Today's commitments to climate change are too often based on shaky "net zero" frameworks, with an over reliance on carbon "offsets" and limited carbon removal schemes.

This can obscure real progress, or the lack thereof.
Let's be more transparent with our climate goals, focus on real reductions, and avoid the potential for accounting tricks.

An alternative framework might focus on three principles:
1) Reduce your own emissions towards "real" zero, not "net zero", as quickly as you can.

Some cuts will be easy & quick; others will take time. Report them. Keep at it.

Don't buy "offsets", which can give an illusion of progress without truly reducing emissions. Do #2 instead.
2) Help others reduce their emissions.

As you pursue #1, estimate the "social cost of carbon" from your ongoing emissions -- and make an equivalent donation, helping poor & vulnerable communities reduce their emissions.

Don't pretend it "offsets" your emissions. Do it anyway.
3) Help address historic inequities in greenhouse gas emissions by committing to removing your *cumulative* emissions as well as your ongoing ones.

Invest in nature- or tech-based carbon removal for these historic emissions. But *only* for historic emissions, not ongoing ones.
This framework commits one to reducing your ongoing GHG pollution, helping others do the same, and addressing the historic inequities and burdens of your past pollution.
Note that this kind of climate commitment does *not* allow for "net zero" accounting tricks, offsets, or promises of carbon removal -- which can hide our lack of progress in cutting real emissions.

Instead, it would focus on three parallel tracks:
a) Just cut your damn emissions towards zero. Not "net zero". Zero zero. It will take time. Keep at it, year by year, reporting progress.

And no "offsets" allowed. Just a clear reduction in pollution, as quickly and transparently as possible.
b) While doing this, pay the "social cost of carbon" from your ongoing emissions as a philanthropic donation to the world.

Use it to help others to reduce their emissions and become more climate resilient. But no counting this as an "offset". Just do it anyway.
c) Use our *very* limited ability to remove & store carbon to address *historical* emissions, not ongoing ones.

It is expensive & difficult to remove carbon *after* it's emitted, so don't waste it obscuring ongoing emissions w/net zero math. Use it to remove historic pollution.
This might make more sense if you think of other forms of pollution, like a factory pouring toxic sludge into a lake.

In that case, our goals would be similar:

- stop the primary source of pollution as soon as possible
- make amends for the ongoing damages
- clean up your mess
Hey @jtemple -- this is what I was trying to say in my earlier tweet. Took an entire thread :-)

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More from @GlobalEcoGuy

6 Jun
The “conspiracy theory defense” is a poor way to defend a ideologically-based view of the world.

Just because facts contradict you doesn’t make it a conspiracy theory.
It’s absolutely amazing to see people spout nonsense, and then when science completely contradicts them, they attack the science, scientists, peer review, etc., and just go to conspiracy theories.
And when the conspiracy theory says “peer review” is bad, data don’t matter, and is positing the existence of “Big Science”, “Big Vegan”, or “Big Renewables” or whatever — you have lost all credibility.
Read 5 tweets
18 Feb
I want to clarify an earlier Tweet.

Improvements in technology will help us address climate change. Especially technology that helps us bring existing solutions to scale — making things cheaper, faster, better.

But *time* is more important than anything else.
To stay within the 1.5 to 2 degree warming window, we basically need to cut emissions in half in a decade or so, and bring them to near zero by 2050.

The best tools to do much of that are the tools we can deploy *today*.

For every year we wait, the job gets much, much harder.
That’s why I worry about pinning hope on technology that doesn’t seem realistically on the table right now.

We just don’t have a lot of time, and we have already squandered thirty years, and passed the >1 C mark.

In other words, as @DrKWilkinson says “Now is better than new”.
Read 4 tweets
18 Feb
Despite what some billionaires seem to think, climate change is a *time* problem, not a tech problem.

We already have the tech needed to solve the problem. We really do.

But what we don’t have is time to wait or waste.
To clarify, I am glad that some technology R&D is happening for tools to scale existing solutions (making them cheaper, faster, better) and invent new ones.

But this should NOT become a reason to delay what we can do now, with the many effective solutions we have today.
No amount of technology, short of a time machine, can make up for the time we have already wasted debating and delaying action on climate change. And any additional delay, no matter the reason, is very problematic.
Read 4 tweets
15 Feb
Addressing climate change is like playing chess.

We need to use all the pieces, employ multiple strategies, and always see the whole board.

Sadly, we’re not doing that today.
To address climate change, without missing key solutions and opportunities (which we are largely ignoring today), we should consider learning some basic rules for “climate chess”.

Here is my thinking about the potential rule set...
The first rule of climate chess is this: The board is bigger than you think, and includes more than fossil fuels.

Here’s a breakdown of where greenhouse gases come from:
Read 17 tweets
6 Feb
I often get asked “what are the best carbon offsets?”

My response?

I’d rank them from 1 (best) to 4 (worst).

1. None. Reduce your emissions instead. There is absolutely no substitute for this. Stop thinking “net zero” and focus on “zero” — or as close as you can get.
2. Offsets that reduce other emissions today. And offsets that can be verified, are additional (not happening already), and permanent.

Eliminating refrigerant emissions from landfills, for example. Or eliminating methane leaks. Or big energy efficiency investments.
3. Offsets that protect / enhance natural sinks, in soils & trees, and don’t compete with food supplies or biodiversity.

But be careful — they may not be permanent, verifiable. Also: while waiting for nature to offset emissions, your emissions still cause decades of warming.
Read 6 tweets
11 Dec 20
A lot of people seem to think that the 7% drop in CO2 emissions this year — during lockdowns and people staying home — shows the limits of personal actions on climate change.


The lockdowns were not targeting climate action, but pandemic action
While personal actions can’t — and never could — do the whole job, they can do more than this.

And remember when people were staying home and locked down, they were still inefficiently using electricity, heating inefficient homes, eating too much meat, wasting too much food....
The effects of lock downs on personal climate actions was fairly limited to less flying, and a little less driving.

The lock downs were not an effort to reduce household greenhouse gas emissions. And it’s not the right analog.
Read 6 tweets

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