Climate Change

Dundas in Transition participated in the development of the Hamilton Climate Action Charter.  Hamilton is the first City in Ontario to create such a Charter.  A copy of this Charter can be downloaded here or from the Hamilton Climate Change Champions web site. Many Hamilton organizations have signed up and you can too as an individual, family, organization or business.

 

CANADA'S ROLE IN CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE TAR SANDS

​We are all challenged to decide our views on the acceptability of exploiting Tars Sands as we continue to use oil based products in our daily lives. We depend on energy resources, yet we know that mining and using them creates massive environmental damage, both in terms of stripping away Canada's forests and in the CO2 production from refining and using the oil. We think that at best Canada should leave as much as possible in the ground for limited use by future generations where no other substitute is possible. The current race to mine and export as much as possible for short term profits for a few large corporations is selfish and unfair.

A report from the The Climate Action Network entitled Dirty Oil Diplomacy: The Canadian Government's Push to Sell the Tar Sands paints a bad picture of our Government's actions in this area.

This article - The expert's report that damns the northern gateway pipeline by Andrew Nikiforuk gives further food for thought, as does this video Oil in Eden, the battle to protect Canada's Pacific Coast .

James Hansen: Why I must speak out about climate change   Watch eminent NASA scientist   James Hansen tells the story of his involvement in the science of and debate over global climate change. In doing so he outlines the overwhelming evidence that change is happening and why that makes him deeply worried about the future.  Not an easy video, but worth the work.

Watch this  excellent primer on Climate Change which is in the form of some video lessons. It has been prepared by the Pacific Institute for Climate Change. Although it is aimed at the British Columbia environment, most of it applies to any area.

The issue of climate change is one of the two key issues that drive the need for Transition. The article below  (Target Atmospheric CO2 - Where should humanity aim?) summarizes the issue for us. It reminds us that Climate Change is driven by our production of CO2 gases, which in turn result from our consumption of fossil fuels. Transition will be necessary - from a high carbon economy to a low carbon economy, if we are to avoid the negative impacts of climate change.    

 It's worth looking at what Governments are doing. If you think Canada is not doing enough, let your Government know!

Canada 's action on Climate Change; Dateline December 12 2011 Canada is formally withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, abandoning the world’s only legally binding plan to tackle global warming. Environment Minister Peter Kent confirmed the decision on Parliament Hill just hours after returning from a United Nations climate conference in Durban at which he repeatedly avoided questions about Canada’s commitment to the protocol.  (See Gobe and Mail article) In terms of targets, the Government of Canada is committed to reducing Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020.

U.S.A During the Copenhagen conference, President Barack Obama committed to cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. But on July 22nd 2010 the US SENATE abandoned its Climate Change Bill with all the consequences that means for inaction. Read the NY Times Opinion  Editorial on this.

​Members of the US Academy of Sciences wrote a letter to Congress confirming human caused climate change.

Great Britain - the Department of Energy and Climate Change has published a National Strategy for Climate and Energy; Transition to a low carbon society. The UK Low Carbon Transition Plan plots how the UK will meet the 34 percent cut in emissions on 1990 levels by 2020.

 Following the disappointing results of the United Nations Conference (COP15)  on Climate Change, the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth was hosted by the government of Bolivia in Tiquipaya, just outside the city of Cochabamba from April 19–22, 2010.  The conference was viewed as a response to what some termed failed climate talks  in Copenhagen during the 15th United Nations Conference of Parties (COP15) climate meetings in December 2009.  The event was attended by around 30,000 people from over 100 countries and resulted in the World People's Agreement on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth.

Target Atmospheric CO2: Where Should Humanity Aim? (download full report)

Report Summary - James Hansen (NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies) and others

Humanity today, collectively, must face the uncomfortable fact that industrial civilization itself has become the principal driver of global climate. If we stay our present course, using fossil fuels to feed a growing appetite for energy-intensive life styles, we will soon leave the climate of the Holocene, the world of prior human history. The eventual response to doubling pre-industrial atmospheric CO2 likely would be a nearly ice-free planet, preceded by a period of chaotic change with continually changing shorelines.

 Humanity’s task of moderating human-caused global climate change is urgent. Ocean and ice sheet inertias provide a buffer delaying full response by centuries, but there is a danger that human-made forcings could drive the climate system beyond tipping points such that change proceeds out of our control. The time available to reduce the human-made forcing is uncertain, because models of the global system and critical components such as ice sheets are inadequate.

However, climate response time is surely less than the atmospheric lifetime of the human-caused perturbation of CO2. Thus remaining fossil fuel reserves should not be exploited without a plan for retrieval and disposal of resulting atmospheric CO2.

 

 

Paleoclimate evidence and ongoing global changes imply that today’s CO2, about 385 ppm, is already too high to maintain the climate to which humanity, wildlife, and the rest of the biosphere are adapted. Realization that we must reduce the current CO2 amount has a bright side: effects that had begun to seem inevitable, including impacts of ocean acidification, loss of fresh water supplies, and shifting of climatic zones, may be averted by the necessity of finding an energy course beyond fossil fuels sooner than would otherwise have occurred.

 

 

We suggest an initial objective of reducing atmospheric CO2 to 350 ppm, with the target to be adjusted as scientific understanding and empirical evidence of climate effects accumulate. Although a case already could be made that the eventual target probably needs to be lower, the 350 ppm target is sufficient to qualitatively change the discussion and drive fundamental changes in energy policy. Limited opportunities for reduction of non-CO2 human-caused forcings are important to pursue but do not alter the initial 350 ppm CO2 target. This target must be pursued on a timescale of decades, as paleoclimate and ongoing changes, and the ocean response time, suggest that it would be foolhardy to allow CO2 to stay in the dangerous zone for centuries.

 A practical global strategy almost surely requires a rising global price on CO2 emissions and phase-out of coal use except for cases where the CO2 is captured and sequestered. The carbon price should eliminate use of unconventional fossil fuels, unless, as is unlikely, the CO2 can be captured. A reward system for improved agricultural and forestry practices that se quester carbon could remove the current CO2 overshoot. With simultaneous policies to reduce non-CO2 greenhouse gases, it appears still feasible to avert catastrophic climate change.

 Present policies, with continued construction of coal-fired power plants without CO2 capture, suggest that decision-makers do not appreciate the gravity of the situation. We must begin to move now toward the era beyond fossil fuels. Continued growth of greenhouse gas emissions, for just another decade, practically eliminates the possibility of near-term return of atmospheric composition beneath the tipping level for catastrophic effects.

 The most difficult task, to phase-out over the next 20-25 years of coal use that does not capture CO2, is Herculean, yet feasible when compared with the efforts that went into World War II. The stakes, for all life on the planet, surpass those of any previous crisis. The greatest danger is continued ignorance and denial, which could make tragic consequences unavoidable.