See Earth’s Temperature Spiral Toward 2°C


This article was originally published on Climate Central


The steady rise of Earth’s temperature as greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere and trap more and more heat is sending the planet spiraling closer to the point where warming’s catastrophic consequences may be all but assured.

That metaphoric spiral has become a literal one in a new graphic drawn up by Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom. The animated graphic features a rainbow-colored record of global temperatures spinning outward from the late 19th century to the present as the Earth heats up.


global temperature rise


“The pace of change is immediately obvious, especially over the past few decades,” Hawkins, who has previously worked with Climate Central’s extreme weather attribution team, wrote in an email.

The graphic is part of Hawkins’s effort to explore new ways to present global temperature data in a way that clearly telegraphs the warming trend. Another climate scientist, Jan Fuglestvedt of the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research – Oslo, suggested the spiral presentation.

The graphic displays monthly global temperature data from the U.K. Met Office and charts how each month compares to the average for the same period from 1850-1900, the same baselines used in the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

At first, the years vacillate inward and outward, showing that a clear warming signal had yet to emerge from the natural fluctuations that happen from year to year. But clear warming trends are present in the early and late 20th century.

In the later, it is clear how much closer temperatures have come to the target the international community has set to keep warming within 2°C (4°F) above pre-industrial levels by the end of the 21st century. An even more ambitious target of 1.5°C (3°F) has increasingly become a topic of discussion, and is also visible on the graphic.

Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State who created the famous “Hockey Stick” graph of global temperature records going back hundreds of years, said that the spiral graphic was “an interesting and worthwhile approach to representing the data graphically.”

He said that using an earlier baseline period would have better captured all the warming that has occurred, as there was some small amount already in the late 19th century.

Just how much temperatures have risen is clear in the first few months of data from 2016, it’s line clearly separated from 2015 — which was the hottest year on record — and edging in on the 1.5°C mark.

Every month of 2016 so far has been the warmest such month on record; in fact, the past 11 months have all set records, the longest such streak in the temperature data kept by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Each agency that keeps such a temperature record handles the data slightly differently, which can lead to small differences in monthly and yearly values, though the overall trend is in broad agreement for all such agencies.)

The record-setting temperatures of 2016 have seen a small push from an exceptionally strong El Niño, but they are largely the result of the heat that has built up in the atmosphere over decades of unabated greenhouse gas emissions — as the spiral graphic makes clear.

“Turns out that this version [of temperature records] particularly appeals, maybe because it doesn’t require much interpretation,” Hawkins said.




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Donald Trump and Boris Johnson kiss in Bristol mural – BBC News


This piece was originally published on the BBC News website


This is a campaign, We Are Europe, which I helped to start to mobilise millennials to vote in the EU referendum. Please check it out at


Boris Trump Kiss - BBC News


Donald Trump and Boris Johnson have been pictured in a passionate embrace in a 15ft-high artwork painted on to a building in Bristol.

It portrays the US and UK politicians – who are united over desires for Britain to exit the EU – engaged in a kiss.

The image is reminiscent of an iconic Berlin Wall artwork of a kiss between ex-Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and East Germany’s Eric Honecker.

The area where it has appeared is regarded as Banksy’s “spiritual home”.

The work is situated in The Carriageworks in Stokes Croft, part of a collection of buildings considered to be one of the city’s biggest eyesores.

Campaign group We Are Europe said it was behind the artwork.

Spokeswoman Harriet Kingaby said: “People need to look at this image and think, ‘is this the future I want’?”

Felix Braun, one of the artists, said painting it “surreal and brilliant” as it provoked “so much laughter and strong opinions” from passers-by.

“People were beeping their horns, stopping their cars to take pictures out of the window, shouting their approval, coming up and shaking our hands,” said Mr Braun.

Text below the painting suggests that voters who are against the pro-Brexit stance of Mr Trump and Mr Johnson should register to vote in next month’s referendum.

Mr Johnson, former London mayor, is leading a campaign for Britain to leave the EU.

US presidential hopeful Mr Trump has said that the UK would be “better off without” the European Union, and blamed the EU for the migration crisis.

The Bristol painting is similar to the picture My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love, sometimes referred to as the Fraternal Kiss, a 1990 graffiti painting on the Berlin Wall by Dmitri Vrubel.

It depicts Brezhnev and Honecker in a fraternal embrace, reproducing a photograph that captured the moment in 1979 during the 30th anniversary celebration of the foundation of the German Democratic Republic.


