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this is democracy now democracynow.org the war and peace report this is climate countdown i'm amy goodman in new york also joined by democracy now co-host nermeen shaikh hi nermeen
hi amy and welcome to our listeners and viewers around the country and around the world well we're going to go right now to the un climate summit in glasgow scotland where the united states and china made a surprise announcement
yesterday about plans to work together to cut greenhouse gas emissions including measures to reduce methane emissions and slow deforestation the united states is the largest historical emitter of carbon emissions while china
has been the largest emitter in recent years that the u.s produces far more emissions on a per capita basis than china xi jinhua china's climate change envoy spoke in glasgow wednesday
climate is a common challenge faced by humanity and will impact the well-being of future generations it's becoming increasingly urgent and severe turning a future challenge into a crisis happening now in the area of climate change
there's more agreement between china and the united states than divergence making it an area with huge potential for cooperation with two days remaining until the end of the summit we hope this joint declaration will be china and the united
states contribution to its success president biden's climate envoy john kerry also spoke at the u.n climate summit wednesday the united states and china have no
shortage of differences but on climate on climate cooperation is the only way to get this job done this is not a discretionary
thing frankly this is science it's math and physics that dictate the road that we have to travel the u.s china joint agreement came just hours after the text was released of a
draft of the glasgow agreement the draft calls on nations to strengthen their climate plans and to accelerate the phasing out of coal as well as subsidies for fossil fuels but many climate justice groups faulted the draft for not
requiring nations to do more to address the climate emergency with the u.n climate summit scheduled to end friday we're joined by two of britain's leading critics of how the climate emergency is
being handled at the summit george monbio is with us journalist author columnist with the guardian he's been hosting a daily program from glasgow on cop26 tv called mombiosis his most recent book is
titled out of the wreckage a new politics for an age of crisis his latest peace in the guardian make extreme wealth extinct it's the only way to avoid climate breakdown we're also joined by kevin anderson professor of
energy and climate change at the university of manchester in the university of salah in sweden he's a former director of the tyndall center for climate change research kevin let's begin with you kevin anderson you say
that science is on the side of civil society not as you call them the climate glitterati or the negotiators or even some climate scientists can you explain so sorry amy i have to say that again it
didn't come through very clearly i'm just saying you've said that science is on the side of civil society not the negotiators in glasgow yes um well this really goes back to the
the clip you had from joe biden when he said it's what matters is the physics and the maths and the physics and the maths are really clear here if we are to deliver deliver on the commitments the 1.5 degrees c commitment for instance
that joe biden made at the g7 communicate earlier this year the maths and the physics tell us that at current emissions we have eight years at current emissions for a good chance of 1.5 and even for an outside chance of 1.5
degrees centigrade we only have 14 years so when you then listen to the calls that are coming out the various civil society movements they're much more in line with the rates of change that fit with the science than when you hear about these vague discussions between
world leaders about future collaborations to make relatively small reductions in emissions from their countries so they are not talking in any way in line with the physics and the maths that joe biden evokes but actually
the protesters and the civil society movements and their work that they engage with more locally all of that is much more in line with what the science is calling for and kevin anderson can you say specifically what exactly does the
science suggest uh these biggest emitters uh the us and and china should be doing well we have to we're in such a a desperate situation now we have been 30
years 31 years now since the first major report on climate change and emissions have just been going up year on year we now have very little emission space left so the sorts of announcements we need to be hearing are things like no more
fossil fuel development and the rapid phase out of fossil fuel use within um particularly within the wealthy countries if you just take our 1.5 degrees c commitment and you recognize the difference between what are called
developing country parties in the paris agreement and developed country parties so the richer and the poorer parts of the world then for the richer parts of the world if we are to deliver on our 1.5 degree c commitment then we need to be
zero emissions from energy by around 20 30 if we want to an outside chance of 1.5 by 2035. now that sounds impossible but that is we are in this situation because we have listened to these world
