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Dr Gideon Polya
Dr Gideon Polya

Paleoclimate scientist Glikson: Cut carbon emissions 80% by 2020 to avoid catastrophe

We are running out of time – so what can decent folk do in the face of greedy, corrupt, climate racist, climate genocidal, climate criminal intransigence?

The world must cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2020 to avert catastrophe, according to paleoclimate scientist Dr Dr Andrew Glikson (Australian National University) in an interview broadcast by Radio Australia (for the interview see "Carbon emissions must be cut by 80 percent [by 2020]: scientist") .

This expert opinion telescopes the time frame for requisitely dealing with the worsening climate disruption, climate emergency and climate genocide from half a century to a decade.

Dr Andrew Glikson is an Earth and paleoclimate scientist, Visiting Fellow, School of Archaeology and Anthropology, Research School of Earth Science and Institute of Planetary Science, Australian National University (ANU), Canberra, ACT, Australia.

Dr Andrew Glikson interviewed by taxpayer-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Radio Australia, 2009, in response to the question â€what has to be done?†stated (in part):

“extremely rapid reduction in emissions ... I would say, 80 percent within the next ten years or so ... people like me have been looking at the evidence about this on a day to day basis and we have been doing it for years, and to look in to the abyss at this length is a daunting task.â€

Dr Glikson’s plea is consonant with the dire views of Professor Kevin Anderson and Dr Alice Bows, climate scientists at the prestigious Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Manchester, UK.

Professor Kevin Anderson and Dr Alice Bows, in a key paper in the prestigious Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 2008, stated:

“According to the analysis conducted in this paper, stabilizing at 450 ppmv [carbon dioxide equivalent = CO2-e, atmospheric concentration measured in parts per million by volume; roughly the present level at 390 ppm CO2] requires, at least, global energy related emissions to peak by 2015, rapidly decline at 6-8% per year between 2020 and 2040, and for full decarbonization sometime soon after 2050 …Unless economic growth can be reconciled with unprecedented rates of decarbonization (in excess of 6% per year), it is difficult to envisage anything other than a planned economic recession being compatible with stabilization at or below 650 ppmv CO2-e … Ultimately, the latest scientific understanding of climate change allied with current emissions trends and a commitment to “limiting average global temperature increases to below 4oC above pre-industrial levelsâ€, demands a radical reframing of both the climate change agenda, and the economic characterization of contemporary society†(see:

Indeed Dr Glikson’s interpretation of the data of Anderson and Bows is “The ocean/atmosphere system is fast tracking to conditions similar to those of an ice-free earth .. [we need] Urgent deep reductions in carbon emissions, on the scale of at last 5% per year, relative to 1990 … The alternative to urgent fast tracked mitigation efforts does not bear contemplation†(see Andrew Glikson, “21st century carbon blueprints: perspective from the recent history of the atmosphereâ€, July 2009 – to see this and a related expertly written power point lecture scroll down at “Dr Andrew Glikson: earth and paleoclimate scientist: reduce GHG emissions by 80% by 2020â€).

A layperson’s take on what Dr Glikson is saying is provided by the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) summary of the interview with Dr Andrew Glikson: "Despite urgent global warming warnings, there's little hope that December's Copenhagen climate change meeting will secure an international agreement. Even domestic measures are subject to bitter politics and trade-offs, like the Australian government's plans to cut emissions by five-to-15 per cent by the year 2020. Even if such measures did pass, one expert [Dr Glikson] says it'd be like giving aspirin to a cancer patient. He says nothing less than 80 per cent emissions cuts over the next ten years will avert catastrophe".

Dr Glikson’s dire warning is consonant with warnings from other climate change analysts .For a compilation of such opinions see the website “Cut carbon emissions 80% by 2020â€.

Thus Sam Carana’s Change Our World, 2008 says: “James Hansen, NASA's top climate scientist, says in "Target CO2: Where Should Humanity Aim?" (see Target CO2: Where Should Humanity Aim? ) that the EU target of 550 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 - the most stringent in the world - was not good enough, as this would cause the world to warm by 6C, rather than the previous estimate of just 3C. Hansen says targets should be slashed to 350 ppm … As the Environmental Protection Agency's inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks 1990-2005 (see: inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2005 ) shows, well over 80% of US emissions are caused by fossil fuel - the mining of fossil fuel and burning it in power plants and in transportation. So, if we switched to electric vehicles over a period of a dozen years and to electricity produced in clean and safe ways, such as with wind and solar power, this would achieve an 80% cut by 2020 “ (see: Sam Carana, “Reduce emissions by 80% by 2020, Symptoms of global warmingâ€, Change Our World, 2008).

The prestigious Earth Policy Institute (EPI) is an environmental organization founded in 2001 by Lester R. Brown, based in Washington, D.C., U.S.A., and dedicated to building a sustainable future and informing the public about climate change, population expansion, mass species extinction and other threats impacting upon Humanity (see Wikipedia and Earth Policy Institute).

