The eighteenth annual session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 18) will take place from Monday, 26 November to Friday, 7 December 2012 at the Qatar National Convention Centre in Doha, Qatar. Our “leaders” will again be talking about and considering proposals for the mitigation of and adaptation to Climate Change. I place the term “leaders” in inverted commas since it would appear that, even after 18 years of these talks, not one of them seems to want to “lead” on this issue which the science tells us will have a profound effect upon all of us.
Recently we have heard from a range of sources all suggesting that we need urgent action now:
- the International Energy Agency on page 3 of the executive summary of its World Energy Outlook stated “No more than one-third of proven reserves of fossil fuels can be consumed prior to 2050 if the world is to achieve the 2°C goal” http://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/English.pdf
- Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) joined Unilever NV (UNA) and more than 100 companies calling for lawmakers worldwide to put a “clear” price on carbon emissions in order to contain global warming. http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-11-18/shell-edf-lead-100-companies-calling-for-carbon-price
- the World Bank released a report that “Warns of Dramatically Warmer World This Century” http://climatechange.worldbank.org/content/climate-change-report-warns-dramatically-warmer-world-century
- the World Meteorological Organization released a report that showed that greenhouse gas concentrations reached a new record high in 2011 http://www.wmo.int/pages/mediacentre/press_releases/pr_965_en.html
- The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration informs us that this is the 332nd consecutive month with an above-average temperature. http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/global/2012/10 (If you were born in or after April 1985, if you are younger than 27 years old, you have never lived through a month that was colder than average. That is so far outside the bounds of probability as to be absolutely astonishing.)
- Meanwhile arctic sea ice continues to trend downwards with 2012 having the lowest sea ice extent and volume on record: http://psc.apl.washington.edu/wordpress/research/projects/arctic-sea-ice-volume-anomaly/
Hurricane Sandy – the Frankenstorm – drove home to Americans, and indeed the world, that the effects of Climate Change are being felt now and the science tells us that it will only get worse. Munich RE, one of the world’s largest re-insurers, says “It is one of the greatest risks facing mankind.”
Closer to home we have felt the effects of a one-in-a-hundred-year flood two years running in Queensland not to mention a ten-year drought (which still hasn’t ended in WA) culminating in the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria. To say that we cannot act for economic reasons ignores the economic costs of not acting – never mind the economic benefits of moving to a low carbon economy with its inherent security of supply; never mind that, once the renewable power stations have been built, there is no fuel cost.
Catalyst on the ABC took Australia’s Temperature recently http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/3633447.htm and this is well worth a look. Also worthy of a listen is Kevin Anderson’s (Deputy Director of the UK’s Tyndall Centre) address “Real clothes for the Emperor: Facing the challenges of climate change” http://www.bristol.ac.uk/cabot/events/2012/194.html. In this he suggests that 2°C is a pipe dream and that we are on target for 4°C or more by century’s end – now that is just plain scary! He does give hope that we can change that possibility, however.
This is undoubtedly the “greatest moral challenge of our generation” and one we have hitherto been unable to rise to – let us rise to it now, before it is too late. Let us lead our leaders to make the right choice for our future on this planet – get the conversation going with whoever you meet – this is undoubtedly the most important thing you can do this fortnight.