But key players haven't exactly come to terms with that. In 2015 to 2016, $380 billion dollars were spent reducing carbon dioxide emissions and only $20 billion on increasing protections from extreme weather events, The Guardian reported.
Now, three very influential people are teaming up to change that. Bill Gates, former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva launched the Global Commission on Adaptation Tuesday in an effort to jump start the development and implementation of effective climate adaptations on the global level.
"We are at a moment of high risk and great promise. We need policies to help vulnerable populations adapt and we need to ensure that governments and other stakeholders are supporting innovation and helping deliver those breakthroughs to the people and places that need them most," Gates said in the press release announcing the launch.
However, the existence of the commission doesn't mean its leaders have given up on preventing additional climate change, but rather that they have accepted that it is already occurring on a wide scale.
"If everyone does their part, we can reduce carbon emissions, increase access to affordable energy and help farmers everywhere grow more productive crops," Gates said.
Georgieva said in a briefing reported by National Geographic that the commission should not be interpreted as a surrender to the dangerous climate change predicted by the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report if world leaders don't rapidly reduce emissions.
"For quite a while there has been that sense that if we adapt, that means we are accepting defeat against climate change," she said. "It is not defeat, it is reality."
The commission has 28 commissioners including its big-name leaders and represents 17 countries, among them big emitters like the UK, Canada, China and India and particularly vulnerable countries like Bangladesh and the Marshall Islands.
During the first year, the commission will prepare a report on the necessity and possibilities of climate adaptations, to be presented at the 2019 UN Secretary General Climate Summit.
National Geographic pointed out some existing climate adaptations of the type the commission might research and promote. Farmers in flood-vulnerable Bangladesh, for example, are switching from raising chickens to raising ducks, which can swim. Scientists in the Philippines are replanting the mangroves, half wiped out by development, that act as a natural flood barrier.
In total the cost of adaptations could be $300 billion by 2030 and $500 billion by 2050, Ban told The Guardian. While that might sound steep, Ban thought it was possible.
"The money can be mobilized," he said. "If there is political will, I think we can handle this matter."
The commission outlined four "roadblocks" to widespread climate adaptation that it would work to resolve:
1. Decision makers and the wider public are not yet aware of all the opportunities to be gained from becoming more resilient and less vulnerable to climate impacts and natural hazards;
2. Governments and businesses fail to incorporate climate change risks into their social and economic development plans and investments;
3. Adaptation efforts fall short of those who need them most, the world's poorest and most vulnerable people; and
4. Although adaptation is a global challenge, global leadership on the issue is scarce. In short, the world is falling short of the transformation required to adapt to a changing climate.
"We were very much united until December 2015 in Paris," Ban told the Guardian. "Now unfortunately the level of solidarity is being loosened, especially by the Trump administration. Even though it is just one country, it has caused big political damage."
While the U.S. federal government is not involved with the commission, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez is a member.
World's Richest Launch $1 Billion Fund to Fight Climate Change, Invest in Clean Tech https://t.co/0BgcxJqFpg @greenpeaceaustp— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1481625310.0
Banksy, who infamously shredded his "Girl With Balloon" painting at an auction on Friday, has inspired people to whip up their own versions of the artwork.
The images are centered around a timely and poignant theme: climate change.
On Sunday, the United Nations' scientific panel issued a dire report that the world is barreling towards catastrophic global warming if we do not slash carbon emissions.
We must limit warming below 1.5°C, or the planet will experience increasing wildfires, extreme drought, greater sea level rise and devastating flooding, the climate experts warned.
Since everyone is surfing on this #banksy wave, thought we'd also make one about #climatechange #globalwarming https://t.co/GFgZ521NLW— saman musacchio (@saman musacchio)1539171684.0
The long-awaited study, issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is a urgent call on governments to move towards greener policies and sustainable technologies.
Corporations and the future of our planet ... #Banksy #Banksyauction #banksysothebys #GlobalWarming #climatechange… https://t.co/AgNsXCQVl5— stephff cartoonist (@stephff cartoonist)1539084928.0
Meanwhile, some politicians dismissed the landmark report, which was authored by 91 researchers from 40 countries and cited more than 6,000 scientific resources.
Australia's deputy prime minister Michael McCormack said the nation will "absolutely" continue to use and exploit its coal reserves regardless of what the IPCC report says.
President Donald Trump, who intends to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement, was skeptical of the report.
"It was given to me. And I want to look at who drew it. You know, which group drew it. I can give you reports that are fabulous and I can give you reports that aren't so good," Trump told reporters on Tuesday from the South Lawn at the White House.
OK. I don't know who to credit for this, but it's brilliant. #climate #climatechange #IPCCReport #IPCC (If someone… https://t.co/AFHsmC2yfJ— Peter Gleick (@Peter Gleick)1539034905.0
Banksy himself has created climate-related art. In 2009, the famous street artist spray-painted the words "I DON'T BELIEVE IN GLOBAL WARMING" on a wall beside a canal in London.
His message came after the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen that was widely considered a failure for not producing a binding agreement to tackle climate change, the Guardian reported then.
