It was almost like another era. The year was 1992.
At that time the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was established to “combat dangerous human interference with the climate system.” The goal was to stabilize greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the treaty was signed by 154 countries at that time. The country count today is over 190. It also established a decision-making body, the Conference of the Parties (COP) to meet on an annual basis to deal with climate change (Wikipedia).
In 1992 the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere was 356 parts per million (PPM).
This month, December 2023, the COP is meeting again for the 28th time; hence COP28. In the illustration here provided by UNFCCC, November 27,2023, titled “What are the goals at COP28?” there are four areas of focus. They include “Fast-tracking the energy transition”, “Climate finance solutions,” Protection of nature, lives, livelihoods,” and “Inclusivity in climate management.”
Lofty goals to be sure.
The COP meeting this year is in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and the COP president for this meeting (Sultan Ahmed al Jaber) also happens to be the CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). In an interview just prior to this meeting he claimed there is ‘no science’ behind demands to phase-out fossil fuels in order to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Centigrade. He is also quoted as saying that “phase out of fossil fuels would take world ‘back into caves’.”
These remarks quickly spread through the climate conference and were met with outrage, and disbelief by climate scientists and climate activists. Some scientists said the comments were “verging on climate denial.”
In late 2023, the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere is now 420 PPM.
Progress? 28 Years? Not so much!
The UN’s provisional list of about 84,000 participants in COP 28 included more than 4,500 lobbyists, far more than any other previous COP conference.
It is clear to scientists that what needs to come out of this conference is an agreement for a complete phase-out of fossil fuels by 2050! According to www. climatechangenews.com, carbon capture and storage (CCS) cannot possibly deliver reductions in GHG emissions on the scale needed to avert climate disaster.
Fossil fuel companies had profits of more than $200 billion in 2022. So, guess who is fueling this delay in action; us, all of us, by the continued consumption of fossil fuels.
The conference ends on December 12 and we’ll have a chance to see the results soon. According to Oil Change International, “The World Needs A Transformational Outcome, Not More Pledges.”
In other news a new business is beginning to take off, literally.
BETA Technologies was founded by entrepreneur Kyle Clark in 2017. The goal was to develop battery powered aircraft for relatively short distance transport on a single battery charge. With facilities in Burlington, Vermont the company has raised almost $800 million in capital and, as of early 2023, has 450 employees.
The photo here, taken by Eric Adams, is BETA’s second model named Alia, a quadracopter, on the airport tarmac. It has “four fixed vertical lift propellers and one pusher propeller for forward flight” (evtol.news/BETA-technologies-alia).
In October 2023 BETA officially unveiled the aircraft at their 188,500 square-foot facility in South Burlington, VT. A host of politicians attended the “opening” and the site is billed as “the nation’s first large-scale manufacturing facility for electric aircraft”. It is a VTOL, vertical take-off and landing, aircraft and can hold 5 passengers. Production has already started and the facility can produce up to 300 aircraft per year. One of its many early uses is to transport human organs.
Their first aircraft, CX300, was featured in this space in December 2022. A recent article in The New York Times on 11 November 2023 reports on the small plane’s flight from Vermont to Florida over a 16-day period. This may be the beginning of battery-powered air travel that never seemed possible. The plane was turned over to the Air Force who will experiment with it over the next few months.
‘KEEP IT TOGETHER’
And then …
In November 2023 the U.S. issued the Fifth National Climate Assessment. The news of course is not good, more of what we already knew but with even more surety.
But it had a new section on what young artists think and feel about the climate crises and it is highly recommended to look at the full range of images of the Award Winners and their personal statements.
Just two images are included here.
The first image is of a young woman sitting by a window with heavy polluting smokestacks in the background. The artist, Amelia K., Grade 10 said she focused on fossil fuels and air pollution. There is much more thoughtful symbolism in her work; please go to nca2023.globalchange.gov/art-climate/ for her full statement.
A second image from another award winner is by Tammy West, titled “Keep It Together”.
The artist’s statement goes on to talk about “the climate-change induced severe drought” that has impacted Texas and the Western U.S. and “focuses on our collective climate grief.” The image “conceptually wills climate change and the drought to end by literally tying cracked earth back together.” Again, please go to nca website to get her full artist’s statement.
And so it goes …
— The scientific career of Raymond N. Johnson, Ph.D., spanned 30 years in research and development as an organic/analytical chemist; he is currently founder and director of the Institute of Climate Studies USA (www.ICSUSA.org).
It was almost like another era. The year was 1992.