Medio ambiente

We Don’t See What Climate Change Is Doing to Us

Many of us realize climate change is a threat to our well being. But what we have not yet grasped is that the devastation wreaked by climate change is often just as much about headline-grabbing catastrophes as it is about the subtler accumulation of innumerable slow and unequal burns that are already underway — the nearly invisible costs that may not raise the same alarm but that, in their pervasiveness and inequality, may be much more harmful than commonly realized. Recognizing these hidden costs will be essential as we prepare ourselves for the warming that we have ahead of us.

Responsibility for mitigating climate change on the local level lies in part with public institutions — not only in encouraging emissions reductions, but also in facilitating adaptation.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Best Way to Find Out if We Can Cool the Planet

A few years ago, the idea of deliberately blocking the sun to combat climate change was taboo for scientists. But a lot can change in a short time.

As the disastrous effects of climate change mount, Congress has asked federal scientists for a research plan, private money is flowing and rogue start-ups are attempting experiments — all signs that momentum around solar geoengineering is building fast. The most discussed approach involves spraying tiny particles into the stratosphere to reflect sunlight and cool the planet. Other proposals include injecting sea salt into clouds to increase their reflectivity or using giant space parasols to block the sun.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Bidwell Bar Bridge backlit by a fire in Oroville, California, in September 2020, when record-breaking blazes broke out in the state. Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Are you frightened by climate change? Do you worry about what sort of world we are bequeathing to our children and grandchildren? In the words of science writer and author of “The Uninhabitable Earth” David Wallace-Wells, “No matter how well informed you are, you are surely not alarmed enough”.

I would put it even more strongly.

If the fracturing of our once stable climate doesn’t terrify you, then you don’t fully understand it. The reality is that, as far as we know, and in the natural course of events, our world has never — in its entire history — heated up as rapidly as it is doing now.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man stands with a water bottle in the sun during a heat wave in Algiers, Algeria, on July 18, 2023. AFP via Getty Images

How many more U.N. climate conferences will it take for the world to admit that the current climate policy path is at a dead end?

Calls by politicians, activists, and journalists to double down ring increasingly hollow in the face of overwhelming evidence that 2024 will be the first year in which average global surface temperature is likely to be more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (or about 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above that of the preindustrial period before 1900. The long-term average increase since that period will pass 1.5 degrees in 2030. Even staying significantly below 2 degrees Celsius—the target that the climate policy community used until 2015 before lowering it in order to galvanize lawmakers—now looks unlikely.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Emirati man walks beneath photovoltaic panels at al-Dhafra Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Independent Power Producer (IPP) project south of the capital Abu Dhabi, on 13 November 2023. Photo by KARIM SAHIB/AFP via Getty Images.

COP28 in Dubai marked the second time a COP has been hosted in the Gulf region since 2012. The selection of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as host raised questions not only about its ability to deliver on the COP agenda but also drew attention to its socio-economic context and its equitable contribution to addressing climate change.

Concerns about the credibility of the UAE as COP28 host were due to its status as a major oil producer and the appointment of Dr Sultan al-Jaber, the head of the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), as COP28 president-designate. Serious questions were raised as to whether the UAE and its oil-producing neighbours were genuinely committed to meaningful action, as opposed to engaging in lobbying and greenwashing during COP discussions.…  Seguir leyendo »

An increasing number of stand-up comedians are devising routines around climate breakdown. Photo illustration by Leah Abucayan/CNN/Getty

Q: How many climate change deniers does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: What are you talking about, the bulb is fine.

See, despite the post-COP28 despondency, it is possible to laugh in the face of climate change. In fact, not only is it possible, it is essential.

What we needed from the climate summit in Dubai was a binding commitment to cut emissions in half within six years, so as to have any chance of keeping the global average temperature rise (compared to pre-industrial times) this side of 1.5°C, and side-stepping dangerous, all pervasive, climate breakdown.

What we got was a vague intention to transition away from fossil fuels — no timeline, no roadmap.…  Seguir leyendo »

Stand-off in Dubai: on the last scheduled day of COP28, hopes of an historic agreement calling for an exit from oil, gas and coal now seem highly unlikely. © Sergey Nivens / Justice Info

COP28 is drawing to a close in Dubai (United Arab Emirates), marked by the paradox of its president, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, who is both CEO of the national oil company and founder of the Emirati renewable energy giant. "There is no science that says that the phase-out of fossil fuel is what’s going to achieve 1.5°C" [maximum increase in average global temperature set by the Paris Agreement at COP21 in 2015], he said on November 21 at an online conference organised by the NGO She Changes Climate.

