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Health-related costs of climate change will add billions to damage assessments

Health-related costs of climate change will add billions to damage assessments

By Dr. Marc Kodack

The recent physical damage and destruction of facilities and infrastructure in the United States, both on and off military installations, e.g., Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida from Hurricane Michael in 2018; Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska and flooding from the Missouri River in 2019, will cost billions of dollars to repair or replace. Both Hurricane Michael and the Missouri River flooding were likely influenced by climate change. Besides the physical effects of these and other events, there are also health-related costs from climate change that will also affect the populations that live and work on installations, their surrounding communities, and the larger surrounding region. These health care costs will be in the billions of dollars.

To estimate what these climate-related health costs may be, Limaye et al (2019) used data from 10 cases across 11 states that occurred in 2012. The research improves on 2011 research by Knowlton et al. Understanding these costs are important because health costs are regularly absent from the damage assessments prepared for facilities and infrastructure, whether this infrastructure is military or civilian; identifying these costs raises their importance for estimating future health costs and their implications to the holistic damage estimates that climate change is forecasted to cause; and better estimating these costs prepares communities to assess whether the kinds of adaptation efforts they undertake, including those related to health, will return the benefits they anticipate.

Limaye et al focus on considering “morbidity and mortality costs across a range of health impacts in a consistent way, in order to “demonstrate a conceptual framework [and method] for the estimation of other health-related costs linked to climate-sensitive events.” Earlier studies used different methods to estimate health costs making combining the results difficult.

The year 2012 was selected because multiple events of different duration and intensity occurred in different places across the U.S. In addition, morbidity and mortality data were available for each event. While not all of these events have been directly attributed to climate change, these events are consistent with the likely range of direct and indirect climate change effects. The events selected include “wildfires in Colorado and Washington, ozone air pollution in Nevada, heat stress in Wisconsin, infectious disease outbreaks of tick-borne Lyme disease in Michigan and mosquito-borne West Nile virus in Texas, extreme weather in Ohio, Hurricane Sandy (impacts in New Jersey and New York), allergenic oak pollen in North Carolina [increased asthma] and harmful algal blooms on the Florida coast.”

The estimated total health-related costs in 2018 dollars for all the events was almost $10 billion, with a sensitivity range of $2.7-to-$24.6 billion. The two highest estimated cost events were for Hurricane Sandy at $3.2 billion and the wildfires in Washington at $2.3 billion. The $10 billion is likely a conservative estimate. For example, mental health data were only available for Hurricane Sandy and none of the other events. Cases of extreme heat and Lyme disease are usually underreported leading to lower estimates of these costs.

If climate change effects worsen over the next several decades because of inaction to reduce greenhouse gases, the consequences will cost billions of dollars. For example, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published their annual summary of billion-dollar weather and climate disaster damage events. For 2019, there were 14 separate events with a total cost of $45 billion. For 2015-2019 the total costs exceeded $525 billion. However, these costs do not include the health-related costs associated with these events which would cause these costs to rise by billions of dollars more. Thus, when estimating climate change adaptation costs and benefits, including health-related costs in these estimates would more accurately reflect the potential consequences of climate change to populations across the U.S.


This article was posted on PreventionWeb.
Cover photo by Friends of Earth Scotland, Climate Visuals
Podcast: Adaptation and Water Security with Dr Catherine Grasham & Dr Ellen Dyer

Podcast: Adaptation and Water Security with Dr Catherine Grasham & Dr Ellen Dyer

Living in poverty often means a struggle for water security. Rapid urban growth, unregulated pollution from industry, extreme floods and droughts, along with a lack of reliable and safe drinking water, and increasing damage to water ecosystems threatens economies and undermine the lives of the poor. Climate change is going to make these impacts even worse. But talking about water security means different things to different people. There is a danger that, in trying to become more resilient to a changing climate, that decision makers create situations that unintentionally reduce populations’ water security.

In this podcast episode, we speak to Dr Catherine Grasham and Dr Ellen Dyer from REACH to learn all about their work on water security and resilience. REACH is a global research programme funded by UK aid and led by the University of Oxford that work with a global network of academic, government, practitioner and enterprise partners.Their research looks at how to improve water security for the poor by delivering world-class science that then can transform policy and practice.


