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POINT OF VIEW

At the G7 Meeting in Cornwall, UK, in June 2021, World Leaders committed to “keep the 1.5°C global warming threshold within reach.” Could this open a path to a global commitment to 1.5C Max at COP26 in November 2021?

 

We must secure public support at all levels of society – individuals, businesses, NGOs and governments – for action to keep the 1.5C global warming threshold within reach.

 

How can we now build on the commitments made by G7 Leaders?

Key Outcomes from G7  

We welcome the many positive commitments in the G7 Leaders communique [1], in particular:

 

  •  “Accelerating efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and keep the 1.5C global warming threshold within reach.”

  •  Conserving or protecting at least 30 percent of our land and oceans by 2030

  •  Cutting carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 

  •  Transitioning away from coal and committing to “an end to new direct government support for unabated international thermal coal power generation by the end of 2021”

  •  Eliminating fossil fuel subsidies by 2025

  •  Recognising the potential of “carbon pricing to foster cost-efficient reductions in emission levels”

  •  Acknowledging our duty to safeguard the planet for future generations.  

 

What Next?  Route to a Global commitment to 1.5C Max

The commitment by the G7 to 1.5C opens the way to a global commitment to 1.5C at COP26:

  • First the G7 Leaders persuade the G20 Leaders to commit to 1.5C Max when they meet in Rome at the end of October 2021

  • Then the G20 Leaders persuade COP26

 

 Obstacles to be Overcome

  1.  For G7 Leaders to take the action necessary to limit global warming to 1.5C, public support from people and businesses is essential

  2. Public support is critically important because Agreements by the G7 are not politically binding, so political pressure from the public will be necessary to counter the economic interests of the fossil fuel industries who heavily contribute to political financing.

  3. G20 Climate and Energy Ministers met on 23 July 2021 and did not support the 1.5C Max commitment [2].The issue will be discussed again when G20 Leaders meet on 30 October

 

​How to Mobilise Public Support   

See our Blog Post here.

 

Urgent Action on Solutions Available Now

 

Stopping global warming is the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced.  This is a climate emergency with no vaccine or short cuts.  But proven solutions are known. For example, for reasons unrelated to climate, France decarbonised its electricity very rapidly in the 1970s, which has had the impact of producing low-carbon, reliable power in France for decades, with no major accidents. Such decarbonisation needs to happen globally and quickly in order to meet the 1.5C Max goal.

 

  •  Stop Coal

Coal must be stopped because it creates nearly double the CO2 emissions of gas and its particulate pollution is deadly. And new coal power stations must be stopped too because they can create more CO2 emissions for another 50 years or more!  $100 billion of funds are expected to be committed by developed countries.  Could some of these funds be allocated to build wind, nuclear or solar power infrastructure to replace the 600 new coal fired power stations which are planned worldwide?

 

  • Stop subsidies of Fossil Fuels

The G7 supports this. These subsidies should be redirected to cutting CO2 emissions by decarbonising electric grids everywhere.  The IMF noted that subsidies to the fossil fuel industry amounted to $5.2 trillion in 2017. [3].

 

  • Build Low carbon energy electricity generation

It’s a nice idea that “free” energy from solar and wind will be sufficient to meet current and future world needs and meet the aim of cutting CO2 emissions by 50% by 2030.  But solar and wind at scale require huge areas of land. Also, the intermittent nature of sun and wind need a size of backup which in practice is usually fossil-fuel based, either coal or gas.

 

So, it’s time to look again at the balance of risk: Nuclear power has a low safety risk compared with most other energy sources, but climate disaster from continued burning of fossil fuels is a certainty.  

 

Many environmental activists including Bill Gates now support nuclear power.  Many environmental activists have recently changed their minds and now support nuclear power. The balance of evidence is that nuclear power needs to have a crucial place in the energy mix, unless we want to revert to a pre-industrial lifestyle. 

