" and sabotage of the climate talks. Extraction corporations "have been getting massively wealthy," said Sriram Madhusoodanan from Corporate Accountability. "They're in these talks, blocking real solutions and advancing false solutions that will continue to propagate their business model."
Why Thunberg Is Correct
Thunberg is correct about years, decades, of pep-talks and positive ideas that have failed to reduce carbon emissions. Scientists have known about the threat of global heating since Thunberg's ancestor, Arrhenius calculated the impact in the nineteenth century. The modern world has been meeting about the crisis for almost forty years, since the first World Climate Conference in Geneva in 1979. Since then, human carbon emissions have doubled from about 5 gigatonnes of carbon per year (GtC/yr) to 2018's record-breaking 10.88 GtC/yr. Meanwhile, CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has grown by 22 percent, from 337 parts per million (ppm) in 1979 to over 412 ppm today. These results represent an enormous failure on the part of world governments.
Laser Projection on the COP24 Venue in Poland
She is also correct about the unfulfilled promise of "green growth," a notion made popular in 2012, at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, by the World Bank and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, both dedicated to industrial growth.
However, recent studies show that "green" or "sustainable" growth are delusions. In 2018, anthropologist Jason Hickel reviewed recent data and wrote in Foreign Policy that "green growth ... is based more on wishful thinking than on evidence." A 2012 study by German resource economist Monika Dittrich and colleagues showed that even under optimum conditions, decoupling economic growth from resource use has not occurred. The United Nations Environment Programme came to similar conclusions in 2016 and 2017 studies. They predicted that by 2050, with continued growth, resource use would double to 180 billion metric tons per year (Gt/y). Ecological footprint data shows that a sustainable level of resource use is about 50 Gt/y, a limit breached in 2000.
Studies have consistently and rigidly linked economic growth to energy. In a 2012 paper, "No way out? The double-bind in seeking global prosperity alongside mitigated climate change," T. J. Garrett, at the University of Utah, performed the calculations and determined that every single dollar (U.S. dollar, 1990) of global economic growth in recent decades required approximately 9.7 milliwatts of energy. "Global CO2 emission rates," wrote Garrett, "cannot be decoupled from wealth through efficiency gains."
Wealthy nations, such as the UK and U.S., have claimed to "decouple" energy use from GDP, but only because they have exported energy-intensive industries and now import finished goods—cars, computers, trinkets—which represent massive embedded energy.
Based on recent data, Thunberg is entirely correct that "green growth" is a delusion.
Pull the Break
Finally, Thunberg is correct that the only paths out of our predicament require that we "change the system itself." Global heating, biodiversity loss, environmental toxins, nutrient cycle disruption and all other ecological challenges arise as symptoms of a single, larger biophysical reality. Humanity is in a state of ecological overshoot. There is no way to grow out of overshoot. All genuine solutions to overshoot require that the species contract, not grow. As Thunberg says, it is time to face these facts, to slow down, and to "pull the emergency brake" on economic growth.
This is the reality that the climate conference delegates are too scared to voice. Our status quo economic system—industrial capitalism—requires growth to survive. Without endless economic growth, the $250 trillion global debt to bankers and investors cannot be paid. As Thunberg says, "Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people .. can live in luxury." The biosphere is being sacrificed so bankers can receive their interest payments, to keep stock prices up and to avoid facing reality.
The current system is biased for the rich to get richer, as multitudes suffer, as the ecosystem collapses, and as other species disappear. Economist Jeremy Grantham concurs in "The Race for our Lives," when he states that "capitalism and mainstream economics simply cannot deal with these problems." Corporate sabotage of the climate talks is not new. In the 1920s and 30s, Standard Oil, General Motors and Firestone Tires acquired and sabotaged public transportation throughout North America for the purpose of replacing efficient public transport with gas-guzzling cars. Today in Nigeria, Ecuador, Canada, in the Arctic, around the world and at these UN conferences, oil companies are still sabotaging the public interest for profits.
It gives us some measure of hope that young leaders appear to be among the few who have the courage and insight to speak the truth. Greta Thunberg closed her short talk by announcing, "We have not come here to beg world leaders to care … We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not."
