The Climate Minute: IPCC Report on Mitigation-What does it say? What does it mean? (PODCAST)

The recent IPCC report on mitigation is the big news. What is it? What does it say? What does it mean? In this week’s show we will discuss the content and context of the report with Malcolm Bliss, the statewide coordinator of 350MA for the Better Future Project.

The stream of IPCC reports can turn in to a parade of acronyms, so let’s review. The “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established by the UN in the late ‘80s with the mission to to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.”   The IPCC has three working groups (WG) of scientists who read and combine published scientific papers into reports. The first group works on the physical science basis of climate change, the second on “impact, adaptation and vulnerabilities” while the third group works on mitigation (that is greenhouse gas-GHG for short- reduction.) This third working group has put out the latest report. The website is here. In October, 2015, the reports from these three working groups will be compiled into a “synthesis report.” That is a lot of work!

So what is the current report about?

The Working Group III contribution assesses the options for mitigating climate change and their underlying technological, economic and institutional requirements. It transparently lays out risks, uncertainty and ethical foundations of climate change mitigation policies on the global, national and sub-national level, investigates mitigation measures for all major sectors and assesses investment and finance issues.

You can find the statements listed below as paragraph headers in the pdf format of the report. The commentary underneath each statement is our own!

  1. Effective mitigation will not be achieved if individual agents advance their own interests independently.
    1. Exxon sees no risk to carbon reserves.
  2. Climate policy may be informed by a consideration of a diverse array of risks and uncertainties, some of which are difficult to measure, notably events that are of low probability but which would have a significant impact if they occur.
    1. Think melting permafrost.
  3. The design of climate policy is influenced by how individuals and organizations perceive risks and uncertainties and take them into account.
  4. About half of cumulative anthropogenic CO2 emissions between 1750 and 2010 have occurred in the last 40 years.
    1. How close to 40 years old are you?
  5. Mitigation policy could devalue fossil fuel assets and reduce revenues for fossil fuel exporters, but differences between regions and fuels exist
    1. Pope Francis asked to endorse divestment.
  6. Infrastructure developments and long‐lived products that lock societies into GHG‐intensive emissions pathways may be difficult or very costly to change, reinforcing the importance of early action for ambitious mitigation
    1. Jimmy Carter and others call for KXL rejection.
  7. GHG emissions from energy supply can be reduced significantly by replacing current world average coal‐fired power plants with modern, highly efficient natural gas combined‐cycle power plants or combined heat and power plants, provided that natural gas is available and the fugitive emissions associated with extraction and supply are low or mitigated
    1. http://grist.org/news/no-the-ipcc-climate-report-doesnt-call-for-a-fracking-boom/
    2. http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/04/15/3426697/methane-vastly-underestimated/
    3. http://blog.nwf.org/2014/04/epa-research-shows-regulating-methane-is-efficient-and-low-cost/
  8. In some countries, tax‐based policies specifically aimed at reducing GHG emissions—alongside technology and other policies—have helped to weaken the link between GHG emissions and GDP
    1. An article on the BC carbon tax.

So what does it all mean? It seems the message of this document is that we must act together, equitably and soon. Some say that science has done what it can, and now WE need to take action. It is up to us to find the vocabulary to give meaning to what the scientists have said.

…Ted McIntyre

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The Climate Minute: Ann Curry, Fox and Godzilla (PODCAST)

This week we talk, among other things, about ‘the media’ and climate.

But first, we are in the middle of a big transition, from a “less than 400ppm” to a “greater than 400ppm” planet. The fact that carbon is rising dramatically is held in a report from Mashable along with some commentary.

Ann Curry’s NBC program “Did Climate Change Just Hit Home?” included some commentary from the ambiguous figure of Roger Pielke. The other interesting upcoming item is a nine part series: Years of Living Dangerously. If you want, join a watch party with 350.The Union of Concerned Scientist put out a report detailing mis-information on climate from cable media. Then we have  Bill Maher and the oceans and an informative piece from Tom Hartmann cable news’ failures.On the artistic front, we discuss Cli-Fi and point back to our own discussion from last year. You can find an online version of Paolo Bacigalupi’s “The Tamarisk Hunter” here. Another item is a review of Rivers, for example. Then we have movies, from Noah to an Al Gore sequel.

