Lord Stern’s warning on climate change – ‘I don’t think the criticalness of these 20 years is sufficiently understood’Posted by Jim at Sunday, November 29, 2015
(The Guardian) – Europe has to step up its effort to combat climate change and wake up to the urgency of the situation, the climate change expert Lord Stern has said before crunch UN talks in Paris.
Europeans need to end subsidies for fossil fuels, multiply energy efficiency efforts, improve mass public transport systems and accelerate the roll-out of electric cars in order to live up to their commitments, Stern told the Guardian in an interview.
Decisions taken at the Paris summit, opening on 30 November, will shape the world’s carbon course for the next two decades, which in turn will determine whether there is a chance of avoiding a global temperature rise of more than 2C, considered to be the threshold for dangerous climate change.
“In human history it’s a one-off … and what we map out in the next two decades will be absolutely critical,” he said. “Whether we can live in our cities – breathe in them, move in them – all of this will be defined by the decisions we take.
“I don’t think the criticalness of these 20 years is sufficiently understood.”
Stern’s word were echoed by a high-ranking UN science adviser, Prof Jim Skea, who agreed that the EU needed to go beyond existing pledges of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030.
Skea, from Imperial College London, said Europe needed to raise that pledge to at least 45%, and ideally to 50%. “If we were in the upper end of the 40s it would be perhaps the lowest-cost way of getting to the ambitious improvement in the long term,” he said.
His claim will be controversial among governments and some powerful industries who are concerned that they are already at a disadvantage because restrictions on pollution are so much tougher in Europe than in other parts of the world. The UK steel industry is among the claimed casualties.
More than 140 countries have already submitted plans for cutting their emissions before the talks in Paris. On Friday, the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) said the offers fell significantly short of what was needed for a 66% chance of stopping the average temperature rising by 2C or more. [more]