Sunday, 28 November 2010

A billion homeless to come

Today the Observer reports that at Cancun, Scientists are to present a report warning that up to a billion people face homlessness due to the impact of climate change in this century.   

This is just one striking statistic. But the real impact will be tremendous.  How will we cope with the floods of refugees from lost and collapsing nations?  How likely is conflict to arise? Where will they live?  How will they be fed and where will they get water? 

The stated targets of  a 2 degree C mean temperature rise are now just a pipe dream. 

"Researchers such as Richard Betts, head of climate impacts at the Met Office, calculate that a 4C rise could occur in less than 50 years," (from the Observer article 28/11/10)

We must face the truth.  we are staring into the face of a 4 or more degree warmer world.    Huge changes are in motion and the effects will be felt in our lifetimes and the lifetimes of our children. 

The clock is ticking. 

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

UNEP Report on likely emissions gap

The BBC reported yesterday on a report published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which points out that the pledges made by countries to curb emissions (even if fulfilled) are not enough to prevent a likely global mean temperature rise by around 4 degrees C this century.

The UNEP report mentions the promises made at Copenhagen (some of which deal with targets for 2020) and freely admits that projection beyond 2020 is inexact, however the report seems to conclude that the pledges made do not seem consistent with the stated aim of limiting temperature rise to between 1.5-2.0 degrees C.

Given the conditional nature of the pledges by some nations, depending on their ability to enact the required legislation. and the necessity (sometimes notably lacking) for real political will to act on this issue then I believe the outlook is not all roses.

It is imperative that, in the short window we have, we act personally and also force our politicians to act on this at Cancun.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Canada Kills (CO2) Bill

The BBC reported yesterday (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-11781175)  that the Conservative-led Canadian Senate has defeated a bill calling for a reduction of national greenhouse gas emissions by 25% relative to 1990 levels.  The bill had originally been passed by the Canadian House of Commons last year. 

This is not altogether a surprise.  The  Canadian government, led by Stephen Harper is allowing the ecocide of the Alberta tar sands to take place in it's country.  

This comes less than 2 weeks before the UN climate change talks at Cancun. 
 Alongside the results of the US midterms, this does not seem to me to offer much hope of anything truly real happening at these talks. 

However...
The  recent  UN report by the High Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Funding (http://www.un.org/wcm/content/site/climatechange/pages/financeadvisorygroup/pid/13300) offers some hope, reporting that US $100 bn per year can be raised towards addressing the crisis. 

  Maybe I am just too cynical.  Only time will tell....

Monday, 1 November 2010

US Midterms, a concern for us all

As a UK citizen, I have no voice in the imminent mid-term elections in the US.  However, the outcome of the elections may well have an impact on us all.

As reported by the Guardian yesterday, the Republican Tea Party movement does not seem to accept human causes of climate change and seems set on reducing the power of the Environmental Protection Agency.  They also seem very focused on the "National Economic Interest" at the expense of environmental concerns.

As the largest per capita emitter of carbon dioxide, it is vital that the US engage with its international neighbours in order to reduce emissions and do what is possible to meet the oncoming crisis.  If a Republican Congressional majority (and maybe a Senatorial majority) is able to significantly hamper attempts by the Obama administration to engage with climate change, then it makes the outlook bleaker for all of us.

The Kyoto protocol ends in 2012 and a succesor treaty needs to be in place. We have a short enough window of oppotunity as it is; we do not need for one of the world's two largest emitters to disengage (again).