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Winning Resolution Proposal 2014 of Action4Climate The World Bank

Because mitigation is no longer credible perspective, what societies of the XXI century need the most is the ability of adapting and not only at a technological and economic level: cultural and social issues must be addressed correctly for setting up a roadmap of flexibility and cooperation towards adaption to extreme climate changes. Here is an interdisciplinary review for inspiring the next generation of Public Environmental and Climate Education strategies.

研究项目 2014 广州市,广东省,中华人民共和国

About the Project

Cover photos (clockwise order) Jaisalmer desert city, Rajasthan, India, August 2011; Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong, P.R. China, August 2013; Frozen Moscova River, Moscow, Russia, January 2013; Eutrophicated lake in Nicopolis Ad Istrum, Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria, April 2012.


We know enough to act on climate change and there must be a reasoned and serious debate about the solutions, but debate cannot substitute for action. A call for action, USCAP, 2007

The 3C Project is an initiative launched in 2012, year of the completion of the Kyoto Protocol first commitment period, to design a new approach to Climate Change communication and education. The aim of the Project is to explore alternative strategies for increasing awareness and supporting the post-Kyoto roadmap towards sustainable climate and environmental conditions. 3C stands for Communicating Climate Change, a formula that envelops the challenge, the addressing strategy and the expected results at the same time: climate is the learning object, communication is the way we confront it, and change is not only the visible process in the climate system but the advocated goal of an effective communication campaign as well as result of the need for flexibility and adaptation. The ultimate goal of this work is to provide inspiration and critical thinking tools for pursuing independent analysis and informed action on Climate Change. The 3C Project draws from experiences on the field of different countries in Europe and Asia and at different levels of communication – from the high level scientific debate to the everyday climate talk – to highlight promising techniques and cases with solutions that can be promoted, exported, combined or improved. The assumption beneath the 3C Project is that mitigation as a Climate Change contrasting strategy has failed and more significant efforts should be directed at its logical alternative, adaptation, that is not only the most likely scenario we will face, given the intensity of the climate alterations, but the natural solution that human kind and all other species on Earth have employed along the millennia in order to survive the changes of their living habitats. Adaptation, however, does not mean to give up on the fight to Climate Change. All successful adapting techniques depend on the accurate study of the adversities and on the ability to turn them into opportunities for improving the given conditions. Adapting to climate change imply the responsibility of raising a generation aware of the processes and of the impacts of human activities on environment. A generation of green entrepreneurs and scientists, of smart inventors and responsible citizens of a changing world. Adapting to Climate Change means to study, to understand and to make the best out of the worst.


Climate Change is a natural process of constant evolution of the climate conditions on the planet (temperature, frequency and intensity of weather events, presence of polar ice sheets…) that determine Earth’s different environments in which humanity and the rest of the biosphere have developed. Water for sustaining life and agriculture, for example, is provided by the melting of mountain glaciers caused by the alternation of warm and cold seasons. The water supplies of the glaciers are then periodically replenished through precipitations originated by water evaporation from the oceans and the atmospheric circulation influenced by temperature and planetary rotation. The water cycle is only one among the many examples of Earth’s natural processes consolidated over the millennia to generate the environmental and climate conditions that we know today. These processes are not static: the percentage of melted ice, the amount and intensity of precipitations, the direction of the atmospheric circulation… are all subject to alterations that normally take place over the span of thousands of years and gradually lead to the establishment of different climate equilibriums. Climate tends to stability, although it is a flexible system. The unperturbed functioning of climate processes creates energy balance and the opportunity for life to develop and expand on the surface. When a perturbation is imposed, though, climate sensitivity responds by altering its mechanisms

like a spring

pushed down. When it is under

too much pressure, it tends to react in an exasperated opposite way which can lead to uncontrollable shifts before it regains its original balance. In the case of extreme forcing, the alterations produced can result into the breaking of the tolerance limits and the impossibility of returning to a situation of normality. The latter event can be referred to as the setting of a new balance, whose conditions might be very different from the previous one. The same happens in the

climate system. What

we are currently experiencing is a global warming

trend that started around 200 years ago with the Industrial Revolution and operates through the continued increase of greenhouse gases (mainly CO2, CH4, N2O and water vapor) in the atmosphere. These have the ability of trapping part of the incoming heat from the solar radiation and bouncing it back towards the surface rather than reflecting it towards the outer space. The greenhouse effect is a natural process too, without the actual average surface temperature of the planet would be -18C instead of 15C. The anomaly that activated the climate spring though is when GHGs emissions raised to the point of not being compensated fast enough by the environment.

