CLIMATE CHANGE 1989 – 2026 TIMELINE
Why should people take notice of Climate Change being a cyclical issue ? First, because it can give some idea of when effective efforts to stem greenhouse gas emissions are likely to surge, likely to peak and likely to require re-direction and second because it helps indicate how many major ‘rounds’ there are going to be in this battle – and when they are likely to start and end. This is a medium term issue spanning a couple of generations – and seems to fit the scientifically monitored SAT-NEP 36 year cycle. Certainly the evidence suggests the current 1989 – 2026 cycle will not see a fix to this issue – but what key lessons are being learnt at this cycle’s terminal three quarter stage between 2014 and 2017 that will go on to form the roots of a more successful implementation cycle starting in 2026.
Please look to see if the selected 3 periods below show a match with the development of this issue and whether the birth, challenge and surge, maximisation and terminal challenge cycle stages match what is happening in this major ‘implementation of ideals’ issue for humanity.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE SATURN-NEPTUNE CYCLE
During the 1989 to 2026 Saturn-Neptune cycle we shall see Climate Change rise from complete political obscurity to become by the half way stage 2006 to 2008 a major global issue. During the cycle conjunction, February 1988 to December 1990, we can see this issue, which was first voiced in 1953 precisely at the start of the previous Saturn-Neptune cycle, now come into sharper focus.
CYCLE CONJUNCTION (Feb 1988 to Dec 1990)
On 23 June 1988, four months into the conjunction period, climatologist James Hansen brings the greenhouse effect to the attention of the American public when he tells the US Congress that worldwide temperature increases are probably a sign of human alteration of the atmosphere.
THE IPCC CREATED
On 6 December 1988 at the 70th Plenary meeting of the UN, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is formally created. It had been set up earlier in the year by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) to prepare assessments, based on available scientific information, on all aspects of climate change and its impacts, with a view to formulating realistic response strategies. Its endorsement followed a year later. The dates of the exact Saturn-Neptune conjunction are in March, June and November 1989.
In May 1990 the first IPCC Assessment Report is finalized and then in November 1990 is released. The IPCC report concludes “emissions resulting from human activities are substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases”. The scientific evidence brought up by this report underlines the importance of international cooperation to tackle the consequences of climate change. It therefore plays a decisive role in leading on to the creation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the key international treaty in 1992 to reduce global warming and cope with the consequences of climate change. In December 1990 the Saturn-Neptune cycle Conjunction goes out of orb.
The implementation development of another 2 global environmental agreements and one major pollution disaster also appear to match this period:
1) The 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer is an international agreement designed to reduce the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances in order to reduce their abundance in the atmosphere, and thereby protect the earth’s fragile ozone Layer. Though the original treaty was agreed in September 1987 it only enters into force on 1 January 1989 well within the cycle Conjunction period. The treaty seeks to cut in half production of chemicals posing the greatest risk to the ozone layer.
2) In July 1989 the leaders of the seven major industrial democracies call at their economic summit in Paris for “decisive action” against global pollution
3) On 24 March 1989 North America’s worst oil spill in history occurs when the supertanker Exxon Valdez runs aground on a reef in Alaska’s Prince William Sound and begins leaking 11 million gallons of crude oil. Exxon was obliged to spend some $2.5 billion to clean up the spill. The Exxon Valdez oil spill fouls some 1,000 miles of Alaska shoreline killing an estimated 250,000 seabirds. Earlier in March and in February 1990 smaller oil spills of hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil pollute the coasts of California and Hawaii. On 18 August 1990 the US Oil Pollution Act (OPA) is passed. It requires new tankers sailing through US waters to have double hulls and that old tankers be fitted with double hulls by 2015.
CYCLE QUARTER STAGE (April 1998 to June 1999 )
THE KYOTO THRESHOLD
The key surge of environmental issues in this period is first in Climate change negotiations and secondly in large scale pollution incidents including marine devastation. First, on 11 December 1997, just three months before the Quarter stage of this 36 year cycle, in Kyoto, Japan, the 4th UN climate change conference, after intensive negotiations adopts the Kyoto Protocol which outlines the greenhouse gas emissions reduction obligation for industrialized countries – an average of 6 to 8% below 1990 levels between the years 2008–2012. On 1 April 1998 the Cycle Quarter stage begins.
[June 25 1998 1st exact cycle quarter stage] In July 1998 US President Clinton on a visit to China urges the Chinese not to sacrifice the environment for economic growth. At the time China is reported as having the top ten of the world’s most polluted cities. In the same month it is reported that Japan burns 38 million tons of garbage a year ahead of the US’s 34 million tons and that Japan’s air is reported to contain 10 times more dioxin than US air.
