20 September 2021

Renowned climate scientist warns rate of global warming during next 25 years could be double what it was in the previous 50

A Nov. 30, 2019 view of the Jaenschwalde Power
Station near Peitz, eastern Germany.
Credit: John MacDougall/AFP via Getty Images
This blog over the years has given a lot of space to the incredible work of the "godfather" of modern climate research, James Hansen. He has consistently pointed to the "Faustian bargain" of high levels of sulfate aerosol emissions, largely a product of burning fossils fuels, which are masking much of the current warming. Our posts have included  Faustian bargain revisited: study finds zeroed emissions will add 0.25-0.5C of warming as aerosol cooling is lost, Quantifying our Faustian bargain with fossil fuels, The astounding global warming impact on our oceans that will reduce cloud cover and bring tears to your eyes,  What must climate and energy policy really achieve? It's time for a... and 1.5°C of warming is closer than we imagine, just a decade away which was written in 2018 and turned out to be closer to the mark than most in the climate action movement were prepared to admit at the time. In this article, Bob Berwyn talks about Hansen's recent temperature projections and the role of aerosols.

by Bob Berwyn, Inside Climate News

James Hansen, a climate scientist who shook Washington when he told Congress 33 years ago that human emissions of greenhouse gases were cooking the planet, is now warning that he expects the rate of global warming to double in the next 20 years.

While still warning that it is carbon dioxide and methane that are driving global warming, Hansen said that, in this case, warming is being accelerated by the decline of other industrial pollutants that they’ve cleaned from it.

06 September 2021

When Murdoch endorses the "Net zero 2050" climate goal, you know it is the problem and not the answer

 by David Spratt

DOWNLOAD Briefing Paper: Net zero 2050 is a dangerous illusion

The Murdoch/News Ltd global media empire, which makes a living out of post-science politics, promoting Covid vaccine denialism and providing a platform for climate skepticism, has decided to swing its weight behind the "net zero 2050" (NZ2050) climate goal, according to media reports.

The decision is being coordinated across Murdoch mastheads, a clear sign that the newspapers owners, not individual editors, call the tune and that editorial independence is a myth. 

Writing for RenewEconomy, Ketan Joshi declared that "News Corp hasn’t seen the light on climate – they’re just updating their tactics". And the tactic is two-fold: to smooth the climate path for Prime Minister Morrison as an aid to his reelection chances; and to be on the winner's side when the architects of climate procrastination have their way in Glasgow in November.

02 September 2021

Former defence leaders say Australia “missing in action" on climate-security risks

DOWNLOAD report: https://www.aslcg.org/missinginaction
In a 48-page report released today, “Missing in action: Responding to Australia’s climate & security failure”, the Australian Security Leaders Climate Group (ASLCG) proposed a number of measures the Australian Government needs to take as a matter of urgency in order to understand and respond to climate-related security risks. The following is the report’s overview.

16 August 2021

Central bankers' “net zero 2050” scenarios fail on risk basics

Today Breakthrough launches our new report Degrees of Risk, which looks at how financial regulators are underestimating systemic risks and may repeat the mistakes of the Global Financial Crisis. This extract examines the “net zero 2050” (NZ2050) scenarios produced by the central bankers' Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS) and finds they are not adequately addressing the real risks and uncertainties of climate change.

by David Spratt and Ian Dunlop

DOWNLOAD
What does “Net zero 2050” (NZ2050) really mean? It is a critical question.

A number of institutions, including the IPCC, the International Energy Agency and the NGFS have produced NZ2050 scenarios, which will substantially influence national climate policy commitments made in the lead up to the climate summit in Glasgow in November 2021. Those scenarios and the models and assumptions underlying them will frame the outcome, as happened in 2015. 

The Paris Agreement was lauded for its 1.5°C target, but had an underlying framework of target overshoot and a large role for currently non-viable technologies such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), backed by a good dose of scientific reticence about the state of the climate system and its tipping points.

05 August 2021

Net zero target for 2050 is too slow, and a strategy for climate failure

by Michael Mazengarb & Giles Parkinson, first published by RenewEconomy

A major new research paper argues that setting “net zero by 2050” targets will fail to prompt urgent action on climate change, and won’t achieve the speed of emission reductions needed to avoid the worsening impacts of global warming.

The paper, released by the Australian-based Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, says shorter-term emission reduction targets are needed to compel action to cut fossil fuel use, including setting a more ambitious target to reach zero emissions as early as 2030.

