NEWSLETTER
Issue 03, March 2014

header
 
In this Issue
 
 
IPCC Report Analysis
Climate change impacts could slow down economic growth; and increase risks of violent conflicts

The much-awaited IPCC report on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability of climate change has found that climate change impacts are projected to further erode food security and pose risks to drinking water quality over the 21st century, slow down economic growth and potentially increase rivalry among states over shared resources.

The second volume of the most comprehensive and up to date report on the state of knowledge on climate change was released late last month, establishing that the effects of climate change are already occurring on all continents and across the oceans, and that the severity of impacts will increase unless the rate and magnitude of climate change is brought under control. The United Nations' report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has found that countries at all levels of development lack preparedness for risks from a changing climate. The geographic scale of widespread impacts is concerning as they spread from tropics to the poles, from small islands to large continents, and from the wealthiest countries to the poorest. The impacts of climate change could make efforts to tackle poverty more difficult, trapping people in poverty, hunger and poor health.

The impacts of climatic change are not limited to natural systems such as water resources, oceans and ecosystems. Some impacts on human systems such as food production, agriculture, human health and peoples' livelihoods have also been attributed to climate change. The report identifies vulnerable people, industries and ecosystems around the world and finds some impacts are expected to disproportionately affect poor people, as they have less infrastructural and adaptive capacity to cope with climate-related losses. But the worst is yet to come. The IPCC report is compelling in terms of the impacts of climate change that are already occurring: "Many terrestrial, freshwater and marine species have shifted their geographic ranges, seasonal activities, migration patterns, abundances, and species interactions in response to ongoing climate change," says the report. "Based on many studies covering a broad range of regions and crops, negative impacts of climate change on crop yields have been more common than positive impacts." "I hope these facts - for want of a better word - will jolt people into action," says Dr R K Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC, at the release of the ground-breaking report in Yokohama, Japan, recently.

New Findings

Some studies till now had revealed a mix of impacts on food production, with some regions of the world benefiting from climate changes, while others were hit harder. But the IPCC report finds differently. The report assesses with high confidence that the negative impacts of climate change on crop yields have been more common than positive ones. The impact of climate change could increase risks of violent conflicts in the form of civil war, says Pachauri, by amplifying well-documented drivers of these conflicts such as poverty. He said that nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change. "The world has all kinds of drivers of stress and drivers of conflict. With the climate change, these are likely to get exacerbated further," said Pachauri.

The report, in fact, establishes a link between climate change impacts and increase interstate rivalry. "The impacts of climate change on the critical infrastructure and territorial integrity of many states are expected to influence national security policies."

For example, land inundation due to sea-level rise poses risks to the territorial integrity of small-island states and states with extensive coastlines. "Some trans-boundary impacts of climate change, such as changes in sea ice, shared water resources, and pelagic fish stocks, have the potential to increase rivalry among states, but robust national and intergovernmental institutions can enhance cooperation and manage many of these rivalries," the report says. The report found evidence of climate change in the thawing permafrost in the Arctic and in the destruction of coral reefs. It found many freshwater and marine species had shifted their geographical range due to climate change. The report also projects that risks will get more severe if global greenhouse gas emissions are not mitigated. "Increased tree mortality and associated forest dieback is projected to occur in many regions over the 21st century, due to increased temperatures and drought. Forest dieback poses risks for carbon storage, biodiversity, wood production, water quality, amenity and economic activity."

The report says: "Freshwater-related risks of climate change increase significantly with increasing greenhouse gas concentrations." "Due to projected climate change, by the mid-21st century and beyond, global marine-species redistribution and marine-biodiversity reduction in sensitive regions will challenge the sustained provision of fisheries productivity and other ecosystem services." The report warns: "Increasing magnitudes of warming increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts." Moreover, IPCC in this report concludes that people, societies, and ecosystems in poor and rich countries around the world are vulnerable and exposed to climate change, with different vulnerability and exposure in different places. "Impacts from recent climate-related extremes, such as heat waves, droughts, floods, cyclones, and wildfires reveal significant vulnerability and exposure of some ecosystems and many human systems to current climate variability." "Climate change is projected to progressively increase inter-annual variability of crop yields in many regions. These projected impacts will occur in the context of rapidly rising crop demand," says the report.

