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

23 January 2020

Climate Change Brings Geopolitical Complications for Australia

By Christopher Ryan
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Recent catastrophic fires have made all too apparent the risks Australia faces due to global warming, exacerbated by a lack of coordinated Australian state and federal policy. Australia’s vulnerability to climate change is also aggravated by its geography. Australia is surrounded by developing countries such as Timor-Leste that do not have the resources, skills, knowledge, and infrastructure to mitigate the impacts of climate change in the coming decades.

The impacts from climate change on developing countries include water and food insecurity, as well as the destruction of homes and livelihoods in catastrophic events. This leads to the potential for environmental refugees and internally displaced people as recently witnessed in Australia and Australia’s Pacific neighbors, like Kiribati. To contain regional security threats from climate change will require a budget shift away from Australia’s traditional defense resources in order to manage its national, regional, and global responsibilities, as we have witnessed in the recent Australian wildfires.

17 January 2020

When climate activism and nationalism collide

Kemal Derviş

There is an overwhelming consensus among scientists that this decade will be the last window for humanity to change the current global trajectory of carbon dioxide emissions so that the world can get close to zero net emissions by around 2050, and thus avoid potentially catastrophic climate risks. But although the massive technological and economic changes required to achieve this goal are well understood, their political implications are rarely discussed.

While climate activists have built an impressive international movement, broadening their political support and crossing borders, the nationalist narrative has been gaining ground in domestic politics around the world. Its central message—that the world consists of nation-states in relentless competition with one another—stands in sharp contrast to the climate movement’s “one planet” emphasis on human solidarity. And these two trends are on a collision course.

Although greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions do not respect political borders, and climate change affects all parts of the planet, the impact of global warming is decidedly not uniform. An average global temperature increase of 2°C will create extreme heat stress in India and Africa. Similarly, although rising sea levels will threaten lower-lying areas around the world, and more extreme weather events will affect almost everyone, already poor and vulnerable populations are especially at risk. Another inherently international aspect of the problem is carbon leakage as a result of trade. While GHGs are emitted in one country by the production of, say, steel, it is the use of that steel in importing countries that “causes” the emissions in the exporting country.

10 January 2020

Adapt or Perish

By ​​​​​​​Alice Hill and Leonardo Martinez-Diaz

Ever since climate change became a concern for policymakers and laypeople alike, the focus of public debate has largely been on mitigation: limiting greenhouse gas emissions, capturing carbon, and transitioning to renewable energy. Those efforts must continue if we hope to keep the planet hospitable. But it is also time to acknowledge that—no matter what we do—some measure of climate change is here to stay. The phenomenon has already affected the U.S. economy, U.S. national security, and human health. Such costs will only grow over time. The United States must build resilience and overhaul key systems, including those governing infrastructure, the use of climate data, and finance. 

Otherwise, the blow to the U.S. economy will be staggering. Assuming that current trends continue, coastal damage, increased spending on electricity, and lost productivity due to climate-related illness are projected to consume an estimated $500 billion per year by the time a child born today has settled into retirement. Other estimates suggest that the U.S. economy will lose about 1.2 percent of GDP per year for every degree Celsius of warming, effectively halving the country’s annual growth.

31 December 2019

Good news for climate change: India gets out of coal and into renewable energy

By Tim Buckley

In the often grim world of climate reporting, there is at least one upbeat story: India has been aggressively pivoting away from coal-fired power plants and towards electricity generated by solar, wind, and hydroelectric power. This means that the amount of carbon dioxide the country emits into the atmosphere should come down dramatically.

The reasons for this change are complex and interlocking, but one aspect in particular seems to stand out: The price for solar electricity has been in freefall, to levels so low they were once thought impossible. For example, since 2017, one solar energy company has been generating electricity in the Indian state of Rajasthan at the unheard-of, guaranteed wholesale price of 2.44 rupees per kilowatt-hour, or 3 US cents. (In comparison, the average price for electricity in the United States is presently about 13.19 cents per kilowatt-hour, and some locations in the country pay far more. As recently as 2008, the average homeowner on Block Island, Rhode Island, paid a staggering 61 cents per kilowatt-hour for electricity, before any other fees or charges—which can nearly double the price. And businesses had it even worse, with some business owners reporting electric bills of as much as $30,000 per month.)

23 December 2019

Empty Gestures on Climate Change

BJØRN LOMBORG

MALMÖ – Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs, wash your clothes in cold water, eat less meat, recycle more, and buy an electric car: we are being bombarded with instructions from climate campaigners, environmentalists, and the media about the everyday steps we all must take to tackle climate change. Unfortunately, these appeals trivialize the challenge of global warming, and divert our attention from the huge technological and policy changes that are needed to combat it.

