2015 Bonn Intersessional REDD+ Round Up

As momentum continues to build in the runup to the Paris COP21 climate negotiations in December later this year, a milestone has been reached for forests during the preliminary meeting in Bonn, Germany. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change intersessional meeting took place on 1-11 June and saw the final technical issues for the Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) agreed upon after a full decade of negotiations. This is great news, as REDD+ is now poised to be a pillar of mitigation and finance for a binding deal in Paris later this year.

The UN-REDD Programme supports nationally-led REDD+ processes, protecting forests around the world with 56 partner nations spanning Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America. REDD+ aims to reduce emissions related to deforestation and forest degradation, which account for around 14%-17% of global emissions. The ‘+’ stands for the ‘co-benefits’ (benefits not related to reducing emissions), which importantly includes the safeguarding of forest dependent communities, in national and international REDD+ implementation.

After significant progress had been made during COP19 in Warsaw, Poland with the The Warsaw Framework (a package of seven decisions on REDD+), delegates in Bonn finalised requirements in REDD+ regarding further guidance for safeguards, non-market-based approaches and non-carbon benefits. This covered results-based payments and identified drivers of deforestation as well as the formation of a contact group tasked with delivering guidance on non-carbon benefits and non-market approaches. These were agreed upon, much to the surprise to all that are involved, 6 months ahead of schedule, freeing up time during COP21 to start talking about on-the-ground implementation methods and policies.

In more detail, the REDD+ compromise agreements outlined the following three decisions. The first agreement from Bonn was binding finance to the standards of safeguarding and have safeguards clearly communicated. The second was regarding non-market-based approaches, promoted by Bolivia, which would not allow REDD+ offset credits to be sold in the carbon markets. However, the agreement allows all sources of funding to be available, including carbon markets, at the discretion of each nation. Finally, the last agreement was regarding methodological issues related to non-carbon benefits. This decision was rather weak, providing only general guidance rather than methodological guidance, but allows countries to receive funding for them. This rather weak decision probably reflects the fatigue and exhaustion from those involved in this ten year journey.

Another key focus for Bonn was to create a shorter and more manageable REDD+ text, which has been largely successful, with a tightly structured and concise new document. The next major step is to agree upon what elements will be put into the Paris agreement text in December. There are another two more meetings to refine the text, and agree on what will be brought to Paris and put in front of the Heads of State and Ministers.

Although there is still work to be done, REDD+ is now ahead of schedule and the UN process has had a significant success. Compromise and agreement have been achieved from all 192 nations. A productive two weeks has made the possibility of a deal in Paris ebb a little closer.

Sources
UN-Redd
WWF Forest and Climate Outcomes from Bonn
Forest Trends
Rappler
Earth Day Network

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Professor Wangari Maathai’s Third Memorial Lecture

What’s needed for the triumph of good, is enough decent people to stand up,” – Kumi Naidoo

The panel discussion chaired by Nick Robins, UNEP’s Co-Director, Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System

On June 16 2015, Green Belt Movement International (GBMI) Europe hosted the Third Annual Wangari Maathai Memorial Lecture in St James Church Piccadilly. More than 200 people joined us for an evening with Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International as he shared his thoughts on Professor Maathai’s life, legacy and the climate change injustices she fought for, punctuated by stories from Kumi’s own life of campaigning and advocacy.

In addition, the audience was treated to Cellist Michael Fitzpatrick’s beautiful and reflective pieces as he performed within the dramatic and historic venue. The event culminated with a panel discussion chaired by Nick Robins, UNEP’s Co-Director, Inquiry into the Design of a Sustainable Financial System.  Wanjira Mathai, Chair of the Green Belt Movement, Aisha Karanja, Executive Director of the Green Belt Movement and Kumi Naidoo all took part in an informal and informative discussion and gave their insights to questions provided by the audience.

