Author: Trevor S

India in disarray over strategy on global warming

Researchers in India say its action on climate change is suffering because, unlike China, it has not developed the institutions needed to co-ordinate policy. NEW DELHI, 18 September, 2015 – India, the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs) after China and the US, is also one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change. Yet some of India’s own academics say their government’s climate policy is seriously flawed because of institutional shortcomings, poorly co-ordinated official action, and insufficient sharing of available knowledge. Navroz Dubash, senior fellow at the New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research (CPR), is the lead author of a working paper and a subsequent policy brief on how India can give its climate policy effective institutional form. He identifies the main problems as a lack of continuity in institutions, lack of co-ordination among government departments, and limited ways of aggregating knowledge.

Large array      

“On international engagement, it is hard to be pro-active when the task of keeping up with the large array of discussions is so great,” he says. “To be pro-active requires developing a long-term strategy, assessing its merits, and then gradually promoting the idea over time.” Dubash argues that India needs to learn from the example of neighbouring China, the world’s biggest emitter of GHGs, where climate change policy is organised around a National Leading Committee on Climate Change (NLCCC) headed by the prime minister. Early 2008 saw the establishment in India of the prime minister’s special envoy on climate change to co-ordinate the ministries dealing with work related to climate change − from improving crop varieties and energy efficiency to cutting vehicle emissions and conserving natural resources. “That ushered in a co-ordinated period of work leading to much progress on climate action,” Dubash says. “ But, two years later, the prime minister’s special office was dismantled following a tussle for control with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change(MoEFCC).”

“If the objective is to make climate change action relevant to all, then one has to build logical links across departments and ministries”

Since then, he says, India has struggled to co-ordinate its work on climate issues, despite a proliferation of institutions for climate governance. “The office of the prime minister’s special envoy on climate change did not only ensure proper co-ordination, but also helped to generate forward momentum on the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC),” Dubash says. Then there is the matter of the proliferating missions. Under the NAPCC, India formed eight separate missions for energy efficiency – such as sustainable habitat, agriculture, water − dedicated to combating climate change. Dubash says: “At the domestic level, if the objective is to make climate change action relevant to all, then one has to build logical links across departments and ministries. Here, the lack of a co-ordinating agency becomes an obstacle.” Rajeshwari Raina, senior scientist at the National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies in New Delhi, says: “By structuring the NAPCC components as separate programmes, the government has actually ensured that there is no co-ordination to make meaningful linkages with common interests on reforming the sectors that produce the greenhouse gas emissions.” This capacity shortfall, Dubash argues, means there is no institutional framework to help officials to understand the complex linkages between areas such as energy, urbanisation, agriculture, and water.

Understaffed

Beyond that, he believes, the institutions that do exist are understaffed, and over-burdened. For example, the MoEFCC has only six full-time staff in its climate unit, which has to cover numerous tasks ranging from keeping track of global negotiations to understanding linkages to trade, aviation and maritime issues. “This seems like a large set of tasks for six people,” says Dubash, who points to the vastly different approach in China. “The NLCCC in China co-ordinates the activities of the 27 government agencies addressing climate change. By housing it within the extremely powerful apex decision-making body, the National Development and Reform Commission, China has ensured that climate change is treated as an important and highly-sensitive political and economic issue.” – Climate News Network

  • Athar Parvaiz, a freelance journalist based in Srinagar and New Delhi, specialises in climate and the environment. www.ecokashmir.com; Twitter: @AtharParvaiz

Researchers in India say its action on climate change is suffering because, unlike China, it has not developed the institutions needed to co-ordinate policy. NEW DELHI, 18 September, 2015 – India, the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs) after China and the US, is also one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change. Yet some of India’s own academics say their government’s climate policy is seriously flawed because of institutional shortcomings, poorly co-ordinated official action, and insufficient sharing of available knowledge. Navroz Dubash, senior fellow at the New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research (CPR), is the lead author of a working paper and a subsequent policy brief on how India can give its climate policy effective institutional form. He identifies the main problems as a lack of continuity in institutions, lack of co-ordination among government departments, and limited ways of aggregating knowledge.

Large array      

“On international engagement, it is hard to be pro-active when the task of keeping up with the large array of discussions is so great,” he says. “To be pro-active requires developing a long-term strategy, assessing its merits, and then gradually promoting the idea over time.” Dubash argues that India needs to learn from the example of neighbouring China, the world’s biggest emitter of GHGs, where climate change policy is organised around a National Leading Committee on Climate Change (NLCCC) headed by the prime minister. Early 2008 saw the establishment in India of the prime minister’s special envoy on climate change to co-ordinate the ministries dealing with work related to climate change − from improving crop varieties and energy efficiency to cutting vehicle emissions and conserving natural resources. “That ushered in a co-ordinated period of work leading to much progress on climate action,” Dubash says. “ But, two years later, the prime minister’s special office was dismantled following a tussle for control with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change(MoEFCC).”

“If the objective is to make climate change action relevant to all, then one has to build logical links across departments and ministries”

Since then, he says, India has struggled to co-ordinate its work on climate issues, despite a proliferation of institutions for climate governance. “The office of the prime minister’s special envoy on climate change did not only ensure proper co-ordination, but also helped to generate forward momentum on the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC),” Dubash says. Then there is the matter of the proliferating missions. Under the NAPCC, India formed eight separate missions for energy efficiency – such as sustainable habitat, agriculture, water − dedicated to combating climate change. Dubash says: “At the domestic level, if the objective is to make climate change action relevant to all, then one has to build logical links across departments and ministries. Here, the lack of a co-ordinating agency becomes an obstacle.” Rajeshwari Raina, senior scientist at the National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies in New Delhi, says: “By structuring the NAPCC components as separate programmes, the government has actually ensured that there is no co-ordination to make meaningful linkages with common interests on reforming the sectors that produce the greenhouse gas emissions.” This capacity shortfall, Dubash argues, means there is no institutional framework to help officials to understand the complex linkages between areas such as energy, urbanisation, agriculture, and water.

Understaffed

Beyond that, he believes, the institutions that do exist are understaffed, and over-burdened. For example, the MoEFCC has only six full-time staff in its climate unit, which has to cover numerous tasks ranging from keeping track of global negotiations to understanding linkages to trade, aviation and maritime issues. “This seems like a large set of tasks for six people,” says Dubash, who points to the vastly different approach in China. “The NLCCC in China co-ordinates the activities of the 27 government agencies addressing climate change. By housing it within the extremely powerful apex decision-making body, the National Development and Reform Commission, China has ensured that climate change is treated as an important and highly-sensitive political and economic issue.” – Climate News Network

  • Athar Parvaiz, a freelance journalist based in Srinagar and New Delhi, specialises in climate and the environment. www.ecokashmir.com; Twitter: @AtharParvaiz

First head of state backs campaign to save the planet

Hungary’s president boosts an ambitious plan to collect a billion-signature petition aimed at pressuring politicians to agree on radical measures to tackle global warming. BUDAPEST, 20 May, 2015 – János Áder, the President of Hungary, has become the first head of state to join the Live Earth: Road to Paris campaign that aims to ensure world leaders agree to a binding deal on tackling climate change. The specific aim is to get a billion signatures from concerned citizens before the UN climate change conference in Paris in December, but organisers are also keen to get as many politicians and celebrities as possible to back the campaign. The Road to Paris campaign was launched in January at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, by former US vice-president Al Gore, songwriter and recording artist Pharrell Williams, and the Emmy award-winning producer and new media entrepreneur, Kevin Wall.

Global voices

Williams, winner of 11 Grammy awards, is Live Earth’s creative director, and music concerts will be staged in Paris, New York, Johannesburg, Sydney, São Paulo and Beijing on June 18, seeking to reach two billion people in 190 countries and unite global voices in demanding environmental accountability from world leaders. Áder, a former member of the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, endorsed the campaign at a press briefing in Budapest earlier this month. Praising Gore’s initiative, Áder talked about the evidence of climate change, available solutions, the positive impacts of green technologies, and the challenges and opportunities of the Paris conference in December. A spokesperson for Gore told the Climate News Network that the agreement in Paris should involve meaningful emissions reductions commitments at the national level, subject to a system of periodic review, and a long-term goal of net zero-carbon emissions.

Planet-wide shift

A Hungarian website that mirrors the US initiative will seek to encourage widespread local demand for a strong agreement that will dramatically cut emissions and accelerate the planet-wide shift to clean energy, said Zsolt Bauer, of the Hungary-based Regional Environmental Centre (REC). The REC was instrumental in setting the scene for Áder’s announcement, in partnership with the Climate Reality Project, chaired by  Gore. Áder has committed to speaking and broadcasting in Hungary to promote the petition, and to raising awareness of the available climate solutions, backed by  the REC nationally and regionally. − Climate News Network

  • Pavel Antonov, a Budapest-based journalist and social researcher, edits Evromegdan.bg, a not-for-profit online magazine for journalism in the public interest, published by BlueLink.net

Hungary’s president boosts an ambitious plan to collect a billion-signature petition aimed at pressuring politicians to agree on radical measures to tackle global warming. BUDAPEST, 20 May, 2015 – János Áder, the President of Hungary, has become the first head of state to join the Live Earth: Road to Paris campaign that aims to ensure world leaders agree to a binding deal on tackling climate change. The specific aim is to get a billion signatures from concerned citizens before the UN climate change conference in Paris in December, but organisers are also keen to get as many politicians and celebrities as possible to back the campaign. The Road to Paris campaign was launched in January at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, by former US vice-president Al Gore, songwriter and recording artist Pharrell Williams, and the Emmy award-winning producer and new media entrepreneur, Kevin Wall.

