Posts Tagged ‘climate change’
From What Australia can learn from the world’s best de-carbonisation policies by John Wiseman and Taegen Edwards
Around the world an increasing number of detailed policy road maps are demonstrating the possibility, necessity and urgency of a rapid transition to a just and sustainable post carbon future. The key barriers to this transition are social and political, not technological and financial.
The Post Carbon Pathways report, published by the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, University of Melbourne and the Centre for Policy Development has reviewed 18 of the most comprehensive and rigorous post carbon economy transition strategies. As Australia enters the next phase of the climate change policy debate, this report will provide vital information on how other jurisdictions are designing and implementing large-scale plans to remove carbon from their economies. The review focuses on transition road maps produced by governments with the strongest emissions reduction targets, such as Germany, Denmark and the UK. It also looks at the most comprehensive and influential non-government authored strategies such as Zero Carbon Britain, Zero Carbon Australia and World in Transition (German Advisory Council on Global Change). Our analysis of these diverse ways of reaching a post-carbon future highlights several key lessons.
The window is closing fast
A wide range of detailed national and global level strategies demonstrate the technological and economic feasibility of rapidly moving to a post carbon economy. This goal can still be achieved at the scale and speed required to significantly reduce the risk of runaway climate change. But the gateway for effective action is rapidly closing. Decisive action in the next five to ten years will be critical. There is a crucial difference between transition strategies that advocate a pragmatic and evolutionary approach and those that advocate more rapid and transformational change. […]
Technology is not the most significant barrier
Analysis of these strategies shows that technological barriers are not the most significant obstacles to a fair and swift transition to a post carbon economy. The integrated suite of technological and systemic changes needed to reach a just and sustainable post carbon future will clearly need to include:
- rapid reductions in energy consumption and improvements in energy efficiency
- rapid replacement of fossil fuels by renewable energy
- significant investment in forests and sustainable agriculture to draw down and sequester carbon into sustainable carbon sinks.
We already have the technologies to achieve emission reductions at the required speed and scale. Soaring investment in technological innovation, particularly in the United States, China and Germany, is driving down the price of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies at a remarkable speed.
Financial and economic barriers: significant but not insurmountable
The economic and social costs of failing to take action to reduce emissions are becoming increasingly clear – as are the multiple employment, health and environmental co-benefits of a swift transition to a post carbon economy. Most strategies advocate a mix of market based and regulatory mechanisms, underpinned by clear long-term emissions reduction targets. Some authors however remain cautious of relying too much on carbon pricing. They recommend additional, more direct interventions such as:
- binding renewable energy targets
- feed-in tariffs
- eliminating fossil fuel subsidies
- allocating the funds to close fossil fuel power stations.
Strategies with emissions reduction targets that are more strongly informed by climate science also commonly advocate a significant shift towards economic priorities which focus on improving social and ecological wellbeing rather than unconstrained growth in material consumption. […]
There is no solution to climate change without climate justice
Intergenerational justice – the need to respect and protect the livelihoods and opportunities of future generations – remains the most powerful ethical justification for taking prudent and decisive climate change action now. There is also widespread recognition that political support for a rapid transition to a post carbon economy depends on implementing policies to overcome key social equity challenges – within and beyond national borders.
The key barriers are social and political
The biggest barriers preventing a rapid transition to a post carbon future are social and political – not technological and financial. The difficulty of securing and sustaining broad social and political support is widely recognised as the greatest barrier to a swift transition to a post carbon economy. The most significant gap in post carbon economy transition strategies is a lack of detailed game plans for mobilising political leadership and public support. Worryingly, even the most optimistic of the social change theories underpinning these strategies, tend to rely on a variety of ‘Pearl Harbor’ scenarios in which one or more catastrophic ecological events would provide the necessary wake up call. […] The development and communication of inspiring stories and compelling images of a just and sustainable post carbon future will be particularly crucial.
Australia’s post carbon pathway leadership challenge
The Australian Government’s 2020 emissions reduction target (a 5% decrease on 2000 levels) is clearly still far from the level required for Australia to make a responsible and fair contribution to global emissions reductions. Australia’s 2050 target (an 80% decrease on 2000 levels) is more robust. But there is no detail as yet as to how this target will be achieved. Evidence from the most promising transition strategies elsewhere suggests we need a more informed and thoughtful debate about the kind of economic growth and industry mix that Australia should aim for. We need to talk about the fairest approaches to mobilising the required levels of financial, human and social capital. Most importantly, a far more visionary level of political leadership will be required in order to drive an Australian climate change debate informed primarily by climate science rather than short-term calculations of political and economic feasibility. […]
Read the article in full on The Conversation.
Read the Post Carbon Pathways briefing paper, summary report or full report.
