Bonn to Baku – cryosphere in disaster – the place’s the hope for the world’s icy areas?

Bonn to Baku – cryosphere in disaster – the place’s the hope for the world’s icy areas?

I spent fairly a number of mornings over the past couple of weeks standing within the safety queue to get into Bonn’s convention centre for the UN local weather talks held right here yearly in June. And unusually chilly mornings they had been too, for what is named “the sunny month” on this a part of the world. You could possibly be forgiven for questioning if the planet was actually experiencing the report excessive temperatures we’ve been listening to about (and even a smile on the previous “the place’s the worldwide warming?” joke).

But the figures simply launched by the EU’s local weather watchdog Copernicus and the World Meteorological Organisation go away little doubt. Halfway between the final underwhelming UN local weather convention in Dubai and the subsequent one to be held in November in one other fossil gasoline centre Baku, Azerbaijan, our world is hotter than ever recorded.

Have we crossed the 1.5°C line?

No summer season outfits in Bonn this time. (Pic: I.Quaile)

While the delegates from everywhere in the globe negotiating right here in Bonn on the UN’s “local weather headquarters” dug out their scarves and pullovers, the EU’s Earth Observation Programme Copernicus confirmed that not solely was May 2024 hotter globally than any earlier May of their dataset; it was additionally the twelfth month in a row that was the warmest for the respective month of the yr.

Last month was really 1.52°C above the estimated May common for the 1850-1900 pre-industrial reference interval.

Yes, you learn proper. More than 1.5°C, the dreaded threshold the scientists inform us we now have to maintain beneath to avert the worst catastrophic impacts of local weather warming.

Admittedly, the targets set within the Paris Agreement on local weather change consult with long-term temperature will increase over a long time, not over one to 5 years. So these temperatures must proceed for us to be formally in breach of that 1.5°C restrict. But we’re shifting quick in that route. The common temperature for the previous 12 months (June 2023 – May 2024), was additionally the best on report, at a staggering 1.63°C above the pre-industrial common.

The common sea floor temperature additionally hit the best worth on report in May – for the fourteenth month in a row.

“The local weather continues to alarm us – the final 12 months have damaged data like by no means earlier than – brought about primarily by our greenhouse gasoline emissions and an added increase from the El Niño occasion within the tropical Pacific”, mentioned Samantha Burgess, Deputy Director of the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). “Until we attain net-zero world emissions the local weather will proceed to heat, will proceed to interrupt data, and can proceed to provide ever extra excessive climate occasions,” she went on. “If we select to proceed so as to add greenhouse gases to the ambiance then 2023/4 will quickly seem like a cool yr, in an analogous approach to how 2015/6 now seems.”

There’s a thought.

Scientists protest exterior the UN local weather talks in Bonn. (Pic: I.Quaile)

Crunch – or squelch time for ice and snow areas

For the cryosphere, the ice- and snow lined areas of our planet, this pattern is disastrous. And all of the scientific proof to that impact has failed to provide the mandatory outcomes when it comes to authorities coverage and motion. At these identical Bonn local weather talks a yr in the past, I heard Professor Chris Stokes, a number one glaciologist at Durham University say we had been “on the sting of a cliff.” He careworn that the newest science over the past two to 3 years (nicely overtaking that included within the final IPCC report) tells us the edge past which ice loss from the Antarctic – lengthy regarded as resistant to local weather warming – will turn into irreversible over centuries to millennia, is way decrease than beforehand thought.

“If we carry on as we at the moment are, we may set off runaway feedbacks throughout the subsequent few a long time, with sea degree rise from ice sheets accelerating a lot, a lot sooner than we feared,” Stokes mentioned.

Just this week, new analysis revealed within the journal Nature Geoscience discovered that future sea degree rise from the lack of ice sheets could possibly be considerably greater than present projections. The scientists discovered that only a small improve within the temperature of seawater intruding between coastal ice sheets and the bottom they relaxation on may result in a really large improve within the lack of ice from Antarctica and elsewhere.

“We discover that will increase in ocean temperature can result in a tipping level being handed, past which ocean water intrudes in an unbounded method beneath the ice sheet, by way of a means of runaway melting. Additionally, this tipping level will not be simply detected with early warning indicators,” the researchers write.

Dr Alexander Bradley of the British Antarctic Survey, who led the analysis, advised the Guardian:

“With each tenth of a level of ocean warming, we get nearer and nearer to passing this tipping level, and every tenth of a level is linked to the quantity of local weather change that takes place, so we want very dramatic motion to limit the quantity of warming that takes place and stop this tipping level from being handed.”

