Enfim uma boa notícia na área de clima para animar a sexta-feira: as emissões de gases de efeito estufa no setor de energia ficaram estagnadas pelo terceiro ano consecutivo em 2016. E isso apesar do crescimento de 3,1% que a economia do mundo (sorry, Brasil) teve no ano passado.
Os dados, ainda preliminares, foram divulgados na manhã desta sexta (17) pela Agência Internacional de Energia. Como vem fazendo desde 2015, a agência não soltou um estudo detalhando os números – deverá fazê-lo nos próximos meses, quando lançar seu relatório anual World Energy Outlook.
Segundo a AIE, as emissões do setor de energia permaneceram em 32,1 bilhões de toneladas de gás carbônico equivalente, essencialmente idênticas às de 2015 e 2014. Isso resultou, ainda de acordo com a agência, de um crescimento na geração de eletricidade por fontes renováveis e energia nuclear, da substituição de carvão mineral por gás natural e de mudanças estruturais na economia.
A maior queda ocorreu nos EUA, que no último ano de governo Obama viram sua economia crescer 1,6% e suas emissões caírem 3%. Foi o menor nível de emissões do país desde 1992.
Na terra do gás de folhelho, a demanda por carvão mineral para gerar eletricidade caiu 11% no ano passado. O gás natural, que é fóssil, mas polui muito menos que o carvão, ultrapassou este combustível pela primeira vez na geração de energia elétrica.
Na China, a queda de emissões foi aparentemente menos impressionante que nos EUA: 1%. Mas só aparentemente: considere que o crescimento econômico chinês foi de 6,7% no ano passado, e que a China oficialmente só esperava ver suas emissões caírem após 2030.
Segundo a AIE, a tendência no gigante asiático se explica também pela troca de carvão por gás, na esteira de políticas do governo de redução da poluição do ar – o chamado “ar-pocalipse” chinês. Dois terços do aumento da demanda por eletricidade no país foram supridos por renováveis e por energia nuclear; cinco novos reatores entraram em operação na China em 2016.
“Estes três anos de emissões estagnadas numa economia global que cresce são sinal de uma tendência emergente que certamente é razão para otimismo, mesmo que ainda seja cedo demais para dizer que as emissões definitivamente chegaram ao pico”, disse em comunicado o diretor-executivo da AIE, Fatih Birol.
Ele tem motivos para temperar o otimismo. Afinal, como mostrou o Programa das Nações Unidas para o Meio Ambiente, mesmo com as emissões de energia estagnadas, as emissões totais do planeta em 2015 cresceram, devido ao desmatamento e à agropecuária. No que depender por exemplo do Brasil, que aumentou o desmatamento na Amazônia em 29% em 2016, essa tendência permanecerá quando forem compilados todos os dados do ano passado.
O metano, segundo gás de efeito estufa mais importante, também está em ascensão no mundo, por razões que os cientistas até agora não entendem muito bem. Isso contrabalança em parte a desaceleração nas emissões de dióxido de carbono.
E há, claro, Donald Trump.
Nesta semana o fascista-em-chefe dos Estados Unidos fez dois movimentos que vão no sentido contrário da descarbonização que as próprias forças de mercado estão se encarregando de operar em seu país.
Na quarta-feira, a Agência de Proteção Ambiental dos EUA, ora chefiada pelo negacionista do clima Scott Pruitt, confirmou que vai rever as regras de eficiência de motores para carros leves e caminhonetes propostas pelo governo Obama para o período 2022-2025. O movimento seguiu-se a pressão das montadoras sobre a Casa Branca – a indústria considera “desafiadora demais” a meta de elevar a eficiência mínima de um motor para 19 km/l em 2025, em comparação com os atuais 12,8 km/l.
Confira a matéria na íntegra em Observatório do Clima
The year 2016 made history, with a record global temperature, exceptionally low sea ice, and unabated sea level rise and ocean heat, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Extreme weather and climate conditions have continued into 2017.
WMO issued its annual statement on the State of the Global Climate ahead of World Meteorological Day on 23 March. It is based on multiple international datasets maintained independently by global climate analysis centres and information submitted by dozens of WMO Members National Meteorological and Hydrological Services and Research Institutes and is an authoritative source of reference. Because the social and economic impacts of climate change have become so important, WMO partnered with other United Nations organizations for the first time this year to include information on these impacts.
“This report confirms that the year 2016 was the warmest on record – a remarkable 1.1 °C above the pre-industrial period, which is 0.06 °C above the previous record set in 2015. This increase in global temperature is consistent with other changes occurring in the climate system,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.
“Globally averaged sea surface temperatures were also the warmest on record, global sea levels continued to rise, and Arctic sea-ice extent was well below average for most of the year,” he said.
“With levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere consistently breaking new records, the influence of human activities on the climate system has become more and more evident,” said Mr Taalas.
The increased power of computing tools and the availability of long term climate data have made it possible today, through attribution studies, to demonstrate clearly the existence of links between man-made climate change and many cases of high impact extreme events in particular heatwaves, he said
Each of the 16 years since 2001 has been at least 0.4 °C above the long-term average for the 1961-1990 base period, used by WMO as a reference for climate change monitoring. Global temperatures continue to be consistent with a warming trend of 0.1 °C to 0.2 °C per decade, according to the WMO report.
