“Leaders of the world, you must lead”: COP24 begins
Mon 3 Dec 2018
Sir David Attenborough, broadcaster and natural historian, pulled no punches as he addressed representatives of nearly 200 of the world's governments at the opening of COP24 in Katowice, Poland, on Monday 3rd.
Representing the world's people, he said "Right now, we're facing a man-made disaster of global scale, our greatest threat in thousands of years: climate change. If we don't take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon."
"Leaders of the world, you must lead. The continuation of our civilisations, and the natural world upon which we depend, is in your hands," he said.
An excerpt from his speech and report on the opening was carried by The Guardian, and video of the full ceremony is here*, with Sir David's contribution beginning at 1:44:30.
Described as the most important since the Paris Agreement of 12 December 2015, the Conference of the Parties (COP) is an annual meeting to track progress, ensure that climate action by governments is transparent and establish how climate finance is raised from rich nations to support climate action in developing ones. [UN, Reuters] COP24 has assumed greater importance because carbon dioxide emissions continue to increase and temperatures rise unabated, and it is becoming clear, as shown in the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming released in October, only extreme measures will now restrain warming below 2° by 2100.
These two images show the dramatic escalation in global temperature since 1980: a warming stripes bar graph, and the now familiar corkscrew brought up to date. World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva said before the meeting, “We are clearly the last generation that can change the course of climate change, but we are also the first generation [to bear] its consequences.”
More to keep you up to date
- 2018 is likely to be the fourth warmest on record globally. The 20 warmest years have been in the past 22 with the top four in the past four years, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
- Meanwhile, the latest WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin [pdf] showed that carbon dioxide reached a record 405.5ppm in 2017, the highest in at least the past 3 million years. "The science is clear. Without rapid cuts in CO2 and other greenhouse gases, climate change will have increasingly destructive and irreversible impacts on life on Earth" said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. "The window of opportunity for action is almost closed"
- Mr Taalas also said that if the current carbon dioxide trend continues, temperature increases in the range of 3 to 5° would be likely by the end of the century, with the lower end of the range assuming countries acted on their Paris pledges. "If we exploit all known fossil fuel resources, the temperature rise will be considerably higher," he said. [Reuters]
- Australia is among the leaders in increasing its greenhouse gas output. The June 2018 Quarterly Update [pdf] shows a 1.3% rise over the previous quarter, the highest they have been since 2011 and the fastest rate of growth since 2004. At the same time, a UN annual emissions gap report says about half the G20 nations, including Australia, are falling short of their nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and Australian "emission levels for 2030 are projected to be well above the NDC target" although the government claims otherwise. [ABC, The Guardian]
- The Conversation published three detailed backgrounders to mark the beginning of COP24: What must be agreed to keep warming at 1.5°;COP24: What to expect; and Ten years on from Lehman Brothers, we can't trust finance with the planet.
- Some key backgrounders that set the scene for COP24: More you need to know, and what's at stake [UN]; the draft statement on the Global climate in 2018 and this more digestible quick and easy summary [WMO]; and the signals and impacts of climate change in extreme and altered weather in 2018 [WMO/Reliefweb].
- Finally, if you can keep up your practical optimism while those around you are losing theirs, The Guardian paints a grim Portrait of planet on the verge of climate catastrophe. It could be accused of needless scaremongering except that so much of what it says is borne out by the events of the past few decades and what is happening in the natural world. We must act and our leaders must lead with policies born of necessity.
Mon 3 Dec 2018 WA: Severe storms roll from Wheatbelt to Goldfields. Severe thunderstorms brought heavy rain and damaging winds in a strip from the Central Wheat Belt and Great Southern to the Goldfields during the afternoon. Bencubbin recorded 19mm between 14.00 and 14.30 WST while farther east Kalgoorlie-Boulder Airport reported a wind gust of 113km/h in the early evening. But the real humdinger of a storm was saved for Laverton, 250km NNE of Kalgoorlie. The AWS there recorded a wind gust of 137km/h at the same time as 16.0mm of rain was dumped in 5 minutes to 17.55 WST. It was the town's highest gust for any month in 15 years of observations, adding 19km/h to the previous record.
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