2 YEAR PLAN OF ACTION ON KYOTO
Between 2 and 14 November 1998 the United Nations Climate Change Conference takes place in Buenos Aires, Argentina. [November 1 1998 2nd exact cycle quarter stage] It includes the 4th Conference of the Parties (COP4) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It was expected that the remaining issues unresolved in Kyoto would be finalized at this meeting. However, the complexity and difficulty of finding agreement on these issues proves insurmountable, and instead negotiators from 150 countries adopt a 2-year ‘Plan of Action’ for implementing the Kyoto Protocol, to be completed by 2000. Though US President Clinton signs the new UN accord on global warming – it still requires ratification by Congress.
During the conference, Argentina and Kazakhstan express their commitment to take on the greenhouse gas emissions reduction obligation, the first two non-Annex countries to do so. (Non–annex countries are developing countries recognized by the Convention as being especially vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change). This puts a crack in a united front of developing nations who are opposed to making any cuts before 2012.
MORE ALARMING CLIMATE EVIDENCE
During 1998 climatologist Michael Mann publishes a chart purporting to show average surface temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere over the past 1,000 years. It shows a sharp and continuous increase over the last 100 years following a line of relatively minor fluctuations. Other scientists later question his data analysis techniques. In March 1999 NASA measurements reveal that ice sheets in the low-lying areas of Greenland are melting at the rate of 3 feet per year. [April 6 1999 3rd exact cycle quarter stage] On June 12 1999 it is reported that all 15,000 glaciers of the Himalayas are melting at an alarming rate and that torrential floods in Northern India could result over the next 40 years.
LARGE SCALE POLLUTION INCIDENTS
This 1998-1999 period sees a marked surge in large scale pollution incidents (heavy industrial pollution in the snow around the North Pole, acidic mine waste near Seville in Spain, cyanide entering a huge lake in Kyrgyzstan, a 7,000 square mile dead sea zone around the Gulf of Mexico and a wintertime cloud of air pollution the size of the USA over the Indian Ocean). There is also a surge in evidence coming out that extinction now threatens a significant proportion of animal species and plant life (In April 1998 a poll of 400 scientists indicates that 7 out of 10 believe that a “mass extinction” is under way, and that one-fifth of all living species could disappear within 30 years).
FISHING CAPACITY & MARINE DEVASTATION
This 1998-1999 period sees a surge in the number of oil disasters and the amount of evidence of oil dumping at sea (in the Caribbean, in California at San Luis Obispo and San Francisco, in Ecuador and off Argentina). In February 1999 in Rome delegates from almost every fishing nation agree on a plan to reduce fishing capacity starting within the next 6 years as more and more fish start to get wiped out or overfished. (for instance in this period evidence surfaces that 80% of breeding swordfish are now lost, of marine devastation in the Gulf of Mexico, of the build-up of phosphorus and nitrogen wiping out millions of fish notably in Maryland and Colorado, USA and evidence that each year trawl nets disturb an area of the world’s ocean bottom amounting to an area twice the size of the contiguous USA.
Moreover the effects of the growing ozone layer are deemed to threaten the whole marine food chain. In September 1998 the ozone layer over Antarctica is found to have grown to 10.5 million square miles, its largest size ever – nearly two and a half times the size of Europe !
On 26 June 1999 the Cycle Quarter stage ends.
CYCLE HALFWAY STAGE (25 June 2006 to 25 June 2008)
ACCUMULATION OF DEADLOCKS BLOCKING ANY PROGRESS
In what way was the Climate change issue maximised at the Saturn-Neptune cycle half way stage ? We shall examine all relevant events between end June 2006 and end June 2008 to see if there is any evidence of maximisation in these fields. We shall find that the maximisation lies in an extensive accumulation of deadlocks blocking any progress on real reductions in greenhouse gas emissions – whether from the stance taken by countries like the United States, China or Russia or the difficulties in agreeing mechanisms, compliance and further targets and the role of undeveloped countries. What we are saying is this period uniquely sees a non-stop stream of alarming warnings but set against a sluggish feet-dragging set of actions by the key players. The somewhat confusing multiplication of conference and sub conference acronyms (UNFCCC, COP, CMP, IPCC) sometimes seems to serve the purpose of obscuring to the outside world what progress has actually been made. Look how the exact cycle half way stage points spread exactly across this sequence of dire warnings and institutional paralysis – though this follows over a year after the Kyoto Protocol came into force.
