Category Archives: [SDG13]

Defensive approaches to extreme weather

The problem:
Extreme weather such as floods, droughts and heatwaves has huge human and economic costs at present. The problem is set to get worse not only due to climate change but also because of projected demographic changes such as a growing and aging global population, increasingly located in areas exposed to extreme weather.

Key facts/ messages:
– Combining scenarios of demographic change with predicted climate change demonstrates that people and their assets will be increasingly exposed to extreme weather over coming decades.
– There are a range of defensive options that can reduce the impact of extreme weather on people.
– While engineering options such as sea walls tend to be the most effective, ecosystem-based options can be more affordable and have positive additional benefits. Hybrid options can combine the advantages of both.

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The UNU-FLORES Nexus Observatory and the Post- 2015 Monitoring Agenda

Recent debates within the UN system, which are also reflected in the Prototype Sustainable Development Report, have called for policy-making that is supported by a strong evidence-base. Making research relevant, timely, accessible and instructive, thus, strengthening science-policy interfaces is one of the key challenges of the 21st century. As much as humans must adapt to a changing world and build resilience (in economic, political, social and environmental terms), transformation and innovation of methods and approaches that are suited to address current and future challenges need to form an integral part if sustainable outcomes are to be achieved. Scientists who have made important contributions towards articulating an analytical framework for sustainable management of environmental resources
have emphasized the role of property rights for resources, such as forests, rivers and livestock pasture (Ostrom, 1990). The literature on institutions has highlighted the challenge of fragmented decisionmaking processes and structures that lead to the creation of silos across disciplines, regions, government departments and ministries. This in turn hinders inclusive and comprehensive approaches
founded on improved understanding of trade-offs and synergies that is necessary for integrated management of environmental resources to occur.

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Adaptation and resilience in the face of climate change: protecting the conditions of emergence through good governance

Super wicked problems such as global climate change (Levin et al. 2012) and the extensive subsequent changes to the environment, biodiversity and human economies cannot be tackled with the usual disciplinary approaches that have long been the basis for policy making. Problems in social and environmental planning tend to become wicked because their causes are complex and subject to different interpretations according cultural values and beliefs. Consequently there are no objectively definable solutions to wicked problems and disagreement on what might be done to address a problem may be profound. In the case of climate change, the problem is super wicked because of the urgent need for solutions, lack of a central decisionmaking authority, and those responsible for solving the problem are also creating it.

The concept of resilience in complex adaptive social-ecological systems (SES) provides a relatively novel way of thinking about change at all scale levels from the local to the global. It enables people to develop strategies that either enhances the resilience of an existing system, so that it can absorb and recover from disturbance like fire, floods and disease outbreaks, or deliberately transforms the system into a new state that is better able to meet long term human needs. A SES resilience perspective recognizes that change in all biological systems (including all forms of human organization) begin with the very small and grows upwards.

This brief describes resilience concepts and argues that they provide a foundation for the development of adaptation policies based on a relatively simple model of the drivers and feedbacks that define the change process at work in a system. It also makes some suggestions on how national policies might support the growth of resilience and adaptive capacity for coping with climate change.

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Weak Sustainability versus Strong Sustainability

The fundamental debate regarding sustainable development is whether we choose to adopt a strong or a weak conception of sustainability. Weak sustainability postulates the full substitutability of natural capital whereas the strong conception demonstrates that this substitutability should be severely seriously limited due to the existence of critical elements that natural capital provides for human existence and well-being. The following science digest provides an overview of scientific findings to support informed debate among decision-makers regarding the need to adopt a strong sustainability position for the discussion and implementation of the post-2015 sustainable development policies.

The Role of Educator Training for a Sustainable Future

A large number of documents regarding the role of higher education in the creation of a sustainable civil society were written during the last 50 years within the framework of international and world
conferences: Talloires (1990), Halifax (1991), Rio de Janeiro (1992), Swansea (1993) and so on.

