No Immediate Danger

William Vollmann’s Brutal Book About Climate Change

It is also an almanac of global energy use. The initial volume opens with a 200-page primer busy with tables, lists, and data (“I assure you that there will be no harm in skipping to page 217”) and concludes with 80 pages of definitions, units, and conversions (“Readers should feel free to skip this section”). It is a travelogue to natural landscapes riven by energy production, most prominently Fukushima (nuclear), West Virginia (coal), Colorado (natural gas), and the United Arab Emirates (oil). It is a work of oral history, containing dozens of interviews with laborers who toil in or live beside nuclear reactors, caves, and oil refineries, paired with Vollmann’s own snapshots. And it is a compassionate work of anthropology that tries to make sense of man’s inability to weigh future cataclysm against short-term comfort. Carbon Ideologies is most fascinating, however, for what it is not: a polemic.

Nearly every book about climate change that has been written for a general audience contains within it a message of hope, and often a prod toward action. Vollmann declares from the outset that he will not offer any solutions, because he does not believe any are possible: “Nothing can be done to save [the world as we know it]; therefore, nothing need be done.” This makes Carbon Ideologies, for all its merits and flaws, one of the most honest books yet written on climate change. Vollmann’s undertaking is in the vanguard of the coming second wave of climate literature, books written not to diagnose or solve the problem, but to grapple with its moral consequences. http://bit.ly/2wXUAMF

EPA rolls back Obama-era coal pollution rules as Trump heads to West Virginia

 

CNN)As his Environmental Protection Agency delivers its latest blow to environmental regulations aimed at reducing carbon emissions, President Donald Trump is heading into the heart of coal country to deliver the good news.

Trump will join supporters in Charleston, West Virginia, for a political rally on Tuesday to celebrate his administration’s proposal to allow states to set their own emissions standards for coal-fueled power plants.
The move would reverse Obama administration efforts to combat climate change and marks the fulfilment of a campaign promise at the heart of his appeal in coal-producing states like West Virginia.
The EPA Tuesday morning formally unveiled the details of its new plan to devolve regulation of coal-fired power plants back to the states, one that is expected to give a boost to the coal industry and increase carbon emissions nationwide.
The move is just the latest effort by the Trump administration to revive an ailing coal industry and strip climate change-fighting regulations established by the Obama administration. He previously announced plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accords, calling it an unfair deal for Americans. Read More

Big oil and climate change

Though oil and gas companies have known about global climate change for decades, they’ve deferred reducing crude and gas production until the second half of this century. But with global weather patterns in flux, activists have been demanding that energy companies set and commit to more rapid action on curbing oil and gas production in line with the Paris climate agreement.
New calls for action come amidst forecasts by the International Energy Agency (IEA) that, by 2014, demand for oil and gas could fall by almost 50 percent – but only if carbon emissions reduction targets are met. With this threat to profits, many ask if big oil companies are serious about addressing global climate change.

Facing an eventual drop in demand, energy companies delay caps on the production of carbon-emitting products.

Oil majors like Royal Dutch Shell has acknowledged that climate change will be a major challenge for years to come, but Total and others are still expecting strong demand for fossil fuels over the next few decades – and Exxon Mobil is under investigation over financial disclosures for climate change.
Anthony Hobley, CEO for the financial think-tank Carbon Tracker, told Counting the Cost that when it comes to profits and compliance with international carbon reduction agreements, big energy companies are sending mixed messages:
“I think they’ve been a bit schizophrenic. They are looking at climate risk and we’re now being deluged with disclosure and scenario analysis from the companies that are, effectively, stress testing their business models against a Paris compliant two degrees pathway. But then when they talk to investors they’re still talking up demand.” Read More

No longer National Security: It is now Planetary Security

George Monbiot superbly sums up the talks, saying: “By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster.”

