What is the role of a human rights approach to climate change? Will human rights law be useful in situating new law or acting as the “grounds” for new policy? Or, is it only useful in mobilizing hearts and minds? Read Professor Dan Bodansky’s response and the reply by conference participant Professor John Knox, posted on Opinio Juris. What do you think?
The International Science Congress just released a state of the science in preparation for upcoming climate summit in Copenhagen in December, 2009. The scientists summarized six steps for policy makers. See Step 4, though they are all important. (See full article from The Guardian here.)
1) Climatic trends
Recent observations confirm that, given high rates of observed emissions, the worst-case IPCC scenario projections (or even worse) are being realised….
2) Social disruption
The research community is providing much more information to support discussions on “dangerous climate change”. Recent observations show that societies are highly vulnerable to even modest levels of climate change, with poor nations and communities particularly at risk. Temperature rises above 2C will be very difficult for countries to cope with,….
3) Long-term strategy
Rapid, sustained, and effective mitigation based on coordinated global and regional action is required to avoid “dangerous climate change” regardless of how it is defined. Weaker targets for 2020 increase the risk of crossing tipping points and make the task of meeting 2050 targets more difficult. Delay in initiating effective mitigation actions increases significantly the long-term social and economic costs of both adaptation and mitigation.
4) Equity dimensions
Climate change is having, and will have, strongly differential effects on people within and between countries and regions, on this generation and future generations, and on human societies and the natural world. An effective, well-funded adaptation safety net is required for those people least capable of coping with climate change impacts, and a common but differentiated mitigation strategy is needed to protect the poor and most vulnerable.
5) Inaction is inexcusable
There is no excuse for inaction. We already have many tools and approaches - economic, technological, behavioural, management - to deal effectively with the climate change challenge….
6) Meeting the challenge
To achieve the societal transformation required to meet the climate change challenge, we must overcome a number of significant constraints and seize critical opportunities. These include reducing inertia in social and economic systems; building on a growing public desire for governments to act on climate change; removing implicit and explicit subsidies; reducing the influence of vested interests that increase emissions and reduce resilience….
Today leaders met in Copenhagen in advance of the December 9 Convention. What’s clear from the meeting is that mitigation is losing its place at center stage. Guardian blogger Ben Caldecott emphasized that leaders are shifting focus to a more holistic climate solutions trilogy: mitigation, adaptation, and restoration.
The reason Jeni and I put our heads together as law students to plan the Three Degrees conference back in 2007 is precisely because human adaptation mechanisms were, are, and continue to be underdeveloped, underappreciated, and underfunded. (Within the IPCC, the traditional focus on adaptation was mainly on technology. While important, technical solutions distracted from real, live human crises of home geographies shifting, cultural upheaval, and the economic consumption of the planet by wealthy nations.) We’re happy to see more mainstream attention devoted to strategies that more fully reflect the realities the world as a whole is facing.
Read the full post here.
‘Earth System Governance: People, Places, and the Planet’
2009 Amsterdam Conference on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change
Amsterdam, 2-4 December 2009
We would like to notify you of the 2009 Amsterdam Conference on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change, to be held 2-4 December 2009. This conference will be the ninth event in the series of annual European Conferences on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change, begun in Berlin in 2001.
This year’s conference will also be the global launch event of the Earth System Governance Project, a new ten-year research programme under the auspices of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP). (more…)
Ice is shrinking in the Arctic faster than climate computer models have predicted, according to a recent Newsweek article. How much of the shrinking is due to carbon levels in the atmosphere and how much of the ice would have retreated anyway? UW atmospheric scientist David Battisti says we need more data: “The most likely bet is that the acceleration is due to greenhouse warming. But I’d be nervous about making that bet. To know for certain we’d want a couple hundred years of data. We have 30 years of really good data.”
If the effect of carbon levels is underestimated, then it seems that under a best case scenario, the goal of the Copenhagen treaty should not be to correct past damage but rather to keep things from getting a lot worse. The subtitle of the article expresses this very point: Even a miracle of diplomacy wouldn’t put global warming back in its box.
In its 2007 report, the IPCC concluded that to limit temperature increases to 2.0-2.4 degrees Celsius, global emissions must peak no later than 2015. What does a 2 degrees centigrade rise look like? The following excerpt gets at that question, but essentially the answer is that it will look different in different parts of the world. The regional nature of climate impacts raises important ethical questions, many of which inform the focus of the Three Degrees Conference. The excerpt is taken from an interview with IPCC Chair Dr. Rajendra Pachauri conducted by Worldwatch writer Ben Block:
Q: The IPCC makes estimations on how climate change could be limited to increases of 2 degrees Celsius. How do you feel about this limit - is it too high?
A: That really has to be seen in relation to what 2 degrees will do to different places of the world. I think Article 2 of the [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change], which essentially highlights the need to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, has to look at “dangerous” in respect to different situations and different regions of the world. You can’t have climate science which is uniformly dangerous for the entire world. If you talk to people in locations that are really dangerous, you get response from those people that they are probably close to a state of danger - if they have not already crossed it.
So this whole issue of 2 degrees versus 1 degree or 1.5 degree is something based on a value judgment that essentially relates to what is dangerous, what is a threshold that would define danger in terms of making it almost impossible for some people on this planet not being able to live in those locations. So it’s difficult to say if it should be 2 degrees or 1.5 or 1, but this is an issue that needs a great deal of discussion or debate. There’s an ethical discussion which should not be ignored at all, and it really hasn’t been brought out in the [climate convention] debates.
Why Global Warming Portends a Food Crisis
By Bryan Walsh
It can be difficult in the middle of winter — especially if you live in the frigid Northeastern U.S., as I do — to remain convinced that global warming will be such a bad thing. Beyond the fact that people prefer warmth to cold, there’s a reason the world’s population is clustered in the Tropics and subtropics: warmer climates usually mean longer and richer growing seasons. So it’s easy to imagine that on a warmer globe, the damage inflicted by more frequent and severe heat waves would be balanced by the agricultural benefits of warmer temperatures.
A comforting thought, except for one thing: it’s not true. A study published in the Jan. 9 issue of Science shows that far from compensating for the damages associated with climate change (heavier and more frequent storms, increasing desertification, sea-level rise), hotter temperatures will seriously diminish the world’s ability to feed itself….Read More…
POZNAN, Poland, Dec 3 (AlertNet) - “The humanitarian community is overwhelmed by rising weather-related disasters and tens of billions of dollars are needed each year to reduce the risks from global warming, aid officials at U.N. climate change talks said on Wednesday.” Read more. (more…)
The Climate Time Machine animates sea level rise for global coastal regions (click on “Sea Level”). The sea level map is provided courtesy of CReSIS. To view more maps please visit: https://www.cresis.ku.edu/research/data/sea_level_rise/index.html