Climate change, uncertainty & security January 2024-

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UN Climate Change Conference COP28
United Arab Emirates 30 Nov-12 Dec, 2023
Anthropocene Working Group

The 2024 Global Energy Agenda
The energy landscape of 2023 faced great challenges from a series of geopolitical and economic stressors, not the least of which are a sustained conflict in Ukraine, growing instability in the Middle East, and persistent inflation. Yet, the transition to clean energy notched significant gains, including historic new investments in renewables.
The urgency for leaders to shore up access to affordable and reliable energy, while taking bold action toward climate mitigation is greater than ever in 2024. The first-ever global stocktake—an inventory of the world’s progress toward emissions reductions—occurred this fall at the UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai (COP28), confirming that efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees C are falling short of aspirations agreed upon at COP21 in Paris. Even if countries follow through on their Paris pledges, the world would face 2.5 to 2.9 degrees C of warming this century
In The [Atlantic Council] 2024 Global Energy Agenda, finance experts, corporate leaders, and government officials provide their perspectives on how the world can rise to the occasion. Together with these essays, our in-depth analysis of views from the energy community will set the agenda for the world to achieve net-zero emissions and an energy-secure future for all.
NATO Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence
(Global Affairs Canada) At the July 2023 NATO Summit in Vilnius, Canada’s Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Anita Anand and representatives from 11 other Sponsoring Nations signed the founding document of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence. The Centre will open in Montréal later in 2023.

17 May
Economic damage from climate change six times worse than thought – report
A 1C increase in global temperature leads to a 12% decline in world gross domestic product, researchers have found
The economic damage wrought by climate change is six times worse than previously thought, with global heating set to shrink wealth at a rate consistent with the level of financial losses of a continuing permanent war, research has found.
A 1C increase in global temperature leads to a 12% decline in world gross domestic product (GDP), the researchers found, a far higher estimate than that of previous analyses. The world has already warmed by more than 1C (1.8F) since pre-industrial times and many climate scientists predict a 3C (5.4F) rise will occur by the end of this century due to the ongoing burning of fossil fuels, a scenario that the new working paper, yet to be peer-reviewed, states will come with an enormous economic cost.
The Macroeconomic Impact of Climate Change: Global vs. Local Temperature
Adrien Bilal & Diego R. Känzig

24 April
International Tribunal Set To Issue Climate Change Opinion On May 21
Jon McGowan, Contributor
(Forbes) The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea has announced they will deliver their advisory opinion on the obligations of countries to prevent climate change on May 21. The opinion, while limited in scope and non-binding, could force action by member states and provide an important preview for how the International Court of Justice may rule on its pending advisory opinion on the Obligations of States in respect of Climate Change.
Request for an Advisory Opinion submitted by the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law (Request for Advisory Opinion submitted to the Tribunal)

22 April – EARTH DAY 2024
Heather Cox Richardson April 21, 2024
Citing the April 18 U.S. Interior Department finalization of a new rule for a balanced management of America’s public lands, HCR continues “timing of the Interior Department’s new rule can’t help but call attention to Earth Day, celebrated tomorrow, on April 22” and traces the history of Earth Day, first celebrated on April 22, 1970 thanks to efforts of Gaylord Nelson, a Democratic senator from Wisconsin [and Denis Hayes, co-ordinator of the first Earth Day]
Their “Earth Day,” held on April 22, 1970, brought more than 20 million Americans—10% of the total population of the country at the time—to call for the nation to address the damage caused by 150 years of unregulated industrial development. The movement included members of all political parties, rich Americans and their poorer neighbors, people who lived in the city and those in the country, labor leaders and their employers. It is still one of the largest protests in American history.
What is Earth Day, when is it and what has it achieved?
(BBC) The 2024 theme, “Planet vs. Plastics”, aims to raise awareness of the harms of plastic pollution for human and planetary health.
Previous events have covered a range of environmental issues, from climate change and clean energy to protecting species and the benefits of tree planting.
This year’s focus comes ahead of an historic UN treaty on plastics, which is expected to be agreed by the end of 2024.

