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Reports on Climate Change and Environmental Responsibility
This page is intended to be a resource: direct links to the better-quaity reports and information on climate and environmental responsibility and their link with the economy and other aspects of life.
Reports emerged in rapid succession from 2018 onwards telling the same story of humanity's need to take climate and environmental responsibility, so this tries to list those that are more important, along with some other material, in chronological order. For each, it offers link to the report and a brief summary. At the end, it suggests some Biblical principles that apply to various reports and calls us to responsibility.
- U.N. Emissions Gap Report 2023 - 20 November 2023. We are heading for a 2.9 degrees increase above pre-industrial global temperatures by the end of this century, far above the 1.5 degrees called for in Paris 2015 and even the 2 degrees maximum safe. The 2,9 degrees increase will occur if all unconditional Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are fully implemented. We are not going anywhere near fast enough. See the full report.
- Beyond growth: Pathways towards sustainable prosperity in the EU. May 2023. Discusses how the EU can maintain prosperity if the economy is planned not to grow in GDP terms. An important document, "this study presents the economic and socioecological challenges facing today's society and offers a reflection on possible transition pathways and associated tools to move beyond growth in EU policies. At last, de-growth etc. seems now to be on the mainstream agenda. HOWEVER, and very significantly, the Report (page 94, Figure 23) finds that Ecological Footprint correlates negatively with 10 human wellbeing indices, meaning that these indices tend to encourage ecological harm.
- Draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan by the Scottish Government, draft plan for route to net zero in energy by 2045. This is the consultation draft. It shows interesting ideas worked out.
- The 2022 report of the Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: health at the mercy of fossil fuels, October 25, 2022. "Worldwide, people are seeing their health increasingly affected by climate change amidst the compounding impacts of COVID-19 and the cost of living and energy crises ..." "Simultaneously, the changing climate is affecting the spread of infectious diseases, putting populations at higher risk of emerging diseases and co-epidemics. Coastal waters are becoming more suitable for the transmission of Vibrio pathogens ... malaria transmission ..." "... governments and companies continue to prioritise fossil fuels over a healthy future despite climate commitments; and rapid, holistic action is the only route to ensuring a just and healthy future."
- Challenge Accepted - A Progress Report on the Climate Security Plan for America and Recommendations for the Way Ahead, March 2022. "At its core, the national security apparatus in the U.S. was created to keep America and Americans safe. Doing so in the 21st century means tackling climate security risks, as multiple secretaries of defense, including James Mattis and Lloyd Austin, have recognized. This new report, "Challenge Accepted," is a road map for policymakers to do just that. Let's hope they follow it." It makes recommendations on "Demonstrating Leadership", "Assessing Climate Risks", "Supporting Allies and Partners" and "Preparing for and Preventing Climate Impacts", but there is almost no admission of responsibility nor any indication of repentance.
- IPCC Sixth Assessment Report: Mitigation of Climate Change 4 April 2022. There is much that can be done in the near term. We do not have to wait. Three reports are available: Summary for Policymakers (10 Mb), Technical Summary (20 Mb) and Full Report (280 Mb)
- IPCC Sixth Assessment Report; Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability 25 February 2022. "The cumulative scientific evidence is unequivocal: Climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health. Any further delay in concerted anticipatory global action on adaptation and mitigation will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all." The situation is more serious that even the climate scientists expected. This report looks at impacts of climate change, looking at ecosystems, biodiversity, and human communities at global and regional levels; and vulnerabilities and the capacities and limits of the natural world and human societies to adapt to climate change.
- UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2022 published 17 January 2022, "considers sixty-one UK-wide climate risks and opportunities cutting across multiple sectors of the economy" for action in the next two years. It prioritises risks to:
- the viability and diversity of terrestrial and freshwater habitats and species from multiple hazards
- soil health from increased flooding and drought
- natural carbon stores and sequestration from multiple hazards
- crops, livestock and commercial trees from multiple climate hazards
- supply of food, goods and vital services due to climate-related collapse of supply chains and distribution networks
- people and the economy from climate-related failure of the power system
- human health, wellbeing and productivity from increased exposure to heat in homes and other buildings
- the UK from climate change impacts overseas
Its focus is mainly on how the UK can adapt to climate change rather than prevent it. However, it paints a picture worse than had been expected. See also the summary announcement.
- Global Carbon Budget (21 December 2021), published annually in November by the Global Carbon Project (GCP). "Global fossil CO2 emissions in 2021 are set to rebound close to their pre-COVID levels after an unprecedented drop in 2020. Emissions from coal and gas use are set to grow more in 2021 than they fell in 2020, but emissions from oil use remain below 2019 levels. ... The rapid rebound in fossil CO2 emissions as economies recover from the COVID-19 pandemic reinforces the need for immediate action and global coherence in the world's response to climate change." See Biblical Comments about refusal to take warning and opportunity from the pandemic to reduce our carbon emissions.