Climate scientist Susana Hancock exhibits how sea degree rise will inundate 2023 COP host Dubai. (Pic. I.Quaile)

At COP29 in Dubai, greater than a thousand scientists signed a “Cryosphere Call to Action”, which summed up the plight of our icy areas:

“The Cryosphere – Earth’s ice sheets, sea ice, permafrost, polar oceans, glaciers and snow – is floor zero for local weather change. This is due to the straightforward bodily actuality of the melting level of ice; or within the case of our quickly acidifying polar oceans, the quantity of CO2 within the ambiance absorbed and turned to carbonic acid.

The warming influence of CO2, round 80% from fossil gasoline use, already has led to steep glacier and ice sheet loss inflicting world sea-level rise; discount of water assets from snowpack; rising CO2 and methane emissions from thawing permafrost; dramatic discount of sea ice, now alarmingly low in each polar oceans; and rising proof of stress on keystone polar marine species, corresponding to krill, salmon and cod, from polar ocean acidification, warming and freshening.”

The scientists concluded: “Because of what we now have discovered concerning the Cryosphere for the reason that Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, 1.5°C just isn’t merely preferable to 2°C. It is the one possibility,”


The scientists’s name for pressing motion to restrict warming to 1.5°C didn’t result in the mandatory choices in Dubai – and the shortage of progress on this month’s Bonn talks offers me no purpose to really feel optimistic that Baku will do significantly better.

WMO acknowledges cryosphere disaster

In a mirrored image of rising worldwide concern about melting ice, snow and permafrost, the World Meteorological Organization WMO, has introduced that it’ll ramp up actions to strengthen monitoring, advocacy and collaboration on the cryosphere.

High time, I hear you Iceblog readers remark.

“Urgent motion to mitigate local weather change is required to keep away from probably the most devastating outcomes for the cryosphere. Every tenth of a level of warming that’s mitigated will restrict the cryosphere loss and subsequent associated impacts to Earth programs,” mentioned Roar Skålin and Stephen Hunt from the related WMO Executive Council Panel (PHORS).

Where the polar areas had been as soon as thought of distant, remoted and irrelevant to most people residing on our planet, the notice of their world relevance is lastly being extra broadly acknowledged.

“The cryosphere is vital to everybody. It is everybody’s enterprise,” Skalin and Hunt reiterated in presenting the brand new initiative.

“Thawing permafrost, decreased snow cowl, melting glaciers, declining sea ice, and the melting of polar ice sheets and ice cabinets, create dangers for everybody on the planet. Such dangers are felt, for instance, by sea-level rise, change of hydrological and ecological regimes, modifications within the world circulation and strengthened world warming,” the WMO specialists state.

Ice from the mighty ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica will decide the destiny of low-lying communities across the globe. (Photo: I.Quaile)

Yet there are enormous deficits in capability to watch the speedy tempo of change. Over Antarctica, for example, a continent which is greater than the USA, there are simply 127 computerized climate stations.

“There are few ocean observations – a large hole on condition that the ocean is melting antarctica from beneath”, the specialists add.

How way more does it take?

Still, there isn’t a lack of proof that ice soften is accelerating.

In the previous 30 years, all ice cabinets round Greenland have disappeared – and the identical pattern is predicted within the Antarctic in future, the WMO specialists reiterate. Ice sheet soften has accelerated the speed of sea degree rise.

Current ranges of warming imply that the world is dedicated to a sea degree rise of no less than two meters, Danish scientist Ruth Motram advised WMO delegates. James Kirkham, Chief Science Advisor to the Ambition on Melting Ice (AMI) High-level Group, a gathering of polar, mountain and low-lying areas, went additional on the newest UN convention in Bonn: “Current world heating has made three meters’ sea degree rise from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet inevitable, but when we stick near 1.5 levels, we will sluggish that rise to happen over many centuries.”

Vancouver, Canada and Miami, USA may already undergo substantial sea degree rise impacts as early as 2070 if emissions proceed as now. (Copyright and full presentation: Dr. James Kirkham, Chief Scientist ICCI/AMI)

(New analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) warns that sea degree rise pushed by world heating will disrupt the every day lifetime of tens of millions of Americans, as a whole bunch of properties, colleges and authorities buildings face frequent and repeated flooding by 2050, reported in The Guardian, 25.6.2024)

The WMO adopted the high-level ambitions as a “information for scaled up actions on the cryosphere.” The key components they cite are that everybody on the planet must be ready for and resilient to the impacts from modifications within the cryosphere. They identify sea-level rise, water and meals shortage, geotechnical dangers, and threats to commerce, economies and power sources.