Literature is also integrated by a high number of good practices developed in a series of universities around the world. These chose the challenge of sustainability as one of the main objectives to be
pursued in the short, medium and long term. At the same time, universities, colleges, research institutes and agencies are creating networks, computing platforms and partnerships in order to exchange
experiences, share achieved results and improve opportunities for cooperation and research (SALOMONE, 2013).

Higher education has one across-the-board objective when taking the sustainability challenge, that is educate and train all future teachers, decision makers, students, professionals, experts, company
employees and common people to embrace sustainable and environment-aware approaches, behaviors, lifestyles and consumption patterns. The world of higher education shall commit especially to creating environmental basic teaching processes and promoting practices related to environment ethics.

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Pathways to Deep Decarbonization, a Problem Solving Approach for a 2°C Society

The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)[IPCC, 2013 & 2014] underscores the dangers to human well-being of a business-as-usual scenario where average global temperatures rise by 4°C or more. Governments around the world have adopted the target of keeping the global rise in mean surface temperature below 2°C compared with the preindustrial average [UNFCCC,
2010]. This target translates into a limitation on global cumulative emissions of approximately 1,000 GtCO2 during the transition to a net-zero emission economy. Yet, current voluntary pledges – even if fully implemented – fall short of what is needed. According to the UNEP Emission Gap Report, existing commitments to reduce emissions are 8 to 10 GtCO2e below the minimum needed in 2020 to retain a 66% chance of staying within 2°C [UNEP, 2014].

As a benchmark for the transition to be implemented, global per capita emissions will need to fall to less than 2 tCO2e by 2050, where developed nations currently range from approximately 10 to 20 tCO2e per capita today [DDPP, 2014]. Realizing such a reduction in emissions requires unprecedented problem solving on all fronts: technological diffusion and innovation, infrastructure building, financing mechanisms, policy frameworks, institutional arrangements, business models, and consumer behavior. This problem solving is best organized around coherent visions of the required transformation, which take the form of deep decarbonization pathways (DDPs) to 2050.

To make a strong and convincing case for action at the national level, DDPs must be country-specific and developed by local experts. They need to fit within countries’ development strategies and align with their socioeconomic and environmental goals. They need to demonstrate that the short- and long-term challenges countries face, such as economic development, poverty eradication and job creation can be addressed in parallel to deep decarbonization. However, few countries have created such pathways. The Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP) offers an approach to develop such analysis.

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Climate Change Responses: Mitigation and Adaptation for Whom?

This brief summarises some recent critiques of our responses to climate change and highlights the ways in which the global poor, who will suffer the most from climate change, are being further marginalised as a result of mitigation and adaptation responses, through hierarchies and social stratification at all scales. Understanding and responding to these
resulting “insults and injuries of intervention” (Marino & Ribot, 2012, p. 327) is an important new component in achieving sustainable development in a climate-changed world, along
with the ongoing need to understand root causes of vulnerability (Ribot, 2014), double exposure to climate change and globalisation (O’Brien & Leichenko, 2000) and the social basis
of disasters (Sen, 1981; Wisner et al, 2004).

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Estimations of the contribution of international shipping to greenhouse gas emissions

Maritime transport is the backbone of world trade and globalization. Twenty-four hours a day and all year round, ships carry cargoes to all corners of the globe. This role will continue to grow with the anticipated increase in world trade in the years to come as millions of people are expected to be lifted out of poverty through improved access to basic materials, goods and products. World trade and maritime transport are, therefore, fundamental to sustaining economic growth and spreading prosperity throughout the world, thereby fulfilling a critical social as well as an economic function.

Maritime transport will be indispensable in a sustainable future global economy, being the most energy efficient mode of mass cargo transport; in 2012 ships carried about 9.2 billion tonnes of cargo and over 2.1 billion passengers. Consequently, these environmental, social and economic dimensions of maritime transport are equally important and should be fully recognized in any strategy, policy, regulatory framework or action.

