Adaptation and the Private Sector

The private sector, including businesses, industries and the financial world, are critical players in climate adaptation. It is essential to engage corporations and finance providers in adaptation efforts. This idea was emphasized by various panelists—including Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC and Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency in UK—who were part of a high level panel at a side event entitled Accelerating action and support for adaptation held on December 12, 2018 at COP24 in Katowice, Poland.Business-Leadership

This side event was the first public event hosted by the Global Commission on Adaptation since its launch on October 16th, 2018. As noted here, the Global Commission on Adaptation is led by former UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon, Bill Gates and World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva, and was created to enhance the visibility and political importance of climate change adaptation.

During the side event, the need to elevate climate change adaptation to the political agenda but also to businesses and the financial world was highlighted as a way of more effectively enhancing resilience around the world. Corporations and the financial sector need to adapt to changing circumstances and plan for new climate risks in the economic and market environment.

The World Resource Institute (“WRI”) noted that multinational corporations, in particular, typically have operations and supply chains in many parts of the world and so the way they respond to climate change can affect many populations, including poor communities in developing countries. They can play an important role in making these communities more climate-resilient by building a resilient workforce, among other things.

WRI also points out that climate change adaptation represents an opportunity for corporations to create new goods and services that are more climate-resilient and redesign current products into climate-resilient goods. For example, BASF has developed new technologies for climate change adaptation including a special elastomer polyurethane system “Elastocoast” to protect dikes by absorbing the force of the breaking waves and slowing down the water masses.  In order to optimize crop plants such as corn, soy and wheat, BASF’s researchers are also developing stress-tolerant plants that are more resistant to extreme weather conditions such as drought. Moreover, in 2008, Caisse des Dépôts launched an international research programme on adaptation focused on designing and funding infrastructure, recognizing 1111the importance of considering climate change in the design of new infrastructure and modification of old infrastructure.


Act NOW with the LONG view in mind.

Every report and every session at COP24 has emphasized that we need to do more – faster – sooner – NOW.  Screen Shot 2018-12-13 at 1.18.46 AM There is also a real emphasis on the importance of long term planning – of looking to at least 2050.   Long term planning matters in climate change policy for three primary reasons.

First, a long-term strategy can inform short-term actions. For example, if a developing country understands and incorporates into its strategy electrification for its rural residents through renewables, then it can effectively bypass investment in fossil fuel infrastructure.   Developing countries still need to grow to meet the needs of their residents – but the paradigm shift must move from expanding to grow to intensifying to grow. Long-term investments in energy and water infrastructure must be done with this long-term strategy. But the developed world needs to assist the developing world in identifying what the future looks like so they can leap frog.

Second, a long-term strategy can help bring people together around a common vision because it goes beyond the immediate economic consequence to sectors or individuals. There are tradeoffs, people and industries that are impacted by the transition we must make. The more time we have, the easier it is to forge consensus about how we get there and do so justly and equitably. Screen Shot 2018-12-13 at 1.19.11 AMPeople may disagree on tomorrow – but it is easier to agree in the long term. Long-term visions can also provide certainty for the private sector accelerating investment.

Third, building off the previous two, is the ability to create the more ambitious trajectory we need to save our planet. To be ambitious we must build the political support from the ground up. To be ambitious we must provide enough certainty to motivate investors to invest in the development of new technology and the projects that will build our future. To be ambitious we must not only understand where we need to go, but develop the strategies on how to get there.

For more information on long-term strategy, go to the World Resources Institute website for a collection of expert perspectives, case studies, and working papers.

 


The Rebound of Age-old Agricultural Ecology

A side event at the Pacific and Koronivia Pavilion sponsored by France at Tuesday’s installment of COP24 focused on the development of agroecology and scaling-up its performance and potential.  The meat of the session focused on research and development around shifting agricultural norms toward using more local inputs, supporting holistic ecosystem approaches such as integrated pest management, and pursuing a landscape approach that builds habitat for animals while also supporting agriculture.  The session ultimately concluded that ecosystem services are sound, healthy investments for future generations that simultaneously address both mitigation and adaptation needs.

Screen Shot 2018-12-11 at 8.06.55 PMAs a part of its wider agroecology project, France distributed its plan for development from 2015-2020 of its agroforestry systems.  The publication pairs trees and agricultural production in the same fields, bringing back age-old farming practices that combined mixed crops and livestock that gave us hedgerows and their associated economic and ecological roles.  Some of these roles include shelter for animals, erosion prevention, water regulation, and carbon sequestration.

