climate change

There is no bigger or costlier mismatch between science and economics than on climate change. Scientists have for years seen environmental degradation and the resulting global warming as the biggest known threat to economic well-being. Yet economists have not integrated climate change and the environment in growth accounting that underpins welfare economics, nor recognized that the carbon intensity of economic activities is a roadblock to sustaining economic growth.

This neglect has grave consequences for sustaining prosperity, the agreements at the Paris climate summit notwithstanding. Indeed, progress will be severely compromised unless economists build in low-carbon measures in the policies and investments they routinely promote around the world. Even if belatedly, the economics profession must act. Read more

The devastating floods in India’s southern state of Chennai, and now yet another deadly typhoon (Melor) bringing massive flooding in central Philippines, point to a rising frequency of climate-related disasters. For an effective response to these increasingly costly events, we can no longer regard them as one-off acts of nature. They are part of an emerging pattern shaped by human activity, in two ways. Globally, climate change is making countries far more hazard-prone; locally, environmental destruction is adding to the fall out.

Rising population densities mean that more people are locating in flood-prone areas. Unregulated urbanisation and inadequate drainage and flood protection are exacerbating people’s vulnerability. Read more

When life is already a struggle, a sudden shock can have a devastating impact. Families and communities can find themselves pulled in a downward spiral from which it may be impossible to escape.

Storms, droughts and floods are often not the reason why millions in Africa and many other regions are in poverty. But it can be the final blow which kills off their opportunity to make a better life for their families. Read more

By TMS Ruge

Two events have the potential to radically affect how the world tackles extreme poverty and climate change in 2015. On September 25, United Nations Member States will gather to adopt the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at a summit in New York City. In December, the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) will attempt to sign long-overdue, universally binding agreements on the climate in Paris. We have been here before: this will be the 21st year of the COP meetings and the SDGs are set to take over after 15 years of development work driven by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In the boardrooms in New York and Washington, the voices of those at the “last mile” – a term in development jargon that refers to poorest of the poor – remained largely silent. Read more

Africa is looking increasingly risky for investors and global supply chains. Or at least, that’s the judgement of the latest Global Risks and Resilience Atlas published on Thursday by Maplecroft.

Worldwide, 21 countries saw an increase in their exposure to risks, of which 15 are African, including: Mali, Mozambique, Tanzania, Senegal, Madagascar, Burkina Faso and Eritrea. Read more

South Korea’s pride got a boost last year when it was chosen to host the UN’s Green Climate Fund, aimed at channeling billions of dollars to help developing countries mitigate the effects of climate change. But the challenges facing the fund loomed large on Wednesday at its star-studded launch in the new business zone of Songdo, near Seoul.

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By Brian Marrs and Agata Hinc

Can the European Union regain the global lead on climate policy? Yes, but not without natural gas. The EU’s credibility as an international leader on climate change hinges on successfully realising its grand visions of a renewables-centric society beyond coal. This vision is simply Euro-dreaming without natural gas, a critical fuel for challenging coal today and supporting renewables tomorrow. Those who are sceptical should just look across the Atlantic, where a natural gas boom has boosted the US economy, bypassed coal-fired generation, and allowed states like California to more cost-effectively assimilate renewables. Read more

By Artur Gradziuk of the Polish Institute of International Affairs

Poland has a real image problem when it comes to climate change. Being on the defensive over more ambitious EU climate targets makes it hard for Warsaw to shift attention to aspects of its climate policy that it can be proud of.

One of these is decoupling. While Poland’s economic output doubled over the last 25 years, its greenhouse gas emissions did not increase. In fact,they shrank by more than 30 per cent. In theory, this kind of achievement should serve as an inspiration to other fast-developing countries. Read more

Britain: quite safe, actually

Monday’s storm in southern England may cost insurers around $500m, and the economic impact will be greater still. But for all the media’s headlines about killer storms and more chaos to come, London will be relatively untouched by the flux in weather for the near future.

In fact, London and Paris are the only cities facing a “low risk” from the impacts of climate change, according to a new report from Maplecroft, a risk consultancy. For cities at greater risk, look elsewhere. Read more

As a major emitter of greenhouse gasses from deforestation and the caretaker of a large chunk of the world’s remaining tropical forest, Indonesia finds itself at the top of the United Nations’ climate change agenda.

Yet despite a pledge by Norway to give the country $1bn as part of the UN’s landmark programme to reduce emissions from deforestation (REDD), progress has been painfully slow because of weak governance and rampant corruption. Read more

If you thought ‘superstorm’ Sandy was bad, here’s a sobering thought: New York isn’t even a high-risk city when it comes to climate change. For that, head to Asia.

According to a report by Maplecroft, the risk consultancy, several big Asian financial and manufacturing centres are in the danger zone. Read more

High temperatures are hurting crops in Russia and the US alike, raising fears over food prices. But food inflation isn’t the only issue that should worry policy makers.

Rising temperatures across the globe also hurt developing nations’ economic growth more than developed countries, according to a new study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For every one-degree centigrade increase in temperature, a poor country can expect economic growth to drop by about 1.3 percentage points. But wealthier nations were found to be far less affected by temperature variations. Read more