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

7 July 2020

Why 2020 to 2050 Will Be ‘the Most Transformative Decades in Human History’

Eric Holthaus
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The 30 years from 2020 to 2050 will be among the most transformative decades in all of human history. Collapsing ice sheets, the aerosol crisis, and rising sea levels will force more people to leave their homes than at any other point in human history. In some places, that means conflict is inevitable.

A study from researchers at the University of California at Berkeley found that higher temperatures and shifting patterns of extreme weather can cause a rise in all types of violence, from domestic abuse to civil wars. In extreme cases, it could cause countries to cease functioning and collapse altogether.

This ominous reality of climate change is far from fated, however. A rapidly changing environment just makes conflict more likely, not inevitable. People, ultimately, are still in control. Our choices determine whether or not these conflicts will happen. In a world where we’ve rapidly decided to embark on constructing an ecological society, we’ll have developed countless tools of conflict avoidance as part of our climate change adaptation strategies.

Still, there will be those who choose to live outside the mainstream society who may pose an existential threat to the rest of us. Some groups and a few rogue countries will try to prevent the rest of the world’s transition toward ecological and social justice. They will do this either because of the lingering influence from the dwindling fossil fuel industry, or because of a fascist ideological response to climate change that puts human rights at risk, or out of desperation.

6 July 2020

Taking Climate Risk Seriously


FRANKFURT – COVID-19 has shown how a long-recognized but underappreciated global risk can suddenly materialize and wreak social and economic devastation in a matter of weeks. The implication is clear: While the world is rightly focused on battling the current pandemic, firms and governments must also recognize and plan for other risks, particularly climate change, which, like a pandemic, could upend the global economy if not managed properly.

That is not a conclusion we arrive at lightly. At the McKinsey Global Institute, we spent a year assessing the possible socioeconomic impacts of climate change over the coming three decades. What we found is that these effects already exist and are increasing, often in non-linear ways.

As part of our analysis, we conducted nine case studies across regions to gauge potential effects, linking climate models with economic projections in each case. We estimated inherent physical risk, absent climate adaptation and mitigation, to assess the size of the challenge and highlight the case for action.

Climate researchers frequently use Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) scenarios, ranging from lower (RCP 2.6) to higher (RCP 8.5) atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. We adopted the higher-emission RCP 8.5 scenario in order to assess inherent physical risk in the absence of further decarbonization.

2 July 2020

Just Transition Concepts and Relevance for Climate Action

With climate change posing unprecedented threats to the planet and society, there is a growing focus on “just transitions” to help achieve the economic and social changes necessary for sustainable development, while protecting workers and communities and ensuring a more socially-equitable distribution of benefits and risks. However, there is no single, universally acceptable definition of just transitions to achieve and manage these changes. This paper seeks to explain the just transitions concept, including its origins and relevance. We offer a preliminary framework to describe the range of definitions among stakeholders and their underlying perspectives. We also identify several areas that would benefit from additional research, including more robust case studies and better tools and planning strategies for policymakers.

This report and the Just Transition Initiative are made possible by funding from Climate Investment Funds.

28 June 2020

The climate change evidence right before our eyes. And a note on COVID-19

By John Mecklin

There is an entire literature focused on improved communication of accurate information on climate change to general audiences, particularly general audiences at least sprinkled with – and in the United States, sometimes dominated by – climate change deniers. The advice from those who research climate change communication goes in many directions. To better reach those unconvinced that Earth is warming and human activity is the cause, one might try reducing use of the term “climate change,” instead speaking in terms of “resilience” to natural disasters of the sort climate change causes. One could employ non-scientist messengers, using, for example, trusted Republican or conservative spokespeople to communicate the reality of climate change to Republican or conservative audiences. Most anyone who has dealt much with the issue knows it also helps to include some sense of hope in your climate stories, and if possible, action items ordinary citizens can use to make a difference. After all, convincing your audience that climate change is real and caused by human activity – mainly, the burning of fossil fuels that release the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the atmosphere – won’t do much good, if at the same time you convince your readers that the fight to arrest climate change is a lost cause.

