The Cayman Islands must set more aggressive targets on increasing renewable energy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the light of the Paris agreement on climate change, green energy advocates have said.
The Paris climate deal, hailed as an historic feat of international diplomacy, established a commitment from 195 countries to contain planet-warming carbon emissions.
Cayman, as a British territory, was not involved in the talks and is not a direct signatory to the agreement, which set a goal of reducing global temperature rises to less than 2C. The final submissions to the agreement are not enforceable and carry no consequences.
However. James Whittaker, president of the Cayman Renewable Energy Association, said the Paris accord represents a “paradigm shift” in the international approach to climate change and suggested Cayman would have to get on board.
Tim Austin, deputy director of the Department of Environment, said the National Conservation Council is also pushing for clearer and more ambitious targets.
A draft national energy policy, published in 2013, sets a goal that 13.5 percent of electricity sold should be generated from renewable sources by 2030. It also targets a 19 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to a “business as usual scenario.”
Mr. Whittaker said the Paris agreement, referred to as COP 21, represents an international consensus that far more radical action is needed. He said Cayman’s targets on renewable energy are among the least ambitious of any country.
While Cayman’s net contribution to climate change is negligible, the territory is among the highest producers of carbon emissions per capita in the world, according to Mr. Austin.
Mr. Whittaker, added, “I believe COP 21 sets ambitious climate change benchmarks globally and it clearly suggests that Cayman must take a more aggressive approach to adopting renewable energy and reducing our carbon emissions. This is something CREA have been telling the government for some time now. That said, it still doesn’t appear the decision-makers in government are yet paying attention to the critical issues of renewable energy and carbon reduction.”
He added, “I am cautiously optimistic that the government will finally wake up and realize that this paradigm shift is happening all over the world for a reason and will start to ensure it happens in Cayman soon.”
Mr. Austin said the Cayman Islands could request to be included in commitments coming out of the agreement.
“At the moment, the U.K. does not push out those climate agreements to its territories, but this could potentially change with Cayman’s recent request to the U.K. government to include Cayman in its second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol (2013-2020).
“The National Conservation Council is currently working on a climate change policy and would like to see clearer, more ambitious targets, in line with what the U.K. has signed up to.”
He said the Paris summit represents a significant milestone in gaining an international consensus that something needs to be done to curb the amounts of CO2 going into the atmosphere and limit the consequences of global warming.
Mr. Austin said the ambitious targets set in Paris were driven, in part, by small-island states concerned about the consequences of climate change.
|Tim Austin - DOE|
In 2009, the Maldives, one of the flattest countries on Earth, held a Cabinet meeting underwater in scuba gear as a stunt to generate publicity for the consequences of not acting on the issue.
Cayman’s position is less grave, but Mr. Austin warns that with the majority of Cayman’s population and major infrastructure located a short distance from the coastline, increasing storm intensity and flood risk present a potentially significant challenge.
He said the impact of climate change is already evident on coral reefs around Cayman.
Mr. Whittaker said Cayman’s size should not stop it from doing its part.
“While our aggregate emissions are small compared to large economies, we emit a lot of carbon per capita on this little island. I believe it’s a hypocritical and shortsighted position to just let the rest of the world handle it when we are expecting others to do things we are not willing to do ourselves.
“We need to show leadership here, regionally and globally. If we expect the world to change we have to be part of that change.” More
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
Please go to Gaia: Defenders of Biodirversity to sign the letter
While much of the attention on a historic Paris climate meeting in the coming weeks will focus on the confounding task of trying to keep global warming below 2°C, or 3.6°F, a battle over another goal — one that has been forgotten by many — will be playing out in the negotiating halls.
|SIDS are at risk from SLR|
Delegates representing island states and others whose homelands are most threatened by rising seas will be pushing for the formal adoption of a long-overlooked goal, one that limits warming to less than 1.5°C, or 2.7°F.
Such a goal would be an ambitious one. Some negotiators and onlookers already seem to have given up hope of limiting warming to less than 2°C, much less 1.5°C. Fossil fuel burning, deforestation and other climate-changing hallmarks of industrialization have elevated temperatures 1°C since the 19th century, pushing tides up more than 8 inches. Pledges submitted by nations ahead of the meeting to take steps to slow climate change could yet allow warming to soar to 3°C or more.