Global voices

Williams, winner of 11 Grammy awards, is Live Earth’s creative director, and music concerts will be staged in Paris, New York, Johannesburg, Sydney, São Paulo and Beijing on June 18, seeking to reach two billion people in 190 countries and unite global voices in demanding environmental accountability from world leaders. Áder, a former member of the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, endorsed the campaign at a press briefing in Budapest earlier this month. Praising Gore’s initiative, Áder talked about the evidence of climate change, available solutions, the positive impacts of green technologies, and the challenges and opportunities of the Paris conference in December. A spokesperson for Gore told the Climate News Network that the agreement in Paris should involve meaningful emissions reductions commitments at the national level, subject to a system of periodic review, and a long-term goal of net zero-carbon emissions.

Planet-wide shift

A Hungarian website that mirrors the US initiative will seek to encourage widespread local demand for a strong agreement that will dramatically cut emissions and accelerate the planet-wide shift to clean energy, said Zsolt Bauer, of the Hungary-based Regional Environmental Centre (REC). The REC was instrumental in setting the scene for Áder’s announcement, in partnership with the Climate Reality Project, chaired by  Gore. Áder has committed to speaking and broadcasting in Hungary to promote the petition, and to raising awareness of the available climate solutions, backed by  the REC nationally and regionally. − Climate News Network

  • Pavel Antonov, a Budapest-based journalist and social researcher, edits Evromegdan.bg, a not-for-profit online magazine for journalism in the public interest, published by BlueLink.net

EU aids shoppers to steer clear of harmful palm oil

New food labelling rules on giving consumers in Europe more information should help to protect the world’s tropical forests and the climate. LONDON, 6 February, 2015 A European Union decision to give consumers more information about the food they buy could mean good news for tropical countries whose forests are threatened by the expanding trade in palm oil. Palm oil is found in 50% of supermarket products, such as soaps and shampoos, and in many sorts of food. But the EU requirement that food products containing the oil must now be labelled clearly should help to dispel doubts about the damage it can cause. Producing the oil often involves felling virgin rainforest, reducing biodiversity and destroying the habitat of endangered species such as orangutans, elephants and tigers, and ruining the livelihoods of local people. It also involves the release of large quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when carbon-rich tropical forests are cleared for plantations.

Short-term impact

The EU move is not expected to change things overnight. Simon Counsell, executive director of the Rainforest Foundation UK, said: “We imagine that the impact in the short term will be fairly limited, as it’s hard to see busy people scanning through a long list of ingredients on manufactured foods to see if the product contains palm oil. “So we believe there is still very much a need for a clear and simple product guide such as ours, so that people can know to avoid altogether products that contain palm oil.” Indonesia and Malaysia produce 85% of the global palm oil supply, and wholesale logging there is a direct threat to some of the last remaining habitats of orangutans. There are thought to be around only 60,000 surviving in the wild. Elizabeth Clarke, business and biodiversity programme manager at the Zoological Society of London, said: “Palm oil production is vital to the economies of countries where it is grown, but it also has serious negative environmental impacts, particularly if grown unsustainably.

“We don’t have any space left to farm − we don’t benefit from anything”

“We are working with the industry to promote sustainable practices and responsible investment through our new Sustainable Palm Oil Transparency Toolkit, SPOTT. “More is needed to reduce pressures on wildlife, ensuring a future for the remaining 300 Sumatran tigers whose habitat is at severe risk of being lost from deforestation as a result of irresponsible practices.” New areas face threats in Africa and Latin America. In the Congo, for example, a million acres are already being cultivated for palm oil, with a further 284 million acres of pristine rainforest currently at risk. The Congo contains the world’s second largest tropical rainforest − after the Amazon − and is one of the most important wilderness areas left on Earth. Many people living in the forests feel powerless. Chief André Sayom, head of the village of Nkollo, in Cameroon, told the Rainforest Foundation: “We don’t have any space left to farm. We don’t benefit from anything. We’ve been displaced more than once already.

Explicit statement

Life becomes very difficult when these multinationals set foot somewhere. These projects need to be looked at in the long term, and populations need to be informed and consulted”. The new EU rules, introduced last December, require companies that use palm oil in their food products to label them with an explicit statement, rather than simply relying on vague, catch-all references to “vegetable oil”. They can also now highlight their use of certified sustainable palm oil Unilever is one of the world’s major buyers of palm oil, purchasing around 1.5 million tonnes annually about 3% of global production. It promised that all the oil directly sourced for its European foods business would be 100% traceable and certified sustainable from the end of 2014. Palm oil production is big business. The industry is worth $44 billion, with the world consuming 55 million tonnes in 2013 − nearly four times the 1990 total. And the World Bank expects today’s global demand to have doubled by 2020. Climate News Network

New food labelling rules on giving consumers in Europe more information should help to protect the world’s tropical forests and the climate. LONDON, 6 February, 2015 A European Union decision to give consumers more information about the food they buy could mean good news for tropical countries whose forests are threatened by the expanding trade in palm oil. Palm oil is found in 50% of supermarket products, such as soaps and shampoos, and in many sorts of food. But the EU requirement that food products containing the oil must now be labelled clearly should help to dispel doubts about the damage it can cause. Producing the oil often involves felling virgin rainforest, reducing biodiversity and destroying the habitat of endangered species such as orangutans, elephants and tigers, and ruining the livelihoods of local people. It also involves the release of large quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when carbon-rich tropical forests are cleared for plantations.

Short-term impact

The EU move is not expected to change things overnight. Simon Counsell, executive director of the Rainforest Foundation UK, said: “We imagine that the impact in the short term will be fairly limited, as it’s hard to see busy people scanning through a long list of ingredients on manufactured foods to see if the product contains palm oil. “So we believe there is still very much a need for a clear and simple product guide such as ours, so that people can know to avoid altogether products that contain palm oil.” Indonesia and Malaysia produce 85% of the global palm oil supply, and wholesale logging there is a direct threat to some of the last remaining habitats of orangutans. There are thought to be around only 60,000 surviving in the wild. Elizabeth Clarke, business and biodiversity programme manager at the Zoological Society of London, said: “Palm oil production is vital to the economies of countries where it is grown, but it also has serious negative environmental impacts, particularly if grown unsustainably.

“We don’t have any space left to farm − we don’t benefit from anything”

“We are working with the industry to promote sustainable practices and responsible investment through our new Sustainable Palm Oil Transparency Toolkit, SPOTT. “More is needed to reduce pressures on wildlife, ensuring a future for the remaining 300 Sumatran tigers whose habitat is at severe risk of being lost from deforestation as a result of irresponsible practices.” New areas face threats in Africa and Latin America. In the Congo, for example, a million acres are already being cultivated for palm oil, with a further 284 million acres of pristine rainforest currently at risk. The Congo contains the world’s second largest tropical rainforest − after the Amazon − and is one of the most important wilderness areas left on Earth. Many people living in the forests feel powerless. Chief André Sayom, head of the village of Nkollo, in Cameroon, told the Rainforest Foundation: “We don’t have any space left to farm. We don’t benefit from anything. We’ve been displaced more than once already.

Explicit statement

Life becomes very difficult when these multinationals set foot somewhere. These projects need to be looked at in the long term, and populations need to be informed and consulted”. The new EU rules, introduced last December, require companies that use palm oil in their food products to label them with an explicit statement, rather than simply relying on vague, catch-all references to “vegetable oil”. They can also now highlight their use of certified sustainable palm oil Unilever is one of the world’s major buyers of palm oil, purchasing around 1.5 million tonnes annually about 3% of global production. It promised that all the oil directly sourced for its European foods business would be 100% traceable and certified sustainable from the end of 2014. Palm oil production is big business. The industry is worth $44 billion, with the world consuming 55 million tonnes in 2013 − nearly four times the 1990 total. And the World Bank expects today’s global demand to have doubled by 2020. Climate News Network

Aid aims to help rice farmers in a warming world

International team provides help to small-scale farmers on the eastern Ganges plains who are struggling to make a living and grow enough rice to feed the population. KATHMANDU, 12 January, 2015 − Research scientists are coming to the aid of 300 million people along the River Ganges for whom rice is the staple food and who face a hungry future because productivity is poor and the harvest is threatened by climate change. The team of scientists and development practitioners from Australia, Bangladesh, India and Nepal plan to improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of 7,000 small-scale farmers in the eastern Gangetic plains with a five-year US$ 6.7 million programme. According to Nepal’s Ministry for Agriculture Development, 66 per cent of Nepal’s total population of almost 27 million is involved in agriculture and contributes 39 per cent in the GDP. Local scientists say that lack of access to climate-resilient technologies and dependency on monsoon rains for irrigation are major problems for farmers in Nepal.

