A new data visualisation platform for climate resilience and adaptation practitioners launches today. The Partnership for Resilience and Preparedness (PREP), co-led by World Resources Institute and Future Earth, has developed a map-based platform, PREPdata, to provides easy access to the information that adaptation decision-makers need to assess vulnerability and build resilience to climate change. The PREPdata website is now live at www.prepdata.org.
Acclimatise is a proud partner of the PREP initiative, which makes climate data more usable for people that need to consider climate change in their project, planning or investment decision-making. On PREPdata, users can explore climate, physical and socioeconomic datasets and map them to visualize a the vulnerability of a specific region; track indicators most relevant to their work on customizable dashboards, and share their stories with adaptation professionals around the world.
PREPdata uses data from credible sources including NASA, NOAA, USGS and ESA allowing users to access and visualize spatial data reflecting past and future climate, as well as the physical and socioeconomic landscape for climate adaptation and resilience planning. The platform will continually evolve through the input of PREP partners and PREPdata users. PREPdata’s features include:
A visual platform that is user-friendly and customisable to different contexts and skill levels;
Active curation of datasets focused on climate resilience, streamlining the process of accessing and navigating to relevant data;
Global coverage, with an emphasis on increasing access to datasets for the Global South, and support for applications across different scales and geographies; and
A user-needs based strategy for platform development, using the knowledge and network of the partners and platform users to enable continuous improvement.
The PREPdata platform has been developed with input from partners at city, state, and national scales, and from government, NGO and private sectors. For example, Sonoma County, California, has applied PREPdata to support its climate resilience planning, with a focus on changes that could affect the wine-growing and tourism-dependent region. In India, Acclimatise is involved in work using PREPdata to support climate adaptation plans in two Indian states – Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh – through the development of state-level dashboards to track indicators of climate hazard, vulnerability and adaptation. And, in Africa, PREP partners are exploring the use of PREPdata as a platform for regional-scale analysis of vulnerability to climate change.
Last week, the Office of Climate Change (OCC), which is part of Guyana’s Ministry of the Presidency (MotP), hosted its final workshop to collect feedback from relevant stakeholders on the proposed Country Work Programme. The finalised and approved programme will be submitted to the Green Climate Fund (GCF) as the country portfolio or pipeline of projects and programmes for GCF funding. Acclimatise was commissioned to support Guyana in the development of the Country Work Programme and with the in-country capacity building efforts for engagement with the GCF.
The workshop was facilitated by Acclimatise’s Maribel Hernández. The gathered feedback will be implemented into the finalised Country Work Programme which then will be submitted for approval to Minister of State Joseph Harmon. With his approval, the programme will then be sent to the GCF in order to access funding.
Janelle Christian, Head of the OCC, highlighted that Guyana is making a great effort and progressing significantly to build the country’s climate action.
“Many times, we are hard on ourselves with respect to the pace at which we go to address the challenges that we face as a nation, but we are proud to say that for the [Caribbean Community] CARICOM countries, Guyana was the first to have been approved by the GCF for readiness preparation and support of the [National Designated Authority] NDA,” she said.
Accessing GCF funding will greatly improve the country’s ability to climate-proof its development.
Cover photo by MotP: Janelle Christian adresses the stakeholders at last week’s workshop.
Water scarcity is now a real threat in two developing countries at the forefront of efforts to reduce climate change, India and South Africa. This is not the tragically familiar story of extreme weather, stunted crops and foreshortened lives. It is a different sort of threat: to urban life, to industrial development, and to attempts to end poverty.
More than 80% of India’s electricity comes from thermal power stations, burning coal, oil, gas and nuclear fuel. Now researchers from the US-based World Resources Institute, after analysing all of India’s 400+ thermal power plants, report that its power supply is increasingly in jeopardy from water shortages.
The researchers found that 90% of these thermal power plants are cooled by freshwater, and nearly 40% of them experience high water stress. The plants are increasingly vulnerable, while India remains committed to providing electricity to every household by 2019.