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WAE Logo





WAE update image 1




Worryingly, the polls tell us it’s still too close to call!


Which means, it could all come down to how many of the UK’s Millennials

register and then vote IN on the 23rd.


If the turn-out amongst the under 40s is less than 50%,

then we may well be sleepwalking into Brexit!


We Are Europe is entirely focussed on that challenge.


The #INFOR campaign on social media now has significant reach

across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


It concentrates on the reasons why people want to stay in the EU.

And gives young ‘shy in’ voters the confidence to share what they’re #INFOR.


We still need your help!


We’ve raised £110k so far. We need another £100k. So every £100 will help – seriously!


I really appreciate any help you can give us.




On behalf of the We Are Europe campaign

WAE update image 2


Published and promoted by Tom Burke on behalf of We Are Europe,

47 Great Guildford Street, London SE1 0ES

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In Starbucks and on Tinder, campaigners seek out the young vote – The Guardian



Only 51% of young people say they are sure to vote in the EU referendum, as activists blame poor timing and uninspiring rhetoric


polling place


Half a million young voters are to be targeted in a massive voter registration push ahead of the EU referendum, with voter sign-ups promoted on dating app Tinder, in Starbucks cafes and a referendum debate livestreamed on Facebook.

Young people are twice as likely to vote to remain as to vote leave, but only 51% said they were certain to vote at all, according to YouGov polling commissioned by the youth voter movements Bite the Ballot and Hope not Hate.

Under-25s are twice as likely not to be on the electoral register as the population at large, according to the Electoral Commission, with almost 30% not registered.

Of those who are registered, only 54% voted in the 2015 general election, with under-25s half as likely to vote as those aged over 65, according to a survey of 1,300 18- to 30-year-olds. More than a third said they had not been following the debate and one in 10 said they actively avoided it.

Mike Sani, founder of Bite the Ballot, said he was concerned there was not enough time for leaders to make their case to younger voters about why they should care about staying in or leaving the EU. “This one, well, it’s been more fear over fact, that’s the biggest frustration,” he said.

“Our strategy is the same as a general election, though: get more registrations, be bold, collaborate. We are up against it with time, though.”

Nick Lowles, Hope not Hate’s director, said the rhetoric around long-term economic difficulties or issues with immigration were not the arguments that would inspire young voters.

“For most young people, Europe is part of modern life, it’s not a political statement,” he said. “The referendum is the most important vote of our generation and those who it will affect most are the ones least likely to vote. The whole debate is run by white old men, one wing of the Tory party against another.”

Neither side, he said, was prioritising young people “because they take the view that they won’t vote. It’s incredible to me, and that’s one of the reasons we started to really push this, quite late in the game.”

The EU referendum could not come at a worse time for youth voting campaigners. Not only is it the weekend of the Glastonbury festival, attended by 135,000 mostly young people, but it comes shortly after university terms end, which means that even students who registered to vote on 5 May will have to apply for postal votes or re-register at their parents’ homes or wherever they will spend the summer holidays. For students finishing exams and making summer plans, Lowles said this was “a massive ask”.

Despite the time pressures, activists from Bite the Ballot and Hope not Hate hope to register half a million new voters by 7 June via the #TurnUp campaign, which launches on Thursday.

A partnership with Tinder is in the works, though it is understood not to involve the prime minister joining the dating app, as was reported in the Times this week.

Collaboration is also planned with the comedy site the Lad Bible and popular YouTubers. Starbucks will host more than 30 “democracy cafes” across the UK, which Sani says he hopes will recreate the lively atmosphere of 17th-century coffeehouses.

In the run-up to the registration deadline, Bite the Ballot will also host a Leaders Live debate, livestreamed on Facebook, with prominent figures from from both in and out campaigns.

Though the guests have not been confirmed, Sani is keen to stress they will not necessarily be politicians. The YouGov polling found only 10% of young people said they trusted politicians to tell them the truth about the arguments for either side, only 13% trusted the media, and just 16% trusted business leaders.

About 30% of younger voters are believed to have dropped off the register since new rules on individual voter registration were introduced last autumn. Sani, a former teacher, who started Bite the Ballot six years ago, is a firm believer that voting registration should be automated.

“Everyone is worried about extremism, and that is because we are not giving people the tools to be active citizens and create change themselves,” he said. “If 7.4 million 18- to 24-year-olds register to vote, they are a market. And market forces will come to them to find out what it is they want.”




