Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Climate Genocide



This morning, 20th November, anniversary of the Nuremberg Trials, documents asking the police to investigate Crimes under the International Criminal Court Act 2001 were lodged with the police at a number of police stations.

In Louth, Lincolnshire, two colleagues and I delivered a document, see below, asking that the police investigate a crime. The officer we spoke to said it was not a matter that he could deal with and suggested we send it to the Home Office. We begged to differ and he agreed to scan the document and provide us with an incident number but indicated that he intended to take the matter no further.

We understand the unprecedented nature of the case and that it was outwith the experience of the officer we spoke to but we do expect the case to be investigated and passed to the Crown Prosecution Service.

I have written to the Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police, Bill Skelly, asking him to take action.

The document we delivered follows:


Request to conduct a criminal investigation and charge three people for crimes committed under the International Criminal Court Act 2001


1. Crimes Against Humanity
2. Genocide


These offences were/are being perpetrated by: -

David William Donald Cameron                                            Former Prime Minister
Theresa Mary May                                                                 Former Prime Minister
Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson (Boris Johnson)            Serving Prime Minister


1. Prosecution sought under International Criminal Court Act 2001.

Request to the police to press charges for crimes against humanity and genocide against former prime ministers David William Donald Cameron, Theresa Mary May, and against serving prime minister Boris Johnson (Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson).

2. Crimes against humanity: definition
Crimes against humanity are certain acts that are deliberately committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian or an identifiable part of a civilian population.

3. Genocide: definition
Article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide says:
“In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
·        Killing members of the group;
·        Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
·        Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
·        Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
·        Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

4. UK legislation
These crimes were initially incorporated into UK legislation by the Genocide Act 1969, which was repealed and replaced by the International Criminal Court Act 2001.
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2001/17/contents

5. Who is guilty?
The police are requested to mount an investigation into these allegations and to bring charges against the three figures who have greatest responsibility for the crimes committed (David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson). There is a case that former prime ministers, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and John Major should be prosecuted, but further work needs to be done to establish the extent of their crimes and the likelihood of securing a conviction.
There is also a strong case to prosecute other government ministers and key business figures who have sought to expand polluting industries, despite certain knowledge that their activities would contribute to appalling suffering and death. Further work is now being undertaken to establish whether prosecutions for these crimes should be pursued by the police.

6. Outline of the crime
6.1 Total number of people being killed
The World Health Organisation (1), Global Humanitarian Forum (2) and DARA International (3) have issued reports showing that large numbers of people are now being killed by climate change, with the most recent report indicating that 400,000 people are being killed per annum, with a large proportion being killed by the increased spread of disease in our 1°C warmer world. The DARA International report, for 20 developing countries, which was submitted to the United Nations, showed that the most vulnerable group were infants under the age of one year.
Killing children slowly over a few hours, days or weeks is a terrible way to kill another human being.

6.2 Sahel Region of North Africa
The World Economic Forum (Davos) attributes climate change as partly to blame for increasing violent conflict. It says that “the United Nations estimates that roughly 80% of the Sahel's farmland is degraded. Temperatures there are rising 1.5 times faster than the global average. As a result, droughts and floods are growing longer and more frequent, undermining food production. About 50 million people in the Sahel depend on livestock rearing for survival. But the land available to pastoralists is shrinking.” The report goes on: “This is particularly the case for Mali and Burkina Faso, both of which registered the highest conflict-related death tolls in years. Taking all the G5 Sahel group of countries together, they experienced over four times the number of fatalities in 2018 when compared to 2012, with 62% of all reported violent deaths concentrated in Mali.” (4)

6.3 European temperature records broken
Deaths from extreme heat are now better understood, with thousands of instances identified where people died during periods when temperature records were broken. The link of extreme heat to climate change was made clear following the 2003 heat wave in France when 35,000 people were believed to have died (5). In 2019 France set an all-time high-temperature of 46°C, while the UK, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands also reported new highs (6). These were again linked to an increase in deaths (7).
The impact of climate change upon drought is better understood with links identified to the crop failures in 2018 in Latvia and Lithuania (where a state of emergency was declared). The European Commission regularly produces reports on crop yields and evidence that links climate change driven extreme weather to impacts upon agricultural production (8). Here in the UK, the 2018 drought led to an average reduction of 20% in yields of onions, lettuces, carrots and potatoes (9).

6.4 Extreme weather events
For many years scientists struggled to provide a direct link between global heating and an individual extreme hurricane, cyclone, tornado or other weather event, but direct attribution is now possible in some cases.
The campaigning lawyers, Client Earth, have been building evidence to inform its litigation and should be approached to establish how many extreme storms have been worsened by climate breakdown (10).
Immediately after the worst of the 2017 hurricane season several speakers addressed the UN General Assembly making a direct link between the devastation and climate change. The Prime Minister of Dominica said his nation resembled a war zone and warned we have now permanently altered the climate between the tropics of Capricorn and Cancer (11).
The Bahamas Minister of Foreign Affairs, Darren Henfield, then said ““For the first time in its history, the Bahamas evacuated whole communities to safe quadrants ahead of Hurricane Irma. What’s next: wholesale evacuation of the entire Caribbean?” (12) In 2019 the most powerful hurricane (Dorian) ever recorded in the Bahamas hit, destroying virtually every home on Abaco and causing extensive damage to Grand Bahama.
It should be noted that significant numbers of people left Dominica and Puerto Rico following the 2017 hurricanes and many will not return. In the case of Puerto Rico 8% of the population left. The initial death toll was put at 64, but this was later revised to 2,975 based on a study commissioned by the governor of Puerto Rico (13). This is due to the fact that far more people die from other causes, over the following weeks, than die from initial physical injuries caused by high wind speeds and flood.
Turning to Mozambique; following the devastating impact of Cyclone Idai, the UN said that the storm was one of the worst disasters to ever hit the southern hemisphere. The cyclone and subsequent flooding killed more than 600 people, injured an estimated 1,600, affected more than 1.8 million and caused an estimated $773 million in damages to buildings, infrastructure and agriculture. The link between climate change and the havoc caused by cyclones Idai and Kenneth upon Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe was made by the UN (14).
The well respected science journal, ‘Carbon Brief’ has produced analysis showing that 68% of all extreme weather events studied to date were made more likely or more severe by human-caused climate change. Heatwaves account for 43% such events, droughts make up 17% and heavy rainfall or floods account for 16% (15).

