King Salman of Saudi Arabia waits to receive leaders during their arrival to participate in a summit of Arab and South American leaders in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015. The two-day summit beginning Tuesday aims to improve coordination among political leaders and civil society groups in the two regions, focusing on economics, science and technology, the environment and social and cultural affairs. (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali) More STOCKHOLM (AP) — Saudi Arabia, whose oil-fueled economy could suffer from global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, on Tuesday submitted a climate action pledge to the United Nations. Though thin on commitments, the Saudi pledge was symbolically important because the desert kingdom has been seen as reluctant to join the fight against global warming. The pledge, just weeks ahead of a U.N. climate summit in Paris, was mainly focused on efforts to diversify the Saudi economy and study the impact on it by international policies to fight climate change. Saudi Arabia gets about 80-90 percent of its revenue from oil exports. The submission said diversification efforts could help Saudi Arabia avoid 130 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually by 2030, but didn't give a detailed explanation of how to achieve that. "The Saudis may be sending a very first tentative signal that they're preparing for a post-oil economy, which will clearly be a challenge for them more than any others," said Bill Hare, of Climate Analytics, a research group that analyzes countries' climate pledges. The submission noted that Saudi Arabia, as a desert and coastal nation, is vulnerable to climate change impacts such as heat waves and rising seas. Jennifer Morgan of the World Resources Institute, a Washington-based environmental think tank, said it was the first time that Saudi Arabia has committed itself to act to address climate change. "It demonstrates that Saudi Arabia understands the impacts of climate change on its people and the role that renewable energy can play in diversifying its economy," Morgan said. The U.N. said 158 countries have now formally submitted climate action plans ahead of the two-week Paris conference, which starts on Nov. 30. At the end of the conference, delegates are supposed to adopt a climate pact that for the first time would require all countries to take action to limit the greenhouse gas pollution blamed for global warming.
Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi (L) chats with US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz on November 4, 2015, in Riyadh; Saudi Arabia submitted an action plan on greenhouse-gas emissions November 10 ahead of a crucial Paris climate summit (AFP Photo/Ahmed Farwan) More Paris (AFP) - Oil export giant Saudi Arabia submitted its pledge Tuesday to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a move observers hailed as a step in the right direction. In an action plan filed with the UN three weeks before a crucial climate conference in Paris, the world's biggest crude oil exporter said up to 130 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per year would be "avoided" by 2030. It was not clear whether this meant a cut from existing or projected pollution levels. Greenhouse gas emissions for the world last year, totalled just under 53 billion tonnes of CO2e. Saudi Arabia is the fourth member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) after Ecuador, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates to submit a carbon-curbing pledge. It became the 157th country to submit its national pledge, dubbed Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or INDE. These will form the backbone of a 195-nation pact, due to be inked in Paris, to limit global warming. Saudi Arabia made its target conditional on diversification of its fossil fuel-reliant economy. Petroleum revenue makes up roughly 90 percent of government income. "These ambitions are contingent on the kingdom's economy continuing to grow with an increasingly diversified economy and a robust contribution from oil exports," the pledge said. Saudi Arabia said its goal could be achieved by investing export income on growing other sectors like finance, medical services, tourism and education -- also renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. Some countries in the UN climate negotiating forum view Riyadh as an obstacle in the pursuit of a universal carbon-curbing pact, by virtue of its heavy reliance on oil sales. Bill Hare, chief executive of the Climate Analytics thinktank, said this was the "first significant concession by Saudi Arabia to the international climate process." "The Saudis may be sending a very first tentative signal that they're preparing for a post-oil economy... They have massive potential in renewables and would need to really unleash this," he told AFP. But the pledge was an inadequate contribution to the global effort to climate change. "As a wealthy country which would be hard hit by the impacts of global warming, Saudi Arabia could go much further, for example in the development of solar energy," said analyst Celia Gautier of Climate Action Network, a group of environment NGOs. The overall goal of the Paris pact is to limit global warming to a relatively safe two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels. Scientists say the national pledges submitted so far, placed Earth on track for warming closer to 3 C, or more.
Schaeffer M.,Climate Analytics |
Schaeffer M.,Wageningen University |
Hare W.,Climate Analytics |
Hare W.,Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research |
And 2 more authors.