Thus Lester R. Brown and colleagues, “Time for Plan B. Cutting emissions 80 percent by 2020â€:

“When political leaders look at the need to cut carbon dioxide emissions to curb global warming, they ask the question: How much of a cut is politically feasible? At the Earth Policy Institute we ask a different question: How much of a cut is necessary to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change? … Cutting CO2 emissions 80 percent by 2020 will take a worldwide mobilization at wartime speed. First, investing in energy efficiency will allow us to keep energy demand from increasing. Then we can cut carbon emissions by one third by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources for electricity and heat production. A further 14 percent drop comes from restructuring our transportation systems and reducing coal and oil use in industry. Ending net deforestation worldwide can cut CO2 emissions another 16 percent. Last, planting trees and managing soils to sequester carbon [biochar] can absorb 17 percent of our current emissions. None of these initiatives depends on new technologies. We know what needs to be done to reduce CO2 emissions 80 percent by 2020. All that is needed now is leadership“ (see Lester R. Brown, Janet Larsen, Jonathan G. Dorn, and Frances C. Moore, “
â€, Earth Policy Institute).

Even big business has wised up to the realities. Thus British Telecom (BT) is the major UK telecommunications company (see Wikipedia). According to Earth2tech, 2 June 2008: “British Telecom (BT) said today it plans to reduce its carbon emissions 80 percent by 2020. The UK-based incumbent telecom operator is already on its way to meeting that aggressive target, and last October said it would invest close to half a billion dollars in wind farms that could supply close to 25 percent of the company’s power needs by 2016. That was the largest investment in renewable power by a non-power company in the UK ... BT also says the company has created a new tool called the Climate Stabilisation Intensity (CSI) Target to measure and track carbon emissions†(Katie Fehrenbacher, Earth2tech, “British Telecom (BT) to cut carbon emissions 80 percent by 2020â€, 2 June 2008).

In horrible contrast to these expert views that we must “reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2020â€, world governments talk of a notional “80% off 2000 GHG emissions by 2050†but mostly, as predicted by Drs Anderson and Bows, show no sign of taking anything like the requisite steps.

Thus, for example, climate criminal Australia is the world’s biggest coal exporter and is a world leader in GHG pollution on a per capita basis. As of 2008, “annual per capita greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution†in units of “tonnes CO2-equivalent per person per year†(2005-2008 data) is 0.9 (Bangladesh), 2.2 (India), 5.5 (China), 6.7 (the World), 11 (Europe), 27 (the US) and 30 (Australia; or 54 if Australia’s huge Exported CO2 pollution is included (see Wikipedia, “List of countries by greenhouse gas emissions per capitaâ€).

However climate criminal Australia has offered a derisory “5% off 2000 GHG pollution by 2020†andâ€60% off 2000 GHG pollution by 2050â€, these offerings IGNORING Australia’s enormous annual Exported GHG pollution that is about half of the total annual Domestic and Exported GHG pollution of Australia (see “Australia’s “5% off 2000 GHG pollution by 2020†endangers Australia, Humanity and the Biosphere“).

We are running out of time – so what can decent folk do in the face of greedy, corrupt, climate racist, climate genocidal, climate criminal intransigence?

Peace is the only way but silence kills and silence is complicity. In the words of Dr Andrew Glikson, informed people are now staring into “the abyssâ€. Decent, responsible people must (a) inform everyone they can and (B) advocate intra-national and international sanctions, boycotts, green tariffs, reparations demands and criminal prosecutions against people, corporations and countries (notably climate Australia) complicit in the worsening climate disruption, climate emergency and climate genocide that is predicted to kill 10 billion people this century.

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It is critically important that the run up to Copenhagen in December is marked with concerted pressure on governments to commit to real progress in climate change policy. We know that politically cowardly governments are unlikely to act unless they feel that electorates will support them, and thus local activism is all the more important to demonstrate public desire.

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During September they will be launching a roadshow through South West England, with several horses and carts equipped with solar panelling and wind turbines. The roadshow will amuse, galvanise and stimulate debate in the local area and highlight best and worst practice amongst institutions in the region.

Please get involved - visit our website www.climaterush.co.uk.

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Just to note, the slant here is a bit overdone. Two examples:

"I would say, 80 percent within the next ten years or so" -Dr Andrew Glikson

"The world must cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2020 to avert catastrophe" - opening line (not directly quoted from Glikson, though credited to him)

"the Australian government’s plans to cut emissions by five-to-15 per cent by the year 2020"

"However climate criminal Australia has offered a derisory “5% off 2000 GHG pollution by 2020â€

80% by 2020 may be right, but altering quotes and facts to make the point more extreme hardly helps the argument.

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