World falls behind in efforts to tackle climate change: PwC (Reuters)

LONDON Sun Sep 7, 2014 6:24pm EDT

(Reuters) – The world’s major economies are falling further behind every year in terms of meeting the rate of carbon emission reductions needed to stop global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees this century, a report published on Monday showed.

The sixth annual Low Carbon Economy Index report from professional services firm PwC looked at the progress of major developed and emerging economies toward reducing their carbon intensity, or emissions per unit of gross domestic product.

“The gap between what we are achieving and what we need to do is growing wider every year,” PwC’s Jonathan Grant said. He said governments were increasingly detached from reality in addressing the 2 degree goal.

“Current pledges really put us on track for 3 degrees. This is a long way from what governments are talking about.”

Almost 200 countries agreed at United Nations climate talks to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times to limit heat waves, floods, storms and rising seas from climate change. Temperatures have already risen by about 0.85 degrees Celsius.

Carbon intensity will have to be cut by 6.2 percent a year to achieve that goal, the study said. That compares with an annual rate of 1.2 percent from 2012 to 2013.

Grant said that to achieve the 6.2 percent annual cut would ‎require changes of an even greater magnitude than those achieved by recent major shifts in energy production in some countries.

France’s shift to nuclear power in the 1980s delivered a 4 percent cut, Britain’s “dash for gas” in the 1990s resulted in a 3 percent cut and the United States shale gas boom in 2012 led to a 3.5 percent cut.

GLIMMER OF HOPE

PwC said one glimmer of hope was that for the first time in six years emerging economies such as China, India and Mexico had cut their carbon intensity at a faster rate than industrialized countries such as the United States, Japan and the European Union.

As the manufacturing hubs of the world, the seven biggest emerging nations have emissions 1.5-times larger than those of the seven biggest developed economies and the decoupling of economic growth from carbon emissions in those nations is seen as vital.

Australia had the highest rate of decarbonization for the second year in a row, cutting its carbon intensity by 7.2 percent over 2013.

Coal producer Australia has one of the world’s highest rates of emissions per person but its efforts to rein in the heat-trapping discharges have shown signs of stalling since the government in July repealed a tax on emissions.

Britain, Italy and China each achieved a decarbonization rate of 4-5 percent, while five countries increased their carbon intensity: France, the United States, India, Germany and Brazil.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hopes to gather more than 100 world leaders in New York on September 23 to reinvigorate efforts to forge a global climate deal.

(Reporting by Ben Garside. Editing by Jane Merrman)

 

New York summit is last chance to get consensus on climate before 2015 talks (The Guardian)

UN is trying to convince countries to make new pledges before they meet in Paris to finalise a new deal on cutting emissions, reports

Paul Brown for Climate News Network, part of the Guardian Enviornment Network

theguardian.com, Thursday 4 September 2014 14.48 BST

Ban Ki-moonUN secretary general Ban Ki-moon has invited world leaders to New York on 23 September for a climate summit. Photograph: David Rowland/AFP/Getty Images

It is widely acknowledged that the planet’s political leaders and its people are currently failing to take enough action to prevent catastrophic climate change.

Next year, at the United Nations climate change conference in Paris, representatives of all the world’s countries will be hoping to reach a new deal to cut greenhouse gases and prevent the planet overheating dangerously. So far, there are no signs that their leaders have the political will to do so.

To try to speed up the process, the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has invited world leaders to UN headquarters in New York on 23 September for a grandly-named Climate Summit 2014.

He said at the last climate conference, in Warsaw last year, that he is deeply concerned about the lack of progress in signing up to new legally-binding targets to cut emissions.

If the summit is a success, then it means a new international deal to replace the Kyoto protocol will be probable in late 2015 in Paris. But if world leaders will not accept new targets for cutting emissions, and timetables to achieve them, then many believe that political progress is impossible.

Ban Ki-moon’s frustration about lack of progress is because politicians know the danger we are in, yet do nothing. World leaders have already agreed that there is no longer any serious scientific argument about the fact that the Earth is heating up and if no action is taken will exceed the 2C danger threshold.

It is also clear, Ban Ki-moon says, that the technologies already exist for the world to turn its back on fossil fuels and cut emissions of greenhouse gases to a safe level.