180 COUNTRIES CANNOT REACH AGREEMENT ON HOW TO CUT GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS
On August 1 2006 former President Clinton and the mayors of some of the world’s largest cities announce an initiative to combat climate change and increase energy efficiency in everything from street lighting to building materials. On August 15 seven north eastern US states agree to create the country’s first market for heat-trapping carbon dioxide by curbing emissions at power plants. [Aug 31 2006 1st exact cycle opposition date] On September 13 NASA scientists say the ice in the Arctic Sea is melting in winter as well as in summer – in all likelihood due to global warming. The rate of ice melt is reported as 9% a decade. On September 20 California sues six major auto manufacturers for greenhouse-gas inaction. On Sep 21 British mogul Richard Branson pledges to spend $3 billion over the next decade on projects to combat global warming. On October 23 an Australian scientist says global warming will force changes to Australia’s A$4.8 billion ($3.6 billion) wine export industry, threatening the very existence of some grape varieties as temperatures rise. On October 24 the environmental group WWF says Australians soak up more scarce resources than almost any other nation. Three days later Australia gives the green light to the southern hemisphere’s largest wind farm, a major project designed to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. On October 30, the head of Britain’s government economic service, Sir Nicholas Stern, issues a report on climate change that concludes the overall costs of climate change will be equivalent to losing at least 5% of global gross domestic product (GDP) each year, now and forever. On November 8 a Kenyan environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wangari Maathai, calls on people around the world to plant 1 billion trees in the next year, saying this effort is a way ordinary citizens can fight global warming. Yet on November 16 in Kenya the 12th UN conference on Climate change ends with the participating 180 countries reaching no agreement on how to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
DIFFICULTY IN AGREEING A FIRST ROADMAP FOR STEMMING GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS.
On January 22 2007 scientists warn that glaciers will all but disappear from the Alps by 2050, and that most will be gone by 2035. On February 2 scientists from 113 countries issue a report predicting that hotter temperatures and rises in sea level will “continue for centuries” no matter how much humans control their pollution. Despite this doom ridden conclusion on February 20 EU ministers agree to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 20% below their 1990 level by 2020. On February 26 five western US states announce an agreement to create a regional effort to lower greenhouse gas emissions. [Feb 28 2007 2nd exact cycle opposition] On March 20 2007 the WWF conservation group warns climate change, pollution, over extraction of water and development are killing some of the world’s most famous rivers including China’s Yangtze, India’s Ganges and Africa’s Nile. On March 21 US former Vice President Al Gore makes an emotional appeal to Congress to fight global warming while sceptical Republicans question the science behind his climate-change documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. On March 30 leaked extracts of a UN report say Australia will suffer more droughts, fires, floods and storms due to global warming and its famous Great Barrier Reef will be devastated by 2030. In that same month a study by the International Council on Clean Transportation states that ships release more sulphur dioxide than all the world’s cars, trucks and buses combined. On April 6 UN climate experts issue their starkest warning yet about the impact of global warming, ranging from hunger in Africa to a increasing thaw in the Himalayas. On April 26 Canada promises curbs on air pollution and a new approach to greenhouse gas emissions which it claims will slow then reverse the rise in pollutants blamed for global warming. On May 1 a US ice expert says the Arctic ice cap is melting much faster than expected and is now about 30 years ahead of predictions made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Yet IPCC delegates from 120 countries meeting in Thailand have massive difficulty in agreeing a first roadmap for stemming greenhouse gas emissions.
2 OBSTACLES – NATIONAL ECONOMIC INTERESTS AND WHO SHOULD BE MOST RESPONSIBLE
Two obstacles predominate – national economic interests and the need for acceptance by the more mature industrialised countries that they have a special responsibility. China, the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, emerges as the key voice in the debate. A draft of the Thailand conference conclusions proposes a cap on concentrations of greenhouse gas levels ranging from 445 parts per million to 650 parts per million, but China asks for the lower range to be stricken from the report, allegedly over fears it would hinder its roaring economy. Another rapidly developing country, India, shares many of the same concerns and the United States makes it clear that it also views the targets as too stringent. Reinforcing that obstacle is the other one – it becomes clear that China also takes the view that the world’s mature industrialized countries in North America and in Europe are mostly responsible for global warming and should bear the main responsibility for solving it, rather than latecomers like China and India.
SWEDEN’S 30% PLANNED EMISSIONS CUT EXCEEDS THAT OF THE EU.
