Tag Archives: Shipping

UK airports must shut to reach 2050 climate target

All UK airports must close by 2050 for the country to reach its target of net zero climate emissions by then, scientists say.

LONDON, 18 February, 2020 − If it is to achieve its target of net zero climate emissions by 2050, all UK airports must close by mid-century and the country will have to make other drastic and fundamental lifestyle changes, says a report from a research group backed by the government in London.

With the UK due to host this year’s round of crucial UN climate talks in Glasgow in November, a group of academics has embarrassed the British government by showing it has currently no chance of meeting its own legally binding target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to nothing within 30 years.

Their report, Absolute Zero, published by the University of Cambridge, says no amount of government or public wishful thinking will hide the fact that the country will not reach zero emissions by 2050 without barely conceivable changes to policies, industrial processes and lifestyles. Its authors include colleagues from five other British universities.

All are members of a group from UK Fires, a research programme sponsored by the UK government, aiming to support a 20% cut in the country’s true emissions by 2050 by placing resource efficiency at the heart of its future industrial strategy. The report was paid for under the UK Fires programme.

As well as a temporary halt to flying, the report also says British people cannot go on driving heavier cars and turning up the heating in their homes.

“The UK is responsible for all emissions caused by its purchasing, including imported goods, international flights and shipping”

The government, industry and the public, it says, cannot continue to indulge themselves in these ways in the belief that new technologies will somehow save them – everyone will have to work together change their way of life.

Because electric or zero-emission aircraft cannot be developed in time, most British airports will need to close by the end of this decade, and all flying will have to stop by 2050 until non-polluting versions are available.

Electrification of surface transport, rail and road, needs to be rapid, with the phasing out of all development of petrol and diesel cars immediately. Even if all private cars are electric, the amount of traffic will have to fall to 60% of 2020 levels by 2050, and all cars will have to be smaller.

The report also suggests that ships, currently heavy users of fossil fuels, need to convert to electric propulsion in order to allow for necessary imports and exports.

Not enough time

The reasoning behind the report is that technologies to cut greenhouse gas emissions, like carbon capture and storage, will not be developed in time and on a large enough scale to make a difference to emission reductions by 2050.

Nor is it any use exporting energy-intensive industries like steel-making, because the emissions will still take place abroad.

Instead, homegrown industries need to be developed that use no fossil fuels but are powered by electricity. The report says blast furnaces need to be phased out and replaced by existing technologies that recycle steel using renewable electricity.

It calls for public debate and discussion about the lifestyle changes that will be essential. Although such luxuries as flying away on holiday and driving large cars will have to be foregone, and eating beef and lamb curtailed, the scientists say that life could be just as rich as today.

They say: “… sports, social life, eating, hobbies, games, computing, reading, TV, music, radio, volunteering (and sleeping!) We can all do more of these without any impact on emissions”.

Offsets won’t work

They want the public to help by lobbying for airport closures, more trains, no new roads and more renewable electricity.

The report insists that the government should not try to hide any of its emissions by importing goods: “The UK is responsible for all emissions caused by its purchasing, including imported goods, international flights and shipping.”

Nor can there be any meaningful “carbon offsets.” The only short-term option we have of reducing emissions – at least by 2050 – is to plant trees. “Even a massive increase in forestry would only have a small effect compared to today’s emissions.”

The authors comment: “There are no invisible solutions to climate change. We urgently need to engage everyone in the process of delivering the changes that will lead to zero emissions.” − Climate News Network

All UK airports must close by 2050 for the country to reach its target of net zero climate emissions by then, scientists say.

LONDON, 18 February, 2020 − If it is to achieve its target of net zero climate emissions by 2050, all UK airports must close by mid-century and the country will have to make other drastic and fundamental lifestyle changes, says a report from a research group backed by the government in London.

With the UK due to host this year’s round of crucial UN climate talks in Glasgow in November, a group of academics has embarrassed the British government by showing it has currently no chance of meeting its own legally binding target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to nothing within 30 years.

Their report, Absolute Zero, published by the University of Cambridge, says no amount of government or public wishful thinking will hide the fact that the country will not reach zero emissions by 2050 without barely conceivable changes to policies, industrial processes and lifestyles. Its authors include colleagues from five other British universities.