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Youth vote targeted for registration before EU referendum – The Guardian


By , Harriet Agerholm and


On campuses and in cafes across the UK, groups are organising to ensure that young Britons turn out on 23 June


youth vote









Only 23 days remain until the 7 June deadline for registering to vote in the EU referendum, and Amy Longland, a 22-year-old student at Nottingham university, is campaigning hard. She is desperate to raise awareness about what’s at stake for what could be dubbed “Generation E” – those suddenly confronted with the possibility of living their adult lives outside a union that most take for granted. “I don’t want the prejudices of the older generation to decide this for our generation,” she says. “Our grandparents should not decide our future for us.”

She has good reason to worry. At last year’s general election, only 43% of those aged 18-24 voted, compared with 78% of over-65s. Up to 4 million in the same age group are still not on the electoral register. Longland, like many young people, is in favour of staying in the EU, but fears too many of her contemporaries will not bother to register in time for referendum day on 23 June. Their future in Europe would then be determined by Eurosceptic older voters, who are much more likely to turn out on the day.

Last night in the university campus pub, the Mooch Bar, she and the rest of the Nottingham Students for Europe organised a Eurovision Song Contest party: sign a registration form, available in the bar, and you could win a £25 travel voucher if you picked the winning country out of a hat.

“This is really important,” said Longland. “We can enjoy the right to travel easily in Europe and to study in Europe. We are the easyJet generation. We take it for granted. It would be a huge shame if we turned our back on all that.”

Up and down the country, groups of young people are stirring into action. But can those who are engaged and motivated connect with enough of their contemporaries to turn apathy into interest? And with so little time to spare?

The charity Bite the Ballot, which persuaded hundreds of thousands to register before the last general election, is to set up “democracy cafes” in Starbucks branches, laying on experts to explain how to register and vote, and what the referendum is all about (Bite the Ballot does not take sides but merely encourages participation). On 31 May it will organise a flashmob in Albert Square, Manchester, with thousands of young people forming a giant X. Then, on 4 June, it plans a “thunderclap” on social media to tell young people that they have just three days left to register and influence their futures.

Harriet Kingaby, 32, and Bethan Harris, 30, who both have jobs in communications and strategy, are now lending much of their time to a new campaign called We Are Europe, working out of cafes in Bristol. Again, their objective is to get young people to register, and then to inspire them to go out to vote.

Harris says she and a small group of friends got involved because they felt their generation had been “locked out” of decision making and let down by the system for too long, and had to use this chance to strike back.

“As a generation of millennials, we want to create a better world, but we have felt excluded from decision making,” she said. “We all protested about Iraq and we were not listened to. There is no one representing our generation in parliament on the issues that matter to us. In the civil service, there is no ministry for young people. We feel locked out. It is becoming intensely frustrating.

“We have endured a recession and endless austerity, which has impacted on us as a generation, and we are the people most affected by current policies. We are all young professionals. The reason we have got so fired up by this referendum is not that we are Europhiles or that we love the EU – although we do think it has been hugely beneficial for us. But it is a sense that this [Brexit] would be another massive step backwards, and our generation can’t take any more of that. We are the difference between an in and an out vote.”

There are now more than 50 campaigns on university campuses pushing students to register and then to vote, and a clear majority are pro-EU. Tanya Williams of Bite the Ballot has worked on previous registration campaigns and is now doing so in Brent, north London. Outside the universities, she says, it is an uphill struggle and, at first, the feedback is often not good. “It is very hard. People will at first say no, and that they are not bothered, and it makes no difference, but you have to battle through. Then, some time later, you sometimes find the same people have got involved after all. It really can make a difference.”

We Are Europe believes that Leave campaigners are deliberating staying away from students because they know that most young people want to stay in, and if they highlighted the need to register they would be shooting themselves in the foot. They cite comments last week from Arron Banks, the Ukip donor and founder of Leave.EU, who declared: “If turnout is low, we win. If it’s high, we lose. Our strategy is to bore the electorate into submission, and it’s working.”

Students for Europe, meanwhile, will launch a poster and social media campaign on Monday asking: “Where are you on 23 June? Home? Uni? Glasto? Register to Vote Now.”

The Electoral Commission is sending out a giant mailshot this weekend to 28 million households, explaining how to register and vote.

Back in Nottingham, Longland is telling students that the referendum vote is not like a general election, where the first-past-the-post system often makes people think their vote makes no difference. This time it will. “We have just got to up our game and show that in this referendum we really can make the difference – because we really can.”