4 What is

unprecedented is the speed of the current global warming. GHGs in the atmosphere are now estimated in 385 ppm and steadily increasing at the rate of 2 ppm/year. Since 1990 the global average temperature raised by 0.6 C. Paleoclimate data shows a climate sensitivity of 3C for scenarios with a fast increase of CO2, although no similarly fast situation has ever been recorded, after which climate mechanisms are put in place so that changes are irreversible and lead to the assessment of a different equilibrium through a process of strong alterations. A quick overview of the

Most Significant Climate Anomalies and Events in 2013 .

Source: NOAA Global Analysis Record 2013

Source: NOAA

reveals the pattern of climate alterations around the world: sea level rise, increased evaporation, alteration of precipitation regime, heatwaves, decreased soil productivity, biodiversity loss and ice sheet retreat, as well as intensification of extreme weather events. Regardless of their source, the extra GHGs are responsible for the greenhouse effect generating the current heating trend and because they are cumulating and their time of permanence in the atmosphere ranges between 10 and 300 years and their time of permanence in the atmosphere ranges between 10 and 300 years, they will continue to exercise their effect for a long time, even if we were to stop all emissions today. In this perspective, the urgency of setting a limit to global warming before it reaches the climate sensitivity point of no return (a “never exceed” level of 450 ppm was established by the Kyoto parties after the 1992 Earth Summit) is shadowed only by the necessity of pursuing “no regrets” strategies in dealing with climate change adaptation while we are still below the safety line.

5 Communication is the basis of human societies. Knowledge and understanding – our ability of processing information through communication – relies on a number of social, technical, scientific and religious beliefs. They shape the way we think and discern good and bad, true or false, reliable and not reliable by acting as a natural filter. For this reason the effectiveness of any action concerning Climate Change depends on the correct formulation of its communication.

How can we communicate Climate Change? The notion of Climate Change is a complex one to communicate also because it involves multiple aspects and levels of interpretations:

1 2 3 4 5

Climate Change is real, happening now and accelerating Climate Change is a non-linear process, with feedback mechanisms not entirely predictable or yet fully understood Climate Change implies significant modifications of our living environment that are in contrast with business-as-usual attitudes

Climate Change deals with social and economic factors in altering our lifestyle, setting new priorities and demanding new political decisions Climate Change is the biggest threat humanity has ever faced in terms of impacts range and affected population The cultural approach towards change must be practical and can be declined in different ways according to local customs. An example of how approaches towards the idea of change can differ according to culture is the attitude reserved to the housing issue by different societies.


Change oriented mentality

With 14+ million inhabitants in its urban core and 40 million under its provincial authority, Guangzhou is the fastest developing megacity in the fastest developing area of China and the world. To cope with the demographic boom, the local government issued a 10-year reconstruction plan involving the whole urban extension: high rise residential complexes are being built out of the materials from the demolishment of the previous slums and low rise living quarters, entire communities are forced to relocate. Not a single block has been left untouched. Such a great modification is possible only thanks to an extremely change-oriented mentality and an extensive communication action supporting it.


In fast developing countries, houses are considered in a temporary perspective ensuring the very basic needs and in most cases are raised with a short programmed duration. Western countries, on the other hand, tend to have an opposite vision where houses are made for lasting a long time and hosting several generations. When the living environment changes frequently it is only natural to adapt to fast and constant changes, while the only certainty is the change in itself: the acceptance and the ability of managing these conditions are typical of a dynamic and flexible cultural system. Not only the acceptance, but also the tolerance to changes plays a role in transferring knowledge and raising awareness about Climate Change. Some cultures, for example, keep track of time according to milestone events and are more sensitive to changes; others believe in cyclical loops or waves over which they have little or no control except for the exploitation of the temporary (but periodical) benefits.

