A dire warning about the state of our planet: our oceans are hotter than they’ve ever been, and that spells trouble for us all with more floods, droughts and fiercer storms, as well as a greater loss of marine life.
The alarm bells are ringing the way up the biggest polluters listening. This is Inside Story, [, Music, ], hello and welcome to the program I’m Martine Dennis now we’re, becoming quite used to getting bad news on climate change.
The latest warning our oceans are warming and they’re warming. Fast sea temperatures last year were the highest on record. They’ve, been going up every year. For the past decade. The sea absorbs more than 90 percent of the warming gases.
That come from burning fossil fuels, scientists say the extra heat produced is equal to every one of us running, a hundred microwave ovens all day warmer seas mean more intense storms, droughts, floods and wildfires, like those burning in Australia right now.
Well, despite all of these alarms about the climate crisis, we’re, releasing more greenhouse gases than ever. The UN’s. Weather agency last year recorded the highest level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
All right, let’s, introduce our panel. Now we have an Tomos in in Doha. He’s, an assistant professor of Northwestern University, here in Qatar, who researches energy and the environment in Hamburg. In Germany we have hai kef ESPA.
She’s, director of marine programs at the World Wildlife Fund and in London we have Cornelia Meyer, who’s, an energy economist and CEO of Meyer resources. Welcome to you all! First, let me come to you, though, hiker, because the temperature of the oceans is, as I understand it, a much more accurate measure of the climate crisis that we’re going through at the moment.
Yes, that’s because the surface of the ocean catches most of the heat which is trapped by the increased greenhouse gases. So – and this has a heavy influence on the global weather and climate patterns.
And could there be any other explanation for these rising temperatures in our oceans other than human activity in the release of greenhouse gas emissions? Well, we have what we. What we are served in the past is that we have regular upcoming warming events in the ocean, which is called El Nino, and I am pretty sure that most of the people have heard about that.
But the frequency or the increase in temperature, which are measured right now, in which the data which we have published, are indicating that this changed a lot. You, and this is really related to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions and it’s.
Man-Made right and now we’ve, already mentioned some of the calamities that are likely to befall nasai, severe weather patterns and a disruption to the established seasons and whatnot. Is there anything good that can result from warmer ocean temperatures? I need to think about what can be some good in it not well.
What we know is that we will. What we will face is shifting patterns, for example, for fish stocks, so they might change their their migration routes. So we will have guests in the North Sea from warmer water like tuna, for example, but if this is good for economy or people, that’s.
What I would doubt, because this fish is coming from somewhere and it’s, it will be missed in that areas. Right coming to you now, Anto here in doha, now you’re from indonesia. You research these! These matters, Indonesia, as a country as we know at the start of the year, was, was afflicted by terrible flooding.
Wasn’t it, and yet Indonesia is still cited by some scientists as being perhaps the fifth largest emitter of greenhouse gases, maybe the eleventh, but it’s, still a heavy emitter of greenhouse gases, largely as a result of a shift in Land use, as I believe yes, that’s.
True Indonesia receive a lot of man of rain and, on the first day of this new year and the capital city, Jakarta was flooded as a result of that, but that’s, not just because of climate change. There are a number of other factors that contributed it to the flooding, but the statistics that you mentioned, Indonesia, being one of the largest emitters of carbon dioxide, come not only from factories, cars and other carbon dioxide, a typical carbon dioxide and minerals of the country.
Indonesia has been losing a lot of its forests for us as oceans, act as carbon sinks. Well, sorry enter they’re, not losing them. They’re, being cut down right, correct. Yes, they’ve, been cut down, they’re, being shifted and and made into palm oil plantations in many places in the country right and yet in Indonesia, an official policy is a voluntary reduction to reduce its emissions by 26 %.
By this year 2020, how’s it doing on that? How much progress is it making on that target? Well, that number, I think, was an earlier commitment in 2015, the country revised its commitment. It will try to reduce carbon emission by 29 percent by 2030 on its own and 41 percent using international collaborations.