What the major countries cannot agree on is how the burden of taking action should be shared among the world’s 196 nations.

Ban Ki-moon already has the backing of more than half the countries in the world for his plan. These are the most vulnerable to climate change, and most are already being seriously affected.

More than 100 countries meeting in Apia, Samoa, at the third UN conference on small island developing states, in their draft final statement, note with “grave concern” that world leaders’ pledges on the mitigation of greenhouse gases will not save them from catastrophic sea level rise, droughts, and forced migration. “We express profound alarm that emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise globally.”

Many of them have long advocated a maximum temperature rise of 1.5C to prevent disaster for the most vulnerable nations, such as the Marshall Islands and the Maldives.

The draft ministerial statement says: “Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time, and we express profound alarm that emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise globally.

“We are deeply concerned that all countries, particularly developing countries, are vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change and are already experiencing an increase in such impacts, including persistent drought and extreme weather events, sea level rise, coastal erosion and ocean acidification, further threatening food security and efforts to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development.”

Speaking from Apia, Shirley Laban, the convenor of the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network, an NGO, said: “Unless we cut emissions now, and limit global warming to less than 1.5C, Pacific communities will reap devastating consequences for generations to come. Because of pollution we are not responsible for, we are facing catastrophic threats to our way of life.”

She called on all leaders attending the UN climate summit in New York to “use this historic opportunity to inject momentum into the global climate negotiations, and work to secure an ambitious global agreement in 2015”.

This is a tall order for a one-day summit, but Ban Ki-moon is expecting a whole series of announcements by major nations of new targets to cut greenhouse gases, and timetables to reach them.

There are encouraging signs in that the two largest emitters – China and the US – have been in talks, and both agree that action is a must. Even the previously reluctant Republicans in America now accept that climate change is a danger.

It is not yet known how many heads of state will attend the summit in person, or how many will be prepared to make real pledges.

At the end of the summit, the secretary general has said, he will sum up the proceedings. It will be a moment when many small island states and millions of people around the world will be hoping for better news.

Racionamento de água ‘não é culpa de São Pedro’, diz ONU (OESP)

09/09/2014, 12h41

4.set.2014 – Represa Jaguari-Jacareí, na cidade de Joanópolis, no interior de São Paulo, teve o índice que mede o volume de água armazenado no Sistema Cantareira alcançando a marca de apenas 10,6% da capacidade total. Luis Moura/ Estadão Conteúdo

O racionamento de água em São Paulo não é culpa de São Pedro, mas, sim, das autoridades, da Companhia de Saneamento Básico do Estado de São Paulo (Sabesp) e da falta de investimentos. Quem faz o alerta é a relatora da Organização das Nações Unidas (ONU) para o direito à água, a portuguesa Catarina Albuquerque, que apresentou nesta terça-feira, 9, diante da entidade, um informe em que acusa o governo brasileiro de não estar cumprindo seu dever de garantir o acesso à água à totalidade da população.

Crise no abastecimento

“O culpado parece ser sempre São Pedro”, ironizou em declarações ao jornal O Estado de S. Paulo. “Concordo que a seca pode ser importante. Mas o racionamento de água precisa ser previsto e os investimentos necessários precisam ser feitos”, disse. “A responsabilidade é do Estado, que precisa garantir investimentos em momentos de abundância”, insistiu.

Segundo ela, o racionamento de fato pode ser necessário em algumas situações. “Mas apenas como última opção e depois que as demais opções tenham sido esgotadas”, alertou.

Reservatórios de água na Grande SP

 
Arte/UOL

Confira entre quais reservatórios se divide o abastecimento de água na Grande São Paulo

Raio-x dos sistemas

Para a relatora da ONU, não faz sentido a Sabesp ter suas ações comercializadas na Bolsa de Nova York e na Bolsa de Valores de São Paulo (Bovespa), enquanto a cidade convive com problemas. “Antes de repartir lucros, a empresa precisa investir para garantir que todos tenham acesso à água”, declarou.

“O número de pessoas vivendo sem acesso à água e saneamento às sombras de uma sociedade que se desenvolve rapidamente ainda é enorme”, declarou a relatora em seu discurso na ONU, nesta tarde em Genebra.