France’s plan breaks down into 5 main “Axes” and 23 Actions.  Axis 5 deals with “International Advocacy and Spread of Agroforestry,” because France believes that agroecology is a strong solution for farming in France and around the world to meet significant challenges like food security and biodiversity enhancement using pragmatic methods.  Sharing knowledge and receiving feedback on experiences in other countries will enhance the French vision, and help with future preparations by developing partnerships that will lead to higher performance.

In accordance with Decision 4/CP.23, the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA) was initiated this year. After initial meetings, Parties agreed on a “Road Map” for how the KJWA will play out in future joint sessions.  Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 6.31.12 PMSBI and SBSTA 49 accepted comments leading up to COP24 on Topic 2(a), “modalities for implementation of the outcomes of the five in-session workshops on issues related to agriculture and other future topics that may arise from this work.”  At the end of the first week of COP24, the subsidiary bodies adopted a draft text, and submissions are being accepted on topics 2(b) and 2(c) of the KJWA “Road Map” that will help move agriculture forward on the SBI/SBSTA 50 agenda next year.

Topic 2(b), “Methods and approaches for assessing adaptation, adaptation co-benefits and resilience,” and to a greater degree Topic 2(c), “Improved soil carbon, soil health and soil fertility under grassland and cropland as well as integrated systems,” offer France the opportunity to significantly contribute to the KJWA.  Although official evaluation of their agroforestry plan will not be conducted until 2020, ongoing monitoring combined with international dialogue has the potential to help transfer ideas and build land use capacities, both within the Convention and in our fields.


Our Talanoa: Recognizing a Common Thread

Few things are as complex as the myriad relationships that exist between the countries of the world. Like unruly children, they’ve fought, made peace, gotten bored, and hit each other again when mom wasn’t looking. Putting them in a room together, even when they’re negotiating for something mutually beneficial, can be a hotbed of tension. The Talanoa Dialogue ensures each is heard, IMG-7730preventing conflict with one simple rule: no blaming others, and no criticisms.

Talanoa” is a Fijian word used to describe an inclusive, participatory, and transparent dialogue that focuses on sharing experiences through story-telling in order to build empathy among participants. During the process, parties build trust and advance knowledge in a way that fosters stability. The dialogue was undertaken pursuant to decision 1/CP.21 and slated for 2018; its goal was to take stock of progress towards the long term goals of the Paris Agreement and inform the preparation on nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

cr=w_1200,h_750,a_ccThe dialogue focuses the parties on three questions: “Where are we? Where do we go? How do we get there?” To answer these questions, there was a Preparatory Phase and a Political Phase. The Preparatory Phase began in January, 2018 and will conclude at the COP. Its primary goal is to build a strong scientific base for the Political Phase, which, in turn, will take stock of the collective efforts of the Parties to reach their commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Once in the Political Phase, Parties engage in Ministerial Talanoas of 12-13 participants. Each is facilitated by Ministers from the Pacific Region or from Poland. These break-out sessions revolve around storytelling and discussion based on guiding questions. These sessions gave delegates the chance to speak unabashedly about their country’s unique circumstances and about their goals for the future. They promise an opportunity to be honest with partner states about what the climate regime and the goals of the Paris Agreement mean for your people.

If the Parties are warring siblings, the Talanoas are the peace that comes with age and understanding. Once removed from their adversarial positions at the negotiation table, the only realization left to them is that we’re stuck with each other, for better or worse.


Voluntary Cooperation (ITMOs) the Unknown Monster

An important item under negotiation at COP24 is the concept of voluntary cooperation in mitigation. Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 3.08.55 AMThis item is of huge importance as developing countries need funding and financing to engage in low-carbon development and adaptation but they don’t have mandatory mitigation targets. Developed countries are the ones with the economic resources but they also need ways to meet their mitigation targets. This is where the cooperation comes in: a developed country finances a project in a developing country and gets credit for some of the mitigation toward meeting their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).   These are called Internationally Transferred Mitigation Outcomes or ITMOs. But what are the rules around when and how these transfers can occur and how they are accounted for? Transparency, accurate accounting and avoiding fraud are essential to creating a system of integrity. (See my previous blog on blockchain for part of the potential solution.)

