Here’s an interesting perspective about what’s needed to stop the dire consequences of global warming. As we’re already feeling the effects of increased frequency and severity of storms, it’s safe to say that global warming is no longer just a theoretical model to be debated. However, I do have a few comments afterwards.
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Shell boss says mass reforestation needed to limit temperature rises to 1.5C
9 Oct 2018
The boss of Shell has said a huge tree-planting
project the size of the Amazon rainforest
would be needed to meet a tougher global
warming target, as he argued more renew-
able energy alone would not be enough.
Ben van Beurden said it would be a major challenge to limit temperature rises to 1.5C (equivalent to a rise of 2.7F), which a landmark report from the UN’s climate science panel has said will be necessary to avoid dangerous warming. He told an oil and gas industry audience in London:
“You can get to 1.5C, but not by just by pulling
the same levers a little bit harder, because
they are being pulled roughly as fast and
as hard as we are currently imagining.
What we think can be done is massive
reforestation. Think of another Brazil
in terms of rainforest: you can get to 1.5C.
“It’s not what some people sometimes
think: we’ll just do a little bit more solar,
a bit more wind and we’ll get there.”
Reforestation is seen as essential in the scenarios outlined this week by the UN’s intergovernmental panel on climate change, if the world is to restrict warming to 1.5C.
But Van Beurden stressed that meeting the challenge would be an uphill battle, because while it was “technically about doable”, it would not be commercially viable without changes to government policies and regulation. He said:
“Already to get to less than 2C will be [a] quite un-
imaginable, unprecedented scale of collaboration.
Getting to 1.5C is a major challenge on top of it.”
But the Shell chief executive was adamant that gas, which makes up a growing share of the firm’s portfolio, would have a role to play in a 1.5C world. He told the Oil and Money conference:
“You can have an endless discussion about
semantics. Is it a transition role, a desti-
nation role? In the end it is a bit of both.”
He said observers should not mistake headlines on the company’s forays into low-CO2 projects as a sign it was “going soft” on oil and gas.
In the past year, Shell has made investments in electric car infrastructure firms, offered support to the government bringing forward its proposed ban on new petrol and diesel car sales and bought up one of the UK’s biggest electricity and gas suppliers.
Van Beurden said renewables would become a bigger part of what the company does in future, but it could only move as far as society did. He said:
“That means Shell’s core business is, and will be
for the foreseeable future, very much in oil and gas.”
Separately, Qatar, the world’s biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) said there was no doubt gas would be a fuel of the future, even with tough climate targets. Saad al-Kaabi, chief executive of Qatar Petroleum, said:
“We believe natural gas will continue to play
a key role, not as a so-called transition fuel
But rather in our view, a destination fuel.”
The state-owned company recently announced plans for a significant expansion of its LNG production and exports, which account for nearly a third of the UK’s gas imports.
Kaabi said it was difficult to believe in the IPCC 1.5C report if it did not spell out the cost of hugely reducing the world’s reliance on gas. But he denied he was being dismissive of the report. He said:
“My comment is it doesn’t make sense that
you could get rid of so much [oil and gas]
volume unless you give me a solution
that is different from just renewables.”
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After reflecting on this message from an oil and gas company – and especially the latter portion that advocates the continuing support for oil and gas – this CEO’s epistle might simply be a PR ploy to increase the popularity and political support for Shell and others. Nonetheless, it does say that switching to renewable energy and electric cars – both of which, speaking from personal experience, are also less expensive – and adding massive tree planting to our “to do” lists might intensify a positive impact faster and further.
A friend of my spouse formed “Tree Sisters,” a non-profit organization that solicits donations and disperses the money to thousands of women in many countries. They now count new tree plantings in the millions-per-year. While you can look them up and donate to their efforts, what I think is just as important is each of us identifying areas that can benefit from being more heavily planted in trees … and planting some trees.
For example, in Poquoson, VA, the town in which I’m living, I thought of planting crepe myrtle trees in the little grass strip between the sidewalk and the curb for the one mile stretch along the main street. I investigated costs, and found we could plant an 8-foot-high tree, with donor plaque next to it, for only $65. Without announcing my intent to the citizenry, just by informal word-of-mouth, people came forward enthusiastically, and we could plant half that distance. Greater beauty and better air quality without cost to the city.
However, the city public works staff opposed the idea, saying it would be more difficult to cut the grass strip and the trees might interfere with the garbage trucks – and that they were the ones to present to city council. People resist change. So if some land you see as perfect for tree-planting lies on public land, be prepared for resistance. But if you succeed, in our case it would have meant 400 new trees, greater beauty, and better air quality.
In Australia, the UK’s Prince Harry, currently exploring and lending support for a massive canopy of trees said:
“It is up to us now to protect this paradise together,
not just because it looks beautiful, but because it is
a essential part of our existence and will continue
to be for our children and their children’s children.”
Reforestation, a tree at a time or in mass plantings, seems like a simple and inexpensive way by which we can maintain what essentially will amount to an environment that can support a better quality of life for all of us. And that is truly part of “sustainable living.”
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If you haven’t been to our www.gardenatrium.com site recently, there’s a new 4-minnute video you might enjoy. It has views of the last Garden Atrium home, interviews with one resident sharing the experience of living in (and raising children in) a sustainable home, and an interview with a recent college graduate – and soon-to-be Millennial home buyer – expressing her home style preferences.