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Lecture 8

ENSC 203 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Heavy Crude Oil, Paradigm Shift, Eastern Canada


Department
Environmental Studies
Course Code
ENSC 203
Professor
Allison Goebel
Lecture
8

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Week 8: Energy and Climate Change
Climate Change Action
Climate Change: Why Don't we Act More Urgently?
Science community at consensus on climate change/human role
Thanks to IPCC, Al Gore, environmental groups
Majority of public are aware of this consensus, public is also near consensus
o Public trend true except in U.S.
Therefore, science-based policy should respond to this issue:
Similar to ozone depleting substances issue
Should include technology changes and social behaviour changes
First global example was Kyoto Protocol 1990s
Kyoto Protocol
1997 agreement to reduce GHGs
Based on Montreal protocol for ODS
Most countries agree to 5%-7% reductions from 1990 levels
o Separate schedule for less developed countries
o Plan for regular review and revision of targets as science evolves
o 52 countries sign on
Most countries that signed KYOTO were successful with targets
The Kyoto Protocol Failure
Kyoto protocol now generally characterized as a failure
Four countries failed:
o USA and Australia signed but never ratified at the national level
o Canada and Japan ratified, but did not reduce emissions
The goals of the protocol were only to get started, not "solve" GHGs issue
o This was not communicated clearly
Main Challenge to "Rebooting" Kyoto: Co2 Emissions Are Linked to Development
China now leads total emissions by wide margin
o Plans to continue development
Per-capita emissions now decreasing in many developed countries
o Depends on role of energy in economy
o Cost of energy, other influences
o Past commitment to efficiency
Major per-capita offenders
o USA, Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia
Paris Climate Agreement: Current Version of Kyoto?
Kyoto legacy: future agreements may be more likely because of Kyoto process
Negotiated: Fall 2015
Oct. 2017, 195 countries signed, 169 are parties
US threatens to withdraw
Alternative to schedule for developing countries: have nationally determined contributions
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Depend on regular review of NDCs and peer pressure to maximize reductions
Main Challenges for Paris Agreement
Having public aware that there is a scientific consensus is not the same as having a public
consensus
USA currently sliding in opposite direction
Complexity and uncertainty make communication even more difficult
Many Responses Require Behaviour Changes
Behaviour change harder to impose
Some behaviour change harms economy (unlike technology solutions)
Regulating individual behaviour is difficult (un-constitutional)
Have Stakeholders Actively Opposing Actions
Mainly energy-related industries and affiliated groups
o Includes political parties and social groups
Have significant global and political influence
Oppose action on economic grounds -> dominant paradigm
Argue for position where action needs proof
o Counter to precautionary principle
Business as usual is desired outcome
No need to be right
Even delay of action is a victory
How Have Stakeholders Opposing Action Been Successful?
Follow a ladder of denial (learned from tobacco industry)
o Mostly a delay tactic
o Proponents of action need to start over at each step
Climate is not changing
Climate is changing, but it's natural, not caused by humans
Climate change is caused by humans, but its not a problem
Climate change is a problem, but there's nothing we can do about it, it's too late, it will be too
expensive
Opponents Don't Need to Win the Argument
They can just:
o Discredit proponent arguments, or discredit proponents
o Emphasize complexity and uncertainty in proponent arguments
o Support public misperceptions of scientific and policy processes
Contribute to fake news and junk science complaints
o Can even delay action by pushing for greater response
We don't support Paris Agreement because it doesn't go far enough
How to Oppose Action on Climate Change: Discredit the Scientists
Public confusion about the scientific process; scholarly literature vs. Media
Peer reviewed science literature supports consensus on climate change, with a few dissenting or
skeptical publications
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Non-peer-reviewed literature includes many dissenting and skeptical reports, plus extended
coverage of the few dissenting peer-reviewed pieces
Seems more like two sides
Example: Climategate
November 2009, served hacked the climatic research unit (CRU) at University of East Anglia (UK)
E-mail messages reviewed, found statements like discussing using a trick to hid the decline in
temperature estimated by the tree-ring model
Its well known that tree-rings don't always indicate temperature, other factors affect them
Those with the hacked e-mail reported that the scientists wanted to hide the decline in actual
temperature by taking the email text out of context
Discredit the Scientists
Climategate- poor response of scientists contributed to the controversy
Voiced outrage that their personal communications were violated but public didn't care
Admitted to overly informal language and discussion in e-mail
University delayed response, then changed position, then CRU director resigned
Climategate; Discrediting the Scientists
Broader media gave much attention to controversy at start
Hearings to review the scientific publications confirmed they were valid
Wider media still discuss "Climategate" as through it is an on-going controversy
o Trump mentions in 2016 during campaign
Emphasize Complexity of Science
Example: confusion over details of temperature change
o Over emphasis on air temperature
IPCC group chose 15 yr as period for examining temperature change
15 yr period to 2012 had slower change than periods to 2007 to 2002
For some reason, IPCC group calls this a hiatus in the trend of increasing temperature
o Defined hiatus as smaller increasing linear trend
In broader media, "hiatus" was interpreted as a pause
Media reported that climate change:
o Wasn't happening anymore
o Hasn't been seen for the past 15 years
IPCC Did not anticipate response
o Could have emphasized other indicators (ocean temp, ice cover, sea level, glacier loss)
Delay Through Complexity of Global Response
Global Response through UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
Manage interactions with IPCC for science input
International discussions at annual Conference of Parties (COP) meetings
Paris Agreement first signed at COP22
Complexity and Global Response
COP meetings are complex and feel very global
Multiple sub-groups structure is complicated, difficult to resolve disputes
Many places in process for opponents to introduce barriers and delays
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