PBS Frontline & the Center for Investigative Reporting have launched a website linking to a variety of interviews, program segments and reports touching on some key issues emerging in carbon markets. The materials are accessible and well-crafted, making them very suitable to provide students’ with an introduction to issues such as REDD’s potential impacts on indigenous peoples.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission yesterday voted to provide public companies with interpretive guidance on existing SEC disclosure requirements as they apply to business or legal developments relating to the issue of climate change. The press release can be found here. While it become increasingly unlikely that the Senate will act on climate change legislation this year, the Executive Branch continues to use all of the mechanisms within its ambit to address the issue.
MIT recently held an excellent panel discussion on the implications of the email messages hacked from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit. The panelists include Kerry Emanuel, Richard Lindzen, Judith Layzer, Stephen Ansolabehere, and Ronald Prinn.
Below is MIT’s summary of the panelists’ observations.
“What we have here,” says Kerry Emanuel, are “thousands of emails collectively showing scientists hard at work, trying to figure out the meaning of evidence that confronts them. Among a few messages, there are a few lines showing the human failings of a few scientists…” Emanuel believes that “scientifically, it means nothing,” because the controversy doesn’t challenge the overwhelming evidence supporting anthropogenic warming. He is far more concerned with the well-funded “public relations campaign” to drown out or distort the message of climate science, which he links to “interests where billions, even trillions are at stake…” This “machine … has been highly successful in branding climate scientists as a bunch of sandal-wearing, fruit-juice drinking leftist radicals engaged in a massive conspiracy to return us to agrarian society…”
Richard Lindzen professes he has “no idea” what Emanuel is talking about — if a “machine” exists, it’s on the “other side,” marginalizing those who disagree on the science. The release of emails is likely due “to a whistleblower who couldn’t take it anymore.” Lindzen sees evidence in the correspondence of “things that are unethical and in many cases illegal,” including the refusal to allow outsiders access to data, and the willingness to destroy data rather than release it. He believes that since it’s hard to read the documents “and not conclude that bad things are going on,” this will have a negative impact on “popular support for science.” There are “scandals, cheating and arguments” over research dealing with tiny increments of temperature change, Lindzen speculates, because so many scientists and ordinary people are invested in the idea of dramatic, human-based warming — “People are being thrown catastrophes.”
“The imprudent language in the email cache reflects scientists’ enormous frustration with the tactics of their opponents,” says Judith Layzer. Climate change poses a serious new challenge for scientists: “On the one hand, they perceive it as sufficiently urgent that they’re willing to go to great lengths, use language they wouldn’t ordinarily, to try to persuade the public. On the other hand, they face the most sophisticated campaign of skepticism ever assembled, and one that consistently violates protocols they’re accustomed to.” The moderate language of science, with its emphasis on the weight of evidence, can’t compete with attacks that discredit models, “which by their very nature are fishy to nonscientists.” Careless email communications gave the public a harsh reminder that scientists “are human, fallible and not always judicious.”
The email controversy, says Stephen Ansolabehere creates uncertainty about the scientific debate, and will lead to greater scrutiny by the public – which is “healthy.” Since climate change is a grand scale problem with impacts on multiple dimensions of society, the “question we must ask ourselves now is, “Who will police science and how can science maintain credibility as it gets into public debates?” Scientists, as private citizens, are free to engage in political debates, but “must be especially careful about maintaining research standards and methods.” Scientists will find in the future “they must be even more scrupulous about maintaining research standards because more is at stake than getting the next paper published…”
After combing through the emails, Ronald Prinn has reached several conclusions: Some exchanges dealing with modeling natural variability in temperatures over hundreds of years were “personal in nature,” and “unprofessional.” The research of the scientists accused of manipulating data is not central to the argument for anthropogenic climate change, nor has it compromised the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, although the public perception of climate science has certainly been affected. Climate researchers, Prinn concludes, “must step back from the tendency to polarization.” More important, they must communicate better to the public that multiple approaches and critical analyses are the norm in climate science and that legitimate science is found in peer-reviewed literature, “not in blogs or in opinion pieces that go into newspapers.”
The independent research group Climatico has released a very good summary of the COP15 proceedings: Copenhagen: Copenhagen De-Briefing: An nalysis of COP15 for Long-Term Cooperation (2010). The report is a perfect length to assign as a student reading and isn’t freighted with insider nomenclature.
Climate Law And Developing Countries
Richardson, B.J. Le Bouthillier, Y. McLeod-Kilmurray, H. Wood, S.