For this issue of the Bulletin, I decided to try what I call the “so deny this” approach, asking our authors to offer concrete, indisputable evidence that climate change is happening right now, right before our eyes, along with clear explanations of why that physical evidence can’t reasonably be explained, except as a result of warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions. The climate change they describe is not some vague theoretical effect that will come in the year 2100. It is here, now:

25 June 2020

Is this the incentive we need? — IPCC Climate Report

Dave Olsen

Now, this report is highly controversial, for several reasons. Many question the feasibility of keeping warming under 1.5 degrees for the century, and the methods that the IPCC is likely to suggest are unpopular. On top of that is the element of politics: researchers from oil-rich regions are likely to defend fossil fuels and declare that we are past the point of no return, while scientists from resource-poor nations will declare that we can reach the 1.5 degrees mark.

But the IPCC is certainly credible. It uses all of the available literature to make reports, and sends drafts out to government and scientists for comment. All of this is taken on board, and a broad consensus is reached. So, if this report does find that keeping temperature rises under 1.5 degrees is possible this century, we should believe it. Governments can’t really avoid that.

Researchers believe that we are on track for 1.5 degrees by 2040. As such, the 2050 zero emissions targets seem useless now. Therefore, the report is expected to say that the pace must be quickened, and that we should actively take CO2 from the air with carbon capture technologies.

18 June 2020

COVID-19 Pandemic, Climate Change, And Renewables – OpEd

By Todd Royal

We are possibly witnessing the most destructive scientific fraud in the history of man via the COVID-19 pandemic while shutting down the U.S. economy. Hysteria has gone wild, destroying people’s lives. This level of “groupthink has drove unnecessary global shutdowns.” When the majority of U.S. deaths, and countries like Italy occur in nursing homes from the coronavirus it’s time to bring medical facts from physicians into this discussion. 

One epidemiologist, Knut Wittkowski, has gone so far as to say: “we could open up again and forget the whole thing (COVID-19).” Stanford University School of Medicine professor, Dr. jay Bhattacharya, would likely agree with Dr. Wittkowski.

The death blow for ending U.S. and global lockdowns comes from the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC):

“The CDC has attempted to offer a real estimate of the overall death rate for COVID-19, and under its most likely scenario, the number is 0.26%. Officials estimate a 0.4% fatality rate among those who are symptomatic and project a 35% rate of asymptomatic cases among those infected, which drops the overall infection fatality rate (IFR) to just 0.26% — almost exactly where Stanford researchers pegged it a month ago.”

The Need for Climate Smart Foreign Policy

In recent months, many experts and government officials have pointed out the similarities between the current pandemic and climate change. Much like the current pandemic, climate change is a global phenomenon that requires a global and multifaceted response. The solutions to both crises lie in some combination of technological and policy solutions, but also human behavior and the ability to change behavior for the purpose of achieving some level of public good. We see that some places are better prepared than others, and that preparation leads to real advantages in terms of resilience. What once seemed like a far-off possibility that should be considered but not overly dwelled upon is now the central organizing factor in our daily life and activity. What once seemed like the purview of only global health experts, is now a critical factor to be considered in all sectors of the economy and areas of policymaking. These lessons should serve as a wake-up call to how the world is currently organized to deal with global climate change because the one main difference between the impact of the pandemic and the impacts of climate change is that the latter is likely to be far worse.

Despite clear signs of progress, the world is not currently prepared to address the causes and consequences of a changing global climate. While clean energy technology costs have declined and policies to advance a more meaningful low carbon transition exist in many countries, greenhouse gas emissions are not dropping commensurate with globally agreed-upon targets. Meanwhile, climate-related impacts, both gradual and dramatic, have begun to occur with increasing regularity and severity, laying bear how ill-prepared international, national, and local governments are to withstand and respond to these changes.

10 June 2020

Two Vital Buffers Against Climate Change Are Just Offshore

A new study finds that about 31 million people worldwide live in coastal regions that are “highly vulnerable” to future tropical storms and sea-level rise driven by climate change. But in some of those regions, powerful defenses are located just offshore.

Of those 31 million people, about 8.5 million directly benefit from the severe weather-protection of mangroves and coral reefs, key buffers that could help cushion the blow against future tropical storms and rising waters, according to the study published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE.

Because the two “natural infrastructures” absorb wave energy, reduce wave heights and provide a host of other environmental benefits, the study findings underscore the need for worldwide conservation and restoration of these natural resources. A particular focus, the authors said, should be placed on the most vulnerable regions, which lack available resources for more expensive protective measures, such as construction of levees or sea walls.

“Simply put, it’s much cheaper to conserve a mangrove than to build a sea wall,” said Northern Illinois University scientist Holly Jones, the study’s lead author.