leaders give us their vacuous talks for years and then go home and do absolutely nothing and but biden and obama demonstrate that with obama demonstrated in the us before biden's demonstrating
it now um and obviously trump in between well you know less than about him the better perhaps but we're seeing this in virtually all the world leaders it's not just the us it's the it's the eu it's the uk it's japan it's australia there
is no leadership within any of the progressive countries and to be blunt you know china is is really reflecting that absence of leadership when it comes to climate change as well george monbiot uh i'd like to bring you
uh into the conversation you've been uh covering the summit and what has been missing from the summit that should have been included that should be part of the the talks you said in a tweet earlier
today that quote not one of the 26 climate summits has seriously discussed the crucial issue which is leaving fossil fuels in the ground george monbiot could you talk
about that yes i mean their failure to discuss this crucial central issue not getting the stuff out the ground in the first place suggests that everything we've been
hearing here and at the previous 25 summits it's basically distraction it's hand waving it's grandiloquent gestures it's pleasing the crowd but it's not addressing the central issue and you
know it's much easier to leave fossil fuels in the ground than to deal with the way that we burn them once we've extracted them because there's just a few thousand points around the world where we extract them whereas there are
billions of end uses of those fossil fuels so while we might say well yes we had to insulate our homes we had to change our light bulbs all the rest which clearly we do the most immediate and practical way of
dealing with this impending catastrophe of seeing off the greatest challenge humankind has ever faced is to say right we're just going to stop no more coal no more no more petroleum no more gas is
going to come out of the ground by this date and as kevin says so rightly you know it has to be full decarbonization by 2030 so that should be the date we're just going to stop getting it out of the ground and you say
well how is that remotely possible it is more than remotely possible it is eminently possible as we saw when the u.s entered the second world war on the 8th of december 1941 within months it
had turned the entire economy around from a civilian economy to a military economy between 1942 and 1945 the u.s federal government spent more money in current dollar terms than it did between
1789 and 1941. so now they say oh there's no money there's nothing we can do that's just nonsense they could fix this in no time at all if they wanted to if we had a program on a
comparable scale we could leave all fossil fuels in the ground by 2030 and switch to an entirely new clean energy economy and george also you're you're i want to
ask you about your your recent piece which is headlined uh make extreme wealth extinct it's the only way to avoid climate breakdown now we hear about the discrepancies in terms of
emissions and consumption between rich and poor countries but what you emphasize in this piece is the staggering difference between the consumption levels of rich individuals
around the world and the need therefore for a wealth tax could you explain what the situation is this is a fundamental issue of justice and equity so the top one percent uh in
terms of wealth around the world use 15 produce 15 of the greenhouse gas emissions which is twice as much as the bottom 50 percent whose total
emissions are just seven percent of the total so we're looking at uh a very small number of people grabbing the lion's share of natural wealth they claim to be wealth creators they're actually taking
wealth from the rest of us they're saying we're going to have all this atmospheric space for ourselves and incidentally all these other resources all the mahogany and the gold and the
diamonds and the bluefin tuna sushi and whatever else that they're consuming on a massive scale and this is driven by to a very large extent by their remarkable disproportionate use of aviation
there's one set of figures suggesting that the richest one percent are responsible for 50 of the world's aviation emissions but also by their yachts for example the average
um commonal garden super yacht um kept on standby for a billionaire to step onto whenever he wants um produces 7 000 tons of carbon dioxide per year
if we're to meet even the conventional accounting for staying within 1.5 degrees of global heating our maximum emissions per person are around 2.3
tons so one super yacht is what over 3 000 people's worth of emissions this is just grossly outrageously unfair and we should rebel
against the habit of the very rich of taking our natural wealth from us i wanted to turn to assad raymond executive director of war on want lead spokesperson for the cop 26 coalition on
wednesday he ripped up his prepared remarks about the cop 26 cover decision and instead brought a message from the climate activists on the streets to the high-level session
i had a speech preparing to deliver in relation to the cover decision but frankly i know it's going to fall on deaf ears so i won't bother the richest have ignored every moral and political call to do their fair share
their broken promises are littered across 26 cops empty press releases drafted by polluting companies no longer fool anyone corvid vaccine equity and net zero 2050
are just the latest examples of deliberately sacrificing the poor for profit by those whose wealth was and continues to be looted from the global south
