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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Most Comprehensive Paleoclimate Reconstruction Confirms Hockey Stick

by Stefan Rahmstorf (via Scilogs), by Climate Guest Contributor, Climate Progress, July 8, 2013

The past 2,000 years of climate change have now been reconstructed in more detail than ever before by the PAGES 2k project. The results reveal interesting regional differences between the different continents, but also important common trends. The global average of the new reconstruction looks like a twin of the original “hockey stick,” the first such reconstruction published 15 years ago.

Green dots show the 30-year average of the new PAGES 2k reconstruction. The red curve shows the global mean temperature, according HadCRUT4 data from 1850 onwards. In blue is the original hockey stick of Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1999 ) with its uncertainty range (light blue). Graph by Klaus Bitterman.
78 researchers from 24 countries, together with many other colleagues, worked for 7 years in the PAGES 2k project on the new climate reconstruction. “2k” stands for the last 2,000 years, while PAGES stands for the Past Global Changes program launched in 1991. Recently, their new study was published in Nature Geoscience. It is based on 511 climate archives from around the world, from sediments, ice cores, tree rings, corals, stalagmites, pollen or historical documents and measurements (Fig. 1). All data are freely available.
Figure 1. The map gives an overview of the studied continental areas and the particular combination of the proxies used for each. Source: Nature Geoscience.

The climate history of the past one to two thousand years was reconstructed for 7 continental regions in 30-year intervals (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Temperature evolution of the individual continental regions (30-year average). Red means hot, blue is cold. Source: Nature Geoscience.
Regional climate evolution
The data show, as expected, significant regional differences. Such regional patterns are an important clue to the causes and mechanisms of climate change. Significant local variations in climate can occur through changes in the atmospheric or oceanic circulation patterns, with very little effect on global mean temperature, because heat is only distributed differently (a recent short-term example is the record cold March in parts of Europe while Greenland was extremely warm – nothing unusual happened in the global mean). Changes in global mean temperature, however, occur due to changes in radiative forcing (e.g., solar fluctuations). This forcing can be globally uniform (e.g., well-mixed greenhouse gases) or can have a regional pattern (for example, volcanic eruptions and orbital cycles). So in the individual continents one expects a response to the forcings, superimposed by internal fluctuations.
The data shown in Figure 2 reflect this: they show some coherent signals, especially a long-term cooling trend that leads to increasingly cooler climate conditions from the relatively warm Middle Ages until this is turned around in the late 19th Century (see the next section). But, as expected, some regional variability is superimposed, especially on shorter time scales of decades to a century, where particularly warm and cold phases do not coincide in their timing on different continents, as the authors emphasize in the abstract:
There were no globally synchronous multi-decadal hot or cold intervals that define a worldwide Medieval Warm Period or Little Ice Age.
But they identify some shorter intervals where extremely cold conditions coincide with major volcanic eruptions and / or solar minima (as already known from previous studies).
Global Trends
The global mean temperature is of particular interest because it is a direct response to the global radiative forcing, buffered by the thermal inertia of the oceans. This follows from the first law of thermodynamics, i.e. the law of conservation of energy. So the globally coherent signals indicate globally effective forcings. The authors write in the abstract:
The most coherent feature in nearly all of the regional temperature reconstructions is a long-term cooling trend, which ended late in the nineteenth century. (…) Recent warming reversed the long-term cooling; during the period ad 1971–2000, the area-weighted average reconstructed temperature was higher than any other time in nearly 1,400 years.
The following Figure 3 therefore compares the area-weighted mean over the continents (b) with some previous northern hemisphere reconstructions (a) and the forcings (f, g, h). The basic pattern – a long-term slow cooling which in the late 19th Century turns into a rapid warming – has been known for 15 years and is often compared to a hockey stick: the long cooling trend is the handle, the modern warming the angled blade.

