A World in Flux Ep.1: Extreme Weather, Net Zero, and Political Divide 📰

A World in Flux Ep.1: Extreme Weather, Net Zero, and Political Divide 📰
This is a summary of a dialogue between Clare Farrell and Dr. Charlie Gardner for XR’s News from a World in Flux. You can watch the full discussion here.

Whilst articles on wildfires across Canada, Hawaii and Europe circulate across the world, few have connected them to the critical climate issues we face. Here’s a summary of what the corporate media narrative is often ignoring to help you understand what's going on and where to focus your action. This week we’ll shed light on the implications of such extreme weather, the weakness of the net-zero approach, and the nefarious political lobbies which are hindering effective climate action.

1. Extreme Weather 🔥
There have been an alarming amount of extreme weather events worldwide after the world's hottest ever July. Even during supposed winter months, unprecedented heatwaves and unusual weather patterns are becoming the norm. This unprecedented upheaval occurs at the current global temperature rise of 1.2 degrees Celsius. With 1.5C degrees predicted in the next 15 years, we are heading for far worse. The current climate policy targets under the global Paris Agreement are set to avoid 1.5C by reducing emissions to net zero by 2050. Not only is this too late but it's terribly failing the people who are affected right now.  

2. Net Zero is Not Enough 📉
We need more than emission reduction. Net zero, which emphasises reducing emissions to balance atmospheric input and output, falls short in tackling the issue's core—excess atmospheric gas concentrations. The current concentration of CO2 at 420 parts per million (ppm), up from 280 during the Industrial Revolution, underscores the urgency to reverse this trend. The science, and the eponymous organisation, 350.org, tell us that 350ppm is a safe level. Yet current global policy targets are saying we will continue making it worse until we reach 470ppm or more, and then we will stabilise it. This is wrong. It means more natural disasters, more crop failures and more people migrating from newly uninhabitable areas.

Rather than slowly braking towards zero and then stabilising that, we need to be aiming for a net negative. We need to slam on the brakes as quickly as possible and then use all our carbon sinks, like forests, oceans and wetlands, to bring those concentrations back down to safe levels. 

3. Partisan Divide and Fossil Fuel Industry Influence 🛢️💰
Climate change has become a divisive political issue. In contrast to the past, when climate change was nonpartisan, it's now tied to political affiliations. Given that the polls very clearly show that the majority of the UK want rapid decarbonization, why is that? Across the world, highly influential think tanks funded by the fossil fuel industry are pushing an agenda against climate action. They have close connections to political elites in the Conservative and Republican parties. This dark money is corrupting our democracy. These think tanks, which are essentially industry lobbyists, are using their massive profits to influence the government to make political decisions that are against our interests. It is shocking and scandalous.

For example, the anti-protest legislation, which specifically targets XR, has come almost wholesale from a report by a think tank called Policy Exchange. We know Policy Exchange takes money from fossil fuel companies, and yet they advise the government on how to suppress the legitimate right to protest against those very companies. Political contributions from fossil fuel industries must be stopped if we want civilised climate discourse and end to misinformation.

4. Project 2025: Political Warfare Against Climate Action ⚔️
One such energy lobbyist endeavour is Project 2025. It’s an audacious plan by the American political right which aims to empower conservatives to obstruct climate legislation and perpetuate fossil fuel reliance. This alarming strategy includes shifting away from green energy, supporting polluting industries, and hindering future reversals of these actions. While calling climate activists radicals, they are literally planning to dismantle the administrative state and send our species towards extinction. 

This is the latest battle tactic from the denialism industry. For the last 50 years, since the fossil fuel industry covered up the effects of greenhouse gases, there has been a multi-pronged battle on climate action. Firstly they sought to convince the public that climate change wasn't happening. Then, that it was happening but it wasn’t caused by oil. Now they say it's happening but it's too expensive to deal with. All of these are excuses to not act. To that end they’ve manipulated the public through think tanks, corporate media and recently through denialist troll farms on social media. If we want to win back on this fight, we need to embrace an upgrade of our democracy that avoids such heavy corporate lobbying interests.

5. Embracing Deliberative Democracy and Collective Action 🗣️
Instead of relying solely on traditional political channels, we need to embrace deliberative democracy. This approach involves open discussions, informed by available data, to yield representative, inclusive, and fair solutions. It counteracts the influence of vested interests by getting ordinary people involved in making informed decisions about the future. Collective action by groups like XR and Just Stop Oil are pushing to put these new forms of democracy on the table. In fact, in the UK, pressure by XR brought about the UK’s first Climate Assembly.

In the face of extreme weather events, inadequate climate policies, and political obstacles, it's crucial that we make those informed decisions as soon as possible. While the challenges are substantial, collective action, informed dialogue, and determined advocacy hold the key to a liveable future. By standing up against misinformation and pushing for meaningful change, we can navigate these challenges and work towards a more resilient world.

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