Cover photo by DFID on Flickr.

Acclimatise’s work during COVID-19

Acclimatise’s work during COVID-19

As efforts to contain the COVID-19 virus continue in every country in the world, Acclimatise would like to take this opportunity to inform you of the measures it is taking to protect its staff and ensure the continuity of its operations.

Acclimatise is a global business, with staff on three continents and active projects in countries around the world. The safety and health of our staff, partners and clients remain the company’s number one priority.

We are actively monitoring advice from the UK government, and the World Health Organization (WHO) to establish our health and security measures. We are closely monitoring official sources of information to make adjustments as needed.

Acclimatise offices are now closed until further notice. We have made provisions for all of our staff to continue to work from home, to ensure the minimum possible disruption to our activities.

Regarding travel, Acclimatise has suspended all international and national travel until further notice. Employees who have travelled abroad recently for personal or professional reasons have been asked to quarantine themselves. Acclimatise staff will not participate in in-person events, meetings or gatherings until further notice. Staff will be able to arrange meetings online using digital conferencing facilities.

These are unprecedented times, however, Acclimatise will continue its work for its clients. Acclimatise project managers are, as always, available to discuss any issues with clients relating to COVID-19 or any other projected-related matter at any time.

Finally, Acclimatise staff would like to express their solidarity with clients, partners and colleagues around the world at this time, and hope that they and their loved ones remain safe and well in the coming months.

Sincerely,

All at Acclimatise.


Cover photo image credit: nursingschoolsnearme.com/
Barcelona: Urban adaptation threatened by power struggles at the municipal level

Barcelona: Urban adaptation threatened by power struggles at the municipal level

By Will Bugler

Dealing with the challenges posed by climate change will require transformational change for cities. However, these transformative actions to adapt to the impacts of climate change may be hindered by political struggles for municipal power, suggests a new study. Published in the journal Cities, the paper assesses the complexity of the processes of implementation of urban measures against climate change, with the example of Barcelona’s “Superblocks” as a case study.

Barcelona is particularly vulnerable to climate change-related threats, specifically sea level rise and floods, increasing temperature including urban heat waves, the loss of biodiversity and more frequent and intense drought periods. Within the framework of the Climate Plan (2018-2030), Barcelona launched the “Superblocks” program, which aims to drastically change urban mobility and land use. A superblock is a group of city blocks delimited in a perimeter that can only be accessed by vehicles that have their origin or destination there. Traffic runs outside while the interior is reserved for pedestrians and cyclists.

So far superblocks have been implemented in two areas (Poblenou in 2016 and Sant Antoni in 2018), but the City Council plans to remodel the city in 503 superblocks thereby reducing car traffic by 21% while restructuring the public transit and cycling system and infrastructure. In this way, CO2 emissions will be reduced by 40%, as well as the 3,500 premature deaths per year associated with air pollution, converting 60% of the space occupied by car use into public pedestrian and neighbourhood leisure spaces.

When implementing the scheme political and neighbourhood forces became active, either supporting or opposing the implementation of the scheme. Researchers from the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) and the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF), analysed the resistance in Barcelona as an example of the difficulties of implementing transformational adaptation in cities in the face of climate change.

The results of the study show that the everyday political struggles emerge from clashing visions for the future of the city. The difficulties are also related to discontent over the public participation aspects of project implementation and a perceived imposition of authority. “The civic and political contestation over the authority of ‘climate champions’ (or climate policy drivers) can jeopardize not only the achievements of transformational adaptation to climate change, but also the political survival of those who drive them“, the authors of the article said.

According to ICTA-UAB researcher Isabelle Anguelovski, transformational change can be obstructed ” not only out of fear of the material and political effects of the transformation measures, but also because of the message it conveys as concerns who is entitled to decide for the common good”. Therefore, she indicates, “brave politicians that take on struggles for authority in the short-term are needed to achieve mid- to long-term transformational goals”. The study suggests that participatory processes are vital at the very earliest stages of decision making on key policies to ensure that key power brokers are on board and communities have a shared vision of their city.


