BRUSSELS: Attending the 2015 transport logistic expo in Munich, a Maersk Sustainability manager admitted his company didn’t have a Plan B for loading and unloading containers when there is a 7.0+ metre (24.6 feet) rise in sea-level as a result of a melted Greenland ice sheet.
Notwithstanding the increasingly urgent climate warnings by scientists and civil society, politicians and the corporate community continue to behave as if it’s business as usual – even with, or because of, the ongoing social and economic impact of Covid and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Of the world’s 10 largest enablers of maritime global trade, four are based in Europe and together carry twice as many containers as the other six combined.
This month the European Commission called for feedback from shippers, freight forwarders, port and terminal operators on continuing the carrier group’s anti-trust exemption after 2024.
As part of lobbying the Commission to renew their mandate, Hapag-Lloyd, MSC, CMA-CGM and Maersk might also leverage their market dominance to ensure disrupted global supply chains are not the start of a permanent humanitarian crisis.
In addition to a melting Greenland, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research warned in 2020 of a 2.5 metre sea-level rise if the West Antarctica Ice Shelf melts irreversibly as a result of a 2.0 degrees Celsius rise in global warming.
The following year the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration reported the West Antarctica glacier had become become increasingly unstable.
At 120 kilometres, “Thwaites is the widest glacier in the world,” noted Ted Scambos, a senior research scientist at the U.S. Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. “It’s doubled its outflow speed within the last 30 years, and the glacier in its entirety holds enough water to raise sea-level by over two feet. And it could lead to even more sea-level rise, up to 10 feet, if it draws the surrounding glaciers with it.”
Now there are preliminary signs that the much larger East Antarctica Ice Sheet, which holds the vast majority of the Earth’s glacier ice, is showing signs of instability. A new report in the publication Nature suggests at +2.0 degrees Celsius it would begin an irreversible melt, leading to an eventual sea-level rise of 52 metres.
According to Dr. Luke Kemp from Cambridge University’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, there are plenty of reasons to believe climate change could become catastrophic, even at modest levels of warming.
In a report published this month in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Kemp and his co-authors suggest governments need to prepare for a “climate endgame ” with outcomes ranging from a 10 percent loss of the global population to eventual human extinction.
The team proposes a research agenda that includes what they call the endgame’s “four horsemen”: famine and malnutrition, extreme weather, conflict, and vector-borne diseases.
“A greater appreciation of catastrophic climate scenarios can help compel public action. Understanding nuclear winter performed a similar function for debates over nuclear disarmament,” explained Kemp.
Whether it is from an irreversible melting of Greenland ice or Antarctica, the subsequent rise in sea-level will flood ports and lead to a collapse of world trade.
“Facing a future of accelerating climate change while remaining blind to worst-case scenarios is naive risk-management at best and fatally foolish at worst,” he added.
The European Commission, by leveraging the EU’s dominance of global container shipping, can force governments and corporations to acknowledge once and for all, business is no longer usual.
The alternative, sooner rather than later, is no business at all.
Story Type: News