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Trump cannot derail global climate deal – Climate News Network


This piece was first published on the Climate News Network


May 20, 2016, by Alex Kirby





Even if he wins the US presidency,  Donald Trump will be unable to halt international progress towards a low-carbon economy, a British expert says.


LONDON, 20 May, 2016 – Donald Trump’s statement that he would want to renegotiate the Paris Agreement on climate change if he is elected US president is “meaningless”, one seasoned British climate expert says.

“Donald Trump doesn’t appear to know much about anything except headlines”, Tom Burke told the Climate News Network. “He knows less than most of the political leaders I’ve dealt with in the last 40 years. This is meaningless posturing.”

Burke, a former head of Friends of the Earth UK, is chairman of E3G, which works to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.

In an interview with Reuters news agency Trump said he is “not a big fan” of the Paris climate accord, which provides for reductions in carbon emissions by more than 170 countries. He said he would want to renegotiate the deal because, in his view, it treats the US unfairly and gives favourable treatment to countries like China.

“I will be looking at that very, very seriously, and at a minimum I will be renegotiating those agreements, at a minimum. And at a maximum I may do something else”, the Republican frontrunner told Reuters.

There are concerns that a renegotiation of the deal would be a significant setback for the first truly global climate accord, which commits both rich and poor nations to tackling the rise in greenhouse gas emissions which are warming the planet.

France’s former foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, one of the chief architects of the Paris Agreement, said recently: “Think about the impact of the coming US presidential elections. If a climate change denier was to be elected, it would threaten dramatically global action against climate disruption.”

But Burke scorns the idea that Trump – if he means what he says about renegotiation, and if he wins the presidency – could do serious damage to the Agreement.

“This is a vacuous piece of posturing, a message to his potential supporters on the political right”, he said. “If the media interrogated Trump rigorously, people would recognise him as a soap bubble.

“Who would he renegotiate the Agreement with? He can’t renegotiate on his own, and the rest of the world is moving on.

“Trump can do what George W Bush did when he was president: he can withdraw the US from its obligations, as Bush did with the Kyoto Protocol. But it made no difference.

“Trump can repudiate the Agreement, but it won’t make a scrap of difference to the rest of the world. The drive towards a low-carbon economy is being propelled, not by law, not by constraints, but by opportunity. China and the US reached a deal in Paris because it was in their interests to do so. What Trump cannot do is renegotiate the Agreement.”

What Trump’s own supporters will think of his statement is anyone’s guess. A recent survey found that more than half of them believe global warming is happening. Although almost all  those surveyed blamed natural causes, nearly half thought the US should reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions, regardless of what other countries did.

Tom Burke thinks many people have not yet recognised how little Donald Trump really knows. “All this sends a very negative signal to the rest of the world, that he’d be a very ignorant president”, he says.

“And of course it sends a clear signal to people who have property in Florida: sell now while sea levels still leave you something to sell.” – Climate News Network



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Energy policy post-Paris


Energy policy post-Paris


Fulfilling our climate change obligations post-COP21 means a complete transformation of our energy system. The shift towards to a smarter, safer, carbon-free and affordable system is set against a challenging landscape of volatile prices, changing demand patterns and expanding technology options.

This backdrop is further complicated by June’s referendum. Our energy future is intimately linked to the EU, so the outcome could profoundly shape what the energy transition means for the UK.

Policy experts E3G are closely following the debate, and following the success of our COP21 breakfast sessions, will be joining us for a breakfast session to share their views.

Date: Wednesday 18th May

Time: 8:30 – 10:00am

Location: Hill+Knowlton Strategies, The Buckley Building, London, EC1R 0EB

Come and hear from CEO Nick Mabey and Chairman Tom Burke on whether they think the energy transition will be orderly or disorderly, the implications of a possible BREXIT and how the right decisions for the energy sector can be a springboard for sustainable growth and greater security. Between them Nick and Tom have over 65 years’ experience advising Government, business and NGOs on climate issues, were instrumental in shaping the UK Government’s current commitments on climate change, and were closely involved in the Paris negotiations.

We have limited space available for this event, so please RSVP to to register your interest, with your name, company and contact details.

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Brexit battle: how tech crew We Are Europe is making the ‘in’ campaign go viral

Originally published in the Evening Standard

As the Brexit debate rages on social media, one east London tech crew is making the remain campaign go viral, says Joy Lo Dico


Monday night in a bar near Silicon Roundabout: the craft beers were flowing, cups of hipster hazelnuts and popcorn were being passed around the cool crowd but this was an unusual gathering in one sense: it was an evening of EU referendum talk.

