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Climate change: what’s next?
Christiana Figueres “Momentum towards a climate-safe future is unstoppable: now we must avoid distraction” DR SWENJA SURMINSKI
Businesses must rise to the challenge of climate change risks P4 PATRICK PRINGLE & PROFESSOR SALEEMUL HUQ
Tackling the adaptation challenge positively P6
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Dr Nick Watts, Lancet Countdown Time to track the response to climate change for better human health
John A. Haynes, MS. Program Manager, NASA What is the Applied Sciences Program on Earth observations for health and air quality?
Professor Benito Müller Hope for the best, prepare for the worst; what’s next with American climate finance
Climate change: a last chance to do things differently Public debate on climate change needs to get louder if we are to head off the threat it poses, says Professor Jim Hall, Director of the Environmental Change Institute Public awareness of what is happening now and how that could impact on our future is vital in combating climate change. It is an increased pressure from customers and the public that will push organisations and government to take action. We should all shout louder about climate change so that we see the policies and technological innovations that we know can cost-effectively reduce dangerous greenhouse gas emissions, and the necessary adaptation to deal with the growing risks of climatic extremes. This is actually a great opportunity for business, and this all starts with the necessary energy and climate conversations. Follow us
With predicted increased instances of extreme weather, it is these conversations around climate change that will help communities deal with local impacts, which might be flooding. So how can talking help? It may be sharing advice on building resilience for business operations, or promoting action in communities. For our big infrastructure investments, taking account of climate change is vital because these decisions lock us in to certain patterns of behaviour and resource use for a long time into the future. We are seeing infrastructure operators and businesses already using the climate projections and other evidence for their decision-making,
Professor Jim Hall Director of the Environmental Change Institute
including climate risks as part of their ‘business as usual’ operations, but is this enough? I can tell you that science and research community is continuing to work with governments and industries across the globe to uncover and implement the @MediaplanetUK
best solutions. There is already tremendous effort going into limiting the global rise in temperature to 1.5°C, the goal set in the 2015 Paris Agreement, but more action is needed if we are to reach the longer-term goal of restricting the increase in global average temperature to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. On a global scale, we are seeing results from our efforts already, with a plateau in global emissions for the 3rd year in a row, as well as a 15% per year growth in renewable energy from 2010-2015. The momentum is shifting in the right direction to tackle climate change, but not fast enough. A massive change in society will be @MediaplanetUK
required, and this includes things as seemingly simple as how we eat our food. At the Environmental Change Institute and UKCIP (both based at the University of Oxford), we see this campaign as part of the public forum for ideas-sharing, further research and decisionmaking on how to tackle climate change. The commentary provided in this feature (as well as online) is another element to the conversation, for this is not a tick-box exercise. This is to keep pushing for a commitment to a new way of doing things for our health and wellbeing, as well as the health and wellbeing of our planet. I recommend this to you all. Please recycle
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Christiana Figueres Former Executive Secretary, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
The direction of travel has been set Impossible is not a fact, it’s an attitude, and momentum towards a climate-safe future is now unstoppable. We must avoid distraction: keep our eyes on the road to go further, faster, together. “Driving down global emissions at the pace and scale required by science to fully decarbonise the global economy by 2050 means we must bend the curve by 2020 – in just a few years’ time. If we fail, we will breach the temperature limits outlined in the Paris agreement with severe social and economic impacts on everyone, making it practically impossible to reach most of the agreed Sustainable Development Goals. We are already seeing shocking impacts of current warming in the Arctic and at the Great Barrier Reef, for which we bear a collective responsibility. Left unabated, climate change will become much more shocking, and will adversely affect us all, especially the world’s most vulnerable. The urgency and complexity of the challenge ahead gives me a laser focus. I’m on a mission to ensure that we do bend the curve by 2020 and lock in a climate-safe world. I will be working in a variety of roles, including as Vice-Chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, financial institutions and clean energy providers, to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and focus efforts on the wealth of opportunities to be reaped from a decarbonised economy. A global, just transition to 100% renewable energy is possible. The transition will create millions of jobs, dramatically cut premature deaths as a result of air pollution per year, and save trillions of dollars in health costs. I am relentlessly optimistic. I am also heartened by the current groundswell of awareness on climate and planet protection around the world, in which citizens are working to unblock obstacles and fast forward our climate-safe future. That future will bring development gains for all: better health, more energy and food security, increased energy access and more liveable cities. The next four years are going to be some of the most galvanising and exciting yet in terms of climate action. Working on climate change can be tiring, but when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Let us take heart in the indisputable fact that the direction of travel has been set. It has been set by science, by technological progress, by economics and by morality, and because of this overwhelming overlay of imperatives it is also set by the historic Paris agreement. Our path towards a healthy, climatesafe future is unstoppable. We must not allow ourselves to be distracted - we must stay focused: keep our eyes on the road and go further, faster, together.