- Climate Action Tracker Reports 10 November 2021. A respected organisation that brings out reports from time to time, including an annual update. E.g. their report Glasgow's 2030 credibility gap: net zero's lip service to climate action, which shows that the commitments at COP26 lead to a 2.4 Celcius increase, not 1.8 as some had misleadingly suggested. See Biblical comment.
- Greenhouse Gas Bulletin: Another Year Another Record, Report by IPCC, 25 October 2021. "The abundance of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere once again reached a new record last year, with the annual rate of increase above the 2011-2020 average." This is despite a slowdown in emissions generation because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the report points out. "Concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2), the most important greenhouse gas, reached 413.2 parts per million in 2020 and is 149% of the pre-industrial level. Methane (CH4) is 262% and nitrous oxide (N2O) is 123% of the levels in 1750 when human activities started disrupting Earth's natural equilibrium." 2020 was also one of the three warmest years on record.
Why are we, and our governments, so slow changing direction? Why so reluctant and resistant?
- Production Gap Report, United Nations Environment Programme. 25 October 2021. Governments have not planned how to change their tax regimes to cope with lower taxes from e.g. fossil fuel cars.
- Links to United Nations Environment Programme reports:
- The State of the UK Climate 2020 (UK Meteorological Office, 29 July 2021). It has been assumed that climate change will cause problems in the future, not now, and only in the tropics and poles, not in temperate zones like the UK, Europe, North America. But the UK's climate in 2020 suggests that this 'future' might be happening now. "The UK's climate is changing. Recent decades have been warmer, wetter and sunnier than the 20th century. Year 2020 was third warmest, fifth wettest and eight sunniest on record for the UK. No other year has fallen in the top-10 for all three variables for the UK." "Climate change has already increased the risks and impacts of these types of extreme weather events in the UK. Around the world, the intensity and frequency of heatwaves, such as the recent  event in Canada, may be attributed to climate change, and, since a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, this link may also extend to extreme rainfall." Using 1 km grid weather records going back over 100 years, weather of the past 30 years was compared with the previous 30 years. "The inherently variable nature of the UK's climate means that extreme weather events are to be expected in any given year. However, the extreme weather events of 2020 are generally consistent with this picture of a changing climate, particularly an increase in high temperature and high rainfall extremes." Full Report
- Three Warmest Years on Record, World Meteorological Organisation. 15 January 2021. "The year 2020 was one of the three warmest on record, and rivalled 2016 for the top spot, according to a consolidation of five leading international datasets by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). A naturally occurring cooling climate phenomenon, La Ni±a, put a brake on the heat only at the very end of the year."
- Local government and net zero in England - National Audit Office (NAO) Report, 16 July 2021. Read this to understand what role local authorities can play in reaching the target of net zero by 2050 (and how central government is failing to help them achieve this - feels a bit like blame-shifting!).
- Interview with Mark Carney: Investing in net-zero climate solutions creates value and rewards 2021.
- The Big Smoke: the global emissions of the UK financial sector 25 May 2021. "A new report by Greenpeace UK and WWF UK exposes the climate emissions funded by UK banks, asset managers and other financial institutions. ... It found that UK banks and asset managers financed carbon emissions that were 1.8 times the annual net emissions of the UK as a whole." And even so, this is an under-estimate because the study included banks and asset management but not e.g. underwriting. The problem is: UK financial institutions are "not currently regulated in the same way as other high carbon sectors and, when it comes to cutting emissions, they are not legally required to align their financing activities with the UK's or global climate commitments." It seems that more needs to be studied, but even if the findings of this report will be modified by future studies, it does at least show the scale of a previously hidden problem. Press release. See Biblical comment.
- Need for Sacrifices, Fri 30 Apr 2021. "Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the EU commission, said that if social policy and climate policy are not combined, to share fairly the costs and benefits of creating a low-carbon economy, the world will face a backlash from people who fear losing jobs or income, stoked by populist politicians and fossil fuel interests." "Older people will have to make sacrifices in the fight against climate change or today's children will face a future of fighting wars for water and food ..."
- Behaviour change and the climate crisis 15th April 2021, Report published by The Cambridge Sustainability Commission on Scaling Behaviour Change. "The idea that sustainable behaviour requires changes at both the individual and political levels, and that these two areas are not only linked, but also reinforce one another, is gaining traction." This comprehensive report discusses the scale of the challenge, understanding behaviour change, leverage and tipping points, and points for intervention.