That ought to actually be sufficient to provoke motion?

Activists in Bonn, Germany. (Pic: I.Quaile)

The world`s key climate organisation calls on the worldwide group to “work collaboratively to restrict and cut back cryosphere loss and its impacts”.

So my query to the world’s local weather negotiators and the governments and corporations who may cut back greenhouse gasoline emissions and halt that cryosphere loss: Are you listening?

“The significance of the cryosphere and the results of its modifications are identified, universally understood and encourage motion”, the WMO goes on.

Sometimes I ponder. Why are we on the trail to a temperature rise of one thing like 2.7°C, as Climate Action Tracker calculates, as an alternative of the 1.5°C we want?

Fossil gasoline business: “Godfathers of local weather chaos”

No much less a determine than UN Secretary General António Guterres made an impassioned attraction on local weather – together with cryosphere particularly – in a speech in New York in the course of the Bonn local weather talks.

Citing that newest Copernicus Climate Change Service report exhibiting we simply had the most well liked May in historical past, the UN chief mentioned world emissions must fall 9 per cent yearly simply to maintain the 1.5℃ temperature rise restrict above pre-industrial ranges alive.

Last yr, they went up by one per cent.

For the previous yr, each flip of the calendar has turned up the warmth. Our planet is making an attempt to inform us one thing. But we don’t appear to be listening. We’re shattering world temperature data and reaping the whirlwind. It’s local weather crunch time. Now is the time to mobilise, act and ship,” Guterres acknowledged.

So proper.


Climate activists in Bonn, Germany. (Pic: I.Quaile)

We are enjoying Russian roulette with our planet,” mentioned Mr. Guterres. “We want an exit ramp off the freeway to local weather hell, and the reality is we now have management of the wheel.”

The UN chief is definitely ramping up the rhetoric. The query is whether or not the individuals who must act on his message are listening – and whether or not the multiplied metaphors would possibly even be counter-productive, enjoying into the palms of the widespread marketing campaign portray local weather scientists and proponents of a low-carbon transition as “doom and gloomers”, panic-mongers, who exaggerate pure occasions into human-made disasters.

Guterres got here out with an open assault on the fossil fuels business: “the Godfathers of local weather chaos – the fossil gasoline conglomerates – rake in report earnings and feast off trillions in taxpayer-funded subsidies.”

You can’t get it a lot clearer than that.

He mentioned many within the oil and gasoline business have “shamelessly greenwashed” whereas actively making an attempt to delay local weather motion, aided and abetted by promoting and public relations firms.

“I name on these firms to cease appearing as enablers to planetary destruction. Stop taking up new fossil gasoline shoppers, from at this time, and set out plans to drop your present ones,” mentioned the Secretary-General.

He even known as on each nation on the planet to institute a ban on promoting from fossil gasoline firms.

I’d like to suppose these involved would take heed to the pinnacle of that nice organisation, the United Nations, and reply to his plea with pressing motion.


And that ice retains getting thinner. (Glacier Park, Alaska) (Pic.I.Quaile)

A keen disconnect?

While hundreds die in excessive heatwaves, whereas floods, drought, forest fires and failed harvests present us local weather change in motion, in real-time, emissions and the CO2 focus within the ambiance proceed to rise. At the identical time, we’re seeing a backlash in opposition to climate-protection measures. Here in Europe, too many citizens within the current elections turned away from the “Green Deal”. Right-wing and populist events attraction with false guarantees, unashamedly equate local weather motion with excessive prices, and assault inexperienced insurance policies and events as public enemy primary – not the fossil gasoline industries justly indicted by the UN Secretary General. They equate local weather motion with a lack of free selection, with enforced guidelines and restrictions, and bury the information {that a} greener, climate-friendlier world will profit us all in the long term. And not simply economically. Think well being, residing situations, residing requirements, safety.

There appears to be a disconnect – a keen disconnect? – between what is definitely occurring on the planet, what science, physics, tells us we now have to do to protect the Earth and life upon it, and behavior right here within the rich, developed world; curiosity solely in selfishly sustaining or enhancing your individual requirements of residing in any respect price with out regard for weak nations and teams elsewhere – and coming generations.