Cover photo by Benjamín Gremler on Unsplash
Acclimatise responds to Bank of England 2021 climate stress test consultation – read our full response here

Acclimatise responds to Bank of England 2021 climate stress test consultation – read our full response here

By Robin Hamaker-Taylor

In December 2019, the Bank of England published a discussion paper which sets out its proposed framework for the 2021 Biennial Exploratory Scenario (‘BES’) exercise. The 2021 BES aims to test the resilience of the largest banks and insurers to the physical and transition risks associated with different possible climate scenarios, and the financial system’s exposure more broadly to climate-related risk. The Bank opened up consultation on the design of the exercise and sought feedback on the feasibility and the robustness of its proposals by 18 March 2020. 

Acclimatise has responded to the BES 2021 discussion paper and is delighted to see the Bank of England progress its oversight and management of climate risks in the UK banking and insurance sector. We are publishing our responses here for the benefit of our clients and those in the financial service sector. In our response, we draw on our extensive experience in the management of physical climate risks in the real economy and with financial institutions, to provide the Bank of England with feedback which we hope can shape the final 2021 BES.

Read our full response to the Bank of England’s 2021 BES here

When will the Bank of England climate stress test be released?

The final BES framework is due to be published in the second half of 2020 with the results of the exercise published in 2021. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bank of England announced on 20th March that it is taking stock of the responses as well as the evolving situation regarding the pandemic. It is not yet clear if the Bank will postpone the BES 2021, however, and the Bank stated it will announce the way forward for this exercise this summer.

Acclimatise develops methods to make the links between the physical climate risk evidence base and banks’ credit risk models

The Bank of England’s climate stress test comes on the back of similar moves from other countries – France announced similar plans in late 2019. Apart from regulators taking action, the financial sector themselves have responded to the climate crisis by beginning to grapple with its climate risk exposure. In 2017-18, sixteen leading banks, UN Environment Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) and Acclimatise, published new methodologies that help banks understand how the physical risks and opportunities of a changing climate might affect their loan portfolios.

The methodologies, published in the report “Navigating a new climate”, were piloted across three climate-sensitive industry sectors: agriculture, energy and real estate. Using the methodologies, banks can begin to assess physical climate risks in their loan portfolios, evaluating the impacts on key credit risk metrics – Probability of Default (PD) and Loan-to-Value (LTV) ratios. The forward-looking assessments offer longer-term insights that go beyond the usual stress-testing horizon of 2-3 years.

An extension of this work began in 2019 – Phase II – which now involves 36 commercial and development banks. Acclimatise are working with banks in Phase II to coordinate and provide training on physical risk methodologies, including modules on hazard data, heatmapping, analytical tools, opportunities, and correlation analysis. A final report summarising the universe of tools and methods available to banks will be available later in summer 2020.

To discuss any of our responses or our physical climate risk analysis services for banks and insurers, please contact Robin Hamaker-Taylor: r.hamaker-taylor(at)acclimatise.uk.com


Cover photo by Images George Rex on Flickr.
Building climate resilience in Honduras: an investment opportunity

Building climate resilience in Honduras: an investment opportunity

By Laura Canevari

A new initiative has been established by IDB Invest, in partnership with the Asociación Hondureña de Instituciones Bancarias (AHIBA) and with support of Acclimatise. The initiative will help the banking sector in Honduras identify and appraise opportunities for investment that can help build climate resilience at high-risk sectors. The project has developed an approach that allows banks to evaluate the business opportunities associated with climate-resilient/adaptation financing, building on an understanding of climate risks, and which helps link their management response to physical climate risks with the development of new services.

In this article, we explore the preliminary findings of this project and reflect on what banks in Honduras can do to support resilience building in their country.

The business case for companies in sectors most affected by climate change

Honduras ranks as one of the countries at highest risk from climate change globally and is the most threatened within Central America, according to Germanwatch. Increase in temperatures and the intensity and frequency of droughts threaten the availability of adequate water supplies for sectors such as agriculture and hydroelectric generation, as well as for human consumption. Droughts in particular have become a recurrent hazard, especially along central and western parts of the country (part of “El Corredor Seco”). Higher temperatures and droughts also intensify the incidence of plagues and diseases, reducing the quality and volume of agricultural output and increasing the price of agro-processing supplies. In mountainous areas, for example, they have led to the propagation of “la roya” (or coffee leaf rust), menacing crops, and threatening more than 96,000 small coffee producers and a million workers, according to USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.