“[Net zero by 2050] scenarios are based on models and carbon budgets generally associated with a 50 or 66 per cent chance of staying below the target, that is, a one-in-two, or one-in-three, chance of failure,” the paper says. “We would never accept those risks of failures in our own lives. Why accept them for impacts which may destroy civilisation as we know it?”

04 August 2021

Warnings signs as global oil and gas giants adopt “Net zero 2050” climate goal

 by David Spratt

DOWNLOAD Briefing Paper: Net zero 2050 is a dangerous illusion
“Net zero 2050” is the big story in climate politics this year, leading up to the global policymaking festival, the 26th Conference of the Parties, in Glasgow this year from 1–12 November. The question is whether it is a good story.

That’s the subject of a new Briefing Note, just released by the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, and available here.

Net zero pledges are everywhere. The goal of  “Net zero 2050” (NZ2050) greenhouse gas emissions is centre stage leading up to  Glasgow.  A majority of nations support the goal, as do many global corporations including fossil fuel producers such as Shell, BP and Exxon, investors and, in Australia, the major business lobby groups. 

26 July 2021

A note to Climate Code Red subscribers

 To all those people who have subscribed to the email service of this blog, just a quick note...

Google has discontinued its Feedburner service, from which you have been receiving email notifications of new posts since this blog started 13 years ago.

So we have switched to follow.it, and you have been transferred to this new service.

If you want to encourage colleagues and friends to follow Climate Code Red, please share this link:

https://follow.it/climatecodered?action=followPub

At follow.it you can now define filters and more delivery channels, e.g. to receive your news via Telegram, news page etc., with many others to follow soon.

And we will be posting several new stories in coming weeks, including a look at "New Zeroi2050" and why it is a dangerous illusion.

Thanks for your support,

David Spratt

09 June 2021

Trickery in climate neutrality – How "net zero" is secretly being redefined

In the Amazon, fires are contributing to the rainforest becoming a net source of carbon emissions, rather than a natural carbon store
 Corporations and governments will leave out no tricks and lies to give the impression that we are well on our way to halting climate change, while doing too little or nothing. The contradiction between propaganda and fact will become ever larger.

by Wolfgang Knorr, first published at Brave New Europe

Sprawling net zero declarations have recently given us a sense that leaders finally “get the climate crisis”. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), so it goes, has unequivocally judged that we will need to balance all sources and sinks of carbon dioxide by 2050 in order to meet the goal of the Paris Agreement to stop dangerous climate change from happening.

Apart from the fact that the concrete pathways discussed are not in line with the agreement’s goals, there is another important issue lurking in the details.

10 May 2021

What roles for markets and for the state when climate risk is existential?

Climate system tipping points. From Climate Reality Check 2020

This blog is based on a paper given to the University of Hamburg's “Unsustainable Past – Sustainable Futures?” conference on 12 February 2021.  A video of the presentation is available. 

by David Spratt

In his foreword to our 2018 Breakthrough report on scientific reticence and the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC), Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, the Director Emeritus of the Potsdam Institute, wrote that:

"When the issue is the very survival of our civilisation... conventional means of analysis may become useless."

And yes, he was talking about the IPCC! This failure of analysis extends beyond the science of climate change, to the political economy of climate disruption. 

The climate policymaking orthodoxy is that markets can efficiently price and mitigate climate risks, but this blog argues that when risks are existential — that is, a permanent and drastic curtailing of human civilisation’s future development — then the damages are beyond calculation. What follows is that conventional climate cost-benefit analyses and climate-economy models, which rely on the quantification of both the potential damages and the  probabilities, are of little value, and that markets cannot efficiently assess or optimally price the risk.

13 April 2021

Net zero emissions must be reached before 2030 for 2°C target, new analysis says

 

by Michael Mazengarb, RenewEconomy

Calculations of global carbon budgets have underestimated potential increases in global temperatures, and the world will have to dramatically accelerate its decarbonisation efforts, a new analysis of climate projections has argued.

According to new briefing note published by the  National Centre for Climate Restoration, also known as Breakthrough, carbon budgets calculated by authorities like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are virtually meaningless due to a failure to adequately account for feedback effects, and are likely to lock in higher temperature increases.

02 March 2021

Zero by 2050 or 2030? 1.5°C or 2°C? Overshoot or not? Demystifying carbon budgets.


by David Spratt

Confused about carbon budgets for the Paris climate  goals? Zero by 2050 or 2030? 1.5°C or 2°C? Overshoot or not?

There is a maze of contradictory positions,  claiming to be based on research evidence. But the assumptions behind much of that evidence obscures some startling conclusions.  

