Political Change and Climate Change

Data from 2014 to 2017 suggested global annual emissions of CO 2 had approximately stabilized. Regrettably this slight trend did not continue in 2018: the most recent (preliminary) data from the Global Carbon Project reported a 2.7 percent increase in 2018 emissions.

The year 2018 delivered no significant measures giving hope that at long last we are getting ahead of climate change. For example , the Intergovernmental Report on Climate Change, delivered in October concluded: 

Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate. (high confidence). (For more about the Intergovernmental Report go to the National Geographic summary of this Report).

Why has this happened after several years of progress? The explanation is obvious.

In the last two years the large emitting countries were active in trade wars that diverted attention from the path towards effective reduction in carbon emissions. And the decision of the US to withdraw from the Paris Agreement has essentially crippled efforts to create an effective Green Climate Fund that is essential to assist less developed countries.

In these circumstances it is hard to be optimistic for the future of the world. I realized this in speaking to family members who have followed For Our Grandchildren over the last ten-plus years. The eldest thought that at this stage the political stagnation, both international and national, could not be overcome in sufficient time to avert the consequences of global warming. These views were shared by another family member who also questioned how any timely reduction in GHG emissions could be obtained in a world with a rapidly expanding Population.

There are no millennials (a group born in the last century that reaches adult age in this century) in our family. Yet Climate Change is the most significant risk facing this generation. Millennials, research suggests, are increasingly driven and motivated by a sense of purpose. And this purpose is nothing less than avoiding the extremes of climate that the world is now experiencing.

Millennials recognize that they will be generation to suffer most when the world temperature hits 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The only question is: will this stark conclusion be shared by millennials around the world? Given the means of communication that transcend countries and communities, the prospect is reasonable. The more difficult task for millennials will be to turn their conviction into global political action.

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