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Cliamte Change

Facts, knowledge and women, trump myth and superstition

Fionna Douglas's picture

When scientists from a broad range of disciplines get together to discuss research to feed the world, while protecting the planet in a changing climate, it’s not surprising that they would call for increased investment. More surprising is that they would agree on setting clear priorities.

The World Bank co-organized the Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture in Wageningen, Netherlands, with Wageningen University and The Netherlands Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation as part of its efforts to build the store of knowledge that can help small holder farmers around the globe increase productivity – a central theme of the Bank’s Agriculture Action Plan – and build resilience to climate change. The conference will also inform the upcoming global climate change negotiations in Durban, South Africa.

Motivated by the statement of UK Chief Scientific Officer Sir John Beddington that the world is unlikely to make the changes required to limit global warming to 2 degrees centigrade, and is heading for a “4 degree centigrade world with disastrous implications for African food security”, the scientists heeded policy makers’ pleas and delivered some clear evidence-based advice.

A toolkit for climate change with stakeholders at its core

Jane Ebinger's picture

There is now a set of tools that can help countries assess how vulnerable their energy sector is. Such assessments will be critical for countries to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. The toolkit―HEAT, a Hands-on Energy Adaptation Toolkit, has its roots in work done in 2008. At that time, I contributed to an Eastern Europe and Central Asia wide paper that took stock of projected climate impacts to understand the countries or sectors that were most vulnerable, and to get some sense of the level of exposure. I worked with colleagues to explore what this meant in an energy context.  Our starting point was to ask a series of questions: what changes were we concerned about? How could they affect energy planning, design and operations? How big a risk did this pose to energy security? What experience was there in coping with these issues? 

 

What emerged was enlightening. Many countries are increasingly vulnerable to changes in seasonal weather patterns, weather variability and extreme events e.g. droughts, floods, heat waves―that can affect the production and supply of energy and affect seasonal energy demand. The degree of exposure depends on the amount of change, how the sector is sensitive to or is affected by these changes and the ability to cope with impacts. This is further exacerbated by socio-economic and inherited issues (e.g. inefficient use of energy and water resources) that affect the coping or adaptive capacity of a country. Out of all we learned, came the development of HEAT.

Russian wildfires: No winners from climate change

Alan Miller's picture

A commonly heard comment in climate change discussions has been that the benefits of climate change – milder winters, increased agricultural productivity -- also have to be acknowledged. Russia and Canada, it has often been argued, could be economic “winners” from climate change due to easier access to ocean shipping routes, longer growing seasons, and the space and water necessary to increase agricultural production. A 2008 report of the U.S. National Intelligence Council notes that Russia “has the potential to gain the most from increasingly temperate weather”, citing easier access to Siberian energy reserves and an Arctic waterway. This idea was popular with some Russian scientists and politicians, who as recently as the past year questioned whether reductions in greenhouse gas emissions were necessary.

 

While consideration of benefits is appropriately included in economic studies of climate change, the recent heat waves and wildfires in Russia illustrate the limitations in thinking this way. The July heat wave – the worst in the
130 year record -- brought Moscow temperatures in excess of 100 degrees, destroyed crops on an estimated 25 million acres (about the size of Iceland), and led to intense fires across the country wiping out entire villages. Burning peat fields darkened the skies and filled the air with high levels of pollution. Breathing the outside air for an hour in Moscow is now reported to be equivalent to smoking two packs of cigarettes. In response to this, and other climate-related production declines in the EU and Canada, grain prices have risen 90 %. In order to protect domestic markets, Russia has banned grain exports.

Identify, cost and prioritize: A new report on the economics of adaptation

Joel B. Smith's picture

A policy-maker in Ethiopia, managing a predominantly agricultural economy, and one that is likely to greatly affected by climate change, would probably like to know the impact of climate change as well as what it will cost to adapt to the impacts. Given the potential for more droughts and floods, what are the strategies and costs for adaptation? Like Ethiopia, other developing countries are grappling with the same question. It is an important one, but has not been widely addressed until recently.

 

This matter was given sudden prominence in 2006 when the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) asked how much financial need developing countries will require to both reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change. The COP’s request created an overnight cottage industry estimating the total costs of adaptation by developing countries. Reports were published by the World Bank (2007), Oxfam (2007), the UNFCCC Secretariat (2009), Parry et al. (2009), and others. Most of these studies relied on expert judgment to develop adaptation cost estimates. The UNFCCC, however, applied some “top-down” rules in some sectors to rapidly estimate costs.

 

The latest and clearly most detailed estimate of the potential costs of adaptation in developing countries was just released in the UNFCCC conference in Bonn by the World Bank titled Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change (EACC). This report was a culmination of years of effort by the Bank to develop global and country level estimates of adaptation costs. The EACC is the most detailed estimate that has been developed to date because one, it addresses more sectors than prior estimates, two,  it does so in a more systematic manner than its predecessors, and three, it estimates global and national level costs. The EACC study estimated global costs for infrastructure, coastal zones, water resources, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, human health, and extreme weather. Each sector’s cost estimate was developed by applying rules to analyze impacts and costs as a result of climate change.