Our Point of View on the occasion of the COP 23
Today we are on track for global warming of 2.8°C or even up to 4°C, with the risk catastrophic climate breakdown. And World Leaders still have no plan in place to reduce CO2 to the levels that they agreed to.
World leaders, meeting in Paris in December 2015 at a meeting called COP21 (1), signed an agreement to manage Climate Change. At this meeting, they committed to holding the global temperature to “well below 2°C” above pre-industrial levels, to pursue efforts to limit the warming to 1.5°C, and to do this by reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases. The parties who signed the Paris Agreement are again assembling in Bonn (COP23, 6 to 17 November 2017) to reaffirm their commitment to combat climate change and reassess the adequacy of their response to the threat. There is a mismatch between the agreed-upon goal and the commitments, in the form of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), that the parties made to achieve the goal.
As of September 2017, 1°C of global warming has already taken place, and even if the NDCs are met, the planet would be on track for at least 2.8°C of global warming or more, risking catastrophic climate change. This means that the current NDCs provide no assurance against catastrophic climate change. Obviously, if the NDCs are not met, the global warming will be even higher.
CO2 levels are monitored all the time at Mauna Loa, Hawaii. Figures from Mauna Loa Hawaii for May 2017 are 409.65 parts per million (ppm) compared to 407.70 ppm in May 2016 and 403.96 in May 2015. This is over 40% higher than in 1750, before the industrial revolution, when CO2 was about 280 ppm. But the biggest problem is that CO2 ppm is still increasing, by around 2 ppm each year.
Saving Our Planet calls upon the Conference of the Parties (COP23) to:
- Revise and readjust their commitments (NDCs) upward so that they represent a real (over 67%) probability of limiting global warming to 1.5° to 1.8° C above preindustrial levels;
- Given the urgency of the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, evaluate technology toward this goal on the basis of the best available scientific knowledge, avoiding political pressure, prejudice, and any influences not relevant to this objective;
- Implement a system of frequent periodic validation of actual results to clearly show the evolution of GHG emissions and compare them with stated goals. The information should be kept up to date and publicly available. This will show whether countries are on course to meet their objectives, and help to avoid becoming locked into bad decisions and ineffective technology.
Some suggestions for climate action:
- Introducing charges for CO2 – even if initially at a low level – and putting all the proceeds towards incentives to fight climate change.
- Requiring countries to immediately remove all subsidies from coal, gas and oil and instead to use the funding to fight climate change.
- Implementing tree-planting on an epic scale – particularly around destroyed forests.
- Providing easy access to voluntary birth control, and refraining from policies that encourage large families. Global human population has grown from 1 billion in 1800 to 3 billion in 1960 and 7.5 billion today, and continues to grow. Every additional person contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and to deforestation (as land is cleared for urban development or agriculture).
- Informing the public about climate change: the threat, what is being done, what needs to be done, and how everyone can play a part.
We deplore the USA’s unfortunate decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. We trust that other countries will not see in this lack of solidarity an excuse to weaken their own commitments, but rather a reason to reinforce their efforts if necessary to fill the gap.
This is an URGENT call for action. Barack Obama said we are the last generation who can do something about climate change. Time is running out, because Greenhouse gases are increasing in the atmosphere all the time. The longer we leave it, the more difficult and more expensive it will be to get back to safe levels. And the higher the temperature, the higher the risk of triggering irreversible climate change – such as the release of huge quantities of methane currently frozen in permafrost in the tundra of Northern Russia, Canada and Alaska. 2018 is fast emerging as the last chance to get global warming back on track to well below 2°C.
Saving Our Planet is launching our own campaign to take the message about climate change to the general public: N0CO2 – Giving people the power to take action and join in building a community to reduce and remove CO2 and fight climate change: www.n0co2.org
To help us with our campaigns, blogs, library and training, please consider making a donation to Saving Our Planet.
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(1) The 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)