6.5 Death and suffering in the future
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the body responsible for advising the governments of the world on the science relating to climate change. It has for many years published alarming warnings about the pace and impacts of climate change. Its most recent report, the ‘Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate’ (16) shows that sea level rise of up to 2 metres cannot be ruled out by 2100 and that a certain level of sea level rise is now locked in. The detailed report makes predictions, using the best available science, to warn how much the seas will rise under different scenarios, making it clear that current governmental policies will contribute to the complete destruction of several low lying island states.
In October 2019 a report: ‘New elevation data triple estimates of global vulnerability to sea-level rise and coastal flooding’, in the peer reviewed science journal ‘Nature Communications’ warned that the data used for the height/elevation of land was inaccurate. The report concluded that large areas of land in the UK and abroad were lower than previously estimated and were therefore more susceptible to sea level rise.  The report warned that climate change would put three times more people at risk of coastal flooding by 2050 than previously thought (17). 
The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) has vigorously lobbied for dynamic action to be taken to stop the complete destruction of many of its member nations (18). If current policies are pursued we expect to lose Tuvalu, The Solomon Islands and the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, and many islands in the Caribbean.
The deliberate pursuit of policies that will lead to the destruction of these nations is an act of genocide. AOSIS should be approached for statements by members on the effect that the types of policies supported by the UK government will have upon their nations.
It must be noted that the UN Secretary General warned on 10 Sept 2018 that we now risk “runaway climate change” and that this is “a direct existential threat” (19). The UN has issued a number of warnings making it clear that even advanced European nations face devastation.  In July 2018 the UN Security Council considered the security implications of climate change, noting the very wide range of national security threats (20). The UK is one of only 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council.
In December 2018 Sir David Attenborough took up ‘The People’s Seat’ at the COP 24 conference in Poland and warned world leaders that we now risk “the collapse of civilisation” (21).
Turning to other risks; the World Water Forum predicted that by 2050 between 4.8 billion and 5.7 billion people will live in areas that are water-scarce for at least one month each year, up from 3.6 billion today, while the number of people at risk of floods will increase to 1.6 billion, from 1.2 billion (22).
Other peer reviewed research has warned of the increased spread of disease due to climate change, with 1 billion more people predicted to be infected by Zika Virus and Dengue fever by 2080 (23)
This range of increasing pressures are predicted to force ever more people to flee their homes. Research has warned that we face the prospects of 1.4 Billion climate refugees by 2060 and 2 billion by 2100 (24). 

6.6 Worst case scenarios
In August 2018 a peer reviewed report was published in the science journal PNAS which warned that various self-reinforcing feedbacks could push us to what was termed a “Hothouse Earth” state (Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene) (25). The report warned of the risk that these feedbacks could cause a runaway climate effect, even if greenhouse gas emissions were reduced. The various feedbacks could cause temperatures to increase by 5°C or 6°C, with appalling consequences for society and human life.
The UN Secretary General has warned that we face the very real danger of “runaway climate change” and that this is “a direct existential threat” (19). Many scientists warn that if a runaway effect were to begin, that would dramatically increase temperatures, and this would result in a collapse in the human population.
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, has warned that the Earth’s population could “be devastated”. He warns that the carrying capacity of the planet could be below 1 billion people” (26).
Johan Rockström, also of the Potsdam Institute and former Director of the Stockholm Resilience centre, who has led research into planetary boundaries, has warned that climate breakdown could lead to a reduction in the human population to around 500 million people (27).
Prof James Lovelock has said he was more certain than ever that billions of people will die over the next century as a result of global warming. He warned that large parts of the world would be uninhabitable and the human population would crash (28).
A reduction in the human population to around 500 million, from around 9.7 billion by mid-century, implies the death of 9.2 billion people. But, if the collapse occurred around the year 2100, when the population might have reached 10.9 billion, this would imply the death of 10.4 billion people.
These worst case scenarios are profoundly shocking. Under no circumstances could a risk of this magnitude ever be justified.