The longing by low-lying nations to limit warming to 1.5°C has been overshadowed since 2010 by a preoccupation by many with the less ambitious goal. On Wednesday, the U.N. released the latest report to confirm that goal — to limit warming to 2°C, compared with preindustrial times — could be reached through massive globally cooperative efforts that overhaul energy supply chains and reform farming and forest management.
“We definitely think that staying below 2 degrees is still very possible,” Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, told reporters as the report was released. “Getting down to the range of 1.5 should not be taken off the table either.”
When climate delegates agreed during meetings in Copenhagen in 2009 that “the increase in global temperature should be below 2 degrees Celsius,” they also agreed that a study would be completed by 2015 comparing the effects of that goal with an alternative one of curbing temperature rises to 1.5°C. During talks a year later, negotiators agreed to consider tightening the 2°C goal to 1.5°C in the “near future.”
Ahead of what could be history’s most highly anticipated round of climate negotiations, the governments of the countries that are most vulnerable to sea level rise believe that future time has arrived.
The study called for in Copenhagen was published by the U.N. in May, based on interviews with some 70 experts. It concluded that adopting the 1.5°C alternative would be technically feasible, and that meeting it would come with a “high likelihood of meaningful differences” compared with allowing earth to warm by 2°C.
“The scientific finding is that 2 degrees is not enough,” said Ronny Jumeau, a U.N. ambassador from the Seychelles who will negotiate on behalf of small island states during the two-week round of Paris talks, which begin in two weeks. “1.5 is what the low-lying, small island developing states need for their survival.”
The May report warned of the “high” risks that would accompany 2°C of warming, including crop failures, floods, extreme weather events that jeopardize health, and “mass coral bleaching.” But it also pointed out that “there would be significant residual impacts even with 1.5°C of warming.”
It concluded that “most” species would be able to keep up with climate change if warming is kept below 1.5°C. It found, bleakly optimistically, that “up to half of coral reefs may remain” if the planet warms 1.5°C, that sea level rise “may remain below” 3.3 feet, ocean acidification impacts “would stay at moderate levels,” and that it would be easier for communities to adapt to climate change — especially farmers.
Strategies for limiting warming to 1.5°C by century’s end “are similar to those limiting warming to 2°C,” the report noted. It concluded that such strategies would involve “more immediate” actions and “an additional scaling-up” of clean energy and of any technology that captures and stores carbon dioxide pollution, such as at coal power plants.
The conclusions from the May report were consistent with the views of leading scientists.
“To limit warming to 1.5°C, we would not only have to bring carbon emissions down dramatically, but likely would need to employ expensive carbon capture technology,” Penn State meteorology professor Michael Mann said. “Even the deployment of this technology would be cheaper than allowing the damages of allowing global warming to proceed.”
Mark Jacobson, a Stanford University professor whose research focuses on clean energy, said that a radical enough global switch from fossil fuels to clean energy alternatives could be enough to limit warming to less than 1.5°C — even without the need for carbon capture or nuclear power technologies.
Still, the islanders’ quest to adopt the forgotten temperature goal at global climate talks is coinciding with a growing fatigue among some experts over what they see as an overemphasis on the 2°C goal. The goal is an oblique one, since rising temperatures are one of the long-term knock-on effects of rising levels of greenhouse gas pollution.
“There’s too much talk about goals,” said Harvard University economics professor Robert Stavins, who follows the climate talks. He said it would be better to focus on how to increase the ambition of more than 100 national climate pledges under the hoped-for Paris agreement.
But Jumeau of the Seychelles pointed out that a 1.5°C goal would be achievable, and that adopting and meeting it would benefit rich coastal nations as well as those whose existences may be threatened by rising seas.
“It’s not just about the islands, it’s about New York, it’s about New Orleans, it’s about London, it’s about Venice,” Jumeau said. “There is no way we can compromise on 1.5.” More
Researchers argue that both ocean scientists and world leaders should pay more attention to how communities are experiencing, adapting to and even influencing changes in the world's oceans.
When President Barack Obama visited the shrinking Exit Glacier in September, he pointed to a very obvious sign of our warming planet literally at his feet.
