I am young enough to have lived my whole life in an overheated world. That is to say, I have never experienced a month cooler, on a global scale, than the long-term average.
I am old enough to have a son. When he is my age, he will live in a carbon neutral society, if successive governments deliver — as they must.
Half a year ago, I returned from maternity leave to a remote newsroom and an editor vacancy at Climate Home News. I am excited and somewhat nervous to announce I have been offered the position of editor — and I said yes.
There is plenty to get stuck into.
The coronavirus pandemic has shattered our old certainties, forcing a rethink of how we organise our societies and connect to one another. While the Covid-19 crisis is far from over, there are some hopeful signs of a green recovery.
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Recent pledges by China, Japan and South Korea mean half the world’s economy is committed to stop heating the planet between 2050 and 2060. Today’s US election brings another quarter of global GDP into play.
Regardless of who sits in the White House come January, he faces a drastically altered energy landscape. Oil majors have tumbled in value, to the point teleconferencing company Zoom is worth more than the once-mighty Exxon Mobil. Wind and solar power have proved more resilient to the economic shock than dirty old coal.
And yet. Major economies are spending more on bailing out fossil fuels than reinforcing the shift to clean energy. Vulnerable countries are too burdened with debt to build back better. Much important work to protect people from climate chaos has been delayed or defunded.
This is the backdrop to the first test of the Paris Agreement: a call on governments to submit new or improved climate targets for the coming decade. The deadline is “by 2020” — and with a few honourable exceptions, leaders are cutting it fine.
A net zero target is no substitute for immediate action. Nor can fossil fuel interests be allowed to hide behind the “net”, relying on carbon offsets, unfeasible levels of afforestation or commercially unproven technologies to delay their inevitable decline.
The pandemic only sharpens the moral responsibility of those who grew rich from coal, oil and gas to redress the damage done to vulnerable communities, while stumping up money for today’s poor to take a greener development path.
Contentious negotiations on a global carbon market that could make or break this effort will not now be resolved until November 2021 — if then. The next round of UN climate talks, Cop26, is due to take place in the UK, a country struggling to contain Covid-19 infections.
Independent climate journalism is essential to illuminate these tensions and to hold the powerful to account for their climate (in)action, even as public attention is diverted by other pressing threats.
I am proud to have been a part of Climate Home since 2014, working with incredible colleagues to set the news agenda on the international politics and diplomacy of climate change.
As editor, I am committed to maintaining the high standards of original, hard-hitting reporting and incisive analysis you have come to expect. In collaboration with you, the reader, I plan to deepen our specialist content, broaden our geographical coverage and diversify our multimedia offering.
We can all dream of a time when everyone agrees on how to tackle the climate crisis and just does it. Until that day, keep reading Climate Home News.