Global sea ice in uncharted territory

The big heat of 2016 is taking its toll on sea ice at both poles

For the past couple of months, global sea ice extent (Arctic plus Antarctic) has been at record low levels. The way the northern and southern seasonal cycles add up, the maximum in global sea ice extent occurs on average in early November, at around 27 million km2. This year, the global extent curve has been relatively flat since June. In past years, climate change “deniers” have pointed to the global extent curve as a way of claiming that climate change is not a problem, as the relatively high Antarctic extent was partly offsetting the Arctic loss, making it look as though nothing much was changing. Strangely enough, we’ve heard nothing from the usual “deniers” this year! Through most of November, there has been around 4 million km2 less sea ice than normal globally (peaking at 4.5 million on 20 November), an area roughly the size of Greenland missing near each pole. What’s going on? Continue reading “Global sea ice in uncharted territory”

This year can’t end fast enough

I sat down to write a piece looking at recent depressing climate news, and the diminished prospects of significant  US climate action now that Trump is on his way to the White House. I may still: but then I heard the news that Leonard Cohen had died and the will to wax analytical left me. This has been a pig of a year in so many ways — from Bowie, Prince and Cohen, to Brexit and Trump. In memory of one of the greatest songwriters of the last 100 years, here’s one of my favourite Laughing Len tunes, in a 2014 live performance. He was 80 at the time. I hope I have half his vitality if I get that far…

Treat this as an open thread…

What are we waiting for? The fantasy of carbon neutral growth of aviation emissions

In this guest post, the ‘stop flying’ Wellington lawyer Tom Bennion writes about the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) proposals for ‘carbon-neutral’ growth of greenhouse gas emissions from the fast-growing aviation industry.

New Zealand parents often tell their children not to eat too many sweets. Our primary schools spend a lot of time talking about suitable diets. We do this because we have the long term interests of our children at heart.

I find the contrast between that and how we currently approach climate change disheartening and distressing and especially when I consider all the families I know who are now taking flying holidays with their children.

This is a really uncomfortable topic. But we have to talk about it, and do so urgently.

We should, by now, all know the math. There isn’t any personal activity we or our children can engage in that is even remotely close to air travel in terms of the sheer volume of greenhouse gas emissions it produces. Continue reading “What are we waiting for? The fantasy of carbon neutral growth of aviation emissions”

Is it in the spirit of the Paris Agreement to ratify it with more emissions and more creative accounting?

Is the New Zealand Government’s plan to ratify the Paris Agreement in 2016 consistent with a two degrees Celsius (2C) carbon budget?

Since the December 2015 Paris Agreement, the British climate scientist Kevin Anderson has given a couple of talks with the title Beyond Dangerous Climate Change: Does Paris Lock-out 2 Degrees?

Anderson’s message is that although the Paris Agreement was a diplomatic triumph, it relies on speculative utopian technological fixes (bio-energy carbon capture and storage) in the future in order to reconcile the now extremely limited carbon budgets consistent with the desired 2C (and 1.5C) temperature limits with business-as-usual economics and politics. In other words, the Paris Agreement locks out the 2C target.

Why do I mention that? Because I want to run a ‘Kevin Anderson’ ruler over the New Zealand Government’s recently announced ratification of the Paris Agreement. To conduct a bare assessment of New Zealand’s emissions taking account that it is the cumulative emissions that determine warming. I want to ask the question ‘does the New Zealand ratification also lock out any policies for emissions reductions consistent with a fair share of a 2 degrees Celsius carbon budget?’

Continue reading “Is it in the spirit of the Paris Agreement to ratify it with more emissions and more creative accounting?”

Moro bars and triple dips: Geoff Simmons fact checks Paula Bennett’s clean unit claim

Geoff Simmons
Geoff Simmons

Geoff Simmons of the Morgan Foundation tells a good story about dodgy uncle Trev, fake bank notes and real moro bars while he fact-checks Paula Bennett on the integrity of the surplus emission units. It’s a real triple-dip!

The Morgan Foundation’s Geoff Simmons has done a whiteboard Friday video on Minister for Climate Change Issues Paula Bennett’s claim that the surplus emission units are not tainted by the 97 million fake Russian and Ukrainian emission reduction units that the Climate Cheats report of April 2016 showed had been handed to the Government under the NZ emissions trading scheme.

Paula Bennett
Paula Bennett

Geoff explains the issue very well and has the numbers right. More than that, I think Geoff should get the Joe Romm language intelligence award for using a great metaphor for New Zealand’s unethical use of the ‘hot air’ Ukrainian and Russian emission reduction units. Continue reading “Moro bars and triple dips: Geoff Simmons fact checks Paula Bennett’s clean unit claim”