Climate Change: How do we know?

This graph, based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct  measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric CO<sub>2</sub> has increased  since the Industrial Revolution.  (Source: [[LINK||||NOAA]])
This graph, based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution. (Credit: Vostok ice core data/J.R. Petit et al.; NOAA Mauna Loa CO2 record.)
  • The Earth's climate has changed throughout history. Just in the last 650,000 years there have been seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat, with the abrupt end of the last ice age about 7,000 years ago marking the beginning of the modern climate era — and of human civilization. Most of these climate changes are attributed to very small variations in Earth’s orbit that change the amount of solar energy our planet receives.
    Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.
    - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
    The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is very likely human-induced and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in the past 1,300 years.1
    Earth-orbiting satellites and other technological advances have enabled scientists to see the big picture, collecting many different types of information about our planet and its climate on a global scale. Studying these climate data collected over many years reveal the signals of a changing climate.
    The heat-trapping nature of carbon dioxide and other gases was demonstrated in the mid-19th century.2 Their ability to affect the transfer of infrared energy through the atmosphere is the scientific basis of many instruments flown by NASA. There is no question that increased levels of greenhouse gases must cause the Earth to warm in response.
    Ice cores drawn from Greenland, Antarctica, and tropical mountain glaciers show that the Earth’s climate responds to changes in greenhouse gas levels. They also show that in the past, large changes in climate have happened very quickly, geologically-speaking: in tens of years, not in millions or even thousands.3

    The evidence for rapid climate change is compelling:

    • Republic of Maldives: Vulnerable to sea level rise.

      Sea level rise

      Global sea level rose about 17 centimeters (6.7 inches) in the last century. The rate in the last decade, however, is nearly double that of the last century.4
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    • Global temperature rise

      All three major global surface temperature reconstructions show that Earth has warmed since 1880.5 Most of this warming has occurred since the 1970s, with the 20 warmest years having occurred since 1981 and with all 10 of the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years.6 Even though the 2000s witnessed a solar output decline resulting in an unusually deep solar minimum in 2007-2009, surface temperatures continue to increase.7
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    • Warming oceans

      The oceans have absorbed much of this increased heat, with the top 700 meters (about 2,300 feet) of ocean showing warming of 0.302 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969.8
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    • Flowing meltwater from the Greenland ice sheet

      Shrinking ice sheets

      The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have decreased in mass. Data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment show Greenland lost 150 to 250 cubic kilometers (36 to 60 cubic miles) of ice per year between 2002 and 2006, while Antarctica lost about 152 cubic kilometers (36 cubic miles) of ice between 2002 and 2005.
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    • Visualization of the 2007 Arctic sea ice minimum

      Declining Arctic sea ice

      Both the extent and thickness of Arctic sea ice has declined rapidly over the last several decades.9
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    • The disappearing snowcap of Mount Kilimanjaro, from space.

      Glacial retreat

      Glaciers are retreating almost everywhere around the world — including in the Alps, Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alaska and Africa.10
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    • Extreme events

      The number of record high temperature events in the United States has been increasing, while the number of record low temperature events has been decreasing, since 1950. The U.S. has also witnessed increasing numbers of intense rainfall events.11
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    • Ocean acidification

      Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by about 30 percent.12,13 This increase is the result of humans emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and hence more being absorbed into the oceans. The amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the upper layer of the oceans is increasing by about 2 billion tons per year.14,15
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    • Decreased snow cover

      Satellite observations reveal that the amount of spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has decreased over the past five decades and that the snow is melting earlier.16
      + more

What would be in the ideal climate agreement?

What would be in the ideal climate agreement?

