Our Perspectives on the Latest Issues
I’ve waited five days to write something about the October 8 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) document, The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC. This time around, the panel uses its powerful voice and platform to pronounce that we are living through the impacts of 1 degree change. This time, the IPCC makes its case that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels is the best pathway to avoid the irreversible impacts of climate change. The panel makes no bones that to get there will be extremely challenging, and that no sector of society can sit out doing its part to greatly limit its carbon footprint.
By now, millions will have said something about the report on social media, or to their friends and family. I can’t offer anything original or that hasn’t been said many, many times since last Saturday. So, I find myself asking how, if, the report changes the world for PennFuture? If I am going to be honest with my answer, it doesn’t. We operate from the same pronounced, crucial and excruciating imperative to act on climate this week, as we did when we formed as an organization 20 years ago.
By the time PennFuture was founded in October 1998, Dr. James Hansen’s testimony to Congress on global warming was ten years old. The NASA climate scientist noted the warmth of the earth at that time was the hottest ever, and that there was enough data for him to say that extreme weather was attributable to impacts from the greenhouse gas effect. In 1990, the IPCC issued its first assessment, this time the science and the call to act wasn’t a single voice speaking from within NASA, it was a large body of scientists presenting more data and recommendations for policy makers upon which the United Nations was then to act through the UN Framework on Climate Change. The Framework was ratified at the Earth Summit in Rio in ‘92, taken up again in Kyoto, further shaped in Bali, Copenhagen, Cancun, Durban until finally the United States, China, India and the entirety of the world embraced a chance through the Paris Climate Accord in 2015.
Here in Pennsylvania, PennFuture was making progress, a little at a time, helping the state set goals for renewables, helping consumers make good energy choices, helping nascent alternative energy businesses get their legs under them and connect to a growing network through the early days of our Energy Center. We began dealing with the onslaught of gas, working for guidelines and protections for communities…always with ambitions to do more, to provide leadership at a scale that meets the imperative, to act in ways that meet the growing climate crisis described by 40 years of excruciating science, and now, with almost daily evidence of the changing world around us – everywhere.
So, here at PennFuture, we are settled into the work we have to do. We’re doing some planning, and we are hoping it will be informed by outcomes of November 6, Election Day. We hope you will vote, and vote with the environment and our climate in mind. We hope Election Day will bring change and send enough of a message to give elected officials who in their hearts know the time has come to act, the will to step up and with your help, and the help or organizations like PennFuture, finally make Pennsylvania a climate leader.