Reports emerged in rapid succession from 2018 onwards telling the same story of humanity's need to take climate and environmental responsibility, so this tries to list those that are more important, along with some other material, in chronological order. For each, it offers link to the report and a brief summary. At the end, it suggests some Biblical principles that apply to various reports and calls us to responsibility.
Its focus is mainly on how the UK can adapt to climate change rather than prevent it. However, it paints a picture worse than had been expected. See also the summary announcement.
Why are we, and our governments, so slow changing direction? Why so reluctant and resistant?
and also as
Published as part of the Davos agenda. (Thanks to Stephen McGibbon for sharing this.) See Biblical comment.
"The continued degradation of the environment is increasing the likelihood of diseases spreading from animals to humans." "The report notes the importance of biodiversity in addressing climate change, and long-term food security, and concludes that action to protect biodiversity is essential to prevent future pandemics."
How are we going to meet the targets? The study urges us to consider the dangers implicit the kind of relationship with nature we currently have. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown the danger of a wrong relationship with animals - but it "has also demonstrated that transformative changes are possible when they must be made."
"The UK must recognise the opportunity to make urgent changes at home which can be used to provide international leadership ahead of negotiating the next global plan to save nature and the climate in 2021." In response, the RSPB is launching the Revive Our World campaign, pushing for legally binding targets to restore nature by 2030. It seems that in politics today only legally binding targets are effective.
It highlights five major things that must guide action on climate change: information and education about climate change, fairness in tackling climate change, freedom and choice for individuals and local areas, recognise the many 'co-benefits' that come when tackling climate change, protect and restore nature. (Note: a day later the RSPB published on this, and five days later, the United Nations did so, concerned that we have missed all our targets.) It also calls for strong leadership from government.
(My comment: This is very useful, and can be used when holding the UK government to account. But I do wonder: to what extent was it biased by the conventional concerns and angers that have been fed to us by and through the media, rather than the real 'down-to-earth' concerns of people?)
The scientists ran a large number of computer simulations with two conditions (with and without human influence), and compared the likelihoods of such a heatwave occurring there. With no human influence, such a heatwave would occur only once in every 80,000 years. "This is among the strongest results of any attribution study conducted to date."
"There is no sign of a slowdown, let alone a decline, in greenhouse gases concentration in the atmosphere despite all the commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change,» said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. "We need to translate the commitments into action and increase the level of ambition for the sake of the future welfare of the mankind,"
This is the first such UN report since 2005 and it UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said that its findings put the world "on notice ... Following the adoption of this historic report, no one will be able to claim that they did not know." [my emphasis] "We can no longer continue to destroy the diversity of life. This is our responsibility towards future generations" - and, I believe, towards God. This "is as vital as fighting climate change", she said. It undermines our future ability to feed ourselves, at the very time world population is growing.
The report examines five main drivers of "unprecedented" biodiversity and ecosystem change over the past 50 years, identifying them as: changes in land and sea use; direct exploitation of organisms; climate change, pollution, and invasion of alien species. Most of these have occurred because of human activity (for instance marine plastic pollution), and, unless we take urgent action, there will be "further acceleration" in the global rate of species extinction.
"Global energy consumption in 2018 increased at nearly twice the average rate of growth since 2010, driven by a robust global economy and higher heating and cooling needs in some parts of the world. Demand for all fuels increased, led by natural gas, even as solar and wind posted double digit growth. Higher electricity demand was responsible for over half of the growth in energy needs. Energy efficiency saw lacklustre improvement. As a result of higher energy consumption, CO2 emissions rose 1.7% last year and hit a new record."
Why do we find fewer insects squashed on the windscreens of our cars than we used to? Maybe because insects are declining at a rapid rate (2.5% per annum reduction in global insect biomass) [note]. Experts estimate that flying insects across Europe have declined 80 percent on average, causing bird populations to drop by more than 400 million in three decades. Insects comprise about two-thirds of all terrestrial species, are the foundation of key ecosystems.
The study, published in the journal Biological Conservation, pulls together data from more than 70 datasets from across the globe, some dating back more than a century. Causes: By a large margin, habitat change - deforestation, urbanisation, conversion to farmland - emerged as the biggest cause of insect decline and extinction threat. Next was pollution and the widespread use of pesticides in commercial agriculture.
"Insects - organisms that we once thought so numerous and resistant that they could survive even a global nuclear war - are undergoing a worldwide population collapse, which in turn threatens to wipe out other species through knock-on effects."