Duncan Hull / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
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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.
"It was given to me. And I want to look at who drew it. You know, which group drew it. I can give you reports that are fabulous and I can give you reports that aren't so good," Trump told reporters on Tuesday from the South Lawn at the White House.
Those were the president's first remarks on the dire climate report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The long-awaited study, released on Sunday, was authored by 91 researchers from 40 countries and cited more than 6,000 scientific resources.
"I will be looking at it, absolutely," Trump added.
REPORTER: Have you read the alarming UN report about imminent, drastic climate change? TRUMP: "It was given to me,… https://t.co/s7xnSqB6q0— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar)1539123956.0
The IPCC report urged rapid social and technological change to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. To keep warming under 1.5°C, countries must cut global carbon emissions 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030 and must reach net zero by 2050, the authors warned. Not doing so could risk wildfires, heatwaves, extreme drought, floods and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.
The U.S. is the second-largest producer of carbon dioxide, which mostly comes from burning fossil fuels for energy.
Trump—who thinks climate science is a hoax and has stacked his administration with former fossil fuel lobbyists—infamously decided to withdraw the U.S. from the global Paris agreement to limit temperature rise. His administration has consistently rolled back environmental and public health regulations to push for coal and other polluting fuels.
On Tuesday, Trump launched an effort to increase the use of ethanol in gasoline. The move disregards the Clean Air Act, as it could increase ozone pollution and cause more smog in our communities, environmental groups said.
"Donald Trump is once again ignoring Americans' health and safety. Despite claims, corn ethanol is not a safe and environmentally-friendly fuel source—it is hugely detrimental to the environment and public health," said Andrew Linhardt, Sierra Club's Associate Director for Legislative and Administrative Advocacy, in a press release. "Instead of doubling down on ethanol, Trump and the EPA should focus their efforts on real solutions like investing in electric vehicles and zero emission buses."
Australia to 'Absolutely' Exploit and Use Coal Despite #IPCC Warning https://t.co/kl8Dfqf1M0— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1539172941.0
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In a recent interview with SkyNews, deputy prime minister Michael McCormack said Australia will "absolutely" continue to use and exploit its coal reserves regardless of what the IPCC report says.
Scientists: We have 12 years to avoid #climatechange catastrophe, but we CAN create a safe #climate future if we ph… https://t.co/0AMkY1VAC0— 350Australia (@350Australia)1539042962.0
Australia is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, with relentless drought, deadly wildfires and devastating bleaching at the iconic Great Barrier Reef. At the same time, Australia is one of the world's largest coal exporters, accounting for 37 percent of global exports.
In the major United Nations report on Sunday, the world's top climate scientists said that limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C will stop catastrophic global warming and help prevent Australia's imperiled coral reefs from destruction.
However, McCormack insisted to SkyNews that the government will not change its policies "just because somebody might suggest that some sort of report is the way we need to follow and everything that we should do."
Coal mining, McCormack said, is very important to Australia because it provides 60 percent of the country's electricity, 50,000 workers and is its largest export.
He added that he has not "seen anything that's going to replace coal in the near future" and maintained that coal will be an important part of the energy mix for more than 10 years.
Environment minister Melissa Price, who used to work for the mining industry, further advocated for coal and suggested the 91 scientists behind the IPCC report were wrong in their findings.
"I just don't know how you could say by 2050 that you're not going to have technology that's going to enable good, clean technology when it comes to coal," she told ABC's AM program. "That would be irresponsible of us to be able to commit to that."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison maintains that Australia will meet its Paris agreement targets to reduce carbon emissions by 28 percent from 2005 levels, even though the IPCC report advised it would need to be closer to 45 percent, according to ABC.
#Australian Prime Minister Ousted Over #Climate Policy @greenpeaceap @scottmorrisonmp https://t.co/DRgyEIrq54— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1535461394.0
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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its highly anticipated report Sunday on what needs to be done to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The answer: social and technological change on a scale for which "there is no documented historic precedent," The Washington Post reported.
The IPCC, a UN body formed to give policy makers accurate scientific information about climate change, was asked to prepare the report as part of the Paris agreement. The final draft included the work of 91 researchers from 40 countries and cited more than 6,000 scientific resources, the Huffington Post reported. It was released following a summit in Incheon, South Korea.
The report offers a narrow window for rapid climate action: By 2030, emissions would have to fall to 45 percent below 2010 levels. By 2050, all or nearly all coal burning must stop.
"It's like a deafening, piercing smoke alarm going off in the kitchen. We have to put out the fire," UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim told The Washington Post.
While the report laid out the difficulties of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees, it also reinforced the importance of doing so. Allowing the planet to warm a full 2 degrees, the upper limit set up by the Paris agreement, could have devastating consequences.
Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees instead of 2 would:
- Prevent 10 additional centimeters (approximately 4 inches) of sea level rise.
- Lower the chance of ice-free Arctic summers from once-per-decade to once-per-century.
- Prevent permafrost thaw in an Alaska-size chunk of the Arctic.
- Limit the die-off of tropical coral reefs to 70 to 90 percent instead of 99 percent.
