Brexit: Sad!

This a rather personal rant about the recent referendum in Britain on the EU. There’s really nothing to do here with climate change, energy or science, so this is off-topic for this blog. I really have little to add to the many excellent commentaries about what this means for the economy. Read Martin Wolf in the Financial Times (Google the headline  “Martin Wolf Brexit will reconfigure the UK economy”to get around the paywall).

You have been warned. This is more personal impression than objective analysis. More anecdote than data.

The Brexit decision hit me in the gut. I’m saddened by the way my generation and my parents’ generation has suddenly reversed a trend towards peace, prosperity and openness in Europe. I feel oddly complicit in younger generations being denied the opportunity that my generation experienced as a result of dissolving frontiers and a chance to identify with an expanded European identity.

I’m of the Baby Boom generation, born in England in 1954. It was an excellent time and place to choose to be born. Like many other members of my generation, I can’t remember when my family did not have a car, telephone, central heating, washing machine or telephone. Sometime in the mid-sixties, we started going on camping holidays in Europe, to France, the Bavarian Alps, Switzerland and the Spanish Costa Brava. Previous generations of my family had only visited Europe to fight in wars. Continue reading

Carbon budgetting

Carbon budgetting

Originally published online at Corporate Knights Magazine on May 18, 2016 and in the hardcopy magazine in June 2016.

The Paris Agreement on mitigating climate change seeks to limit emissions with the goal of holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 C above preindustrial levels while also pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 C.

As with any complicated international deal, the devil is in the language. While it acknowledges that developing countries will take longer to peak their greenhouse gas emissions, it agrees that these reductions will be made on the basis of equity.

parisagreement1

This phrasing, “basis of equity,” probably means very different things to different parties to the agreement. The Kyoto Protocol adopted in 1997 was based on the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility,” which is to say that developed countries, with their disproportionate historic responsibility for past emissions, were expected to cut sooner and deeper. This same language is still used in the Paris Agreement reached last year. Continue reading

¡Hasta la vista, el Niño! Surface temperature update for May 2016

¡Hasta la vista, el Niño! Surface temperature update for May 2016

The huge El Niño of 2015-2016 has now ended and global surface temperatures are now declining very quickly. In fact, the global temperature anomaly fall from February-May 2016 was 0.40°C; the biggest three-month decline since November 1928-February 1929 (0.48°C). Even the times of big volcanoes like Pinatubo did not see such rapid declines over any three-month period. This is surely a result of the extraordinary intensity of the now-departed El Niño.

2016-06-13_14-29-26

Despite the rapid decline, May 2016 was the warmest May in the temperature record and had the highest temperature anomaly for any month in the record prior to October 2015. [Edit, this is not right, actually it was the second highest; January 2007 recorded an anomaly of 0.96 degrees, h/t Sou.] Nevertheless, the period of extraordinary record-breaking monthly records could well be over soon. All of the temperatures shown in this post are NASA’s GISTEMP data. Continue reading

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