The Climate Lawsuit : Who should make decisions regarding our climate?

The Netherlands has seen a unique lawsuit recently: “Urgenda, a non-profit organisation with an Urgent Climate Change Agenda as it’s core business, sued the Dutch state. It asked the judge to force the Government to deliver on the promises it made to the voters: reduce CO2 emissions by 30% by 2025 compared to the baseline of 1990.  The judge decided in favour of Urgenda, the Government lost. The conservative administration was flabbergasted. This week the administration decided to appeal.

There are many discussions going on about the legal status of the judges verdict:
– Can a judge overrule a parliament that is not forcing the administration to deliver on its promises ?
– In such an unprecedented case the highest appeal should be sought in order to get juris prudentia
– etc

The conservative party VVD is especially vocal about the legal issues. Urgenda and others with rational green blood say that all this legal wizardry is just delaying the judges verdict, we need to take action. NOW.

I want to defend here that the parliamentary democracy may not be equipped for dealing with the unique issue of man made climate change threatening not only the type of civilisation we have  now but even the very survival of mankind.

The problem is that the Earth’s climate does not listen to arguments of coalition majorities to ignore climate change laws.

Even IPCC’s  “2 degree warming above pre-industrial levels is safe” is total bullocks, that was a political compromise of a unbelievable destructive kind.

In the ’80’s we/our parents were extremely lucky that the ozone-hole issue got resolved. Scientists discovered the source of the hole and rapid CFC-banning laws reduced levels of the gas fast enough so that the hole stabilised and started closing. Makes me think, maybe that is where the idea was born that there are simple fixes for ecological disasters.

But burning unimaginable amounts of fossil carbon, with now thawing permafrost methane adding to the equation, is changing the whole biosphere in a fundamental way. We have probably passed several tipping points already and we are rapidly pushing other limits. I will list several that, when going over the tipping point may extinguish mankind in unbelievable short periods of time.

 Hydrogen Sulfide 

In the history of Earth there have been several mass extinction events that may be attributed to dead zones in oceans where algae blooms occurred of H2S producing algae. Enormous clouds of the poisonous gas drifted from sea to land, killing everything in its path. The eastern Pacific is now an insane 3,5 degrees warmer than what mankind has ever experienced. Dead zones have already been detected and the algae won’t send a warning message when they decide that the pool is warm enough too party.

Gulfstream 

The Gulfstream that keeps Western Europe (my home) at a cosy moderate temperature in stead of mid-Canadian freezing temperatures is being driven by a conveyer belt of sinking cold salt water south of Greenland. There is now a huge 2 degree below normal cold patch  filled with floating fresh meltwater from Greenlands melting glaciers. Problem is that fresh water is lighter than salt water and so it doesn’t  sink. The warm salt water can’t cool and sink… We are currently pressing the “stop” button of the conveyer belt as hard as we can. There is no political compromise that can negotiate the switch in the “ON” position.

Antarctica  

The pole is melting fast, But the Antarctic is a different beast than the North Pole. Where the North Pole is a sea surrounded by land, the South Pole is land surrounded by sea. Rising global temperatures have a completely different effect. The volume of ice on Antarctica is  dwindling fast and the meltwater makes its way to the ocean. Here, just like near Greenland the cold fresh water floats on the salt water, again preventing warm salt water to cool and sink. The floating fresh water freezes faster so we expect the edges of the floating sea ice to extend. Difficult stuff for conservative deniers to grasp.

North Pole

We’re three weeks from the end of this years melt season and it is going to be a dramatic one once we close the books. The red line shows the (already smaller than historic) average extent of the sea ice in the 1980-2010 period. This year we will see far, far less than that. Black sea water sucks up heat where white ice reflects it, so the Pole is being converted into a solar collector. No wonder that the average temperature there already far exceeds IPCC’s safe 2 degrees, and the positive feedback cycle has only just started. Practical problem of all this open water in the fall? Storms. In all of mankind’s history the polar coasts were protected by thick sheet ice. Now the unprotected coasts get battered by waves that can develop freely over the open water. Inuit villages are at serious risk of being swept away.

And I can continue….

Lobbycracy

We are presently living in a Lobbycracy, the post modern version of the thing we invented in 1789. At that time there were no multinationals that dictated what we should eat, what to buy and how we should travel.

Coca Cola, Tabacco and Nestlé fund hundreds of lobbyist per member of parliament and so dictate the outcome of votes. And that’s why Urgenda asked the judge to take one step back and look at the bigger picture. The judge did just that and he saw exactly what is going on:

The profit seeking Internationals and parliament overwhelming Industrial Complex that now rules the Earth is changing the biosphere so badly that it is threatening the inhabitants who may not all necessarily agree with the lawmakers bending down to Exxon and Philip Morris. You can’t use solutions from within a system to prevent the system from destroying itself. So we need a new  governing body that prioritises what is important for survival and what is drivel in the margin.