- Save hundreds of millions of people from climate risk and poverty by 2050.
"1.5 degrees is the new 2 degrees," Greenpeace International Executive Director Jennifer Morgan told The Washington Post.
Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees would also require technological innovation. The percentage of electricity the world gets from renewable energy would have to increase from the current 24 percent to 50 to 60 percent within the next decade. Transportation would have to rapidly increase its transition to electric vehicles and fossil fuel plants would need to be equipped with carbon capture and storage technology to prevent greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere and then store them in the ground.
The report also calls for converting land from agriculture to forests for carbon storage, and an untested technology called bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, or BECCS, which works by growing crops for energy, then capturing the carbon and storing it underground.
Experts agree that ambitious negative emissions strategies require international cooperation on a massive scale.
"Even if it is technically possible, without aligning the technical, political and social aspects of feasibility, it is not going to happen," Center for International Climate Research in Oslo Research Director Glen Peters told The Washington Post. "To limit warming below 1.5 C, or 2 C for that matter, requires all countries and all sectors to act."
But that kind of cooperation has been made more difficult by the decision of U.S. President Donald Trump to withdraw the high-emitting country from the Paris agreement.
"Today the world's leading scientific experts collectively reinforced what mother nature has made clear—that we need to undergo an urgent and rapid transformation to a global clean energy economy," former U.S. Vice President and climate action advocate Al Gore told CNN. "Unfortunately, the Trump administration has become a rogue outlier in its shortsighted attempt to prop up the dirty fossil fuel industries of the past. The administration is in direct conflict with American businesses, states, cities and citizens leading the transformation."
'We Are Climbing Rapidly Out of Humankind's Safe Zone': New Report Warns Dire #Climate #Warnings Not Dire Enough… https://t.co/o14qP3kOEP— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1534929371.0
"Avoiding forest carbon emissions is just as urgent as halting fossil fuel use." That's the message contained in a statement written by 40 scientists from five different countries urging the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to consider preserving and regrowing forests as an important part of limiting global warming to 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels, The Guardian reported.
The IPCC is expected to release a report Monday on how the 1.5 goal can be achieved by emphasizing technologies designed to suck carbon out of the atmosphere, BBC News reported. One of those technologies, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (Beccs), involves growing carbon-sucking plants, burning them for energy and burying the resulting carbon underground. But the statement's signatories worry that such a strategy is unproven and would require land that is better preserved as forest.
"It breaks my heart to think we'd lose half our tropical forests for plantations just to save ourselves," statement signatory Deborah Lawrence of the University of Virginia told The Guardian. "It's horrifying that we'd lose our biodiversity to avert climate change. Losing tropical forests is not somehow cheaper than putting up wind farms in the U.S. or Sahara."
Instead, the letter writers emphasized the carbon capture role forests already play. "While high-tech carbon dioxide removal solutions are under development, the 'natural technology' of forests is currently the only proven means of removing and storing atmospheric CO2 at a scale that can meaningfully contribute to achieving carbon balance," they wrote.
The letter went on to highlight five "overlooked" reasons why preserving and regrowing forests is an important part of fighting climate change:
- The world's forests contain more carbon than existing oil, natural gas and coal deposits combined.
- Forests remove one quarter of the carbon dioxide humans release into the atmosphere.
- Reforestation and improved forest management could reduce greenhouse gas emissions 18 percent by 2030.
- Solutions like Beccs are untested, and it is better to preserve land for natural carbon sinks like tropical forests or peatlands.
- Tropical rainforests cool the climate and create rainfall for agriculture.
"In responding to the IPCC report, our message as scientists is simple: Our planet's future climate is inextricably tied to the future of its forests," the letter concluded.
Lawrence told The Guardian that deforestation has been stalled in the Amazon but has continued in other tropical regions.
"We will have a hotter, drier world without these forests," Lawrence said. "There needs to be an international price on carbon to fund the protection of forests. And countries with tropical forests should maintain large chunks of forests to stabilize rainfall for agriculture and keep a predictable regional climate."
One million trees have been pledged to the “Trump Forest” to offset the president’s anti-climate agenda. https://t.co/eRMwWKrRtP— EDF (@EDF)1519691126.0
The United Nations' 48th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) opened its crucial meeting in Incheon, South Korea on Monday to deliver the authoritative, scientific guide for governments to stave off disastrous climate change.
"This is one of the most important meetings in the IPCC's history," chair Hoesung Lee of South Korea said in his opening remarks.
South Korea is a fitting host country for the session after experiencing its hottest summer on record, highest ever number of daytime heatwaves and tropical nights and new maximum temperature record of above 40°C (104°C) in 2018, the World Meteorological Organization noted.
“This is one of the most important meetings in the IPCC’s history”. https://t.co/a1e6EKt5uA #IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee… https://t.co/HY79VZPTqP— UN Climate Change (@UN Climate Change)1538375818.0
The landmark Paris agreement set a warming limit of "well below 2°C" over pre-Industrial Revolution levels with an aspirational 1.5°C target to avoid dangerous climate effects such as sea level rise, extreme weather and droughts.