Her speech stands as one of the most hopeful moments for ecological realism in recent years.
'We Need to Act Now': 15-Year-Old Greta Thunberg Calls for Global Climate Strike https://t.co/Gv5guD43D3— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1544985789.0
Rex Weyler was a director of the original Greenpeace Foundation, the editor of the organization's first newsletter, and a co-founder of Greenpeace International in 1979.
Negotiators from more than 190 countries reached an 11th-hour deal at COP24 in Katowice, Poland Saturday to keep the Paris agreement alive, but scientists and negotiators say it does not go far enough to put climate change on hold, CNN reported Sunday.
However, participants celebrated the fact that they had reached an agreement at all after a tense two weeks of negotiations.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.
First the good news. A new Reuters/Ipsos poll out Thursday found that 57 percent of U.S. adults think climate change is caused by "human activity" or "mostly human activity"—a stance held by 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists. That's up from the 47 percent in 2012.
The bad news? That implies 43 percent of U.S. adults still have doubts about the global phenomenon, similar to President Donald Trump.
The survey of 4,660 American adults was conducted shortly after the U.S. government released a damning climate report last month warning that human-caused global warming could have dire consequences for American lives and livelihoods.
"Earth's climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities," the report compiled by 300 top scientists and 13 federal agencies begins. "The impacts of global climate change are already being felt in the United States and are projected to intensify in the future—but the severity of future impacts will depend largely on actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the changes that will occur."
The reason the climate has changed so rapidly in the past half century is due to increases in heat-trapping greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.
Unacceptable. The Trump administration offered more than 150,000 acres of public lands for fossil-fuel extraction n… https://t.co/ojy4tVSyta— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1544698510.0
The Reuters/Ipsos poll, taken from Nov. 29 to Dec. 10, also comes after a year of record-breaking and climate-fueled wildfires, hurricanes, floods and toxic algal blooms that devastated many parts of the country.
But according to the poll results, only 35 percent of U.S. adults view climate change as an "imminent" threat driven mainly by human activity (up slightly from 32 percent in 2017 and 24 percent in 2015).
Scientists have determined that 2018 is "almost guaranteed" to be the fourth warmest year in the record. The only years hotter? 2016, 2015, 2017, respectively. Meanwhile, 2018 greenhouse gas emissions are on pace to hit a "record high" and 2019 could be another unusually hot year due to a possible El Niño.
El Niños, which have a major effect on global weather patterns, including spikes in temperatures, are not caused by climate change. However, researchers have previously suggested that we could experience extreme El Niños more frequently as our planet continues to warm.
Interestingly, the new poll found that the majority of Americans—69 percent—want the U.S. government to work with other countries to combat global warming. That number included 64 percent of Republicans and 80 percent of Democrats.
The poll comes as representatives from around the world meet at the COP24 talks in Katowice, Poland to hammer out a rulebook to implement the 2015 Paris agreement of limiting global temperature increase.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday that the climate summit, now in its last days, is "our last best chance to stop runaway climate change."
Failure to reach an agreement, he added, "would not only be immoral, it would be suicidal."
LISTEN: UN chief tells climate conference that failure to reach agreement "would not only be immoral, it would be s… https://t.co/We8xp8rd5A— AP Europe (@AP Europe)1544640193.0
By Andrea Germanos
Greta Thunberg, the 15-year-old Swedish activist, on Wednesday called for a global climate strike. The day of action is set for Friday at "your school" or "anywhere you feel called."
Thunberg, who's made headlines for her now-weekly school strikes to urge her home country to take bold climate action, made the call from Katowice, Poland, where she's attending the COP24 climate talks, now in their second week.
Unfortunately, she said in her video announcing the strike, "as of now, there are no signs of commitment to climate action."
"Our emissions are still increasing. At the same time ... the science has clearly told us that we need to act now to keep the planet within 1.5 degrees of warming," she continued. "Whoever you are, wherever you are, we need you now to stand outside your parliament or local government office to let them know that we demand climate action."