Between 2015 and 2050 the Indian power sector’s share of national water consumption is projected to grow from 1.4 to nine per cent, and by 2030, 70% of the country’s thermal power plants are likely to experience increased competition for water from agriculture, industry and municipalities.
Power sector choking
“Water shortages shut down power plants across India every year,” said O P Agarwal of WRI India. “When power plants rely on water sourced from scarce regions, they put electricity generation at risk and leave less water for cities, farms and families. Without urgent action, water will become a chokepoint for India’s power sector.”
Between 2013 and 2016 14 of India’s 20 largest thermal utility companies experienced one or more shutdowns because of water shortages. WRI calculates that shutdowns cost these companies over INR 91 billion ($1.4 billion) in potential revenue from the sale of power.
It says water shortages cancelled out more than 20% of the country’s growth in electricity generation in 2015 and 2016.
The report offers solutions, including notably a move towards solar and wind energy. India already has a target for 40% of its power to come from renewables by 2030, under the Paris Agreement on climate change.
“Renewable energy is a viable solution to India’s water-energy crisis,” said Deepak Krishnan, co-author of the report. “Solar PV and wind power can thrive in the same water-stressed areas where thermal plants struggle…”
“The challenge exceeds anything a major city has had to face anywhere in the world since the Second World War or 9/ll”
In Africa the dangers of water scarcity for one of the continent’s best-known cities, Cape Town, are imminent and, some believe, almost apocalyptic.
The city faces the prospect within three months of becoming the world’s first major city to run out of water, al-Jazeera reports.
It says the city’s water supplies are now so low that in late April it will declare “Day Zero”, the day when its reservoirs fall below a combined capacity of 13.5%.
This will mean Cape Town turning off the taps, except in the poorest neighbourhoods, and installing around 200 water collection sites across the city.
Water usage in the Western Cape province, which includes Cape Town, is now limited to a daily ration of 87 litres per person. If Day Zero dawns, that will drop to about 25 litres. The World Health Organisation says about 20 litres should be enough “to take care of basic hygiene needs and basic food hygiene”.
“But that’s no longer the case, it comes a whole lot later at the end of June, or in early July, if we are lucky,” he said. “We are experiencing a rapid change in our weather patterns, which is increasingly evident of a climate change…”
Bridgetti Lim Bandi, who has lived in the city all her life, said Cape Town’s rainfall pattern had changed dramatically within the last two decades. “We don’t have a traditional Cape Town winter any more,” she told al-Jazeera.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) has released its 2018 Global Risk Report and, once again, climate change has gained a prominent position in the risk ranking. Extreme weather events and natural disasters are the first two top rated risk in terms of likelihood, and second and third in terms of impact. Failure to adapt to and mitigate climate change are in fifth place for likelihood and fourth place for impact. Water crises are the fifth ranked risk in terms of impact. That means that climate-related risks make up the majority of the top rated risks in the report.
The report links the failure to adapt to and mitigate climate change to other risks such as extreme weather events, large-scale involuntary migration, water crises, food crises, biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse, and failure of regional or global governance. It is thus indirectly linked to profound social instability, as can be seen below. What becomes clear once more is that climate change is a risk multiplier and can have significant ripple effects across a number of global issues.
At the annual meeting of the WEF in Davos, prominent speakers took to the stage to emphasise how important it is to consider climate risks, physical and transitional. Anand Mahindra, chairman of the Mahindra Group, a $19 billion conglomerate, told the WEF “climate change is the next century’s biggest financial and business opportunity.” He spoke about how every measures the group has taken to reduce their greenhouse emissions has resulted in a positive return.
Philipp Hildebrand, vice chairman of BlackRock, highlighted the importance of the private sector when he said “People are beginning to realise this problem is too big for governments alone to deal with…. Essentially corporations have to become part of this solution.”
ClimateCon is North Carolina’s first conference on the business of climate, where climate, business, and government thought leaders will come together to explore innovative climate solutions and business opportunities. Hosted by The Collider, the event aims to help attendees recognize not just the need to act on climate, but to understand the business opportunity and move the needle on the development of data-driven climate solutions. Attendees will hear from other business leaders about how they are using climate products and services. The aim is to connect supply and demand – industries that need climate solutions and the innovators who are developing them.
