Update after the IPCC report

People that are somewhat aware of the extremely alarming situation regarding global warning have probably not missed that IPCC (Intercontinental Panel on Climate Change) report that was released about a week ago. From a scientific perspective there´s not much information that has not been available before, but it clarifies how big difference in impact there is between 1.5 and 2 degrees warming. If you have not read the report, you can find it here. This page also displays the differences in a more easy to read format.

To take some examples on the difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees warming above preindustrial levels:

  • Frequency of extreme warm temperatures over land would increase by 343% at 2 degrees compared to 129% at 1.5 degrees.
  • Frequency of extreme rainfall over land would increase by 36% at 2 degrees compared to 17% at 1.5 degrees.
  • Sea level rise in 2100 would be around 56 cm at 2 degrees compared with 48 cm at 1.5 degrees.
  • Over 99% of warm water coral reefs would die at 2 degrees warming compared with around 80% at 1.5 degrees.
  • GDP per capita would decrease by 13% av 2 degrees compared to only 8% at 1.5 degrees.

As seen by the last statement, it´s not only nature and peoples daily lives that are affected, the world economy is also greatly affected. This was clearly visible in the World Economics forum where three of the top five threats to economy is linked to environment effects of global forum. You can read about the threats here. As someone stated this: “there is no business in a dead world”.

“there is no business in a dead world”.

When comparing these numbers one should remember that halting global warming at 1.5 degrees is extremely unlikely and would require us to start reducing emissions greatly just within a few years. It would also require Carbon Negative technologies sucking carbon from the air in a scale that we currently do not have technology for. Currently, the world is heading for 4 degrees warming or more which would likely mean such an extreme impact that global wars for resources and extreme migration on a unpresidental level.

Should we despair?

Hopefully you have already noticed how extreme weather is already gaining in frequency. Extreme hurricanes and cyclones are in likes that have not been seen in 30, 50 or even a hundred years are now frequently plaguing parts of the world . And these are also moving further north/south to areas that have not previously been hit by weather of this magnitude due to increasing water temperatures. One could only hope that the destruction in property and life in the US east coast would finally give people a reason to oppose the madness in the climate related policies in the Trump administration. In Europe, as well as in California, massive forest fires brought by extreme temperatures and drought were having major impact to society this summer. However, there is still a fight to be made, with populist trends in the world looking at short term wins.

“The least we can do is as much as possible”

First of all, I think that we should have a realistic view of the situation. As Swedish meteorologist Per Holmberg states the situation: “The least we can do is as much as possible”. There surely is possibilities to at least make sure that climate change affects us as little as possible to avoid worst case scenarios. The positive bi-effect of this is that the changes we are forced to do would also make a better world, for instance:

  1. Improve the environment in general, for instance improving air quality which is a great problem, specifically in Asia.
  2. Make a more equal world (The 10% richest people in the world currently is responsible for 50% of emissions. Also, a lot of poorer people depend on nutrients from fishing dependent on coral reefs).

In the next blog, we will look into what you as an individual can do to decrease emissions.

Last leisure flight never happened – Ended up with a train ride

Even thought we took a decision late 2017 to not fly any more for leisure, we still had two flights that was already booked that we decided to pursue. The first of these was a flight from Hanoi, northern Vietnam, to Phu Quoc, an island belonging to Vietnam but just outside the Kambodian coastline that we did in the end of 2017.

The second and last even planned flight was intended to be done this week, during the Tet (Chinese/Vietnamese New Year) holiday and with the goal to visit the Philippines and the island Coron in particular. However, the day before the flight we noticed that our temporary resident cards, something that you need to stay longer time in Vietnam, had gone missing. After about 10 man hours of going through our entire house 2 times, we gave up on finding these and left for the airport to see if we could somehow solve this by some means. However, Vietnamese authorities are extremely strict and we got the information that we could not leave or enter Vietnam without these cards, so we had to turn back.

