Investments to address climate change are good business

“Greta Thunberg, Paris, France, 22 Fevrier” by Stephane_P via Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0 August 8, 2019
Rachel Warren from the Tyndall Centre at UEA is one of an internationally respected group of scientists who have urgently called on world leaders to accelerate efforts to tackle climate change. The School Strikes are today, Friday 20 September. A UN Climate Change Summit in New York is about to begin.

According to their study published in Science today, reducing the magnitude of climate change is also a good investment. Over the next few decades, acting to reduce climate change is expected to cost much less than the damage otherwise inflicted by climate change on people, infrastructure and ecosystems.

“Acting on climate change” said lead author Prof Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, from the ARC Centre for Excellence in Coral Reef Studies at the University of Queensland in Australia, “has a good return on investment when one considers the damages avoided by acting.”

The investment is even more compelling given the wealth of evidence that the impacts of climate change are happening faster and more extensively than projected, even just a few years ago. This makes the case for rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions even more compelling and urgent.

Prof Hoegh-Guldberg explained the mismatch: “First, we have underestimated the sensitivity of natural and human systems to climate change, and the speed at which these changes are happening.  Second, we have underappreciated the synergistic nature of climate threats – with the outcomes tending to be worse than the sum of the parts. This is resulting is rapid and comprehensive climate impacts, with growing damage to people, ecosystems, and livelihoods.”

For example, sea-level rise can lead to higher water levels during storm events. This can create more damage. For deprived areas, this may exacerbate poverty creating further disadvantage. Each risk may be small on its own, but a small change in a number of risks can lead to large impacts.

Prof Daniela Jacob, co-author and Director of Climate Services Centre (GERICS) in Germany is concerned about these rapid changes – especially about unprecedented weather extremes.

“We are already in new territory,” said Prof Jacob. “The ‘novelty’ of the weather is making our ability to forecast and respond to weather-related phenomena very difficult.”

These changes are having major consequences. The paper updates a database of climate-related changes and finds that there are significant benefits from avoiding 2oC and aiming to restrict the increase to 1.5oC above pre-industrial global temperatures. MORE

 

Climate researchers launch online tool to help local governments set carbon targets

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Researchers are using the latest climate science to help local authorities calculate their carbon budget and cut down on emissions in the midst of the current climate crisis.

Scientists from The University of Manchester and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research have developed an online tool which is now being used by local authorities including Manchester to understand their role in meeting the climate change objectives set by the UN.

The unique new tool, announced today, allows users to calculate a carbon budget for any UK administrative area larger than local authority scale, and set climate change targets which meet the objectives of the United Nations Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

The tool is based on latest synthesis report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on how quantities of carbon dioxide emissions from human activities relate to global warming.

Dr Chris Jones from The University of Manchester who helped develop the tool said: “Our approach applies principles from the Paris Agreement to scale this global carbon budget down to the UK and a set of clearly stated allocation principles to share the carbon budget between local areas.

“This is a practical and straightforward way for local and devolved governments in the UK to translate the implications of the Paris Agreement into carbon reduction commitments based on the latest science.”

The Tyndall carbon budget tool is a particularly relevant resource for local authorities who have declared a climate emergency. By using the tool authorities can better understand the scale of the challenge when addressing climate change through local action.

…“Having seen the carbon budgets, the important thing now is to work with all of our stakeholders in a concentrated effort to develop and undertake action to move us forward.”

The tool calculates a maximum carbon budget for the selected area, as well as projected emissions reduction pathway, interim carbon budgets and average emissions reduction rate. The tool provides a downloadable PDF covering the method, results and recommendations for the carbon budget. The tool is free to use and is compatible with the SCATTER carbon footprint tool  and CDP sustainability reporting. MORE