Online Simulation Resources for Teaching Climate Change Science

A valuable resource that I ran across recently to help teach the science/policy options side of climate change is the C-Learn Climate Simulation developed by Climate Interactive. The simulation facilitates the students’ exploration of the implications of changing critical parameters, including future emissions of developed and developing countries, increased emissions from deforestation and dereates in emissions from sequestration related to afforestation. The resource might be particularly useful in conjunction with simulated post-2012 climate change negotiation exercises (which will be discussed soon on this site).

Another valuable resource on the site is the Climate Bathtub Simulation, which demonstrates to students the implications of increasing, stabilized or declining emissions on future atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gas emissions. The resource is particularly valuable for demonstrating the implications of positive and negative feedbacks, and the implications of inertia in the climatic system.

Refugees and Climate Change

The Global Governance Project has launched the Climate Refugee Policy Forum “as a web-based clearinghouse, open for everyone, for up-to-date information on climate refugees and climate-related migration, including academic studies, policy papers, conference announcements, and links to key organizations active in the field.” This could be a valuable resource for those interested in discussing the interface of climate change nad security or human rights.

Differing views on Waxman-Markey

Yale 360, an  online e-digest published by the Yale School of Foresty and Environmental Studies, has an interesting piece today canvassing the different views of environmentalists regarding the The American Clean Energy and Security Act, more commonly called the Waxman-Markey Bill.  The piece’s title – “The Waxman-Markey Bill:  A Good Start or a Non-Starter?” – provides a good overview of the debate (and, indeed, the general debate around almost all climate change policies).  Most of the comments conclude that, since the bill is the “only game in town” (as Joe Romm puts it), environmentalists have little choice but to support it and work to make it better.  A few comments, though, highlight the serious compromises in the bill, which include stripping EPA of its authority to regulate coal plant emissions under the Clean Air Act, and suggest the policies replacing the Clean Air Act will ultimately take us several steps back.

The different viewpoints could provide a good baseline for a classroom discussion of U.S. climate change policies.  Is it better to support a comprehensive climate change bill and hope it improves over time, or should environmentalists hold out for something better?  What can they realistically expect this Congress to pass?

What We Learned About Climate Change Science in 2008

I just ran across a very nice summary of scientific research on climate change in 2008 in Nature. The piece includes both discussion of research that largely confirms earlier findings, or demonstrates previous projections may have been underestimated, e.g. in the context of sea level rise, as well as an excellent summary of abiding areas of uncertainty on issues such as the level at which GHGs must be stabilized to avoid dangerous anthropogenic interference, and the continued mystery of missing carbon sinks. This would be a very good piece for a first day lecture on climate change science.

UN/DESA Policy Brief: Reaching a Climate Deal in Copenhagen

A new policy brief by Imran Habib Ahmad of the UN’s Development Policy & Analysis division draws the following conclusions:

* Conservative estimates peg total developing-country financing needs for mitigation and adaptation at about $250 billion per year. This would be on the order of 0.5 to 1 per cent of world gross product by 2030;
* Current available bilateral and multi-lateral aid is in the order of $10-20 billion, with perhaps $5 billion more in the pike from current proposals;
* Funding for adaptation and mitigation programs must not be voluntary but tied to agreed long-term commitments, based e.g. on pro rata mechanisms (such as levied percentages of financial flows,
mandatory contributions in relation to GDP). Specific options should be considered include include taxes on capital flows or on international transport, energy use or emissions, or volumes of transactions in
carbon markets, and permit auctioning.

Publication on Prospects for U.S. Climate Litigation

Potential reading for climate change law courses: “Climate Litigation – Emerging Litigation Challenges” by Gil Keteltas, Joanne Lichtman, David Lisi and John Horan. The paper was prepared for use at both the 2008 Georgetown University Law Center Corporate Counsel Institute, and the 2008 ABA Section of Litigation Annual Conference.

The paper could be a good one to assign to students because it both does an excellent job of summarizing cases that have been filed to date and discusses the potential loci for the lion’s share of future litigation, which the authors suggest may be administrative claims and securities litigation.

UNGA Resolution on Climate Change and Security

The UNGA passed a watered down resolution on the interface of climate change and security today; the resolution also calls on the Security-General to issue a report on the matter for UNGA’s next session. The press release is available on the General Assembly’s site.

A webcast on the debate on the resolution is available on the Islands First website.

I will post a link to the text of the resolution when it becomes available, as well as a brief analysis.