The Quest to Defuse Guyana’s Carbon Bomb

In late June, inside a squat concrete building in Georgetown, Guyana, on a noisy street flanked by telephone repair shops and beauty supply stores, two lawyers were waging one of the most significant legal battles in the global fight against climate change. Melinda Janki and Ronald Burch-Smith sat in a ground-floor office staring intently at a computer screen, ignoring the sounds of macaws, monkeys, tree frogs, and traffic packing the streets, waiting to connect to the country’s Supreme Court via Zoom. The internet is unreliable at best in Guyana’s capital city, and the fear that it would choose today to conk out was palpable.

The two lawyers were a bit of an odd couple. Burch-Smith is tall and meticulous. Ask him if he knows the time and he’s likely to answer “yes” rather than divulge the hour. Janki is a petite woman with warm eyes and a sharp wit, quickly moved to rigorous denouncements of injustice, from the war in Ukraine to the plight of the planet to the litter on the street. Burch-Smith has a framed Phantom of the Opera playbill above his desk. The art in Janki’s office is a little more confrontational: a life-size painting of a fierce yellow jaguar that appears poised to step out of a blackened forest and straight through the picture frame. Together, the two attorneys have mounted a novel and audacious attack on Exxon Mobil, one of the world’s largest corporations with the legal muscle to match.

In 2015, Exxon, which is known in Guyana as Esso, struck oil off the coast, the first significant find in the country’s history. The scale of the discovery, 11 billion barrels so

— source | Antonia Juhasz | Dec 20, 2022

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Climate activists arrested after blocking private jets in Amsterdam airport

Dutch border police arrested hundreds of climate activists who stormed Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport and sat in front of the wheels of aircraft to prevent them from leaving. More than 100 protesters, wearing white suits, entered an area where private jets are kept on Saturday as part of a day of demonstrations in and around the airport organised by environmental groups. Greenpeace says Schiphol is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the Netherlands, emitting 12bn kilograms annually. Extinction Rebellion was also involved in the action. Hundreds of other demonstrators in and around the airport’s main hall carried signs saying “Restrict aviation” and “More trains”.

— source | 5 Nov 2022

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Carbon Dioxide Emissions Around the World

According to Our World in Data, the global population emits about 34 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO₂) each year. Where does all this CO₂ come from? This graphic by Adam Symington maps out carbon emissions around the world, using 2018 data from the European Commission that tracks tonnes of CO₂ per 0.1-degree grid (roughly 11 square kilometers). This type of visualization allows us to clearly see not just population centers but flight paths, shipping lanes, and high-production areas. Let’s take a closer look at some of these concentrated (and brightly lit) regions on the map.

— source | Dec 2, 2022

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Carbon Emissions Hit a New Record High

Global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels are projected to increase 1% in 2022, hitting a new record of 37.5 billion tonnes, scientists announced today at the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. If the trend continues, humanity could pump enough CO2 into the atmosphere to warm Earth to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial temperatures in just nine years. The 2015 Paris climate agreement set this aspirational limit, seeking to avoid the most serious consequences for the planet.

“Nine years is not very long,” says Corinne Le Quéré, a climate scientist at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK, and a member of the Global Carbon Project, which conducted the analysis. There is clearly no sign of the kind of decrease that is needed to meet international goals, she says, and even with aggressive action, climate models

— source | Jeff Tollefson | Nov 14, 2022

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No sign of decrease in global CO2 emissions

Global carbon emissions in 2022 remain at record levels — with no sign of the decrease that is urgently needed to limit warming to 1.5°C, according to the Global Carbon Project science team. If current emissions levels persist, there is now a 50% chance that global warming of 1.5°C will be exceeded in nine years. The new report projects total global CO2 emissions of 40.6 billion tonnes (GtCO2) in 2022. This is fuelled by fossil CO2 emissions which are projected to rise 1.0% compared to 2021, reaching 36.6 GtCO2 — slightly above the 2019 pre-COVID-19 levels[1]. Emissions from land-use change (such as deforestation) are projected to be 3.9 GtCO2 in 2022.

Projected emissions from coal and oil are above their 2021 levels, with oil being the largest contributor to total emissions growth. The growth in oil emissions can be largely explained by the delayed rebound of international aviation following COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

The 2022 picture among major emitters is mixed: emissions are projected to fall in China (0.9%) and the EU (0.8%), and increase in the USA (1.5%) and India (6%), with a 1.7% rise

— source University of Exeter | Nov 10, 2022

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Unchecked emissions could double heat-related child mortality

If carbon emissions are limited to slow temperature rise, up to an estimated 6,000 child deaths could be prevented in Africa each year, according to new research.