Food security

“Nepal is one of the most vulnerable countries to projected climate change effect, so the project will help small-scale farmers address pressing issues about their livelihood and food security,” Devendra Gauchan, senior scientist at Nepal Agricultural Research Council, told the Climate News Network. Altogether, the eastern Gangetic plains of Nepal, Bangladesh and India are home to 300 million people. The aid team, funded by the Australian government, aim to help rice farmers systems through efficient use of water and conserving resources to improve adaptation to climate change, and also connect them to new markets. The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) will manage the programme, which will be led by the International Wheat and Maize Improvement Centre in eight districts − two in north-west Bangladesh, two in east Nepal, and two each in the Indian states of Bihar and West Bengal.

“Nepal is one of the most vulnerable countries to projected climate change effect”

“Rice-based system productivity [in the eastern Gangetic plains] remains low, and diversification is limited because of poorly-developed markets, sparse agricultural knowledge and service networks, and inadequate development of available water resources,” says Kuhu Chatterjee, South Asia regional manager of ACIAR. The project was designed in consultation and participation with NARC, the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, and agricultural universities in India.

New technologies

Local scientists feel that this project will also help build capacity of researchers in Nepal. Devendra Gauchan said: “Agricultural research in Nepal has very limited strength in terms of human resource, infrastructure facility and institutional capacity. Through this project we will get to learn about new technologies and research management from scientists from participating countries.” According to Kuhu Chatterjee, the project will test and fine-tune the technologies developed in countries such as Australia, Canada and Brazil, and will modify them to suit farmers in the eastern Gangetic plains. “Community consultations will be conducted to identify different ways to optimise the productive use of rain and irrigation water, increase cropping intensity through timely planting, reduced tillage and enhancing access to, and use of, energy-efficient irrigation technologies,” Chatterjee said. – Climate News Network

  • Bhrikuti Rai, a journalist based in Kathmandu, Nepal, writes on climate change, science and development issues. Follow her on Twitter @bbhrikuti

International team provides help to small-scale farmers on the eastern Ganges plains who are struggling to make a living and grow enough rice to feed the population. KATHMANDU, 12 January, 2015 − Research scientists are coming to the aid of 300 million people along the River Ganges for whom rice is the staple food and who face a hungry future because productivity is poor and the harvest is threatened by climate change. The team of scientists and development practitioners from Australia, Bangladesh, India and Nepal plan to improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of 7,000 small-scale farmers in the eastern Gangetic plains with a five-year US$ 6.7 million programme. According to Nepal’s Ministry for Agriculture Development, 66 per cent of Nepal’s total population of almost 27 million is involved in agriculture and contributes 39 per cent in the GDP. Local scientists say that lack of access to climate-resilient technologies and dependency on monsoon rains for irrigation are major problems for farmers in Nepal.

Food security

“Nepal is one of the most vulnerable countries to projected climate change effect, so the project will help small-scale farmers address pressing issues about their livelihood and food security,” Devendra Gauchan, senior scientist at Nepal Agricultural Research Council, told the Climate News Network. Altogether, the eastern Gangetic plains of Nepal, Bangladesh and India are home to 300 million people. The aid team, funded by the Australian government, aim to help rice farmers systems through efficient use of water and conserving resources to improve adaptation to climate change, and also connect them to new markets. The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) will manage the programme, which will be led by the International Wheat and Maize Improvement Centre in eight districts − two in north-west Bangladesh, two in east Nepal, and two each in the Indian states of Bihar and West Bengal.

“Nepal is one of the most vulnerable countries to projected climate change effect”

“Rice-based system productivity [in the eastern Gangetic plains] remains low, and diversification is limited because of poorly-developed markets, sparse agricultural knowledge and service networks, and inadequate development of available water resources,” says Kuhu Chatterjee, South Asia regional manager of ACIAR. The project was designed in consultation and participation with NARC, the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, and agricultural universities in India.

New technologies

Local scientists feel that this project will also help build capacity of researchers in Nepal. Devendra Gauchan said: “Agricultural research in Nepal has very limited strength in terms of human resource, infrastructure facility and institutional capacity. Through this project we will get to learn about new technologies and research management from scientists from participating countries.” According to Kuhu Chatterjee, the project will test and fine-tune the technologies developed in countries such as Australia, Canada and Brazil, and will modify them to suit farmers in the eastern Gangetic plains. “Community consultations will be conducted to identify different ways to optimise the productive use of rain and irrigation water, increase cropping intensity through timely planting, reduced tillage and enhancing access to, and use of, energy-efficient irrigation technologies,” Chatterjee said. – Climate News Network

  • Bhrikuti Rai, a journalist based in Kathmandu, Nepal, writes on climate change, science and development issues. Follow her on Twitter @bbhrikuti

Campaigners spy signs of concern among frackers

Does the NATO Secretary General really believe that Russia is secretly the puppet master behind efforts to stop shale gas extraction in Europe, or is it – asks UK Green Party MP Caroline Lucas − just an indication of the growing effectiveness of anti-fracking campaigns?  LONDON, 25 June, 2014 − Arriving at the beautiful village of Balcombe last August, ready to take part in the growing protests against Cuadrilla’s plans to start fracking deep in the Sussex countryside in southern England, my biggest concern – as I weaved my way through families with children and dogs, stepping over people picnicking on rugs on the grass verge − was whether we’d escape without rain. I have to confess that looking out for Russian spies was not high on my list of preoccupations. Yet if Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the NATO Secretary General, is to be believed, perhaps it should have been.

Stunned audience

Speaking at a Chatham House conference in London last week, Rasmussen stunned his audience by asserting that Vladimir Putin’s Russian government was behind attempts to undermine projects using hydraulic fracturing technology in Europe. He said: “. . . I have met allies who can report that Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engages actively with so-called non-governmental organisations, environmental organisations working against shale gas – obviously to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas. That’s my interpretation.” This is a pretty mind-boggling assertion − and it is one for which absolutely no evidence at all was adduced.

“The fact that these are the views of the man in charge of the biggest nuclear alliance on Earth is positively terrifying”

If this had been the “interpretation” of a fellow Balcombe protester who had turned to their homemade cider a shade early on in the proceedings, it would simply be odd. But the fact that these are the views of the man in charge of the biggest nuclear alliance on Earth is positively terrifying. The allegation is, quite simply, ludicrous. I’ve met a good many anti-fracking campaigners over the years, and I have never heard anything so absurd. Indeed, Greenpeace gave the proposition admirably short shrift, saying: “The idea that we’re puppets of Putin is so preposterous that you have to wonder what they’re smoking over at NATO HQ.” Quite. But Rasmussen’s assertion is also deeply worrying. First, it besmirches the motivations of many thousands of sincere protesters who campaign in good faith against a technology that causes serious pollution to water, soil and air, and which will lock us into ever greater fossil fuel dependence at precisely the time when climate scientists are warning that we urgently need to invest in renewables instead. It is a technology, moreover, that will not deliver the much-vaunted European energy independence claimed for it, since even under the most optimistic scenarios, shale gas is projected to meet just 10% of European gas demand by 2030. Most commentators agree that 2%-3% is a more realistic estimate (International Energy Agency: World Energy Outlook 2012). Even in the best case scenario, the volumes of EU shale gas will be too small to impact meaningfully on EU security of supply concerns. Second, it raises serious questions about the judgment of one of the most powerful men in the world. The head of NATO must be dangerously deluded if he genuinely believes his own rhetoric. And if his assessment is in such serious doubt over this, on how many other issues is his judgment falling short?

Growing campaigns

Perhaps one thing this episode does show, however, is how effective the growing anti-fracking campaigns are becoming, and therefore how much of a threat they pose to those shale gas enthusiasts who still believe − flying in the face of the evidence − that it will offer a low-cost, low-carbon energy future. Fracking is already banned in five of the 14 EU Member States with estimated reserves − including in France, which has the second largest resources after Poland. The reality is that one doesn’t need to fantasise about possible Russian attempts to discredit fracking. The evidence is doing that very effectively on its own. The bigger conundrum is why, in a country with such plentiful renewable resources as the UK, we have a government intent on locking us into yet more fossil fuel dependence. Judging by the bewildering lack of ministerial commitment in the UK to cheaper, more plentiful renewables − which, alongside a serious investment in efficiency and conservation, really could deliver energy independence − perhaps we should check whether the Russians have infiltrated the Department for Energy and Climate Change as well. If so, they seem to have been remarkably effective. – Climate News Network

  • Caroline Lucas, the UK’s only Green Party Member of Parliament, was arrested at a protest against fracking in southern England last year. She was found not guilty of the charges the police brought against her – for wilful obstruction of a public highway and breaching an order under section 14 of the Public Order Act (relating to public assemblies).

