‘Most important years in history’ – last chance over climate, says UN report

Warming beyond 1.5C will unleash a frightening set of consequences and scientists say only a global transformation, beginning now, can avoid it. Climate Home News reviews the warnings in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change research report released yesterday.

Only the remaking of the human world in a generation can now prevent serious, far reaching and once-avoidable climate change impacts, according to the global scientific community.

In a major report released yesterday, the UN’s climate science body found limiting warming to 1.5C, compared to 2C, would spare a vast sweep of people and life on earth from devastating impacts.

To hold warming to this limit, the scientists said unequivocally that carbon pollution must fall to “net zero” in around three decades: a huge and immediate transformation, for which governments have shown little inclination so far.

READ MORE: Global warming of 1.5C summary for policymakers

GLOBAL WARMING OF 1.5C -THE REPORTGLOBAL WARMING OF 1.5C -THE REPORT

“The next few years are probably the most important in our history,” said Debra Roberts, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) research into the impacts of warming.

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The report from the IPCC is a compilation of existing scientific knowledge, distilled into a 33-page summary presented to governments. If and how policymakers respond to it will decide the future of vulnerable communities around the world.

“I have no doubt that historians will look back at these findings as one of the defining moments in the course of human affairs,” the lead climate negotiator for small island states Amjad Abdulla said. “I urge all civilised nations to take responsibility for it by dramatically increasing our efforts to cut the emissions responsible for the crisis.”

What happens in the next few months will impact ON the future of the Paris Agreement and the global climate

Abdulla is from the Maldives. It is estimated that half a billion people in countries like his rely on coral ecosystems for food and tourism. The difference between 1.5C and 2C is the difference between losing 70-90 percent of coral by 2100 and reefs disappearing completely, the report found.

Small island states
Small island states were part of a coalition that forced the Paris Agreement to consider both a 1.5C and 2C target. Monday’s report is a response to that dual goal. Science had not clearly defined what would happen at each mark, nor what measures would be necessary to stay at 1.5C.

As the report was finalised, the UN Secretary-General’s special representative on sustainable energy Rachel Kyte praised those governments. “They had the sense of urgency and moral clarity,” she said, adding that they knew “the lives that would hang in the balance between 2[C] and 1.5[C]”.

37 things you need to know about 1.5C global warming

At 2C, stresses on water supplies and agricultural land, as well as increased exposure to extreme heat and floods, will increase, risking poverty for hundreds of millions, the authors said.

Thousands of plant and animal species would see their liveable habitat cut by more than half. Tropical storms will dump more rain from the Philippines to the Caribbean.

“Everybody heard of what happened to Dominica last year,” Ruenna Hayes, a delegate to the IPCC from St Kitts and Nevis, told Climate Home News. “I cannot describe the level of absolute alarm that this caused not only me personally, but everybody I know.”

Around 65 people died when Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean island in September 2017, destroying much of it.

In laying out what needs to be done, the report described a transformed world that will have to be built before babies born today are middle aged. In that world 70-85 percent of electricity will be produced by renewables.

More nuclear power
There will be more nuclear power than today. Gas, burned with carbon capture technology, will still decline steeply to supply just supply 8 percent of power. Coal plants will be no more. Electric cars will dominate and 35-65 percent of all transport will be low or no-emissions.

To pay for this transformation, the world will have invested almost a trillion dollars a year, every year to 2050.

Our relationship to land will be transformed. To stabilise the climate, governments will have deployed vast programmes for sucking carbon from the air. That will include protecting forests and planting new ones.

It may also include growing fuel to be burned, captured and buried beneath the earth. Farms will be the new oil fields. Food production will be squeezed. Profoundly difficult choices will be made between feeding the world and fuelling it.

The report is clear that this world avoids risks compared to one that warms to 2C, but swerves judgement on the likelihood of bringing it into being. That will be for governments, citizens and businesses, not scientists, to decide.

During the next 12 months, two meetings will be held at which governments will be asked to confront the challenge in this report: this year’s UN climate talks in Poland and at a special summit held by UN secretary general Antonio Guterres in September 2019.

The report’s authors were non-committal about the prospects. Jim Skea, a co-chair at the IPCC, said: “Limiting warming to 1.5C is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes.”

Graphic from the IPCC’s special report on 1.5C.

‘Monumental goal’
Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and a former lead author of the IPCC, said: “If this report doesn’t convince each and every nation that their prosperity and security requires making transformational scientific, technological, political, social and economic changes to reach this monumental goal of staving off some of the worst climate change impacts, then I don’t know what will.”

The scientist have offered a clear prescription: the only way to avoid breaching the 1.5C limit is for humanity to cut its CO2 emissions by 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030 and reach “net-zero” by around 2050.