 

🌳🌳🌳  Plant a Trillion Trees

We are encouraged by the focus by G7 Leaders and others to protect and restore 30% of land and sea to nature.  Planting trees can potentially remove around 10% of global CO2 emissions per year and planting them in the tropics is particularly cost effective.  Individuals and businesses can remove some or all of their CO2 footprint by donating to fund tree-planting, such as N0CO2.  With this charity project, planting trees  provides paid work for families in extreme poverty. 

Stop Deforestation

There is a critical need to tackle the more difficult problem of stopping deforestation. More imaginative solutions need to be explored, including tackling root causes of poverty and illegality, such as Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES), debt for nature swaps, and particularly in developed countries, legislation to prevent or strongly discourage deforestation.

 

Carbon Pricing

G7 Leaders “recognise the potential of ……. carbon pricing to foster cost-efficient reductions in emission levels.”  So let’s make it happen!   This works by tackling the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases – burning fossil fuels. When businesses extract or import fossil fuels, they pay a fee, which rises each year. The result is that only the biggest users of fossil fuels are net contributors. This is already operating in Canada.

Focus on electrifying energy use

Electric cars have gained attention, but more infrastructure such as charging points is needed to make them practical for long trips.  Now it’s time to electrify other vehicles as well as homes and industries, bearing in mind that the power sources for these conversions to electricity must be low-carbon.

 

Cut CO2 from buildings

We know how to do this, so why the delay in implementing the cutting of CO2 emissions from new buildings? For example, in the UK, why the delay in rolling out cost-effective insulation improvements for existing housing stock, such as additional loft insulation?

 

Urgent Action by Us All

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres stressed the need for all to get involved in taking action to stop global warming [4] and the White House stressed the need for action by “all-of-society.” On 21 September, at the UN Climate Roundtable, Boris Johnson put it very well: [5]

 

We are joined today by leaders of countries already feeling the worst effects of climate change.

As the world continues to warm they will be joined in that unfortunate distinction by still more nations, home to billions of people, and an ever-growing slice of global GDP.

And if you abdicate responsibility today, do you think those who pay the price for that decision will rally to your side tomorrow?

If you say that the lives of their children are not worth the hassle of reducing domestic coal consumption, will they vote with you in fora such as this?

Will they work with you, borrow from you, stand with you if you tell the world that you don’t care whether their land and their people slip below the waves?

These countries need allies.

They need help now, that’s why I stress the $100 billion so much.

To be merely a bystander is to be complicit in their fate – yet that is exactly what you will be if you fail to act this year.

I speak frankly – we are, after all, among friends.

But COP26 will be staged in the full glare of the global spotlight.

And when the summit ends, when most of the world has committed to decisive, game-changing action, it will be clear to all which of us has lacked the courage to step up.

The world will see, and your people will remember, and history will judge.

So you can look away, you can do the minimum, you can hope that if you feed the crocodile enough it will devour you last.

Or you can show leadership.

 

Everyone can be a Climate Leader

  1. Tell your politicians you want 1.5C Max.

  2. Support Climate Solutions on the list above – nationally and locally.

  3. Cut your personal CO2 emissions.

  4. Remove the rest of your CO2 – eg plant trees.

  5. At work, in the community, at home – talk to people to engage them about action to stop global warming.

  6. Join an organisation and take action. For example, why not join Saving Our Planet?

 

Stephan Savarese, President, Saving Our Planet

17 October 2021

Contact

 

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References

[1] G7 LEADERS SUMMIT COMMUNIQUÉ

Our Shared Agenda for Global Action to Build Back Better 13 June 2021

 

[2] G20 Climate and Energy Ministers Communique

 

[3] Fossil fuels are under-priced by a whopping $5.2 trillion

[4] “Our planet is broken” said the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his address on the State of the Planet at Columbia University on 2 December 2020.

[5] PM's remarks to UN climate roundtable: 20 September 2021