Climate leaders don’t just talk. They act. Join us!! Global climate strike 14 December. Spread the word!!… https://t.co/p4hK9Zoo5v— Greta Thunberg (@Greta Thunberg)1544629489.0
Her call has already gotten support from noted author and climate activist Bill McKibben. Praising her "terrific idea," McKibben said that while it's no small ask to urge young people to walk out of their classrooms, "kids who are in school today are going to spend the next 70 or 80 years dealing with an overheated world."
"The most important thing right now," he said, "is to start taking care of that. I am glad that we are seeing leadership from the youngest people."
The nifty @GretaThunberg asked me to make a video supporting her call for a #climatestrike from school on Friday so… https://t.co/9HJ0EnYJwf— Bill McKibben (@Bill McKibben)1544639205.0
As a #ClimateStrike 2018 call-to-action explains:
Heat waves, floods, and hurricanes are killing hundreds and devastating communities across the world. Climate change is already a deadly reality. Governments are meeting for the U.N. climate talks right now in Poland, and despite the latest stark warning from climate scientists that we have only 12 years to reverse course, politicians are ignoring their call. What use is it learning facts if adults ignore them? That's why Greta and her fellow students are walking out of school to teach politicians a lesson in leadership.
Addressing world leaders as the climate conference kicked off, Thunberg said, "We have not come here to beg the world leaders to care for our future. They have ignored us in the past and they will ignore us again. We have come here to let them know that change is coming whether they like it or not. The people will rise to the challenge."
Teen Climate Activist to Crowd of Thousands: 'We Can't Save the World by Playing by the Rules' @youthvgov… https://t.co/hGdQcKFcuJ— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1540474692.0
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
By Wenonah Hauter
The images from the streets of Paris over the past weeks are stark and poignant: thousands of angry protesters, largely representing the struggling French working class, resorting to mass civil unrest to express fear and frustration over a proposed new gas tax. For the moment, the protests have been successful. French President Emmanuel Macron backed off the new tax proposal, at least for six months. The popular uprising won, seemingly at the expense of the global fight against climate change and the future wellbeing of our planet.
Yet this simple analysis is grossly incomplete and fatally flawed. A more thorough and accurate analysis of the latest failure to implement a new carbon emissions tax would be this: Real solutions to our dire climate crisis can't come in the form of regressive taxes that pit working families against the cause of climate stability. We won't avoid deepening climate chaos by pursuing strategies that unduly target the working class.
From here in the States to Europe and elsewhere, various carbon tax plans have been proposed or enacted in recent years as a "viable" solution to climate change. Economists of many stripes are quick to assert that putting a price on carbon emissions—as opposed to regulating them out of existence, for example—is the key to reducing fossil fuel pollution.
Yet little evidence exists of the virtues of taxing carbon from a climate standpoint. Many carbon tax advocates point to a recent plan enacted by British Columbia as evidence of the approach's worth. Yet an analysis of the plan conducted by Food & Water Watch found that greenhouse gas emissions from taxed sources actually increased by more than 4 percent, while non-taxed emissions fell during the same period.
Meanwhile, the inherently regressive nature of consumer-based carbon tax schemes places an undue financial burden on those working families least able to afford it. "Progressive" carbon pricing advocates often point to fine-print details in some models that would apparently mitigate the burden on lower- and working class families by returning revenues to consumers in rebate structures meant to favor those in lower income brackets. Additionally, so-called "revenue neutral" plans claim to put no new financial burden anywhere in the economy—which would call into question what their point is in the first place.
Details aside, three key facts on carbon pricing are unavoidable: First, there is little evidence to indicate that existing plans have resulted in any significant cut in carbon emissions, anywhere. Second, in order to generate significant emissions cuts, the price-per-ton on carbon would need to be so high as to truly dismantle life for great swaths of society, not just the working class. You think the protests in Paris this week were bad? The small costs associated with the new French gas tax wouldn't have made dent in emissions. Imagine if the tax was so immensely large as to actually reduce emissions. Talk about a protest!
And third, ExxonMobil and many of its fellow global fossil fuel pushers support carbon taxes. Why? Because they know that attaching a new public revenue stream on fossil fuels will only serve to condone and entrench the continued existence and expansion of the industry. To Exxon, a carbon tax means polluting, poisoning business-as-usual.
