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Horowitz: International Climate Report Predicts Dire Consequences Without Accelerated Action

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

 

A new report from an international panel of distinguished scientists convened by the United Nations predicts that without greatly accelerating the reduction of greenhouse gases there is a strong risk that some of the more dire consequences of climate change could result as early as 2040.

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC) report argues persuasively that to avoid some truly disastrous consequences, including sustained droughts and persistent coastal flooding. that the more ambitious goal of limiting the increase in global temperature to 1.5 degrees Centigrade (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times must be achieved, rather than the more doable 2.0 Centigrade (3.6. degrees Fahrenheit) that was the highest possible acceptable increase outlined in the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

The scientists acknowledge that some good steps have been taken, but plainly states the pace of change must greatly increase and do so soon.  As one scientist told ABC News, "The good news is that some of the kinds of actions that would be needed to limit global war warming to 1.5ºC are already underway around the world, but they would need to accelerate. The next few years are probably the most important in our history.”

The clear message of the scientists that stepped-up action is needed right away is at odds with the Trump Administration’s declared intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement as well as its' ongoing efforts to roll back President Obama’s climate initiatives.  President Trump’s ill-advised championing of coal, a highly carbon-producing fuel, directly conflicts with the Report’s recommendations that coal must be phased out, if we are going to be able to curb global temperature increases to limit the worst impacts of global warming.

Fortunately, state and local elected leaders, as well as businesses and foundations, have stepped into the vacuum created by the Trump Administration. Taken together, the actions of thousands of local leaders in their own communities and states may well enable the United States to meet our Paris commitment as former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg often asserts, ‘no matter what Washington does.”

For the world to make the dramatic changes required in how energy is produced, however. moving even more rapidly to renewable sources than is presently occurring, it will take proactive United States leadership.  Given that it is hard to hold out much hope for a change of course from the Trump Administration, that will make the 2020 Presidential election a critically important one for the climate.

The new report tells us that we are beginning to run out of time.  But with the necessary political will, there is still a way to limit the worst consequences of global warming. It will take a dedicated, worldwide and multilateral effort effort--the kind of effort that before Trump was one of our nation’s signature strengths.   

Leading this effort on the climate must be one of the top priorities of our next president. It is critically important between now and then that from the bottom up we not only continue to take the actions needed to reduce the production of greenhouse gases, but that we do the education and grassroots political work to create a political environment favorable to national climate change action and international climate change leadership. The future of our planet depends on it.

 

Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island

 

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