While it felt bad to not be able to do this last trip, specifically since we were also meeting up with family at the location, it also feels a bit good to not have done the trip. We just hope that the seats got taken anyway even though we cancelled really last minute. As an alternative, we took the train two hours south from Hanoi to Ninh Binh, which is a really good alternative. To many look at doing the “quick” traveling by going to the airport. We have noticed that there is lots of great traveling to be done in Vietnam, both with day and night train as well as with bus. As long as you plan ahead, and use the night for traveling for longer trips, it works really well.

The Journey Begins

During the last year or so, our family has been more and more concerned about the changes to our climate. We have been aware of the situation for quite some time and did choices prior to this to try and mitigate our lifestyles effects on the climate, but it was just in the end of 2017 that we really started to take things seriously and made this a major factor for most of our choices in life.

We are currently living abroad, in Hanoi Vietnam to be exact, and this has resulted in more travel by airplane than before. In 2017 we took the choice to start climate compensating for all the family’s travel, whether it was private or business. We have been using Swedish company Trine (https://www.jointrine.com/) for our climate compensation. If you want to know more how this work, we explain more about it here.

After reading more and more alarming reports that indicates that even if there are positive indications of a fourth industrial revolution, with electric cars becoming mainstream in a few years, and solar power now becoming the cheapest source of new energy, we are still increasing our climate gas emissions worldwide and we felt that we needed to do more. Late 2017 we decided that we will not book any more flights for private pleasure. Also, we would try and keep down work related flights and find alternatives where possible, for instance taking even more online conference calls. We have also changed vegetarian meals from being something we try to have a few times a week, to this being the standard with meat being the exception and more used as a “spice” to the mainly vegetarian food.

We are aware that goals makes it easier to meet objectives, so therefore we thought how we can set a longer time goal to meet the objective to as much as possible to our share of mitigating climate change. Going climate neutral, i.e. getting down your emissions as much as possible, and then compensate for the emissions you still emit, is a good and well defined concept. But a Tweet where someone mentioned that people that have the knowledge and economy needs to do more than that made us thinking how we could combine these ideas into a long term target.

The solution was to set a goal to become lifetime climate neutral. I.e. to make sure that we climate compensate enough to compensate for all the emissions that our family have produced during our lifetime.

So how would one calculate this? Well, we´ll do this by creating a spreadsheet where we will group emissions in different categories and the calculating a value for this for each year we have lived. Then we will add a column for the climate compensation we do  every year. This can then be presented in a easy to understand graph with year and total emissions. As a fun fact we can then also track our progress backwards as we overcompensate for our current emissions. I.e. if we are currently on years 2018 and do climate compensation for say 100 tons of CO2, it might take us back four years to 2014. Here is how the current situation looks like:

Graph20180205

As you can see, gross and net emissions are the same until last year, when we started doing climate compensation. Just to make things clear, climate compensation is just to mitigate emissions we are making and have made, the most important is to reduce overall emissions. You will be able to view the sheet live here.

How will this affect our lifestyle and economy?

We believe that society and lifestyles have to dramatically change in order to be able to mitigate climate change. Swedes, although usually bragging how good we are taking care of the environment, is among the top 10 in climate emissions per capita in the world. Though our local emissions have decreased during the last 20 years, we have increased our climate footprint through imported goods and a big increase in flying. We are currently emitting around 12 ton CO2 per person a year while a sustainable level is around 1 ton CO2. Unfortunately, government measurements are currently done on local emissions and not including international travel and emissions abroad due to consumption of goods and this is something that we hope will change soon. Since this is a global problem, it does not matter where emissions are being made so you cannot export your emissions, which the current measurements makes you believe.

However, we think that a changed lifestyle can make us reach this level pretty quick. Things that we are doing or plan to do in the near future:

  • Discontinue flying for leisure.
  • Discontinue or drastically decrease flying for business purposes.
  • Install solar power on our house roof.
  • Install a cover on our pool to keep the heat and reduce the need for heating. This works like a greenhouse and traps the heat and thus removes most need for other heating (and yes, we are aware of the emissions caused by the production of this and will put in into our emissions).
  • Whenever we move home to Sweden we will replace our previous two petrol/diesel cars with one electric one.
  • Even further increase usage of bicycles and public transport and the main transportation device.
  • Use train, bus, bicycles or the electric car for leisure travel.