15 October 2019

“We would never board a plane if we only arrive in half the cases, but this is the method in international climate policymaking”

Introduction: The energy transformation in Germany, widely known as the Energiewende, is the country’s planned transition to a low-carbon, nuclear-free economy.  It is a national government strategy and implementation process, and an associated magazine Energiewende Magazin. The following interview for Energiewende is online. Below is a translation. The interview, and a feature article, will appear in the next issue of Energiewende Magazin.  The content relates to the Breakthrough What Lies Beneath report and the recent three-degree security, risk and climate scenario papers. They will be the cover story.  It is a sign of a changing perceptions that a primary communication tool of the German government’s climate/energy transition strategy is featuring a strong critique of UN climate policy-making processes, existential risk and IPCC reticence.

18 August 2019

At 4°C of warming, would a billion people survive? What scientists say.

Courtesy: The Guardian
by David Spratt

In a way it’s an obscene question: if the planet warms by 4 degrees Celsius (°C), would only a billion
people survive and many billions perish?  Obscene in the sense of the obscenity of arguing about the exact body count from a genocide. In the end it’s about the immorality, the crime, the responsibility, not the precise numbers.

But it’s a relevant question, in that Earth is heading towards 4°C  of warming, based on emission reduction commitments so far. The Paris commitments are a path of warming of around 3.3°C, but that does not include some carbon cycle feedbacks that have already become active (e.g. permafrost, Amazon, other declines in carbon store efficiency) which would push that warming towards 5°C. So saying we are presently on a 4°C path is about right.

10 August 2019

Australia’s climate stance is inflicting criminal damage on humanity

Courtesy: The Guardian
 by Ian Dunlop and David Spratt, first published at The Guardian

The top priority of government is security of the people. Yet on the greatest threat of all, most governments are failing abysmally.

As the global influence of western democracies wanes with the ascendancy of China, India and other emerging countries, the resulting power struggle is diverting attention from the great issues the world faces, to their symptoms.

The neoliberal market economy, with its unregulated consumption and rapacious short-term outlook, is destroying modern civilisation. The warning signs are obvious, not least burgeoning high-consuming populations, massive biodiversity loss and multiple resource scarcities. Yet rather than reform an unsustainable system, political leaders scramble to prop it up and compound the problem. The result is Brexit, Trump’s Mexican wall, escalating Middle East tension, the US-China trade standoff, a global arms and space race, Amazon deforestation and much more.

29 July 2019

Climate emergency new update

Period ending 29 July 2019

DECLARATIONS UPDATE
bit.ly/ce-councils
No of councils/states to declare/recognise climate emergency: 888
No of countries covered: 18
Population covered by councils:  205.8 million people

QUEENSLAND
Why this south-east Queensland council declared a ‘climate emergency'
https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/why-this-south-east-queensland-council-declared-a-climate-emergency-20190724-p52acd.html

MELBOURNE
Melbourne Declares Climate Emergency, Vows To Listen To The Rightfully Pissed-Off Youth
https://www.pedestrian.tv/news/climate-emergency-melbourne-council-extinction-rebellion/

24 July 2019

Giving climate impacts the third degree

Download
The following is the introduction to a new discussion paper, The third degree: Supporting evidence & Implications for Australia of  existential climate-related security risk, released today by Breakthrough.
by David Spratt and Ian Dunlop

 Since the Paris climate conference in 2015, much time has been devoted to scenarios for 1.5°C to 2°C of climate warming. That’s not surprising, because limiting warming to the range of 1.5–2°C was the Paris goal, and there has since been the 2018 special IPCC report on 1.5°C.

What hasn’t been spelt out clearly is that 1.5°C is not a good outcome: it would mean coral systems reduced to fragments, a multi-metre sea-level rise on the way, Pacific nations drowned, more lethal extreme weather, and glaciers in Antarctica passed their tipping points, just for starters.

17 June 2019

Is humanity dying?

The recent release of the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration policy paper on "Existential climate-related security risk" attracted a lot of media coverage: from the Guardian, Independent, New Scientist and Al-Jazeera to CNN,  CNS and ABC in the USA, amongst others. And there was a lot of coverage in northern Europe, especially Germany, from where this story comes. It was one of the most thoughtful pieces of journalism on the report. It appeared in KlimaReporter as Stirbt die Menschheit aus? Translation thanks to Dr Google.

Download the policy paper
Is humanity dying?
by  Christian Mihatsch, Climate reporter, 9 June 2019

The climate crisis is becoming increasingly apocalyptic. It is unlikely that our civilization will end soon — but possible. And this possibility is still receiving too little attention.

The perception of the climate problem is currently changing rapidly. The term "climate change" is increasingly being replaced by "climate crisis", and instead of "warming", what will probably prevail is "climate overheating" or a similar term. But is it appropriate to speak of the end of our civilization or even the extinction of humanity?

