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

20 January 2019

How Governments React to Climate Change: An Interview with the Political Theorists Joel Wainwright and Geoff Mann

By Isaac Chotiner

On New Year’s Day, the far-right populist Jair Bolsonaro took power in Brazil, posing an urgent threat to Brazilians and to the planet. Bolsonaro has promised to open up the Amazon to rapid development and deforestation, which would lead to the release of massive amounts of carbon into the air and the destruction of one of the earth’s most potent tools in limiting global warming. Like President Trump, Bolsonaro is making environmental decisions that could be calamitous far beyond national borders.

In “Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future,” Joel Wainwright, a professor of geography at Ohio State University, and Geoff Mann, the director of the Center for Global Political Economy at Simon Fraser University, consider how to approach a problem of such international dimensions. They look at several different political futures for our warming planet, and argue that a more forceful international order, or “Climate Leviathan,” is emerging, but unlikely to mitigate catastrophic warming.

13 January 2019

Climate Change and National Security, Part II: How Big a Threat is the Climate?

By Michelle Melton 

The U.S. national security establishment has been increasingly vocal that climate change is a national security threat—and the U.S. is not alone in this regard. But exactly how serious is this threat? How concerned should policymakers be? Assessing the magnitude of the national security threat posed by climate change requires addressing the antecedent issue of timing. Climate change is unfolding—for now—in a relatively linear, gradual way, and as a result, the magnitude of the threat depends on the time horizon. The national security implications of climate change are different between now and 2050, between now and 2100, and between now and 2300.

6 January 2019

Climate Change Action Cannot Ignore Social Issues

MARC FLEURBAEY 

Despite a series of troubling new reports and studies, the world has yet to respond adequately to the threat posed by global warming. One reason is that policymakers have not made the connection between climate action and the social and political challenges their countries face.

PRINCETON/VIENNA – Climate scientists are sounding the alarm about global warming, but the world is not responding. In October, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of catastrophic risks to health, livelihoods, water supplies, and human security if global warming is not limited to 1.5° Celsius relative to the pre-industrial level, a target set by the 2015 Paris climate agreement. At the moment, however, we are on track for a 3°C increase.

30 December 2018

The Hazard of Environmental Morality

BY GERNOT WAGNERCHRISTINE MERK

One pillar of conservative policy doctrine is that moral hazards should be avoided at all costs. Criticisms of universal health care, for example, are based on the idea that shielding individuals from some of the consequences of their decisions creates an incentive for riskier behavior. Many take the argument one step further, equating moral hazard with moral failing: government policy, the argument goes, makes people too dependent on handouts and crowds out personal responsibility.

The left is not immune to such lines of argument, either. On that side, the criticism typically focuses on policies that appear to free individuals from the responsibility of doing what’s right in the name of the common good. We all know, one argument goes, that we need to change our fossil-fueled lifestyles to stop climate change. Policies that encourage biking more and driving less, for example, are moral. Those that free individuals to do what they want (especially if it runs counter to the common good) are not.

29 December 2018

The Role of Sub-state and Non-state Actors in International Climate Processes: Financial Institutions

Kirsty Hamilton

The trillions of dollars needed to secure the sustainable, climate-compatible pathway outlined in the 2015 Paris Agreement have focused attention on private finance and investment, and on the role of the financial sector as a potentially powerful non-state actor in the international climate debate.

Leading individual financial institutions reacted to the Paris Agreement by framing it in terms of what it would mean for markets – i.e. risks and opportunities – and by underlining the importance of national implementation of climate change commitments.

26 December 2018

Agreed Rules, COP24 And Climate Change Protest

By Binoy Kampmark

“If children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school, then imagine what we can all do together if we really wanted to.” — Greta Thunberg at COP24, Dec. 2018

The world, if it goes off in a burn, will do so courtesy of the rules – or their elastic interpretation. It was a fine show of contradiction at Katowice, and the Polish hospitality did not deter the 14,000 delegates drawn from 195 countries from bringing forth a beast of regulation to delight climate change bureaucrats for years. Everyone clapped themselves in way emetic to any bystander suspicious about what had actually been achieved. The question to ask, of course, is whether this fluffy, self-congratulatory exercise makes it past the canapés and becomes a genuine policy document.