The Path From Paris

He writes that: “A maximum of 1.5C, now an aspirational and unlikely target, was eminently achievable when the first UN climate change conference took place in Berlin in 1995. Two decades of procrastination, caused by lobbying – overt, covert and often downright sinister – by the fossil fuel lobby, coupled with the reluctance of governments to explain to their electorates that short-term thinking has long-term costs, ensure that the window of opportunity is now three-quarters shut. The talks in Paris are the best there have ever been. And that is a terrible indictment.””

Here is 350’s Bill McKibben, following up on the Avaaz positive clarion call to arms with a powerful article in today’s Guardian titled ‘Climate deal: the pistol has fired, so why aren’t we running?’

“With the climate talks in Paris now over, the world has set itself a serious goal: limit temperature rise to 1.5C. Or failing that, 2C. Hitting those targets is absolutely necessary: even the one-degree rise that we’ve already seen is wreaking havoc on everything from ice caps to ocean chemistry. But meeting it won’t be easy, given that we’re currently on track for between 4C and 5C. Our only hope is to decisively pick up the pace . . . the only important question, is: how fast . . .

“You’ve got to stop fracking right away (in fact, that may be the greatest imperative of all, since methane gas does its climate damage so fast). You have to start installing solar panels and windmills at a breakneck pace – and all over the world. The huge subsidies doled out to fossil fuel have to end yesterday, and the huge subsidies to renewable energy had better begin tomorrow. You have to raise the price of carbon steeply and quickly, so everyone gets a clear signal to get off of it . . .

“The world’s fossil fuel companies still have five times the carbon we can burn and have any hope of meeting even the 2C target – and they’re still determined to burn it. The Koch Brothers will spend $900m on this year’s American elections. As we know from the ongoing Exxon scandal, there’s every reason to think that this industry will lie at every turn in an effort to hold on to their power –

What this boils down to is not an issue of National Security, but of Global Security, of Planetary Security. The huge subsidies doled out to fossil fuel companies must be clawed back and put towards the Clean Energy Agenda. This is particularly an issue given what we know from the ongoing Exxon scandal, there’s every reason to think that this industry will lie at every turn unless made to pay for their endangerment of humanity.

We have to raise the price of carbon steeply and quickly and use this income to mitigate and sequester carbon in the atmosphere.

Kevin Anderson concludes that we have to make: “Fundamental changes to the political and economic framing of contemporary society. This is a mitigation challenge far beyond anything discussed in Paris – yet without it our well-intended aspirations will all too soon wither and die on the vine. We owe our children, our planet and ourselves more than that. So let Paris be the catalyst for a new paradigm – one in which we deliver a sustainable, equitable and prosperous future for all.”

We must remember that the Montreal Treaty did work. Kofi Annan, Former Secretary General of the United Nations stated “Perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date has been the Montreal Protocol” Remember; “It always seems impossible until it's done” Nelson Mandela. More

 

The Great Change: Taking Our Carrots to Paris

The Great Change: Taking Our Carrots to Paris:

“Leave the sticks to others. We are carrot people.” If we had one do-over for our presentation at the Paris COP21 Climate Su…

The Great Change: Taking our carrots to Paris. By Albert Bates

If we had one do-over for our presentation at the Paris COP21 Climate Summit, it would have been to bring along a voice recorder so we could have a better recollection of our talk. Caught up in the moment, trying to make non-functioning audio, video and skype connections work, and quickly, the idea of recording slipped by. We have only what we can pull from our feeble memory, so here we go.

Than it was our turn to take to the microphone and give a rousing close about the weaknesses of the proposed treaty, the cost of 20-years delay, and the need now to go beyond zero and take more carbon from the atmosphere than is being emitted. “Emissions reductions will not save us now,” we said, “but photosynthesis can.” We pointed to the sources and sinks, saying the atmosphere was passing its pollutants and heat to the oceans but the oceans were already overwhelmed. Only vegetation and soil remained as viable sinks. As climate warms further, as it must, they too will be stressed and absorption will diminish. Time is of the essence. We showed our slide from Exxon's recent report saying that the world will still be 85% dependent on fossil fuels in 2040. They base their conclusion on images such as this one, and assume that everyone would just as soon exchange the bullocks and handmade plow for a large horsepower tractor.