Guests arrived at 6:30pm for a drinks and canapés reception in which representatives in the conservation, human rights, political, academic, and journalism sectors came together to meet and share their own experiences. The beautiful backdrop of the 17th century Christopher Wren designed church in the heart of central London was a unique location for our audience to come together. St James Piccadilly’s commitment to welcoming a diverse congregation and visitors as well as its on-going commitment to supporting human rights made the venue an ideal place to discuss the life and legacy of Wangari Maathai.

Kumi delivered an impassioned and humorous speech but communicated a very serious message calling for courage and collective action against climate change. The light tone of his address turned to reflection on Wangari Maathai’s ardent fight against injustice, “Wangari showed courage daring to make the connection between the simple, but honourable act of planting trees and improving the environment. And in improving women’s rights and position in society, not only in Kenya, but as a whole.” And quoting Professor Maathai herself on how, “our political systems today, killed creativity, nurtured corruption and produced people that were afraid of their leaders,” Kumi drew parallels with political leaders finding ever more secluded places to discuss world issues, referring to the recent G7 summit, away from civil thought and opinion.

Response from the audience was overwhelmingly positive with many guests commenting on their renewed sense of commitment to their own acts of courage and desire to see change

The keynote speech was sandwiched by two performances from Michael Fitzpatrick. It was a great honour to hear Michael play in an intimate setting; a man that has performed for Government leaders, royalty and religious figures. Kumi’s call to action against grave climate injustices and Michael’s melodious performances were in some ways starkly contrasting, yet both yielded the complete captivation of every mind along every pew.

The evening finale was a panel discussion, which tied together Kumi’s speech about courage to the courage shown by Wangari herself. UNEP’s Nick Robins asked Wangari’s daughter Wanjira, about her thoughts on her mother’s courage throughout her life and how she instilled this in others. Wanjira spoke of how Wangari “was in many ways a simple woman and at the same time very complex.” About how she analysed issues profoundly and systematically; the ability to bring “what seems so complex” to hone in on the “root cause” and simplify the problem. Key to motivating others was providing a vision of how large systemic issues can be overcome. The Green Belt Movement Executive Director Aisha Karanja told us how the community groups have retained this courage and are sustainable entities in their own right.

Wanjira Mathai, GBM Chair and Aisha Karanja Executive Director present a gift to Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International Executive Director

Response from the audience was overwhelmingly positive with many guests commenting on their renewed sense of commitment to their own acts of courage and desire to see change. Guests coming from sectors outside of conservation and human rights commented on how accessible Kumi, Wanjira, Aisha, and Nick’s words were and how much it resonated with their own interest in identifying how they could become activists in their own right.

Professor Maathai’s work continues through the Green Belt Movement, a truly sustainable legacy.

Wanjira Mathai, Chair of the Green Belt Movement makes her remarks Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International gives his keynote address
The venue, St James Church Piccadilly
Cellist Michael Fitzpatrick treats the audience with his beautiful and reflective pieces

Originally posted here.

Climate Change Communications; The ‘Preparation Frame’

At the begin­ning of March, the US cli­mate change com­mu­nic­a­tion spe­cial­ists Climate Access released a new guide titled, ‘The Preparation Frame: A Guide to Building Understanding of Climate Impacts and Engagement in Solutions.’ The guide is based on trends in public opinion and syn­thes­ises over one hun­dred social sci­ence studies, as well as tools and best prac­tices from cli­mate leaders who are already enga­ging com­munities in pre­par­a­tion efforts. Climate Accessargue that framing cli­mate change around the idea of ‘pre­par­a­tion’ might go a long way to enga­ging audi­ences who oth­er­wise are not inter­ested in cli­mate impacts.

The first prin­ciple of pre­par­a­tion framing explores how to ini­tiate a con­ver­sa­tion and engage an audi­ence. Naturally, it is best to start with the most per­tinent issues. For example, a com­mu­nic­ator may start a con­ver­sa­tion with issues sur­rounding water avail­ab­ility for farmers, or the best use of resources when talking to com­munity leaders.

This may not even mean men­tioning ‘cli­mate change’ ini­tially as this can ali­enate some audiences from the get-go – although as COIN’s own work shows, it is important not to propagate a ‘cli­mate silence’ by ignoring it altogether.

