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Does Our Military Know Something We Don’t About Global Warming?

A United States Navy Carrier Strike Group in the South China Sea. Every branch of the United States Military is worried that climate change is a significant threat multiplier for future conflicts. And the Navy may bear the brunt of these effects. Source: United States Navy

A United States Navy Carrier Strike Group in the South China Sea. Every branch of the United States Military is worried that climate change is a significant threat multiplier for future conflicts. And the Navy may bear the brunt of these effects. Source: United States Navy

Every branch of the United States Military is worried about climate change. They have been since well before it became controversial. In the wake of an historic climate change agreement between President Obama and President Xi Jinping in China this week (Brookings), the military’s perspective is significant in how it views climate effects on emerging military conflicts.

China will be our biggest military and political problem by the middle of this century. It would be nice to understand what issues will exacerbate our struggles.

At a time when Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bush 41, and even British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, called for binding international protocols to control greenhouse gas emissions, the U.S. Military was seriously studying global warming in order to determine what actions they could take to prepare for the change in threats that our military will face in the future.

Continue reading here.

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Google Maps Now Shows You if Climate Change Will Put Your Home Underwater

On our hottest and coldest days, we joke and whine about climate change and the terrible weather. But in 2015, we’re lucky that we don’t have to see the true effects of what might be ahead of us after global temperatures rise. That’s why this version of Google Maps is an eye-opener.

On Friday afternoon, Google Maps started showing what coastal L.A. would look like after a few feet of rising sea levels. The changes show up in neighborhoods like Malibu and Santa Monica.

This information comes on the same day as a worst-case scenario report showing that burning all of the Earth’s fossil fuels could raise our sea level hundreds of feet, making the scenarios pictured on Google seem quaint in relative devastation.

You can view the results online and in the Google Maps mobile app.

View it here.

In Canada, over 7 million Canadians live in coastal communities. ACT’s work on sea level rise has primarily been with the Coastal Cities at Risk (CCaR) project, a 5-year multinational research project to document these increased risks facing coastal cities. Learn more about our work with CCaR here.

 

 

 

 

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Fossil fuels subsidised by $10m a minute, says IMF

fossil fuel

Fossil fuel companies are benefitting from global subsidies of $5.3tn (£3.4tn) a year, equivalent to $10m a minute every day, according to a startling new estimate by the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF calls the revelation “shocking” and says the figure is an “extremely robust” estimate of the true cost of fossil fuels. The $5.3tn subsidy estimated for 2015 is greater than the total health spending of all the world’s governments.

The vast sum is largely due to polluters not paying the costs imposed on governments by the burning of coal, oil and gas. These include the harm caused to local populations by air pollution as well as to people across the globe affected by the floods, droughts and storms being driven by climate change.

Nicholas Stern, an eminent climate economist at the London School of Economics, said: “This very important analysis shatters the myth that fossil fuels are cheap by showing just how huge their real costs are. There is no justification for these enormous subsidies for fossil fuels, which distort markets and damages economies, particularly in poorer countries.”

Continue reading here.

 

 

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New Study: Waterworld Is Definitely Going to Happen

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

A new study has found that if humans burn all of the known reserves of coal, oil, and natural gas, virtually all the ice on the planet will melt, inundating the land with up to 200 feet of sea level rise.

The good news is we’ll all be long dead by the time this happens. Even at our current rate of carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels, the kind of catastrophic ice loss the study describes won’t take place for several thousand years. The exact timing is the hardest part for scientists to nail down; the ultimate outcome, however, is quite certain. One of the study’s authors, climatologist Anders Levermann of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, described it as similar to leaving an ice cube on a table in a hot room: You can be confident it will melt, even if you don’t know exactly when.

Continue reading here.

In Canada, over 7 million Canadians live in coastal communities. ACT’s work on sea level rise has primarily been with the Coastal Cities at Risk (CCaR) project, a 5-year multinational research project to document these increased risks facing coastal cities. Learn more about our work with CCaR here.

 

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Livable Cities Forum: ACT ED To Present on Financing Adaptation

LCF2015_sessionpromoER 2

Source: Livable Cities Forum

ACT’s Executive Director Deborah Harford will be speaking at the Livable Cities Forum, September 28-30 in Calgary.

Deborah’s panel session focuses on the economics of resilience. Implementing flood protection measures can be costly, particularly where it is being retrofitted into existing development. Uncertainty surrounding the economics of resiliency, for example the cost-benefit or the return on investment in resiliency measures, can make securing funding a challenge. Panelists will discuss the economics of flood protection- costs, opportunities, and challenges.

Deborah will share the stage with Elizabeth Atkinson from the Interdisciplinary Centre for Climate Change at the University of Waterloo, Monica Mannerstrom and Charlene Menezes from Northwest Hydraulic Consultants, and Dave McMillan from KGS Group.

To register or for more information on the forum, check out their website here.

