The Climate
Analytics Blog

Troubled land: a call for sustainable land use and rapid climate action

The IPCC’s latest report provides a stark reminder that climate change places the life support systems that land provides at risk. For vulnerable countries in particular, there is no sustainable future without sustainable land use combined with rapid climate action.  
28 August 2019
Global warming will make persistent extreme weather more likely – including longer heatwaves, droughts and extended rainy periods. This effect comes on top of the increase in average temperatures - authors explain a recent study published in journal Nature Climate Change.  
Over two million school kids from 135 countries have participated in the climate strikes this year. The "Fridays for future" movement, initiated by climate activist Greta Thunberg, has boosted discussions on which policy tools can have a tangible effect in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. One of these tools is putting a price on carbon.  
Über zwei Millionen Schüler aus 135 Ländern haben in diesem Jahr an den Klimastreiks teilgenommen. Die von der Klimaaktivistin Greta Thunberg initiierte Bewegung “Fridays for future” hat die Diskussion darüber angeregt, welche politischen Instrumente einen konkreten Beitrag zur Reduzierung der Treibhausgasemissionen leisten können. Eines dieser Werkzeuge ist es, Kohlenstoff einen Preis zu geben.  
Implementing science-based climate policies requires communication and collaboration between various actors in the interdisciplinary climate field. The ISIpedia project is one of the growing number of efforts addressing this challenge by involving decision makers and practitioners in developing a tool that is meant to benefit them - a user-friendly information portal of climate change impacts.  
Improving access to climate finance and increasing absorption of funding opportunities are integral to speeding up Small Island Developing States’ (SIDS) efforts to enhance adaptation and build long-term resilience to climate change. A recent “Writeshop” in Samoa, which brought together Pacific and Caribbean representatives to build on each other's experiences, yielded a number of valuable lessons.  
The IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C contains the best available science to guide the development of Long-Term Low Emission Development Strategies (LT-LEDS), which are due to be submitted in 2020 under the Paris Agreement. One essential function of LT-LEDS is to provide a long-term 1.5°C consistent trajectory as an essential guide for increasing the level of mitigation ambition in the updating of NDCs, also due in 2020. Coupling the process of developing full LT-LEDS and submitting these by 2020 will make the process of further ramping up NDCs more coherent in the years to come.  
Too often climate change conversations are isolated from a broad swathe of other issues that also are important for society as a whole. The key to systemic sustainable thinking is the realization that everything is connected, not only in natural ecosystems, but increasingly in our coupled human societal and economic systems as well. The Green New Deal is a rare example of proposing how to tackle a societal-scale set of challenges not by looking at individual components but by presenting a vision for the whole system.  
The recent landmark International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) report on glacial melt in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya (HKH) region paints a drastic picture, indicating that the glaciers will melt by one third even if global temperature rise is limited to 1.5°C, a goal of the Paris climate agreement. However, the picture becomes even bleaker for the region’s Least Developed Countries, in which the report projects glaciers will recede by some 50% by the end of the century, spelling disaster for the poorest people living on the roof of the world.  
Schülerinnen und Schüler auf der ganzen Welt gehen dieser Tage mit einem klaren Ziel auf die Straße: sie fordern stringenten Klimaschutz zur Einhaltung des 1.5°C Ziels des Pariser Abkommens ein. Denn sie werden die sich verschärfenden Klimafolgen von morgen wie zum Beispiel Hitzewellen, Dürren, Fluten und steigender Meeresspiegel noch erleben. Vor allem aber beraubt die Verschleppung des Klimaschutzes von heute sie zunehmend ihrer Chance, das Klimaproblem noch erfolgreich bewältigen zu können.  
School kids around the world are taking to the streets demanding that the older generation step up efforts to tackle climate change, which they see as a major threat to their future. The teenagers of today will still be alive to bear the climate impacts of tomorrow - like sinking coastlines and cities, droughts, floods, crop failures - and will have an ever shrinking range of options to deal with the legacy of inaction on cutting carbon emissions.  
As far as Loss and Damage is concerned, the Katowice climate talks delivered a solid outcome. Developing countries were calling for the inclusion of Loss and Damage in the transparency framework and the Global Stocktake. We can now say: they succeeded.  
COP 24 is about more than a set of rules. It’s about designing a system that can deliver climate action in line with the IPCC’s clear message: that we must do everything possible to limit warming to 1.5°C, and that we need to act fast. Will governments gathered in Katowice act with the urgency and unity needed for preventing the most dangerous levels of climate change?  
This week, climate finance – funds for developing countries to enable low-emission and climate-resilient development – takes center stage as political leaders discuss how to ramp up climate ambition at COP24 in Katowice, Poland. What role can investments and finance for mitigation and adaptation play, in particular for the most vulnerable countries?  
