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Countries that increase fossil fuel production are “dangerous radicals”. It was António Guterres’ take on the latest UN climate science report that landed with a thump on Monday. Who could he be talking about?
It would be simpler to list the countries that do not respond to the fossil-funded massacre and soaring prices of coal, oil and gas with more of the same toxic industry that got us all into this mess.
Saudi Arabia, true to form, has gone out of its way to twist scientific evidence to imply that carbon capture and storage could keep the oil sector alive in a climate-safe future. Protracted wrangling over the issue had the added effect of sabotaging the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) communications plan, as it stood, rendering the summary for policymakers almost unreadable and its launch six hours late. (We’ve got you covered with the top five takeaways.)
“Climate activists are sometimes portrayed as dangerous radicals. But the really dangerous radicals are the countries that increase the production of fossil fuels. Investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure is moral and economic folly.
António Guterres, head of the UN
But Guterres’ remarks don’t just apply to the oil-rich Gulf states, where the conflict of interest is in full view. Would-be climate leaders like the US, Canada, UK and Norway persist in talking tough on emissions while being soft on the cause of emissions.
Until recently, you could count on Costa Rica to leave it in the ground. Together with Denmark, he launched the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance at Cop26, attempting to lead a global movement to turn off the taps – though few followed.
Yet its newly elected president, Rodrigo Chaves Robles, has hinted that Costa Rica may be looking for gas, like Norway.
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The IPCC has offered a whole toolbox of solutions, for those who wish to use them.
A country that is quietly innovating is Sweden. It would be easy for politicians to point fingers at forests and the clean energy mix and keep their heads down, but that wasn’t enough for Greta Thunberg’s birthplace.
Instead, with public opinion behind them, eight political parties have agreed to target the bulk of emissions embedded in imported products. This means shaking up international norms, changing behaviors at home and testing the limits of Sweden’s soft power on its trading partners.
The emission reductions that could be achieved by reducing energy demand in all sectors by 2050 ccompared to projections based on current policies – IPCC WGIII