Thirty states and scores of companies said Thursday that they would press ahead with their climate policies and pursue lower greenhouse gas emissions, breaking sharply with President Trump’s decision to exit the historic Paris climate accord.
In a pointed rebuttal to Trump’s announcement in the rose garden of the White House, New York’s governor Andrew M. Cuomo unveiled a plan to invest $1.65 billion in renewable energy and energy efficiency on Thursday, the largest ever procurement of renewable energy by an American state.Meanwhile, more than two dozen big companies — including Apple, Morgan Stanley, and Royal Dutch Shell — urged Trump not to exit the Paris agreement on Thursday.President Trump framed his renunciation of the Paris climate accord as an historic moment in defense of American workers and the economy. But the actions of state capitols and corporate board rooms offer a counterpoint to the rationale behind Trump’s move.Across the nation and the economy, renewable energy technologies have taken root and have gathered momentum of their own while creating thousands of new jobs, state and corporate officials said. And the pressure on executives of companies to address the issue have grown greater as major financial firms for the first time press the issue.The Trump administration’s decision to exit the landmark climate agreement will damage America’s international standing on climate issues and make it nearly impossible for the world to reach internationally agreed goals of limiting global warming, officials said. Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla, and Robert Iger, chief executive of Disney, both resigned from the president’s advisory council after the announcement. Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive of Goldman Sachs, tweeted that Trump’s decision “is a setback for the environment and for the U.S.’s leadership position in the world.”…
President Trump’s decision Thursday to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement could make it difficult, if not impossible, for the world to stay on track to reach an internationally agreed-upon goal for limiting dangerous global warming, scientists said.
That goal, which sought to limit warming to “well below” a 2-degree Celsius (3.6-degree Fahrenheit) rise above preindustrial temperatures, was already a stretch before Trump announced the U.S. exit in a speech in the White House Rose Garden.
With the United States, the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse-gas emissions after China, walking away from the accord, other countries will presumably have to ramp up their ambitions still further if they want to avoid the prospect of dangerous warming.
“Avoiding a 2-degree warming was already hard when all of the key countries were rowing together,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a climate researcher at Princeton University. “With the U.S. becoming a climate outlaw by withdrawing from Paris, that target becomes nearly impossible.
“It looks like Trump has condemned the U.S., the rest of the world, and future generations to live in the climate danger zone,” he said….
STATEMENT FROM THE CLIMATE MAYORS IN RESPONSE TO PRESIDENT TRUMP’S WITHDRAWAL FROM THE PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT
Thursday, June 1st 2017
The President’s denial of global warming is getting a cold reception from America’s cities. As 83 Mayors representing 40 million Americans, we will adopt, honor, and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement. We will intensify efforts to meet each of our cities’ current climate goals, push for new action to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, and work together to create a 21st century clean energy economy.…
BirdLife International, along with Audubon (BirdLife in the US), has issued a statement reacting to this shocking news
BirdLife International is deeply disappointed by US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Not only is this decision naïve and isolationist, it is wholly immoral.
The Paris Agreement is critical for the future of our planet. It provides a strong framework for taking ambitious action to mitigate climate change, and to help people and ecosystems across the globe adapt to its impacts... Trump’s withdrawal from the Agreement will not stop global action on climate change….
…Birds are powerful messengers showing us how our climate is changing”, says Patricia Zurita, CEO, BirdLife International. “A quarter of species studied in detail already show negative responses to recent climate change and 2,300 bird species worldwide are highly vulnerable to further change.”
“Scrapping the Paris climate agreement is an abdication of American leadership in the fight against the biggest threat facing people and birds,” says David Yarnold, President & CEO, Audubon (BirdLife’s Partner in the US)….
….Donald Trump has announced that he will begin the process to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate treaty, joining Nicaragua and Syria as the only world countries rejecting the agreement….Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris treaty is a mostly symbolic act. America’s pledges to cut its carbon pollution were non-binding, and his administration’s policies to date had already made it impossible for America to meet its initial Paris climate commitment for 2025. The next American president in 2020 can re-enter the Paris treaty and push for policies to make up some of the ground we lost during Trump’s reign.
Mayors and governors across the United States have said they will continue to honour the Paris Agreement, even after US President Donald Trump announced Thursday he would withdraw his country from the historic climate accord….
