Climate Change: Buhari Signs Doha Amendment To Kyoto Protocol

President Muhammadu Buhari addressed the nation on the occasion of the country's 60th independence anniversary on October 1, 2020.
President Muhammadu Buhari addressed the nation on the occasion of the country’s 60th independence anniversary on October 1, 2020.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the Doha Amendment of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations framework convention on Climate Change.

The Minister of Environment, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, who briefed reporters on the development on Friday, explained that by signing the amendment, Nigeria has become the 144th country out of the 192 signatories to ratify protocol which ends today, October 2, 2020.

He also noted that by being the last country to sign the deal, which comes into force on December 31, 2020, and with 144 parties now signed, the Doha amendment enters into force.

Read Also: Alleged Embezzlement Of Funds: Obaseki Says New Findings Justify Shutting Down Colleges Of Education

The minister disclosed that the signing of the protocol entails that Nigeria has accepted the Amendment of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and undertakes faithfully to perform and carry out the stipulations therein contained.

He also explained that the protocol will assist Nigeria and other developing countries in tackling most of its environmental challenges including gas emission, erosion, global warming and reducing environmental temperature among others.

Climate Change: Buhari Signs Doha Amendment To Kyoto Protocol

President Muhammadu Buhari addressed the nation on the occasion of the country's 60th independence anniversary on October 1, 2020.
File Photo of President Muhammadu Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the Doha Amendment of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations framework convention on Climate Change.

The Minister of Environment, Dr Mohammad Abubakar disclosed this on Friday night while briefing journalists in Kaduna State.

He explained that by signing the amendment, Nigeria has become the 144th country out of the 192 signatories to ratify the protocol which ends today.

Abubakar noted that the Doha amendment comes into force on December 31.

“Today, Nigeria has ratified the Doha amendment to the Kyoloa protocol. The genesis of the Doha amendment to the Kyola protocol started in 1997 when 192 countries in a conference of parties on climate change under the United Nations framework on the convention of climate change came up with an agreement for the reduction of greenhouse gas emission by 5.2 per cent,”  he said

“And they were 192, of the 192, we need 144 countries to ratify the protocol before it comes into force.

“Because of the politics of the economy and all that, over time, some countries decided not to sign, some decided to pull out. All the time, the countries that were signing were trickling in.

“Well, today, I can say Nigeria has a history, our president has become the champion of climate change.”

Then Minister said the protocol will assist Nigeria and other developing countries to tackle most of its environmental challenges.

The challenges, he stressed include gas emission,  erosion, global warming, and reducing environmental temperature among others.

Following Nigeria’s signing of the Protocol, UN Climate Change head Patricia Espinosa thanked President Buhari for his assent.

While describing the move as fantastic news, she said it was an incredible milestone towards climate action.

“An incredible milestone! With 144 parties now signed, the Doha amendment enters into force. This is fantastic news for our process @UNFCCC towards #ClimateAction.  Many thanks, Nigeria 🇳🇬 @MBuhari for your ratification!” she said.

Earlier, Espinosa had been encouraging countries to expedite the ratification of the amendment. “It’s about fulling commitments,” she said.

 

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol set binding climate targets for developed countries.

The amendment signed in Qatar in 2012 extended their obligations and created a second commitment period for 37 countries to cut their emissions from 2013 to 2020.

Apple Chief Says Fires And Storms Show Impact Of Climate Change

A handout still image from the keynote video released by Apple inc. shows Apple CEO Tim Cook kicks off a special event at Apple Park in Cupertino, California, on September 15, 2020. – Apple on September 15, 2020 said it is packing TV, music, news and more in a subscription bundle as it increases its push into services tied to its iPhone “ecosystem. (Photo by Handout / Apple Inc. / AFP)

 

Apple chief Tim Cook said Monday he views the recent increase in fires, hurricanes and floods as strong proof that climate change is real.

The disasters should sway those denying science that shows greenhouse gases are dangerously changing weather patterns, Cook said in a talk streamed during an online event by The Atlantic magazine.

Cook reasoned that wildfires raging on the US West Coast, hurricanes slamming the South, and flooding in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions make a compelling case for climate change.

“All of these together, I do believe will convince the people that are not currently convinced about climate change,” Cook said.

His remote interview with Atlantic editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg was recorded last week, when smoke from wildfires turned day to night in California and ash fell like snow in some places.

“It’s horrendous,” Cook said.