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Enhancing the quality of African climate change science by investing in peer review capacity

Globally, climate change will bring “harder rains in a hotter climate” (Berg, et al., 2013). For African farmers, it will bring more erratic rainfall, more frequent and severe droughts in dry lands and savanna areas, and shifts in weather patterns that will alter the timing and length of cropping seasons (Niang, et al., 2014). Building resilience, enhancing climate change preparedness, and mainstreaming climate sensitivity need to become integral components of all agricultural and sustainable development planning in Africa (Hassan, 2010). Science must play a greater role in guarding against expected food shortages in Africa; many calls to that effect have been made in international discussions, including those hosted by United Nations bodies (Pearson, 2004; Poliakoff, 2011). Put simply, African scientists need to act quickly to re-do much of the existing, as well as new science about crops and livestock, the environment, and livelihoods for changed climate scenarios. Science based solutions are only considered credible by intended users if these are properly peer reviewed for the scientific merit.

So far, most of the peer reviewed climate change science about and for Africa has been undertaken by research programs funded and led by affluent countries; the resulting papers have generally been published in acclaimed journals located in developed countries. Thousands of journals address climate-related issues relevant to Africa, developed countries. Thousands of journals address climate-related issues relevant to Africa, but far too few such publications are actually located in the countries being discussed. Even African scientists tend to publish their peer reviewed science in the journals located in or managed by developed countries. Of the 450 online African journals, more than two-thirds originate from two countries: Nigeria and South Africa (Figure 1). Only nine other countries in the continent publish more than five open-access journals. This typifies the ecosystem of climaterelated peer reviewed scientific expertise within Africa.

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Planetary Guardrails as Policy Guidance for Sustainable Development

Planetary guardrails are science-based suggestions of limiting human-induced changes in the Earth system in order to avoid intolerable effects on ecosystems and human societies. This brief outlines the guardrail concept as developed by the German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU, an independent, scientific advisory body to the German federal government), illuminates its crucial relevance for sustainable development, and explains its importance for policy makers. It draws heavily on a recently published WBGU Policy Paper (WBGU 2014).

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能源与气候治理研究进展综述 (Review of research on energy and climate governance)

This brief is submitted in the Chinese language. The full brief could be accessed through the below link. Your comments could be in either English or Chinese.

摘 要
在变化的政治、经济、社会环境条件下,人们在探索“资源、环境、人口、发展”相协调的实践历程中不断总结出公 共资源与环境管理的基本规律和运行机制,以实现可持续发展。近年来,学术界在能源与气候变化治理的理论方面取得了显 著的成果和进展;与此同时,我国在能源管理与应对气候变化的实践领域中也开展了积极的探索和尝试,有力的促进了经 济、社会、环境的协调发展。本文梳理总结了近年我国能源与气候变化治理领域的研究进展。

基于 CGE 模型的碳交易机制技术效应和减排效应研究 (Assessing technological effect and mitigation effect of carbon trading using Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) model)

This brief is submitted in the Chinese language. The full brief could be accessed through the below link. Your comments could be in either English or Chinese.

摘 要
本文基于一般均衡理论,结合中国经济和能源市场特征,利用含有内生技术进步的 CGE(Computable General Equilibrium)模型分析了碳交易机制下的三种减排情境对技术进步的影响以及带来的 CO2减排效应,以期为中国减排政策的制定提供 科学的信息支持和决策参考。结果表明低减排目标、中等减排目标、高减排目标约束下:(1)技术进步相对于基准情景的变化率逐 年上升,减排初期为 0.13%、0.40%和 0.73%,到 2030 年达到 0.47%、1.60%和 3.35%;(2)碳价波动幅度较小,平均水平为 57.86 元 /吨、203.17 元/吨和 452.87 元/吨;(3)碳强度相对于 2005 年水平逐年下降,减排初期为 30.38%、35.34%和 42.38%,到 2030 年达 到 58.37%、61.38%和 65.66%;(4)减排量也呈现逐年上升趋势,初期为 0.74 亿吨、2.46 亿吨和 4.93 亿吨,到 2030 年到达 1.08 亿 吨、3.62 亿吨和 7.23 亿吨;(5)减排初期 GDP 相对于基准情景都出现不同程度的下降,分别为 0.02%,0.12% 和 0.37%,后期逐渐 转为正向,到 2030 年高于基准情景 0.03%,0.05% 和 0.02%;(6)研发投入相对于基准情景平均每年分别增加约 0.5%, 2% 和 3.5%。碳交易能够有效激励技术进步,实现二氧化碳减排,但现阶段对于经济增长有负面效应。因此,目前不适宜建立全国性的碳市 场。只有在科技水平达到一定程度,并且经济形势趋于稳定之后,碳交易才能实现减排和增长的“双重红利”。