There are the 10 little points which will help us face climate change and start the basis of a new, cleaner economy:
  1. Governments need to create a legally binding framework with an amended Kyoto Protocol, which secures the survival of countries, cultures and ecosystems and clears the way to the low carbon economy.
  2. Global emissions peak before 2017 keeping overall warming well below the 2°C danger threshold, going down to below 1.5°C as soon as possible.
  3. Industrialized countries commit to reduce their emissions by 40% by 2020, compared to 1990 levels.
  4. Developing countries agree to undertake significant action making emissions at least 30% lower than Business-As-Usual by 2020.
  5. Emissions from forest destruction are reduced by three quarters (75%) by 2020, taking into account indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ rights.
  6. A framework for immediate adaptation action is set in place, especially for vulnerable countries and ecosystems, including the provision of insurance and compensation.
  7. Public finance of at least US$160 billion per year is provided to developing countries for adaptation and mitigation through innovative sources of finance.
  8. Mechanisms are set up to strengthen technology cooperation on research, development and dissemination of low-carbon and climate-resilient technologies.
  9. A new institutional set-up under the UNFCCC allows for coordination, implementation and funding allocation, in a transparent and democratic way, and incentivizes compliance.
  10. Parties agree transparent and comparable standards for carbon markets, forests and land use, mitigation efforts and inventories, and ways to limit international aviation and shipping emissions.

Climate Change: The Evidence

Our world is getting warmer. Over the last 100 years the average global surface temperature has risen by about 0.74C.
This seemingly small rise has already had a significant effect on our planet.
For example, the record books have had to be re-written recently, as 11 of the 12 hottest years recorded so far have all taken place since 1995.
It is "very likely" that the rising level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the cause of climate change, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Human activities, such as burning fossil fuels, are the primary source behind this increase.

Graphic on temperature trends


Nuclear power is a 'low carbon' energy source: right or wrong?

Claims that nuclear power is a 'low carbon' energy source fall apart under scrutiny, writes Keith Barnham. Far from coming in at six grams of CO2 per unit of electricity for Hinkley C, as the Climate Change Committee believes, the true figure is probably well above 50 grams - breaching the CCC's recommended limit for new sources of power generation beyond 2030.