Overheated cities face climate change costs at least twice as big as the rest of the world because of the ‘urban heat island’ effect, new research shows. …The urban heat island occurs when natural surfaces, such as vegetation and water, are replaced by heat-trapping concrete and asphalt, and is exacerbated by heat from cars, air conditioners and so on. This effect is expected to add a further two degrees to global warming estimates for the most populated cities by 2050. Higher temperatures damage the economy in a number of ways — more energy is used for cooling, air is more polluted, water quality decreases and workers are less productive, to name a few….Although cities cover only around one per cent of Earth’s surface, they produce about 80 per cent of Gross World Product, consume about 78 per cent of the world’s energy and are home to over half of the world’s population. Measures that could limit the high economic and health costs of rising urban temperatures are therefore a major priority for policy makers…The cheapest measure, according to this modelling, is a moderate-scale installation of cool pavements and roofs. Changing 20 per cent of a city’s roofs and half of its pavements to ‘cool’ forms could save up to 12 times what they cost to install and maintain, and reduce air temperatures by about 0.8 degrees….
Francisco Estrada, W. J. Wouter Botzen, Richard S. J. Tol. A global economic assessment of city policies to reduce climate change impacts. Nature Climate Change, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE3301
Under a dual onslaught of global warming and localised urban heating, some of the world’s cities may be as much as 8C (14.4F) warmer by 2100, researchers have warned. Such a temperature spike would have dire consequences for the health of city-dwellers, rob companies and industries of able workers, and put pressure on already strained natural resources such as water. The projection is based on the worst-case scenario assumption that emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise throughout the 21st century. The top quarter of most populated cities, in this scenario, could see temperatures rise 7C or more by century’s end, said a study in the journal Nature Climate Change.
A group of leading economists warned on Monday that the world risks catastrophic global warming in just 13 years unless countries ramp up taxes on carbon emissions to as much as $100 (£77) per metric tonne.
Experts including Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern said governments needed to move quickly to tackle polluting industries with a tax on carbon dioxide at $40-$80 per tonne by 2020.
A tax of $100 a tonne would be needed by 2030 as one of a series of measures to prevent a rise in global temperatures of 2C. In a report by the High Level Commission on Carbon Prices, which is backed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, they suggest poor countries could aim for a lower tax since their economies are more vulnerable….
biomass plantations with subsequent carbon immobilization are likely unable to “repair” insufficient emission reduction policies without compromising food production and biosphere functioning due to its space-consuming properties.
staying below the 2°C target would require a combination of high irrigation water input and development of highly effective carbon process chains- not a viable alternative to aggressive emission reductions, it could still support mitigation efforts if sustainably managed.
..Two papers published last week debunk the idea of planting large volumes of trees to pull carbon dioxide out of the air — saying there just isn’t enough land available to pull it off — and also various other strategies for “carbon dioxide removal,” some of which also include massive tree plantings combined with burning their biomass and storing it below the ground….
…Boysen and her colleagues find the land space that would be required for the amount of trees necessary to keep temperatures within a 2-degree threshold under our current climate trajectory could have “dire consequences for food production or the biosphere.” And even under more optimistic scenarios, where future carbon emissions are lower and fewer trees would be necessary, they conclude that “high inputs of managed water and fertilizers would be needed in order to avoid fierce competition for land — with potentially negative side-effects for climate and society.”
…The solution that’s been proposed in numerous reports and climate models… is a technology known as bioenergy and carbon capture and storage, or BECCS. This strategy involves establishing large plantations of fast-growing trees, capable of storing large quantities of carbon, which can then be harvested and used for fuel. Biomass burning facilities would need to be outfitted with a special carbon-capturing technology, which would capture the carbon dioxide produced and store it safely away, potentially in geological formations deep underground. It’s an ambitious proposal, and one that many scientists have pointed out is nowhere near the point of becoming feasible, even from a technological perspective….
Plain Language Summary: In 2015, parties agreed to limit global warming to “well below” 2°C above pre-industrial levels. However, this requires not only massive near-term greenhouse gas emissions reductions but also the application of “negative emission” techniques that extract already emitted carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Specifically, this could refer to the establishment of extensive plantations of fast-growing tree and grass species in combination with biomass conversion to carbon-saving products. Although such deployment is seen as promising, its carbon sequestration potentials and possible side-effects still remain to be studied in depth. In this study, we analyzed two feasibility aspects of such a negative emissions approach using biomass plantations and carbon utilization pathways. First, we show that biomass plantations with subsequent carbon immobilization are likely unable to “repair” insufficient emission reduction policies without compromising food production and biosphere functioning due to its space-consuming properties. Second, the requirements for a strong mitigation scenario staying below the 2°C target would require a combination of high irrigation water input and development of highly effective carbon process chains. Although we find that this strategy of sequestering carbon is not a viable alternative to aggressive emission reductions, it could still support mitigation efforts if sustainably managed.
Soaring temperatures in the Arctic have triggered a huge seasonal surge in carbon dioxide emissions from thawing permafrost and may be tipping the region toward becoming a net source of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, a new study shows.
