The power plays, the conflicts, the drama and the news about the weather: Diary notes ahead of the United Nations COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.
"The heat is on. And the leadership is off. Way off." Antonio Guterres, October 26.
What people think
Surveys! The UN and Oxford University have been asking what people in the G20 – that's the world's wealthiest large nations – think about climate change. Among adults in all the countries, 65 per cent agree it's a "global emergency". Among the under-18s, it's only slightly more: 70 per cent.
This is not, on the whole, an issue defined by a large generational gap. But in some countries it is: under-18s in Australia are 11 percentage points more likely than adults to agree it's an emergency. In the US it's 10 points and in India nine.
Doesn't mean the world is ready for big changes, though. The best-supported climate-related policies are conservation of forests and land, renewable energy and climate-friendly farming. Issues that don't required most people to do anything different.
But climate-friendly transport, which requires behavioural change? More insurance cover for climate impacts, which would require higher premiums? Not so popular.
The good money
Link to AC Green Bond Annual Report: https://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/about-auckland-council/investor-centre/information-for-investors/annualreport/green-bond-annual-report-2021.pdf
Yesterday, corporates were called out for not contributing their agreed share of funding to help developing countries. Today it's the turn of the good corporates to stand up. The C40 Cities' Divest/Invest Forum, which also includes more than 70 faith institutions, has declared that US$39.2 trillion has been divested from fossil fuel ventures.
That's a real movement. It's bigger than the combined GDPs of the US and China. And it tells you how big the fossil fuel industry is, too: even after losing all that financial backing, they keep right on.
How big is it? According to Climate Tracker, there are 900 billion tonnes of coal, oil and gas in the system, valued by the World Bank at US$39 trillion. Supply and demand infrastructure account for another $32 trillion. And despite the divestments, there's still $26 trillion tied up in equity and bonds and perhaps four times as much in unlisted debt.
"The climate crisis is here, and so are climate solutions," said Reverend Lennox Yearwood Jr, president and CEO of Hip Hop Caucus, an American outfit that "connects hip hop to civic power".
"We know communities of colour are disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis here in the US and across the world ... This declaration confirms that over 10 years the divest-invest movement has become one of the most powerful global forces in a just transition to a clean energy future."
Yearwood was speaking for the C40 group because he's a New York community leader and this is a cities initiative led by New York and London.
Auckland's in the C40 and is also doing its bit: The council's Green Bond offer last week raised $300 million, taking the total raised through its sustainable finance framework past $1 billion. That accounts for most of council's borrowing.
Meanwhile 733 institutional investors with more than US$52 trillion under their control have called on governments to "end fossil fuel subsidies, phase out coal and mandate climate-risk disclosure". They represent more than half of all managed financial assets in the world.
New Zealand, it should be noted, was the first country in the world to announce companies will have to disclose their climate risk.
How to make a fart molecule
Ever wanted to make a fart molecule? Now you can. That's the title of an online event in the very big lineup on offer from the Auckland Climate Festival, now in its third week.
There are workshops, art events, talks and seminars, theatre and other shows, including the Street Art Bike Challenge, a seven-day sustainable lifestyle challenge, a Hauraki Gulf Kōrero podcast, composting workshops and webinars in green investments, green tech, green fashion and more. acf21.co.nz/events
Where does the money go?
All the talk about developed countries contributing US$100 billion a year to help developing countries cope with the climate crisis: where does the money go?
The UN Development Programme website is a rich trove of project information.
Currently among the stories featured: drought and flood management in Somalia, wetlands restoration in Colombia and the Low Carbon City Framework in Malaysia,
More than ever
The impact of greenhouse gases on global warming is cumulative. That's especially true for carbon dioxide, which stays in the atmosphere for up to 1000 years, according to Nasa's Global Climate Change analysis.
Because of that, the drop in emissions caused by the Covid pandemic last year has not stopped CO2 levels from continuing to grow. They are now at a 3-million-year high, according to a new report from the World Meteorological Organisation.
This is also the reason the next 10 years are so critical. Even if all emissions were to stop tomorrow, global warming would continue for decades. Every delay condemns the future to something worse.
Did we blow our chance with Covid?
There aren't many upsides with the Covid pandemic, but one might have been that the world used its massive rescue and recovery spending to refocus national economies on climate action. Didn't happen.
The UN has reported that the pandemic led to a drop in global carbon emissions of 5.4 per cent in 2020. But now we're on track for an almost full return to 2019 emissions levels, for carbon and other greenhouse gases.
Only around 20 per cent of total recovery investments up to May 2021 are likely to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, says the UN's annual Emissions Gap Report, and most of that is among a small group of wealthy countries.
Covid spending globally, says the report, "is likely to exacerbate gaps in vulnerable nations on climate resilience and mitigation measures".
More on methane
As reported, there'll be a big focus on methane in Glasgow. It's the second-largest contributor and has a very dangerous short-term life: methane is over 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
And because its life is short – only 12-25 years – cuts to methane will limit temperature increase faster than cuts to carbon dioxide.
The Emissions Gap Report has quantified that. "Available no- or low-cost technical measures alone," it says, "could reduce anthropogenic [made by humans] methane emissions by around 20 per cent per year." That's a reference mainly to preventing leaks from oil and gas pipes and storage tanks.
"Implementation of all measures, along with broader structural and behavioural measures, could reduce anthropogenic methane emissions by approximately 45 per cent." That's about shifting to energy sources that are not based on fossil fuels, so don't produce methane as a by-product.
Biogenic methane, which comes from animals, has not been factored into those calculations.
New ambassador a greenie
Joe Biden has picked his new ambassador to New Zealand and he's a certifiable greenie.
Former senator Tom Udall of New Mexico has a background in conservation and climate issues. He was a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal and says the achievement he is most proud of is the support work he did for the 23 tribes of the First Nations in New Mexico. This included "a bipartisan coalition to pass legislation to strengthen the principle of tribal self-governance, provide Native entrepreneurs critical resources and secure investments in Native-language revitalisation".
No word yet on his view of Taika Waititi and Reservation Dogs.
Tell it to 'em straight
Every little bit helps? If you want to add your voice, you can write a message to world leaders at the climate conference, at a site set up by the UN Development Programme called dearworldleaders.org. To follow messages from around the world look out the hashtag #DearWorldLeaders