- Making Peace with Nature 18 February 2021. The report, whose subtitle is "A scientific blueprint to tackle the climate, biodiversity and pollution emergencies," "communicates the current status of the world's urgent issues and opportunities to solve them." It aims to "translate the current state of scientific knowledge into crisp, clear and digestible facts-based messages that the world can relate to and follow up on. ... The analysis is anchored in current economic, social and ecological reality and framed by economics and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development." [I have yet to read it, so cannot yet comment. A.B.]
- The Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review 3 February 2021. As the author, Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta remarked, it is stupid that Amazon, the company, is worth billions while Amazon, the rainforest, is worth nothing unless it is destroyed for logging or agriculture. This review suggests how biodiversity issues might be properly valued in economics. The significance of this review is that it was commissioned by the UK Treasury, not Department of the Environment, which signals that the Treasury has at last! woken up to the need to properly value things that are truly valuable. Available on the above page is the full review (600 pp, 27Mb), an abridged version (118 pp, 8Mb), headings (1.8Mb), and reactions. See also:
and also as
- Map of World: Countries by Climate Change Performance Index 27 January 2021.
Published as part of the Davos agenda. (Thanks to Stephen McGibbon for sharing this.) See Biblical comment.
- Framing Climate Justice Research 18 January 2021. Results of a research project with aims (a) "to strengthen the climate justice movement", (b) "understand how the UK public thinks", (c) "improve climate justice comm[unication]s". Their findings are very useful for those who take action especially in the UK, and should be taken seriously. Their findings are directed to addressing systems of exploitation, which I take to be only part of the problem and solution. Findings relevant to climate and environmental responsibility are weaker, especially in regard to individual action and attitude. I recommend that a similar research project be carried out about individual attitude and action, which would complement the FCJ findings. See Critique of Framing Climate Justice. Urgent: To deliver interim suggestions for COP26.
- Reith Lectures 2020 23 December 2020. Mark Carney, ex-governor of the Bank of England, gave four Reith Lectures that are worth listening to. He emphasises how the economy needs to be rethought in a way that highlights our values, and especially addresses climate change in the fourth one. His concluding summary is found below. Here are the direct links to the four lectures, which will be available "for at least a year" on BBC Sounds.
- Lecture 1, 02 Dec 2020 - From Moral to Market Sentiments
Why have financial values come to be considered more important than human ones?
- Lecture 2, 09 Dec 2020 - From Credit Crisis to Resilience
Mark Carney assesses what lessons have been learnt from the 2008 financial crash.
- Lecture 3, 16 Dec 2020 - From Covid Crisis to Renaissance
Mark Carney looks at the tensions between economic and human values during the pandemic.
- Lecture 4, 23 Dec 2020 - From Climate Crisis to Real Prosperity
Mark Carney argues that the market can be redirected to alleviating climate change.
- The UK Climate Change Committee's Sixth Carbon Budget, published 9 December 2020, calculates that the cost of the UK reducing climate change emissions by 78% by 2035 will be much less than previously expected. It will cost only 0.5-1.0% of GDP and is likely to stimulate the GDP by 2%. The UK Climate Change Act requires the CC Committee to publish Carbon Budget reports annually. This is the most penetrating study of costs to date and contrasts markedly with the scare stories put out by climate skeptics like Nigel Lawson.
- Interview with Prince William and Sir David Attenborough on the BBC Today Programme, 8 October 2020. I have transcribed this because it shows something of the way these two people were thinking.
- Report on unprecedented biodiversity loss published by the United Nations on 15 September 2020, highlights that biodiversity loss links with the spread of disease. Not one of the twenty targets have been met by any of the countries. This is a wake-up call
"The continued degradation of the environment is increasing the likelihood of diseases spreading from animals to humans." "The report notes the importance of biodiversity in addressing climate change, and long-term food security, and concludes that action to protect biodiversity is essential to prevent future pandemics."
How are we going to meet the targets? The study urges us to consider the dangers implicit the kind of relationship with nature we currently have. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown the danger of a wrong relationship with animals - but it "has also demonstrated that transformative changes are possible when they must be made."
- A Lost Decade for Nature. Report published by the UK RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds)on 11 September 2020. The RSPB's analysis of the UK's self-assessment of its achievements relating to nature, reveals a bleak picture for wildlife in the UK. "the picture may be worse than reported, raising doubts some targets have not been met and highlighting areas where the UK has regressed."