"We are witnessing the largest extinction event on Earth since the late Permian and Cretaceous periods" [Permian: 252 million years ago]
"We estimate the current proportion of insect species in decline - 41 percent - to be twice as high as that of vertebrates," or animals with a backbone, Francisco Sanchez-Bayo of the University of Sydney and Kris Wyckhuys of the University of Queensland in Australia reported.
"Human-induced environmental change is occurring at an unprecedented scale and pace and the window of opportunity to avoid catastrophic outcomes in societies around the world is rapidly closing."
"These outcomes include economic instability, large-scale involuntary migration, conflict, famine and the potential collapse of social and economic systems."
"Mainstream political and policy debates have failed to recognise that human impacts on the environment have reached a critical stage, potentially eroding the conditions upon which socioeconomic stability is possible."
"Mainstream political and policy debates have failed to recognise that human impacts on the environment have reached a critical stage, potentially eroding the conditions upon which socioeconomic stability is possible. ... The historical disregard of environmental considerations in most areas of policy has been a catastrophic mistake."
"Forecast suggests Earth's warmest period on record. The forecast for the global average surface temperature for the five-year period to 2023 is predicted to be near or above 1.0 °C above pre-industrial levels, says the Met Office."
"The warmth of 2018 is in line with the long-term warming trend driven by the world's emissions of greenhouse gases."
"The rise is due to the growing number of cars on the roads and a renaissance of coal use and means the world remains on the track to catastrophic global warming. ... The report estimates CO2 emissions will rise by 2.7% in 2018, sharply up on the plateau from 2014-16 and 1.6% rise in 2017. "
"The global rise in carbon emissions is worrying, because to deal with climate change they have to turn around and go to zero eventually,... We are not seeing action in the way we really need to. This needs to change quickly." [Prof Corinne Le Quéré, at the University of East Anglia, who led the research published in the journal Nature.]
"The long-term warming trend has continued in 2018, with the average global temperature set to be the fourth highest on record. The 20 warmest years on record have been in the past 22 years, with the top four in the past four years ... Other tell-tale signs of climate change, including sea level rise, ocean heat and acidification and sea-ice and glacier melt continue, while extreme weather left a trail of devastation on all continents ... We are not on track to meet climate change targets and rein in temperature increases ... Greenhouse gas concentrations are once again at record levels ..."
"All over the world, we are cutting down forests, using too much water from rivers, choking our oceans with plastic, and pushing many animals to extinction. For both people and wildlife to thrive, now and in the future, we need a healthy planet, with a rich variety of plants and animals, and vibrant ecosystems."
"we are already seeing the consequences of 1 C of global warming through more extreme weateher, rising sea levels and diminishing Artic sea ice, among other changes. ... Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5 C or higher increases the risk associated wih long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems."
Almost all countries are contributing to the rise in carbon emissions, with emissions in China up 4.7%, in the US by 2.5% and in India by 6.3% in 2018. The EU's emissions are near flat, but this follows a decade of strong falls. Even Europeans have given up!
|The Global Carbon Budget for 2021 shows that the economy rebounded fast after the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in its burning of coal and gas, and as a result carbon emissions rose more than expected / hoped. The pandemic brought an 8% drop in carbon emissions in 2020, which is what needs to happen EVERY YEAR if we are to meet our net-zero targets. But the affluent governments took the line of over-encouraging their economies to regrow. They did not see the pandemic as a warning and an opportunity to reduce carbon emissions. Today, "other gods" could refer to the idol of economic growth [Goudzwaard 1984].||Jeremiah 11:8,10-11 "'... But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubbornness of their evil hearts. So I brought on them all the curses ...' Then the LORD said to me '... THey have returned to the sins of their forefathers who refused to listen to my words. They have followed other gods to serve them. ... Therefore this is what the LORD says: I will bring on them disaster they cannot escape."|
|The Climate Action Tracker report on lip-service at COP26, shows that the IEA misled us in predicting that global temperature increases had fallen from 2.7 to 1.8 Celcius because of pledges made at COP26. In fact the temperature increase with those pledges stands at 2.4 Celcius.||"You shall not give false witness against your neighbour" [Exodus 20:16]. Though this verse is specifically against neighbours, the important issue in terms of the heart, on which God looks, is truthfulness.|
|The UK finance industry (the 'City of London') is responsible for more climate change emissions than the whole of Germany, a report by GreenPeace and the WWF, has found.||Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13: "You cannot serve God and Mammon." "Mammon" is sometimes translated as "money", but it refers not so much to actual coins and currency as the system of money, a system that comes to dominate and control the entire way we live and find our sustenance and other aspects of life. It is captured in phrases like "money is the measure of all things" (No: God's laws for Creation should be that!) and "I need to earn to live" (No! You can work out why not, yourself). The system that is Mammon is fostered, served and kept 'alive' and in power by the finance industry - just as the Canaanite idols were by the people who worshipped them.|