13 May 2020

Planting Trees Is No Panacea For Climate Change

Restoration ecologist Karen Holl has a simple message for anyone who thinks planting 1 trillion trees will reverse the damage of climate change.

“We can’t plant our way out of climate change,” says Holl, professor of environmental studies at UC Santa Cruz and a leading expert in forest restoration. “It is only one piece of the puzzle.”

In a commentary that appears in Science, Holl and coauthor Pedro Brancalion, a professor in the Department of Forest Sciences at the University of São Paulo, endorse the benefits of trees but caution against a simplistic view of tree-planting as a panacea for environmental degradation.

“Trees are deeply entrenched in the human psyche,” said Holl, a restoration ecologist who has prepared hundreds of students for careers in environmental stewardship. “It’s very satisfying to go out and put a tree in the ground. It’s a concrete, tangible thing to do.”

But broad-scale tree planting initiatives, such as and the Trillion Tree Campaign, must be undertaken carefully and with a commitment to long-term management, if the benefits are to be fully realized.

5 May 2020

From Pandemics To The Climate Crisis – Analysis

By Darshan Joshi, REFSA*

There is a growing need for governments to balance economic needs and environmental concerns. An important lesson of COVID-19 is the need to coordinate mitigation and response frameworks to tackle issues that ultimately transcend national interests.

An example of such coordination is the similarity in policies used by governments around the world to stop the spread of COVID-19. The best practices, when a virus like COVID-19 is already globally prevalent, require governments to act uniformly so that they can curtail the virus everywhere it festers. Commitment to flattening the epidemiological curve through physical distancing, self-isolation and mass testing is imperative within individual countries, while travel restrictions should be used to limit cross-border transmission.

COVID-19 is a quintessential collective action problem where inaction on the part of one nation can create adverse consequences across the world. Acting in concert will minimise societal costs.

Global coordination can also ensure that scarce resources — like ventilators, testing kits and face masks — are allocated efficiently. Examples include the recent donations of medical supplies by Chinese institutions and companies to countries facing mass outbreaks. Such actions are mutually beneficial — only through the widespread eradication of COVID-19 can we limit its potential re-emergence.

From Pandemics To The Climate Crisis – Analysis

By Darshan Joshi, REFSA*

There is a growing need for governments to balance economic needs and environmental concerns. An important lesson of COVID-19 is the need to coordinate mitigation and response frameworks to tackle issues that ultimately transcend national interests.

An example of such coordination is the similarity in policies used by governments around the world to stop the spread of COVID-19. The best practices, when a virus like COVID-19 is already globally prevalent, require governments to act uniformly so that they can curtail the virus everywhere it festers. Commitment to flattening the epidemiological curve through physical distancing, self-isolation and mass testing is imperative within individual countries, while travel restrictions should be used to limit cross-border transmission.

COVID-19 is a quintessential collective action problem where inaction on the part of one nation can create adverse consequences across the world. Acting in concert will minimise societal costs.

Global coordination can also ensure that scarce resources — like ventilators, testing kits and face masks — are allocated efficiently. Examples include the recent donations of medical supplies by Chinese institutions and companies to countries facing mass outbreaks. Such actions are mutually beneficial — only through the widespread eradication of COVID-19 can we limit its potential re-emergence.

3 May 2020

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. One blockbuster report, from a United Nations grouping of biodiversity experts in May 2019, 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.

Despite these hurdles, negotiators made substantive progress during a U.N. climate change conference in December 2018, putting in place an ambitious system of monitoring and reporting on carbon emissions for nations that remain part of the agreement. But the latest round of talks in December 2019 ended in abject failure, and the coronavirus pandemic will complicate any further diplomatic efforts this year.

30 April 2020

COVID-19 and climate: Your questions, our answers

Pablo Vieira, Stéphane Hallegatte, Ingrid-Gabriela Hoven, and Todd Stern

The year 2020 was always going to be critical for climate change, but the coronavirus pandemic dramatically altered the picture in some respects. Earlier this week, Brookings hosted a virtual event on COVID-19 and climate change, moderated by Samantha Gross, and featuring Brookings Senior Fellow Todd Stern, Ingrid-Gabriela Hoven of the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), Stéphane Hallegatte of the World Bank, and Pablo Vieira of the NDC Partnership Support Unit. 

The panel explored what lessons might be learned from the global pandemic that may inform response to other global issues, such as climate change. 

