How civil society can rescue the Copenhagen Climate Conference to save the future of Humanity and life on Earth

The 2000 alternative scenario mitigation plan of Hansen, Sato et al by the updated science of methane and black carbon offers the way out of the stalled Copenhagen Climate Conference on CO2 reduction negotiations for mitigating global warming and climate change.

By having the latest published science tabled at Copenhagen (in addition to IPCC 2007 AR4) civil society can exert overwhelming pressure on nations to stop delaying and focus on serious measures to protect the future for their own children and grand children – living in all regions. The recent published research from the Arctic changes everything.  It places us all in peril from further emissions but this is not recognized.

The effects on climate of ocean warming and acidification are alone a source of planetary catastrophe.
However, this Arctic science is not tabled as the priority it is for the Copenhagen Climate Conference. Arctic carbon feedbacks are not included in any climate models and none of model based projections account for this omission. So even the very latest worst projections do not reflect to full degree of global warming and climate change and how soon they will occur.

Independent of global climate change unprecedented ocean acidification demands emergency mitigation. (see last section) Life in the oceans can survive with no life on land but life on land cannot survive the death of the oceans.

The UN climate negotiations are stalled having made next to no progress in two years of negotiations intended to reach a last chance agreement to prevent global climate change catastrophe. According to today’s science, even the best proposals on the table cannot possibly ensure prevention catastrophic global climate change. It is tragic that so many opportunities for mitigation are not included in the Copenhagen Climate Conference for implementation in short order.

It is now time for civil society to intervene in Copenhagen with achievable planetary emergency submissions to be based on the most up to date published climate change science and what it would take (even if that seems impossible today) to reduce today’s catastrophically dangerous atmospheric CO2 concentrations to a safe level. This is urgent.  We must proceed in the most expeditious manner if we are to avoid global catastrophe. THERE IS NO TIME LEFT.

The United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) secretariat states that the 1992 FCCC is to ensure a ‘safe climate’ for this and future generations. As the global climate is already unsafe for people the objective now must be to get back to a safe climate and fast enough to hopefully avoid runaway global warming.

The 2007 International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment based on science up to Jan 2006 and excluding carbon feedbacks is hopelessly inadequate as the only approved science for the Copenhagen Climate Conference.


  • 20% of all CO2 emissions last in the atmosphere for one thousand years.
  • Therefore the science is definite (and has been for many years) that only by stopping CO2 emissions (zero carbon emissions) can atmospheric CO2 concentrations drop (to 350ppm or lower). IPCC 2007 Assessment Science Technical Report. (Question 10.3) In fact, only in the case of essentially complete elimination of emissions can the atmospheric concentration of CO2 ultimately be stabilized at a constant level.
  • It is also definite by the science that only by stopping CO2 emissions can the global temperature be stopped from further rising and can ocean acidification be stopped from further rising.
  • Methane emissions are as important as CO2 emissions because atmospheric methane has increased 150% and over a 20 year period have close to 100 times (see Copenhagen Consensus on methane the global warming effect of CO2 which is four times higher that the IPCC methane GWP being used.
  • By accounting for methane- aerosol effects the methane GWP is up to 40% higher again (see paper Drew Shindell Nov 09).
  • A proportion of methane emissions are converted to CO2 in the atmosphere.

Proposals for submissions to Copenhagen Climate Conference that have not been tabled and are not on the agenda:

For their survival from irreversible global climate change all children living in all regions and all future generations of all species desperately need the 450 NGOs represented by the international Climate Change Network to update and upgrade their submission to the UN FCCC Secretariat with respect to the December 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference – by the following.

1. Whatever the international political process nations are required under the 1992 UN FCCC, the UN Universal  Declaration of Human Rights that Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person, and the most basic moral obligations of a civilized nation to immediately reduce today’s catastrophically high greenhouse concentrations to concentrations that are in line with the goal of being climate safe to regional and global agriculture, water supplies, regional population health, global ecosystems, and species, especially currently endangered species – of this and future generations.