|The Cambridge Behaviour Change report shows what behaviour changes are needed if we are to curb climate change emissions, and discusses how to bring these about. It recognises the need for change at both individual and political levels.||James 2:14 "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds." ("faith" includes belief about what ought to happen.) Did not Jesus say something similar, that our words and deeds should match?|
|The Dasgupta Review on the Economics of Biodiversity is significant as the first attempt by the UK Treasury to consider how to properly value biodiversity in economics.||I Timothy 2:1ff. "I urge ... that requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for everyone - for kings and all those in authority ..." Pray that the UK Treasury will take this report very seriously and do so fast - because that will reduce the current discord between economics and responsibility.|
|The World Map of Climate Change Performance Index shows which countries are doing well and badly in preparation towards Net Zero.||"Righteousness [is what] exalts a nation." Proverbs 13:34. It is not size of GDP, nor sporting prowess, nor even cultural reputation that exalts a nation in the most important and fundamental way, but righteousness. Righteousness is best defined as "right relationships among all things in the Created order of things." See discussion of Justice and Righteousness and its corresponding Greek word diakosune. These days, when humankind is destroying the planet and future climate because of its unnecessary greed and hubris, does not righteousness entail taking strong action on climate and environmental responsibility? In this map, can we see which nations God sees as better and worse, at least in this respect?|
|The 6th Carbon Budget of the UK Climate Change Committee has calculated that the cost to the economy of reducing carbon emissions is much less than previously thought, and is likely to even stimulate the economy by more than it costs.||God's law in the Bible, if followed, brings national and even global prosperity, rather than poverty or repression. e.g. Deuteronomy 11:26-32. God's laws speak of responsibility rather than greed or self-seeking, including environmental responsibility. See essay On Law, a 'New View'.|
|RSPB 'Lost Decade' shows how we have failed nature - created by God and damaged or destroyed by us. Revelation 11:18 calls for the destruction of those who destroy the earth.||Genesis 1:26-28 shows that humankind was created to image God's love and character to the rest of Creation, but instead we wanted to "like God" (Genesis 3:5) and claim for ourselves the right to use nature as a resource for our greed. See also Page on Genesis 1:26-28 and the Hebrew words used.|
|Met Office report on prolonged arctic heatwave, is the clearest confirmation yet of human influence on the climate and consequent decline of the natural world.||Hosea 4:2-3 shows a clear causal link ("because of this" NIV) between human sin / greed and decline of the natural world.|
|UN biodiversity: "Protecting the invaluable contributions of nature to people will be the defining challenge of decades to come. Policies, efforts and actions - at every level ..."||"The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." Genesis 2:15, NIV.|
|Insect decline: "Only decisive action can avert a catastrophic collapse of nature's ecosystems ... Restoring wilderness areas and a drastic reduction in the use of pesticides and chemical fertiliser are likely the best way to slow the insect loss" [Phys]|
|WWF: "To stop the decline of the natural systems that support us and all other animals on the planet, we need real change, all over the world. ... Everyone - governments, businesses, communities and individuals - has a part to play in coming up with this new plan - a global deal for nature."||"The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." Genesis 2:15, NIV.|
|IPCC: "Limiting global warming to 1.5 C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society."||"All over the world I am tearing down what I built and pulling up what I planted." Jeremiah 45:4, CEV|
|WMO: " ... 'we are the first generation to fully understand climate change and the last generation to be able to do something about it.'"||"In the past, God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repemt." Acts 17:30, NIV|
|WMO: "We need to translate the commitments into action and increase the level of ambition for the sake of the future welfare of the mankind"||
"Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord' and do not do the things that I say?" Luke 6:46, NIV. |
"Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good it it!"" James 2:15-16, NIV
|IPPR: "... three shifts in understanding across political and policy communities are required: of the scale and pace of environmental breakdown, the implications for societies, and the subsequent need for transformative change."||"Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2, NIV.|
|Is it not about time we took responsibility?|
Note re Insect Decline: The study brings together many studies. However, estimates of 2.5% per annum comes from three separate studies. They all show 2.5% reduction in widely separated areas, suggesting something like that is occurring, but making the actual figure of 2.5% overall rather approximate. Those who wish to resist calls to responsibility can easily cast doubt on them - but if the figure was entirely spurious one would not expect all three studies to show the same effect.