After adopting the Paris accord in 2015, governments commissioned the IPCC to prepare a Special Report, or SR15, on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Earlier drafts of the report warn that human-induced warming will exceed 1.5°C by around 2040 if emissions continue at their present rate. Additionally, only "rapid and far-reaching" changes in the world economy can keep global warming below the internationally agreed target barrier, the draft said.
At this week's meeting, IPCC scientists and government delegates will work together to distill the special report into a 15-page Summary for Policymakers, due for publication on Oct. 8, according to BBC News.
The diplomats might find themselves in the "awkward position of vetting and validating a major UN scientific report that underscores the failure of their governments to take stronger action on climate," Agence France Presse wrote.
Notably, this is the first IPCC report to be released since President Donald Trump's announcement to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris agreement last year. The U.S. is one of the world's largest single emitters of greenhouse gases.
"This is the first report coming up for approval since the Trump administration took office," Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University, and an IPCC author on a another report-in-progress, told AFP.
It's not clear how the U.S. government will respond to the report. However, a State Department spokesperson told AFP that veteran climate diplomat Trigg Talley will head the U.S. delegation, which another veteran IPCC author called "reassuring."
"Never in the history of the IPCC has there been a report that is so politically charged," Henri Waisman, a senior researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, and one of the report's 86 authors, added to AFP.
Last week, The Washington Post revealed that the Trump administration not only acknowledges the existence of climate change, but also predicts that Earth will inevitably warm by as much as 7°F (4°C) by 2100.
As EcoWatch wrote, the 7°F estimate is based on what scientists predict will happen if no meaningful action is taken to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. In such a world, ocean acidification would devastate coral reefs, parts of Miami and New York City would be underwater and large parts of the world would regularly suffer from extreme heat waves.
Greenpeace International said the IPCC's special report must finally spark governments into action to avoid climate catastrophe.
"We are on the edge and the climate impacts that scientists warned us about decades ago are here. This is our new reality," the organization's executive director Jennifer Morgan said in a press release. "This IPCC report will make clear the choices and the trade-offs. For decision makers around the world, it is now their responsibility to listen and step up with real climate leadership."
New research claims that just 100 fossil fuel producers are to blame for 71 percent of industrial greenhouse gases since 1988, the year human-induced climate change was officially recognized through the establishment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Despite the landmark establishment, the oil, coal and gas industry has expanded significantly and has become even more carbon-intensive since 1988, according the 2017 Carbon Majors report from the environmental not-for-profit CDP.
"By 1988, fossil fuel companies knew, or should have known, of the destabilizing effects of their products on the environment," the report states. "Nonetheless, most companies have expanded extraction activities significantly in the time since, while non-carbon primary energy sources, such as renewables, have seen relatively very little investment."
Notably, in the 28 years between 1988 to 2015, just 25 fossil fuel producers are linked to 51 percent of global industrial emissions.
The highest-emitting companies since 1988 include state-owned entities such as the Chinese coal industry, Saudi Aramco, Russia's Gazprom, National Iranian Oil, Coal India and Mexico's Pemex. Public investor-owned companies such as ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Chevron, Peabody, Total and BHP Billiton are also major contributors.
The analysis found that fossil fuel producers contributed 833 gigatonnes of equivalent carbon dioxide (GtCO2e) in the last 28 years, compared to 820 GtCO2e in the 237 years between the birth of the Industrial Revolution in 1751 and 1988, when the IPCC was established.
If the trend in fossil fuel extraction continues over the next 28 years as it has over the previous 28, then global average temperatures would be on course to rise around 4ºC above preindustrial levels by the end of the century.
"This would entail substantial species extinction, large risks of regional and global food scarcity, and could cross multiple tipping points in the earth's climate system, leading to even more severe consequences," the report warns.
The CDP's analysis is important because it focuses on the greenhouse gas emissions of investor- and state-owned companies rather than on individual countries.
"This ground-breaking report pinpoints how a relatively small set of just 100 fossil fuel producers may hold the key to systemic change on carbon emissions," Pedro Faria, the technical director at CDP, said.
"Our purpose is not to name and shame firms, our purpose is to provide transparency and call attention to the quite extraordinary fact that just 100 companies played a crucial role in the problem," Faria added to the Telegraph.
"Not only is it morally risky, it's economically risky," he explained. "The world is moving away from fossil fuels towards clean energy and is doing so at an accelerated pace. Those left holding investments in fossil fuel companies will find their investments becoming more and more risky over time."
Here are the top 10 greenhouse gas emitters since 1988 followed by the percentage of global industrial greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Carbon Majors report:
1. China (Coal), 14.3%
2. Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Aramco), 4.5%
3. Gazprom OAO, 3.9%
4. National Iranian Oil Co, 2.3%
5. ExxonMobil Corp, 2.0%
6. Coal India, 1.9%
7. Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), 1.9%
8. Russia (Coal), 1.9%
9. Royal Dutch Shell PLC, 1.7%
10. China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), 1.6%
The latest authoritative document, produced by 1,250 international scientists and approved by nearly 200 governments, argued that climate change can be avoided if we move fast to decarbonise the global economy, without having to sacrifice living standards energy.
