30 November 2012 - "Climate Change: you can't ignore it - but I am a 'climate-ignorer'." Karpf in Guardian et al
Climate change: you can’t ignore it
Anne Karpf 30th November, 2012
If you were that way inclined, you could say that the biblical weather we have been having this past week - perfectly timed to coincide with start of the Doha climate talks - was some thundering deity disgorging its watery wrath over the British isles. These deluges have been the worst for five years, and come on the heels of Hurricane Sandy, climate change is literally lapping at our doors. And yet 2012 is likely to be the ninth warmest year on record. A study published in the journal Science showed definitively that Greenland is losing ice mass at five times the rate of the early 1990s. The climate is undeniably weirding.
I am not a climate-change denier. On the contrary, ever since I interviewed the environmentalist Mayer Hillman for this newspaper 10 years ago, when he predicted most of what has happening today, I have understood that we are in the throes of something serious. I now recycle everything possible, drive a hybrid car and turn down the heating. Yet somewhere in my marrow I know that this is just a vain attempt to exculpate myself it was not me, guv.
Indeed, when I hear apocalyptic warnings about global warming, after a few moments of fear I tune out. In fact I think I might be something worse than a climate-change sceptic . . . I am a climate-change ignorer.
The fuse that trips the whole circuit is a sense of helplessness. Whatever steps I take to counter global warming, however well-intentioned my brief bursts of zeal, they invariably end up feeling like too little, too late. The mismatch between the extremely dangerous state of the earth and my own feeble endeavours seems mockingly large.
In this I am not alone. I asked two colleagues about their attitudes to global warming. One, a 48-year-old man, said he thought about it often, was angry about the role of big business, but as to his own interventions, I do feel it is like pissing in the wind really I do not know why I bother. The other, a 57-year-old politically engaged man, admitted - ��and I do not say this with any pride - that he rarely thought about climate change: it simply does not interest him. When pressed, it turned out that he recycled, signed petitions to conserve old buildings and didnâ��t drive, but quickly realised that he couldnâ��t sustain his contention that â��I donâ��t harm the environmentâ��.
In Engaging with Climate Change, a major new book edited by Sally Weintrobe and described by Naomi Klein as â��persuasiveâ�� and â��powerfulâ��, 23 different authors, among them psychoanalysts like Weintrobe herself, help explain how we can both know and not know something at the same time. Paul Hoggett, professor of politics at the University of West of England, identifies a repertoire of defensive strategies;I am ashamed to admit that I have used them all. They include: other people are worse than me/itâ��s all the fault of someone else (blame-shifting); theyâ��ll come up with something (technoptimism); make hay while the sun shines (hedonistic fatalism). Then there is the view that the earth is so old and large, it can withstand the depredations of puny humans. I would add another: climate-change fatigue. It is all too easy to become inured to the warnings - the yes, yes, I have heard it all before defence.
Yet according to American researcher Renee Aron Lertzman, we care not too little about the degradation of the environment, but too much: most of us are trapped in a kind of â��environmental melancholiaâ��. Lertzman conducted fieldwork in a polluted edge of the Great Lakes in Wisconsin. Her interviewees, none of them environmental activists, expressed sadness and anxiety about a particular beach or river bank, but also spoke with nostalgia, as if these places no longer existed. They had disconnected from the threatened sites, which had ceased to be alive for them. What might look like apathy was in fact another expression of hopelessness, a lack of belief that repair was possible.
Weintrobe believes that our defences get mobilised because of our difficulty in bearing the anxiety excited by global warming. (As my friend Karen puts it, we ignore what we cannot bear.)
Our reliance on Mother Earth and worries about its sustainability echo our early dependence on our mother, restimulating primitive childhood anxieties about loss and annihilation, and the fear that our most urgent needs wonâ��t be met. They also put us in touch with our destructive rapaciousness, greed and shame that we may have spoiled the world for future generations, indeed for our own children. Itâ��s gratifying to learn from psychoanalysis of our unconscious feelings of grief and guilt for our part in endangering the planet; when analysts remind us of the role played by our inner omnivorous, omnipotent infant (arrogant, aggressive, with an inflated sense of entitlement), not so great.
The uncomfortable truth is that, unless and until our lives are directly affected by climate change, most of us have ambivalent feelings about making significant personal changes to avert some future catastrophe.
In my own case there always seem to be more pressing immediate concerns like what are we going to eat tonight â�� at that moment food miles matter less than what Iâ��m going to pick up on my way home and cook fast. Psychotherapist Rosemary Randal is blunt: â��People want change â�� but only a little bit. They want to stop climate change, but they also want all the things that are causing it.â�� In a major article in Rolling Stone magazine last summer, the environmental writer Bill McKibben argued that â��since all of us are in some way the beneficiaries of cheap fossil fuel, tackling climate change has been like trying to build a movement against yourself â�� itâ��s as if the gay-rights movement had to be constructed entirely from evangelical preachers, or the abolition movement from slaveholdersâ��. The first step, therefore, is to come clean about our ambivalence, rather than disown it because we â��shouldnâ��tâ�� be feeling it.
This isnâ��t putting individuals on the couch while letting corporate polluters and transnational despoilers off the hook. As Weintrobe told me: â��We feel as individuals but our defence mechanisms are socially shaped and produced by a culture.â��
Global warming is structured deep into our way of life: you canâ��t just graft fair trade, carbon-free elements on to it. Not while greed is seen as an economic virtue and frugality an economic vice. See the ads that invite us to â��Be paid to shopâ��. Or the new prepaid debit card for eight-16-year-olds, presumably on the grounds that itâ��s never too early to learn how to spend, spend, spend. (How about 1,000 free Nectar points for being born? Why not wean babies on pureed Big Macs with fries?
The culture of acquisition renders invisible everything that canâ��t be counted, calibrated or consumed. The ideology of the market has so penetrated every corner of our lives and thinking that any alternatives have become delegitimised, dismissed as unrealistic or pie in the sky and therefore literally unthinkable. Our imagination has been colonised. In experiments people encouraged to think about financial concerns were less motivated to address environmental problems.
So how do we get beyond despair? Not, apparently, through campaigns that generate guilt: the book argues that apocalyptic warnings are counter-productive. If you accept the idea that we retreat from overwhelming anxiety, then generating more fear and guilt will just paralyse us even more, and is an excellent way of recruiting more ignorers. As Ed Miliband has observed, Martin Luther King never inspired millions by saying â��I have a nightmareâ��. The quick fix, meanwhile, denies the painful, deep feelings engendered by climate change, and what a complex business it is to reverse it.
Myself, Iâ��ve got a bad dose of all-or-nothingism: if I canâ��t do something big, I do nothing at all. Since I canâ��t save the planet, will a set of new chair covers from Ikea really do much more damage? Might as well buy a smartphone since Indonesia has already been devastated by tin-mining. What we need to develop instead, says Weintrobe, is a sense of proportion about our own responsibility: this enables us to make some kind of active and creative reparation. But first weâ��ve got to go through certain psychic processes: to mourn what successive generations, including our own, have done to the earth; to work through difficult emotions, like anger, sadness and grief, so that we are able to bear the anxiety and face the reality. These are hard psychic tasks that canâ��t be done alone, only through joint effort in a social community. The Carbon Conversations groups that Rosemary Randall runs are one way of reducing our carbon footprints in tandem with others. Another is the Transition movement, through which people in communities support each other to develop practical, local initiatives for life beyond oil.
Many of us, though we wouldnâ��t want to admit it, are with Groucho Marx when he said â��Why should I care about future generations? What have they ever done for me?â�� Itâ��s going to take a huge cultural change to counter our unbridled narcissism, which demands immediate gratification, and inculcate the idea that weâ��re just trustees of the earth instead. The Hungarians have a parliamentary commissioner for future generations.
I was particularly struck by the bookâ��s emphasis on the ecological debt we run up if we use more than our fair share of finite resources. Iâ��m the bargain queen (my daughters too). We have learned to build human costs into our calculations â�� did a Bangladeshi girl put in five poorly paid hours to make this? But I am haunted by Randallâ��s revelation of the impact of our cheap T-shirts on the ecosystem of Uzbekistan, which provides Europe with one third of its cotton. Each T-shirt takes 2,700 litres of water to make. I can never look at a T-shirt in the same way again.
Activists canâ��t dodge questions of inequality. To do so would feel like another instance of the developed worldâ��s lack of generosity towards the developing world, the richâ��s indifference to the poor. But I donâ��t buy the idea that the global financial crisis makes environmental concerns the luxury of elites: itâ��s the poor who are most affected by floods and soaring world food prices.
