Global carbon dioxide emissions rise even as coal wanes and renewables boom

  • Fossil fuel emissions have climbed for a second straight year, driven by growing energy use
  • In the United States, emissions of carbon dioxide are projected to increase 2.5 percent in 2018 after a decade of declines.
  • Consumption of one fossil fuel, however, is no longer on the rise: coal. The study shows coal consumption in Canada and the United States has dropped by 40 percent since 2005

Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences Read ScienceDaily coverage here

Renewable energy capacity has hit record levels and global coal use may have already peaked. But the world’s carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels increased in 2018, and the trend places global warming targets in jeopardy.

The new projections come in a week when international negotiators are gathering in the coal-mining city of Katowice, Poland, to work out the rules for implementing the Paris climate agreement. Under the 2015 accord, hundreds of nations pledged to cut carbon emissions and keep global warming “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures.

“We thought, perhaps hoped, emissions had peaked a few years ago,” said Jackson, a professor of Earth system science in Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth). “After two years of renewed growth, that was wishful thinking.”…

R B Jackson, C Le Quéré, R M Andrew, J G Canadell, J I Korsbakken, Z Liu, G P Peters and B Zheng. Global Energy Growth Is Outpacing Decarbonization. Environmental Research Letters, 2018 DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/af303

Sir David Attenborough calls climate change ‘our greatest threat’ in UN COP24 climate meeting opening session

[Ellie note: I am in Katowice, Poland representing Point Blue at the UNFCCC’s COP24– the annual global climate meeting. More to come!]

Matt McGrath Read the full BBC News article here

The naturalist Sir David Attenborough has said climate change is humanity’s greatest threat in thousands of years. The broadcaster said it could lead to the collapse of civilisations and the extinction of “much of the natural world”. He was speaking at the opening ceremony of United Nations-sponsored climate talks in Katowice, Poland.

The meeting is the most critical on climate change since the 2015 Paris agreement. Sir David said: “Right now, we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale. Our greatest threat in thousands of years. Climate change. If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.” The naturalist is taking up the “People’s Seat” at the conference, called COP24. He is supposed to act as a link between the public and policy-makers at the meeting.

…This Conference of the Parties (COP) is the first to be held since the landmark Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on limiting global temperature rise to 1.5C came out in October. The IPCC stated that to keep to the 1.5C goal, governments would have to slash emissions of greenhouse gases by 45% by 2030. But a recent study showed that CO2 emissions are on the rise again after stalling for four years. In an unprecedented move, four former UN climate talks presidents issued a statement on Sunday, calling for urgent action. They say “decisive action in the next two years will be crucial”….

Snowpack declines may stunt tree growth and forests’ ability to store carbon emissions

Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY

Researchers conducting a 5-year-long study examining snow cover in a northern hardwood forest region found that projected changes in climate could lead to a 95 percent reduction of deep-insulating snowpack in forest areas across the northeastern United States by the end of the 21st century. The loss of snowpack would likely result in a steep reduction of forests’ ability to store climate-changing carbon dioxide and filter pollutants from the air and water.

…..”These experiments demonstrate the significant impact that changes in winter climate have on a variety of environmental factors, including forest growth, carbon sequestration, soil nutrients and air and water quality,” Reinmann said. “Left unabated, these changes in climate could have a detrimental impact on the forests of the region and the livelihoods of the people who rely on them for recreation and industries such as tourism, skiing, snowmobiling, timber and maple syrup production.”

Andrew B. Reinmann, Jessica R. Susser, Eleonora M. C. Demaria, Pamela H. Templer. Declines in northern forest tree growth following snowpack decline and soil freezing. Global Change Biology, 2018; DOI: 10.1111/gcb.14420

The Surprising Climate And Environmental Legacy Of President George H. W. Bush

Marshall Shepherd- Read Forbes article here

One of his most important contributions is related to the recently released 4th National Climate Assessment. President Bush was a central figure in this activity. In fact, some have asked me why the Trump administration would release a report that the current president says he doesn’t believe. The short answer: It’s the law. George H.W. Bush’s Administration and the Congress of that time period deserve credit. By the way, science is not a “belief” system so even if you don’t believe in gravity, guess what happens when you fall from a ladder. The National Climate Assessment reports are not about “belief systems” or “tooth fairies.” They are about science and policy. As I wrote recently in Forbes,

“The U.S. Global Change Research Program was established during President George H.W. Bush’s administration in 1989 by a Presidential Initiative. Congress then mandated further action with the Global Change Research Act of 1990. The law specifically mandated the following key actions: Directs the President to establish an interagency United States Global Change Research Program to improve understanding of global change. Requires the Chairman of the Council, through the Committee, to develop a National Global Change Research Plan for implementation of the Program. Sets forth required Plan contents and research elements, including that the Plan provide recommendations for collaboration within the Federal Government and among nations…..

To Help Prevent the Next Big Wildfire, Let the Forest Burn

Ash Ngu and Sahil Chinoy  NYTimes Opinion

…Much of California’s forestland is overgrown, partly because of federal regulations implemented in 1910, which mandated stamping out wildfires as soon as possible. These policies were revised around the 1970s to allow some fires to naturally burn their course, but much of the West has struggled to do so.

…Policymakers and citizens alike must abandon the idea that trees are always worth saving and that fire is always a threat. Instead, they should permit modest, ecologically necessary wildfires to burn.

“For a long time, we were mistaken about what was going on in the forest,” said Malcolm North, an ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service. “People believed that you needed to put fires out because it was burning the forest up. That has proven to be wrong.”…

….Decreasing the amount of fuel available to wildfires requires a combination of practices that remove vegetation, like prescribed fires and the selective removal of smaller trees and mulching. Stephen Pyne, an environmental historian who studies fire, emphasized that logging would not keep wildfires at bay. “Logging takes the big trunks and leaves the small stuff because there’s no market for it,” he said. “Fire burns the little and leaves the big.”

Making matters more complicated, more than 11 million Californians live in the wildland-urban interface, fire-prone transition zones between unoccupied land and developed areas….

….California is now collecting itself at the tail end of its most destructive and deadliest wildfire season on record. But recovery is not just about donating to relief efforts and rebuilding burned homes. It’s also about creating a new culture for forest and fire management in the state, one that respects the role that carefully planned fires play in preventing disasters.

In May, Gov. Jerry Brown took a step towards this future, dedicating $96 million to reducing wildfire risk in the state. He directed state offices to double the number of acres being managed with prescribed burns and vegetation thinning to 500,000 acres from 250,000 acres, among other directives like educating landowners about effective forest management….