Figure 3. Temperature evolution according to some previous studies (a) and from the new PAGES 2k reconstruction (b). The panels f, g and h show the radiative forcing, see text. Source: Nature Geoscience. (Click here for enlarged image.)
Comparison with the forcings shows that this blade is due to the radiative forcing from the increasing amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (green line in g). The solar and volcanic forcing can be reconstructed only with some uncertainty, therefore two variants are shown. For solar forcing, it is less the shape of the curve but mainly the amplitude which is controversial (a constant conversion factor) – the very high amplitude  adopted by Shapiro (dotted line) is widely regarded as highly questionable (see, e.g., Feulner and Judge et al.). But even with this extreme assumption, the solar forcing in the 20th Century cannot compete by far with the greenhouse gases, and it also does not match the temperature evolution.
Interesting especially on long time scales of thousands of years is the orbital forcing (the well-known  Milanković  cycles; here is an online calculator for the radiative forcing). In the north, especially the summer insolation is important (green curve in panel h), because it is greatly amplified by the albedo feedback (i.e., by changes in the ice and snow-covered area). This may explain part of the cooling trend in the Northern Hemisphere. In Antarctica the situation is different: in summer the ice-covered area is relatively constant at about the size of the Antarctic continent because there is little sea ice and the trend of solar radiation (blue curve in panel h) is relatively weak. Therefore, the summer insolation change is much less important. But the annual average insolation in Antarctica (not shown in the PAGES graph) has declined strongly due to the orbital cycles over the past two millennia. This could be the explanation for the long-term cooling in Antarctica, which (unlike in the global average) has not yet been made up for by the modern anthropogenic warming.
Climate models are computer programs that calculate climate evolution from such forcings, based on the equations of thermo-and hydrodynamics. In the last IPCC report 18 such model calculations for the last millennium by different research groups are listed, almost all of which reproduce the reconstructed climate history from proxy data reasonably well (see IPCC, Figs. 6.13 and 6.14: the red-dashed outlier in 6.13 is the drift-affected model used by von Storch et al. in their failed attempt to discredit Mann et al.). The models also show that without the anthropogenic forcing there would have been no warming in the last 150 years.
The first comparable hockey stick curve was published in 1998 and 1999 by Mann et al. – at that time based on data only from the Northern Hemisphere. Figure 4 compares the new hockey stick (from panel b in Figure 3) with this original hockey stick. (The data for the original hockey stick have also been available since 1999 on the NOAA Paleoclimatology website.)

Figure 4. Green dots show the 30-year average (area-weighted mean over the continents) of the new PAGES 2k reconstruction, as shown in Figure 3b. The red curve shows the global mean temperature, according HadCRUT4 data from 1850 onwards (also in Figure 3b, smoothed with a 30-year window). In blue is the original hockey stick of man, Bradley and Hughes (1999 ) with its uncertainty range (light blue). Graph by Klaus Bitterman.
For the scientific community, the confirmation of the old hockey stick is no surprise (except perhaps for the closeness of the match); many other climate reconstructions with a similar time evolution have already appeared since. Mann et al. at the time cautiously assumed a wide margin of uncertainty (light blue) because of their limited data base and a possible underestimation of the variance by their method; later reconstructions run largely within this margin. The work of Mann and colleagues has gained the highest recognition. For example, Bradley was honoured in 2007 with the Oeschger Medal of the European Geosciences Union and Mann likewise in 2012, and both were (as well as Hughes) elected as fellows of the American Geophysical Union. Politically motivated attacks on their work were immense, however; both Bradley and Mann have published books about that experience:

Stefan Rahmstorf is Co-Chair of Earth System Analysis, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. This article was originally published in German and translated was provided by the author.

Chance to rescue the world’s oceans from climate change is drifting away


Acehnese fishers are among the quarter of the world’s population who live on the coast, and for whom climate-driven changes to the oceans would make life much harder. Hotli Simanjuntak/EPA/AAP Image

by Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Director, Global Change Institute, The University of Queensland, The Conversation, July 2, 2105