7. The role of David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson.
David Cameron and Theresa May were both government ministers when the Paris COP21 agreement was negotiated. This agreement caused outrage in many quarters because it allowed the wealthiest nations to facilitate energy intensive lifestyles that would increase the number of people killed. The overwhelming majority of the deaths projected would be in the poorest nations of the world.
The COP21 agreement was in breach of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to life. Not only was the UK government going to maintain energy intensive lifestyles within the UK, it negotiated a clause that would allow it to increase emissions in some sectors.
COP 21 required that nations adopt policies to contribute to keeping global average temperatures “well below 2°C” and pursue negative emissions technologies after the year 2050, throughout the second half of the century, to reduce temperatures to the 1.5°C threshold by the year 2100. The quantity of CO2 to be removed from the atmosphere would be unprecedented and faces extreme technological barriers. Peer reviewed research indicates that the trajectory we are on will leave the young with a bill of up to $535 trillion to pay to remove a staggering amount of CO2 and other gases from the atmosphere (29). Many scientists fear that the technologies proposed will never work at scale or will be too expensive for implementation, leaving the young to face complete climate breakdown and mass loss of life (30).
Boris Johnson was responsible for ratifying the COP21 agreement when he was Foreign Secretary and would have been aware that the UK had negotiated an agreement that would allow greenhouse gas emissions to increase in some areas and that this would contribute to mass loss of life.
In the light of the various intergovernmental conferences and UK conferences, the three prime ministers had attended, it is clear they were all aware that mass loss of life had begun due to climate breakdown and that this would become exponentially worse in the future. Despite that, they all supported governmental policies that would increase greenhouse gas emissions in some sectors and slow the pace of decarbonising the UK economy.
In the case of Theresa May, she was present at the One Planet conference organised by President Macron of France at which he warned there could be “billions of victims” (31).
When presented with overwhelming evidence that climate breakdown would destroy some nations and inflict appalling suffering upon the young, within the UK and elsewhere, the government failed to adopt policies that would lead to a rapid decarbonisation of the economy. Because the UK had industrialised around 200 years before China, and other developing nations, and had been polluting for far longer, it was clear that the UK had a greater responsibility to decarbonise more quickly than other nations. Instead of mandating a range of policies that would dramatically reduce emissions, the three accused were key figures in maintaining carbon intensive lifestyles.
The three accused could have implemented policies that would reduce car use, increase public transport, walking and cycling but they maintained policies that would facilitate high levels of petrol and diesel car use.
The three accused could have implemented policies that would have led to the construction of net-zero homes and policies that resulted in rapid renovation of the existing housing stock, but they undermined efforts that would have resulted in a rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from homes and other property.
The three accused also vigorously supported the pursuit of Fracking technology, a new fossil fuel industry, to get more gas and, when the technology was shown not to be viable, government announced it would rather seek new supplies of gas from elsewhere than implement a radical energy efficiency programme to reduce energy use (32)  
The three accused could have ordered a rapid onshore and offshore wind farm construction programme but they vigorously opposed onshore wind power in England and refused to support rapid deployment of wind power elsewhere in the UK. When the evidence showed conclusively that mass loss of life would ensue, unless the UK made a dynamic shift to a range of renewable technologies, the government vigorously opposed that model.   
Astonishingly, the three accused vigorously supported the expansion of a number of non-essential luxury activities such as aviation and ocean cruises. Despite knowing that these would contribute to mass loss of life, the three accused supported a range of fiscal and planning policies that facilitated the growth in destructive activities.
On 1 May 2019 Parliament passed a motion of a declaration of an environmental and climate emergency. Despite a categorical warning that we face an unprecedented emergency Boris Johnson’s administration made policy commitments to growing emissions from the aviation sector and plan an increase of gas from abroad for UK consumption.

8 Examples of government’s genocidal policies
Here is a list of policies which the three named individuals have actively supported. It is not exhaustive, but proves that the three accused have sought policies that would increase the number of people being killed by climate breakdown: -  

•             In 2015 the government set up the UK Oil & Gas Authority with the statutory principal objective of maximising the economic extraction of the UK’s oil and gas resources. It describes its purpose as “Our purpose is to maximise the economic recovery of oil and gas.” (33). This was the same year as the UK government negotiated the Paris COP21 agreement.

•             Every year since 2010, the government had either cut or frozen fuel duties on fossil fuel diesel & petrol (34). The Chancellor Philip Hammond, stated that this will have benefitted the transport fossil fuel industry, by the end of the current budget forecast period, by a staggering £84 billion.

•             Since 1980, the government has overseen a reduction in the cost of motoring by 20% but it has facilitated an increase in the cost of public transport of 64% (35). This has the effect of increasing fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

•             The government increased Vehicle Excise Duty on more efficient vehicles and reduced them on less efficient vehicles (36).

•             The government perversely imposed a climate change tax on renewable electricity. It imposed rateable valuation tax on organisations having solar panels (37) and raised VAT on solar panels from 5% to 17.5% (38).

•             The government has banned English on-shore wind & solar from receiving any government subsidies or contracts for difference supply agreements with national grid (39).

•             The government plans to invest £25 billion in new roads (40) but a mere £120 million annually in new protected sections of a national cycleway network (41).

•             According to EU data the UK gives the highest government subsidies to fossil fuels of any country in the EU, at £10.5 billion annually (42).

•             The UK government is providing tax subsidies of £24 billion to the North Sea oil & gas industry. The UK government cut taxes on fracked gas from 62% to 30% making it, according to the government itself, the most generous scheme in the world for fracked gas (43) (32).

•             The government increased planning restrictions on onshore wind-turbines (44), whilst abolishing the requirement for planning permissions for fracking under land adjacent to fracking wells (45).

•             Between 2014 and 2017 the government poured £2.4 billion into fossil fuel industries in low and middle-income nations, locking them into decades of dependency on oil and gas (46).

•             The government cuts to home energy efficiency projects resulted in a 98% reduction in new installations between 2010 and 2018 (47).

•             In July 2015 the government scrapped the planned tighter energy efficiency standards that were due to come into force in 2016 (48). The new regulations would have required all new homes to carbon neutral, with better standards of insulation, more energy efficient lighting and other appliances. The new homes would provide with various renewable technologies for power and heat, with housebuilders being able to deliver equivalent carbon savings off site.

•             The government has given the go-ahead for a new runaway and massive expansion at Heathrow Airport and encouraged expansion of aviation at regional airports. It did this despite being warned by its own Committee on Climate Change (CCC) advisers that it would be incompatible with the government’s carbon reduction targets that are legally required by the Climate Change Act, at current passenger duty levels (49). In October the government rejected the advice of the CCC to include aviation and shipping in the UK’s 2050 Net-Zero target (50).