The IPCC identifies key risks to human and natural systems related to climate change, which constitute particular challenges for the least developed countries and vulnerable communities, given their limited ability to cope. These include risks due to sea level rise, coastal flooding, storm surges, heat waves, drought, rain variability, inland flooding, water shortage, and extreme weather events. The risks that these could increase include death, injury, ill-health, food insecurity, loss of marine and terrestrial ecosystems, and disruption of livelihoods.

Meeting the Challenges

For many decades, people and societies have tried to cope with a changing climate, with varying degrees of success. The report says that governments at various levels are beginning to develop adaptation plans and policies and to integrate climate-change considerations into broader development plans such as disaster risk management and water management strategies.

As an example of adaptation in the world, in Africa governments have started to build systems for disaster risk management and are taking basic public health measures to reduce vulnerability, though these initiatives have been isolated achievements so far. Complementary actions from individuals and governments would enhance adaptation planning and implementation.

Adaptation policy in Europe has been developed across all levels of government, with adaptation planning integrated into coastal and water management. In North America incremental planning is taking place, with some proactive adaptation to protect long-term investments in energy infrastructure. Australasia's adaptation efforts have been focused around sea-level rise, and in southern Australia, on reduced water availability.

Responding to climate change risks involves adaptation strategies and planning although there are limits to the effectiveness of adaptation. Persistent uncertainty about the severity and timing of climate impacts, as well as the long timeframes involved, are part of the decision-making process. Therefore, iterative risk management is a useful framework to make decisions in situations involving many climatic and non-climatic influences.

The report assesses a number of principles for effective adaptation to respond to climate change. For instance, the report highlights that there is no single approach for reducing risks as adaptation is place and context specific. In addition, adaptation planning is contingent on societal values, objectives and risk perceptions and the decision-making process would benefit from consideration of diverse interests and social-cultural contexts.

The production of major food crops, (wheat, rice and maize) in tropical and temperate regions is projected to be negatively affected for local temperature rises of 2C or more above 20th century levels, without adaptation. The report says the impacts on the global economy are difficult to estimate, although global economic losses are accelerated with greater warming. Climate change impacts are projected to slow down economic growth, making efforts to tackle poverty more difficult.
US Energy Secretary visits India
 
Ernest Moniz, US Secretary of Energy and Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Government of India met in New Delhi on 11th March, 2014. While the US Energy Secretary's visit to India was primarily to resolve a contentious civil nuclear liability law which is hindering investment in the nuclear energy sector, two major energy issues were part of the agenda. First, the Energy Secretary stated that investment on clean energy is estimated at $36 trillion worldwide in the next four decades and is a huge opportunity for the private sector. In this
  img
connection, India has shown interest in liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States, who are also looking to export the fuel. It is supposed that access to American LNG would help India reduce its dependence on the Middle East for crude oil and provide access to a cleaner energy source. This debate will take direction after the Energy Secretary's visit.

Second, there is huge interest as well as discomfort in India about the prospects of trade in solar energy. The US is against the domestic procurement requirements in India's National Solar Mission as they believe it discriminates against American suppliers. Secretary Moniz elaborated on the US position, "Our view fundamentally in the end is that to both grow the sector and to ultimately establish a strong and competitive manufacturing lies in building the market."

The energy dialogue presents several high-potential opportunities for bilateral cooperation, given that the US is looking to expand its market for renewable energy technologies and that over 40% of India's rural households do not have access to electricity.
Attention: Policy Makers
 
Policy Brief: Global Gas Scenario & India
Indian energy demand is on the climbing curve and is expected to continue rising from medium to long term. Growth in the energy sector is also essential to meet the economic growth targets set by the Planning Commission in the various five year and annual plans. However, constrained domestic supplies of energy and increasing dependence on international markets have led to an increased integration of global and domestic energy markets. Therefore, it is pertinent to examine the key international energy trends and assess their implications. In this context, the advent of shale gas in North America ushered in by the emergence of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has the potential to revolutionize the global energy scenario. Addressing the environmental implications of shale gas exploration and production through domestic regulations will also be of great importance.

The analysis and arguments in the paper are based on the discussions held during the High Level Round Table on 'Global Gas Scenario and India', organized by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) North America in September 2013.


