Stand up for the scientists and sign up to our Tipping Point Declaration

Typhoon photo

This week we launch the Tipping Point declaration – an eight point statement about the causes and impacts of climate change both now and in the future (full text below if you are unable to open the link).

Thank you to Amin Ali for designing this logo

Thank you to Amin for designing this logo

We believe that, in the year of the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it is important to stand up for what scientists are saying on climate change and to invite fellow citizens and local representatives to sign up to it.All points are referenced to documents and reports by organisations including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the World Bank, the International Energy Agency, the United Nations Environment Programme and the Carbon Tracker Report. We hope that people use this as a starting point to read more about this subject.

We think that the ‘Tipping Point Declaration’ provides the context for much of our other work: it illustrates why we need a rapid transition away from fossil fuel use and towards a low carbon economy.

Climate scientists have warned for decades of a ‘tipping point’ – a point where global warming reaches a point of no return: a point where climate change becomes sudden, extreme and unpredictable where it had seemed to be steady, gradual and predictable. This is largely due to feedback mechanisms by which the earth itself accelerates warming (e.g. the release of methane from thawing permafrost).

If you would like to sign up to ‘The Tipping Point Declaration':

(Individual Residents of Kirklees only) Please email us your name, house number and postcode. We will then complete a paper copy of the Declaration for you. We will post a copy of this to your local councillor and to your local MP. We respect your privacy. Your name and address will not be displayed publicly at any time.

(Groups from Kirklees and other parts of the UK) If your group would like to sign up to ‘The Tipping Point Declaration’, please email us for more details (kirkleesccc@hotmail.co.uk). Please note that the deadline for group signatories is midday, Friday 11th April 2014.

“Rising to the challenge of climate change is a big idea for next year. In 2014, we must turn the greatest collective challenge facing humankind today – climate change – into the greatest opportunity for common progress towards a sustainable future. Next year is the year for climate action.”   Ban Ki Moon.

Tipping Point Declaration.

Over the past two years, man-made climate change has been increasingly evident in extreme weather and other impacts. These include the record-breaking summer melting of Arctic sea ice in 2012, heatwaves in the US and Australia and Typhoon Haiyan, the most powerful typhoon ever recorded to hit land.

We state that:

  1. In its most recent report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stated that ‘warming of the climate system is unequivocal’ with many of the observed changes being unprecedented over decades to millennia.
  2. Climate change has already resulted in Arctic sea ice decreasing in extent, glaciers shrinking almost worldwide, sea levels rising by 19cms (since 1901) and oceans becoming increasingly acidic.
  3. Climate change is already costing the world $1.2 trillion per year and causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people each year through extreme weather, drought and conflict.
  4. The IPCC is 95% confident that the cause of the climate change is greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and land use changes by humans. It states that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years.
  5. Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further global warming and climate change. Further global warming risks the crossing of ‘tipping points’ (in natural processes) leading to run-away climate change which threatens civilisation itself.
  6. Current national and international measures to cut emissions in such a way as to keep below 2 degrees of global warming and avoid crossing ‘tipping points’ are wholly inadequate.
  7. Some eminent climate scientists are now warning that the limit of 2 degrees of global warming may itself be a “dangerous target” as catastrophic events will be triggered by a 1 degree rise in temperature. Governments need to investigate these warnings.
  8. Nations should implement radical short-term emissions cuts consistent with the latest science while working to reach an international deal to avoid dangerous climate change. To avoid global warming of more than 2 degrees we must not emit more than our remaining carbon budget of 565 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide – leaving eighty per cent of proven fossil fuel reserves in the ground.

“Rising to the challenge of climate change is a big idea for next year. In 2014, we must turn the greatest collective challenge facing humankind today – climate change – into the greatest opportunity for common progress towards a sustainable future. Next year is the year for climate action.”   Ban Ki Moon.

