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The Need for a World War II Type “All Hands on Deck” Mobilization on Climate Change and Higher Education’s Role in This Effort Donald A. Brown Scholar In Residence and Professor Widener University School Of Law
Major Positive Developments in Paris • Nations agreed to limit the increase in global average temperatures to “well below 20 C” and to “pursue efforts” to limit temperature increase to 1. 5 o. C.
Climate System Has Both Dials and Switches
What is at Stake Between 2. 0 and 1. 5 degrees C • 2. 0 Degrees C was originally viewed to be a reasonable warming limit both because it was believed it would avoid the harshest warming impacts and triggering abrupt climate change that would be caused by exceeding thresholds in the climate system • Leading up to Paris there was growing scientific evidence that a 2. 0 warming limit will not prevent dangerous warming, many of the models predicting impacts and on which targets were based did not include the effect of some positive feedbacks
Signs of more rapid climate change warming Arctic Sea Ice Rapidly Melting Warning Signs of Triggering Rapid Warming Signs of "positive climate feedbacks"—are appearing, in particular, those associated with greenhouse gas releases from soils, tundra, or ocean sediments; sea-ice and ice sheet disintegration; and vegetation migration--could make the climate system warm twice as much over the long term than previously calculated by climate models. Melting Permafrost Releasing Methane
Warning signs of more rapid climate change Sea-level Rise Rates Larger Than Previously Projected The 2007 IPCC report projected global average sealevel rise of 7 to 23 inches by the 2090 s. This calculation did not take into account compelling new evidence of recent rapid melting in Greenland Antarctica, that if continued could lead to sea-level rise of 5 or 6 feet this century Jim Hansen claimed that 12 to 15 feet of sea level rise now possible. Widespread Forest Mortality
Signs of more rapid climate change warming • • Release of Methane in Deep Ocean Ice The Loss of Ice Reflectance Methane from tundra The Declining Ability of the Ocean and Terrestrial Biosphere to Store Carbon
Global carbon budget The carbon sources from fossil fuels, industry, and land use change emissions are balanced by the atmosphere and carbon sinks on land in the ocean Source: CDIAC; NOAA-ESRL; Houghton et al 2012; Giglio et al 2013; Joos et al 2013; Khatiwala et al 2013; Le Quéré et al 2015; Global Carbon Budget 2015
Ocean carbon feed backs. • Increased water temperature dissolves less CO 2 • Increased ocean acidification dissolves less CO 2. • Reduced phytoplankton growth reduces ocean photosynthesis. • Impaired capacity of shell bearing organization to make calcium carbonate.
23 Researchers in 23 countries concluded nations were basing their national GHG reduction commitments on economic self interest.
What amount of GHG Emissions Reductions are needed? • UNEP Emissions Gap 2015, To stay within 1. 5 degree C warming limit with > 50% probability total CO 2 including LULUCF must be zero by 2045 -2050 • All of these reductions are for entire world without an equity step.
How GHG targets were set for the last four decades For most of this time; • Do a GHG emissions inventory • Figure out what policies could be adopted to to reduce GHG emissions from sources identified in the inventory • Deduce a target from the reductions • No attempt to align a target with a warming limit Recently, some nations have looked to IPCC for guidance
IPCC Table 3. 7 4 th Assessment 2007 -25 to -40% by 2020 -80 % to -95% by 2050 US : 26 to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025 (which was only 15% below 1990), 80% by 2050.
Five steps for setting a national or local government GHG emissions reduction target 1. Determine a warming limit 2. Identify a global carbon budget which will achieve the global warming limit with an acceptable level of probability 3. Calculate reduction rates by which global GHG emissions must be zero 4. Apply an equity step to adjust the global rates to determine an acceptable national carbon budget. 5. Calculate reduction rates by which national or regional global GHG emissions must be zero
Step 2. Selecting A Carbon Budget Selecting a Carbon Budget requires taking positions on 2 substeps that raise ethical questions: • With what probability will the warming limit be achieved. • The posted carbon budgets must be constantly adjusted to deal with emissions emitted after the budget was calculated.