The real path to justly and aggressively moving off fossil fuels is simple: We must move off fossil fuels—justly and aggressively. This means new investment in the ever-expanding realm of clean energy production and transmission, which will create countless well-paying jobs. This means new investment in energy efficiency across all segments of society, which again will create many jobs. And this also means enacting a moratorium on new fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure. So long as we are continuing to drill and frack new wells, and build new interstate pipelines to carry new fossil fuel supplies to overseas markets, we will never truly begin the transition to a clean energy future our planet so desperately requires.
Call this a Green New Deal if you like, but be advised: Any Green New Deal that includes carbon pricing isn't green, isn't new and isn't much of a deal.
The U.S. has thrown its hat in the ring with three other fossil-fuel friendly nations to block the COP24 talks from "welcoming" the landmark Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that warned that we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 45 percent of 2010 levels by 2030 in order to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, BBC News reported.
The report, released in October, was commissioned by a 2015 Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, but now the roughly 200 countries gathered for the 24th conference in Katowice, Poland have failed to formally acknowledge it.
The failure hinged on language. The majority of delegates wanted to "welcome" the report, but the U.S. joined with other oil-producing countries—Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait—Saturday night to insist the report be only "noted," The Guardian reported. Because UN rules insist on consensus, delegates were therefore not able to publish any text relating to the report.
"It's not about one word or another, it is us being in a position to welcome a report we commissioned in the first place," Ruenna Haynes from St. Kitts and Nevis said, BBC News reported. "If there is anything ludicrous about the discussion it's that we can't welcome the report."
UN: Could you write us a report on global warming of 1.5C? IPCC: It will take years of volunteer effort from scient… https://t.co/Yo7m4Z3wuH— Simon Donner (@Simon Donner)1544315491.0
The move tenses the atmosphere for the last five days of talks at COP24, during which ministers, who arrive Monday, will work to establish a rulebook for implementing the Paris agreement to limit global warming to "well below" two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. It also raises concerns that the Trump administration is evolving from simply withdrawing the U.S. from international efforts to fight climate change to actively disrupting those efforts.
"It is troubling. Saudi Arabia has always had bad behavior in climate talks, but it could be overruled when it was alone or just with Kuwait. That it has now been joined by the U.S. and Russia is much more dangerous," Union of Concerned Scientists director of strategy and policy Alden Meyer told The Guardian.
Indeed, Saudi Arabia had fought to limit the conclusions of the IPCC report when it was released in Korea earlier in the fall, but eventually agreed to let it be released as is, BBC News reported.
The scientists who worked hard on the report also expressed dismay at Saturday's failure.
"What is so disturbing in our [report] ... that four governments cannot even 'welcome' its findings?" French climate scientist Val. Masson-Delmotte asked in a Twitter thread. "A 1.5°C and a 2°C worlds are VERY different in terms of mean climate, extremes, sea level rise, and climate-related risks, with the emergence of climate change hotspots challenging basic water, food, economic security and the risk of irreversible loss of wildlife," she continued, hinting at the real-world stakes of ignoring the report.
A 1.5°C and a 2°C worlds are VERY different in terms of mean climate, extremes, sea level rise, and climate-related… https://t.co/xXZX43vlX5— Val. Masson-Delmotte (@Val. Masson-Delmotte)1544353570.0
Former UK climate negotiator Yamide Dagnet of the World Resources Institute expressed hope that the arrival of the ministers Monday would turn the tide and persuade COP24 to acknowledge the report after all.
"We hope that the rest of the world will rally and we get a decisive response to the report," Dagnet said. "I sincerely hope that all countries will fight that we don't leave COP24 having missed a moment of history."
"We are clearly the last generation that can change the course of climate change." #COP24 #climatechange… https://t.co/9qO31AtGa6— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1543862713.0
The Global Carbon Budget 2018 was published in the journal Earth System Science Data Wednesday with the help of more than 70 authors from 53 research institutions, and the news is not good. After a three year lull in the rise of greenhouse gas emissions, emissions in 2018 are projected to shoot up by more than 2 percent, "a new record high," the report highlights from The Global Carbon Project said.