Nature Climate Change | Year: 2012
Sea-level rise (SLR) is a critical and uncertain climate change risk, involving timescales of centuries. Here we use a semi-empirical model, calibrated with sea-level data of the past millennium, to estimate the SLR implications of holding warming below 2 °C or 1.5 °C above pre-industrial temperature, as mentioned in the Cancún Agreements. Limiting warming to these levels with a probability larger than 50% produces 75-80 cm SLR above the year 2000 by 2100. This is 25 cm below a scenario with unmitigated emissions, but 15 cm above a hypothetical scenario reducing global emissions to zero by 2016. The long-term SLR implications of the two warming goals diverge substantially on a multi-century timescale owing to inertia in the climate system and the differences in rates of SLR by 2100 between the scenarios. By 2300 a 1.5 °C scenario could peak sea level at a median estimate of 1.5 m above 2000. The 50% probability scenario for 2 °C warming would see sea level reaching 2.7 m above 2000 and still rising at about double the present-day rate. Halting SLR within a few centuries is likely to be achieved only with the large-scale deployment of CO2 removal efforts, for example, combining large-scale bioenergy systems with carbon capture and storage. Source
News Article | February 26, 2013
On Sunday night while accepting a long-anticipated Oscar for best actor, for his role in “The Revenant,” Leonardo DiCaprio seized the moment to highlight the plight of the planet. “Making “The Revenant” was about man’s relationship to the natural world,” DiCaprio said. “A world that we collectively felt in 2015 as the hottest year in recorded history. Our production needed to move to the southern tip of this planet just to be able to find snow.” “Climate change is real. It is happening right now,” DiCaprio continued. “It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.” (You can watch the full speech here.) A little-noticed scientific study that emerged last week not only bears this out — but it also suggests that climate change could be a more urgent problem than we all assumed. At least since 2013, it has been common to claim that the world has a limited carbon “budget” to emit if we still want good odds of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, a widely accepted international target. Because scientists can calculate the relationship between how much carbon there is in the atmosphere and how much temperatures are expected to rise, this concept of a “budget” implies a number beyond which emissions must cease entirely (or beyond which we must find some way of pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere). [The magic number: Holding warming under 2 degrees Celsius is the goal. But is it still attainable?] In 2013, the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change outlined such a budget in its highly influential “Summary for Policymakers for Working Group I” (as this particular, widely read document is called). The panel laid out the math to let readers reach their own conclusions. But the gist was that, taking into account how much we’ve already emitted and the role of gases other than carbon dioxide, humanity can’t emit more than about 1,000 billion tons, or gigatons, of carbon dioxide if we want a 66 percent chance or better of staying below 2 degrees. Since then, the 1,000 gigaton figure has been quite influential. The U.N. Environment Program, for instance, puts it this way: “The IPCC in its fifth assessment report concluded that to limit global warming to below 2 degrees C, the remaining cumulative CO2 emissions — the so-called carbon budget — are in the order of 1,000 GtCO2.” The program is just one of many parties that have often cited the IPCC’s calculations. But in a new study in Nature Climate Change last week, Joeri Rogelj of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria and an international team of colleagues interrogate this notion of a carbon “budget” and provide some reasons for thinking we could actually have even less wiggle room than that. “We shaved off the higher end of the estimates, and we showed that the lower end of the previous range is actually what we should be aiming at,” Rogelj says. First of all, the IPCC’s budget numbers were up through 2011 — and the world, Rogeli and his colleagues say, has been emitting about 40 gigatons per year. So already the budget is much narrower. On top of that, though, Rogelj and his fellow researchers looked at different ways of computing the carbon budget — including different approaches taken by other parts of the IPCC itself that differ from the estimate cited above. “Already in the IPCC, there were many carbon budget estimates that all used different methodologies and showed something different,” Rogelj says. And for a variety of technical reasons, Rogelj and his team don’t opt for the aforementioned 1,000 gigaton budget as the top choice. Rather, they say, a budget of between 590 and 1,240 gigatons, as of last year, is the “most appropriate” to use, if we want a better than two-thirds chance of keeping global warming below 2 degrees. That translates, the study says, into between 15 to 30 years of emissions at the current rate. [The suddenly urgent quest to remove carbon dioxide from the air] Note, by the way, two key assumptions here (which these authors would fully acknowledge): that 2 degrees is somehow “safe” (there are many reasons to question that assumption) and that a mere 66 percent chance of being right about the fate of the planet is acceptable (also highly questionable). The reason for adopting the different and somewhat lower budget, Rogelj says, turns on the issue of thresholds and the lag time between when emissions happen and when they have their effect on temperature. “By taking the budget until the moment that you exceed a certain temperature threshold, then the emissions of the last five years to a decade have not yet been accounted for in the warming,” he says. “So you basically always overestimate the budget by a slight amount if you use that methodology.” “Different estimates of the carbon budget either ignored the climate effects of non-CO2 gases, ignored co-emissions, were based on a smaller sample of emissions scenarios, or used a different threshold of probability for holding warming below 2 degrees C,” explains Climate Analytics, whose director Michiel Schaeffer was one of the co-authors of the new paper. The prominent figure of 1,000 gigatons — now reduced to about 850 as of 2015, Rogelj says — still lies within the 590 to 1,240 gigaton range. It’s just that the danger zone could be breached with a considerably lower level of emissions, based on this new analysis. And of course, if we want to hold warming to just 1.5 degrees — or, if we want a higher level of certainty than 66 percent — the budget gets even narrower. In his Oscar’s speech, DiCaprio concluded, “Let us not take this planet for granted. I do not take tonight for granted.” The math of the carbon budget implies that if we want to do something about climate change, the window for action could be even narrower than we thought. Top scientists insist global warming really did slow down in the 2000s A shocking one third of Americans believe this Zika conspiracy theory Your home water heater may soon double as a battery For more, you can sign up for our weekly newsletter here, and follow us on Twitter here.