基于改进的主成分回归模型的碳排放预测研究 (Carbon emission forecast using improved Principal Component Regression (PCR) model)

This brief is submitted in the Chinese language. The full brief could be accessed through the below link. Your comments could be in either English or Chinese.

摘 要
为分析影响碳排放的主要因素,本文引入主成分分析理论,多元线性回归模型来考察影响碳排放的人文、经济、能源等 因素与碳排放之间的相互关系,进一步对其影响因素进行主成分多元回归建模,并就未来的碳排放及其强度展开预测。结果表明:在 所考察因素中,能源消费总量与碳排放的关系最为紧密;其次是 GDP 和人口总量。在结构指标中,工业化率和化石燃料比重,这两个 因素对碳排放的影响远高于城市化率、城镇居民消费水平。对上述结果分析后,本文提出了合理控制能源消费总量和经济增速,提高 经济发展质量和服务业比重,促进新能源产业发展等政策建议。最后,基于情景设置,本文运用主成分回归方程对我国 2020 年碳排 放总量及其强度进行预测。

欧盟 EUA 和 sCER 碳期货市场的动态套利研究 (Dynamic arbitrage study on the EUA and sCER carbon markets)

This brief is submitted in the Chinese language. The full brief could be accessed through the below link. Your comments could be in either English or Chinese.

摘 要
欧盟碳排放交易体系(EU ETS)的碳排放配额(EUA)和清洁发展机制(CDM)下经核准的碳减排量二级市场(sCER)交 易已经成为国际典型碳期货市场。本文引入 GARCH 类模型研究它们之间的动态时变相关性,在此基础上考察各种套利策略的有效性。 结果表明,EUA 收益率和 sCER 收益率之间存在显著的时变相关性,而且,在样本区间内,除全球金融危机动荡期间之外,2009-2012 年大部分时期它们的相关程度保持在高位稳定水平。另外,基于 GARCH 类模型的套利策略虽然能够获取时变最优套利比率,但其有效 性未必总是优于静态的 OLS 模型。

Anthropological perspectives on climate change and sustainability: implications for policy and action

Natural science disciplines ranging from climatology to oceanography and from geophysics to biogeography have been involved in research on climate change and its implications for sustainability, but over the past few decades anthropologists have examined these same issues from a rather different perspective. Even earlier, physical anthropologists and archaeologists had begun examining the role of primarily natural climate change in the bio-cultural evolution of humans in Africa and their subsequent dispersal to Eurasia, Australia, and the Americas. Climate change appears to have played a prominent role in the formation of various civilizations, the occupation or abandonment of different regions over time, and the collapse of major civilizations and indigenous societies.

This brief focuses on the recent work of sociocultural anthropologists on anthropogenic climate change, a phenomenon that began with the Industrial Revolution and is characterized by heavy reliance on fossil fuels and emphasis on
persistently enduring economic growth. Particularly after World War II, the global economy began to promote and rely on relentless consumption of manufactured products. This economic model has diffused from the first industrialized countries to the developing world through trade, foreign investment, aid and development programs, and its sustainability implications are not confined to anthropogenic climate change….

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Ocean acidification

Scientists, organizations at the national, regional and global level, especially the United Conference for sustainable development in 2012, so called RIO+20, stressed ocean acidification as a threat for the marine environment. The final outcome document of Rio+20 ‘the future we want’ highlighted the critical role the oceans play in all three pillars of sustainable development, and “commit[ed] to protect, and restore, the health, productivity and resilience of oceans and marine ecosystems, and to maintain their biodiversity, enabling their conservation and sustainable use for present and future generations.” It contains 20 paragraphs in a dedicated section on oceans and seas, and an additional three paragraphs on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and last but not least one paragraph urging the emerging issue of Ocean acidification.