On May 8 2007 governors and environmental officials from 31 US states announce that they would create a national registry to measure greenhouse gas emissions. On 17 May the journal ‘Science’ reports that Antarctica’s Southern Ocean, a crucial “carbon sink” into which 15 percent of the world’s excess carbon dioxide flows, is reaching saturation and soon may be unable to absorb more. Despite this on May 29 US President Bush’s environmental adviser says the US rejects the EU’s all-encompassing target on reduction of carbon emissions – China follows suit. The US and Australia both rule out a regional carbon trading scheme saying it is too early to impose uniform targets on key Asia-Pacific nations. On that same day Sweden says it plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2020, going further than the EU’s proposal of a cut of at least 20%. On May 30 global banking giant HSBC donates 50 million pounds ($98.8 million) to set up a “green task force” to tackle climate change worldwide. On May 31 President Bush, under international pressure to take tough action against global warming, calls for a world summit to set a long term global strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. On June 3 Australia’s PM John Howard ditches his opposition to a greenhouse gas reduction target for Australia with a pledge to set a national pollution limit next year. The following day Brazil’s President says that rich nations should pay poorer countries to preserve their forests because the rich are responsible for most of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. On that same day experts warn at a conference in Nepal’s capital that Himalayan glaciers are retreating fast and could disappear within the next 50 years. On the same day a UN report warns that up to 12% of Arctic ice has turned to water in the past 30 years.
CHINA’S PRODUCTION CONTRIBUTES MOST TO EMISSIONS BUT USA CONSUMPTION DOMINATES
On June 7 2007 G8 leaders agree to a statement that says they should “seriously consider” proposals to cut the emissions of greenhouse gases by 50 percent by 2050. On June 20 analysts announce that China has overtaken the United States as the top emitter of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, because of surging energy use amid its economic boom – though consumption and emission levels per head remain a mere fraction of America’s. [June 25 2007 3rd exact cycle opposition] On June 26 the Asian Development Bank says Asian governments must promote clean energy such as wind and solar power to maintain their booming economies and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in coming decades. On August 8 researchers from the University of North Carolina report that climate change has helped reduce coral coverage in the Indo-Pacific area by 20 percent in the past two decades. On August 14 a new study says climate change and population growth means nearly every Australian city will have to find new water supplies over the next decade.
THE WORLD MOVES INTO ECOLOGICAL OVERDRAFT
In September 2007 in Australia, Pacific Rim negotiators agree on a joint statement on global warming that asks developing nations to commit to energy efficiency targets while acknowledging that wealthy countries have greater responsibility for the problem. On October 6 the London based New Economics Foundation think-tank states that at this point in time the world moves into “ecological overdraft” – the point at which human consumption exceeds the ability of the earth to sustain it in any year. On October 29 in Portugal senior officials from the EU, three US states (California, New York, New Jersey), Canada, Norway and New Zealand launch the International Carbon Action Partnership (ICAP), an international effort to fight climate change by building a global carbon trading market. On November 15 Greenpeace protesters storm an Australian power plant after a US report condemns Australian electricity plants as some of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases. A Nobel-winning UN scientific panel states in a landmark report that the Earth is hurtling toward a warmer climate at a quickening pace. On December 3 2007 in Bali, Indonesia, climate experts at a UN conference hope for an agreement to mitigate climate change after the Kyoto protocol runs out in 2012. But a few days later China says it will not consider mandatory cuts on greenhouse gases, saying the United States and other industrialized countries should take the lead in fighting climate change by adopting a less extravagant lifestyle. Then as 2007 ends it becomes clear that carbon dioxide output has jumped 3% over the year putting the world on track for a worst-case global warming scenario.
THE FIRST CARBON-LINKED DERIVATIVES CONTRACTS BEGIN TRADING
In January 2008 NFORSE-Europe, a network of 72 NGOs working for sustainable energy in the EU and beyond, criticises the EU climate and energy proposals package for lacking a proposal to reach a 30% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, and for a problematic proposal to allow state-aid for Carbon Sequestration and Storage. On March 15 2008 ex UK PM Tony Blair, during a meeting of senior officials from the world’s top 20 greenhouse gas emitters in Japan, urges the world’s heaviest polluters including the US, China and India to agree to binding emissions cuts, saying failure to act on global warming would be “unforgivably irresponsible.” On March 17 the first carbon-linked derivatives contracts begin trading on the Green Exchange backed by the NY Mercantile Exchange, Evolution Markets, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and others. On March 29 2008 Sydney’s Opera House and Harbor Bridge go dark as the world’s first major city turns off its lights for this year’s Earth Hour, a global campaign to raise awareness of climate change.