I mean if we look at the entire country as far as efforts to reduce that climate change, there needs to be more efforts. I mean they’re still there still. There have been some concrete results that happen on the ground and for that I mean, for example, in Jakarta, in an effort to reduce a car, the carbon use there’s, a public transportation, but again a lot of Indonesia’s.
Forests have been cut down for a timber and palm oil plantation that still needs to be addressed right and coming to you, Cornelia in London. It’s, amazing to many people around the world. The fact that we’ve identified these calamities that are befall in so many different parts of the world.
Many of those calamities are being attributed to quite the climate crisis, and yet our emissions are going up. They were recorded last year as being at its highest ever and the biggest culprits are those most developed nations.
Why is that? Well, it’s, not just those most developed nations and China is also a big culprit, as is India, and I would say what you, if you have a global problem and nothing is a more global problem than climate.
You need global solutions, so in the United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change, UNFCCC, which holds the cop conferences, is really a. It would be a good mechanism, but what happened is we saw that in 2018 Donald Trump said he would be leaving diem, that the Paris agreement, the Paris Accord and proclaim it climate change which came from cop21, and we saw that with the latest cop in Madrid That, without the largest economy on board, it was really hard to come to conclusions, and this global problem needs a global solution and one of the things that’s really really important is that we have a that.
We’ve. We have a global price for carbon. You know for carbon trading because nothing works, especially with industry, better than if you have at any of you, give them the financial incentives and pollute later but wasn’t Paris, Cornelia wasn’t.
Paris meant to be the start of a global solution. There was so much jubilation. Wasn’t there at the time in 2015, you’ll. Remember it well! That was supposed to be at the start of something really significant yeah.
It was a start of something really, even and again it took the u.s. it took to you about my administration, who really really you know, sort of cajoled people together to get there. Once you have the biggest economy out, it is really really hard to find to find other economy to find to find that consensus.
What you see now, though, is that, on the that and on the investment side, you see more and more. The sort of the ESG, the environmental and and and and governance and an investment stream is the fastest am growing investment stream.
You also seem sure companies, especially reinsure, is saying okay, we will not. We will not support certain things anymore, like cold right, uniquely and Swiss. We have said we won’t do that anymore and that’s, a double whammy, because they have huge investment portfolios plus once you can’t ensure something anymore.
It’s, getting much harder to to be active in that field right hi. Can you see a solution to the problem as Cornelia points out, China is actually officially the biggest emitter most of that something like 75 % of those emissions coming from coal.
The burning of coal: can you understand China’s. Argument: China saying there’s, a global economic slowdown. It needs to stimulate its economy, so it needs to go full steam ahead, no matter what that is there, that the main objective for the Chinese is really to get their economy going again.
Therefore they’re burning more coal, well see. I’m coming from an oceans perspective on the issue so and if you, if you look on what climate change and warming of oceans mean to ocean ecosystems, so it’s.
Hard to understand why politicians don’t act as fast and as rapid. It is necessary all coastal habitats, like mangrove forests, seagrass spots, coral reefs, so they will be harmed by and there any emission scenario which we have if it is 1.
5 degrees increase or two percent or a two degree increase so and even for all coral reefs. That may have a further or closer look on that one. So the prediction is that, with an increase of 1.5 degree, all coral reefs will be under threat and we might lose 70 to 90 percent of our colonies.
But under a scenario of 2 degree increase, we will lose 99 percent and that’s. Something so we shouldn’t put on risk right coming to you, Anto and, as Cornelia pointed out, China is the biggest emitter.
But do you understand the perspective coming from developing economies there? Their contention is that you in the West, the more developed you’ve. Had your time you’ve done your polluting, give us a chance to catch up, and they’re, not terribly pleased with the Green Fund.
The richer countries are supposed to be contributing to this fund in order to allow the developing countries to make to make appropriate adaptations in order to fulfill their commitments under the Paris Accord.
So there’s, a lot of angst if you like, isn’t there with regard to the application of Paris. Well, I do. I do understand the perspective that you mentioned, which is why I think the more develop economies and the the richer countries, the richer economies, should do more.
