Climate Institutions COP (Conference of Parties) Weekly Climate Change Briefing

Weekly Climate Change Briefing, 16 December 2019

Climate change news, people, gossips and tech.

United Nations Climate Change COP 25 in Madrid ends without any agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

No surprise. Ask any climate pro.

Two weeks in Madrid. The tapas were delicious and the Rioja flowed into the early mornings. Two weeks of fine amuse bouche but no deal on reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the 25th Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Climate Convention. (Climate kids, click on the links to learn the basics of what the COP is and what the UN Climate Convention consist of).

European Union’s closing statement: “It is disappointing that after years of hard work […] we could not agree on […] incentives to reduce emissions… Yet there are some bridges that we just cannot cross if we are to maintain a credible position with our partners and with our citizens at home.”

A great photo by Daniel Jensen on Unsplash
No agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions yet…

Nobody budged on their positions. Nobody has in years. In plain, English, I’m summarizing the respective positions of the big players at the Conference:

Australia: We like coal. We can use creative carbon accounting to show we have reduced emissions in the past.

India, China: We’re poor and it’s the (white) rich man’s fault. He has been polluting far longer than we have, now it’s our turn.

Saudi Arabia: Oil prices are going down, we should be compensated, we are a developing country. Want some shares in Aramco? (note: Saudi GDP per capita is higher than that of most developed countries)

The US: We don’t all think like Californians do. Anyway, any deal has to go through Congress. Climate liability? Talk to our lawyer.

Humankind to Mother Earth: Hold tight, we’re kicking the can down the (now flooded) road another year.

The COP and the United Nations Climate Convention look more and more irrelevant and disconnected from reality. The European Union has agreed on its own voluntary plans for climate neutrality (See below). Worldwide, provincial and territorial governments, along with private sector firms are pledging greenhouse gas reductions. So should we care if Australia, Saudi Arabia and other coal and oil producers are on board on not? There’s always something you can do for our planet right now, just be the change yourself.

“Europe’s (minus Poland) Man on the Moon Moment”: The European Union aims to become climate neutral by 2050

The European Union’s commitment to climate neutrality by 2050 is big and bold. It means that Europe as a whole will have zero emission by 2050 and will thus no longer happily contribute to pumping tons of greenhouse gases into the planet’s atmosphere. The European Commission’s President, Ursula von der Leyen, calls it a moonshot. It won’t be easy to achieve. But if anyone has a successful track record at decoupling economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions, it is Europe.

Earlier in June, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic had opposed the move without firm commitments to subsidize their economies. This time, the remaining holdout is Poland.

Poland derives 80% of its electricity from coal. It has the dubious distinction of being the home of the World’s largest lignite power station. Lignite is a particularly dirty form of coal with low energy content. It is abundant in Poland.

Weekly Climate Change Briefing

Weekly Climate Change Briefing, 8 December 2019

Climate change news, people, gossips and tech.

University of Michigan: “Migratory birds shrinking as climate warms.”

Since 1978, the University of Michigan has been collecting birds that died after colliding with buildings in Chicago. Body measurements were made for each specimen. 🐦

The study confirms that increase in temperatures lead to decrease in body size for birds. “Periods of rapid warming are followed really closely by periods of decline in body size, and vice versa.” The researchers suggest that body-size reductions are a response to climate warming and that increased wing length help offset body-mass losses.

70,716 birds measured

52 species (North American migratory birds)

4 decades (from 1978 to 2016)

Birds are getting smaller, their wings are getting longer as a response to warmer temperatures.

University of Michigan Biologist Brian Weeks
Lead author Biologist Brian Weeks (selfie)

Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi): “Companies with more greenhouse gas emissions than France and Spain combined reducing emissions by more than 35%”

285 companies responsible for more annual emissions than France and Spain combined are committed to reducing their emissions by 35%. That’s the equivalent for shutting down 68 coal fire plants.