The guide also sug­gests focus­sing on local, rel­evant and observ­able impacts. People and their security should be pri­or­it­ised as the number one point of dis­cus­sion, to over­come the per­cep­tion that cli­mate change is a dis­tant, far-away issue. We invest a lot in our sur­rounding envir­on­ment. We build rela­tion­ships within, as well as with these areas, so talking about the threats to them, as well as how to pro­tect them engages audi­ences on an emo­tional level.

Along with feel­ings of dis­tance are those of uncer­tainty. Uncertainty – real or man­u­fac­tured – plagues the cli­mate change move­ment. It is some­time used as a jus­ti­fic­a­tion for inac­tion even by those who are con­vinced cli­mate change is a defin­itive dia­gnosis. The guide sug­gests “flip­ping the problem of uncer­tainty on its head.” Much like an insur­ance policy, uncer­tainty can be framed as a very genuine reason to mit­igate cli­mate change and adapt to it by out­lining dif­ferent scen­arios where not acting under uncer­tainty is an unwise choice to make.

The guide also iden­ti­fies a solu­tion to bypass the acute politi­cisa­tion of cli­mate change by building dis­cus­sions around ‘non-partisan values.’ Climate Access argues that examples of such values are ‘respons­ib­ility,’ ‘stew­ard­ship,’ ‘fair­ness,’ how it is ‘better to be pre­pared,’ and ideas of ‘pro­tec­tion and safety.’

The idea of ‘non-partisan’ values is an inter­esting one: cli­mate sci­ence has become so heavily politi­cised, that being able to get beyond this is very appealing. But should the politics of cli­mate change be avoided or embraced? Should this be tackled by trying to create non-partisan dis­cus­sion or by attempting to bridge the polit­ical spec­trum with a more bipar­tisan approach, such as COIN’s work on enga­ging centre-right constituencies?

A common trope in cli­mate change com­mu­nic­a­tion is the need to artic­u­late a vision. A clean, green, healthy vision. A vision of the smog clearing, health improving, energy and water prices decreasing in a town peppered with solar panels, con­nected to a smart grid and maybe even a tidal lagoon a few miles down the coast. Promoting and presenting prac­tical solu­tions and a vision of the future is cru­cial for enga­ging wider audi­ences. Climate Access sug­gests cli­mate com­mu­nic­ators should artic­u­late what will get better if action is taken and high­light existing suc­cess stories, an approach used by 10:10’s in their ‘it’s hap­pening’ campaign.

Originally posted here.

COP Climate Talks Simplified History

The first annual Conference of the Parties meeting COP1 in Berlin, was held in 1995 by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). We are now looking forward from Lima (COP20), to Paris (COP21) in December of this year.

First though, here’s a selected history of climate change

  • 1800 our world population reaches one billion
  • 1824 French physicist Joseph Fourier described the Earth’s natural greenhouse effect.
  • 1930 two billion people
  • ‘38 – British engineer Guy Callendar shows temperature and CO2 have both risen (Callendar Effect).
  • 1960 three billion people
  • ‘72 – Climate change is barely acknowledged at the First UN environment conference, Stockholm.
  • 1975 four billion people
  • In the same year US scientist Wallace Broecker popularizes the term “global warming.”
  • 1987 five billion people
  • ’90 IPCC First Report – “0.5°C warmer than pre-industrial revolution”
  • ‘97- Kyoto Protocol agreed, 5% emissions reductions by 2008-12 for developed nations (recalcitrant US does not sign).
  • ’95 IPCC Second Report – “discernible human influence.”
  • 1999 six billion people
  • ’01 IPCC Third Report – “new and stronger evidence.”
  • ’06 – Stern Review concludes no action could be incredibly costly.
  • ‘07 IPCC Fourth Report – “more than 90% likely we are the cause”
  • 2011 seven billion people
  • ‘13 IPCC Fifth Report – “95% certain that humans are the dominant cause.”