Article 6.2 of the Paris Agreement is intended to provide some direction but it does so by leaving discretion to the Parties by saying that the framework should be consistent with guidance adopted by the COP. It does however specify that the framework needs to provide guidance to ensure that double counting is avoided. Michael Mehling of MIT released a report recently as part of the Harvard Project on Climate AgreementsGoverning Cooperative Approaches under the Paris Agreement. A concern identified by Michael Mehling is that this system could create a perverse incentive for developing countries to have low NDCs so that they can sell their ITMOs. Screen Shot 2018-12-12 at 3.09.35 AMBecause NDCs are by definition nationally determined this cannot be addressed directly. However, the report stresses that the parties should be careful not to over-regulate with restrictions as it may limit participation and increase transaction costs. Mehling stated that lacking ambition in NDCs cannot be compensated for with restrictions on the cooperative approach. “Whatever its final shape, the governance framework for Article 6.2 should avoid being too weak or too restrictive, as either outcome would diminish the very benefits that prompted introduction of compliance flexibility in the first place.” (Mehling from Summary Doc.)

The advantage to voluntary cooperation through ITMOs is that it effectively creates a market mechanism, it provides ways to achieve mitigation at a lower cost and should facilitate an overall increase in ambition. However, Juan Pedro Sira, a negotiator on this issue at COP24, said that when the concept was developed in Paris they didn’t know the kind of monster they were creating.

The key is that simple rules are created that are transparent and robust in terms of environmental integrity by addressing ambition, agility, and transparency.   This will help create predictability benefitting developing countries that want to create projects ready for this process and private investors that want to invest. The sense is that this issue is very complicated but extremely important to the success of increasing ambition sufficient to avoid our pending disaster.


Adaptation and Gender Issues

gender-overview-mainArticle 7 of the Paris Agreement sets the global goal of enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change, with a view to contributing to sustainable development and ensuring an adequate adaptation response to climate change.

Section 7.5 of the Paris Agreement further clarifies that adaptation action should follow a country-driven, gender-responsive, participatory and fully transparent approach, taking into consideration vulnerable groups, communities and ecosystems, and should be based, on local knowledge systems, among other things, with a view to integrating adaptation into relevant socioeconomic and environmental policies and actions.

Today at COP24, two side events—Advancing Gender Equality through National Adaptation Plan processes: A straightforward consideration or a complex challenge? and The Global Adaptation Goal and the Importance of Gender Transformative Resilience Finance—emphasized that National Adaptation Plan (“NAP”) processes need to be developed and implemented in a gender responsible manner, pursuant to the Paris Agreement.

In 2017-2018, the NAP Global Network prepared a report entitled Towards Gender-Responsive National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Processes: Progress and Recommendations for the Way Forward, in the general context of having a better understanding of how developing countries are integrating gender considerations in the NAP processes (the “NAP Global Network Report”). CCAFS-and-Platform-Webinar

In its report, the NAP Global Network reiterated the recent decisions under the UNFCCC that have emphasized the significant linkages between climate action and gender equality (e.g. the 2014 Lima Work Programme on Gender and Climate Change). In 2015-2016, the UNFCCC recognized that the NAP process is an opportunity to integra_group_of_women_plant_paddy_rice_seedlings_in_a_field_near_sekong_2_1ate gender consideration. More generally, it further highlighted that gender equality is recognized as a universal human right and is at the center of the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

It is important that NAP processes integrate socio-cultural issues such as gender in order to be effective. As pointed out by the NAP Global Network Report, work has been done on that front in many countries, but there are still many challenges in order to be able to do so successfully.

More specifically, the Report indicates that many countries have made an effort to integrate gender considerations in their NAP documents. However, certain obstacles in integrating gender issues in adaptation measures exist, such as institutional barriers which can limit dialogue and collaboration between gender and climate adaptation actors; information gaps, including sex-disaggregated data related to climate impacts and adaptation needs; and gender analysis of adaptation options, barriers and opportunities.

The NAP Global Network made a series of recommendations to stakeholders who are called to develop and implement NAPs including:

  • Committing to a gender-responsive NAP process going forward gender_crosscutting
  • Using the NAP process to enhance institutional linkages between climate change adaptation and gender equality
  • Improving gender balance in NAP-related institutional arrangements
  • Undertaking gender-balanced and inclusive stakeholder engagement for NAP processes
  • Using gender analysis and stakeholders’ inputs efficiently

The NAP Global Network Report also underlines that investments in country capacity building on gender adaptation need to be more significant.