If artificial intelligence and other labor-saving technologies come anywhere close to fulfilling the promises of today's techno-utopians and pessimists, we will have to rethink our most basic assumptions about human nature and the good life. We should welcome the challenge as an unprecedented opportunity.7Add to Bookmarks
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For example, the British nature-documentary presenter and environmental campaigner David Attenborough was once asked what he as an individual would do to fight climate change. He promised to unplug his phone charger when it was not in use.

Why U.N. Climate Talks in Madrid Were a Massive Failure

Sagatom Saha 

The annual United Nations Climate Change Conference wrapped up Sunday in Madrid, after nearly two weeks of wrangling. Despite a two-day extension that made this the longest round of U.N. climate talks ever, the meeting was a massive failure. Instead of setting more ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, negotiators went home mostly empty-handed, having punted the most difficult climate-related questions to next year’s conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

“The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation & finance to tackle the climate crisis,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres declared in a tweet Sunday. The disappointing result was largely due to the unwillingness of the world’s largest economies to commit to deeper emissions cuts and hammer out a promised international carbon trading scheme. Meanwhile, warnings from climate scientists are only becoming more dire. According to the latest U.N. assessment, even if countries fulfill their current pledges to reduce emissions, the world is on track to warm by 3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century—a potentially catastrophic result. ...

20 December 2019

Climate Security is National Security

By Joanna Rozpedowski
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Between 2008-2012 over 144 million people were displaced by a sudden onset of disasters in more than 122 countries, a number far greater than the number of refugees and internally displaced by conflict and persecution during the same period. Unpredictable climate-related calamities and the associated socio-economic costs test our current legal frameworks and put significant stress on existing capacities of states.

Internal government reviews, climate and security conferences, and domestic security reports have increasingly focused on the strategic challenges posed by global climate change. The proliferation of studies suggests that 'the projected climate change is a threat multiplier in already fragile regions, exacerbating conditions that lead to failed states — the breeding ground for extremism and terrorism.' An overlapping consensus among scholars and policymakers holds that climate-induced crises in the next two to three decades have the potential of aggravating already brittle relations between Sub-Saharan African, the Middle Eastern, and South and Southeast Asian states, destabilizing regions, toppling governments, and issuing in mass migrations, widespread pandemics, and food scarcity.

The University of Toronto's Project on Environment, Population, and Security forecasts that environmental change will significantly stress or reduce the supply of vital natural resources, such as freshwater, cropland, forests, fisheries, leading to environmental scarcity and increased probability of conflict. The United Nations Climate Reports have consistently predicted that increased occurrence of droughts, rising sea levels, and flooding will pose significant challenges to national stability, exacerbating global economic vulnerabilities and political instabilities, which may result in internal civil and political unrest. Similarly, a quantitative study conducted by the State Failure Task Force assembled at the request of U.S. policymakers to identify factors associated with serious internal crises, concluded that massive environmental damage provoked by general patterns of global climate change could directly contribute to political collapse and destabilization. Analyses conducted by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Swiss Peace Institute have echoed those concerns.

19 December 2019

U.N. Climate Talks End With Few Commitments and a ‘Lost’ Opportunity

By Somini Sengupta
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In what was widely denounced as one of the worst outcomes in a quarter-century of climate negotiations, United Nations talks ended early Sunday morning with the United States and other big polluters blocking even a nonbinding measure that would have encouraged countries to adopt more ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions next year. 

Because the United States is withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, it was the last chance, at least for some time, for American delegates to sit at the negotiating table at the annual talks — and perhaps a turning point in global climate negotiations, given the influence that Washington has long wielded, for better or worse, in the discussions.

The Trump administration used the meeting to push back on a range of proposals, including a mechanism to compensate developing countries for losses that were the result of more intense storms, droughts, rising seas and other effects of global warming.

The annual negotiations, held in Madrid this year, demonstrated the vast gaps between what scientists say the world needs and what the world’s most powerful leaders are prepared to even discuss, let alone do.

What on Earth Is Going On?

11 December 2019

Climate Change And Financial Risk

by Pierpaolo Grippa, Jochen Schmittmann, and Felix Suntheim
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Climate change is already a reality. Ever-more-ferocious cyclones and extended droughts lead to the destruction of infrastructure and the disruption of livelihoods and contribute to mass migration. Actions to combat rising temperatures, inadequate though they may have been so far, have the potential to drive dislocation in the business world as fossil fuel giants awaken to the need for renewable sources of energy and automakers accelerate investments in cleaner vehicles.

