As I engage relentlessly in the fight to mobilize a complacent public and encourage reluctant politicians to focus on climate change action, I’ve come to the conclusion that it makes no difference who is right and who is wrong about the causes of climate change. It does not matter who wins the climate change debate. I don’t care much about winners or losers. It doesn’t even matter if some or all global warming is human-induced or just the natural evolution of planet earth on its cosmic journey. What matters is how future generations will cope with their wildly different environmental and climate realities.
Climate is Back
The good news is that climate is back. Recent developments have brought climate back to the forefront. Climate is news again. According to a Bloomberg National Poll,
Americans are willing to bear the costs of combating climate change, and most are more likely to support a candidate seeking to address the issue. By an almost two-to-one margin, 62 percent to 33 percent, Americans say they would pay more for energy if it would mean a reduction in pollution from carbon emissions.
A majority of Americans see climate change as a threat, with 46 percent classifying it as a “major” threat and 27 percent as a “minor threat.” Half would like the federal government to adopt policies to combat it in the next decade.
President Barack Obama’s comments (in a recent interview with Paul Friedman of NYT) have significant implications:
We can argue about how, but let’s not argue about what’s going on. The science is compelling. The baseline fact of climate change is not something that we can afford to deny. And if you profess leadership in this country at this moment in our history, then you’ve got to recognize that this is going to be one of the most significant long-term challenges, if not the most significant long-term challenge that this country faces and that this planet faces.
I fully expect that Obama’s sudden focus on climate change will spur a global push to save the planet. The United Nations now aims to forge a much broader legally binding agreement with specific attainable targets at the 2015 Paris summit. Many experts see the Paris summit as humanity’s last chance to save the planet from sure unimaginable turmoil from runaway global warming.
The United States finally understands that it cannot expect other countries to take strong action against emissions while refusing to provide world leadership. “The new rules are needed to get the game going. And it’s fairly certain that action in the U.S. would lead to corresponding action in Europe and Japan,” says Paul Krugman of the New York Times.
The March release of the National Climate Assessment together with the roll-out of a plan to curb carbon emissions from coal power plants by 2030 (to an average of 30 percent less than 2005 levels) are the wake-up call. David G.Victor, writing for Scientific American, calls this change a climate plan with teeth.
Thomas L. Friedman interviews President Obama
Published June 8, 2014
Standard YouTube Licence
Obama’s plan will be a “good signal” for Paris by showing that “one of the world’s biggest emitters is taking the future of the planet and its people seriously,” said Christiana Figueres, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat in Bonn. The new pact on climate will replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol which has been a dismal failure, governing a mere 15 percent of global greenhouse emissions. Major players like the U.S., China and India never ratified Kyoto.
Meanwhile Back in Canada
Unfortunately, climate is back does not apply to Canada where the Stephen Harper government continues to sleep with its fossil-fuel bed-mates soundly entrenched in the Tar Sands development and pushing for a broader national pipeline infrastructure – Keystone XL, Energy East, Northern Gateway. The Globe and Mail reports that:
In Canada, the oil and gas sector is driving growth of GHGs. Its emissions are forecast by government to jump from 163 megatonnes in 2011 to 200 megatonnes in 2020, due largely to the oil sands. That is a 23 per cent hike, the most of any sector. Put in perspective, Canada’s oil and gas sector will churn out more than twice as many GHGs as the electricity sector.
Deniers and the fossil-fuel industry are losing the climate change conversation. The narrative is changing from climate change as simply an environmental issue to climate change as an economic and world security issue as well. And putting a price on carbon is progressively being seen as a priority in the war on global warming.
And just in. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that China and the UK have declared the threat of global warming to be “one of the greatest challenges facing the world”. They are calling on all nations to reveal their action plans well ahead of a major climate summit set for Paris in late 2015.
Climate is Back.