One aspect of the Paris Agreement rulebook that hangs in the balance at COP 24 is the role of market mechanisms. Market mechanisms, or more broadly emission trading schemes, have been around for a long time, including, for example the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) under the Kyoto Protocol. Ongoing negotiations on the rules for markets under the Paris Agreement provide an important moment to reflect on what we want markets to deliver, and to design a system that goes beyond simple offsetting.  
Small Island Developing States (SIDS) have been advocating for at least a decade for the establishment of 1.5°C as an upper limit for global average temperature increase - due to their high vulnerability to increased climate impacts. This latest IPCC 1.5°C Special Report provides the scientific assessment that supports the long-established cry of SIDS to limit global temperatures and the risks that threaten these small island nations. Our scientists Dr Adelle Thomas and Dr Carl-Friedrich Schleussner report  
The United States is already experiencing impacts of climate change across most sectors and regions and it’s likely to get worse, according to the Fourth National Climate Assessment, published in November 2018. The authoritative report has been written by 300 expert authors from 13 Federal institutions and other agencies, sets out a grim picture of the impacts of climate change while calling for global efforts in mitigation to reduce the many risks to the US.  
Climate Analytics scientists have served as guest editors for a special issue in the academic journal regional environmental change. They’ve overseen the editorial process of 15 papers that have contributed to the literature base on 1.5°C and small islands for the 1.5°C Special Report.  
In this blog gives an overview of the most important of the recent 1.5˚C studies on climate impacts and extreme events. Much of it will be synthesised in the IPCC special report, due out in October, which will be a key document for setting the course of climate policy at a global level.  
This year’s extreme summer, still scorching central and northern Europe, is a stark illustration of the kind of climate change impacts we could see if nothing is done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Heat waves, droughts and other extremes will only increase in severity and frequency as the Earth continues to warm. Limiting warming to 1.5°C, as governments around the world pledged by signing the Paris Agreement, can help avoid the worst impacts of climate change.  
Countries vulnerable to climate change impacts have very limited capacities and resources, and relevant scientific information is sparse or difficult to access, yet effective climate change adaptation planning requires that science and policy come together. Our experts looked into barriers and ways to overcome them at a workshop during the Adaptation Futures conference.  
Ever more intense climatic events are rapidly pushing Small Island Developing States to the verge of their coping capacities, beyond which they will experience irreparable loss and damage. These risks threaten the socio-economic stability and undermine already limited abilities to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. A recent event hosted by the Government of Belize looked at ways of increasing understanding and international cooperation to address this urgent issue.  
For the first time the Adaptation Futures conference was held in Africa - an opportunity to shine a light on developing country adaptation issues. Six Climate Analytics experts had the opportunity to present their work and facilitate a number of sessions. Here's their perspective on the key threads at the conference.  
The adoption of the Paris Agreement started a lively debate among scientists about the interpretation of several of its elements.Of particular interest has been the long-term temperature goal of limiting warming to “well below” 2C or 1.5C above pre-industrial levels and the question of how progress against the goal should be tracked. As there are a number of different observed datasets for global temperature – as well as methods that use climate models – it means different studies can arrive at different assessments.  
To be eligible for international funding, developing countries’ adaptation plans and projects increasingly need to show that they address problems attributed to climate change rather than generic development problems. This makes it extremely important to assess the vulnerability of countries’ development sectors to climate change and identify concrete science-based adaptation measures. At a workshop held in Cotonou, Benin for the launch of a national vulnerability assessment, the West African country highlighted, as part of the PAS-PNA project, the strong commitment and valuable synergies of actions among the wide range of stakeholders involved in its climate change adaptation and mitigation initiatives.  
Small Island States face the alarming prospect that their sovereign credit ratings might be downgraded over time due to climate risks and impacts. This could land them in a type of “financial trap,” leading to challenges in managing national finances, dependence on foreign aid and increasing vulnerabilities to climate change.  
A comprehensive five-yearly assessment of progress on climate action – the Global Stocktake – is an essential part of the Paris Agreement’s ‘ratchet up’ mechanism for keeping the 1.5°C limit and other Paris Agreement goals within reach. How are we faring?  
Just as the voices of vulnerable nations were critical in including the 1.5°C limit in the Paris Agreement, it is also critical that experts from these states play an active role in authorship of IPCC reports. It's encouraging to see that the composition of the body of experts selected to put together the Special Report on 1.5°C and the Sixth Assessment Report increasingly reflects this.  
