World leaders have been told they have moral obligation to ramp up their action on the climate crisis in the wake of a new UN report that shows even half a degree of extra warming will affect hundreds of millions of people, decimate corals and intensify heat extremes.
But the muted response by Britain, Australia and other governments highlights the immense political challenges facing adoption of pathways to the relatively safe limit of 1.5C above pre-industrial temperatures outlined on Monday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
With the report set to be presented at a major climate summit in Poland in December, known as COP24, there is little time for squabbles. The report noted that emissions need to be cut by 45% by 2030 in order to keep warming within 1.5C. That means decisions have to be taken in the next two years to decommission coal power plants and replace them with renewables, because major investments usually have a lifecycle of at least a decade.Fortunately Canada has a leader who styles himself a paragon of moral obligation so we can expect the True North to rally to the call to decarbonize. The new IPCC report leaves no doubt that the filthiest, highest-carbon fossil reserves will have to be left in the ground. The future of humanity demands no less.
The party's over. The current prime minister has a choice to make. He can no longer claim to have it both ways. That's utter sophistry. He's either on the side of mankind or he's on the side of the Bitumen Barons and their political stooges.
Just twelve years. In the greater scheme of things that's hardly any time at all. Cutting emissions by 45% by 2030 is an extremely tall order. You could blow a dozen years just studying such a Herculean chore and be no closer to concrete measures than we are today. We haven't got twelve years and one or two changes of government to meet Canada's "moral obligation." If we shirk our responsibilities, our moral obligation, it only encourages others to do precisely the same. Going down that road, the path we're currently on, consigns our grandkids to a pretty horrible fate.
As The Guardian article notes this can't be achieved without a desperate fight.
...there is increasing pushback by the world’s powerful fossil fuel and agribusiness interests, who are supporting politicians who are apathetic or hostile to climate action. The new IPCC report stressed the urgent need for reforestation and greater forest protection, but within hours of its release the first round of the Brazilian presidential election ended with a huge lead for Jair Bolsonaro, who has promised to quit the Paris accord and open up the Amazon rainforest to farmers and miners.
Donald Trump has also announced that the US will pull out of the climate deal. And in Australia, the prime minister, Scott Morrison, said there was no money for “global climate conferences and all that nonsense”.As I wrote recently, we have arrived at Justin Trudeau's "fish or cut bait" moment. I don't hold out much hope that he'll do the right thing. Do you?