Finally, the G8 has come to its senses in terms of climate change. Now we need to make sure they know what needs to be done.
Often our work on climate change seems like the attempt of a mom trying to explain to her child that it must not use her fingers to eat spaghetti -being heard but definitely not being taken seriously. Kids often only listen when they are afraid to lose their desert. Or they finally listen after strenuous years of nagging. At the latest at their graduation party. Now that’s a relief!
It seems quite the same with politicians; except that they sometimes never graduate. For how long have politicians been warned that inaction will lead to a catastrophe of a global scale with unimaginable consequences? We’ve nagged and pleaded, with mostly relatively little effect.
Now, finally, the G8 will adopt the 2°C limit of global warming – accepting the science that tells us that a warming by more than by 2°C from pre-industrial times will likely cause a passing of tipping points.
Yes! We did it!
Well, not quite. The news said that the G8 are not sure how to proceed. Come on, guys, do I need to send you my 10-year old to tell you what to do? I guess that would seem offensive. So, instead, let’s all work together and tell them what we need:
Nothing less than a Great Transformation not just in words, but in action. We need a global emergency plan that finally takes the urgency of climate change action seriously enough to act accordingly:
- put a price on carbon that greatly increases every year so that the use of fossil fuels will be economically completely unfeasable
- stop any subsidies for fossil fuels
- put a moratorium on all new coal-fired power plants
- shut down all coal-fired power plants within 20-30 years
- immediately stop the clear-cutting of tropical and boreal forests
- immediately stop the destruction of native grasslands, marshes and bogs, and restore those that were destroyed (they are very important sites for natural carbon storage through sequestration in plants and soils)
- help developing nations to leap-frog into a zero carbon economy
- train those that lose their fossil jobs in new areas of expertice such as rebewable energies
- seriously work towards reaching a zero carbon world economy by the year 2050.
Sounds insane? No it doesn’t. It’s all doable. We urgently need goals that give us a realistic chance to avoid the passing of climatic tipping points. Why should we strive for less?
And luckily there are lots of studies that describe how those steps can be financed and technically implemented. It is time to step into gear and “just” do them. No doubt, it will be hard. No doubt we might have to give up a few things that seem so special to us at the moment. Like flying to Australia for easter holidays, like dumping laundry into a drier, like driving through drive-throughs,…Whoever thinks that we can do this great transformation without some big changes in our life-style is fooling themselves. But aren’t a few years or even decades of constraint worth the outcome?
By the way, the 2°C limit means that we need to lower the currect CO2 concentration from 390 ppm to at most 350 ppm (parts CO2 per million of other molecules in the atmosphere). Currently, CO2 concentration increases by about 2 ppm per year.
So, let’s step into gear and tell the G8 leaders what they need to do to stay below 2°C. Tell them that we are ready and willing to help, and willing to support their actions even if they mean a short-term constraint on us. Politicians need to know that we stand behind their courageous actions, or they won’t act; we cannot afford that.
Autor: Maiken Winter