The UK government is committed to massively subsidising new nuclear reactors, based on the claim that they generate 'low carbon' electricity.
But what is the carbon footprint of nuclear power? I have trawled the literature and found that there is no scientific consensus on the lifetime carbon emissions of nuclear electricity.
Remarkably, half of the most rigorous published analyses have a carbon footprint for nuclear power above the limit recommended by the UK government's official climate change advisor, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).
According to the CCC, if we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change, by 2030 all electricity should be generated with less than 50 grams of carbon dioxide emitted for each kilowatt-hour (50 gCO2/kWh).
Since all new generators have lifetimes well over 20 years, I believe this limit should be imposed on all new electricity supply systems here and now - and all the more so for those with lifetimes spanning many decades.
Note that thanks to long construction times for the EPR design and a forthcoming legal challenge, it's entirely possible that the planned Hinkley C reactor will not be completed until 2030 or beyond. It will then be subsidised for the first 35 years of its projected 60 year lifetime - taking us through until 2090.
What is the carbon footprint of renewable electricity?
When comparing the carbon footprints of electricity-generating technologies, we need to take into account carbon dioxide emitted in all stages in the life of the generator and its fuel. Such a study is called a life cycle analysis (LCA).
There are other gases such as methane that are more dangerous greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide. The most reliable LCAs take all greenhouse gases into account and present equivalent carbon dioxide emissions.
In a recent paper in Energy Policy, Daniel Nugent and Benjamin Sovacool critically reviewed the published LCAs of renewable electricity generators. All the renewable technologies came in below the 50 gCO2/kWh limit.
The lowest was large-scale hydropower with a carbon footprint one fifth of the CCC limit (10 gCO2/kWh). A close second was biogas electricity from anaerobic digestion (11 gCO2/kWh). The mean figure for wind energy is 34 gCO2/kWh, and solar PV comes in a shade under the 50g limit, at 49.9 gCO2/kWh. Bear in mind that rapidly evolving PV technology means that this last figure is contantly falling.
What's the carbon footprint of nuclear power?
There have been nearly three hundred papers on the carbon footprint of nuclear power in scientific journals and reports in recent years. Two peer-reviewed papers have critically assessed the literature in the way Nugent and Sovacool compared renewable LCAs.
The first was by Benjamin Sovacool himself [1]. He reviewed 103 published LCA studies and filtered them down to 19, which had an acceptably rigorous scientific approach. The carbon footprints ranged from 3 to 200 gCO2/kWh. The average carbon footprint was 66 gCO2/kWh, which is above the CCC limit.
In 2012, four years after Sovacool's paper, Ethan Warner and Garvin Heath found 274 papers containing nuclear LCAs [2]. They filtered them down to 27 for further consideration. These yielded 99 estimates of carbon footprints which the authors describe as "independent".
Their data for carbon emissions ranged from 4 to 220 gCO2/kWh. They did not report an average but rather a median value: half the estimates were below 13 gCO2/kWh.
These two reviews of the published literature, often called meta-analyses, produced conflicting results. One suggests the carbon footprint is above the CCC limit, the other well below.
Looking in more detail at the Warner and Heath meta-review it becomes clear that their 99 estimates are not all 'independent' - in the sense of independent from each other - as they come from only 27 papers.
In fact, a significant number of their 99 estimates come from LCAs that have varied one or more of the assumptions in their calculations: for example the concentration of uranium in the ore, the geographic location of the reactor or the type of reactor.
Treating these variations as 'independent', as Warner and Heath do, gives undue weight to studies that report a large number of different assumptions for the same LCA model. We will see that these are mainly analyses which report low carbon footprints.
It is therefore not surprising that Warner and Heath's median is so much lower than Sovacool's average. I believe it more appropriate to present these different estimates from the same LCA as an average and a range of values. This I have done for the most rigorous of the LCAs.
The five stages of nuclear electric generation
Another concern with the Sovacool and Warner-Heath reviews is that among their selected LCAs there are, in both reviews, some analyses that do not include all the five stages in the nuclear lifecycle.
Greenhouse gases are emitted in all stages of the lifecycle of a nuclear reactor: construction, operation, fuel production, dismantling and waste disposal. Leaving out any of these five stages will bias estimates towards lower values.
The last two contributions, dismantling and waste disposal are particularly difficult to estimate. Not many commercial reactors have been fully decommissioned. Also there is still no scientific or political consensus on the approach to be used for the long-term storage of waste.
The fuel preparation contribution is also problematic. Considerable amounts of carbon are released in the mining, milling and separation of the uranium from the ore. Also the carbon emitted is very dependent on the concentration of uranium in the ore.
It's important to appreciate that these three problematic contributions, fuel production, dismantling and waste disposal are either non-existent or small contributions in the case of electricity generation by renewable technologies. Estimates of the carbon footprint of renewably generated electricity therefore should be much more reliable than those for nuclear.