Image from: CDP Cities
CDP Cities is a voluntary reporting platform for cities around the world to document their actions on climate change. An initiative of the Carbon Disclosure Project, CDP Cities have produced this neat infographic compiling data from the 48 participating cities in 2011. Melbourne features in the section on individual cities, citing ‘creating urban and rooftop gardens, lighter buildings, and lightening roof and road colours to lessen urban heat island effect’ as actions being taken by the City council.
Climate Challenge: Earth’s future is in your hands
A game where you are president of the European Nations. You must tackle climate change and stay popular enough with the voters to remain in office.
Play the game.
(It’s a bit confusing but the help button gets you through)
About the game:
Currently there is a growing consensus amongst climate researchers that Earth’s climate is changing in response to man-made greenhouse gas emissions. The main debate amongst scientists is focussed on the amount of climate change we can expect, not whether it will happen. With the current level of debate in mind, the BBC decided a game might be a good introductory route into climate change and some of the issues this creates for governments around the world. The producers’ primary goal was to make a fun, challenging game. At times it was necessary to strike a compromise between strict scientific accuracy and playability. For this reason, Climate Challenge should not be taken as a serious climate change prediction. Wherever possible, real research has been incorporated into the game. This document describes the scientific sources used to create Climate Challenge and some of the compromises made by the producers. These sources are a good starting point for someone interested in learning more about climate change. This document also describes some of the compromises the producers made for the sake of playability.
Game focus and aims
Apart from the primary goal of creating a fun game, Climate Challenge’s producers aimed to:
- give an understanding of some of the causes of climate change, particularly those related to carbon dioxide emissions.
- give players an awareness of some of the policy options available to governments.
- give a sense of the challenges facing international climate change negotiators.
Players must respond to catastrophic events caused by climate change as well as natural and manmade events, which may or may not be linked to climate change. This aspect of the game is meant to give some idea of what could happen as the Earth’s climate changes and also introduce the unpredictable nature of some natural events.
Source: Skeptical Science
Citizen Science: Climatology for Everyone is a great post over at Skeptical Science listing projects that aspiring Citizen Scientists (that is, you, me and anyone) interested in Climatology can take part.
“With recent posts addressing personal action in the fight to combat global warming, I thought it would be interesting to dedicate a post to ways in which the average citizen can help global warming by directly contributing to our scientific understanding of it. That is, becoming a ‘citizen scientist’.
Citizen science projects date back hundreds of years, with many of the first projects involving citizens keeping track of wildlife populations. The Audubon Christmas Bird Count is perhaps the most famous in the United States and dates back to 1900. With help from the internet, and a growing recognition of the value that citizens are capable of contributing, citizen science projects have been rapidly growing.
The range of subjects that are covered by citizen science projects is vast. Here are just a few of them, which directly relate to climate change:”
Read the full article by Dawei.
Also have a look at recent posts by the writers on the site about their own personal action and approaches in regard to climate change issues. The actions of individuals who are charting the changes and challenges of climate change link research and action and illuminate personal responses to the current situations which are usually missing from other sources of media, especially for climate scientists.
The Minor Foundation for Major Challenges invites you to participate in a competition that aims to select an extraordinarily good way of communicating the issue of man-made climate change. The competition aims to inspire participants that have the ability to communicate a complex message in a way that might surprise or even awaken people.
If you can illustrate man-made climate change, its causes or consequences in a way that brings the response:
- So this is what it is all about!
- Something has to be done about it!
- We have to reduce our emissions of CO2!
Then please, consider participating in our competition and share your submission with us!
Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on April 6th, 2011
The report of the Victorian Food Supply Scenarios: Impacts on Availability of a Nutritious Diet project has been released. This VEIL-led research project was funded by VicHealth and undertaken in partnership with the CSIRO, Deakin University and the Victorian Department of Planning and Community Development.
The purpose of this project was to develop and demonstrate a new methodology to link land and resource use with availability of a nutritionally adequate food supply for Victoria’s population.
To do so, it has built the capability of the CSIRO stocks and flows model as a platform for on-going ‘what-if’ investigation of Victorian and Australian food supply security.
The full report and a summary version are available for download on the VEIL website. www.ecoinnovationlab.com
Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on March 30th, 2011
Zero Carbon by 2030 – Britain’s dream or reality?
Technology says we can. Science says we must. Is it time to say we will?
SPEAKER: Peter Harper, Centre for Alternative Technology (UK), Coordinator Zero Carbon Britain
Two public lectures by UK scientist Peter Harper, from the Centre of Alternative Technology (CAT), in Wales on ZeroCarbonBritain 2030 – a plan offering a positive realistic, policy framework to eliminate emissions from fossil fuels within 20 years. Zero Carbon Britain(ZCB) brought together leading UK’s thinkers, including policy makers, scientists, academics, industry and NGOs to provide political, economic and technological solutions to the urgent challenges raised by climate science.