Campaigner Aubrey Meyerâ��s strategy, contraction and convergence, builds equity in to the process of reducing emissions. Once you let go of both the desire for the quick fix or single panacea, and the conviction that nothing we can do makes a difference â�� ie a sense of either omnipotence or impotence â�� you create room for a plethora of different creative solutions. After all, the Berlin Wall came down, apartheid ended and you canâ��t now smoke in a pub. As for me, I know Iâ��ve got to tackle my tendency to invest things with magical properties â�� the perfect rug, or pair of boots, will solve all my problems â�� and the sense of elation that consuming promises to bring.
The book has helped me to make small personal changes (and not immediately deride them for their paltriness): like washing clothes less often. I donâ��t walk around in dirty, smelly clothing, but instead of throwing things into the washing machine I now dab clean all but large stains (itâ��s what the nail-brush was invented for).
My teenage daughter has gone further: with the help of WWF, she has calculated her carbon footprint and made 14 eco-changes, including buying products with recyclable packaging and switching off lights (so the environment gets her to do what her mother couldnâ��t).
The psychoanalyst Melanie Klein talked about the importance of the human capacity to hope. She believed that reparation â�� the desire to make right and restore â�� develops when we face ambivalence: our negative, destructive impulses can then be modified by our caring, protective ones.
The environmental activist Shaun Chamberlin has developed a similar concept, that of dark optimism, which involves facing dark truths while believing unwaveringly in human potential. In these turbulent times, fellow ignorers, letâ��s dust each other with dark optimism.
Guardian readers can get 20% discount off Engaging with Climate Change, via the Routledge website, using the discount code ECCG12
29 November 2012 - "We are running out of oil too slowly for it not to be a climate problem."
We were always running out of oil too slowly for it not to be a climate problem as well a depletion problem.
This is clear from the data-based charts and modelled projections shown below - see also rates of C&C
The idea that exotics can fill that gap gap between finite supply and infinite demand is error.
This is more like the gap between the fevered dream of b-a-u optimists and the fry-up night-mare of hyperbole-driven pessimists.
The reality is that we were always running out of oil too slowly for it not to be a climate problem as well a depletion problem. That gap is still there. It is worsening and points to a different conclusion - trial-by-conflict.
28 November 2012 - UK Climate Act Emissions/Concentrations & some terrifying maths . . .
Carbon Budget & Atmospheric Concentrations & the UK Climate Act
[Keeping calm and carrying on].
Our CO2 emissions to the atmosphere accumulate as rising concentrations in the atmosphere.
So, because of this and the growing risks of positive feedback effects, [another 1.7 Trillion tonnes of carbon is possible from melting PermaFrost alone], it would be more prudent to contract emissions to stable concentrations at a level pre-agreed as 'safe', than to see concentrations simply result as a vague array of consequences from an indefinite programme of emissions control and the increasingly likely 'runaway' rates of climate change that will result as temperature rise turns sinks and carbon-stocks to sources.
The Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations shown here: -
[a] up in 40 steps of 5 Gt C/Century above CAF 50% &
[b] down in 40 steps of 5 Gt C/Century below CAF 50%
The Carbon Budget [CB] of UKCA correspondingly goes: -
[c] down in 40 steps of 5 Gt C/Century below CB to offset [a] above &/or
[d] up in 40 steps of 5 Gt C/Century above CB to allow for [b] above.
Feedbacks mean that: - [a] is much more probable than [b] and consequently [c] is much more prudent than [d].
"As [a] is more probable than [b], [c] is more prudent than [d]."
This simple phrase barely hides the terrifying truth of its reciprocal, that [b] is assumed and [d] is the policy default, which is the model that we are still operating on after 20 years of negotiations at the UNCCC [COP 18].
You can easily draw this conclusion from the numerical analysis in the pdf file here and linked to the image below.
This analytical framework is the basis of Carbon Budgetting Analysis Tool C-BAT development: -
28 November 2012 - UNEP Report on Melting Permafrost & feedback of another 1.7 Trillion Tonnes carbon . . . ?
"Carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane emissions from thawing permafrost could amplify warming due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. This amplification is called the permafrost carbon feedback. Permafrost contains ~1700 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon in the form of frozen organic matter, almost twice as much carbon as currently in the atmosphere.
If the permafrost thaws, the organic matter will thaw and decay, potentially releasing large amounts of CO2 and methane into the atmosphere. This organic material was buried and frozen thousands of years ago and its release into the atmosphere is irreversible on human time scales. Thawing permafrost could emit 43 to 135 Gt of CO2 equivalent by 2100 and 246 to 415 Gt of CO2 equivalent by 2200.
Uncertainties are large, but emissions from thawing permafrost could start within the next few decades and continue for several centuries, influencing both short-term climate (before 2100) and long-term climate (after 2100)."
27 November 2012 - "C&C; Reducing Inequities & total GHG emissions." Prof Sir Andy Haines, LSHTM
27 November 2012 - "Very happy to add my name to C&C Proposal." Prue Taylor Dep Dir NZ Centre for Env Law
Yes I am very well aware of C&C and have followed the proposal since its early days.
I would be very happy for you to add my name as an endorsee of C&C.
New Zealand Centre for Environmental Law
University of Auckland
Weak sustainability is sometimes called the "business as usual" approach because it leaves unchallenged the fundamental notion that the public good is best achieved through continued limitless economic growth rather than the alternative view that the public good will be best served by finding new forms of economic actidty that are conducted within, and in concert with, the healthy functioning of ecological systems. Conversely, 'strong ' sustainability aims to move human society beyond prioritizing 'either" economic well-being 'or' environmental protection. It argues that both human well-being and environmental protection are possible, if the ecological limits of Earth are respected by all.
Eric Neumeyer, Weak versus Strong Sustainability: Exploring the Limits of Two Opposing Paradigms 3rd Edition (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2010). Timothy O'Riordan and Jill Jager The Politics of Climate Change: A European Perspective (London and New York: Routledge, 1991). Generational and Social Justice aspects are also critical and integral aspects of strong sustainability, however they are not the specific focus of this book. The primary emphasis is on humanity managing activities so that they occur within the constraints of the biosphere.
Concepts helpful to understanding this objective and the linkages with generation and social justice include the Ecological Footprint Model (accessed July 25, 2010) and the Strategy of Contraction and Convergence for Responding to Chmate Change (accessed July 25 2010). See also Franz Josef Radermacher Global Marshall Plan - A Plalnetary Contract (Hamburg: Global Marshall Plan Foundation 2004 and Franz Josef Radermacher Balance or Destruction Ecosocial Market Economy as the Key to Global Sustainable Management (Vienna: Ockosoziales Forum Europa 2004) In the New Zealand context, see Sustainable Aotearoa NZ Inc Strong Sustainability for NZ Principles and Scenarios (Wellington: Nekedize Pub Ltd, 2009).
26 November 2012 - "Happy to support C&C Proposal to UNFCCC." Profs Hanlon & Carlisle, Glasgow University
Thank you for your tenacity and intelligence in the continuing endeavour.
I would like to add my name in support of GCI's C&C Proposal to the UNFCCC.
All best wishes,
Professor of Public Health
University of Glasgow
I'm more than happy to support this!
Professor Sandra Carlisle
University of Glasgow School of Medicine
Wolfson Medical School Building, University Avenue, Glasgow, G12 8QQ, Scotland
Contraction and convergence
It has been calculated that a world of more than nine billion people will require an 80 to 90% reduction in carbon use by rich countries and drastic reductions in many other forms of consumption, to avoid worsening of existing problems. If sustainability and global equity is to be a goal, we will have to achieve ‘contraction’ in the richer world and 'convergence' with the poorer world.
The phrase 'contraction and convergence' has primarily been used as a response to the threat of runaway climate change Meyer 2000 and is one with which public health practitioners need to be familiar. Meyer's argument is that the whole world needs a contraction in the production of atmospheric carbon dioxide, which is an output of increased industrialization and economic growth. Rich and poor nations must eventually converge in their carbon production to avoid nothing less than a climate catastrophe. Less developed nations must be allowed to develop - so their carbon use goes up - while Industrialized and post Industrial nations must make substantial reductions (Meyer 2000).
Failure to contract and converge will have health consequences that may be hard to predict but will probably include the loss of agricultural land, severe storms and flooding, forest fires, hunger and forced economic migration, and so on. Contraction and convergence is of course another form of redistribution on a global scale, and the concept can apply to other resources and not just the carbon that affluent societies depend on. The Future Public Health
Phil Hanlon, Sandra Carlisle, Margaret Hannah, Andrew Lyon
More recently, awareness of the threat of global ecological hazards to human health has seen the emergence of ‘ecological’ forms of public health. A number of different approaches to this topic can be discerned within our discipline (Hanlon and Carlisle 2010). Some, for example, have applied a very traditional scientific model to particular issues that will arise from a given rise in global temperature. Consider, for example, the challenge of ‘contraction and convergence’ (Meyer 2000). This is a concept that has been developed in response to global warming and other environmental threats. The idea is simple. The world needs a contraction in output of carbon dioxide but for all to buy into such an agreement it must be transparently just: hence the need for convergence. Less developed nations must be allowed to develop, which may mean increased carbon utilization, whilst industrialized and post industrial nations must make substantial reductions. However, an ethical framework which ensures global justice and equity while safeguarding the rights of individuals has yet to emerge. This will be a key challenge if the world is not to face runaway climate change and collapse. In Search of Transformational Change.