Extreme weather events, although less common than incremental changes such as increased temperatures, have also left their footmark in the country. The effects of Hurricane Mitch in 1998, for example, are still strongly recalled by local stakeholders – Honduras was devastated as the hurricane caused over 15,000 deaths and over 1 million people to become homeless. Industries, real estate and services (e.g. tourism, coastal infrastructure) are particularly at threat from the effects of extreme weather events, which can cause supply chain disruptions, damages to infrastructure, and increase maintenance and operational costs.

In order to increase their resilience and mitigate climate impacts, businesses in Honduras will need to take meaningful action. This means investing in products and services that help countering or reducing their vulnerability to climate hazards. If they fail to do so, they could experience significant changes in their cash flows, particularly as a result of a reduction in their earnings, due to lower productivity, a decrease in assets’ value (due to their higher exposure to climate hazards), and an increase in the cost of production. In addition, businesses may also experience greater (and unforeseen) capital expenditure and operating expenses.

The business case for financial institutions

If businesses fail to adapt, they could see a reduction in their creditworthiness, generating credit and liquidity risks for financial institutions. Thus, the reasons for Honduran banks to promote investments in resilient solutions are two-fold. First, investments in resilient solutions offers an opportunity for banks to extend their operations into new markets through the provision of financing products that help businesses invest in resilient solutions. Second, by helping businesses (their clients) adapt, banks also mitigate and reduce climate risks in their own portfolios, reducing the probability of default from businesses in at high-risk sectors.

As part of the IDB Invest project, a team from Acclimatise visited Honduras at the end of February (2020), to better understand the investment outlook for products and services that help businesses in at high risk sectors build their resilience. In order to identify sectors at highest risk, the team first carried out a high-level climate risk assessment using Aware for Projects, our in-house climate risk screening tool, using an aggregate commercial portfolio of credit loans in Honduras. Highest climate risk scores were found in Agriculture, Silviculture, Livestock, Fishing, Services and Transportation and Communication sectors. In addition to these sectors, industries and real estate were also identified as potentially at risk, due to their relevance and weight in the credit portfolio.

Building on this evaluation, the team developed a preliminary list of potential adaptation investments in sectors most at risk. This was followed by a series of consultations with technology providers, financial institutions and government agencies in order to assess the resilient investment opportunities available in the country that could help mitigate climate risks in these sectors. In addition, with the support of IDB Invest and AHIBA, the team organised a workshop for banks in Tegucigalpa, to raise awareness on the business opportunities and build the knowledge required to originate and place climate-resilient credits. During the event, banks were introduced to the risk-based approach proposed by the team for the identification of resilient solutions, helping them to reflect on the importance of incorporating climate considerations into governance and risk management processes. In addition, the event was also an opportunity to discuss key barriers and enablers affecting the development of financial products to support resilient investments.

A key finding from these consultations has been the strong signal from technology providers, who have experienced a significant increase in the demand for their resilient products and services, within sectors already experiencing the effects of climate change and also those affected by the steady increase in energy prices. Some of the technologies that could help actors in at high-risk sectors adapt are already available in Honduras and are being disseminated within Central America in response to food and energy security concerns. These include, for example: drip irrigation; solar pumping; climate tolerant seeds; greenhouses; energy efficient technologies; solar photovoltaic and solar thermal. According to some providers these technologies are already proving successful and profitable. Many businesses have in fact experienced a reduction in production costs driven for example by energy efficiency measures that reduce their energy bill. In addition, providers are also experiencing an increase in the demand for their products and services, which is most notably driven by the steady increase in energy prices, but also caused by changes in climate – in particular the increase in water scarcity in several parts of the country.

These technologies are not entirely new to banks in Honduras. As noted by the workshop participants, banks in Honduras have already started financing these types of products. But the interesting fact is that their perception of the demand for these investments has not led to the development of strategies to promote their uptake. In other words, whilst providers are seeing a steady increase for the demand of their products, the banks are yet to perceive the demand as worthy of a strategic response. And yet, it is clear that, as climate change impacts become more evident, the demand for resilient solutions is likely to increase. This offers an opportunity for banks to be more proactive and define what can they do to help clients become more climate resilient, and to reduce their own risk as well. The more prepared their clients are, the higher their creditworthiness and the lower the likelihood of climate impacts being transferred from clients to banks.