Does the NATO Secretary General really believe that Russia is secretly the puppet master behind efforts to stop shale gas extraction in Europe, or is it – asks UK Green Party MP Caroline Lucas − just an indication of the growing effectiveness of anti-fracking campaigns?  LONDON, 25 June, 2014 − Arriving at the beautiful village of Balcombe last August, ready to take part in the growing protests against Cuadrilla’s plans to start fracking deep in the Sussex countryside in southern England, my biggest concern – as I weaved my way through families with children and dogs, stepping over people picnicking on rugs on the grass verge − was whether we’d escape without rain. I have to confess that looking out for Russian spies was not high on my list of preoccupations. Yet if Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the NATO Secretary General, is to be believed, perhaps it should have been.

Stunned audience

Speaking at a Chatham House conference in London last week, Rasmussen stunned his audience by asserting that Vladimir Putin’s Russian government was behind attempts to undermine projects using hydraulic fracturing technology in Europe. He said: “. . . I have met allies who can report that Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engages actively with so-called non-governmental organisations, environmental organisations working against shale gas – obviously to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas. That’s my interpretation.” This is a pretty mind-boggling assertion − and it is one for which absolutely no evidence at all was adduced.

“The fact that these are the views of the man in charge of the biggest nuclear alliance on Earth is positively terrifying”

If this had been the “interpretation” of a fellow Balcombe protester who had turned to their homemade cider a shade early on in the proceedings, it would simply be odd. But the fact that these are the views of the man in charge of the biggest nuclear alliance on Earth is positively terrifying. The allegation is, quite simply, ludicrous. I’ve met a good many anti-fracking campaigners over the years, and I have never heard anything so absurd. Indeed, Greenpeace gave the proposition admirably short shrift, saying: “The idea that we’re puppets of Putin is so preposterous that you have to wonder what they’re smoking over at NATO HQ.” Quite. But Rasmussen’s assertion is also deeply worrying. First, it besmirches the motivations of many thousands of sincere protesters who campaign in good faith against a technology that causes serious pollution to water, soil and air, and which will lock us into ever greater fossil fuel dependence at precisely the time when climate scientists are warning that we urgently need to invest in renewables instead. It is a technology, moreover, that will not deliver the much-vaunted European energy independence claimed for it, since even under the most optimistic scenarios, shale gas is projected to meet just 10% of European gas demand by 2030. Most commentators agree that 2%-3% is a more realistic estimate (International Energy Agency: World Energy Outlook 2012). Even in the best case scenario, the volumes of EU shale gas will be too small to impact meaningfully on EU security of supply concerns. Second, it raises serious questions about the judgment of one of the most powerful men in the world. The head of NATO must be dangerously deluded if he genuinely believes his own rhetoric. And if his assessment is in such serious doubt over this, on how many other issues is his judgment falling short?

Growing campaigns

Perhaps one thing this episode does show, however, is how effective the growing anti-fracking campaigns are becoming, and therefore how much of a threat they pose to those shale gas enthusiasts who still believe − flying in the face of the evidence − that it will offer a low-cost, low-carbon energy future. Fracking is already banned in five of the 14 EU Member States with estimated reserves − including in France, which has the second largest resources after Poland. The reality is that one doesn’t need to fantasise about possible Russian attempts to discredit fracking. The evidence is doing that very effectively on its own. The bigger conundrum is why, in a country with such plentiful renewable resources as the UK, we have a government intent on locking us into yet more fossil fuel dependence. Judging by the bewildering lack of ministerial commitment in the UK to cheaper, more plentiful renewables − which, alongside a serious investment in efficiency and conservation, really could deliver energy independence − perhaps we should check whether the Russians have infiltrated the Department for Energy and Climate Change as well. If so, they seem to have been remarkably effective. – Climate News Network

  • Caroline Lucas, the UK’s only Green Party Member of Parliament, was arrested at a protest against fracking in southern England last year. She was found not guilty of the charges the police brought against her – for wilful obstruction of a public highway and breaching an order under section 14 of the Public Order Act (relating to public assemblies).

Germany struts its renewable stuff

A guidebook with a difference is selling well in Germany. It details nearly 200 renewable energy sites it thinks will appeal to tourists. BERLIN, 11 June – Wind turbines and solar panels: do you love them or hate them? Do you think of renewable energy as the way to a greener future, or an awful blight on the present? Either way, growing numbers of German communities think they have found a silver lining: they’re touting renewables as tourist attractions. A guidebook is now available, listing about 200 green projects around the country which it thinks are, in the travel writer’s time-hallowed phrase, “worth the detour”. The publication, which has already run to a second edition after the first sold out, was supported by  Germany’s Renewable Energies Agency. Nuclear power stations are not top of every tourist’s must-see list. But the book’s author, Martin Frey, says a nuclear plant in Kalkar, a town on Germany’s border with the Netherlands, is the world’s safest. It pulls in more than half a million visitors annually. Safe? It should be, because local protests – driven partly by the 1986 Chernobyl accident – meant it never started operation. Now it’s an amusement park offering hotels with all-inclusive holidays, restaurants and merry-go-rounds. Its most popular attraction is a gigantic cooling tower with a climbing wall outside and a carousel inside.

Blast from the past

Another strictly retired “attraction” listed is Ferropolis, the City of Iron. Located on the site of a former brown coal (lignite) opencast mine in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt, it’s a bit of an oddity in Frey’s list – an open-air museum, preoccupied not with emerging technologies but with echoes of one that many hope has had its day. Huge redundant metal structures, immense excavators and towering cranes, all abandoned, give Ferropolis the air of a post-apocalypse movie. But in a nod to the future the roof of a former workshop is covered with solar panels which help to power the museum’s annual summer music festivals. Germany is moving rapidly away from the past which Ferropolis evokes in its switch to renewable energy. In the last decade renewable power generation has tripled and now provides a quarter of the country’s electricity and about 380,000 jobs. Wind, hydro, solar and biogas plants are taking over from coal and nuclear power. The change is evident right at the heart of the nation’s political life. The glass dome of the Reichstag, a tourist magnet which stands resplendent on the Berlin skyline, contains a cone covered with 360 mirrored plates, which reflect sunlight and illumine the plenary hall below. And there’s more: a heat exchanger inside the cone’s ventilation shaft significantly reduces the building’s power consumption.

Steep climb

The Reichstag also boasts an array of solar panels, and half its electricity and most of its heat come from two combined heat and power generators beneath the building, which run on bio-diesel. If you want to combine some mildly energetic activity with your environmental sightseeing, then head for Lower Saxony where you’ll find the Holtriem wind farm. The largest in Europe when it was built, with a total capacity of 90 MW, it has an observation platform on one of the turbines, 65 m above ground. That offers tourists – if they’re prepared to climb the 297 steps to the top – a stunning view of the North Sea and, in good weather, the East Frisian islands. Also in Lower Saxony is Juehnde, the first German village to achieve full energy self-sufficiency. Its combined heat and power plant produces twice as much energy as Juehnde needs. The villagers are so keen to share their experience that they built a New Energy Centre to win over visitors. Frey, a journalist specialising in renewable energy, says he wrote the book because he’d been impressed by a large number of innovative renewable projects and wanted to share them with tourists as well as experts. – Climate News Network * Germany: Experience Renewable Energies, published by Baedeker, is available in German (and only in print) for €16.99. An English language version may be produced if there is enough demand. Komila Nabiyeva is a Berlin-based freelance journalist, reporting on climate change, energy and development.

A guidebook with a difference is selling well in Germany. It details nearly 200 renewable energy sites it thinks will appeal to tourists. BERLIN, 11 June – Wind turbines and solar panels: do you love them or hate them? Do you think of renewable energy as the way to a greener future, or an awful blight on the present? Either way, growing numbers of German communities think they have found a silver lining: they’re touting renewables as tourist attractions. A guidebook is now available, listing about 200 green projects around the country which it thinks are, in the travel writer’s time-hallowed phrase, “worth the detour”. The publication, which has already run to a second edition after the first sold out, was supported by  Germany’s Renewable Energies Agency. Nuclear power stations are not top of every tourist’s must-see list. But the book’s author, Martin Frey, says a nuclear plant in Kalkar, a town on Germany’s border with the Netherlands, is the world’s safest. It pulls in more than half a million visitors annually. Safe? It should be, because local protests – driven partly by the 1986 Chernobyl accident – meant it never started operation. Now it’s an amusement park offering hotels with all-inclusive holidays, restaurants and merry-go-rounds. Its most popular attraction is a gigantic cooling tower with a climbing wall outside and a carousel inside.

Blast from the past

Another strictly retired “attraction” listed is Ferropolis, the City of Iron. Located on the site of a former brown coal (lignite) opencast mine in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt, it’s a bit of an oddity in Frey’s list – an open-air museum, preoccupied not with emerging technologies but with echoes of one that many hope has had its day. Huge redundant metal structures, immense excavators and towering cranes, all abandoned, give Ferropolis the air of a post-apocalypse movie. But in a nod to the future the roof of a former workshop is covered with solar panels which help to power the museum’s annual summer music festivals. Germany is moving rapidly away from the past which Ferropolis evokes in its switch to renewable energy. In the last decade renewable power generation has tripled and now provides a quarter of the country’s electricity and about 380,000 jobs. Wind, hydro, solar and biogas plants are taking over from coal and nuclear power. The change is evident right at the heart of the nation’s political life. The glass dome of the Reichstag, a tourist magnet which stands resplendent on the Berlin skyline, contains a cone covered with 360 mirrored plates, which reflect sunlight and illumine the plenary hall below. And there’s more: a heat exchanger inside the cone’s ventilation shaft significantly reduces the building’s power consumption.