Selecting the most rigorous analyses
I have reviewed the LCAs of all the light water reactors and pressurised water reactors that passed the selection procedures of either the Sovacool or the Warner-Heath meta-analyses. I have further refined their selection by excluding any LCA that does not estimate a carbon footprint for all five stages of the life cycle. Only eight LCAs survive.
The figure shows the carbon footprints of the eight LCAs that pass this more rigorous test. All eight LCAs considered different assumptions that resulted in a range of estimates for the carbon footprints indicated by the vertical error bars. The circles show the average carbon footprint in the range of estimates.
The most important point to notice in the figure is that four of the circles fall below the horizontal broken line at 50 gCO2/kWh and four above. Half the most rigorous of the published LCAs are below the CCC limit and half are above.
The conclusion from the eight most rigorous LCAs is therefore that it is as likely that the carbon footprint of nuclear is above 50 gCO2/kWh as it is below. The evidence so far in the scientific literature cannot clarify whether the carbon footprint of nuclear power is below the limit which all electricity generation should respect by 2030 according to the CCC.
Another important point to notice in the figure is that the spread of the estimates is smallest for the two lowest LCAs (references 4 and 5). These two LCAs only considered a small range of assumptions in their LCA models. However they considered a large number of different assumptions (13 in the first reference and 9 in the second) compared with many of the higher carbon footprint LCAs.
Warner and Heath consider these 22 estimates as 'independent'. This is why the median (13 gCO2/kWh) of their 99 estimates is so low compared to Sovacool's average. I am surprised that the peer-reviewers for the Journal of Industrial Ecology did not object to this seriously flawed methodology.
Why is there such a large spread of LCA results?
Two of the eight LCAs deserve particular mention. They suggest some reasons for the large spread in the results. They are taken from the publication of Jef Beerten and collaborators [3], who decided to do a complete re-analysis of three previously published LCAs: one with a low carbon footprint, one with a medium estimate and one with a high value of carbon footprint.
Their extensive re-analyses help to clarify the reasons for the large spread in results. The Berteen re-analyses are clearly independent of the original analyses, hence both the original results and the re-analyses are in the figure. The low LCA and its re-analysis were excluded as they did not include a waste contribution.
Beerten and his colleagues conclude that the uncertainties in the three problematic contributions - fuel production, dismantling and waste disposal - are mainly responsible for the wide variation of estimates.
They also point out that the estimates depend strongly on the assumptions made about the carbon footprint of the energy that has to be supplied, in particular in extraction, preparation and enrichment of the fuel. This point is illustrated in the figure.
The vertical error bars on the two Beerten re-analyses [3] indicate the limits in the variation in the nuclear carbon footprint resulting from assumptions about the greenhouse emissions of the energy mix used to produce the nuclear fuel. The Beerten re-analyses also confirm that the carbon footprint of nuclear power depends strongly on the concentration of the uranium in the ore. This was first identified by Storm van Leeuwen, an author of the LCA in reference [9].
Using 0.005% ore, nuclear has higher carbon emissions than gas
Nuclear fuel preparation begins with the mining of uranium containing ores, followed by the crushing of the ore then extraction of the uranium from the powdered ore chemically. All three stages take a lot of energy, most of which comes from fossil fuels. The inescapable fact is that the lower the concentration of uranium in the ore, the higher the fossil fuel energy required to extract uranium.
Table 12 in the Berteen paper confirms the van Leeuwen result that for ore with uranium concentration around 0.01% the carbon footprint of nuclear electricity could be as high as that of electricity generation from natural gas.
This remarkable observation has been further confirmed in a report from the Austrian Institute of Ecology by Andrea Wallner and co-workers. They also point out that using ore with uranium concentration around 0.01% could result in more energy being input to prepare the fuel, build the reactor and so on, than will be generated by the reactor in its lifetime.
According to figures van Leeuwen has compiled from the WISE Uranium Project around 37% of the identified uranium reserves have an ore grade below 0.05%.
A conservative estimate for the future LCA of nuclear power for power stations intended to continue operating into the 2090s and beyond would assume the lowest uranium concentration currently in proven sources, which is 0.005%.
On the basis that the high concentration ores are the easiest to find and exploit, this low concentration is likely to be more typical of yet to be discovered deposits.
Using 0.005% concentration uranium ores, the van Leeuwen, Berteen and Wallner analyses agree a nuclear reactor will have a carbon footprint larger than a natural gas electricity generator. Also, it is unlikely to produce any net electricity over its lifecycle.
What is the carbon footprint of the 'Third Generation' reactor at Hinkley Point C?
All the LCAs in the published meta-reviews refer to electricity generators which have already been built. In addition to the problems described above there are at least three further difficulties in assessing the carbon footprint of third generation reactors:

