Weathering the Climate Change Storm
Everyone I know believes that the climate is changing right under our noses thanks to human activity, although there are those who don’t, no matter how much scientific evidence there is to prove it true.
According to the Yale Climate Opinion Maps 2018, only 70 percent of of adult Americans think global warming is happening, 14 percent don’t think it’s true at all and the remaining balance of 16 percent aren’t sure.
Europeans are more aware and more concerned, especially in Western Europe where there is a range of between 88 and 98 percent who agree that climate change is happening and caused by human activity. Seventy percent of Western Europeans also take a personal responsibility and almost half are willing to pay more to make a difference.
The latest European Social Survey (ESS) found that the French are among the highest to have a sense of personal responsibility and feel they have the ability to make a difference. A whopping 96.3 percent agree that the climate is changing and 93.6 percent believe it’s our own human fault. Another 73.7 percent believe the results of climate change will be bad. The French are also extremely worried about it…so worried that this past weekend, more than 100 protests erupted all across France calling for more action on climate change, with some protestors battling heavy rains and winds just to make their point! In December, more than two million people signed a petition to sue the French government for not doing enough to battle climate change — a petition considered France’s most successful one ever.
According to the Climate Change Post, France is warming up 30 percent more than the the global average (the average annual temperature has risen by 0.95°C in mainland France, compared to 0.74°C globally) during the 20th century. Heat waves are up, fall and winter rainfall is up (between 5 and 35 percent), while summer rainfall is down. Glaciers in the Alps have lost approximately 30 to 40 percent of their area. In Paris, the Climate Change Post projects an increase of +2.0°C to 2.4°C (+3.6°F to 4.32°F) in winter and +3.5°C to 5.0°C (+6.3°F to 9°F) in summer for the minimum and maximum daily temperatures, respectively.
Protestors may feel France isn’t doing enough, but here’s what the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims it’s done so far (Source: webapps.france-diplomatie.info/):
*2001: An Act was passed to establish climate change as a “national priority.”
*2004: The first “climate plan” was drawn up, listing the actions to be carried out to reach the targets for the stabilization of greenhouse gas emissions set by the Kyoto Protocol (1997).
*2005: France committed to cutting down its greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent between 1990 and 2050. The POPE Act (establishing energy policy guidelines) set quantified targets for fulfilling this commitment.
*2008: Following the Directive 2006/32/EC by the European Parliament and the Council on energy efficiency, France submitted its first action plan detailing the main policies and measures implemented.
*2008: The “climate and energy package” was adopted under the French presidency of the European Union, setting shared European targets for 2020:
– reduce EU greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent from 1990 levels;
– raise the share of EU energy consumption produced from renewable resources to 20 percent;
– improve the EU’s energy efficiency by 20 percent.
*2009: The Act 2009-967 of 3 August 2009 established precise goals:
– in the transportation sector: reduce greenhouse gas emissions to their 1990 level;
– in the construction industry: cut down energy consumption by 38 percent by 2020.
*2010: The Act 2010-788 of 12 July 2010 expressed a national commitment to the environment:
– by reinforcing efforts to improve energy efficiency;
– by developing local and regional planning.
*2011: France submitted its second action plan regarding the implementation of the European directive on energy efficiency. A third plan was being prepared for 2014.
*2012: The first Environmental Conference endorsed the European targets of a 40 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and a 60 percent reduction by 2040.
*2013: The debate on the energy transition revolved around the creation of a new model for growth: a green, sustainable and solidarity-oriented one. The debate summary will form the basis of a bill that should be discussed in Parliament in 2014.
*2013: COP19 in Warsaw confirmed the objective to have a new international agreement against climate change by the end of 2015.
*2014: In September 2014, the States gathered at a United Nations Climate Summit, on the invitation of the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon. France was represented by the President of the French Republic.
*2014: In December, the 20th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP20) was held in Lima.
*2015: France hosted the 21st United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21 Paris). France would like to establish an agreement that is binding, applicable to all and ambitious enough to limit global warming to 2°C.
