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Looking beyond the Carbon “Tax” - the emergency transition to global sustainability AMP Amplify Festival Sydney, 6 th June 2011 Ian T. Dunlop Director Australia 21 Member, Club of Rome Chairman, Safe Climate Australia Deputy Convenor, Australian Association for the Study of Peak Oil
World Population - a unique point in history - Source: J.E.Cohen, Columbia University, New York, 2005 A Full World Where to ? BC AD 1945 – An Empty World ?
World Ecological Footprint - humanity today needs 1.5 planets to survive- Source: GFN, WWF, ZSL
Everything Connects ---- ! - but we are not joining the dots Water Peak Oil Climate Change All Symptoms of an Unsustainable World - and all inextricably linked Food Financial Instability
World Energy Outlook 2010 - acknowledging the Peak is near, or here! Source: World Energy Outlook 2010, International Energy Agency 4 Saudi Arabia’s are required by 2035 to just maintain current supply – highly unlikely!
This is a graphical interpretation by David Spratt, Melbourne Climate Action Centre, of aspects of recent paleoclimate research by Hansen et al, available in draft form at: http://arxiv.org/abs/1105.1140 http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2011/20110118_MilankovicPaper.pdf http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2011/20110514_PaleoAndImbalance.pdf Version 1.3 of 3 June 2011 Eocene peak Planetary temperature over the last 65 million years… Lessons for today… and tomorrow.
Antarctic glaciation ~ 34 million years ago… Eocene peak Around 34 million years ago, glaciation of Antarctica as temperature drops from Eocene peak.
Around ~4.5 million years ago, northern hemisphere glaciation. Associated with the rise of the Panama Cordillera which isolates the Pacific from the Atlantic oceans and leads to intra-oceanic circulation (Gyres) which introduces warm currents and moisture to the North Atlantic – resulting in increased snow fall and formation of ice in Greenland, Laurentia and Fennoscandia. Northern hemisphere glaciation ~ 4.5 million years ago… Eocene peak
The last million years… Climate swings between ice ages and warm inter-glacial periods over last million years. CO2 between 180 and 300 parts per million . Carbon dioxide and methane over last 500,000 years
Peak Holocene: over last 10,000 years up 1900AD The last 10,000 years – the Holocene Peak Holocene temp. Holocene: after the last ice age, relatively stable temperatures (+/–0.5C) and sea-levels over last 10,000 years – the period of human civilisation
Peak Holocene: over last 10,000 years up 1900AD Global average temperature now ~0.6C above peak Holocene Today temperature rises above the Holocene maximum 2010 CO2 level today (2011) is 391ppm but “thermal inertia” (delay as ocean mass warm) means temperature will increase further. Temperatures have risen ~0.83C since 1900 and are now ~0.6C over peak Holocene.
Peak Holocene: over last 10,000 years up 1900AD Global average temperature now ~0.6C above peak Holocene 2C of warming: consequence of current level of greenhouse gases 2 degrees – goodbye to Greenland ice sheet… +2C When climate system reaches equilibrium, present level of CO2 will produce >2C of warming with feedbacks…
Peak Holocene: over last 10,000 years up 1900AD Global average temperature now ~0.6C above peak Holocene 2C of warming: consequence of current level of greenhouse gases +2C … which is sufficient for large parts of Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets to be lost, leading to at least a 6-7 metre sea-level rise over time “ Goals to limit human-made warming to 2°C.. are not sufficient – they are prescriptions for disaster” — Dr James Hansen
Peak Holocene: over last 10,000 years up 1900AD Global average temperature now ~0.6C above peak Holocene 2C of warming: consequence of current level of greenhouse gases 4C of warming 4 degrees – goodbye, goodbye … Best present emission reduction commitments by all governments (if implemented) will still lead to 4 degrees of warming by 2100… +4C
Peak Holocene: over last 10,000 years up 1900AD Global average temperature now ~0.6C above peak Holocene 2C of warming: consequence of current level of greenhouse gases 4C of warming +4C … and likely loss overtime of all ice sheets. No ice sheets on planet = 70 metre sea-level rise over time… … amongst many devastating impacts. Read more about 4 degrees hotter at http://www.climateactioncentre.org/resources
Arctic Sea Ice Volume - accelerating melt Source: Neven et al, PIOMAS, University of Washington 2011 Sea Ice Volume Km 3 Years 1979 – 2010 actuals Months - actual volume
Potential Global Tipping Points Source: Schellnhuber, after Lenton et al, PNAS, 2008
Time to face reality - risks are escalating fast
Human carbon emissions accelerating
Rapid summer melt of Arctic sea ice
Decline in natural carbon sinks
Tipping point for ice sheet loss & glaciers at lower temperatures than expected
Australia – World Emissions Leader Individual Carbon Emissions 2005 Source: World Development Report 2010, World Bank
Climate & Energy are Inextricably Linked - global carbon budget to avoid dangerous climate change So why are we continuing to explore for fossil fuels? Source: Meinhausen et al, Greenhouse-gas emission targets, Nature, April 2009 75% chance of staying below 2 0 C 50% chance of staying below 2 0 C From 2010 onwards, we can only afford to burn 40 – 30% respectively of existing fossil fuel reserves to have:
The Way Forward Our Great Opportunity - for our current way-of-life is unsustainable -
Honesty about the challenge -it is far greater than we are being told
Emission reductions of:
50% by 2020, not 5%
100% by 2050, not 60%
and re-absorption of some carbon from the atmosphere
emissions must peak within 5 years, then drop rapidly
using high-density sustainability principles, integrated with efficient public transport
De-centralisation of work centres
Rail becomes major transport mode
for high-speed passengers and freight
Electricity from clean energy becomes dominant energy supply
Halt to freeway and airport construction
Air travel will reduce
unless quality biofuels emerge
Localised food production
Major IT innovation to reduce ecological footprint
built around high speed broadband
Enhanced resource productivity
zero-waste design with waste becoming a major resource
Solutions - Risk & Resilience “ It is difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends on him not understanding it” Upton Sinclair Growth Systemic Breakdown Re-organisation Re-birth Over-extended Growth Catastrophic Breakdown Collapse Source: Resilience Alliance, Thomas Homer-Dixon
Existing political & corporate processes will not deliver:
either in time, or in substance
A circuit-breaker is required to move:
from incrementalism to rapid transformation
political & corporate mindsets beyond their comfort zone
We have to move to an emergency war-footing programme, akin to:
Marshall Plan for re-construction of Europe post-WW2
Mobilisation of US,UK,German economies pre-WW2
21C version of the Snowy Hydro scheme
but much bigger !
Rapid change can occur with the right incentive:
we now have that incentive
Our Great Opportunity - but it requires a radically different approach
Two Questions [email_address] “ Australia’s advantages as a low-cost supplier of energy and raw materials are likely to be even greater after a successful transition to a low-carbon economy than they are in a world in which fossil fuels dominate energy supply”. Ross Garnaut Garnaut Climate Change Review May 2011 Thank you “ In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, whilst the rest find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world which no longer exists” Eric Hoffman Will we learn in time ? Will we seize the opportunity ?