18 April
‘Green muscle memory’ and climate education promote behaviour change
Preety Sharma and Ayeshah Haque, Fellows, Dalla Lana Journalism and Health Impact, University of Toronto
(The Conversation) This year, organizers of Earth Day are calling for widespread climate education as a critical step in the fight against climate change.
A new report, released in time for global attention for Earth Day on April 22, highlights the impact of climate education on promoting behaviour change in the next generation.
Despite people’s deep connection to their local environment — whether it’s blackouts in Toronto caused by raccoons, communities gearing up for a total solar eclipse lasting only minutes, chasing northern lights or hundreds of Manitoba kids excited about ice fishing — there remains inertia in climate action.
Sparking global momentum and energy in young people can go a long way to addressing climate change now and in the near future, says Bryce Coon, author of the report and Earth Day’s director of education.
In his report, Coon outlines the benefits of climate education, starting with supporting educators to impart “green muscle memory” — habits, routines and attitudes young people develop to perform eco-friendly actions repetitively and consistently. This, he notes, contributes to alleviating climate-related despair and anxiety.
AN INTRODUCTION TO CLIMATE EDUCATION
EARTHDAY.ORG wrote this report to introduce climate education, evaluate the current state of climate education, and explore next steps. This report is intended for anyone who wants to learn more about the subject and provides the background necessary to advocate for increased access to climate education. We are at a critical moment in the fight against climate change and it is imperative that education is recognized as a key part of the solution.

12 April
International Court Receives 91 Written Statements In Climate Change Opinion
Jon McGowan, Contributor
(Forbes) The International Court of Justice has announced that a record high 91 member states and organizations have submitted written statements on its advisory opinion on the Obligations of States in respect of Climate Change. At the request of the United Nations General Assembly, the ICJ will determine the existing financial liability of countries for their contribution to climate change. Parties have until June 24 to submit responses. The Court states that the written statements will not be made public until the beginning of oral arguments. This is the first time the Court has indicated that oral arguments will occur on this opinion.

5 April
Heat-trapping carbon dioxide and methane levels in the air last year spiked to record highs again
(AP) The levels of the crucial heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere reached historic highs last year, growing at near-record fast paces, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Carbon dioxide, the most important and abundant of the greenhouse gases caused by humans, rose in 2023 by the third highest amount in 65 years of record keeping, NOAA announced Friday. Scientists are also worried about the rapid rise in atmospheric levels of methane, a shorter-lived but more potent heat-trapping gas. Both jumped 5.5% over the past decade.

2 April
A 600-Year-Old Blueprint for Weathering Climate Change
During the Little Ice Age, Native North Americans devised whole new economic, social, and political structures.
By Kathleen DuVal
(The Atlantic) Beginning in the 13th century, the Northern Hemisphere experienced a dramatic climatic shift. First came drought, then a period of cold, volatile weather known as the Little Ice Age. In its depths, the annual average temperature in the Northern Hemisphere may have been 5 degrees colder than in the preceding Medieval Warm Period. It snowed in Alabama and South Texas. Famine killed perhaps 1 million people around the world.
Native North Americans and Western Europeans responded very differently to the changes. Western Europeans doubled down on their preexisting ways of living, whereas Native North Americans devised whole new economic, social, and political structures to fit the changing climate.

1 February
NATO Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence to open in Montréal: What does it mean for Canadian security?
Ryan Atkinson, Postdoctoral Fellow, Defence Policy, Carleton University
(The Conversation) This year Montréal is set to become the home for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s new Climate Change and Security Centre of Excellence (CCASCOE). The CCASCOE, as the name would suggest, is set to provide specific expertise on the environment and the impacts of climate change for NATO security.
When announcing the new centre, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared it will “enable Canada, NATO allies, and other global partners to understand and address the serious security implications of climate change, including in the Arctic.”
The NATO centres of excellence (COE) system provides a valuable network of expertise to support innovation, and to “assist in doctrine development, identify lessons learned, improve interoperability and capabilities, and test and validate concepts through experimentation.”
Amid escalating geopolitical risks, Montréal’s new centre represents a strong commitment to climate security and will be crucial to promoting a co-ordinated global response that strengthens Canada’s capacity to address climate-specific concerns.

