Climate change

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Sea could rise 2 or 3 metres soon

New research has narrowed the predicted likely range of global warming for a given increase of CO2. Previously, a doubling of CO2 above pre-industrial levels would have been predicted to increase global surface temperatures by 1.5‐4.5°C, a measure of “climate sensitivity”. The new research, assessing available evidence, places climatic sensitivity within the middle or upper part of this range: 2.6‐4.1°C. With lower climate sensitivity increasingly unlikely, attempts to build hopes upon are even more untenable. The need to radically reduce net carbon emissions, as well as to mitigate the...

Siberia signals global dangers

Siberia has seen record-breaking heatwaves so far this year, over 5ºC above average. The Arctic is warming considerably faster than the global average, and researchers found that this heatwave “would have been almost impossible without human-induced climate change”. Heatwaves on average kill tens — perhaps hundreds — of thousands of people around the world. They have been systematically under-reported in Africa, where the toll is likely higher than in Europe. Arctic heatwaves and warming are driving rapid disappearance of sea ice, extreme forest fires and thawing of permafrost. Permafrost is...

Video: Climate change and Covid-19

2020 will see — for the first time! — a significant reduction in global CO2 emissions. Opening speeches by two socialist environmentalist activists, in Workers' Liberty, from the "Climate change and coronavirus" meeting. The Coronavirus crisis has also seen workers and governments taking collective action that place social good above private profits. There have even been examples of workers developing plans to use their skills and the machinery at work to produce socially useful products. A return to "normality" means a return to a world where human activity is directed solely for the creation of private profit at the expense of humanity and our future. Prior to the lockdown we were heading blindly and at accelerating speed towards civilisational collapse. What are the prospects now for a workers' led just transition to a world that is run in the interests of people and planet?

Hold Starmer to 2030!

On 29 June, a Labour spokesperson said that while Starmer “had supported” the 2019 Green New Deal policy, he would not commit to retaining the policy, and that the party’s position would be decided in “4 or 5 years” with the next manifesto. This should ring serious alarm bells for the left and environmentalists, and reminds us of the need for an organised and vocal left Labour membership to hold leadership to account. In a general sense, the comments from Starmer’s team show a clear lack of respect for party democracy. The motion passed overwhelmingly at 2019 conference called for “net-zero...

New coal power in Germany

In the last days of May, 500 environmental protesters descended upon a new coal power plant, Datteln 4, in Germany. The plant opened on 30 May despite the German government’s roadmap, announced this year, to have coal phased out by 2038 at the latest. And despite the average coal power plant globally having a 46 year — not 18 year — lifespan. Electorally, Germany has one of the strongest “Green Parties” in the world. But if anything, they have contributed to coal power use in Germany today. In 2000 a SPD-Green coalition announced a plan to phase out nuclear energy, and it has happened...

Fossil-fuel reboot?

Big-name mainstream economists like Nick Stern and Joseph Stiglitz have championed a “green recovery” from the current economic slump as good for “the economy” as well as “the environment”. Many politicians have said similar. Yet the vast majority of the huge rescue packages to prop up industries and companies are being poured into the fossil fuel economy, without environmental conditions attached. The Guardian (6 June) estimates that $509bn (£395bn), more than half a trillion dollars, worldwide, will go into high-carbon industries with “no conditions to ensure they reduce their carbon output”...

Aviation: a third option

At the end of April, British Airways announced intentions to lay off 12,000 people, up to 30% of its workforce. Heathrow’s Chief Executive has warned that they may decide to follow suit, while on 20 May Rolls Royce — which constructs, among other things, airplane components — announced plans to make redundant 9,000, or 17%, of their global workforce. Airbus is planning redundancies. Easyjet, a UK-based company, plans 4,500 redundancies, 30% of their workforce. In 2018 it was estimated that the UK aviation sector directly employs 341,000 people. Bailouts to the tune of tens of billions have...

Looking ahead to November: COP26

Later in this year, assuming the UK has recovered enough from Covid-19, environmental activists will be active around 2020’s UN climate change conference, COP26, in Glasgow (9-20 November). Probably very little radical or adequate policy will be decided at that conference, even though the world faces a pandemic and continuing climate crisis. A lot of trade unions had been organising for a demonstration to put pressure on the conference. Work on that may now be suspended. Nearer the time we need to get it restarted, and gett trade unions in Glasgow and Scotland are involved, including on the...

A year of climate strikes

It is nearly exactly a year since the first Global School Strike for Climate took place, and whilst the participation and coverage of the movement may appear to have peaked for now, the resolve and commitment of climate strikers across the globe remains strong. Last year I was a climate striker during my last year of sixth form and I continue to be involved in the UKSCN branch in Newcastle, organising the climate strikes and trying to build links with the local labour movement. While far from the strongest in terms of numbers, the UK strike movement particularly has taken on a strong political...

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