"The UK must recognise the opportunity to make urgent changes at home which can be used to provide international leadership ahead of negotiating the next global plan to save nature and the climate in 2021." In response, the RSPB is launching the Revive Our World campaign, pushing for legally binding targets to restore nature by 2030. It seems that in politics today only legally binding targets are effective.
- The Path to Net Zero, the final report by the UK Citizens' Assembly on Climate Change, was published on 10th September 2020. The assembly members considered ten topics related to climate change: underlying principles, travel on land, travel by air, heat and energy use, what we eat and how we use land, what we buy, electricity sources, changed context created by Covid-19, additional recommendations.
It highlights five major things that must guide action on climate change: information and education about climate change, fairness in tackling climate change, freedom and choice for individuals and local areas, recognise the many 'co-benefits' that come when tackling climate change, protect and restore nature. (Note: a day later the RSPB published on this, and five days later, the United Nations did so, concerned that we have missed all our targets.) It also calls for strong leadership from government.
(My comment: This is very useful, and can be used when holding the UK government to account. But I do wonder: to what extent was it biased by the conventional concerns and angers that have been fed to us by and through the media, rather than the real 'down-to-earth' concerns of people?)
- Tourism responsible for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, study finds. Paper published in 2018. "Worldwide tourism accounted for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions from 2009 to 2013, ... The global tourism industry is rapidly expanding. Fuelled by| falling air travel prices and a growing| global middle class, the number of international holidaymakers is currently growing at a rate of 3-5% per year." By today, 27 August 2020, 8% growing at average 4% per annum becomes 10.5%. Add other aviation contributions to that brings the total to maybe 15% and growing. Has not Covid-19 shown us the dangers of flying and that we can do without so much foreign, aviation-dependent tourism? Read the paper, The carbon footprint of global tourism.
- Prolonged Siberian heat attributed to climate change, report issued by the UK Meteological Office on 15 July 2020. "The recent prolonged Siberia heat from January to June 2020 would have been almost impossible without the influence of human-caused climate change, according to a rapid attribution analysis by a team of leading climate scientists." "A new record temperature for the Arctic, 38°C, was recorded in the Russian town of Verkhoyansk on 20 June, while Siberia's overall temperatures were more than 5°C above average from January to June." Among several results of the heatwave that the report mentions, "The heat in Siberia has triggered widespread fires, with 1.15 million hectares burning in late June, associated with a release of about 56 million tonnes of carbon dioxide."
The scientists ran a large number of computer simulations with two conditions (with and without human influence), and compared the likelihoods of such a heatwave occurring there. With no human influence, such a heatwave would occur only once in every 80,000 years. "This is among the strongest results of any attribution study conducted to date."
- Report from the Committee on Climate Change UK, issued from the UK Government, (published 2 June 2020). (URL = "https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/reducing-uk-emissions-2020-progress-report-to-parliament/")
- The World Economic Forum:
more than half of global gdp are linked to biodiversity. if you damage biodiv you damage gdp. world econ forum. Jan 200121. ===== to be supplied
- The WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin of November 2019 (published 25 November 2019) shows that levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached another new record high. The globally averaged concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached 407.8 parts per million in 2018, up from 405.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2017. Concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide also surged by higher amounts than during the past decade.
"There is no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline, in greenhouse gases concentration in the atmosphere despite all the commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change,» said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. "We need to translate the commitments into action and increase the level of ambition for the sake of the future welfare of the mankind,"
- The UK State of Nature Report (published 3 October 2019) warns that, in the UK, there has been "no let-up" in the decline of wildlife. It draws on scientific monitoring since the 1970s. The twin causes are (a) land mangement, (b) climate change, which is icreasing. The average UK temperature has risen by 1 degree C since the 1980s. Land management problems include continued intensification of agriculture and loss of land to "develoment". The Report is a collaboration of 70 wildlife organisations with Government agencies. Of the 700 species of fish, animals, birds, butterflies and moth\s studied 41% have seen populations decline since the 1970s. 26% have increased, 33% have seen little change. This can lead to dangers of monocultures that are less robust, threatening biodiversity. The author of the report, David Hayhow, points out that since we know more about wildlife in the UK, other countries and the entire world should "sit up and taken notice." "We need to respond more urgently across the board".
- Verbal report by Roger Harrabin (BBC environment analyst) on 16 September 2019, that "Faster pace of climate change is 'scary', former chief scientist says". Sir David King, ex-chief scientist, told the BBC that extreme events linked to climate change, such as the heatwave in Europe this year, are occurring sooner than expected. "Extreme weather events rolling out year after year with massive loss of life" was what I heard him say. The page shows around half a dozen videos about this, the first one about faster than expected melting of ice sheets. (Warning for CHristians like me: One of the videos has a cover that seems to link climate concern with pro-abortion - a false link - but the rest is good.)