9. The crimes of are clear: Crimes against humanity and genocide
The crimes outlined are directed overwhelmingly at the young and also the most vulnerable nations in the world.  The offence of ‘crimes against humanity’ is directed at a specific group - the young. Indeed, the younger a person is, the more they will suffer.
The crime of ‘genocide’ is clear because several low-lying island states will be annihilated. There will be very many additional deaths elsewhere, mainly in the poorest, predominantly non-white nations of the world.  
The scale of death and suffering will almost certainly equal that inflicted by the great 20th Century tyrants, including Hitler and Stalin. But there is a very real risk that the suffering will be far worse, killing many billions of people.  Never before in history has a politician proposed a course of action that would lead to hundreds of millions of deaths, let alone many billions of deaths.
These crimes are clear and are unprecedented in scale. The victim nations can be identified, many individuals can be identified and the section within society most targeted has been identified – the young.  
Those with primary responsibility have been identified. This clearly falls within the legislation referred to on Page 1, so it is now for the police to mount a thorough investigation and charge these three people with the criminal offences.

10. Defence
It seems likely that those representing the three Prime Ministers will argue that government policy was formulated in the context of wider economic considerations and within an international framework agreed by the United Nations.
However, the science is clear that short term financial benefits would impose far greater costs in the future. The economist Nicholas Stern produced the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change in 2006 calling for 1% of GDP to be invested to stop climate breakdown and warned, without action, the overall costs of climate change would be equivalent to losing at least 5% of GDP each year, now and forever. The report warned that a wider range of risks and impacts could increase this to 20% of GDP or more, also indefinitely. Stern warned that 5–6°C of temperature increase is "a real possibility" (51).
It should be noted that in October 2019 the Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, warned of a financial collapse if the climate emergency is not tackled. He said the longer action to reverse emissions was delayed, the more the risk of collapse would grow (52).
In addition, it must be noted that in October 2018 the landmark IPCC report called on governments to cut emissions by 45% by 2030 and achieve net-zero by 2050. The government’s policies do not align with the scientific advice and the UK is not willing to take a fair share of the remaining global carbon budget (53).
The Paris Agreement allows more latitude for developing countries, which means that developed countries, including Britain, need to cut more quickly. Part of the reason why global emissions are still continuing to rise is because developed nations, like the UK, are not willing to restrict their emissions to an equitable share of the IPCC’s remaining carbon budget.  As said above, the UK industrialised around 200 years before China and therefore has a greater responsibility to cut its emissions more quickly.  
It is also likely that a defence will be offered that the UK has cut its emissions by around 42% since 1990 but that is mainly because so much UK manufacturing has been moved to other nations, including China. In fact, the UK has made modest reductions in emissions by reducing the use of coal for generating electricity and by deploying more wind and other renewables sources of electricity generation. When looking at greenhouse gas emissions associated with UK consumption, our emissions have only dropped by around 11% (54).  

11. Conclusion
David Cameron, Theresa May and Boris Johnson have all supported a range of policies that increase greenhouse gas emissions from some sectors and slow the pace of decarbonising in other sectors. The three are aware of the implications of these policies upon the young and the most vulnerable nations.
All three are aware that climate change is causing mass loss of life today and could kill billions of people in the future.
All three are aware that their policies do not meet the requirements laid down by the international community (the IPCC recommendations and the UN COP process – Conference of the Parties).
All three are aware that their policies do not meet the advice of government’s own statutory advisory body, the Committee on Climate Change.
On 14 October 2019 an Environment Bill was announced in the Queen's Speech and introduced to Parliament (55). None of its provisions include policies that will enable the UK to reduce greenhouse at a dynamic and rapid pace. The Environment Bill provides a clear signal that the government and the current Prime minister, Boris Johnson, is not committed to taking the action needed to avoid further mass loss of life.

A criminal investigation must now be commenced.


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References
1.  World Health Organisation 2004: 150,000 deaths p/a.  Malnutrition (77,000 deaths), diarrhoea (47,000 deaths), and malaria (27,000).
https://www.who.int/heli/risks/climate/climatechange/en/
Pages 1606 and 1607: -
https://www.who.int/publications/cra/chapters/volume2/1543-1650.pdf?ua=1

2. Global Humanitarian Forum: May 2009:  315,000 deaths p/a. Seriously affects 325 million p/a.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-climate-human/climate-change-causes-350,000-deaths-a-year-idUSTRE54S29P20090529
https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSLS1002309
http://www.ghf-ge.org/
The Guardian reported 300,000 deaths p/a:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/may/29/1

3. DARA International report for UN: September 2012
400,000 people killed p/a by climate change. See: -
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/sep/26/climate-change-damaging-global-economy
https://daraint.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/EXECUTIVE-AND-TECHNICAL-SUMMARY.pdf

4. World economic Forum: Collapse in the Sahel: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/01/all-the-warning-signs-are-showing-in-the-sahel-we-must-act-now/

5. Deaths in France 2003:  https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn4259-the-2003-european-heatwave-caused-35000-deaths/

6. Record breaking temperatures in 2019 linked to climate change:  https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-49753680

7. Deaths in France due to 2019 heat wave: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-49628275

8. European Commission. Crop monitoring in Europe 2018:   https://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/bitstream/JRC114080/20182228_kjaw18009enn.pdf
9. 2018 drought led to an average reduction in yields of 20% for onions, lettuces, carrots and potatoes
https://www.fginsight.com/news/news/the-impact-of-the-2018-uk-heatwave-on-british-farming-76519
10. Client Earth and direct attribution: https://www.clientearth.org/science-behind-climate-attribution-drives-litigation-risk-for-business-and-government/?fbclid=IwAR1q9mOeL2iPJQjGmQlTnxTCIHMB8elMoRNDVe_PqarCQtzXYBoQh0Pi2aU