0 Gt. C left to limit warming to 1. 5 C with a 66 % probability in 5. 2 years 0 Gt. C left to limit warming to 2 C with a 66% probability in 20. 3 years Carbon Brief
Remaining Carbon Budget : Global CO 2 Emissions, 40 Gt. C in 2011, which left 400 Gt. C for 66% chance of limit 1. 5 C, by 2015, 205 Gt. C or 5 years left
Step 3 • Identify an GHG emissions reduction pathway
50 Gt. C Remaining Carbon Budget 0 Gt. C 2016 Shape of emissions reduction pathway has great significance for how much of remaining carbon budget is left and degree of difficulty in getting to zero 50 Gt. C O Gt. C 2050 Remaining Carbon Budget
Equity Is A Contested Term but that does not mean it can mean anything IPCC recently said in AR 5 – Economic reasoning alone does not deal with either distributive or compensatory justice – Reasonable interpretations of “equity” are limited to only a few plausible kinds of considerations namely • Responsibility • Equality • Capacity • Rights of Developing Countries to Develop
The emission pledges (INDCs) of the top-4 emitters The emission pledges from the US, EU, China, and India leave little room for other countries to emit in a 2 °C emission budget (66% chance) Source: Peters et al 2015; Global Carbon Budget 2015
What has the US done? • Obama committed to in the Paris Agreement to 26 to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025 (which was only 15% below 1990) which the White House said it could do under existing law • US will likely only reduce emissions by 7% to 21% below 2005 if it continues with proposed regulations including the Clean Power Plan which but could if it adopted policies discussed reduce US emissions by 16% to 32% • Clean Power Plan seeks to reduce GHG from electricity sector by 32% by 2030
Pennsylvania • No GHG target for state • Very weak RPS standard • Legislature blocking Clean Power Plan and trying to block methane leakage rules for natural gas production • State has never implemented recommendations of Climate Change stakeholder group created by 2008 statute • According to a state legislator very few are lobbying the state to set a GHG target while natural gas industry is intensely lobbying the state on many issues
Pennsylvania • Natural gas industry spent $8 million in lobbying $733, 635 on campaign contributions, $55 million on lobbying since 2007 according to Common Cause. • Civil society is very engaged on fracking issues including methane leakage but failing to translate this into concern about climate change.
We need to organize a Pennsylvania getting to zero campaign • Pennsylvania should set a target of zero GHG emissions for a date no later than 2040. • The campaign should: – Call for DEP to set a zero target for GHG emissions no later than 2040 – Condemn those industries, politicians, and organizations that oppose a zero target particularly if they make arguments developed by the climate denier countermovement – Educate Pa citizens that natural gas is not a bridge fuel.
The ENORMOUS DAMAGE to the WORLD of the Fossil Fuel Financed Disinformation Campaign in the United States
Chapter 10, The Denial “Countermovent
Because of a 40 year delay CO 2 has been allowed to rise from 320 ppm to 403 ppm
Tactics • • • Reckless Disregard For The Truth Focusing on Unknowns While Ignoring Knowns. Specious Claims Of "Bad" Science Creation of "Front Groups" Manufacturing Bogus Science Think Tank Campaigns Misleading PR Campaigns Creation of Astroturf Groups Bogus Economic Arguments Cyber-bullying Of Scientists and Journalists
Higher Education’s Role in “All Hands on Deck” Mobilization • Issue a Press Release about the PERC program on civil society mobilization on climate change which will partner with DEP and DCNR. • Educate civil society including the media on the need for all sectors of society to reduce carbon to net zero emissions in the next 4 decades or sooner. • Support the development of climate strategies and targets by all levels of government and civil society including local and county governments, businesses, and organizations.
Higher Education Contributions to “All Hands on Deck” Mobilization • Develop a program to rapidly expand renewable energy in Pennsylvania. • Help civil society understand the blocking role that the fossil fuel industry is playing in Pennsylvania. • Working with DCNR support an expanded biological carbon sequestration program in Pennsylvania • Educate civil society about the disinformation campaign