Climate chaos, truth or consequence?

Climate chaos, truth or consequence?

By Silvia Ribeiro

Misleading statements abound from official and business sources to divert attention from the gravity of climate chaos, thus giving an alibi and protection to those who have caused it: energy transnationals (oil, gas, coal), agribusiness, construction, automotive; and the richest 10 percent of the world's population whose overconsumption is responsible for 50% of greenhouse gas emissions.

The first objective of the Agreement is “to keep the increase in the global average temperature [by the year 2100], well below 2ºC with respect to pre-industrial levels and to continue efforts to limit this increase in temperature to 1.5 ºC ... "

But the same week that the Paris Agreement came into force, the United Nations Environment Program published the report "Emissions Gap 2016", where it indicates that with the current course of emissions, there will be an increase of 1.5 º C, already in 2030 or earlier. He adds that adding the official "commitments" that governments have declared to the Convention on Climate Change, the temperature will increase by 3.5 pc until the end of the century. (

Why do two United Nations agencies give such contradictory messages? To begin with, the Paris Agreement sets an “ideal” goal - which is propagated and celebrated as if it were real - but allows each country to make voluntary contributions to reduce emissions called Predicted Contributions Determined at the National level. They are not binding, they do not oblige to take measures to change the course of the climate crisis and worse still, what they declare are not even necessarily real reductions (in their sources and by those who benefit from consumption), because the “contribution Of many of the main emitting countries is not such: it is based largely on failed mechanisms such as carbon markets and unproven and unviable technologies.

Article 4.1 of the Paris Agreement adds that in order to meet the objectives, it is proposed that “global greenhouse gas emissions reach their peak as soon as possible, (…) and from that moment on, rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse, (…) to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and anthropogenic absorption by sinks in the second half of the century… ”.

If the goals are theoretical, the way to reach them established by the Agreement is surreal: first you can continue to emit - until reaching a maximum point or "peak" that is not defined how much it is - and then you have to reduce quickly (which It could not be done before, but upon reaching the peak it will magically be possible) and then, it continues without making reductions, but rather it is about "reaching a balance" between emissions and "anthropogenic" absorption, that is, by technological means, not natural.

This last part is particularly pernicious, because it justifies the fraudulent concept of “zero net emissions” or even negative ones. They are not reductions but compensations, that is, accounting not reality. It assumes that greenhouse gas emissions can continue to increase because they will be “offset” with “negative emissions” technologies.

The technologies to which they mostly refer are carbon capture and storage in geological beds and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (CCS and BECCS for its acronym in English), both considered geoengineering techniques. In themselves they carry significant risks - all recent studies on BECCS show that bioenergy plantations on the required scale will have a devastating impact on soils, water, ecosystems and food production. CCS is an old technique from the oil industry that is not used because it is expensive and inefficient: it was previously called Enhanced Oil Recovery but they changed the name to sell it as a climate change technology. It involves injecting CO2 to push deep oil reserves to the surface and leave the carbon in the soil. It is not technically or economically viable - it is also not useful for climate change because it increases oil consumption - but if it is paid for with public subsidies, it is a lucrative business for the companies that caused the problem. When in a few years they still do not give "negative emissions" and the planet continues to warm, they will say that to cool it there are only other, even more risky forms of geoengineering.

The most cruel thing about this theater is that the problem of climate chaos is real, it affects us all, the causes and those responsible are clearly known, but most of the official and business proposals are false “solutions”. On the contrary, many organizations and social movements show that there is a great diversity of alternatives that work, are viable and benefit the majority of the people and the planet. The strongest for their scope and capacity to counteract climate change are peasant, agro-ecological and local agri-food systems. But also renewable energies with the communities, zero waste systems, recovering railways, good low-emission collective transport and many others. Each one is not enough, but together they have enormous and real potential, economically, environmentally and socially viable. The criminal thing is to continue with the same model of production and consumption, increase the oil civilization, its environmental and social devastation and its owners do new business with technologies to "compensate" them.

- Silvia Ribeiro, Director for Latin America of the ETC Group


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