“It’s a reminder of how serious climate change is and what’s at stake.”

Cook declined to answer whether he had any luck convincing US President Donald Trump that climate change is real during any of their conversations, saying those exchanges were private.

“I don’t want to talk about it in detail, but if you sort of back up from it, my whole philosophy is engagement,” Cook said.

“I think it’s even more important to engage when you disagree on something.”

Trump suggested global warming will reverse itself and dismissed climate change as a cause of ferocious fires engulfing swathes of the West Coast during a briefing with local officials in California last week.

The president, who flew into Sacramento in central California during a reelection campaign swing, pushed back against state leaders who said that climate change underlies the ever-stronger blazes.

On arrival in McClellan Park, near Sacramento, Trump repeated his argument that the wildfires are due instead to insufficient maintenance of forest areas to make them less combustible.

But at the briefing, California governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, countered that the fires are driven mostly by global warming.

“It will start getting cooler. You just watch,” Trump insisted to Wade Crowfoot, the head of the California Natural Resources Agency.

The official responded: “I wish science agreed with you.”

“I don’t think science knows, actually,” Trump said.

It was Trump’s first visit to California since the devastating blazes began there and in the states of Washington and Oregon.

Democratic challenger Joe Biden has branded Trump a “climate arsonist” whose policies contribute to natural disasters.

– Microscope merited –

The Apple chief also said he hoped his testimony in July to a House of Representatives panel investigating market dominance put to rest worries that the iPhone maker wields monopoly power of any sort.

Big Tech executives faced an onslaught of criticism from US lawmakers at the high-stakes antitrust hearing, which could lay the groundwork for tougher regulation of the major internet platforms.

CEOs Cook, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Sundar Pichai of Google were grilled for more than five hours in the unprecedented joint appearance — by video.

“I have no issue at all in Apple being put underneath the microscope,” Cook said.

“My hope is that as people heard our story and as they continue to hear our story, that it will become as apparent to them as it is to us that we have no monopoly.”

Cook diplomatically responded when asked his thoughts on the response to Covid-19, saying the virus “took the world by surprise” and recounting Apple efforts to help with masks and more.

He said that some 85 percent of Apple employees are working remotely due to the pandemic, and it remained unclear when they would be able to return to company headquarters in Cupertino, California.

AFP

Trump Dismisses Climate Concerns, Insists ‘Will Start Getting Cooler’

U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (L) and Advisor Jared Kushner, speaks in the Oval Office to announce that Bahrain will establish diplomatic relations with Israel, at the White House in Washington, DC on September 11, 2020. Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images/AFP

President Donald Trump on Monday suggested global warming will reverse itself and dismissed climate change as a cause of ferocious fires engulfing swaths of the US West during a briefing with local officials in California.

Trump, who flew into Sacramento in central California on the third day of a reelection campaign swing, pushed back against state leaders who said that climate change underlies the ever-stronger blazes.

 

The 20 largest wildfires in California and Oregon in recent history – AFP / AFP

 

“It will start getting cooler. You just watch,” he insisted to Wade Crowfoot, the head of the California Natural Resources Agency.

The official responded: “I wish science agreed with you.”

This was Trump’s first visit to California since the devastating blazes began there and in Washington and Oregon.

Minutes earlier, Democratic challenger Joe Biden branded Trump a “climate arsonist” whose policies are contributing to natural disasters.

On arrival in McClellan Park, near Sacramento, Trump repeated his argument that the wildfires are due instead to insufficient maintenance of forest areas to make them less combustible.

“There has to be strong forest management,” the Republican said.

“With regard to the forests, when trees fall down after a short period of time, about 18 months, they become very dry. They become really like a match stick,” he said. “They just explode.”

But at the briefing, California Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, countered that the fires are driven mostly by global warming.

Newsom acknowledged that “we have not done justice on our forest management,” though he pointed out that more than half of the land in California is under federal, not state control.

But he said the overwhelming cause of the problem is far bigger.

“The hots are getting hotter, the dries are getting drier,” he said. “We submit the science is in and observed evidence is self-evident: that climate change is real and that is exacerbating this.”

After the briefing was over, Crowfoot sought to get the last word, tweeting: “It actually won’t get cooler, Mr. President” over a graph showing relentlessly rising temperatures in California since the 1980s.