Governments and businesses seem paralysed and unable to plan for a rapid transition to a low-carbon economy. ZCB shows what can be done by harnessing the voluntary contribution from experts working outside their institutions. The ZCB report,released in June 2010, provides a fully integrated vision of how Britain can respond to the challenges of climate change, resource depletion and global inequity, with the potential for a low-carbon future to enrich society as a whole.
During lectures in Melbourne and Sydney, Peter will explore how we can ‘Power Down’ demand in the built environment, transport, land use and institute behavioural change, then ‘Power Up’ the energy system with renewables. He’ll outline the key thinking behind the report, including why a low carbon economy is an investment in the future, and look at the ways sustainable community based and multi-lateral initiatives will concurrently inform a global energy infrastructure.
Sydney, Tuesday 19 April, 6.30-8pm, Vestibule, Sydney Town Hall
Please register your attendance by Friday 15 April to amrit.gill
Presented by the British Council, VEIL (Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab), Banksia Environmental Foundation, Key Message and the City of Sydney.
ZCB 2030 is a positive, realistic vision for an energy progressive society free from fossil fuels. At a time when governments appear to be paralysed and unable to act, ZCB 2030 has demonstrated that alternative plans for the future can be developed through the cooperation and good will of volunteer researchers and experts. ZCB 2030 completed its three years of work in mid 2010, presenting the plan to the UK parliament. It provides political, economic and technological solutions to the urgent challenges raised by climate science.
“The great transition to a zero-carbon Britain is not only the most pressing challenge of our time, it is also entirely possible. The solutions needed to create a low-carbon and high-wellbeing future for all exist, what has been missing to date, is the political will to implement them.” Dr Victoria Johnson, New Economics Foundation
Peter will deliver lectures about the project in Melbourne on April 13 and in Sydney on April 19. These lectures will be surrounded by other smaller events to examine the ZCB plan and to compare its approach and conclusions to that for Australia being developed by Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) in the Zero Carbon Australia project.
In Melbourne: BMW Edge 13th April
In Sydney: Sydney Town Hall 19th April
More details will be announced here as they become available.
Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on March 7th, 2011
An assessment report (Integrated Assessment of Black Carbon and Tropospheric Ozone) released last week by the United Nations Environment Program and the World Meteorological Organization shows that reducing emissions of two common air pollutants — black carbon and gases integral to the production of ground-level ozone — could slow the rate of climate change markedly over the next half-century. For decades, scientists have known both substances harm human health. More recently, evidence has emerged showing the particles also affect climate, yet the magnitude of the impact has remained uncertain. Some studies have suggested reducing the pollutants could have a major and immediate climate impact, while others have shown the impact of such reductions would be minimal. Now a panel of some 70 scientists, led by New York City-based Goddard Institute for Space Studies climatologist Drew Shindell, has reviewed the best available science and concludes that just a handful of measures could yield major benefits in the next fifty years.
A NASA writer caught up with Shindell, who presented findings from the report in Washington, D.C. at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, to learn more.
Centro Historico, photo: K Archdeacon
On behalf of Sustainable Cities Net, I (Kate) am attending and blogging on the United Cities and Local Governments Congress and the World Mayors’ Summit, held this week in Mexico City. The content will appear here and also on a site created by Siemens, who provided a similar service at COP 15 and will do so at COP 16 next month. Over three thousand delegates from around the world will attend the presentations from city mayors on the pressures and responses they meet in their own city. The opportunity to expand the discussion and learn about pressures, models, scales, successes and failures in other cities is unique, and the material from Sustainable Cities Net and Sustainable Melbourne will make its way into my perspective and reports. Bloggers from other countries will be there too, so keep an eye on all the sites for a diversity of opinion!
About the Congress & Summit:
The UCLG Congress – The Local and Regional Leaders World Summit – is organised every 3 years and it brings together over 3000 local and regional elected representatives and practitioners from around the world.
Since its creation in Paris in 2004, United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) has worked to make the voice of mayors and local and regional officials heard, in order to guarantee that cities and regions take their rightful place in the international community. The cities and regions, including their inhabitants, that we work for, are being faced with stark challenges from global phenomena and events that demand individual and collective action from local authorities, such as: climate change, shared sustainable development, financial crises, dialogue between cultures.
The Local and Regional Leaders World Summit, November 18 – 21 in Mexico City, which will bring together mayors, presidents of regions, local elected officials and their partners, will be an unprecedented occasion for exchange and debate on the role of local governments in development and in the efforts for greater between citizens and also between cities and regions.
The World Mayors Summit on Climate (WMSC) will be held on November 21, 2010 in Mexico City, so that mayors from different regions of the world can sign a voluntary Pact (the Global Cities Covenant on Climate “the Mexico City Pact”) that sends a clear message to the international community on the strategic importance of cities in the struggle against climate change.
(Programmes on the site)
To follow the posts from the Summit follow or bookmark this link, http://www.sustainablecitiesnet.com/tag/mexico-city/.
We will be posting regular Sustainable Cities content as well, so keep adding your articles and photos!