However, the sixth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published in March 2023, is clear: a "gradual phase-out" of fossil fuels is needed if we are to stay below the target 1.5°C temperature rise.…  Seguir leyendo »

A delegate walks outside during the United Nations' COP28 climate talks at Expo City in Dubai on December 12, 2023. (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)

If COP28 started with the bang of a landmark agreement on loss and damage, it ended with a cacophony over the ‘UAE Consensus’ on the Global Stocktake (GST). Hailed as groundbreaking by hosts the UAE and criticized as insufficient by climate vulnerable groups such as the alliance of small island states (AOSIS), the agreement is in fact both.

The context for this duality is the slow speed of climate action to date. COP28 marked the first conference in which any explicit reference to moving away from ‘fossil fuels’ has made it into the final decision text.

This long-overdue achievement follows considerable shifts among the public and businesses, as understanding of climate change and rhetoric on climate action are increasingly mainstream, and climate impacts grow more severe.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘The conference did not provide the gamechanger needed to prevent climate catastrophe.’ Photograph: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images

As Cop28 ended after 14 gruelling days, many people were clutching at straws and looking for meaning in the mere mention in the text of a transition from fossil fuels. There will be headlines talking about what huge progress it is simply to say this – even without any requirement for real action.

This would have been very welcome 20 or even 10 years ago, but it wasn’t the gamechanger needed to prevent climate catastrophe, to end the era of deadly fossil fuels, or to save the north star of 1.5C. To claim that it is a triumph, or anything even close to that, is simply a lie.…  Seguir leyendo »

Haze caused by the fossil fuel industry obscuring the Dubai skyline on Dec. 4. Giuseppe Cacace/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

I live at the base of Basalt Mountain, an ancient volcano that tops out at nearly 11,000 feet in the Roaring Fork Valley of western Colorado. An eruption 10 million years ago contributed to the contours of the landscape. In the mornings I drink strong coffee from a U.S. Forest Service mug, and I look out the window at the light on the peaks, at the wild turkeys pecking in the yard, at the deer so tame that I could touch them.

I have spent my career working on climate change — not theoretically but in the trenches, crawling under trailers to insulate them under a federal government program to help low-income families conserve energy, building solar farms, capturing methane from coal mines, bolstering the climate movement through various nonprofit boards and crafting policy at the state and municipal levels.…  Seguir leyendo »

Climate activists from Fridays for Future Germany protest with a banner that reads: 'Don't Fail Us, Phase Out Fossil Fuels!' at COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on 12 December 2023. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

As COP28 nears its conclusion, a great deal of optimism and controversy is centred around the phasing ‘out’ or ‘down’ of fossil fuels. Neither term has ever been included in the negotiating text of previous COPs, hence the optimism.

But the revelation that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) sent private letters to its 13 members – including COP28 host the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – urging them to ‘proactively reject any text or formula that targets energy, ie fossil fuels, rather than emissions’ caused controversy. OPEC members own 80 per cent of global oil reserves.

However, this optimism and controversy appears to be missing the more important question: after we apply any such target to ‘unabated’ fossil fuels, what about ‘abated’ fossil fuels?…  Seguir leyendo »

In Dubai, a ‘Good Vibes Only’ Approach to Climate Change

On a recent trip to the United Arab Emirates, I felt as if I’d entered a fever dream of green exuberance. It was more than two months before COP28, the annual global climate meeting now in progress in Dubai, but the country was already awash in environmental hype. On the highway, banners for an event hosted by the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, the fossil fuel behemoth known as Adnoc, read: “Decarbonizing. Faster. Together”. A placard in my hotel bathroom asked me to conserve water by using the two-tiered flush, although the flush had only one tier. A friend’s utility bill was labeled “green bill” — although U.A.E.…  Seguir leyendo »

As someone who’s been reporting on the climate crisis for more than a decade, I can say that the most insidious threat to climate action isn’t denial or apathy.

It’s doubt and confusion.

That’s why the news from COP28 in Dubai is so infuriating.

The COP — an international peer-pressure meeting meant to avert disastrous global warming — is supposed to be a moment of resounding clarity, when world leaders come together to re-up their commitments to abandon fossil fuels and promote a future that’s, you know, livable.

The message should be clear: The world can and should abandon fossil fuels as quickly as possible in favor of cleaner energy sources like wind and solar.…  Seguir leyendo »

How to Stop the Biggest Threat to Europe’s Green Transition

For years, the European Union has been laying the foundation for what may be the world’s most ambitious climate policy: the European Green Deal, which puts Europe out in front in the global fight against climate change. This formidable bundle of policies steers countries to build renewable energy resources, find ways to improve energy efficiency and significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions in the process.

