Page 44 - European Energy Innovation - Summer 2015 publication
P. 44
Summer 2015 European Energy Innovation


Nothing endures but change. – Heraclitus
Nido Qubein

Change brings opportunity.

By Michael Edmund

On the seventh of by 10 to 20 centimetres in that greenhouse gases (GHGs) to
May 2015, it was time. More startling is the rate of avoid “dangerous anthropogenic
announced to the rise over the past 20 years, which, interference with the climate
world that, for the at 3.2 millimetres per year, is system.” The annual Conference
first time in two million years, roughly twice the average of the of Parties (COP) reviews the
global atmospheric carbon preceding 80 years. Meanwhile, Convention’s implementation:
dioxide concentrations had the cyclic variation of the the first COP took place in Berlin
reached 400 parts per million Arctic ice cap (expansion in the in 1995 and significant meetings
(ppm). Is this news important? It northern winter and contraction since then have included COP3
should certainly have come as in the northern summer) has also where the Kyoto Protocol
no surprise: the upward trend in broken a record recently. In the was adopted, COP11 where
atmospheric CO2 concentrations summer of 2012, the area shrank the Montreal Action Plan was
has long been established, and to the smallest ever recorded produced, and COP17 in Durban
reaching this particular milestone in the satellite era; somewhat where the Green Climate Fund
was merely a question of when, smaller than half that observed at was created. In Paris in December
not if. The other inference, by the the same stage in 1979. of this year, COP21 will aim to
way, is that CO2 levels have been achieve a legally binding and
as high (and possibly higher) over Is any of this important? Clearly, universal agreement on climate,
the course of the Earth’s long the potential impact of climate with the aim of keeping global
history - and long before man’s change upon mankind is warming below 2°C.
first smokestack, jet engine or enormous: so yes, it is important.
exhaust pipe. A more significant question might That action is being taken (to
be: to what extent is mankind which we must add the EU’s
There is evidence of climate responsible for climate change? 2020, 2030 and 2050 initiatives
change wherever we care to make More importantly, can he do and events such as EUSEW)
measurements: data from NASA anything about it? may reduce the need to ask one
show global temperatures are more question: Climate change
also following an upward trend. The best science we have says that predates man’s existence on the
Interestingly, since 1980 the rate man-made greenhouse gas is very planet: what if we simply accept it?
of rise in the northern hemisphere likely to be responsible for the rise
is distinctly faster than that of in global temperature. And that it To which the answer is really two
the southern hemisphere, albeit is extremely likely that our activities more questions:
following a larger fall during the are causing global warming. The
1970s. It is beyond the scope italics are those used by the IPCC • What if we really could
of this magazine to observe in its fifth report of 2013. influence the climate, prevent
whether these findings can be the icecaps melting and save
linked either to industrial activity Elsewhere, the international the low-lying land bordering
or to the oil shock of the 1970s; political response to climate the seas; but we did nothing?
nonetheless, this subject is worthy change began at the Rio Earth
of further examination. Elsewhere, Summit in 1992, with the • What if we really cannot stop
core samples, tide gauge adoption of the United Nations the climate changing? l
readings, and, most recently, Framework Convention on
satellite measurements all tell Climate Change (UNFCCC).
us that sea levels are rising, too: This set out a framework for
over the past century, the Global action aimed at stabilising
Mean Sea Level (GMSL) has risen atmospheric concentrations of
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