How can the banking sector in Honduras respond?

In order to reduce financial risks stemming from climate change impacts and to take advantage of emerging opportunities, financial institutions in Honduras must first understand which sectors are most at risk and how their clients’ operating in these sectors are affected by climate change and its effects on their cashflows. This is the first and soundest step to take in order to identify the type of services and products that clients need in order to increase their own climate resilience.

Building awareness inside the banks about climate solutions offered in the market is therefore important. In most cases, bank officers are unaware of the risks posed by climate change to their clients (and to the bank), and of the type of innovations that clients could embrace to reduce these risks. Equally, sensitising banks’ costumers about the need to respond to climate threats is needed. The business case of resilient solutions is well evidenced across a number of the existing technologies, but lack of familiarity with these products and lack of government support can make businesses reluctant to invest in resilient products.

To build greater awareness on the business opportunities stemming from resilient investments, banks, AHIBA and IDB Invest can foster partnerships with other key players such as technology providers and universities, in order to better disseminate information on climate risks and resilience needs across different sectors. These actors can also work together in order to support the uptake of resilient investments by generating greater access to technical assistance.

Challenges to support the expansion of resilient investments still remain. In particular, it is still difficult for many actors in the country to comply with loan requirements, especially for small and medium enterprises. Therefore, banks could explore financial products and credit conditions that can align with SMEs capacities and that reflect the performance curves of the technologies financed (e.g. considering grace periods during the installation of equipment or supporting providers in the provision of payment plans). In addition, adequate government support – through higher normativity, legal incentives and tax exemptions for the import and acquisition of resilient technologies– is very needed, in order to build an enabling environment that favours early action.

Our initial assessment has helped build the evidence of the business opportunities stemming from climate risks facing Honduran banks. These banks should embrace these opportunities in order to develop a more strategic approach to management of climate risks, and step into the role that financing has in helping build the resilience of the country. More importantly, the initial assessment is helping banks to understand that the identification and characterisation of resilient investment opportunities ought to be integrated into a wider framework that supports climate change risk management inside the banks. We foresee future exchanges with the banks and providers will help building a clearer view of the roadmap banks should follow to provide better access to finance and information on resilient solutions in Honduras.


European Commission opens consultation on changes to directive relating to climate and other disclosures

European Commission opens consultation on changes to directive relating to climate and other disclosures

By Robin Hamaker-Taylor

The European Commission has issued a public consultation on revisions to the Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD) in February, 2020. In its 11 December 2019 Communication on the European Green Deal, the Commission committed to review the non-financial reporting directive in 2020 as part of the strategy to strengthen the foundations for sustainable investment. The Commission is answering global calls for changes to how non-financial risks are disclosed, and would like companies and financial institutions to improve their disclosure of non-financial information.

What is the NFRD?

The NFRD (EU Directive 2014/95) requires large firms with over 500 employees (listed companies, banks, and insurance companies) to publish regular reports on the social and environmental impacts of their activities. Specifically, the NFRD requires companies to disclose information  on  environmental,  social  and  employee  matters,  respect  for  human  rights,  and bribery and corruption, to the extent that such information is necessary for an understanding of the company’s development, performance, position and impact of its activities.

Climate-related information can be considered to fall into the category of environmental matters.

New guidelines on Non-Financial Reporting as it relates to climate disclosures

As required by the directive, the European Commission has published non-binding guidelines to help companies disclose relevant non-financial information in a more consistent and more comparable manner. As part of its Action Plan for Financing Sustainable Growth the Commission updated the Non-Binding Guidelines on Non-Financial Reporting in June 2019.

The new guidelines on reporting climate-related information, reflect and integrate the recommendations of the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) of the Financial Stability Board (FSB). Acclimatise responded to the Commission’s consultation document in March 2019, available here.

How to provide feedback to the proposed revisions to the NFRD?

The Commission is accepting feedback via an online questionnaire, available here, and this will be open until 14 May, 2020.


