And halfway through the book he says, in all caps, “If you have made it this far, you are a brave reader.” He admits that any of those chapters contains, “enough horror to induce a panic attack in even the most optimistic of those considering it.”
In an Australian first, development consent for a new coal mine was refused by the Land and Environment Court of NSW (the Court) for reasons that included its material greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and contribution to climate change.
‘By the time the science is proven, it will be too late to act,’ chief Peter Coleman says
“Governments can no longer make promises they don’t fulfil. Countries have an obligation to protect their citizens against climate change. That makes this trial relevant for all other countries.”
One can only hope that governments will start acting with urgency to avoid this fast moving train crash and the scientists writing the reports are not suffering from “conservative bias”.
In order to achieve the 1.5°C target, we have the enormous challenge of reducing net emissions to ZERO by 2050!
Below are the links to the report published by the IPCC. It assesses the impact of not achieving the 1.5°C target of global warming. We have also included the reporting from some of the major newspapers.
The report highlights a number of climate change impacts that could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C, or more. For instance, by 2100, global sea level rise would be 10 cm lower with global warming of 1.5°C compared with 2°C. The likelihood of an Arctic Ocean free of sea ice in summer would be once per century with global warming of 1.5°C, compared with at least once per decade with 2°C. Coral reefs would decline by 70-90 percent with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas virtually all (> 99 percent) would be lost with 2°C.
“Preventing an extra single degree of heat could make a life-or-death difference in the next few decades for multitudes of people and ecosystems on this fast-warming planet, an international panel of scientists reported Sunday. But they provide little hope the world will rise to the challenge.”
“The world’s leading climate scientists have warned there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5°C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.”
The Washington Post.
“There is no documented historic precedent” for the sweeping changes required to hold the planet’s warming to just 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found.”
“A landmark report from the United Nations’ scientific panel on climate change paints a far more dire picture of the immediate consequences of climate change than previously thought and says that avoiding the damage requires transforming the world economy at a speed and scale that has “no documented historic precedent.”
This update was published the day before the AFL Grand Final and consequently received little attention. It is likely our appalling track record documented in this report will receive considerably more attention in the future - particularly from the EU!
Behind the 8 Ball
The latest Tracking Progress report from ClimateWorks (September 2018) shows Australia is not yet on track to meet its emissions reduction targets as stipulated under the Paris Agreement - but there are still many opportunities to get there.
When asked how Australia’s new approach to climate policy might affect the ongoing talks, a Commission spokesperson told EURACTIV that “it would be difficult to imagine concluding a broad trade agreement without an ambitious chapter on trade and sustainable development”.
“In a nutshell, the findings suggest that emissions drive climate changes that trigger abrupt changes to Earth systems when they cross certain thresholds. Ten of these feedback loops are identified in the report, including the release of methane trapped in Siberian permafrost and the impact of melting ice in Greenland on the Antarctic.”
"Climate change is not some distant threat. It is a global tragedy unfolding before our eyes, disrupting ecosystems, communities and economies. For companies, investors and financiers the risks and opportunities are immediate and pressing. The expectations of markets and policymakers on emissions reduction targets and adaptation measures are ramping up. Customers, shareholders and regulators demand increasingly sophisticated responses. If Australian businesses and company directors fail to react urgently and coherently, then they will jeopardise their own future: assets will be stranded or uninsurable, investment will stall, debts will go unpaid, and companies will collapse.” Download the full report here
Studies show that companies that take steps to operate more sustainably outperform their peers in terms of shareholder return. In a recent study from the Henley Business School, researchers examined the relationship between carbon emission disclosures and financial performance for UK companies. They found that the mere act of disclosure results in improved share price performance, and that there is “a significant positive relation between corporate carbon disclosure and corporate financial performance”.
In another study, Harvard researchers examined the future financial impact of material and immaterial sustainability investments. Using SASB’s framework for materiality, they were able to determine that firms with strong ratings on material sustainability issues outperform their peers with inferior ratings. Specifically, they found that top performers achieved an estimated annualized alpha of positive 4.83%, while firms that made no investments had an estimated annualized alpha of negative 2.20%.
In October, Boston Consulting Group released a report that agreed – “investors rewarded top performers in specific ESG topics with valuation multiples that were 3% to 19% higher… than median performers”. In addition, they found that top performers had margins that were up to 12.4% higher. It is irrelevant whether this is due to correlation (executive teams that understand the need for sustainable business operations are better managers overall), or causation (because of their superior sustainability efforts, these executives are creating brand value and customer allegiance that enables them to financially outperform); there is credible evidence that sustainability disclosure can help investors make better decisions.
There are lies, damned lies and Turnbull government statistics about Australia’s contribution to global climate change. Take, for example, the figures it provides on greenhouse gas emissions resulting from land clearing. If you believe them, the cutting and burning of native vegetation by farmers and other landholders resulted in 1.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide being added to the air in 2015-16.
In the same year that the federal government claimed 1.7 million tonnes of carbon emissions for the whole country, Queensland – the state that has both the nation’s worst record for land clearing and the best system for recording it – claimed by itself to have contributed some 26 times that amount.