  1. The two prototypes for the European Power Reactor (EPR) proposed for Hinkley Point are still in the construction stage and are well behind schedule. In all engineering projects the completion of a prototype results in modifications to the construction that cannot be predicted beforehand. That is the reason for building a prototype. Also, until the reactor has run for a period, it will not be clear if it will achieve its design power output and how long it will operate between refuelling. These latter two factors are important in estimating the total amount of electricity the EPR will generate in its lifetime. The carbon emissions are divided by the total amount of energy to get a carbon footprint.
  2. The EPR is far bigger and more complex, than any existing nuclear reactor, or indeed any electricity generating system ever built. Major design modifications have to be included to incorporate lessons learnt from the Fukushima disaster. This all means not only has the cost of the EPR risen, and will continue to rise with the prototype modifications, but also carbon emissions during the construction stage will be expected to be higher than these of current reactors.
  3. The intention is that fuel rods of the EPR will remain longer in the core than in today's reactors in an attempt to reduce the cost of the electricity. This will mean that the spent fuel will be more radioactive resulting in new challenges in dismantling reactors and in dealing with the waste. Inevitably, this will lead to higher carbon footprints.
Given these three factors it is surprising that a report commissioned by the CCC in 2013 claims a carbon footprint for the EPR of 6 gCO2/kWh, comparable with the lowest two LCAs in the figure.
The report is from the company Ricardo-AEA, formed in 2012 when Ricardo acquired AEA Technology, itself a spin-out from the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority. Their analysis makes the astonishing assumption that both the EPRs at Hinkley Point C will operate at 1 GW above their design power for 85% of every year over a 60 year lifetime.
This is a remarkably optimistic projection that gives an unrealistically high total for electrical energy generated in a lifetime. But this is only one reason for the very low carbon footprint.
The Ricardo-AEA report quotes the spread of results from the Warner-Heath analysis. However, they compare their result with six other LCAs that all have carbon footprints below 8 gCO2/kWh. Three are from reference [5] and three are not included in the Warner-Heath study.
The report does not explain why their result differs so much from the results of the majority of the LCAs in the Warner-Heath review. Massive amounts of taxpayers' money should not be committed to this project on the basis of such a flimsy scientific assessment of environmental impact.
An estimate of the carbon footprint of the EPR
In my book, The Burning Answer: a User's Guide to the Solar Revolution, I discuss a simple comparison of the LCAs of the EPR and a large dam (or probably dams) producing the same amount of power.
The carbon footprint of hydropower, 10 gCO2/kWh, is much better known than nuclear. Many large dams have been constructed and uncertainties such as carbon emissions during fuel production and long term storage of waste do not apply to hydropower.
First let's compare the construction costs. The cost of building the first 1.6 GW EPR at Hinkley Point is around five times higher than the cost of building the hydropower dams which provide the same electrical power. This higher price suggests higher carbon emissions.
The EPR price reflects the high cost of more sophisticated nuclear engineering, manufacturing and transporting a steel pressure vessel, expensive high precision nuclear components, steam generators and safety systems.
Many of these additional costs for the nuclear option result from burning fossil fuels directly in manufacture or transport or in the generation of electricity in all stages of construction. The fact that the EPR costs five times the hydropower option suggests the construction could result in up to five times larger carbon emissions than dams that give the same power.
This approach was first suggested by Hans Bethe, the physics Nobel Prize laureate, in the 1960s, and has been widely used by both companies and governments as a first estimate of their carbon footprints.
Assuming the reactor and the dams have the same lifetimes, and generate for the same time each year, the carbon footprint in grams of CO2 for each kWh of energy could be up to five times higher for the EPR than for hydropower: hence around 50 gCO2/kWh.
But note: this rough estimate is only for the carbon dioxide emitted during construction. It ignores the carbon emitted during the problematic three nuclear stages, fuel production, dismantling and waste disposal.
This simple argument suggests to me that - as for the first and second generation - there is as yet no solid scientific evidence that the carbon footprint for the EPR will be below the CCC recommendation of 50 gCO2/kWh. Indeed once the additional carbon emissions are taken into account, it's certain to be considerably above that figure.
So the claim that the carbon footprint of the EPRs planned for Hinkley C will be as low as 6 gCO2/kWh, less even than hydropower - as claimed in the Ricardo-AEA report commissioned by the CCC - is wholly incredible.
What should be done now?
The UK government should follow good engineering and investment practice and undertake full due diligence before signing a contract to subsidise the EPR. This should include a complete and thorough LCA of greenhouse gas emissions including data on the performance of a working prototype.
The likely Austrian appeal against the European Commission's approval of the subsidy may delay the contract signing beyond the 2016 completion date for the EPR. In any case, it is extremely bad engineering - and toxic investment practice - to sign a contract before a prototype operates. The LCA should be subject to thorough review by independent experts as is the case for technical due diligence for commercial investment.
The Hinkley C project is surely Britain's largest and most expensive electricity generating project. It is certainly the most complex. At the present time the UK government is keen to sign a contract with French and Chinese companies, many of which are owned by their governments, to build the project.
The contract will commit the UK public to paying heavy subsidies and may be signed before it is known if the prototype works or what its environmental impact will be. This would be engineering, investment and, possibly, political stupidity.
There is no consensus in the scientific literature as to the carbon footprint of existing nuclear reactors. I have more confidence in the six highest LCAs because two of them have been independently re-assessed and - in contrast to the two lowest LCAs - the higher analyses have taken realistic account of the uncertainties in the three most problematic parts of the nuclear life cycle.
As all six are either above, or have error bars that reach above, the CCC's 2030 threshold of 50 gCO2/kWh, the balance of the evidence of the six most robust LCAs is that the carbon footprint of nuclear power is above the CCC's recommended limit.
And of course these figures apply to existing nuclear power stations, not the EPR design planned for Hinkley C. As we have seen, the EPR's very high cost suggests considerably higher emissions in the construction stage. So too does the fact that, over its projected 60-year lifetime, it will be using uranium from very low quality ores.
The likely delay due to the Austrian appeal against the European Commission's decision on the EPR subsidy offers an opportunity for a full, independent and peer reviewed assessment of the environmental impact of this complex and expensive new technology.

