Opportunity in the Eye of the Storm: Global Climate Good and Bad News
This past year has been a quiet one for climate impacts locally. While California always experiences wildfires, they did not result in significant poor air quality in Yolo County. While we have received rain, it has come without high winds or heavy accumulation, so far. We know, however, that this is a lull in the eye of the storm, and severe weather and other climate change impacts will return.
We must take this opportunity, this lull in the eye of the storm, to act.
If you plan on making any fresh starts this month, please consider climate action at the top of your list. Cool Davis offers ample opportunity for connecting with your community, advocating for change, building resilience, and learning how to lower your carbon emissions.
Here are just a few local opportunities (we hope you’ll jump in):
- Are You Ready for Climate Emergencies? Emergency Preparedness
- Green Your Finances: Focus on Investing
- Your Bank Account Could be the Biggest Part of Your Carbon Footprint
- I-80 Freeway Widening: Teach In, Update, and Next Steps
- Yolo CAAP Workshop: Discussion, Concerns, and Appreciation
- Reducing and Managing Energy and Community Transportation (Partners Meeting)
- Yolo Commute (Transit Association)
Below we cover some bad news in the global climate realm and then follow with some good news. Please read the bad news to create a little urgency, then BE SURE to also read the good news to give you hope and help guide you in the right direction for your own next steps.
California coastal communities have experienced high seas and mega waves that destroyed coastal infrastructure and eroded shoreline. Canadian wildfires enveloped the entire northeast coast in record breaking poor air quality this past summer. Globally, 2023 was the hottest year on record, COP28 was dominated by fossil fuel interests, we briefly reached a global temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius in November, and scientists are showing that global climate tipping points are trending into “uncharted territory” or well beyond previous measures. It’s overwhelming, but it’s real. A few details follow.
John Mott-Smith: Curtain comes down on COP28: “According to a summary of the agreement in the New York Times, the Saudi energy minister said the agreement “buried the issue of immediately phasing out or phasing down fossil fuel and instead left space for countries to choose their own way.” He indicated that Saudi oil exports would not be affected by the agreement. Also from the oil-rich gulf, the individual from the United Arab Emirates, the person who managed COP 28, whose voice is most loudly proclaiming the agreement as a huge success, chimed in with, “We will continue to produce oil as long as the market demands.” It appears that “phase out” can mean very different things to different people or interests.”
2 DEGREES CELSIUS
“Nov 20 2023 –Scientists sound the alarm as the world briefly smashes through 2-degree warming limit for the first time: For the first time, the global average temperature on Friday last week was more than 2 degrees Celsius hotter than levels before industrialization, according to preliminary data shared on X by Samantha Burgess, deputy director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, based in Europe. The threshold was crossed just temporarily and does not mean that the world is at a permanent state of warming above 2 degrees, but it is a symptom of a planet getting steadily hotter and hotter, and moving towards a longer-term situation where climate crisis impacts will be difficult — in some cases impossible — to reverse.” (Source: https://www.cnn.com/2023/11/20/climate/2-degree-warming-limit-record-copernicus-climate-int/index.html)
“The 2023 state of the climate report: Entering uncharted territory: The trends reveal new all-time climate-related records and deeply concerning patterns of climate-related disasters.” (More: https://www.cooldavis.org/2023/10/26/2023-state-of-the-climate-report-time-is-up/)
“These ‘warming stripe’ graphics [below] are visual representations of the change in temperature as measured in each country, region or city over the past 100+ years. Each stripe or bar represents the temperature in that country, region or city averaged over a year. The stripes typically start around the year 1900 and finish in 2022, but for many countries, regions and cities the stripes start in the 19th century or sometimes even the 18th century. For virtually every country, region or city, the stripes turn from mainly blue to mainly red in more recent years, illustrating the rise in average temperatures in that location. For most countries, the data comes from the Berkeley Earth temperature dataset, updated to the end of 2022.” (Source: #showyourstripes.info and http://www.berkeleyearth.org/ Lead scientist: Ed Hawkins, National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Reading. Data: Berkeley Earth, NOAA, UK Met Office, MeteoSwiss, DWD, SMHI, UoR & ZAMG )
ENERGY EMISSIONS APPEAR TO BE ON THE WAY DOWN
“Global efforts to slow a runaway climate catastrophe may have reached a critical milestone in the last year with the peak of global carbon emissions from energy use, according to experts.
A growing number of climate analysts believe that 2023 may be recorded as the year in which annual emissions reached a pinnacle before the global fossil fuel economy begins a terminal decline.
The milestone is considered a crucial tipping point in the race to drive emissions to net zero. But for many climate experts it’s an inflexion point that was due years ago and which, although encouraging, falls far short of the rapid reduction the world needs.
… The International Energy Agency (IEA) raised hopes earlier this year of an end to the fossil fuel era when it predicted for the first time that the consumption of oil, gas and coal would peak before 2030 and begin to fall as climate policies took effect.
“It’s not a question of ‘if’, it’s just a matter of ‘how soon’ – and the sooner the better for all of us,” said Fatih Birol, the head of the IEA.” The IEA World Energy Outlook 2023 report provides in-depth analysis and strategic insights into every aspect of the global energy system. From the executive summary: “Some of the immediate pressures from the global energy crisis have eased, but energy markets, geopolitics, and the global economy are unsettled and the risk of further disruption is ever present. … the emergence of a new clean energy economy, led by solar PV and electric vehicles (EVs), provides hope for the way forward. Investment in clean energy has risen by 40% since 2020.”
CLIMATE IS WINNING IN COURT
“More than 2,300 climate change litigation cases have been filed around the world, according to the Sabin Center at Columbia Law School, the vast majority since 2015. Despite some high-profile losses, more than 50 percent of climate cases have led to decisions “understood as favorable to climate action,” says the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
One of the most promising was a Montana state court decision in August that found Montana had violated the rights of youth plaintiffs to a “clean and healthful environment” by promoting the use of fossil fuels. That’s probably just the start. Dozens of lawsuits, including one by California, are seeking billions of dollars in damages from oil companies accused of deception over their role in climate change.”
(Source: Michael J. Coren, Washington Post, Climate Coach newsletter. Subscribe here https://www.washingtonpost.com/newsletters/climate-coach)
HOPE FOR ZERO EMISSIONS
A recent report by the NewClimate Institute “gives an overview of what has been achieved in the last years of international climate policy at the global level along different dimensions of the transition towards a zero emissions world. The focus is deliberately on the positive shifts that can be observed, recognising that these are insufficient to move us to where we need to be but remind us that not all is lost yet.”
The five main points are:
- Climate change discourse has become mainstream and is a subject of debate in all parts of society, driving social movements and civil action.
- Widely recognised that emissions have to be reduced to zero by every country across the economy.
- Every investor and every business feels pressure to act on climate.
- Renewables reached cost parity with fossils and power systems are shifting to decentralised, flexible models.
- Electrification in transport and buildings has progressed significantly and all industry is now working on zero carbon strategies.