The Future Public Health: An Integrative Framework
Prof Phil Hanlon, Dr Andrew Lyon, Dr Margaret Hannah,
Dr David Reilly, Dr Sandra Carlisle
There are also other ideas and models that can help us think differently and challenge conventional thinking. Perhaps one of the most significant is the concept of "contraction and convergenceâÂ�Â� developed by Aubrey Meyer of the Global Commons Institute, in response to the threat of runaway climate change (Meyer 2000). Meyer notes that the whole world needs a contraction in the production of carbon dioxide - an output of increased industrialisation and economic growth. Rich and poor nations must eventually converge in their carbon production, to avoid catastrophe. Less developed nations must be allowed to develop âÂ�Â� so their carbon use goes up - whilst industrialized and post industrial nations must make substantial reductions. OXFAM Briefing - Well-being in consumer culture and the New Poor Sandra Carlisle and Philip Hanlon
25 November 2012 - "C&C can operationalize equity at the UNFCCC." 'Climate Change Ethics' Don Brown
Climate Change Ethics - Don Brown
In addition to these principles, over the last decade, several new emissions reductions frameworks have evolved, which have received widespread attention in the international community, particularly among non-government organizations participating in international climate change negotiations. These include allocation formulas called, "Contraction and Convergence" (C&C) and the "Greenhouse Development Rights" (GDR) framework.
C&C was first proposed in 1990 by the London-based non-governmental Global Commons Institute (GCI 2010) (see Figure 6.3).
Basically, C&C is not a prescription per se, but rather a way of demonstrating how a global prescription could be negotiated and organized in a way that ultimately levels off on the basis of equal per capita emissions (Meyer 2000) .
Implementing C&C requires two steps. As a first step, countries must agree on a long-term global stabilization level for atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations as discussed in the last chapter. Once this is done a global greenhouse gas emissions budget can be calculated that would determine how many tonnes of greenhouse gases can be released into the atmosphere that will allow atmospheric concentrations to be stabilized. As a second step, countries need to negotiate a convergence date. That is, a date at which time the emissions allocated to each country should converge on equal per capita entitlements. During the transition period, a yearly global carbon budget is devised, which contracts gradually over time as the per capita entitlements of developed countries decrease while those of most developing countries increase. C&C would allow nations to achieve their per capita-based targets through trading from countries having excess allotments. And so, under C&C, nations eventually receive binding emissions reductions allocations that are distributed on the basis of equal per capita emissions for all humans.
How to calculate greenhouse gas allocations between nations has always raised tensions between the developed and developing countries; the latter arguing that they have a right and need for economic development to help poor people rise above grinding poverty. In fact, international climate negotiation has been plagued by global North versus South conflicts. Poor developing nations have been deeply worried that climate change policies will exacerbate existing injustices between rich and poor nations if the poor countries' ability to develop economically is thwarted by limits on greenhouse gas emissions.
The second allocation formula based upon equitable considerations is the GDR framework; a framework specifically designed to assure that poor people are not unfairly constrained in a world in which the global economy is constrained by limits on carbon (Baer et al. 2008). GDR begins with an ambitious emissions reduction pathway which, geared to the latest alarming evidence, has a relatively high probability of holding global warming below 2Â°C (Baer et al. 2008). GDR specifies that individuals whose income is below $7,500 are given the right to development. Under GDR these, by definition, poor individuals are not expected to help to pay the costs of the climate transition. Yet, individuals with incomes above the development threshold- by stipulation of GDR, the global consuming class- are thought of as having realized their right to development (Baer et al. 2008). Because of this, under GDR, they must shoulder the responsibility of curbing global carbon and the costs of adaptation from unavoidable climate change and compensation for climate damages (Baer et al. 2008).
Although some governments and organizations have endorsed either C&C or GDR, these frameworks have not yet been seriously considered by governments as the basis for setting emissions reductions commitments during recent climate change negotiations despite high levels of interest in these two approaches among non-government organizations. In fact, most nations have continued to avoid linking their commitments to greenhouse gas emissions reduction to levels that take equity into account.
Contraction and Convergence
An equal per capita allocation, the ultimate goal of C&C, would be consistent with principles of justice because: (a) it treats all individuals as equals and, therefore, is consistent with theories of distributive justice, (b) it would implement the ethical maxim that all people should have equal rights to use global commons, (c) it would not be inconsistent with the widely accepted polluterpays principle, except perhaps with historical emissions, and (d) it could recognize the need of developing countries to increase their emissions to meet the basic needs of their citizens by negotiating when the convergence date would need to be achieved. Before allocating any carbon budget- a budget necessary to achieve a safe global atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases on the basis of equal per capita allocations- a case can be made that per capita emission levels should be adjusted to consider historical cumulative emissions. C&C has been criticized on the basis of its failure to deal effectively with historical emissions; a feature of C&C that could mean poor nations have insufficient levels of greenhouse gas emissions to allow them to use fossil fuels to economically grow out of poverty. Proponents of C&C have proposed some adjustments to C&C to deal with this limitation, including adjustments to the date of convergence and increased funding for adaptation to deal with this problem. And so as adjusted, C&C satisfies ethical scrutiny and can be seen as a way of operationalizing the meaning of equity under the UNFCCC.
Greenhouse Development Rights
The GDR framework discussed above also satisfies the minimum ethical criteria for allocating targets for national greenhouse gas emissions in that differences between national targets are based upon ethically relevant criteria, including basic needs of poor nations for economic development, the economic capacity of rich countries to invest in greenhouse gas-friendly technologies, and historical emissions considerations. Yet GDR is vulnerable to the criticism that the criteria it follows for determining economic prosperity levels- and, therefore, emission reduction obligations (for example the proposed $7,500 economic prosperity level that exempts some below it from emissions reduction targets)- are so arbitrary as to raise questions of distributive justice. Others have criticized GDR on the basis of its attempts to solve not only climate change, but also inequitable economic development. In so doing, GDR conflates two problems in such a way that it makes political agreement very unlikely (Kraus 2009). More specifically, Kraus argues that:
In order to make GDRs fully operational, nations need to agree upon a number of matters including the emergency emissions trajectory, the precise level of the development threshold, the year when responsibility starts, the formula to calculate the RCI, and the respective weights of capacity and responsibility .... This reduces the transparency of the GDRs concept and significantly increases the necessary amount of data. Compared to GDRs, C&C has a higher degree of institutional feasibility. Due to its simplicity, C&C only requires data about emissions and population numbers of all nations. (Kraus 2009)
Because of the increased complexity of negotiations that would be required to implement GDR, Kraus believes it is not politically feasible. Ethics would not support a formula that is almost impossible to implement. Of course, proponents of GDR deny that complexities of GDR create practical barriers to its adoption and implementation. And so GDR passes ethical scrutiny, although some practical problems need to be answered.
Climate change raises some of the most profound ethical issues of our time. And yet, for thirty years our policy responses have evaded comprehensive ethical analysis. This book puts an end to this 'grave and unjust omission. However, the outstanding contribution of this book is its explanation of how ethical considerations can bring moral responsibility to the forefront of climate policy and action. Prue Taylor, University of Auckland, New Zealand
Don Brown navigates the troubled waters of climate change denial. He deconstructs the cynical efforts by vested interests to pollute the public discourse by means of a climate change disinformation campaign. Brown also makes a compelling argument that limiting carbon emissions and mitigating climate change is the ethical imperative of our time. Michael Mann, Pennsylvania State University, USA
In this fascinating book, Donald A. Brown draws on his vast experience to explore one of the great ethical issues of our time, and provides recommendations about how to bring ethical issues into the formulation of global warming policy responses. Richard Alley, Pennsylvania State University, USA
Climate change is now the biggest challenge faced by humanity worldwide and ethics is the crucial missing component to the debate. The climate change threat is caused by the wealthiest of the world's population putting the most vulnerable at risk. The ethical dimension of climate change is therefore crucial, as the victims can only hope that those responsible for climate change will appreciate their obligation to the rest of the world and reduce their emissions accordingly. This book examines why a thirty-five-year discussion of human-induced warming has failed to acknowledge fundamental ethical concerns, and subjects climate change's most important policy questions to ethical analysis. Climate change is a global problem that requires a global solution, and given that many nations refuse participation due to perceived inequities of an international solution, this book explains why ensuring that nations, sub-national governments, organizations, businesses and individuals acknowledge and respond to their ethical obligations is both an ethical and practical mandate. The book examines the reasons why ethical principles have failed to gain traction in policy formation and recommends specific strategies to ensure that climate change policies are consistent with ethical principles. It is the first book of its kind to go beyond a mere account of relevant ethical questions to offer a pragmatic guide to how to make ethical principles relevant and integral to the world's response to climate change. Written by Donald A. Brown, a leading voice in the field, it should be of interest to policy makers, and those studying environmental policy, climate change policy, international relations, environmental ethics and philosophy. Donald A. Brown is Scholar in Residence on Sustainability Ethics and Law at Widener University School of Law, USA.
