The 197 countries that signed the Paris Agreement gathered the last 2 weeks at the 24th UN Climate Change Conference in Katowice (Poland). The good news: progress has been made on the technical implementation of the Paris Agreement (e.g. how do we measure and report greenhouse gas emissions?). The bad news: no concrete (political) promises were made to reduce emissions in order to achieve the 1.5°C target (current targets will lead to 3°C increase).
According to The Boston Consulting Group, a management consultant, countries can create economic growth by taking more action against climate change, if they prioritize the most economic efficient measures to do so.
KU Leuven introduces a voluntary “carbon tax” on flights of its employees. The tax is voluntary and employees can choose the destination of the tax: (1) a donation to Carbon+Alt+Delete, (2) reforestation in Africa, (3) video-conferencing infrastructure or (4) or research projects on CO2 mitigation.
Our main goal at Carbon+Alt+Delete is to help you act on climate change. In addition to keeping you informed, that means sharing specific ways in which you can make a difference. And for that, we want to call on you! Let us know about the things you have come across that have inspired you and helped you make a difference: everyday changes, platforms, initiatives, and whatever else you can think of. At the end of every month, we will share them with the C+A+D community.
We kick this series off with the Claim the Climate march, a fantastic way to make a difference. In a piece on his blog, C+A+D’s Arne van Stiphout explains how the Paris Agreement is actually structured in a way that relies on citizens to push their governments to do more through public initiatives, like this march, but also, for example, the Belgian Klimaatzaak. So if you can, go express your support for an ambitious climate change policy this weekend!
Trying to make progress in the fight against climate change is not limited to the political arena. An increasingly important avenue to pursue that fight is through the courts. Last month, the victory of the civilian-led climate case Urgenda against the government of the Netherlands in the appeal court of The Hague set a historical precedent in that regard. The judge upheld the 2015 court decision that forces the Dutch government to reduce The Netherlands’ greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 25% on 1990 levels by the year 2020. This victory will provide a great boost to the many organizations around the world that were inspired by the original case to bring a case of their own to the courts, like the Belgian non-profit Klimaatzaak. This week’s article discusses the implications of the Urgenda appeal verdict for those cases. “Never before has the role of the courts been so significant in influencing the path of global policy. In the face of inadequately ambitious action by policy-makers, civil society movements and the courts are the agents of change securing climate action.”
How do we talk about the consequences of our actions for the environment? A recent interview with David Attenborough sparked considerable controversy around this long-standing debate. Talking about his new BBC wildlife series, Attenborough told the Observer that repeated warnings about human destruction of the natural world are “alarmist”, and can be a “turn-off” for viewers. But what if the truth is simply alarming? When it comes to biodiversity loss – a topic relevant to Attenborough’s new series – this recent WWF report would seem to suggest so. Do we soften the message of such reports? Or do we communicate their findings as they are, even if that might scare some viewers away? Read the original interview with David Attenborough in The Observer and a response by George Monbiot in The Guardian to get two very different points-of-view on what is the best communication strategy to drive change.
When we think about mitigating climate change, we tend to mostly think about energy and transport. It is important, however, to remember that climate change touches upon many more sectors. After the burning of fossil fuels and the consequences of land-use change, global cement production is the third largest source of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions (note the difference between carbon dioxide and greenhouse gasses). Being such a heavy emitter, the sector’s carbon footprint has to be reduced strongly if the goals of the Paris agreement are to be met. A new Swiss report shows that “by considering all the stages in the value chain, reductions of up to 80% CO2 emissions compared to the 1990 values is achievable by 2050.” But achieving such deep reductions will require efforts along the complete value chain.
“It can be safely said that no widely applicable economic models have been developed specifically for the upcoming era.” So say the researchers of the Finnish BIOS Research Unit in a scientific background document for the upcoming UN Global Sustainable Development Report 2019. “What will happen during the oncoming years and decades when we enter the era of energy transition, combined with emission cuts, and start to witness more severe effects of climate change? What kind of economic understanding and governance models do we need, now that economies are undergoing dramatic rather than incremental change?” While definitely a more challenging read, this week’s pick is highly recommended for those who want to get a better understanding of the wider economic and sustainable development challenges (and alternatives!) related to climate change.
Under the “Tracker” label, we highlight articles that discuss the world’s progress towards a sustainable society. This week we pick out an article from The Guardian discussing a preliminary analysis of the International Energy Agency. This analysis shows that for the second year in a row emissions in the global energy sector are on the rise. Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, points to the global economy driving coal, oil and gas use to explain this increase. “Energy efficiency improvements and renewables are not good enough to reverse that,” he says. Addressing climate change will require actively phasing out fossil fuels.
This week’s pick builds on last week’s, delving further into the IPCC report on Global Warming of 1.5°C. Requested by the countries most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change – which, perhaps counterintuitively, are not always the poorest, as this article shows – the report shows that an additional half a degree of global warming would put millions of people’s homes, jobs, and lives on the line. In this week’s pick, the major findings of the IPCC report are summarized and clarified, including those on the impacts of 1.5°C of global warming.