This week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report on the risks and benefits of limiting global warming to 1.5° C (2.7° F) above pre-industrial levels, along with recommended pathways for limiting temperature increases to that level. The report contains more than 6,000 cited scientific references and the contribution of thousands of expert and government reviewers worldwide. Ninety-one authors and review editors from 40 countries prepared the IPCC report in response to an invitation from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) when it adopted the Paris Agreement in 2015.
The report goes onto underscore the importance of staying within 1.5° C warming to avoid environmental catastrophe. However, according to IPCC, staying within 1.5° C warming would require, in effect, a radical transformation of unprecedented scale. The report says that based on current forecasts, we are likely to reach the 1.5° C threshold sometime between 2030 and 2052. If the planet is unsuccessful in cutting its global CO2 emissions in half by 2030, research shows that we will experience a cataclysmic loss or coral reefs and Arctic ice, and intense floods and droughts. Achieving this will require “unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” costing $2.4 trillion a year worldwide.
Take a look at this global temperature timeline by NASA depicting the rate of change from 1884 to 2017.
Cristina Mittermeier spoke at the VIFF Sustainable Production Forum on October 6th addressing the industry on the importance of action and the desperate need to change in all industries, including entertainment and motion picture. As a photographer for National Geographic, Cristina is on the front line witnessing first-hand the effects of both climate change and global warming. Her work shares with the world what she experiences with her own eyes. A video captured by Cristina and Paul Nicklen underpins the impacts of Arctic ice melts and warming global temperatures; its one of a starving polar bear in Canada’s Baffin islands. The video went viral causing mass reaction from audiences. This video is just one small example of how warming temperatures are currently and will continue to lead to adverse impacts on our planet.
Furthermore, to compound the issue is the growth of the petrochemical industry. Demand for plastics has outpaced all other bulk materials, such as steel, aluminum or cement — nearly doubling since the start of the millennium. “The United States, Europe, and other advanced economies currently use up to 20 times as much plastic and up to 10 times as much fertilizer as India, Indonesia and other developing economies on a per-capita basis, underscoring the huge potential for growth worldwide,” said International Energy Agency. The International Energy Agency issued a report that finds the growth of the petrochemical industry — from the manufacture of plastic, fertilizer, and pharmaceuticals — will erode climate benefits resulting from reductions in other sectors.
So what can the motion picture industry do?
Take steps to minimize impacts on the environment and lower the carbon footprint for productions, studios, facilities, and all aspects of the industry while participating in cultural transformation.
Taking a page from Cristina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen, the industry is in a unique position to use its influential platforms to communicate the importance of protecting the planet whether this is direct or indirect. When the whole world is listening is a good opportunity to instill change.
Furthermore, productions can take steps to reduce or eliminate the use of petrochemical products such as plastics and gasoline. Searching and utilizing renewable power sources, enforcing a no-idling policy, car share and cut down on air travel are all effective steps to take. Start considering alternatives to plastic like reusable cutlery and dishware at crafty and no single-use water bottles.
“The decisions we make today are critical in ensuring a safe and sustainable world for everyone, both now and in the future”, says Debra Roberts, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II. It’s a large task but with effective and determined leadership, the motion picture industry can contribute to the management of global warming and climate change.
Discuss this with your peers at Reel Green meetings and take the Reel Green Carbon Literacy Course to learn more about climate change and ways to reduce the negative impacts of the motion picture industry.