AFP

Record Temperatures Accelerating Rise Of Sea Levels, UN Warns

View of garbage washed away by rains and held by a floating barrier installed in one of the tributaries of the Lake in Amatitlan, 30 kms south of Guatemala City, on September 8, 2020 amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Johan ORDONEZ / AFP)

 

Record temperatures are accelerating the rise of sea levels, melting glaciers and snow coverage and threatening the water supplies for billions, according to a major UN report Wednesday charting the “increasing and irreversible” impacts of climate change.

The multi-agency United in Science report said the world had seen its warmest five years on record in the last five years, adding that extreme weather events bore “a clear fingerprint” of climate change.

It comes after UN chief Antonio Guterres told AFP that nations must use the coronavirus crisis as a springboard to implement “transformational” green policies to make energy, transport, industry and everyday life more sustainable.

If they fail, he warned humanity was “doomed”.

The report, coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), said humanity was not on track to meet the targets for emission reductions that would avert devastating global warming.

It highlighted “the increasing and irreversible impacts of climate change, which affects glaciers, oceans, nature, economies and human living conditions and is often felt through water-related hazards like drought or flooding”.

Warmer temperatures have seen reductions in the world’s glaciers and ice sheets, threatening fresh water supplies.

The United Nations’ science advisory panel for climate change, the IPCC, has forecast that oceans will rise by up to a metre by the end of the century, and even more after that.

Hundreds of millions of people live in vulnerable coastal areas.

The new report said that between 2016 and 2019 glacier mass loss was greater than all past five-year periods since 1950, adding that sea-level rise was accelerating.

It said 1.2 billion people are currently at risk of flooding and predicted this will rise to 1.6 billion by 2050.

Meanwhile, water scarcity is set to increase, with up to 3.2 billion people predicted to live in areas with insufficient water by 2050, compared to 1.9 billion in the 2010s.

The loss of glaciers will severely impact access to freshwater, with annual runoff expected to peak at a global level by the end of the century and then decline.

But the report said Central Europe and the Caucasus region were at their peak now.

In the Tibetan Plateau — where runoff from snow cover, glaciers and permafrost provides almost half of the regional river flow — the peak is forecast between 2030 and 2050, threatening water access for 1.7 billion people.

That would affect the mighty Mekong river, for one, which originates in the plateau and threads south through six countries.

– Emission fears –

Earth’s average surface temperature has gone up by one degree Celsius since the 19th century, enough to increase the intensity of droughts, heat waves and tropical cyclones.

The UN report said the last five year period would be the hottest on record and that trend was set to continue.

Under the landmark 2015 Paris climate deal, which goes into effect this year, countries agreed to cap the rise in temperature to “well below” two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

The United Nations says it is still possible to reach a safer goal of a 1.5C cap in temperature rise, but to get there global emissions must fall 7.6 percent annually this decade.

The report estimated emissions would decline between 4 and 7 percent this year due to the unprecedented measures put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

During the peak of the lockdowns in April, global emissions were 17 percent lower than in 2019.

But it said this was equivalent to levels seen in 2006, “highlighting both the steep growth over the past 15 years and the continued dependence on fossil sources for energy”.

The WMO said there was a 24 percent chance of at least one year exceeding the 1.5C level between 2020 and 2024.

“The expectations that we have in relation to the next five years about storms, about drought and about other dramatic impacts in the living conditions of many people around the world are absolutely terrible,” Guterres said, in interviews published Tuesday with AFP and other members of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of news outlets committed to increased climate coverage.

AFP

How Climate Change Could Expose New Epidemics

A sign of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) hosting the 50th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is seen at the entrance of the headquarters, on August 2, 2019 in Geneva. PHOTO: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

 

Long-dormant viruses brought back to life; the resurgence of deadly and disfiguring smallpox; a dengue or zika “season” in Europe.

These could be disaster movie storylines, but they are also serious and increasingly plausible scenarios of epidemics unleashed by global warming, scientists say.

The COVID-19 pandemic that has swept the globe and claimed over 760,000 lives so far almost certainly came from a wild bat, highlighting the danger of humanity’s constant encroachment on the planet’s dwindling wild spaces.

But the expanding ecological footprint of our species could trigger epidemics in other ways too.

Climate change — already wreaking havoc with one degree Celsius of warming — is also emerging as a driver of infectious disease, whether by expanding the footprint of malaria- and dengue-carrying mosquitos, or defrosting prehistoric pathogens from the Siberian permafrost.