|This timely book examines the legal and policy challenges in international, regional and national settings, faced by developing countries in mitigating and adapting to climate change. With contributions from over twenty international scholars from developing and developed countries, the book tackles both long-standing concerns and current controversies. It considers the positions of developing countries in the negotiation of a new international legal regime to replace the Kyoto Protocol and canvasses various domestic issues, including implementation of CDM projects, governance of adaptation measures and regulation of the biofuels industry. Through a unique focus on the developing world, this book makes a significant contribution to understanding current challenges and future directions of climate law.|
Contributors: S. Atapattu, D. Badrinarayana, K. Bastmeijer, C. Dutra, S. Erens, R. Fowler, W. Hare, E.B. Kasimbazi, E. Kwa, M.-P. Lanfranchi, Y. Le Bouthillier, J. Lin, K. Macey, S. Maljean-Dubois, H. McLeod-Kilmurray, D.S. Olawuyi, M. Peeters, B.J. Richardson, F. Sindico, C. Stockwell, S. Teles da Silva, J. Verschuuren, C. Voigt, A. Williams, S. Wood
Hardback January 2010 448 pp
978 1 84844 226 9
There are a couple of excellent new reports that help to respond to several canards of climate skeptics in recent years:
1. The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecast’s recently released an analysis of global temperature rise, using surface temperature measurements, together with data from sources such as satellites, radiosondes, ships and buoys. The analysis critiques the HadCrut’s (the joint Hadley Research Centre, University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit temperature analysis) calculation of global temperature rise and concludes that its projections are likely on the lower end of likely warming. In the wake of the recent tempest in a teapot denominated “Climate Gate,” which focused on alleged manipulation of data by researchers the University of East Anglia’s CRU, this is further sobering evidence that model projections are , if anything, conservative in their conclusions;
2. Perhaps the favorite arrow in the quiver of the climate skeptics has been the argument that global temperatures stopped rising in 1998, and have been either stable, or declining, in the last decade. The problem with this argument is that the empirical evidence shows nothing of the kind. As the Earth Policy Institute recently reported, in summarizing new global temperature data released recently by NASA, the first decade of the 21st century was the warmest since recordkeeping began in 1880, with average temperatures 0.2C warmer than any previous decade. 2005 was the hottest year on record, and 2007 and 2009 tied for the second hottest. It’s also significant that while 1998 (a talismanic year for skeptics who claim it was the hottest year ever) was a strong El Nino year, 2007 was the second hottest year on record despite a strong cooling impact exerted by La Nina.
Since 1999, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has worked with its member country governments to collect information on renewable energy and energy efficiency policies and measures. This information is stored in freely accessible online through the Energy Efficiency Policies and Measures (www.iea.org/Textbase/pm/index_effi.asp) and the Global Renewable Energy Policies and Measures (www.iea.org/Textbase/pm/grindex.aspx) databases.
Among the most popular IEA websites, these “databases” are arguably the most comprehensive collection of national-level policies on renewable energy and energy efficiency policies and measures in IEA member countries (www.iea.org/about/membercountries.asp). It also contains some information on several non-member countries, such as Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Russia and South Africa.
The databases also feed into the IEA’s Climate Change Policies and Measures (www.iea.org/Textbase/pm/index_clim.html) database.
With the assistance of government representatives from member countries, the IEA has recently updated these databases. Over 100 new entries were created since the databases were last updated in June 2009, and many other, older policy records were amended.
For queries or comments, contact
You may recall our climate change building illustration from last December. The new version of the building illustration is ready (http://www.diplomacy.edu/climate/). It includes a reflection on post-Copenhagen developments as well as suggestions received from many of you, for which we would like to thank you.
The building is a work in progress. Please, have a look and let us know what can be added. Feel free to use and distribute the illustration (Creative Commons). We would appreciate it if you inform us about your use of the illustration by e-mail at [email protected]
You are also welcome to download and print the 2010 Climate Change Calendar (http://www.diplomacy.edu/climate/calendar.asp).
We are working on a few more awareness building and didactic tools for climate change governance. Updated info will be sent via this list. If you want to partner with us in awareness building and capacity development activities please let us know at [email protected]
Best regards, Jovan Kurbalija
THE WORLD’S FIRST FREE CARBON MANAGEMENT ONLINE LIBRARY AT www.3carbonelements.co.uk
3CE is proud to launch the world’s first free “Carbon Management Online Library”. This is a constantly updated collection of policy and research papers, publications and presentations in various carbon management fields such as Kyoto projects (CDM, JI, PoA), Emission Trading and Carbon Markets, EU, UK and US policies, Aviation in EU ETS, CRC etc… The list of subjects is growing.
The International Food Policy Research Institute recently released an excellent report on the potential impacts of climate change on agricultural production in developing countries and the costs of adaptation, Nelson, et al., Climate Change: Impact on Agriculture and Costs of Adaptation (2009).
The key take-aways from the study are as follows:
- Climate change could result in massive increases in world prices for most important agricultural crops,a total for 32-37% or rice, 52-55% for mazie, 94-111% for wheat, and 11-14% for soybeans; even if the carbon fertilization effect helps, 2050 prices are only reduced by 10% from this level; livestock prices would also increase by 60%;
- Climate change substantially reduces crop production; in South Asia, there is a projected 14% decline in rice prodcution, a 44-49% decline in wheat production, and a 9-19%fall in maize production; in Sub-Saharan AFrica, rice, wehat nd maize decline by 15%, 34% and 10%, respectively. The results for East Asia and the Pacific are mixed;
- Calorie availability in 2050 declines relative to 2000 levels throughout the world, with the average consumer in developing countries facing a 10% reduction in caloric intake by 2050;
- The costs of adaptation responses to return childhood malnutrition numbers to the no-climate change scenario is estimated at approximately $7 billion annually, with the vast majority for rural roads. Other requisite responses include increased agricultural research and irrigation investments;