The final words of Mark Carney's fourth 2020 Reith Lecture, From Climate Crisis to Real Prosperity (transcribed from broadcast).
"The power of Greta Thunberg's message is how she drives home the remoreseless logic of climate physics and the fundamental unfairness of the climate crisis. And like many I'm persuaded by the force of her arguments and her demands for inter-generational justice.
We do diverge however on how to solve this immense problem. As these lectures have argued, the market not /the/ answer to everything but it can play a critical role in solving many of humanity's greatest challenges. We won't get to net zero without innovation, investment and profit. Continued growth isn't a fairy tale; it's a necessity.
But not just any growth. The power of the market must be directed to achieving what society wants. That requires measures of income and welfare that reflect our values. We need a world where we're no longer solely guided by measures like GDP, that were devised a century ago when the earth seemed immortal and the social norms of the market felt immutable.
A market in the transition to netzero is now being built on these foundations of reporting, risk management and returns. It's funding initiatives and innovations of the private sector, and it can amplify the effectiveness of climate policies of governments, and accelerate the transition to that low-carbon economy. It's turning an existential risk into one of the greatest commercial opptunities of our time.
And it's now within our grasp to create a virtuous cycle of innovation and investment for the netzero world that people are demanding and that future generations deserve. In this way private finance can bend the arc of history towards climate justice. Value can serve values. Moral sentiments can rebalance market sentiments. And the glasgow of COP26 can be reunited with the glasgow of Adam Smith.
Thank you very much. "
[My comment: It seems to me that yes he was over-optimistic about what could happen. But I find his lectures useful, in that they spell out quite thoughtfully and authoritatively how business and governments could work together to reach netzero targets - the How not just the Ought. After his lecture, businesses, financiers and investors especially have no excuse that they did not know what to do. ]
This page is an expression of part of a project to understand the links between climate change, global economy and other matters including society's beliefs and aspirations. It is designed to stimulate thinking and discourse. Comments, queries welcome.
This page is written on behalf of the CCGE Group by Andrew Basden, but the views expressed herein are his and not necessarily those of the other members of the Group. Written on the Amiga with Protext. Copyright of quoted text belongs to the organisation or person quoted. Other text is copyright (c) Andrew Basden 2008 - present, but may be used for almost any purpose (including commercial) subject to certain conditions.
Created: 3 December 2018. Last updated: 7 December 2018 GCP report. 6 February 2019 Met Office 5-year prediction. 26 March 2019 IEA, IPPR. Also added verses to "What we should do", making it into a table. 10 May 2019 UN biodiversity global assessment. 18 May 2019 insect decline. 15 July 2019 deep adaptation. 4 October 2019 UK State of Nature Report. 6 October 2019 Sir D King. 14 October 2019 ccge contact r.t. xn. 26 November 2019 WMO 191125; links from ToDo back to reports. 11 February 2020 WEF. 30 June 2020 Ctee Climate Change UK report. 17 July 2020 MetOffice Arctic Heatwave. 27 August 2020 tourism 8% of CC. 15 September 2020 RSPB Lost Decade; changed copyright statement; UN biodiversity loss. 16 September 2020 Citizens Assembly Report; better on UN; a bit of intro. 8 October 2020 interview-pwda. 9 December 2020 ukccc 6th carbon budget; intro to Biblical part; bgcolor. 23 December 2020 Reith Lectures. 14 January 2021 final words of Reith Lecture. 18 January 2021 Framing Climate Justice; added Tyndall Centre reports. 27 January 2021 map of ccpi, new .nav. 3 February 2021 Dasgupta. 23 February 2021 econ.biodiv. 25 February 2021 JRI blog. 3 March 2021 UN MPN, new intro. 25 May 2021 Finance industry. 27 May 2021 Frans Timmerman EU: need make sacrifices. 30 July 2021 Met Office Annual Climate report for 2020. 3 August 2021 NAO report. 25-26 October 2021 various reports (catchup!). 21 December 2021 Global Carbon Budget, Jer 11. 22 January 2022 UKCC risk assessment. 3 March 2022 ipcc 2022. 5 April 2022 IPCC mitigation. 9 May 2022 USA climate security. 30 October 2022 lancet countdown 22. 8 March 2023 Scottish plan for energy.