27 January
AI is increasingly being used to deal with climate change, but it has its own emissions problem
Transitioning to renewable energy from fossil fuels will help cut AI’s carbon footprint
(CBC) In trying to mitigate and adapt to climate change, artificial intelligence is being used in such areas as agriculture, early warning systems and wildfire predictions.
As the climate changes, farmers are facing more challenges than ever before. From floods, droughts and disease to warmer temperatures and shifts within the growing and harvesting seasons, the agriculture business is rapidly changing, which means farmers — and technology — need to constantly keep up.
But there is an irony: While AI is helping in climate adaptation and mitigation, it has its own emissions problem. And it is one that will only grow as AI is used for more and more applications.
AI takes lots of computers — and energy
“AI is being used in all sorts of ways to address climate action,” said Priya Donti, co-founder and chair of Climate Change AI, a global non-profit organization that examines the use of AI in the climate sphere.
AI runs on computers — a lot of them — that are hosted in data centres around the world. As the AI models run, they need electricity. If that electricity comes from a grid that uses fossil fuels, it is contributing to emissions.

19 January
Annual Meeting 2024: Rebuilding Trust Amid Uncertainty
(WEF) The Forum announced it will hold a special meeting, hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on “Global Cooperation, Growth and Energy for Development” on 28-29 April 2024 in Riyadh.
[WEF] Annual Meeting 2024: Rebuilding Trust Amid Uncertainty
Climate, nature and energy

Building on momentum from the UNFCCC COP28 meeting, participants focused their discussions on driving energy efficiencies and addressing energy demand, and protecting and restoring nature.
Initiatives:

  • The First Movers Coalition for Industry has grown to almost 100 companies, providing the world’s largest demand signal for breakthrough climate technologies in high emission industry sectors, such as steel and cement.
  • The First Movers Coalition for Food has launched with 30 partners to aggregate procurement demand for low-emission agricultural commodities and speed up the adoption of sustainable farming, innovations and transitional funding.
  • 1t.org, the World Economic Forum’s trillion trees platform, announced over 100 companies pledging to conserve, restore and grow 12 billion trees.
  • The Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders stepped up efforts to reduce Scope 3 emissions, and underscored 10 high-impact measures for governments and businesses in its annual report.
  • The Giving to Amplify Earth Action (GAEA) initiative announced new commitments to unlock billions of dollars to finance climate and nature solutions. It also announced a new Big Bets Accelerator to accelerate innovative public-private-philanthropic partnerships and a corporate philanthropy challenge.
  • The Global Commission on Nature-Positive Cities presented new guidelines for rehabilitating nature in the urban context, kicking off a public consultation process to establish a shared definition of the attributes that make a city nature-positive and a set of common metrics to track progress towards them.
  • The new Network to Mobilize Clean Energy Investment for the Global South was launched to provide a platform for developing economies to raise awareness about their clean energy needs, share best practices and sustainably accelerate their energy transitions, helping to unlock an estimated $2.2-2.8 trillion needed for the energy transition, according to a new report.
  • A community of 35 scientists, influencers and experts launched the Earth Decides community, and Culture Moves was introduced to infuse the vision of a net-zero, nature-positive world into the cultural tenets of food, entertainment, the arts, sport and fashion.
  • The Global Plastic Action Partnership (GPAP) welcomed Colombia, the Philippines and Zambia, bringing the network of national action partnerships to 15.
  • The Transforming Energy Demand report outlined actions for businesses and countries to enhance energy management, efficiency and carbon-intensity reduction. The International Business Council and the Centre for Energy and Materials will support the creation of cross-sectoral accelerator partnerships and policies in the key energy demand areas of industry, buildings and transportation.

12 January
Scientists explain why the record-shattering 2023 heat has them on edge. Warming may be worsening
(AP) The latest calculations from several science agencies showing Earth obliterated global heat records last year may seem scary. But scientists worry that what’s behind those numbers could be even worse.
The Associated Press asked more than three dozen scientists in interviews and emails what the smashed records mean. Most said they fear acceleration of climate change that is already right at the edge of the 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) increase since pre-industrial times that nations had hoped to stay within.
“The heat over the last calendar year was a dramatic message from Mother Nature,” said University of Arizona climate scientist Katharine Jacobs. Scientists say warming air and water is making deadly and costly heat waves, floods, droughts, storms and wildfires more intense and more likely.