– ‘Ignorance is our enemy’ –

“In my darkest moments, I see a really horrible future for Homo sapiens because we are an animal, and when we extend our borders things will happen to us,” said Birgitta Evengard, a researcher in clinical microbiology at Umea University in Sweden.

“Our biggest enemy is our own ignorance,” she added. “Nature is full of microorganisms.”

Think of permafrost, a climate change time bomb spread across Russia, Canada and Alaska that contains three times the carbon that has been emitted since the start of industrialisation.

Even if humanity manages to cap global warming at under two degrees Celsius, the cornerstone goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement, the permafrost area will decrease by a quarter by 2100, according to the UN’s climate science panel, the IPCC.

And then there are the permafrost’s hidden treasures.

“Microorganisms can survive in frozen space for a long, long time,” said Vladimir Romanovsky, a professor of geophysics at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks.

– An Anthrax comeback? –

As ground thaws, once-frozen soil particles, organic material and microorganisms that had been locked away for millennia are carried toward the surface by water flows, he explained.

“That’s how thawing can spread these microorganisms into present day environments.”

There are already examples of ancient, long-frozen bugs coming to life.

“When you put a seed into soil that is then frozen for thousands of years, nothing happens,” said Jean-Michel Claverie, an emeritus professor of genomics at the School of Medicine of Aix-Marseille University in France.

“But when you warm the earth, the seed will be able to germinate,” he added. “That is similar to what happens with a virus.”

Claverie’s lab has successfully revived Siberian viruses that are at least 30,000 years old.

These reanimated bugs only attack amoebas, but tens of thousands of years ago there were certainly others that aimed higher up the food chain.

“Neanderthals, mammoths, woolly rhinos all got sick, and many died,” said Claverie. “Some of the viruses that caused their sicknesses are probably still in the soil.”

The number of bacteria and viruses lurking in the permafrost is incalculable, but the more important question is how dangerous they are.

And here, scientists disagree.

“Anthrax shows that bacteria can be resting in permafrost for hundreds of years and be revived,” said Evengard.

In 2016, a child in Siberia died from the disease, which had disappeared from the region at least 75 years earlier.

– Two-million-year-old pathogens –

This case has been attributed to the thawing of a long-buried carcass, but some experts counter that the animal remains in question may have been in shallow dirt and thus subject to periodic thawing.

Other pathogens — such as smallpox or the influenza strain that killed tens of millions in 1917 and 1918 — may also be present in the sub-Arctic region.

But they “have probably been inactivated”, Romanovsky concluded in a study published earlier this year.

For Claverie, however, the return of smallpox — officially declared eradicated 50 years ago — cannot be excluded. 18th- and 19th-century victims of the disease “buried in cemetaries in Siberia are totally preserved by the cold,” he noted.

In the unlikely event of a local epidemic, a vaccine is available.

The real danger, he added, lies in deeper strata where unknown pathogens that have not seen daylight for two million years or more may be exposed by global warming.

If there were no hosts for the bugs to infect there would not be a problem, but climate change — indirectly — has intervened here as well.

“With the industrial exploitation of the Arctic, all the risk factors are there — pathogens and the people to carry them,” Claverie said.

The revival of ancient bacteria or viruses remains speculative, but climate change has already boosted the spread of diseases that kill about half a million people every year: malaria, dengue, chikungunya, zika.

“Mosquitoes moving their range north are now able to overwinter in some temperate regions,” said Jeanne Fair, deputy group leader for biosecurity and public health at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

“They also have longer breeding periods.”

– ‘Climate change aperitif’ –

Native to southeast Asia, the tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) — which carries dengue and chikungunya — arrived in southern Europe in the first decade of this century and has been moving rapidly north ever since, to Paris and beyond.

Meanwhile, another dengue-bearing mosquito, Aedes aegypti, has also appeared in Europe. Whichever species may be the culprit, the Europe Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has registered 40 cases of local transmission of dengue between 2010 and 2019.

“An increase in mean temperature could result in seasonal dengue transmission in southern Europe if A. aegypti infected with virus were to be established,” according to the Europe Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

As for malaria — a disease that once blighted southern Europe and the southern United States and for which an effective treatment exists — the risk of exposure depends in large part on social-economic conditions.

More than five billion people could be living in malaria-affected regions by 2050 if climate change continues unabated, but strong economic growth and social development could reduce that number to less than two billion, according to a study cited by the IPCC.