Climate change related non-economic losses are an important dimension of the Loss and Damage debate under the UNFCCC. This encompasses the loss of lives, of homes, livelihoods and traditions, in other words: losses that are not easily quantified and that most people would not want to put a monetary value. This guest blog illustrates what a community can perceive as non-economic losses and what it undertakes to deal with them – in this case Chippewa Indians from Bad River Bend of Lake Superior in northern US.  
The Suva Expert Dialogue 2-3 May in Bonn, and the technical paper it is meant to inform, are important next steps to furthering collective understanding of approaches to address loss and damage, associated finance needs, and sources of support. Here's what to expect from the two-day meeting.  
On 31 January and 1 February 2018, Climate Analytics and the Centre de Partenariat et d'Expertise pour le Développement Durable (CePED) organised a scientific workshop on vulnerability assessments in Cotonou, Benin. The workshop brought together over 30 scientists, practitioners and policy actors to discuss the practical organisation, timeline and methodological approach to assess vulnerability in the three nationally pre-identified sectors - agriculture, water and health.  
Recent observations show that climate change impacts already undermine the ability of developing countries to meet their sustainable development priorities. Limiting warming to 1.5°C, as stated in the Paris Agreement, is intrinsically linked to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. We urgently need to recognise and leverage the linkages between these two global frameworks.  
By now it is clear that climate change is as much an economic problem as it is an environmental one. Rising temperatures slow economic growth and devastating climate-related impacts leave large negative imprints on economic development of developing countries. Most financial instruments that have been proposed in the context of loss and damage do not solve the problems developing countries face.  
COP23 was hosted by a small island state, Fiji, and vulnerable countries thought it was high time to address the issue of Loss and Damage head on. The result from the first ‘islands COP’ is that it is obvious we are not driving in the fast lane however the goals are not out of sight either.  
Presenting a disaster as an ‘opportunity’ is clearly a sensitive and emotive issue. But when an energy infrastructure is in tatters should we not view this as a chance to make a fundamental transition to a low carbon future? When will there be a better opportunity to relocate essential services away from high risk areas than when they need rebuilding? When do we consider what we truly value more than when we have suffered loss?  
Climate extremes, many now bearing human fingerprints, are already causing devastating impacts across the globe, and the time is high for Loss and Damage to be considered in concrete and actionable terms in the implementation of the Paris Agreement. But what are the next steps to really move this issue forward, and in particular what needs to be done at the first “Islands COP” in Bonn?  
Observational records show us that half a degree of warming in the recent past has brought significant increases in extreme weather events, which provides another line of evidence for what an additional 0.5°C of warming could entail.  
The draft outline of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report doesn’t contain an explicit reference to loss and damage but will deal with “residual risks”, “adaptation limits” and “attribution.” Should this outline be adopted at the next IPCC plenary, it would be a missed opportunity to bring the entire spectrum of loss and damage available in the scientific literature into focus and support vulnerable countries in preparing do deal with it.  
In addition to the sixth assessment report and the special report on 1.5°C, the IPCC has two other special reports in the works: one on how climate change impacts land and another on oceans and cryosphere. Both are of great importance to vulnerable countries, like small islands. Although there will not be an explicit reference to the issue of loss and damage, thanks to a strong push by vulnerable countries both outlines now incorporate some of its core components, like climate change attribution, residual risk and adaptation limits.  
In its latest study, Faster and Cleaner 2: Kick-Starting Decarbonization, the Climate Action Tracker looked at the trends driving decarbonisation in key sectors. It turns out that it has taken only a few players to set in motion the kind of transformations that will be necessary to meet Paris Agreement’s goals.  
Since the adoption of the Paris Agreement with its 1.5°C temperature limit, climate scientists are preparing a comprehensive assessment of the impacts of climate change under 1.5ºC warming in global average temperature. Here’s an overview of what we already know and what we would need to learn from the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C due in 2018 regarding impacts on agriculture.  
The latest Climate Action Tracker report looked at major emitting sectors and at what can be done – and how fast – to come up with a list of the most important things to do in the next decade to bend the emissions curve downwards. Bill Hare and Niklas Höhne talk about some of these key steps and the progress to date.  
The latest Climate Action Tracker report spells out important, short-term steps over the next ten years that key sectors need to take to help the world achieve the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit. Here are some of the steps the big sectors can take – and some examples of what is already happening.  
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just approved the outline of the special report on the 1.5°C temperature limit - here's what it will contain.  
A recent research conference in Brussels revealed a range of 1.5°C scenarios derived from a larger variety of climate models. These results are an important milestone in light of the implementation of the Paris Agreement that enters into force on November 4.  
Green makes the world go round – it’s a saying that’s especially apparent here in the hustle of New York. But when the Empire State Building lit up in green to mark the beginning of Climate Week, it signalled a different kind of rush entirely: the rush to ratify the Paris Agreement and for governments, businesses, NGOs, and citizens from all walks of life to take immediate and decisive action on climate change.  