Depletion of the glacial water reservoir at the Mont Cenis Lake (2083 MASL), France, 2011. Events centered vision of time

Conservation oriented mentality

Person centered vision of time

In Guangzhou, like in many other fast developing centers, new houses and new life style are part of the Chinese Dream, the ultimate ambition of a growing 1.3 billion people country where Europe is an inspiration but not a model. Thanks to the availability of great resources and know-hows, this system is in fact able to cope with complex issues – such as large scale urban planning and services management – and to incorporate environmental values as bricks of the progress.

The setting of personal and community goals is particularly affected by the vision of time with events centered societies developing gradually to reach different sets of objectives ordered on an ideal scale of priorities according to the importance given to them, and fast emerging societies following a non linear development and simultaneously aiming at multiple targets – a very concrete reality in which it is possible to establish effective climate behaviors by channeling communications through appropriate communication strategies.

< Progressive goal setting Integrated goal setting >



including religion and traditional practices, is another element filtering communication. We are surrounded by symbols, starting with the representation of nature to the idea of comfort and well-being, that we created over time and that shape our history to the present days. Different cultures interpret the same elements in different ways. Nature (i.e. the environment) in particular has always had a central symbolic role â&#x20AC;&#x201C; whether evil or benevolent, positive or negative, under human control or not, to be dominated, exploited or nourished. Some societies have eventually come to associate nature with the concepts of beauty, health and responsibility. Others still own rich rituals for celebrating nature recalling ancient practices and religion which are often in contrast with the protection of environment itself. Symbolism however can also work for the purposes of environmental and climate Elephant shaped statues education in shaping the idea ready to be immersed in of a dream or shifting the the Sabarmati River on notion of comfort from luxury Ganesha Chaturthi, the to common goods. Common festival dedicated to the goods are shared resources elephant god Ganesh, that are beneficial for all Ahmedabad, (Gujarat) members of a community. In India, August 2011. the case of climate and environment, being both essential common goods for the well-being of everybody on the planet, the understanding of their shared nature is crucial for the involvement of the Open furnaces for burning offers to Buddha, largest possible community in their protection because their Panyu Temple (Guangdong), China, July 2013. impoverishment is directly connected to the decrease in the possibility of benefitting from it for everybody in such an equal way as it is rarely resembled in rhetorical study cases. An example of how symbolism can be bended to the purposes of environmental and climate education comes from a daily life experience: the communication techniques employed for green areas tags, labels and signs. These represented an underestimated vehicle for awareness raising in the urban context: willing or not, everybody is exposed to them on a regular basis and, if effectively defined, they can develop conscious and unconscious effects. Analyzing tag expressions is also an interesting process because, besides highlighting an evolution in the communication strategies to produce progressively deeper impacts, they are also an open study field aiming at reaching more and more recipients by declinations of the cultural systems where they need to operate or of their multiple Make our park your home. Keep it components. clean and comfortable.


For your health please take care of trees and grass.

Cheerish trees and grass.

It’s everybody’s duty to take care of trees and grass

Direct appeal

Sense of empathy and reciprocity

Positive directive replaced explicit forbidding

I am small, please don’t trend on me.


Rephrasing tag expressions is an effective and expanding trend combining a variety of communication devices and it is rapidly replacing the traditional, anonymous and non-interactive approach that used to provide information and regulation only. The ultimate aim of this process is to promote the integration of the notions of “environment” (scientific) and “nature” (symbolic) as objects of attention, interaction and protection.

Communication starts with Education Communication is not only and ability but also a continuous process where information is shared, rephrased and established. Through education, information can also be transferred, analyzed and turned into practical knowledge. Environmental Education is gradually consolidating as a self standing subject in schools, but most managements are still reluctant to deal with Climate Change in their official education programs due to the opinion debate surrounding it. As an alternative, and because it is necessary to prove the importance of doing so, a number of educational activities can be put in place to obtain a spillover effect towards the inclusion of Climate Change issues and perhaps a dedicated discipline. Green energy installments in schools: bring direct experience of good resources management and attention to energy consumption. Photo: Sunny Kindergarten, Guangzhou. Build responsible communities: tree plantation initiatives help raise a feeling of community and responsibility over local resources and common goods. Photo: Tree plantation launch in Ahmedabad.