The convention will take place from 16-25 March 2018 in Asheville, NC. There are four components to the convention:
The Business of Climate Forum, March 19 – 21 at The Collider: An exceptional opportunity for entrepreneurs and forward-thinking organizations.
The Summit for Emerging Climate Leaders, March 19 at The Collider: An interactive one-day symposium for undergraduates and young professionals – the next generation of climate leaders.
The Climate Solutions Showcase, March 20 at Highland Brewing: An evening event providing an opportunity to interact firsthand with world-class entrepreneurs, innovators and climate experts as they demonstrate their products and services available for commercial application. You will be provided with admission and transportation to this event.
The Climate City Experience, March 16 – 25 at different locations around Asheville: A full ten days of optional affiliate events and activities hosted by the breweries, restaurants, galleries, attractions and other organizations in Climate City, providing you with multiple opportunities for an immersive experience in iconic Asheville, North Carolina.
To find out more about the event and buy tickets, visit the ClimateCon website. Use our promotion code to get a discount on conference tickets: CLIMATE_ACCLIMATISE.
The Prysm Group have announced that RWM, in partnership with CIWM, the UK’s leading recycling, energy, water and waste management show, has joined its environmental division of shows which already includes The Flood Expo, The Marine and Coastal Civil Engineering Expo and the European Contamination Expo Series.
For 2018, the Flood Expo, which is the world’s largest flood exhibition and conference in the world, will be running alongside RWM, The Marine and Coastal Civil Engineering Expo and the European Contamination Expo Series. It will now be taking place on the 12th and 13th September at the NEC in Birmingham and will see over 15,000 professionals and over 600 exhibitors pack out the venue. The decision to move the Flood Expo to the NEC has been decided after gathering feedback from past exhibitors and visitors, and we believe the move will make the event more accessible to professionals who will be attending from all over the country.
Acclimatise is a partner of the Flood Expo. For further information and tickets to the 2018 Flood Expo, please click here:
The UK will miss its legally binding climate goals without more ambitious policies, says the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).
The UK’s official climate watchdog says the government’s Clean Growth Strategy falls short, even when taking a “generous” view of the plans and policies it sets out. The strategy was published in October 2017 and is supposed to meet the UK’s fourth and fifth carbon budgets for 2023-2032.
There are gaps in policy for cutting emissions across the economy, from the power sector to industry, transport and farming. Even the policies in place risk not delivering, the CCC says.
In a statement, CCC chair Lord Deben praises the tone of the government’s plans, but adds: “Ambitions alone are not enough. As it stands, the strategy does not deliver.”
This verdict leaves the government at risk of legal challenge under the Climate Change Act 2008, which says ministers must plan to meet UK carbon budgets.
Meeting carbon budgets
The 2008 Climate Change Act (pdf) sets a legally binding framework for UK climate policy. Under the act, the government must set five-yearly carbon budgets towards a long-term goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by “at least” 80% below 1990 levels in 2050.
Most recently, parliament legislated for a 57% cut in emissions across the fifth carbon budget, covering 2028-2032. The act also obliges ministers to set out how the UK will meet its goals.
Section 13, below, says the government: “Must prepare such proposals and policies as [it] considers will enable the carbon budgets…to be met.”
Under section 14, ministers must set out their plans “as soon as is reasonably practicable” after each carbon budget is set. This is why the government published its Clean Growth Strategy in October 2017, after repeated delays.
Today, the CCC issues its verdict – saying the strategy falls short of meeting the fourth and fifth carbon budgets – with a press release that quotes section 13 of the Act.
At a briefing for journalists, Carbon Brief asked Lord Deben if, in the committee’s view, the strategy was in breach of this provision. He said:
“These requirements have got to be met…[ministers are] going to have to fill [the strategy] out and they’re going to have to fill it out in time for us to meet the fourth and fifth carbon budget.”