Less visible, but perhaps more indelible, signs of changing climate lie in the oceans. A University of Washington researcher argues in the journal Science that people -- including the world leaders who will gather later this month in Paris for the latest round of climate change negotiations -- should pay more attention to how climate change's impacts on ocean and coastal environments affect societies around the globe.
"When people see headlines on big science findings that the oceans are acidifying, or sea levels are rising, they feel a sense of helplessness in the face of inexorable change," said lead author and UW professor of marine and environmental affairs Edward Allison. "Yet there are many things that people can, and indeed are already, doing."
The review paper, published Nov. 13, looks at scientific understanding of changes to the world's oceans and how people around the world are responding. These reactions include denial, planned adaptation, a search for technical fixes, and political activism to reduce emissions and tackle the root causes of climate change. The paper also looks at how projected changes in climate and ocean conditions will impact economic activities related to the oceans, to begin a discussion about the future of the human relationship with the marine environment.
"I felt that there was a gap in the research being carried out by the ocean sciences community," Allison said. "Research hasn't really engaged with the politics of climate mitigation and adaptation in the way that scientists working on forests and agriculture have."
"There's a lot of citizen action that can be done at a local level to prevent coastal damage," he continued. Examples cited in the paper include planting mangroves, saving coral reefs, or preventing beach erosion by planting coconut palms. In the Pacific Northwest, shellfish growers have begun to look at how to adapt their practices to account for more acidic seawater.
On a broader scale, Allison points to this spring's "kayaktivist" protesters in Seattle's Puget Sound, where people took to non-motorized marine craft to protest plans to capitalize on melting Arctic sea ice to extract more fossil fuels from the Arctic Ocean "I think the kayaktivists send a message that the future of the oceans, when it comes to energy generation, should be in renewables rather than in fossil fuels," Allison said. "You have this perverse situation where the melting of polar ice caps has allowed more economic exploitation of the Arctic, including for industries that contribute most to global warming." Allison began his career in marine biology, but later moved to fisheries management and international development, a background that helps him bring an interdisciplinary perspective to marine issues. A recent paper he co-authored looked at the tradeoffs between sustainable-fish certification programs and food for local fishing communities.
Co-author Hannah Bassett, a UW master's student in marine and environmental affairs, reviewed existing literature on how climate change will affect marine industries. The impacts on most industries will be negative, she found. But a few, including research and development of new ocean technologies, may benefit. She also found that while aquaculture is often cited as a possible adaptation strategy for declining wild fish stocks, aquaculture itself is anticipated to feel some negative impacts from climate change.
The paper lays out the case for a more interdisciplinary approach to ocean research, with natural and social scientists working together to document the impact of climate change and resulting actions and to understand how oceanic peoples are experiencing, adapting and even influencing changes in the world's oceans. Shifts in the world's oceans are long-lasting, extend far beyond the coast, and touch humans on many different levels, Allison said.
"The ocean is not just a place for economic activity," he said. "It's a place for inspiration, it's a place for enjoyment, it defines many cultures, and it's a place where we get some of our most nutritious food. What's at stake here? It's a timely moment to think about that." More
For the last few years, the Saudi kingdom’s insistence on pumping oil at high capacity has dramatically depressed oil prices. The result has undermined Saudi’s major oil rivals in OPEC – like Iran and Venezuela.
It has also hit Russia, hard.
Rating agency Standard & Poor forecasts that Russia’s budget deficit is set to swell to 4.4 per cent of GDP this year. Russia’s own finance ministry concedes that if expenditures continue at this rate, within sixteen months – by around the end of next year – its oil reserve funds will be exhausted.
Meanwhile, over the last year real incomes have dropped by 9.8 per cent, and food prices have spiked by 17 per cent, heightening the risk of civil unrest.
Rumbling along beneath the surface of such financial woes are deeper systemic issues.
A report from the Swedish Defence Research Agency notes that “prolonged dry periods in southern Russia are having the effect of reducing the level of food production”.
Most of Russia’s wheat imports come from Kazakhstan, “where climate change is expected to exacerbate droughts. These impacts would make farming harder and food more expensive,” observe Dr. Marina Sharmina and Dr. Christopher Jones of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.