Exploiting creativity: creativity is the wild card of education. If adequately stimulated and constantly challenged, it is the key to innovative solutions, scheme-breaking use of resources and real changes. Photo: workshop in Ahmedabad. Combined training: use multiple teaching techniques and joining theoretical with practical, indoor and outdoor, since an early age encourages interaction and proactivity. Photo: Workshop in Guangzhou.


Change and Conflict Change does not equal conflict, but it does imply a reaction of some kind. Climate Change acts on the availability of key resources such as water and food, and threatens the most important assets of any country – either developed or developing – on a scale that cannot be ignored. In history human societies have always chosen war over starvation, so contemporary conflicts on scarce resources have already been labeled “climate conflicts”. However, given the current level of development reached by science and technology, conflicts depend more on social, cultural and political factors more than on the evolution of climate. Solutions in the field of policy making, international cooperation, renewable energy, geo-engineering… have been proposed and can be pursued with a strong will and compliance to common goals. Climate change is a part of the equation, but it is not a triggering cause of war – rather it can be a permissive cause and a catalyzer if not dealt with or included in national, regional and international security planning. While working in India in 2011 and in China in 2013-2014 I had the opportunity of analyzing one of the most astonishing conflicts ignored by most: the Siachen Conflict, a war started in 1960 for a contended territory located on among India, China and Pakistan. The importance of the Siachen Conflict is greatly underestimated but its resolution could provide a framework for other current and future tense situations and conflicts with similar climate and environmental scenarios. Why the Siachen? With over 700 km2, the Siachen is one of the world’s largest glaciers. It is an indispensable water source for the local population but also for the whole Indus Valley: the water originated by the melting of the Siachen ice merge into the Indus River which supplies over 200 million people. Hydropower stations and 90% of the irrigation in the Northern Indian plains depend on glacial water supply too. Because of the rapid warming up of the South Asian sub-continent, the Siachen extent is receding 110 m / year since the past decade, one of the fastest depletions ever recorded in the whole Alpine-Himalayan mountain range, and the war operations have added a consistent environmental degradation share. Together with other glacier reservoirs of the Himalaya (the fourth glacial water body on Earth), the Siachen plays a role at a global scale in influencing the regional climate with its albedo effect and distribution of glacial waters. Rising temperatures and alteration of monsoon patters (and therefore of their contribution to the glacier’s replenishment) put in place an unrestrainable depletion process with widespread impacts. Locals are directly affected, but there is no ultimate “center” or ”outskirt” in the Siachen Conflict: for this reason a number of third parties have spontaneously taken action for mediating the conflict – including China, the U.S.A. and the E.U. As for the fighting actors, India and Pakistan, they are two of the most densely inhabited countries in the world and still holding to their position against the Nuclear Weapons Non Proliferation Treaty.