“It does not cost the world to save the planet,” said economist Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, the co-chair of the report.
And the sooner we act the cheaper and better it will be. The report concluded that averting a two degree Celsius increase in temperature would only limit growth by the relatively tiny amount of 0.06 percent. But we have to act now if fighting climate change is to remain affordable. “The report is clear: the more you wait, the more it will cost [and] the more difficult it will become,” argued EU Climate Change Commissioner, Connie Hedegaard.
A business-as-usual scenario would lead to a catastrophic temperature rise of 3.7 Celsius to 4.8 Celsius rise in temperature before 2100. A temperature rise of that nature would wreak havoc on the climate and would vehemently alter life as we know it, causing significant sea level rise and extreme weather.
But it is this business-as-usual scenario that Exxon is betting on. Big time.
Two weeks ago, on the same day as the IPCC’s second report on climate change, Exxon published a deeply cynical rebuke in a report to investors. The oil company argued that, because it was “highly unlikely” that governments would address climate change, it was going to carry on drilling for oil and gas regardless.
ExxonMobil’s carbon asset risk report, which was published in response to investor demand, was a brazen, arrogant and deeply flawed vision of the future.
The oil company argued that “we are confident that none of our hydrocarbon reserves are now or will become ‘stranded’.”
This statement blindly flies in the face of the indisputable scientific evidence that a vast majority of fossil fuels will need to stay in the ground, if dangerous, runaway climate change will be avoided.
For the past decade a growing number of institutional investors, scientists and activists have argued that we cannot afford to burn all the fossil fuel reserves, if we want to keep climate change to below two degrees warming.
The respected specialists in this area, Carbon Tracker issued a report last year which concluded that at least two-thirds of fossil fuel reserves would have to remain underground if the world was to meet existing internationally agreed targets to avoid the threshold for “dangerous” climate change.
Exxon’s statement is a two-fingered response to this analysis and the latest IPCC report. Natasha Lamb, director of equity research at Arjuna Capital, a sustainable wealth management group responded by saying that “now investors know that Exxon is not addressing the low carbon scenario and (is) placing investor capital at risk.”
At the time, Executive Director Steve Kretzmann said: “Of course they don’t believe governments are going to address climate change adequately—they are in fact betting billions on the failure of climate and clean energy policy. And they’re shoring up their bet by buying politicians and spending millions to sow doubt and promote inaction.”
As Steve pointed out, what Exxon is doing is the next part of its long running campaign to delay action on climate change. For decades the oil giant has led the denial campaign against climate change, spending tens of millions in doing so.
So we have cobbled together a quick snapshot of the company’s 25 year “Drop Dead” denial campaign, where the oil company has deliberately obfuscated the debate, exaggerating the scientific uncertainties. Although the company is no longer ignoring or denying climate science, its denial campaign has entered into a new phase.
As Steve Kretzmann said last week: “Now it is denying that the American people and people around the world have the will and the power to change our futures and save our children.”
But this latest excuse for inaction is just part of Exxon’s twenty five years of saying to the world: “Drop Dead”
Late 1980's: Exxon hires a Harvard astrophysicist named Brian Flannery to examine the mathematical models behind global warming. In the late eighties, Flannery and Exxon give grants to several prestigious American universities, starting with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Flannery was blunt with his message for MIT researchers: “Embrace the uncertainty in all of this,” he told them.
1990: As the IPCC prepares their first summary document on climate change, Flannery asks the meeting how could the scientists justify 60-80 percent cuts in carbon dioxide, given all the uncertainties?
1992: Exxon is a prominent member of the Global Climate Coalition (GCC), the most active fossil fuel front group questioning the science of climate change. In 1992 the GCC begins using well-known climate skeptics like Patrick Michaels, Robert Balling and Fred Singer (all partly funded by Exxon) as “experts.”
April 1992: Flannery is quoted by the World Coal Institute in a briefing for climate negotiators: “because model-based projections are controversial, uncertain and without confirmation, scientists are divided in their opinion about the likelihood and consequences of climate change.”
October 1997: Lee Raymond devotes 33 paragraphs of a 78 paragraph speech at the 15th World Petroleum Congress in Beijing, arguing that climate change was an “illusion” and that there was no need for cuts in CO2.
He said: “Only four percent of the carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere is due to human activities—96 per cent comes from nature. Leaping to radically cut this tiny silver of the greenhouse pie on the premise that it will affect climate defies common sense and lacks foundation in our current understanding of the climate system … It is highly unlikely that the temperature in the middle of the next century will be affected whether policies are enacted now or 20 years from now.”
He also warns delegates that “it would be tragic indeed if the people of this region were deprived of the opportunity for continued prosperity by misguided restrictions and regulations.”
One Exxon executive, who had access to Raymond, concedes: “They had come to the conclusion that the whole debate around global warming was kind of a hoax. Nobody inside Exxon dared question that.”
June 1997: ExxonMobil takes out an advert in the U.S. press advocating that “Instead of rigid targets and timetables, governments should consider alternatives … encourage voluntary initiatives.”