24 November 2012 - Questions Governments should be asked about their positions on Equity at COP 18 Qatar
As we explained in the last entry, many observers of the international climate change negotiations have concluded that to keep any hope alive that the world will prevent dangerous climate change, it is imperative that nations begin to base their emissions reductions commitments on what equity and justice requires of them, not on economic national interest alone. Yet many nations, including some of the highest emitting countries, are clearly ignoring their obligations to poor vulnerable people or nations in setting their domestic emissions reductions targets.
Because nations have also failed to make commitments to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to levels that will limit future warming to 2Â°C, there is an increasing sense of urgency among climate scientists about the need for all nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to their fair share of safe global emissions.
Some nations are ignoring their ethical obligations to others in making national emissions reductions commitments under the UNFCCC despite the fact that nations agreed in ratifying the UNFCCC to adopt policies and measures to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system on the basis of “equity” and “common but differentiated responsibilities.”
Equity is a concept about which there is no universally agreed to definition. This does not mean, however, that any claim about what equity means is entitled to respect as a matter of justice. Equity is generally understood philosophically as basic fairness. In fact determining a nation’s fair share of safe global emissions is a classic problem of distributive justice.
Distributive justice does not require that all individuals be treated equally when the benefits and burdens of government actions are allocated. However distributive justice does require individuals to be treated equally unless a morally relevant justification can be identified that supports differences in allocations among individuals. For instance, distributive justice would not condone withholding food to starving people on the grounds of differences in race or the color of a person’s eyes. These are not morally acceptable reasons for discriminating among people. However, distributive justice would condone differences in responsibilities to clean up a hazardous waste site on the basis of the volume of wastes deposited at the site by different contributors. A key question, therefore, in determining the meaning of equity under a climate change regime is what differences in allocations are supportable by morally justified reasons.
Although different ethically respectable formulations of just distributions of national greenhouse gas targets will reach different conclusions about how to allocate the burdens of government action to reduce the threat of climate change, many of the justifications for national greenhouse gas reduction targets committed to under the UNFCCC fail to survive minimum ethical scrutiny. For instance, those nations who seek to justify their levels of greenhouse gas emissions solely on the basis of cost to them of reducing emissions or on the claim that they have some prescriptive right to high emissions because they were the first to use the atmosphere as a sink to dispose of their greenhouse gas emissions will fail to pass ethical scrutiny.
In determining what ‘equity’ means in regard to allocating greenhouse gas emissions targets among nations, in addition to some general principles of distributive justice, several norms of international law are recognized as relevant for establishing national responsibilities. Relevant considerations entailed by distributive justice include levels of historical emissions, the survival needs of poor people to use fossil fuels, and the capabilities of some to move more rapidly to renewable energy. International law norms relevant to national greenhouse gas emissions allocations include the “polluter-pays” principle, the “no-harm” principle, and the “common but differentiated responsibilities” principle.
Thus far nations have not been asked to explain how their greenhouse gas emissions reductions commitments can be justified on ethical grounds.
As we saw in the last article on this subject, there was a workshop in May of this year in Bonn at which governments and others were asked to discuss the meaning of “equity” but very little progress was made in this meeting.
To make progress on these issues, the UNFCCC should ask nations to justify their national greenhouse gas emissions by answering a few questions about their position on equity and justice in the climate regime.
For these reasons, the following questions should be asked of nations as part of preparations for UNFCCC negotiations:
State precisely your understanding of “equity” on which your national greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitment is based.
Do you agree that your nation has duties and obligations to other vulnerable nations and people to limit your greenhouse gas emissions to your nation’s fair share of safe global emissions and that these responsibilities must be considered when setting your national greenhouse gas emissions target?
In determining your national greenhouse gas emissions target how did you take into consideration and quantify your obligations to prevent harm to other nations and individuals outside your jurisdiction
Do you agree that the historical emissions levels should be a consideration in determining greenhouse gas emissions allocations in such a way that those nations that have consistently emitted greenhouse gases at levels beyond their fair share of safe global emissions should adjust their commitments to compensate for prior emissions?
If you disagree with the need to consider historical emissions, how do you interpret the “polluter pays” principle in regard to national greenhouse gas emissions targets?
If you agree that historical emissions should be a consideration in calculating national greenhouse gas emissions allocations, explain the basis for your conclusions about when historical emissions obligations should be triggered. That is what year are obligations for historical emissions triggered; for instance, should all historical emissions of greenhouse gas emissions be considered or should obligations for historical emissions obligations begin at a certain year such as 1990, the baseline year for the UNFCCC, 1992 the year in which the UNFCCC was finalized, or what year? Please state your reasons for your conclusions.
Do you agree that the needs of poor people to engage in activities necessary for survival in poor countries should be entitled to priority over activities that support luxury consumption in rich countries when allocating national emissions targets?
Do you agree that high-emitting individuals and organizations in both developed and developing countries have responsibilities to minimize their greenhouse gas emissions when feasible?
Do you agree that governments in all countries have a duty to encourage the reduction of unnecessary or wasteful practices that generate greenhouse gas emissions by sub-national governments, organizations, businesses, and individuals within their jurisdiction?
Do you agree that your national greenhouse gas emissions target should be understood implicitly as a position on a global emissions reduction pathway to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases at safe levels?
If you agree that national emissions commitments must be understood as a position on a global emissions reduction pathway to stabilize greenhouse gases at safe levels, how does your greenhouse gas emissions commitment link quantitatively with a safe atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases.
Do you agree that nations that emit greenhouse gases at levels beyond their fair share of safe global emissions have a duty to help pay for reasonable adaptation needs and unavoidable damages of low emitting countries and individuals?
If you disagree that nations that emit above their fair share of safe global emissions have duties to pay for reasonable adaptation and unavoidable damages to lower emitting countries and individuals, how do you interpret the “polluter-pays” principle?
Do you agree that all nations have a duty to reduce their emissions to their fair share of safe global missions without regard to what other nations do to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions?
What if any of the frameworks for allocating national emissions reductions that have been frequently discussed in international negotiations or meetings do you agree with? More specifically do you agree with the “contraction and convergence” framework, the “greenhouse gas development rights” framework, or other frameworks for allocating national greenhouse gas emission that have been discussed in international negotiations?
Do you agree that all nations including developing nations have duties to limit their greenhouse gas emissions to their fair share of safe global emissions despite the fact that lower emitting nations may have much lower emissions reductions obligations as a matter of justice and equity?
Donald A. Brown
Scholar In Residence,
Sustainability Ethics and Law
Widener University School of Law
20 November 2012 - "This reasoning points strongly to C&C." Ludus Vitalis Robin Attfield
Contraction and Convergence would not solve everything and would need to be supplemented but objections do not show that it is either ungrounded or not a large move in the right direction.
There are, in any case, severe problems in basing international policies not on emissions quotas but (as has been suggested) instead on requiring developed nations and wealthy individuals to pay both for development, for mitigation and for adaptation for climate change. Here the risks of large-scale non-compliance (in what would have to be an intense and global program of action introduced with little prior notice) are so large that it would be hazardous to make the entire future of humanity depend on its success.
The real objection to such proposals is that concern for the future of humanity and of other species requires a system answering to current capacities and capable of being extended indefinitely into the future, in other words sustainability; thus, the approach based on historical responsibilities cannot match these requirements. The system needed would have to be based on universal principles, including current prosperity and cannot be derived from the particularities of history.
This reasoning strongly points to a system based on Contraction and Convergence, even though it would need to be supplemented by a massive system to combat poverty and underdevelopment. The latter, could well need to be introduced simultaneously in the cause of securing universal agreement about and compliance with the system of proportion ate emissions quotas. GLOBAL WARMING, EQUITY & FUTURE GENERATIONS
20 November 2012 - "C&C eliminates most regressivity." Hyungsup Lee, Australia National University 26/11/12
This thesis explores the neglected issue of regional distribution of climate change mitigation costs. Using advanced methodologies and data from a multi-modelling exercise (specifically, EMF-22), and focusing on economy-wide costs under a single global carbon tax regime, the study conducts a meta-analysis to investigate how and why mitigation costs for different countries vary, and what the welfare implications are.