The Room Where it Happens: The Indispensable Role of the Observer

_104735890_dui0ypwwoai5suoAs TIME Magazine recognizes its 2018 Person of the Year, observers, reporters, and advocates of the truth find themselves lauded among activists. The Guardians and the War on Truth were recognized as the Person of The Year for “taking great risks in pursuit of greater truths, for the imperfect but essential quest for facts that are central to civil discourse, for speaking up and speaking out.” These Guardians are being praised for their ability to hold our public officials accountable and to bring to them to the task at hand.

Similar to The Guardians, UNFCCC representatives of observer organizations hold sovereign Parties accountable for their actions. They remind Parties of their task at hand—creating international IMG_9729_0environmental policy on climate change. UNFCCC observers can do this by releasing sassy newsletters, publishing revealing emissions reports, and advocating for and commenting on text released by the Parties. As independent actors — with fewer political repercussions than Parties themselves — NGOs interact in spaces and ways that Parties cannot. Where Parties are constrained by politic mannerisms, NGOs can act bombastically, like casual vandalism,*  and subtly, like “liaising with the UNFCCC Secretariat on behalf of the business community.”

Baby-Groot-750x500UNFCCC observers act in between the spaces of international politics, diplomacy, and decision making. Their role in the negotiations of transparency, adaptation, and finance are indispensable because there is no force quite like them. So as discussions of global stock take move forward and rumblings of excluding observer organizations rise, Parties, civil society, and the people** need to defend these staunch Guardians of the Green.

 

*This is in reference to a situation where some observers were de-badged or stopped by police when entering Poland.

**This is in reference to David Attenborough’s “People’s Seat,” which encouraged civil society to be able to encourage world leaders to do more for climate action.

 


The Pre-2020 Stocktake: Disappointment and Resolve

As with any massive undertaking, practice makes better. The Global Stocktake in 2023 is no different.image1024x768
In accordance with decisions at COP21, to implement enhanced action prior to 2020, and at COP23, emphasizing that enhanced pre-2020 ambition can lay a solid foundation for post-2020 goals, this year’s COP held a two-part assessment of global progress. The first event, held on December 5th, was a Technical Review, while the second event, held on December 10th, was a High-Level meeting of the Parties. Each session was composed of two panels. Each answered predetermined questions followed by an open plenary discussion where Member Parties could intervene.
The Technical Review’s first panel, consisting of the heads of the subsidiary bodies, considered “the work of the UNFCCC process related to the mitigation efforts up to 2020.” It addressed issues such as technology transfer, capacity building, and the IPCC 15 report. The second panel, made up of financial bodies and technical experts, highlighted “efforts of the UNFCCC process to enhance climate implementation and ambition up to 2020.” It focused on ease of access to climate finance, as well as on parties’ progress towards their finance commitments.
COP24-6Today’s High-Level meeting saw two panels made up of ministers of various Developed and Developing Country Parties: Poland, Grenada, the European Commission, China, & Australia in the first session, followed by Norway, Brazil, Germany, Ethiopia, Japan, & Finland. The panels began by discussing the pre-2020 efforts of Parties to mitigate greenhouse gases & ways to enhance efforts, and the provision of support for climate efforts and enhancing efforts, respectively.
Discussions in each session forced Parties to consider their efforts to implement mitigation strategies, make climate finance more accessible, and to meet the various commitments and ambitions in the pre-2020 period. While the aim of this stocktake was to “provide a space for holistic reflection by ministers and other high-level representatives,” it raised serious questions regarding gaps between Parties’ commitments and the reality exposed by the IPCC 15 and other reports.
While Panelists focused on the positive and what had been working thus far, such as finding the right incentives to delink economic growth from emissions, doubts were raised during the plenary. Most poignant was India’s intervention: “Are these pre-2020 actions adequate? Have we addressed the task before us?”
To which, it seems, the answer is “No. Not yet.”


Market, Makers, and Mitigation

There’s something intoxicatingly distinct and unique about a Bordeaux red. Those deep earthy flavors that mingle perfectly with its subtle fruitiness have tantalized French tongues and international markets for years. But in 2050 that is projected to all change due to climate change.

