It’s official – 2016 is now the hottest year on record, with data from NASA and the UK Met Office showing global temperatures were 0.07c higher than the previous record breaking year. Which was 2015.
This makes 2016 the third year in a row to break global temperature records.
Unfortunately, this will unlikely come as a surprise to any readers of our newsletter over the last twelve months, where monthly temperature records were consistently broken and written about here – and scientists were predicting as early as the spring of 2016 that it was likely going to be a record breaking year.
With the election of Donald Trump to the US Presidency, it is not clear what the fate for the Paris Agreement will be – President Trump having been critical of climate chance science, to the point of calling a hoax. Since his inauguration we have seen the removal of climate change from the White House’s website, and revelations of plans to ‘reform’ the way the Environmental Protection Agency uses science.
What is clear is that President Trump will likely roll back environmental regulations in the USA, and remove the USA from global treaties on climate change – or at the very least reduce commitments under them. This is a worrying time for environmentalists and everyone concerned about the impact of climate change this century.
Fortunately it’s not all doom and gloom on the climate change front.
In Scotland, the Climate Change Act has continued to see successes, with the Scotland realising their 2020 goal, of reducing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 42% (of 1990 levels), six years early in 2014. This has led to a revised 2032 goal of reducing GHG emissions by 66% for 2030.
While there are valid criticisms to be made about the Scottish climate change plan, what it does show is the importance of a Climate Change Act to set out clear targets and a pathway to realising them.
And in India, a step forward in carbon capturing technology has been made, with carbon emitted from a coal-fired thermal power station being successfully converted into baking soda. While we support a transition away from fossil fuels altogether, this development is still welcome news.
In other good news, the cost of renewable energy has continued to decrease, with the Canadian Globe and Mail reporting that utility-scale solar and land-based wind power are now competitive with both coal and natural gas – with the trends indicating that the renewables will get even cheaper over the next few years.