Caroline Lucas MP Chair, All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group
A wake up call to Parliament on climate change Amongst the many shocks and surprises this year in the world of politics, there has been a quiet but important strengthening of global momentum to tackle climate change. The Paris Agreement was ratified at unprecedented speed, and the recent global treaty banning HFC refrigerants further signalled world leaders’ commitment to at least facing up to the scale of the challenge. However, we must not forget how far we have to go: as it stands, global mitigation commitments place us, at a minimum, on a path towards a terrifying 4°C increase in global temperatures. Where does Parliament fit in to this? With 2016 set to be the hottest year on record and serious concerns being expressed from within the scientific community about the record-low levels of sea ice, it is now more urgent than ever that Parliament pushes the government to act faster on climate change. We must push for ambitious and long-term policies that drive innovation across different sectors, as well as securing the continuation of important EU legislation in this area when the promised ‘Great Repeal Bill’ arrives. The All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group (APPCCG) seeks to play an important role by convening and facilitating the sharing of expertise from academia, business and civil society within Parliament. We hope this helps MPs to better scrutinise government and raises the profile of climate change on the national stage. With the upcoming Emissions Reduction Plan, the 25 Year Plan for the Environment, the industrial strategy, potential triggering of Article 50, the government’s air quality plan, and the Budget in March, there’s no shortage of opportunities to influence and shape the debate. Climate change is the greatest challenge humanity faces in the 21st century and it’s going to need all of us to help stop the worst of it. The need for a joined-up, coordinated movement of businesses, community groups, universities, politicians and parliamentarians working together has never been greater. I hope the APPG on Climate Change can go some way towards bringing MPs together to that end and I very much hope you’ll join us. APPCCG and Mediaplanet are hosting a parliamentary event in 2017 to discuss the Climate change: what’s next campaign
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Professor Nick Eyre Professor of Energy and Climate Policy in the Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University
UK aims for tough CO₂ emission reduction targets The UK’s progress on carbon reduction has been encouraging, but it will need a concerted effort to reach the ambitious goals of a 57 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030, and 80 per cent by 2050, that are set by the Climate Change Act and consistent with last year’s Paris Agreement. What we need now is a global push towards a sustainable energy system, and a coordinated, cross-government approach to energy in the UK. We will need a coherent, low carbon energy policy, not incentives for fracking and a very expensive nuclear power station. This will involve reversing the reductions in ambition for sustainable energy production and use that have characterised Government policy in the last five years. Major energy efficiency programmes and policies have historically underpinned the UK’s success in reducing emissions. These have been severely cut back in recent years, with less Government support for household energy efficiency, reduced incentives for business and a weakening of future building standards. And Brexit now threatens the European-wide standards that have been central to reducing emissions due to energy use in appliance and cars. A coherent package of goals, incentives and standards is required. Globally, the costs of wind power have fallen by 30 per cent in the last 5 years and those of solar power by 60 per cent. In the UK, and globally, these renewable energy sources now offer the cheapest low carbon energy. The problems relating to the variable nature of these energy sources are being reduced by the declining costs of energy storage in batteries. Lack of clarity about future Government auctions for low carbon electricity is now the major issue for renewable energy, with investors increasingly looking outside the UK. This poses risks to both UK energy security and industrial policy. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is clearly a major challenge for the energy sector. But it gives the UK an opportunity to be a world leader in a technical and social revolution. Now is the time for the Government to take that lead. Reference: UK Energy Research Centre, Review of UK Energy Policy, November 2016.