Segundo seu informe, um abastecimento de água regular e de qualidade ainda é uma realidade distante para 77 milhões de brasileiros, uma população equivalente a todos os habitantes da Alemanha.

21.ago.2014 – Escavadeira tenta retirar lixo do rio Tietê. Menos de um mês depois de finalizar uma operação que retirou mais de 18 toneladas de lixo de áreas do leito seco do rio Tietê, o município de Salto (a 101 km da capital paulista) começa a ver as áreas serem novamente tomadas por entulho. A maioria do material é de pedaços de madeira. Segundo o secretário de Meio Ambiente do município, João De Conti Neto, a sujeira está voltando pela correnteza. João De Conti Neto/Acervo Pessoal

A ONU ainda aponta que 60% da população – 114 milhões de pessoas – “não tem uma solução sanitária apropriada”. Os dados ainda revelam que 8 milhões de brasileiros ainda precisam fazer suas necessidades ao ar livre todos os dias.

O Estadão revelou em junho de 2013 que a representante das Nações Unidas teve sua primeira inspeção para realizar o levantamento vetada pelo governo. A visita estava programada para ocorrer em julho do ano passado. “O governo apenas explicou que, por motivos imprevistos, a missão não poderia mais ocorrer”, declarou à época Catarina de Albuquerque.

Internamente, a ONU considerou que o veto tinha uma relação direta com os protestos que, em 2013, marcaram as cidades brasileiras. A viagem só aconteceria em dezembro de 2013, o que impediria que o informe produzido fosse apresentado aos demais governos da ONU e à sociedade civil antes da Copa do Mundo.

Agora, o raio X reflete uma crise que vive o País no que se refere ao acesso a água e saneamento. “Milhões de pessoas continuam vivendo em ambientes insalubres, sem acesso à água e ao saneamento”, indicou o informe, apontando que o maior problema estaria nas favelas e nas zonas rurais.

Resposta

O governo brasileiro indicou que o acesso à água e ao saneamento é “uma prioridade”, que a população mais pobre recebe uma atenção especial e que o governo tem “aumentado de forma significativa os investimentos em saneamento ao transferir recursos para Estados e municípios”.

“Houve um aumento nos orçamentos de fundos especiais para promover investimentos em infraestrutura de água e saneamento”, indicou a embaixadora do Brasil na ONU, Regina Dunlop.

“Temos um compromisso com a eliminação de desigualdades, dando prioridades para os mais vulneráveis”, insistiu a diplomata, indicando que as populações das favelas não são esquecidas.

Entre as medidas, a diplomata aponta investimentos de R$ 21,5 bilhões pelo governo em moradia, acesso à água, serviços de esgoto e revitalização urbana.

O governo também sugere que a relatora fizesse uma viagem mais ampla ao Brasil e alerta para a dimensão do território nacional.

 

Nudge: The gentle science of good governance (New Scientist)

25 June 2013

Magazine issue 2922

NOT long before David Cameron became UK prime minister, he famously prescribed some holiday reading for his colleagues: a book modestly entitled Nudge.

Cameron wasn’t the only world leader to find it compelling. US president Barack Obama soon appointed one of its authors, Cass Sunstein, a social scientist at the University of Chicago, to a powerful position in the White House. And thus the nudge bandwagon began rolling. It has been picking up speed ever since (see “Nudge power: Big government’s little pushes“).

So what’s the big idea? We don’t always do what’s best for ourselves, thanks to cognitive biases and errors that make us deviate from rational self-interest. The premise of Nudge is that subtly offsetting or exploiting these biases can help people to make better choices.

If you live in the US or UK, you’re likely to have been nudged towards a certain decision at some point. You probably didn’t notice. That’s deliberate: nudging is widely assumed to work best when people aren’t aware of it. But that stealth breeds suspicion: people recoil from the idea that they are being stealthily manipulated.

There are other grounds for suspicion. It sounds glib: a neat term for a slippery concept. You could argue that it is a way for governments to avoid taking decisive action. Or you might be concerned that it lets them push us towards a convenient choice, regardless of what we really want.

These don’t really hold up. Our distaste for being nudged is understandable, but is arguably just another cognitive bias, given that our behaviour is constantly being discreetly influenced by others. What’s more, interventions only qualify as nudges if they don’t create concrete incentives in any particular direction. So the choice ultimately remains a free one.

