August 8, 2021 Editor

When Even the Conservative IEA Sounds an Alarm on Climate, the World Must Listen

By , Truthout

August 8, 2021

WN: The last quotation in this article is arresting:

“We’re already the proverbial frog boiling in the pot,” [Rachel Cleetus, policy director with the Climate and Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists] says. “Every day we need to get up and fight for the world to be a better place and hold the policy makers’ feet to the fire. There is no time to be on auto-pilot.”


Like a carousel of bad news coming from all four corners of the globe, the year thus far has borne witness to a litany of extreme weather events and stark research findings with one grim overarching message: The world is still failing miserably to adequately respond to the already devastating impacts of the climate crisis.

In the Arctic, the rate of sea ice loss is currently tracking just below that for 2012 and 2020, the two worst years for ice loss, as per the National Snow and Ice Data Center’s records. Indeed, the record melting rate of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets is in line with worst-case scenarios as outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the climate science arm of the United Nations (UN).

In the Amazon, regarded as the globe’s largest carbon sink, the frantic rate of deforestation and wildfire damage has resulted in a terrifyingly paradoxical scenario: Parts of the rainforest now release more carbon than they store, according to a recent study in Nature.

The link between extreme weather events and impacts from anthropogenic climate change is a through line threading a string of recent weather-related headlines here in the U.S. as well.

Experts say the June heat wave that gripped the Pacific Northwest — with a death toll nearing the 200 mark — would have been “virtually impossible” in pre-industrial times. The ongoing mega-drought burning up the western U.S. is behind historic low water levels at Lake Mead — one of the region’s key water resources — while the broader Colorado River system, which provides water to 40 million people, is running so dry that officials are soon expected to declare an unprecedented water shortage on the lower portion of the river, triggering water usage cuts. The drought has already prompted tribal communities in Colorado to massively scale back their agricultural output.

The G20 countries … have funneled some $3.3 trillion towards fossil fuel subsidies since the signing of the Paris climate agreement in 2015.

More broadly, the International Energy Agency (IEA) — a policy adviser to its 29 member countries — warned earlier this year how governmental emission reduction pledges fall “well short” of what is required to bring global energy-related carbon dioxide releases to net zero by 2050 — a key benchmark in the fight to limit global warming to just 1.5 degrees Celsius (1.5°C) above pre-industrial levels.

“Climate is a train wreck happening in slow motion,” says Ted Parson, co-director of the Dan and Rae Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the University of California, Los Angeles, who described the IEA’s warnings as something of a canary in the coal mine.

“The IEA is a highly respected, very mainstream and rather conservative analytic organization,” Parson says, explaining that for many years, this rather gun-shy organization hedged short of pushing for a rapid and aggressive transformation away from fossil fuel-driven energy production. “So then comes this report which is astonishing.”

After a pandemic-driven lull in greenhouse gas emissions, releases of heat-trapping chemicals aren’t just rebounding back fast; in nations like China, they are on track to exceed pre-pandemic levels. Indeed, according to a recent IEA forecast, global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions will increase by 1.5 billion tons this year, the second-largest increase in history. All this, while we are nearing (or have already crossed) critical climate-related tipping points associated with things like ocean acidification and coral reef destruction.

Senior figures from such institutions as the World Bank have portrayed the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to press the reset button on global efforts to tackle the climate crisis. Following the refrain of “build back better,” governmental officials were expected to unfurl various stimulus packages touting the chance to pivot away from fossil fuels in order to more comprehensively “green” their economies.

But the reality of the situation doesn’t exactly square with the promises. According to a Guardian analysis at the end of 2020, only a handful of major countries had earmarked significant stimulus funds for green investments, with the E.U. — headed by France and Germany — leading the way. China and the U.S. trailed at the more miserly end of the spectrum.

“All over the world, fossil fuel companies continue to hold a very strong political sway over policy making,” says Cleetus. Perhaps the most visceral indicator of this toxic relationship can be seen in the way the G20 countries — which includes the U.S., France and Germany — have funneled some $3.3 trillion towards fossil fuel subsidies since the signing of the Paris climate agreement in 2015, according to a new report by BloombergNEF and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Please click on: Proverbial Frog Boiling in the Pot

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Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

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