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10 reasons to be hopeful that we will overcome climate change

 

Gujarat Solar Park, India

Indian workers walk past solar panels at the 200 megawatts Gujarat Solar Park at Charanka in Patan district, India, Saturday, April 14, 2012. Photograph: Ajit Solanki/AP

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “10 reasons to be hopeful that we will overcome climate change” was written by Karl Mathiesen, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 30th July 2014 04.00 UTC

For the last few months, carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have been at record levels unseen in over 800,000 years. The chairman of the IPCC, an international panel of the world’s top climate scientists, warned earlier this year that “nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change”.

Future generations will no doubt wonder at our response, given the scale of the threat. It’s known that death, poverty and suffering await millions, and yet governments still vacillate.

But solutions are available. Here are ten reasons to be hopeful that humans will rise to the challenge of climate change.

1) Barack Obama has made it one of his defining issues

Any politician who runs as the personification of hope is bound to be a bit of a let down. And so it seemed for five long, hot years. Barack Obama inaugurated his first US presidential term by promising to “roll back the spectre of a warming planet”. Yet he seemed unable (or willing) to even roll back the ghosts haunting his Congress. Now, as he staggers into his legacy-building stage, Obama has confronted and even circumvented Congress. His emissions caps on coal power stations, announced last month were the culmination of a massive public relations push and scientific blitzkrieg with Obama as its champion, potentially making the next presidential election a referendum on climate change action.



Obama speaks at the 2014 State of the Union. Sitting behind him on the right is Republican congressional leader John Boehner, who said in May “that every proposal that has come out of this administration to deal with climate change involves hurting our economy and killing American jobs”.

2) China has ordered coal power plants to close

Just a day after the launch of Obama’s big crackdown on coal, He Jiankun, a top Chinese government climate advisor told Reuters, “The government will use two ways to control CO2 emissions in the next five-year plan, by intensity and an absolute cap”. This was the first time the promise of limiting absolute emissions had emerged from a source close to the Chinese leadership (even if He was later forced to disown the comments).

The response of world’s largest emitter of carbon has the potential to be swift and decisive, given its centrally controlled economy. Responding to smog-tired residents in China’s cities, the government has ordered a mass shutdown of coal power plants within a few years. Coal control measures now exist in 12 of the country’s 34 provinces. Greenpeace has estimated that if these measures are implemented, it could bring China’s emissions close to the level the International Energy Agency says are needed to avoid more than 2C warming.

Coal Consumption in China

China’s project coal consumption with coal control measures. Photograph: Greenpeace

 

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