Showing posts with label Climate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Climate. Show all posts

22 August 2019

Climate Change To Shrink Economies Of Rich, Poor, Hot And Cold Countries Alike Unless Paris Agreement Holds

Prevailing economic research anticipates the burden of climate change falling on hot or poor nations. Some predict that cooler or wealthier economies will be unaffected or even see benefits from higher temperatures. 

However, a new study co-authored by researchers from the University of Cambridge suggests that virtually all countries – whether rich or poor, hot or cold – will suffer economically by 2100 if the current trajectory of carbon emissions is maintained.

In fact, the research published by the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that – on average – richer, colder countries would lose as much income to climate change as poorer, hotter nations. 

Under a “business as usual” emissions scenario, average global temperatures are projected to rise over four degrees Celsius by the end of the century. This would cause the United States to lose 10.5% of its GDP by 2100 – a substantial economic hit, say researchers.

Canada, which some claim will benefit economically from temperature increase, would lose over 13% of its income by 2100. The research shows that keeping to the Paris Agreement limits the losses of both North American nations to under 2% of GDP. 

21 August 2019

The Danger of Climate Doomsayers


PALO ALTO – Most people on the planet wake up each day thinking that things are getting worse. It is little wonder, given what they routinely read in the newspaper or see on television. But this gloomy mood is a problem, because it feeds into scare stories about how climate change will end in Armageddon.

The fact is that the world is mostly getting better. For starters, average global life expectancy has more than doubled since 1900 and is now above 70 years. Because the increase has been particularly marked among the poor, health inequality has declined massively. Moreover, the world is more literate, child labor is decreasing, and we are living in one of the most peaceful times in history.

In addition, people are better off economically. Over the past 30 years, average global per capita income has almost doubled, leading to massive reductions in poverty. In 1990, nearly four in ten of the world’s people were poor; today, less than one in ten are. That has helped to transform the way people live. Between 1990 and 2015, for example, the proportion of the world’s population practicing open defecation halved to 15%. And in the same period, 2.6 billion people gained access to improved water sources, bringing the global share up to 91%.

16 August 2019

No One’s Going to Be Happy Giving Up Land to Fight Climate Change

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1. There is no shortage of scary facts in the major new report on climate change and land, a summary of which was released today by a United Nations–led scientific panel. Chief among them: For everyone who lives on land, the planet’s dangerously warmed future is already here. Earth’s land has already warmed more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.6 degrees Fahrenheit) since the industrial revolution, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. That’s the same amount of warming that climate activists are hoping to prevent on a global scale.

This spike makes sense, scientifically: Land warms twice as fast as the planet overall. Earth as a whole has warmed by only 0.87 degrees Celsius (1.5 degrees Fahrenheit) during the same period. But this increase makes the stakes of climate change clear: When scientists discuss preventing “1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming,” they are really talking about forestalling 3 degrees Celsius—or 5.1 degrees Fahrenheit—of higher land temperatures.

New report: To limit climate change, food production must change dramatically

By Robin McKie

Attempts to solve the climate crisis by cutting carbon emissions from only cars, factories and power plants are doomed to failure, scientists will warn this week.

A leaked draft of a report on climate change and land use, which is now being debated in Geneva by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), states that it will be impossible to keep global temperatures at safe levels unless there is also a transformation in the way the world produces food and manages land.

Humans now exploit 72 percent of the planet’s ice-free surface to feed, clothe and support Earth’s growing population, the report warns. At the same time, agriculture, forestry and other land use produces almost a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition, about half of all emissions of methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases, come from cattle and rice fields, while deforestation and the removal of peat lands cause further significant levels of carbon emissions. The impact of intensive agriculture – which has helped the world’s population soar from 1.9 billion a century ago to 7.7 billion – has also increased soil erosion and reduced amounts of organic material in the ground.

30 July 2019



Recent months have seen something of a turnaround in the conventional wisdom about how to address climate change. In December, on the weekend before the Swedish Academy presented the Nobel Prize to my uncle, the economist William Nordhaus, for his work on climate change and carbon taxes, France’s yellow vest movement flooded into the streets, shutting down Paris and other cities across the country and forcing President Emmanuel Macron to rescind the carbon tax he had recently imposed on transportation fuels.

A month earlier, voters in Washington state, as environmentally minded a place as you will find in the United States, soundly rejected a ballot initiative that would have established a carbon tax in that state. Meanwhile, residents of New York’s 14th District elected Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Congress. Ocasio-Cortez, a self-described democratic socialist, promised to return the Democratic Party to its working-class roots with a Green New Deal that would combine massive public subsidies for clean energy with universal health care and a government jobs guarantee. She explicitly contrasted her proposal with market-based efforts to price carbon, which she dismissed as a sellout to corporate interests. Within weeks, most of the major contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination had jumped on her bandwagon.