Nudging is a less blunt instrument than regulation or tax. It should supplement rather than supplant these, and nudgers must be held accountable. But broadly speaking, anyone who believes in evidence-based policy should try to overcome their distaste and welcome governance based on behavioural insights and controlled trials, rather than carrot-and-stick wishful thinking. Perhaps we just need a nudge in the right direction.

An inside look at U.S. think tank’s plans to undo environmental legislation (The Star)

The corporate-sponsored American Legislative Exchange Council works with lobbyists and legislators to derail climate change policies.

Occupy Phoenix protests the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization that brings together large corporations and U.S. lawmakers to draft anti-environmental policies.

NICK OZA / THE REPUBLIC

Occupy Phoenix protests the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization that brings together large corporations and U.S. lawmakers to draft anti-environmental policies.

 

Scientists are exaggerating the climate change crisis.

There’s no need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions because the benefits of warmer temperatures outweigh the costs.

Over-the-top environmental regulations are linked to such problems as suicide and drug abuse.

These aren’t the ramblings of a right-wing conspiracy theorist, but the opinions expressed at a midsummer retreat for U.S. state legislators held by a powerful U.S. think tank and sponsored by corporations as varied as AT&T and TransCanada, the company behind the controversial Keystone XL pipeline proposal.

Internal documents from this summer’s Dallas meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council, leaked to a watchdog group, reveal several sessions casting doubt on the scientific evidence of climate change. They also reveal sessions focused on crafting policies that reduce rules for fossil fuel companies and create obstacles for the development of alternative forms of energy.

The meeting, hosted in Dallas from July 30 to Aug. 1, involved a mix of lobbyists, U.S. legislators and climate change contrarians, and was sponsored by more than 50 large corporations, including several that do business in Alberta’s oilsands.

One workshop had the goal of teaching politicians “how to think and talk about climate and energy issues” and provided them with guidance for fighting environmental policies and regulations.

“Legislators are just there as foot soldiers, really,” said Chris Taylor, a Democratic state representative from Wisconsin and a member of ALEC.

Taylor, who said she belongs to the group in order to keep people informed about what it’s doing, said research groups appear to be writing policies presented at the meeting on behalf of corporations that are trying to get rid of obstacles to profit.

“Legislators aren’t coming up with these ideas,” she said.

An ALEC spokeswoman, Molly Fuhs, said in an email to the Star that all of its meetings are meant to bring together members “to discuss and debate model solutions to the issues facing the states,” using principles of limited government, free markets and federalism.

All of the model policies, which must first be introduced by a legislator member, are voted on and approved by a national board made up of 23 state legislators, she added.

“This is to ensure ALEC model policies are driven by, and are reflective of, state legislators’ ideas and the issues facing the states,” she wrote.

The group, founded in 1973, says it has about 2,000 elected Democratic and Republican state legislators in its membership. Its non-partisan status as an educational organization allows it to give U.S. tax receipts to its donors.

With nine separate committees made up of corporate representatives and politicians, the council says it can contribute to as many as 1,000 different policies or laws in a single year. And on average, about 20 per cent of these become laws or policies in areas such as international trade, the environment or health care, it says.

“For more than forty years, ALEC has helped lobbyists from some of the biggest polluters on the planet meet privately with U.S. lawmakers to discuss and model legislation,” said Nick Surgey, research director at U.S. watchdog Center for Media and Democracy.

“ALEC is a big reason the U.S. is so far behind in taking significant action to tackle climate change.”

A separate session on climate change at the ALEC retreat, presented by another educational charity, featured several proposals to discourage development of renewable energy, to stop new American rules to reduce pollution from coal power plants, as well as a “model resolution” in support of Keystone XL, which is seeking approval from the Obama administration.

According to a conference agenda, obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy, this presentation was given by Joseph Bast, president of the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based conservative think tank. Neither Bast, an author and publisher with an undergraduate degree in economics, nor the institute responded to requests for comment.

Slides from the presentation show that it also challenged established scientific evidence on climate change, while proposing to dismantle the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Other internal ALEC records released by the watchdog show that it previously asked its elected members to publicly speak out in support of Keystone XL, providing them with “information” to include in submissions for the U.S. State Department, which is reviewing the TransCanada project.