Businesses need to rise to challenge of climate change risks The landmark Paris climate treaty is an encouraging step in the global fight against climate change, but governments and industry leaders now need to show real action, as the risks for businesses are rising By Paul Dinsdale
r Swenja Surminski, senior research fellow at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and a member of the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP), thinks that too many UK businesses are not prepared for risks that climate change may pose to their operations in future. “There is quite an urgent need for most UK businesses to carry out a risk analysis of their potential exposure to climate change, in terms of their production at home, and also further down their supply chains in developing countries, many of which are much more likely to suffer the effects of climate change,” says Surminski. “What is often overlooked are indirect risks – where your customers, suppliers or employees are hit by extreme weather events. This can affect any business and companies need to take a strategic view of where the risks may lie, not just close to home.” “For example, in recent years the food and beverage industry was hit by shortages of raw ingredients because some of the countries producing them, such as India, were badly affected by flooding or hurricanes, which led some companies to start planning ahead. However, particularly for smaller businesses this presents a key challenge.” A recent report, the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment report (1), to which Surminksi was a contributor, identified a number of areas where businesses and
government should be focusing their attention. One of the major areas of concern is the location of existing and future business sites and infrastructure and their potential risk for flooding. The report warns: “Through their international supply chains, distribution networks and global markets, UK businesses are exposed to the risks of extreme weather around the world. Climate change is expected to increase the risk of weather-related disruptions, particularly for supply chains and distribution networks that involve more vulnerable countries, such as in south and south-east Asia, and in sub-Saharan Africa.” Infrastructure failure, such as blocked transport routes or power outages are already having a negative impact on some sectors – a risk that is likely to increase unless more is done to protect our infrastructure and insure that new sites are developed with resilience in mind: “For companies making investment decisions, such as building a new factory or site, it might be very important for them to be near ports, rivers or major motorways, but some of these areas are the very ones that are already liable to flooding. Preparing for current and future climate risks needs to be a key part of the early planning stages. “Fortunately, the UK has a very good research base and there is a great deal of expertise available in these fields and for some sectors this actually presents a business opportunity – developing new technology or product designs.” she says. Government support is important, particularly for smaller businesses.
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PHOTO: RUTH KNIGHT
Global carbon emissions have The global consensus is that stalled for the 3rd year in a row climate change is a significant (source: Global Carbon Project) challenge And the global economy grew at 3% per year despite this Dr Swenja Surminski Senior research fellow at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change The Federation of Small Businesses also carried out a survey recently and found that most small and medium sized businesses had either not carried out a risk assessment on climate change or had not done enough to safeguard their business. The Environment Agency offers advice and information to business on taking protective measures against climate change, but implementing them is a decision for the organisation itself. In some areas, local authorities are offering a level of support to businesses. In London, the London Climate Change Partnership, set up by former mayor Ken Livingstone, brings together statutory bodies and business to identify areas which they can tackle together. In future, partnerships such as these will be vital in planning for extreme weather events. (1) UK Climate Change Risk Assessment report: https://www.theccc.org.uk/uk-climate-change-riskassessment-2017/ccra-chapters/business-andindustry/
(source: Global Carbon Project)
The food system accounts for 30% of total global energy demand (source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)
Predicted increase in global demand for livestock products • 1997 218 million tonnes • 2030 376 million tonnes (source: WHO)
Meat is resource intensive … 100% renewable energy by 2050 is only achievable if western diets become less resource intensive (source: WWF)
(source: Pew Research Center)
A global median of 67% say that people will have to make major changes in their lives (source: Pew Research Center)
The burden should be shouldered by wealthier countries (source: Pew Research Center)
The first six months of 2016 have been the warmest half-year on record (source: NASA)
We need to look at production as well as consumption
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John Dora Chair, Infrastructure Operators’ Adaptation Forum
Are our cities ready for climate change?
n December 2015, transport, communication, electricity and even the emergency services were brought to a standstill when floods hit Yorkshire – it was a wakeup call to the UK about the inadequacy of its infrastructure in the light of extreme weather and climate change. “This is just one example of how infrastructure particularly in cities is interdependent and why a more interconnected approach is required to create resilient infrastructure that can cope with the changes in climate,” says John Dora, chair of the Infrastructure Operators’ Adaptation Forum. Dora is also coordinating a team developing an international Adaptation Framework Standard to guide organisations in managing their operations in a way that can adapt to changes in climate. The standard, which will work with any sector, will help organisations understand and cope with the inevitable changes in rainfall, temperature and sea level. “Progress requires a long-term approach,” says Dora. “We need to be thinking about how the infrastructure we put in today will cope with the climate in 50 years’ time or longer. We need practices that transcend organisational lifecycles; better informed governance, and different approaches to economics in appraising investment in resilience , are key to this.” Whilst infrastructure needs to be continually updated, the World Bank estimates that two thirds of the infrastructure that will be in place in 2050 hasn’t even been built yet. This gives the world a great opportunity to set best practices that can create more sustainable and resilient infrastructure built not only to withstand changes in climate, but also to reduce the impact on the environment. Read more on globalhealthaction.co.uk
Tackling the adaptation challenge positively Adaptation gives us a chance to think differently about the future we want rather than the future that climate change may impose on us.
