Nick Sundt's blog

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Video: Americans Feel Emerging Impacts of Climate Change, as U.S. Negotiators Show Lack of Urgency

Keya Chatterjee, Director of International Climate Policy for WWF-US, comments from the climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa, on the extraordinary year of climate extremes experienced this year in the U.S., on the negotiations and on what you can do to make a difference.

U.S. Lacks National Climate Change Preparedness Strategy, Lagging Behind Leading Developed and Industrialized Countries

WWF’s new brief on Planning Development in a Carbon Constrained World (Dec 2011) shows that leading national governments in both industrialized and developing countries are not only well ahead of the U.S. government in their initiatives to curb greenhouse gas emissions, but also have progressed much further in preparing for the impacts of climate change. 

Planning Development in a Carbon Constrained World

A growing number of national governments are developing and implementing plans to sharply reduce their greenhouse gas emissions while preparing for the impacts of climate change.  Some already are years ahead of the U.S., which has no such national strategies.

Germany's Low Carbon Development Plan

Germany is to become one of the most energy-efficient and greenest economies in the world while enjoying competitive energy prices and a high level of prosperity," says the German government in Energy concept for an Environmentally Sound, Reliable and Affordable Energy Supply (2010). "At the same time, a high level of energy security, effective environmental and climate protection and the provision of an economically viable energy supply are necessary for Germany to remain a competitive industrial base in the long term.” 

The UK's Low Carbon Development Plan

The context for the UK’s low-carbon development planning was established by the Climate Change Act 2008, setting a legally binding target to reduce the UK’s emissions by at least 80% from 1990 levels by 2050 underpinned by a system of five-year carbon budgets. This was followed in 2009 by the five-point Low Carbon Transition Plan seeking to (1) Protect the public from immediate risk (2) Prepare for the future, (3) Limit the severity of future climate change through a new international agreement, (4) Build a low carbon U.K. (5) Support individuals, communities and businesses to play their part.  The plan on 1 December 2011 was superceded when the UK Department of Energy & Climate Change released The Carbon Plan: Delivering our Low Carbon Future.

Scotland's Low Carbon Development Plan

Climate change will change the world we live in," says the foreword to Climate Change: Consultation on proposals for a Scottish Climate Change Bill (2008). "As a society we are at the cusp choosing which world we will pass to our children: a greener, sustainable economy, or a world where mass deaths from droughts, famines and storms and the extinction of species is the norm. Scotland can play a leading role internationally in taking action on climate change. The Scottish Government's vision is to build a Greener Scotland for our children, setting an example to the rest of the world of how a developed nation can become greener sustainably.

South Africa's Low Carbon Development Plan

The policies outlined in South Africa’s draft National Climate Change Response White Paper (October 2011) embody a “commitment to a fair contribution to stabilising global GHG [greenhouse gas] concentrations in the atmosphere and to protecting the country and its people from the impacts of inevitable climate change. It presents the vision for an effective climate change response and the long-term transition to a climate-resilient, equitable and internationally competitive low-carbon economy and society - a vision premised on Government's commitment to sustainable development and a better life for all.” 

Brazil's Low Carbon Development Plan

Brazil’s National Plan on Climate Change (2008) seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to prepare the country for the impacts of climate change, while achieving Brazil’s development objectives. Those development goals include a “commitment to reduce social inequality and to increase income” while “not repeating the pattern and the standards of the countries that have already industrialized.” It is a “dynamic plan, a work in progress to be constantly revaluated.

Mexico's Low Carbon Development Plans

According to Mexico’s Special Climate Change Program (2009-2012), the measures required to “avoid irreversible risks to society and ecological systems” from climate change “are equivalent to a new Industrial Revolution.” The necessary mitigation and adaptation initiatives willreorient development towards sustainability,” producing “multiple co-benefits such as energy security, cleaner, more efficient and competitive production processes, improved air quality, and the preservation of natural resources…”

IPCC Says Essential Actions Needed to Reduce Risks of Changing Climate Extremes

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) approved on Friday (18 Nov 2011) a report on preparing for weather and climate extremes. The report’s summary warns that a changing climate “can result in unprecedented extreme weather and climate events” and says that actions ranging “from incremental steps to transformational change are essential for reducing risk from climate extremes.” The U.S. this year has experienced a record fourteen weather-related disasters each in excess of a billion dollars – and many more disasters of lesser magnitudes. Yet the U.S. has no national climate change preparedness strategy; and Federal efforts to address the rising risks have been undermined through budget cuts and other means. Though seriously constrained by the lack of strong and unified leadership in Washington, communities and others around the country nevertheless are taking commonsense actions to address the emerging impacts of increasingly disruptive climate extremes.

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