Even into early winter, when the ground would have been frozen 40 years ago, microbes in the permafrost are continuing to release heat-trapping greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide emissions are now outpacing the uptake of CO2 during the spring and summer growing season, the study suggests.
The study’s authors, researchers from Harvard, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other institutions, measured atmospheric CO2 in Alaska and found that emissions from October through December have increased by 73 percent since 1975 and that the increase correlates with rising summer temperatures.
The findings suggest that global climate models are underestimating how much greenhouse gas pollution will be unleashed as the Arctic continues to warm at twice the global average rate, said lead author Roisin Commane of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences…. A study published in April that looked at the impact rising temperatures would have on the permafrost and found that as much as 2.5 million square miles of it could thaw if global temperatures reached 2 degree Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures. Another study, published in February, found that 52,000 square miles of Canadian permafrost was already in rapid decline….
Methane and black carbon — or soot — are the second and third most powerful climate-warming agents after carbon dioxide. They also contribute to air pollution that harms the health of billions of people worldwide and reduces agricultural yields.
“Unlike long-lived greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, SLCPs respond very quickly to mitigation. It’s highly likely that we could cut methane emissions by 25 percent and black carbon by 75 percent and eliminate high-warming hydrofluorocarbons altogether in the next 25 years using existing technologies, if we made a real commitment to doing this,” said Drew T. Shindell, professor of climate science at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment.
Acting now to reduce these emissions would contribute to long-term goals set under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement while concurrently offering governments substantial benefits in the short term for investing in sustainable development — a set of goals through 2030 that countries also agreed to in 2015….
..they point out that in addition to saving human lives and boosting global food security, curbing SLCPs will significantly slow the pace of climate change over the next 25 years. This could help reduce biodiversity losses and slow amplifying climate feedbacks such as snow-and-ice albedo that are highly sensitive to black carbon….
….Maintaining separate reporting methods for each pollutant would provide a clearer understanding of the benefits associated with SLCPs’ reduction.
“Targeting immediate reductions in SLCP emissions is the most beneficial path we can take toward achieving the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal of reducing warming by 2C,” Shindell said…
D. Shindell, N. Borgford-Parnell, M. Brauer, A. Haines, J. C. I. Kuylenstierna, S. A. Leonard, V. Ramanathan, A. Ravishankara, M. Amann, L. Srivastava. A climate policy pathway for near- and long-term benefits. Science, 2017; 356 (6337): 493 DOI: 10.1126/science.aak9521
James Hansen, et al. Young People’s Burden: Requirement of Negative CO2 Emissions. Earth System Dynamic doi:10.5194/esd-2016-42
Abstract. The rapid rise of global temperature that began about 1975 continues at a mean rate of about 0.18 °C/decade, with the current annual temperature exceeding +1.25 °C relative to 1880–1920. Global temperature has just reached a level similar to the mean level in the prior interglacial (Eemian) period, when sea level was several meters higher than today, and, if it long remains at this level, slow amplifying feedbacks will lead to greater climate change and consequences.
The growth rate of climate forcing due to human-caused greenhouse gases (GHGs) increased over 20 % in the past decade mainly due to resurging growth of atmospheric CH4, thus making it increasingly difficult to achieve targets such as limiting global warming to 1.5 °C or reducing atmospheric CO2 below 350 ppm.
Such targets now require “negative emissions”, i.e., extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere. If rapid phasedown of fossil fuel emissions begins soon, most of the necessary CO2 extraction can take place via improved agricultural and forestry practices, including reforestation and steps to improve soil fertility and increase its carbon content. In this case, the magnitude and duration of global temperature excursion above the natural range of the current interglacial (Holocene) could be limited and irreversible climate impacts could be minimized.
In contrast, continued high fossil fuel emissions by the current generation would place a burden on young people to undertake massive technological CO2 extraction, if they are to limit climate change. Proposed methods of extraction such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) or air capture of CO2 imply minimal estimated costs of 104–570 trillion dollars this century, with large risks and uncertain feasibility.
Continued high fossil fuel emissions unarguably sentences young people to either a massive, possibly implausible cleanup or growing deleterious climate impacts or both, scenarios that should provide both incentive and obligation for governments to alter energy policies without further delay.
Humans will have to not only stop emitting greenhouse gases by 2085, but also develop technology that will result in negative emissions — the removal of 15 billion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year by the end of the century — in order to prevent global warming from exceeding 2°C (3.6°F), according to a new study.
Human greenhouse gas emissions, including methane and carbon dioxide, have already warmed the globe more than 1°C (1.8°F) compared to pre-industrial levels. The Paris Climate Agreement negotiated last year seeks to cap warming to below 2°C, while at the same time pursuing an even more ambitious goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C.