All are members of a group from UK Fires, a research programme sponsored by the UK government, aiming to support a 20% cut in the country’s true emissions by 2050 by placing resource efficiency at the heart of its future industrial strategy. The report was paid for under the UK Fires programme.

As well as a temporary halt to flying, the report also says British people cannot go on driving heavier cars and turning up the heating in their homes.

“The UK is responsible for all emissions caused by its purchasing, including imported goods, international flights and shipping”

The government, industry and the public, it says, cannot continue to indulge themselves in these ways in the belief that new technologies will somehow save them – everyone will have to work together change their way of life.

Because electric or zero-emission aircraft cannot be developed in time, most British airports will need to close by the end of this decade, and all flying will have to stop by 2050 until non-polluting versions are available.

Electrification of surface transport, rail and road, needs to be rapid, with the phasing out of all development of petrol and diesel cars immediately. Even if all private cars are electric, the amount of traffic will have to fall to 60% of 2020 levels by 2050, and all cars will have to be smaller.

The report also suggests that ships, currently heavy users of fossil fuels, need to convert to electric propulsion in order to allow for necessary imports and exports.

Not enough time

The reasoning behind the report is that technologies to cut greenhouse gas emissions, like carbon capture and storage, will not be developed in time and on a large enough scale to make a difference to emission reductions by 2050.

Nor is it any use exporting energy-intensive industries like steel-making, because the emissions will still take place abroad.

Instead, homegrown industries need to be developed that use no fossil fuels but are powered by electricity. The report says blast furnaces need to be phased out and replaced by existing technologies that recycle steel using renewable electricity.

It calls for public debate and discussion about the lifestyle changes that will be essential. Although such luxuries as flying away on holiday and driving large cars will have to be foregone, and eating beef and lamb curtailed, the scientists say that life could be just as rich as today.

They say: “… sports, social life, eating, hobbies, games, computing, reading, TV, music, radio, volunteering (and sleeping!) We can all do more of these without any impact on emissions”.

Offsets won’t work

They want the public to help by lobbying for airport closures, more trains, no new roads and more renewable electricity.

The report insists that the government should not try to hide any of its emissions by importing goods: “The UK is responsible for all emissions caused by its purchasing, including imported goods, international flights and shipping.”

Nor can there be any meaningful “carbon offsets.” The only short-term option we have of reducing emissions – at least by 2050 – is to plant trees. “Even a massive increase in forestry would only have a small effect compared to today’s emissions.”

The authors comment: “There are no invisible solutions to climate change. We urgently need to engage everyone in the process of delivering the changes that will lead to zero emissions.” − Climate News Network

Fast boat to China?

EMBARGOED until 2000 GMT on Monday 4 March In less than 50 years from now the north-west passage through the Arctic should be open to suitable vessels for a short time every other year, scientists have calculated. LONDON, 4 March – The great Elizabethan explorer Martin Frobisher tried three times to get from Europe to China by sailing across the Arctic circle. In the summer of 1578 he steered his ships between the Canadian mainland and Baffin Island, in an attempt to find the fabled north-west passage. He was soon defeated by tempest, snow and ice. “There fell so much snow, with such bitter cold air, that we could not scarce see one another for the same, nor open our eyes to handle our ropes and sails”, says the account recorded in Hakluyt’s famous Principal Navigations, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation. Tomorrow’s mariners may have an easier time of it, according to Laurence Smith, a geographer at University of California, Los Angeles. He reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that by 2059 ships, especially if reinforced for polar waters, should be able to manage the north-west passage from the east coast of America to the west, one year in two. Right now, it is navigable perhaps one year in seven. The north-east passage, or northern sea route along the coast of Siberia, is already in regular use, and 46 ships made the journey in 2012. The Arctic ice sheet is expected to thin with global warming to a point where polar icebreakers will be able to go straight over the North Pole between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, he calculates. Smith and his co-author Scott Stephenson considered seven different forecasts for sea ice cover in the Arctic between 2040 and 2059, and took an average. They studied the emerging navigation routes and the degree of sea ice melting that has made them possible. They then considered two scenarios for climate change: one that assumed a 25% increase in carbon dioxide emissions, and one that assumed a 35% rise. And then they looked ahead to mid-century. To their surprise, the choice of scenarios made no difference to the outcome. “No matter which carbon emission scenario is considered, by mid-century we will have passed a crucial tipping point – sufficiently thin sea ice – enabling moderately capable icebreakers to go where they please”, Smith said.

