We Can and Must Get Off Fossil Fuels
Climate change is no longer something that might effect poor people, far away, in the future.
2016 was the hottest year on record for the third year in a row, meaning 16 of the 17 hottest years on record occurred since the year 2000.1
Extreme weather events are increasing. The East Riding of Yorkshire is particularly at risk from the impacts of climate change, especially flooding.
The Boxing Day floods of 2015 saw widespread flooding across Yorkshire unlike anything in living memory, including York and Leeds city centres, all along the Calder Valley, and important bridges washed away in Tadcaster and Halifax.2
Climate change has already effected every continent on earth, is estimated to be killing hundreds of thousands of people every year already, and is a significant cost to the world economy.3 Within the next few decades, climate refugees are expected to reach the hundreds of millions.4 Unless we transition to cleaner fuels very rapidly in order to prevent dangerous sea level rise, we’ll need to relocate large parts Hull, London, New York, and populations across large areas of south east Asia.
“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says in a stark report that most of the world’s electricity can – and must – be produced from low-carbon sources by 2050.
If not, the world faces “severe, pervasive and irreversible” damage.”
Rising sea levels could transform cities like Hull within decades, unless we rapidly transition to cleaner fuels, with large areas of the city centre and surrounding business and residential districts becoming salt marsh.
… climate change causes 400,000 deaths on average each year … Our present carbon-intensive energy system and related activities cause an estimated 4.5 million deaths each year … Together, carbon economy- and climate change- related losses amounted to over 1.2 trillion dollars in 2010.”
Most Fossil Fuels Must Stay In The Ground
No amount of regulation can change the fact that shale gas is a fossil fuel, and most fossil fuels need to stay in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate change. That’s most fossil fuels that we know about, never mind exploring for new unconventional fossil fuels, like fracking.
Nature is one of the world’s most respected scientific journals:
“globally, a third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves and over 80 per cent of current coal reserves should remain unused … in order to meet the target of 2 °C” [of global warming]
“More than 80 per cent of the world’s known coal reserves need to stay in the ground to avoid dangerous climate change, according to new research.
Thirty per cent of known oil and 50 per cent of gas reserves are unburnable and drilling in the Arctic is out of the question if we’re to stay below two degrees, the new research notes.
…meeting our two-degree commitment in a cost-effective way means leaving all unconventional oil and 82 per cent of unconventional gas resources in the ground”
Our ageing coal power stations will have been mostly phased out before shale gas can be developed to a large scale in the UK – so fracking can not replace coal here.
“Nature paper shows abundant gas would squeeze out renewable energy and likely increase overall carbon emissions”
Fracking boom will not tackle global warming, analysis warns – The Guardian
1. 2016: one of the warmest two years on record – Met Office
NASA, NOAA Data Show 2016 Warmest Year on Record Globally – NASA, NOAA
2. On 26th December 2015 there was flooding along the River Foss in York (hundreds of households), in the Kirkstall area of Leeds along the River Aire, and in towns along the river Calder in West Yorkshire.
Busy road bridges were washed away in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, and in Elland, West Yorkshire, and it was a year before they were rebuilt and reopened.
“Global mean sea level rise stemming from the multiple effects of human-induced climate change … may dislocate hundreds of millions of people by 2100.”
Impediments to inland resettlement under conditions of accelerated sea level rise – Land Use Policy, 2017
“By 2060, around 1.4 bn people could be climate refugees, driven from low-lying coastal cities by sea level rise.”
Climate refugees will search hard for homes – Climate News Network (citing the paper above).
“Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees said … that even by the most conservative predictions up to 250 million people will be displaced by the middle of this century as a result of extreme weather conditions, dwindling water reserves and a degradation of agricultural land. Many people will also be forced to flee their homes to escape fighting over meagre resources.”
Top UNHCR official warns about displacement from climate change – UNHCR, The UN Refugee Council, 2008