And that is the premise Bordeaux 2050. Thumbnail for Bordeaux 2050

It is a new wine meant to show what wine will become in the next 30 years. It is the Bordeaux of the future; the Bordeaux of extreme weather climates; drought; famine; and devastation. It is a wine that is the creation of researchers, scientists, and journalists to showcase to the public that the “gravity of climate change is real.” Half PR stunt, half sincere experiment–the root agenda of Bordeaux 2050 is to cause public apprehension about the impact of climate change on everyday goods that are dear to consumers.

In a way, this wine brings the message of climate change to the everyday French person. Reviewed as “disgusting” by Europe 1, Bourdeaux 2050 is a “symbol of [French] responsibility towards [] future generations.” The makers assert that if they do not “insist on sustainable practices from [their] government, [their] industries, and most importantly [themselves] the world heritage as [they] know it will be lost.”

To this end, consumers of such fine goods should see themselves at a crossroads. Although global policy and top down approaches towards climate change mitigation are necessary to reach 1.5, individual choice and lifestyle play an important part in climate change mitigation. So, is a weekly steak night worth the loss of coffee? Is a car ride versus a walk really worth chocolate? Is driving a F-150 really worth beerAs we all approach these crossroads, each one of us needs to understand the weight of our power as consumers. Maybe, through collective action and prudent choices, we can help mitigate the impacts of climate change.


Using Blockchain to Avoid Double Counting While Empowering Everyone to be Part of the Solution

Today’s side event at COP24 for Blockchain Technology for Enhanced Climate Action emphasized the importance of distributed ledger technology (DLT) to accelerate mitigation solutions for climate change and empower non-country parties to work together. The event featured the Climate Chain Coalition Screen Shot 2018-12-11 at 1.12.56 AMfounded just one year ago but already bringing together 140 organizations with a mission to mobilize climate finance and enhance monitoring, reporting and verification of climate goals.

Blockchain technology is a form of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT). (For a good explanation of this technology see this World Bank Group 2017 report.)Screen Shot 2018-12-11 at 1.22.55 AM It functions as a decentralized database that can securely store data and digital assets, like environmental credits or certificates. Transparency is increased because the data recorded on the blockchain is a permanent ledger that cannot be modified. Trust between parties is increased because the data is not stored in a centralized location but rather through peer-to-peer transactions. Transaction costs are reduced enabling much smaller transactions that are accessible to more individuals.

A new report issued this week by the Climate Ledger Initiative (a collaboration of several think tanks aiming to accelerate climate action) Navigating Blockchain and Climate Action identified three main areas where blockchain has the most potential to accelerate climate action: 1) next generation registries and tracking systems; 2) digitizing measuring, reporting and verification; and 3) creating decentralized access to clean energy and finance.

The UNFCC has identified blockchain technology as a disruptive technology that has the potential to solve the solution to the main challenge of “how do you attribute the climate contribution while avoiding double counting.” Under the Paris Agreement (PA), a country steps up by submitting their commitment to mitigation measures as their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Theoretically, the development and continued revision of these NDCs will govern the Parties and their climate commitments under the Paris Agreement. But the Paris Agreement also encourages developed countries to finance projects in developing countries. Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 5.41.57 PMWho gets the credit toward the NDC – the country financing the project or the country implementing the project? How do we ensure that one country (or entity) doesn’t take credit at one stage of a project and another take credit at a different stage? The security and transparency of blockchain may be the solution. (However, keep a healthy dose of skepticism, said CEO of Goldstandard, Marion Verles, because many times technology solutions are being proposed that don’t actually solve the real world problem.)

Climate change is the seminal issue of our generation and requires all hands on deck. As Massamba Thioye of the UNFCCC said today, “We need to mobilize ALL stakeholders, suppliers, financiers, consumers, citizens, policy makers so that they make the right investment.” The challenge being faced is how do we all work on the solution and create market incentives. Ms. Verles identified the importance of DLT technology in the supply chain to help corporations get the critical data they need to make decisions on the impact that a good has on the planet (carbon impact, water impact, etc).

See GLOCHA - the Global Citizen Empowerment System

See GLOCHA – the Global Citizen Empowerment System for Full Poster

This information can move to the end consumer. If you knew, and could compare, the carbon impact of items you were purchasing, would you pay a little more to make a cleaner purchase? The bottom line is that blockchain has the potential to add a value stream to products that represents the intentional choices of individuals, companies, and countries to work toward a cleaner, safer planet.