Actually, that method of plowing is obsolete. It releases gigatons of greenhouse gases from the very place where we can still safely store them — in the soil. That style is being replaced with a suite of tools that produce more food per land area and net sequester more carbon every year, build soil, store water, and increase the resiliency of land to withstand storms, floods and droughts. Our tools include no-till organic farming, agroforestry, aquaponics, keyline design, holistic management, remineralization, biochar from biomass energy production, and permaculture. According to recent report by the UN Commissioner on Human Rights, “ecoagriculture” is the ONLY way we are going to feed the population of the world by 2040. Then we need to go beyond that and perform what Mark Shepard calls “restoration agriculture,” building back the web of life and returning us to a garden planet. Click on the link below for the complete blog.

http://peaksurfer.blogspot.com/2015/12/taking-our-carrots-to-paris.html

 

 

LAC Carbon Forum Calls for Including Market Approaches in Paris Agreement

11 September 2015: The 9th Latin American and Caribbean Carbon Forum (LACCF 2015) concluded with calls for the use of market-based mechanisms and other forms of carbon pricing and climate finance to be included as mitigation and development tools in the global climate agreement expected to be adopted at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).


The Forum, which took place from 9-11 September 2015, in Santiago, Chile, was organized by the World Bank Group, the Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE), the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UNEP DTU Partnership, the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), the UNFCCC Secretariat, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF).


It brought together key business and government representatives and other stakeholders from across the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region to share, among other things: the most recent developments on carbon pricing, climate financing and green investments in LAC; and best practices and lessons learned from the implementation of the CDM in LAC.


The Forum provided a platform to showcase successful examples of the use of market-based approaches such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), innovative financial instruments, and carbon pricing policies in the region. Discussions at the Forum also highlighted the need to bridge the gap between public and private sector actions so as to leverage the finance needed to address climate change in the region.


The Forum concluded, inter alia, that the expected Paris agreement should not overlook any mechanism that could be used to put the LAC region and the world on a low-carbon development pathway. [UNFCCC Press Release] [UNEP DTU Press Release] [LACCF 2015 Website] More



 

 

 

 

GRID-Arendal Highlights Blue Forests Project Launch

December 2014: GRID-Arendal's interim marine newsletter highlights the launch of the Global Environment Facility's (GEF) Blue Forests Project, which will explore how to harness the value of carbon and other coastal ecosystem services to improve ecosystem management.

The Blue Forests Project aims to increase recognition of the role of mangroves, seagrasses and saltmarshes in climate change mitigation and adaptation. It will also address knowledge gaps on the role of blue forests in storing and sequestering carbon and sheltering towns from storms. The project will be implemented in Ecuador, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as well as in a to-be-determined location in Central America.

The newsletter also highlights: the Norwegian Blue Forests Network, an initiative that focuses on harnessing the potential of blue forests to capture and store atmospheric carbon as well as other ecosystem services; and a GRID-Arendal and Blue Climate Solutions report, ‘Fish Carbon: Exploring Marine Vertebrate Carbon Services.' The report highlights the potential of marine vertebrates to address climate change and prevent global biodiversity loss and presents eight “fish carbon” mechanisms.

GRID-Arendal also announced that it will begin producing a common newsletter for all its programmes beginning in January 2015, making this newsletter the last one focused solely on marine issues. More

[GRID-Arendal Newsletter] [GRID-Arendal News on Blue Forests Project] [Blue Forests Project Website] [GRID-Arendal News on Norwegian Blue Forests Network] [Publication: Fish Carbon: Exploring Marine Vertebrate Carbon Services]