Friday, July 08, 2016

Melting Greenland, Aviation & a Reason for a Stronger UN & EU


I recently was afforded the opportunity to see firsthand a "snapshot" of the impacts of climate change on southern Greenland. The photos are from July 1st, and you can see ice breaking off as well as significant areas clear of ice and snow. Not that summer melts in Greenland aren’t supposed to occur, but the length of the summer melt season, the rate of melting and the extent of that melt has significantly increased over the last two decades. Nor is Greenland able to fully “recover” the ice and snow it loses now during each melting season, resulting in an annual net loss to Greenland’s ice sheets. Here are a few references for those interested.

With aviation contributing about 2 percent of global CO2 emissions, the irony and hypocrisy of my lamenting the loss of Greenland ice as I flew internationally wasn’t lost on me. Fortunately the U.N’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is taking some action to reduce flight emissions. Though how effective ICAO’s focus on offsets will be and how much buy-in they’ll get is certainly questionable at this point. If ICAO’s plan is rejected, the EU will supposedly subject all flights within, to or from the European Economic Area (EEA) to the EU’s cap-and-trade program from 2012, limiting flight emissions. But with the EU’s strength, unity and global influence continuing to weaken (punctuated by Brexit), it’s questionable whether enough consensus could be reached among EU leaders to actually carry this out. Effectively addressing climate change is one argument for a stronger EU, as well as UN.

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