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Radical Realism for Climate Justice

By Lili Fuhr and Linda Schneider - P2P Foundation, October 4, 2018

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial is feasible, and it is our best hope of achieving environmental and social justice, of containing the impacts of a global crisis that was born out of historical injustice and highly unequal responsibility.

To do so will require a radical shift away from resource-intensive and wasteful production and consumption patterns and a deep transformation towards ecological sustainability and social justice. Demanding this transformation is not ‘naïve’ or ‘politically unfeasible’, it is radically realistic.

This publication is a civil society response to the challenge of limiting global warming to 1.5°C while also paving the way for climate justice. It brings together the knowledge and experience of a range of international groups, networks and organisations the Heinrich Böll Foundation has worked with over the past years, who in their political work, research and practice have developed the radical, social and environmental justice-based agendas political change we need across various sectors.

Download a complete PDF of this collection of documents.

IPCC Warning Spurs Union Calls For Energy Democracy

By Sean Sweeney - Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, November 7, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

On November 2, 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Synthesis Report, the final in the “Fifth Assessment Report” process. It builds on three reports released by the IPCC since early 2013.

The IPCC is a senior UN panel made up of thousands of climate scientists and this report marks its fifth ‘assessment’ since 1990 of the state of the climate and the present and future impacts of global warming.

The Synthesis Report reiterates what the IPCC has been telling us for a decade or more: “Climate change is being registered around the world and warming of the climate system is unequivocal. Since the 1950s many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia.” The period from 1983 to 2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1,400 years in the Northern Hemisphere. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are “unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years”.

The report may be the same as previous IPCC reports in terms of the main messages and conclusions, but one thing is different. The 20 years of political inaction around climate, with its sad mixture of back-slapping and back stabbing by negotiators at scores of summits and meetings, has now created a situation where only bold and transformative interventions offer any hope of controlling runaway global warming. Even relatively conservative commentators and analysts now accept this to be true. Among the most important of these interventions involves expanding and deepening social ownership and democratic control of the world’s energy systems—energy democracy. This is needed in order to facilitate an energy transition from fossil-based power to renewable energy, a transition of sufficient speed and scale to be able to seriously address the climate crisis.

Among those embracing energy democracy are a growing number of unions working in partnership with allies in different social movements. Not all unions are convinced that energy democracy is either desirable or possible—especially given the political and economic power of the oil, coal and gas companies. And those unions either supporting the idea or at least open to it are engaging in serious discussions regarding what energy democracy would look like and how it could, alongside addressing pollution and emissions, also seriously address energy poverty, create jobs and advance equality. But everyone involved in the trade union debates on climate change accepts that ‘business as usual’ is simply not an option and the energy system has to be transformed within two or three decades. The IPCC’s report has again sounded the alarm about climate change, but we cannot evacuate the building because we have nowhere else to go.

The IPCC Report: Between Nightmare and Revolution

By Daniel Tanuro - Climate and Capitalism, November 6, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The International Panel on Climate Change has now published its fifth Synthesis Report along with a Summary for Policy Makers. The diagnosis is no surprise:

  • Global warming is advancing. It is mainly caused by burning fossil fuels, and the negative consequences are more important than the positive effects.
  • It is probably still possible to avoid an average temperature increase  of more than 2°C compared to the pre-industrial period, but the policies followed for the last twenty years will lead to a warming of between 3.7 and 4.8 °C (between 2.5 and 7.8 °C, taking uncertainty into account) and “high risk of severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts globally.”

A palpable concern

The evaluation made in this fifth report is not fundamentally different from previous ones, but the confidence level of the warning is greater. Some areas of uncertainty are becoming clearer and the authors’ concern is more obvious than ever.

The phrase “virtually certain” (more than 99% probability) is used more and more in describing the likelihood this or that phenomenon. For instance, several centuries of melting  permafrost and rising sea levels are now considered “virtually certain,” even if emissions are drastically reduced,

Behind the “objective” scientific tone of the report, the IPCC is clearly sounding an alarm. The experts’ concern is palpable. This is particularly apparent in the fact that the summary for policy makers contains a section on the increased risk of “irreversibility and abrupt changes” beyond 2100. For example, we read that “The threshold for the loss of the Greenland ice sheet over a millennium or more, and an associated sea-level rise of up to 7 m, is greater than about 1°C but less than about 4°C of global warming.” So limiting the temperature rise to 2°C does not completely eliminate the risks of very profound changes to Earth’s ecosystems. [2]

Dealing in Doubt: The Climate Denial Machine Vs Climate Science

By Greenpeace - September 2013

This report describes organized attacks on climate science, scientists and scientific institutions like the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC), that have gone on for more than 20 years. It sets out some of the key moments in this campaign of climate denial started by the fossil fuel industry, and traces them to their sources.

Climate Change and Capitalism

By Michael Roberts - Originally published at The Next Recession, September 28, 2013

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The 5th report by the International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) was released this weekend. The IPCC brings together hundreds of scientists in the field of climate change to cooperate in drawing up a comprehensive analysis of the state of the earth’s climate and forecasts about its future.  The IPCC report raised its estimate of the probability that human activities, led by the burning of fossil fuels, are the main cause of global warming since the mid-20th century to “extremely likely”, or at least 95 percent, from “very likely” (90 percent) in its previous report in 2007 and “likely” (66 percent) in 2001.