What are the welfare implications of regional cost variation? An analysis based on Gini coefficients reveals that global income inequality increases after mitigation, implying that (uncompensated) global mitigation is regressive. Although the increase in the Gini is small, the impact of the regressivity on the global cost of mitigation is large. This is shown by use of the concept of ‘equally distributed equivalent (EDE)’ cost. Though the effect is scenario dependent and declines over time, taking account of regressivity increases global mitigation costs in 2020 by 64-90 per cent depending on the degree of inequality aversion.
So far the analysis has ignored the possibility of international transfers of compensation. The final part of the analysis tests the extent to which commonly proposed international financing schemes will alleviate the regressivity of regional mitigation costs. The main finding here is that the two commonly proposed schemes – the Copenhagen Funding agreement and the Contraction and Convergence by 2050 – will at most eliminate regressivity. They are not sufficient to make the global mitigation effort a progressive one.
The thesis concludes with a discussion of limitations and future research questions. While the analysis is by no means exhaustive, overall the contribution of the thesis is to show that detecting, analysing and thinking through the implications of regional variation in mitigation costs deserve much more attention, and that attempts to do so will bring rich insights from both an academic perspective and a geo-political/negotiating one.
Hyungsup Lee is a PhD candidate in the EMD program at the Crawford School of Public Policy. Prior to joining the Crawford School, Hyungsup worked for the Ministry of Environment of Korea in the area of domestic climate change policy, air quality and transportation environment.
Speaker/Host: Hyungsup Lee Venue: Miller Theatre, Old Canberra House (Bldg 132), Lennox Crossing, ANU
Date: Monday, 26 November 2012 Time: 12:30 PM - 1:30 PM
Enquiries: Matthew Dornan on 6125 1592 Copyright | Disclaimer | Privacy |
Contact ANU Please direct all enquiries to: Billboard Page authorised by: Director, Communications & External Liaison Office as relevant officer The Australian National University CRICOS Provider Number: 00120C - ABN: 522 34063906
I agree with and support the C&C proposal. I prefer 2050 as a convergence year.
17 November 2012 - "C&C - a vastly popular proposal among policy-makers." Emanuelle Campiglio, Grantham LSE
Equal per capita emissions.
In this case, the right to pollute or to be protected from pollution is assumed to pertain to individuals rather than nations. For this reason, an equal share of entitlements is assigned to each individual and regions are allowed to produce emissions proportionally to the level of their population.
This is a vastly popular proposal both among policy-makers of developed countries and academic researchers.
Given the strong inequality in the current distribution of per capita emissions [IEA, 2009] and the drastic modication to trends in pollution that an implementation of the egalitarian principle would entail, I follow Meyer (2000) and Miketa and Schrattenholzer (2006) by allowing a period of time for the transition to take place.
Georgia Mathews, Lynda McDonald, David Plummer, Simon Ramage
A multi media exhibition by craft work, photography painting and jewellery inspired by the properties of light and fabric
Georgia Mathews returns after 3 jewellery displays at The Conference Centre in SKYLINES, GLASS ROOTS and PATTERNS OF LGHT. Her style of work is influenced by materials that include coloured glass, pure metal and cut crystal. After exhibiting art jewellery in DARE TO WEAR at the St Pancras crypt gallery space, the designer presents her winter collection of both jewellery to wear and display including an installation based on the ocean coastline of Brighton where she now lives and works.
Lynda McDonald graduated from the University of Ulster with a BA Hons degree in Creative Embroidery/Fine Art Textiles. This artistic background, and an interest in Outsider Art, encouraged her to become an Arts Therapist. A career in local government and the NHS followed, and for the last fifteen years she has worked for the Foundation Trust. The artist has recently returned to her creative life and is exhibiting a series of collage paintings inspired by the torn and tattered billposters that adorn our streets. These paintings appear as layered, textured landscapes.
David Plummer works in business development for the foundation trust. He founded Tanzo Photography as a project to explore the world around us through photography, writing and technology. The photographer writes: â��As we mature our perception changes and we interpret what we see based on our experiences. Life is not black and white nor can we be certain of reality. The camera tells us only half of the story, the other half we bring ourselves.â�� Originally considering a career in photojournalism, the advent of the digital age and our ensuing ability to adapt images, offers the photographer an opportunity to break free from literal imagery.
Simon Ramage has worked in the NHS for 28 years in various clinical and administrative roles, of which the last 24 years have been within the Camden and Islington sector. Although based in central London, his heart remains in the countryside where he lived in the North Yorkshire Moors with the east coast around Robin Hoods Bay as his garden, and later on the edge of the Derbyshire Peak District. Using 3D concepts, the photographer is fascinated by microscopic detail contained deep within flowers that reveal beauty and symmetry in nature. The photographer has exhibited at St Pancras Hospital in the Mary Rankin Renal Dialysis Unit and presented a solo exhibition â��Floral Fantasyâ�� in South Wing, along with several entries in Staff Photography Exhibitions.
OPENING NIGHT PREVIEW THURSDAY 15/11/12 from 5.00PM to 8.00PM.
will include violin music during the evening played by Aubrey Meyer.
The Conference Centre
St Pancras Hospital
4 St Pancras Way London NW1 0PE
The exhibition runs from
Monday to Friday 16/11/12 to 11/1/13 9.00am to 6.00pm
Contact: Peter Herbert Telephone: 020 79168416 Email
Travel bus 46/214 Tube Mornington Crescent / Kings cross
Supported by the North London Charitable Fund; Registration No 1053769
14 November 2012 - "Health Benefits of an effective Contraction and Convergence Policy." Dr Ricardo Uauy Chile
An effective contraction and convergence policy would therefore seek to: both reduce greenhouse-gas emissions per unit of meat or milk produced coupled to a reduction consumption of meat (especially ruminant red meat) and milk from the current high levels in high-income countries, with predicted health benefits; and taper the rise in consumption of meat and milk in developing countries, also with predicted health benefits. Global Climate Change: Risks for Human and Planetary Health
13 November 2012 - C&C - King's Fund Summit Research and Development Sustainable Health & Social Care
Health co-benefits: â��What is good for adaptation to, and mitigation of, climate change......is ALSO good for health and healthcareâ��
For the publicâ��s health â�� More physical activity, better diet, improved mental health, less road trauma, less air pollution, less obesity/ heart disease/cancer, more social inclusion/cohesion.
For the healthcare system â�� More prevention, care closer to home, more empowered / self care, better use of drugs, better use of information and IT, fewer unnecessary admissions, better models of care.
We cannot continue to miseducate idealistic young women and men into a future of economic collapse and ecological catastrophe from which they will have no hope of recovery.
It is a vile hypocrisy that our present system of social work indoctrination is conducted in the name of â��therapy,â�� â��healthcare,â�� â��higher education,â�� â��career advancement,â�� â��social and economic justice,â�� and (in the better programs) â��environmental responsibility.â��
Why is plant-based nutrition not already a cornerstone of our curriculum?
Why do our social workers not already practice vegan ecological transition?
Why are the mitigation of peak oil and Contraction and Convergence not already being studied by social work scholars in every single doctoral program worldwide?
11 November 2012 - C&C; "An outstanding and essential contribution to the debate." Professor Ross Garnaut
"Over the last twenty years, Aubrey Meyer's sustained work through the Global Commons Institute [GCI] with the Contraction and Convergence - or C&C - concept and campaign, has created a global standard that is now widely recognized as an outstanding and essential contribution to the global debate on what to do avoid dangerous rates of climate change.
This is remarkable and reflects the integrity of the argument where C&C is mathematically rooted in the science of climate change and marries the limit to future human emissions that avoids dangerous rates of climate change to the politically compelling requirement of equal shares in the use of the atmosphere subject to that limit.
It embodies the economic political reality, that adjustment to equal per capita emissions entitlements will take time. It is a rational, flexible and transparent concept that holds out the best hope of all urgent proposals that might form a basis of an environmentally and economically rational global agreement on climate change mitigation.
The contraction and convergence idea was at the core of the proposals for international agreement that are part of the Garnaut Climate Change Review, commissioned by and presented to the Australian Prime Minister and all State Premiers." (R. Garnaut, 2008, The Garnaut Climate Change Review, Cambridge University Press).