Today the presidents of the world’s two biggest greenhouse gas polluters, China and the US, ratified the Paris Agreement, making the possibility of its entry into force by the end of this year or early next ever more likely.  
Last December in Paris, Australia, along with world governments, agreed to keep warming well below 2˚C and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5˚C. What does this mean for Australia’s climate policy and decarbonisation? What would the differences in impacts be for Australia between 1.5˚C and 2˚C of warming?  
Small islands are highly vulnerable to climate change but face severe adaptation constraints. To work towards overcoming some of these constraints, Climate Analytics and partners are initiating an integrated database containing information on climate impact projections, linked to examples of existing adaptation projects and embedded into a vulnerability and impact assessment framework.  
The Paris Agreement’s long-term goal of a 1.5°C temperature-increase limit provides key guidance for shaping climate policy globally and nationally. It also serves as a wake-up call for immediate increased climate action if the world is to have a chance to reach the goal. The problem is that effecting real climate change is a long-term process and takes years to see results.  
A report by Climate Analytics and Sitra looks at what the Paris Agreement means for the European Union. It comes to a sobering conclusion: much more needs to be done for EU countries to be in line with the deal struck in December 2015.  
Adaptation to climate change impacts is one of the main areas in the international climate negotiations. Our experts share their views on the challenges to address for successful climate change adaptation planning and implementation.  
When considering what kind of support developing countries will need to implement their climate plans (Nationally Determined Contributions) under the Paris Agreement, let’s not forget that emission reductions offered in current climate pledges are grossly inadequate to meet the objective of the Paris Agreement to keep warming to 1.5°C, and therefore must be ramped up.  
Between December 2014 and February 2016 our experts supported a number of countries in formulating their climate plans ahead of the COP21 summit in Paris. They share three key lessons, which are highly relevant for implementing the Paris Agreement in some of the most vulnerable countries and communities around the world.  
At its latest meeting 2-5 November in Livingstone, Zambia the Green Climate Fund Board strengthened the Fund’s accreditation framework by agreeing on a policy to review every five years to what extent the GCF’s implementing partners’ overall portfolio of activities - beyond those funded by the GCF - have evolved in the direction of the Fund’s goal to promote a paradigm shift. Partners that continue to heavily invest into coal and other fossil fuels are now at risk of loosing their accreditation after their initial accreditation period ends.  
Recently UN experts warned of climate change induced risks to food security. More frequent and intense weather extremes as well as a general rise of mean temperature and sea level will cause this risk to grow. Food security and climate change were high on the agenda at the Tropentag conference, bringing together over 1000 experts to seek solutions to the biggest challenges in tropical and sub-tropical agriculture.  
Fossil fuel divestment started as a grass-roots movement and, as it gains momentum, more and more actors - university campuses, cities, pension funds, banks, to name but a few - commit to move away from investing in coal, oil and gas. Divestment campaigns have been increasing the pressure on governments and institutions in the run up to the upcoming climate summit in Paris but will also play an important role once the expected global agreement to halt climate change is in place.  
Climate Analytics Inc. in New York together with Heinrich Böll Foundation North America hosted a successful event during ‪Climate Week NYC,‬ which focused on the recent report by the German Economic Institute (DIW) on "Decoupling Economic Growth from Fossil Fuel Consumption and CO2 Emissions" and the results of the INDC analysis work of the Climate Action Tracker (CAT).  
The EU ETS reform could lead to an increase in the prices of emissions allowances, which could in in turn stop plans to invest in coal power plants in the EU. The major challenge will now be to reduce emissions in the non-ETS sector, which constitute the majority (57%) of all emissions, such as transport and buildings. To achieve this, member states would need to take much more action to promote improvements in e-mobility, energy efficiency in the building sector an other areas.  
Brazil was a leader in the production of energy from renewable sources, especially in the power sector. However, an increasing reliability on coal- and gas-fired power plants may change this. This may happen despite the renewable energy targets for 2030 announced in June.  
Many eyes will turn to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) at the beginning of November when its Board meets to consider proposals for the Fund’s first projects and programmes. This 11th Board meeting will be an important milestone for the success of the Paris climate summit, scheduled to commence on the 30th of November, just a few weeks later.  
From April 22nd to Friday 24th, Climate Analytics organised a workshop on the relation between climate change and economic growth in Africa. It was held in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The workshop took place at AfDB’s headquarter in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire).  
The Gambia has embarked on developing its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) for submission to the UNFCCC in advance of the anticipated Paris agreement this year. A team from Climate Analytics look at some initial lessons from the process so far.