1997: Lee Raymond makes a speech: “In the debate over global climate change, one of the most critical facts has become one of the most ignored—the undeniable link between economic vitality and energy use.”
“Achieving economic growth remains one of the world’s critical needs, and with good reason. It creates more and better jobs, improves our quality of life and enables us to safeguard the environment. When economies grow, their energy consumption rises. It’s no accident that nations with the highest standard of living have the highest per-capita use of energy, about 85 percent of which comes from fossil fuels.”
1998: Exxon sets up the “Global Climate Science Team.” A memo written that year for GSCT said: “victory will be achieved when average citizens understand (recognize) uncertainties in climate science” and when public “recognition of uncertainty becomes part of ‘convention wisdom’”.
The memo proposes that Exxon and its PR firms “develop and implement a national media relations program to inform the media about the uncertainties in climate science.”
Between 1998 and 2005, Exxon donates $16 million to numerous right-wing and libertarian think tanks to manufacture uncertainty about climate change.
May 31, 2000: Lee Raymond backs a petition signed by anti-IPCC scientists saying that “There is no convincing scientific that any release of carbon dioxide, methane or other greenhouse gases is causing or will in the foreseeable future cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.”
Raymond said: “What I am saying is there is a substantial difference of view in the scientific community as to what exactly is going on … We’re not going to follow what is politically correct”.
He also shows shareholders a chart of temperature data from satellites and stated that “if you just eyeball that, you could make a case statistically that, in fact, the temperature is going down.”
Exxon’s position remains “science is not now able to confirm that fossil fuel use has led to any significant global warming.”
2000: Brian Flannery said: “ExxonMobil is firmly against the Kyoto Protocol … it achieves very little and costs too much.” He also claimed that emissions reductions were unfeasible: “You are going to need to expand the supply to meet the pressing future needs for energy, for things like the modern internet, the ‘e’ economy.”
May 2001: Lee Raymond said: “We see the Kyoto Protocol as unworkable, unfair, ineffective and potentially damaging to other vital economic and national interests. The debate over Kyoto has distracted policymakers for too long. I am encouraged to see more constructive discussions focusing on more realistic approaches … We think the best path forward is through attention to longer-range technological approaches and economically justified voluntary actions, as well as a strong program of climate science.”
Sept. 2001: The IPCC meets in London to reach agreement on its Third Assessment Report on climate change. The IPCC’s draft final report contains the following line: “The Earth’s climate system has demonstrably changed on both global and regional scales since the pre-industrial era, with some of these changes attributable to human activities.”
ExxonMobil suggests an amendment deleting the text: “with some of these changes attributable to human activities.”
2002: ExxonMobil has “become increasingly convinced that the only sensible approach is to take a longer term perspective,” adding that “if warming turns out to be a real problem, will we be willing to shut down the economies of the industrialized world … ?”
March 11, 2002: Lee Raymond, says that the corporation intends to “stay the course” with its skepticism regarding climate change “until someone comes along with new information.”
March 2002: Bob B. Peterson, Chairman and CEO of Imperial Oil (the ExxonMobil subsidiary in Canada) tells the Canadian Press: “Kyoto is an economic entity. It has nothing to do with the environment. It has to do with world trade. This is a wealth-transfer scheme between developed and developing nations. And it’s been couched and clothed in some kind of environmental movement. That’s the dumbest-assed thing I’ve heard in a long time.”
Jan. 2004: Exxon places an advert in the New York Times: “Scientific uncertainties continue to limit our ability to make objective, quantitative determinations regarding the human role in recent climate change or the degree and consequences of future change.”
2005: ExxonMobil said on its website: “While assessments such as those of the IPCC have expressed growing confidence that recent warming can be attributed to increases in greenhouse gases, these conclusions rely on expert judgment rather than objective, reproducible statistical methods. Taken together, gaps in the scientific basis for theoretical climate models and the interplay of significant natural variability make it very difficult to determine objectively the extent to which recent climate changes might be the result of human actions.”
2005-2010: ExxonMobil funds one of the world’s leading climate skeptics Dr. Willie Soon in at least four grants totaling $335,000.
2006: The British Royal Society writes to Exxon asking the company to stop funding organizations which feature information “on their websites that misrepresented the science of climate change, by outright denial of the evidence that greenhouse gases are driving climate change, or by overstating the amount and significance of uncertainty in knowledge or by conveying a misleading impression of the potential impacts of anthropogenic climate change”.
Jan. 2007: Exxon states that, on climate change, “We know enough now—or society knows enough now—that the risk is serious and action should be taken”.
Feb. 2007: Rex Tillerson, ExxonMobil’s CEO highlights the uncertainties in the science on climate change at a speech at the Cambridge Energy Research Associates’ annual conference in Houston. “While our understanding of the science continues to evolve and improve, there is still much that we do not know and cannot fully recognize in efforts to model and predict future climate behavior,” he said.
2008: Exxon faces a shareholder revolt due to its stance on climate change. One of those calling for change, F&C Asset Management’s director of governance and sustainable investment, Kevin Litvack, said, “Despite top-notch individual directors, the company’s record over the last decade, particularly regarding climate change, demonstrates that debate has been lacking.”