BETWEEN JUNE 2006 AND JUNE 2008 GOVERNMENTS FAIL TO MAKE ANY PROGRESS
However on April 1 2008 poor countries at a UN conference in Thailand say they will not sign a global warming pact unless industrialized nations guarantee them billions of dollars needed to adapt to the impact of climate change. The following day Australia begins pumping carbon dioxide underground to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, using a technology that locks dangerous gases deep in the Earth. On April 4 in Thailand climate negotiators end five days of talks focused on how to reduce rapidly growing emissions from air and sea travel. On May 26 in Japan G8 environment chiefs pledge a “strong political will” toward cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050, declaring that developed nations should take the lead in battling longterm global warming – but fail completely to agree on much more contentious near-term targets. On 25 June the Saturn-Neptune cycle half way stage goes out of orb.
The failure of the world’s governments to make real progress is what characterizes this 1989 to 2026 cycle and that inaction or foot dragging was certainly maximized between end June 2006 and end June 2008. In Copenhagen in 2009 for the first time all the world’s developing countries will agree on limits to their greenhouse gas emissions but there will be nothing at all that is legally binding. Green activists will dismiss it as a failure.
CYCLE THREE QUARTER STAGE (9 Nov 2014 to 30 Sept 2017)
A PERIOD WHERE IMPLEMENTATION EVIDENTLY FALLS WOEFULLY SHORT OF AIMS
In mid 2016 we are only 51% through the three quarter stage of this cycle but on the basis of the data researched up till July 2016 we are going to make a judgement on what this terminal 3 year stage in this 36 year cycle might mean. A week before the three quarter stage begins the UN’s panel on climate science confirms climate change is almost entirely down to man’s activities and that limiting its impacts may require reducing greenhouse gas emissions this century to Zero. If that is the target by the year 2100 a revolution in global, national and individual behavior is clearly called for. The evidence looking back at the last year and a half demonstrates that while international co-operation is high the implementation of the idealistic aims of ‘saving the planet’ falls far short of what is needed and that a needed fast-track in international and national legislation is called for.
NOV 2014 – ARE GOVERNMENTS STICKING THEIR HEADS IN THE SAND ?
The colour of decisions and agreements is typified by an announcement by China and the US on 12 November 2014 immediately before the G20 conference, of an agreement to new limits on carbon emissions starting in 2025. For on examination this pledge by the world’s two biggest polluters appears to be more politically significant than environmentally substantive. As if to reflect this the following day in Australia more than 400 protesters stick their heads in the sand on Bondi Beach, mocking their government’s reluctance to put climate change on the agenda of the G20 summit. Some progress occurs when on November 14 President Obama pledges a $3 billion US contribution to an international fund to help poor countries cope with the effects of climate change. Though by Nov 20 donor nations have pledged a total of $9.3 billion, environmental campaigners say these funds fall short of what is needed.
DEC 2014 – THE BATTLE TO AGREE ON WHAT MUST BE DEBATED
On December 1 2014 in Lima, Peru the 20th Conference of the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change convenes. By Dec 13 the conference has to go into overtime as negotiators dispute a draft agreement that environmentalists complain fails to clearly define the responsibilities countries are due to accept at the key summit in Paris next year. As we shall see it is the battle to agree a definition of the principles to be debated at a later date that has characterized so many of these international conferences. It is of course difficult to reach challenging decisions among so many nations but if you cannot agree what decisions are to be debated that is a major obstacle. The conference does end with some 190 nations agreeing on the building blocks of a new-style global deal due in 2015 to combat climate change.
JAN to APR 2015 – AIR POLLUTION RATHER THAN GLOBAL WARMING IS THE MOST VIVID PUBLIC ISSUE
It is public visible evidence of serious damage to the environment, whether or not the result of global warming, that is making the issue of Climate change more prominent. On 15 January 2015 in China pollution levels soar in Beijing to readings more than 20 times WHO recommended limits, as a bout of intense smog returns to haunt the capital. On February 7 air pollution in Delhi, India, is reported to be the worst in the world with levels of smaller particulates routinely 15 times above WHO limits. At the end of February 2015 an online video documentary “Under the Dome” is released to China. It points out the role of large state-owned enterprises in creating the semi-permanent smog that cloaks many cities in the country. It gets viewed by some 200 million people before it is blocked by authorities.