- Deep Adaptation, about the danger of social collapse, by IFLAS 2018. Prof. Jem Bendell reviews studies and provides a "meta-framing" of them, predicting near-term social collapse. Alarming - but I leave readers to determine whether it is alarmist.
- United Nations Global Assessment study on biodiverity, launched 6 May 2019. A million plant and animal species "risk becoming extinct within decades, while current efforts to conserve the earth's resources will likely fail without radical action". "One in four species at risk of extinction".
This is the first such UN report since 2005 and it UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said that its findings put the world "on notice ... Following the adoption of this historic report, no one will be able to claim that they did not know." [my emphasis] "We can no longer continue to destroy the diversity of life. This is our responsibility towards future generations" - and, I believe, towards God. This "is as vital as fighting climate change", she said. It undermines our future ability to feed ourselves, at the very time world population is growing.
The report examines five main drivers of "unprecedented" biodiversity and ecosystem change over the past 50 years, identifying them as: changes in land and sea use; direct exploitation of organisms; climate change, pollution, and invasion of alien species. Most of these have occurred because of human activity (for instance marine plastic pollution), and, unless we take urgent action, there will be "further acceleration" in the global rate of species extinction.
- International Energy Agency Report, published 26 March 2019. Carbon emissions have reached an all-time high, rather than falling. They have risen from the USA, China and India, but fallen from Japan and Europe.
"Global energy consumption in 2018 increased at nearly twice the average rate of growth since 2010, driven by a robust global economy and higher heating and cooling needs in some parts of the world. Demand for all fuels increased, led by natural gas, even as solar and wind posted double digit growth. Higher electricity demand was responsible for over half of the growth in energy needs. Energy efficiency saw lacklustre improvement. As a result of higher energy consumption, CO2 emissions rose 1.7% last year and hit a new record."
- Several recent news reports, including from: The Guardian (Tue 15 Jan 2019), Marlowe Wood of Phys (February 11, 2019) and IDDRI (20th February 2019) all warn of a major ecological catastrophe, of collapse in insect populations worldwide.
Why do we find fewer insects squashed on the windscreens of our cars than we used to? Maybe because insects are declining at a rapid rate (2.5% per annum reduction in global insect biomass) [note]. Experts estimate that flying insects across Europe have declined 80 percent on average, causing bird populations to drop by more than 400 million in three decades. Insects comprise about two-thirds of all terrestrial species, are the foundation of key ecosystems.
The study, published in the journal Biological Conservation, pulls together data from more than 70 datasets from across the globe, some dating back more than a century. Causes: By a large margin, habitat change - deforestation, urbanisation, conversion to farmland - emerged as the biggest cause of insect decline and extinction threat. Next was pollution and the widespread use of pesticides in commercial agriculture.
"Insects - organisms that we once thought so numerous and resistant that they could survive even a global nuclear war - are undergoing a worldwide population collapse, which in turn threatens to wipe out other species through knock-on effects."
"We are witnessing the largest extinction event on Earth since the late Permian and Cretaceous periods" [Permian: 252 million years ago]
"We estimate the current proportion of insect species in decline - 41 percent - to be twice as high as that of vertebrates," or animals with a backbone, Francisco Sanchez-Bayo of the University of Sydney and Kris Wyckhuys of the University of Queensland in Australia reported.
- Institute for Public Policy Research, published 12 February 2019. This is a crisis: Facing up to the age of environmental breakdown.
"Human-induced environmental change is occurring at an unprecedented scale and pace and the window of opportunity to avoid catastrophic outcomes in societies around the world is rapidly closing."
"These outcomes include economic instability, large-scale involuntary migration, conflict, famine and the potential collapse of social and economic systems."
"Mainstream political and policy debates have failed to recognise that human impacts on the environment have reached a critical stage, potentially eroding the conditions upon which socioeconomic stability is possible."
"Mainstream political and policy debates have failed to recognise that human impacts on the environment have reached a critical stage, potentially eroding the conditions upon which socioeconomic stability is possible. ... The historical disregard of environmental considerations in most areas of policy has been a catastrophic mistake."
- Meterological Office Five-Year Prediction, published 6 February 2019. This predicts that the coming decade will be the warmest since records began in 1850, and might even exceed 1.5 degrees C above 1850-1900 levels if there is an El Nino effect during that time. Carbon emissions are still rising.
