Climate Change News
Below are news items on climate change – many with relevance to aviation
Below are news items on climate change – many with relevance to aviation
Scientists can now explain the “pause” in global warming that sceptics have used to bolster their arguments against anthropogenic climate change. Sceptics had claimed we have nothing to fear from climate change because it has stopped being a problem. A new study has found that global temperatures have not flat-lined over the past 15 years, as weather station records have been suggesting, but have in fact continued to rise as fast as previous decades, during which we have seen an unprecedented acceleration in global warming. Two university scientists have found that the “pause” or “hiatus” in global temperatures can be largely explained by a failure of climate researchers to record the dramatic rise in Arctic temperatures over the past decade or more.They have found a way of estimating Arctic temperatures from satellite readings. Getting Arctic readings has been difficult, due to seasonal melting so fixed stations are more difficult. When these readings are included, the so-called pause effectively disappeared. NOAA monthly temperature data on land surface, ocean surface and combined land ocean show recent years have been much warmer than previous averages.
Scientists can now explain the “pause” in global warming that sceptics have used to bolster their arguments against anthropogenic climate change. Sceptics had claimed we have nothing to fear from climate change because it has stopped being a problem. A new study has found that global temperatures have not flat-lined over the past 15 years, as […]
The world's oceans are becoming acidic at an "unprecedented rate" and this may be happening at faster than at any time in the past 300 million years. In their strongest statement yet on this issue, a large number of scientists say ocean acidification could increase by 170% by 2100. They say that some 30% of ocean species are unlikely to survive in these conditions. The researchers conclude that human emissions of CO2 are clearly to blame - humanity is putting some 24 million tonnes of CO2 into the oceans each day. That is already altering the chemistry of the waters, and will do so even more in future. Since the start of the industrial revolution, the waters have become 26% more acidic - and there are serious concerns about the impact this is having, and will have, on many ocean species. These include oysters, clams, sea urchins, shallow water corals, deep sea corals, and calcareous plankton. When shelled organisms are at risk, the entire food web may also be at risk. Today, more than a billion people worldwide rely on food from the ocean as their primary source of protein.
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has advised that there has been no significant change in the climate science, international and EU circumstances on which the UK's 4th carbon budget (2023 – 2027) was set in 2011. It says there is therefore no legal or economic basis for the government to change the budget or reduce its ambition. Only if there is significant change in circumstances can budgets be altered. Considering the recent IPCC report, the CCC agrees the emissions cuts to meet the 4th carbon budget are a minimum UK contribution to required global action. It reiterates that the UK is not acting alone in shouldering its responsibilities. In fact our targets are relatively unchallenging. It and says the UK has an important role in securing an ambitious international agreement. The latest IPCC report reiterates how vital continued action is and that a global temperature rise of 4 degrees C is likely if emissions continue to increase. The CCC will provide its final advice on the 4th carbon budget in December 2013.
Writing in the Hindustan Times, in India, Mary Robinson - who is a former president of Ireland and president of the "Mary Robinson Foundation — Climate Justice" - talks of the impacts of climate change on the poor in the developing world. Shailesh Nayak, secretary, Indian ministry of earth sciences, said climate change may be causing extreme weather. It is the poor who are picking up the tab for the carbon profligacy of developed nations. Taking into account all the climate impacts of aviation, estimates put aviation’s overall contribution to global warming at 4.9%. ICAO anticipates CO2 emissions from international aviation (about 60% of total aviation emissions) will grow from about 400 million tonnes in 2010 to 650 million tonnes by 2020. So aviation bears a share of responsibility for the accelerated drought-flood cycle that climate change will bring to countries like India. "The time for everyone to take their share of the responsibility and to act is now. And this must include the aviation industry."
