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Flooding in Carlisle. With warming climate, there's much worse to come. Photo: John Campbell via Flickr (Public Domain).
Flooding in Carlisle. With warming climate, there's much worse to come. Photo: John Campbell via Flickr (Public Domain).
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  • The Inconvenient Math. Photo by Sean MacEntee via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
    The Inconvenient Math. Photo by Sean MacEntee via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

De-advertise for climate truth in UK media!

Donnachadh McCarthy

8th December 2015

Britain's five top media billionaires are all 'climate sceptic and using their newpapers to disinform us on climate change and block effective action, writes Donnachadh McCarthy. So let's put together a block of climate-aware advertisers to demand they tell the truth.

Another insanely inconvenient truth is that over next 10 years global governments, including Cameron's, will spend about $5 trillion on fossil fuel subsidies! In a sane world, we would be seeking almost immediate cessation of all fossil fuel extraction.

According to my sums, COP21 in Paris is the last gasp chance we have of protecting Britain from the true terrorists threatening Britain.

It's a form of terrorism we can already see at work in Carlisle, a city still reeling from the impacts of Storm Desmond last weekend, after the heaviest rain ever recorded fell in the Lake District - 341mm in a 24 hour period.

It's threatening Britain's coastlines with permanent flooding, endangering the planet's food supplies with extreme weather, and may turn hundreds of millions of people into climate refugees, forced to flee their homes, farms, villages and cities as large areas of the globe become too hot or too dry to live in.

A week ago today, wilfully taking the political focus away from the COP21 climate summit, David Cameron was banging the drums of war in Parliament. On the same day, I gave a presentation to a national NGO in an effort to persuade them to undertake a climate crisis 'de-advertisment campaign'.

What I proposed was to pull together all of the pro-climate action corporations, and using their collective advertising muscle to lobby the UK's five media billionaires - who all currently oppose action on the climate crisis - to join the fight to save humanity from a climate catastrophe.

We already know that newspapers are strongly influenced by the fear of losing advertising revenue to please big-spending corporations in the stories they do and do not run. Now let's put the boot on our foot for a change!

The horrifyingly inconvenient statistics

Below are some of the horrifyingly inconvenient statistics I uncovered whilst preparing my case:

  • Over 2,050 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases have been emitted into our atmosphere already since 1870.
  • We are currently globally emitting an additional 40 billion tonnes every year (CO2 equivalent).
  • The maximum total carbon budget we can emit in order to have a 66% chance of the planet's temperature rise staying under 1.5C is 2,250 billion tonnes. On this basis, we have only five years budget left before a 1.5C temperature rise is almost guaranteed.


These statistics are from the latest International Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) report. I personally believe that the IPCC's predictions are overly optimistic. We already have had a 1C rise in temperature since pre-industrial times, and another 0.6C of unavoidable warming baked into our climate system due to the emissions that have already been released into the atmosphere.

In my opinion, this means that at least 1.5°C of warming is more or less inevitable - even if no more fossil fuels are burnt.

The more sanguine IPCC estimates that humanity has a carbon budget left for all of 2,900 billion tonnes, if we are to have 66% chance of staying under 2C. On this basis, we need to be at zero emissions within 21 years or a disastrous 2C is almost guaranteed. So even keeping to the 2C target rise in temperatures is suddenly looking hugely challenging to achieve.

As things stand we have about 5,000 billion tonnes of CO2 stored underground in the form of known fossil fuel reserves. This is more than double all of the emissions that the industrial revolution, meat production and deforestation have emitted since 1870 or five times more than we can afford to burn according to the IEA.

This demands that four-fifths of the world's fossil fuel reserves have to stay in the ground and never get burned. Yet our governments and fossil fuel corporations are still planning to invest $1 trillion in further fossil fuel exploration, while the logging and meat industries plan similar vast increases in deforestation and meat production.

Another insanely inconvenient truth is that over next 10 years global governments, including Cameron's, will spend about $5 trillion on fossil fuel subsidies! In a sane world, we would be seeking almost immediate cessation of all fossil fuel extraction, an urgent moratorium on deforestation and the slashing of meat consumption to at most once per week per person.

Even the minimum steps are unlikely to be taken

The minimum tiny first steps necessary from Paris are an immediate ban on all fossil fuel subsidies and a ban on further fossil fuel exploration - both of which Cameron is doing the opposite of and which simply are not on the table at Paris.

Yet more inconvenient facts are that the current Paris summit proposals even will not kick in until 2020 and will at best, if implemented (remember the 1997 Kyoto climate agreement was never remotely implemented in full) will set us in line for at least 2.7C rise in temperatures, presuming none of the predicted tipping points are already passed. Scientists have stated such a rise would be catastrophic.

Finally, many countries want Paris to be a merely voluntary agreement and do not want it to be even reviewed or inspected in the coming years.

These are the horrifyingly inconvenient truths and maths that explain why I was prepared to spend the last 13 months being arrested five times peacefully protesting in Parliament Square against the corporate oiligarchy hijacking our democracy.

The real 'terrorist sympathisers'

Cameron, since the general election and prior to going to Paris, has imposed new taxes on renewable energy, cleaner cars and community energy schemes, whilst reducing taxes on fracking, offshore oil exploration and petrol, and making it a legal obligation to maximise oil and gas recovery.

He also slashed the already pathetic investments in cycling infrastructure and energy efficiency, whilst supporting vast expansions in road and airport building. In short, he and his government have been completely captured by the fossil fuel industry.

Last week David Cameron called those who opposed bombing Syria as "terrorist sympathisers". But it's his own goverment that's the real terrorist sympathiser, doing its best to condemn Britain, and the world, to a future of climate catastrophe. The maths outlined above show that the fossil fuel, meat and deforestation industries dwarf Daesh as the biggest threat to Britain's future.

No matter what happens in Paris - and don't expect too much - the UK's climate movement will need a massive urgent mobilisation to get us to the necessary zero emissions as fast as possible - a target that Ed Miliband at least is thankfully calling for, at last.

I hope an urgent climate 'de-advertisment campaign' will be part of that mobilisation. Climate-aware corporations, stop forward!

 


 

Donnachadh McCarthy FRSA is the author of "The Prostitute State: How Britain's Democracy Has Been Bought".

 

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