Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Climate Change: Another warning

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its Sixth Assessment Report last night. And it says pretty much what you'd expect: we're burning the planet, things are going to get bad, but we still have control over how much worse they get. This is pretty much the same as they said in their last two reports (at least); what has changed is the level of certainty and the level of urgency. The question is whether governments will pay attention this time when they haven't to the previous absolutely dire warnings (but maybe actually being on fire will help them get the message).

The government says it will rise to the challenge. But that's going to mean doing a hell of a lot more than they're already doing. Our climate target - the statutory target the Climate Commission designs its budgets around - is inadequate. Our policies won't meet even that weakness. The clear message of the IPCC report is that every ton matters. But our government is on track to allow polluters to emit another seven million tons this year, basicly because they're too lazy to stop it. The other clear message is that we need deep cuts to methane to limit warming. But our government is still protecting farmers, rather than legislating to cut cow numbers. As for the Climate Change Commission, they see no urgency, saying that

We will use it for our Climate Risk Assessment, due in 2026, & our advice on the fourth emissions budget in 2024.
That budget will cover emissions from 2036 - 2040. The IPCC is clear that that is too late, and that we need to cut emissions now.

Covid has shown us what government can do if it puts its mind to it. Closing the borders and paying everyone to stay home so we didn't die was radical, but necessary and effective. We need the same level of effort against climate change - a war footing to decarbonise and demethanise: kill coal, kill gas, and kill cows, as quickly as we can. Anything less is suicide.