11. Prime Minister of Dominica: https://news.un.org/en/story/2017/09/566742-deny-climate-change-deny-truth-we-have-just-lived-says-prime-minister-storm-hit

12. The Bahamas Minister of Foreign Affairs, Darren Henfield:
http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/100788/bahamas-deeply-concerned-about-dangers-climate-change

13. ASCERTAINMENT OF THE ESTIMATED EXCESS MORTALITY FROM HURRICANE MARÍA IN PUERTO RICO:   https://drive.google.com/file/d/16X9qtnPaD--2dPhpcwu7S53esafH59i9/preview

14. UN on Cyclone Idai. https://news.un.org/en/node/1039381/mozambique-cyclones-a-wake-up-call-to-boost-resistance-un-weather-agency-2

15. Carbon Brief: The link to extreme weather events. https://www.carbonbrief.org/mapped-how-climate-change-affects-extreme-weather-around-the-world

16. IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate: https://www.ipcc.ch/srocc/home/

17. New elevation data triple estimates of global vulnerability to sea-level rise and coastal flooding
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-12808-z,

18. Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS):
https://www.aosis.org/home/

19. UN Secretary General: 10 Sept 2018: we now risk “runaway climate change” and that this is “a direct existential threat”: -
http://webtv.un.org/search/antónio-guterres-secretary-general-delivers-speech-on-climate-change-and-his-vision-for-the-2019-climate-change-summit/5833142929001/?term=guterres&lan=English&sort=date&page=3#t=3m54s

20. UN Security Council special conference on climate change: https://sdg.iisd.org/news/un-security-council-addresses-climate-change-as-a-security-risk/
21. Sir David Attenborough: ‘The People’s Seat’: COP 24 “the collapse of civilisation”.
https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/resource/The%20People%27s%20Address%202.11.18_FINAL.pdf

22. World Water Forum: http://8.worldwaterforum.org/en
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/19/water-shortages-could-affect-5bn-people-by-2050-un-report-warns

23. 1 billion more people to be infected by Zika Virus and Dengue fever by 2080: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-climatechange-health-mosquitoes/zika-dengue-to-threaten-up-to-a-billion-more-as-climate-warms-idUSKCN1R92DQ
https://journals.plos.org/plosntds/article?id=10.1371/journal.pntd.0007213

24. 1.4 Billion climate refugees by 2060 and 2 billion by 2100: - 
http://climatenewsnetwork.net/22574-2/?utm_source=Climate+News+Network&utm_campaign=4fe59ee18b-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_06_30&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1198ea8936-4fe59ee18b-38798465

25. Hothouse Earth: Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene
https://www.pnas.org/content/115/33/8252

26. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber: Director Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. Germany. Carrying capacity of Earth may be less than 1 billion:
https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/latenightlive/meet-john-schellnhuber-climatologist-to-pope-francis/6799686

27. Rockström: Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/18/climate-crisis-heat-is-on-global-heating-four-degrees-2100-change-way-we-live

28. Prof James Lovelock: Billions will die.
https://www.webcitation.org/5ul6K9Jmt?url=http%3A%2F%2Fnews.scotsman.com%2Flatestnews%2FWarming-will-39wipe-out-billions39.5867379.
https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle-2-15039/global-warming-is-it-too-late-to-save-our-planet-1-688473


29. Negative emissions technologies: $535 trillion.
https://www.anthropocenemagazine.org/2017/08/climate-inaction-will-make-our-kids-pay-hundreds-of-trillions-of-dollars/

30. Prof Kevin Anderson concerns about negative emissions technologies.
https://tyndall.ac.uk/people/kevin-anderson
http://blog.policy.manchester.ac.uk/posts/2018/10/response-to-the-ipcc-1-5c-special-report/

31. President Macron of France warns there could be “billions of victims”.

32. Government moratorium on support for Fracking
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-ends-support-for-fracking

33. UK Oil & Gas Authority: Purpose
https://www.ogauthority.co.uk/about-us/ambition-priorities/

34. Vehicle fuel duties frozen
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/oct/03/theresa-may-pledges-to-freeze-fuel-duty-for-ninth-consecutive-year

35. Increase in cost of public transport/reduction in cost of motoring
https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/train-and-bus-fares-have-skyrocketed-in-last-four-decades-figures-show_uk_5a85691de4b0ab6daf46260f

36. Vehicle Excise Duty changes
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vehicle-excise-duty/vehicle-excise-duty

37. Imposition of rateable valuation tax on organisations having solar panels
https://www.solar-trade.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Stakeholder-briefing-business-rates-rooftop-solar-v0.8.pdf

38. VAT on solar panels
https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-8602#fullreport
39. A near ban on new onshore wind power schemes in England
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jan/18/windfarm-industry-urges-uk-to-lift-onshore-subsidies-ban

40. New road construction programme
https://www.itv.com/news/granada/2019-09-30/chancellor-sets-out-multibillion-pound-infrastructure-investment-plans/

41. Cycling investment
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/603527/cycling-walking-investment-strategy.pdf

42. UK subsidies for fossil fuels (Page 11)
https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=COM:2019:1:FIN&from=EN

43. Tax regime for fracked gas
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/shale-gas-government-unveils-plan-to-kick-start-investment-with-generous-new-tax-breaks

44. Restrictions on onshore wind-turbines
https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN04370

45. Fracking planning application process eased
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/dec/16/uk-fracking-planning-policy-faces-court-challenges

46. UK subsidies for fossil fuel projects abroad
https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmenvaud/1804/180405.htm

47. Reduction in home insulation programme
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/21/mps-turn-heat-on-ministers-amid-boiler-installation-slowdown

48. New home energy efficiency plans scrapped
https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/its-official-government-to-scrap-code-for-sustainable-homes/8660376.article
49. Committee on Climate Change: Aviation and Heathrow
https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/letter-international-aviation-and-shipping/
https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change-crisis-net-zero-aviation-emissions-heathrow-airport-shipping-ccc-a9117976.html