The CCC’s verdict is also at odds with recent statements to parliament, in which climate minister Claire Perry said the policies in the strategy “keep us on track to meet our carbon budgets”.
Banking on flexibility
One point of particular contention is the use of flexibility rules. Under section 17 of the act, below, ministers can “bank” overachievement in one carbon budget to help meet subsequent goals.
These powers are relatively unrestricted, save for a requirement to obtain advice from the CCC and to take account of that advice (see paragraph 4, below).
In its Clean Growth Strategy (pdf), the government highlighted this flexibility, noting: “There is currently sufficient projected surplus available [from the first three carbon budgets] to carry forward to meet the fourth carbon budget and some of the fifth carbon budget.”
However, the CCC pushes back strongly against any plan that relies on this banked surplus to meet a shortfall in future carbon budgets.
It says that the current UK surplus stems largely from changes to the UK’s share of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) and the 2008 financial crisis, not from early climate action. If the UK relies on this surplus to meet targets in the short term, it would delay the low-carbon transition and store up greater costs later on.
The CCC report says:
“These [flexibilities] should only be employed in the case of unexpected conditions that, despite strong policy action, would otherwise cause the carbon budgets to be missed. They should not be used to enable ambition to be weakened…Use of these mechanisms would risk failing to develop leading low-carbon industries in the UK and storing up larger costs for future generations. Their use would also undermine the UK’s position of leadership and be counter to the commitments made under the Paris Agreement.”
Adrian Gault, acting CCC chief executive, tells Carbon Brief: “We shouldn’t be planning now to be using the flexibilities.” He gives the example of a series of very cold winters as a possible reason to use them. It ought to be something “really exceptional, late in the day”, he says.
In the briefing with journalists, Deben said:
“There is no question of using the banking, let’s be absolutely clear…We neither expect [government] to do it, nor would we accept that [government] should do it, because the budgets are not written on that basis. The budgets are written on the basis that there isn’t a carry-forward of that kind. If we were thinking of carry-forward we would have written the budgets differently and parliament would have voted on them differently.”
It is worth repeating that while the government must take the CCC’s advice into account on this matter, it is not obliged to follow that advice. However, the government did follow similar advice in agreeing (pdf) not to carry forward a surplus from the first carbon budget.
It is also worth noting that the first three UK carbon budgets were set on an “interim” basis, with the intention that the third budget for 2018-2022 be raised to a tighter “intended” level if a global climate deal were to be reached. This tightening never happened. It would have cut, though not eliminated the surplus savings, David Joffe, acting head of carbon budgets tells Carbon Brief.
The CCC report says that the UK will need to tighten its targets to align with the 1.5C ambition of the Paris Agreement. It suggests that any extra carbon budget savings should be put towards this. It also says the government should seek its advice on the UK’s long-term targets, once the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change releases its report on 1.5C in September.
The CCC starts its assessment of the Clean Growth Strategy with praise for the tone of the document. At the briefing for journalists, Deben said: “What the Clean Growth Strategy says, fundamentally, is this a central part of government’s economic policy. In that sense, it’s very welcome…There has been a very fundamental change in stance.”
In a foreword to the CCC report, Deben says these “very positive signals” are not matched in the details of the strategy: “Whilst some new policies are announced in the strategy, the detailed policies and measures to meet the targets are not, in general, set out.”
The report breaks down its assessment into three levels of certainty and detail.
First, it looks at firm policies that are likely to deliver lower emissions. These include £557m in funding to support low-carbon sources of electricity through more auctions, starting in spring 2019.
Second, the CCC lists policies which are already in place, but which risk failing to deliver as expected, potentially leaving gaps in the government’s climate plans. These include the Hinkley C and subsequent new nuclear plants.
The UK’s reliance on EU policies, from product energy efficiency to the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), are also at risk as they may change or cease to apply after the UK leaves the EU.
