Save the Planet candidate’s question sparks Monbiot rethink on carbon budget and results in the 2013 Australian Climate Summit adopting a zero carbon budget.
Globally recognised climate writer George Monbiot, addressing the Australian 2013 Climate Summit, has decided to throw his weight behind leaving all fossil fuels in the ground.
In his address, Monbiot supported the 350.0rg Fossil Fuel Divestment campaign. He repeated Bill McKibben’s line that 80% of the world’s fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground (implying that 20% could still be burned emitting a further 565 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide – 60% more than the emissions to date).
In question time, Philip Sutton (Save the Planet Candidate for Batman) asked Monbiot why we should endorse the burning any further fossil fuel given the massive impacts of extreme weather events over the last 15 years and massive melting of Arctic ice driven by what’s been burned already.
“I was amazed by his response” Philip said. “Most celebrities defend their position, but George took the question totally seriously. He thought for a few seconds and then recounted an experience he’d had recently. The international sustainability manager of IKEA had told him that the company got a much better response when suppliers were given unambiguous goals for environmental performance. If there was any wiggle room each supplier wanted to be the one that didn’t have to tighten its standards. But if they are told there is no option but to go fully sustainable, they complain a bit initially and then get on with it. George said that, on reflection, that’s how we should go with the burning of fossil fuels. Fossil free doesn’t mean burning another 20%, it means zero.”
Climate Summit delegates picked up on this in the final Summit communiqué:
“The Summit heard reports confirming climate science warnings that urgent action needs to be taken now, that the earth is already too hot, and our carbon budget for a safe climate is zero. Attendees heard that the Earth has been warming by the equivalent of 4 Hiroshima bombs per second for several decades. We need 100% renewable energy and all fossil fuels to stay in the ground. If all levels of government along with governments of other leading polluting nations do not move with emergency speed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, billions of people’s lives are at risk.”
The George Monbiot video but doesn’t include the Q&A session.
by Philip Sutton Candidate for Batman and Manager, RSTI http://www.green-innovations.asn.au/
A fast climate-driven economic transition will probably have five key phases:
- building full strength commitment (could be an unknown number of years - probably more than 3 and less than 15)
- planning the transition (1 to 3 years) - this period can be shortened, possibly to one year, if a lot of the needed detailed technical planning is done during the period of commitment uncertainty.
- switching and scaling (3 years max) - further investment in the fossil fuel economy is banned and new production capacity is created by switching current capacity where this is technically feasible and by building new suitable production capacity (only) where this is really needed.
- decommissioning the old economy and growing the new economy (10 to 20 years, or maybe less, depending on the urgency/severity of the climate crisis). The decommissioning would probably involve scrapping the old unconvertible fossil fuel plant and equipment (industrial and consumer) well before the end of its normal economic life).
- rebalancing the transitional economy (about 3 years) - once the old economy has been decommissioned and replaced, the economy needs to be rebalanced to suit the needs of the new 'normal' economy.
This structure is inspired to a large extent by the WW2 economic mobilisation but is not identical to it.
What got me going was that I was thinking about the 'maximum rate of growth' issue that was examined in the 2009 WWF report ( Climate Solutions 2: Low-Carbon Re-Industrialisation ). After playing around with a spreadsheet for a while, it occurred to me that the growth rates would probably fall into two phases. The first phase would be one of deliberate switching and scaling. Starting from a low base, the annual growth rates of the new sectors would probably be extremely high. But once the new industrial sectors had been substantially scaled up, I think the growth rate in the subsequent phase would settle back to a rate that, while higher than the growth of the economy as a whole, was probably not more than about 8 to 12 percent per annum (something like wth rate). (The economic growth rate as a whole in the US economy inan Asian tiger gro 1942 was 12% and in 1943 was 13%. On either side the rates were lower).
Bloggers on this page include Adrian Whitehead, Philip Sutton, Bryony Edwards, Andrea Otto, David Lughermo.