SBTi is a voluntary initiative that aims to enlist private sector firms into global efforts to keep global warming below 2°C. More than 80% of companies that have pledged to reduce their emissions are based in developed countries. Well known brands include Coca-Cola, Daimler, Nestle, Nike and Microsoft. 🏭

Science Based Target Initiative

Chief Executive Officer of Principles for Responsible Investments (PRI) fires second warning shot to Energy Agency (IEA) about rebadging of fossil fuel energy scenarios: “We urge you to do better”.

I was going to write just a couple of paragraphs on this, but ended with a full blog post providing some background to the bone of contention between two important players in the climate change arena (the Principles for Responsible Investments and the International Energy Agency).

Climate Science Electric Vehicles Public Opinion Weekly Climate Change Briefing

Weekly Climate Change Briefing, 1 December 2019

Climate Change news, people, gossips, and tech.

Tesla Cybertruck: “Better  Utility than a Truck with more Performance than a Sportscar”

Vavavoom. After much teasing, Tesla’s cybertruck has finally been unveiled. It’s not out yet, and we still don’t know what the final specifications of the production model will be (supposedly the truck will look like the picture below).

 It’s an all electricK pickup truck, which packs a lot of power, a lot of speed and a lot of range. Its windows will be shatterproof (though they did break during the demonstration). In the first few days after the fanfare demo, Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, was able to tweet that some 300,000 people had put $100 dollars down for pre-orders. Impressive marketing indeed.

 I like the version with the pull out barbecue. Great for impromptu picnics or tailgate parties. 🍡

Tesla cybertruck with bbq

Toyota: “Right now, there’s no demand for Electric Vehicles.”

This is a pretty sobering interview of the General Manager of Toyota North America. Read between the usual corporate lines. No plan for electric cars. Toyota has been arguing quite ineptly that hybrids are in fact on board charging electric vehicles. Fancy that! When asked about its competitors (all have electric cars scheduled to hit the markets), the gentleman trashes them pronto. They are no good so they have to make electric cars, unlike us, the best. Volkswagen? It’s because of the diesel scandal etc.

That deserves an “OK Boomer”.

Toyota and the Japanese car manufacturers sound more and more like Kodak and Nokia at their heydays.  If you look at their vehicle offering (with the notable exception of Nissan), the Japanese seem to be more inclined to sell us the same old antiquated petrol tech, granted with nice shiny touch screens and Apple Car Play for our smartphones. Then again, Toyota has been the uncontested king in the Third World with its ubiquitous Land Cruisers and pickup trucks that equip government goons and UN agencies alike. But customers’ tastes are changing fast in emerging economies… with half decent roads you can drive an electric Audi or Porsche just as easily as a petrol hungry Land Cruiser.

A great photo by Darina Rodionova on Unsplash
Toyota Land Cruiser in its natural habitat (preferably developing country of the Tropics)

World Meteorological Organization: “Concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached 407.8 parts per million in 2018, up from 405.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2017”

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has the usual annual dire news on greenhouse gas concentrations in the earth’s atmosphere. No surprise here. The 400 ppm, which we merrily crossed in 2015, was seen as the point of no return.

World Meteorological Organization: “Concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached 407.8 parts per million in 2018, up from 405.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2017”

There’s no sign of slowing down, let alone a decline says the WMO. Keep in mind that the last time the Earth experienced such high levels of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, average temperatures were 2-3 degrees higher and sea level 10-20 meters than now. 🚣🏼‍♂️

2019 Climate and Public Opinions International Survey: “Reality of climate change no longer questioned”

Ipsos, a French marketing research firm, has completed a survey of climate change and public opinion across 32 countries for French electric utility Electricité de France (EDF). The good news is that people are finally concerned about climate change and realize that it is happening. It’s not the stuff of legend or fake news. But the bad thing is about a quarter of people still attribute climate change to natural or unknown phenomena. Huge variations across countries of course.

I was pleasantly surprised that around the planet when asked whether they knew what they could do to fight climate change on a personal level, almost half of respondents responded “yea, somewhat”.  A good third of people want their next car to be electric. 🚗

32 countries surveyed

24017 respondents

29 questions

Great concern about climate change

Climate change no longer questioned

Confusion on cause of climate change

Change in lifestyle still modest

Obs'COP 2019