New Orleans A bunch of scientists from a slew of top enviro-research institutes in the UK, US, Netherlands, Germany, and Brazil, who study climate for a living had a simple, but solid idea. Maybe we should measure how what countries are actually doing to reduce global warming lines up with what they are promising to do, either as part of the Paris Agreements or in other policy pronouncements. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
According to a piece in Science, they looked at different scenarios, five to be exact, that ranged from stripping out all the spin and just looking at current domestic policies to the most extreme Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm situation where they would assume that all of a country’s policies had achieved reductions by 2030 and were fully implemented on the ground. The worst case, looking at just what is really happening now, perhaps unsurprisingly “produces the highest emissions and warming estimates and largest uncertainty.” Boiling their summary down, basically if we only judged our chances for the future based on what is being done now, we fry. Even if, on some bright and sunny day, all of us were prepared to believe in the most optimistic scenario that all policies are achieved, and all promises kept and fully implemented, my reading of the scientists’ results seems to indicate that we still fry, it just takes longer. By the end of the 21st century, the “best-estimate future emissions…produce a median peak warming of 1.7 degrees centigrade…with a much narrower uncertainty range due to smaller emission projection variations of 1.6 to 2.1 degrees centigrade.” Let me know if any of this sounds like good news.
Part of the problem is converting climate policies into actual laws that can guarantee or force compliance. The much-maligned European Union to their eternal, or I might say infernal, credit “has a legally binding target accompanied by a credible implementation plan, and its projected 2030 emissions are lower than their 2020 levels.” Hear, hear! Several other countries have legally binding targets that can weather changes of leadership and administrations, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, and Nigeria. You didn’t hear the names of the United States, China, or India did you, despite the fact that China and the US are actually talking about this subject right now. Talking seems to be the easy part. Doing is what is difficult.
The scientists can do the addition, but they can’t do the politics, and that’s the rub. All of which leaves us edified, but back to square one. Domestic policies have to be formulated now that do the job, and we have to all band together to make sure they are actually implemented, PDQ stat. Walk outside in the South, Southwest and much of the country right now under the “heat dome” and stand there for a minute and realize that this won’t pass, but will be permanent, then go send a message to your local representatives to do the same thing, and stop messing around.