Now, here’s a distilled account of each climate talk

COP1 Berlin 1995 – ‘Berlin Mandate’ – two years of analysis and evaluation.
COP2 Geneva 1996 – Concluded that nations need tailored solutions, targets as well as endorsed the IPCC Second Assessment Report.

COP3 Kyoto 1997 – A Pivotal Protocol
The Kyoto Protocol was agreed after fierce negotiations. This set out binding targets for the 37 industrialised countries to reduce their greenhouse emissions from 2008 to 2012. A few countries did not agree to the treaty, most notably the US, but overall a very positive meeting.

COP4 Buenos Aires 1998 – Established that clarification was needed on the Kyoto Protocol.
COP5 Bonn 1999 – Centred on technicalities of the Kyoto Protocol.
COP6 The Hague 2000 – The US tried to wriggle out of meaningful reductions and negotiations broke down.
XCOP6 – 6 months on Cleared up COP6 issue, setting out how carbon sinks could be used to meet emissions targets.
COP7 Marrakesh 2001 – ‘Marrakesh Accords’ almost finalised the Kyoto Protocol.
COP8 Delhi 2002 – EU unsuccessful in calling for more action.
COP9 Milan 2003 – Last of the details of the Kyoto Protocol cleared up.
COP10 Buenos Aires 2004 – What happens when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012?
COP11 Montreal 2005 – Continuation of COP10.
Additional annual meetings held from 2005 onwards for Kyoto nations – others act as observers.
COP12 Nairobi 2006 – milestones reached on journey towards new Kyoto.
COP13 Bali 2007 – ‘Bali Road Map’ for a new agreement at COP15.
COP14 Poznan 2008 – COP15 work continues. Change in US administration brings hope.

COP15 Copenhagen 2009 – The Big Flop
This was the culmination of two years of hopeful negotiations for a new legally binding agreement to supersede Kyoto, but in the final days the negotiations broke down. Closed-door meetings ensued between US, South Africa, China, India and Brazil to quickly reach some kind of political agreement. They came up with the ‘Copenhagen Accord,’ but this wasn’t legally binding.

Consensus points the finger at North America for the breakdown, but some commentators have said that China was the real troublemaker – blocking the open negotiations, bringing them to an effective stand still and this is what caused the scramble for an agreement as the two weeks came to a close. As China guessed rightly, these frantic unofficial meetings caused Obama humiliation, as the blame for the collapse was dumped in his lap. This may have been China displaying her new found confidence on the international stage.

COP16 Cancun 2010 – 2°C
The 2°C threshold and US$100 billion annual aid package for developing countries by 2020 were both agreed as well as a global network for matching technology suppliers with technology needs. Progress was made on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) initiative – a market mechanism for the least developed nations to save and rehabilitate rainforest.

COP17 Durban 2012
Agreement that a legally binding deal will be prepared for Paris to take place in 2020. Progress was made on the Green Climate Fund with the development of a management plan. It was declared a success, but many warned these developments would not keep warming below the 2°C threshold. 

COP18 Doha 2011
‘The Doha Climate Gateway’ was drafted up, which featured a second phase of Kyoto commitments, but was only limited to 15% of global emissions because Japan, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, New Zealand showed little commitment, US and Canada had not signed the Kyoto Protocol and finally, Brazil, India and China were exempt as they are developing nations.

COP19 Warsaw 2013
This established a timeline for a legally binding agreement to be made in Paris. Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines just days before COP19, which ensured that the loss and damage mechanism was a critical issue. Very small progress was made on the Green Climate Fund. REDD+ was finalised and backed by pledges of $280 million from the US, Norway and UK. Steps were also taken towards gender sensitive climate policy.

COP20 Lima 2014 – A New Era of Responsibility?
The ‘Lima Call for Climate Action’ was agreed – essentially it is a building block for the Paris. This calls each nation to submit a pledge, ‘to tackle climate change and reduce emissions’ by the end of March, 2015.

The UN climate change body analyse the sum of these pledges and determine whether they will collectively keep Earth on track for an upper warming limit of 2°C. However, supplying the details behind each nation’s pledge are not an obligation, to the dismay of many.