There wasn’t a grey man in a grey suit in sight. Almost everyone in the room was under 40, in sneakers, and checking their tweet streams frequently. This was a meeting for We Are Europe, a project that came together by accident when a group of friends working in tech and sustainability suddenly realised that, although they felt strongly about the EU referendum, their voices weren’t in the debate.

Bethan Harris, one of We Are Europe’s founders, spotted the problem with the current In offering. “If you google Brexit or the EU referendum it is so uninspiring. Even if you are pro, you just aren’t going to share a picture of a politician.”

With of a crank of the social media engines — a Facebook page, a Twitter handle and Instagram account — they were off. Models Lily Cole, digital entrepreneur Jamal Edwards and actor Jude Law signed up, and with some help from designers and amateur video-makers and acoustic guitar soundtracks for their Facebook videos, a new wing of the In campaign had started.

James Murphy, CEO of agency Adam & Eve/DDB, which made last year’s John Lewis Christmas ad, turned up at the party in east London and was so impressed he has talked about working with them.”


The in crowd: Lily Cole, Wolfgang Tillmans, Jude Law and Jamal Edwards


Designer Irene Palacio produced a cardboard stencil, and Harris, along with Harriet Kingaby, both of whom are consultants on branding and social campaigns, photographed friends and random people in the street holding the “In For” sign and asked them to write down their reason for supporting the campaign.

Crucially the answers given were not along the lines of “because George Osborne says I will be better off” or “national security”. They were more emotional: because of European friends, the freedom to travel, a sense of being part of a more connected world.

There’s a key stat in all this: if you are over 40 you are more likely to vote Leave, and you are more likely to vote, full stop. Though the polls are saying that Remain has the edge, the result will hinge on turnout.

Co-founder Kingaby says: “We know our friends will talk about it with friends, but they have been scared to do so on social media. This isn’t just about facts, it’s about emotional issues, a sense of identity based on the the things we love about the UK — a diverse, interesting, open and tolerant society. We want to create messaging that is positive.”

The Leave campaign has cornered head and heart in this debate with its cri de coeur for the white cliffs of Dover and arguments about immigration. The Remain campaign has so far only done the head. The heart though is stirring, both with We Are Europe and other spontaneous offerings. Earlier this week artist and photographer Wolfgang Tillmans designed a set of posters for those who want to remain, inviting people to share them on Instagram and display them. Slogans include “No man is an island”. and “What is lost is lost forever.”

That is not to say that some politicians haven’t understood the need to engage people at a different level. Last week Gordon Brown, giving a speech hosted by the Centre for European Reform, urged his audience of economists and financiers to make the arguments for a “passionate, principled and patriotic” Remain vote. Admittedly his messengers may not have been the hottest on Twitter.

What this campaign needs is an amplification through social media, not just to encourage people to vote In, but to make sure they are registered to vote. As Lily Cole puts it: “There is a real chance this referendum is going to be decided by the active minority of people who called for it, rather than by the majority of our country reflecting on what the EU really means.”

However, it would be wrong to think that the Brexiteers haven’t themselves spotted social media’s value. Within weeks of launching, We Are Europe’s social media channels have been targeted by the Outers haranguing them with reasons for why it is time to get out of Europe.

“On Twitter we are getting a lot of trolls or people getting a bit angsty,” says Harris. But their drive to smoke out the shy-Remainers does seem to be working. “We’ve also had a lot of Remain supporters joining us. We all have to start stepping up,” she adds. “If you feel it in your gut, you don’t have to get into arguments but you do have to get positive and say it.” And the place to have your voice heard is online.

Follow We Are Europe on Twitter: @weareeuropeuk


Posted in Brexit, Business, Campaigning, Climate Change, Domestic, Economics, Energy, Environment, EU, Europe, European, In the media, People, Referendum, Sustainability | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


We Are

infor montage

…the travel, our rights, better cities and clean air; 70 years of peace; women and men, parents and kids; the right to love whoever we want; science, art, music and culture; our spare time and our work time; action on climate change and the fight against global poverty; food and farmers, protected wildlife and beautiful beaches; our friends and our families; and the freedom to live, study, work and play in 28 countries…




On 23rd June Britain will be asked to decide on our future. A future in Europe. Or out.

We’re in.

Because Europe is us. Not over there.

It’s ours to create, not to watch from the sidelines.