May 2008: Exxon publishes the following statement: “In 2008, we will discontinue contributions to several public policy groups, whose position on climate change could divert attention from the important discussion on how the world will secure energy required for economic growth in a responsible manner”.
2009: Despite promising to end funding climate denial, Exxon gives approximately $1.3 million to climate denial organizations during 2009.
June 2012: In a major speech at the Council On Foreign Relations, ExxonMobil chief executive, Rex Tillerson, argues that fears about climate change are overblown. Although he acknowledged that burning of fossil fuels are causing climate change, he argued that society would be able to adapt. The risks of oil and gas drilling can be mitigated, he told the audience. “We have spent our entire existence adapting. We’ll adapt. It’s an engineering problem and there will be an engineering solution,” he said.
May 2013: At the company AGM, Rex Tillerson tells the audience that an economy that runs on oil is here to stay and cutting carbon emissions would do no good. He asked, “What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?”
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Health and medical organizations from around the world are calling on governments to respond to the major health risks described in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s recent Second Working Group reporting, ‘Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation,’ which was released on Monday.
In a briefing document summarizing the IPCC report’s implications for health, now and in the future, the Global Climate & Health Alliance (GCHA) argues that there is still time to turn what has been called “the biggest global health threat of the 21st century” into one of our biggest opportunities to improve health.
"We are already seeing serious threats to health from heatwaves and bushfires in Australia, which are increasing due to climate change; but we know the worst impacts on health are being borne by those in developing nations," said Dr. Liz Hanna, President of Climate and Health Alliance (Australia) "We can respond to this threat, and action now will prevent further harm. We call on our health and medical colleagues around the world to join us in demanding strong action to reduce emissions to limit these risks to health.”
GCHA’s briefing report is being launched today, together with a short film (below) and set of useful online resources. It summarizes the state of the science, using evidence synthesized in the IPCC report as its primary basis, and calls for urgent action to protect health from climate change and to promote health through low-carbon, sustainable development.
Below are some examples of the ways in which climate change is projected to impact on human health:
- In Australia, the number of “dangerously hot” days, when core body temperatures may increase by two degrees Celsius or more, threatening health, is projected to rise from the current four-six days per year, to as high as 33-45 days per year by 2070.
- Climate change shows a strong association with the spread of many infectious diseases, including dengue fever, chikungunya and visceral leishmaniasis.
- It is forecast to drive up food prices and to increase the number of undernourished children under five by 20-25 million globally, by 2050. This, in turn, is associated with a significant increase in stunting, anemia and child mortality.
- Water-related diseases (eg. diarrhoea, cholera, schistosomiasis) will likely increase, due to flooding, increased run-off (reducing water quality) and water scarcity.
- It is expected that climate change will act as a driver of migration and potentially also conflict, further increasing vulnerability to extreme weather and food insecurity.
"Climate change and health are inextricably linked," said Josko Mise, President of International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations “As future physicians, medical students have a moral responsibility to put patients’ health first. By taking action now we can improve the health of our communities, and prevent millions of needless deaths."
Never before have we known so much and done so little. Failing to act decisively and quickly will inevitably cause great suffering and potentially catastrophic consequences.
These statements come shortly after the World Health Organization revised its estimate of air pollution’s health impact upwards, to 7 million premature deaths annually: one in every eight deaths globally. Much of this air pollution is caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Physical inactivity—which correlates with car ownership—results in a further 3.2 million premature deaths each year. This means that policies to improve air quality and increase physical activity (for example, low-carbon energy and active travel policies) represent an unprecedented opportunity to improve global public health and tackle climate change simultaneously.
Many other such health "co-benefits" exist, such as preventing thousands of avoidable deaths through investment in home insulation, or major reductions in diseases like heart disease and stroke achievable by increasing active travel and reducing consumption of red and processed meat.
“Human health is incredibly fragile in light of the threat that climate change poses," said Julia Huscher of Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL). “Mitigation efforts can have large health benefits—reducing the burning of fossil fuels and moving to cleaner energy sources can bring down the rates of important chronic diseases, especially cardiopulmonary diseases and diabetes. For the EU as a whole, the anticipated benefits of an ambitious set of EU climate and energy targets could be as high as €34.5 billion (equivalent to 0.21% of EU GDP)’’
The GCHA calls on all governments to commit to a binding and ambitious treaty at the UN climate negotiations in Paris 2015, including specific provision for the effective protection of public health. There is an urgent need to ensure that climate policy is designed so as to maximize its accompanying health benefits, as well as to ensure that the world achieves the sustained and rapid emissions reductions needed to avert dangerous climate change.
“The health sector needs to play a central role in addressing climate change by anchoring the community response to extreme weather events, leading by examples in mitigating its own climate footprint and becoming powerful messengers for climate policies that will improve the health of our communities and the planet,” said Gary Cohen, President of Health Care Without Harm.