Until recently, you might be forgiven for thinking that the oceans were a trivial component of Earth’s climate system, and that the consequences of change were minimal. After all, only 5% of papers published on climate change involve ocean systems. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which evaluates the peer-reviewed scientific literature, did not devote a regional chapter to the ocean until its most recent major report.
Yet the ocean system could not be more important: it regulates the global temperature and atmosphere, feeds 3 billion people, and largely determines our weather. The ocean also has lots of “inertia” – which means that getting the ocean to change takes a lot of energy, but once it begins to change, slowing it down becomes more or less impossible.
paper published today in Science (on which I am one of the authors) has issued a warning that our window of opportunity to save the oceans from major changes is in danger of slamming shut, bringing with it the risk that we will encounter planetary-scale tipping points in the behaviour of the climate. Building on the IPCC’s extensive assessment last year of the effects of climate change on the oceans, my co-authors and I have compiled the latest evidence and projections about the ocean under rapid human-driven climate change.
The news is not good. Failure to act on climate change will see warmer and more stagnant oceans, with declining oxygen levels and productivity in some regions, and the removal or modification of ecosystems in other areas. Fisheries and national economies are in the cross hairs in many regions. Rising seas and intensifying storms, plus a loss of critical coastal features, will make life on the shores of a rapidly changing ocean dangerously different to today.
The risks currently being experienced across the planet. Most, if not all, are set to increase. Gattuso et al.
Click to enlarge
A lot hinges on whether we can meet the globally agreed 2 C “warming guardrail,” but there are fears that this is impossible within current economic strategies, and that even this target is unsafe.
It would be fine to state this if we had a safe alternative, but we don’t. Consequently, the bar for the end-of-year Paris climate summit is set much higher than many understand. As I’ll explain below, we need a global deal that reduces global emissions to zero over the next 20 years, or else we will see momentous changes.

Calls to action

Thankfully, world leaders are beginning to wake up to the challenge facing our oceans. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Prince Albert II of Monaco, are among those who have spoken out against what many see as impending chaos.
The latest is Pope Francis, who became the first pontiff to warn of ocean warming, acidification and sea-level rise, pointing out in his recent encyclical that “a quarter of the world’s population lives on the coast or nearby, and … the majority of our megacities are situated in coastal areas.”
For the first time, the Vatican is fighting for the ocean. Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Global Change Institute, University of Queensland
Our research adds to the already mounting evidence that these leaders are right when they say we need to act decisively on fossil fuel emissions and other drivers of climate change.
One of the most stunning conclusions from the IPCC’s report is the statement that “the current rate and magnitude of ocean acidification are at least 10 times faster than any event within the last 65 million years.” Given that periods of rapid acidification over tens of thousands of years – slow by our current human-driven standard  resulted in mass extinction and ecological collapse, this alone should be reason to act.
In a few regions, such as the North Sea, temporary increases in fisheries production are being reported, as the ice retreats, seas warm, and productivity increases. But these benefits are few and far between, and are likely to disappear over time as the ocean warms and acidifies further.
Coral reefs perhaps provide the perfect parable for the Pope’s encyclical. Everyone appreciates their beauty and value, but few may be aware of the crucial role that they play in terms of protecting coastlines, and supporting fisheries and other industries. They generate hundreds of billions of dollars each year and support some 500 million mostly poor people worldwide. Our report highlights the extreme sensitivity of these ecosystems to ocean warming and acidification.
Climate-driven changes in the oceans pose risks to organisms, ecosystems, people and industry. Gattuso et al.
Click to enlarge

Work to do at the Paris summit

As we progress down the road to Paris, paved with skeletons of these important organisms, there is little doubt about the amount of work that needs to be done in Paris. Analysis of the world’s “carbon budget” (see here and here suggest that we can emit about another 500800 billion tonnes (gigatonnes) of carbon dioxide before we push global temperatures beyond 2 C above the pre-industrial average. This gives us about 20 years before net global emissions have to fall to zero – a tall order indeed.
There is hope. The recent USChina climate deal is one reason to be optimistic that negotiations in Paris will be smoother than at the Copenhagen climate talks in 2009. But I wonder whether leaders are aware of the true scale of the work that needs to be done to avoid catastrophe. Perhaps the fact that China this week made clear the strength of its new climate commitments is evidence of this.
Yet here is a sobering calculation: imagine that the rest of the world falls into line with the US and Chinese climate targets. How much of the world’s budget would we burn?
The answer would be that the world had emitted 1,400 gigatonnes of CO2, or 175280% of our remaining budget, dragging average global warming to 3C and beyond (see the orange line on the graph below). This would be disastrous for us and our children, and many of the benefits of our oceans (coral reefs, fisheries, coastal living) would be transformed beyond recognition.
The relationship between cumulative carbon dioxide emissions and future average global temperatures. IPCC
Click to enlarge

An ethical response

Mention of “us and our children” brings us back to Pope Francis and the importance of not reducing everything to a dollar value. Yet even in pure economic terms, given that the IPCC calculates that keeping atmospheric CO2 below about 450 parts per million (which would give us a good chance of staying within the 2 C guardrail) would cost just 0.06% of global consumption growth per year, one is left wondering why we are not jumping right in and solving this problem.
Pope Francis made an important observation:
In a word, businesses profit by calculating and paying only a fraction of the costs involved. Yet only when “the economic and social costs of using up shared environmental resources are recognized with transparency and fully borne by those who incur them, not by other peoples or future generations,” can those actions be considered ethical.
Once can only hope the leaders heading to Paris will heed his words and drive their efforts in a new direction.