But now, the Green Deal is in peril as a school of thought that frames the green transition as an elitist plot against ordinary people gains followers in Europe. It’s a political strategy that is potent in the moment but is bound to fail in the long run.…  Seguir leyendo »

1.5 Degrees Is Not the Problem

As leaders around the world meet for the 28th time to address the climate crisis — this time in the United Arab Emirates, one of the world’s largest oil producers — they need to rethink this threat and some of the other central challenges of our times.

Those other challenges include devastating losses of biodiversity and plastic pollution so widespread, it is now found on the world’s tallest mountain, in its deepest ocean trench and in our veins. In the long history of this planet, our current time, the human age known as the Anthropocene, is the first in which a single species will so rapidly reshape the future of Earth’s climate and all the other conditions that make life as we know it livable.…  Seguir leyendo »

An aerial view of Imburu, Nigeria, following flooding caused by heavy rainfall, on Sept. 25, 2022. Radeno Haniel/AFP via Getty Images

As the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (or COP28) gets underway in Dubai, the call for rich countries to provide more money to poor countries to fight climate change has taken center stage. But if the record on climate finance is any indication, poor countries should be careful what they wish for.

The conventional critique of climate finance is that it’s too little. In July, the United States and other members of the G-20 refused to endorse a proposal for the World Bank to triple its lending with new capital from its largest shareholders. According to unconfirmed estimates by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, rich countries only last year—and just barely—met a promise made in 2009 to provide $100 billion in climate finance per year, a figure to which they just added $300 million as seed money for a climate loss and damage fund for the world’s poorest countries.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Cop28 conference in Dubai. Photograph: Ali Haider/EPA

Without urgent action to bolster green jobs in developing economies, the collective action needed to win the fight against climate change will remain elusive. Developing nations face a number of socioeconomic challenges, forcing them to tighten spending. More people worldwide are living in hunger, and 2 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water at home. More than 60% of low-income countries are in, or at high risk of, debt distress, while access to capital is limited and the cost of borrowing prohibitive. This leaves minimal room for the debt creation and spending needed to fund climate action.

Green industrialisation presents an opportunity for developing nations to achieve socioeconomic transformation by combining environmental stewardship and economic progress.…  Seguir leyendo »

How I Invest My Money in a Warming World

As we head into COP28, the annual global meeting on climate change underway in Dubai, there are two dominating schools of thought, both of which are wrong. One says the future is hopeless and our grandchildren are doomed to suffer on a burning planet. The other says we’re all going to be fine because we already have everything we need to solve climate change.

We’re not doomed, nor do we have all the solutions. What we do have is human ingenuity, our greatest asset. But to overcome climate change, we need rich individuals, companies and countries to step up to ensure green technologies are affordable for everyone, everywhere — including less wealthy countries that are large emitters, like China, India and Brazil.…  Seguir leyendo »

The climate is on its way to exceeding a 1.5°C increase in the global temperature. World leaders can stop it – but they have to act now.

In the run up to COP28, its incumbent president, Dr Sultan Al Jaber made an impassioned plea, saying: ‘We must deliver, let this process prove that multilateralism still works.’

But optimism is in scant supply. Russia’s war in Ukraine and now the war between Israel and Hamas has ratcheted up tension, enhancing distrust and undermining willingness to cooperate, and retrenching the idea that fossil fuels are key to energy security in turbulent times.

This palpable distrust was not helped by revelations, this week, that the COP presidency had allegedly planned to use COP28 as an opportunity to discuss new oil and gas deals for the UAE.…  Seguir leyendo »

Barcos oxidados en la arena de Uzbekistán. Moynaq fue en su día un próspero puerto en el mar de Aral, pero ahora es una ciudad desierta desde que desapareció el mar. Carolyn Drake/Magnum

Caminar entre los restos, cada vez más reducidos, de lo que solía ser el mar de Aral en Uzbekistán fue como entrar al infierno.

Todo era un desierto sin vida, con la excepción de los matorrales de saxaúl. El polvo se arremolinaba bajo un sol rojo y punzante a una temperatura de 43 grados Celsius. Llegué a la orilla de uno de los lagos desperdigados, que son todo lo que queda de lo que alguna vez fue una enorme masa de agua. Me quité los zapatos y caminé por el agua, tan llena de sal que se sentía viscosa, no del todo líquida.…  Seguir leyendo »