“They lobby,” Taylor, the Wisconsin Democrat, said of ALEC. “They come up with model policies. They send emails to legislators. They urge people to support model policies. They send thank-yous when the model policies pass. My goal in going is to make sure it’s not stealth, to make sure people know where these policies come from. And these policies come from big corporations through ALEC.”

The Harper government has also participated in an ALEC event, sending a Canadian diplomat, Canada’s consul general in Dallas, Paula Caldwell St-Onge, to a 2011 conference in New Orleans to promote the Keystone XL pipeline, the oilsands and other fossil fuels. Speaking notes from her presentation don’t mention climate change.

Fuhs, ALEC’s spokeswoman, confirmed that several multinational corporations were among those to sponsor the Dallas conference, including telecommunications giant AT&T, pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Bayer and energy companies such as Chevron, Devon, Exxon Mobil and TransCanada.

But she stopped responding to questions from the Star after being asked about the internal documents circulated at the meeting and obtained by the watchdog group.

Most of the companies contacted by the Star confirmed they had sponsored the event, explaining that this didn’t necessarily mean they endorsed all of ALEC’s proposed policies.

Alberta-based TransCanada, which sponsored an “Ice Cream Social” event at the ALEC meetings in each of the past two years, downplayed its role.

“I cannot honestly speak to whether or not someone who was a consultant for our company was at the event — because we are not their only client — but no one was directed to be at this event to present views on behalf of TransCanada,” said TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard. “I can’t be any clearer than that.”

Howard, who said the company’s contributions to ALEC weren’t considered to be charitable donations, said the sponsorship doesn’t mean TransCanada agrees with the organization’s policies.

“Reasonable people wouldn’t expect us to only go to or support things that are a perfect match for our own company’s views and values,” Howard said, noting TransCanada has a climate change policy that includes billions of dollars of investments in renewable energy.

“Sometimes you have to speak to people with different viewpoints to develop better public policy and decisions — that’s just common sense,” Howard said.

A spokesman for ExxonMobil told the Star the company didn’t want to comment about its sponsorship of ALEC, saying that it wasn’t a member of the organization. ALEC’s website lists representatives from 17 organizations on its “private enterprise advisory council” including ExxonMobil, AT&T, Pfizer, as well as Peabody Energy, the largest private-sector coal company in the world.

ALEC declined to explain the role of this “advisory council.”

A spokesman from Devon Energy, Tim Hartley, confirmed that it was “one of the many sponsors” of the Dallas meeting, explaining that the company “generally favours the principles of free markets and limited government that animate ALEC.” But he said he couldn’t discuss specific public policy issues.

“We interact with a variety of stakeholder groups in the course of our business, and we embrace our responsibility to participate in the free and open marketplace of ideas,” said Hartley.

Although she is often critical of ALEC, Taylor, who joined the organization as a legislative member a few years ago, said she doesn’t expect to be kicked out since it is trying to promote its bipartisan nature to preserve its charitable status.

She said energy was a major theme at the Dallas conference, driven by some large corporations, with one corporate representative from Peabody Energy urging the conference to help spark a “political tsunami” against new U.S. EPA regulations proposed to slash pollution from coal power plants.

Peabody Energy didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Surgey, from the Center for Media and Democracy, said one of his biggest concerns about ALEC is its secrecy.

“We have many of our state elected officials going on to these conferences, and yet we’re not allowed to know who they meet with,” said Surgey. “We just know that it’s a very large number of lobbyists from big multinational corporations but ALEC refuses to tell us who’s there.”

ALEC has also sponsored a pair of trips for U.S. politicians to the Alberta oilsands — described as an “oilsands academy” — arranging meetings for the politicians with representatives from TransCanada and Devon Energy, as well as one environmental group, the Pembina Institute, in October 2012.

TransCanada said it doesn’t organize or fund these types of visits, but it assists by freeing up staff to explain operations at facilities.

Sandi Walker, an Alberta government spokeswoman from the provincial department of international and intergovernmental relations, said it hosted 54 trips to the oilsands in 2012, including the fall visit co-ordinated by ALEC as part of ongoing efforts to inform legislators and officials about the industry with “fact-based information” to allow key decision-makers to make informed decisions about energy. Each trip typically cost about $3,000, she said.