"Forecast suggests Earth's warmest period on record. The forecast for the global average surface temperature for the five-year period to 2023 is predicted to be near or above 1.0 °C above pre-industrial levels, says the Met Office."
"The warmth of 2018 is in line with the long-term warming trend driven by the world's emissions of greenhouse gases."
- Global Carbon Project published research, 5 December 2018. Shows that global carbon emissions are rising, not plateauing as was hoped, going in the very opposite direction from what we urgently need. Especially from increased road use.
"The rise is due to the growing number of cars on the roads and a renaissance of coal use and means the world remains on the track to catastrophic global warming. ... The report estimates CO2 emissions will rise by 2.7% in 2018, sharply up on the plateau from 2014-16 and 1.6% rise in 2017. "
"The global rise in carbon emissions is worrying, because to deal with climate change they have to turn around and go to zero eventually,... We are not seeing action in the way we really need to. This needs to change quickly." [Prof Corinne Le Quéré, at the University of East Anglia, who led the research published in the journal Nature.]
- World Meteorological Office Report, WMO STatement on the State of the Global Climate, 29 November 2018. Shows that climate change is not only continuing but getting worse at an increasing rate.
"The long-term warming trend has continued in 2018, with the average global temperature set to be the fourth highest on record. The 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years, with the top four in the past four years ... Other tell-tale signs of climate change, including sea level rise, ocean heat and acidification and sea-ice and glacier melt continue, while extreme weather left a trail of devastation on all continents ... We are not on track to meet climate change targets and rein in temperature increases ... Greenhouse gas concentrations are once again at record levels ..."
- Worldwide Fund for Nature, Living Planet Report, 30 October 2018. Shows that wildlife populations have declined by over half in less than 50 yaers (reduced by 60% globally between 1970 and 2014).
"All over the world, we are cutting down forests, using too much water from rivers, choking our oceans with plastic, and pushing many animals to extinction. For both people and wildlife to thrive, now and in the future, we need a healthy planet, with a rich variety of plants and animals, and vibrant ecosystems."
- IPCC Report, 8th OCtober 2018. Shows that climate change is happening faster than expected and that CC emissions are continuing to increase.
"we are already seeing the consequences of 1 C of global warming through more extreme weateher, rising sea levels and diminishing Artic sea ice, among other changes. ... Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5 C or higher increases the risk associated wih long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems."
- Reports by the Tyndall Centre on a host of topics, such as on wildfires or 'Foundations for climate resilient and sustainable growing settlements (U-RES)'
Almost all countries are contributing to the rise in carbon emissions, with emissions in China up 4.7%, in the US by 2.5% and in India by 6.3% in 2018. The EU's emissions are near flat, but this follows a decade of strong falls. Even Europeans have given up!
What we need to do - Biblical Responses
I happen to believe that God is real, active and revealed Godself via the Bible. I also happen to believe that a deep Biblical faith and commitment is a blessing to the whole world, and that the Bible speaks of the shape such blessing can take and the conditions for its realization. So, here, I add some reflections on what the Bible might say to some of the items above - mainly for myself, partly for my fellow Christians, and also for others.
The Global Carbon Budget for 2021 shows that the economy rebounded fast after the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in its burning of coal and gas, and as a result carbon emissions rose more than expected / hoped. The pandemic brought an 8% drop in carbon emissions in 2020, which is what needs to happen EVERY YEAR if we are to meet our net-zero targets. But the affluent governments took the line of over-encouraging their economies to regrow. They did not see the pandemic as a warning and an opportunity to reduce carbon emissions. Today, "other gods" could refer to the idol of economic growth [Goudzwaard 1984].
Jeremiah 11:8,10-11 "'... But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubbornness of their evil hearts. So I brought on them all the curses ...' Then the LORD said to me '... THey have returned to the sins of their forefathers who refused to listen to my words. They have followed other gods to serve them. ... Therefore this is what the LORD says: I will bring on them disaster they cannot escape."
The Climate Action Tracker report on lip-service at COP26, shows that the IEA misled us in predicting that global temperature increases had fallen from 2.7 to 1.8 Celcius because of pledges made at COP26. In fact the temperature increase with those pledges stands at 2.4 Celcius.
"You shall not give false witness against your neighbour" [Exodus 20:16]. Though this verse is specifically against neighbours, the important issue in terms of the heart, on which God looks, is truthfulness.
The UK finance industry (the 'City of London') is responsible for more climate change emissions than the whole of Germany, a report by GreenPeace and the WWF, has found.
Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13: "You cannot serve God and Mammon." "Mammon" is sometimes translated as "money", but it refers not so much to actual coins and currency as the system of money, a system that comes to dominate and control the entire way we live and find our sustenance and other aspects of life. It is captured in phrases like "money is the measure of all things" (No: God's laws for Creation should be that!) and "I need to earn to live" (No! You can work out why not, yourself). The system that is Mammon is fostered, served and kept 'alive' and in power by the finance industry - just as the Canaanite idols were by the people who worshipped them.
The Cambridge Behaviour Change report shows what behaviour changes are needed if we are to curb climate change emissions, and discusses how to bring these about. It recognises the need for change at both individual and political levels.
James 2:14 "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds." ("faith" includes belief about what ought to happen.) Did not Jesus say something similar, that our words and deeds should match?
The Dasgupta Review on the Economics of Biodiversity is significant as the first attempt by the UK Treasury to consider how to properly value biodiversity in economics.
I Timothy 2:1ff. "I urge ... that requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for everyone - for kings and all those in authority ..." Pray that the UK Treasury will take this report very seriously and do so fast - because that will reduce the current discord between economics and responsibility.
The World Map of Climate Change Performance Index shows which countries are doing well and badly in preparation towards Net Zero.
"Righteousness [is what] exalts a nation." Proverbs 13:34. It is not size of GDP, nor sporting prowess, nor even cultural reputation that exalts a nation in the most important and fundamental way, but righteousness. Righteousness is best defined as "right relationships among all things in the Created order of things." See discussion of Justice and Righteousness and its corresponding Greek word diakosune. These days, when humankind is destroying the planet and future climate because of its unnecessary greed and hubris, does not righteousness entail taking strong action on climate and environmental responsibility? In this map, can we see which nations God sees as better and worse, at least in this respect?
The 6th Carbon Budget of the UK Climate Change Committee has calculated that the cost to the economy of reducing carbon emissions is much less than previously thought, and is likely to even stimulate the economy by more than it costs.
God's law in the Bible, if followed, brings national and even global prosperity, rather than poverty or repression. e.g. Deuteronomy 11:26-32. God's laws speak of responsibility rather than greed or self-seeking, including environmental responsibility. See essay On Law, a 'New View'.
RSPB 'Lost Decade' shows how we have failed nature - created by God and damaged or destroyed by us. Revelation 11:18 calls for the destruction of those who destroy the earth.
Genesis 1:26-28 shows that humankind was created to image God's love and character to the rest of Creation, but instead we wanted to "like God" (Genesis 3:5) and claim for ourselves the right to use nature as a resource for our greed. See also Page on Genesis 1:26-28 and the Hebrew words used.
Met Office report on prolonged arctic heatwave, is the clearest confirmation yet of human influence on the climate and consequent decline of the natural world.
Hosea 4:2-3 shows a clear causal link ("because of this" NIV) between human sin / greed and decline of the natural world.
UN biodiversity: "Protecting the invaluable contributions of nature to people will be the defining challenge of decades to come. Policies, efforts and actions - at every level ..."
"The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." Genesis 2:15, NIV.
Insect decline: "Only decisive action can avert a catastrophic collapse of nature's ecosystems ... Restoring wilderness areas and a drastic reduction in the use of pesticides and chemical fertiliser are likely the best way to slow the insect loss" [Phys]
WWF: "To stop the decline of the natural systems that support us and all other animals on the planet, we need real change, all over the world. ... Everyone - governments, businesses, communities and individuals - has a part to play in coming up with this new plan - a global deal for nature."
"The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." Genesis 2:15, NIV.
IPCC: "Limiting global warming to 1.5 C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society."
"All over the world I am tearing down what I built and pulling up what I planted." Jeremiah 45:4, CEV
WMO: " ... 'we are the first generation to fully understand climate change and the last generation to be able to do something about it.'"
"In the past, God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repemt." Acts 17:30, NIV
WMO: "We need to translate the commitments into action and increase the level of ambition for the sake of the future welfare of the mankind"
"Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord' and do not do the things that I say?" Luke 6:46, NIV.
"Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good it it!"" James 2:15-16, NIV
IPPR: "... three shifts in understanding across political and policy communities are required: of the scale and pace of environmental breakdown, the implications for societies, and the subsequent need for transformative change."
"Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2, NIV.
Is it not about time we took responsibility?
REFERENCES AND NOTES
Christiana Figueres, Corinne Le Quéré, Anand Mahindra, Oliver B¤te, Gail Whiteman, Glen Peters & Dabo Guan. 2018. Emissions are still rising: ramp up the cuts. Nature 05 December 2018.