The Breakthough Briefing Note on "Carbon budgets for 1.5 & 2°C",  released today, explores some of the myths and realities about the Paris Agreement targets and the associated carbon budgets, and what it would really take to achieve them.

The main findings are:

  • IPCC carbon budgets underestimate current and future warming, omit important climate system feedback mechanisms, and make dangerous assumptions about risk-management.
  • 1.5°C of warming is likely by 2030 or earlier, a product of past emissions.
  • There is no carbon budget for the 1.5°C goal; such “budgets” rely on overshoot, with unrealistic reliance on speculative technologies.
  • The current level of greenhouse gases is enough for around 2°C of warming, or more.
  • 2°C of warming is far from safe, and may trigger the “Hothouse Earth” scenario.
  • There is no carbon budget for 2°C if a sensible risk-management approach is taken.
  • Even accepting the IPCC carbon budget for 2°C at face value, emissions need to be zero before 2030 for developed countries with higher per capita emissions.

08 February 2021

Matters of fact that we ignore at our peril

by David Spratt

“Political reality must be grounded in physical reality or it’s completely useless.”  

That statement, by Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, was the starting point for a presentation I gave on Tuesday 2 February at the "Matters of Fact" public forum organised by the National Climate Emergency Summit as part of its Reset.21 series of public discussions.

On the panel were Sir David King, former Chief Scientific Adviser for the United Kingdom and Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, a climate scientist from the University of NSW. The moderator was journalist and university teacher Jo Chandler.

The video of the event is available on YouTube...  

 


27 January 2021

New research on forests and oceans suggest projections of future warming may be too conservative, with serious consequences

 

By David Spratt

How much will the world warm with ongoing fossil-fuel carbon emissions? It’s a big question that preoccupies policymakers and activists, with important discussions about when the world will hit two degrees, are we really on a path to four degrees of warming with current Paris commitments, and so on.

And the answer is that the world is likely to warm more than current projections, if two recently published pieces of research on the terrestrial and ocean carbon sinks are any guide.

Warming projections and carbon sinks. Future warming projections come from complex climate models, which combine historic data, current observations, equations that encompass current understandings of the bio-geo-physical processes, and some assumptions about processes where direct observation or modelling is more difficult.  

02 November 2020

Net-zero emissions by 2050: Leadership or climate colonialism?

A boy rides his bike through floodwaters near the airport in Funafuti, Tuvalu. The low-lying nation has been classified as extremely vulnerable to climate change. Picture: Getty Images/Canberra Times
  

by Ian Dunlop and David Spratt, first published by The Canberra Times

How fast does Australia need to reduce greenhouse emissions to play its fair part in responding to the global climate emergency?

One answer jumps out: "net-zero emissions by 2050". Suddenly almost everybody is clambering aboard this train: state governments, big business, investors, mining companies such as BHP, Rio Tinto and Shell, and community advocacy organisations.

But there is a problem: what if this target is just another bit of the colonialism we rejected long ago? A sense of entitlement in this rich, developed country to keep on polluting for another three decades, a country whose leaders insist its wealth must continue to be built on a high output of greenhouse emissions, in the process denying some of the poorest and least developed nations their very survival? Particularly our neighbours in the Pacific.

13 October 2020

What must climate and energy policy really achieve? It's time for a ...

 

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

The Australian Government is dangerously out-of-touch as climate change accelerates and a cascade of tipping points risks unstoppable global warming.

The glaring omission from the spate of announcements on the Federal Government’s latest attempt to structure a climate and energy policy, and in the media commentary, is the absence of clarity on what it is designed to achieve.

Minister Angus Taylor set the scene in the First Low Emissions Technology Statement 2020: “History shows that we solve hard problems through enterprise and innovation. —- The global race to reduce emissions will be no exception”.  A good start, but what is the problem to be solved when the Minister insists “you cannot set targets without a plan to get there”? Rather, strategy is based on “technology not taxes”, and “the Government’s efforts will focus on new and emerging technologies with the potential for transformational economic and emissions outcomes”.

09 October 2020

Surviving the age of extreme heat

by Alex Smith 

This is the introduction  to a new book, Surviving the age of Extreme Heat, by RadioEcoshock host, Alex Smith, featuring his interviews with leading practitioners.

Download
Nobody alive or dead has ever seen anything like the heat waves here on Earth in the current century.

No human has ever lived with carbon dioxide levels this high in the atmosphere. That carbon load continues to climb as motorized life and fossil-powered electricity spread across the globe. The human cloud of greenhouse gases finds an echo as disappearing forests release their carbon on every continent.