The big paper is out: Global Carbon Budget 2018 just published at @ESSD_journal https://t.co/UOLaAh8lLk More than… https://t.co/eXXB7gGBFp— GlobalCarbonProject (@GlobalCarbonProject)1544034050.0
"The global rise in carbon emissions is worrying, because to deal with climate change they have to turn around and go to zero eventually," lead paper author and University of East Anglia Professor Corinne Le Quéré, told The Guardian. "We are not seeing action in the way we really need to. This needs to change quickly."
Global greenhouse gas emissions stalled from 2014 to 2016, leading to hopes that increased climate action was making a difference. But in 2017, emissions rose 1.6 percent, and the report projects they will rise a further 2.7 percent this year, which would bring global emissions to a record high of 37.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year, The Washington Post reported.
Emissions hikes in 2018 are expected from almost all of the major players: India's will rise 6.3 percent, China's 4.7 percent, and in the U.S. 2.5 percent. Only the EU is expected to see its emissions fall, by 0.7 percent. These four countries contributed the most to 2017's global emissions, with China contributing 27 percent, the U.S. contributing 15 percent, the EU contributing 10 percent and India contributing seven percent.
Check the new country level CO2 emissions data in the Global Carbon Atlas https://t.co/3vjErV0Kuc @FondationBNPP… https://t.co/mwoO9c2Sqn— GlobalCarbonProject (@GlobalCarbonProject)1544078700.0
Overall, the rise in emissions was driven, literally, by an increase in car use, as well as the resurgence of coal as a fuel, The Guardian reported.
Part of the uptick in coal use was due to an economic push in China, Le Quéré told CNN.
"Coal use in China started to increase again last year and this year," Le Quéré said. "It is mostly related to China's economic stimulus in construction, and it probably won't return to the very steady growth that China had in the 2000s."
Renewable energies (particularly solar & wind) are growing exponentially, but the growth has been too low to offset… https://t.co/rh64mNPBLd— Glen Peters (@Glen Peters)1544033206.0
Le Quéré also told CNN it was important that governments invest in electric vehicles as they have in renewable energy in recent years so that the transport sector can move more quickly towards decarbonization.
The research caught the attention of participants at the ongoing COP24 summit in Katowice, Poland. Greta Thunberg, a Swedish youth climate activist who spoke at the conference Wednesday, tweeted the news with a renewed call to action.
"Whatever our world leaders are 'doing' to reduce emissions, they are doing it wrong," she wrote.
”Fossil fuel emissions rose by 1.7% in 2017 and are set to rise 2.7% this year..” Whatever our world leaders are “… https://t.co/n1S2OjDi0Y— Greta Thunberg (@Greta Thunberg)1544034334.0
The report authors said it was possible for emissions to fall again by 2020 if emissions from transportation, agriculture and industry are reduced, The Guardian reported. But if that doesn't happen, emissions will continue to rise until 2030.
"Unless the commitments are revised, the trajectory for the moment is for gentle emissions growth," Le Quéré told CNN. "At the moment the drivers are not for decreasing emissions globally."
French President Emmanuel Macron announced plans Tuesday to suspend an increase in fuel tax in response to growing pressure from protestors. Over the weekend, Macron canceled plans to attend COP24 amidst increasing tension in France.
President Donald Trump on Twitter Tuesday evening conflated Macron's decision with a rejection of the Paris agreement, calling the accord "fatally flawed" while also retweeting a demonstrably false tweet from a right-wing pundit claiming that "radical leftist fuel taxes" are prompting the French to chant "'we want Trump'... through the streets of Paris."
"There's no viable solution to reducing emissions on the scale needed in France without a price on carbon pollution as well as complementary policies, but a process that is not developed in an inclusive manner is destined to fail," said Pierre Cannet, head of climate and energy at WWF-France. "[The] announcement that the French government is freezing carbon tax shows that they put the cart before the horse by not addressing the social measures necessary for a just transition."
As reported by Vox:
While the protests may have started over the fuel tax, they have since morphed into a broader indictment of Macron's handling of the French economy and his perceived elitist disregard for the effects his policies are having on France's working class.
Trump's disregard for the truth and active attempts to create his own reality—and to convince his supporters of that imagined reality—are nothing new.
But the fact that the sitting president of the United States either does not understand or is deliberately misrepresenting the basic dynamics of a massive political crisis roiling one of America's closest allies is deeply disturbing.