I compare this to Isaac Newton’s time. In his day mathematics was basic: plus, minus, devision. But when studying the planets and falling apples he needed a new language to describe what he saw. So he made up a complete new framework and invented Integration and differential math. He altered the scientific world.

We now need to define a new politcal language to think about our selves and our planet, “growth” and “shareholder value” no longer suffice.

It may sound strange but I really believe we need to think about a mandate for a new planet conserving UN to shut down coal mines. Willing or unwilling.

A coterie of local conservative hobbyists in parliaments is not the right gremium to govern Planet Earth. They are to interwoven with the lobby system that is destroying us.

Until that time thoughtful Earthlings will have to take the lead in ignoring their governments that are fully focussed on as cheap as possible coal power so “consumers” get “investment budget” to buy unnecessary goods. Let’s invest in our local economies and sustainable energy, even if it is not the best bargain compared to  cheapdealofhteweek.com.

Let’s head towards a society where we contribute as much as we can and use what we need in stead of building a climate boundaries denying TTIP framework designed to funnel all wealth into the pockets of the 1% of 1% and the rest has to struggle…..or die.

Lars  Boelen

 

My Previous Articles on Climate change policy:

WORLD ENERGY OUTLOOK 2013 – WHAT IT DOESN’T SAY

Dutch civilians win their Climate Class action lawsuit….Now What?

Today 900 Dutch civilians, organised by Climate Change action comittee Urgenda (from: Urgence Agenda), won a historic lawsuit against the Dutch state, demanding that the state delivers on its promisses made in Kyoto and EU-treaties. The dutch conservative and neoLiberal parties that have been in charge ever since the turn of the century had so far refused to take major actions to help the environment. The “why disrupt society if there is still some doubt” was accepted by the majority of the parliament all that time.

In 2013 we had enough of it and went to court and today the judge said we were right. So here we are, fresh victory in the pocket and the government flabbergasted. I expect some staring in the headlights from the goverment and parliament, so I guess we’ll have to nudge them in the right direction. Here we go.

First let’s make the judges verdict S.M.A.R.T

“Lower Hollands CO2 output by 25% in 2020 compared to the Kyoto baseline in 1990”. WOW.

CO2 levels 1990 : 161 billion kilo

Emissions in the last known year (2013): 166 billion kilo
Goal 2020 : 1990 – 25% = 120 billion kilo
Reduction goal : 46 miljard kilo, 28% of current emmisions
Reductiondate 31-12-202 = 5,5 years

So that means reduce CO2 emissions by 8 billion kilos per year for almost 6 years

If we analyze the sad numbers from the bureau of statistics we discover that:
– big industry has done nothing in 25 years
– small business has already reached -25% (do they have a business advantage by going green?)
– Coalplants burn more
– Waste incinneraotrs burn way more
– Traffic (driving and flying)
-households do marginally better

So what is the action plan for the next 5 years? 

1. We remove Megacorps from the negotiation tables. They have done NOTHING in the last quarter century but fund extreme right “think tanks” and pay posh firms to greenwash their results. The door is there, bye bye! We will tell you the new rules when we are done.
 Ahhhhhhhhhh……… That feels good, now we can take serious actions
2. The Taxfreetour Apple, Shell, royal family, Nestlé, Coca Cola, Ikea & Co – leaves nothing in the war chest so important national questions (this climate thing is one of them) never got the funding they deserve. The 1%’ers were enjoying the results. Wasn’t tax at one time the national crowdfunding campaign for good ideas? 
3. Let’s start listening to SMB to learn how to really make companies sustainable  
4. Transportation MUST defossilize and quickly too. We have electric bikes, scooters and cars. Now we only have to do busses and trucks and ferries. 
5. Kerosene tax and because 25€ tickets to Costa del Sol are ruining the planet.
6. Building code changes tomorrow: only zero net energy allowed from now on, Passiv-Haus from 2020 onwards
7. Burning waste as a heat source…….poof ….we’ll up cycle from now on
8. Heat distribution networks are based on coal and gas plants  so no thank you. The glasshouse farmers will switch to Geo-heat where that make sense. 
9. New tax on solar panel less roofs (rate based on wasted solar energy)
10. National insullation campaign. We have 1.2 million “non productive” working age people, they’re the heroes of tomorrow when they roll out the insullation program.

So it’s really easy actually: remove Megacorps from policy making, make plans, roll them out, collect taxes from the polluters and the 1%’ers.

Let’s do it!!

More on this subject : Ministry of Contra-Diction

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Ps. My twitter friends ask me if nuclear is an option, but given the lead times of several decades I think the answer is “no”. I like the CO2-lesness of nuclear, but I believe it’s a fossil solution as it relies on “base load thinking”.

Pps. What is this going to cost? Going to a new renewable society (in the 17th century Holland ruled the world on wind power) is the only solution. I went fossil free for €15k and will write it of in 10 years after which I will save 150€/month that I can invest in my local economy forever. That will change the economy in unforeseen ways, but my gut says that that is better than praying to Putin and Saudi Arabia.