The Global Climate Fund was set up to direct money towards developing nations, especially those that are experiencing the effects of climate change already. So far, $10 billion has been raised, but many notable experts are saying, more is necessary. Lima indicated there has been a shift in thinking about the responsibility of climate change.

Looking forward to Paris COP21?
The meeting scheduled in December should finalise a new global agreement. Something that has not been done in over 20 years, replacing the all-important Kyoto Protocol (1997) and the controversial Copenhagen Accord (2009).

In 2010 at COP16 held in Cancun, Mexico, an agreed upper limit of 2°C warming was agreed. All the signs point to an agreement of 4°C warming in Paris. On one hand this looks bleak, and would be very bad news for Africa’s future, but maybe we need to agree on a soft target to keep the ball rolling and then ramp up targets soon after – a view held by Lord Stern who published the influential ‘Stern Review’ in 2006.

Energy is starting to build around Paris. The negotiating process is underway with the two the weeks in December only the tip of the ice-berg. All 190 countries are now fully aware of each other’s positions. Decisions are being made all the time, but the road is long and windy.


End Note
We are becoming fatigued by the talk of climate apocalypses and saturated with scientific facts about a seemingly invisible, unimaginable and uncertain issue. Numerous studies have shown individuals have a ‘finite pool of worry.’ Climate change is an illusive problem that struggles to register on our threat radar for long, but it isn’t going anywhere and we need to talk more about it – not just be told about it. Deliberate.

 

Sources:
UNFCCC
International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development
Mary Robinson Foundation

Twickenham Society, Special Meeting: Flooding in the Borough

Panel

Douglas Orchard, Chairman, Twickenham Society
John Perry, Chairman, Richmond Environmental Information Centre
Jon Freer, Assistant Director, Environment Directorate, LBRuT
Trevor Baylis – Inventor and Eel Pie Island resident
Dr. Tanya Mathias, Hampton Wick Councillor and Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Twickenham Constituency

“Join the chorus, make it porous” – John Perry.

On the 11th of November the aforementioned panel assembled for a public meeting set up by the Richmond Environmental Information Centre and Twickenham Society, regarding fluvial flooding (flooding from rainfall rather than tidal) in the borough. The Thames Barrier will no longer be used to defend against fluvial flooding and the floodplain is ever-more impermeable. In light of these facts we must make greater use of alternative flood defences and work on restoring the efficacy of the floodplain to safely process precipitation events.

The meeting commenced with a statistic produced by Sir David King, former governmental advisor, that precipitation will increase some 25% in the Winter and fall a staggering 60% in the Summer. This will undoubtedly put the Thames system under enormous pressure and vastly increase the chances of flooding.

Even without the amplifying effects of climate change, flooding has always been an issue that we have faced. A healthy river naturally floods. A river will periodically spill over onto its surrounding floodplain, dissipating the energy of the floodwaters, depositing its sediment load and allow the excess water to be processed by the land – like a sponge absorbing a spillage. Our impermeable urban landscape conflicts with the once soft, absorbent natural environment the river once flowed through – the main theme of this meeting – hence the slogan, “join the chorus, make it porous.” The most frequently used examples are front drives and patios, which speed up the flow of surface water flow and groundwater flow reaching the channel. A catchment that processes water slowly is far less likely to flood.

Urban sprawl and population growth are synonymous with the majority of the pressures we currently impose on the natural world; none more so than this. Like the majority of the lower Thames, the floodplain within the Richmond borough has been incrementally built upon. We ourselves, have over spilled onto the natural floodplain in direct competition with the river. We have built hard infrastructure to control it, however changes to our climate are making the river harder to live beside.