“Recent experience in southern Europe demonstrates how rapidly the disease may reappear if health services falter,” the IPCC said in 2013, alluding to a resurgence of cases in Greece in 2008.

In Africa — which saw 228 million cases of malaria in 2018, 94 percent of the world’s total — the disease vector is moving into new regions, notably the high-altitude plains of Ethiopia and Kenya.

For the moment, the signals for communicable tropical diseases “are worrying in terms of expanding vectors, not necessarily transmission,” said Cyril Caminade, an epidemiologist working on climate change at the Institute of Infection and Global Health at the University of Liverpool.

“That said, we’re only tasting the aperitif of climate change so far,” he added.

AFP

Sokoto To Plant Two Million Trees To Fight Desertification

 

The Sokoto State government has announced its plan to plant two million trees in various communities across the 23 Local Government Areas of the state, to check the effect of drought, desertification and climate change.

The plan was disclosed during this year’s annual tree-planting campaign held at the Sultan Abubakar (lll) Central Mosque.

At the event, the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar frowned at the culture of indiscriminate falling of trees by loggers in most parts of northern Nigeria.

He also called on governments at all levels to support community members in getting alternative sources of energy for cooking.

On his part, the state governor Aminu Tambuwal affirmed his administration’s commitment to supporting the efforts to protect the environment through continuous tree planting and support for alternative sources of energy for cooking.

Greta Thunberg Donates A Million Euros To Climate Groups

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg gives a speech during a high-level event on climate emergency hosted by the Chilean presidency during the UN Climate Change Conference COP25 at the ‘IFEMA – Feria de Madrid’ exhibition centre, in Madrid, on December 11, 2019.
CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP

 

 

Climate activist Greta Thunberg was on Monday awarded a Portuguese rights award and promptly pledged the million-euro prize to groups working to protect the environment and halt climate change.

“That is more money than I can begin to imagine, but all the prize money will be donated, through my foundation, to different organisations and projects who are working to help people on the front line, affected by the climate crisis and ecological crisis,” the Swedish teen said in a video posted online.

She was awarded the Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity for the way she “has been able to mobilise younger generations for the cause of climate change and her tenacious struggle to alter a status quo that persists”, Jorge Sampaio, chair of the prize jury, said earlier.

 

 

 

The first 100,000 euros of the prize money will go to the “SOS Amazonia” campaign led by Fridays For Future Brazil to tackle the coronavirus outbreak in the Amazon.

Another 100,000 euros will go to the Stop Ecocide Foundation “to support their work to make ecocide an international crime”, Thunberg said on Twitter.

The million euro ($1.1 million) is the largest prize won by the 17-year-old environmental campaigner who has also won Amnesty International’s top human rights prize and the Swedish Right Livelihood Award, often presented as an alternative Nobel.

She said Monday she was “extremely honoured” to receive the annual Gulbenkian prize.

 

Climate activist Greta Thunberg was on June 20 awarded a Portuguese rights award and promptly pledged the million-euro prize to groups working to protect the environment and halt climate change. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP)

 

Thunberg and three other young climate activists on Thursday launched an appeal to EU leaders to “face up to the climate emergency”, in an open letter signed by 150 scientists and a host of celebrities.

 

 

-AFP

Biden Unveils Ambitious Climate Plan In Contrast With Trump

Biden Unveils Ambitious Climate Plan In Contrast With Trump
Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a “Build Back Better” Clean Energy event on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware.
Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

White House hopeful Joe Biden on Tuesday unveiled an ambitious climate change plan that would revamp the United States energy sector and seek to achieve carbon pollution-free power in just 15 years.

The clean energy proposal was fleshed out in a speech in Wilmington as the veteran Democrat aimed to draw a contrast with President Donald Trump ahead of November’s election by arguing that fighting climate change would be a massive job creator under a Biden administration.

“Transforming the American electrical sector to produce power without producing carbon pollution… will be the greatest spurring of job creation and economic competitiveness in the 21st century,” Biden said.

“That’s why we’re going to achieve a carbon pollution-free electric sector by the year 2035.”

The plan includes more ambitious goals than the climate proposal he rolled out months ago when he ran as one of the more moderate Democratic candidates in the party’s nomination race.

By embracing some of the ideas of his more liberal rivals at the time, including Senator Bernie Sanders and Washington Governor Jay Inslee, Biden appears intent on winning over progressive voters who might be wary of the former vice president and longtime Washington staple.

