The past few months have seen a plethora of contradictory news and comment surrounding climate change. There’s been some good and some not so good news; and there’s been some crazy stuff together with learned pages of comment of occasionally dubious efficacy. Depending on how optimistic you are this could be a good thing in the lead up to Paris in 10 months time or folk finding excuses not to do anything. Whichever way you look at it the signs are that our governments are still confused. Nothing new there then.
This all started way back in November last year when the Presidents of the United States and China announced their respective post-2020 actions on climate change, recognizing that these actions are part of the longer range effort to transition to low-carbon economies, mindful of the global temperature goal of 2℃. The United States intends to achieve an economy-wide target of reducing its emissions by 26%-28% below its 2005 level in 2025 and to make best efforts to reduce its emissions by 28%. China intends to achieve the peaking of CO2 emissions around 2030 and to make best efforts to peak early and intends to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20% by 2030.1
Note the post 2020 caveat, many scientists would suggest this is too little and too late.
A month later in December, The 1 Gigaton Coalition, launched by the Government of Norway and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) during COP 20 in December and aims to quantify the impact of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects to support their further uptake. 2
This initiative is designed to help in the next 5 years to reduce global emissions by 10% per year by judicious use of renewable energy and more efficient appliances. We shall see how well that progresses.
Since the turn of the year the good news bad news output continued unabated.
The Pew Research Centre research into US citizens understanding of the causes of climate change demonstrated that acceptance of the human influence was on the increase.3 However as this graph shows the politicians are still out of step.
On the good news side EU energy consumption 4 is at a 20 year low. Obviously this is partly due to the poor economic performance but the impact of improved energy efficiency is clear to see.
Then, The National Academies of Sciences in the US released two reports on the possibility of geo-engineering the planet to reduce the impact of climate change. The press release starts “There is no substitute for dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate the negative consequences of climate change” But you wouldn’t know it from some of the media coverage 5.
Basically this is a bad idea, more fiddling while Rome burns. If you have money to spend then spend it on tackling the cause not the symptom. Giving an aspirin to a cancer sufferer may make him feel better for a while but the cancer persists.