Debating the rights and wrongs of civil disobedience

Something that can make for a good class is a debate. Here are two articles with different views on the sentencing of Tim DeChristopher (who bid on oil and gas leases as a form of protest):

This case, and the issues it raises, might make for a good starting point for discussion.


Climate Change and Crop Production

Many of my students labor under the misconception that climate change impacts are not currently being manifested. An excellent new study in Science, Lobell, et al., Climate Trends and Global Crop Production Since 1980, 333 Science 616-20 (2011) once again demonstrates the contemporaneous fingerprints of climatic change, but also demonstrates the large uncertainties in seeking to establish the precise nature and extent of this fingerprint. Among the take-aways of the article:

  1. Global average temperatures have been increasing by 0.13C since 1950. Temperatures are anticipated to increase at a faster clip of 0.2C  per decade over the next 2-3 decades, with even greater increases in land areas where crops are cultivated
  2. Time series of average growing-season in the study revealed significant positive trends in temperature since 1980 for nearly all major growing regions of maize, wheat, rice, and soybeans; one notable exception was the United States, which accounts for 40% of corn and soybean production, and where temperatures have actually dipped slightly;
  3. Based upon the yield response utilized in this study, the researchers concluded that maize and wheat exhibited negative impacts for several major producers and global net loss of 3.8% and 5.5%, respectively, relative to what would have been achieved without the climate trends in 1980–2008. The most notable decline was a 15% decrease in wheat production in Russia. By contrast, the net impact on rice and soybean production was insignificant;
  4. Changes in temperature, rather than precipitation have been, and are likely to continue, to have more impact on crop production;
  5. Climate impacts often exceed 10% of the rate of yield change, indicating that “climate changes are already exerting a considerable drag on yield growth.” The study also indicated that climate change is also responsible for substantial increases in commodity prices. Overall, the authors concluded that “climate change is likely incurring large economic and health costs.”


New WRI/UNEP report on climate options: call for input

Dear colleagues,


The World Resources Institute (WRI) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), with the support of the Government of Ireland, have been leading a project aimed at highlighting possible ways forward on some of the key issues surrounding the design of the climate regime.  Following a side event in Cancun at COP16 in December 2010, we will be publishing a survey and analysis of the academic literature as well as proposals by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and governments that seek to advance the design of the regime. UNFCCC negotiators and other climate change experts within governments, international institutions and civil society may find the resources useful to their work.


A detailed overview of the paper, including highlights from the proposals included in the review, is available online for public comment at the following link.


We welcome your feedback on the document. Although we do not aspire to provide a comprehensive list of relevant proposals, it is our intent to capture a diverse range of views on a given key issue so as to reflect the main approaches that may be taken to build the climate regime In this context, we welcome your feedback, comments, and suggestions as to further literature that addresses one of more of the key issues we analyze.  We especially welcome topical literature that presents developing country visions for the future climate regime.


The paper will be released in October 2011 and launched in Washington D.C. in the fall as well as through a side event in Durban at COP17. Please send comments to and by August 7 or contact us if you wish to be kept informed of the developments of the project.


Thank you in advance for your comments.


Best regards,


On behalf of the authors,


Remi Moncel



Remi Moncel

Associate, Climate and Energy Program

World Resources Institute


10 G St. NE, Suite 800, Washington D.C. 20002

Tel: | Fax:


Access WRI’s resources on international climate policy

Station Temperature Measurements

The entire CRUTEM3 database of station temperature measurements has just been released. This comes after a multi-year process to get permissions from individual National Weather Services to allow the passing on of data to third parties and from a ruling from the UK ICO. All the NWSs have now either agreed or not responded (except for Poland which specifically refused). Since the Polish data is a such a small fraction of the globe (and there are a few Polish stations in any case via RBSC or GCOS), this doesn’t make much difference to hemispheric means or regional climate. These permissions were obtained with help from the UK Met Office (who have also placed the station data on their website in a slightly different format) and whose FAQ is quite informative.

Online course in climate diplomacy

DiploFoundation, a non-profit organisation based in Malta, Geneva and Belgrade, is happy to announce its eight-week online course on Climate Change Diplomacy. The course, operating at an introductory level, is a good preparation for understanding global negotiations and policies on climate change. For the course beginning in the week of August 29, please apply until August 1. More information can be found here:

Scholarships for candidates representing small and developing countries are available. I would be grateful if you could also pass this information on to colleagues who might be interested in this opportunity.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me should you have further questions or comments.

Katharina Hoene,
Course Coordinator Climate Change Diplomacy,

Assessing the Costs of Climate Change Mitigation in Developing Countries

For instructors who include a discussion of non-Annex I mitigation financing/costs issues in their class, there’s an excellent new article  in the journal Climate Policy, Olbrisch, et al., Estimates of Incremental Investment for and Costs of Mitigation Measures in Developing Countries, 11 Climate Policy 970-86 (2011) .

Among the take-aways from the piece:

  1. The international financial support needed for developing countries mitigation programs  is likely to lie between the estimates of incremental cost and
    the incremental investment;
  2. Estimates of the incremental investment needed for mitigation action in developing countries range between US$175 and US$565 billion; incremental cost estimates, though more speculative,  are substantially lower (US$140–175 billion) in 2030 due to the lower operating costs of the energy efficiency measures and renewable energy sources;
  3. While estimates of international funding currently provided to developing countries for mitigation, adaptation, technology development and transfer, and capacity building remain speculative, several sources have recently pegged the figure at $10-15 billion, with 70-90% allocated for mitigation initiatives;
  4. The announced fast-start (2010–2012) pledges to date under the Copenhagen Accord are between $27-33 billion; while it is unlikely that all of these pledges constitute “new and additional” sources of funding, this does constitute a substantial increased commitment by Annex I States;
  5. The 2020 Copenhagen Accord goal of mobilizing US$100 billion per year falls within the low end of incremental mitigation cost estimates, but only if this is an annual average for 2012–2020 rather than a goal for 2020.

Overall, the article concludes that while current funding pledges may be sufficient to cover incremental mitigation costs of developing countries, this is by no means certain given a congeries of factors to be considered.