A 350 PPM emergency pathway

The Greenhouse Development Rights project, of which we are core members, has just released a brief report (only 12 pages) entitled A 350 ppm Emergency Pathway. In it, for the first time, a very precise and up-to-date representative 350 ppm pathway is developed. Like so:

The first phase of the 350 campaign has been a wild success. 350 is now an international symbol of emergency climate stabilization. More importantly, the 350 target reflects a scientifically-grounded assessment of what global climate protection really means. But what would it actually take to bring the atmospheric carbon-dioxide (CO2) concentration back to 350 parts per million?  This memo provides a quick, up-to-date overview of the issues here, which are significant to any plausible emergency emissions-reduction effort. It focuses on the extremely limited size of the global CO2 budget that would remain to us in a 350 ppm future, and on the shape of the emissions pathway that’s needed if were to keep within that budget. In particular, it specifies a representative emissions pathway consistent with a 350 ppm concentration target. By way of context, it then compares this 350 pathway to an emission pathway consistent with a 2C temperature target, and to other, supposedly 2C-compliant pathways that have significantly lower odds of actually satisfying their target. Finally, it offers a brief glimpse of the challenges that all true emergency climate-reduction targets raise in this North / South divided world.

Continue reading “A 350 PPM emergency pathway”

Rough initial thoughts on the Copenhagen Accord

Copenhagen was obviously a failure — at least if you judge it by the numbers, the formal emission targets and financial commitments that are needed to support a fair and effective emergency global climate mobilization. If you judge it, that is, by what is necessary.

The more pressing question, though, is whether Copenhagen was a failure when judged against, not what is necessary, but rather what was possible. This is a much more difficult question, and it has far more to do with judgment than with calculation. And, here, very little is obvious.

Continue reading “Rough initial thoughts on the Copenhagen Accord”

The climate scoreboard

This scoreboard isn’t perfect. For one thing, it doesn’t really show national proposals — a term that implies that countries are suggesting levels of effort for others as well as for themselves. These are actually pledges, not proposals. And for another thing, national pledges are in no way compared to national fair shares — what countries should be doing. But leave aside these two little “details,” and this isn’t a bad scoreboard.

Europe's Share of the Climate Challenge

A major new report, just released today by the Stockholm Environment Institute and Friends of the Earth Europe, shows that — despite an increasingly widespread sense that climate catastrophe can no longer be averted — radical action, on the necessary scale, is still a very real possibility.

The report — Europe’s Share of the Climate Challenge: Domestic Actions and International Obligations to Protect the Planet — takes a close look at Europe, showing exactly how it can show leadership in keeping global climate change within the necessary planetary limits. The analysis is in terms of Europe’s”two fold obligation,” and shows how it can act, on the one hand, by undertaking domestic actions to rapidly reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs), and, on the other, by fulfilling its international obligations to help other countries address the twin crises of climate change and development. Continue reading “Europe's Share of the Climate Challenge”

Chuck Norris on Copenhagen

A lot of dreck comes across my desktop. I’m even on a list called ennui mail, and some of it is utterly irredeemable. But still I took notice when Chuck Norris: Copenhagen Talks To Forge One World Order blew in.

I especially like this bit:

In this conference, they’re going to try to take our money and send it to third-world countries because of, since we spend so much oil and these other countries have suffered, then were going to give our money to these third-world countries.

But then there’s this:

Neil, we have people here starving in our own country, Norris said. You know, my foundation, I have families, who are making $9,000 a year, the kids I’m teaching. Why aren’t we trying to help the poverty in our own country

… which demands to be taken a bit more seriously. Continue reading “Chuck Norris on Copenhagen”

Solving the climate dilemma: The budget approach

This recent report, from an esteemed German research shop with the acronym WBGU, is, despite its dry title, an important milestone on our collective path to the Big Climate Reckoning. Though you should be warned that Mark Hertsgaard, in Grist, reviewed it under the title A scary new climate study will have you saying Oh, shit!

Rather than rehashing Hertzgaard’s nice introduction to this report and its principle author, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, let me simply add that, in essence, Solving the climate dilemma puts forward a version of the “carbon budget” analysis explored in another important paper, Greenhouse-gas emission targets for limiting global warming to 2C, published in April in Nature by Malte Meinshausen and friends. See our discussion of that paper here.

What’s important in this new study is that, in it, an influential group of top-tier scientists sets out to draw explicit political conclusions — about the shape of the necessary global climate accord — that are consistent with the implications of the budget approach, as they see them. More particularly, they set out to advocate a budget-sharing system that, they believe, is fair enough to serve as the basis of a global emergency mobilization. Continue reading “Solving the climate dilemma: The budget approach”

The Economics of Emergency (i.e., 350)

This utterly fantastic new report — The Economics of 350: The Benets and Costs of Climate Stabilization — is quite impossible to praise too highly.

The only criticism we have is that it is a mitigation-side only analysis that doesn’t take the costs of adaptation (insofar as adaptation is even possible) into account. Oh, and that it has little to say about the all-important questions that rotate around the costs that are here so nicely analyzed — e.g., who pays them, and how But this isn’t a real criticism, just a note about the tight focus of this report.

The two lead authors — Frank Ackerman and Elizabeth A. Stanton — are affiliated with the “E3” network, Economics for Equity and the Environment, and are among the best environmental economists in the business. Their co-authors are similarly illustrious, and their ambitions are high. An impressive team all around, and three of them wrote their own introduction to the report on Grist. Read it here.

The goal of the report is to turn an clear eye to the core economic problem of the climate crisis, and it does so in a manner that is both illuminating and incisive. Two 350 scenarios are discussed, one of which, James Hansen’s, seeks a return to 350 ppm CO2 by 2100, and requires “negative emissions” to pull off the feat. The other, the reference trajectory used by the Ackerman group, is less ambitious, and takes until 2200 to do the deed. Like so:


Continue reading “The Economics of Emergency (i.e., 350)”

UN calls for global Marshall Plan, cites GDRs prominantly in the process

The 2009 edition of the UN’s World Economic and Social Survey — it’s subtitle is “Promoting Development, Saving the Planet” — is an important document, for a number of reasons. For one thing, it fundamentally and comprehensively takes a development approach to solving the global climate crisis. In particular, according to its authors at DESA, the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, it:

sees little benefit in ad hoc incremental actions, spelling out instead the potential of a big investment push to deliver on both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping communities to cope with climate change, and calling for more truly integrated policy responses to development and climate challenges. It does not shy away from describing the enormity of the adjustments that will have to be undertaken by countries at all levels of development if progress is to be made; or from insisting that the advanced countries will have to deliver resources and leadership on a much larger scale than has been the case to date.

Continue reading “UN calls for global Marshall Plan, cites GDRs prominantly in the process”