Politics Scale and speed to confront runaway climate change
China flooding: 'Once in a thousand years' rains devastated Henan, but there is little talk of climate change
As record heat waves hit western North America and deadly floods swept Germany, the growing risks associated with climate change have grabbed headlines, and prompted widespread discussions in the West. © STR/AFP/Getty Images A damaged bridge following heavy rains which caused severe flooding in Gongyi in China's central Henan province on July 21, 2021 Scientists have been warning for years that the climate crisis would amplify extreme weather, making it deadlier and more frequent — and the latest catastrophes are seen as a timely reminder the threat could hit much closer to home than some might think.
To avert a full-blown climate catastrophe, global warming must be tackled by deep economy-wide changes and not just, as has been the case thus far, incremental adjustments.
The alarming escalation in climate-related floods and forest fires has not triggered the level of investment needed to reverse carbon emissions, which hit ahigh in June 2021. One factor is that unlike COVID-19, where infections are linked directly to fatalities, climate change's causal relation is indirect, going from higher carbon emissions to rise in temperatures, to extreme floods and fires - and deaths. To marshal vast private and public investments for climate mitigation, public support needs to be generated based on clear knowledge sharing.
July's extreme weather events highlight climate's long shadow
Another record-setting summer of heatwaves, drought, wildfires, floods and hurricanes. Is extreme climate “the new normal" already?As we slide deeper into another record-setting summer of heatwaves, drought, wildfires, floods and hurricanes, many are asking whether this more extreme climate is "the new normal." The reality is worse: not only are we already living in a climate in which these high-impact events are much more likely, but the impacts are set to accelerate in the coming years and decades.
To have any chance of success, climate action must occur globally, starting with strong commitments from countries at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November 2021. It is in the interest of the U.S. to exercise leadership in climate knowledge and investment worldwide, setting the direction for others to join and follow. The U.S. has already shown its preparedness to spend big and to lead if the policy priority is high. Most recently, we saw this with President Biden's, which provided COVID-19 relief and the in March. The same resolve must be tapped for an environmental campaign with urgency, especially since expanding green infrastructure tends to take time; funds need to flow, and permits, land acquisition, environmental assessments and legal clearances need to kick in.
Even climate scientists are surprised by this summer's extreme weather
Climate scientists have for decades warned that the crisis would lead to more extreme weather, that it would become deadlier and more frequent. But many are expressing surprise that heat and rain records are being broken by such large margins. Since the 1970s, scientists have predicted the extent to which the world would warm fairly accurately. What's harder for their models to predict -- even as computers get more and more powerful -- is how intense the impact will be.Michael E.
The stakes are already high for the big emitters to significantly raise their investments in climate mitigation given their high exposure to disasters. The biggest- China, the U.S., India, Russia, Japan and Germany - are responsible for 60 percent of emissions and must do the heavy lifting on climate investments. By one estimate, around a investment is needed globally each year until 2030 to build infrastructure in energy, transport, water and telecommunications. This is a great avenue for going green.
More specifically, the capital investment needed to replace the highly polluting fossil fuels with renewable sources of energy and to keep global temperatures from rising over 1.5 degrees Celsius will bea year through 2035. Set against the roughly that was spent in government stimulus in 2020 to tackle the economic impact of COVID-19, this amount of capital investment for clean energy looks modest and doable - if the big polluting nations set their minds to it.
Striking a balance on climate change and global trade
If what the Democrats are contemplating is truly a climate measure, then its best chance of being upheld by the WTO is if it is structured exclusively as a climate measure and is based solely on climate motivations. It must also be applied to all U.S. trading partners in an evenhanded way that does not constitute arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination or a disguised restriction on international trade. In part, this means providing our trading partners with what we Americans call "due process" before imposing climate-related trade restrictions on their products.
But in sharp contrast to COVID-19, public readiness for a global climate movement is not high yet. Onlyof Americans even believe that global warming is an urgent problem. And there is a clear reluctance to give up oil and gas, the main causes of that are primarily responsible for the spike in global warming. Most people might support a very gradual shift away from fossil fuels, but since the planet is already at a for irreversible losses, speed and the scale of action will be decisive.
One way to break the information gap is to connect global warming with weather-related disasters in real-time. True, climate change may seem too overarching to beto a specific episode. But the accumulation of worldwide clearly points to climate change as the behind the increase in the severity and ferocity of extreme weather events. Since 1960, the world has seen a increase in extreme hazards of nature, with the deadliest impacts in , like the East Coast and highly heat-exposed regions like the West Coast. To inform mindsets, it is vital to connect the dots during catastrophes when public attention is focused on them.
Overnight Energy: Democrats seek to tackle climate change with import tax | Advocates say bigger deal needed to meet climate crisis | Western wildfires worsen with 80 different fires
MONDAY AGAIN. Welcome to Overnight Energy, your source for the day's energy and environment news. Please send tips and comments to Rachel Frazin at firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow her on Twitter: @RachelFrazin . Reach Zack Budryk at email@example.com or follow him at @BudrykZack . Today we're looking at the latest on carbon-import tax proposals and pushback from activists on the Biden administration's climate action, as well as wildfires in the West.
Seeing these connections in real-time will likely foster political and popular support for climate investments, for which public policy must take the lead. The president wants to push through abudget to fund a clean energy transition to mitigate climate change. Its components for price and tax incentives for clean energy and electric vehicles, establishing a clean energy standard and the creation of a civilian group to support environmental action are essential measures. Low-emission and resilient infrastructure decisions are needed country-wide to avoid investments being locked into carbon-intensive energy and to encourage the use of renewable fuels.
Market forces alone underperform in situations of extreme conflicts among powerful economic interests as is the case with climate change. That is why decisive government intervention in knowledge and investment is needed, even as business response remains crucial for putting the economy on a low-carbon growth path. The U.S., together with other major economies, has one chance to make the existential fight against climate change a top priority.
Vinod Thomas is a former senior vice president at the World Bank. He is the author of "Climate Change and Natural Disasters." You can follow him on Twitter: @vthomas14
OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden moves to drop Trump showerhead rule | McConnell calls for withdrawal of Biden public lands nominee | Greenland suspends oil exploration .
TGIF! Welcome to Overnight Energy, your source for the day's energy and environment news. Please send tips and comments to Rachel Frazin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @RachelFrazin. Reach Zack Budryk at email@example.com or follow him at @BudrykZack.Today we're looking at a move to reverse a Trump-era rule on showerheads, the latest opposition to Tracy Stone-Manning, and Greenland putting an end to oil drilling.SHOWER CORRUPTS: Biden moves to drop Trump showerhead ruleThe Biden administration is moving forward with a plan to drop a Trump-era rule that sought to loosen restrictions on showerhead water flow - something the former president was k