2. The basic human rights of millions are already being violated by today’s Green House Gas (GHG) emissions and because today’s global temperature increase will double (inevitable climate and mitigation inertia) a great many more millions have had their rights violated. This makes all industrialized and fossil fuel industrializing nations responsible for stopping their emissions.

3. The greatest direct danger from GHG emissions to the survival of human populations, civilization and humanity is multiple adverse global climate change impacts on agriculture and water. This must be included and prioritized as a policy making goal for the Copenhagen Climate Conference.

4. The greatest danger to the survival of humanity and life on Earth is Arctic carbon feedbacks to global warming. This must be included and prioritized as a policy making goal for the Copenhagen Climate Conference.

5. Immediate reductions targeted at zero emissions of black soot, methane, tropospheric ozone and halocarbons must and can readily be agreed to for the most rapidly effective mitigation measures.

These all have adverse effects on human health.

-See Global warming in the twenty-first century: An alternative scenario Hansen, Sato et al August 2000.
-See Revisions on global warming effect of black carbon.
-See Revisions of the global warming effect of methane emissions over atmospheric lifetime of methane and conversion to CO2.

6. The greatest single opportunity for reducing emissions and retaining carbon is the reform of global food production. Food production is the largest source of GHG emissions and so must be addresses as a priority.

This means conversion of all fossil fuel subsidies to organic agro forestry that does not raise livestock for slaughter. A Worldwatch Institute paper published Nov 09 finds that livestock (methane emissions) accounts for over 50% of global warming emissions.

7. IPCC science must be supplemented by the tabling of internationally recognized published post IPCC 2007 science. The Global Carbon Project Annual Carbon budget reports of November 2009 and 2008 must be tabled for Copenhagen. UNEP climate change reports since 2007 must be tabled.
8. Ocean acidification science must be tabled and it must be recognized that the science it is that coral reefs will not survive without an emergency zero carbon targeted policy.


-Most of the world’s coral reefs are doomed to perish during the next century starting by 2020. – Sydney University Professor Ove Hoege-Guldberg, August 17 1999.

-“There is no way out, no loopholes. The Great Barrier Reef will be over within 20 years or so.”  Charlie Veron, former chief scientist of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, 17 July 2009.

-A meeting in Denmark took evidence from researchers that most coral reefs will not survive even if tough regulations on greenhouse gases are put in place. Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment Denmark, 25 Oct 2009.

Last week, the six member countries of the Coral Triangle group, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Thailand, East Timor and Solomon Islands call on developed countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2015.
9. The world is on the brisk of runaway global climate change (Greenpeace and WWF) due to Arctic carbon feedback methane emissions already increasing atmospheric methane concentration (NOAA) and the loss of the cooling Arctic summer sea ice albedo within 10 years that will boost the Arctic methane emissions, endanger agriculture in the northern hemisphere and boost global warming.

10. Today’s global temperature increase of 0.8C is catastrophically dangerous. (obviously because of Arctic changes) All mention of the 2C target or so called danger limit must be struck from submissions and replaced by the below 1C target of Worldwatch State of the World 2009.

11. Emergency mitigative measures cannot be delayed or compromised by economic considerations – that are spurious in any case.

12. The world today (by current atmospheric GHG concentrations) is without any question far beyond dangerous interference with the climate system under the intention and terms of the 1992 UN FCCC.  The objective now is the return to global climate safety. The latest evidence for this is that the coral reefs are lost.

Scientists and NGOs must repudiate the claim that scientists cannot state what dangerous climate interference is because that is a ‘value judgment’ that only ‘policy makers’ (IPCC) of ‘society as a whole’ (Copenhagen Science Congress) can make.

NGOs are the representatives of society and so they must submit that the world is far beyond climate interfere.

13. As the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found greenhouse gas emissions (6 named) are now hazardous to the public health and the environment of this and future generations. We now must support the EPA finding. To not do so is a tragic missed opportunity.

