And Now for Some Good News About Climate Change

This article was written by Simon Worrall and first appeared in National Geographic There are now only 39 days to go until the world’s nations convene in Paris for the United Nations Climate Summit. Six years ago, talks in Copenhagen ended in chaos. Is there any reason to suppose Paris will deliver anything more than well-padded expense accounts for delegates and hot air on the issues? In his new book, Atmosphere of Hope: Searching For Solutions To The Climate Change Crisis, best-selling Australian author Tim Flannery counsels cautious optimism by showing how the millions of small actions taken by individuals are driving down oil consumption and points out how new “Third Way” carbon-capture technologies promise to reduce emissions and create massive economic opportunities. A major climate change summit is about to take place in Paris. Is there any reason to assume that this won’t be another missed opportunity?

We can already proclaim it a success at least as far as the unconditional pledges that have been made in the run up to the summit. They are now sufficient to get us off the worst-case scenario trajectory of the last decade, when emissions were at the worst extent imaginable.

At the moment, we’re heading for four degrees [in global] warming by the end of the century. Hopefully, the Paris meeting will see us heading more towards three degrees. That is still far too much, but far better than four. There have been 20 years of annual meetings with no decisions made on a global agreement. But it looks like we’ll get one in Paris, which could be the beginning of a new era in dealing with climate change...