The contraction and convergence approach addresses the central international equity issue simply and transparently. Slower convergence (a later date at which per capita emissions entitlements are equalised) favours emitters that are above the global per capita average at the starting point. Faster convergence gives more emissions rights to low per capita emitters. The convergence date is the main equity lever in such a scheme."
Tony Blair and many of the world's leaders say climate change is one of the most serious threats facing humanity. But are they actually doing anything about it? Is it working? Who will benefit and who will pay? openDemocracy invites you to take part in the hottest debate of our times.
From 21 April to 10 June openDemocracy, the London-based project for open global politics, will bring you the worlds first truly global debate on the politics of climate change.
Highlights of the debate will be presented to the G8 leaders at their summit in July.
The many features and articles on the site will include: Keynote introductions by the novelist Ian McEwan, Sir David King, the UK government's chief scientific advisor, and Bill McKibben, author of the epoch-making The Death of Nature.
Global head to heads - leading actors and activists from China, India, Brazil, the United States, Britain and elsewhere lock horns on the future of climate politics. Why has it failed to date?
The science: what does it really say? Easy introductions for the perplexed. Climate 101 - What are the 101 best web links on climate change? Help us compile the ultimate list. Carbon Clock - the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing. Watch the future ticking away.
ZeroCarbonCity -- using openDemocracy's interactive forum spaces, build your own zero carbon city, using new analysis and reporting on city initiatives to combat global warming worldwide.
Featured authors include John Whitelegg on the global transport challenge, Saleemul Huq on Bangladesh, and architect Bill Dunster on zero carbon housing in the UK.
"We are a clever but quarrelsome species...Can we agree on a way forward?" -- Ian McEwan
John Sterman of MIT on how even well educated adults ignore basic physical laws when thinking about climate change; Carol Turley of the Plymouth Marine Laboratory on "the other CO2 problem" -- massive acidification of the world's oceans.
From the United States, Jim Peso of Green Republicans and Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists chart the unexpected shifts and emerging alliances of the new climate and energy politics.
Feeling the heat? Join famous artists, writers, photographers and others exploring the realities and possibilities of climate change. Get online access to NorthSouthEastWest, photographs of the impacts of climate change world wide from the leading photographers at Magnum.
Disappearing soundscapes -- noises from the Arctic and elsewhere. Poetry: Robert Minhinnick from Wales, Mark OConnor from Australia; and others. Join the fermentation in the forums: create your own icon or nominate the best artistic work on climate change.
Go wild! Author Information Caspar Melville openDemocracy
On my way back from a week in London working on climate change, and the bilateral relationship between the UK and Colombia on this issue, I read Ian McEwan's latest novel -- a 'climate change novel' -- Solar, from cover to cover.
I'd been looking forward to reading it ever since it was published in 2010. Indeed, when McEwan was here in Colombia, at the Hay Festival's Cartagena festival, he spoke compellingly about Solar and about the circumstances of its inception.
Invited on a boat trip in 2005 with a group of artists and thinkers to the Arctic, to see the polar ice melting, McEwan noted with ironic glee how in the course of the week, the storage room on the boat where the group kept their winter clothes (hats, thermals, boots, glasses, etc.) became more and more chaotic -- such that, within days, everybody had lost their kit, and all were obliged effectively to steal bits of their companions' get-up (the odd glove here or there) in order to be able to participate in the daily expeditions. Chaos reigned, in what seemed to be the most simple of challenges: assuring the common good in a group of fifteen for the purposes of the voyage on which they had embarked.
By night, nonetheless, McEwan recounted to large audiences in Bogotá and Cartagena, his group would engage in lengthy, earnest, well-intentioned discussions over their dinner and plentiful wine on the boat about climate change: cap and trade mechanisms; global frameworks; contraction and convergence; domestic legislation; and all the rest.
The gap between the grandiosity of the global ambition, absolutely necessary in order to mitigate a global problem; and, in a sense, the realities of human nature, seemed to be eloquently epitomised in the author's experience on the boat.
In the novel, the void between our global predicament and the human response is also comically set out. The main character, our hero, or anti-hero, is (implausibly) a Nobel-prize winning scientist, who runs a climate change research centre near Reading. His personal life, however, is chaotic, caught as he is between wives and lovers, past and present, and increasingly entangled in a web of half-truths and lies on the academic front too. A reprehensible character, perhaps, but an engaging and very lifelike one, whose misdemeanours fill the pages and form the core of the plot.
The writing is characteristically excellent: astute, humorous, sharp, unforgiving, wry. McEwan gives ample space to the science too, such that there are passages, dialogues and debates on climate change in the novel which really bring the issue to life, and should be required reading for devotees and sceptics alike. Never have the advantages of solar photovoltaics over wind turbines on the rooftops of individual houses been so compellingly set out as in the pages of this novel...
Perhaps deliberately, and despite the humour, I found the novel ultimately quite troubling and depressing: human beings, human nature, are found wanting faced with the magnitude of the challenge we face (and of our own creation), seemed to be the message, if indeed there is a message. Doubtless reading the novel in one fell swoop in a plane flying over the Atlantic Ocean, belching fumes and water vapour into the blue skies, compounded the helpless feeling.
It is fair and transparent, and should be the prime mechanism for achieving a stable and safe climate.
I like the additional twist in its application, whereby the convergence date can be different from the contraction date.
I also like the suggestion that for simplicity, regions could group together, as the EU has done, to achieve a faster negotiation.
Using $100 per tonne as an example - this figure needs to be qualified heavily, and will be of course a product of the marketplace over years.
There is also the issue of historical responsibility differing between countries, which could be dealt with intra-regionally of course.
Finally, my own twist, which is that this in fact the Second Anthropogenic Global Warming:Â - the first was due to farming, and so implicates many developing countries and means that the Industrial (Second) Warming took off from a higher platform. One could argue that responsibility should be shared between both.
Dr Andrew Dlugolecki
co- Nobel Peace Prize Laureate (under IPCC)
former director of the Carbon Disclosure Project
former director of General Insurance development, Aviva Group
Some examples of articulation of C&C by Andrew Dlugolecki
10. International impact of the Bill
10.1 Setting targets will have a mildly beneficial eVect only in terms of international negotiations, unless and until UK’s actual progress on emissions is more impressive. Recently, it has fallen oV, and can hardly be regarded as a shining example. The real progress was made before 2000.
10.2 Adopting the policy of “Contraction and Convergence” would materially strengthen UK’s international position, since it would put set the UK’s actions in a global context.
"Many scientists believe that an atmospheric level of 450 ppmv (parts per million by volume) of carbon dioxide should be the initial target for prudence; already we are at 380. For long-term allocation, the “Contraction and Convergence” model (C&C) seems appropriate. The name C&C reflects the facts that the annual emissions contract to a safe level, and the per capita shares converge to become equal. C&C has the advantages of simplicity and fairness, gives long-term confidence in emissions reduction and in the short-term can accommodate a variety of ‘fixes’ as well as facilitating the flow of funds to developing countries." "Coping with Climate Change"
CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF INSURERS - Dlugolecki on C&C
Contraction & convergence
The most realistic way to bring about the required reduction in ghg emissions (which will have the combined effect of reducing the damage imposed on the insurance industry and encouraging the transition to renewable energy) is that proposed in the concept of Contraction and Convergence (C&C). This concept was created by the Global Commons Institute (GCI) and is incredibly simple in its detail. Essentially, everyone has the right to emit an equal amount of pollution (in this case CO2) to the Global Commons (atmosphere). At present society emits six billion tonnes of carbon a year (6Gtc) to the atmosphere. Coincidentally there are six billion people alive todayâ��hence everyone should be entitled an equal right to emit 1 tonne/yr. To achieve the required global reduction in ghg emissions an agreed target of say 2Gtc by 2040 could be set and the system allowed to contract to that global budget by converging on an agreed per capita allowance. Those states that need to emit more than their share will have to buy emission entitlements from those that have an excess. This would operate in much the same way as the envisaged emissions trading scheme to be set up within the Kyoto Protocol.
Figure 10.9 - The red line shows Business as usual CO2 emissions (BAU). The solid segments show ‘Contraction, Convergence, Allocation and Trade’ to manage emissions down by at least 60% within a given time frame and ‘contraction budget’. The renewables opportunity is worth trillions of dollars, the biggest market in history. Annex One is the developed World. Gt C: billions of tonnes of carbon equivalent.
