A theme of the Glasgow Conference of Parties (COP) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has been to ‘keep 1.5°C alive’ knowing that they would fail. This is where the new pledges would take us by 2100 according to Climate Action Tracker:
My point, however, is that in choosing the goal of 1.5°C the UNFCCC is choosing failure. Back in 1994 the UNFCC was set up to prevent dangerous climate change. This is a simple ‘burning embers’ chart produce by the IPCC in 2018:
Any child can see that for a safe climate 0.5°C is plenty far enough.
Kevin Anderson in a recent YouTube talking about Britain’s responsibility points out that the latest IPCC report says that for a 67% chance of remaining below 1.5°C is only 400Gt of CO2.
He says that the UK’s share in the energy sector would go in the next four years. He also says that the UK’s effort to date, reckoned to be one of the best in the world, is only worth half a cracker. The claim is that the UK has reduced emissions by 51% since 1990. However, when calculated properly, including shipping and air travel associated with Britain’s way of life, plus the emissions avoided by moving dirty industries offshore, the Brit’s have only achieved 15% or 0.5% pa.
There is more wrong with the IPCC statement.
Firstly, 67% means lousy odds, given the importance limiting warming. I’d reckon it should be 99.9999% (I think that is one in a million!)
Secondly, all scenarios from the IPCC now involve overshooting and negative emissions, or drawdown that goes on long after net zero in 2050. This slide comes from his January 2020 talk to Extinction Rebellion, Can meaningful hope spring from revealing the depth of our climate failure?:
Somewhere he says 6-10Gt pa, starting ASAP and continuing indefinitely. If you want to improve the odds, you have to suck more out.
Then if you want to aspire to reducing CO2 to 350ppm, for a safe climate, you need even more.
So, what are the chances of keeping the temperature under 1.5°C? Infinitesimal.
Can we draw hope? Anderson is full of ideas about what we can do, so if you get busy you may also hope.
Personally, much as I hate their methods, Extinction Rebellion is one of the few organisations that is clear-eyed about what our realistic prospects are.
Here’s Roger Hallam in How to fix climate in a few years:
The climate ball is about to go over a cliff.
More to come. I have to go bush for a few days, unexpectedly early. I want to say a bit more about tipping points, and the problem of climate justice, but there is a fair bit in the above for starters.