‘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/


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

Metamorphosis from wild idea into a no-brainer

This article was originally published by Margaret Hender on the Climate Emergency Declaration website on September 7, 2016.

You might recall, not so many years ago, nobody was asking for 100 per cent renewable electricity, or even thinking about it or imagining it might be possible. So what happened?

One evening a group of climate campaigners were sitting around a kitchen table trying to devise strategies for reducing carbon emissions. One person had a wild idea and wondered aloud if it would be possible to switch to 100 per cent renewable electricity (or so I’m told – I wasn’t there). How could we do that? Would that be possible? Reliable? How much would it cost?

Beyond Zero Emissions then set about researching those questions, and a year or so later published the 100% Renewable Stationary Energy Plan. They showed it could be done, how to do it, how long it would take, and what it would cost.

Suddenly we all knew 100 per cent renewable electricity is perfectly possible, and we could all imagine achieving just that. Almost overnight, we started believing it was a possible future and campaigning to get it. Since then other studies have confirmed and updated BZE’s basic message. more...

These days almost any conversation about climate includes mention of 100 per cent renewable electricity. It’s a familiar part of the public discourse. It appears in petitions, submissions, interviews, and media. It’s treated as a standard and fully legitimate campaign ask. What’s more, almost everyone can imagine it happening, and almost everyone except the fossil fuel incumbents want it to happen sooner or later. It’s become a no-brainer.

Where we are at

Right now the Climate Emergency Declaration and Mobilisation campaign is just a few months past the wild idea round the kitchen table stage. Very few people have thought of it or heard of it, and very few are yet imagining it is a possible future. How do we get from this point to the same sort of no-brainer point that the 100 per cent renewable electricity campaign now enjoys?

We’ve done a few things already. The first thing was the petition. Asking someone to sign a petition is a good way of making the signer aware that this new campaign ask exists. We’ve also collected quite a few eminent person endorsements, which helps tell the world that this is not just a wild idea.

We’ve been trying to paint a picture of what a climate emergency declaration and mobilisation might look like, and what it might achieve. We posted a hypothetical Sydney Morning Herald front page and article in which the Prime Minister of the day announced such a declaration and discussed a couple of first climate mobilisation measures.

Philip Sutton has written a draft of the sort of legislation that would need to be enacted in order for Parliament to declare a climate emergency.

We’ve been posting social media memes indicating that many of the current climate-related campaigns, like stopping Adani, banning CSG, stopping drilling in the Bight, protecting native forests, closing Hazelwood, etc., would be won almost automatically if this top level climate mobilisation ask is won.

The Sustainable Hour on 94.7 The Pulse in Geelong has been podcasting a series of interviews with policy makers and leaders about the challenges and the solutions.

Once we imagine it we can demand it

Clearly there is more work to do though to make the Climate Emergency Declaration and Mobilisation campaign into a familiar no-brainer. But we think we have a powerful tale to tell.

Global average temperature spiked at over 1.5°C in February, and already another 0.5°C is locked in once we stop burning fossil fuels unless we take additional actions to counteract that. Already people are dying from heat stroke and starvation, drowning in floods, and running out of water. Ecosystems are being damaged, and inhabited land is being lost to sea-level rise. Doing anything less than going ‘beyond zero emissions’ as rapidly as humanly possible is now morally inexcusable.

History has shown us how amazingly quickly economies can be restructured when society faces an existential threat. During World War II, factories were repurposed, large slabs of the GDP were spent on the war effort, and the public by and large rose to the occasion and did what was deemed necessary. The best minds from all sides of politics worked together for the common good.

A climate emergency declaration would be a powerful signal saying that society as a whole is now entering ‘emergency mode’ and will give highest priority to reaching net zero emissions as quickly as possible. Emergency mode would continue until we are clearly heading in the right direction for a safe and cooler climate.

A first mobilisation step might be to ban all new fossil fuel projects and ban logging of native forests. Those could be achieved with the stroke of a pen. Fossil fuel subsidies could be redirected to help establish an electric vehicle industry. Coal and gas exports could be replaced by exporting solar generation to Asia via an undersea cable.

Renewable electricity and energy efficiency measures could be rolled-out extremely rapidly following a well-considered best scenario of what to do where. We already know what to do! This would create large numbers of jobs for those no longer employed in fossil fuel industries and others. As in World War II, it’s likely we’d again enjoy full employment.

