To the dismay of our allies, the White House could any day announce the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. But as a patriot and climate activist, I’m not dismayed. I actually want to pull out.
President Donald Trump confirmed his status as climate denier in chief today, guaranteeing his place in history as an enemy of both science and humanity. Trump’s withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Accord on climate change will not stop the rest of the world from continuing to advance toward a clean-energy future. Solar, wind, batteries, and other technologies are growing tremendously fast, rewarding investors and employing far more people than the heat-trapping fuels of the past.
1. The idea that somehow, before Trump, the US was a "climate leader" is completely revisionist. We've never been climate leaders. We are the largest historical greenhouse gas emitter by far and one of the wealthiest countries in the world, yet we consistently fail to commit to emissions reductions representing our fair share of the global effort (our Paris commitment under Obama needed to be 5-6 times stronger to actually represent our fair share). We made the world weaken the Kyoto Protocol, and then we refused to ratify it.
With Trump’s decision to formally withdraw from the Paris Agreement, he has put an end to months of apparent indecision. This withdrawal does not dissolve the agreement, which still includes nearly every nation on the planet, but it is hard to imagine how an already weak agreement can be expected to slow—not to mention reverse—greenhouse gas emissions without the participation of the United States. Seeing this decision as anything other than a nail in the coffin of the global climate regime is nothing but wishful thinking.
An impressively comprehensive list of "solutions" from the climate capitalism / natural capital people. Some useful information here, but keep in mind the ecosocialist critique of any solutions that ignore the underlying productive system of capitalism - and the need for "system change" (would also argue some of these solutions are absurd... making airplanes more fuel effcient???).
Amitav Ghosh at the ICCR Auditorium, Kolkata, for the launch of his new book 'The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable', talking about our bizarre denial of the effects of global warming and climate change, and our complete unpreparedness for major natural disasters. In conversation with filmmaker Srijit Mukherji. Presented by Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet and Penguin India, on August 1, 2016, Kolkata.
Climate change, as it has emerged as a defining political issue of our time, has a peculiar exceptionalism attached to it. While we know it is in some sense a political problem, or at least demands a political solution, we nevertheless tend to think of it as a problem in nature – one that transcends social issues and threatens social life itself. Every year, waves of liberal students enter environmental science programs at universities across the West, determined to study the changes human beings are causing in the earth’s ecosystems.
March 20, 2017 — At the COP 21 climate change convention in Paris at the end of 2015, leaders from 194 nations agreed to pursue actions that will cut greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep global warming within 1.5 °C (2.7 °F) above pre-industrial conditions. Meeting this goal will avoid continued and increasing harm to people and ecosystems around the world caused by a changing climate, and it is also a great opportunity to turn the world into a place that embodies our collective and pluralistic values for the future. Nevertheless, there remains a notable gap between current trajectories of global GHG emissions and the reductions necessary to see COP 21’s goals realized.
Numerous technological and economic strategies for bridging that gap are currently being discussed, including transitions to renewable energy and/or nuclear power, carbon capture and storage, and cap and trade. However, many overlook the fundamental social issues that drive climate change: overconsumption, poverty, industrial agriculture and population growth. As such, even if these strategies succeed in mitigating CO2 emissions — renewable energies, for instance, seem to have achieved irreversible momentum— they leave unaddressed a second gap, a sustainability gap, in that they allow issues of ecological overshoot and social injustice to persist. We argue that there is an opportunity to reverse climate change by attending to these sustainability issues, but it requires that we reject the convenience of technological optimism and put aside our fears of the world’s “big” social problems.
In 2004, Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow wrote in Sciencethat it is possible to address climate change by breaking the larger problem of CO2 emissions down into a series of more manageable “wedges.” They offer 15 different solutions based on existing technology, including nuclear energy, coal carbon capture and storage, energy efficiency, and increased adoption of conservation tillage, for mitigating climate change one wedge at a time. Their pragmatic approach to the problem has been popularly received, as evidenced by the thousands of citations that the paper has received. However, their approach can also be critiqued for glossing over the immense costs involved and for its piecemeal and top-down nature. In other words, they assume that this complex global environmental problem can be fixed with a handful of standardized solutions.
Climate change is just one of many related sustainability problems that the world faces. In addition to rising atmospheric CO2, we are approaching or have already exceeded multiple other planetary boundaries — such as fresh water, nitrogen, phosphorus and biodiversity loss — that CO2-mitigating technologies cannot solve. Solving climate change on its own would require immense investments but leave too many other problems unaddressed. That is not to say that these technological innovations are irrelevant; Pacala and Socolow’s desire to break down the challenge into manageable pieces is both valid and appreciable. What’s missing from their assessment is the fact that the world is a complex system, and systemic problems require systemic solutions.