25 December 2018

What just happened? 5 themes from the COP24 climate talks in Poland


The outcomes from a challenging two weeks of negotiations at this year’s climate conference (the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, aka COP24) were better than expected. Katowice, a proud coal town in the south of Poland, was not the most promising backdrop for a conversation that many hoped would be about raising ambition and recognising the urgency of phasing out fossil fuels. But the Polish Presidency managed to get the result at the heart of this year’s conference: agreement on the all-important ‘Rule Book’ that will allow governments to move ahead with implementing the Paris Agreement.

Here are a few reflections on the two-week process.

A solid foundation

22 December 2018

Will the Poland Climate Talks Lead to Action — or More Talk?


Wharton's Eric Orts, Columbia Law School's Michael Gerrard and Felix Mormann from Texas A&M University discuss the potential outcomes of the COP24. Nearly 200 countries that gathered in Katowice, Poland, for a two-week United Nations meeting on climate change framed a rulebook to ensure compliance with the 2015 Paris climate accord on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But they were unable to agree on carbon pricing to create disincentives for polluting businesses; they pushed that milestone to November 2019, when the 25th annual Conference of the Parties (COP25) will meet in Chile. Even so, the U.N. conference claimed success, and declared, “We have a global climate agreement.”

Meanwhile, the Trump administration continues to refuse to abide by the 2015 U.N. Paris Agreement, which aims to cap the rise in global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Another concern stems from a follow-up U.N. report in October that warned that the goal should be 1.5 degrees Celsius and it should be achieved in the next 12 years, or before 2030. The U.S., Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait merely “noted” the report; they resisted pressure on them to “welcome” it.

18 December 2018

Global Warming Is Setting Fire to American Leadership

BY STEPHEN M. WALT

U.S. President Donald Trump has said, “I don’t believe” climate change is real. Guess what? The global environment doesn’t care. The condition of the planet will be determined by the laws of physics and chemistry, not by Trump’s tweets, denials, bluster, or relentlessly head-in-the-sand approach to a rapidly warming planet. Trump will no longer be with us by the time the worst effects are realized, of course; it is future generations who will suffer the consequences.

And make no mistake: Those consequences are going to significant. As reported over Thanksgiving weekend, the latest U.S. government “National Climate Assessment” report makes it abundantly clear that rising average temperatures are going to have far-reaching and damaging effects. The report was a collaborative effort by 13 federal agencies, and it offers a sobering portrait of our likely future. Storms will be more intense and dangerous. Agricultural productivity will decline. Certain diseases and pests will be more numerous and bothersome, and heat-related deaths will increase significantly. Trump may not believe it, but what he does or does not believe is irrelevant, except as it affects what we do (or don’t do) today and thus how serious the problem is down the road.

Climate Negotiators Reach an Overtime Deal to Keep Paris Pact Alive

By Brad Plumer

KATOWICE, Poland — Diplomats from nearly 200 countries reached a deal on Saturday to keep the Paris climate agreement alive by adopting a detailed set of rules to implement the pact.

The deal, struck after an all-night bargaining session, will ultimately require every country in the world to follow a uniform set of standards for measuring their planet-warming emissions and tracking their climate policies. And it calls on countries to step up their plans to cut emissions ahead of another round of talks in 2020.

It also calls on richer countries to be clearer about the aid they intend to offer to help poorer nations install more clean energy or build resilience against natural disasters. And it builds a process in which countries that are struggling to meet their emissions goals can get help in getting back on track.

