New IEA Report on Future of CCS

Given the abundance and relative cheapness of coal resources globally, it would be folly to argue that coal will not continue to be a substantial part of the globe’s energy mix; in fact, the most recent International Energy Agency’s energy assessment concludes that its role may even slightly expand in the next two decades. Given this fact, there is very little choice but to give full-throated support to research on carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies despite the reservations of many of us in terms of cost, safety and technological viability. This week, the International Energy Agency released a new report, Technology Roadmap: Carbon Capture and Storage (2009) which provides a detailed scenario for large-scale deployment of CCS by 2050.

Among the key findings of the report:

  • The IEA envisions the possibility of 100 projects globally by 2020, and 3000 by 2050, which could reduce the cost to reduce GHG emissions back to 2005 levels by 2050 by 70%;
  • The estimated investment requirement to achieve this goal is approximately 6% of the necessary cost to achieve a 50% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050. This must include a $1.5-2.5 billion investment in developing countries, which will necessitate funding through the CDM or alternative financing mechanism;
  • There are imposing technological issues in this context, including moving from pilot plants to a scale up to commercial facilities, transport challenges and storage issues;
  • Many countries are developing the detailed regulatory frameworks to develop demonstration projects, but more needs to be done in this context.

The report notably gives very short shrift to serious and legitimate concerns about the permanence of CCS solutions, and potential environmental implications of accidents, but it does provide a very good assessment of potential costs of the technology and recommendations for sequential deployment.

NY’s New Green Building Construction Act

Courtesy of the Global Climate Law blog (listed on the Blogroll):

New York Governor David Paterson recently signed into legislation the State Green Building Construction Act. The Act amends previous green building legislation by affording the Office of General Services (“OGS”) the responsibility of promulgating rules and regulations that comply with green building standards. The bill had passed unanimously in the New York Assembly on June 10 and by a large margin of 55-2 in the state Senate on July 10. The Act requires new construction and substantial renovations of state facilities to comply with green building standards.

Previously, the onus was on the Department of Environmental Conservation to develop compliant regulations. Now, while the OGS may consult other entities such as the Department of Environmental Conservation, the ultimate compliance responsibility remains with the OGS. OGS Commissioner John Egan said in a recent press release, “We are pleased that this new law will enable the agency to continue to collaborate with state agencies and authorities to construct green buildings that lower energy costs, improve air quality, reduce waste and curb greenhouse gases. We look forward to aggressively pursuing this new responsibility.”

The stated purpose of the bill is to “more effectively promote the development of high performance and green sustainable buildings.” Proponents believe that green building will save the state money in maintenance costs. The hope is that ultimately, the creation of sustainable buildings will lead to new developments in green technologies. State agencies and the OGS have ample time to bring themselves into compliance with the Act, because many provisions of the Act will not be effective for another year. The amendment was not unexpected: Governor Paterson had recommended these measures when he signed the initial legislation in September 2008.

Report on Biodiversity, Resilience and REDD

A new report prepared under the auspices of the Convention on Biological Diversity examines the relationship of biodiversity, forest resilience, and climate change.  Stated simply, maintenance of biodiversity is important to forest resilience in most forest types.  Resilience, in turn, provides a metric for understanding the likely permanence of carbon sequestration and storage in forests. 

This is an issue area that I think warrants increased attention as we move toward Copenhagen and beyond.  The high likelihood of some type of Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) mechanism requires careful assessment of forest practices in relationship to climate change policy.  As I have argued, the post-Kyoto regime would benefit from a form of REDD that recognizes biodiversity preservation and primary forest adaptation as fundamental goals in conjunction with mitigation benefit.  The report linked above provides strong scientific evidence in support of this view.

Microfinance and Adaptation

In the past few years, there have been numerous reports and articles published on the possible use of microinsurance as a CC adaptation mechanism, but I recently ran across an interesting report on the possible role of microfinancing in this context, Hammill, et al., Microfinance and Climate Change Adaptation, 39 IDS Bulletin 113-123 (2008).

