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Cynthia McHale Great Marsh Syposium: November 2015


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Keynote speaker at the GMC Sea Level Rise symposium in Essex, MA

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Cynthia McHale Great Marsh Syposium: November 2015

  1. 1. Reducing Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Risks and Costs Great Marsh Coalition 2015 Sea Level Rise Symposium November 12, 2015 Cynthia McHale, Director Ceres Insurance Program
  2. 2. Severe impacts of global climate change • Heat waves, average temperatures • Droughts and water shortages • Heavy precipitation and flash floods • Surface water runoff, landslides • Sea level rise, chronic inundation • More intense hurricane events
  3. 3. Sea level rise and coastal flooding risks (and costs) Sources: IPCC Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report, Sallenger, A.H., Jr., Doran, K.S., and Howd, P.A., 2012, Hotspot of accelerated sea-level rise on the Atlantic coast of North America: Nature Climate Change, published online June 24, 2012, doi:10.1038/nclimate1597 []. Past and Projected Changes in Global Sea Level (1800 to 2100) US Atlantic Coast a “Hot Spot”
  4. 4. • The international political response to climate change began at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, where the ‘Rio Convention’ included the adoption of the UN Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC). • COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, will for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aim to achieve a legally binding and international agreement on climate, applicable to all countries, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C. • France will play a leading international role in hosting this seminal conference, and COP21 will be one of the largest international conferences ever held in the country. • The conference is expected to attract close to 50,000 participants including 25,000 official delegates from government, intergovernmental organizations, UN agencies, NGOs and civil society. What is COP21?
  5. 5. • The last COP seeking to achieve a legally binding and international agreement on climate took place in 2009 in Copenhagen. • Known as COP15, the summit achieved only a weak outline of a global agreement and falling far short of what many countries were seeking and leaving months of tough negotiations to come. • After eight draft texts and all-day talks between 115 world leaders, it was left to President Obama and the Chinese premier to broker a political agreement. • The so-called Copenhagen accord recognized the scientific case for keeping temperature rises to no more than 2 degrees C but did not contain commitments to emissions reductions to achieve that goal. What happened last time?
  6. 6. 1. The world's superpowers are working together: China and the United States surprised the world last year with a historic joint announcement on climate change. 2009: A diplomatic deadlock between China and the US helped torpedo a climate deal at Copenhagen. 2015: China and the US have pledged that both countries will work to cut carbon dioxide emissions, ending their diplomatic stalemate over climate and rejuvenating international climate diplomacy. • China's acceptance of limits to its carbon emissions came in a historic joint announcement with the US. • At the same time as the US administration announced its intention to cut power sector emissions, China announced it would peak its CO2 emissions. What has changed since 2009?
  7. 7. 2. China is going to Paris having agreed to peak its carbon dioxide emissions and reduce the carbon intensity of its economy. China's coal use is slowing. 2009: In 2009, there was little sign China would constrain its rapidly growing carbon emissions. 2015: In June of this year China formally committed to peak its emissions by 2030, or sooner. • China burned more than 50% of the world's coal in 2013, according to the IEA. • The Chinese government has banned the construction of new coal power stations is some provinces. What has changed since 2009?
  8. 8. 3. Climate change is now a legacy issue for President Obama. 2009: President Obama's verdict on Copenhagen was "We've come a long way but we have much further to go.” 2015: Obama has made climate change a legacy issue for his administration, and the US has embraced the role of a climate leader on the international stage. • In June 2014 the United States EPA proposed the Clean Power Plan, which aims to cut power sector emissions 30% by 2030 compared with 2005 levels. • This is the most significant piece of climate legislation yet proposed in the US. • Obama has rejected construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, signaling a strong commitment to US climate change policy What has changed since 2009?
  9. 9. 4. Many nations have already pledged to reduce emissions as part of a global deal, making Paris more likely to be a success. 2009: Many countries came to Copenhagen unclear about what they were being asked to do or unwilling to commit to ambitious pledges. 2015: In the run up to Paris, the UNFCCC has asked countries to submit pledges on the level of ambition they are prepared to offer in negotiating a global deal. The pledges are locking in engagement and showing the world is ready for a deal. • As of November 7th, 129 out of 196 countries have pledged to support a global climate deal by cutting emissions, including most major economies. What has changed since 2009?