>From the EPA: “By using the power and authority of the Clean Air Act, we can begin reducing emissions from the nation’s largest greenhouse gas emitting facilities without placing an undue burden on the businesses that make up the vast majority of our economy,” said EPA Administrator Jackson. “This is a common sense rule that is carefully tailored to apply to only the largest sources — those from sectors responsible for nearly 70 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions sources.

Another example of adopting statements / positions from scientific experts: John Holdren has been stating this in his lectures since 2006 the following: “the question now is ‘can we avoid catastrophic climate interference?” Climate change is coming at us faster, with larger impacts and bigger risks, than even most climate scientists expected as recently as a few years ago. The stated goal of the UNFCCC – avoiding dangerous anthropogenic interference in the climate – is in fact unattainable, because today we are already experiencing dangerous anthropogenic interference.

The real question now is whether we can still avoid catastrophic anthro-pogenic interference in climate.

“There is no guarantee that catastrophe can be avoided even we start taking serious evasive action immediately”; John Holdren Meeting the Climate Challenge Distinguished Scientist Seminar (Woods Hole 3 November 2006).

Recent evidence of dangerous interference is that the world’s coral reefs are lost. This must be stated.

14. State that there is now a real and rising risk of catastrophic global change by for example runaway global heating and that constitutes a global climate emergency. Nations must agree and declare that the world is now in a state of global climate emergency.  Nothing less than an all out global emergency response can save us. This means immediate drastic measures- not waiting even another year. As 2009 has seen a reduction in global CO2 emissions (International Emergency Agency) to delay peak CO2 emissions is not justifiable nor is it precautionary.

Only if nations agree the world is beyond dangerous climate interference and in a global state of emergency (with respect to today’s children, the future of humanity and life on Earth) can we expect that the deplorable lack of political will be forced to respond to moral pressure by civil society.

15. The emergency response to the threat of runaway is to maintain an Arctic summer albedo by the following:

-Drastic reduction of all GHG emissions.

-Zero emissions of black carbon – a simple matter to capture soot.

-Artificial albedo emergency R and D.

-State that zero or virtual zero carbon emissions (and CO2 extraction) by the published science and IPCC 2007 science report is the only way to reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations, and the only way to stop global temperatures from rising and ocean acidification from rising. This requires emergency international R and D of CO2 extraction direct from air that is known by the science to be doable.
-Emergency international R and D to cool the planet must be undertaken. Painting roofs and black top white is one simple effective measure.

16. The world’s top emitter, China, must be included in a binding emissions reduction agreement. Zero carbon will never be approached without this.

17. To reduced emissions it is essential to immediately correct the fundamental fatally flawed market economics that is the cause of global climate change as the greatest and most far reaching market failure ever by applying the polluter pays principle of internalizing the costs of pollution (Stern Commission 2006).

18. Pollution tax: The only way to ensure that the full costs of pollution are internalized is that government set a pollution tax calculated by the social environmental costs. Water pollution air pollution and GHG pollution all need to be included. All economic subsidies and incentives that result in emissions must of course be prohibited.

20. Economic future discounting of global climate change costs must be prohibited.

Current Crucial Science for UN FCCC submission

  • 8.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide was emitted into the earth’s atmosphere in 2008. In 2008 atmospheric CO2 concentration increased to 385 ppm. This is 38% above the concentration at the start of the industrial revolution (about 280 ppm in 1750) (Global Carbon Project report November 17 2009). This is probably the highest in the past 20 million years (NOAA)
  • Fossil fuel CO2 emissions continued to grow strongly in 2008 at 2% per year. (GCP 17 Nov 2009)
    The efficiency of the natural sinks has likely declined during the last 60 years. (GCP 17 Nov 09)
  • Average global temperatures are on course to rise by up to 6C without urgent action to curb CO2 emissions. (BBC news 17 Nov 2009 Quoting lead science author of Global Carbon Budget report Nov 17 09)
  • Today’s CO2 emissions will cause a global temperature increase about 30 years from now. (IPCC 2007)
  • Global warming temperature increase, climate disruption, sea level rise and ocean acidification caused by emissions would last for over one thousand years. (IPCC 2007)
  • The northern hemisphere cooling summer Arctic sea ice albedo effect will be gone by 2013 (Dr Vincent Laval Quebec Univ) or practically gone by 2020 (Prof Peter Wadhams) by 2020 under the global temperature increase of today’s 0.8C.  This is hazardous to all world agriculture and will bring on runaway global climate change if not addressed as a global emergency now.
  • Published scientific research fully documented by for example UNEP, Greenpeace and WWF shows that the world is on the brink of runaway global heating and climate change due to Arctic methane carbon feedback emissions.