Net-zero emissions target for 2050

Prominent business leaders claim setting a net-zero emissions target for 2050 would push companies into reducing their reliance on fossil fuels


Sir Richard Branson claims that setting a net-zero emissions target by 2050 will drive innovation, grow jobs, build prosperity and secure a better world. Photograph: Bei Feng/EPA

Governments should set a clear target of making the world’s economy free from carbon emissions by mid-century, Sir Richard Branson and a group of other prominent businesspeople have urged.
The goal – of eliminating the net impact of greenhouse gases, by replacing fossil fuels and ensuring that any remaining emissions are balanced out by carbon-saving projects such as tree-planting and carbon capture and storage – is more stretching than any yet agreed by world governments. The G8 group of rich nations has pledged to cut emissions by 80% by 2050, and some developing countries to halving emissions by then.
Branson, long a vocal advocate of action on climate change, said that setting such a goal would galvanise businesses into reducing their reliance on fossil fuels and cutting carbon dioxide. “Taking bold action on climate change simply makes good business sense,” he said. “It’s also the right thing to do for people and the planet. Setting a net-zero GHG emissions target by 2050 will drive innovation, grow jobs, build prosperity and secure a better world for what will soon be 9 billion people. Why would we wait any longer to do that?”

Governments will meet in Geneva next week under the auspices of the United Nations to hammer out the draft of a text that could form the basis of a new global agreement on climate change, scheduled to be signed at a crunch conference in Paris in December.
The US, China and the EU have already set out their targets on emissions beyond 2020, when current commitments made at the climate summit in Copenhagen in 2009 run out. Other nations are expected to follow suit by submitting their post-2020 national emissions targets to the UN from now to April, after which they will be evaluated to check that they are fair and add up to a global cut in emissions that will put the world on a path to avoiding the worst effects of climate change.
The call to governments to pledge a zero-net-emissions target for 2050 was made by the B Team group of international business leaders. It includes Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group manufacturing conglomerate; Paul Polman, chief executive of Unilever; Mo Ibrahim, the telecommunications billionaire; Guilherme Leal, the Brazilian billionaire; Francois-Henri Pinault, chairman of the luxury goods group Kering; Arianna Huffington, the media entrepreneur; and a handful of others.
Paul Polman called on other business leaders to join in: “A target of net-zero emissions by 2050 is not only desirable but necessary. This is the time to redouble our efforts and further accelerate progress to decarbonise our economy. This is not going to be easy, but the earlier we act, the greater the economic opportunities will be.”
The group said the transition to a net-zero emissions economy could, if managed correctly, bring economic benefits to all countries, rich and poor, as well as cleaner air and a healthier environment.
Mary Robinson, the UN’s special envoy on climate change, said: “A transition to net-zero [emissions] will succeed only if it is done fairly. The necessary technology for sustainable development must be an available and affordable option for all countries. Without this, developing countries will have no alternative to dirty energy for their development, locking themselves into fossil fuel infrastructure for the long term, and we will fail to secure a safe climate future.”


Paris climate summit: missing global warming target

The European Union climate chief says talks at a major climate summit in Paris this year will not be a failure even if governments fail to keep warming below the dangerous 2C threshold.
The comments, downgrading expectations for a strong outcome at Paris, suggest that the architects of a global climate deal are already resigned to the prospect that governments will fail to aim high enough when setting out their targets for cutting greenhouse gas emission in the coming months.
“2C is an objective,” Miguel Arias Canete, the EU climate chief, said. “If we have an ongoing process you can 
EU climate commissioner, Miguel Arias Canete: 'If we have an ongoing process you can not say it is a failure if the mitigration commitments do not reach 2C'.