Biden pledged to spend $2 trillion over four years to promote his plan, according to The Washington Post, a dramatic acceleration of the $1.7 trillion he had proposed to spend over 10 years in his climate plan during the primary race.

He also said he would rejoin the Paris climate agreement that Trump pulled the US out of in 2017, fund the construction of 1.5 million new energy-efficient homes, upgrade appliance standards and prioritize renewable energy.

“We’re not just going to tinker around the edges,” Biden said.

“I know meeting the challenge will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to jolt new life into our economy.”

Biden Unveils Ambitious Climate Plan In Contrast With Trump
President Donald Trump’s position on climate change is in contrast with that of Democratic rival Biden. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

 

Biden said he would reverse some 100 steps taken by Trump to roll back environmental regulations.

He also reiterated parts of his earlier climate proposal, one with goals shared by House Democratic leaders including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, that would put the nation on the road to net-zero emissions economy-wide no later than 2050.

And aside from attacking Trump on his failure to contain the coronavirus pandemic, he savaged the president and his party for lacking vision and focusing on old technologies like oil.

“This is all that Donald Trump and the Republicans offer: backward-looking policies that will harm the environment, make communities less healthy, hold back economic promise while other countries race ahead,” Biden said.

Biden leads Trump on most issues, according to polling, but voters still see the president as stronger on steering the US economy.

AFP

Managing Expectations: Climate Action Not A Quick Fix

A sign of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) hosting the 50th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is seen at the entrance of the headquarters, on August 2, 2019 in Geneva. PHOTO: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

 

Slashing greenhouse gas emissions would probably not yield visible results until mid-century, researchers have said, cautioning that humanity must manage its expectations in the fight against global warming.

Even under optimistic scenarios in which carbon pollution falls sharply, climate change will continue for decades, they reported Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.

“We need to be patient,” said lead author Bjorn Samset, a scientist at the Center for International Climate Research in Oslo, Norway.

“All reductions in warming emissions will lead to less heat being absorbed,” he said.

“But for temperature — which is what we care about — it will take decades before we will be able to measure the effect.”

Two factors will make it difficult to feel and measure a drop in Earth’s surface temperature, if and when that happens.

One is lag time.

Over the last half-century, human activity has loaded the atmosphere with more than a trillion tonnes of planet-warming CO2, a gas that lingers for hundreds of years.

“Human-induced climate change can be compared with an ocean tanker at high speed in big waves,” said Samset.

“You can put the engine in reverse, but it will take some time before you start noticing that the ship is moving more slowly.”

The second factor is natural variability.

Over the last half-century the planet has warmed 0.2 degrees Celsius every decade, mainly due to the burning of fossil fuels.

“But from one year to the next, there are also large variations on a similar scale,” said Samset, comparing them to waves rocking the ship back and forth.

– ‘No quick fix’ –

In their study, Samset and colleagues projected the impact of reducing the two main greenhouse gases — CO2 and methane — as well as soot, sometimes called “black carbon”.

On a 100-year timescale, methane — with more “warming potential”, but less long-lasting — is about 28 times more potent than CO2.

Its main manmade sources are livestock, agriculture, and leaks from the natural gas industry.

Produced mostly by burning fossil fuels, CO2 accounts for more than three-quarters of global warming.

Even with rapid cuts in these gases, it will be nearly impossible to detect a clear impact on global warming before 2035, the researchers said.

In a more realistic scenario, “these efforts could all be visible by mid-century, but not before”, the study concluded.

Reducing soot was found to have negligeable impact.

Scientists not involved in research said it served as a reminder of what we are up against.

“The study reinforces our understanding that climate change is a long-term problem that will not simply disappear if all human-related emissions stopped tomorrow,” said Grant Allen, a professor of atmospheric physics at the University of Manchester.

“There is no quick fix.”

– ‘Unnecessarily gloomy’ –

For Andrew Watson, a Royal Society research professor at the University of Exeter, bending the curve of global warming “is like turning a supertanker”.

“We have spent many decades steering it in the wrong direction, and it will take decades for the results of climate mitigation to be obvious.”

But Piers Forster, a climate change professor at the University of Leeds, said the findings were “unnecessarily gloomy”.

Research has shown that with serious effort, society can have a “discernable cooling effect on Earth’s temperature over the next 15-20 years,” he said.

