31 December 2021

Climate stories and insights in 2021

 by David Spratt

So here is an idiosyncratic look at some of the big climate stories and insights from 2021, drawn from my Twitter feed.

Note: If this does not display properly in the email alert, go to Climate stories in 2021

08 December 2021

Morrison’s lack of climate action puts national security at risk, former defence chief says

by Michael Mazengarb, first published at RenewEconomy,

A former Australian defence force chief has warned that a lack of strong climate policies and the Morrison government’s failure to properly assess the implications of a warming planet is putting the country’s national security at risk.

“Climate change remains the most significant threat to our security, and we must now act accordingly with the necessary scale and speed of action,” former Australian Defence Force chief Admiral Chris Barrie said, speaking on behalf of the Australian Security Leaders Climate Group (ASLCG).

“It is perplexing that a government that claims to be strong on security issues is weak, and even silent, on the greatest threat to the future security, safety and well-being of all Australians.

04 December 2021

After Glasgow, a climate reality check

The pledges made at COP26 global policy-making conference in November will not prevent 1.5℃ or even 2℃ of global warming. The outcome from Glasgow leaves a role for fossil fuels for many decades to come.

As a climate advocate, you know the underestimation of the climate reality poses grave consequences for global safety, health and well-being.

Get the 2021 Climate Reality Check, presenting an update of 20 critical observations and insights to help advocates address the climate emergency and support actions for a safe climate.

  • Stop increasing additional warming: Advocate for zero emissions by 2030 
  • Prevent imminent damage: Support safe near-term cooling research; innovation 
  • Restore safe climate conditions: Encourage large scale drawdown of pre-existing emissions

View the short explainer video and download the full Climate Reality Check 2021 for the latest analysis.

2021 Climate Reality Check:

  • Presents a sound scientific foundation to increase vital awareness and help frame effective strategy.
  • Highlights major trends and impacts to emphasise urgent and severe vulnerabilities.
  • Confronts risks and threats with rigour and unrestrained honesty.
  • Identifies critical actions essential for safe climate global protection.



02 November 2021

With "net zero 2050" and the 1.5°C in the same breath, Glasgow reeks of cognitive dissonance

by David Spratt

So far most of the media coverage and advocacy at COP26 has been poor and severely misinformed. One after another  politicians, business leaders, journalists and NGO advocates talk about "net zero 2050" and the 1.5°C Paris goal in the same breath, and get away with it.  This gross underestimation of the climate condition is utterly delusional, and very few seem to be calling it out.

"Net zero 2050" (NZ2050) is a con, as this blog has reported over and over again, as did this Breakthrough report.  Central bankers have NZ2050 scenarios in which fossil fuels constitute 50% of primary energy use in 2050.  When the Murdoch media endorses the NZ2050 climate goal, you know it is the problem and not the answer. 2050 is so far away it's a reason for procrastination.  Judging by the G20 outcome, even NZ2050 and a coal phase-out may not pass muster in Glasgow.  China is on net zero by 2060 and India on net zero by 2070.

26 October 2021

"Net zero 2050" is a deadly scam justifying fossil fuel use way past 2050. It is not to be celebrated.

by David Spratt

DOWNLOAD Briefing Paper: Net zero 2050 is a dangerous illusion

Should the Australia Government be congratulated for finally, and in a completely empty manner, saying it supports a "Net zero 2050" climate target?

The answer is no, because as RenewEconomy put it today, the government's announcement is “A joke" Morrison’s net zero plan has net zero detail, and no change to policies."

Writing for RenewEconomy some weeks ago, Ketan Joshi declared that the Murdoch media empire "hasn’t seen the light on climate – they’re just updating their tactics". And the tactic of doing a 180-degree climate back-flip and with a straight face supporting "Net zero 2050" (NZ2050) 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.

21 October 2021

Security leaders on Glasgow COP26: Water shortfalls mean we can’t wait for 2050

 by Chris Barrie and Ian Dunlop, first published at The Australian

[Reproduced with permission of the authors]

Net-zero emissions by 2050 will be sold as the success story of the Glasgow climate conference next month, but this may be at the expense of commitments for deep emissions cuts this decade that are of primary importance in preserving human and global security.

The problem is that 2050 is too far away and an excuse for procrastination. The chief executive of a large financial institution recently was reported as saying it was “easy for bosses to commit their companies to net-zero carbon emissions because it was ‘next, next, next, next management’s problem’”. Ditto politicians.In reality, what the world does in the short term matters most, especially when it comes to maintaining human and global security, based on water and food security, in a climate-disrupted world. 

12 October 2021

From dust to dust

 Today's blog is  a guest post from filmmaker James Bartlett, who is looking for support for a short climate film, From dust to dust. 

Australia has long been dragging its feet on the global stage in our obligation to dramatically reduce our carbon footprint to zero. As the efforts of other nations begin to dwarf our own, it has become painfully clear that our elected government cares little about the impacts of climate change. What are the implications of this ambivalence and where are we heading?

From Dust to Dust is a third-year-graduation project by students at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS) that explores these issues. This 12-minute drama, with elements of absurdity and black comedy, takes place in a near future; an environment that is barely habitable after decades of abuse and ignorance. Small towns are suffering the effects of the climate crisis, where fresh water has become increasingly difficult to attain. For some rural areas of Australia, this is already a reality.

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

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:


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.