Cover photo Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash
EU project SIM4NEXUS looks to transform policymaking to achieve a resource-efficient Europe

EU project SIM4NEXUS looks to transform policymaking to achieve a resource-efficient Europe

It is no surprise that human activity has an impact on the environment. As our societies become more complex, our use of resources such as water, land, food, and energy intensifies. The products we buy, the services we use, and the diet we follow have an intense and growing impact on those resources.

The intensification of resources’ use contributes to unbalance our environment, which affects climate and biodiversity as well as resource availability. Society can no longer ignore the nexus between water, land, food, energy and climate, and how such connections directly affect our livelihood. Keeping the model of economic and technological growth as we know with the least harmful impacts on the environment is one of the biggest challenges our society faces today.

But how can we make sure that the nexus among essential resources is balanced out? How can we know where our biggest concerns should focus on? And how can we guarantee that policymakers are making the right decisions regarding our environment?

At a European level, policies play a key role in how such questions can be answered. Most importantly, being able to avoid conflicts and compromises among the water-land-energy-food climate sectors and other sectors is important for the development of efficient use of resources. For that reason, predicting the impacts of resource use is a first step towards assuring its existence.

The EU Project SIM4NEXUS advances environmental policymaking

This is where SIM4NEXUS steps in. The European Union project set up in 2016 is tackling these and other issues concerning the management of the Nexus through technology and innovation.

The research project is funded by Horizon 2020, which is the largest Research and Innovation program created by the EU. Running until this year, the SIM4NEXUS research project led by the Wageningen Economic Research in the Netherlands is addressing gaps in knowledge and technology in the nexus to facilitate the design and implementation of EU policies. The project brings together a strong multidisciplinary collaboration among 25 partners from 15 countries across Europe.

With research and innovation being at the heart of the project, SIM4NEXUS brings forward a number of key outcomes, including:

  1. A science library of integrated tools that use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Complexity Science.
  2. A GeoPlatform that integrates data and metadata sources on all themes for decision and policy-making.
  3. A Serious Game, a user-friendly, interactive and pedagogical cloud-based interface for experts to understand the themes of the Nexus and how they interact. Experts can also test scenarios and policy choices.
  4. Building capabilities and consultancy for the Serious Game to maximize a reliable application of the game and support studies on the nexus, to help guide more informed decisions and policy choices.

SIM4NEXUS research results

To understand how policies interact and impact the nexus of water, land, food, energy, and climate, case studies are essential to have real data on the models developed during the research project. Whether at regional, national, European or global scales, SIM4NEXUS already brings success stories.

Dr. Floor Brouwer, SIM4NEXUS coordinator and environmental economist at Wageningen Economic Research, says: “We started this very clever work to look at European and global scale to understand policy coherence. I think it’s a very timely topic to understand. When you design your policy, are you adequately taking into account the different nexus sectors?”

Dr. Floor Brouwer, SIM4NEXUS coordinator

Dr. Brouwer also stresses that, although there is enough policy coherence at European and international policy debates, the biggest issue lies in the implementation of such policies. He adds, “For that reason, we have two case studies to look at Europe. We developed The Serious Game for our twelve case studies and we expect each case study to help better understand decision making, taking into account the broader perspective of water, land, food, energy, and climate”. One example of such trade-offs is that clean energy transition involves the use of bioenergy. Large scale use of bioenergy from crops, plantations and forests may however have severe trade-offs to water, land, global food security, climate adaptation and even climate mitigation, across borders and scales. Policies stimulating directly or indirectly the use of bioenergy should only be put in place if both food security and climate-neutrality are assessed.

A Serious Game for policy innovation

One of the main results of the research project is the SIM4NEXUS Serious Game. The computer game focuses on helping users understand and explore the interactions among water, energy, land and food resources management. This is the first time that a Serious Game has been built on the nexus topic.

Through the gameplay environment, users can implement policies and explore how their decisions impact the nexus in different regions. The game also considers the financial and social capital costs of implementing policies as well as their potential benefits.

The SIM4NEXUS Serious Game is under test in ten case studies in different regions in Europe. The components of the game are already accessible online for the Greek case study. On YouTube, a presentation of the game prototype is also available.