But measuring the economic costs of climate change remains a work in progress. We can assess the immediate costs of changing weather patterns and more frequent and intense natural disasters, but most of the potential costs lie beyond the horizon of the typical economic analysis. The economic impact of climate change will likely accelerate, though not smoothly. Crucially for the coming generations, the extent of the damage will depend on the policy choices that we make today.

U.S. Military Could Collapse Within 20 Years Due to Climate Change, Report Commissioned By Pentagon Says

By Nafeez Ahmed

According to a new U.S. Army report, Americans could face a horrifically grim future from climate change involving blackouts, disease, thirst, starvation and war. The study found that the US military itself might also collapse. This could all happen over the next two decades, the report notes.

The senior US government officials who wrote the report are from several key agencies including the Army, Defense Intelligence Agency, and NASA. The study called on the Pentagon to urgently prepare for the possibility that domestic power, water, and food systems might collapse due to the impacts of climate change as we near mid-century.

The report was commissioned by General Mark Milley, Trump's new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, making him the highest-ranking military officer in the country (the report also puts him at odds with Trump, who does not take climate change seriously.)

The report, titled Implications of Climate Change for the U.S. Army, was launched by the U.S. Army War College in partnership with NASA in May at the Wilson Center in Washington DC. The report was commissioned by Gen. Milley during his previous role as the Army’s Chief of Staff. It was made publicly available in August via the Center for Climate and Security, but didn't get a lot of attention at the time.

4 December 2019

Cow Aren't Killing the Planet: The Questionable Link Between Meat and Climate Change

by Frank M. Mitloehner
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As the scale and impacts of climate change become increasingly alarming, meat is a popular target for action. Advocates urge the public to eat less meat to save the environment. Some activists have called for taxing meat to reduce consumption of it.

A key claim underlying these arguments holds that globally, meat production generates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. However, this claim is demonstrably wrong, as I will show. And its persistence has led to false assumptions about the linkage between meat and climate change.

My research focuses on ways in which animal agriculture affects air quality and climate change. In my view, there are many reasons for either choosing animal protein or opting for a vegetarian selection. However, foregoing meat and meat products is not the environmental panacea many would have us believe. And if taken to an extreme, it also could have harmful nutritional consequences.

Setting the record straight on meat and greenhouse gases

New report finds costs of climate change impacts often underestimated

By Dana Nuccitelli

Flooding in Port Arthur, Texas during Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Climate economics researchers have often underestimated – sometimes badly underestimated – the costs of damages resulting from climate change. Those underestimates occur particularly in scenarios where Earth’s temperature warms beyond the Paris climate target of 1.5 to 2 degrees C (2.7 to 3.6 degrees F).

That’s the conclusion of a new report written by a team of climate and Earth scientists and economists from the Earth Institute at Columbia University, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. It’s a conclusion consistent with the findings of numerous recent climate economics studies.

Once temperatures warm beyond those Paris targets, the risks of triggering unprecedented climate damages grow. However, because the rate and magnitude of climate change has entered uncharted territory in human history, the temperature thresholds and severity of future climate impacts remain highly uncertain, and thus difficult to capture in climate economics models. Put simply, it’s difficult to project the economic impacts resulting from circumstances which are themselves unprecedented.

3 December 2019

The world needs a grand coalition to tackle climate change

Fatih Birol
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More than 40 years after the International Energy Agency (IEA) published the first edition of the World Energy Outlook (WEO), the report’s overarching aim remains the same – to deepen our understanding of the future of energy. It does so by examining the opportunities and risks that lie ahead, and the consequences of different courses of action or inaction. The WEO analyses the choices that will shape our energy use, our environment and our wellbeing. It is not, and has never been, a forecast of where the energy world will end up.

This year brings many changes. I would like to highlight two in particular. First, we have renamed the 'new policies scenario' as the 'stated policies scenario', making more explicit our intention to hold up a mirror to the plans and ambitions announced by policy-makers without trying to anticipate how those plans might change in future.

Second, the sustainable development scenario – which provides a strategic pathway to meet global climate, air quality and energy access goals in full – has been extended to 2050 and set out in greater detail. This delivers sharper insights into what is required for the world to move in this direction.

2 December 2019

Climate Change Is also a Health Crisis

MARIA NEIRA

GENEVA – The climate crisis is also a health crisis. The same emissions that cause global warming are also largely responsible for polluting the air we breathe, causing heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and infections, and affecting every organ in our bodies. Air pollution is the new tobacco, causing as many deaths as cigarettes do. And though it threatens us all, children, the elderly, pregnant women, and adults with weakened immune systems are the most at risk.