The powerful 2015/2016 El Niño event boosted warming in 2016, on top of long-term climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions. Temperatures in strong El Niño years, such as 1973, 1983 and 1998, are typically 0.1 °C to 0.2 °C warmer than background levels, and 2016’s temperatures are consistent with that pattern.
Global sea levels rose very strongly during the El Niño event, with the early 2016 values reaching new record highs. Global sea ice extent dropped more than 4 million square kilometres below average in November, an unprecedented anomaly for that month.
The very warm ocean temperatures contributed to significant coral bleaching and mortality was reported in many tropical waters, with important impacts on marine food chains, ecosystems and fisheries.
Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere reached the symbolic benchmark of 400 parts per millions in 2015 – the latest year for which WMO global figures are available – and will not fall below that level for many generations to come because of the long-lasting nature of CO2.
Noteworthy extreme events in 2016 included severe droughts that brought food insecurity to millions in southern and eastern Africa and Central America. Hurricane Matthew caused widespread suffering in Haiti as the first category 4 storm to make landfall since 1963, and inflicted significant economic losses in the United States of America, while heavy rains and floods affected eastern and southern Asia.
WMO has issued annual climate reports for more than 20 years and submits them to the Conference of the Parties of the Framework Convention on Climate Change. The annual statements complement the assessments reports that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) produces every six to seven years.
It will be presented to UN member states and climate experts at a high-level action event on Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Agenda in New York on 23 March (World Meteorological Day) hosted by the President of the UN General Assembly Peter Thomson.
“The entry into force of the Paris Agreement under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on 4 November 2016 represents a historic landmark. It is vital that its implementation becomes a reality and that the Agreement guides the global community in addressing climate change by curbing greenhouse gases, fostering climate resilience and mainstreaming climate adaptation into national development policies,” said Mr Taalas.
“Continued investment in climate research and observations is vital if our scientific knowledge is to keep pace with the rapid rate of climate change,” said Mr Taalas.
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Financial officials from the world's biggest economies have dropped from a joint statement any mention of financing action on climate change, reportedly following pressure from the US and Saudi Arabia.
Finance ministers from the G20, which comprises more than 80 percent of the global economy, debated the wording of their final joint statement on trade at their summit in the German resort of Baden-Baden.
Their communique showed no mention of a commitment to fund action on climate change, and Reuters reported there had been opposition from the US, Saudi Arabia and other countries to Germany's intention to include it. "Climate change is out for the time being," an official told the agency.
It did, however, say: "We reaffirm our commitment to rationalise and phase out, over the medium term, inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption, recognising the need to support the poor.
"Furthermore, we encourage all G20 countries which have not yet done so, to initiate as soon as feasible a peer review of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption."
The world's top economic powers also failed to agree on a joint position explicitly opposing trade protectionism amid pushback from the US government. Protectionism can include border tariffs and rules that favour a country's businesses over those in another economy.
The communique issued on Saturday was milder than the last one, from 2016.
It said that countries "are working to strengthen the contribution of trade" to their economies. By comparison, last year's meeting called on them to resist "all forms" of protectionism.
Mr Trump has been insistent that the US has previously been treated "unfairly" in its dealings around the world. One of his first executive orders pulled the country out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a planned trade arrangement between 12 countries.
He reaffirmed his position during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday. He denied he was "an isolationist", rather "a free trader, but also a fair trader".
Wolfgang Schaeuble, the finance minister of host country Germany, sought to play down any disagreements. He told reporters after the two-day meeting that the issue was more wording than substance.
"It's not true we are not agreed. It's completely clear we are not for protectionism. But it wasn't clear what one or another meant by that," he said.
A never-ending stream of carbon pollution ensures that each year the world continues to break records for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This year will be no different.
Like a rite of spring, carbon dioxide is poised to cruise pass the previous mark set last year and reach heights unseen in human history. In the coming weeks, carbon dioxide will start to breach the 410 parts per million threshold on a daily basis at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. The monthly average for May could come close to topping 410 ppm, too, according to the U.K. Met Office’s inaugural carbon dioxide forecast, released last week.
Richard Betts, a climate scientist who helped create the forecast, said we should pass last year’s record-setting monthly peak by April or even as soon as this month. It’s not a question of if but rather when depending on wind patterns and other factors that influence daily measurements.
This year’s new high-water mark comes a year after the planet passed the 400 ppm threshold permanently on the back of the greatest yearly rise in carbon dioxide on record. That dramatic rise was driven in part by last year’s super El Niño, but the underlying cause of the steady uptick is human activities that emit carbon pollution.
The string of carbon dioxide records is a running reminder that those activities are altering the basic chemistry of our atmosphere and destabilizing the climate that’s allowed civilization to flourish.
While 2017 is unlikely to see a rise as dramatic as 2016’s El Niño-fueled peak, the Met Office forecast said this year is still expected to see an above-average increase. Carbon dioxide is forecast to rise another 2.5 ppm this year.
The forecast is based on research done by Met Office scientists last year that uses equatorial Pacific Ocean temperatures in the El Niño region coupled with carbon pollution data.
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