A prototype of the SIM4NEXUS Serious Game.

On different occasions, the SIM4NEXUS Serious Game was the topic of training workshops, where students could learn more about how the game works. Showcased in the “Local Mayors and Communities Exhibition” in Paris, the game received positive feedbacks from visitors and participants.

What is next

The SIM4NEXUS project approaches its end with a better understanding of how climate and sustainability goals are linked to water management, food, biodiversity, and land-use policies. Through the project, policymakers can better identify trade-offs and achieve synergies to increase the efficient use of resources.

A series of special interviews with professionals from different countries and organizations involved in the SIM4NEXUS case studies is available on the SIM4NEXUS YouTube page. Watch them and learn more about the project and the importance of the nexus.

To continue following the project’s updates and new initiatives, access the SIM4NEXUS website and follow the Twitter page.


Cover photo by Markus Tacker on Climate Visuals (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Hunger threat as tropical fish seek cooler waters

Hunger threat as tropical fish seek cooler waters

By Paul Brown

Stocks of tropical fish that have provided vital protein for local people for generations may soon disappear as the oceans warm, leaving empty seas in their wake, scientists believe. But there could be help in international protection schemes.

Already researchers have found that fish are voting with their fins by diving deeper or migrating away from equatorial seas to find cooler waters. But now they have calculated, in a study published in the journal Nature, that tropical countries stand to lose most if not all of their fish stocks, with few if any species moving in to replace them.

Although scientists have known that the composition of stocks is changing in many world fisheries, they have not until now fully appreciated the devastating effect the climate crisis will have on tropical countries.

In the North Sea, for example, when fish like cod move north to find cooler and more congenial conditions for breeding, they are replaced by fish from further south which also have a commercial value, such as Mediterranean species like red mullet. But when fish move from the tropics there are no species from nearer the equator that are acclimatised to the hotter water and able to take their place.

Now Jorge García Molinos of Hokkaido University and colleagues in Japan and the US have undertaaken a comprehensive study of 779 commercial fish species to see how they would expand or contract their range under both moderate and more severe global warming between 2015 and 2100, using 2012 as a baseline for their distribution.

“The exit of many fishery stocks from these climate change-vulnerable nations is inevitable, but carefully designed international cooperation could significantly ease the impact on those nations”

The computer model they used showed that under moderate ocean warming tropical countries would lose 15% of their fish species by the end of this century. But if higher greenhouse gas emissions continued, fuelling more severe heat, that would rise to 40%.

The worst-affected countries would be along the north-west African seaboard, while south-east Asia, the Caribbean and Central America would also experience steep declines.

Alarmed by their findings, because of the effect they would have on the nutrition of the people who relied on fish protein for their survival, the scientists examined existing fisheries agreements to see if they took into account the fact that stocks might move because of climate change.

Analysis of 127 publicly-available international agreements showed that none contained language to deal with climate change or stock movements to other waters.

Some dealt with short-term stock fluctuations but not permanent movements, and did not deal with the possible over-fishing of replacement stocks.

Global help

The scientists suggest an urgent look at the issue at the annual UN climate talks because of the loss of fish stocks and the financial damage that warming seas will do to the economies of some of the world’s poorest countries.

They go further, suggesting that poor countries could apply for compensation for damage to their fisheries during negotiations under the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage associated with Climate Change Impacts (WIM), and also raise the possibility of help from the Green Climate Fund, set up to help the poorest countries adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change.

Professor García Molinos, based at Hokkaido’s Arctic Research Center,  said: “The exit of many fishery stocks from these climate-change vulnerable nations is inevitable, but carefully designed international cooperation together with the strictest enforcement of ambitious reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, especially by the highest-emitter countries, could significantly ease the impact on those nations.”

While the research relies on computer models to see how fish will react to warming seas in the future, the scientific evidence available shows that they are already responding. It also shows that keeping the world temperature increase down to 1.5°C, the preferred maximum agreed at the 2015 Paris climate talks, would help fisheries globally.

And the Hokkaido research demonstrates yet again how it is the poorest nations, which have contributed least to the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change, that will suffer most from their effects.