But global emissions are currently increasing, not falling.

The EU, one of the most climate progressive of all major economies, aims for a cut of around 30 percent by 2030 compared to its own 2010 pollution and 77-94 percent by 2050. It is currently reviewing both targets and says this report will inform the decisions.

If the EU sets a carbon neutral goal for 2050 it will join a growing group of governments seemingly in line with a mid-century end to carbon – including California (2045), Sweden (2045), UK (2050 target under consideration) and New Zealand (2050).

But a fundamental tenet of climate politics is that expectations on nations are defined by their development. If the richest, most progressive economies on earth set the bar at 2045-2050, where will China, India and Latin America end up? If the EU aims for 2050, the report concludes that Africa will need to have the same goal.

Some of the tools needed are available, they just need scaling up. Renewable deployment would need to be six times faster than it is today, said Adnan Z Amin, the director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency. That was “technically feasible and economically attractive”, he added.

Innovation, social change
Other aspects of the challenge require innovation and social change.

But just when the world needs to go faster, the political headwinds in some nations are growing. Brazil, home to the world’s largest rainforest, looks increasingly likely to elect the climate sceptic Jair Bolsonaro as president.

The world’s second-largest emitter – the US – immediately distanced itself from the report, issuing a statement that said its approval of the summary “should not be understood as US endorsement of all of the findings and key messages”.

It said it still it intended to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

The summary was adopted by all governments at a closed-door meeting between officials and scientists in Incheon, South Korea that finished on Saturday. The US sought and was granted various changes to the text. Sources said the interventions mostly helped to refine the report. But they also tracked key US interests – for example, a mention of nuclear energy was included.

Sources told CHN that Saudi Arabia fought hard to amend a passage that said investment in fossil fuel extraction would need to fall by 60 percent between 2015 and 2050. The clause does not appear in the final summary.

But still, according to three sources, the country has lodged a disclaimer with the report, which will not be made public for months. One delegate said it rejected “a very long list of paragraphs in the underlying report and the [summary]”.

Republished under a Creative Commons licence.

A Nasa satellite photo showing the retreating extent of sea ice in the Arctic. The latest IPCC climate change report says unprecedented action is needed to keep global temperature rises to 1.5C. Image: IPCC

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Rainbow Warrior returns to NZ for ‘oil free’ future and activist doco

Greenpeace executive director Russel Norman and the Rainbow Warrior skipper toss a wreath in memory of Fernando Pereira into the sea at the spot where the original bombed RW was scuttled in 1986 to create a living reef. Video: David Robie/Cafe Pacific

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Greenpeace’s flagship Rainbow Warrior 3 was welcomed in Matauri Bay at the start of a month-long tour of New Zealand yesterday to celebrate a victory in the fight against fossil fuels and to launch filming on a documentary drawing on the links between the nuclear-free and climate change struggles.

The tour began following the laying of a wreath at sea to honour the memory of Dutch photographer Fernando Pereira who was killed by French secret service saboteurs who bombed the original Rainbow Warrior in Auckland on 10 July 1985.

Greenpeace executive director Russel Norman gave an emotive speech about Pereira’s legacy being the ultimate success of the antinuclear struggle with the end of French nuclear testing in the Pacific in 1996 and the ongoing climate change campaign.

READ MORE: Rainbow Warrior tour begins tour at site of bombed predecessor

Rainbow Warrior crew, Greenpeace stalwarts and local hapu members were treated to a seafood lunch at Matauri marae.

The Nuclear Dissent interactive documentary.

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Also launched yesterday was a new interactive documentary, Nuclear Dissent, a cautionary tale about haunting nuclear destruction, told through the lens of some of the world’s bravest activists and experts – the successful leaders of disarmament efforts from French Polynesia and New Zealand to Canada, the United States, and Greenpeace, who influenced outcomes and fought for change.

In five short video chapters available on desktop, mobile and webVR, the true story of the battle to end French nuclear weapons testing between 1966 and 1996 is told through dynamic 360º panoramas on land, afloat in the fallout zone, amid riots, and underwater, Greenpeace says in a statement.

The story is capped off with a raw assessment of where the world is today – the greatest global nuclear threats, risks and effects unpacked.

Extreme health and environmental damage to French Polynesia was caused by test nuclear explosions in the South Pacific, spreading cancerous plutonium across continents and into the food chain.

Activist persistence
Due to the persistence of activists braving the fallout zone and widespread protests and a growing nuclear free movement, the French government eventually shut down its testing programme.

More than a decade later, those affected have yet to receive justice for the intergenerational trauma inflicted on their land, their health and their resources by the French government, the Greenpeace statement said.