In my home on the west coast of Canada, 2018 was our second year of Fire Emergency. Over 700 large fires burned through the mountains. Gigantic out-of-control blazes lit up the night, and then buried the day sky with thick smoke.  Day was turned into night. Thousands of people were evacuated, turning on their vehicle headlights at ten in the morning.

Our annual family camping trip to a nearby lake in the mountains was smoked out. I was imprisoned indoors for weeks with two HEPA air-cleaning filters running 24/7. Two fires popped up within a few miles of the Radio Ecoshock studio. We had our photos and clothes packed, ready to evacuate at any minute. The stress became stressful.  I was not sure I would still have a studio to make each week's radio program.

02 October 2020

LobbyLand

Photo: Unsplash
 
In Australia, denial mounts. The recent “Gas-Led Recovery” and “Technological Roadmap” announcements of the  Morrison government confirm the continued influence of the fossil fuel industry and its lobbyists.

by Ian Dunlop, first published at Pearls and Irritations

Since the Industrial Revolution, fossil fuels have played a central role in the development of human civilisation. Without them, the explosion in population, economic activity and wealth creation would never have occurred.  Not surprisingly, those in control of the industry have gained enormous influence over the direction of global and national affairs.

Australia is particularly well-endowed with fossil fuels, notably coal and gas, less so oil.  As a result, our economy is heavily dependent upon those fuels, both for domestic energy supply and in generating export income, far more so than most other nations.  Coal and LNG comprising around 23% of Australia’s export income, with fossil fuels supplying around 94% of Australia’s primary energy needs.

28 September 2020

When climate risks are so high, short term actions matter most

by David Spratt, first published at Pearls and Irritations

Last week, Prince Charles was the climate radical. Speaking by video link to Climate Week in New York, he said that the focus on 2050 climate targets “suggests we have room to delay” but, on the contrary, “it is absolutely vital, given the enormity of the problem we face, that we make truly transformative progress along the road to net zero by 2030”.

By contrast, when Australian energy minister Angus Taylor launched his energy roadmap this week, Australia’s not-for-profit climate lobby’s main message was that “the Federal Government is behind the pack in its refusal to commit to a net-zero by 2050 emissions target”.

There was no talk about zero emissions by 2030, or in fact any 2030 goal, which appears to have become a threatened species. Advocates feared they would not be heard if they were “politically unrealistic”, but this is about science, too. And if you talk about 2050 just as most of the world is, you’ll be drowned out anyway, caught somewhere in the middle of the peloton, and certainly not up the front in the 2030 breakaway leaders’ group.

09 September 2020

We live in “disaster alley”: Australia and the region are particularly vulnerable

Coastal NSW rivers stopped flowing
during 2019 record-breaking drought:
The Barnard River, a tributary
of the Manning River, at Bretti
Reserve. Photo: Darren Ray
by David Spratt

The following is the text of a presentation today to the opening session of the Smart Energy Council’s 2020 Virtual Conference and Exhibition. 

In this Covid-19 period, I should start by re-affirming that the first duty of government is to protect the people: their health, safety and well-being. This requires management of high-end risks —  such as nuclear and biochemical weapons, pandemics, climate disruption, ecological and economic collapse  and so on  — where the threat may be catastrophic or existential. 

In managing such risks, Covid19 provides some alarming insights into this challenge. Last year the Inaugural Global Health Security Index of pandemic preparedness found, in their words,  “severe weaknesses in countries’ abilities to prevent, detect, and respond to significant disease outbreaks” with an average global score of 40/100.

Remarkably, given what has eventuated since, it found the USA the “most prepared” nation, and the UK second most prepared. Nations and experts believed they were prepared, but were not. That parallels the politics of climate disruption. 

24 August 2020

Economic rigidity generates extreme risks including collapse

by Ian Dunlop, first published at Pearls and Irritations 

Download PDF
A review of The Coal Curse – Resources, Climate and Australia’s Future by Judith Brett, Quarterly Essay 78.

The first part of Coal Curse is a masterly dissection of Australian economic history since WW2.
It brings into sharp focus the divide between the protectionist – primary producer and manufacturing – forces of the immediate post-war period and the gradual shift to a neoliberal globalist model which favoured the mining sector.  The transition was marked by the Hawke/Keating 1983 decision to float the dollar, and Paul Keating’s “Banana Republic” outburst three years later as commodity prices and the exchange rate fell, illustrating the dangers of an overly rigid economic system being left too late to reinvent itself in a rapidly globalising world.

Luckily, economic expansion in Asia in the 1970s, 80s and 90s provided relief as demand for primary products soared – agriculture as before, but increasingly minerals and fossil fuels, notably coal and most recently gas.