This article was originally published on the Climate News Network.
Cover photo by jean wimmerlin on Unsplash
Schools for girls can help to answer climate crisis

Schools for girls can help to answer climate crisis

By Alex Kirby

If you really want to tackle the climate emergency, there’s one simple but often forgotten essential: throw your weight behind schools for girls, and ensure adult women can rely on the chance of an education.

Obviously, in a world of differences, some people can do more to tackle the climate crisis than others. So it’s essential to recognise how much neglected potential exists among nearly half the human race.

But there’s a snag, and it’s a massive one: the women and girls who can do so much to avert global heating reaching disastrous levels need to be able to exercise their right to education.

Bold claims?  Project Drawdown is a group of researchers who believe that stopping global heating is possible, with solutions that exist today. To do this, they say, we must work together to achieve drawdown, the point when greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere start to decline.

Educating girls has multiple benefits that go far beyond the individual and any particular society. It can also result in rapid and transformative change that affects the planet itself”

The project’s conclusions are startling − and positive. One is that educating girls works better to protect the climate than many technological solutions, vital though they are, and including several variants of renewable energy.

Yet, the group finds, girls and women suffer disproportionately from climate breakdown, and failures in access to education worsen this problem. After the horrendous 2004 tsunami, for example, an Oxfam report found that male survivors outnumbered women by almost 3:1 in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India. Men were more likely to be able to swim, and women lost precious evacuation time trying to look after children and other relatives.

But given more power and say in how we adapt to and try to prevent global heating, the female half of humankind could make disproportionally positive contributions, the project says.

Using UN data, it suggests that educating girls could result in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 51.48 gigatonnes by 2050. The UN Environment Programme says that total greenhouse gas emissions had reached a record high of 55.3 gigatonnes in 2018.

Multiple barriers

The Rapid Transition Alliance (RTA) is a UK-based organisation which argues that humankind must undertake “widespread behaviour change to sustainable lifestyles … to live within planetary ecological boundaries and to limit global warming to below 1.5°C”.

It says that although access to education is a basic human right, across the world. girls continue to face multiple barriers based on their gender and its links to other factors such as age, ethnicity, poverty and disability.

But the RTA adds: “Research shows that for each intake of students, educating girls has multiple benefits that go far beyond the individual and any particular society. It can also result in rapid and transformative change that affects the planet itself.”

One example it cites is from Mali, in West Africa, where women with secondary education or higher have an average of 3 children, while those with no education have an average of 7 children.

Environmentalists’ failure

It says that while the UN currently thinks the world’s population will grow from 7.3 billion today to 9.7 bn by 2050, with most of the growth happening in developing countries, recent research shows that if girls’ education continues to expand, that number would total 2 billion fewer people by 2045.

It argues that it is not just politicians and the media who fail to focus on this grossly slewed access to education. The RTA says the environmental movement itself rarely makes connections between the education of girls and success in tackling climate change.

One example of conservation work being tied successfully to educating and empowering women it cites is the Andavadoaka clinic in Madagascar, which is funded by a British charity, Blue Ventures Conservation (BVC).

The link between population growth, the lack of family planning facilities and the increasing pressure on fragile natural resources prompted BVC to establish the clinic, which has been running for over a decade and is part of a wider programme serving 45,000 people. As well as the original clinic other projects have grown up that concentrate on specific economic and participation opportunities for women and girls.

Making a difference

In the least developed countries women make up almost half of the agricultural labour force, giving them a huge role in feeding the future population. But there is a massive gap between men and women in their control over land, their ability to obtain inputs and the pay they can expect.

Individual girls and women continue to make a massive difference, whether Greta Thunberg spurring action on climate change or Malala Yousafzai, shot for trying to attend school in Afghanistan, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her campaign for girls’ education.

Women who have climbed high up the political ladder have sometimes used their success to ensure that girls are taken seriously. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female president of an African country − Liberia − used her power to expand the quality of provision in pre-school and primary education by joining the Global Partnership for Education, and the former US First Lady, Michele Obama, spearheaded the Let Girls Learn organisation.

The Rapid Transition Alliance’s conclusion is short and simple: “Educating girls brings broad benefits to wider society as well improving efforts to tackle the climate emergency.”


This article was originally posted on the Climate News Network.
Cover photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.