  10. 10. 5. National and regional climate policy is far ahead of where it was in 2009. 2009: Many countries were beginning to develop their own national climate policy. The 2008 Climate Change Act had made the UK the first country in the world to set long-term, legally binding emissions targets. 2015: Even without a global deal, countries have continued to develop their own climate legislation, bringing more of global emissions under a legal regime. • Economy-wide emission reduction targets covered over 75% of global emissions across 45 countries in 2015, according to the LSE, compared with 67% in 2012. • The EU will cut emissions "at least" 40%, and push for at least 27% of the EU's energy to come from renewables by 2030. • Sub-national initiatives - for example at the city level - are further strengthening regulation. What has changed since 2009?
  11. 11. 6. Climate scientists are more certain than ever about the risks of climate change, and world leaders are listening. 2009: The 2009 'climategate' email hack cast a shadow over the Copenhagen process, with climate denialists claiming climate science had been thrown into doubt. 2015: In the intervening six years, climate science has been tested and shown to be accurate time and time again, while climate denial has been pushed to the political margins. • The IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report, increased certainty of its main conclusion: That climate change driven by human activity poses serious risks to society. • The IPCC's warning about the risks of climate change has helped re- energize and sharpen the resolve of those who want a binding global deal. What has changed since 2009?
  12. 12. 7. The years since Copenhagen have seen spectacular growth in renewables, particularly in China. 2009: In 2009 renewables were establishing themselves as a source of power, but the general view was that they were a long way from mainstream. 2015: The last six years have seen huge investment into renewable power, spectacular growth in the amount of solar and wind, with renewables now the world's second largest source of electricity. The prospect of a renewably- powered future is much more tangible. • 2013 was the first year that more renewable capacity was built than fossil and nuclear combined. • Global wind power capacity more than doubled between 2009 and 2014 • Global solar capacity saw even faster growth between 2009 and 2014, leaping from 24GW to 180GW, and growing by 91% in 2010 alone. What has changed since 2009?
  13. 13. 8. A series of strategic interventions by civil society have paved the way for a climate deal. 2009: Civil society mobilized for Copenhagen, but it wasn't enough to push reluctant world leaders to agree. 2015: This time civil society has made a series of well coordinated strategic interventions. Over the last year, major moves by key figures including the Pope and the UN Secretary General have paved the way for a climate deal. • In September 2014 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hosted a 'pre- summit' in New York, where countries made a series of pledges to reduce emissions, re-invigorating enthusiasm for a climate deal. • In June 2015 the Vatican released a Papal Encyclical "On care for our common home" calling for Catholics to address climate change. • The Dalai Lama, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Islamic leaders have also pledged their support. What has changed since 2009?
  14. 14. 9. For the first time ever, emissions growth in the energy sector has stalled. 2009: Emissions had been temporarily dented by the financial crisis, but were still rising in all sectors. 2015: The link between carbon emissions from the power sector and economic growth has been weakened. 2014 saw insignificant growth in carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector, even as the global economy continued to grow. • This may be the first sign of a ‘decoupling’ of growth from carbon dioxide emissions. • According to IEA research, 2014 was the first year when global energy- related carbon dioxide emissions didn't rise significantly despite relatively strong growth in global GDP of 3.2%. What has changed since 2009?
  15. 15. 10. The economic benefits of addressing climate change are now widely accepted, and show the way out of the financial crisis. 2009: The world was reeling from the financial crisis. Climate change wasn't high on the agenda. 2015: The immediate financial crisis has receded, with growth returning to the major economies. Important interventions have shown that addressing climate change is good for long-term growth and economic stability. • Major US companies, including Google, Microsoft and Apple, have called for a "strong Paris outcome". 100 companies including Ikea and Mars have committed to powering their operations with 100% renewable energy by 2020. • In one particularly striking example, in 2009 electric car manufacturer Tesla hadn’t even floated on the stock market. It is now a $32Bn company. What has changed since 2009?