Ocean acidification

1 June 2009 PRESS RELEASE InterAcademy Panel on International Issues:

Ocean acidification must be on the Copenhagen agenda, world’s scientists warn Ocean acidification, one of the world’s most important climate change challenges, may be left off the agenda at the United Nations Copenhagen conference, the world’s science academies warned today (Monday 1 June 2009). Ocean acidification is expected to cause massive corrosion of our coral reefs and dramatic changes in the makeup of the biodiversity of our oceans and to have significant implications for food production and the livelihoods of millions of people.

The warning is made in a joint statement published by the InterAcademy Panel on International Issues (IAP). 70 national science academies signed the statement.

IAP Co-Chairs, Chen Zhu – Minister of Health, P.R. of China – and Howard Alper – Chair and President, Science, Technology and Innovation Council, Canada – said: “There has been much talk among the science community over the past few years about ocean acidification and its potentially catastrophic consequences, but it has failed to receive the political attention it demands. Its absence from discussions to-date is of immense concern, and we call for its immediate inclusion as a vital part of the climate change agenda.”

The statement calls for world leaders to explicitly recognise the direct threats posed by increasing atmospheric CO2 emissions to the oceans and its profound impact on the environment and society. It emphasises that ocean acidification is irreversible and, on current emission trajectories, suggests that all coral reefs and polar ecosystems will be severely affected by 2050 or even earlier. [email protected] tel: +39-040-2240 680/681

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the ocean has become 30% more acidic.  This change is three times greater and 100 times faster than any change in acidity experienced during the last 21 million years. NOAA.

Methane and black carbon

The IPCC numbers are gross underestimates by the new published science and they are not on the Copenhagen agenda.

This is an incredible opportunity for mitigating global warming.


Livestock causes over 50% of global warming GHG emissions according to a just published Worldwatch paper. This huge increase in past estimates is because the IPCC underestimates the warming effect of methane by stretching it out over 100 years. This is future discounting of methane’s warming and is not scientific.

World watch used a 20 year IPCC number of 72 X CO2.

While the IPC uses a global warming potential for methane of 25 X CO2

(CO2 being 1) the actual global warming effect of methane emissions that last 12 years in the atmosphere is close to 100.

Research (not related to above) published this month by Drew Shindell increases methane warming by another 40%.

Main methane sources include livestock landfills.  We can stop both of these.

A global transition from the livestock industry to plant agriculture will stop the main cause of deforestation (80%) therefore will drastically reduce CO2 emissions.

A plant based diet would be a catalyst to immense benefits in human health.  We would see a immediate, steep decline in a health care crisis we currently face in developed / developing countries.  (obesity, heart disease, diabetes, etc.)


Black emissions are simple to stop.  As they do not last in the atmosphere, a vast reduction would have an immediate benefit to global warming.

New research finds that soot emissions account for 60% of the global warming of CO2. Black carbon barely makes a difference to global warming according to IPCC.

Another study finds that black carbon soot transported to the Arctic by reduces albedo for 50% of the Arctic warming.

The above latest science shows that mitigating global climate change and variation and ocean acidification from GHG emissions is now a matter of the survival for huge most vulnerable populations, of civilization, of humanity and most life on Earth.