(Note bitcoin uses blockchain technology in a very energy intensive manner that is not healthy for our planet – see fellow VLS student Ben Canellys blog here.)

 


Finance Flows For the Future of Forests

Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 7.06.20 PMThe Paris Agreement seeks to achieve a balance between mitigation and adaptation activities.  Financial mechanisms are a highly sought out means of addressing this balancing act, both within the FCCC and beyond.  While the forest resource is certainly not unique in its desperation for tapping into potential funding pools, forests are currently undervalued and therefore underfunded yet vital resources for sustaining life on Earth.

All five of the speakers at today’s side event sponsored by Switzerland and the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI) alluded to the need for an increase in private financial investments in conjunction with other public funding sources and policy initiatives to help address the pervasive effects of climate change on forests.  Julian Richardson of the Parhelion Underwriting Ltd. credited the lack of financial flows in large part to a deficiency in understanding for how to value ecosystem services.  In their publication distributed at Monday’s afternoon session (Forest Resilience Finance: Helping Forests Adapt to Climate Change), resilient forests are credited with providing: direct subsistence in the form of food and medicinal products; income generation from timber and non-timber-forest-products (NTFP); cultural traditions, rituals and recreation; and protection from natural extreme events and hazards (p. 6).  While the world at large certainly recognizes the existence of these services, the lack of monetary worth on many of them prevents standard ideas and management practices that would help stakeholders feel secure in making investments in forests and receiving timely returns on them as well.

eservices

Ms. Chiara Soletti of the CBI described the development of their Green Climate Bonds as a means of soothing investment concerns in this resource area.  In their “Fair-Trade” like labeling scheme for the green bonds, rigorous scientific criteria help bond investors quickly determine environmental credentials through compliance with the overarching climate bond’s standards (disclosure, i.e. project location and size), mitigation component (type or stage of forestry, i.e. sustainable forest management or NTFP), and adaptation and resilience component (risk assessments and strategies).  Projects must comply with both the mitigation and adaptation criteria in order to be funded, helping to address both investor concerns and those of the PA.

One of the biggest hurdles for overcoming a lack of ambition to invest in the forest resource is the typical short-term, quick return nature of investment opportunities in our current economic paradigm.  moneytreeForests do not provide outrageous capital returns in the same immediate time frame as some other “Wall Street” investment schemes on the market. But this mindset is greedy, unrealistic, and unsustainable, given the widespread value of forests in comparison to the quick and dirty stock market, and the call for a major paradigm shift in the most recent IPCC report. An investment in forests can also accompany an investment in a developing country’s resources, tackling two treaty birds with one stone.

Whether it be through green climate bonds and the private sector, or holistic sustainable forest management through municipalities and community groups, investing in forests is a surefire way to ensure our future is a green, clean, beautiful scene.


The Engineering Perspective of Adaptation and Infrastructure

adaption-for-climate-change_INfrastructure imageAt a side event entitled Progress and Prospects: The Implementation Challenge of Adaptation within the Paris Agreement held at COP24 on December 10, 2018, representatives from the World Federation of Engineers Organization (“WFEO”) and Engineers Canada reiterated that, considering our changing climate and the fact that infrastructures are fundamental to the development and functioning of any society, it is imperative to include new climate reality in the development, design, construction and maintenance of infrastructures around the globe.

WFEO noted that engineers around the world go to work every day to make sure that society has what it needs to function: clean water, roads, electricity, bridges, etc.  There are embedded climate vulnerabilities in infrastructures which need to be identified and rectified, some of which can cause significant negative economic and social consequences if they are not addressed in a timely and efficient manner.

Adaptation measures need to be developed and implemented in coordination with various stakeholders of society, including engineers. As underlined by Engineers Canada in one of its report entitled Preparing for the Impact of Climate Change: The Importance of Improving Infrastructure Climate Resiliency—The Engineering Perspective, engineering is on the front line in the provision of infrastructure to society. Therefore, engineers have a significant role to play in addressing climate change issues and incorporating them into engineering practices.