  16. 16. UNEP Emissions Gap Report The UNEP Emissions Gap Reports provide a scientific assessment of the mitigation contributions from the countries that have submitted commitments.
  17. 17. • In preparation for COP21, countries have agreed to publicly outline what post-2020 climate actions they intend to take. • Known as their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), the INDCs will largely determine whether the world achieves an ambitious 2015 agreement and is put on a path toward a low-carbon, climate- resilient future. • INDCs are the primary means for governments to communicate internationally the steps they will take to address climate change in their own countries and reflect each country’s ambition for reducing emissions, taking into account its domestic circumstances and capabilities. • Some countries may also address how they’ll adapt to climate change impacts, and what support they need from, or will provide to, other countries to adopt low-carbon pathways and to build climate resilience. Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)
  18. 18. GHG emissions (GtCO2e/yr) 120 100 Baseline 80 60 40 2°C 20 (>66% chance) 0 1990 2000 2010 2020 2030 2040 2050 2100 +7°C +6°C +5°C +4°C +3°C +2°C +1°C +/-0 2020: ~52 GtCO2e 2030: ~42 GtCO2e 2010: 47.5 GtCO2e Estimated global warming by 2100 (°C relative to 1850- 1900) What are we aiming for? Staying within the 2oC target Source: The Emissions GAP Report 2015 UNEP
  19. 19. • Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) from 129 countries (11/7) • Global emissions covered by countries that submitted an INDC 89.5% Source: World Resources Institute, November 7, 2015 INDC Submissions by Country
  20. 20. “ The United States is strongly committed to reducing greenhouse gas pollution, thereby contributing to the objective of the Convention. In response to the request in Lima to communicate to the secretariat its intended nationally determined contribution . . . the United States intends to achieve an economy-wide target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 percent below its 2005 level in 2025 and to make best efforts to reduce its emissions by 28%.” Source: World Resources Institute, November 7, 2015 U.S. INDC submission (March 2015)
  21. 21. 2015 GAP Report – main findings What do INDCs contribute? Emission levels resulting from submitted INDCs are 4 to 6 GtCO2e/year lower than the current policy trajectory in 2030, but the remaining Gap is in the order of 12 to 14 GtCO2e/year Will this be sufficient to stay below 2°C? Without enhanced ambition the likely global average temperature increase will be in the range of <3 - 3.5°C by the end of the century How can the 2030 Gap be bridged? • Greater energy efficiency with a focus on industry, buildings and transport • Expanded use of renewable energy technologies • Initiatives at city and regional levels that can be rapidly accelerated • Expansion of forest mitigation actions, with REDD+ offering a special opportunity for developing countries Source: The Emissions GAP Report 2015 UNEP
  22. 22. The sum of the INDCs tell us two stories • The INDC do present a real increase in the ambition level compared to a projection of current policies; all global modeling groups reached this conclusion. • However, the submitted contributions are far from enough and the emissions gap in both 2025 and 2030 will be very significant. • A final update of the gap assessment will be presented by the UNEP live website before the start of the COP21. • It is clear that from the assessment of the INDCs that much more needs to be done, therefor this round of commitments should be regarded as setting the foundation for further action. Source: The Emissions GAP Report 2015 UNEP
  23. 23. Further actions and initiatives for closing the gap • Enhanced energy efficiency with a particular emphasis on industry, buildings and transport • Expanded use of renewable energy technologies • International Cooperative Initiatives such as the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, the Compact of Mayors, and the Cement Sustainability Initiative. Emission reductions from 0.75 to 2 GtCO2e in 2020 Source: The Emissions GAP Report 2015 UNEP
  24. 24. • Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+): theoretical potential up to 9 GtCO2/year in Africa, Asia and the Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean combined, but likely to be constrained by economic and land use factors • Co-benefits of REDD+: restoration of degraded forest landscapes, improved food production and enhanced climate resilience Forest-related actions for closing the GHG emissions gap Source: The Emissions GAP Report 2015 UNEP
  25. 25. Thank you and questions