whilst we are frustrated and angry we are not without hope we know it's ordinary people who change history and we will change history
the era of injustice is all the chair we will uproot these systems of oppression with our global green new deal to guarantee everyone the right to live
with dignity and in harmony with our planet thank you chair so that's i said raymond executive director of war on one addressing the u.n climate assembly um kevin anderson
if you can talk more about this issue both you and george assad raymond and so many other climate activists talking about this issue of wealth
you say per capita is a flawed metric as most polluting industries have been moved to developing nations so it's not reflective of the rich nation's emissions take all of this on
yeah i mean that's a really key issue and i think if i focus in here on the uk where i know it's a place obviously i know much better that what we've done in the uk we've closed down a lot of our industry and then we import the manufactured goods from elsewhere in the
world and then we turn around to those parts of the world and then we blame them for the emissions in manufacturing the goods that we are enjoying and that's everything from our electronic goods to parts for our cars as our clothes so you know the uk is
effectively moved to a bar and banking culture and and and offshore virtually everything else and so we when we looking at our total amount of emissions we have to take account of the carbon footprint of our lifestyles and that
does include the emissions that we associated with things that we import and export i mean you take that into account you tend to find that most wealthy countries have a much larger carbon footprint than when you just look at the energy they use within their
boundaries and i think it's really key again when we think about these issues of equity we we that we take this what's often referred to as a consumption-based accounting method we take that into account because it is unfair to be
penalizing poor parts of the world for them making things to help us have a better quality of life over here and when we do that then the challenges get even more striking in terms of what we have to do and it also also brings out
even further the issues of equity the disparity between the richer parts of the world and the poorer parts of the world but i also think on the equity point it's really worth bringing out that it's not as if everyone in the uk is even
there isn't just one public in the uk there are multiple publics there were those of us who are the wealthy ones in our own country that are responsible for the lion's share of missions within the uk that will be true chain for the u.s for germany for japan australia and so
within all of our countries there are large swathes of the country who are the average and below average consumers and for them the response to climate change is very different from those of us who are in our own countries are responsible for the lion's share of
emissions so i think we have to differentiate not just between countries but even within our countries and my concern there is that who are the people that frame the climate dubai debate they're the climate scientists and the academics they're the
entrepreneurs the business leaders the journalists the barristers they're all the people that are in the very high emitting category so we frame the debate and we never ever frame the debate with equity at its core and with regardless
of our maths or our moral sorry regardless of our moral position the maths tell us if we are to deliver on the commitments then equity has to be a key part of our responses but we never talk about that because we are in that
high emitting group now kevin you yourself have not taken a plane in years when we interview you at the different climate summits you have taken a train you say it's a great way to get work done finish reports etc you also use the
term zero carbon rather than net zero yesterday was transportation day i think pre-budage the transportation secretary spoke from the united states and you
also have that china-u.s surprise announcement i'm wondering if you can talk about um zero carbon and also whether you feel china gets a disproportionate uh percentage of the
blame yeah well this this expression net zero to me this is the most damning part of cop 26 but it's not just happening here if you went back a few cops ago you would never hear the expression net zero
it's really merged as as the challenges challenges got harder and that's meant that actually the policies need to be put in place to bring down emissions today because our policy makers are too weak and lack the imagination encouraged
to do that what we have done is develop this term net zero which allows us to move the burden the reducing missions from today out to future generations literally out to 2050 and beyond so everyone is now using this expression
net zero you can be a net zero oil company you can be net zero saudi arabia or qatar or norway or the uk or the us everyone can become net zero every county every company it's it's vacuous
it's completely meaningless when you unpick what's behind net zero it when all it is i often say it's latin for kicking the can down the road is passing the burden on to the next generation and
disturbing for me is that actually a lot of the academic community has swallowed this net zero rhetoric so we are not looking at the sort of changes that we need to make to as george said earlier we need to rapidly