11 January
2023 was the hottest year in history — and Canada is warming faster than anywhere else on earth
Gordon McBean, Professor Emeritus, Department of Geography and Environment, Western University
Leading scientists are predicting that 2024 will be even warmer as the global mean temperature continues to rise.
(The Conversation) These rising temperatures are leading to more extreme weather events that impact societies around the world and across Canada. The atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane have continued to increase and reached record levels in 2023, reaching 419 parts-per-million (ppm) of carbon dioxide concentrations, which was 2.4 ppm higher than in 2022.
Climate warming is not uniform due to a range of factors, including internal climate variability and regional variations in climate feedback and heat uptake.
In general, warming has been strongest at high northern latitudes and stronger over land than oceans. Global average temperature is greatly influenced by the oceans, which cover about 70 per cent of the planet and have large heat capacity, so they warm much slower than land areas.
Since Canada has a large land mass, much of which is located at high northern latitudes, warming across Canada has been about twice the global average and in the Canadian Arctic, the warming has been about three times higher. Loss of snow and sea ice reduces the reflectivity of the surface, resulting in stronger warming of ecosystems and increased absorption of solar radiation.
Drought Touches a Quarter of Humanity, U.N. Says, Disrupting Lives Globally
The crisis, worsened partly by climate change, has been accompanied by soaring food prices and could have consequences for hunger, elections and migration worldwide.
(NYT) Olive groves have shriveled in Tunisia. The Brazilian Amazon faces its driest season in a century. Wheat fields have been decimated in Syria and Iraq, pushing millions more into hunger after years of conflict. The Panama Canal, a vital trade artery, doesn’t have enough water, which means fewer ships can pass through. And the fear of drought has prompted India, the world’s biggest rice exporter, to restrict the export of most rice varieties.
Some of the current abnormally dry, hot conditions are made worse by the burning of fossil fuels that cause climate change. In Syria and Iraq, for instance, the three-year-long drought would have been highly unlikely without the pressures of climate change, scientists concluded recently. The arrival last year of El Niño, a natural, cyclical weather phenomenon characterized by warmer-than-normal temperatures in parts of the Pacific Ocean, has also very likely contributed.

9 January
Copernicus: 2023 is the hottest year on record, with global temperatures close to the 1.5°C limit
Global temperatures reached exceptionally high levels in 2023. The Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), implemented by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts on behalf of the European Commission with funding from the EU, monitored several key climate indicators throughout the year, reporting on record-breaking conditions such as the hottest month on record and daily global temperature averages briefly surpassing pre-industrial levels by more than 2°C. Unprecedented global temperatures from June onwards led 2023 to become the warmest year on record – overtaking by a large margin 2016, the previous warmest year. The 2023 Global Climate Highlights report based mainly on the ERA5 reanalysis dataset presents a general summary of 2023’s most relevant climate extremes and the main drivers behind them, such as greenhouse gas concentrations, El Niño and other natural variations.

8 January
The AI Revolution in Climate Science
Giulio Boccaletti
As we grapple with the implications of the digital revolution and a rapidly changing natural environment, AI may hold the key to unraveling some of the complexity that has exceeded our comprehension. But with the means of research firmly in industry hands, policymakers will need to ensure that new tools provide public goods.
(Project Syndicate) We have just witnessed the start of a paradigm shift in earth science. A paper published in Nature in July showed that a neural network (artificial intelligence) predicted weather better than the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, which has the world’s most advanced forecasting system. Then, in November, Google’s DeepMind announced that its weather-forecasting AI had produced even stronger predictions.
Weather forecasting determines when and where planes fly, which routes ships take, and helps manage all manner of civilian and military risks that come with a variable environment. It matters. While these are still relatively early days for AI applications in this field, and much still needs to be worked out, as in other sectors, AI-driven forecasting may displace skilled labor, since neural networks don’t require knowledge of dynamical meteorology (the authors of the Nature paper are engineers with no such background). But the implications hardly stop there.

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