The report is valuable not only for its focus on microfinancing, but also for its discussion of some of the overarching considerations of any effective adaptation program. Among the takeaways from the report:

  • Reducing the vulnerability of the poor in developing countries to climate change is closely linked to the poverty reduction agenda, with many for the world’s poor already vulnerable to climate change due to factors such as settlement on marginal lands, high dependence on climate-sensitive livelihoods (e.g. agriculture), limited access to resources to respond to shocks; any successful adaptation program must begin with a focus on poverty reduction and development strategies
  • The world’s more than 3300 micr0finance institutions could help vulnerable individuals and communities by both ex ante risk management (efforts to minize and spread risk, e.g. fostering accumulation of assets, diversity of income sources) and ex post coping (maintaining consumption during and after a crisis);
  • The report also outlines some fo the limitations to microfinancing as a adaptation mechanism, soe of which are pertinent to other adaptation strategies:
    • Microfinance services usually don’t reach the poorest of the poor;
    • Microfinance is underdeveloped in Africa, the continent most vulnerable to many of the potential manifestations of climate change;
    • Microfinance could increase vulnerability by by increasing debt that must be serviced; if the loans don’t translate into long-term stabilization or increases in income levels. It may engender a cycle of debgt that results in reduction of vital consumption and assume more risk;
    • States build legitimacy by providing essential services to its citizenry; if some of these things are done by third parties, “the state misses opportunities to develop [and] remains weak and ineffective”
    • To date, microfinancing efforts have focused more on coping than for development.

Among the questions that might be relevant to ask the students include:

  1. Is the fundamental tenet of the report correct, i.e. that microfinancing is an effective method for either coping or development strategies. For example, see:;
  2. Is there any evidence that the amount of financing usually provided in microfinancing schemes can contribute meaningfully to reducing vulnerability?
  3. Are bottom-up strategies of this nature a more effective adaptation mechanism than top-down strategies that emphasize large-scale infrastructure and programs? Should we integrate both approaches, and if yes, how?

New Report on Climate Change and African Responses: Regional Approach

LEAD Africa, supported by the Royal Danish Embassy and COP 15, has just released a new report “Leading the way: A role for regional institutions” around African leadership on climate change that can be downloaded at our website:

Executive Summary

Leadership is critical to addressing the challenges and opportunities posed by climate change.  The onset of climate impacts combined with new policy frameworks and funding mechanisms require the building of institutional and human capacity, the strengthening of governance and provision of an enabling environment for climate action. This is especially true for Africa, because of its unique vulnerability to climate impacts, its low resilience and its climate-dependent economic sectors.  Whilst Africa is ‘clearly in peril, climate change also provides a unique opportunity to forge a new more sustainable and socially equitable developmental pathway.  But this will need strong and visionary leadership, and particularly African leadership as opposed to our historic reliance on external agencies and bi-lateral partners to set the development agenda.

In recognition of this, LEAD Africa and ENDA Energy have begun to look at leadership on climate issues in Africa as part of our wider environment and development agenda.  We are especially concerned with looking at the regional and sub-regional levels, as climatic responses by their very nature are trans-national and highly complex.  Although this level of leadership in Africa has also historically been the weakest, we believe it can become a critical leverage point for leadership on climate issues in particular.

The potential of African institutions to provide leadership on climate issues, their unique responsibilities and their ability to act as climate response catalysts was the subject of a recent workshop on ‘African Leadership on Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities for Regional Institutions”, held in Tunis in January 2009.

This paper is based on the discussions at the workshop and aims to highlight to a wider audience the urgent need for African Leadership on Climate Change, particularly at the regional level.  It begins with an overview of the current situation vis a vis leadership on climate issues in Africa, then highlights opportunities to show leadership on climate issues, before finally summarizing recommendations from the workshop on how regional institutions can become climate leaders.

For further information around LEAD Africa activities around African leadership and climate change, please see our website (

Best Regards

Masse LO

LEAD Africa Coordinator

Tel: 00221 33 889 3430

54, Rue Carnot

BP 3370

Dakar Senegal

Agribiodiversity and Adaptation Database

Charting Adaptation to Climate Change Using Agrobiodiversity

Leading up to Copenhagen (CO15) the Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research project on Climate Change kindly reaches out to you for assistance with collection of information about initiatives on adaptation to climate change based on the use of agrobiodiversity.

This tool intends to facilitate learning dialogue between rural communities all over the world and build a knowledge base, which can be used to increase the recognition for the multitude of adaptation practices communities engage in.

To participate please visit:

Please focus your contributions on functional adaptation practices and on how they address the needs of your community(ies).
We thank you in advance for contributing and enriching this knowledge base and invite you to share with you networks.