25 July 2019

Climate Change: An Omitted Security Threat in Central Asia

By Khamza Sharifzoda

Central Asian countries have a long list of potential security challenges: economic recession, the return of foreign fighters from Syria and Iraq, ethnic and political violence, and the spillover of the conflict in Afghanistan. This list is not exhaustive, and over the years it has only increased in length. Most recently, scholars and policymakers have also emphasized the increased Chinese presence in the region, the crisis in Xinjiang, and imminent transitions of power in countries of the region as potential causes of instability. Frustratingly, discussions on Eurasian security often omit another growing threat: climate change.

For the third year in a row, Central Asia has been hit by an anomalously hot summer. This June, Turkmenistan reached temperatures of 44 C (111 F). The temperature in Tashkent has steadily hovered around 42 C, whereas residents of the southern parts of Uzbekistan have suffered under 44 C heat. Tajikistan does not lag behind, with the temperatures rising to 43 C in July. Similarly, in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, the temperature is expected to rise to 45 C in some regions this month.

24 July 2019

IMF Changing Of The Guard: Sorry Tale Of Leadership Transition – Analysis

By Jikon Lai*

An opportunity to reform the process of appointing the leadership position of the IMF has surfaced but it is unlikely to be seized. Instead, liberal values such as meritocracy, diversity and representation are likely to be sacrificed on the altar of ‘convention’.

After eight years at the helm of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde looks set to be appointed as the next president of the European Central Bank, and speculation on her successor as managing director of the IMF has begun. 

Even though this is a leadership position in an international organisation whose shareholders and stakeholders comprise countries and people from virtually all over the world, speculation on Lagarde’s potential successors have been drawn, for the most part, from individuals who hold European citizenship. This curious, if not outright discriminatory, selection process would seem to many to be anachronistic in 2019.
Changing of the Guard?

30 June 2019

Competition and Cooperation in the Maritime Domain

Competition over the world’s maritime resources and territorial disputes over maritime borders are becoming increasingly prominent in international affairs. At the same time, depleted fish stocks and polluted waters make the question of how countries can collectively manage maritime resources a central one, particularly in discussions over climate change.

Against the backdrop of heightened competition in the maritime domain, China has been rapidly modernizing and expanding its naval capabilities thanks to an unprecedented shipbuilding effort. By contrast, the U.S. Navy is struggling to meet its ambitious goals toward expanding its fleet while nevertheless maintaining a demanding operational tempo. As a result, ship maintenance and crew training have suffered, a dynamic that appears to have contributed to several recent deadly incidents.

Meanwhile, the resources that lie beneath the ocean’s surface are increasingly at risk of overexploitation. Illegal fishing is devastating already diminished global stocks and may soon present a severe crisis to countries whose populations depend on seafood for their diets. In the South China Sea, competition over fishing rights as well as offshore oil and gas reserves has been a major driver of tensions and conflict.

21 June 2019

Will the G-20 provide the urgent leadership needed on climate action?

Amar Bhattacharya

In two weeks, G-20 leaders will meet in Osaka to take up a range of pressing global issues, after which a set of key U.N. summits in September will convene world leaders to take stock of and chart forward progress in three vital areas: the 2030 Agenda, climate action, and financing for development.

The U.N. Climate Summit will test the willingness of world leaders, including G-20 countries, to scale up ambitions to tackle the urgent threat of climate change. Accounting for more than 80 percent of global emissions, the role of the G-20 is pivotal. Related to this, I participated in a July 13 meeting in Tokyo of the F20, a group comprising more than 50 international foundations, where the F20 warned of the danger of ignoring climate change and sustainability at the upcoming G-20 Summit.

The Paris Agreement has been widely regarded as a turning point, signaling the willingness of the world to confront an existential planetary threat. The Paris Agreement commits the world’s nations to “holding the increase in the global average temperatures to well below 2 C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels,” as well as to build resilience in the face of climate change.

20 June 2019

How the Climate Crisis Threatens the US Energy System


The U.S. military is the largest customer of the U.S. electricity grid, and other insights from a two-day workshop convened by the Council on Foreign Relations.