JAW-DROPPING [PUT YOUR COFFEE DOWN] forecast for sea surface temperature anomalies in zone 3.4


ECMWF forecast, June 1, 2015:


http://download.ecmwf.org/data/web249//data/soa/scratch/get_legacy_plot-web249-21afb3424b395e92cb7f1b5bc9f473fd-bCeU3c.gif


Latest El Nino forecast by NOAA here:

http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/lanina/enso_evolution-status-fcsts-web.pdf

Australian Met Office forecast:

http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/poama2.4/poama.shtml

MUST SEE NEW VIDEO of Prof. Peter Wadhams on the Arctic sea ice and the subsea methane problem

by Robert Hunziker, Counter Punch, July 3, 2015

[Watch the Arctic sea ice via this link:  https://earthdata.nasa.gov/labs/worldview/?p=arctic&l=MODIS_Aqua_CorrectedReflectance_TrueColor,MODIS_Aqua_CorrectedReflectance_Bands721(hidden),MODIS_Terra_CorrectedReflectance_TrueColor(hidden),MODIS_Terra_CorrectedReflectance_Bands367(hidden),MODIS_Terra_CorrectedReflectance_Bands721(hidden),Graticule,Coastlines&t=2015-07-03&v=-1558366.776201329,-1132033.255730632,1415329.223798671,498174.744269368]

SKIP TO MINUTE 7 FOR THE BIT ABOUT METHANE COMING OUT OF THE SHALLOW SHELVES OFF SIBERIA 



Published on June 20, 2015
Exclusive interview with Professor Peter Wadhams, leading Arctic scientist, Cambridge University - Filmed by Judy Sole, the University of Earth - www.theuniversityofearth.net

