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Denmark Hopes to Set Example for World with Ambitious Scheme to Cut Carbon Emissions by 70%

To be honest, for the climate, even if we just close down our country tomorrow, it wouldn't help much

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Denmark, World, Scheme
FILE - Denmark's Climate and Energy Minister Dan Jorgensen speaks during an interview in Copenhagen, Denmark, Aug.16, 2019. VOA

Denmark’s official in charge of climate matters says his country hopes to set an example for the world with an ambitious scheme to cut carbon emissions by 70% in little more than a decade, but it has no illusions that it can have a meaningful impact on global warming by itself.

“To be honest, for the climate, even if we just close down our country tomorrow, it wouldn’t help much,” Dan Jørgensen, Denmark’s top climate and energy official, told VOA during a visit to Washington this week. “I guess you can argue: Does it really matter what you do?”

Jørgensen said Denmark accounts for just 0.1% of the world’s carbon emissions, a drop in the bucket compared with emissions from the largest polluters such as China, the United States and India. But he said, “The reason we do these things anyway is that if we succeed in doing that, then hopefully we’ll inspire others.”

Jørgensen, who will be in New York next week to promote his country’s climate agenda at the United Nations, said his country hopes to demonstrate that it can carry out a green transformation and still be competitive in the global marketplace. In the process, it expects to develop new technologies that “other countries can also use.”

Denmark, World, Scheme
People hold placards during the Global Climate Strike at Raadhuspladsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, Sept. 20, 2019. VOA

Stages of debate

According to Jørgensen, the climate debate in Denmark has gone through several stages since the issue started to enter the public’s consciousness about 15 or 20 years ago.

At that time, he said, some in Denmark still questioned how real climate change was and whether humans had anything to do with it. That was followed by a period in which the public by and large understood that climate change was real, but some remained reluctant to devote resources to the problem, concerned that efforts by Denmark alone would be futile.

Now, he said, most people agree on the nature of the problem. Looking out the window, “they see droughts, they see flooding, they see extreme weather phenomena,” he said. “We are also a nation that’s closely connected to Greenland,” one of the places where climate change is most evident in the form of melting glaciers.

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With that consensus, the debate has shifted to an energetic discussion about the best policy instruments to address the problem.

The issue so dominated Danish general elections in June that the campaign has been described as the country’s “first climate election,” with the question of how to achieve a green transformation topping the agenda in debates among the candidates for prime minister and other posts.

Looking beyond Denmark, Jørgensen said Denmark and its partners in the European Union were sad to see the United States withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and hope it will reconsider. “There’s nothing I would hope more than the U.S. taking leadership on the global stage also on green issues,” he said.

Join the battle

Denmark, World, Scheme
Denmark’s official in charge of climate matters says his country hopes to set an example for the world with an ambitious scheme to cut carbon emissions by 70% in little more than a decade. Pixabay

Meanwhile, Jørgensen said, all countries and especially the “big growing economies” must join in the battle to prevent climate change “from becoming irreversible and having the most catastrophic consequences.”

But he acknowledges the frustration of newly developing countries, which are only now acquiring energy-intensive amenities that the developed nations have long enjoyed.

“It’s not up to us who’ve been polluting and emitting greenhouse gases for more than 100 years — when I say us, I mean the West, the United States, Europe — it’s not up to us to tell them, ‘No, you cannot drive a car, you cannot buy a fridge or an air conditioner, no, you can’t start to eat meat a few times a week because you can afford it all of a sudden because you’ve come out of poverty.’ ”

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Rather, he said, it is up to Denmark and the other developed countries to say, “Can we help you in any way to make that growth green?” (VOA)

Next Story

Study Says, World’s Oceans Were Warmest in 2019

Humans can work to reverse their effect on the climate, but the ocean will take longer to respond than atmospheric and land environments

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Oceans
The researchers used a relatively new method of analysis to account for potentially sparse data and time discrepancies in instruments that were previously used to measure warmth in oceans, especially from the ocean surface to 2,000 metres deep. Pixabay

The world’s oceans were the warmest in 2019 than any other time in the recorded human history — especially between the surface and a depth of 2,000 metres, an international team of 14 scientists from 11 institutes has revealed, with a warning that global ocean temperature is not only increasing but speeding up.

The past 10 years were the warmest on record for global ocean temperatures, with the past five years holding the highest record, said the authors in the study published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences — with a call to action for humans to reverse climate change.

2019 broke the previous records set in prior years for global warming, and the effects are already appearing in the form of more extreme weather, rising sea levels and harm to ocean animals.

According to the study, the 2019 ocean temperature is about 0.075 degrees Celsius above the 1981-2010 average. To reach this temperature, the ocean would have taken in 228,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (228 Sextillion) Joules of heat.

“That’s a lot of zeros indeed. To make it easier to understand, I did a calculation. The Hiroshima atom-bomb exploded with an energy of about 63,000,000,000,000 Joules. The amount of heat we have put in the world’s oceans in the past 25 years equals to 3.6 billion Hiroshima atom-bomb explosions,” elaborated Lijing Cheng, lead paper author at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics (IAP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

“This measured ocean warming is irrefutable and is further proof of global warming. There are no reasonable alternatives aside from the human emissions of heat trapping gases to explain this heating,” Cheng added.

The researchers used a relatively new method of analysis to account for potentially sparse data and time discrepancies in instruments that were previously used to measure ocean warmth, especially from the ocean surface to 2,000 metres deep.

The newly available data allowed the researchers to examine warmth trends dating back to the 1950s.

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The world’s oceans were the warmest in 2019 than any other time in the recorded human history — especially between the surface and a depth of 2,000 metres, an international team of 14 scientists from 11 institutes has revealed, with a warning that global ocean temperature is not only increasing but speeding up. Pixabay

They found that over the past six decades, the more recent warming was over 450 per cent that of the earlier warming, reflecting a major increase in the rate of global climate change.

“It is critical to understand how fast things are changing,” said John Abraham, co-author and professor of mechanical engineering at the University of St. Thomas in the US.

“The key to answering this question is in the oceans — that’s where the vast majority of heat ends up. If you want to understand global warming, you have to measure ocean warming.”

Humans can work to reverse their effect on the climate, but the ocean will take longer to respond than atmospheric and land environments.

Since 1970, more than 90 per cent of global warming heat went into the ocean, while less than 4 per cent of the heat warmed the atmosphere and land where humans live.

“Even with that small fraction affecting the atmosphere and land, the global heating has led to an increase in catastrophic fires in the Amazon, California and Australia in 2019, and we’re seeing that continue into 2020,” Cheng said.

The global ocean warming has caused marine heat waves in Tasman Sea and other regions.

One such marine heat wave in the North Pacific, dubbed “the blob,” was first detected in 2013 and continued through 2015.

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2019 broke the previous records set in prior years for global warming, and the effects are already appearing in the form of more extreme weather, rising sea levels and harm to animals in Oceans. Pixabay

Kevin Trenberth, co-author and distinguished senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in the US, said that a hot spot in the Gulf of Mexico in 2017 spawned Hurricane Harvey, which led to 82 deaths and caused about $108 billion in damages.

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“The price we pay is the reduction of ocean-dissolved oxygen, the harmed marine lives, strengthening storms and reduced fisheries and ocean-related economies,” Cheng said. (IANS)