The 1.5C objective that’s important to avoid wasting our icy areas, and defend the globe as a complete from the results of shedding them, is sliding out of attain. But we will nonetheless restrict the injury and stop the worst. Pulling again from the brink “continues to be nearly doable”, in accordance with the UN Secretary-General. We should battle tougher. It all depends upon choices taken by political leaders throughout this decade and “particularly within the subsequent 18 months”.

Given the present world political state of affairs, with wars in Ukraine and Gaza and the shadow of Donald Trump’s candidacy for the US Presidency looming over us, that may be a very horrifying prospect.

Bonn between Dubai and Baku

So what about these robust negotiations that simply occurred right here in Bonn to attempt to transfer issues ahead? As far because the Arctic, Antarctic and all the opposite icy areas of our planet are involved – to not point out the quite a few areas of the world whose destiny depends upon them – this key staging put up, midway between Dubai and Baku, broadly ignored by the mainstream media and largely unnoticed by most of the people, didn’t convey any progress.

UNFCCC Executive Secretary Simon Stiell had his work lower out for him in Bonn- and past. (Pic: I.Quaile)

The focus right here – and at COP29 in Baku, for which these diplomats are attempting onerous to pave the way in which – is on finance. Countries are supposed to succeed in an settlement at COP29 on a brand new, world climate-finance objective that can come into play after 2025. This is a key situation – and could possibly be the one which finally decides whether or not we take steps to restrict temperature rise to 1.5°C or not. The bitter battle between developed and growing international locations over who ought to present the trillions of {dollars} required to sort out local weather change throughout the worldwide south overshadowed the assembly. Discussions of the whole lot from assessing local weather adaptation, to carrying ahead the outcomes from final yr’s “stocktake” in Dubai, had been held up by monetary disputes, concluded Carbon Brief.

Wealthy, industrialised international locations have to ensure – and really present – the funding wanted by weak international locations to deal with the consequences of the local weather disaster and to transition in the direction of a low-carbon economic system. It is comprehensible that poor, least developed international locations are growing the strain. Meanwhile, international locations like China and Saudi Arabia have been blocking progress for their very own ends.

Demonstration at COP28, Dubai. (Pic: I.Quaile)

To me, it appears unattainable to separate mitigation – decreasing the emissions which can be drastically altering our cryosphere – and funding for adaptation and to compensate Loss and Damage. As one delegate from an African nation put it to me: we now have to attach funding, loss and injury and mitigation. If there isn’t a progress on chopping emissions, loss and injury will get greater and better and the funding wanted with it. If some international locations block progress on chopping emissions within the hope of pressuring rich international locations to supply extra funding, we’ll all go beneath.

Alas, that view has not been taken up broadly.

So the place’s the excellent news?

Why do I not simply surrender, bury my head within the sand, or head off on a mega- CO2-emissions- producing round-the-world journey and consumption binge?

Well, I suppose my glass is all the time half-full. And I’m assured that the world will go low-carbon as soon as it finds out it truly is in its personal egocentric curiosity. In spite of all that scary stuff and the highway-to-hell rhetoric, the UN Secretary-General himself spells out the great factors:

The renewable power enterprise worldwide is booming as prices plummet and now make up 30 per cent of the world’s electrical energy provide.

Meanwhile, clear power investments reached a report excessive final yr, nearly doubling prior to now decade.

Economic logic makes the top of the fossil gasoline age inevitable,” Guterres declared.

There we now have it.

To make sure the most secure doable future for humankind and the planet, the pinnacle of our prime world authority tells us, all we now have to do, asap, is:

  • Slash emissions
  • Protect individuals and nature from local weather extremes
  • Boost local weather finance
  • Clamp down on the fossil gasoline enterprise

The largest burden for motion should fall on the richest nations and largest emitters.

“Advanced G20 economies ought to go furthest, quickest” whereas additionally offering technical and monetary assist to growing nations, he mentioned.

In phrases of local weather justice, Guterres mentioned it was a shame that the majority weak nations are being left stranded with the impacts of a local weather disaster they did nothing to create.

“We can’t settle for a future the place the wealthy are protected in air-conditioned bubbles whereas the remainder of humanity is lashed by deadly climate in unliveable lands.”

Well, I agree totally, however I’m fairly positive altruism or a way of justice alone is not going to do it. But one thing else in our egocentric human nature will:

“Fairer local weather finance and an finish to the crippling debt and excessive rates of interest that many growing nations should endure just isn’t a query of charity, however about ‘enlightened self-interest” the UN Chief notes.

So there we now have it. What are we ready for?



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