- News Update
PBS recently ran a Frontline documentary entitled “Heat”, on climate change. A section of the movie describes the status of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in the US, a technology that both the IPCC and the IEA consider necessary to achieve emissions reduction. I note that no tests have been run so far in the US to verify the technical feasibility, economic viability and safety of this option. Purely from the technical point of view, the task could be feasible, although extremely challenging. It’s the idea of storing huge amounts of CO2 underground or in the deep seas (less likely) that makes me doubtful. CO2 will need to be sealed away in carefully selected sites, but safety issues are only part of the picture.
|Photo © William Lane/World Bank|
Sea-level rise is not a phenomenon of increasing frequency, but rather increasing magnitude in a persistent and continuous way. The effect of climate change is most palpably felt in small, low-lying island states such as Panza Island, the southernmost island off Pemba in Tanzania. Farming and fishing are the main means of livelihood. Significant parts of the island, especially the lower elevation southeastern side, are inundated by seawater bimonthly, during the spring cycles and most prominently during the diurnal flood tides. The local residents report up to four feet of water in some areas, which have only become vulnerable in the past year. Previously agricultural land can no longer be farmed. The area near the local school has been flooding for the past 15 years. Salt water has intruded into all the wells on the island, so drinking water has to now be piped in from a neighboring island.
The National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) are the most prominent national efforts in the least developed countries (LDCs) to identify priority areas for climate change adaptation. Now that most of the NAPAs have been completed (38 out of 48), it is time to ask if they matter.
The NAPAs were completed at a price tag of near 10 million dollars for preparation and another anticipated 2 billion for implementation. It might appear they are a golden opportunity for the developed world to show that it is serious about supporting adaptation in vulnerable countries. But the NAPA reports continue to sit on the UNFCCC’s website, available to anyone to read but with little prospects of attracting funds for implementation – or so think many who participated in the NAPA process!
Some latest published reports, news, and journal articles.
- U.S. Transition Hampers Talks on Climate Change - NYTimes - 12/11
- The Dirty Side of Clean Coal - Scientific American - 12/9
- Green-Collar Jobs--The Future of the Global Workplace - Scientific American - 12/11
Some latest published reports, journal articles, news, and papers.
|Photo © Dominic Sansoni/World Bank|
The world's attention is sharply focused on the financial crisis right now. Even Europe, which has always pushed for climate change, has begun to talk about potentially postponing the target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While the world leaders can bail out the financial crisis, climate change is a crisis that’s already happening and will not wait. A green energy technology revolution can not only mitigate climate change, but also create jobs and stimulate economies.
There’s been a lot of worrying news lately – particularly, news that looks bad for achieving global multilateral action on climate change. The collapse of the Doha trade negotiations in July has been interpreted by many – including World Bank President Robert Zoellick and former EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson – as steepening the “uphill struggle” of the UNFCCC negotiations.
More recently, the unfolding global financial crisis is weakening optimism about tackling climate change. The financial crisis is dominating headlines and bumping climate change ever lower on the international agenda. The metaphors abound, as climate change “takes a back seat” and is “left out in the cold.”
|Photo © Curt Carnemark/World Bank|
The current financial crisis is humbling every participant in the international financial system. Even Alan Greenspan acknowledged he was wrong in his blind confidence in the markets and financial innovation.
This crisis provides a cautionary tale of what could happen if we do not act urgently to limit the change in the earth’s climate. The current meltdown of the financial system is often portrayed as a massive regulation failure. Another regulation misstep—unmitigated climate change—could lead us to the actual meltdown of part of the earth’s climate system. This would make this financial crisis seem like a day on the beach.
A recent paper by Cohen and Vandenbergh explores the relationship between climate change and consumption by building on emerging work on the determinants of subjective well being. According to an increasing body of 'happiness research', wealth has decreasing marginal returns, which means that above certain levels of income, people are willing to trade some of their monetary compensation for more “leisure” and time for themselves. The implications are that public policy should aim at cutting working hours and increase public funding to culture, entertainment and “well being” activities. This would help increase public welfare without increasing consumption, thus helping reduce emissions. In the authors' own words: