This week, I had to stop and read one story a few times to make sure I wasn’t reading it incorrectly. “Average global surface temperatures in 2015 were 0.16°C higher than in 2014, the next-warmest year on record, says NOAA”. Repeating - that’s 0.16°C in 12 months.
According to Nature - it’s official: 2015 was the hottest year on record. “Global data show that a powerful El Niño system, marked by warmed waters in the tropical Pacific Ocean, helped to drive atmospheric temperatures well past 2014’s record highs. Some researchers suggest that broader Pacific trends could spell even more dramatic temperature increases in years to come. Released on 20 January, the global temperature data come from three independent records maintained by NASA, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the UK Met Office. All three data sets document unprecedented high temperatures in 2015, pushing the global average to at least 1ºC above pre-industrial levels. Although El Niño boosted temperatures late in the year, US government scientists say that the steady increase in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases continues to drive overall warming,” Nature reported. “The reason why this is such a warm record year is because of the long-term trend,” says Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. “And there is no evidence that this long-term trend has slowed.” Overall, global temperatures have increased by 0.1–0.2ºC per decade since the 1970s, says Thomas Karl, director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, North Carolina. So, what we had in 2015 normally occurs over a decade. Strewth!
Australia’s Climate Council had a good look at the global tends in temperatures with three key messages:
California reaffirmed its leadership on climate change action this week when the state’s insurance commissioner asked all insurance companies doing business in the state to voluntarily divest from coal companies. According to Reuters California will also require insurance companies to disclose their coal company holdings. “Coal use by utility companies has plummeted amid low natural gas prices and new federal regulations aimed at curbing carbon emissions, a major contributor to climate change. Ten years ago coal produced 50 percent of the nation's power supply but now accounts for only about 35 percent, according to the U.S. Energy and Information Administration. The lack of demand has driven the price of coal down and helped force Arch Coal Inc , the nation's second-largest U.S. coal miner, to file for bankruptcy protection earlier this month,” Reuters reported.
The Climate Group reports keeping the world below the 2 degrees Celsius pathway presents a US$12.1 trillion investment opportunity over the next 25 years, a new analysis states. The report Mapping the Gap: The Road From Paris, presented by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) at the 2016 Investor Summit on Climate Risk hosted by Ceres, shows the opportunities and challenges of filling the ‘gap’ between the business-as-usual (BAU) investment in renewable energy and what is needed to avoid the worst effects of climate change. At the Summit, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called investors to at least double their investments in clean energy by 2020, adding that "we must begin the shift away from fossil fuels immediately.” Last week another BNEF report showed how global clean investment attracted a record US$329 billion last year – about six times the amount invested in 2004.
Finally, don’t adjust your clocks… the Iran nuclear deal and movement on climate change prompted the scientists who maintain the Doomsday Clock, a symbolic countdown to global catastrophe, to keep it unchanged on Tuesday at three minutes to midnight. The Doomsday Clock, devised by the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, is widely recognized as an indicator of the world's vulnerability to catastrophe. Trust reports: “Positive developments in 2015 center on the international accord that limited Iran's nuclear program, and the agreement among almost 200 countries in Paris on a process to reduce output of climate-changing carbon dioxide, the Bulletin said in a statement.” The accords "are major diplomatic achievements, but they constitute only small bright spots in a darker world situation full of potential for catastrophe," the Bulletin said.
Diary note for Sydney: For thought: Hope for the planet. Tim Flannery, Naomi Orestes and David Suzuki - Sydney Opera House, Tuesday 8 March 2016. “There is hope for the future, and there are solutions that may work. Join three leading international voices in science as they each share their individual perspective on hope for the planet, followed by a panel discussion of people, planet and optimism.”
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This Week in Climate Change (formally The Week That Was), a weekly review of climate change politics, policy, innovation and science from Climate Reality Leader Andrew Woodward. @climatecomm