This page started as thinking-out-loud on tackling the Climate Crisis (orignal notes below). There is now enough press coverage for everyone to know that we must go carbon neutral, the only question left is when. Here are the options:
Zero Carbon Sooner discusses target dates in detail. None of the options are easy. Early dates imply more short-term discomfort and fewer people dying in the long term. Our main enemy is inaction, we've known about the problem for many decades, yet if we continue to consume as we are doing we will exhaust our 1.5°C budget and far more severe consequences will be inevitable.
[some rough notes started in 2018]
and here's a link for all those people that say we've always had climate cycles and this one is natural: https://xkcd.com/1732
We all love the Thneeds from the Truffala trees.
This needs updating, I've just learned of https://qz.com/1192753/a-carbon-tax-killed-coal-in-the-uk-natural-gas-is-next/ and 'no deal' plans https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/carbon-emmisions-tax/carbon-emmisions-tax and https://www.power-technology.com/features/carbon-capture-cost/
I imply that carbon neutal means zero growth and we don't have an economic system that copes well with zero growth
It's like being in a car driving towards a brick wall. We won't hit it in the lifetime of the current government or the next and acceleration wins votes.
It is likely that global dimming has happened, that is the pollution we have teased into the air has reflected more sunlight than is natural. When we clean up our pollution, as we must, then we get more sun and so more warming without releasing more CO2. Roughly our warming would and will be twice as much without the associated pollution
What we spend goes on raw materials (finite), fuel (emissions) and people (who spend on raw materials and fuel).
Over the last few decades we've got used to “a higher standard of living” and this has come at the cost of emissions and global heating. We have to some how rewind a couple of decades to before “low cost airlines” for holiday travel as they are only low cost because we've ignored their emissions. Lots of our food comes with high emissions as well, meat is often singled out but we use fuel to heat greenhouses to give us year-round vegetables as well and fly avocados half way around the world. We also have a use-one “low cost” fashion industry. All of this has to go if we want the human race to be sustainable.
Saying that we must consume less is an unpopular message, one way of wrapping it up is to say that we must work a nine hour week and then leave it to the reader to work out that means living on only a quarter of present income.
Todo: add a section on the analysis of expenditure. You emit between 1 and 2 kgCO2e/£ whatever you spend on, the important thing is not what you buy but how much you buy.
Related, in transport it's not how you travel (assuming it's powered) but how far you travel https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17260-train-can-be-worse-for-climate-than-plane/
This is a complex problem that will radically change peoples lives:
We need a plan that is acceptable to all:
For a comprehensive review of all possible fixes see drawdown.org.
For our current mix of renewables and fossil fuels see G.B. National Grid Status
Renewables aren't the answer:
Planting trees isn't the complete answer:
Fundamentally we have to get to net zero emissions. Trees and the oceans can mop up a small fraction, unless we get to very near zero we'll kill them off as well.
If you fancy having a go at setting an energy policy, have a look at the DECC calculator.
TODO: Rewrite this to include Zero Carbon Britain: Rethinking the Future and Zero Carbon Britain: Making it Happen. https://www.ethicalconsumer.org/energy/short-guide-carbon-offsets
On average a UK person is responsible for 10 tonnes CO2e each, we have to get that down to under 2 tonnes. Put simply, we all have to aim to consume only 20% of what we currently do, so cutting out meat and flying is the really easy bit - the rest will be much harder.
Don't believe that it will be easy to halt global warming, (e.g. 100 solutions to reverse global warming) - not only have we made no progress in reducing emissions so far, we are continually making things worse. We've failed so far and don't even have a good plan for efficient action before it's too late. Go back to this calculator and see if you can personally hit the target.
If you think I've been overly pessimistic, remember that halting global warming is the easy problem. Getting to carbon neutrality does nothing about the poisons we've already released. The warming that has already happened could release a lot more greenhouse gasses from melting tundra, the loss of the Arctic ice cap will result in more warming because snow reflects sunlight well, and the carbon dioxide that has entered our oceans is causing acidification and killing coral reefs. Even if we could go way beyond carbon neutrality to a magical zero emissions we have to tackle the significant problems we've already created. These could easily add as much global warming as we've already seen (e.g https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/cleaning-up-air-pollution-may-strengthen-global-warming/) so it could well be too late to avoid catastrophe - that doesn't mean we shouldn't act now.
The popular message is that climate change is a very serious threat, but there are easy things we can do now to avoid the terrible consequences (e.g. we'd all be okay if we stopped eating meat). I don't think that that the easy things are enough, we can't expect to maintain our standard of living as the risk of hitting an unforseen tipping point is so high we need drastic action now.
Calculate our own carbon footprint so that we can see how big our personal problem is.
Some ideas, roughly easiest first:
Other similar lists have been compiled and are well worth reading:
On a governmental/global level these are worth reading:
To end, here is a big question: Is global warming and individual or institutional responsibility?
To do - add in a section on tipping points
And a section on national policy