Climate campaigners have adopted a slogan for the lead up to the international climate change conference (COP-21) in Paris this December: “Leave it in the ground.” The UN’s climate chief Christiana Figueres told the fossil fuel industry, “Three-quarters of the fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground.” The slogan illustrates how the discourse is moving “upstream,” from controlling emissions at the smoke stack or tailpipe to limiting the production of fossil fuels at the coal mine or oil well.
Three years ago Bill McKibben laid out the “terrifying math” behind the “excess fossil fuels,” which if unearthed, would push the planet past the safe carbon budget as calculated by scientists. It starts with two degrees Celsius, the maximum level of acceptable temperature change that the world’s nations agreed to above pre-industrial levels. From there, estimates of the world’s remaining carbon budget vary depending on the level of acceptable risk. On the low end is McKibben’s relatively risk-averse estimate of 565 gigatonnes (GT) CO2. A 2013 report from Carbon Tracker put the number at 975 GT for an 80% probability of remaining below 2 degrees C. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s proposed a budget of 1000 billion tonnes (Gt) of CO2 starting from 2011 that would give the planet a 66% chance of avoiding 2 °C warming. But Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research notes that between 2011 and 2014 CO2 emissions from energy production amounted to about 140 GT of CO2, and when he subtracts emissions from deforestation and cement production through the year 2100 (60 Gt and 150 GT), then at the current global rate of 35 GT per year, the remaining 650 GT would be used up in just 19 years! This puts the climate talks in Paris in perspective. There is no time for low initial national “contributions” with “ratcheting up ambition” after 5 or 10 year review periods. The entire carbon budget will be gone by 2034!
Scientists are disputing a prominent Republican congressman’s claims that federal climate researchers rushed a study to publication in order to advance the Obama administration’s policies. And yesterday a coalition of science groups released a letter decrying the lawmaker’s efforts to force researchers to release emails and other records surrounding the study.
The moves mark the latest developments in a fight that has brewed for nearly 6 months. Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX), chairman of the House science committee, says that whistleblowers within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have complained that their concerns about a major study published by Science this past June were ignored in a “rush to publication.”
The study, led by NOAA researcher Thomas Karl, refuted previous findings that global warming had slowed since 1998. That “pause” has become a chief talking point of skeptics of mainstream climate science, including Smith. And the “timing of [the study’s] release raises concerns that it was expedited to fit the Administration’s aggressive climate agenda,” Smith wrote in an 18 November letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, who oversees NOAA.
“To protect our own wealth and well-being we are destroying the welfare of the world’s poorest people. When one group of people forcibly removes something from another group for their own benefit, it is called a crime. And climate change is the greatest crime that we have ever committed because, ultimately, the people we are stealing from are our own children and the world’s most vulnerable people.” ~George Marshal – Carbon Detox
Today, the National Energy Board’s Joint Review Panel released its recommendation to approve the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta to Kitimat: now it is a matter of time for the Federal government to approve this project. Early this week, Kinder Morgan submitted its application for the new Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby. Earlier this month, Canada submitted a claim on to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf to get…
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