17 December 2018

THE PARIS AGREEMENT WILL SAVE OUR LIVES | OPINION

MARIA NEIRA

As parties gather this week in Poland at the annual United Nations climate change conference, the health sector is making a loud and strong argument for health to be at the heart of ALL discussions and policy decisions on climate change.

Though the focus of the Paris Agreement is on rising temperatures and increased carbon dioxide, at its core, it is a safeguard for human health worldwide. The Paris Agreement is not only an historic climate pact, but also an unprecedented health treaty.

Every year that we ignore the warnings and continue to burn fossil fuels and destroy our environment, we are further endangering the lives and livelihoods of current and future generations. As a physician who has worked in public health for nearly three decades, I don’t make such a claim lightly.

A Planet At Risk Requires Multilateral Action


The COP-21 Paris Agreement limiting greenhouse gas emissions was a major achievement on the road to meeting the threat of climate change. But as the evidence becomes increasingly unambiguous that human activity is destabilizing the Earth’s climate and biosphere, policymakers will need to do more. The inherently shared nature of the threat underlines the need for closer and more comprehensive international cooperation to preserve the habitat in which human life has thrived.

"In contemplating the future course of economic growth in the West, scientists are divided between one group crying “wolf" and another which denies that species’ existence. One persistent concern has been that man’s economic activities would reach a scale where the global climate would be significantly affected. Unlike many of the wolf cries, this one, in my opinion, should be taken very seriously."

11 December 2018

The Yellow Vests and Why There Are So Many Street Protests in France

By Adam Gopnik

A.J. Liebling, the greatest reporter—and the keenest Francophile—ever to write for this magazine, said that a reporter tells you what he’s seen, an interpretive reporter tells you the meaning of what he’s seen, and an expert tells you the meaning of what he hasn’t seen. Not having been there to actually see—or sense, hear, or witness—what is going on right now in France, mere expertise should watch its step and often curb its tongue. Yet, although not the same as being there, looking at the background and the history of an event can often help to make sense of it, even in brief retrospect. So, the gilets jaunes, or yellow vests, in France, have been the subject of anxiety, controversy, and, at times, shameless political opportunism on all sides. They are a popular movement of no clear political view or ideology; they take their name from the yellow vests that drivers in France are required to keep in their cars, to be worn in the case of a breakdown. (They can be seen in the dark that way.) Their ostensible ignition point was a rise in fuel taxes, engineered by the government of President Emmanuel Macron, for, as it happens, impeccably green reasons: the plan was to wean France off fossil fuels by making them more expensive, and to encourage the use of renewable sources.

10 December 2018

Europe must grab chance to make up ground lost to China

Julian Popov

Last week the European Commission launched its 2050 Strategy that shows a path to achieving “climate neutral” economy, or net zero greenhouse gas emissions, by 2050.

This goal, set out before the latest UN conference on climate change in the coal-mining centre of Katowice, Poland, is ambitious. Questions remain about how realistic this target is, what it could cost to achieve, and what would be its global impact on climate change — because Europe’s share of world greenhouse gas emissions is only 10 per cent and shrinking.

The answers provided in the analysis that accompanies the strategy statement are bold. They show that European climate neutrality by 2050 is possible and affordable. It would require, however, a different economic mindset.

8 December 2018

One of the side effects of climate change will be the end of U.S. hegemony

By Stephen M. Walt

U.S. President Donald Trump has said, “I don’t believe” climate change is real. Guess what? The global environment doesn’t care. The condition of the planet will be determined by the laws of physics and chemistry, not by Trump’s tweets, denials, bluster, or relentlessly head-in-the-sand approach to a rapidly warming planet. Trump will no longer be with us by the time the worst effects are realized, of course; it is future generations who will suffer the consequences.