Back in Cambridge, we have some movement on divestment at Harvard.

Because we recognize the necessity of personal accountability for our actions, because we accept responsibility for building a durable future and because we believe it is our patriotic duty as citizens to speak out, we must insist that the United States put a price on carbon.

Thanks for listening.

…Ted McIntyre

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The Climate Minute: IPCC to Exxon to Action (PODCAST)

Several landmark events occurred this week, and we try to make sense of them. From the factual but distressing IPCC report to Exxon’s in-your-face response to it’s climate activist shareholders, the implications seem confusing and abstract. In today’s podcast we are joined by MCAN’s acting Executive Director, Amy Tighe, to discuss new ways think about these events.

If you want to read the real thing, see the forty four page Executive Summary of the IPCC report, or else check out news reports showing the 5 key pointsor discussing impact on the developing world. If this makes you want to cry, watch Sting and Robert Downy Jr. “kill” the song “Driven to Tears”. You can find some information on the Dalai Lama here or Wendell Berry here.

Then there is the sorry story of Exxon’s carbon risk report. Exxon essentially taunts world governments, saying:

ExxonMobil believes that although there is always the possibility that government action may impact the company, the scenario where governments restrict hydrocarbon production in a way to reduce GHG emissions 80 percent … is highly unlikely. … Also, as discussed above, we do not anticipate society being able to supplant traditional carbon- based forms of energy with other energy forms, such as renewables, to the extent needed to meet this carbon budget …”

and elsewhere says

“Based on this analysis, we are confident that none of our hydrocarbon reserves are now or will become “stranded.”

Just keep in mind that the ‘highly unlikely’ restrictions are made even more unlikely by Exxon’s well funded lobbying efforts!

Bill McKibben responded in the Guardian, saying:

We’ve never thought that there was a small flaw in their business plan that could be altered by negotiation; we’ve always thought their business plan was to keep pouring carbon into the atmosphere. And indeed Exxon’s statements are easy to translate: “We plan on overheating the planet, we think we have the political muscle to keep doing it, and we dare you to stop it.” And they’re right — unless we build a big and powerful movement, they’ll continue to dominate our political life and keep change from ever taking place.

And here is a free blog-only bonus: Wen Stephenson’s article on a meeting of students with Governor Patrick.

Because we recognize the necessity of personal accountability for our actions, because we accept responsibility for building a durable future and because we believe it is our patriotic duty as citizens to speak out, we must insist that the United States put a price on carbon.

…Ted McIntyre

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The Climate Minute: Exxon Mobil Exxon Valdez (PODCAST)

Twenty five years ago this week, the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Alaska. Analysis of the long term consequences abound, from an admiring look back on NPR to a ‘follow the money’ approach at GRIST to a lament that the Arctic is at risk inThe Guardian to a critique of short term thinking at the Motley Fool. Ted and DR try to think about the big picture for climate activists: Where do these singular, horrific events fit into the fight against global warming?

Massachusetts has a gubernatorial race underway, and most of the candidates met at historic Faneuil Hall in downtown Boston to discuss environmental issues. For climate activists, the main question to answer is the level of support each candidate has for Massachusetts’ best-in-the-nation Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2020. You can read a summary of the candidate forum or see the whole thing if you were not able to make the event. (The discussion of carbon tax starts at 35:45.)

The other interesting piece of news had to do with an agreement between Exxon Mobil and stockholder activists under which Exxon will provide a public assessment of the risk it carries due to climate change. The ThinkProgress piece is here. Even the coal giant Peabody Coal agreed to make similar reports. For clear statements in favor of divestment vs stockholder activism, look here and here.

Next week, look for the IPCC report, but in the meantime, call youe Senator about the oil heat efficiency legislation ( see oilheatsaveenergy.org ) or your State Representative about H3873, which fights gas leaks.

