All eyes will now be on Lima where the key litmus test of
engagement and ambition will be the emergence of a concise and
credible draft agreement to be further refined in 2015
Despite the overtime negotiations, that key litmus test was not
Amid justifiable disappointment and cynicism about the lack
of progress in international climate negotiations, it is worth
taking another look at the four key messages in the Environmental
Commissioner of Ontario's July 2014 report "Looking for Leadership: the Costs of Climate
Commissioner Miller's key messages centred around
"Four Big Ideas".
"First, the science is certain. No longer
do we talk about when climate change will happen. It is happening
Second, there is carbon we need to leave in the
ground. We call this "unburnable carbon". Of the
proven reserves, we need to leave 2/3 of it in the ground to stay
under the temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius. We have
only 1000 Gt left we can burn if we agree on this temperature
increase as a way to maintain the relatively stable climate
conditions that humans (and other species) had adapted to over the
previous 12,000 years; and to prevent some of the worst impacts of
climate-change-driven drought, heat waves, and sea-level rise. Even
this limit is considered questionable.
Third, insurance pricing and availability will
change. The insurance industry for some time has been
concerned about the impacts of climate change. With the frequency
of catastrophic events increasing, risks previously insured will no
longer be insurable. This will have a huge impact at both
individual and social levels. We've blogged about this
Fourth, the adaptation/mitigation framework has changed. We used
to talk about mitigating to avoid adaptation. But this is not
possible anymore. We will have to mitigate to make it
possible to adapt at all."
Harper's Canada remains an international climate bad
actor, but many other countries contributed to the failure of this
year's talks. What disasters will it take before we take the
climate crisis seriously?
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