‘Unprecedented’ Lofoten Declaration Demands Managed Decline of Fossil Fuel Industry

As climate scientists stress that climate change has contributed to the enormous size and strength of recent storms including Hurricane Irma, which has killed at least ten people in the Caribbean and left the island of Barbuda “uninhabitable” as it heads toward Florida, a coalition of more than 220 organizations called for a “managed decline of fossil fuel production” on Thursday, with an immediate end to new oil, gas, and coal development.

Read the full article by Julia Conley, published by Common Dreams on 07/9/17, at https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/09/07/unprecedented-lofoten-declaration-demands-managed-decline-fossil-fuel-industry

The full text of the Lofoten Declaration is below.

We have mixed feelings about the Lofoten declaration. In some ways it is excellent. It calls for ‘immediate and ambitious action to stop exploration and expansion of fossil fuel projects and manage the decline of existing production’ and notes that ‘the carbon embedded in existing fossil fuel production will take us far beyond safe climate limits’ and ‘many existing projects will need to be phased-out faster than their natural decline.’

If we assume the call is for nations and states to ban any new coal, oil, and gas projects, this is a very welcome shift to seeking blanket bans explicitly on climate grounds rather than any piecemeal opposition to individual projects based on a variety of environmental issues.

However, the suggested timeline for phasing out existing production, ‘a full transition away from fossil fuels will take decades’, belies the urgency of tackling the climate emergency. The declaration talks about achieving Paris climate goals, which are far from adequate for restoring a safe climate. It refers to a ‘low carbon future’, but we need a net-zero carbon future plus carbon drawdown to restore a safe climate.

Having said all that, the Lofoten Declaration is an important document in that it raises the expectation that nations and states can, should, and hopefully will stop digging us into a deeper climate hole and will ban all new fossil fuel projects.

You can sign the petition calling for No More Bad Investments in SA at https://www.cedamia.org/sa-nmbi-sign/

THE LOFOTEN DECLARATION

Climate Leadership Requires a Managed Decline of Fossil Fuel Production

Global climate change is a crisis of unprecedented scale, and it will take unprecedented action to avoid the worst consequences of our dependence on oil, coal, and gas. Equally as critical as reducing demand and emissions is the need for immediate and ambitious action to stop exploration and expansion of fossil fuel projects and manage the decline of existing production in line with what is necessary to achieve the Paris climate goals.

Clean, safe, and renewable fuels are already redefining how we see energy and it is time for nations to fully embrace 21st century energy and phase out fossil fuels.

The Lofoten Declaration affirms that it is the urgent responsibility and moral obligation of wealthy fossil fuel producers to lead in putting an end to fossil fuel development and to manage the decline of existing production.

We stand in solidarity with, and offer our full support for, the growing wave of impacted communities around the world who are taking action to defend and protect their lives and livelihoods in the face of fossil fuel extraction and climate change. It is a priority to elevate these efforts. Frontline communities are the leaders we must look to as we all work together for a safer future.

A global transition to a low carbon future is already well underway. Continued expansion of oil, coal, and gas is only serving to hinder the inevitable transition while at the same time exacerbating conflicts, fuelling corruption, threatening biodiversity, clean water and air, and infringing on the rights of Indigenous Peoples and vulnerable communities.

Energy access and demand are and must now be met fully through the clean energies of the 21st century. Assertions that new fossil fuels are needed for this transformation are not only inaccurate; they also undermine the speed and penetration of clean energy.

We recognize that a full transition away from fossil fuels will take decades, but also, that this shift is an opportunity more than a burden. We are in a deep hole with climate. We must begin by not digging ourselves any deeper.

Research shows that the carbon embedded in existing fossil fuel production will take us far beyond safe climate limits. Thus, not only are new exploration and new production incompatible with limiting global warming to well below 2ºC (and as close to 1.5ºC as possible), but many existing projects will need to be phased-out faster than their natural decline.

This task should be first addressed by countries, regions, and corporate actors who are best positioned in terms of wealth and capacity to undergo an ambitious just transition away from fossil fuel production. In particular, leadership must come from countries that are high-income, have benefitted from fossil fuel extraction, and that are historically responsible for significant emissions.

We call on these governments and companies to recognize that continued fossil fuel exploration and production without a managed decline and a just transition is irreconcilable with meaningful climate action. We also note that there are tremendous leadership opportunities for these countries to demonstrate that moving beyond oil, coal, and gas – both demand and production – is not only possible, but can be done while protecting workers, communities, and economies.

About the Declaration

The Lofoten Declaration was written in August 2017 at a gathering in the Lofoten Islands of Norway of academics, analysts, and activists, all of whom recognize that globally we have a window of opportunity to limit the expansion of the oil and gas industry, in order to achieve the Paris climate goals. We invite other organisations worldwide to join the call.

from http://www.lofotendeclaration.org

China gears up to ban new fossil fuel powered cars

The largest and fastest-growing car market in the world is going to ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars. China has announced plans to join the rapidly expanding list of countries with plans to phase out fossil fuel-burning cars, a list that includes the UK, France, Norway, and India.

“These measures will promote profound changes in the environment and give momentum to China’s auto industry development.”said vice minister of industry and information technology, Xin Guobi, at a recent Chinese forum on cars. China has moved swiftly to be the world’s largest producer and buyer of electric cars — motivated by a desire to reduce urban air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and oil imports.

Read the full article by Joe Romm, published by RenewEconomy on 12/9/17, at http://reneweconomy.com.au/china-gears-ban-new-fossil-fuel-powered-cars-57459/

Hostage to myopic self-interest: climate science is watered down under political scrutiny

In his book Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell describes a double-speak totalitarian state where most of the population accepts “the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening. By lack of understanding they remained sane.”

Orwell could have been writing about climate change and policymaking.

International agreements talk of limiting global warming to 1.5–2°C, but in reality they set the world on a path of 3–5°C. Goals are reaffirmed, only to be abandoned. Coal, by definition, is “clean”. Just 1°C of warming is already dangerous, but this cannot be said. The planetary future is hostage to myopic, national self-interest. Action is delayed on the assumption that as yet unproven technologies will save the day, decades hence. The risks are existential, but it is “alarmist” to say so. A one-in-two chance of missing a goal is normalised as reasonable.

Read the full article by Ian Dunlop, published by the Guardian on 11/9/17, at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/sep/11/hostage-to-myopic-self-interest-climate-science-is-watered-down-under-political-scrutiny

Australia, deep in climate change’s ‘disaster alley’, shirks its moral responsibility

A government’s first responsibility is to safeguard the people and their future well-being. The ability to do this is threatened by human-induced climate change, the accelerating effects of which are driving political instability and conflict globally. Climate change poses an existential risk to humanity that, unless addressed as an emergency, will have catastrophic consequences.

In military terms, Australia and the adjacent Asia-Pacific region is considered to be “disaster alley”, where the most extreme effects are being experienced. Australia’s leaders either misunderstand or wilfully ignore these risks, which is a profound failure of imagination, far worse than that which triggered the global financial crisis in 2008. Existential risk cannot be managed with conventional, reactive, learn-from-failure techniques. We only play this game once, so we must get it right first time.

Read the full article by Ian Dunlop, published by the Canberra Times on 22/6/17, at http://www.canberratimes.com.au/comment/australia-deep-in-climate-changes-disaster-alley-shirks-its-moral-responsibility-20170621-gwvhs6.html