But China, you mentioned China, there’s, been a lot of movement and progress in China itself. I don’t know if you noticed in generating electricity using more renewable energy sources – solar panels, for example, the Chinese have been receiving or experiencing the impact of climate change, in particular air pollutions in many of their cities, and they want to yeah cleaner Air, so they’ve, been doing something about that yeah, but they’ve still given approvals, two to five times the number of coal mines for the first half of this year, and as you point out, air pollution is a massive problem.
Cornelia, let me come to you and let’s. Talk a little bit about Norway, because in many ways Norway is it epitomizes. Doesn’t it. This awkward contradiction that many of the richer countries has it’s.
One of the richest countries in the world, of course, what are huge, the biggest I think sovereign wealth fund, which comes from oil and gas doesn’t it, and yet it’s. A great green innovator, yeah. It’s.
A great green innovator and it’s, it’s. The sovereign wealth fund is no longer in allowed to invest in oil and gas, but that has also there’s also for reasons of diversification. It’s and – and you see a lot of the European countries, he saw the UK coming out saying we want to be co2 emissions neutral by 2050.
You saw Austria coming out and we wanted that wanting to be the great, thereby 20:40, and we see mrs. Arif, underlines new Green Deal where she wants to be right. He wants to have Europe as the first crime emissions neutral continent by 2050, that’s, all nice, but really again it’s, a global problem.
It needs a global solution and when you come to China again, our your colleague or our colleague in from Indonesia is absolutely right. I mean you know they. They are really in terms of research for for renewable steps.
They’re doing very well, but you can see that they have asked the economy was slowing. They have sort of put less money into more expensive sources of energy and gone back to code that does that drives the wrong behaviors.
All in all, I think what we really need to do a piece of work that needs to be undertaken globally is we need to look at all the sources of energy for the whole lifecycle from you know, producing them to decommissioning them and say what is really The environmental impact only once we’ve done this part piece of work.
Do we really know, can we really can the policymakers really make the right really halfway? So nearly I have we not passed that stage. Have we not established the damage? The amount of damage that is being done and is, is to come in in the future.
If we continue at these existing emission levels, have we not established that absolutely absolutely? We have done that, but we also need to look. What we have not done is looked at with with the various sources of energy.
What decommissioning is you know, decommissioning of solar panels, decommissioning of we really need to look at it in order to find the right energy mix. We need to do something, but we need to do it in an educated way, and I think policymakers tend to sort of rush into one thing and then find out it’s.
It was the wrong thing, so we really need to do that and absolutely we need to do something and we need to use the existing multilateral frameworks like the UNFCCC and and and – and you know the cop mechanism to get that done and and in that sense We do need the United States back in the fold right.
I’m, a hiker coming to you. I started off the program by mentioning the fact that we we get a plethora of climate warnings, don’t. We on a regular basis, is there a danger? Do you think among the general population of a kind of information overload and people becoming slightly inured? If you like to the to the dangerous of climate, the climate crisis, I mean, do you think that’s, a possibility? I’m, not sure about that honestly, I I would say so.
We can’t. We can’t over over talk about the effects of climate change on oceans and on people in general, see the poles are melting. The glaciers are melting, so the sea level rises. Flawed storms increase, on the other hand, droughts and wildfires increase, so people are directly impacted by climate change, so it’s, not that we talk any longer about something that might happen with the next or the after.
The next generation is coming, so the predictions are for 2050 already that millions of people will be impacted by the sea level rise. Fish stocks are shifting, so people lose income and food, so we lose see enormous important habitats to protect our coastlines.
So do we really think that all those people will stay in the regions facing such horror scenarios for their lives? So I will be coming worse. So if you don’t act and what we urgently need to do is to cut down emissions right, um, Anto, coming from Indonesia, you’re, really relate to that won’t.
You because I mean Jakarta is sinking. We understand, and in fact there’s there’s to be a new capital for Indonesia. Do Indonesian people on the whole. Do they accept the issue of climate, the climate crisis, or do they attribute some of these extreme weather events that they’ve had to endure? Do they attribute those to to other things, to any sort of any other kinds of causes or factors they attributed to other causes as well? One of them is the poor water and management infrastructure in the city, but on average they’re aware of climate change.
