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The much-publicized goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels will be beyond reach unless the world makes immediate, rapid, and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions says a new landmark climate report from a UN panel.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change, published on Monday its Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis report, which came as the starkest warning to humanity about the closing window of opportunity to limit global warming.
The authors of the report say with high confidence that "fossil fuel combustion for energy, industry and land transportation are the largest contributing sectors on a 100-year time scale."
According to the report, greenhouse gas emissions from human activities have been responsible for approximately 1.1 degrees Celsius of warming since 1850-1900. Averaged over the next 20 years, the global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5°C of warming, the panel said.
"This report is a reality check," IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair Valérie Masson-Delmotte said.
Every region faces increasing changes as climate change is intensifying rapidly, the report said.
The report is "a code red for humanity," UN Secretary-General António Guterres said.
"The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: Greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk," Guterres added.
"The new IPCC report contains no real surprises. It confirms what we already know from thousands previous studies and reports - that we are in an emergency. It's a solid (but cautious) summary of the current best available science," said Greta Thunberg. "It doesn't tell us what to do. It is up to us to be brave and take decisions based on the scientific evidence provided in these reports. We can still avoid the worst consequences, but not if we continue like today, and not without treating the crisis like a crisis."
Mark Campanale, founder and executive chair at Carbon Tracker said:
"The bedrock of our understanding, the science, couldn't be more stark: We have little over eight years to act; the carbon budget, the room for global emissions we have left, is perilously depleted. The world must urgently wind down fossil fuel supply in an orderly and transparent way and halt high-risk high-cost oil and gas exploration today."
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.
There is no doubt that climate change is happening. Climate change is no longer a fiery apocalypse that we expect to happen in the far-off future. It is real and devastating. Rising sea levels, wild-fires, heatwaves and extreme weather events are already wreaking havoc everywhere. Moreover, there’s little doubt that large-scale use of fossil fuels tops the list of factors contributing to climate change according to data from many credible sources.
But the continuous bombardment of its destructive impact on the globe by media, environmental scientists and doomsday seers is not only infuriating a huge section of the world’s population but it is also putting their backs out.
This begs the question that if there is such concrete evidence that fossil fuels contribute to climate change and other environmental problems, then why do we still use them? Why haven’t we already quit using them? Why is it proving so hard to replace them?
However, the issue isn’t that simple. In order to have a nuanced discussion of climate change and global energy transition, we should objectively discuss claims about excessive weather conditions caused by climate change, drop unsubstantiated claims by environmental activists and divestment campaigners and accept facts as basis of the discussions.
If we go back in history to when records started we could easily find that the very same rising sea levels, wild-fires, heatwaves, and extreme weather conditions had also happened years before. Environmental science has yet to establish unequivocally whether these were caused by human beings alone using fossil fuels or as a result of natural developments or both.
Yet, environmentalists who call for an abrupt end to fossil fuels and a sudden adoption of renewable energy fail to recognize the obvious lack of logic in this.
On their own, renewables aren’t capable of satisfying global energy demand because of their intermittent nature. Moreover, global energy transition won’t succeed without major contributions from both natural gas and nuclear energy. Furthermore, the global economy will come to an immediate standstill without oil.
So the global situation boils down to two options. The first is to eliminate fossil fuels from the face of the earth and the second is to continue using them wisely while endeavour to mitigate their adverse impact on the environment.
The first eventuality means the demise of both the global economy and civilization as we know and enjoy with apocalyptic outcome including wide scale starvation, plague, destructive nuclear wars and annihilation of the human race. Human beings would rather tolerate a rise of temperature, flooding, heat waves and rising sea levels as preferable to the end of the human race and life on earth.
The only rational and practical way to combat climate change is to continue using fossil fuels wisely while taking the utmost measures to mitigate their harmful emissions and accelerate . global energy transition.
A final word is that while I respect Greta Thunberg’s valiant and impressive defence of the environment, I don’t think she is well qualified to tell us that the IPCC report is “a solid (but cautious) summary of the current best available science”.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London