She said an ALEC representative had contacted Alberta to set up the meeting, explaining that the province maintains relations with a variety of stakeholders and organizations in the U.S.

Walker said the province is committed to being a leader in greenhouse gas reduction technology by renewing its climate change strategy so that it can effectively reduce emissions at the source, noting it has already implemented a price on carbon emissions for industry.

While TransCanada’s pipeline proposal has popped up on the agenda at multiple ALEC events in recent years, Taylor said that the company’s latest “ice cream social” reminded her of what happened last year when it hosted a similar event.

The ice cream started melting, and in a crowd of skeptics, she joked that she thought this might be accepted as evidence of global warming.

Eunice Nodari, doutora em história ambiental:‘Não podemos controlar a chuva. Os desastres, sim’ (O Globo)

Professora gaúcha foi uma das palestrantes do encontro que reuniu, no mês passado, pesquisadores dos cinco países que compõem o Brics

POR FÁTIMA FREITAS
http://og.infg.com.br/in/13822994-b48-20a/FT1500A/550/2014-746262357-2014082717576.jpg_20140827.jpg” alt=”
Eunice Nodari atesta que erros ambientais do passado continuam a acontecer, aponta caminhos para mudança e fala sobre a história ambiental de diferentes países
Foto: Fabio Seixo / Agência O Globo” width=”1260″ height=”550″ />
Eunice Nodari atesta que erros ambientais do passado continuam a acontecer, aponta caminhos para mudança e fala sobre a história ambiental de diferentes países – Fabio Seixo / Agência O Globo

“Nasci em Sarandi, Rio Grande do Sul. Meu pai era pequeno comerciante e queria que eu fosse ‘alguém na vida’. Bom, consegui ser a primeira a ter curso superior na família… Nos anos 1980, me mudei para Santa Catarina. Tenho 60 anos, 3 filhos e 2 netos e sou casada com um professor de genética vegetal”

Conte algo que não sei.

A história ambiental no Brasil é um campo novo. Começou a ganhar força na década de 1990, com forte influência dos Estados Unidos. Com isso, em 2001, enveredei minha carreira para pesquisas nessa área. Iniciamos com projetos sobre a história do desmatamento das florestas do Sul do Brasil, e avançamos para outros temas prementes relacionados ao meio ambiente. Logo conseguimos criar uma linha de pesquisa em Migrações e História Ambiental, no Programa de Pós-Graduação da Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC). Foi um trabalho pioneiro que vem dando ótimos resultados e, ainda, é um estímulo para outras universidades.

Além da UFSC, quais são as grandes referências em história ambiental no Brasil?

O destaque deve ser dado ao Programa de Pós-Graduação em História Social da UFRJ, da UNB e a UFMG. Juntas, essas universidades têm 64 teses de doutorado. É importante ressaltar que os meus ex-orientandos, hoje doutores, já são professores de universidades em diferentes estados. Nelas, eles também estão criando os seus grupos desta disciplina, aumentando, assim, a rede.

A senhora foi palestrante do Simpósio Diálogo em História Ambiental: Brics. O que os países que integram o grupo têm em comum nas questões ambientais?

O Brics reuniu pesquisadores ambientais dos países que o compõem com o objetivo de discutir formas de serem realizadas pesquisas em conjunto. Foi um evento muito importante, inédito na área de história. Foram debatidas similaridades e diferenças. Sem dúvida, as enchentes são eventos recorrentes na maioria dos cinco países. No caso do Brasil, o Rio de Janeiro e Blumenau, por exemplo, sofrem com as cheias. Uma das deficiências observadas nas pesquisas realizadas por mim e por Lise Sedrez deixa claro que as políticas públicas investem muito pouco na prevenção dos problemas que surgem com os temporais anualmente. Uma coisa é certa: não podemos controlar a chuva, mas os desastres, sim.

E, neste caso, qual o papel do historiador ambiental?

É analisar como os desastres ambientais, que são os que têm a intervenção do homem, estão diretamente relacionados com as problemáticas sociais, econômicas, culturais e, mesmo, políticas, apontando os caminhos para evitar que esses processos se repitam.

Erros ambientais do passado ainda são frequentes?

