Climate change
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Climate Change. The Scientific Consensus International Treaties. The greenhouse effect. Large molecules allow solar radiation in, but not out Understood since 19 th century Goldilocks phenomenon: Earth is “just right” Greenhouse gases

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Climate Change

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Climate change

Climate Change

The Scientific Consensus

International Treaties

POLS 422


The greenhouse effect

The greenhouse effect

  • Large molecules allow solar radiation in, but not out

    • Understood since 19th century

    • Goldilocks phenomenon: Earth is “just right”

  • Greenhouse gases

    • CO2, H2O, CH4, O3 (natural and anthropogenic)

    • CFCs, N2O (anthropogenic)

  • Difference between warm intervals & ice ages: 6°C

POLS 422


Fundamental climate questions

Fundamental Climate Questions

  • Are CO2 concentrations increasing?

    • Yes.

      • Short-term measurements

      • Long-term: ice core samples

  • Is this caused by humans?

    • Yes. 180-280 ppm is natural

      • Since industrialization, increased to 380 ppm

  • Is climate changing?

    • Prior to FCCC, unclear

    • Since 1996, IPCC consensus is yes.

    • More dramatically than models predict

POLS 422


Climate change

IPCC

  • Background: From UNEP & WMO to UNGA

  • Predictions

    • 1995: "The balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on the global climate.” [+1.0-3.5 ° C]

    • 2001: "There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.” [+1.4-5.8 °C]

    • 2007: “There is very high confidence that the net effect of human activities has been one of warming. Evidence shows that natural systems are being affected.” [+1.4-8.6 °C]

POLS 422


Ipcc predictions

IPCC predictions

  • CO2 doubling this century >> 1.5°- 8.6° C warming

  • Sea level rise: + 40-80 cm in 21st C

    • Could be much larger if Greenland or Antarctic ice sheets melt

  • More frequent and intense tropical storms

    • Katrina as indicator of the future

  • “Climate surprises” inevitable

    • Ex: Ocean’s thermohaline circulation system

POLS 422


Fccc 1992

FCCC (1992)

  • Objective: “stabilize atmospheric concentrations of GHGs at safe levels”

  • Principles

    • “Common but differentiated responsibility”

    • Precautionary principle

    • Cost-effectiveness

  • Obligations

    • Annual GHG Inventories

    • Annex I (IC’s): return GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2000 (nonbinding)

    • Annex II (western IC’s): financial assistance to DCs

POLS 422


Kyoto protocol 1997

Kyoto Protocol (1997)

  • 6 GHGs covered: CO2, CH4, N2O, PFCs, HFCs, SF6

  • Annex I: differentiated GHG reductions totaling 5% from 1990 levels by 2008-12

    • U.S. - 7%; EU -8% Aus, Iceland +10%

  • 5 ways to meet obligations

    • Simply reduce GHG emissions

    • Enhance sinks (forests)

    • Emissions trading among Annex I parties

    • Joint implementation in Annex I parties

    • Clean Development Mechanism (DCs)

POLS 422


What kyoto means 3 versions

What Kyoto means: 3 versions

  • Meaningful action

    • Annex I emissions projected to rise 30% by 2010 over 1990 levels

  • Symbolic politics

    • Loopholes will prevent real cuts in GHGs

    • Stage is set for deeper reductions

  • Meaningless gesture

    • To stabilize GHG concentrations, an immediate 70% reduction in GHG emissions is required

      • …or 90% by 2030

POLS 422


After kyoto

After Kyoto

  • 2001: U.S. withdrawal

  • Bonn surprise (July 2001)

    • Bush withdrawal galvanized action

    • Decisions on capacity building in DCs & E. Europe, tech. transfer, joint implementation

    • Adaptation fund pledged by EU & other ICs

      • $410 million/year

  • Russia ratified, bringing Kyoto into force in 2005

  • Current negotiations: post-2012 reductions

POLS 422


Beyond international law

Beyond International Law

  • Voluntary initiatives

    • Pew Center: Business Environmental Leadership Council

    • Public utilities: Seattle City Light

    • Individuals: Carbon offsetting

  • Local initiatives

    • ICLEI: 500+ cities & counties in 67 countries, representing 300 million people

      • U.S. cities: Nickels’ initiative > 50 million

    • US governors suit against utilities thrown out

    • CA: 1990 levels by 2020; 80% below by 2050

      • Emissions trading with U.K.

POLS 422


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