Third, the CCC looks at broad proposals or intentions in the strategy, where detailed policy is lacking. Examples include a 2040 phaseout of combustion-engine vehicle sales and the aspiration for “as many homes as possible” to reach band C efficiency by 2035.
The CCC adds all of these policies together and assumes each of them delivers in full. It uses a “generous” interpretation of the looser aspirations. Yet it still finds that the UK will miss its climate goals. You can see this “policy gap” between current policies and legal targets in the chart, below.
Updated government emissions projections, published earlier this year, cut the policy gap slightly for reasons unrelated to changes in government policy, the CCC notes. More importantly, “there remains a gap”, even with these lower projections. It adds:
“We would not expect a reduction in policy ambition in response…given the risk that this is reversed in later years and given the commitment in the Paris Agreement to increase effort and deliver beyond existing targets.”
On the contrary, the committee says the government should aim to outperform the carbon budgets as currently legislated. This would offer wiggle room in case some policies fail to deliver or allow for higher ambition, in line with Paris.
The CCC says the government should raise its ambition according to a strict timetable. This should eliminate the policy gap for the fourth carbon budget by the end of 2018 and firm up existing plans, so as to largely remove delivery risks, by the end of 2020. Similar assurance is needed on the fifth carbon budget, by the end of 2025.
It says: “If policies are not in place on this timeline, the carbon budgets are liable to be missed.”
The report sets out the key outcomes needed in each sector, to fill in the policy gaps it identifies. In the power sector, for example, the CCC says the government needs to contract an additional 50-70 terawatt hours of low-carbon supplies for delivery during 2025-2030.
For transport, emissions should fall to 44% below 2016 levels by 2030. The government should go beyond its aspirational 2040 goal on combustion engine vehicles, with policies to ensure around 60% of vehicle sales by 2030 are “ultra low emissions”, including electric vehicles.
Emissions from buildings and industry need to fall to 20% below 2016 levels by 2030, with incentives – or potentially regulations – to drive progress. You can see the outcomes needed from each sector in the table, below.
The CCC’s official verdict is that the UK will miss its carbon targets for 2023-2032, without new policies. In the context of the legally binding provisions of the Climate Change Act, this verdict further opens the government to the risk of legal action.
The CCC says the government’s Clean Growth Strategy will fall short, even taking a “generous” interpretation of the plans and policies it contains, many of which remain undeveloped.
The committee also pushes back firmly against any idea that this policy gap could be bridged using flexibilities in the act. Instead, it lists the areas where more detail or ambition will be needed and sets a timetable for government to deliver.
Speaking to Carbon Brief, acting committee chief executive Gault says: “There is still time to put in place necessary policies and measures…we’re not saying the carbon budgets can’t be met.”
When the Clean Growth Strategy was published, legal NGO ClientEarth said: “[This] fails to put us on track to meet legally binding emissions targets. We are considering our legal options.”
This week, in a statement to Carbon Brief, the NGO says:
“Though the Clean Growth Strategy moved things in the right direction, we agree with the CCC that further policy development is urgently needed…The ball remains very firmly in the government’s court to go much further than it has done so far.”
Acclimatise – together with UNEP FI, Oliver Wyman and Mercer – will develop a harmonized methodology for banks that will help them strengthen their assessments and disclosure of climate-related risks and opportunities. By using this harmonized approach, climate change assessments and disclosures will become consistent and comparable.
“One of the buzzwords in the sustainable finance world is ‘mainstreaming’,” notes Eric Usher, the Head of UNEP FI. “For us to achieve a sustainable financial sector we need to mainstream environmental factors from the periphery of financial institutions’ attention into their core decision-making. This is a key objective not only of UNEP FI but also of the TCFD. We are therefore very pleased to have the support of Acclimatise, one of the most recognized advisory firms on physical climate risk, as we work together with 16 global banks to operationalize and mainstream the TCFD recommendations into their core businesses.”
The Acclimatise team will focus on all aspects relating to physical risks under different climate scenarios. Acclimatise will help the Working Group develop scenarios and analytical approaches to better understand physical risks and their impact on physical assets and investment portfolios. The focus of the Oliver Wyman and Mercer team will be on transition risks associated with different scenarios for decarbonising the economy.
