A week of UN climate meetings in preparation for the Paris Conference of Parties in December has just taken place in Bonn. The main outcome was trust, in the Conference co-chairs of the various subgroups established and in the procedures adopted. The week saw the Paris text reduced from 90 to 85 pages. The aim is for a 15 page final document. There are only two meetings between now and Paris.
The meeting entrusted the co-chairs to prepare a cut-down version for circulation in August.
Worth a special mention, a report from the technical group looking at the adequacy of the 2°C temperature target was received and discussed. It’s a 182-page whopper. It was clear, apparently, that 2°C will not produce a safe climate.
Sophie Yeo takes a look at the report and the reaction. While 1.5°C seems a bridge too far at present, there may be some tweaking of the language and the issue kept alive.
2. Global warming speed-up is imminent
The UNFCC and the international community had better get on their bike, because global warming appears to about to speed up. Joe Romm draws from a number of studies, including NOAA, The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Gavin Schmidt of NASA GISS at RealClimate.
Firstly if you draw a trend line from the middle of the last century, there has been no pause:
Schmidt draws a trend from around 1970 and breaks it at 1998. The difference is insignificant:
There was certainly a distinct leap in the mid-1990s and the thinking is that we are about to see similar increases again. Warming in the coming decades could average 0.25°C per decade, that’s an increase of 56% on the trend identified by Schmidt.
3. Oxygen and climate
To date the impact of oxygen levels on the climate has been overlooked in studying paleoclimate. Over the past 500 million years oxygen has varied from as little as 10% of the atmosphere to as much as 35%. It is currently at 21%.
With less oxygen the atmosphere is thinner, allowing more sunlight to penetrate. This produces more water vapour, which has a strong greenhouse effect.
Variations from year to year are so slight that there will be no climate effect from one century to the other, but our understanding of deep climate requires the oxygen effect to be taken into account.
A new technique has been developed to chart the progress of ice sheet decay during the onset of the Eemian interglacial about 135,000 years ago. Researchers have discovered that the ice sheet response was quite different from the most recent one, with different ocean circulation and hemispheric climate patterns. Study of further interglacials may yield insights into the overall climate change pattern we are experiencing.
As the world warms the biggest impact on plant growth will be in the tropics, with up to 200 fewer “suitable growing days” each year. Plants need to have favourable temperature, moisture and light to grow. Study leader Camilo Mora says “there could be an 11 percent reduction in the plant growing season worldwide.”
- Greater levels of CO2 made no difference one way or the other. At higher temperatures plants open their pores, called stomata, to capture the elevated CO2, which boosts photosynthesis, greening the leaves. But plants also tend to close their stomata in warmer temperatures to prevent water loss. Mora says that on balance the two effects cancel out.
Thanks to a commenter (sorry forgotten who!) for the link.
There’s more at Carbon Brief.
A separate study found that increased CO2 inhibits nitrogen uptake. More CO2 yields less nutritious plant growth, for example in wheat and rice.
A Mercer report Investing in a Time of Climate Change details the investment prospects and pitfalls of various climate scenarios.
Clearly, “climate change will give rise to investment winners and losers.” Some industries, like coal, will likely see average annual returns over the next decade “eroding between 26% and 138%,” depending on how aggressively the world attempts to fight climate change. Other industries, like renewables, could see average annual returns increase by up to 97 percent over the 10-year period — if the world does seriously move toward a 2°C pathway coming out of the Paris climate talks this December.
7. The end of coal
The ABC Four Corners program The end of coal? couches the issues in terms of questions in the promo. The program, however, is quite straightforward – coal is f*cked.
It didn’t distinguish between coking coal and thermal coal, but coal is clearly on borrowed time as an electricity generation source.
Meanwhile the Abbott government continues its negative jawboning of the wind farm sector and Giles Parkinson identifies 10 things we learned about Tony Abbott’s war on renewables. Here’s what the people think:
By contrast Queensland Premier Anastasia Palaszczuk was in the USA over the weekend investigating the potential for the Australian state to become a green fuel supplier to the US Navy. Biofuel production could be “the next growth industry” for regional Queensland, she said.