Figure 10.9 illustrates this process, showing that by the year 2100 emissions will have fallen to well below today’s levels, and will emanate from what are, today, developing countries. Since economic progress is dependent on energy, the shortfall from ‘Business as usual’ energy consumption will need to be met from two directions: efficiency gains, and a rapid growth in renewable energy sources. It is clear from this that emissions trading can only be an intermediate stage, since the total volume of emissions must fall. The only blockage to this simple system is the absence of political will to ‘step outside the box’ instead of conducting a tortuous round of negotiations of the Kyoto Protocol. One way to unblock this impasse is to amass a large enough consensus of stakeholders behind the concept of contraction and convergence, persuading governments to supersede the Kyoto Protocol. The insurance industry is an obvious place to start such a campaign as it has so much to lose and so much to gain. If society continues down the fossil/Kyoto route, future economic losses are likely to become unsustainable: the current rate of increase in damage from natural hazards is 12% pa and the rate is accelerating. Given that the global sum of such losses was $100bn in 1999 (Munich Re, 2000), it would outstrip global GDP (growing at 3% pa) by 2065, if the trends persist. If the insurance industry rallies behind C&C, it not only reduces that risk, but it is well placed to invest in the future renewables market. In fact one could argue that as the insurance companies own the oil companies (through equity ownership), insurers form the only industry that has the collateral and the need to adopt the C&C logic. The desired sequence of events is shown in Figure 10.10.
This DVD was produced on behalf of the UK House of Commons All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group of MPs (APPCCG) by GCI and Tangent Films. It was distributed to all sitting UK MPs in 2007. It points to the disciplined approach we need to address climate change. Not an approach based on wishful thinking, but a rational framework which leads to the solution foreshadowed in the original 1990 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and subsequently much ignored.
The UNFCCC called on all countries to recognise their equal but differentiated responsibilities to cut carbon emissions, and to recognise that the eventual equitable distribution of carbon rights had to be achieved. Over 180 countries signed up to the UNFCCC's aims, but have so far failed to deliver the action necessary to achieve them. Time is now running desperately short. We need to implement the framework known as Contraction & Convergence (C&C), as proposed by the Global Commons Institute (GCI), in order to prevent further delay or sub-standard measures which might fool us into believing that we're dealing with climate change, when we're not.
This DVD gives an explanation of C&C. Experts also explain why they support C&C and Aubrey Meyer, whose work in developing C&C has been recognised in awards from the Schumacher Society and the City of London. He presents a risk analysis to show how C&C can react to stabilise the amount of C02 in the atmosphere as natural carbon sinks begin to fail. For more information, please follow these links
For the long term, the agreement of an international policy based on the principles of precaution, equity and economic efficiency is critical if we are to reduce the risk and engage all parties in the endeavour. A number of approaches have been proposed, including the ‘historical’ method, under which a nation’s future emissions goals would be determined by its past GHG output; the carbon-intensity approach, in which future emissions goals would be indexed to GDP; and “Contraction and Convergence” which would aim to achieve equal per capita emissions for all nations by an agreed date. Up to now, however, most of the work under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has been directed at finalising and ratifying the Kyoto Protocol.
[For more information on C&C refer to the website of the Global Commons Institute] UNEPFI CEO Briefing
Beyond Kyoto 'contraction and convergence'
It is important to recognise that any agreement can be only the first step in what will be a major journey. It is clear that even if the Kyoto targets are met, global emissions will continue to rise because of rapidly rising emissions in the developing world. Substantial further steps will have to be taken to curb emissions globally. Such cuts will inevitably begin to involve poor countries and at the same time rich countries are likely to have to commit to much more serious emission reductions themselves. As a result further emission reduction agreements are likely covering the period 2012-20 and beyond. Climate change: a risk management challenge for institutional investors Indeed, the IPCC in its first assessment reports in 1990 recommended emissions cuts of at least 60% to stabilise CO2 concentrations at 1990 levels and thereby be likely to avoid serious climate disruption. Its subsequent reports have not altered this position. In the longer term, ‘Contraction and Convergence’ (C&C) is likely to become increasingly supported as a policy option. C&C was initially advocated by a small UK think tank, the Global Commons Institute39, but has since gained widespread and authoritative support, including that of some poor country governments and also the recent Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution report which recommended that ‘the government should press for a future global climate agreement based on the contraction and convergence approach’. Under C&C, the right to emit greenhouse gases would be apportioned on a per capita basis from a given date. The total amount of emissions would be constrained and would fall steeply until it reached a level considered safe. Since the majority of the world’s population lives in the developing world, while per capita emissions are much higher in the industrialised world, rich countries would need to find ways to reduce their emissions 'contraction' by finding efficiencies or renewable energy sources in the next few decades, or pay handsomely for the privilege of continuing to use fossil fuels. In this way they could approach equal per capita emissions to those in other countries convergence. Ironically, while C&C offers a more robust framework than that outlined by Kyoto and addresses the issue of equity, it also meets the fundamental objection of the US in that it also requires commitments from the developing world. As a global operational framework it also avoids many of the technical problems of Kyoto (such as defining baselines for emissions trading in countries not subject to an overall target, or the extent of international emissions trading that is permissible). However, much will depend on the detail. Done well, C&C could provide a framework for a genuine, equitable, long term solution to climate change, which reduces political risks and provides businesses and investors with the sort of predictable framework they prefer. But if agreement is hard to reach, C&C might serve to highlight injustices and end up exacerbating tensions. For example, some campaigners have argued for a third ‘C’: ‘compensation’ from the rich world for using up the climate’s absorptive capacity. Whilst this claim is understandable, such a development could well become an emotive issue that could make agreement far harder to reach. Climate Change - A Risk Management Challenge for Insitutional Investors
Mark Mansley and Andrew Dlugolecki
Aubrey Meyer's insight into the problem of mitigation of climate change bears the true hallmark of genius: it is simple and robust. His "Contraction and Convergence" model provides a transparent framework that incorporates the clear objective of a safe global level of greenhouse gases, AND allocates the responsibility for achieving this internationally with the irresistible logic of equal shares. At the same time, the model recognises the practical need for an adjustment period to permit nations to conform to the new logic and prepare for a climate-friendly economy. It is no doctrinaire solution, but a brilliantly pragmatic and elegant solution. Aubrey and his tiny organisation GCI, have laboured tirelessly to bring the concept to every conceivable stakeholder's attention, from governments to NGO's, to the business world, in which I operate. Too often, mitigation is portrayed as being detrimental to economic development. Aubrey has demonstrated through his brilliantly simple graphics, that in fact mitigation is the guarantor of wealth creation, not its nemesis, and that market forces can accelerate the transition to a safer climate. This is a key message in mustering the support of the business world, and already the UNEP Finance Sector Initiative has commended "C&C" to policymakers as a basis for negotiation. In the forthcoming discussions on how to follow up "Kyoto" with more meaningful action, surely Contraction and Convergence will be the pivotal proposal that reconciles developing and developed nations' ambitions. It is only fitting that Aubrey Meyer should be recognised for creating such a seminal concept, and promoting it so effectively. Citation of Aubrey Meyer, Global Commons Institute, for the Sasakawa Prize,2003 by Dr Andrew Dlugolecki Advisory Board Director, Carbon Disclosure Project Adviser on Climate Change to UNEP Finance Sector Initiative
Gerhard Berz (Ph.D. in meteorology and geophysics, University of Cologne) is director of Munich Re’s Geoscience Research Unit, described in Chapter 5. The Unit has played a key role in keeping the world informed of the trend in economic and insurance losses due to extreme events. The Unit is staffed by scientists and represents an unusual commitment of resources within the insurance industry. Dr. Berz and his team have published widely and made public the results of their research (Berz 1988, 1993, 1996, 1999; Berz and Conrad 1994; Berz and Loster 2001). The task that Dr. Berz and his team face is to interpret the loss trends and estimate where we might be in the near future, without sounding alarmist. In doing so they have been able to help people at least imagine where we might be heading. In a presentation at the second meeting of COP 6 in Bonn (July 2001), Dr. Berz and his colleague from Munich Re, Thomas Loster, said:
If the most probable greenhouse predictions come true, the present problems will be magnified dramatically. Changes in many atmospheric processes will significantly increase the frequency and severity of heat waves, droughts, bush fires, hailstorms, floods and maybe also tropical and extra-tropical cyclones as well as storm surges in many parts of the world. . . . It also stands to reason that the particularly destructive tropical cyclones will advance into regions where they have not appeared in the past because of the temperatures prevailing there. Likewise the extra-tropical storms, the so-called winter storms, will penetrate far into the continents more frequently because the lack of snow will reduce the blocking effect of the cold high-pressure system over eastern Europe. (Berz and Loster 2001, 1) From all of this they draw a simple conclusion: “We simply cannot be responsible for leaving future generations on this planet with a climate that is out of balance” (Berz and Loster 2001, 2).
