Optimism on Climate Action is High Going into Marrakech

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Every week there is more climate news that cranks up the tension in what feels like a Hollywood thriller. Progress continues to be made by communities, businesses and governments towards mitigating the causes of climate change. At the same time, each new scientific report seems to reveal new details that either bring the threat into sharper focus, or disclose aspects of the threat that had previously been underestimated. 

This year has been a historic one in the battle against climate change. In the past two months, two major accords: an amendment to the Montreal Protocol that will curb the use of high greenhouse-potency HFC refrigerants, as well as an agreement about international aviation emission have been concluded.

Next week, numerous nations will meet in Marrakech to continue the work started in Paris at COP21. The conference will begin putting meat on the bones of the skeleton agreement that was produced in Paris.  Dr. Jonathan Pershing, the U.S. State Department’s special envoy, expressed optimism over the “political dynamics” going into the meeting, especially considering the leadership being demonstrated by both the Americans and the Chinese on the issue. The Moroccans, who will be hosting this year’s conference, face significant climate challenges of their own. They have committed an aggressive 42% reduction in emissions by 2020, and have promised a COP of action.

Meanwhile, a new study just published this week from the University of New South Wales in Australia, says that the record temperatures seen in 2015, could easily become “the new normal.” That summer, which came to be known in the region as “the angry summer,” saw temperatures as high as 50˚ Celsius (122˚ Fahrenheit) which led to substantial bush fires. Another report out this week from Adelaide describes the increasing costs associated with these heat-related disasters.

According to the report, if we stay on our current emissions trajectory, that could become an average year by 2035. But, the report adds, “if we reduce emissions drastically to the lowest pathway recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (RCP2.8), then we will never enter a new normal state for extreme seasons at a regional level in the 21st Century."

The researchers, defined the idea of “a new normal” as being “when at least half of the years following a record year were cooler and half warmer.”

At the same time. Australia, which had been backing away from renewables on policy, is now on track to beat their 2020 renewable energy target (RET) of providing 20% of their energy from renewables. According to an analysis of government data, the country will be receiving 22.5% of their energy by 2020, and fully 51% by 2050. At this time, renewables provide 13% of their power. Consumption has fallen by 5.5% since 2008, driven partly by renewables and efficiency and partly by a decline in manufacturing. The plan calls for brown coal, as well as oil, to be phased out by 2050.

 There is no question that we are in a race against time, but progress is being made in getting most people pointed in the same general direction, and at least beginning to move.


Image courtesy of iStock.