Monday, May 08, 2017

No Country on Earth Is Taking the 2 Degree Climate Target Seriously - by David Roberts

If we mean what we say, no more new fossil fuels, anywhere.

Is it warm in here? (Credit: Shutterstock) Click to Enlarge.
One of the morbidly fascinating aspects of climate change is how much cognitive dissonance it generates, in individuals and nations alike.

The more you understand the brutal logic of climate change — what it could mean, the effort necessary to forestall it — the more the intensity of the situation seems out of whack with the workaday routines of day-to-day life.  It’s a species-level emergency, but almost no one is acting like it is.  And it’s very, very difficult to be the only one acting like there’s an emergency, especially when the emergency is abstract and science-derived, grasped primarily by the intellect.

This psychological schism is true for individuals, and it’s true for nations.  Take the Paris climate agreement.

In Paris, in 2015, the countries of the world agreed (again) on the moral imperative to hold the rise in global average temperature to under 2 degrees Celsius, and to pursue "efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees."  To date, 62 countries, including the United States, China, and India, have ratified the agreement.

Are any of the countries that signed the Paris agreement taking the actions necessary to achieve that target?

No.  The US is not.  Nor is the world as a whole.

The actions necessary to hold to 2 degrees, much less 1.5 degrees, are simply outside the bounds of conventional politics in most countries.  Anyone who proposed them would sound crazy, like they were proposing, I don’t know, a war or something.

So we say 2 degrees is unacceptable. But we don’t act like it is.

This cognitive dissonance is brought home yet again in a report published in October from Oil Change International (in collaboration with a bunch of green groups).  It’s about fossil fuels and how much of them we can afford to dig up and burn, if we’re serious about what we said in Paris.  It’s mostly simple math, but the implications are vast and unsettling.

Read more at No Country on Earth Is Taking the 2 Degree Climate Target Seriously

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