Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Rainbow Diagram

Here is Julia Steinberger's Rainbow Diagram


Professor Julia Steinberger is a Swiss-American economist at Leeds University, who researches and teaches in the interdisciplinary areas of Ecological Economics and Industrial Ecology. Her research examines the connections between resource use (energy and materials, greenhouse gas emissions) and societal performance (economic activity and human wellbeing). She is interested in quantifying the linkages between resource use and socioeconomic parameters, and identifying alternative development pathways to guide the necessary transition to a low carbon society. Research focus on living well within planetary limits.

On the 4th of January 2020 she posted this diagram on Twitter,  listing 10 basic facts for human and planetary survival, and then footnoted it with multiple tweets to add a little help to interpretation and understanding. I've copied out her notes, with just a little editing to improve readability, below:

 The #RainbowDiagramToSaveEarth (that hashtag's definitely going to catch on.😆 No doubt.)
 (1) This is the domain of the IPCC and other large research assessment reports. So much evidence, just a few links.

(2) Future projections are given by the same reports as above. They are extremely, extremely worrying. Dire. Awful. Not. Good.
(3) is where things get interesting, because a lot hinges on what is considered "feasible" in polite scientific-policy circles. Some people consider radical change "unfeasible." I'm not one of them - I'd much prefer planetary destruction to be "unfeasible," but it's not. So…
So this is where subjectivity, rather than pure objective physical & natural science observations & modelling, enter the picture. I'll try to keep it simple and clean. If we stop emitting now, and I mean NOW, we stay below 1.5°C warming.
If we do this, and remember, all this requires is our *not* emitting, not the invention of new technologies or whatever, we can limit warming and hence limit the climate & ecological crises from engulfing much more than on our current growth trajectory.
(4) There is no doubt whatsoever that reducing emissions at the rate of at least 15% per year constitutes radical change. The IPCC reports agree on this point as well, speaking of "transformations" rather than "transitions" required to remain within 1.5°C.
Does radical change mean reducing consumption? Everyone agrees it means *changing* consumption, away from fossil energy and land-based resources, towards renewable energy, electricity-based technologies, plant-based diets. Will that be enough?
Long story short? No. Doing all we can to stop deadly planetary devastation will require both *changing* and *reducing* consumption. See UK CCC Net-Zero report: lots of supply-side change, but still some demand measures.
I decided to stop waffling and go straight to demand reductions because I think it's the crux of much hesitation and inaction, and I'd rather deal with it full frontally, and also because why the heck would we not do all we can to avoid planetary disaster? Come on.
I understand that some people might disagree with (4). My point is that reductions in consumption should be openly discussed, since they are (a) effective, (b) possible, and (c) necessary.
Not only change, we also have to reduce consumption. The "we" has to be defined: at least everybody in the middle & upper class in the industrialized countries!
So (4) is differentiated by income and need levels. Some groups need to consumer much more than they currently do, and many groups, especially the globally wealthy, need to reduce their consumption A LOT. Inequality is a core focus here.
I should mention that (4) is of course the core domain of degrowth economics, whose main theorist and proponent is the tremendous Giorgos Kallis, @g_kallis, and you should all follow him and read his books.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giorgos_Kallis
(5) is where things get interesting because this is my research area. Woohoo! But I'm not alone. Rao, Min & Mastrucci recently  published this great article on "Energy requirements for decent living in India, Brazil and South Africa" in Nature Energy.
https://nature.com/articles/s41560-019-0497-9
Footnotes to (5). The main comments here were that people were not, as a mass, clamouring for lower consumption. But that's not what (5) says: (5) states universal well-being is *possible* at much lower consumption levels. So this is a scientific fact, not a majority political aspiration (yet). And this is where the 2nd socio-economic column is important: it explains my view of *why* we have to fight consumerism full-frontally: because it's the means fossil-fuelled industries use to accumulate wealth and power.
So that's a good jump-off point to talk about (6). I've been writing about (6) a lot, and so have other people. Some of the main references can be found in this google doc (page 3, under "climate & capitalism").  @NaomiAKlein is a core thinker here.
So are Andreas Malm, Ian Gough, Kate Raworth.
In terms of my own contributions to (6), they are mainly this article with @elkepirgmaier
and a nice short blog on climate breakdown, capitalism and democracy:
Moving on to (7), the core references are mainly the same as for (6): understanding how fossil capitalism emerges from the industrial revolution means that we need to see our societies as captive prey of the political economy they have created. I tried to express this here:
"The fossil giants and their adjacent industries, such as automotive & aviation, represent our current capitalist system. Our infrastructure and cities are built for them, our markets function for them, our governments are in thrall to them."
The question becomes: what can we do about this? And this is where understanding the origins of capitalism and wealth accumulation, including the origins of consumerism as a creation of corporate firms (see the excellent "Century of the Self") helps.
Because we have to unlearn (and fast) a vision of humanity as grasping, greedy, selfish, competing ever upwards: that vision itself turns us into a product, a tool of profit accumulation. It turns us into consumers. Moving away from this view of ourselves is essential for (8).
So on to (8) and popular power. If we need to unlearn seeing ourselves as consumers, we need to move towards seeing and understanding ourselves as forces of change in the world. Strangely, even in democracies, the power of social mobilization is not taught explicitly.
I have ideas why this is: probably because our democracies are the uneasy compromise between corporate wealth accumulation and preventing popular uprisings, or because teaching the power of organizing to teenagers is a downright scary proposition. Who knows.