Russia’s looming energy crisis is the other elephant in the room. In 2013, HSBC forecasted that Russia would hit peak oil between 2018 and 2019, experiencing a brief plateau before declining by 30 per cent from 2020 to 2025.
That year, Fitch Ratings came to pretty much the same conclusion. And last year, Leonid Fedun, vice-president of Russia’s second largest oil producer, Lukoil, predicted that the production could peak earlier due to falling oil prices and US-EU sanctions.
Faced with overlapping economic, food and energy crises, Russia is well and truly on the brink. More
Furthermore, According to a recent report from the IMF, Saudi Arabia’s public debt is estimated to rise from below 2 percent of its GDP in 2014 up to 33 percent by the end of 2020. The report also shows that in the past three years, Saudi Arabia’s budget surplus was turned into a deficit reaching 21.6 percent of GDP in 2015. More
The Department for Continuing Education at the University of Oxford is pleased to invite applications for a fully-funded scholarship to undertake the part-time Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) in Sustainable Urban Development.
The successful applicant will undertake research on the economic impact, broadly considered, of the Coed Darcy oil refinery conversion project and the associated Swansea University Bay Campus development. Potential research themes include: economic sustainability of brownfield redevelopment projects; economic sustainability assessment methodologies; urban design and economic sustainability; sustainable regional development; R&D and growth poles; regeneration of economically vulnerable regions; green growth strategies and shrinking regions; institutional factors in sustainable economic competitiveness; corporate social responsibility and urban sustainability; or any other theme(s) of the candidate’s choosing.
This scholarship is jointly funded by the University and by the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community and is only tenable at Kellogg College. Further details regarding the scholarship, including a background to the project and eligibility, can be found on the DPhil website www.conted.ox.ac.uk/dsud/.
Scholarship application deadline: 22 January 2016.
Raging forest fires across Indonesia are thought to be responsible for up to half a million cases of respiratory infections, with the resultant haze covering parts of Malaysia and Singapore now being described as a “crime against humanity”.
Tens of thousands of hectares of forest have been alight for more than two months as a result of slash and burn – the fastest and quickest way to clear land for new plantations.
Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of palm oil and fires are frequently intentionally lit to clear the land with the resulting haze an annual headache.
But this year a prolonged dry season and the impact of El Niño have made the situation far worse, with one estimate that daily emissions from the fires have surpassed the average daily emissions of the entire US economy.
The fires have caused the air to turn a toxic sepia colour in the worst hit areas of Sumatra and Kalimantan, where levels of the Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) have pushed toward 2,000. Anything above 300 is considered hazardous.
Endangered wildlife such as orangutans have also been forced to flee the forests because of the fires.
Six Indonesian provinces have declared a state of emergency.
Across the region Indonesia’s haze crisis has been causing havoc – schools in neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia have been shut down, flights have been grounded, events cancelled and Indonesian products boycotted, as millions try to avoid the intense smoke.
In the worst affected parts, on Sumatra and Kalimantan, ten people have died from haze-related illnesses and more than 500,000 cases of acute respiratory tract infections have been reported since July 1. More
A University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric-led study challenges the prevailing wisdom by identifying the atmosphere as the driver of a decades-long climate variation known as the Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO).
The findings offer new insight on the causes and predictability of natural climate variations, which are known to cause wide-ranging global weather impacts, including increased rainfall, drought, and greater hurricane frequency in many parts of the Atlantic basin.
For decades, research on climate variations in the Atlantic has focused almost exclusively on the role of ocean circulation as the main driver, specifically the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, which carries warm water north in the upper layers of the ocean and cold water south in lower layers like a large conveyor belt.
“The idea of the ocean as the driver has been a powerful one.” said UM Rosenstiel School Professor Amy Clement, the lead author on the study. We used computer models in a new way to test this idea, and find that in fact there is a lot that can be explained without the ocean circulation.”
While the overall rise in average temperature of the Atlantic is caused by greenhouse gases, this study examines the fluctuations occurring within this human-related trend. Identifying the main driver of the AMO is critical to help predict the overall warming of the North Atlantic Ocean in coming decades from both natural and human-made climate change. Recent research suggests that an AMO warm phase has been in effect since the mid-1990s, which has caused changes in rainfall in the southeastern US, and resulted in twice as many tropical storms becoming hurricanes than during cool phases.