And make no mistake: Those consequences are going to significant. As reported over Thanksgiving weekend, the latest U.S. government “National Climate Assessment” report makes it abundantly clear that rising average temperatures are going to have far-reaching and damaging effects. The report was a collaborative effort by 13 federal agencies, and it offers a sobering portrait of our likely future. Storms will be more intense and dangerous. Agricultural productivity will decline. Certain diseases and pests will be more numerous and bothersome, and heat-related deaths will increase significantly. Trump may not believe it, but what he does or does not believe is irrelevant, except as it affects what we do (or don’t do) today and thus how serious the problem is down the road.

5 December 2018

Katowice Climate Summit: What to Watch

Amy Myers Jaffe

The conference in Poland will be a major test of the world’s collective political will to fight global warming. Following through on promises made in Paris will not be easy.

The global summit in Katowice, Poland, early next month will be the most significant gathering on climate change since the adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015. Delegates from 197 signatory countries will be under tremendous pressure to turn their governments’ pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions into verifiable actions. The proceedings—formally known as the Twenty-Fourth Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change—come just weeks after a startling UN report warned that the catastrophic effects of climate change are likely to hit much sooner than thought unless governments take extraordinary collective action.

4 December 2018

Climate Shocks and Humanitarian Crises

Source Link
By Joshua Busby and Nina von Uexkull

Wildfires in the western United States and hurricanes on the East Coast captured media attention this summer and fall. But throughout 2018, weather events also had devastating humanitarian consequences in developing countries, from immense floods in the Indian state of Kerala to an intense drought in Afghanistan that affected millions.

Over the past decade, academics and policymakers have vigorously debated the question of whether climate change poses a security threat, with particular emphasis on whether it causes internal conflict. Connections are complex, leaving policymakers to talk about climate change vaguely as a “threat multiplier” when combined with other forces. But saying that climate change is a threat multiplier isn’t all that helpful unless we know something about the characteristics that make countries more likely to experience instability.

30 November 2018

Pollution by the Numbers

KAUSHIK BASU

Our only hope of overcoming the environmental challenges we face is to use every tool we can. That means collecting detailed data on issues like air quality, and using what we learn to design the right rules and incentives.

MEXICO CITY – The Great Chinese Famine, which peaked in 1960, was the world’s largest on record. But the effects of that famine – including its toll of more than 30 million deaths – were not quantified until long after the fact. That was partly because government officials were afraid to bring whatever information they had to the attention of Mao Zedong, whose Great Leap Forward policy had played a role in causing the famine. But it was also because so few people actually understood the scale of the problem, owing to a lack of data. Is air pollution today’s great famine?

29 November 2018

FOURTH NATIONAL CLIMATE ASSESSMENT

Source Link

Volume II: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States

The National Climate Assessment (NCA) assesses the science of climate change and
variability and its impacts across the United States, now and throughout this century.

These Summary Findings represent a high-level synthesis of the material in the underlying report. The findings consolidate Key Messages and supporting evidence from 16 national-level topic chapters, 10 regional chapters, and 2 chapters that focus on societal response strategies (mitigation and adaptation). Unless otherwise noted, qualitative statements regarding future conditions in these Summary Findings are broadly applicable across the range of different levels of future climate change and associated impacts considered in this report.

1. Communities

23 November 2018

‘Like a Terror Movie’: How Climate Change Will Cause More Simultaneous Disasters

By John Schwartz

Global warming is posing such wide-ranging risks to humanity, involving so many types of phenomena, that by the end of this century some parts of the world could face as many as six climate-related crises at the same time, researchers say.

This chilling prospect is described in a paper published Monday in Nature Climate Change, a respected academic journal, that shows the effects of climate change across a broad spectrum of problems, including heat waves, wildfires, sea level rise, hurricanes, flooding, drought and shortages of clean water.

Such problems are already coming in combination, said the lead author, Camilo Mora of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He noted that Florida had recently experienced extreme drought, record high temperatures and wildfires — and also Hurricane Michael, the powerful Category 4 storm that slammed into the Panhandle last month. Similarly, California is suffering through the worst wildfires the state has ever seen, as well as drought, extreme heat waves and degraded air quality that threatens the health of residents.