Some of the most important climate movements are doing just that. Extinction Rebellion is already carrying extinction in its name and the movement's first call is: Tell the truth and explain the state of emergency.

14 June 2019

Climate Emergency: What is safe, the 1.5º target, and is the end nigh?



Recently I did a talk for Extinction Rebellion Melbourne with the title “Climate Emergency: What is safe, the 1.5º target, and is the end nigh?”? (Answer to last bit: no!)

A video of the talk is now available at youtu.be/KyLgCr3Drh4

The talk is around 25 minutes, followed by Q and A. 

- David Spratt

03 June 2019

We must mobilise for the climate emergency like we do in wartime. Where is the climate minister?

Canberra, February 2009
by Ian Dunlop and David Spratt, first published at The Guardian

The second Morrison ministry contains no one with nominal responsibility for “climate” in any sense, despite the fact that it is the greatest threat facing the country. Angus Taylor, who spent much of his pre-parliamentary career fighting windfarms, claiming repeatedly that there is “too much wind and solar” in the system, is now minister for energy and emissions reduction. No mention of climate here, despite the fact that climate is what it is all about, or should be.

Sussan Ley has been made the environment minister but more intriguing, David Littleproud is minister for water resources, drought, rural finance, natural disaster and emergency management. Let’s take another look at this: water (or lack thereof) … drought … disaster … emergency management.

30 May 2019

Can we think in new ways about the existential human security risks driven by the climate crisis?

Note: This post is the foreword to a policy paper on existential climate and security risks released today by Breakthrough. It is written by Retired Admiral Chris Barrie, who was Chief of the Australian Defence Force from 1998 to 2002.
by Admiral Chris Barrie, AC RAN Retired

In 2017-18, the Australian Senate inquired into the implications of climate change for Australia’s national security. The Inquiry found that climate change is “a current and existential national security risk”, one that “threatens the premature extinction of Earth- originating intelligent life or the permanent and drastic destruction of its potential for desirable future development”.

I told the Inquiry that, after nuclear war, human- induced global warming is the greatest threat to human life on the planet. Today’s 7.5 billion human beings are already the most predatory species that ever existed, yet the global population has yet to peak and may reach 10 billion people, with dire implications absent a fundamental change in human behaviour.

This policy paper looks at the existential climate-related security risk through a scenario set thirty years into the future. David Spratt and Ian Dunlop have laid bare the unvarnished truth about the desperate situation humans, and our planet, are in, painting a disturbing picture of the real possibility that human life on earth may be on the way to extinction, in the most horrible way.

27 May 2019

Unexpected surge in global methane levels

From Climatenexus.org 

An unexpected surge in global atmospheric methane is threatening to erase the anticipated gains of the Paris Climate Agreement.  This past April NOAA posted preliminary data documenting an historic leap in the global level of atmospheric methane in 2018,[1] underscoring a recent wave of science and data reporting that previously stable global methane levels have unexpectedly surged in recent years.

The scientific community recently responded to the surge into two high profile publications by calling for a reduction in methane emissions from the natural gas system, framing it as the most practical response to the global increase.[2]

21 May 2019

“Climate emergency”: Evolution of a global campaign

Rally, Parliament House, Canberra, 3 February 2009
 by David Spratt

In a matter of months, the language of climate emergency has exploded into public space in a spectacular way, with national, regional and governments adopting the term.

Last Friday The Guardian editor-in-chief Katharine Viner issued new language guidelines to her staff:
Instead of “climate change” the preferred terms are “climate emergency, crisis or breakdown” and “global heating” is favoured over “global warming”, although the original terms are not banned. “We want to ensure that we are being scientifically precise, while also communicating clearly with readers on this very important issue,” said Viner. “The phrase ‘climate change’, for example, sounds rather passive and gentle when what scientists are talking about is a catastrophe for humanity”... The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, talked of the “climate crisis” in September, adding: “We face a direct existential threat.”
Just a year ago, such language was rarely, if ever, heard in the media, among politicians and policymakers, or from professional climate advocates. So how did we get to here?

23 April 2019

Support for action surges, majority say we face climate emergency

by David Spratt

In the first-ever poll of its kind, new research from The Australia Institute (TAI) has found that a clear majority of Australians agree the nation ‘is facing a climate emergency’ requiring emergency action and that, in response, governments should “mobilise all of society” like they did during the world wars.

It is an extraordinary finding that shows public sentiment is well ahead of the major political parties, and ahead of the large climate advocacy organisations.

22 April 2019

Is the Australian Public Service fit-for-purpose to handle existential climate risk?

by Ian Dunlop and David Spratt, first published at Pearls and Irritations

Credit: One World House
The first duty of a government is to “protect the people”, their safety and well-being. Nowhere is this duty more important than in addressing climate change, which now constitutes a near-term existential threat to human civilisation. It is an open, and pressing, question whether the Australian Public Service (APS), and particularly the intelligence services, currently have the capacity to properly consider and assess the climate threat to the people of Australia, and to offer sound advice on action to minimise that threat.