Using multiple climate models from around the world, Clement’s research team removed the ocean circulation from the analysis to reveal that variations in the Atlantic climate were generally the same. The AMO results in a horseshoe-shaped pattern of ocean surface temperatures in the North Atlantic Ocean that have been naturally occurring for the last 1000 years on timescales of 60-80 years. This new analysis shows that the pattern of the AMO can be accounted for by atmospheric circulation alone, without any role for the ocean circulation.
“These results force us to rethink our ability to predict decade-scale temperature fluctuations in the Atlantic and their associated impacts on land. It may be that many of the changes have limited predictability, which means that we should be prepared for a range of climate outcomes associated with global warming,” said Clement. More
The work was support by grants from the Department of Energy and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.
The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
For millennia, the people of Kiribati have lived off the land, dwelling on their small islands located in the central Pacific Ocean.
|President Anote Tong|
But over the last several decades, rising sea levels due largely to climate change have slowly eaten away at the country’s 313 square miles. Without action, the country of 102,000 people may disappear altogether over the next few decades.
Kiribati President Anote Tong has been advocating for bold action to address climate change for years, making his pleas around the world. Now, Tong says his country’s citizens won’t be able to remain on the physical islands of Kiribati much longer without drastic change on global warming. Whatever happens, his country won’t look the same in 50 years.
“We have constantly been calling the international community to do something about reducing emissions, but the reality for us is that it really does not matter,” Tong told TIME in a recent interview. “The gas is already in the atmosphere… either we leave or we spend a lot of resources to build up the islands.”
Around the world, sea levels have risen nearly 3 inches since the early 1990s due to ice melt caused by global warming. Even if countries are able to reduce emissions as much as policymakers have promised, global sea levels will still rise by one to two feet by 2100. Without carbon cuts, that rise could top three feet. In Kiribati, where land is rarely more than few feet above sea level, even a moderate rise could be catastrophic. And the island nation is also at risk from an expected increase in the number of extreme weather events, such as storms and typhoons.
Tong’s plan for dealing with this is two-fold. First, he wants to fortify at least one island in the Kiribati chain so the country’s physical presence doesn’t disappear in its entirety. The president is light on details on how exactly he plans to save an island, but he says the technology exists (he has reportedly considered employing a Japanese company that has proposed engineer islands floating). The exact shape of the plans may depend on the support offered by other countries, Tong said. He’s met with representatives of the Netherlands and other flood-prone regions about how to best protect the islands.
But even if some of the country can be saved from the rising seas, Tong doesn’t expect to be able to accommodate all of the country’s residents. For those forced to leave, Tong says there must be “migration with dignity.” Last year, Kiribati purchased 5,000 acres of land in nearby Fiji as insurance policy and world leaders have indicated that they would be willing to support Kiribati refugees if it becomes necessary.
Catastrophic one-off events like hurricanes and tsunamis tend to prompt international sympathy. (Think of the $14 billion donated to relief efforts following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.) Kiribati has benefited from some of that support, primarily from other Pacific island countries and development groups. But development commitments have measured in the millions, far from the hundreds of millions, if not billions Tong says his country needs to fully adapt to climate change.
Other countries have been less eager to offer support. In a moment that startled many Pacific Islanders, former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was captured on tape last month laughing at a joke about how Kiribati would soon have “water lapping at [its] doors.” Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, who made the off-color remark, apologized but not before Tong had earned the world’s sympathy condemning the joke as “morally irresponsible.”
Despite the attention his country’s plight has received, Tong doesn’t like to linger on the topic. Instead he emphasizes the damage caused by the policies of Australia and other developed countries that have emitted the carbon that is endangering the very existence of Kirbati, where the average resident emits less than 1 ton of carbon dioxide each year or 7% of the global average. “Climate change is not an issue that really respects any sovereignty,” he said. “If it’s a national issue, keep your emissions within your borders, which you cannot do.”
In December, negotiators from around the world will gather in Paris at a United Nations conference aimed at creating a binding agreement for countries of the world to decrease their greenhouse gas emissions. Asked about his hopes for the conference, Tong said his goal was simple: “Give us a proposition that will guarantee that our people will remain above the water.” More