As climatic changes continue to make themselves painfully obvious across many geographies, U.S. energy infrastructure is increasingly at risk. The United States is ill-prepared for this national security challenge. Climatic disruptions to domestic energy supply could be large, entailing huge economic losses and potentially requiring sizable domestic military mobilizations. Yet public debate about emergency preparedness is virtually nonexistent. To explore the challenges of climate risk to the system, the Energy Security and Climate Change program at the Council on Foreign Relations convened a group of 44 experts at the Council’s New York office on March 18–19, 2019, for the workshop “Climate Risk Impacts on the Energy System: Examining the Financial, Security, and Technological Dimensions.”

12 June 2019

The Uneven Global Response to Climate Change

Recently published climate science ultimately underscores the same points: The impacts of climate change are advancing faster than experts had previously predicted, and they are increasingly irreversible. The latest blockbuster report, from a United Nations grouping of biodiversity experts in early May, found that 1 million species are now in danger of extinction unless dramatic changes are made to everything from fuel sources to agricultural production. Despite these warnings, however, scientists confirm that the world remains on pace to blow past the goal of restricting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, likely with catastrophic consequences.

Persistent climate skepticism from key global figures, motivated in part by national economic interests, is slowing diplomatic efforts to systematically address the drivers of climate change. In particular, U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement immediately undermined the pact but has also had long-term implications. Countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia, who were never eager to participate in the first place, now have cover to back away from their commitments.

The agreement may now face substantial hurdles, but that did not stop negotiators from making substantive progress during the latest round of talks in December 2018. Negotiators put in place an ambitious system of monitoring and reporting on carbon emissions for nations that remain part of the agreement. One immediate problem, though, is that there is no funding mechanism to support these requirements.

8 May 2019

We just might be at a tipping point on how seriously the world treats climate change

By Tripti Lahiri & Akshat Rathi

Following the days-long protests by environmental group Extinction Rebellion that paralyzed parts of London, the UK became the first country to declare a “climate emergency.”

The declaration, the result of a motion called by the opposition Labour party, was followed by the release of a report from an advisory committee to the UK government that urged it to set a target of getting to “net-zero” greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. The committee had refrained, as recently as 2016, from urging the UK to set such a target.

“We now conclude that it is the right time to set a net-zero GHG target in the UK. The required evidence is now available and the evidence is robust. It is also an important moment for the UK to make a positive international impact,” said the committee, noting that decreases in the cost of key zero-carbon technologies mean the stricter goal is now possible within the economic costs accepted by parliament a decade ago. In 2008, the UK parliament passed a bill to cut GHG emissions by 80% by 2050, compared to 1990 levels.

25 April 2019

It’s Time for a Global Pact for the Environment

Stewart M. Patrick

With each successive Earth Day, the scale of the global environmental crisis becomes more disheartening. So too does the collective failure to respond to the planet’s plight. Over the past year, scientists have issued dire warnings about global warming, mass extinction, the extent of plastic pollution and the death of the world’s oceans. Humanity is now deep in the Anthropocene, a new geologic era defined by the human transformation of the natural world, and the lights are blinking red. 

In a harrowing report last October, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, warned that even a 2 degree Celsius rise in average global temperatures—the fallback target of the 2015 Paris climate change agreement, which the world is nowhere close to achieving—will be calamitous. While the Trump administration continues to try and dispute the scientific reality of climate change, American scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have backed the IPCC consensus, warning U.S. citizens to prepare for severe heat waves, water shortages, violent storms, dying coral reefs, rising seas and destructive wildfires. 

19 April 2019

A White House strategy for fixing the climate?

By Dawn Stover

Petra Nova is the world’s largest carbon capture project at a coal-fired power plant. With funding from a $190 million Energy Department grant, NRG Energy and JX Nippon retrofitted one of the Texas plant’s boilers to capture one-third of its carbon dioxide emissions before they enter the atmosphere. The captured carbon dioxide is injected into oil reservoirs to boost production. Credit: NRG Energy

According to a report from McClatchy’s DC bureau, two senior administration officials say the White House is developing a new strategy to demonstrate that it’s doing something about climate change: promoting a technology known as carbon capture and storage. The idea is to avoid regulation by focusing instead on innovation that would allow for the continued use of coal, natural gas, and other fossil fuels.

Carbon capture and storage has the potential to capture most of the carbon dioxide emitted by power plants and industrial facilities, before it enters the atmosphere. The captured carbon could then be piped or shipped to underground repositories—depleted oil and gas fields or cavernous salt formations. Ironically, this technology was developed by fossil fuel companies, which have for decades used captured carbon dioxide to force more oil and gas out of declining well fields.

15 April 2019

A Mysterious Infection, Spanning the Globe in a Climate of Secrecy

By Matt Richtel and Andrew Jacobs

Last May, an elderly man was admitted to the Brooklyn branch of Mount Sinai Hospital for abdominal surgery. A blood test revealed that he was infected with a newly discovered germ as deadly as it was mysterious. Doctors swiftly isolated him in the intensive care unit.