Today, too many politicians offer facile answers, mutually incompatible promises, and a return to purportedly simple and exclusive identities. Instead, the world's democracies need leaders who are able to counter the populist narrative in three main areas.3Add to Bookmarks
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It is now common knowledge that smoking tobacco severely harms you and those around you. That is why the tobacco industry’s lobbying and advertising campaigns have been strictly regulated around the world. Globally, we have taken steps to safeguard existing health policies, and to force these companies to tell the truth: that their product kills.

29 November 2019

‘Bleak’ U.N. Report on a Planet in Peril Looms Over New Climate Talk

By Somini Sengupta

With world leaders gathering in Madrid next week for their annual bargaining session over how to avert a climate catastrophe, the latest assessment issued by the United Nations said Tuesday that greenhouse gas emissions are still rising dangerously.

“The summary findings are bleak,” said the annual assessment, which is produced by the United Nations Environment Program and is formally known as the Emissions Gap Report. Countries have failed to halt the rise of greenhouse gas emissions despite repeated warnings from scientists, with China and the United States, the two biggest polluters, further increasing their emissions last year.

The result, the authors added, is that “deeper and faster cuts are now required.”

As if to underscore the gap between reality and diplomacy, the international climate negotiations, scheduled to begin next week, are not even designed to ramp up pledges by world leaders to cut their countries’ emissions. That deadline is still a year away.

25 November 2019

Climate Change and South Asia’s Pending Food Crisis

By Rabiya Jaffery

Are South Asian governments adapting to climate change’s impact on agriculture in the region?

Experts predict that ensuring food security for South Asia’s expanding population will be one of the chief problems the subregion faces in the coming years. Countries of the region will need to place addressing food insecurity among their top policy agendas to ensure stability.

South Asia is currently home to nearly 1.8 billion people — the majority living in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh — and has been the fastest growing region for the past five years.The UN estimates that the population of the region will grow by 40 percent by 2050.

“The growing population will demand a higher supply of secure food, water, housing, and energy to maintain stability,” says George Stacey, an analyst working with Norvergence, an environmental advocacy NGO. “This is why countries in the region need to ensure they have the policies in place to adapt to the increasing number of people living there in coming years.”

And Stacey, among other climate experts, says that the challenge to secure food for South Asia’s growing population is exacerbated by the threats of climate change.

The International Politics of Energy and Resource Extraction


Despite concerns over the environmental impact of industrial mining and the contribution that fossil fuels make to global warming, resource extraction continues to be a major source of revenue for both developing countries and wealthier nations alike. In fact, new data show that the amount of resources being pulled from the earth has tripled since 1970, though the global population has only doubled in that time.

Amid global efforts to reduce carbon emissions as part of climate change diplomacy, fossil fuels remain among the most prized extractives, for a simple reason: Global demand combined with the wealth they generate continues to give some countries, including members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, outsized global influence.

24 November 2019

Redefining the power industry


The demands of a changing climate are starting to affect how many businesses operate, from attempting to tamp down their carbon emissions and ramp up energy efficiency, to adjusting to new risks caused by violent weather. Electric utility companies in the United States are no exception.

Here, we offer four quick takes on the changes in store for the power industry. In the first two, we size up the rising peril to utility assets and show how one US state is aspiring to meet new, tough clean-power mandates. Then we look at the potential of residential batteries and how they might buttress the industry’s stressed-out grids.

Finally, we tap the ideas of one expert who warns that climate change may be shifting the economics of long-term infrastructure investment. Power suppliers and many other businesses will need to be much more resilient in this changing environment.

21 November 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.

17 November 2019

How Scientists Got Climate Change So Wrong

By Eugene Linden

For decades, most scientists saw climate change as a distant prospect. We now know that thinking was wrong. This summer, for instance, a heat wave in Europe penetrated the Arctic, pushing temperatures into the 80s across much of the Far North and, according to the Belgian climate scientist Xavier Fettweis, melting some 40 billion tons of Greenland’s ice sheet.

Had a scientist in the early 1990s suggested that within 25 years a single heat wave would measurably raise sea levels, at an estimated two one-hundredths of an inch, bake the Arctic and produce Sahara-like temperatures in Paris and Berlin, the prediction would have been dismissed as alarmist. But many worst-case scenarios from that time are now realities.

Science is a process of discovery. It can move slowly as the pieces of a puzzle fall together and scientists refine their investigative tools. But in the case of climate, this deliberation has been accompanied by inertia born of bureaucratic caution and politics. A recent essay in Scientific American argued that scientists “tend to underestimate the severity of threats and the rapidity with which they might unfold” and said one of the reasons was “the perceived need for consensus.” This has had severe consequences, diluting what should have been a sense of urgency and vastly understating the looming costs of adaptation and dislocation as the planet continues to warm.