Notes and references

Introductory comments Several temperature records were broken during the US heatwave in 2012 http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/jul/02/us-heatwave-temperature-records. 2013 was declared Australia’s hottest year on record with records broken for specific temperatures on particular days. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/03/australias-hottest-year-recorded-in-2013. In September 2012 arctic summer sea ice minimum was on 3.4million square km (It was an average of 8 million square km during the 1970s) http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/sep/14/arctic-sea-ice-smallest-extent. Typhoon Haiyan produced 235 mph winds and devastated people of the province of Leyte with a storm surge http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/typhoon-haiyan-most-powerful-storm-to-ever-hit-land-batters-philippines-with-235mph-winds-8926719.html.

Points 1 and 2 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Climate Change 2013. The Physical Science Basis. See IPCC report ‘Headline statements from the Summary for Policy Makers’ September 2013 http://http://www.ipcc.ch/news_and_events/docs/ar5/ar5_wg1_headlines.pdf‎.

Point 3 These were findings of the ‘Climate Vulnerability Monitor Report’. The ‘Climate Vulnerability Monitor 2nd Edition’ reveals that climate change has already held back global development and inaction is a leading global cause of death. Harm is most acute for poor and vulnerable groups but no country is spared either the costs of inaction or the benefits of an alternative path. ‘Climate Vulnerability Monitor Report (A Guide to the Cold Calculus of a Hot Planet) 2012 http://daraint.org/climate-vulnerability-monitor/climate-vulnerability-monitor-2012/report/.

Point 4 See reference for point A.

Point 5 The IPCC report of September 2013 states that “Climate change will affect carbon cycle processes in a way that will exacerbate the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere (high confidence )” http://http://www.ipcc.ch/news_and_events/docs/ar5/ar5_wg1_headlines.pdf‎.      Climate scientists believe that earth systems contain sources of carbon and methane which, if activated by climate change, will provide rapid, non-linear global warming out of human control. James Hansen, recently retired from the NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies, has warned of the crossing of tipping points http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2013/jul/10/james-hansen-fossil-fuels-runaway-global-warming. The World Bank has warned that the world is on course for 4 degrees of warming by 2100 http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/climatechange/publication/turn-down-the-heat-climate-extremes-regional-impacts-resilience In Nov 2013 the International Energy Agency said that the world could be heading for 6 degrees of warming by 2100 http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2013/11/three-graphs-showing-how-the-iea-says-we-can-avoid-six-degrees-warming/

Point 6 UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) released the ‘Emissions Gap Report’ in October 2013 http://www.unep.org/publications/ebooks/emissionsgapreport2013/. It showed that even if nations meet their current climate pledges, greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 are likely to be 8 to 12 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent (GtCO2e) above the level needed to have a good chance of remaining below 2C by 2020 on the lowest cost pathway.

Point 7 In a new paper, the climate scientist Professor James Hansen and a team of international experts found the most dangerous effects of a warming climate would begin kicking in with a global temperature rise of 1C. “The case we make is that 2C itself is a very dangerous target to be aiming for,” James Hansen told the Guardian. “Society should reassess what are dangers levels, given the impacts that we have already seen.” http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/dec/03/un-2c-global-warming-climate-change

Point 8 Kevin Anderson, Professor of Energy and Climate Change in the School of Mechanical, Aeronautical and Civil Engineering at the University of Manchester, develops the arguments for short-term radical measures in his lecture, ‘Real clothes for the Emperor: facing the challenges of climate change’ (Cabot Institute Annual Lecture 2012). This can be viewed on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDaQv9O7H2w. The figures of the remaining carbon budget and proven fossil fuel reserves were given by Bill McKibben in his essay ‘Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math’ in ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719. Similar statistics have been produced in the Carbon Tracker report ‘Unburnable Carbon 2013: Wasted Capital and stranded assetshttp://www.carbontracker.org/wastedcapital.

Closing quotation by Ban Ki Moon See http://www.rtcc.org/2013/12/11/ban-ki-moon-leaders-must-bring-solutions-to-2014-climate-summit/.

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