10 The Siachen Conflict is unsustainable for human and economic reasons: the title of highest battleground on Earth comes from its extreme conditions – average altitude of 5700 m, temperatures as low as -50 C and about 4,000 victims (mainly due to frostbite and avalanches, the last in 2012) – and to the enormous efforts and expenditures for supporting the operations – 6,000 permanent soldiers, 425.000 USD / day. The case of Siachen appears therefore as a perfect example of Climate Change driven conflict for the control of a really scarce and essential resource. The Siachen case is part of a larger context related to water resource management in Asia and in the world. A special report commissioned for the 2011 US Obama Water Partnership Program researched the causes for possible water conflicts driven by climate change and found that the most critical areas correspond to the water basins of the 8 largest rivers in the world, where there is a higher chance that local sabotages, attacks and conflicts escalate to full scale wars. This is a new geopolitical filter that will transform geography into the red thread for political stability. River bodies included in the Report and related countries: The report does not include other Nile: Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda and Sudan important rivers such as the Ganges in Tigris and Euphrates: Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Kuwait India, the Yangtze and the Huanghe Jordan: Israel, Syria and Jordan Mekong: Laos, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar (Yellow River) in China. In my Indus and Brahmaputra: India and Pakistan experience, the Zhujiang (Pearl River) Amu Darya: Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. and the Sabarmati (Rajasthan, Gujarat) should be included also. Together with the Mekong, Indus and Brahmaputra, they represent 8 out of 12 major rivers in the world and account for the water supply of about 2 billion people. Everything suggests the creation of a very important hot spot with transboundary conditions. The involvement of powerful actors in this scenario, with strong financial, technical and military resources, has the potential to trigger violent reactions but also to set up a new climate-inclusive management and to bring the so called oropolitics into a new phase. The solutions proposed for the Siachen crisis range from the establishment of a demilitarized zone (DMZ), an effective measure already tested in similar cases consisting in a limited area, a sort of no man’s land, where military operations are not allowed, and monitoring and management are delegated to an international alliance. The aim of the DMZ is to separate the rivals and induce their peaceful and gradual withdrawal, but doesn’t offer a solution to the water resource management, which represents the core of the conflict and is unlikely to fade, given the special circumstances of the Siachen. A more interesting proposal is the creation of a Peace Park, a transboundary area dedicated to the protection and conservation of the local environmental conditions. This second solution would provide a new symbolic and nonmilitary asset for the area allowing local population to participate in a cooperation process for the management of a common resource and to benefit from the stabilization at a social, environmental and economic level.


The adaptation way As the whole international scientific community agrees on the reality and urgency of acting in response of Climate Change before it takes a runway course, I believe setting adaptation as a goal presents multiple advantages, including survival and preparedness should all other strategies fail. Its most important and ultimate result, however, is to create proactivity from a very static context. Both mitigation and adaptation strategies have the same goal â&#x20AC;&#x201C; to contrast and prevent the worst Climate Change impacts on human societies â&#x20AC;&#x201C; but while mitigation so far proved to be unable to climb the global political agenda, adaptation has more chances to get to the top of the priorities list as an urgent matter. The reason for this can be illustrated in shades of temperatures warming.


385 ppm

400 ppm

385 ppm

385 ppm


450 ppm

500+ ppm

400 ppm

max 480 ppm <450 ppm

450+ ppm

<500 ppm


450 ppm

Starting from a current level of CO2 in the atmosphere of approximately 385ppm, the exceeding tolerance of harmful trends and confidence in future developments shown so far is most likely to result in a business-as-usual scenario with little or no change at all until perhaps it will be too late to make any significant action for our climate.


When setting mitigation as a goal, people and governments tend to approach Climate Change as a gradual phenomenon to be addressed in an equally gradual way, and fail to understand its actual complexity and exponential development. Efforts are directed to keeping GHGs emissions low but allow an initial increase – currently set in a never exceed limit of 450 ppm with some allowances due to the climate system inertia (values defined not safe today by those who promoted them 20 years ago) before drastic cuts must be made (in this, they rely on more advanced technologies that will become available only in the future, as well as higher development conditions and a stronger compliance). Given the persistent scientific uncertainties surrounding the climate feedbacks and the widespread passive attitude of governments and societies – despite a growing climate and environmental awareness – it is likely that this strategy will miss its goal and let warming temperatures rise beyond control, while there is still time for acting and applying safety measures. On the opposite, when setting adaptation as a goal, the time available for action is curtained at a much closer point and efforts in terms of compliance and investments are urged before resources or time will not be available anymore. Working on the margin of advance for the prevention of catastrophic effects will temporarily neglect the containment of GHGs emissions, which are due to increase and to spread their effect in the following centuries anyway – but will allow people to reach a “mature” stage sooner with infrastructures, facilities and agreements keeping them reasonably safe from extreme weather events, starvation and conflicts. From that point on – and with the support of newly developed technologies, higher levels of development and a stronger compliance – it will be possible and easier to invest in interventions for the future mitigation too. It might not be possible to keep temperatures within the safe range identified by James Hansen. Tipping points will be exceeded. The upcoming decades will bring temperatures to even higher levels and the following centuries will see the setting of a new climate. In the best case. If letting mitigation lead efforts, we might end up with runway Climate Change and no shelters from it. But if we choose to adapt, we might find ourselves ready for the challenge and perhaps with a way for keeping things under control. Super Typhoon Haiyan (November 2013) Source: GDACS

