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New report: Climate Code Red

After "The big melt: lessons from the Arctic summer of 2007" comes...

"Climate Code Red: The case for a sustainability emergency"

Released 4 February by Friends of the Earth (Australia)

Available for download at

Climate policy is characterised by the habituation of low expectations and a culture of failure. There is an urgent need to understand global warming and the tipping points for dangerous impacts that we have already crossed as a sustainability emergency, that takes us beyond the politics of failure-inducing compromise. We are now in a race between climate tipping points and political tipping points.

"Climate Code Red: The case for a sustainability emergency"
By David Spratt and Philip Sutton
Friends of the Earth (Australia)

5 keys to a safe-climate future

1. Our goal is a safe-climate future – we have no right to bargain away species or human lives.
2. We are facing rapid warming impacts: the danger is immediate, not just in the future.
3. For a safe climate future, we must take action now to stop emissions and to cool the earth.
4. Plan a large-scale transition to a post-carbon economy and society.
5. Recognise a climate and sustainability emergency, because we need to move at a pace far beyond business and politics as usual.
Read 5 keys to a safe-climate future | PDF version (2 pages)

Summary: Climate Code Red

  • The extensive melting of Arctic sea-ice in the northern summer of 2007 starkly demonstrated that serious climate-change impacts are already happening, both more rapidly and at lower global temperature increases than projected. Human activity has already pushed the planet’s climate past several critical “tipping points”, including the initiation of major ice sheet loss.

  • The loss in summer of all eight million square kilometres of Arctic sea-ice now seems inevitable, and may occur as early as 2010, a century ahead of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change projections. There is already enough carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere to initiate ice sheet disintegration in West Antarctica and Greenland and to ensure that sea levels will rise metres in coming decades.

  • The projected speed of change, with temperature increases greater than 0.3°C per decade and the consequent rapid shifting of climatic zones will, if maintained, likely result in most ecosystems failing to adapt, causing the extinction of many animal and plant species. The oceans will become more acidic, endangering much marine life.

  • The Earth’s passage into an era of dangerous climate change accelerates as each of these tipping points is passed. If this acceleration becomes too great, humanity will no longer have the power to reverse the processes we have set in motion.

  • We stand at a time where we still have the power to make a choice. Only by dealing with the full scale and urgency of the problem can we create a realistic path back to a safe-climate world. Targets should be chosen and actions taken that can actually solve the problem in a timely manner. A temperature cap of 2–2.4°C, as proposed within the United Nations framework, would take the planet’s climate beyond the temperature range of the last million years and into catastrophe.

  • The loss of the Arctic sea-ice unambiguously represents dangerous climate change. As the tipping point for this event was around two decades ago when temperatures were about 0.3°C lower than at present, we propose a long-term precautionary warming cap of 0.5°C and equilibrium atmospheric greenhouse gas level of not more than 320 parts per million (ppm) carbon dioxide.

  • The USA’s leading climate scientist, James Hansen, stated recently that we should set an atmospheric carbon dioxide target that is low enough to avoid “the point of no return”. To achieve this, he says, we must not only eliminate current greenhouse gas emissions but also remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and take urgent steps to “cool the planet”.

  • These scientific imperatives are incompatible with the “realities” of “politics as usual” and “business as usual”. Our conventional mode of politics is short-term, adversarial and incremental, fearful of deep, quick change and simply incapable of managing the transition at the necessary speed. The climate crisis will not respond to incremental modification of the business-as-usual model.

  • There is an urgent need to reconceive the issue we face as a sustainability emergency, that takes us beyond the politics of failure-inducing compromise. The feasibility of rapid transitions is well established historically. We now need to “think the unthinkable”, because the sustainability emergency is now not so much a radical idea as simply an indispensable course of action if we are to return to a safe-climate planet.

Download Climate Code Red full report

3 Com:

dan | February 03, 2008

gOOD POST. see my climate clock blog here, ticking as we speak


maybe you can blog about the climate clock linke, too?


danny in taiwan

dan | February 03, 2008

Do you agree or disagree what humanity might need polar cities for survivors of global warming in the far distant future?


dan | March 15, 2008

In the midst of doing some reading online the other day, a certain
phrase popped out at me from a press release from an Australian green
group that spoke about a "safe-climate future" in an article by Ryan
King headlined "Scientists target safe-climate future".

The term SAFE CLIMATE jumped out at me, as I saw its similarities to
SAFE SEX as a PR catchword, so I began to try to formulate a way to use
this in a good way for climate activists. I came up with the concept
of "safe-climate lifestyle" as a term to mean living a lifestyle that
recognizes that global warming is real and trying to leave as small a
carbon footprint as possible and working in whatever ways one feels
are important to help mitigate the problems we are now facing.

So a question to those reading this blogpost: for feedback. Does this have a good ring
to it, sound good, should we try to make this term popular among green
activists and the media?

As in: "Local citizens gather to discuss
safe-climate lifestyles" (as a headline in a local newspaper in
Anytown, USA).

I like it. What do you think? COMMENTS BELOW APPRECIATED OR EMAIL ME at danbloom {one word, no space) in the GMAIL place. You know how that works. Go!

-- Danny Bloom



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