Climate failure from Kyoto to Doha in one simple chart
The United Nations' 18th annual climate change meeting just wrapped up in Doha, Qatar. The official storyline is the same as always: important progress was made.
Few seem to believe it anymore.
In my opinion, everything you really need to know about the effectiveness of the United Nations' multi-decade efforts to stop climate change can be seen in my chart below. It shows the annual increase in CO2 in the atmosphere along with the annual UN Conference of Parties (COP) climate meetings for each year.
Eighteen years of COP meetings, task forces, brinkmanship, declarations, policies, promises and protocols have not slowed the rise in global CO2 one tiny bit. Zip. Nada. Cero. Nulis. Zyro. Null. Sunna. Zero. Sefr. Ling. Nol. Yeong. Not even a tiny bit.
The governments of the world separately, and together via their UN-led process, have completely failed -- for decades -- to halt the relentless increase in fossil fuel pollution that is driving us off the "climate cliff."
Meanwhile the storm clouds of climate changes gather and darken. Record smashing extreme heat events, deluges, flooding, storms, droughts, crop losses, sea level rises, wave heights, wind speeds, forest and coral reef die-offs, wildfires, species extinction, permafrost meltdown, ice loss and ocean acidification are all growing ever worse.
Often the dramatic changes are emerging much faster than even worst case projections of a few years ago.
As one of the world's leading climate scientists, James Hansen of NASA, says:
"Ladies and gentlemen, your governments are lying through their teeth. You may wish to use softer language, but the truth is that they know that their planned approach will not come anywhere near achieving the intended global objectives. Moreover, they are now taking actions that, if we do not stop them, will lock in guaranteed failure..."
"The problem is that our governments, under the heavy thumb of special interests, are ... pursuing policies to get every last drop of fossil fuel"
Sure enough, top global institutions that specialize in energy forecasts --the World Bank, the International Energy Agency, the United Nations, the Global Carbon Project, PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- have all recently warned that we are on a dirty energy path leading to a climate "catastrophe" of 4.0 C to 6.2 C of global warming during the lives of our children.
Oops, sorry kids.
This is five to eight times the amount of warming we have seen so far. Beyond 2.0 C the climate science and the nations of the world have said human civilization faces dire threats. Nobody wants to live in a world where the weather has been turbo-charged by 4 to 6 more degrees of global heat energy. It will be real misery on a global scale.
Despite the increasingly dire warnings from some of the world's most respected organizations, just take a look at what some of our own politicians and leadership are doing:
- The Port of Metro Vancouver is pushing through a massive increase in coal exports with the goal of making our port the largest coal exporter on the continent. More climate pollution already goes out of this one port as coal than the entire economy of BC burns. Yet, amazingly, in BC today there are still no climate limits of any kind on the extraction or export of the direst fossil fuel of all -- coal. And not one the millions of tonnes of coal will be asked to pay even a penny of our carbon tax. Clean talk, dirty actions.
- YVR airport is pushing for a doubling of jet fuel burning. This will more than wipe out decades of greenhouse gas reductions from the rest of the Vancouver region. Despite the scale of the climate damage involved, there are no absolutely no climate limitations on the billions of litres of jet fuel for out of province flights. Not one litre of that jet fuel will be asked to pay even a penny of our carbon tax. Clean talk, dirty actions.
- The Clark provincial government is pushing hard for massive increases in the amount of coal and fossil methane (aka "natural gas") that will be extracted each year. The increase in climate pollution being extracted under these plans are many times larger than all the fossil fuel burned in BC's economy today. Once again there are still absolutely no climate limits in BC on either coal or fossil methane extraction or exports. Once again none of the hundreds of millions of tonnes of fossil carbon will have to pay even a single penny of our carbon tax. Clean talk, dirty actions.
- The Harper federal government is sweeping away any laws and people that threaten to moderate its agenda of radically expanding the extraction of carbon out of the Alberta tar sands deposits. Despite the "carbon bomb" scale of the threat, there are no federal or provincial climate limits restricting the amount of carbon that can be extracted from the Alberta tar sands. None. Rapid expansion of fossil carbon extraction is an unchecked, priority number one for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Despite 18 years of clean talk at UN-led climate negotiations, politicians here and around the world still refuse to do the one thing required to preserve a safe, stable climate: reduce the total amount of fossil fuels extracted and burned.
“It may seem impossible to imagine that technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing.”
-- Elizabeth Kolbert, Field Notes from a Catastrophe