09 July 2020

As warming approaches 1.5°C, talk of a carbon budget for the Paris targets is delusional

by David Spratt

There's a lot of delusional talk about how much "carbon budget" (or new emissions) are allowable that would still keep global heating to the Paris target of 1.5 degrees Celsius (°C). The reality is that over the last year, global average warming was already close to 1.5°C, based on a true, pre-industrial baseline.

And the warming already in the system may well be enough to take the planet past 2°C, without any more emissions. The propositions pushed by governments, big business and many large climate movement NGOs that we have a "carbon budget" available for the Paris targets runs contrary to the evidence and suggests a world of politically convenient make-believe. 

Figure 1: Global warming July-to-June, illustrated here with a 1981-2010 baseline.  Image by CarbonBrief.

02 July 2020

Canberra unprepared for climate upheavals that will rock the nation

By David Sprat, first published at RenewEconomy

Covid-19 should teach us the value of being fully prepared for catastrophic risks, but on climate disruption risks the Australian Government is walking blindfolded off a cliff.


Unprecedented bushfires, Covid-19 and climate warming all raise the question of the preparedness of governments to deal with catastrophic risks, and what allows nations to successfully respond to big crises.

Those lauding the Australian Government for its pandemic response overlook the fact that, early on, this nation may have been on the disastrous "herd immunity" policy path. On 15 March, the Chief Medical Officer defended keeping schools open because “if they (school children) are getting infected and they’re perfectly well, whilst they might spread it, it also creates a herd immunity”. Australia appears to have changed course due to the stronger advocacy by State premiers, and the alarming early evidence from Italy and Spain about the consequences when the virus takes hold of a population.

In his recent book, Upheaval: How nations cope with crisis and change, geographer and anthropologist Jarod Diamond concludes that the key predictors of success in facing crises are “acknowledgment rather than denial of a crisis’s reality; acceptance of responsibility to take action; and honest self-appraisal”, plus the “presence or absence of a shared national identity” which can help a nation’s people recognise shared self-interest and unite in overcoming a crisis.

06 May 2020

Covid-19 climate lessons

by David Spratt and Alia Armsitead
This post is the concluding section of a discussion paper, Covid-19 climate lessons, just published by the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration.
Download the discussion paper
The novel coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has striking parallels with climate disruption.

The threat was well known and catastrophic, even existential. History’s valuable lessons were ignored. Researchers were clear on what needed to be done, and how to respond. The UN had devoted a whole section to the issue, governments ran risk scenarios and national security analysts warned of the consequences. The developed world had the capacity to be ready. And to support less prosperous nations, or should have been.

When it became fatal, it was conceived by wealthy nations as a threat somewhere else, because they were insulated. Then there was the denial, the delay, wanting to avoid any economic dislocation. Modern society was good at research, solutions would appear, no need to panic. Humans had tamed nature.

16 April 2020

Fatal calculations: How bad economics encouraged climate inaction

Download
Pandemics and climate disruption are existential risks that require that particular emphasis be placed on the high-impact possibilities, not middle-of-the road outcomes. Released today by Breakthrough, Fatal calculations: How economics has underestimated climate damage and encouraged inaction, shows how economists  have ignored the real risks of climate change.  This is the introduction to the report.

by David Spratt and Alia Armistead

At the heart of global policymaking is a concern that mitigation should not be economically disruptive or curtail future growth in production. Perhaps as a consequence, and in order to mesh with this policy paradigm, the economic methods of analysis applied to climate change have underestimated the risks and provided reasons to delay action.

The evidence is all around us. Listen to most governments and business leaders, and especially those nations with a large carbon footprint, and the climate conversation for decades has been about taking it slowly; of incremental policy change that does not rock the economic boat, cost jobs, disturb growth or disadvantage significant national industries.  With minimal discussion about the jobs and growth that will be destroyed in a hotter world.

05 March 2020

Scott Morrison's duty is to protect the Australian people. There is no greater threat than climate disruption

Our government continues to focus on the supposedly horrendous cost of climate action without mentioning the benefits 


by David Spratt and Ian Dunlop, first published by The Guardian

The first duty of a government is to protect the people. There is no greater threat than climate disruption as the world heads to 3C or more warming, possibly by mid-century, yet the prime minister is unwilling to explain the implications.

Asked by Zali Steggall in parliament recently about the costs of 3C of warming, Scott Morrison replied that “we do understand there are costs associated with climate change”, but was incapable of saying what they were.

17 February 2020

A climate reality update at 2020 emergency summit




2000 people attended an inspiring two-day National Climate Emergency Summit in Melbourne on 14-15 February. Here is my contribution to the opening plenary, "The New Climate Reality Check”, a session I shared with Michael E. Mann and facilitated by Jo Chandler.

by David Spratt

Since mid-2018, understanding of the climate emergency has exploded globally. Everybody is talking about it. The Oxford Dictionary named “climate emergency” as its Word of the Year for 2019, and more than 1100 national, regional and local governments in 25 countries have declared a climate emergency.


Understanding of the emergency and the existential risks have been driven by many factors, including: the local government campaigns; Greta Thunberg’s brutally direct language and the StudentStrike4Climate movement; and the advocacy of The Climate Mobilisation in the US and Extinction Rebellion; and campaigns such as those for a Green New Deal.