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as well as world governments ignores the risks of an ice-free Arctic (Peter Wadhams). Rather, an ice-free Arctic is widely applauded by much of the world as a positive way forward for re-opening of northern shipping routes, new trips for cruise lines, and access to a huge cache of fossil fuels.
According to Professor Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University, an ice-free Arctic with its concomitant methane outbreak potential is scarcely mentioned by the IPCC in its assessment. Evidently, the IPCC does not want to discuss the possibility of major catastrophes.
In truth, an ice-free Arctic tempestuously opens up eons of methane entrapped ever since the last Ice Age. The ramifications are profound.
When the Vatican recently held meetings with leading scientists about climate change in preparation for the Pope’s encyclical of June 2015, one of the invited guest speakers was Professor Peter Wadhams. Assuming that the Pontifical Academy of Sciences listened carefully to his words, they may still be suffering from bouts of sleeplessness.
Status of Arctic Sea Ice and Why it Matters
Peter Wadhams, Professor of Ocean Physics and Head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge, recently committed to a very candid interview: “Our Time is Running Out – The Arctic Sea Ice is Going,” May 15th, 2015 (all subsequent quotes are from that interview).
“I’ve been measuring the ice thickness go down by 50% over the last 30 years. In the summer for instance, you used to see very heavy pack ice so that a ship would have great difficulty getting through it. Today, it’s more like a blue planet. It’s almost an ice-free Arctic. That’s a big change.”
Accordingly, with the passage of time, the risk of a massive methane outbreak increases along with the ongoing disintegration of sea ice.
“We’re really concerned about the Arctic offshore… the continental shelves of Siberia are very shallow waters. And up until recently there was always sea ice over those shelves, even in the summer… now, it retreats in the summer and it already disappears for 2-3 months off of those shelves. That allows the water to warm up. And, when the water warms up, it causes underwater permafrost to melt, which hadn’t melted since the last Ice Age, and that’s allowing methane to be released.”
According to Professor Wadhams, the East Siberian Sea is a lurking monster. He believes the effect of a methane outbreak could be as catastrophic as an asteroid collision into Earth. The amount of warming would be immediate and large. The probability it will happen: “I would say it is about 50% because we’re seeing the permafrost melting and we’re seeing the methane already being released.”
In fact, field scientists are already seeing sizeable increases of big plumes of methane in the summer whilst discovering new areas of methane release. Until only recently, the East Siberian Sea was monitored every year by one Russian ship. Whereas nowadays, and over the past couple of years, Swedish ships are going elsewhere in the Arctic, and “they’re seeing just as much methane coming out as in East Siberia.”
“So, it’s not a low probability, high catastrophic risk. It’s a high catastrophic, high probability risk.”
He believes complete disappearance of the ice in mid summer could occur within the next couple of years. Presently, the volume of ice in the summer is only a quarter of the 1980s. If that trend continues, summer ice will go to zero very soon.
Impact of Ice-Free Arctic
Changes in the Arctic are driving changes elsewhere on the planet. “For instance, the disappearance of ice in the Arctic is leading to warmer air masses moving over Greenland in the summer. That’s causing the Greenland ice sheet to melt faster. And, that’s causing global sea level rise to elevate.”
Result, instead of a one-meter sea level rise this century, as predicted by the IPCC, Greenland’s melt could cause a rise of a couple of meters, or more. In fact, some glaciologists are talking about 4 or 5 meters [13-16 ft.].
The final cataclysmic impact of too much sea level rise would be some areas of the world, like Miami, would have to be completely abandoned, vacated, evacuated similar to Chernobyl, and very much like Chernobyl, because of cuckoo energy policies.
Not only that, global warming accelerates as a result of Arctic sea ice loss, which reduces global albedo whereby radiation is reflected straight back into outer space, but with loss of the white icy reflective background the sun’s radiation absorbs into a dark background, all of which results in the rate of worldwide warming much faster than anticipated by mainstream science, the IPCC.
“So, this attempt to pretend that we can keep global warming below two degrees C, which was already a pretense, is even more ridiculous. It’s certainly going to get to 4 °C or 5 °C degrees by the end of this century, which will have quite catastrophic impacts on agricultural production.”
What to do?
As for stopping offshore methane release by “bringing back Arctic sea ice, some people are proponents of doing that. The problem is you really cannot bring back the ice without cooling the planet. Global temperatures govern sea ice; it cannot be isolated or targeted. Finding a way to bring back Arctic sea ice won’t work unless you can cool the entire planet.”
The only realistic possibility, ironically, is modification of the fracking method used in oil and gas drilling by utilizing offshore platforms along the Arctic coastline, a network of horizontal drills into the creation of cavities to suck up the methane to prevent it from emitting into the atmosphere (Wadhams). But, no research has been done on this. It has only been suggested.
Regardless of how, what, or when, resolution of the problem is an enormous, overwhelming task: “There is a conspiracy of complacency around the world in which they still imagine that if we do a few minor things, minor adjustments and reduce our carbon dioxide emissions, then all will be well. But, it won’t because we’ve already got too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. We’re already going to have more than 2 °C degrees of warming even if we don’t emit anymore because of the already existing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. So, we’ve got to not only stop emitting it or reducing it, reducing emissions, but find ways to take it out of the atmosphere, and that’s a technology that hasn’t been developed.”
Climate change has a progressive effect, slowly working throughout the world. But, all of the slowness is building up to a big change. Moreover, by the time anomalous weather patterns disrupt agriculture, causing worldwide starvation, it’ll be too late to do anything. Unfortunately, global inertia is the problem. “The forces of inertia are so enormous… the use of fossil fuel is so built into our society. Everything in life results from burning fossil fuels.”
Timing of the Worse Case
The only way to save civilization as it currently exist is to bring CO2 levels down, and that can only be accomplished by some drastic method of actually removing CO2 from the atmosphere. “We can’t do it by messing around with reducing our emissions, we can’t even do it by stopping our emissions because we’ve gone too far. We’ve got to actually take it out.”
Professor Wadhams claims climate change research must, front and center, become the major thrust of a worldwide scientific effort, and it must be done urgently, similar to the Manhattan Project (ironically). Society will be forced to use some technology, which is not yet proven, to remove CO2 to prevent a catastrophe. Accordingly, there is no time to tinker around.
He believes in a worse case scenario, “by ten years time, we’ll really be in the soup.”
Current Arctic Weather Conditions
According to Arctic News, as of July 2nd: “While the media gives wide coverage to the heat waves that have been hitting populous countries such as India, Pakistan, the U.S., Spain and France recently, less attention is given to heat waves hitting the Arctic.”
Furthermore: “The heat waves that hit Alaska and Russia recently are now followed up by a heat wave in East Siberia… a location well within the Arctic Circle… temperatures as high as 37.1 °C (98.78 °F) were recorded on July 2, 2015.”
And, even more, “With temperatures as high as the 37.1 °C (98.78 °F) recorded on July 2, 2015, huge melting can be expected where there still is sea ice in the waters off the coast of Siberia, while the waters where the sea ice is already gone will warm up rapidly. Note that the waters off the coast of Siberia are less than 50 meters (164 ft.) deep, so warming can quickly extend all the way down to the seabed, that can contain enormous amounts of methane in the form of free gas and hydrates.”
Also, on July 1, 2015, a temperature of 36 °C (96.8 °F) was recorded near the Kolyma River that flows into the East Siberian Sea.
The Arctic is hotter than Miami!
Somehow or other, 98 °F in the Arctic makes the world seem upside down/sideways. Is it?
Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at roberthunziker@icloud.com