P.S. Each submission records information related to one case only. Thus, if you have more adaptation cases to share with us, then once you have completed the form you will be given the option to go back to a blank form and enter new information or to exit the survey and view the responses gathered to date.

For more information about the Platform please visit

Kind regards,

Elizabeth Fox

On behalf of the Platform Agrobiodiversity Research


Elizabeth Fox

Communications and Information Assistant

Global Partnerships Programme

Bioversity International

Via dei Tre Denari 472/a

00057 Maccarese (Fiumicino), Rome, Italy


Skype: elifox23 (Elizabeth Fox)

Tel: +39 06 6118 386    Fax: +39 06 61979661

Webinars on Adapation

The Center for Climate Action, a new program of the Climate Action Reserve, invites you to join us for the continuation of our webinar series on issues in climate policy. For more information on our upcoming events, visit

Adaptation Series: State strategies to adapt to climate change

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

10:00AM – 11:00AM PST

Register here (

Predicted temperature changes across the United States will likely impact the economic prosperity, ecological health, and long-term sustainability of communities across the US.  As a result, many states are taking action to minimize the impacts of climate change.  These early plans will likely drive the future planning methods, inter-governmental coordination, and planning policies for all states.  Join our distinguished speakers as they discuss some early lessons from Florida and California.

Speakers will include:

- Tony Brunello, Deputy Secretary for Energy and Climate Change, State of California

- James Murley, Chair of the Florida Energy and Climate Commission

Adaptation Series: Insuring our Future- Insurance in an Era of Climate Change

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

10:00AM – 11:00AM PST

Register here (

Climate change will likely affect the insurance industry in significant ways.  From increased property damage from severe weather to the spread of disease and loss of life from storms, insurers will need to take action to minimize exposure to a changing climate.  How can the insurance industry promote loss prevention as the climate changes? What are some of the innovative insurance products and services being developed in the US? What are some of the key emerging risks and opportunities for the industry?

Speakers will include:

- Sean Hecht, Executive Director of the University of California at Los Angeles Environmental Law Center

- Sharlene Leurig, Manager of the Insurance Program at Ceres

For more information on the Center’s webinars, please do not hesitate to contact me.



Eric Yurkovich

Center for Climate Action

523 West 6th Street, Suite 428

Los Angeles, California 90014

t. 213-542-0280

f. 213-623-6716

Good Ocean Acidification Article

While the threat of ocean acidification is not strictly a climate change issue, but rather another manifestation of burgeoning levels of carbon dioxide emissions, many of us discuss the issue in our CC courses for a number of reasons, including the potential synergism of climate change and acidification impacts in the marine environment, and the implications for focusing on reductions of carbon dioxide vs. the proverbial basket of GHG gases. Here’s a very good article in this context: J.E.N. Veron, Mass Extinctions and Ocean Acidification: Biological Constraints on Geological Dilemmas, 27 Coral Reefs 459-472 (2008).

Among the author’s key conclusions on the potential impacts of current trends of ocean acidification:

  1. There have been several historical eras in which most reefs have been lost, and it has taken millions of years for reappearance. For example, during the Ordovician extinction spasm, living reefs disappeared and did not reappear for another 4-6 million years; the period was even longer after the Triassic mass extinction, 6-8 million years;
  2. In the context of acidification impacts on coral reefs:
    • Fast-growing branching species, especially Acropora and ecological equivalents, would likely be most affected by ocean acidification, the very species that make reefs resilient to physical damage, [including phenomena that are likely to be exacerbated by climate change, violent weather events];
    • Acidification is now believed to have been the most probably cause of both mass coral extinctions in the past, as well as the abiding factor preventing reefs from recovering for millions of years. However other factors, e.g. low light, bleaching and deteriorating water quality have a role to play;
    • Unlike the enhanced greenhouse temperature effect of rising levels of carbon dioxide, the acidification effect of carbon dioxide will not reverse for a tremendously long time, until they are neutralized by the dissolving of calcium carbonate rocks and weathering of rocks on land
    • Should carbon dioxide levels reach 800 ppm later this century [a very credible scenario currently], ocean pH levels will decline by an average of 0.4 units, and dissolved carbonate ion concentrations will have decreased by almost 60%. “At that point all the reefs of the world will be eroding relicts;”
    • In a few centuries, ocean pH will drop to a point where other profound threats to the marine environment will be manifested, including anoxia, at which point Earth could enter its six mass extinction.