This period sees the issue of air pollution attracting much higher attention than Climate change. Just before the February UNFCCC Geneva conference new evidence is published in the journal Nature Geoscience suggesting that air pollution tied to industrialization in the northern hemisphere has almost certainly reduced rainfall over Central America. This kind of alarming finding is nevertheless insufficient to overcome resistance to the hard choices facing the 200 countries attending the conference. On March 20 Beijing shuts down the third of its four coal-fired power plants as part of its campaign to cut pollution, with the final one scheduled to close in 2016. At the same time the mayor of the French capital Paris promises from this date the number of cars on the road will gradually be cut in half – public transport will be made free in order to combat the spike in pollution that has obscured even the Eiffel Tower under a smoggy haze. On April 7 India’s National Green Tribunal passes a series of stringent measures aimed at curbing air pollution in New Delhi. However Greenpeace activists accuse India’s Prime Minister Modi’s government of watering down environmental rules after it allows industries to operate closer to protected green zones – Greenpeace goes on to issue a report saying that Chinese government data confirms that 90% of Chinese cities have failed to meet national air quality standards for the first three months of this year. On April 19 the mayor of Haifa, Israel’s third largest city, orders the closure of five petrochemical plants following a health ministry warning linking high cancer rates to air pollution. On April 28 the WHO says air pollution in Europe is causing illnesses and hundreds of thousands of deaths with the cost to governments a combined $1.6 trillion a year.
MAY to JULY 2015 – PROGRESS ON CLIMATE CHANGE IS MADE BUT MOSTLY VERY FORWARD – LOOKING
There is some progress on the climate change front – but most of it is very forward-looking. At the end of April 2015 in California Governor Jerry Brown issues an executive order lowering by 2030 the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below its 1990 levels and goes on to sign an agreement with representatives of six foreign nations and three US states to keep the world’s temperature from rising another 2 degrees Celsius. On May 5 2015 China says it will expand its bans on coal burning to include suburban areas as well as city centres in a further effort to tackle air pollution and on June 1 China’s biggest steelmaking province, Hebei, announces an order to its big industrial emitters to pay for the pollution they discharge via a regional trading scheme. On June 4 more than 30,000 people in Munich, Germany demonstrate against the G7 summit. Environmentalists, opposition parties and anti-globalization activists rally to “Save the Climate and Fight Poverty”. On June 18 the Pope, leader of 1.2 billion Catholics, issues a major encyclical on the Environment. On June 24 a Dutch court orders the state to slash greenhouse gas emissions nationwide by at least 25 percent by 2020. However a few days later the US Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision invalidates a key Obama administration environmental regulation aimed at limiting emissions of hazardous pollutants mainly from coal-fired power plants. On July 8 the European Parliament approves a proposal to begin reform of the world’s biggest carbon market in 2019. On July 19 the Marshall Islands, a small island country at high risk of climate change-induced sea level rise, vows to cut greenhouse gas emissions by a third within a decade. On August 3 President Obama unveils an aggressive plan to sharply limit greenhouse gases emitted by US power plants.
AUG to NOV 2015 – MORE NATIONS MAKE COMMITMENTS AS INTERNATIONAL FINANCE SUPPORT EMERGES
On Aug 11 2015 Australian lawmakers agree on a target of curbing carbon gas emissions to at least 26 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. On Aug 13 the President of the low-lying Pacific island nation of Kiribati calls for a global moratorium on new coal mines to slow global warming and a creeping rise in world sea levels. On Aug 18 in Turkey Muslim scholars and environmental advocates from about 20 countries call for a global phase-out of greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century. On Aug 29 China says legislators have approved amendments to the country’s 15-year-old air pollution law that grants the state new powers to punish offenders and create a legal framework to cap coal consumption. On September 1 President Obama visits the Exit Glacier in Alaska, which has receded 1.25 miles since 1815 and 187 feet in the last year alone calling it a signpost of climate change. On Sept 6 ministers and diplomats from 57 countries gather in Paris to discuss the make-or-break issue of finance for the climate rescue deal to be sealed in December. On Sept 21 Indonesia pledges to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 29 percent by 2030 and to raise that target to 41 percent with international support. On Sept 28 Brazil pledges to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent by 2030 but says it will include reductions from past efforts against deforestation. Chinese President Xi Jinping, announces that Beijing will establish an assistance fund with an initial pledge of $2 billion to help developing countries implement a global sustainable development agenda over the next 15 years.
On October 9 2015 in Canada the Carbon Engineering company, with global plans to pull carbon from thin air to make fuel while tackling climate change, opens a pilot plant in British Columbia. On November 2 China and France agree to push for long-term monitoring of the UN accord to combat climate change due in Paris in December by reviewing cuts in greenhouse gas emissions every five years. On Nov 6 the Green Climate Fund (GCF), a multi-billion dollar fund set up by the UN to help poor countries tackle climate change, approves its first eight projects. Soon after the World Bank launches a $500 million market-based scheme designed to help developing countries pay for emission reductions .On Nov 6 President Obama kills the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, declaring it would have undercut US efforts to clinch a global climate change deal. In France more than 60 environment and energy ministers tasked with inking a global pact to rein in climate change, meet in Paris while in Malta heads of government from the Commonwealth family, representing around a third of the world’s population, pledge to insist on an “ambitious” and legally-binding outcome to the meeting. [Nov 26 2015 1st exact cycle Three quarter stage date] Doubts about whether that will really be achieved however spur tens of thousands of people from Sydney to London on November 29 to join one of the biggest days of climate change activism, telling world leaders gathering for the Paris summit that there is “No Planet B” in the fight against global warming. More than 2,000 events are held in cities around the world making it perhaps the biggest day of climate action in history. In Paris police use tear gas against demonstrators. The following day the Summit starts.