After months of work from individuals and organizations all around the world an ocean acidification specific outcome (Number 166) is: “We call for support to initiatives that address ocean acidification and the impacts of climate change on marine and coastal ecosystems and resources. In this regard, we reiterate the need to work collectively to prevent further ocean acidification, as well as to enhance the resilience of marine ecosystems and of the communities whose livelihoods depend on them, and to support marine scientific research, monitoring and observation of ocean acidification and particularly vulnerable ecosystems, including through enhanced international cooperation in this regard.” …

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Green jobs in the era of changing climate

In many parts of the Global South, climate change will have substantial (negative) impacts on overall national development including country’s efforts to reduce poverty (Olsson et al., 2014). However, current climate adaptation efforts can be criticized for their limited incorporation of or focus on the “poverty reduction” aspect. These two concepts – poverty reduction and climate change adaptation – are often treated as two different issues among many scholars, policy makers, and practitioners, even though issues like poverty and inequality are the “most salient of the conditions that shape climate-related vulnerability” (Ribot, 2010:50). Therefore, climate adaptation efforts in developing countries can be criticized for not making meaningful and lasting impacts among the poor and marginalized citizens. Since poor and marginalized citizens are most vulnerable to climate impacts, it is critical for the developing nations in the Global South to have means to reduce their poverty along with meaningful climate adaptation efforts….

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Politicas de proteccion social en el contexto de politicas de desarrollo sostenible y cambio climatico

El presente artículo explica algunos de los aspectos más importantes, declaraciones y programas por país que permiten explicar la evolución e importancia global de las políticas que reconocen la integración de las políticas de protección social con las de desarrollo sostenible y lucha contra el cambio climático…

Social protection policies in the context of sustainable development policies and climate change

This brief examines some of the most important aspects, statements and country programs that explain the evolution and global importance of policies that integrate social protection policies with those oriented to promote sustainable development and responses to climate change….

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Environmental Solutions via Buoyant Flake Fertilization

An opportunity exists to combine three sustainable or waste materials, and to deploy the resulting product in such a way that it: increases sustainable fish stocks; reduces surface ocean acidity; sequesters carbon; and cools the globe profitably, effectively, quickly, and by means closely matching how Nature has done this safely for millennia.

Sustainable Development can come from solutions that replace fossil fuel consumption with sustainable resources, or from solutions that address environmental threats. Some solutions do both. One such prospective solution combines natural and waste materials to form ultra-slow release, buoyant flakes that provide the essential nutrients necessary to make the nutrient deficient half of ocean surface waters productive. In food production terms, this is nearly the equivalent of having another Earth, such is the productivity of nutrient-rich waters. At the same time, the flakes deliver four other key benefits: the dark blue of the less-productive high seas is replaced with the milky-green hue of productive seas, thereby cooling the world by reflecting more solar energy back into space; chemicals released by the additional microscopic phytoplankton contribute to marine cloud brightening, thereby also increasing global albedo (reflectiveness) fairly
evenly and hence reducing diverse regional effects; the additional photosynthetic phytoplankton offset ocean acidification by converting the carbon dioxide dissolved in the ocean surface waters (carbonic acid) into neutral biomass and oxygen; and part of this biomass sequesters carbon in the cold ocean depths and sediments when it sinks, leaving the surface waters able to take up more atmospheric carbon dioxide.

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Investing in sustainable development: A perspective on market-based approaches

Anomalies and risks associated with achieving growth suggest that humanity is heading for increasing instability and multipolar disasters. The question is: are there instruments for alleviating these problems? Should the relevant instruments be market-based, public-based, or both? This brief argues that an effective private sector model to leverage financing for global sustainable development exists. It assesses the comparative analysis of contingent valuation (CV) versus revealed preferences (RP) methods for environmental conservation to argue that an effective model of collaborative push -" i.e. insurance-based contractual savings" is in effect doable for economic, social and environmental sustainability as a quasipublic good between the public and private sectors.

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