We fielded several questions from viewers but didn’t have time to get to everyone. So here are answers to some of the questions we didn’t get a chance to answer. 

Question: Do you think people’s behavior will change as a result of the current pandemic in ways that positively or negatively impact the environment? 

Answer from Pablo Vieira: People will learn a lot from this experience, and it will demonstrate different ways in which behavioral changes can have a positive impact on the environment. People have been forced to master the art of meeting virtually, and ideally this will result in reduced travel and more working from home, which will have a permanent, positive impact. People are also temporarily experiencing cleaner air and water. Even though this is not the result of advancing clean solutions, it will at least show people how much their quality of life improves with clean air and water. People have also learned to live with a lot less, and hopefully this will result in a permanent reduction in the level of consumption. 

26 April 2020

Addressing climate change in a post-pandemic worldApril 2020 | Article

By Dickon Pinner, Matt Rogers, and Hamid Samandari
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The coronavirus crisis holds profound lessons that can help us address climate change—if we make greater economic and environmental resiliency core to our planning for the recovery ahead.

Aferocious pandemic is sweeping the globe, threatening lives and livelihoods at an alarming rate. As infection and death rates continue to rise, resident movement is restricted, economic activity is curtailed, governments resort to extraordinary measures, and individuals and corporations scramble to adjust. In the blink of an eye, the coronavirus has upended the world’s operating assumptions. Now, all attention is focused on countering this new and extreme threat, and on blunting the force of the major recession that is likely to follow.

Amid this dislocation, it is easy to forget that just a few short months ago, the debate about climate change, the socioeconomic impacts it gives rise to, and the collective response it calls for were gaining momentum. Sustainability, indeed, was rising on the agenda of many public- and private-sector leaders—before the unsustainable, suddenly, became impossible to avoid.

25 April 2020

COVID–19 Is a Test for Climate Migration and the World Is Failing

By Pierfilippo M. Natta and Adam Weinstein

The loss of life and economic chaos wrought by COVID-19 serves as a forewarning for how the world might cope with mass migration as a result of climate change. The inevitable emergence of climate migration poses a great risk to many nations, and, now more than ever, governments and international institutions must begin contingency planning. 

The world’s failure to effectively react to a rapidly spreading virus offers a grim outlook for its ability to collectively prepare for climate migration, but the consequences of inaction have never been clearer. The distinction between COVID-19 and climate change is that flattening the curve for the latter will require decades of consistent action rather than mere weeks. 

The economic chaos and rising death toll of COVID-19 highlights the need for stagnant national security agendas to prioritize outbreaks of disease, climate change, and mass migration. However, even as the world hit 1 million COVID-19 infections, prominent voices in the U.S. national security community remained focused on other threats. 

21 April 2020

The Strategic Case for U.S. Climate Leadership How Americans Can Win With a Pro-Market Solution

By James A. Baker III, George P. Shultz, and Ted Halstead

In the United States, the case for greater action on climate change is typically made on environmental grounds. But there are equally compelling economic, geopolitical, and national security rationales for the United States to lead the world on climate policy. Even those who remain skeptical of the environmental urgency of the problem should recognize the overwhelming strategic advantages of U.S. climate action at home and abroad. 

Those who oppose greater U.S. engagement and ambition have legitimate concerns. These concerns tend to fall into two buckets. The first is economic: the chief worry is that global climate solutions could put the U.S. economy at a competitive disadvantage with its trading partners and reduce American living standards. The second set is geopolitical: some observers wonder why the United States should reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions if other countries won’t do their part. 

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20 April 2020

Community-Based Natural Resource Management and Global Climate Change in Namibia

Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) is a system of resource governance that has developed across much of southern Africa as a way to protect certain resources such as freshwater, forests and forest products and wildlife populations and their habitat while empowering local populations. It is intended to do so by devolving control from central government to local communities so that they in turn become responsible for both the costs associated with managing resources but also any possible benefits that can be accrued from doing so. The literature on CBNRM generally approaches this form of resource governance as an apolitical domestic policy tool within a framework of local environmental conservation. My recent fieldwork in the Namibia, however, has pointed to two important points that the existing literature has not yet adequately accounted for. First, CBNRM should be understood as a global phenomenon, and that even conservation activities that take place in the most rural African community are intimately tied into broader issues in global environmental governance. This occurs as rural communities lack the capacity to benefit from projects through ecotourism in the way they are intended and must partner with a vast network of NGOs that have developed in order to administer funds from a variety of donors within the international community. This has a great affect on how power is rearticulated on the ground and leads to a blurring of the local, the national and global as well as the public from the private. Second, Climate change has profoundly changed the role that CBNRM plays in Namibia.

