The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s “Final Warning” report on the climate was released just days after the world’s second-largest polluter, the US, authorized new drilling in Alaska. The Willow Project, over its expected lifespan, will add 278 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, the equivalent of 70 new coal plants per year, according to the EPA’s greenhouse gas calculator. The Willow Project expects to be drilling through at least 2050, the same year the world should be at net-zero emissions.
An International Energy Agency report published in 2021 found that in order to meet the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degrees C goal, no new oil and gas fields can be developed, other than what had been committed to already.
The IPCC report states, “Far-reaching transitions across all sectors and systems are necessary to achieve deep and sustained emissions reductions.” It calls for “ reforming the financial system to direct more money to climate-resilient development and low-carbon energy sources.” “Insufficient and misaligned finance is holding back progress,” report author Christopher Trises said in a statement.
It’s clear that this administration is not committed to mitigating the climate emergency in time to avert climate catastrophe. To date, the only member of the Massachusetts delegation to speak out against the Willow Project is Sen. Markey.
Meanwhile, the Massachusetts government recently released the state’s Climate Change Assessment report, which details the wide-ranging impacts of the climate emergency here at home. In communities across the Bay State, we can expect: health and cognitive effects from extreme heat and degraded air quality; emergency service response delays and evacuation disruptions from extreme storms; damage to infrastructure from heavy rainfall, heat stress, and flooding; degradation of fresh water and marine ecosystems as well as coastal wetlands and forests due to warming waters, drought, and sea level rise; reduction in State and Municipal revenues in addition to increased costs of responding to climate migration; reductions in aquaculture and seasonal workers’ employment; and reduction in the availability of affordably priced housing. We have a lot of work to do.