limate change adaptation is the process by which people and systems adjust to the impacts of climate change. Along with emissions reductions, it is a vital part of the climate change equation. Patrick Pringle, Director UKCIP (UK Climate Impacts Programme) points to the fact that we are already experiencing climate change impacts and that “even if we stopped emissions tomorrow, we are locked into an inevitable level of change and we need to be fully prepared”. While such changes will bring challenges and costs, adaptation presents an opportunity for innovation, to think about what we value most in society, and how we would like that to look in the future. Often it’s about being opportunistic and ensuring that we consider adaptation at key decision points. For example, if we are making major investments in infrastructure it is common sense to ensure these account for the likely impacts of climate change. In the UK, the Climate Change Act (2008) gives us a solid framework for adaptation planning. Pringle believes we must also shift our approach to engagement with the public and key decision-makers
Patrick Pringle Director UKCIP (UK Climate Impacts Programme) and Professor Saleemul Huq Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD)
towards more positive conversations about what adaptation and mitigation can mean for them. “People are fed up with being told what isn’t possible and what the threats are” he says “we need to start engaging communities in the solutions and show that the benefits of adaptation go beyond numbers on a spreadsheet”. Climate adaptation can actually save us save money “Whether it is replanting mangroves to protect coastal communities from sea level rise in Asia or more holistic flood risk planning in Europe, investments in one area can actually save us substantial costs in future years or in other locations”, he says. Engaging communities in adaptation is equally important in many developing countries such as India and Bangladesh that are at an even greater risk from climate change.
Professor Saleemul Huq, Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD), based in Bangladesh, also carries out research in the UK, and says it is important to have a bridge between the industrialised west and less developed countries. He says the commitment at COP 22 to increase the amount of funding given by developed countries to mitigate the effects of climate change from the current £10bn a year to £100bn by 2020 is a huge landmark step. Huq says that major changes to infrastructure in countries such as Bangladesh have already been made, and that it is not only government which needs to take action. “COP 22 was an important milestone in showing that more industrialised countries are fully behind helping less developed economies deal with effects of climate change. “From the funding we already receive, we are able to work with a number of NGOs on various projects, which include advising employers on locations for new factories, how to make buildings more climate-resilient, and on adapting agricultural projects to resist climate change. “The money is being spent on reducing carbon emissions in these economies, and on adaptations to infrastructure in these countries. By allocating more funding to developing nations will make a big difference to the efforts currently being made to adapt to the impacts of climate change,’ says Huq.
Industry takes lead role in creating low-carbon economy Business engagement is vital if the ambitious targets set by COP 22 are to be met.
t a recent roundtable discussion hosted by The World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD), leading innovators in carbon reduction technology discussed the practical implementation needed to put the revised framework into practice and achieve the goal set in the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to below 2C or 1.5C. The discussion was hosted by Peter Bakker, President and Chief Executive Officer of WBCSD, who began by setting the bar in terms of the important role businesses have to play. “Business has a critical role to play as a source of investments and as a driver of technological development and innovation, not to mention as an engine for economic growth and employment,” said Bakker. “We must continue to work together to seize this opportunity to scale up the implementation of the Paris Agreement and accelerate the transition to the low-carbon economy. Many forward-thinking companies already realise this, and they are taking action.”