50. Government rejects advice of CCC
https://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/3082842/ministers-reject-ccc-demands-to-include-aviation-and-shipping-into-climate-targets

51. The Stern Review
http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/publication/the-economics-of-climate-change-the-stern-review/

52. Bank of England governor warns of a financial collapse.
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/13/firms-ignoring-climate-crisis-bankrupt-mark-carney-bank-england-governor

53. Global Commons Institute: UK historical share of emissions
http://www.gci.org.uk/images/US_UK-Per_Capita.png

54. UK emissions drop 11%
https://www.carbonbrief.org/mapped-worlds-largest-co2-importers-exporters

55. Environment Bill 2019
https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-8712





Sunday, November 17, 2019

Vote for Trees

Conservatives talk of planting 30.000,000 tree, LibDems promise 60,000,000. That's just under one tree per person. At a normal planting density for broadleaf woodland of about 1500 trees per hectare, sixty million would cover 400 of Britains 200,000 square kilometres, some 0.2% of the land area.
Compare that figure with the 8% or 16,000 square kilometres of grouse moor, an artificial habitat that was covered in woodland before people cut the trees down.

The gulf between these political election promises and what is required to restore our ecosystems and begin to mitigate the climate emergency shows the depth of our crisis of politics.

Meanwhile the Green Party has a rather more grown-up approach than shouting numbers at each other, but the implications take forestry onto a quite different order of magnitude.

Green Party Policy Forestry

Take this Policy Objective: "Increase the area of cover in the UK to average cover across Europe."

And what would that look like? Nothing like what the promise from the Tories and LibDems, that's for sure.



Picture credit: By Radom1967 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=76182177

This article by Damian Carrington has a much more realistic framing of the issue than the Tories and LibDems have managed. The talk here is on one and a half billion trees.


Saturday, July 13, 2019

Neo-Climate-Denialism 2

Okay so we have, albeit half a century too late, seen off the climate deniers. There may still be a few who claim that the planet is not heating because humans have changed the composition of the atmosphere but these charlatans or fools can be safely ignored.

We now have a new threat, insidious and dangerous. It is the enormous number of people who say they accept the consensus view of climate scientists and yet do not act as if there is an emergency. They talk about net-zero carbon emissions by various future dates, they talk of carbon taxes, they talk of frequent flyer levies, they talk and they talk.

2019 will see the highest amount of greenhouse gas emissions in any year. 2020 will almost certainly see that increased. 2019 has recorded the highest level of CO2 in the atmosphere since Homo not-so-very-sapiens walked out of Africa. 2019 has seen about 1°C of heating since pre-industrial times, averaged across the globe, more over land, much more in the Arctic. 1.5° and 2° are for the birds. We will need to adapt to a 3° world and beyond.

These realities do not match the talk.  The urgent task is not to slow down and eventually reach zero emissions but to drive emissions negative and fast. We have to get the CO2 content of the atmosphere back down from 415 ppm to below 350 ppm. Next year it will be above 417. We actually have to stop burning pretty much all fossil carbon and sequester what we have already burnt. It means changing everything, fast. To deny this urgent need can only be regarded as the neo-climate-denialism.



Thursday, June 27, 2019

Neo-climate-denialism

Part 1


There's just one little problem with that net zero carbon by 2050 target that is being mentioned so often by politicians trying to look concerned about the future, it means we will sail through that 2°C target and then human civilisation as we know it will break down leading to the greatest genocide in history.

Aiming for net zero by 2050 is just a new form of climate denialism.

We should not be talking about target dates for net-zero carbon emissions, but rather about target dates for getting the CO2 in the air back well below 350 ppm.

Current action is increasing the CO2 and increasing it at an increasing rate. This year's increase, to a peak of over 415 ppm is the highest ever. Next year's increase may be higher still.

Current policy discussions are just about reducing the rate of increase.

While pretty much every honest and sane person now acknowledges the existence of man-made global heating, this talk of net zero emission targets is so far adrift from what is required it must surely be described as the neo-climate-denialism.

Also, a couple of observations:

As I write this much of Europe is slipping into the greatest heatwave since humans walked this land. There is much talk of a 1.5 or 2°C rise in global temperatures but many folk do not realise that it's the extreme events, not the average, that kills.  We've had about 1°C of global heating so far, but that's the average over the planet. It's less near the equator and more near the poles, and, importantly, less over the two thirds of the planet that is ocean and more over land. So another degree of global heating does not mean a degree of heating where we live.

Most importantly, the increase in temperature highs in extreme weather events is much higher than the increase in averages. This is a non-linear system. A further 1°C of global heating will result is far more extreme weather than the first degree produced.

If you are concerned about this week's European heatwave, you've not seen anything compared to what we are now committed to experience when we sail through that 2°C target.


And don't even think about India.

Neo-climate-denialism Part 2



Okay so we have, albeit half a century too late, seen off the climate deniers. There may still be a few who claim that the planet is not heating because humans have changed the composition of the atmosphere but these charlatans or fools can be safely ignored.

We now have a new threat, insidious and dangerous. It is the enormous number of people who say they accept the consensus view of climate scientists and yet do not act as if there is an emergency. They talk about net-zero carbon emissions by various future dates, they talk of carbon taxes, they talk of frequent flyer levies, they talk and they talk.

2019 will see the highest amount of greenhouse gas emissions in any year. 2020 will almost certainly see that increased. 2019 has recorded the highest level of CO2 in the atmosphere since Homo not-so-very-sapiens walked out of Africa. 2019 has seen about 1°C of heating since pre-industrial times, averaged across the globe, more over land, much more in the Arctic. 1.5° and 2° are for the birds. We will need to adapt to a 3° world and beyond.