With historical accounts from protesters Anna Horne and Greenpeace’s David McTaggart who sailed into the test zone, expert opinions from nuclear policy analyst and Harvard professor Matthew Bunn, Dr Ira Hefland and climatologist Alan Robcock, viewers are guided through an eye-opening journey.

Alongside each chapter’s video content, 360 x-ray environments and journals filled with evidence and artifacts bring otherwise invisible details and deadly damages to light.

An interactive fallout map enabled with address entry visualises what the scope of destruction, death and injury would look like in any city, from a selection of current nuclear weapons that exist in the arsenals of the world’s most dangerous superpowers.

‘Making oil history’
Anna Horne joined Rainbow Warrior 3 yesterday as the ship prepared to sail from Matauri Bay to Auckland where Greenpeace will launch its “Making Oil History” tour of New Zealand”.

Earlier, the Rainbow Warrior had been joined by David Robie, author of Eyes of Fire about the Rongelap voyage and the bombing of the original Rainbow Warrior, and currently director of the Pacific Media Centre.

In 2015, Professor Robie and a group of student journalists combined with Little Island Press and Greenpeace to create a microsite dedicated to Rainbow Warrior and environmental activist stories and videos, Eyes of Fire: 30 Years On, as a public good resource.

Both Horne and Dr Robie are among at least 10 activists, writers and changemakers being interviewed for the new Greenpeace documentary being directed by journalist Phil Vine.


The wreath laying ceremony in memory of Fernando Pereira on board the Rainbow Warrior yesterday. Image: David Robie/Cafe Pacific

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

USP celebrates 50 years and leads research action on climate change

Bearing Witness crew Blessen Tom and Hele Ikimotu’s video story of USP’s ongoing 50th anniversary celebrations and climate change. Video: AUT Pacific Media Centre

By Hele Ikimotu with visuals by Blessen Tom in Suva

This year, the University of the South Pacific is celebrating 50 years since its opening in Fiji in  1968.

The university’s first campus was established in Suva, with a student count of 200 – it now accommodates over 30,000 students across the different campuses within the Pacific region.

USP has campuses in 12 different Pacific nations – Fiji, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Chandra said USP has made a positive contribution to the Pacific region, including contributions in human resources, policy change and research.

He described the university as being “owned by the Pacific and serves the Pacific”. Professor Chandra emphasised the need for these Pacific countries to work together in advocating for Pacific issues.

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“As small countries, we need to work together. One is simply too small to be playing in the big world out there. We need to put all of our voices together. We need to co-operate, work together and integrate,” he said.

Professor Chandra also spoke highly of USP’s efforts in tackling the issue of climate change.

Leading stand
Over the years, the university has become one of the leading tertiary institutions to make a stand against the issue.

Vice-Chancellor Rajesh Chandra speaks to USP journalism students in a training media conference about the 50th anniversary of the regional Pacific university. Image: Blessen Tom/Bearing Witness

“The university has played this role of researching, advocating, supporting policies and disseminating knowledge around climate change,” said Professor Chandra.

The USP journalism school for example is consistently producing stories on climate change issues in their student newspaper Wansolwara. They have also partnered with AUT’s Pacific Media Centre to host two students every year for the Bearing Witness climate change journalism project.

This has seen significant stories about the effect climate change has had on communities in Fiji such as the award-winning multimedia story produced by Kendall Hutt and Julie Cleaver last year about Tukuraki village.

“I am also proud of the USP students. They have gone to the various COPs and have supported their own countries and have become senior advisers to their governments.

“I am quite proud and happy because the climate is central to the survival and prosperity of our country.”

The university’s 1999 strategic plan also saw the establishment of the Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD).

Raising awareness
The centre was opened to implement more research of the region’s environment and has continued to raise awareness about climate change and sustainable development in the Pacific.

PaCE-SD offers a postgraduate programme in climate change, with currently 200 students across the Pacific enrolled in the programme.

The centre also implements community projects around climate resilience in the Pacific and has been involved in major projects such as the Community Coastal Adaptation Project (C-CAP) and the Future Climate Leaders Programme (FCLP1).

Since the centre has been established, it has been recognised as a strong part of the university’s fight against climate change and environment research in the Pacific.

PaCE-SD director Professor Elisabeth Holland said it was important to be on the ground making a difference in the Pacific region and local communities.

Bearing Witness reporter Hele Ikimotu, speaks with Elisabeth Holland about the climate change work of PaCE-SD. Image: Blessen Tom/Bearing Witness

Deputy director of the centre Dr Morgan Wairiu echoed Professor Holland and said the focus of PaCE-SD was helping communities adapt to the changes in the environment because of climate change.

