The Green ‘Un

A newsletter about the challenges of global warming

Just before the Christmas break, the UN’s COP28 climate summit was concluded in Dubai.

Many climate activists think such summits are broken.

They say the delegates who attend them just talk and talk, while the earth slides towards a deadly environmental tipping point.

They argue that of the 27 COPs completed so far since 1992 almost all have been abject failures, Kyoto in 1997 and Paris in 1990 being the exceptions.

They point out that in the past thirty years more carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels has been released worldwide than in all preceding human history.

They tell us that 2023 set an emissions record: “The world is moving towards a new climate frontier with temperatures higher than at any point over the past million years.”

Those blistering heatwaves, calamitous wildfires and ruinous floods and droughts, they tell us, are baked in.

But could COP 28 be a third success story?

They are not optimistic about that.

But maybe they ought to be.

Why? Because there was one big positive takeaway from COP28: a global agreement calling on countries to “contribute to transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action this decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science”.

This marked the first time in 30 years of climate talks that a global resolution had been made addressing the future of all fossil fuels.

Climate activists are not so sure. They say: “The COP28 text is advisory, not mandatory”.

They also ask: “Isn’t ‘transition away’ so much weasel wordage? Won’t it encourage an insufficiently speedy response?”

And they complain: “Just what is meant by ‘energy systems’? Does it signify just power stations? Does it include heavy industry and food production? It’s not clear, which means the highway to climate hell is left wide open.”

They conclude: “Citizens are going to have to petition their political leaders as never before over the coming years if that trajectory is to shift.”

But to achieve it will not be easy. For the world to have a shot at keeping heating below the 1.5C target, emissions will need world-wide to fall about 9% every year from hereon. During the Covid-19 pandemic, which brought global economics to a near standstill, emissions fell by just over 5%. That gives an idea of the huge challenge we face.

Written, published and distributed by David Halpin, Church Farmhouse, Main Street, Kirk Deighton (davidhalpin1947@gmail.com)

Recommended Reading

Regenesis: Feeding the World Without Devouring the Planet by George Monbiot

“A book offering evidence-based hope is a rare thing in these days of climate and nature emergency - yet that's exactly what George Monbiot has written. Regenesis sets out a transformative vision of a new food future with the potential to both restore nature and feed the world. Monbiot's blueprint is both wildly ambitious and deeply practical, and might well be our last best hope of stopping the sixth great extinction.”

Caroline Lucas

Hothouse Earth: An Inhabitant's Guide by Bill McGuire

This book provides a post COP28 perspective on the climate emergency, acknowledging that it is now practically impossible to keep this side of the 1.5-degree centigrade dangerous climate change guardrail.

Pulling not a single punch, Bill McGuire, explains the science behind the climate crisis, presenting a graphic analysis of what it could amount to.

Gripping and furiously readable, this book paints a picture we must all face up to, if only to spur genuine action to stop a harrowing future becoming a truly cataclysmic one.

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