These realities do not match the talk.  The urgent task is not to slow down and eventually reach zero emissions but to drive emissions negative and fast. We have to get the CO2 content of the atmosphere back down from 415 ppm to below 350 ppm. Next year it will be above 417. We actually have to stop burning pretty much all fossil carbon and sequester what we have already burnt. It means changing everything, fast. To deny this urgent need can only be regarded as the neo-climate-denialism.




Friday, May 24, 2019

Brexit, Further Facts and Speculations

In Brexit, Facts and Speculations, written last February, I explained why the UK would not leave the EU. Astute observers of the political scene may have noticed that March turned into April and we did not leave.

Theresa May has succeeded in avoiding our departure but with her own departure a new paragraph might be in order.


It has been re-emphasised that the Withdrawal Agreement did not have Parliamentary support and there is no Parliamentary majority for a no-deal Brexit. Any new PM will be faced with two alternatives:

1. Attempt to pursue the default position of no-deal Brexit on October 30th,
or
2. Revoke Article 50.

The first would trigger a vote of no confidence followed by a general election and risk the installation of a Labour government with Corbyn as PM. Any new Tory PM would seek to avoid that.


Revoking Article 50 would be an embarrassment, especially, as seems likely, the new PM will be someone keen to leave the EU. But once we reach the wire even Boris (who, we recall, was a remainer four years ago) might find a way to explain that #2 is the preferred alternative. Embarrassment has not been a concern of his in the past.


The third possibility, once the first two have been shied away from, is that the new PM washes their hands of the decision by calling for a new referendum.
I concluded my February blog thus:


"Then we will have a second referendum, remain will win. We will see which party comes out of it all worst. But that's for future speculation."


I still see a new referendum with remain winning as the most likely outcome but there is now more evidence that Labour will come out of the process on top. Corbyn's fence-sitting tactic may prove in the end to have been successful. He managed, as best as was possible, to avoid alienating the Brexit supporting Labour voters. With the success of Lib Dems and Greens in the local and then the EU elections and the utter failure of the Conservative Party to 'sort the mess', he will be able to support Remain unequivocally in the new referendum and win the following general election, the rump of the Tory Party, after defections to Lib Dem and Brexit Party, quite unable to form a government.


That last paragraph is, of course, speculation, but it arises from the facts outlined above.


Thursday, May 02, 2019

414 is a very bad number

After a couple of weeks of action by Extinction Rebellion, Parliament made a formal declaration of 'Climate Emergency' 
The Committee on Climate Change has produced some recommendations

The reports key findings are that:
The Committee on Climate Change recommends a new emissions target for the UK: net-zero greenhouse gases by 2050.
In Scotland, we recommend a net-zero date of 2045, reflecting Scotland’s greater relative capacity to remove emissions than the UK as a whole.
In Wales, we recommend a 95% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050.

A net-zero GHG target for 2050 will deliver on the commitment that the UK made by signing the Paris Agreement. It is achievable with known technologies, alongside improvements in people’s lives, and within the expected economic cost that Parliament accepted when it legislated the existing 2050 target for an 80% reduction from 1990.


However,
The UK is currently not on track to meet even the existing target of 80% reduction by 2050.
Even if we, and the rest of the world, stopped all carbon emissions today the global warming since the start of the industrial revolution will exceed 1,5°C
To avoid the worst of the upcoming climate catastrophe we have to do everything we can to halt greenhouse gas emissions quickly and sequester atmospheric carbon, driving net emissions negative.
The targets of net zero by 2025 or 2030 suggested by Extinction Rebellion and the Green Party are more appropriate to survival of civilisation than those recommended by the Committee on Climate Change.
Climate change is with us today. The last few weeks have seen two unprecedented cyclones reach Mozambique, new April record temperatures have been seen from Vietnam to India and as I write Cyclone Fani is about to strike India, earlier in the season than ever.
Our best proxy measure of things to come, the Keeling Curve, shows that CO2 levels are now 3ppm higher than a year ago.
Four years ago, May 2015, I warned that 404 was a bad number.
Things are getting worse, exponentially.

Much of that CO2 will remain in the air for centuries and millennia, forcing warming and, as it gradually gets absorbed by the seas, forcing ocean acidification.
Sea level will continue to rise as much of the ice melts.
Action emerges but complacency still rules.
With government not delivering the required leadership, we need the Extinction Rebellion.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Biff’s Easter Message 2019


Today, Easter Sunday, Passover, the first Sunday after the full moon following the Spring equinox, many people celebrate an event that may have happened about 2000 years ago in Palestine; others celebrate events that may have happened in the Bronze Age in Egypt; yet others celebrate more ancient traditions of springtime.
But who looks 2000 years and further into the future? By then most of the world’s great ice masses, already out of equilibrium with today's climate, now over 1°C warmer than before we started burning the coal, will have melted, raising sea levels by 50 metres or more. Many of today’s cities will lie deep underwater and much of today's most productive farmland will be drowned. Unless rapid mitigation measures are enacted immediately temperatures will rise to the point at which much of the Earth's land surface will be uninhabitable. Civilisation as we know it will have been long gone. Whether the human species will be extinct or whether remnant populations will have found ways and means to survive is uncertain. What is certain is that the Holocene, those several thousand years of climate stability during which human civilisation developed and then inadvertently and irreversibly, changed the Earth's climate, will be long gone.
This moment is our best, our only, our last chance to change course. It requires a rebellion against all that led us to this position.
In the UK some continue to claim that the UK is a world leader on climate change. They point out that in 2008 the Labour government introduced the Climate Change Act. At the time, the UK was indeed the world leader, but of a very poor bunch. Not only was that legislation weak and not fit for the purpose of saving civilisation from climate catastrophe, but the UK is currently on a trajectory that will miss the legal commitments:
"Climate Change Act 2008 Section 1. The target for 2050
(1) It is the duty of the Secretary of State to ensure that the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 is at least 80% lower than the 1990 baseline."
The current Secretary of State, Michael Gove, is acting outwith the Law.
#ExtinctionRebellion does not call for 80% reduction by 2050 but 100% reduction by 2025. It is an ambitious target which itself will only mitigate and not stop the destruction. Some decry it as too difficult, even impossible. Not achieving this target, however, brings intolerable consequences for the next generation.
The gulf between government complacency and the existential requirement of the next generation is unbridgeable. Either the government will change or the lives of our grand-children will be nasty, brutish and short.
It is the duty of everyone to join the Extinction Rebellion.
Happy Easter.