With Europe we’ve had 70 years of peace, and together we’ve led the world on issues from climate change and human rights, to the fight against global poverty.

Whilst our politicians have focused on the here and now, European laws have cleaned up our beaches, our air and our land. These laws have given us rights that make every one of us equal at work and in our relationships.

EU funding has helped protect our parks and keep our museums open. It has helped establish new enterprises, create art, accelerate science and support our farmers. And year after year, it has invested in some of the poorest areas of the UK.

Europe has given us colleagues, housemates, neighbours, partners and friends. People who’ve built our homes, enriched our universities, nursed our families and transformed the cultural life of our cities. In return, each and everyone one of us has the freedom to live, work and study in 28 countries.

Many of us do.

It might not be perfect. But it is ours. And it matters to pretty much everything we care about.

Right now, that’s at risk.

We’ve put up with everything from a misguided war on terror, a global recession, and unequal austerity. We’re not prepared to let an older privileged generation gamble with the EU too.

The future is ours. Working together with our neighbours is the best way to make it better for us all.

On 23rd June we’re voting to remain. We’d love you to join us.

You can find out more and subscribe here


Posted in Business, Campaigning, Climate Change, Conflict, Domestic, Economics, Economics, Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Security, Environment, European, Finance, In the media, Politics, renewables, Security, Sustainability, The Human Cost | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How significant is the signing of the Paris Agreement? – BBC Newshour – 22 April 16


BBC_World_News logo










BBC: Tom Burke is Chair of the British environmental think tank E3G and a former advisor tot he UK government on climate change. How significant does he think today’s signing really is?

Tom Burke: I think that it’s enormously significant. What the leaders are signing today is a document that is probably as important for the future of the world as signing the Charter on Human Rights was in the last century. If we don’t deal with climate change then stories like the one we have been listening to about Chad are going to be the life for everybody, a real undermining our security and prosperity if we fail to tackle the problem. What you saw in Paris was the world coming together to say “look we are going to tackle this problem” and doing that at a time of enormous turmoil and trouble. So I think that it is a positive thing that is happening today.

BBC: Doesn’t what’s happening to Lake Chad, and there are many other examples, suggest that it is too little, too late?

Tom Burke: It’s certainly very late.

BBC: But is it too late?

Tom Burke: No, it’s not too late. I think that’s quite wrong. We have the technology available now, if we really wanted to put the effort into deploying it, to keep the world below two degrees. It won’t be easy, the barriers aren’t the technology, so much as getting the politics right. That’s why this event today is so important, because what you are beginning to see is a real turning point in the politics of climate change. The political risks of not doing something about climate change are growing, as you get more and more Chad’s and more and more of the events that we have been seeing this year, and at the same time the political risks of actually doing something are going down, as the cost of low carbon energy begins to fall ever faster. So you’ve now got a political equation that’s very different form the one that we were dealing with ten years ago.

BBC: Two degrees was what they signed up to, but the aspiration was to one and a half degrees, have we missed that?

Tom Burke: Getting to one and a half is much harder than getting got two degrees. It’s much more uncertain that we could do it, but if you don’t try to do it, you definitely won’t get there, and every effort we put into towards to one and a half means that it is much more likely that we will achieve two degrees. When you are doing something difficult you can never be certain that you will get to where you want to go, but you can be certain that if you don’t try you won’t get there.

BBC: Indeed. There have been some bad warnings this year already, I think the first three months of this year were the hottest on record, just last week we had a warning about the great barrier reef off Australia, coral bleaching, bad news from the ice sheet in the Arctic and also the Antarctica as well. I just wonder whether we are already in that feedback loop that some have warned about, where things will spiral too fast out of control as the world warms, and actually it becomes exponential.

Tom Burke: There is a real risk of that. We don’t know, and the scientists can’t say where the tipping points are yet, where you get beyond something that you can manage. The reason why two degrees has become the goal of the climate regime is because that is a judgement about what is the threshold of climate change that becomes unmanageable. In other words, if we stay below two degrees then we at least can keep, the way the world climate is changing, inside the bounds of what we can cope with. Once we go beyond two degrees then the world becomes ever more unmanageable, and you might well run into the point where you then trigger really irreversible tipping points. Where you might lose the whole of one of the big ice sheets in the Antarctic Where you may end up with no summer ice in the Arctic, you start seeing, as we are already seeing this year, much more intense melt of ice water in Greenland. Now all of that might sound a bit remote but actually it has massive impacts to people’s daily lives throughout the world, as we have been hearing about in Chad.




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