Setting the standard for carbon reducing innovations Amongst those forward-thinking companies who took part in the discussions were Novozymes, the world’s largest industrial biotechnology company; DSM, a sciencebased company active in health, nutrition and materials and EDP, a major operator in the energy sector. All three agreed unanimously that transformation of industry was a key goal and supporting the work of scientists and innovators within their own sectors was essential to move things forward. “At Novozymes, the sustainable development goals inspire us, help prioritise our activities, help open doors at high political levels and attract the right partners,” said Claus Stig
Pedersen, head of corporate sustainability at Novozymes. The company, which develops enzyme and microbial technologies to enable higher agricultural yields, low-temperature washing and renewable fuel, have already set their own ambitious targets to enable a 100 million ton reduction in CO2 emissions in 2020. A similar commitment was demonstrated by both DSM and EDP. “As a global business, we understand our responsibility to reduce carbon emissions and adapt our energy mix,” said Rob van Leen, chief innovation officer at DSM, who used COP22 to launch their Bright Minds Challenge, to encourage continued advancements in carbon-reducing innovations. “In the first round, we are focusing on renewable energy solutions that are ready to scale, in particular, solar and energy storage solutions. We think that encouraging young innovators to develop their ideas and have the chance to see them scaled up will have a dynamic effect on the sector.” Turning to contributions in their own sector, Rob van Leen said DSM is active in three main areas: reducing its own footprint , for example, by committing to sourcing 50 per cent of their purchased electricity from renewable sources by 2025; enabling a lower carbon economy by, for example, in their advanced solar materials business, which is working on coatings, back sheets and films that significantly boost the yield of PV modules; and in advocating climate action -for example, taking a leading role in carbon pricing and using a €50/ton CO2 internal carbon price when reviewing large investment decisions. CEO Feike Sijbesma is also co-chair of the high-level assembly of the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition of the World Bank. All three companies are also backing the Low Carbon Technology Partnerships Initiative, which provides a collaborative platform for private and public stakeholders to accelerate low-carbon technology development, and scale up the deployment of business solutions, to
a level and speed that are consistent with the targets set. As a representative of the energy industry, Antonio Castro, Corporate Sustainability officer at EDP, said it had taken the lead in transformation in the energy sector through activities in 14 countries. “We have developed green energy farms, including innovative solutions in floating off-shore wind power, and new market strategies. Many companies to which we supply are now much more interested in low-carbon alternatives, as they understand it can improve the long-term sustainability of their businesses,” he said.
The challenge of putting innovation into practice However, there comes a point where innovations need to migrate off the drawing board and start to bring change – a point of which Bakker is acutely aware. “Of course realising the SDGs by no means will be easy,” he said. “The goals represent an ambitious agenda which in many cases will require complete systems overhaul.” Such a change takes commitment on an individual business level, but industry wide regulations and greater collaboration were highlighted as key drivers by many of those at the discussions. “In some of these countries, we need to remove the regulatory barriers to changing to low-carbon alternatives,” commented Castro. His words were echoed by representatives from both Novozymes and DSM. All three companies, through the Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative, are looking to influence policy makers who can light the torch for future change. “We are aiming to help policy makers through the Low Carbon Technology Partnerships initiative and this has great potential in future to act as a catalyst for further changes,” commented Pedersen.
Inclusivity is vital to progress Alongside their work with businesses, the roundtable discussion
also highlighted the importance of keeping climate change in the public eye and ensuring that the transition to the low-carbon economy is inclusive. Climate change is so fundamental to all our futures that truly longterm sustainable change requires a complete cultural shift in the way nations think about consuming energy and resources, and about the impact this has on people and communities. Whilst policy makers can assert a certain degree of influence from one direction, business also has a responsibility to ensure their employees and communities are prepared to meet the opportunities of the low-carbon world. For many businesses, this means re-training, re-skilling and redeployment in order to safely manage the transition for their workers. “This is an area which hasn’t been discussed enough, and more resources need to be devoted to this,” commented Pedersen. “Individual governments and the UN also need to play a part in ensuring there is a high degree of inclusion.” All three companies agreed that, as governments put legislation in place to encourage further decarbonisation, global industries will be the key players in the drive to cut CO2 emissions and grow a low-carbon economy. The SDGs and COP22 have given companies a lot to digest, which is why organisations like WBCSD are so vital to facilitate collaboration, development and information-sharing amongst the leading companies that are are already delivering solutions on the ground . There is definitely a long way to go, but if the passion and commitment at the roundtable is anything to go by, business is in a stronger position than ever. “We are entering an era where responsible business is the new normal, and the private sector is identifying business opportunities from the global sustainability agenda,” said Pedersen. “Business is no longer the problem; it is part of the solution.”
Full roundtable discussion and video launching online in 2017 at: globalhealthaction.co.uk Additional quotes from Stig Pedersen: novozymes.com/en/news/ news-archive/2016/06/un-honors-novozymes-as-sdg-local-pioneer and from Peter Bakker: president.wbcsd.org/
Published on Mar 8, 2018