The IPCC said that short periods are influenced by natural variability and do not, in general, reflect long-term climate trends.  So the argument of those whom deny global warming is man-made or is not getting worse cannot rely on the recent slowing of the rise in average atmospheric temperatures in the last 15 years.  The IPCC went on to say that temperatures were likely to rise by between 0.3 and 4.8 degrees Celsius (0.5 to 8.6 Fahrenheit) by the late 21st century.  Sea levels are likely to rise by between 26 and 82 cm (10 to 32 inches) by the late 21st century, after a 19 cm rise in the 19th century.   In the worst case, seas could be 98 cm higher in the year 2100.

The IPCC estimates that a doubling of carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere would lead to a warming of between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 and 8.1F), lowering the bottom of the range from 2.0 degrees (3.6F) estimated in 2007 report. The new range, however, is the same as in other IPCC reports before 2007.  It said the earth was set for more heatwaves, floods, droughts and rising sea levels from melting ice sheets that could swamp coasts and low-lying islands as greenhouse gases built up in the atmosphere.

The IPCC admitted that it was still unclear about the causes for the slowdown in climate change in the past 15 years, but insisted that the long-term trends were beyond doubt and that a decade and a half was far too short a period in which to draw any firm conclusions. The temperature rise has slowed from 0.12C per decade since 1951 to 0.05C per decade in the past 15 years – a point seized upon by climate skeptics to discredit climate science.  Professor Stocker said:

“People always pick 1998 but that was a very special year, because a strong El Niño made it unusually hot, and since then there have been a series of medium-sized volcanic eruptions that have cooled the climate.”

Explaining a recent slower pace of warming, the report said the past 15-year period was skewed by the fact that 1998 was an extremely warm year with an El Nino event – a warming of the ocean surface – in the Pacific.  It said warming had slowed “in roughly equal measure” because of random variations in the climate and the impact of factors such as volcanic eruptions when ash dims sunshine, and a cyclical decline in the sun’s output.

But the deniers of climate change and manmade global warming remain unconvinced. Professor Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta responded by saying that “Well, IPCC has thrown down the gauntlet – if the pause continues beyond 15 years (well it already has), they are toast.” But Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the IPCC, retorted that the reduction in warming would have to last far longer - “three or four decades” – to be a sign of a new trend.  And the IPCC report predicted that the reduction in warming would not last, saying temperatures from 2016-35 were likely to be 0.3-0.7 degree Celsius (0.5 to 1.3 Fahrenheit) warmer than in 1986-2005.

The sceptics or deniers are a tiny percentage of scientists in the field of climate change.  An analysis of abstracts of 11,944 peer-reviewed scientific papers, published between 1991 and 2011 and written by 29,083 authors, concludes that 98.4 per cent of authors who took a position endorsed man-made (anthropogenic) global warming, 1.2 per cent rejected it and 0.4 per cent were uncertain. And more recent studies made after the laborious IPCC compilations confirm that the earth is warming up at a rate that can only be explained by human activity. Indeed, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was reported to have passed 400 parts per million for the first time in 4.5m years.

Capital Blight - A Visit from the New Flat Earth Society

By x344543 - September 25, 2013

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

We post a lot of class struggle environmentalist relevant news on our Facebook page, an average of over 75 stories a day. Naturally, we expect them to incite comments and occasional disagreements from any number of directions. Having just surpassed 750 "likes", however, we're just getting started at this point, so we don't expect a lot of the big discussions or debates you might find on the Facebook pages of, say, the Sierra Club, 350.org, or Occupy. Considering that, it was quite a shock to see a contrarian response to this story (shared from DeSmog Blog) from a user named Tom Harris, reading (in part):

It is revealing that almost none of the above piece even addresses the science of the new report. Instead they employ logical fallacy attacks: guilt by association, ad hominem, motive intent, etc. Smart people are not swayed by such rhetorical tricks.

It is humorous that the writer calls the report just issued "the International Climate Science Coalition's report" when it was no such thing. I wish it were. It is a massive, heavily referenced and impressive document - see http://climatechangereconsidered.org/. We are simply helping the publishers (there are three, of which one is Heartland) of this fine book to promote the publication. And no, the funding for the book did not come from industry.

No one involved in this report is a climate change denier. They, the publishers and ICSC know that climate changes all the time and so we must prepare for these changes. We simply question the causes of climate change and do not agree with the politically correct version boosted by the UN IPCC, etc. So we deny that we deny climate change. We are denial deniers, if you want a label.

...Happily for society, especially those of us who want to use the best in science to engage in fact-based environmental protection, the press is indeed paying attention to the NIPCC report—see some of the coverage at the top of our Web site.

The full quote can be read here.

"Just what exactly is going on here and why is any of this relevant?" one might ask. Here is my answer: as Harris states, the ICSC has just published a document called "Climate Change Reconsidered", in a preemptive attempt by the NIPCC to undermine the AR5 report that has just been published by the IPCC.

If you are confused, that's precisely the result that Harris and his ilk have desired by spreading their misinformation. Fortunately there are folks like myself who will try and clear up that confusion and steer you in the right direction.