He said it was also important to provide students with the right skills to help them in their areas of research so they could come up with effective solutions to help communities affected by climate change.

PaCE-SD deputy director Dr Morgan Wairiu … providing the right mix of skills for students. Image: Blessen Tom/Bearing Witness

Community projects
Professor Holland said: “We run community development projects. We have a locally managed climate change adaptation network that extends to more than 100 communities in 15 countries across the Pacific.”

She said that by listening to how communities were affected by climate change, it had taught their team to listen better and develop a more participatory approach in decision making.

“We have the opportunity to learn from one another and if we’re learning from one another, we’re in a partnership to serve whatever problem is in front of us.”

Professor Holland encourages anyone who is interested in learning about climate change to keep an open mind and said: “Don’t assume you know what the answer is.

“The strongest solutions are those developed together. The fundamental values of participatory listening and respect help solve most of the challenges that come up.”

Hele Ikimotu and Blessen Tom are in Fiji as part of the Pacific Media Centre’s Bearing Witness 2018 climate change project. They are collaborating with the University of the South Pacific.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Strong leadership needed to drive COP Pacific climate goals, says Greenpeace

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Strong leadership needed to drive COP Pacific climate goals, says Greenpeace

“Together, we must take action to protect our world” – Shalvi Shakshi’s inspirational climate story. Video: UNICEF

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Greenpeace has called for climate leadership to emerge from the Pacific COP, saying leaders must listen to the need for urgency and transform their energy and land-use systems.

The Trump administration failed to stop the global climate talks from moving forward, despite its announcement to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

But the world is still in urgent need of action, says Greenpeace.

Jens Mattias Clausen, head of Greenpeace’s political delegation in Bonn, Germany, said:

“Leaders must now go home and do the right thing, prove that they have listened to the voices of the Pacific, with all their hurt and hope, and understand the urgency of our time. Talk is not good enough and we still lack the action we need.

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“We call on France, Germany, China and others to step up and display the leadership they claim to stake. Clinging to coal or nuclear power and parading as climate champions while failing to accelerate the clean energy transition is nothing but bad faith.”

Failed to deliver concrete support
This year’s COP placed heightened attention on climate impacts and the need for accountability, but failed to deliver the concrete support that a small island COP should have, Clausen said.

“We welcome the focus on enhanced ambition and the inclusion of pre-2020 climate action in the design of next year’s stocktake, the Talanoa Dialogue. This will form part of Fiji’s legacy and it is imperative that the dialogue will not just be a discussion but actually lead to countries ramping up their climate targets.

“Bonn still leaves a daunting task of concluding the Paris rulebook next year. Countries need to rediscover the political courage they had in Paris to complete the rulebook on time.”

A deal to break a deadlock in Bonn over the languishing pre-2020 climate action from developed countries and to anchor it in coming climate talks must now prove pivotal in forging additional ambition.

Country and region views:

The Pacific
“The Pacific has been dealing with the devastating impacts of climate change for years so time is a luxury we do not have. While leaders talk, we face the effects. It’s time for leaders to live up to their promises,” said Pacific Island representative activist Samu Kuridrani.

United States
“We have seen the true face of America here, exposing how Trump and his regressive fossil fuel agenda are outnumbered by those who proclaim with one voice, ‘America is still in’. It’s been abundantly clear here that despite Trump, climate action continues. World leaders must now categorically reject any proposed weakening of America’s commitments and hold the US administration to account if it reneges,” said Greenpeace USA climate campaigner Naomi Ages.

Germany
“This COP saw Germany drastically lose credibility and leadership on climate action. Chancellor Merkel’s disappointing speech failed to align Germany with a coalition of progressive nations stepping away from coal, raising doubts if Germany is committed to the ambition of the Paris agreement. Only by deciding on a coal phase out will the new government be able to reach its climate targets for 2020 and 2030,” said Greenpeace Germany executive director Sweelin Heuss.

China
“The Pacific COP has been a way-station in China’s aspiration to become a climate leader. The transformation from a developing country to a responsible global power takes time and courage, but climate leadership demands urgency. In 2018, eyes will increasingly turn to China to enhance the country’s climate ambition and help conclude the Paris rulebook,” said Greenpeace China climate policy adviser Li Shuo.

Southeast Asia
“The voices from the climate frontlines have spoken in the Pacific COP. But how much have those who are historically most accountable for climate change listened? Those least responsible for climate change are suffering the worst impacts and this great injustice must be addressed. Governments and corporations must urgently change their policies and practices to avert climate-related human rights harms,” said Greenpeace Southeast Asia executive director Yeb Saño.

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