My second @EcoWatch piece today looks at the #GiletsJaunes protests in France and why it is important to factor inc… https://t.co/SkZyZOdNig— Olivia Rosane (@Olivia Rosane)1543847780.0
For a deeper dive:
As representatives of around 200 countries kicked off the COP24 meeting in Katowice, Poland this week to develop a rulebook for implementing the Paris agreement, a new study looked at how U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw has affected the landmark climate accord. The verdict? The so-called 'Trump Effect' has significantly slowed the momentum of global climate action.
The study, published Monday by Joseph Curtin of the Institute of International & European Affairs (IIEA), examined the fate of the 2015 agreement to limit global warming to "well below" two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels in the context of Trump's announcement in June 2017 that the U.S. would pull out.
"[T]he 'Trump Effect' has created a powerful countervailing force acting against the momentum [the agreement] hoped to generate," Curtin wrote.
As #COP24 gets underway in #Katowice our latest analysis by #ClimateChange Senior Fellow @jmcurtin argues that the… https://t.co/xakF8PtSGn— IIEA (@IIEA)1543823050.0
Trump's decision has slowed the pace of change in three key ways, Curtin found.
- "U.S. Federal rollbacks have increased the attractiveness of fossil fuel investments globally": The signing of the Paris agreement led investors to flee assets like coal and tar sands out of fear that they would lose money if the world really moved away from fossil fuels. However, Trump's decision to withdraw, as well as his moves to reverse Obama-era climate policy domestically, led those investments to rise again in 2017. In that year, JPMorgan Chase upped its tar sands investments by a factor of four, 36 banks increased their coal investments by six percent after decreasing them 38 percent the year before and investment in renewable energy decreased by seven percent.
- "The US decision to withdraw from the Agreement has created moral and political cover for others to follow suit": While key players like the EU, India and China have remained committed to the agreement, a few countries have slowed or reversed action and used Trump's decision as an excuse. Australia justified dumping legislation designed to help it meet its Paris pledges with Trump's actions and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he would not ratify the agreement "after that step taken by America." Brazil's newly elected right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro tweeted support of Trump's withdrawal decision at the time, and did at one point threaten to withdraw as well. Most recently, he said Brazil would not host a major climate conference next year, BBC News reported.
- "Goodwill at international negotiations has been damaged": Obama had promised $3 billion to a Green Climate Fund created in 2009, a decision Trump reversed, leaving the fund with a $2 billion shortfall, which has increased tensions in the negotiations surrounding it. Further, one of the trickiest points in Paris negotiations is the pledge made by developed countries to help developing countries decarbonize to the tune of $100 billion a year. Developed countries, including the U.S., don't want to report their financial commitments as part of their pledge updates and want more private finance to pick up the tab. The Trump administration's rigid position on this may be influencing other developed countries, working to "sour negotiations," the report found. Finally, the report predicted it was unlikely that other countries would offer more ambitious Paris pledges without a similar move from the U.S.
Curtin ended the report with a sly call to action to U.S. voters who care about climate change.
"[T]he Paris Agreement will resist the Trump Effect in the short-run," he wrote. "But in the medium- and longer-term, it will continue to be assailed by instability and uncertainty, unless these underlying structural factors can be finally addressed; and this is a job that can only be performed by the American electorate. Meanwhile, the window of opportunity for achieving the 2° C temperature target is rapidly closing."
The Trump Effect on Climate News https://t.co/7Y9IKKO2eS @NRDC @ClimateReality @350 @truthout @ClimateNexus— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1518545302.0
New analysis from the Center for Biological Diversity, Farm Forward and Brighter Green Sunday finds that the meat-heavy menu at the United Nations' Framework Convention on Climate Change conference COP24 could contribute more than 4,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases to the climate crisis.
The data found that if all 30,000 visitors choose meat-based dishes at the conference's largest food court during the 12-day conference, they would contribute the equivalent of burning more than 500,000 gallons of gasoline or the greenhouse gas emissions attributed to 3,000 people flying from New York to Katowice.
The groups that compiled the research called on the United Nations to create a framework for host countries to prioritize climate-friendly menus at future climate meetings.
