So what was it all about then? Last night we had a “Report Back” meeting in Launceston. The attendance wasn’t huge but three of us – myself, Euan and Ricky – got together to talk through how it came to happen, why we set off, what we did on the way, what happened when we got there and then have a bit of a discussion about what we learnt and what happens next.
We will be running more of these sessions as opportunity and demand arises – there are plans for Plymouth and possibly Exeter and Truro/Falmouth in mid-Feb and if you’d like one or more of us us to come and talk the talk in your town then please do get in touch.
The Launceston evening was very interesting. Clearly something was agreed in Paris – ‘they’ did sign up to the idea that really temperature rise should be held below 2 degrees and ideally close to 1.5 degrees. But there was no agreement on how that would be done. In effect the governments kicked the can down the road in the hope that something would turn up.
The ‘pledges’ by governments simply amounted to what they could do without adversely impacting their ‘economic performance’. As the graph shows the sum of all the pledges equates to a reduction in the rate of increase of carbon emissions year on year. That is quite different to a reduction in carbon emissions. It means they are still growing, but slightly less fast than they have been.
As Kevin Anderson (a highly respected scientist) points out in this paper in order to have a 67% chance of staying below 2 degrees (but still a one in three chance of going over 2 degrees, never mind getting near 1.5) then no more than 650 gigatons of human generated carbon can be dumped into the atmosphere between now and 2100.
But currently emissions are running at 35 gigatons per year – and the Paris agreement proposes to increase that to 40 gigatons per year by 2025. At 35 gigatons per year we have only 19 years after which we will have to transition instantly to zero gigatons per year to stand a 2 in 3 chance of staying below 2 degrees. Don’t even ask what we’d have to do to stick under 1.5 degrees (which remember the ‘world leaders’ said they ought to, and would like to do).
Clearly the world governments are way behind the curve.
So where is the good news from Paris? Well for me it is that a vast range of people and civil society groups below government level are starting to take effective action themselves and ignoring the procrastination of the old people who claim to have power. And in Paris there was a lot of connection and networking between all these hitherto more or less isolated groups. Together we are stronger. We draw strength and inspiration from each other. Another world is possible. We must take back the power from the old guard to make it happen.
In summary in Paris the old powers abdicated. They stood together and said that “the science is correct, the world must change, but we are not going to make it change”. Thus they ceded all authority. Their claims to have the power to govern are shown to be hollow. They are the hollow men, and they cannot hold.
Get out of the way hollow men, a new world is coming through.