DECEMBER 2015 : PARIS CLIMATE SUMMIT – THE KEY EVENT IN THIS 2014-17 PERIOD ?
On December 5 2015 negotiators from 195 nations agree on a draft accord to combat global warming. On December 12 French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius presents the landmark global climate accord. The 31-page draft text creates a system for ensuring countries make good on voluntary domestic efforts to curb emissions, and provides billions more dollars to help poor nations cope with the transition to a greener economy – the US having just announced plans to double its grant funding to developing countries to around $860 million a year.
On January 11 2016 analysts at Thomson Reuters Point Carbon report the value of global markets for carbon dioxide (CO2) allowances rose by 9 percent in 2015 and is expected to climb again in 2016. But Carbon Dioxide is not the only greenhouse gas and on the same day the Green group Environmental Defense Fund reports that of the 65 largest US oil and gas producers and midstream companies it has reviewed, only 18 had reported their methane emissions. Methane is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide and many times more potent at trapping heat. On January 13 President Obama announces a strategic change “I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet”.
The strategy would not just aim to lower carbon emissions from US power plants but also cover methane emissions from new or modified oil and gas processing and transmission facilities. On Jan 15 US Interior Secretary Sally Jewell orders a pause on issuing new coal leases on federal land – roughly 41 percent of US coal production occurs on federal land. On Jan 21 a US federal court rejects a bid by 27 states to block President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
On January 20 2016 British climate expert Chris Hope releases new data showing that 2015 was the hottest year ever recorded. NASA and the British Meteorological Office confirmed that 2015 was the warmest year recorded since 1880 putting it ahead of 2014, the previous warmest. Sceptics however allege that temperature increases are most likely caused by El Nino, the band of warm ocean water that develops in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific – some predicting that temperatures are likely to be cooler in 2017. But a US led team of experts, writing in the journal Scientific states “Recent observed runs of record temperatures are extremely unlikely to have occurred in the absence of human-caused global warming”. With up to 13 of the 15 warmest years all from 2000 to 2014 the study estimates the chance of this record run being random with no human influence is between one in 770 and one in 10,000. Adding the 2015 data widened the odds to at least 1 in 1,250.
FEB 2016 – OPPOSITION TO LIMITS MANIFESTS
At the start of February 2016 President Obama launches a bid to impose a $10-a-barrel tax on crude oil that would fund the overhaul of the nation’s aging transportation infrastructure. But on February 9 the US Supreme Court delivers President Obama a major blow by putting on hold federal regulations to curb carbon dioxide emissions mainly from coal-fired power plants, the centerpiece of his administration’s strategy to combat climate change and the main tool for the US to meet the emissions reduction target pledged at the UN climate talks in Paris. On Feb 22 – 23 airline manufacturers manage to escape the threat of big costs from new UN climate standards while Japan’s environment ministry does a U-turn on coal plant CO2 limits.
MARCH 2016 – PRESSURE FOR TOUGHER TARGETS DEVELOPS
On March 4 Germany, France and the UK press the EU for tougher greenhouse gas targets. On March 5 China, the world’s second biggest economy sets a 5 billion tonnes by 2020 cap on energy consumption for the first time. A couple of days later a study suggests that China’s carbon emissions may have already peaked in 2014 and not as foreseen over a decade later. Together these reports suggest Beijing could toughen its climate pledges.
APRIL 2016 – FIRST SIGNATURES BUT RECORD TEMPERATURES
In mid April, at the request of the UN’s climate panel, scientists launch a study to assess how hard it would be to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The Paris summit had set a goal of limiting average surface temperatures to “well below” 2C while merely “pursuing efforts” for 1.5C. Many scientists believe the 1.5C goal would require unrealistically deep cuts in emissions. On April 22 China and the United States, the world’s top producers of greenhouse gas emissions, pledge to formally adopt by the end of 2016 the Paris deal. However the deal will enter into force only when ratified by at least 55 nations representing 55 percent of man-made greenhouse gas emissions. China and the United States together account for 38 percent of global emissions. But in May 2016 the UN warns that even if the pact is fully implemented, promised greenhouse gas cuts are insufficient to limit warming to the agreed maximum. The first three months of 2016 have broken temperature records and 2015 was the warmest year since records began. NASA confirms that April was the warmest April since the 19th century and the seventh month in a row to break temperature records.