Acclimatise has worked on physical climate risk and adaptation with corporates and financial institutions for over a decade, helping them identify and respond to physical risks and to take advantage of emerging opportunities generated by a changing climate.
CEO of Acclimatise, John Firth, states, “The ability of firms to embrace climate risks and opportunities, and factor them into strategic planning will not only improve their performance, but will create a more resilient banking sector and economy. The methodology we are developing with the 16 banks in this project will be a means to start this process, as it aims to allow quantification and meaningful disclosure of physical climate risks and opportunities.”
Acclimatise is a UK-based climate change advisory and analytics company that specialises on climate change adaptation and resilience building. Acclimatise is a trusted advisor for many organisations across a wide range of sectors including government, finance, insurance, water, energy, transport, mining, agriculture, defence, food and beverages, and international development. The company’s 24 staff have successfully worked on more than 350 projects in over 70 countries for 180 public, private and non-governmental organisations.
It turns out that 2017 was uniquely disastrous to the United States in more ways than one with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) attributing a cumulative damage amount of $306.2 billion to 16 separate disaster events, a record previously held in 2005.
Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria combined with 2017’s extreme wildfires make up four of the 16 weather and climate disasters with losses exceeding $1 billion each. Overall, these events resulted in the deaths of 362 people and had significant economic effects on the areas impacted.
Since 1980, the U.S. has sustained 219 billion-dollar climate-related disasters with cumulative costs exceeding $1.5 trillion dollars. From 1980-2016, the annual average number of billion-dollar events was 5.8 whereas the most recent five years (2013-2017) saw an annual average of 11.6 events.
With $135 billion expected in insured losses, 2017 is also a costly year for the insurance industry, giving reinsurance companies such as MunichRe a primary role in helping people and communities rebuild in the wake of natural catastrophes.
As insurance companies are often required by law to buy reinsurance because they lack the capital resources to pay out if there is a major disaster, companies like MunichRe have a unique incentive to understand and predict these trends.
Additionally, this understanding has resulted in reinsurers being at the forefront of warning businesses and the public about the rise in extreme weather events due to climate change.
A MunichRe release in September 2010 noted it had analysed its catastrophe database, “the most comprehensive of its kind in the world” and concluded, “the only plausible explanation for the rise in weather-related catastrophes is climate change.
NOAA researcher Adam B. Smith agrees, citing climate change as a primary culprit in the frequency of these severe weather and climate events.
“Climate change is playing an increasing role in the increasing frequency of some types of extreme weather that lead to billion-dollar disasters,” Smith wrote in a blog post. “Most notably the rise in vulnerability to drought, lengthening wildfire seasons and the potential for extremely heavy rainfall and inland flooding events are most acutely related to the influence of climate change.”
Cover photo by Marcus Kauffman on Unsplash: Big Fall Creek Road, Lowell, United States, during the Jones Fire in August 2017.
Learn more about the role of NOAA’s NCEI data by clicking here and watching our video below:
In 1997 Indonesian pop star Anggun sang that she’d “pray the skies above for snow to fall on the Sahara.” This week, 21 years after Anggun’s pop hit, the Algerian town of Ain Sefra experienced snowfall of up to 40cm deep. Rising temperatures on the following day meant the rare white sprinkle melted away quickly, but it left quite an impression.
However unlikely snow in a hot desert seems, it is not unheard of in Ain Sefra which lies between the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara’s northern edge. Snowfall in the Algerian town known as “The Gateway to the Desert” was also recorded in December 2016 and February 1979.
As Dr Mike Kaplan, professor in atmospheric science at the Desert Research Institute in Nevada, explains “during the winter, we usually see cold air very far north, and warm air very far south. But sometimes the buildup of warm air in the south and cold air in the north gets so extreme that the pattern will break down.” This leads to the strange weather we have been seeing lately which included for example Jacksonville, Florida, having colder temperatures than Anchorage, Alaska.