Friday, September 29, 2017

Climate change: Good news for once

Some good news about climate change for once: emissions have stalled again:

Global emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide remained static in 2016, a welcome sign that the world is making at least some progress in the battle against global warming by halting the long-term rising trend.

All of the world’s biggest emitting nations, except India, saw falling or static carbon emissions due to less coal burning and increasing renewable energy, according to data published on Thursday by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (NEAA). However other mainly developing nations, including Indonesia, still have rising rates of CO2 emissions.

Stalled global emissions still means huge amounts of CO2 are being added to the atmosphere every year – more than 35bn tonnes in 2016 – driving up global temperatures and increasing the risk of damaging, extreme weather. Furthermore, other heat-trapping greenhouse gases, mainly methane from cattle and leaks from oil and gas exploration, are still rising and went up by 1% in 2016.

And even flat emissions are easily enough to cook the planet. We're already seeing the results, with heatwaves, hurricanes, and droughts. And if we want to avoid them getting much, much worse, we need emissions to seriously reduce, not just stay static.

As for what the New Zealand government is doing, the answer is of course nothing. National has committed us to high emissions in the name of protecting trucking and dairy industry profits, apparently in the belief that they can just buy their way out of this. But money doesn't stop tropical cyclones, and it doesn't stop the east coast from drying up and blowing away. If we want to stop those things, we need to actually do our bit, so others will do theirs too.