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In addition to making carbon pricing the cornerstone for climate change policy, the second half of this century must be free of fossil fuel emissions, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said in a report released in October. Eliminating emissions from burning fossil fuels will lower the economic cost of climate change, according to the OECD.

OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria said climate change has economic consequences that cannot be ignored and simply reducing emissions would not be enough, as carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere.

The OECD has pleaded similar, but more concrete changes before, especially with facilitating the gradual phase-out of fossil fuel emissions using carbon pricing. Global energy systems need to transform if the world hopes to limit climate change to the agreed upon 2⁰C temperature increase, Gurria said.

“That doesn’t mean by 2050 exactly,” Gurria said. “But it means by that time, we need to be pretty much on the way to achieving it.”

Global governments are working on a global deal that will cut emissions. This deal will be signed by 2015 and put into place by 2020, and many countries already have policies aimed at lowering emissions over the next ten years. This, Gurria said, is not enough. More progress needs to be made immediately, not after 2020. “We don’t need to see zero net emissions tomorrow, but we will need to be on the pathway,” Gurria said.

There is more to climate change than colder winters and longer summers. According to an article by The Guardian, increased emission of greenhouse gases has changed the earth’s climate significantly, and thus, sea levels have risen and the oceans have undergone acidification.

The Borgen Project published an article about what this means for many island villages and those who depend on marine life for food.

According to TearFund, a Christian organization also aimed at ridding the world of poverty, and countless other sources, climate change is directly related to food insecurity. Where we once thought it was an environmental concern, we now know developing countries have a lot more to think of than just that.

Climate change has been linked to drastic increases in disaster floods as well as droughts. Climate change affects “food insecurity, ill health, loss of forests, biodiversity, social and political instability and economic decline.” All of these affect the poor the most directly.

– Alycia Rock

Sources: The Borgen Project, Financial Post, Tear Fund
Photo: Nick Koudis