A new climate agency
To Help Avoid Irreversible Runaway Heating
To Cut Fossil Fuel Use and CO2 Emissions
To Stabilize the Fossil Fuel Industry & Make It Accountable
We are close to 1.3°C global warming now, measured from the 19th century’s industrial revolution. Many climate experts put the start of irreversible runaway warming at around 1.5°C. Runaway heating will ensure the rapid disappearance of human societies as we know them.
Last year’s report by the World Metrological Office (WMO) together with the UK Met office has confirmed that 1.5°C warming could be reached as early as 2024 / 2025 if nothing changes, based on the trajectory through to end 2022.
The Litus Foundation has prepared a wide-ranging overview of the actual climate situation today, including evaluating what mitigation technologies might be able or not able to do. Crunching the numbers, the sum of the current and proposed technology mitigation projects, minus the major damages currently taking place (set fires, wildfires, de-forestation, excessive gas flaring), indicates that these projects will have a negligible overall net effect within the above time frame. The evidence points to a climate emergency, requiring immediate new strategies and actions.
THE NEW AGENCY
Litus is proposing that a new international agency or division of an existing agency is established immediately, with the sole objective of avoiding irreversible runaway heating.
There seems no alternative; nothing is happening to slow heating; energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions are increasing. Extreme speed is needed. The climate emergency is on the same scale as the WWII crises; that is how we should view it. Then, projects were undertaken and completed in incredibly short time frames.
We cannot count on the UN’s COP processes, well intentioned as they are. COP decisions are not binding. Since the first COP in Rio in 1992, CO2 emissions have risen by about 60% and are still rising. 2021’s COP 26 in Glasgow and November 2022’s COP 27 in Egypt looks to have been similar to prior COPs: many agreements and promises having a nearly negligible effect; largely the same NGO’s, government agencies, banks, and individuals. Many countries’ long-term goals lacked credibility. At neither meeting were there undertakings to cut rapidly increasing emissions of CO2 and methane.
According to Climate Action Tracker, not one of the 187 countries that signed the Paris agreement is on course for emissions reductions to meet the 1.5°C target. The UN-backed green investment fund formed at COP 26 raised only $2 million; it is being wound down. The August 9th 2021 UNIPCC report only included climate events up to end-2019 and was approved / redacted by 195 countries, including China, USA, Russia, India and Saudi Arabia. This may account for the IPCC regularly underestimating the speed of heating. It has given many the impression that we will hit 1.5°C warming within 10 to 20 years under a ‘very low emissions scenario’, during which we can (try to) fix things.
Today there is excessive conferencing, PR and greenwash, in proportion to effective action. Too much effort is put into unregulated carbon trading schemes including offsets. There are promises to go ‘carbon neutral’ by decades hence, but few of them look likely to be met. Most commitments are made by people who won’t be around by the promised dates, which look too distant. The planet is changing so rapidly, will we recognise it even in 2030 ?
People are going to continue using fossil fuels for a long while. Today they account for around 85% of all energy use. (Wind and solar are at about 5% to 6%; the balance mostly hydro and nuclear). They are used for virtually all transport, space heating, industrial processes, and most electricity generation. For renewables to replace all this will require an unimaginable level of investment.
To give time for the various mitigation technologies to mature and properly come on stream, a new Agency could:
1. Cut fossil fuel use by imposing additional taxes while subsidising poor people, all to be ploughed back into climate mitigation and societal projects. In contrast to the volunteer COP process – still achieving modest results slowly – a rapid cutback in demand could only be achieved by new rules and their enforcement.
2. Help stabilise the fossil fuel industry away from its whip-saw instabilities, so it can provide continuous supply at predictable prices and, above all, providing mechanisms to leave unneeded resources in the ground. The industry after all is just supplying what we were asking to use. SUV sales are still increasing. Without the industry’s active cooperation, CO2 emissions cannot be significantly reduced.
Because the current global agencies are very restricted by their memberships and rules, the new agency should be much more informal, perhaps made up and run by a mixture of countries, corporations, rich individuals and citizens.
Our ‘Action Now: A New Climate Agency?’ outlines known and new alternative strategies, as to how it might be established and the specific actions it might undertake.