So, what should we do next to help society as whole imagine this possible future? Once we imagine it we can demand it. If enough people from a broad enough cross-section of society demand it, the government could declare a climate emergency tomorrow and start throwing our considerable resources at the goal of protecting all people, species, and ecosystems.

Paris 1.5-2°C target far from safe, say world-leading scientists

This is why we do what we do!

So what would be safe? The answer is that “limiting the period and magnitude of temperature excursion above the Holocene range is crucial to avoid strong stimulation of slow feedbacks”.
In other words, aim to get temperatures back under the Holocene maximum of 0.5ºC, which implies a level of greenhouse gases below 320 parts per million (ppm) of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), compared to the current level of 405 ppm.

Read the full article by David Spratt, published at Climate Code Red on 27/7/17, at http://www.climatecodered.org/2017/07/paris-15-2c-target-far-from-safe-say.html

Hundreds of US mayors endorse switch to 100% renewable energy by 2035

A bipartisan group of mayors from across the country has unanimously backed an ambitious commitment for US cities to run entirely on renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2035.
The fight against climate change: four cities leading the way in the Trump era
Read more

As the US Conference of Mayors wrapped up in Miami Beach on Monday, leaders from more than 250 cities voted on symbolic resolutions pushing back against Donald Trump on climate change and immigration.

Steve Benjamin, the Democratic mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, proposed the resolution with three other mayors. Mayors had been on the frontline of climate and energy issues for a long time, he said, adding that the president’s actions had ignited the excitement of mayors and citizens who want to do more.

Read the full article, published by The Guardian on 27/6/17, at https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/26/hundreds-of-us-mayors-vow-not-to-wait-for-trump-on-clean-energy

In Australia too local councils and Mayors are taking the lead. Read about our local councils campaign and the Darebin (Vic) Climate Emergency Action Plan.

The Planet Is Warming. And It’s Okay to Be Afraid

Another article in response to David Wallace-Wells’ recent controversial article in the New York Magazine.

Last Week, David Wallace-Wells wrote a cover story for of New York Magazine, “The Uninhabitable Earth,” on some of the worst-case scenarios that the climate crisis could cause by the end of this century. It describes killer heat waves, crippling agricultural failures, devastated economies, plagues, resource wars, and more. It has been read more than two million times.

The article has caused a major controversy in the climate community, in part because of some factual errors in the piece—though by and large the piece is an accurate portrayal of worst-case climate catastrophe scenarios. But by far the most significant criticism the piece received was that it was too frightening.

Read the full article by Margaret Klein Salamon, published by Common Dreams on 17/7/17, at https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/07/17/planet-warming-and-its-okay-be-afraid

Also read her excellent analysis of the benefits of ’emergency mode’ at Leading the Public into Emergency Mode

The Uninhabitable Earth

It is, I promise, worse than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today. And yet the swelling seas — and the cities they will drown — have so dominated the picture of global warming, and so overwhelmed our capacity for climate panic, that they have occluded our perception of other threats, many much closer at hand. Rising oceans are bad, in fact very bad; but fleeing the coastline will not be enough.

Indeed, absent a significant adjustment to how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth will likely become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century.

Read the full article by David Wallace-Wells, published by New York Magazine on 09/7/17, at http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/07/climate-change-earth-too-hot-for-humans.html?utm_campaign=nym&utm_medium=s1&utm_source=tw

This article sparked a huge response, with numerous articles appearing over the next week either condemning or supporting him for saying it like it is (more or less). For example:

by David Roberts: https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/7/11/15950966/climate-change-doom-journalism?mc_cid=0f0999589c&mc_eid=0b9f078224

by Victoria Herrmann: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/12/doomsday-narratives-climate-change-dangerous-wrong

by Margaret Klein Salamon: https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/07/17/planet-warming-and-its-okay-be-afraid

France to ban sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040

Norway, Netherlands, and now France setting dates for bans on petrol and diesel vehicles. Not sure why they can’t do this sooner, but it’s nevertheless a step in the right direction.

France will end sales of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 as part of an ambitious plan to meet its targets under the Paris climate accord, Emmanuel Macron’s government has announced.

The announcement comes a day after Volvo said it would only make fully electric or hybrid cars from 2019 onwards, a decision hailed as the beginning of the end for the internal combustion engine’s dominance of motor transport after more than a century.

Read the full article by Angelique Chrisafis and Adam Vaughan, published by The Guardian on 06/7/17, at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jul/06/france-ban-petrol-diesel-cars-2040-emmanuel-macron-volvo