Understanding Climate Risk

Science, policy and decision-making

Archive for November 19th, 2011

IPCC SREX released

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The Summary for Policymakers (SPM) for the IPCC Special Report Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX) was released late last night our time. The final plenary was held in Kampala Uganda, finishing on the 17th before the release yesterday. As usual, it is gone through line by line by IPCC country member representatives and the co-ordinating lead authors to craft a document that contains key policy messages while retaining true to the science in the report.

The SPM is complex and has already been given a number of interpretations in the press. The ABC news says extreme weather to worsen with climate change. The Australian focuses on the uncertainty Climate change effects unknown: IPCC report. A quick survey of Google news suggests that most outlets are focusing on extremes to worsen, or the qualified some extremes to worsen.

The Australian is different. Its header says:

GREAT uncertainty remains about how much of an impact climate change will have on future extreme weather events, the world’s leading climate scientists have found.

While there has been an increase in warm days and a decrease in cold nights, the likely impact on future weather events would not be evident for decades because of natural variability, the scientists say in a key review prepared for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

This completely ignores the thrust of the report, which is to address the risks of extreme climate-related events and disasters and manage changing risk through adaptation. The great value of the report is not so much in its headline findings, which are complex but are in bringing the climate, adaptation and disaster communities together. These two communities had a hard time of it in the writing of the report bringing together different language, concepts, views of risk and methods of assessing vulnerability and adaptation. Read the rest of this entry »


Written by Roger Jones

November 19, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Revkin on Australia’s coal exports: the elephant in the national climate policy room

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Andrew Revkin of Dot Earth has contacted a few researchers on both sides of the big pond to comment on what Australia’s national carbon management legislation might mean for the US. The overall view was that Australia’s current situation is affected by our political context, limiting its ability to translate to the US situation, but that the effectiveness of the legislation was definitely improved by the committee process that resulted from the last federal election. He returned last week to ask the question: I find it hard to believe that anyone who cares about GLOBAL greenhouse gas emissions /concentrations could cheer the (Australian) law, and – if so – I’d have to ask why? The motivation for this question was Australia’s coal exports, which are largely untouched by the legislation (a fact, widely touted as a good thing for the economy).

This is a really interesting and difficult question and garnered a range of comments that reveal substantial disagreements between experts. Read all the responses on Dot Earth. I’m torn by this question because I:

  1. Do cheer the legislation for what it can potentially achieve, and
  2. Don’t think it does much for rising international emissions due to the economic boom. The boom has accelerated growth in coal-generated carbon emissions since 2000, mainly growth in China, and affects emission projections out to 2020 and beyond as India and other countries join in.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Roger Jones

November 19, 2011 at 4:21 pm