17 April 2019

Battle for climate emergency action starts on the Home Front


 Former Australian defence and security experts say if we are serious about national security then we must decarbonise our economy within a decade.

A new powerful and eye-opening short documentary series presents some of Australia's former security, defence and political leaders who warn us that climate change is 'a catalyst for conflict' and a 'threat multiplier' as it fuels instability in the world’s most vulnerable regions.

08 April 2019

Existential risk, Neoliberalism and UN Climate Policymaking (2)

On the current high-emissions scenario (RCP 8.5), most of the tropical zone experiences many months each year of deadly heat, beyond the capacity of humans to survive in the outdoors. Source: Global risk of deadly heat
International climate policymaking has failed to avoid a path of catastrophic global warming. Two often-overlooked causes of this failure are how climate-science knowledge has been produced and utilised by the United Nation’s twin climate bodies and how those organisations function.
Part 2 of 2
| Read Part 1.

by David Spratt

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) produces science synthesis reports for the primary purpose of informing policymaking, specifically that of the UNFCCC. This may be termed “regulatory science” (as opposed to “research science”), which Sheila Jasanoff describes as one that “straddles the dividing line between science and policy” (9) as scientists and regulators try to provide answers to policy-relevant questions. In this engagement between science and politics, say Kate Dooley and co-authors, “science is seen neither as an objective truth, nor as only driven by social interests, but as being co-produced through the interaction of natural and social orders”.

Existential risk, Neoliberalism and UN Climate Policymaking (1)


International climate policymaking has failed to avoid a path of catastrophic global warming. Two often-overlooked causes of this failure are how climate-science knowledge has been produced and utilised by the United Nation’s twin climate bodies and how those organisations function.
Part 1 of 2
| Read Part 2.

by David Spratt

It is now widely understood that human-induced climate change this century is an existential risk to human civilisation. Unless carbon emissions are rapidly reduced to zero, it is likely that global warming will either annihilate intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtail its potential.
While policymakers talk about holding warming to 1.5°C to 2°C above the pre-industrial level—a very unsafe goal given that dangerous climate-system tipping points are being activated now at just 1°C of warming—by their lack of action they are in fact setting Earth on a much higher warming path that will destroy many cities, nations and peoples, and many, if not most, species.

25 March 2019

New study shows IPCC is underselling climate change


Note: Last year, we published a detailed report on scientific reticence, What Lies Beneath: The underestimation of existential risk, particularly as it applies to the IPCC reports. So this new study adds to the body of knowledge about conservatism in this field. - David. 
 A new study has revealed that the language used by the global climate change watchdog, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is overly conservative – and therefore the threats are much greater than the Panel's reports suggest.

Published in the journal BioScience, the team of scientists from the University of Adelaide, Flinders University, the University of Bristol (UK), and the Spanish National Research Council has analysed the language used in the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report (from 2014).

08 March 2019

SHOCK, HORROR: Poll finds strong majority support for declaring a climate emergency

Panel discussion at the City of Darebin's climate emergency conference, September 2018. Photo: John Englart.
by David Spratt, published at RenewEconomy on 8 March 2019


In five countries —  Australia, the USA, Canada, the UK and Switzerland  — an impressive 382 local government authorities covering more than 33 million people have recognised or declared a climate emergency. And now polling conducted in Melbourne shows that a sizeable majority in that city support declaring a climate emergency.

That will be a shock for some of Australia’s largest climate advocacy organisations, who have steadfastly refused to use the climate emergency framing, saying that such language is not plausible, is not supported by market research or that appeals to fear do not work.

Perhaps they should tell that to David Wallace-Wells, the author of the just released book, “The Uninhabitable Earth”, which is destined to become a runaway best seller.

18 February 2019

With climate protection, Labor can turn the table on government’s fear agenda

 
French Polynesian President Edouard Fritch and Australian Foreign Minister,Marise Payne leave their handprints during the signing of the Boe Declaration in September 2018 at the Pacific Islands Forum

by David Spratt

National security is a defensive issue for opposition leader Bill Shorten and the Australian Labor  Party. Their approach is to mimic the government at almost every step, lest a crack of difference between the two parties becomes a conservative wedge. We saw this again last week with the fear campaign on the medivac law.

But Labor can turn the table on the government’s security agenda by framing climate change action as the duty of government to protect the people — their livelihood, security and health — from the greatest risk of all to their future well-being and human security.

It will take courage from Labor, but the crushing impacts of climate change — devastating floods in Queensland, destruction of precious World Heritage forest in Tasmania, vital river systems without water, and an extraordinary, month-long, record-breaking heatwave blanketing most of Australia —  are the material conditions on which a new climate and human security narrative can be built.

17 February 2019

Best climate video ever? A Swedish Teenager's Compelling Plea on Climate

On an email list I am on,  this video was described as "the best climate video ever".  Best ever?  I don't know, but it's very, very good. A must watch. -- David