Thursday, November 21, 2019

It's now or never

Taking of the climate crisis, environmentalist activist, Bill McKibben, says  "If we don’t solve it soon, we will never solve it, because we will pass a series of irrevocable tipping points – and we’re clearly now approaching those deadlines."

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Emissions Gap report, which shows that countries around the world are falling short of the emission reductions, and even if they met the Paris climate agreement targets, a disastrous 3-4C rise would happen. Just half a degree of additional warming is expected to have a catastrophic impact on our planet. According to the UN’s 2018 IPCC report, in a plus 1.5C world, sea level rise would be 10 centimetres less than with 2C, exposing about 10 million fewer people in coastal areas to risks such as floods, storm surges or salt spray damaging crops.
Michael Lazarus, a lead author on the report and the director of Stockholm Environment Institute’s US Centre, explains that “This report shows, for the first time, just how big the disconnect is between Paris temperature goals and countries’ plans and policies for coal, oil, and gas production.”
Oil, gas and coal output already planned or in the pipeline will overwhelm efforts to cap global warming at levels consistent with a liveable planet, the UN and leading research groups warnedEssential global environmental goals that aim to safeguard life as we know it are being ignored by the world’s major fossil fuel producers – which are on course to exceed the limits set out in the Paris climate agreement by 50 to 120 per cent. 
By 2030, the 10 countries’ planned production would lead to 39 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions, 53 per cent higher than what is needed to reduce temperature rises to 2C, the report said. Those levels are 120 per cent more than is needed for 1.5C, it found. The main fuel contributing to this is coal.
“Despite more than two decades of climate policy making, fossil fuel production levels are higher than ever,” said Mans Nilsson, executive director of Stockholm Environment Institute, which helped produce the report. He added: “This report shows that governments’ continued support for coal, oil and gas extraction is a big part of the problem. We’re in a deep hole – and we need to stop digging.” 
China is now in the process of building or reviving coal equivalent to the EU's entire generating capacity. China is also financing around a quarter of all proposed coal plants outside its borders.
Researchers say the surge is a major threat to the Paris climate targets. 
In 2015, in an attempt to curb the growth, the national government tried to clamp down on new-build coal. However, it continued to allow provincial governments the freedom to issue permits for new coal plants. That move misfired badly. Local authorities subsequently permitted up to five times more plants than in any comparable period. China is also busy financing coal development outside the country, funding over a quarter of all the coal plants outside its borders in countries like South Africa, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
What concerns the researchers is that within China, coal and electricity industry groups are pushing for an even bigger increase in the country's overall coal power capacity.
"The thing we are super worried about is that industry has actually organised to keep the whole thing going," said Ted Nace. "There are three different powerful trade groups, proposing to increase the coal fleet by 40%. This is sheer madness at this point."
"China's proposed coal expansion is so far out of alignment with the Paris Agreement that it would put the necessary reductions in coal power out of reach, even if every other country were to completely eliminate its coal fleet," said co-author Christine Shearer of Global Energy Monitor. "Instead of expanding further, China needs to make significant reductions to its coal fleet over the coming decade."

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