Another important figure in the insurance industry who has worked to bring the evolving scientific knowledge of climate change into the public forum is Dr. Andrew Dlugolecki, retired director of General Insurance Development at CGNU in the United Kingdom. Concern about climate change was first brought home to the U.K. insurance industry by the winter storm of 1987, which, with hurricane-force winds, inflicted Â�1 billion of insured losses in 24 hours, the first event ever to do so. As one of the few business members of the United Kingdom Climate Change Impacts Review Group (most being from the university or government), he was responsible for the financial sector of the Group’s report, The Potential Effects of climate Change in the United Kingdom, to the government (Parry et al. 1991). He went on to develop the financial sector of the IPCC’s Working Group II on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability (Watson et al. 1996). He brought the issues back to the U.K. financial services sector in reports on The Impacts of Changing Weather Patterns on Property Insurance (Dlugolecki 1994), the Government Review of the Potential Effects of Climate Change in the United Kingdom (Dlugolecki 1996b), and Climate Change and Insurance (Dlugolecki et al. 2001). At COP 6 at the Hague he warned the conference that an exponential rise in natural disaster losses could bankrupt the global economy, and that the aims of the Kyoto Protocol were merely “tactical” (Dlugolecki 2000). He advocates the adoption of “Contraction and Convergence” as the best long-term framework to control climate change, and has underlined the key role that investors can play in the move toward a sustainable energy economy (Mansley and Dlugolecki 2001).
In an earlier report he explained how the insurance system might be seriously damaged by climate change:
The real threat is probably from a cluster-in-time of extreme events which might exhaust the reinsurance protection and channel back the bulk of later events to the primary insurance market. (Dlugolecki 1996b) Dr. Dlugolecki recently retired from CGNU and became a Visiting Fellow in Climate Change and Insurance at the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia. He is also director of the Carbon Disclosure Project and the Tyndall Research Centre for Climate Change. Environmental Finance Sonia Labatt Rodney White
04 November 2012 - Blair Government moved to frustrate pro-C&C-vote promoted by Lib Dems in Hoc 2005
Here from the UK whip's office is a record of how the Blair Government moved to frustrate a pro C&C vote organised by the Liberal Democrats in the UK House of Commons in 2005.
Blair's Government subsequently adopted C&C in principle in the UK Climate Act of 2008, but going on then to deny they'd done so they also acted to wreck the COP-9 negotiations in 2009 by deploying their 'C&C prescription of international convergence by 2050' as in the UK Climate Act . . . in other by words failing to negotiate the rate of convergence as was obviously appropriate in those decoherent UNFCCC negotiations, they laid themselves open to the charge of a planned-failure such that they could blame the other side for that failure when it happened.
Indeed that was exactly what did happen - see the entry on Ed Miliband here where he completely blamed the Chinese for the failure that did - sadly - occur.
This division occurred at the end of a Liberal Democrat opposition day.
The Liberal Democrat front bench proposed the following motion:
This House: -
recognises the serious threat posed to the planet by climate change;
welcomes the decision of the Prime Minister to make this a priority for the UK presidency of the G8;
notes with concern however the lack of progress being made to secure effective international agreement on the way forward and in particular the wrecking tactics of the present US Administration and the total lack of leverage on this issue by the Prime Minister over President Bush, who is still in public denial of even the basic science;
believes that carbon emissions need to be cut by at least 60 per cent. by 2050; further believes that without such action, measures to reduce poverty in developing countries will be severely undermined;
calls on the Prime Minister to use the G8 to win support for a successor regime to Kyoto based upon the principle of contraction and convergence, engaging the participation of both developed and developing nations;
further believes that he will be in a stronger position to give an international lead if he now tackles his failures in domestic climate change policy, which mean that the UK is now virtually certain to miss its 2010 carbon emissions reduction target and is now in danger of missing even its Kyoto target;
urges him in particular to adopt effective policies to conserve energy within the domestic sector, and to cut emissions within the transport and energy sectors.
The Government front bench moved an amendment to replace the text of the motion with:
This House: -
welcomes the UK's global leadership on climate change and in particular the Prime Minister's decision to make climate change one of the top two priorities for the G8 Presidency and a priority for the EU Presidency;
looks forward to the Gleneagles Summit and provides its full support to the Prime Minister's continuing efforts to secure a successful outcome;
commends the UK's plans to continue to strive for further international action following Gleneagles through both the G8 and EU; further commends the Labour Party for being the only party to commit in its manifesto to a national goal to reduce emissions by 20 per cent. by 2010;
celebrates the UK's achievement in already reducing emissions to 13.4 per cent. between the base year and 2003, beyond that required by the Kyoto Protocol; further welcomes the introduction of policies such as the climate change levy and renewables obligation that have been so important in achieving this;
and looks forward to the publication of the climate change programme later this year which will set out further policies to deliver the goal of a 20 per cent. reduction in emissions by 2010.
The question before the House was whether the original wording should remain. Those voting Aye were voting to support the original motion and to reject the amendment. Those voting No were voting to reject the original motion although not necessarily supporting the amendment. In fact, once the original wording was rejected, the amendment was agreed without a further division.
The MP's votes count towards a weighted average where the most important votes get 50 points, less important votes get 10 points, and less important votes for which the MP was absent get 2 points. In important votes the MP gets awarded the full 50 points for voting the same as the policy, no points for voting against the policy, and 25 points for not voting. In less important votes, the MP gets 10 points for voting with the policy, no points for voting against, and 1 (out of 2) if absent.
Questions about this formula can be discussed on the forum.
No of votes
Most important votes (50 points)
MP voted with policy
MP voted against policy
Less important votes (10 points)
MP voted with policy
MP voted against policy
Less important absentees (2 points)
*Pressure of other work means MPs or Lords are not always available to vote – it does not always indicate they have abstained. Therefore, being absent on a less important vote makes a disproportionatly small difference.
agreement score =
02 November 2012 - NBC's Todd on 'Sandy', "Its climate change.""Hard cap for all countries needed." 'Christie'.
As Japan prepares to scale down, and quite possibly end, its own commitment to nuclear power in the toxic wake of the Fukushima disaster, Hitachi announces plans to inflict it on the UK for the next hundred years. Except, of course, that it is not a hundred year commitment, it is a minimum of a hundred thousand. At the same time as it is becoming increasingly obvious that the government has no idea how to deal with Britain’s existing nuclear waste, for the very simple reason that there isn’t one, the next great idea is to build more such power stations.
Madness. But, I hear you say, what is the answer to Britain’s, and for that matter everybody else’s energy “problems”? The answer to that is the energy problem is the Earth’s problem, and the problem for all the other life it generates and sustains. Every single gigawatt of it driving the planet to the brink of annihilation. As with most, if not all, human activities there is no answer, for they are all, one way or another, deeply damaging to the natural integrity of the Earth, disruptive of the naturally evolved balance of energy inputs and outputs.
The bottom line is that the best possible response would be to turn everything off immediately and hope for the best. However, that is not likely to happen, so, if not everything, then as much as possible, which can only be done in the context of fairness, of massive and immediate contraction and convergence. For, there is no way it can be acceptable for some to continue to do what they want whilst others try to address the unfolding situation by adopting more reasonable behaviours.
We can not have the likes of Richard Branson or Al gore lecturing us on the need for change whilst continuing to live as if they were on another planet. So, an end to it, and acceptance that radical contraction and convergence is, indeed, the only proper response, and that means for everybody. Is also means that we do not actually need new energy production, and we most certainly do not need the insult to the Earth that is nuclear power.
02 November 2012 - After Hurricane Sandy, NY Mayor Bloomberg endorses Obama - Reaping the Whirlwind?
Sandy wot done it . . . . NY Mayor Bloomberg stepping out to endorse Obama is welcome and espcially for the reasons stated . . . . maybe one could suggest this is perhaps a positive example of 'reaping the whirlwind '. . . . ?
"As I write this entry, the most recent storm in an unprecedented series of “once in a hundred year” weather events has nearly finished blasting the United States. Aptly named, Frankenstorm is indeed a monster of our own creation. Frankenstorms are becoming more frequent and more powerful because the people of the United States continue to ignore scientific and prophetic warnings about their national violation of planetary tipping points. The consequences of this avoidance are likely to be so severe that physicist Joe Romm says hell and high water is now the most accurate description of the topography ahead."
"It is no exaggeration, given the lateness of the hour, to say that my 2013 NDE-inspired output – even if it consists of nothing more than a single conference presentation about the social work implications of methane reduction, Contraction and Convergence, and forest carbon sequestration - should be well worth a fellowship. Unfortunately, there may not be a faculty anywhere in the world that is prepared to sponsor my NDE research on this single issue alone, let alone my broader workplan of a 2040 UN mission and 2020 North American vision (see blog sidebar at right). At this point, I am completely open to suggestions from the social work community, the IANDS community, and the academic and interfaith communities at large about how to achieve greater success in my journey toward NDE integration and eco-social restoration."