Certain initiatives covering the engineering profession have been put in place, in various jurisdictions and at various levels, in order to integrate adaptation into the infrastructure sector.20170109-1-en

For example, in Canada, in 2016, Engineers Canada presented the first cohort of professional engineers with the new certification of Infrastructure Resilience Professional—which involved having completed a series of professional development workshops (including on climate law, climate science and asset management, etc.). Engineers having received this advanced training and experience in climate vulnerability assessment, risk management and climate adaptation are able to work with governments, operators, developers, to plan, design, build and manage more climate resilient infrastructures. Engineers Canada also developed the Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee Protocol to assess current and future risk to infrastructure in the event of extreme weather and the impacts of a changing climate. The Protocol is a formalized and documented process for engineers, planners and decision-makers to identify and recommend measures to address the vulnerabilities and risks from changes in climate, design parameters and other environmental factors due to extreme climatic events.

1-s2.0-S0169204615000419-gr1-Adaptation Infrastructure

 


#ActOnTheGAP

This guest post was written by COP23 VLS student delegate Maria Paula Gonzalez Espinel.  Maria Paula graduated with her LLM from VLS and now works in Bogota at Colombia Macias Gomez & Asociados Abogados, one of the largest environmental law firms in her country.

Screen Shot 2018-09-30 at 1.29.54 PMOver the years there has been an increasing understanding that women face higher risks and greater burdens from the impacts of climate change but also that they are critical in implementing climate change and sustainability solutions. Parties to the UNFCCC at COP23 established the Gender Action Plan (GAP) under the Lima Work Program on Gender with five priority areas recognizing the importance of including women and men equally in the UNFCCC processes and in the development and implementation of national climate policies that are gender-responsive. The five priority areas are:  (a) Capacity-building, knowledge sharing and communication, (b) Gender balance, participation and women´s leadership, (c)Coherence: on gender and climate change across UNFCCC and UN system, (d) Gender-responsive implementation and means of implementation and (e) Monitoring and reporting.

COP24 is the halfway point of this plan.  Because of that, there is going to be a lot of events andPerempuan_Adat_Harus_Dilibatkan_dalam_Negosiasi_Perubahan_Iklim activities in Katowice showcasing how Parties are implementing these priority areas. In addition, governments will consider the Gender Composition Report prepared by the Secretary to assist the Parties in tracking their progress towards meeting the goal of gender balance in advancing gender-sensitive climate policy.

The report reveals that more than half of the Bodies in this COP have female representation  and that  there is a record number of female delegates elected to the position of Chair or Co-Chair of the Bodies. patricia krakowEven though this shows improvement in the participation of women in bodies of the COP, what we really need is an equal number of women and men taking place in the negotiations. There is still plenty to do, as Patricia Espinosa, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, said: “Women and girls must be empowered to be agents and leaders of climate action. (…) most of the work still remains to be done. If we want to reduce the gender gap, we need to use every single opportunity to act.”

Tomorrow, on December 11th at COP24, the UNFCCC will celebrate Gender Day, which is dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of the GAP, and highlighting women’s leadership in climate action, gender, and climate technology. This is a great opportunity to participate and play our part in fulfilling the objectives of the Paris Agreement for everyone and with everyone worldwide. Please #ActOnTheGAP and follow the action list of this year’s COP!.


The Resilience to Push Through

Today was the last day for SBI/SBSTA and APA to draft a final text. The pressure, stress, and tension in each room could have been cut with a knife. The first adaptation meeting, SBI/SBSTA informal consultations on report of the Adaptation Committee, started by closing the room to observers. The second meeting, on National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), concluded in five minutes. There were no comments or arguments on the draft text and this will be offered to the Chair later today. The last meeting, APA Agenda Item 4 on Article 7, paragraphs 10 and 11, was highly debated.

inside inf

As I sat in the meeting room getting ready, there was a low mumble among Parties. Parties slowly trickled in after yet another long night of informal informals. Tensions were high and a couple of Parties approached the Co-Facilitators bench. After a brief conversation, they decided to close the room to proceed with informal informals. I am not sure what happened in this meeting, but I can only conclude that there was heated debate and a lot of compromise. I will discuss why this is my conclusion in the section about the APA meeting. The idea of resilience started from the beginning of the morning sessions, and it was a tough road to stay on.

