Author: Renee Karunungan

Ireland first country to divest from fossil fuels

The Irish parliament has passed the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill last July 12, making Ireland the world’s first country to divest from fossil fuels. The bill requires Ireland’s €8bn sovereign fund, the Irish Strategic Investment Fund, to drop all coal, oil, and gas investments within the next five years. The bill was proposed by TD Thomas Pringle who said in a statement: “The real effects of the Bill will be felt if other countries follow Ireland’s lead in sufficient numbers – this will help drive demand for low-fossil-fuel investments at a global level and potentially stimulate investment in renewable and sustainable alternatives.” Eamonn Meehan, executive director of Trocaire, an Irish environmental lobby that has pushed for the bill said that the decision was “vital” and sends a “powerful signal” to the community. He also said that, “the passing of this Bill is good news but has to mark a significant change of pace on the issue,” addressing Ireland’s lack of climate action. The country was ranked second-worst country in Europe in terms if climate action and GHG …

#MyCheveningJourney: Applying, getting accepted, and living the Chevening dream

I realized the Chevening application for 2019-2020 is going to open again soon, and it has reminded me of the long (but very much worth it) road it took for me to get to live my Chevening dream. I’ve always wanted to pursue further studies abroad but haven’t thought about the United Kingdom until around 2014. I always had my eyes on the United States — Columbia University and Brown University to be exact. I also thought of applying for the Australia Awards scholarship. But in those years, I never finished my applications and realized I probably wasn’t ready to pursue a masters degree and live abroad. In 2014, I learned of Chevening through friends who have been accepted in the scholarship programme. I researched about it, and thought to myself that this was the scholarship I was looking for. However, I looked at their roster of scholars and got really scared. Back then, Chevening only accepted 8-10 scholars per year, all of whom were known to have contributed a lot to their field — …

Festival Lampa 2018

I was invited to be part of Festival Lampa 2018 in Cesis, Latvia. The climate change stage was organised by Riga Technical University and Climate KIC-Latvia. I did my talk alongside Latvian journalists Sandra Kropa and Julius Sleiers and Canadian-Dutch journalist Bernice Notenboom. Most of my lecture was about evidence-based communication, and how facts don’t change people’s minds. Effective climate communication is touching o what is important for people, in different contexts, in different cultures.  It is also important that journalists are responsible in their reporting, which means taking the time to learn the science and its complexities. Here are some of my slides: The fun part was where we had our talk. It was in this amazing treehouse built especially for the event! The park also has a castle and the whole event was open to the public for free. On the other hand, the facilitation of the panel discussion could have been better. The facilitator kept coming back to questioning of climate change was man made, if we have the evidence for it. …

GIF: Five shared socio-economic pathways scenarios

As part of my internship, I was asked to do an animation of the five IPCC pathways scenarios. An explainer by Carbon Brief on these scenarios: Over the past few years, an international team of climate scientists, economists and energy systems modellers have built a range of new “pathways” that examine how global society, demographics and economics might change over the next century. They are collectively known as the “Shared Socioeconomic Pathways” (SSPs). These SSPs are now being used as important inputs for the latest climate models, feeding into the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sixth assessment report due to be published in 2020-21. They are also being used to explore how societal choices will affect greenhouse gas emissions and, therefore, how the climate goals of the Paris Agreement could be met. The new SSPs offer five pathways that the world could take. Compared to previous scenarios, these offer a broader view of a “business as usual” world without future climate policy, with global warming in 2100 ranging from a low of 3.1C to a high of 5.1C …

Without NETs, deep CO2 cuts needed by big country emitters to remain below 2°C goal

Countries have agreed to keep global temperature rise to “well-below 2°C, pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C”. As of writing, 172 countries had submitted their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), a national climate plan for all countries involved — many of which are informed by studies relying on large-scale global implementation of NETs. NETs work by taking CO2 out of the atmosphere. The inclusion of NETs in 2°C pathway scenarios expand the available carbon budget — the maximum amount of CO2 humans can emit to keep global temperatures below an increase of 2°C. However, NETs such as Bioenergy Carbon Capture Storage (BECCS) have yet to be proven to be effective at scale and argued in this paper to be too speculative an assumption to be included in all 2°C pathway scenarios. In other words, many more scenarios without BECCS, illustrating alternative means of cutting CO2, should be analysed and published in academic literature than is currently the case. BECCS is a technology that involves sequestration of CO2 by plants, its use as bioenergy, …