Note re Insect Decline: The study brings together many studies. However, estimates of 2.5% per annum comes from three separate studies. They all show 2.5% reduction in widely separated areas, suggesting something like that is occurring, but making the actual figure of 2.5% overall rather approximate. Those who wish to resist calls to responsibility can easily cast doubt on them - but if the figure was entirely spurious one would not expect all three studies to show the same effect.
The final words of Mark Carney's fourth 2020 Reith Lecture, From Climate Crisis to Real Prosperity (transcribed from broadcast).
"The power of Greta Thunberg's message is how she drives home the remoreseless logic of climate physics and the fundamental unfairness of the climate crisis. And like many I'm persuaded by the force of her arguments and her demands for inter-generational justice.
We do diverge however on how to solve this immense problem. As these lectures have argued, the market not /the/ answer to everything but it can play a critical role in solving many of humanity's greatest challenges. We won't get to net zero without innovation, investment and profit. Continued growth isn't a fairy tale; it's a necessity.
But not just any growth. The power of the market must be directed to achieving what society wants. That requires measures of income and welfare that reflect our values. We need a world where we're no longer solely guided by measures like GDP, that were devised a century ago when the earth seemed immortal and the social norms of the market felt immutable.
A market in the transition to netzero is now being built on these foundations of reporting, risk management and returns. It's funding initiatives and innovations of the private sector, and it can amplify the effectiveness of climate policies of governments, and accelerate the transition to that low-carbon economy. It's turning an existential risk into one of the greatest commercial opptunities of our time.
And it's now within our grasp to create a virtuous cycle of innovation and investment for the netzero world that people are demanding and that future generations deserve. In this way private finance can bend the arc of history towards climate justice. Value can serve values. Moral sentiments can rebalance market sentiments. And the glasgow of COP26 can be reunited with the glasgow of Adam Smith.
Thank you very much. "
[My comment: It seems to me that yes he was over-optimistic about what could happen. But I find his lectures useful, in that they spell out quite thoughtfully and authoritatively how business and governments could work together to reach netzero targets - the How not just the Ought. After his lecture, businesses, financiers and investors especially have no excuse that they did not know what to do. ]
This page is an expression of part of a project to understand the links between climate change, global economy and other matters including society's beliefs and aspirations. It is designed to stimulate thinking and discourse. Comments, queries welcome.
This page is written on behalf of the CCGE Group by Andrew Basden, but the views expressed herein are his and not necessarily those of the other members of the Group. Written on the Amiga with Protext. Copyright of quoted text belongs to the organisation or person quoted. Other text is copyright (c) Andrew Basden 2008 - present, but may be used for almost any purpose (including commercial) subject to certain conditions.
Created: 3 December 2018.
Last updated: 7 December 2018 GCP report. 6 February 2019 Met Office 5-year prediction. 26 March 2019 IEA, IPPR. Also added verses to "What we should do", making it into a table. 10 May 2019 UN biodiversity global assessment. 18 May 2019 insect decline. 15 July 2019 deep adaptation. 4 October 2019 UK State of Nature Report. 6 October 2019 Sir D King. 14 October 2019 ccge contact r.t. xn. 26 November 2019 WMO 191125; links from ToDo back to reports. 11 February 2020 WEF. 30 June 2020 Ctee Climate Change UK report. 17 July 2020 MetOffice Arctic Heatwave. 27 August 2020 tourism 8% of CC. 15 September 2020 RSPB Lost Decade; changed copyright statement; UN biodiversity loss. 16 September 2020 Citizens Assembly Report; better on UN; a bit of intro. 8 October 2020 interview-pwda. 9 December 2020 ukccc 6th carbon budget; intro to Biblical part; bgcolor. 23 December 2020 Reith Lectures. 14 January 2021 final words of Reith Lecture. 18 January 2021 Framing Climate Justice; added Tyndall Centre reports. 27 January 2021 map of ccpi, new .nav. 3 February 2021 Dasgupta. 23 February 2021 econ.biodiv. 25 February 2021 JRI blog. 3 March 2021 UN MPN, new intro. 25 May 2021 Finance industry. 27 May 2021 Frans Timmerman EU: need make sacrifices. 30 July 2021 Met Office Annual Climate report for 2020. 3 August 2021 NAO report. 25-26 October 2021 various reports (catchup!). 21 December 2021 Global Carbon Budget, Jer 11. 22 January 2022 UKCC risk assessment. 3 March 2022 ipcc 2022. 5 April 2022 IPCC mitigation. 9 May 2022 USA climate security. 30 October 2022 lancet countdown 22. 8 March 2023 Scottish plan for energy. 26 July 2023 EU Beyond Growth. 29 October 2023 added re anti-correln. 22 November 2023 UN emissions gap. 29 November 2023 page no.