MAY + JUNE 2016 – FRANCE RATIFIES BUT IN US TRUMP VOWS RENEGOTIATION
In May 2016 a study reveals that only 97 of the world’s top 500 investors are taking tangible steps to mitigate global warming though Norway’s $872-billion sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, says it will press the oil majors ExxonMobil and Chevron to do more. Others warn that nations should be considering the potential impact of temperature rises of as much as 4 degrees C, double the target set by the Paris Treaty. Pressure builds on the shipping and the airline industries, neither covered by the Paris deal, to set carbon targets. On May 16 Government experts begin work on a rule book to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming and France becomes the first EU member state to move ahead with the ratification of the agreement. However on May 18 the US Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump vows to renegotiate the global accord on climate change if elected. [June 18 2016 2nd exact cycle three-quarter stage] On June 15 France formally ratifies the Treaty. At the June G20 meeting in Beijing Energy ministers come under attack over their failure to agree a deadline for the phasing out of subsidies on fossil fuels.
JULY + AUGUST 2016 – PHILIPPINES RELUCTANCE AND ASSESSING 1.5 DEGREE GOAL
In July the WMO reports that the world is on track for its hottest year on record and levels of carbon dioxide have reached new highs. While July sees the EPA paves the way for new curbs on emissions from passenger jets, the Philippines President refuses to sign the Paris deal arguing that the fight against global warming must not hinder industrialisation. Ironically the Philippines is the current leader of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a group of 50 countries likely to suffer most from the impact of climate change. August starts with President Obama requiring US federal agencies to disclose whether their actions and decisions will have an impact on climate change. Some 450 scientists worldwide confirm that 2015 was the warmest year on record for land and sea – but partly because seasonal El Nino climate patterns prevailed year-round – these are unlikely to be so strong in 2017. On Aug 15 Climate scientists meet in Geneva to plan a UN report about the 1.5C goal. The UN led study will examine impacts of a 1.5C rise on vulnerable parts of the world including Greenland’s ice sheet and the coral reefs. Both investors (managing more than $13 trillion) and insurers (managing over $1.3 trillion) urge G20 leaders to step up efforts to shift from fossil fuels.
SEPTEMBER + OCTOBER 2016 – CHINA, USA, BRAZIL AND INDIA TAKE SIGNINGS TO 55%
Then on September 3 in Hangzhou, China the US and China ratify the Paris agreement to cut climate-warming emissions. On the same day China, the United States and Europe all pledge support for a new deal to curb carbon dioxide emissions by airlines expected to go into effect from 2021. But concerns arise when on Sept 6 China fails to set a target year to phase out hundreds of billions of dollars in state subsidies for polluting fossil fuels and when Poland, a member of the EU, indicates it is only willing to back EU ratification if guarantees of financing for new, cleaner coal-fired power stations are included. On 9 Sept EU regulators are reported ready to propose a binding target to cut energy use by 30 percent by 2030, a significantly more ambitious goal than previously discussed – and to impose its own aviation emission rules ahead of when the proposed global deal is due to come into force. On 12 Sept Brazil ratifies the Paris deal. [September 10 2016 3rd exact cycle three-quarter stage] On 28 Sept Norway announces a radical ‘climate budget’ that aims to halve carbon emissions in four years while a conference in Oslo warns global warming is on track to breach the 2 degree Celsius threshold by 2050. On 2 October India ratifies the Climate Change treaty. Then two days later the European parliament formally backs the Paris accord. This takes by October 4 the number of nations ratifying the treaty to account for over the 55% of global emissions threshold required. 30 days later, on November 4 2016 the Climate Change Treaty came into effect.
Note how close the Paris Accord (5/12/15), the first major Accord signing (15/6/16) and the reaching of the 55% threshold (4/10/16) come to the 3 exact dates of the cycle three-quarter stage. ( Nov 26 2016, June 18 2016 and Sept 10 2016)
In conclusion the Cycle three quarter stage seems likely to match a period when although societal goals are much more clearly formulated and agreed by the parties involved, a plethora of escape routes and analytic complexities and obstacles are likely to frustrate progress and almost certainly demand a complete re-think of implementation rules and procedures or enabling technologies by the time the new 36 year cycle starts in 2026.
The new Saturn-Neptune cycle , which is exact on 20 February 2026, comes into orb in July 2024 and moves out of orb in March 2027