"The meat-laden menu at COP24 is an insult to the work of the conference," said Stephanie Feldstein, director of the Population and Sustainability program at the Center for Biological Diversity. "If the world leaders gathering in Poland hope to address the climate crisis, they need to tackle overconsumption of meat and dairy, starting with what's on their own plates. That means transitioning the food served at international climate conferences to more plant-based options with smaller carbon footprints."
The menu features twice as many meat-based options as plant-based ones. These meat dishes generate average greenhouse gas emissions four times higher than the plant-based meals. The two dairy-free, plant-based options generate one-tenth of the emissions.
In addition to higher greenhouse gas emissions, the meat-based dishes on the menu require nine times more land and nearly twice as much water as the plant-based dishes.
Melissa Amarello / Center for Biological Diversity
"What people eat at a conference may seem like small potatoes when it comes to curbing global emissions," added Farm Forward's Claire Fitch. "But if those at the forefront of global climate negotiations aren't going to 'walk the talk' at the highest-level climate conference, how can we expect the rest of the world to get on board?"
Studies have shown that it will not be possible to meet global climate targets without reducing meat and dairy consumption and production. Yet the need to tackle the overconsumption of animal-based foods has been largely absent from international climate negotiations and commitments. The majority of food-related efforts focus on improving production practices with few or no significant targets for shifting to less climate-intensive diets.
"We know that we cannot meet the Paris Agreement goals, or the 1.5C target, with business as usual," said Caroline Wimberly of Brighter Green, who will be in Katowice for COP24. "Food is not a matter only of personal choice, but an essential factor in solving the climate crisis. Demand-side policies and efforts, including food waste reductions and shifting diets—prioritizing populations with the highest consumption of animal-based foods—are critical in achieving a climate compatible food system and curtailing emissions."
'The World Is at a Crossroads’: Urgent Climate Talks Begin in Poland as Negotiators Meet a Day Early
Negotiators in the climate talks that will decide the future of the Paris agreement began meeting a day early in Katowice, Poland on Sunday as pressure builds to take meaningful global action against climate change, BBC News reported.
The 24th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) is the first major international climate meeting since the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued an urgent report that world leaders have only 12 years to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 45 percent of 2010 levels if they want to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The Paris agreement set a goal of limiting warming to "well below" two degrees Celsius, and talks over the next two weeks will determine how the countries involved will move towards that goal.
"The world is at a crossroads and decisive action in the next two years will be crucial to tackle these urgent threats," the presidents of the last four UN climate talks warned in a first-of-its kind statement Sunday. "The challenges are there, as are the solutions. We require deep transformations of our economies and societies to build a better world for all. This must be powered by multilateral cooperation."
In a move BBC News called "unprecedented," Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, Moroccan politician Salaheddine Mezouar, former French Prime Minister Laurent Fabius and World Wildlife Fund climate and energy leader Manuel Pulgar Vidal of Peru issued the statement calling on decision makers in Katowice to up ambitious climate action by 2020 in order to meet the goals of the Paris agreement.
So far, the biggest commitment has come from the World Bank, which announced Monday it was doubling its investments in climate action to $200 billion for 2021 to 2025. The bank is for the first time earmarking $50 billion of that amount towards projects working to adapt to already occurring climate impacts such as drought and flooding.
"We are clearly the last generation that can change the course of climate change, but we are also the first generation with its consequences," World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva told The Guardian.
BREAKING NEWS⟶ @WorldBank releases a new action plan designed to boost climate adaptation and resilience to climate… https://t.co/rot7jbPtNJ— World Bank Climate (@World Bank Climate)1543799235.0
While negotiators met early to get down to brass tacks, the main festivities kicked off Sunday with the arrival of a team of 40 cyclists who biked from Vienna under the banner of "Moving for Climate NOW" to promote renewable energy.
"I commend the cyclists involved in this bike tour for inspiring the world to move in the right direction to fulfil the promise of the Paris Agreement," UN Climate Change Deputy Executive Secretary Ovais Sarmad said in a press release. "This is the most important COP since the signing of the agreement, and we need initiatives like yours to testify that governments, the private sector and individuals can work together to tackle climate change by committing to multilateralism."