The germ, a fungus called Candida auris, preys on people with weakened immune systems, and it is quietly spreading across the globe. Over the last five years, it has hit a neonatal unit in Venezuela, swept through a hospital in Spain, forced a prestigious British medical center to shut down its intensive care unit, and taken root in India, Pakistan and South Africa.

Recently C. auris reached New York, New Jersey and Illinois, leading the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to add it to a list of germs deemed “urgent threats.”

The man at Mount Sinai died after 90 days in the hospital, but C. auris did not. Tests showed it was everywhere in his room, so invasive that the hospital needed special cleaning equipment and had to rip out some of the ceiling and floor tiles to eradicate it.

14 April 2019

The Kids Are Taking Charge of Climate Change


The Fridays for Future international school strike on March 15 was, by any measure, breathtaking. An estimated 1.6 million to 2 million people—mostly teenagers and preteens—gathered in thousands of cities and towns in more than 125 countries to demand their political leaders meet existing climate goals. As intended, they grabbed the world’s attention.

Of course, the more important question is whether the protesters can achieve their goals. Critics argue the movement’s uncompromising demands—such as that Germany exit coal-fired power generation by 2030—are naive. (After six months of arduous, hard-fought deliberation, a government-initiated commission recently set 2038 as the exit date from coal.) At a time when international cooperation on climate change has been breaking down, what can climate activism—however much momentum it seems to be gathering—expect to accomplish?

4 April 2019

As Africa Seeks Global Partners, It Will Ask: Who’s Helping with Climate Change?


If the United States hopes to outduel China for influence on the continent, it must consider Cyclone Idai and its turbocharged ilk to come.

As Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi continue struggling to cope with the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, it’s worth noting while the storm was exceptional in its destructive power, the risk of flooding in and around Beira is a chronic problem. As the climate warms, rising sea levels are likely to cause serious ongoing problems for important coastal hubs like Beira even without the increasing frequency of dramatic storms. Of course the immediate humanitarian crisis is where the international community must focus first. But the destruction of infrastructure that was built with climate change adaptation in mind is also worrying, and has implications not just for Mozambique, but also for landlocked states that rely on its ports. 

4 March 2019

Climate Change Still Seen as the Top Global Threat, but Cyberattacks a Rising Concern


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report last year expressing serious concerns about the possible impacts of climate change, both in the near and distant future. Broadly speaking, people around the world agree that climate change poses a severe risk to their countries, according to a 26-nation survey conducted in the spring of 2018. In 13 of these countries, people name climate change as the top international threat.

But global warming is just one of many concerns. Terrorism, specifically from the Islamic extremist group known as ISIS, and cyberattacks are also seen by many as major security threats. In eight of the countries surveyed, including Russia, France, Indonesia and Nigeria, ISIS is seen as the top threat. In four nations, including Japan and the United States, people see cyberattacks from other countries as their top international concern. One country, Poland, names Russia’s power and influence as its top threat, but few elsewhere say Russia is a major concern.

26 February 2019

White House Climate Panel to Include a Climate Denialist

By Coral Davenport

WASHINGTON — President Trump is preparing to establish a panel to examine whether climate change affects national security, despite existing reports from his own government showing that global warming is a growing threat.

According to a White House memo dated Feb. 14, Mr. Trump’s staff members have drafted an executive order to create a 12-member committee, which will include a White House adviser, William Happer, whose views are sharply at odds with the established scientific consensus that carbon dioxide pollution is dangerous for the planet.

The memo casts doubt on multiple scientific and defense reports concluding that climate change poses a significant threat to national security, saying they “have not undergone a rigorous independent and adversarial peer review to examine the certainties and uncertainties of climate science, as well as implications for national security.”

22 February 2019

The Coming Climate Crisis


Over the last couple of decades, as the impact of global warming has intensified, the discussion of climate change has spilled out of the scientific and technocratic circles within which it was long confined. Today, the subject has also become an important concern in the humanities and arts.

Discussions of climate tend to focus on the future. Yet even scientific projections depend crucially on the study of the past: Proxy data, such as tree rings, pollen deposits, and ice cores, have proved indispensable for the modeling of the future impact of climate change. Based on evidence of this kind, scientists can tell us a great deal about how trees, glaciers, and sea levels will respond to rising temperatures.

But what about the political and social impact of global warming? What effects might a major shift in climate have on governments, public institutions, warfare, and belief systems? For answers to these questions, we have to turn to history (keeping in mind that historical inferences are necessarily impressionistic).