An early topic of the meeting was the rubble dumped at Ham Fields. Millions of tonnes of rubble was discarded within the 103 acre site produced during the Blitz throughout WWII. This has raised the floodplain. The removal of this rubble was suggested as strategy to bring this section of the floodplain back to its pre-war level, increasing floodwater storage. Orleans Riverside was also discussed with a similar motif. The area that was once the historic Orleans Boathouse has had a layer of topsoil laid over it over half a century ago when residents complained of frequent groundwater saturation. Jon Freer later made the point that the gains in storage would have made negligible difference in dealing with the discharge experienced during previous flooding events. Marble Hill Park has always been poor at dealing with any excess water; floodwaters are not processed and only drain away with low tide.

The meeting moved onto discussing vegetation, principally woodland. There was a general consensus that particularly ancient woodland (existed continuously circa 1600) needs to be better managed and protected as trees absorb and impede the flow of floodwaters. 1 acre of ancient woodland absorbs as much water as 67 acres of grazing pasture. Suggestions of working with land owners to better utilise vegetation were made. The panel was undecided on the impact that dredging would have on the Thames channel, with warnings that dredging in one location may have a negative impact for areas downstream; a tricky issue for hydrological modelling.

Councillor Malthius added that the three weirs at Teddington, Molesley and Sunbury must be maintained to tame future flow. There are plans to convert Teddington Lock to generate hydroelectric power, which is led by a community led project, ‘Teddington and Ham Hydro’ (T&HH). The project was conceived after the Environment Agency (EA), chief environmental regulator of waterways and water infrastructure, invited interest to build hydro turbines on many of their weirs, Teddington being one of them. SLWEN has supported T&HH, however there has been fierce opposition by the board of Lensbury Club.

The Thames Estuary 2100 (TE2100) plan was also discussed; a plan which primarily aims to provide a strategy for dealing with tidal flooding, though other sources of flooding including high river flows as a result of heavy rainfall and surface water flooding. The majority of the panel agreed that this was if not already, becoming out-of-date. Similar to the Thames Barrier. A second Thames Barrier was spoken of as an inevitability, especially with the limited shelf-life of the existing one, which is being deployed at alarming frequency and now only for tidal flooding.

John Freer made clear there were issues in the modelling of the upper and lower sections of the Thames as they have typically been treated as isolated systems. Existing research is now being reevaluated. Freer went on to state that the Environment Agency (EA) has important research in the pipeline relating to flooding that would impact the borough, which should be completed within the next 12 months. On a positive note, legislation is now much tighter on new builds and their porosity. Large buildings are also now required to have water storage tanks for times of extreme precipitation.

The meeting concluded with Councillor Mathius asking the audience whether the flood meeting should become a regular occurrence on the agenda. The audience unanimously agreed.

If you would like to know more about flooding in your area and would like regular flood meetings please tell us at hello@swlen.org.uk.

Nature’s Gym: Much More Than Mud!

On a mild December morning I joined the ranks of the Friends of Palewell Common Fields and Nature’s Gym. The task agreed was to maintain the Common’s mud paths suffering from the winter rain. We wheeled wheelbarrows along the waterlogged paths, pouring wood chippings onto the boggy patches. A production line of happy locals, earning the mud on their boots. The quality and value of carrying out this humble task, rather prosaically put, of pathway maintenance was initially not realised by myself, but became evermore apparent.

Nature’s Gym was born from a partnership between Lewisham Council and Glendale Ground Management to organise volunteers to carry out conservation and maintenance work. Richmond Council were impressed with the scheme and have now also got on board. Within Richmond Borough, Gina Beresford, partnered with an intern, go to a different park or green space three times a week, including one Saturday a month, harnessing local will.

A pooling of knowledge and resource, but most importantly get-up-and-go attitude. It was evident that the relationship between Nature’s Gym and the friends group was a collaborative partnership; what to do was up for discussion. This day was paths and each volunteer worked with enthusiasm, telling tales to each other as they carried out their work.

Far from hard labour, it felt very social, an element that seemed important and cherished by everyone there. Some were working hard to build up their festive appetite, and others taking their time to share stories whilst they filled barrows with chippings or tended to the sodden mud. From my few hours with everyone there, it was evident that there was a unanimous sense of pride; keeping their patch tidy. The day was only positive.