Infelizmente, as lições herdadas do passado não estão sendo devidamente observadas, pois os mesmos erros continuam sendo praticados. Cometer infrações básicas, como não respeitar as áreas de matas ciliares, importantes para a contenção das cheias e a qualidade da água, significa falta de respeito não somente ao meio ambiente, mas também à vida humana e dos demais habitantes do planeta.

A violência ambiental é resultado da falta de legislação?

No meu entender, as violências socioambientais mais preocupantes são as silenciosas, aquelas que acontecem cotidianamente e que não são resolvidas. Por exemplo, a falta de saneamento básico para parte da população. Não podemos atribuir à falta de legislação o descontrole na degradação, pois a própria Constituição de 1988 inclui os direitos relacionados ao meio ambiente.

 

How the IPCC is sharpening its language on climate change (The Carbon Brief)

01 Sep 2014, 17:40

Simon Evans

Barometer | Shutterstock

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is sharpening the language of its latest draft synthesis report, seen by Carbon Brief.

Not only is the wording around how the climate is changing more decisive, the evidence the report references is stronger too, when compared to the  previous version published in 2007.

The synthesis report, due to be published on 2 November, will wrap up the IPCC’s fifth assessment (AR5) of climate change. It will summarise and draw together the information in IPCC reports on the science of climate change, its  impacts and the  ways it can be addressed.

We’ve compared a draft of the synthesis report with that published in 2007 to find out how they compare. Here are the key areas of change.

Irreversible impacts are being felt already

The AR5 draft synthesis begins with a decisive statement that human influence on the climate is “clear”, that recent emissions are the highest in history and that “widespread and consequential impacts” are already being felt.

This opening line shows how much has changed in the way the authors present their findings. In contrast, the 2007 report opened with a discussion of scientific progress and an extended paragraph on definitions.

There are also a couple of clear thematic changes in the 2014 draft. The first, repeated frequently throughout, is the idea that climate change impacts are already being felt.

For instance it says that the height of coastal floods has already increased and that climate-change-related risks from weather extremes such as heatwaves and heavy rain are “already moderate”.

These observations are crystallised in a long section on Article 2 of the UN’s climate change convention, which has been signed by every country of the world. Article 2 says that the objective of the convention is to avoid dangerous climate change.

The AR5 draft implies the world may already have failed in this task:

“Depending on value judgements and specific circumstances, currently observed impacts might already be considered dangerous for some communities.”

The second theme is a stronger emphasis on irreversible impacts compared to the 2007 version. The 2014 draft says:

“Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.”

It says that a large fraction of warming will be irreversible for hundreds to thousands of years and that the Greenland ice sheet will be lost when warming reaches between one and four degrees above pre-industrial temperatures. Current warming since pre-industrial times is about 0.8 degrees celsius.

In effect the report has switched tense from future conditional (“could experience”) to present continuous (“are experiencing”).  For instance it says there are signs that some corals and Arctic ecosystems “are already experiencing irreversible regime shifts” because of warming.

Stronger evidence than before

As well as these thematic changes in the use of language, the AR5 synthesis comes to stronger conclusions in many other areas.

This is largely because the scientific evidence has solidified in the intervening seven years, the IPCC says.

We’ve drawn together a collection of side-by-side statements so you can see for yourself how the conclusions have changed. Some of the shifts in language are subtle – but they are significant all the same.

IPCC Table With Logo

Source: IPCC AR4 Synthesis Report, draft AR5 Synthesis Report

Climate alarmism or climate realism?

The authors of the latest synthesis report seem to have made an effort to boost the impact of their words. They’ve used clearer and more direct language along with what appears to be a stronger emphasis on the negative consequences of inaction.

The language around relying on adaptation to climate change has also shifted. It now more clearly emphasises the need for mitigation to cut emissions, if the worst impacts of warming are to be avoided.

Some are bound to read this as an unwelcome excursion into advocacy. But others will insist it is simply a case of better presenting the evidence that was already there, along with advances in scientific knowledge.

Government representatives have the chance to go over the draft AR5 synthesis report with a fine toothcomb when they meet during 27-31 October.

Will certain countries try to tone down the wording, as they have been accused of doing in the past? Or will the new, more incisive language make the final cut?

To find out, tune in on 2 November when the final synthesis report will be published.