Alberta, Canada, doubles carbon tax from $15 to $30 per ton, instead of letting tax expire entirely

by Emily Atkin, Think ProgressJune 25, 2015
 
Last month, the historically ultra-conservative and oil-rich province of Alberta, Canada, did the unthinkable: It elected a left-wing government. And that new government just made one of its first big moves: It announced a serious clamp-down on climate change, including doubling its carbon tax. 
 
 
Last month, the historically ultra-conservative and oil-rich province of Alberta, Canada, did the unthinkable: It elected a left-wing government [i.e., a non-ultra-right-wing climate-change-denying government]. And that new government just made one of its first big moves: It announced a serious clamp-down on climate change.
 
“We need a climate change plan that is bold, ambitious, and will bring Alberta into a new era of responsible energy development and environmental sustainability,” Environment Minister Shannon Phillips said Thursday. “If we get it right, our environmental policy will make us world leaders on this issue, instead of giving us a black eye around the world.”
 
According to Phillips, the province will double its carbon tax. In other words, it will ask oil companies and other high-emitting industries to pay double what they’re paying now for pumping greenhouse gases into the air.
 
In addition, Phillips announced the creation of an advisory panel to review Alberta’s entire climate change policy, with the goal of making a preliminary pledge to reduce emissions at the COP21 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris at the end of this year. That conference is widely seen as the last chance for a global agreement that could feasibly limit global warming to 2 °C.
 
Alberta is home to the tar sands, a type of oil that requires one of the most carbon-intensive extraction processes in the world. The province has come under fire from environmentalists for that process, which produces as much as three times the greenhouse gas emissions of conventionally produced oil. Canada is the world’s fifth-largest oil producer, and about 78% of that is produced in Alberta.
 
Phillips said that the current carbon tax of $15 per ton would double to $30 per ton by 2017. The carbon tax as a whole was set to expire, but instead of letting it, she said Alberta would renew and strengthen it.
 
Phillips also called the province’s current regulations crafted in 2007 “obsolete,” and said they need to be strengthened for Alberta to be taken seriously around the world.
 
“If Alberta wants better access to world markets, then we’re going to need to do our part to address one of the world’s biggest problems, which is climate change,” she said. “Now it is time to begin to address those issues.”
 
You can watch the entirety of Phillips’ comments here.
 
Prior to the May election, oil-rich Alberta had grown accustomed to having very strong conservative governance. The Progressive Conservative party had been in the leadership there for more than four decades, and the oil industry enjoyed the benefits of that. The Canadian environmental and energy think tank Pembina Institute has described the province’s environmental regulations on the oil industry as very weak. Indeed, because of Alberta’s carbon-intensive tar sands extraction processes, Canada’s energy industry recently became the country’s largest producer of greenhouse gases, surpassing transportation for the first time.
 
Still, environmentalists cautioned that Thursday’s announcement was just a start to a strong climate policy in Alberta. Dan Woynillowicz, director of policy for Clean Energy Canada, told the National Observer as much.
 
“Today’s announcement sends a clear and critical message to industry and Albertans: This is a first step,” he said. “Expect more robust climate action to follow.”