 EU climate commissioner, Miguel Arias Canete: ‘If we have an ongoing process you can not say it is a failure if the mitigration commitments do not reach 2C’. Photograph: JULIEN WARNAND/EPA 

However, he added “but we want ambitious objectives for 2015”, and said it was crucial that negotiators agreed on an accounting mechanism for reviewing those climate pledges and then raising them to avoid catastrophic warming.
In Brussels, meanwhile, the UN top climate official, Christiana Figueres, was similarly downplaying expectations, telling reporters the pledges made in the run-up to the Paris meeting later this year will “not get us onto the 2C pathway”.
The sober comments from two of the top players at Paris were a further sign that officials do not see the meeting in December as an end game but the next phase of the effort to get governments to deliver action on climate change.

Emissions reductions should not be “a one-off effort but rather the start of a multi-period effort, throughout which countries will continue to increase their contributions,” Figueres said ahead of meetings with EU officials. “Every year there has to be more - no backsliding - and there also has to be a long term destination: climate neutrality by the second part of this century.”


Fracking set to be banned from 40% of England's shale areas

Anti-fracking protestors demonstrate outside County Hall Preston against planning applications by Cuadrilla for fracking.
Anti-fracking protesters demonstrate outside County Hall, Preston, against planning applications by Cuadrilla for fracking. Photograph: Peter Powell/EPA 

Fracking is set to be banned on two-fifths of the land in England being offered for shale gas exploration by the government, according to a Guardian analysis.

Such a wide-ranging ban would be a significant blow to the UK’s embryonic fracking industry, which David Cameron and George Osborne have enthusiastically backed.

There were setbacks last week after the Scottish government declared a moratorium and UK ministers were forced to accept a swath of new environmental protections proposed by Labour, leading some analysts to say the outlook for fracking was bleak

One of those new protections was to rule out fracking in national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs), sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs) and groundwater source protection zones (SPZs).

Neither the government nor Labour have stated how much of the land available for future shale gas drilling – 60% of England - would be affected by the new bans. But a Guardian data analysis has revealed it is 39.7%, with large swaths of the south and south east off-limits, as well as the Yorkshire Dales and Peak district.


« Tous pour le climat ! » : associations, mobilisez-vous !

« Tous pour le climat ! » : associations, mobilisez-vous !

Crédits photo :
Dans le cadre de la  COP21 qui se tiendra en décembre 2015,  la Ville de Paris lance un appel à projets « Tous pour le climat ! ». Celui-ci, destiné aux associations, aura pour thème la lutte contre le dérèglement climatique. Associations, déposez vos projets pédagogiques, culturels, artistiques, sportifs, festifs, ludiques ou interactifs avant le 15 mars.
Le climat est l'affaire de tous
En décembre 2015, Paris accueille la 21e Conférence cadre des Nations Unies sur le changement climatique dite COP21. Des Etats aux collectivités en passant par les entreprises et les citoyens ; le climat est l’affaire de tous. L’année 2015 sera celle du climat et Paris son porte-parole. Chaque jour, nous pouvons à notre niveau réduire notre impact sur la planète et toutes les actions entreprises ou à venir sont importantes afin de démontrer que cette réduction est possible.
L'enjeu ? Partager avec chaque concitoyen les avancées des négociations internationales, les faire comprendre, les illustrer, tout en envoyant le message fort de la mobilisation et de l’action.

Appel à projet « Tous pour le climat ! »
Dans cet esprit, la Ville de Paris, par son adjointe en charge du climat, Célia Blauel, a souhaité soutenir largement les initiatives associatives pour la mobilisation et l’information de tous les Parisiens.
L’appel à projet « Tous pour le climat ! » soutiendra financièrement des projets associatifs parisiens pédagogiques, culturels, artistiques, sportifs, festifs, ludiques ou interactifs permettant de couvrir largement les thématiques de la lutte contre le dérèglement climatique et d’animer une dynamique locale et citoyenne. La COP21 se fera aussi en bas de chez vous !

Climate change - Global warming. What if?

Indeed! Wht if it's a big hoax and we create a better world for nothing?