I think just like many many people in the world today, but what I have found from my experience teaching I’m a professor, so I teach these issues in my classes, even though an average person, an average student, is aware of this biggest issue That we are facing right now.
Many don’t necessarily know in details. Some of the impacts that we’re already experiencing, for example, island nations in the Pacific, for example, seeing sea level rise, or for that matter they feel that they could not do anything on the individual level to help address this issue.
So I agree with cornelia that this is a global issue and it’s, a global solution, but we cannot, I think, just rely on multilateral international solutions. I think regionally blocks such as the European Union ASEAN in Southeast Asia.
Well, we have GCC here, but that’s. Not quite functioning right now, unfortunately need to also do address this issue, also at the national level, communal level and individual level, and many think that you know as an individual.
You know we can & # 39. T really do much, but I would disagree with that yeah and to give me an example, then of how of how you live, how it’s, changed your habits and your family yeah. Well, for example, I mean I’ve, been trying to use more of public transportations in cities.
I’ve lived in the past. I’ve lived in New York City, I’ve lived in Singapore. They have great public transportation system instead of using cars, for example, here in Doha, the doha matters just open.
I’m learning of the three lines that we have, that’s. What I teach this issue in my classes to make more students aware of this issue, and I keep up being updated with the with the news and and and and proposed solutions of this climate change, one that I would like to mention, for example, all right, but Make it quick please enter, we’re running out of time.
Sure is an article by Bill McKibben, his climate activists, author and co-founder of the three fifty.org movement. He recently wrote an article, The New Yorker, saying, basically that you know maybe individually.
We can choose which banks we want to bank with, because some banks are underwriting all right: big coal companies. We get the idea thanks for that and hiker. How does how does this whole crisis impact you and your family? As as individuals I mean? How does it shape that your lives? Well, I do have children and one is a teenager, so she’s very much engaged in Friday’s for future, for example, and being an environmentalist on my working life.
So I I thought that we or that I already tried to do a lot, but she’s challenging us every day, and this is really good to see. So we changed, for example, how we eat so like meat and milk products. That’s decreasing part of our nutrition, so you can do every individual has to change its behavior, so we all have to contribute, even if the solution lies on the global level.
But if you don’t start ourselves. How do we think, how long should we wait until collision until politicians act right and last word to you, Cornelia? I won’t. Ask you if you’ve given up meat, but I will ask you whether it is within our lifetime that we will see an end or a significant reduction of our reliance upon fossil fuels.
Do you think to 2050 2060? I think we will see. We will see, we will see it, we will not see an end fossil fuels. You know, oil demand is still growing by according to dia 1.2 million barrels a day and it’s.
It’s, it’s, it’s going to go on, but I think we will see these fuels being more efficiently used. We will see, we will see, we will see, we will try to reduce them wherever we can and and and – and you know again, you know, public transport is good.
It’s. Getting away from that consumerism. When you look at our forefathers, they didn’t eat as much meat as we are eating. They didn’t, buy as many clothes fast-fashion by the way fast fashion. You know that the hmms, the Zara’s, emit just as much co2 as all air travel combined.
So you know we we and we need to sort of look at our consumption pack. The patterns throughout the board that’s right because otherwise this is also climate change – is also a security risk. When a hundred did the reports as a hundred and fifty million people will lose their homes by will lose their homes by and by 2050.
I think it will be more if you have these refugee streams. Those are security risk. I think we would be well advised to look at how how we live our lives. All right, perfect note on which to end. Thank you very much indeed, Anto Mohsen in doha.
Hiker Festa in Hamburg and Cornelia Meyer in London. Thank you all very much indeed, and as ever, thank you for watching the programme. If you would like to see it again, you can go to the website aljazeera.
com. If you want some more discussion, as I suspect you might there’s, our Facebook page facebook.com forward slash AJ inside story and there’s, a Twitter sphere. Our handle is at AJ inside story. I’m at martine dennis for me and the whole team here in dohaeris bye for now.