AFP

Critical Climate Change Talks Postponed Until 2021

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg gives a speech during a high-level event on climate emergency hosted by the Chilean presidency during the UN Climate Change Conference COP25 at the ‘IFEMA – Feria de Madrid’ exhibition centre, in Madrid, on December 11, 2019. CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP

 

Critical UN climate negotiations at which nations were expected to ramp up plans to combat global warming have been pushed back a full year to November 2021, British politician Alok Sharma, president of the talks, announced on Twitter Thursday.

“Pleased to have agreed a new date for @COP26,” wrote Sharma, Britain’s Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

“COP26 will now take place between 1 and 12 November 2021.”

Britain proposed the new dates for the Glasgow conference — which had already been suspended — in a letter to the UN climate forum, citing health concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic, and the need for more time to prepare the 30,000-strong meet.

The revised schedule was vetted and approved Thursday night.

Possible drawbacks of the delay were laid out in a briefing note, obtained by AFP, prepared ahead of the deliberations.

“A broadly shared concern relates to the potential loss of momentum in the UNFCCC process,” the note said, using the acronym for the UN climate body.

One 2020 deadline in the original schedule was the submission of revised — and hopefully more ambitious — “nationally determined contributions”, each country’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Current national pledges submitted in annex to the 2015 Paris Agreement would allow the planet’s surface to warm at least three degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, far above the ceiling of “well below” 2C — and 1.5C if feasible — agreed to in the landmark treaty.

The UN’s climate science advisory panel, the IPCC, has made it clear that time is not on our side, especially if global warming is to be capped at the safer level of 1.5C.

CO2 pouring into the atmosphere must be halved by 2030, and reach “net zero” by mid-century, if that more ambitious goal is to be met, the IPCC concluded.

Economic fallout from the pandemic is projected to reduce global CO2 emissions this year by 4 to 7 percent, but will have scant impact on global warming’s long-term trajectory, according to a recent study in Nature Climate Change.

Climate not on hold

Most observers endorsed the postponement, but cautioned against inaction.

“Shifting the date of COP26 is understandable, but there can be no let-up in tackling the climate crisis,” said Andrew Steer, president and CEO of the World Resources Institute in Washington DC.

Trillion-dollar recovery packages across Europe, North America and East Asia offer a “once-in-a-generation moment to rebuild societies to be more sustainable, equitable, resilient and healthy,” he said in a statement.

Global warming continues to gather pace, other experts pointed out.

“The coronavirus pandemic has not placed the climate crisis on hold, as the continuing spate of extreme weather across the world makes clear,” said Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington DC.

Last week, south Asia’s first super cyclone in two decades ravaged eastern India, including Kolkata, while northern India was hit by searing heatwaves and locust swarms linked to climate change.

Scientists in the United States, meanwhile, warned of a more severe-than-usual Atlantic hurricane season.

Other important environmental conferences have also been pushed back.

The critical COP15 UN conference on biodiversity, originally slated for October this year, will almost certainly “not happen before May,” a source involved in its organisation told AFP.

A quadrennial meeting in Marseille of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which manages the Red List of endangered species, was postponed from June to January 2021.

Gretha Thurnberg Displeased With New EU Climate Plan

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg attends a session at the Congres center during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, on January 21, 2020.  Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg attends a session at the Congres center during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, on January 21, 2020. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

Teenage eco-warrior Greta Thunberg branded the EU’s grand plan to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 inadequate on Wednesday and said Europe is falsely claiming to lead the world on climate.

The European Union must stop “pretending that you can be a climate leader and still go on building and subsidising new fossil fuel infrastructure,” the Swedish activist told a committee hearing at the European Parliament.

Thunberg was addressing MEPs as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced a new draft law that Brussels has hailed as the cornerstone of Europe’s “Green Deal” to fight climate change.

The 17-year-old said that despite “disregarding” science, the EU was hoping its plan “will somehow solve the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced”.

“This must come to an end,” she said.

Earlier, Thunberg had been a guest at a meeting of top EU officials that approved a proposal to enshrine into law the EU’s ambition of net zero carbon emissions by mid-century.

This would bind the EU’s 27 member states to balance polluting emissions and the removal of greenhouse gases — such as by using carbon capture technology or reforestation — within the next 30 years.

The law, once ratified, would also give the EU executive new powers to impose emission targets on member state governments.

“When your house is on fire, you don’t wait a few more years to start putting it out,” said Thunberg.

“When the EU presents this climate law and net zero by 2050 you indirectly admit surrender, that you are giving up,” she said.

 

AFP