Holding Off a Climate Apocalypse

by Khari Johnson, NewCo Staff Writer

For the past week and for a week to come, the world is in Paris to confront climate change. Global collective action is being taken to keep greenhouse gases below a two degrees Celsius rise from pre-industrial temperatures. With so many players involved and so much on the line, it can be hard to keep up, so read some of these pieces for deeper insights into this fight.

1. Business leaders are getting involved in ways never seen before to bring the climate deal together. The We Mean Business Coalition, worth a combined $8 trillion, wants a zero carbon world before the end of the century. European businesses want near zero energy buildings by 2020. Other business lobbies are trying to torpedo the entire deal. That stinks, but there’s a serious presence by businesses who want to see a deal get made, perhaps because they want to do good, or they understand the cost of inaction.

2. Need to catch up on this process? Why is this climate conference different than others? What’s the UNFCCC COP? Exactly how many letters does an acronym have to be before it’s no longer an acronym? Watch this primer or read this article.

3. Former NASA scientist James Hansen, who has been warning of climate change destruction since the late 1980s, believes the deal in Paris doesn’t go far enough.

He’s joined by climate scientist Ken Caldeira, who presents a realistic but in no way uplifting look at the situation in this story. Much more carbon emissions and level of action necessary to avoid serious consequences.

“If we want to destroy neither our environment nor our economy, we need to reduce the emissions per energy service provided by a factor of 100. This requires something of an energy miracle,” he writes.

Today the richest 10 percent produce near half of all carbon emissions, but developing nations will account for much of the world’s emissions increase in the future. Caldeira points out that it’s pretty hard for developed nations to tell developing nations not to grow their economies or consumption. Disagreement over this issue reportedly caused India and China to threaten to end talks earlier this week.

4. The Bill Gates-led clean energy investment group of tech billionaires got us thinking: How does somebody who isn’t a tech billionaire influence investment in technologies that will be vital to our future?

Clean tech investment in the U.S. has been steady around $2–3 billion in recent years, according to Troy Ault, director of research at Cleantech Group, a firm that tracks food, transportation, and energy industries included in its definition of clean tech. His recommendations: Be a consumer of products that reduce greenhouse gases, invest in the equity crowdfunding campaigns of for the firms that look that direction, and pressure lawmakers to support the advancement of innovation. Outside investment, here are some basic things you can do every day to combat climate change.

5. You expect to see diplomats and heads of state at COP 21. You don’t expect to see governors or state senators on the world stage, but that’s where California Governor Jerry Brown is now. The Under 2 MOU is a non-binding agreement between 50 states and regions worldwide. Makes sense California would be there. The nation’s most populous state isn’t just a forerunner in climate policy, it’s also the second largest emitter of carbon per capita in the world. And while COP21 is significant, the world’s largest cities working together can make an enormous dent in climate change themselves.

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Photo Credit: COP Paris