The Emissions Gap Report 2013 has been produced by UNEP, in the run-up to the climate conference in Warsaw. It was produced by 44 scientific groups in 17 countries. It says that if the global community does not immediately embark on wide-ranging actions to narrow the greenhouse gas emissions gap, the chance of remaining on the least-cost path to keeping global temperature rise below 2°C this century will swiftly diminish and open the door to a host of challenges. Not cutting emissions enough by 2020 will make later cuts more expensive and difficult - as there will be locked-in carbon-intensive infrastructure - as well as increasing the risk of not meeting the 2°C target. Even if nations meet their current climate pledges, greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 are likely to be 8 to 12 GtCO2e above the "safe" level. Emissions should be a maximum of 44 GtCO2e by 2020, 40 GtCO2e by 2025, 35 GtCO2e by 2030 and 22 GtCO2e by 2050. The report says "Some sectors, notably international transport, are not covered by national pledges. The mitigation potential in these sectors is 0.3 GtCO2e"
At the ICAO Assembly last month, it was agreed it would work towards a global market based measure (MBM) for aviation emissions, by 2020 - itself a weak position taking too long to start to deal with the issue. GreenAir online reports that now China says the adoption of a carbon-neutral growth goal from 2020 without differentiated responsibilities would impede development of its international aviation activities. China and other emerging countries, with fast expanding aviation, say that though they may want goals to reduce international aviation emissions, it should be the responsibility of the developed countries to make the cuts. ie. this is further wrangling within the ICAO, which is why the organisation has failed over decades to get any agreement on practical action on aviation emissions. To add to the obstacles in getting progress on a MBM, the USA has objected to the de minimis provisions [ie. that the smallest countries, which contribute each below 1% of global aviation CO2 are excluded] in the Assembly climate resolution and the inclusion of the differentiated responsibilities principle. The deep divisions remain on this issue, between the developed and developing world.
Eight of the key environmental organisations in the UK have written an open letter to Sir Howard Davies, Chairman of the Airports Commission, to express their concern about the Commission's "emerging thinking" that more runway capacity is needed for the south east, as expressed in Sir Howard's speech on 7th October. They have serious concerns about how adding a new runway could be compatible with UK climate targets, and they call on the Commission to demonstrate how its recommendations will avoid gambling on our future ability to meet the UK climate target. The NGOs say the Committee on Climate Change's analysis concluded that stabilising UK aviation’s emissions at their 2005 level could translate to a maximum 60% growth in the number of passengers at UK airports. They set out 4 key arguments why no new runway capacity is needed even if passenger numbers are permitted to grow by up to 60%. They also urge the Commission to retain a “no new runways” option in its deliberations as the best way of achieving the targets set in the UK Climate Change Act. The eight green NGOs which have signed the letter are: Aviation Environment Federation; Campaign for Better Transport; Friends of the Earth; Greenpeace; RSPB; Stop Climate Chaos; The Woodland Trust; WWF-UK.
Twenty-one Nobel prize winners, many of whom have won Nobel Peace Prizes, have urged the EU to immediately implement the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) which would label tar sands as higher carbon ("dirtier") than other fuels. The Nobel laureates say the extraction of unconventional fuels – such as oil sands and oil shale – is having a particularly devastating impact on climate change. The powerful letter has attempted to restart the discussion about how tar sands and oil shale should be treated in the EU, a discussion that has been delayed for too long, following a massive lobbying campaign by Canada, the US and the global oil industry. Conventional oil has been given a value of 87.5g of CO2 equivalent per megajoule. In comparison, tar sands oil has a value of 107g, oil shale 131g and coal-to-liquid 172g. The laureates quote IEA warnings that unconventional fuel sources are especially damaging to the environment and climate, and its calculation that two-thirds of known fossil-fuel reserves must be left in the ground ‘to avoid catastrophic climate change’. The letter says the time for positive action is now. The EU can demonstrate clear and unambiguous leadership on this.
India has said it will oppose the EU's plan to include flights from all airlines in European airspace (other than airlines from most developing countries). The USA also opposes the plan, with a US politician saying the EU proposal is contrary to a law intended to shield US airlines from such charges. Last week the European Commission proposed making all airlines pay for emissions only over European airspace - rather than the original system in which the carbon from the full length of all flights using EU airports. USA, India and China want the EU to back down, so no aviation emissions anywhere are included in a charging system. India and China contribute well over 1% of global aviation CO2, so they were included, unlike smaller and poor countries. Reuters says that along with China, India has defied the EU, even refusing to submit emissions data before the EU suspended it for a year amid threats of a trade war. The US might go as far as invoking a law signed by President Barack Obama in November 2012 that would shield Us airlines from what US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx may deem to be an unfair charge.