Seasonal shipping only

  The attraction of the polar route is that it is shorter: substantially shorter than the traditional routes through the Suez or Panama Canals. Ships heading from New York for Yokohama, or from Bremen to Vancouver, via the Arctic Ocean, could save days at sea and cut running costs. But the possibility also raises concerns about safety, suitable ports of call, and hazard to the Arctic environment. It also raises sovereignty issues, with increasing disputes about who “owns” the polar waters. Such questions were, until 2007, largely hypothetical. But that year the Arctic sea ice, which has been shrinking and thinning gradually for decades, hit a record low. Some glaciologists now think – though there is plenty of room for argument – that the Arctic may have reached a tipping point, and is about to enter a new and less stable state, in which ice cover will go on shrinking in the summer months. One day, Frobisher’s unhappy voyage will be possible and may even become routine, but only in the late summer. “This will never be a year-round operation”, says Smith. – Climate News Network

EMBARGOED until 2000 GMT on Monday 4 March In less than 50 years from now the north-west passage through the Arctic should be open to suitable vessels for a short time every other year, scientists have calculated. LONDON, 4 March – The great Elizabethan explorer Martin Frobisher tried three times to get from Europe to China by sailing across the Arctic circle. In the summer of 1578 he steered his ships between the Canadian mainland and Baffin Island, in an attempt to find the fabled north-west passage. He was soon defeated by tempest, snow and ice. “There fell so much snow, with such bitter cold air, that we could not scarce see one another for the same, nor open our eyes to handle our ropes and sails”, says the account recorded in Hakluyt’s famous Principal Navigations, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation. Tomorrow’s mariners may have an easier time of it, according to Laurence Smith, a geographer at University of California, Los Angeles. He reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that by 2059 ships, especially if reinforced for polar waters, should be able to manage the north-west passage from the east coast of America to the west, one year in two. Right now, it is navigable perhaps one year in seven. The north-east passage, or northern sea route along the coast of Siberia, is already in regular use, and 46 ships made the journey in 2012. The Arctic ice sheet is expected to thin with global warming to a point where polar icebreakers will be able to go straight over the North Pole between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, he calculates. Smith and his co-author Scott Stephenson considered seven different forecasts for sea ice cover in the Arctic between 2040 and 2059, and took an average. They studied the emerging navigation routes and the degree of sea ice melting that has made them possible. They then considered two scenarios for climate change: one that assumed a 25% increase in carbon dioxide emissions, and one that assumed a 35% rise. And then they looked ahead to mid-century. To their surprise, the choice of scenarios made no difference to the outcome. “No matter which carbon emission scenario is considered, by mid-century we will have passed a crucial tipping point – sufficiently thin sea ice – enabling moderately capable icebreakers to go where they please”, Smith said.

Seasonal shipping only

  The attraction of the polar route is that it is shorter: substantially shorter than the traditional routes through the Suez or Panama Canals. Ships heading from New York for Yokohama, or from Bremen to Vancouver, via the Arctic Ocean, could save days at sea and cut running costs. But the possibility also raises concerns about safety, suitable ports of call, and hazard to the Arctic environment. It also raises sovereignty issues, with increasing disputes about who “owns” the polar waters. Such questions were, until 2007, largely hypothetical. But that year the Arctic sea ice, which has been shrinking and thinning gradually for decades, hit a record low. Some glaciologists now think – though there is plenty of room for argument – that the Arctic may have reached a tipping point, and is about to enter a new and less stable state, in which ice cover will go on shrinking in the summer months. One day, Frobisher’s unhappy voyage will be possible and may even become routine, but only in the late summer. “This will never be a year-round operation”, says Smith. – Climate News Network