U.N. climate reports: current efforts are not nearly sufficient to avert climate catastrophe

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An alarming United Nations report released Tuesday said global temperatures are on track to rise as much as 3.9°C by the end of the century, meaning only drastic and unprecedented emissions reductions can stave off the most devastating consequences of the climate crisis. ‘The science is screaming’: UN report warns only rapid and transformational action can stave off global climate disaster:

The annual Emissions Gap report (pdf) from the U.N. Environmental Program (UNEP) warns that nations’ commitments under the Paris climate accord—from which U.S. President Donald Trump began formally withdrawing this month—are not nearly sufficient to bring about the widespread changes needed to avert climate catastrophe.

“It is evident that incremental changes will not be enough and there is a need for rapid and transformational action,” the report states. “By necessity, this will see profound change in how energy, food, and other material-intensive services are demanded and provided by governments, businesses, and markets.”

According to the report, produced by an international team of leading scientists and researchers, greenhouse gas emissions must begin falling 7.6 percent annually by 2020 to prevent global temperatures from rising more than 1.5°C by 2030.

“Our collective failure to act early and hard on climate change means we now must deliver deep cuts to emissions,” Inger Andersen, UNEP’s executive director, said in a statement. “This shows that countries simply cannot wait until the end of 2020, when new climate commitments are due, to step up action. They—and every city, region, business, and individual—need to act now.”

Anderson added that only “major transformations of economies and societies” will be enough.

“We need to catch up on the years in which we procrastinated,” Anderson said. “If we don’t do this, the 1.5°C goal will be out of reach before 2030.”

The Emissions Gap report comes just a day after the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported that levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a record high in 2018.

A United Nations report released last year said the world could face catastrophic climate change impacts unless global greenhouse gas emissions are cut by 45 percent by 2030. The world would need to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, the report found.

Those estimates now appear to be overly optimistic. Global warming is accelerating at a faster pace than previously estimated.

“There has never been a more important time to listen to the science,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement Tuesday. “Failure to heed these warnings and take drastic action to reverse emissions means we will continue to witness deadly and catastrophic heatwaves, storms, and pollution.”

May Boeve, chief executive of 350.org, said the new reports show “the science is screaming.”

“To world leaders we say: it is time to stop the expansion of the fossil fuel industry immediately,” Boeve said in a statement Tuesday. “Not a single new mine can be dug, not another pipeline built, not one more well dropped into the ocean.  And we have to get to work immediately transitioning to sustainable renewable energy powered energy systems.”

“Across the globe, resistance to fossil fuels is rising, the climate strikes have shown the world that we are prepared to take action,” Boeve added. “Going forward people will keep up a steady drumbeat of actions, strikes, and protests that get louder and louder throughout 2020. To governments attending Cop25 in Madrid, the eyes of all future generations are upon you. The world has woken up to the reality of climate breakdown.”

So we do not have as much time as scientists initially estimated. Many scientists believe that it is already too late.

So this proposal is not as ambitious as this headline suggests: the Arizona Mirror reports, 4 AZ Dems back plan for 100% clean energy by 2050 (this is simply too late under any current scientific estimates):

Four Arizona Democrats have signed on as co-sponsors of ambitious legislation that would commit the United States to achieve a 100% clean energy economy by 2050.

The bill would require economy-wide net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and would also direct federal agencies to draft plans to clamp down on emissions that contribute to climate change. The Arizona Democrats are among the more than 150 Democratic co-sponsors to the bill, which was introduced this week by Rep. Don McEachin (D-Va.) and has the backing of national environmental groups.

The Arizona co-sponsors are Reps. Ruben Gallego, Raúl Grijalva, Ann Kirkpatrick and Greg Stanton. The other Democrat in Arizona’s delegation to the U.S. House, Rep. Tom O’Halleran, did not join as a co-sponsor, but a spokeswoman said he supports its goals and wants to see steps taken toward a clean-energy economy.

No Republicans, including the four from Arizona, are co-sponsoring the legislation.

Kirkpatrick said climate change “is the greatest threat we face,” and it has put Arizonans at danger of floods and wildfires.

“I am sponsoring this legislation because I know that Arizona can be part of the solution to the climate crisis,” she said in a written statement. “The 100% Clean Economy Act is ambitious and achievable. This is the climate action that we need to bolster our economy, protect the health of our kids, strengthen national security, and usher our country towards a 100% clean future.”

Stanton said during his time as Phoenix mayor, the city prioritized clean energy and set its own ambitious goal to become carbon neutral.

“Climate change is ravaging the Southwest, and Congress has an obligation to take bold action to combat it,” he said in a written statement.

O’Halleran spokeswoman Kaitlin Hooker said the Sedona Democrat “applauds the intent of this bill as a broad framework for achieving carbon emissions reductions,” but wants to ensure that workers are protected as the country transitions to clean energy.“

He is focused on ensuring that this legislative package includes efforts to provide job and skills training and economic development resources to displaced workers and closing businesses like those he has outlined within his PROMISE Act, legislation to address the closure of NGS and similar plants,” Hooker said.

McEachin, the bill’s sponsor, said his legislation will protect Americans.

“The need to act on climate has never been clearer: 2019 is on pace to be one of the hottest years ever recorded and every week brings another community damaged by extreme weather events fueled by climate change,” said McEachin said in a statement.

The bill, titled the 100% Clean Economy Act of 2019, “will protect public health and our environment; create high-quality green jobs that will strengthen our economy; and mitigate the impacts of climate change for all communities and all generations,” he said.

At least Congress is making an effort to address climate change.

And then there is the the Arizona legislature. God save us. An Arizona climate change denier House Republican wants to remove lessons about the social and economic consequences of climate change from the statewide requirements for K-12 environmental education. The Arizona Mirror reports, Republican lawmaker doesn’t want environmental justice taught in schools:

House Education Committee Vice-Chairman John Fillmore, R-Apache Junction, introduced legislation this month that would strike “a discussion of economic and social implications” from the state’s current requirements for environmental instruction curricula. The only other requirement is that lessons be based on reliable and current scientific information.

Fillmore described the bill as “ending indoctrination in the global warming programs,” but under the “reliable and current scientific information” condition for curricula, climate change would still be taught even if Fillmore’s bill passed, given that the overwhelming majority of reliable and current scientific information about the earth’s climate points to a global increase in temperatures.

Neither Fillmore, nor his Democratic co-sponsor, Rep. Geraldine ‘Gerae’ Peten, D-Goodyear, responded to repeated requests for comment.

Say what now? This doesn’t sound right to me.

The legislature will take up Fillmore’s measure when lawmakers return to work in January.

The consensus among most researchers is also that the changing climate will have a disproportionate impact on those of disadvantaged social and economic status. The World Bank estimated in 2018 that more than 140 million people will be climate migrants by 2050. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, meanwhile, set that number at 200 million; though “climate migrant” does not necessarily imply fleeing a natural disaster and sometimes implies preemptively migrating to avoid worse effects of climate change that would occur later.

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Last year, the state added to its lessons on life and earth science that “applications of science often have both positive and negative ethical, social, economic, and/or political implications,” reflecting the now-common idea that science interfaces with every other segment of society.

Fillmore’s bill, if it becomes law, would directly contradict the current state standards on earth science, which include lessons about the climate. The Arizona Department of Education declined to comment on the legislation until Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman has the opportunity to discuss the bill with its sponsors, a spokesman said.

The human race will not act with the urgency required to save itself. We are the proverbial frog in the pot of boiling water.




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