Steep climb

The Reichstag also boasts an array of solar panels, and half its electricity and most of its heat come from two combined heat and power generators beneath the building, which run on bio-diesel. If you want to combine some mildly energetic activity with your environmental sightseeing, then head for Lower Saxony where you’ll find the Holtriem wind farm. The largest in Europe when it was built, with a total capacity of 90 MW, it has an observation platform on one of the turbines, 65 m above ground. That offers tourists – if they’re prepared to climb the 297 steps to the top – a stunning view of the North Sea and, in good weather, the East Frisian islands. Also in Lower Saxony is Juehnde, the first German village to achieve full energy self-sufficiency. Its combined heat and power plant produces twice as much energy as Juehnde needs. The villagers are so keen to share their experience that they built a New Energy Centre to win over visitors. Frey, a journalist specialising in renewable energy, says he wrote the book because he’d been impressed by a large number of innovative renewable projects and wanted to share them with tourists as well as experts. – Climate News Network * Germany: Experience Renewable Energies, published by Baedeker, is available in German (and only in print) for €16.99. An English language version may be produced if there is enough demand. Komila Nabiyeva is a Berlin-based freelance journalist, reporting on climate change, energy and development.

The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Summary for Policymakers of the Working Group I contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report

A note from the Climate News Network editors: we have prepared this very abbreviated version of the first instalment of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) to serve as an objective guide to some of the headline issues it covers. It is in no sense an evaluation of what the Summary says: the wording is that of the IPCC authors themselves, except for a few cases where we have added headings. The AR5 uses a different basis as input to models from that used in its 2007 predecessor, AR4: instead of emissions scenarios, it speaks of RCPs, representative concentration pathways. So it is not possible everywhere to make a direct comparison between AR4 and AR5, though the text does so in some cases, and at the end we provide a very short list of the two reports’ conclusions on several key issues. The language of science can be complex. What follows is the IPCC scientists’ language. In the following days and weeks we will be reporting in more detail on some of their findings. In this Summary for Policymakers, the following summary terms are used to describe the available evidence: limited, medium, or robust; and for the degree of agreement: low, medium, or high. A level of confidence is expressed using five qualifiers: very low, low, medium, high, and very high, and typeset in italics, e.g., medium confidence. For a given evidence and agreement statement, different confidence levels can be assigned, but increasing levels of evidence and degrees of agreement are correlated with increasing confidence. In this Summary the following terms have been used to indicate the assessed likelihood of an outcome or a result: virtually certain 99–100% probability, very likely 90–100%, likely 66–100%, about as likely as not 33–66%, unlikely 0–33%, very unlikely 0–10%, exceptionally unlikely 0–1%. Additional terms (extremely likely: 95–100%, more likely than not >50–100%, and extremely unlikely 0–5%) may also be used when appropriate.

Observed Changes in the Climate System

Atmosphere Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850. For the longest period when calculation of regional trends is sufficiently complete (1901–2012), almost the entire globe has experienced surface warming. In addition to robust multi-decadal warming, global mean surface temperature exhibits substantial decadal and interannual variability. Due to natural variability, trends based on short records are very sensitive to the beginning and end dates and do not in general reflect long-term climate trends. As one example, the rate of warming over the past 15 years, which begins with a strong El Niño, is smaller than the rate calculated since 1951. Changes in many extreme weather and climate events have been observed since about 1950. It is very likely that the number of cold days and nights has decreased and the number of warm days and nights has increased on the global scale Ocean Ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010 (high confidence ). It is virtually certain that the upper ocean (0−700 m) warmed from 1971 to 2010, and it likely warmed between the 1870s and 1971. On a global scale, the ocean warming is largest near the surface, and the upper 75 m warmed by 0.11 [0.09 to 0.13] °C per decade over the period 1971–2010. Since AR4, instrumental biases in upper-ocean temperature records have been identified and reduced, enhancing confidence in the assessment of change. It is likely that the ocean warmed between 700 and 2000 m from 1957 to 2009. Sufficient observations are available for the period 1992 to 2005 for a global assessment of temperature change below 2000 m. There were likely no significant observed temperature trends between 2000 and 3000 m for this period. It is likely that the ocean warmed from 3000 m to the bottom for this period, with the largest warming observed in the Southern Ocean. More than 60% of the net energy increase in the climate system is stored in the upper ocean (0–700 m) during the relatively well-sampled 40-year period from 1971 to 2010, and about 30% is stored in the ocean below 700 m. The increase in upper ocean heat content during this time period estimated from a linear trend is likely. Cryosphere Over the last two decades, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass, glaciers have continued to shrink almost worldwide, and Arctic sea ice and Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover have continued to decrease in extent (high confidence). The average rate of ice loss from the Greenland ice sheet has very likely substantially increased … over the period 1992–2001. The average rate of ice loss from the Antarctic ice sheet has likely increased … over the period 1992–2001. There is very high confidence that these losses are mainly from the northern Antarctic Peninsula and the Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica. There is high confidence that permafrost temperatures have increased in most regions since the early 1980s. Observed warming was up to 3°C in parts of Northern Alaska (early 1980s to mid-2000s) and up to 2°C in parts of the Russian European North (1971–2010). In the latter region, a considerable reduction in permafrost thickness and areal extent has been observed over the period 1975–2005 (medium confidence). Multiple lines of evidence support very substantial Arctic warming since the mid-20th century. Sea Level The rate of sea level rise since the mid-19th century has been larger than the mean rate during the previous two millennia (high confidence). Over the period 1901–2010, global mean sea level rose by 0.19 [0.17 to 0.21] m. Since the early 1970s, glacier mass loss and ocean thermal expansion from warming together explain about 75% of the observed global mean sea level rise (high confidence). Over the period 1993–2010, global mean sea level rise is, with high confidence, consistent with the sum of the observed contributions from ocean thermal expansion due to warming, from changes in glaciers, Greenland ice sheet, Antarctic ice sheet, and land water storage. Carbon and Other Biogeochemical Cycles The atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. CO2 concentrations have increased by 40% since pre-industrial times, primarily from fossil fuel emissions and secondarily from net land use change emissions. The ocean has absorbed about 30% of the emitted anthropogenic carbon dioxide, causing ocean acidification From 1750 to 2011, CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production have released 365 [335 to 395] GtC [gigatonnes – one gigatonne equals 1,000,000,000 metric tonnes] to the atmosphere, while deforestation and other land use change are estimated to have released 180 [100 to 260] GtC. Of these cumulative anthropogenic CO2 emissions, 240 [230 to 250] GtC have accumulated in the atmosphere, 155 [125 to 185] GtC have been taken up by the ocean and 150 [60 to 240] GtC have accumulated in natural terrestrial ecosystems. Drivers of Climate Change The total natural RF [radiative forcing – the difference between the energy received by the Earth and that which it radiates back into space] from solar irradiance changes and stratospheric volcanic aerosols made only a small contribution to the net radiative forcing throughout the last century, except for brief periods after large volcanic eruptions. Understanding the Climate System and its Recent Changes Compared to AR4, more detailed and longer observations and improved climate models now enable the attribution of a human contribution to detected changes in more climate system components. Human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident from the increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming, and understanding of the climate system. Evaluation of Climate Models Climate models have improved since the AR4. Models reproduce observed continental-scale surface temperature patterns and trends over many decades, including the more rapid warming since the mid-20th century and the cooling immediately following large volcanic eruptions (very high confidence). The long-term climate model simulations show a trend in global-mean surface temperature from 1951 to 2012 that agrees with the observed trend (very high confidence). There are, however, differences between simulated and observed trends over periods as short as 10 to 15 years (e.g., 1998 to 2012). The observed reduction in surface warming trend over the period 1998–2012 as compared to the period 1951–2012, is due in roughly equal measure to a reduced trend in radiative forcing and a cooling contribution from internal variability, which includes a possible redistribution of heat within the ocean (medium confidence). The reduced trend in radiative forcing is primarily due to volcanic eruptions and the timing of the downward phase of the 11-year solar cycle. Climate models now include more cloud and aerosol processes, and their interactions, than at the time of the AR4, but there remains low confidence in the representation and quantification of these processes in models. The equilibrium climate sensitivity quantifies the response of the climate system to constant radiative forcing on multi-century time scales. It is defined as the change in global mean surface temperature at equilibrium that is caused by a doubling of the atmospheric CO2 concentration. Equilibrium climate sensitivity is likely in the range 1.5°C to 4.5°C (high confidence), extremely unlikely less than 1°C (high confidence), and very unlikely greater than 6°C (medium confidence). The lower temperature limit of the assessed likely range is thus less than the 2°C in the AR4, but the upper limit is the same. This assessment reflects improved understanding, the extended temperature record in the atmosphere and ocean, and new estimates of radiative forcing. Detection and Attribution of Climate Change Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes. This evidence for human influence has grown since AR4. It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. The best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period. Future Global and Regional Climate Change Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. The global ocean will continue to warm during the 21st century. Heat will penetrate from the surface to the deep ocean and affect ocean circulation. It is very likely that the Arctic sea ice cover will continue to shrink and thin and that Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover will decrease during the 21st century as global mean surface temperature rises. Global glacier volume will further decrease. Global mean sea level will continue to rise during the 21st century. Under all RCP scenarios the rate of sea level rise will very likely exceed that observed during 1971–2010 due to increased ocean warming and increased loss of mass from glaciers and ice sheets. Sea level rise will not be uniform. By the end of the 21st century, it is very likely that sea level will rise in more than about 95% of the ocean area. About 70% of the coastlines worldwide are projected to experience sea level change within 20% of the global mean sea level change. Climate change will affect carbon cycle processes in a way that will exacerbate the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere (high confidence). Further uptake of carbon by the ocean will increase ocean acidification. Cumulative emissions of CO2 largely determine global mean surface warming by the late 21st century and beyond. Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries even if emissions of CO2 are stopped. This represents a substantial multi-century climate change commitment created by past, present and future emissions of CO2. A large fraction of anthropogenic climate change resulting from CO2 emissions is irreversible on a multi-century to millennial time scale, except in the case of a large net removal of CO2 from the atmosphere over a sustained period. Surface temperatures will remain approximately constant at elevated levels for many centuries after a complete cessation of net anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Due to the long time scales of heat transfer from the ocean surface to depth, ocean warming will continue for centuries. Depending on the scenario, about 15 to 40% of emitted CO2 will remain in the atmosphere longer than 1,000 years. Sustained mass loss by ice sheets would cause larger sea level rise, and some part of the mass loss might be irreversible. There is high confidence that sustained warming greater than some threshold would lead to the near-complete loss of the Greenland ice sheet over a millennium or more, causing a global mean sea level rise of up to 7 m. Current estimates indicate that the threshold is greater than about 1°C (low confidence) but less than about 4°C (medium confidence) global mean warming with respect to pre-industrial. Abrupt and irreversible ice loss from a potential instability of marine-based sectors of the Antarctic Ice Sheet in response to climate forcing is possible, but current evidence and understanding is insufficient to make a quantitative assessment. Methods that aim to deliberately alter the climate system to counter climate change, termed geoengineering, have been proposed. Limited evidence precludes a comprehensive quantitative assessment of both Solar Radiation Management (SRM) and Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) and their impact on the climate system. CDR methods have biogeochemical and technological limitations to their potential on a global scale. There is insufficient knowledge to quantify how much CO2 emissions could be partially offset by CDR on a century timescale. Modelling indicates that SRM methods, if realizable, have the potential to substantially offset a global temperature rise, but they would also modify the global water cycle, and would not reduce ocean acidification. If SRM were terminated for any reason, there is high confidence that global surface temperatures would rise very rapidly to values consistent with the greenhouse gas forcing. CDR and SRM methods carry side effects and long-term consequences on a global scale.