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By James Bradbury and Kelly Levin
The world must brace for more extreme weather. That is the clear message from a new report that finds climate change is likely to bring more record-breaking temperatures, heat waves and heavy downpours. The much anticipated Special Report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX)—the summary of which was released Nov. 18 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—provides new evidence that links extreme weather events and climate change.
According to the Summary for Policymakers, the SREX report concludes that climate change will likely lead to global increases in extreme weather along with heightened risks to livelihoods, human health and infrastructure, both today and in the future. It also describes the costs—in terms of lives lost and economic damages—that have already occurred, plus those that will likely result from this phenomenon and the societal implications of a warmer world, in which yesterday’s extreme conditions become the new norm.
Below we provide five key takeaways from the report summary:
1. Extreme weather is on the rise around the world.
The report concludes that several types of extreme weather have become more intense or more frequent during the past half century.1 Specifically, the SREX finds that:
- In the case of temperatures, warm days and nights have become more frequent, and cold days and nights less so.2
- Areas of the world with a significant increase in the number of heavy downpours exceeded the areas of the world where the opposite is true.3
- With “medium confidence,” some areas of the world have experienced more intense and longer droughts.
- The global trend of rising sea levels has led to an increase in the occurrence of extreme coastal high water,4 from tidal or other high water events.
2. Extreme weather and climate disasters are deadly and expensive, and losses are increasing.
Given the recent flooding in Thailand, the drought in the Horn of Africa and the flooding of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, it should come as no surprise to learn that such events are costly—both in terms of lives lost and economic damages. The SREX finds that losses from weather and climate disasters are indeed rising, with the increase largely due to increased exposure, with more people and infrastructure in harm’s way. Developing countries are particularly affected, with the greatest fatality rates—according to the report, during the period from 1970 to 2008, more than 95 percent of deaths from natural disasters occurred in developing countries—and economic losses as a proportion of gross domestic product.
3. A warming world will likely be a more extreme world.
The extreme weather events unfolding around the world in recent years are only a harbinger of what is to come. For example, the report finds it is virtually certain5 that the frequency and magnitude of extreme high temperatures will increase, with warm spells, including heat waves, very likely6 increasing in length, frequency and/or intensity over most land areas. And it is not just temperature extremes that will change. Heavy precipitation events will likely7 increase in frequency, climate projections imply possible changes in floods, and there is medium confidence that droughts will intensify in some seasons and areas.
4. Greenhouse gas pollution is likely driving some of these trends.
Not only is extreme weather on the rise, but humans are likely driving some of these trends. The report finds it likely that rising greenhouse gas pollution in the atmosphere has led to the observed rise in extreme high temperatures and to the rise in extreme coastal high water.8 Additionally, report authors attached “medium confidence” to the conclusion that humans have contributed to a global intensification of extreme precipitation. Though remarkable, these findings are not surprising, because they are consistent with what scientists have considered to be likely outcomes in a warmer world.9
5. Adaptation and disaster risk management can enhance resilience in a changing climate; differences in vulnerability and exposure must be considered in the design of such initiatives.
Despite its very troubling conclusions, the report also details measures that can be taken to manage risks associated with extreme events. These include risk sharing and transfer mechanisms (e.g., insurance and reinsurance) and “low regret” measures that have co-benefits beyond addressing climate change (e.g., ecosystem restoration, building code enforcement, improved education). While incremental action can help reduce risks, more transformative changes to governance, values and technological systems will also be required. In designing such interventions, differences in vulnerability and exposure must be considered, as impacts will not play out on a level playing field. A cyclone hitting Australia will not have the same impacts as a cyclone of similar magnitude hitting Bangladesh.
Tomorrow’s world will be a different one. Governments around the world must get serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions—both quickly and steeply—if we are to have a fighting chance for maintaining a more stable climate. The upcoming U.N. climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa provide a critical opportunity for leadership on increasing the ambition of mitigation and finance commitments. Changes in extremes also place a premium on disaster risk management and adaptation initiatives that increase the resilience of those affected. Governments around the world are already acting to move from disaster relief to disaster preparedness, providing innovative examples that can be scaled up.
We have introduced five specific takeaways, but the most important message is this—We can no longer ignore the link between climate change and extreme weather events. The time for decisive action to reduce emissions, advance adaptation and move toward a better future climate is now.
For more information, click here.
- It should be noted that available weather and climate data are almost always more limited than research scientists would want them to be, both in terms of their coverage over time and spatial areas across the globe. This is particularly true for studies that focus on extreme weather events, which are very rare occurrences, by definition. This helps to explain why the science has heretofore been somewhat inconclusive on the issues of extreme weather addressed in the SREX, making the findings of this report all the more remarkable.
- The report determines that available evidence supports this conclusion at the 90-100 percent probability level.
- The report determines that available evidence supports this conclusion at the 66-100 percent probability level.
- The report determines that available evidence supports this conclusion at the 66-100 percent probability level.
- 99-100 percent probability assigned to the likelihood of the outcome.
- 90-100 percent probability assigned to the likelihood of the outcome.
- 66-100 percent probability assigned to the likelihood of the outcome.
- The report determines that available evidence supports this conclusion at the 66-100 percent probability level.
- Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007 Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M. Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.) Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, U.S.