The next meeting, about Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and NAPs, was extremely short. The negotiators in this meeting are slightly different between Parties. There are new faces from larger, more developed countries because they are afforded the luxury of having multiple negotiators with expertise in one area. But these new faces brought a lighter atmosphere to this meeting. The session concluded within five minutes and the rest of the session was spent by Parties congratulating each other for the time, effort, and resiliency. As with any diplomatic process, Parties spoke up and thanked everyone for the patience and many compromises. This meeting was a nice break and each Party showed resilience.

The last meeting is where I read the tea leaves to figure out how the informal informal this morning went. The meeting started out very different than others this past week. Parties were gathering in groups outside of the meeting room to finish discussions about the draft text. When the Parties entered, there was a sense of discomfort and dissatisfaction. When the meeting began, Parties who have not spoken at all this week raised their flags.This is because the second draft did not include crucial language from the first draft. It was like looking at a completely new text. Almost every Party that spoke expressed concern and used language that showed how upset they were about the draft text. One Party found it “unacceptable” that language was deleted between the two drafts. This Party continued to state that if paragraph 9 was the only paragraph with some specific language, the Party will absolutely not agree on the draft if paragraph 9 is deleted or rephrased.

One Party, who has been very vocal this week, did not speak at all. When this Party did not speak at the beginning, those in the room could tell that something went wrong in the SBI/SBSTA session. The meeting this morning is when resiliency should have been kept by this Party. Instead it looked like that Party had almost entirely given up. Given the comparison between the first and second iteration, that is understandable. There were plenty of other Parties who expressed concerns with the draft. I hope this Party pushed through and was resilient during the informal informal that occurred right after the session officially closed. As everyone becomes more tired and irritated, resilience is more important than ever.

There was no consensus or ability to agree in some of the meetings today. The Parties need to continue to push through to attempt to produce a draft conclusion tomorrow. As the G77 negotiator stated in the NAPs meeting, “thank you for the resilience.” Everyone lost something, but everyone gained something. By the looks of today, some countries gave up more than they were hoping. Today was a pleasure to watch and we will see how the texts affect Parties in the future.


Private Investors Help Fight Climate Change

Business man silhouette with tree an facade

The IPCC 1.5 special report cannot be ignored. Our current pace of environmental degradation will lead to disastrous consequences. Now is not the time to put our heads in the ground and pretend that climate change does not exist. You cannot deny that some force is taking place, changing the inventory of our resources. I remember as a kid growing up in Niagara Falls, the first snow would start early October. Now, snow does not fall in my childhood town until January. Niagara residents would say that rain in October was supposed to be snow and that global warming turned the snow to rain.

Climate change is based on fundamental principles of equilibrium. If a process uses too much of a single resource, nature cannot catch up to replenish what was removed. We experience this principle in our day-to-day activities. Fortunately, we can take action. Through the will of concerned countries, the Paris Agreement was adopted. Delegates from countries committed to the Paris Agreement have gathered at Katowice, Poland for COP24. This meeting of the minds helps push climate change forward, albeit at a slow pace. However, technical, policy and financial experts come together and get the opportunity to address the world their findings.

In the wake of the IPCC 1.5 special report, it is becoming clear that the costs to combat climate change is too great for governments and non-profit financial organizations to bear. Financial experts echo this point of view and call out to private investors to help close the financial gap. After all, we are all in this together.

Financial institutions cleverly developed multiple mechanisms where investors can participate and get good returns. For example, investors can invest in new technology designed to minimize waste or shift to a low-carbon fund portfolio and invest in companies with low carbon emission processes. Financial revolutions occur in numbers, similar to switching to another service provider because of bad customer service, you can choose investments or products with low carbon footprints. Companies must evolve with consumer preferences and will be forced to make changes to stay viable.

Furthermore, ignoring climate change as an investor could expose significant risk and negatively impact returns. The Economist estimated that climate change would incur $4.3 trillion of losses in privately held assets from extreme weather. This means that investing in companies that have not protected their facilities from the effects of climate change may suffer significant costs that directly impact the return on investment.

Traditional methods of investment are no longer the status quo. Consumer demands and market changes must include climate change analysis as part of investment decision making. Although the estimated total investment to meet the 1.5-degree scenario may require up to $3.8 trillion from all parties, market demand and investment strategies are naturally moving to an environmentally conscious economy. We are moving to a place where the environment and the economy are no longer competing forces but can work synergistically. Financial experts are helping to build the mechanisms where the economy can continue to grow and lower pollution at all levels of industry.