phase out our fossil fuel consumption but you don't have to do that if you've got net zero because you can carry on burning the fossil fuels and our children will find technologies to suck the co2 out of the air in years to come that's our hope that's our way of
delaying the burden of mitigation from this generation on to the next generation there are multiple ways that net zero is doing this but that's the most obvious one these these future technologies that we're relying on in all of our scenarios in all of the ipcc
intergovernmental panel on climate change scenarios about what we needed about climate change they rely on either technologies or technologies or so-called nature-based solutions which are also equally dangerous for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in
the future and so that is incredibly dangerous and we like reliance um when it comes to china i mean china is a is a very high emitter obviously we all know it's the it's the largest emitter at the globe because it has a population of
about 1.3 billion people so roughly i think three to four times that four times that i think of the us its emissions per capita are still only i think of just a little over one third of the us and we put we've got a lot of responsibility on china saying well look
at its very high emissions they do burn a lot of coal but i require their coal to be burnt so we can smelt the aluminium so i can make my apple lap book notebook out of it look at the equipment that we're using a lot of it is made out
of metals that have been um turned into manufactured goods in china and then we blame them because they're using lots of high carbon energy to produce those materials it is true china has to move away from those it has to rapidly move
away from it from its very rich and deep embedded fossil fuel industry and it has the potential to do that probably more than most other parts of the world because it is very good at making these rapid shifts in technology
but we we must we must not continue to blame china for these for these um manufactured goods that we're using we need to take a more collaborative approach and perhaps if there is anything to matter biden and china's
discussions here maybe there is some something in there about how do we facilitate the parts of the world that are the manufacturing base for the rest of us how do you facilitate them making a rapid shift away from fossil fuels
george monroe could you comment on what what kevin anderson was saying about this category of net zero and then also talk about what the alternatives uh to fossil fuels to oil uh and gas and coal
are what you think are the most uh likely and uh efficient uh that you that you propose including nuclear well kevin's absolutely right about net
zero it's a way of delaying hard choices it's a way of passing them on to future generations of politicians and that's what has been happening for the past 30 years we've we've done it with different terminology we haven't used that
language but it's all been about delay and deferring and and leaving the problem for somebody else to tidy up and that zero is just continuing that
catastrophic process that's why we're now faced with such an incredibly tight window in which to make effective change but we can make that change i mean just as there are tipping points in
ecosystems potentially catastrophic ones that we don't want to pass that can be positive tipping points in society and in politics where we can very rapidly change the way that we produce our
energy change the way that we use our energy change the way that we live which is also essential because as kevin says you know it's not just a question of of how we produce this great tidal wave of
consumer goods but why are we producing this great tidal wave of consumer goods let's stop let's just stop doing it and let's let's find other ways of measuring quality of life other than being flooded
by this great tide of plastic and metal and electronics 99 of which we simply do not need to live a good life so having having made that decision we then say right so how do we power this and
absolutely we need those renewables we need the wind we need the solar but we should not discount other forms of clean energy where they are safe and where they are appropriate and of course you know in different
parts of the world and for different purposes different kinds will be safe and appropriate but i am i remain very interested in fourth generation nuclear technologies small modular reactors of different
kinds some of which could make a very important contribution and i'm particularly dismayed by what's going on in germany where um because of their nuclear shutdown they're ramping up their coal
productions and they're burning more of this particularly filthy form of coal lignite in order to create the space to shut down nucleus we just have 10 seconds a low carbon
technology in the middle of a climate emergency we just have 10 seconds but i want to get kevin anderson's response are you pro-nuclear even if it's what he calls george calls fourth generation
yeah i'm agnostic about nuclear power my preference would always be conservation first then energy efficiency and then the renewables basically solar and wind tidal or whatever they may be but then if we cannot meet the energy demand i
would prefer nuclear to carbon capture and storage which i think is a real we have to leave it there
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