Rockstrom says the rise in inflation is a result of the government’s failure to decarbonize their economy.

The cost of living crisis that is pushing millions into poverty in Europe is being fueled by fossil fuels, according to a leading Earth systems scientist who warns that global warming could cause rapid climate change.

Johan Rockstrom, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and co-author of a new book, Earth for All, said spiraling inflation was largely the result of decades of government failure to decarbonize the economy.

“I find it very disturbing that our political leaders in Europe fail to communicate that the high cost of living is now caused by higher fossil fuel“, he told AFP at the launch of the book on Tuesday.

“So this is fossil fuel and supply driven inflation. If you invested in solar panels (panels) or owned a stake in a wind farm 20 years ago, this will not affect you today.

“The only reason we have this crisis right now is because we were 30 years underdeveloped in preparing for this turbulent phase that we knew was coming,” Rockstrom said.

“Since 1990, we’ve been saying that we need to phase out an economy based on fossil fuels and move to an economy based on renewable energy sources. And here we are — now we’ve hit a wall.”

European energy prices soared to new records last week ahead of what many analysts expect will be a difficult winter as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues to disrupt oil and gas supplies.

The German power contract for one year ahead hit 995 euros ($995) per megawatt hour, while the French equivalent topped 1,100 euros, a more than tenfold increase in both countries compared to last year.

In Britain, energy regulator Ofgem said it would almost double the price of electricity and gas from October 1 to an average of 3,549 pounds ($4,197) a year.

Rockstrom, who helped develop the concept of planetary limits — pollution or warming thresholds within which humanity can thrive — said he hoped the current energy price crisis would be “handed down as another nail in the coffin” for oil, gas and coal. .

“This should accelerate our transition to renewable energy systems,” he said.

“Big changes are needed”

Rockstrom spent two years working on Earth for All, a manual to help people survive climate change— with several authors of the book “The Limits of Growth”.

This ground-breaking work, written 50 years ago, warned that the development of civilization could not continue indefinitely without limits on the consumption of resources.

A new book outlines two growth trajectories this century.

The first—Too Little, Too Late—shows that the economic orthodoxy of the past 40 years has persisted, leading to even greater inequality when the Earth’s average temperature rises by 2.5 degrees Celsius (36.5 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100.

The second, the Great Leap Forward scenario, involves an unprecedented mobilization of resources to achieve five changes: eliminating poverty and inequality, empowering women, transforming the global food system toward a more plant-based diet, and rapidly decarbonizing energy.

Specifically, the book says the International Monetary Fund should provide $1.0 trillion annually to poorer countries to create clean jobs, while rich governments should cancel debt to low-income creditors while providing their citizens with a “universal basic dividend.” to help share corporate windfalls. .

Rockstrom said the tools are already in place to make the Big Leap possible.

“(It) has to do with current knowledge of all current technologies, practices and policies. If we could do all five pivots and scale them up very quickly, that’s the best result we can get.”

“Point of Urgency”

The project comes after another record summer that brought unprecedented heat and drought in Europe and China and devastating floods in Pakistan.

Rockstrom said the world has reached a “point of urgency” as climate-related disasters occur more frequently than predicted in climate models.

“Here we are – at 1.1°C (warming now), what we thought might happen at 2°C is happening much earlier and hitting harder,” he said.

Rockstrom has recently been involved in work that examines the “climate endgame” — scenarios such as the complete melting of the Greenland ice sheet or warming “feedback loops” that scientists consider highly unlikely and, he believes, are therefore understudied.

He explained the possibility of “self-reinforcing warming” when the Earth itself begins to release carbon stored in forests and methane in permafrost.

“There is a risk of sliding towards a worst case scenarionot because we are absorbing more carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases from (anthropogenic) sources, but because the Earth system itself is beginning to release them greenhouse gases.”

Rockstrom said scientists need to “open up to a much wider range of scenarios” in climate models that could include such unlikely, high-impact events that could lead to rapid warming.

As for whether governments are finally ready to take the system-changing steps needed to avoid climate collapse, Rockstrom said he’s “actually pretty pessimistic.”

“If you’d asked me three years ago, I would have said I was optimistic – we’ve seen momentum post-Paris and new policies coming into play and businesses getting on board,” he said.

“Now with the fall in public trust after COVID and the rise of populism … I don’t see that we’re really ready to make all these giant leaps.

“That’s why timing is so important. We need to bring back the debate, and we need to have a conversation about the urgency of action. But is that a problem? Absolutely.”

Global crises should not delay climate action, UN talks say

© 2022 AFP

Citation: Fossil Fuels Cause Cost of Living Crisis: Climate Expert (2022, August 30) Retrieved August 30, 2022, from crisis-climate.html

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