A team of international scientists, led by the University of Leeds in collaboration with researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), have shown that thousands of heat-related child deaths could be prevented if temperature increases are limited to the Paris Agreement’s 1.5ºC target through to 2050.

However, heat-related child deaths could double in sub-Saharan Africa by mid-century if high emissions continue.

Their workpublished in the journal Environmental Research Letters, estimated the impact of climate change on annual heat-related deaths of children under five years old in sub-Saharan Africa, from 1995 — 2050.

The findings show that since roughly 2009, heat-related child mortality has been at least double what it would have been without climate change.

— source University of Leeds | Jul 5, 2022

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Greenhouse gas levels hit new high in 2020

The increasing trend of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions continued in 2021, according to the latest GHG bulletin released by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). All three major GHGs — carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) — recorded an increase in concentration in 2020 compared to previous years. Carbon dioxide levels at the Mauna Loa station in Hawaii, United States, and the Cape Grim station, Australia were 416.96 parts per million (ppm) and 412.1 ppm respectively in July 2021. This increase in GHG is despite the global economic shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic for the past two years.

— source | 27 Oct 2021

people may be used more energy, food and private travel.

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Animal Agriculture Emits Nearly 60% of Greenhouse Gases From Food Production

Global food production accounts for more than a third of all greenhouse gas emissions, with meat and dairy responsible for twice as much planet-heating carbon pollution as plant-based foods, according to the results of a major study published Monday. According to research published in Nature Food, 35% of all global greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to food production, “of which 57% corresponds to the production of animal-based food,” including livestock feed. Beef production—which according to the study contributes 25% of all food-based greenhouse gas emissions—is by far the biggest culprit, followed by cow’s milk, pork, and chicken. Among plant-based foods, rice production is responsible for 12% of food-based emissions.

— source | Sep 13, 2021

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The definitive CO2/CH4 comparison post

There is a new push to reduce CH4 emissions as a possible quick ‘win-win’ for climate and air quality. To be clear this is an eminently sensible idea – as it has been for decades (remember the ‘Methane-to-markets’ initiative from the early 2000s?), but it inevitably brings forth a mish-mash of half-remembered, inappropriate or out-of-date comparisons between the impacts of carbon dioxide and methane. So this is an attempt to put all of that in context and provide a hopefully comprehensive guide to how, when, and why to properly compare the two greenhouse gases.

Historical comparisons

First of all, let’s be clear about the relative magnitude of the gas concentrations. In 2020, CO2 was at ~410 parts per million, while CH4 was around 1870 parts per billion (or 1.87 ppm, a factor of more than 200 smaller). However the relative rise since the pre-industrial is three times larger for CH4, around 150%, compared to the 50% increase in CO2.

The radiative forcing from these changes in concentrations can be easily calculated using standard formulas (from Etminan et al, 2016 which supersede the slightly simpler ones from IPCC TAR), as about 2 W/m2 for the CO2 change and 0.65 W/m2 for CH4.

— source | Gavin | 19 Sep 2021

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Rising greenhouse gases pose continued threat to Arctic ozone layer

A new study from an international team of scientists, shows that extremely low winter temperatures high in the atmosphere over the arctic are becoming more frequent and more extreme because of climate patterns associated with global warming. The study also shows that those extreme low temperatures are causing reactions among chemicals humans pumped into the air decades ago, leading to greater ozone losses. The new findings call into question the commonly held assumption that ozone loss would grind to a halt in just a few decades following the 2010 global ban on the production of ozone depleting chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and halons.

Most of the chlorine and a significant amount of the bromine in the stratosphere comes from the breakdown of CFCs, halons and other ozone-depleting substances. Normally within the Arctic polar vortex the chlorine is non-reactive, but clouds provide the right conditions for the chlorine to change form and react with bromine and sunlight to destroy ozone.

Despite drastic reduction of the industrial production of CFCs and halons since the Montreal Protocol in 1987 and the global ban that followed in 2010, these long-lasting compounds are still abundant in the atmosphere. According to the World Meteorological Organization, atmospheric chlorine and bromine produced by humans is not expected to fall below 50% of their highest levels until the end of this century.

— source University of Maryland | Jun 23, 2021

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