Then and Now

For comparison, here are the IPCC’s projections in four key areas: from the 2013 AR5, in bold – from the 2007 AR4, in regular type

Probable temperature rise by 2100: 1.5-4°C under most scenarios – from 1.8-4°C Sea level rise: very likely faster than between 1971 and 2010 – by 28-43 cm Arctic summer sea ice disappears: very likely it will continue to shrink and thin – in second half of century Increase in heat waves: very likely to occur more frequently and last longer – increase very likely

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Summary for Policymakers of the Working Group I contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report

A note from the Climate News Network editors: we have prepared this very abbreviated version of the first instalment of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) to serve as an objective guide to some of the headline issues it covers. It is in no sense an evaluation of what the Summary says: the wording is that of the IPCC authors themselves, except for a few cases where we have added headings. The AR5 uses a different basis as input to models from that used in its 2007 predecessor, AR4: instead of emissions scenarios, it speaks of RCPs, representative concentration pathways. So it is not possible everywhere to make a direct comparison between AR4 and AR5, though the text does so in some cases, and at the end we provide a very short list of the two reports’ conclusions on several key issues. The language of science can be complex. What follows is the IPCC scientists’ language. In the following days and weeks we will be reporting in more detail on some of their findings. In this Summary for Policymakers, the following summary terms are used to describe the available evidence: limited, medium, or robust; and for the degree of agreement: low, medium, or high. A level of confidence is expressed using five qualifiers: very low, low, medium, high, and very high, and typeset in italics, e.g., medium confidence. For a given evidence and agreement statement, different confidence levels can be assigned, but increasing levels of evidence and degrees of agreement are correlated with increasing confidence. In this Summary the following terms have been used to indicate the assessed likelihood of an outcome or a result: virtually certain 99–100% probability, very likely 90–100%, likely 66–100%, about as likely as not 33–66%, unlikely 0–33%, very unlikely 0–10%, exceptionally unlikely 0–1%. Additional terms (extremely likely: 95–100%, more likely than not >50–100%, and extremely unlikely 0–5%) may also be used when appropriate.