In 2015-16, recently released data from the Queensland government’s Statewide Landcover and Trees Study (SLATS) shows, 395,000 hectares of land was cleared, producing 45 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
If you believe the federal government, nationwide carbon pollution from land clearing was down 13 per cent that year, compared with 2014-15. Yet the SLATS numbers show the amount of land cleared in Queensland was up 30 per cent, year on year.
The federal figures show CO2 emissions from land clearing are down about 90 per cent since 2012-13. Yet the SLATS data shows the area of land cleared annually in Queensland has gone up fourfold over the same period. In total, some 1.5 million hectares – an area rather larger than Northern Ireland – was cleared over the five years to 2015-16. And that was just in Queensland.
The busiest travel day of the year brings a renewed focus on transportation, and for the first time since the 1970s, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from transportation have eclipsed emissions from electricity generation as the top source of greenhouse gases.
The change comes as U.S. electricity generation relies less on coal and more on renewables and natural gas (a less carbon-intensive fossil fuel). Transportation emissions have also declined from a peak in 2008 due to steadily improving fuel economies, although there has been a small uptick recently as a result of a drop in gas prices. The projected growth in electric vehicles suggests decreases in CO2 transportation emissions are on the horizon. Even when accounting for how electricity is generated, an electric vehicle emits less carbon dioxide than a comparable gasoline car in a majority of U.S. states. More
It has been two years since the Bank of England’s Governor, Mark Carney, cautioned London’s insurance industry and the world’s capital markets concerning the “catastrophic impacts of climate change [that] will be felt beyond the traditional horizons of most actors”.
Since then, Carney’s message has been echoed by a string of financial regulators. Under his chairmanship, the Financial Stability Board established a Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (hereafter Task Force), which scrutinised the ways in which the adverse impacts from climate change might ripple across sectors to become “systemic.”
The Task Force concluded that a key forward-looking tool is scenario analysis and recommended that companies analyse the potential business impacts from a reference scenario that results in a global average warming of 2°C or lower.
Companies’ scenario analyses are now entering the market and a two-day conference on the subject hosted last week by the Bank of England and the Task Force indicates the significance of issue for the financial community. Here, we explore how the use of 2°C scenario analysis by fossil fuel companies can be made useful for investors and regulators.
In fact, a shocking new study concludes that just the methane emissions escaping from New Mexico’s gas and oil industry are “equivalent to the climate impact of approximately 12 coal-fired power plants.” If the goal is to avoid catastrophic levels of warming, a recent report by U.K. climate researchers finds “categorically no role” to play for new natural gas production.
Back in 2014, a comprehensive Stanford study published in Science concluded “A review of more than 200 earlier studies confirms that U.S. emissions of methane are considerably higher than official estimates. Leaks from the nation’s natural gas system are an important part of the problem.” More
Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere surged at a record-breaking speed in 2016 to the highest level in 800 000 years, according to the World Meteorological Organization's Greenhouse Gas Bulletin. The abrupt changes in the atmosphere witnessed in the past 70 years are without precedent.
Globally averaged concentrations of CO2 reached 403.3 parts per million in 2016, up from 400.00 ppm in 2015 because of a combination of human activities and a strong El Niño event. Concentrations of CO2 are now 145% of pre-industrial (before 1750) levels, according to the Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.
Rapidly increasing atmospheric levels of CO2 and other greenhouse gases have the potential to initiate unprecedented changes in climate systems, leading to “severe ecological and economic disruptions,” said the report.
CDP, the world’s largest environmental disclosure platform, has just published its annual scores and analysis of how the biggest companies globally are responding to climate change.
Last year, they found many big companies failing to meet Paris Agreement goals. This year, companies are moving faster:
89% of world’s biggest, most environmentally-impactful companies now have carbon emissions targets, with a fifth planning low-carbon into their futures to 2030 and beyond.
14% of 1,000+ sample are committed to aligning their targets with climate science, a 5% increase since last year. An additional 300+ companies (30%) plan to set science-based targets within two years.
Companies are closing the emissions gap, with current targets taking the sample 31% of the way to a 2-degree world, up from 25% in 2016.
The CDP A List names 159 leading corporates recognised as pioneers taking action on climate change, water and deforestation in 2017. Unilever and L'Oréal lead the way with A’s across all three areas.
Fourteen per cent of a sample of 1,073 responding companies have future-proofed their growth by committing to set science-based targets via the Science Based Targets initiative. 31 Australian companies responded, only 1 (3%) got A list ranking for climate change.
Avoiding dangerous levels of climate change is still just about possible, but will require unprecedented effort and coordination from governments, businesses, citizens and scientists in the next three years, a group of prominent experts has warned.
Warnings over global warming have picked up pace in recent months, even as the political environment has grown chilly with Donald Trump’s formal announcement of the US’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement. This year’s weather has beaten high temperature records in some regions, and 2014, 2015 and 2016 were the hottest years on record.
But while temperatures have risen, global carbon dioxide emissions have stayed broadly flat for the past three years. This gives hope that the worst effects of climate change – devastating droughts, floods, heatwaves and irreversible sea level rises – may be avoided, according to a letter published in the journal Nature this week.