While not all environmental/conservation issues are directly related to climate change and CBNRM was not developed with climate change in mind, the two have become intricately intertwined and CBNRM can now not be understood outside the broader effects of the changing climate in Namibia. This has resulted as rural Namibian livelihoods which relied traditionally on various forms of subsistence agriculture have become severally threated due to the drought. As a result, many communities now rely solely on income derived from the CBNRM programs and its economic offshoots. Beyond this, the Conservancies themselves have grown and developed into governance apparatuses that provide important public services that are now needed more than ever.

Reviewing Key Details in Namibia’s Historical Context

14 April 2020

The Climate Club

By William Nordhaus 

Climate change is the major environmental challenge facing nations today, and it is increasingly viewed as one of the central issues in international relations. Yet governments have used a flawed architecture in their attempts to forge treaties to counter it. The key agreements, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the 2015 Paris climate accord, have relied on voluntary arrangements, which induce free-riding that undermines any agreement.

States need to reconceptualize climate agreements and replace the current flawed model with an alternative that has a different incentive structure—what I would call the “Climate Club.” Nations can overcome the syndrome of free-riding in international climate agreements if they adopt the club model and include penalties for nations that do not participate. Otherwise, the global effort to curb climate change is sure to fail.

In December 2019, the 25th Conference of the Parties (COP25) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) met in Madrid, Spain. As most independent observers concluded, there was a total disconnect between the need for sharp emission reductions and the outcomes of the deliberations. COP25 followed COP24, which followed COP23, which followed COP22, all the way back to COP1—a series of multilateral negotiations that produced the failed Kyoto Protocol and the wobbly Paris accord. At the end of this long string of conferences, the world in 2020 is no further along than it was after COP1, in 1995: there is no binding international agreement on climate change. 

11 April 2020

Can the Lessons of the Coronavirus Pandemic Be Applied to Climate Change?

Stewart M. Patrick 

As the world grapples with COVID-19, it cannot afford to ignore an even more serious global emergency that will persist long after the pandemic has passed: climate change. Last month, the United Nations issued a dire multiagency report warning that the world is “way off track” on its commitments to cut emissions under the Paris Agreement. Without dramatic and sustained emissions reductions, higher atmospheric and marine temperatures will bring more deadly heat waves, catastrophic storms, rising seas, food insecurity, health crises and mass displacement.

Although emissions have dropped sharply since January with the coronavirus pandemic virtually shutting down entire economies and most air travel, they are sure to surge again as the world economy roars back to life whenever the pandemic ends. Antonio Guterres, the U.N. secretary-general, put it bluntly: “We will not fight climate change with a virus.” Indeed, the pandemic will make progress against global warming even more elusive.

Nobody welcomes a pandemic that threatens to kill millions, infect hundreds of millions more and throw the world into economic depression. Still, the dramatic global response to COVID-19 has captured many environmentalists’ imaginations, by showing what a less polluted planet might look like and suggesting how the world might mobilize to fight climate change.

6 April 2020

Special Issue: How We Will All Solve the Climate Crisis

NOT LONG AGO, in more innocent times, I was driving with my three sons back from trying to ski on a mountain that doesn't really have snow anymore, and we were talking about climate change. This was before the pandemic, and before our conversations shifted to discussions of what viruses are and why soap, miraculously, can kill them. 

The kids are 11, 9, and 6, and they're worried about the present and upset about the future, as they should be. They know that their adult years will be spent in a world of raging fires, flash floods, and mass extinction. They love Greta and resent their elders. The future feels different and vaster when the actuarial tables give you 80 years to go, not 40.

We talked about turning our thermostats down, eating less meat, and putting the cable box on a smart plug. I promised to install solar panels. I tried futilely to explain what capitalism is and why it was still a reasonable way to organize human affairs, despite CO2 levels now reaching 415 ppm. I told them there was still time. They found my explications unpersuasive and mostly shared each other's anger (except when the older boys reported that some environmentalists argue against having three children; that didn't go over well with their little brother). Gradually, though, their rage turned to pragmatism. That's when my oldest son asked: “If there's one thing that I could invent that would help, what would it be?”