If you would like to get involved with Nature’s Gym or would like to contact Gina Beresford about your park or green space please do so!

Originally posted here.

Richmond upon Thames Within a Truly Global Issue

Climate Change is firmly embedded in the list of issues facing our planet in the 21st Century. A defining issue of our time. A quick detail however – the term ‘climate change’ refers to any fluctuation in climate, whether as a result of human or natural causes and has been going on for a while – scales I struggle comprehending. Humans are a mere second on the clock face of the Earth’s history – climate change has happened for hours and hours. Natural factors include the changes in the Earth’s orbit, tilt of the Earth’s axis, volcanism and solar activity to name a few exciting ones. However, there is strong agreement in the scientific community that natural factors alone can not account for what is happening to our climate at the moment. A lot is changing very quickly.

A few stats…

Atmospheric carbon dioxide currently rests just below the looming threshold of 400 parts per million at 398.5 ppm, measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. In 1960, this was just below 320 ppm.

Sea level is set to rise by a third of a metre by the end of the century, currently rising at 3.17 mm per year. The first official instance of forced migration due to sea level rise is reported to have been in 2009, the Carteret Islanders of Papua New Guinea.

The global average temperature has already risen by 0.8°C. 2°C is considered to be the temperature threshold at which the global environment will suffer irreversible damage. This threshold is predicted to be surpassed by the end of this century, and if we carry on blowing our carbon budget at the current rates, the threshold could be reached within just two to three decades. We are changing our ways and learning a lot, so this fairly unlikely, but our efforts are not yet adequate so far. Another little point – the observed ‘hiatus’ or pause in the increasing global temperature was the result of insufficient measuring at the Poles. The MET Office have now found that when the rapid Arctic warming is factored in, the world on average has continued to get warmer.

The Greenhouse Effect and Climate Change

The 2013 Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has stated human emissions are a direct cause of global warming, which causes the changes in the global climate. It is important to note that whilst confusingly interrelated, climate change, the greenhouse effect and global warming are not all the same; the phenomena of ‘global warming’ is a result of the changes in composition of ‘greenhouse gases,’ which actually act like a blanket, rather than a greenhouse, but the name has stuck. And just to clarify climate change can be caused by many different things – at the moment it is the ‘blanket gasses’ that make the world warmer i.e. Global Warming. This is not used so much now as although the average global temperature is warming, in some specific regions, temperatures are likely to fall. Confusing, but it does make sense.

The responsibility for dealing with this blanket, rests uncomfortably on the shoulders of every human on the planet, be they world leaders, or CEOs of the top FTSE-100, or Ban Ki-Moon, or Ben van Beurden, or any and every individual living in Richmond upon Thames. The future may not be as uncomfortable as it is often framed. A world of sustainable living will probably be a lot cleaner, brighter and healthier. Humans finest hours are often in adversity – a lot of people are doing great things, go be great.

How does Richmond upon Thames fit into the global issue of climate change?

In early 2008, Richmond upon Thames Council signed the 2006 Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change. Later that year the council adopted the Climate Change Strategy. In short, this provides an approach to understand energy use and greenhouse emitters within Richmond as well as the impact that climate change is having on the borough now and in the future. The council expresses its commitment to leading by example, as should be expected, and wishes to have its green credentials aspired to.

The council is targeting energy efficiency and low carbon technologies. Priority is given to low carbon projects and pay back given to projects that are successful in encouraging ‘green’ behaviour.

The council offers free or discounted loft and cavity wall insulation. The cost of parking is now related to CO2 emissions and a ‘Go Green’ online service has been launched in order to educate residents, business and schools on how they can make their efforts count.

The Schools Environment Forum has been setup to engage children in climate change. Efforts are being made to support businesses and schools to encourage their employees and pupils to travel smarter with the Green Travel Plan. To find out more visit the Go Green Richmond website.

Sources:
International Panel for Climate Change (http://www.ipcc.ch/)
NASA Global Climate Change (http://climate.nasa.gov)

Originally posted here.