Julia Steinberger
oil on canvas 23 x 23 cm
This portrait features in the Faces of Climate exhibition to be held at the North Sea Observatory, Chapel Point, Lincolnshire this Easter.

Wednesday the 8th to Sunday the 19th of April 2020.



Thursday, December 26, 2019

Tsunami


Today, Boxing Day 2019,  is 15 years since the Indonesian tsunami, the most destructive natural disaster in recent years.

Less well remembered is that its about 8000 years since the Storegga Slide, which caused a much bigger tsunami. It could happen again but we're not good at dealing with low probability high impact risks.

Should we have a tsunami warning system in the North Sea?

The idea will be dismissed.

1. It would cost money.
2. Politicians and other decision makers will be probably not be thanked for promoting the idea as they are likely to be retired, even dead, before anyone benefits.

However, as we learnt in Economics 101, there actually is a money tree. Money is created out of nothing more substantial than government policy and then circulates round and round the economy. The true cost is the amount of energy and physical resources used. And that would not be much.
Government takes seriously the defence of its citizens in the face of perceived threats from foreign powers and devotes substantial resources to the armed forces and even warning systems for low risk high consequence events such as nuclear missile strikes. Natural threats are given a lower priority.

The short term thinking of political decision making is a deep flaw in our system of governance. Decision makers get little benefit from taking decisions that benefit citizens beyond the time-frame of their period of office. 

The Storegga Slide and its consequent tsunami must have devastated the coastal communities of the already shrinking landmass of Doggerland. For those who are less familiar with the Early Holocene, start research on the Storegga Slide, as ever, at Wikipedia and take it from there.



The Lincolnshire Time and Tide Bell Community Interest Company is developing a project, called 'Doggerland' that takes the long view from 10,000 years ago to 10,000 years hence, combing the arts and sciences to learn from history, inform current policy-making and prepare a future fit for our descendants. Find out more, and perhaps get involved yourself, at the Doggerland webpage.

Should we have taken the action on global heating that the science demands?

The idea was be dismissed.

1. It would cost money.
2. Politicians and other decision makers will be probably not be thanked for promoting the idea as they are likely to be retired, even dead, before anyone benefits.


Sunday, December 22, 2019

The UK is not a Democracy


plutocracy noun
plu·​toc·​ra·​cy | \ plü-ˈtä-krə-sē \

1: government by the wealthy
2: a controlling class of the wealthy

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Democracy is harder to define but here is a good description from the Council of Europe.
It certainly goes a lot further than getting people to vote one way rather than another.

An essential aspect of democracy is that the citizens are well informed and understand the truths of the matter and so will vote for some combination of their personal benefit or the common good, those two aspects usually coinciding.
In the UK, and in many other places, we now find many, even a majority, of the citizens are ill-informed. They have been continuously, consistently and deliberately misled and even lied to. The whole framework in which the news media work is owned by a wealthy few and it acts to drive people to vote not in their own interests or those of the common good but in the interests of the wealthy few.
Those who have been so duped will, of course, deny it. How could they not?
But the truth is that we do not have a democracy. Our society is a plutocracy. Government is by the wealthy for a controlling class of the wealthy.

The UK is not a democracy.
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In the light of the 2019 General Election in the UK an understanding of the forces operating has become urgent and vital. Here's George Monbiot introducing some ideas.
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Other words are available:

Kakistocracy
Kleptocracy
Timocracy
Oligarchy

Look 'em up.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Neo-Climate-Denialism Part 3


Neo-climate-denialism is the acceptance that global heating is caused by human greenhouse gas emissions but not accepting we have to rush into doing sufficient about it. In summary: people who talk of net zero sometime in the future (probably when they are retired if not dead) are in denial. The truth is that we have to get the CO2 in the air down from the 415ppm we say this year back down to 350 and below. Pretty Damn Quick.

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Some first thoughts following the end of COP25 in Madrid (and the outcome of the UK election)

Myself and everybody in my social bubble are pretty devastated by the election result.

However

We should focus now on the existential crisis facing all humanity. COP25 just ended (I watched the 4 and a half hours of the plenary this morning, finding the documents about as slowly as some of the delegates!) and the baton has been handed over to the UK.

The failure of agreements (particularly Article 6, see this for explanation) at COP25 puts an enormous responsibility on what passes for a government in the UK to get agreement on climate before the Glasgow COP26. It is quite hard to see how the UK has the international standing to succeed in this anymore but lets maintain hope

Over the coming months our attention needs to be directed towards every move our government makes on the climate crisis. Mr Johnson, like Mr Cameron before him, mentioned that phrase 'greenest government ever' If he fails he will be culpable of genocide and crimes against humanity. That last was a phrase uttered this morning by the delegate from Tuvalu and the sentiment was echoed by many other nations' delegates. If COP26 fails it will be game over for horrendous numbers of the human population. The UNFCCC process is deeply flawed but it is the only game in town and from today, for better or worse, it is in Mr Johnson's hands. It's up to us to see that he doesn't drop it.

P.S.
On the 1st of December 2019, António Guterres @antonioguterres tweeted "I expect a clear demonstration of increased #ClimateAction ambition & commitment out of #COP25. Leaders of all countries need to show accountability & responsibility. Anything less wold be a betrayal of our entire human family and all generations to come".

As Michael Flammer @Jumpsteady pointed out, following the failure at COP25. "I guess it’s officially okay now to call #COP25 a “betrayal of our entire human family and all generations to come.”

Here's Part 1
and here's Part 2

The Keeling Curve - the most important graph in the world
Regard it as the chart at the end of the patient's bed.







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.