But according to a new National Center for Atmospheric Research study, just cutting emissions under the Paris agreement may not be enough to keep global warming from blasting past 2°C, said Benjamin Sanderson, the study’s lead author.
Meeting the Paris agreement as written will require a long-term commitment to negative emissions in the last two decades of the century, he said…
Sanderson et al. What would it take to achieve the Paris temperature targets? Geophysical Research Letters Full publication history DOI: 10.1002/2016GL069563
The first predications of coastal sea level with warming of two degrees by 2040 show an average rate of increase three times higher than the 20th century rate of sea level rise, report scientists…According to this research, by 2040 with 2 degrees centigrade warming, more than 90% of coastal areas will experience sea level rise exceeding the global estimate of 20cm, with up to 40cm expected along the Atlantic coast of North America and Norway due to ocean dynamics. Furthermore, the impact of this sea level rise will be more pronounced in locations, such as Jakarta, where there is subsidence of the land.
Dr Svetlana Jevrejeva from the NOC, who is the lead author on this paper, said “Coastal cities and vulnerable tropical coastal ecosystems will have very little time to adapt to the fast sea level rise these predictions show, in scenarios with global warming above two degree.
A worst case scenario considered involving 5 degrees warming shows that up to 80% of global coastlines could experience changes in sea level of over 1.8 meters by the end of 21st century. This might never happen, but could not be ruled out due to large uncertainties in the contribution of Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets in these sea level rise predications. As a result, millions of people living by the coast could be displaced and the beaches that attract tourists could be destroyed, particularly in low lying coastal cities in South East Asia and in the USA, such as Miami.”…
Svetlana Jevrejeva, Luke P. Jackson, Riccardo E. M. Riva, Aslak Grinsted, John C. Moore. Coastal sea level rise with warming above 2 °C. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2016; 201605312 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1605312113
In the North this summer, a devastating offensive is underway. Enemy forces have seized huge swaths of territory; with each passing week, another 22,000 square miles of Arctic ice disappears. Experts dispatched to the battlefield in July saw little cause for hope, especially since this siege is one of the oldest fronts in the war. “In 30 years, the area has shrunk approximately by half,” said a scientist who examined the onslaught. “There doesn’t seem anything able to stop this.”
In the Pacific this spring, the enemy staged a daring breakout across thousands of miles of ocean, waging a full-scale assault on the region’s coral reefs. In a matter of months, long stretches of formations like the Great Barrier Reef—dating back past the start of human civilization and visible from space—were reduced to white bone-yards.
Day after day, week after week, saboteurs behind our lines are unleashing a series of brilliant and overwhelming attacks. In the past few months alone, our foes have used a firestorm to force the total evacuation of a city of 90,000 in Canada, drought to ravage crops to the point where southern Africans are literally eating their seed corn, and floods to threaten the priceless repository of art in the Louvre. The enemy is even deploying biological weapons to spread psychological terror: The Zika virus, loaded like a bomb into a growing army of mosquitoes, has shrunk the heads of newborn babies across an entire continent; panicked health ministers in seven countries are now urging women not to get pregnant. And as in all conflicts, millions of refugees are fleeing the horrors of war, their numbers swelling daily as they’re forced to abandon their homes to escape famine and desolation and disease.
World War III is well and truly underway. And we are losing.…
….Even if every nation in the world complies with the Paris Agreement, the world will heat up by as much as 3.5 degrees Celsius by 2100—not the 1.5 to 2 degrees promised in the pact’s preamble.
And it may be too late already to meet that stated target: We actually flirted with that 1.5 degree line at the height of the El Niño warming in February, a mere 60 days after the world’s governments solemnly pledged their best efforts to slow global warming.
…What would it mean to mobilize for World War III on the same scale as we did for the last world war?…
….In the past year, the Stanford team has offered similar plans for 139 nations around the world. The research delves deep into the specifics of converting to clean energy…
But would the Stanford plan be enough to slow global warming? Yes, says Jacobson: If we move quickly enough to meet the goal of 80 percent clean power by 2030, then the world’s carbon dioxide levels would fall below the relative safety of 350 parts per million by the end of the century. The planet would stop heating up, or at least the pace of that heating would slow substantially. That’s as close to winning this war as we could plausibly get. We’d endure lots of damage in the meantime, but not the civilization-scale destruction we currently face. (Even if all of the world’s nations meet the pledges they made in the Paris accord, carbon dioxide is currently on a path to hit 500 or 600 parts per million by century’s end—a path if not to hell, then to someplace with a similar setting on the thermostat.
…it’s important to remember that a truly global mobilization to defeat climate change wouldn’t wreck our economy or throw coal miners out of work. Quite the contrary: Gearing up to stop global warming would provide a host of social and economic benefits, just as World War II did. It would save lives…