Friday, April 19, 2019

Logical Fallacy of Hypocrisy


Many people are quick to use the false argument of hypocrisy to denounce climate protesters of the Extinction Rebellion. “They went by car.” “They have leather shoes.” “They drink coffee from a plastic cup.” Etc. It’s nonsense of course. My advice to lead a good life is no less valid, as good advice, if I myself am a sinner.

Here is how the late David Fleming approached the issue as he wrote in his philosophical masterpiece, Lean Logic.

Hypocrisy, The Fallacy of.  The fallacy that, if what I do falls below the standards of what I say, my argument can be dismissed without more ado.  The fallacy arises from the obvious discomforts of a contrast between good words and bad deeds, like those of Measure for Measure’s Angelo, upright in public, outrageous in private.
And yet, if an argument is a good one, dissonant deeds do nothing to contradict it.  In fact, the hypocrite may have something to be said for him.  For instance, he may not be making any claims at all about how he lives, but only about his values in the context of the argument.  There is no reason why he should not argue for standards better than he manages to achieve in his own life; in fact, it would be worrying if his ideals were not better than the way he lives.  He is not dazzled by his high personal standards; he does not make an icon of himself as the model of high moral standing.  He is not defended by his sincerity from the possibility of self-criticism.  His ideals are not limited to what he can achieve himself.  What matters is whether his argument is right or not.  With accusations of hypocrisy in the air, difficult questions about real problems short-circuit into ad hominem quarrel.
Hypocrisy is a bad thing with good qualities.  Sincerity is a good thing with bad qualities; it shines a light on the simple certainties of your feelings on the matter, rather than on the awkward realities of the case.  Some of the most intensely savage people this planet has ever produced were noted for their sincerity and their incorruptible and austere lives.  There was Maximilien Robespierre (1758-1794), largely responsible for the reign of terror during the French revolution, but, in his own life, he was the “Sea-Green Incorruptible”.  And there as Conrad of Marburg (d. 1233), thin with fasting, who, in imitation of Jesus, rode on a donkey from place to place on his mission to discover and burn heretics and witches.  For ground-breaking catastrophes, we have to turn to the incorruptible.  We are safer with those who are not preoccupied with admiration of their own moral standing, confident that they can think no wrong.
If required to choose between sincerity and hypocrisy (writes the theologian David Martin), “Give me a friendly hypocrite any day”.   



Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Sir James Bevan is a bit right and a bit wrong.

BBC News reports: He wants to see wasting water become "as socially unacceptable as blowing smoke in the face of a baby. We all need to use less water", he is expected to say at a London conference.

Two points:

1. Global warming will mean that the climate of the British Isles will get wetter, not drier.
2. The probability of occasional lengthy summer droughts will increase.
3. It is in the interest of shareholders of the privatised water industry that people use less water.

Okay, that's three points but the last was politics rather than climate science.

Bevan is right to say that we need more reservoirs. Resilience to droughts is useful and will allow us to continue enjoying water features in our gardens.

Bevan is wrong to say "We need water wastage to be as socially unacceptable as blowing smoke in the face of a baby or throwing your plastic bags into the sea."

Over the coming decades we need to spend far more on drainage and flood protection than we need to spend on water supply.


Swindon, Town Gardens.

Oh, and another thing, water is never wasted. It goes round and round in the water cycle, rain, flow, sloshing about, evaporation, rain... with a built in purification by distillation every time round.  Global warming drives the cycle faster and we need to adapt to that.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Letter to the Grown-ups

The grown-ups got a letter from young folk:

We, the young, are deeply concerned about our future. Humanity is currently causing the sixth mass extinction of species and the global climate system is at the brink of a catastrophic crisis. Its devastating impacts are already felt by millions of people around the globe. Yet we are far from reaching the goals of the Paris agreement.

Young people make up more than half of the global population. Our generation grew up with the climate crisis and we will have to deal with it for the rest of our lives. Despite that fact, most of us are not included in the local and global decision-making process. We are the voiceless future of humanity.

We will no longer accept this injustice. We demand justice for all past, current and future victims of the climate crisis, and so we are rising up. Thousands of us have taken to the streets in the past weeks all around the world. Now we will make our voices heard. On 15 March, we will protest on every continent.

We finally need to treat the climate crisis as a crisis. It is the biggest threat in human history and we will not accept the world’s decision-makers’ inaction that threatens our entire civilisation. We will not accept a life in fear and devastation. We have the right to live our dreams and hopes. Climate change is already happening. People did die, are dying and will die because of it, but we can and will stop this madness.

We, the young, have started to move. We are going to change the fate of humanity, whether you like it or not. United we will rise until we see climate justice. We demand the world’s decision-makers take responsibility and solve this crisis.

You have failed us in the past. If you continue failing us in the future, we, the young people, will make change happen by ourselves. The youth of this world has started to move and we will not rest again.
__________________
The global coordination group of the youth-led climate strike