Observed Changes in the Climate System

Atmosphere Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850. For the longest period when calculation of regional trends is sufficiently complete (1901–2012), almost the entire globe has experienced surface warming. In addition to robust multi-decadal warming, global mean surface temperature exhibits substantial decadal and interannual variability. Due to natural variability, trends based on short records are very sensitive to the beginning and end dates and do not in general reflect long-term climate trends. As one example, the rate of warming over the past 15 years, which begins with a strong El Niño, is smaller than the rate calculated since 1951. Changes in many extreme weather and climate events have been observed since about 1950. It is very likely that the number of cold days and nights has decreased and the number of warm days and nights has increased on the global scale Ocean Ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010 (high confidence ). It is virtually certain that the upper ocean (0−700 m) warmed from 1971 to 2010, and it likely warmed between the 1870s and 1971. On a global scale, the ocean warming is largest near the surface, and the upper 75 m warmed by 0.11 [0.09 to 0.13] °C per decade over the period 1971–2010. Since AR4, instrumental biases in upper-ocean temperature records have been identified and reduced, enhancing confidence in the assessment of change. It is likely that the ocean warmed between 700 and 2000 m from 1957 to 2009. Sufficient observations are available for the period 1992 to 2005 for a global assessment of temperature change below 2000 m. There were likely no significant observed temperature trends between 2000 and 3000 m for this period. It is likely that the ocean warmed from 3000 m to the bottom for this period, with the largest warming observed in the Southern Ocean. More than 60% of the net energy increase in the climate system is stored in the upper ocean (0–700 m) during the relatively well-sampled 40-year period from 1971 to 2010, and about 30% is stored in the ocean below 700 m. The increase in upper ocean heat content during this time period estimated from a linear trend is likely. Cryosphere Over the last two decades, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass, glaciers have continued to shrink almost worldwide, and Arctic sea ice and Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover have continued to decrease in extent (high confidence). The average rate of ice loss from the Greenland ice sheet has very likely substantially increased … over the period 1992–2001. The average rate of ice loss from the Antarctic ice sheet has likely increased … over the period 1992–2001. There is very high confidence that these losses are mainly from the northern Antarctic Peninsula and the Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica. There is high confidence that permafrost temperatures have increased in most regions since the early 1980s. Observed warming was up to 3°C in parts of Northern Alaska (early 1980s to mid-2000s) and up to 2°C in parts of the Russian European North (1971–2010). In the latter region, a considerable reduction in permafrost thickness and areal extent has been observed over the period 1975–2005 (medium confidence). Multiple lines of evidence support very substantial Arctic warming since the mid-20th century. Sea Level The rate of sea level rise since the mid-19th century has been larger than the mean rate during the previous two millennia (high confidence). Over the period 1901–2010, global mean sea level rose by 0.19 [0.17 to 0.21] m. Since the early 1970s, glacier mass loss and ocean thermal expansion from warming together explain about 75% of the observed global mean sea level rise (high confidence). Over the period 1993–2010, global mean sea level rise is, with high confidence, consistent with the sum of the observed contributions from ocean thermal expansion due to warming, from changes in glaciers, Greenland ice sheet, Antarctic ice sheet, and land water storage. Carbon and Other Biogeochemical Cycles The atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years. CO2 concentrations have increased by 40% since pre-industrial times, primarily from fossil fuel emissions and secondarily from net land use change emissions. The ocean has absorbed about 30% of the emitted anthropogenic carbon dioxide, causing ocean acidification From 1750 to 2011, CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production have released 365 [335 to 395] GtC [gigatonnes – one gigatonne equals 1,000,000,000 metric tonnes] to the atmosphere, while deforestation and other land use change are estimated to have released 180 [100 to 260] GtC. Of these cumulative anthropogenic CO2 emissions, 240 [230 to 250] GtC have accumulated in the atmosphere, 155 [125 to 185] GtC have been taken up by the ocean and 150 [60 to 240] GtC have accumulated in natural terrestrial ecosystems. Drivers of Climate Change The total natural RF [radiative forcing – the difference between the energy received by the Earth and that which it radiates back into space] from solar irradiance changes and stratospheric volcanic aerosols made only a small contribution to the net radiative forcing throughout the last century, except for brief periods after large volcanic eruptions. Understanding the Climate System and its Recent Changes Compared to AR4, more detailed and longer observations and improved climate models now enable the attribution of a human contribution to detected changes in more climate system components. Human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident from the increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming, and understanding of the climate system. Evaluation of Climate Models Climate models have improved since the AR4. Models reproduce observed continental-scale surface temperature patterns and trends over many decades, including the more rapid warming since the mid-20th century and the cooling immediately following large volcanic eruptions (very high confidence). The long-term climate model simulations show a trend in global-mean surface temperature from 1951 to 2012 that agrees with the observed trend (very high confidence). There are, however, differences between simulated and observed trends over periods as short as 10 to 15 years (e.g., 1998 to 2012). The observed reduction in surface warming trend over the period 1998–2012 as compared to the period 1951–2012, is due in roughly equal measure to a reduced trend in radiative forcing and a cooling contribution from internal variability, which includes a possible redistribution of heat within the ocean (medium confidence). The reduced trend in radiative forcing is primarily due to volcanic eruptions and the timing of the downward phase of the 11-year solar cycle. Climate models now include more cloud and aerosol processes, and their interactions, than at the time of the AR4, but there remains low confidence in the representation and quantification of these processes in models. The equilibrium climate sensitivity quantifies the response of the climate system to constant radiative forcing on multi-century time scales. It is defined as the change in global mean surface temperature at equilibrium that is caused by a doubling of the atmospheric CO2 concentration. Equilibrium climate sensitivity is likely in the range 1.5°C to 4.5°C (high confidence), extremely unlikely less than 1°C (high confidence), and very unlikely greater than 6°C (medium confidence). The lower temperature limit of the assessed likely range is thus less than the 2°C in the AR4, but the upper limit is the same. This assessment reflects improved understanding, the extended temperature record in the atmosphere and ocean, and new estimates of radiative forcing. Detection and Attribution of Climate Change Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes. This evidence for human influence has grown since AR4. It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together. The best estimate of the human-induced contribution to warming is similar to the observed warming over this period. Future Global and Regional Climate Change Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions. The global ocean will continue to warm during the 21st century. Heat will penetrate from the surface to the deep ocean and affect ocean circulation. It is very likely that the Arctic sea ice cover will continue to shrink and thin and that Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover will decrease during the 21st century as global mean surface temperature rises. Global glacier volume will further decrease. Global mean sea level will continue to rise during the 21st century. Under all RCP scenarios the rate of sea level rise will very likely exceed that observed during 1971–2010 due to increased ocean warming and increased loss of mass from glaciers and ice sheets. Sea level rise will not be uniform. By the end of the 21st century, it is very likely that sea level will rise in more than about 95% of the ocean area. About 70% of the coastlines worldwide are projected to experience sea level change within 20% of the global mean sea level change. Climate change will affect carbon cycle processes in a way that will exacerbate the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere (high confidence). Further uptake of carbon by the ocean will increase ocean acidification. Cumulative emissions of CO2 largely determine global mean surface warming by the late 21st century and beyond. Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries even if emissions of CO2 are stopped. This represents a substantial multi-century climate change commitment created by past, present and future emissions of CO2. A large fraction of anthropogenic climate change resulting from CO2 emissions is irreversible on a multi-century to millennial time scale, except in the case of a large net removal of CO2 from the atmosphere over a sustained period. Surface temperatures will remain approximately constant at elevated levels for many centuries after a complete cessation of net anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Due to the long time scales of heat transfer from the ocean surface to depth, ocean warming will continue for centuries. Depending on the scenario, about 15 to 40% of emitted CO2 will remain in the atmosphere longer than 1,000 years. Sustained mass loss by ice sheets would cause larger sea level rise, and some part of the mass loss might be irreversible. There is high confidence that sustained warming greater than some threshold would lead to the near-complete loss of the Greenland ice sheet over a millennium or more, causing a global mean sea level rise of up to 7 m. Current estimates indicate that the threshold is greater than about 1°C (low confidence) but less than about 4°C (medium confidence) global mean warming with respect to pre-industrial. Abrupt and irreversible ice loss from a potential instability of marine-based sectors of the Antarctic Ice Sheet in response to climate forcing is possible, but current evidence and understanding is insufficient to make a quantitative assessment. Methods that aim to deliberately alter the climate system to counter climate change, termed geoengineering, have been proposed. Limited evidence precludes a comprehensive quantitative assessment of both Solar Radiation Management (SRM) and Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) and their impact on the climate system. CDR methods have biogeochemical and technological limitations to their potential on a global scale. There is insufficient knowledge to quantify how much CO2 emissions could be partially offset by CDR on a century timescale. Modelling indicates that SRM methods, if realizable, have the potential to substantially offset a global temperature rise, but they would also modify the global water cycle, and would not reduce ocean acidification. If SRM were terminated for any reason, there is high confidence that global surface temperatures would rise very rapidly to values consistent with the greenhouse gas forcing. CDR and SRM methods carry side effects and long-term consequences on a global scale.

Then and Now

For comparison, here are the IPCC’s projections in four key areas: from the 2013 AR5, in bold – from the 2007 AR4, in regular type

Probable temperature rise by 2100: 1.5-4°C under most scenarios – from 1.8-4°C Sea level rise: very likely faster than between 1971 and 2010 – by 28-43 cm Arctic summer sea ice disappears: very likely it will continue to shrink and thin – in second half of century Increase in heat waves: very likely to occur more frequently and last longer – increase very likely

The IPCC Report – Where now?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has now published the first part of its Fifth Assessment Report, AR5. It says humanity is largely responsible for the recent warming of the Earth, it re-tells the Panel’s familiar story of rising temperatures and sea levels, of melting glaciers and ice sheets. Described by some as “conservative” and “telling us what we know already”, it’s also won some plaudits. These are some – not all unalloyed. Dr Saleemul Huq is senior fellow in the climate change group at the International Institute for Environment and Development, and coordinating lead author in Working Group II of the IPCC. “The IPCC has confirmed what many millions of people in the developing world are well aware of, namely that the weather patterns have already changed for the worse. People in richer countries are vulnerable too, as recent floods, droughts and storms in Europe, North America and Australia have shown, but because of political inertia and powerful vested interests that have dominated media narratives for decades, they are less aware of the links between these impacts and their carbon emissions. Climate change affects us all and we must tackle it together. The time has come for global solidarity. This would enable the individual polluter (be they in a rich country or poor country) to recognise his or her personal responsibility and to try to connect with the victims of their pollution.  Climate change ignores borders, but so do friendship and solidarity. It is time for national interests to give way to the global good. I hope the strong message from IPCC will galvanise actions by politicians and publics around the world.” Dr Geoff Jenkins is the former head of climate change prediction at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, part of the UK Met Office. “Attention has already been focussed on the ‘attribution statement’, in other words how far we can claim that warming over the last 50 years is due to human activity. There has been been much new research into attributing changes, not just at the surface but within the oceans, through the depth of the atmosphere, and in other parts of the climate system. This has allowed the IPCC to increase its confidence since [its last report in 2007] AR4 that humans bear most of the responsibility, and it now says it is extremely likely (above 95%) that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. I was surprised that the Summary for Policymakers didn’t spend more time talking about the recent pause in warming; this has given rise to a lot of media commentary and genuine scientific discussion (including three excellent position papers on the Met Office website). Given its target audience – policymakers – this topic should have been covered in more detail in the report. “The sensitivity of the climate system to atmospheric carbon dioxide has changed slightly since AR4, with the top of the range of uncertainty staying at 4.5C, but the lower bound dropping from 2C to 1.5C. The 1.5 – 4.5 range is identical to that in the very first IPCC report in 1990, demonstrating the robustness of the global projections from then. “Comparing predictions of global and local temperature rise with those in AR4 is made difficult by the introduction of completely new scenarios with which to drive the models. However, the report says that when these differences are taken into account, AR4 and AR5 show similar changes, both in rate and geographical pattern.” Paulo Artaxo is professor of environmental physics at the University of São Paulo, Brazil. He served on working groups on both the previous and present IPCC Assessment Reports. “What I call the good news is that the predictions made in the last assessment report are – in general terms – broadly in line with what we record in the present report.  Our basic forecasts for temperature rise have been proved to be correct. There is a maturity and increasing sophistication in our processes. The science is very, very clear – the urgency to cut emissions is much stronger than when the last report was being formulated. Both the IPCC and our own climate model (the Brazilian Earth System model) indicate the overall temperature increase by 2100 in Brazil will exceed the forecast average rise in global temperatures. The northeast of Brazil will see the largest increase in temperatures and the biggest decrease in precipitation – of about 30%. Meanwhile precipitation could increase by a similar amount in the south and southeast. All this is likely to have a big impact on Brazil as a major agricultural producer https://climatenewsnetwork.net/brazil-faces-drop-in-crops/. We are already observing changes in crop yields due to changing temperature and rainfall patterns, particularly in relation to soybean, coffee and sugar cane production. For example, because of an average 1°C rise in temperatures in the São Paulo region in recent years, coffee has become increasingly hard to grow and the crop has declined. The main message of this report is that the global political system has to develop a way to limit emissions. There is a serious lack of governance and this blocks international agreements. The report must feed into the political system – and be urgently acted on.” Quamrul Chowdhury is a lead climate negotiator for the Least Developed Countries at the talks held by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. “The first part of AR 5 has just reconfirmed what the Least Developed Countries have been arguing at the UN climate negotiations for the last couple of years. Global carbon emissions need to be cut deeply and urgently. This IPCC report asks all of us to act fast, act in a more robust way, act together, act all over the world. The developed countries must take the lead – cut back their carbon emissions quickly and deeply, support concrete adaptation in the developing countries, specifically in the LDCs, SIDS [small island developing states] and African countries affected by drought, flooding and desertification. I earnestly hope this report will help raise the political will of the developed countries to strike a deal in Warsaw at [the next UNFCCC talks in November] so that in Paris [at the climate  talks] in 2015 the world can reach a new legally binding, fair and ambitious agreement to solve the global climate crisis.” Nick Robins is head of the Climate Partnership at HSBC. “The IPCC report provides firmer foundations for policy action. For the world’s capital markets, climate change is an issue of strategic risk management – and by continuing to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, we are putting the weather on steroids. We know that temperatures continue to warm and that impacts are fully in line with what we would expect from a warming world, including rising sea levels and melting glaciers. And this is affecting economies today. Our research shows that India, China, Indonesia, South Africa and Brazil are the G-20 nations that are most vulnerable to climate risks. We expect the succession of IPCC reports into 2014 to provide a renewed impetus to policy and business action through to the finalization of negotiations in December 2015.” Mark Way heads re-insurer Swiss Re’s  sustainability work in the Americas. “When a body like the IPCC concludes that with 95% certainty mankind is causing climate change we would be foolish not to listen. And yet we are still not listening closely enough. The transition to a low carbon economy and a more climate-resilient society cannot be thought of as options, they are necessities. Swiss Re is committed to playing its role in tackling climate change, and we have just reinforced this by announcing we will join an initiative that pledges companies to source 100% of their energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.” Mindy Lubber is president of Ceres, a US-based organisation which presses for greater sustainability and environmental awareness in the business sector: “The IPCC report’s conclusion is unequivocal – climate change is happening and it’s disrupting all aspects of the global economy, including supply chains, commodity markets and the entire insurance industry. Business momentum is growing to innovate new strategies and products to manage climate risks and opportunities. But scaling these efforts to levels that will slow warming trends will require stronger carbon-reducing policies globally.” – Climate News Network