 
 
Building the Green Real Estate Sector
The Green Real Estate Sector has been aggressively discussed and promoted in recent years in India. Though awareness about its importance is growing, there are many green myths that need to be demystified for the sector to become environmentally sustainable. In this context, the recent survey of the sector by TERI BCSD and Yes Bank has thrown up significant findings. For instance, many respondents of the study felt that there is still a notion prevalent among large populations that a green building is more expensive. And yet consumers were not willing pay a premium for a green building. Below are some of the key findings of the TERI BCSD-Yes Bank report on the Green Real Estate Sector in India, which is poised to grow in the coming years.

 
 
In Focus: Communicating for Change
Sustainable development is the need of the hour and requires concerted and collective action. Communication can hold the key for spreading awareness and encouraging action. TERI has helped set up a community radio station, Kumaon Vani, in Mukteshwar, in Nainital district of Uttarakhand. It is completely managed by the local community, living in the vicinity of the radio station.

While working with the local farming community to explore opportunities of improving their livelihood from agriculture, TERI realized that lack of access to information, especially in the mountainous terrain of Kumaon, was a big roadblock. Thus, emerged the idea of setting up a community radio that could enable the farmers to share knowledge and information on sustainable agriculture.

The programmes broadcast on the radio station primarily focus on the following:
» Raise informed debate on issues related to water, forest and land
» Revive Kumaoni language, music and culture
» Raise awareness on issues of health, gender and education
» Improve delivery of government welfare programmes

The station is based in Mukteshwar, a town nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas in the district of Nainital. Kumaon Vani can be heard on 90.4 MHz (FM) in 7 districts of Uttarakhand, namely Nainital, Almora, Ranikhet, Champawat, Chamoli, Pithoragarh and Bagheshwar. The altitude in these districts ranges from 1,004 m (3,294 ft) to 2286 m (7500 ft).

At the recent National Community Radio Sammelan, an annual event organized by the Indian Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Kumaon Vani received a prize for a radio series that has relevance to the community, and enables local participation. The Award was received for a series which aimed to raise awareness on sustainable agriculture through community radio and address the concerns faced by farmers in marketing their agricultural produce.

 
 
Verbatim
 
"We not only need leaders but people who want change and to make a difference"
 
Watch John Bryson, Former Secretary of Commerce and John Beed, Mission
Director, USAID India share their views on energy, water, and food security.
 
Young Voices
 
"Youth must become more than just an interest group in global climate change."
 
A high school student, Jack Andraka has created a novel paper sensor to detect pancreatic and ovarian cancer in 5 minutes for 3 cents. Hear his views on the role youth can play in fighting climate change.
 
Encouraging Global Interaction
 
DSDS 2014: 'Attaining Energy, Water and Food Security for All'
 
The 14th edition of TERI's annual flagship event, the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) was hosted in the Indian capital from February 5-8, 2014 under the overall theme 'Attaining Energy, Water, and Food Security for All'. The curtain raiser to the Summit, themed, 'How will Businesses Lead India's Energy, Water and Food Security?' initiated discussions with respect to corporate responsibility towards food, water & energy security. DSDS 2014 brought together some of the best minds from government, business, academia, civil society and the youth, including Nobel Laureates, to discuss and deliberate on the ways toward a sustainable future for all. Read the Executive Summary for DSDS 2014 and the High Level Corporate Dialogue for details.

 
 
Regional Launch of the International Decade of Sustainable Energy for All
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has unanimously declared 2014–24 as the 'Decade of Sustainable Energy for All', underscoring the importance of energy issues for sustainable development and for the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda. The regional launch of the Decade was hosted in the presence of Dr Kandeh K Yumkella, Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) and Chief Executive of SE4All; Dr Shashi Tharoor, Hon'ble Minister of State for Human Resource Development,
  img
India; Mr Dev Sanyal, Executive Vice President and Group Chief of Staff, BP p.l.c.; and Dr R K Pachauri, Director General, TERI and President, TERI North America. In recognition of women and children, SE4ALL is dedicating the first year of the decade to the Energy–Women–Children–Health nexus to raise awareness about the potential benefits modern energy services can bring to women and children.

 
 
  footerlogo President: Dr. R. K. Pachauri
Vice-President: Dr. Annapurna Vancheswaran
 
  Email: terina@teri.res.in
Website: http://www.terina.org/
 
footer