Re-thinking Climate Change A simple tool for stepping out of the debate of Climate Change and into the necessary action is A B GLOBAL the rational response theory developed by Greg WARMING Significant action now Little or no action now Craven – a simple but effective thinking revolution for conveying awareness over Climate True Change that be expressed through a the grid reported here. The grid brings a great innovation: it changes the question from “Who should I believe?” to “What should I do”. Instead of False focusing on what Climate Change is and who is right about it the grid allows to shift to deciding what is the wisest thing to do, given the risks and the consequences. In the first case (row thinking), the average person is stuck with guessing the future, not having access, time of training for navigating the climate talk and because even scientists do not possess an absolute truth about the physical world. In the second case (column thinking), it is possible to choose the course of our own actions, which we can control. Using the grid gives back the power that might have been lost in the larger debate: it is like making a bet (A or B) where it is not important to know who is right and who is wrong. Craven is a supported of the mitigation strategy but his grid is applicable to any action. Feel free to test it with any problem and fill it as an exercise for adaptation strategies. ACTION


Choosing the option B is tempting because the A B GLOBAL best scenario takes places WARMING Significant action now Little or no action now on that side of the grid. Ideal situation Global depression But the worst scenario (bottom right cell) True happens to be on the same “ticket” and that is Global catastrophe Economic cost, increased something nobody would regulation, but worth it seriously take into False consideration when betting on his own future. Consequently, ticket A – Craven’s grid applied to adaptation where the risks and the consequences of making the wrong choice remain within an acceptable range – is the one and only logic choice. ACTION

References and useful links Craven Greg, What’s the worst that could happen? A rational response to the climate change debate, 2009. Gwynne Dyer, Climate Wars: the fight for survival as the world overheats, 2010. Flannery Tim, I signori del clima – Come l’uomo sta alterando gli equilibri del pianeta, 2006 Barros C.B., T.F. Stocker, D. Qin, D.J. Dokken, K.L. Ebi, M.D. Mastrandrea, K.J. Mach, G.-K. Plattner, S.K. Allen, M. Tignor, and P.M. Midgley, IPCC, 2012: Summary for Policymakers: Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, and New York, NY, USA. National Academy of Sciences, Abrupt Climate Changes: Anticipating Surprises, 2013 Meggetto Ilaria, Old and new wars between statuality and environmental security: Climate Change and the Siachen Conflict”, University of Turin, 2012 Human Health and Global Environmental Change, course by Prof. Aaron Bernstein and Prof. Jack Spengler (University of Harvard), 2013 Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4C Warmer World Must Be Avoided, course by the World Bank, 2014 Natural Disaster Preparedness, course by Prof. Michael Beach (University of Pittsburgh), 2013 China Disaster Preparedness Center - Connect4Climate - Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System - Guangdong Emergency Management Office - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) -


The Author Ilaria Meggetto is an Climate Education specialist from Italy. With a Master Degree in Strategic and Organization Sciences, she has worked in the fields of Environment Protection and Education in Italy, India and China with the goals of the researching innovative approaches to Climate Change communication and adaptation. Since 2011 she works as project tutor at Hydroaid, Water for Development Management Institute.

Contacts E-mail: Linkedin:

Ilaria Meggetto M.Sc.

3C â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Communicating Climate ChangeŠ All rights reserved. Published on Earth Day 2014 in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China No part of this document may be reproduced, transmitted or sold in any form or by any means, without the specific written consent of the author.

Communicating Climate Change Published on Earth Day 2014 Copyright Š Ilaria Meggetto 2014 All rights reserved

3C - Communicating Climate Change  
3C - Communicating Climate Change