Yesterday weather alerts started pouring in. The Local reported “Snow, high wind and heavy rain: France braced for winter weather front.” We’re prepared for snow, snow and more snow. The RATP home page (Paris’ transport system) announces “Snowfall and strong winds in Ile-de-France for tonight and tomorrow. The operation of the lines could be affected Tuesday, January 29th at night, and Wednesday, January 30th morning. We advise you to anticipate your journeys and to consult regularly the state of the traffic on the various channels of information available to you: RATP.fr, Appli RATP, Twitter accounts of the lines, information screens in stations and bus stops.”
And you know who else was tweeting about climate change? You guessed it: U.S. President, Donald Trump: “In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder. People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Waming? Please come back fast, we need you! 3:28 AM – Jan 29, 2019”
Yes, “Waming?” Can we guess that he spelled “Warming” wrong or does he just not get it?
As early at the 1950s, the U.S. first considered a policy on global climate change. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) defined it as “any significant change in the measures of climate lasting for an extended period of time.” Every president since supported the efforts to combat global warming. Then, the Trump administration took a right turn to roll it back, calling it a hoax and presenting measures to cut back 31 percent of the EPA’s budget, making it the lowest budget in 40 years.
He almost did the Paris Climate Agreement a favor when he withdrew the U.S. a year-and-a-half ago, because instead of other countries following in his footsteps, the Agreement gained supporters, like Syria and Nicaragua. The U.S. remained the lone ranger or what the BBC called the “solitary wallflower” on climate change. The positive reaction to his negative reaction was felt in the U.S. as well as state leaders forged ahead in spite of his hoax rhetoric. In 2017, non-federal action sustained investment in clean energy and U.S. emissions of CO2 fell to their lowest level in 25 year.
French President Emmanuel Macron has been criticized for his use of the tax code to battle environmental protection. The tactic to increase the price of diesel fuel to reduce its usage simply backfired big time, resulting in the Gilet Jaunes protests which have lasted months now. When U.S. President Bill Clinton proposed it in 1993 (the BTU tax), he was forced to retreat by a rebellion of his own party. It was a lesson to be learned that Macron didn’t take seriously.
And guess who tweeted again in response? “I am glad that my friend @EmmanuelMacron and the protestors in Paris have agreed with the conclusion I reached two years ago. The Paris Agreement is fatally flawed because it raises the price of energy for responsible countries while whitewashing some of the worst polluters in the world,” he wrote. “American taxpayers — and American workers — shouldn’t pay to clean up others countries’ pollution.” Yep, Donald J. Trump.
The snow fell lightly on Paris last night, but other parts of the country are expected to get hit harder. What can we do to make a difference to climate change? The Years Project offers up 17 ways you can do something yourself:
1. Power your home with solar or wind
2. Change what you eat by eating less meat, choosing local foods when possible and buying food with less packaging
3. Save water at home
4. Choose a fuel-efficient vehicle when purchasing, take public transportation if it’s available, carpool to work, ride a bicycle or walk when possible
5. Buy fewer new things
7. Install a smart thermostat
8. Change your lightbulbs to a CFL or LED bulb
9. Look for the ENERGY STAR label on products that are 10-to-50% more efficient
10. Do something called an “energy audit” to save money and energy in your home
11. Insulate your home
12. Compost food scraps
13. See if you qualify for PACE. Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, is a way to finance climate-smart building upgrades, like lighting improvements, solar panels, efficient heating and cooling, and even insulation
14. Calculate your carbon footprint with an online carbon calculator
15. Eliminate your junk mail
16. Plant trees, to help suck carbon out of the air and stabilize the climate
17. Spread the word about the Years of Living Dangerously site.
So, if you’re stuck at home weathering the bad winter storms, don’t just contemplate you navel. Contemplate how you can make a difference, regardless of what the politicians do or say!
A la prochaine…
Adrian Leeds Group
P.S. We know not everyone wants to live in Paris. Are you interested in other parts of La France Profonde? Our network of professionals is here to help whether there’s snow or not. Contact us to discuss your interests and we’ll get to work for you. Do it today