Bad News / Good News from the climate front line‏

Location | Mood | Date 3 June 2009
Author (full name): 
Leo Murray
3 June 2009

Hi Everyone,

Leo here, content producer for the Stupid websites and campaign strategist for Not Stupid. I'll be pitching in to some of these mailing list messages from now until Copenhagen, to keep you up to speed on the campaigny side of things at Stupid Towers, as well as flagging up major developments in the wider world of climate science and politics. Experience has, sadly, taught us that news from the world of climate science is seldom good - but I'll try to make up for this by giving you the word on the street about where the climate action is too, so you can get involved, or at the very least be inspired. OK, take a deep breath. Here's...

The Bad News

  • MIT's centre for Global Climate Change Science have revised their best guess of temperature rise by the end of the century if humanity continues with business-as-usual - to 5.2˚C. This is well in excess of the median estimate in the worst-case scenario looked at in the most recent IPCC report in 2007. With a 5˚ rise, we all fry of course, but this would still be better than the 9% chance they now think there is of a 7˚ rise. 7˚C! The conclusions of the MIT study confirm other recent revisions of temperature rise by the International Energy Agency (IEA), which has warned of a 6˚ rise if we remain on our current emissions trajectory, and the MET office's Hadley Centre, which also guesstimated a 5-7˚ rise if we don't change course.
  • Meanwhile Kofi Annan's charity, the Global Humanitarian Forum, reports that global warming is already causing 300,000 deaths each year, and the Inernational Organization for Migration predicts 200 million climate refugees by 2050. (Franny and Pete P will be speaking alongside Kofi Annan at the Forum's event in Geneva on June 24th.)
  • The Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade Bill passing through the US Congress has been hailed as good news by many, and in some ways it is. Unfortunately its bloated and dizzying array of measures look set to repeat all the mistakes of the first round of the EU emissions trading scheme, with ludicrously inadequate targets, massive loopholes and 85% of the pollution permits handed out to big polluters for free. The coal industry have warmly welcomed the latest draft.

And... breathe. It's time for:

The Good News

  • The UN climate negotiations are just starting to pick up pace in Bonn this week, with the first draft treaty text tentatively accepted by all parties as a reasonable starting point for the talks, which will conclude in Copenhagen in December. The 53 page text was still criticised by both rich and poor alike for not being 'balanced' enough, although at this stage it is still full of blanks, to be filled in at later sessions. Watch this space...
  • Russia has quietly performed an astonishing volte-face on climate policy, accepting in their newly published 'doctrine' that anthropogenic global warming poses severe risks and requires immediate action to limit carbon emissions. Nostrovia!
  • Here's a lovely short film about the Kingsnorth Six, the Greenpeace activists who painted 'Gordon' down the side of one the chimneys of Kingsnorth coal power station last year, and were subsequently acquitted by a jury in an historic ruling. The jury, on hearing a lot of expert evidence from climate scientists, decided the damage the activists caused was justified in the face of the terrible threat of climate change. Go trial-by-jury!
  • Friends of the Earth have launched a new campaign against international offsetting, where rich countries pay poor countries to be more sustainable, then write off their own emissions as if they'd magically disappeared. It's the elephant in the ointment of the UNFCCC process - sign up to stop it here:
  • Climate change is just one symptom of a broader sickness - over-consumption. 8th June sees the premiere of The End of the Line, a new doc spelling out how the old adage about there being plenty more fish in the sea is now very far from the truth.
  • We Support Solar, a broad coalition of NGOs, businesses and individuals who want to see more solar power in the UK, have launched a June photography competition, looking for pics of sunlight falling on our sceptred isle. Get snapping.
  • For those of us trapped in the Big Smoke, Love London Green Festival kicks off this week, and runs to the 28th June. 99% of events are free.
  • If you're across the pond, we're gearing up for Stupid's landfall in the States this September, and we'd love to hear from anyone out there who'd like to get involved with helping pack out the cinemas during the US theatrical run. If this is you, please email who can explain how to help.
  • Stupid got a mention at Shell's AGM at the Hague last week, as a private shareholder asked the board whether or not they had seen the film. They oiled their way out of answering the question of course. They're very well trained. Meanwhile over in New York, Shell have been frantically trying to stop people watching this moving video in advance of their trial for their role in human rights and environmental abuses in Nigeria. The delayed trial begins today.
  • Good riddance to US car giant General Motors, who declared bankruptcy this week! Whilst this is sad news for the thousands of workers set to lose their jobs, it is very good news for the climate. As late as 2008, GM's Vice Chairman Bob Lutz was calling global warming a "total crock of shit". GM are the lunatics responsible for Hummers. Nuff said.
  • Finally, Team Stupid joined the suffragette-inspired Climate Rush on a lovely bike tour of London's climate criminals on Monday night, which ended in a sit-in protest on Westminster Bridge. Deeds not words! (Awesome outfits too.)
  • Oh, and one more thing for any Brits - vote Green in the European elections on Thursday. It's going to be a battle between the Greens and the BNP, heaven help us.

Phew. That's it for now.