Overcoming borders and below-zero temperatures, the #4ClimateNOW cycling team arrived today at #COP24 in #Katowice,… https://t.co/r04DkwVbYc— UN Climate Change (@UN Climate Change)1543766797.0
Despite the urgent words of participants, however, there is concern from activists that the talks could be undermined by their location, a coal-mining town in a country that generates 80 percent of its energy from the fossil fuel that the IPCC said must be phased out by 2050 to prevent catastrophic warming. Poland has even allowed two coal companies to sponsor the talks.
"Having major coal companies as climate summit sponsors sends the worst possible signal at the worst possible time," Greenpeace's director in Central and Eastern Europe Robert Cyglicki told The Guardian. "It would be like Philip Morris sponsoring a health summit where a cigarette ban is supposed to be agreed. We will know this was a successful summit if coal companies regret sponsoring it."
At the global #ClimateChange convention our host, Poland, greets us with a shrine of ACTUAL coal 🔥💨🇵🇱 This year th… https://t.co/z7SCa4BRgL— James Ellsmoor 🏝 (@James Ellsmoor 🏝)1543820520.0
Another concern is the role that the U.S. delegates will play. While President Donald Trump has vowed to withdraw from the Paris agreement, he cannot actually do so until 2020, so the U.S. must still participate in talks. U.S. participants have not interfered with the process itself, BBC News reported. But at the last COP event, the White House was criticized for organizing a side event promoting fossil fuels, and reports indicate they will do so again at the Katowice talks.
Alfredo Francisco Nunes Ribeiro / EyeEm / Getty Images
"Our food systems are failing us." That's the conclusion drawn by a peer-reviewed report that's the result of three years of work by 130 science and medical academies, in the words of Prof. Joachim von Braun, co-chair of the project behind the major new study.
The report was released by the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) Wednesday in hopes of outlining both the scale of the problems facing global food production and some possible solutions ahead of the 24th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) in Katowice, Poland next week.
"Next week at COP24, we need to see leaders take action on climate change and go beyond political statements. It is not only the environment that is at stake, but health, nutrition, trade, jobs and the economy. Agriculture and consumer choices are major factors driving disastrous climate change. We need a robust and ambitious policy response to address the climate impacts of agriculture and consumer choices – and scientists have a major role to play. Our new report is a wake-up call to leaders," Braun, who is the co-chair of the IAP project on Food and Nutrition Security and Agriculture, President of the Pontifical Academy of Science, and Director of the Center for Development Research (ZEF) at the University of Bonn, said in an IAP press release.
The report lays out two major problems with the world's food system, according to The Guardian.
`1. Climate Change: The food system is responsible for one-third of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined emissions of heating, air conditioning, transport and lighting. At the same time, food production is increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, such as flooding and drought.
2. Health: While the global food system drains resources, it also isn't doing its job of making sure everyone has enough nutritious food to eat. The number of chronically malnourished people rose to 815 million in 2016, according to the most recent UN Food and Agriculture Organization data. On the other extreme, more than 600 million people are considered obese, while two billion are overweight. A third of all people don't get enough vitamins with their diet.
"This is no time for business as usual. In addition to climate change, our current food systems are negatively impacting people's health around the globe. High-calorie diets have become cheaper, and this has serious implications for public health, obesity, and malnutrition," IAP President Prof. Volker ter Meulen said in the press release.
The report also issued recommendations for making the global food system work.
1. Lower Emissions: The IAP recommended working to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions caused by agriculture, while also acknowledging that reducing emissions alone would not be enough to fix the problem.
2. Incentivize New Diets: The report suggested policy makers study how they could use incentives to convince consumers to pick healthier, more environmentally friendly foods.
3. Innovate: The report urged innovation when it comes to reducing meat consumption in wealthier regions, such as developing alternatives like "meat–mushroom mixes, lab-grown meat, algae and appealing insect-based foods."
4. Interdisciplinary Research: The report encouraged natural and social scientists to collaborate more to develop both food systems and social policies that would be healthier for humans and the planet.
5. International Advisory Panel: The report called for the establishment of a global panel of experts on food, nutrition and agriculture issues.