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has now published the first part of its Fifth Assessment Report, AR5. It says humanity is largely responsible for the recent warming of the Earth, it re-tells the Panel’s familiar story of rising temperatures and sea levels, of melting glaciers and ice sheets. Described by some as “conservative” and “telling us what we know already”, it’s also won some plaudits. These are some – not all unalloyed. Dr Saleemul Huq is senior fellow in the climate change group at the International Institute for Environment and Development, and coordinating lead author in Working Group II of the IPCC. “The IPCC has confirmed what many millions of people in the developing world are well aware of, namely that the weather patterns have already changed for the worse. People in richer countries are vulnerable too, as recent floods, droughts and storms in Europe, North America and Australia have shown, but because of political inertia and powerful vested interests that have dominated media narratives for decades, they are less aware of the links between these impacts and their carbon emissions. Climate change affects us all and we must tackle it together. The time has come for global solidarity. This would enable the individual polluter (be they in a rich country or poor country) to recognise his or her personal responsibility and to try to connect with the victims of their pollution.  Climate change ignores borders, but so do friendship and solidarity. It is time for national interests to give way to the global good. I hope the strong message from IPCC will galvanise actions by politicians and publics around the world.” Dr Geoff Jenkins is the former head of climate change prediction at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, part of the UK Met Office. “Attention has already been focussed on the ‘attribution statement’, in other words how far we can claim that warming over the last 50 years is due to human activity. There has been been much new research into attributing changes, not just at the surface but within the oceans, through the depth of the atmosphere, and in other parts of the climate system. This has allowed the IPCC to increase its confidence since [its last report in 2007] AR4 that humans bear most of the responsibility, and it now says it is extremely likely (above 95%) that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. I was surprised that the Summary for Policymakers didn’t spend more time talking about the recent pause in warming; this has given rise to a lot of media commentary and genuine scientific discussion (including three excellent position papers on the Met Office website). Given its target audience – policymakers – this topic should have been covered in more detail in the report. “The sensitivity of the climate system to atmospheric carbon dioxide has changed slightly since AR4, with the top of the range of uncertainty staying at 4.5C, but the lower bound dropping from 2C to 1.5C. The 1.5 – 4.5 range is identical to that in the very first IPCC report in 1990, demonstrating the robustness of the global projections from then. “Comparing predictions of global and local temperature rise with those in AR4 is made difficult by the introduction of completely new scenarios with which to drive the models. However, the report says that when these differences are taken into account, AR4 and AR5 show similar changes, both in rate and geographical pattern.” Paulo Artaxo is professor of environmental physics at the University of São Paulo, Brazil. He served on working groups on both the previous and present IPCC Assessment Reports. “What I call the good news is that the predictions made in the last assessment report are – in general terms – broadly in line with what we record in the present report.  Our basic forecasts for temperature rise have been proved to be correct. There is a maturity and increasing sophistication in our processes. The science is very, very clear – the urgency to cut emissions is much stronger than when the last report was being formulated. Both the IPCC and our own climate model (the Brazilian Earth System model) indicate the overall temperature increase by 2100 in Brazil will exceed the forecast average rise in global temperatures. The northeast of Brazil will see the largest increase in temperatures and the biggest decrease in precipitation – of about 30%. Meanwhile precipitation could increase by a similar amount in the south and southeast. All this is likely to have a big impact on Brazil as a major agricultural producer https://climatenewsnetwork.net/brazil-faces-drop-in-crops/. We are already observing changes in crop yields due to changing temperature and rainfall patterns, particularly in relation to soybean, coffee and sugar cane production. For example, because of an average 1°C rise in temperatures in the São Paulo region in recent years, coffee has become increasingly hard to grow and the crop has declined. The main message of this report is that the global political system has to develop a way to limit emissions. There is a serious lack of governance and this blocks international agreements. The report must feed into the political system – and be urgently acted on.” Quamrul Chowdhury is a lead climate negotiator for the Least Developed Countries at the talks held by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. “The first part of AR 5 has just reconfirmed what the Least Developed Countries have been arguing at the UN climate negotiations for the last couple of years. Global carbon emissions need to be cut deeply and urgently. This IPCC report asks all of us to act fast, act in a more robust way, act together, act all over the world. The developed countries must take the lead – cut back their carbon emissions quickly and deeply, support concrete adaptation in the developing countries, specifically in the LDCs, SIDS [small island developing states] and African countries affected by drought, flooding and desertification. I earnestly hope this report will help raise the political will of the developed countries to strike a deal in Warsaw at [the next UNFCCC talks in November] so that in Paris [at the climate  talks] in 2015 the world can reach a new legally binding, fair and ambitious agreement to solve the global climate crisis.” Nick Robins is head of the Climate Partnership at HSBC. “The IPCC report provides firmer foundations for policy action. For the world’s capital markets, climate change is an issue of strategic risk management – and by continuing to pump greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, we are putting the weather on steroids. We know that temperatures continue to warm and that impacts are fully in line with what we would expect from a warming world, including rising sea levels and melting glaciers. And this is affecting economies today. Our research shows that India, China, Indonesia, South Africa and Brazil are the G-20 nations that are most vulnerable to climate risks. We expect the succession of IPCC reports into 2014 to provide a renewed impetus to policy and business action through to the finalization of negotiations in December 2015.” Mark Way heads re-insurer Swiss Re’s  sustainability work in the Americas. “When a body like the IPCC concludes that with 95% certainty mankind is causing climate change we would be foolish not to listen. And yet we are still not listening closely enough. The transition to a low carbon economy and a more climate-resilient society cannot be thought of as options, they are necessities. Swiss Re is committed to playing its role in tackling climate change, and we have just reinforced this by announcing we will join an initiative that pledges companies to source 100% of their energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.” Mindy Lubber is president of Ceres, a US-based organisation which presses for greater sustainability and environmental awareness in the business sector: “The IPCC report’s conclusion is unequivocal – climate change is happening and it’s disrupting all aspects of the global economy, including supply chains, commodity markets and the entire insurance industry. Business momentum is growing to innovate new strategies and products to manage climate risks and opportunities. But scaling these efforts to levels that will slow warming trends will require stronger carbon-reducing policies globally.” – Climate News Network