Because we recognize the necessity of personal accountability for our actions, because we accept responsibility for building a durable future and because we believe it is our patriotic duty as citizens to speak out, we must insist that the United States put a price on carbon.

Thanks for listening.

…Ted McIntyre

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The Climate Minute: What We Know is ominous (PODCAST)

This week we are joined by D.R. Tucker to discuss the somber and ominous reports from the AAAS and NASA.

Here are the links for this week’s show:

·      The AAAS “What we know” effort

·      The link is as clear as that to cancer?

·      The NASA report

·      Are the elites driving us to the cliff?

·      Wen Stephenson’s piece on divestment

·      Cape Wind legal victory

·      350MA’s Climate University

·      Climate Preparedness conference in NH

Because we recognize the necessity of personal accountability for our actions, because we accept responsibility for building a durable future and because we believe it is our patriotic duty as citizens to speak out, we must insist that the United States put a price on carbon.

Thanks for listening.

…Ted McIntyre

 

 

 

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The Climate Minute: RGGI, Up4Climate and an easy on-ramp (PODCAST)

In today’s edition of The Climate Minute, we are joined by our frequent guest, Mr. D.R. Tucker and a new one, Mr. Malcolm Bliss, state-wide coordinator for 350MA. 

This past week, an auction for allowances under RGGI resulted in a record high price that utilities must pay to emit carbon pollution. We spoke with Marc Breslow, who was influential in the development of the RGGI system.

Earlier this week, twentyeight senators were Up4Climate, pulling an all nighter to publicize the issue of global warming. Massachusetts was represented by a pair of Climate Hawks, but should Senator Warren (D-MA) and Senator Markey (D-MA) follow Senator Whitehouse’s (D-RI)  lead, and give a weekly speech on climate?

Malcolm told us about the Climate Action University to be held in Cambridge, March 22. The event is free and open to the public. It will be a welcoming event for folks who are just learning about global warming.

In a recent podcast with Clean Water Action’s Joel Wool, we heard about the climate, economic and safety risks of methane leaks from our aging infrastructure. Sadly, this risk was confirmed this week when an explosion in New York killed several people this week. Last year we published a podcast about an  effort to achieve greater home heating oil efficiency. Natalie Hildt informed us that “the oilheat efficiency bill was moved to the Senate Committee on Ways and Means a few days ago. While the bill has a new number: S 2025.. Now we need … grassroots action to urge the Committee to move the bill to the Senate floor. “

Here is the link to DR’s observation about how to fight denialism.

Because we recognize the necessity of personal accountability for our actions, because we accept responsibility for building a durable future and because we believe it is our patriotic duty as citizens to speak out, we must insist that the United States put a price on carbon.

Thanks for listening.

…Ted McIntyre

 

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A Climate Hawk’s Companion-The Risks of Gas Leaks

In this edition, we discuss the risks and implications of natural gas leaks from the aging pipeline infrastructure that lies under our streets and connects to our homes. This is a topic that spans the full range of issues from global warming (natural gas traps much more heat than CO2) to how safe you are in your home (leaks can cause explosions!)

To learn more about this topic we are joined by Joel Wool, Clean Energy Campaign Organizer at Clean Water Action. A native of the Bay State and graduate of Boston’s Emerson College, Joel joined Clean Water Action in 2011 to support work on clean energy. He now serves as a campaign organizer focusing on energy efficiency, natural gas infrastructure and coal phase-out.

For background, here is a video from a Boston TV station. It describes the tiny “level 3” leaks that could be left unattended for years and for which the ratepayers bear the cost. There is more information in this blog post. Fortunately, there is a bill working its way through the Massachusetts Statehouse that would begin to address these issues. Joel has some advice about what you can do, including to go here to add your voice.

Because we recognize the necessity of personal accountability for our actions, because we accept responsibility for building a durable future and because we believe it is our patriotic duty as citizens to speak out, we must insist that  the US put a price on carbon.

…Ted McIntyre

 

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