Deborah’s talk will focus on ACT’s recent publication, “Paying for Urban Infrastructure Adaptation in Canada: An Analysis of Existing and Potential Economic Instruments for Local Governments“. This report analyzes various ways local governments can fund or finance adaptation projects, and as such is a valuable tool to catalyze local government action on adaptation. Read the report here.

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VALUING ECOSYSTEM GOODS AND SERVICES IN THE COLUMBIA RIVER BASIN

Valuing Ecosystem Goods and Services in the Columbia River Basin

When decision makers undervalue the benefits we derive from nature, they underestimate the full costs to society of converting natural resources to uses that destroy or degrade natural capital. Recognition of the benefits of ecosystem goods and services (EGS) by policy makers is therefore an important step in formulating effective natural resources policy that is designed to benefit all other aspects of society and nature.

At a regional level, the long-term sustainability of the Columbia River and its communities depends on ecosystem functions. Despite these significant benefits, the topic of ecosystem goods and services is under-studied in the Columbia River Basin (CRB) and the magnitude of climate change and other impacts is poorly understood.

To help develop a better understanding of the benefits of ecosystems, this study reports best estimates of some of the current and future values of EGS in the US portion of the CRB, a 670,800 square-kilometer area of land drained by the Columbia River that spans parts of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, using data and techniques available at this time.

Our analysis clearly demonstrates the need for acknowledgment of non-market, ecosystem-based values as the sovereign parties consider options for renegotiation, or modification, of the Columbia River Treaty (CRT). We acknowledge that many cultural and spiritual ecosystem values transcend economic values. We present this work as a comment on the fact that the contribution of ecosystems to human well-being is currently valued at zero in the CRT.

This ACT report has three objectives:

  1. To identify the connections between food, water, energy, and biodiversity (the nexus) in the CRB.
  2. To estimate the economic value of some of the non-market benefits that ecosystems in the CRB provide to the US – as well as some of the costs to British Columbia incurred by the coordinated management of water flows under the CRT.
  3. To consider the effects on these values and connections between changing supplies and demands driven by a changing climate and a growing population.

This work builds on the work undertaken by ACT in development of our 2014 publication, The Columbia River Treaty: A Primer, available here from Rocky Mountain Books.

ACT would like to thank the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions and the Real Estate Foundation of BC for their generous support in development of this report.

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Solar energy is poised for yet another record year

SolarCity Corp. employees install solar panels on the roof of a home in Kendall Park, New Jersey, U.S., on Tuesday, July 28, 2015. (Michael Nagle/Bloomberg)

SolarCity Corp. employees install solar panels on the roof of a home in Kendall Park, New Jersey, U.S., on Tuesday, July 28, 2015. (Michael Nagle/Bloomberg)

The U.S. solar industry is on course for a new growth record in 2015, according to a new report that finds that solar photovoltaic installations now exceed 20 gigawatts in capacity and could surpass an unprecedented 7 gigawatts this year alone across all segments. A gigawatt is equivalent to 1 billion watts and can power some 164,000 homes, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

The new report, from GTM Research and SEIA, covers the second quarter of 2015, which set a new record for residential rooftop solar installations in particular, a category that saw 70 percent year-over-year growth. 473 megawatts of residential solar capacity were installed, or nearly half a gigawatt.

“It’s setting records every quarter,” says Shayle Kann, senior vice president of GTM Research and lead author of the report, of the residential segment.

The report comes just weeks after President Obama traveled to Las Vegas — a particularly fast-paced solar market — to sing the industry’s praises and cast solar, and particularly “distributed” solar on rooftops, as an icon of progress and technological innovation.

Continue reading here.

ACT has done work encouraging renewable energy and engaging decision makers in supporting renewable energy. Though climate change is already here and will continue for some time, transitioning off fossil fuels will make adaptation easier to plan for and implement. Check out our reports on this important area of work here. 

 

 

 

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UC sells off $200 million in coal and oil sands investments

Students at UC Berkeley demonstrated in 2013 for UC divestment from fossil fuel companies. (Fossil Free UC)

Students at UC Berkeley demonstrated in 2013 for UC divestment from fossil fuel companies. (Fossil Free UC)

The UC system has sold off its endowment and pension fund holdings in coal and oil sands companies, a $200-million move that officials said Wednesday was in response to both environmental concerns and rising financial risk in those industries.

UC still has about $10 billion in various types of energy industry investments, about 10% of the $100 billion or so it holds in endowment and pension funds, UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein said. There are no plans to extend the sell-off into oil and natural gas.

The coal and oil sands sell-off was announced Wednesday by UC’s chief investment officer, Jagdeep Bachher, at the meeting of the UC regents’ investment committee. According to a transcript of the meeting, Bachher said that “slowing global demand, an increasingly unfavorable regulatory environment, and a high threat of substitution pose insurmountable challenges to coal mining companies.” And he added that “sustainability issues” also have made it too risky to remain in oil sands businesses.

Continue reading here.

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Climate-smart cities could save the world $22tn, say economists

 Solar roofs in Freiburg, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany show that green building standards could cut electricity use. Photograph: imagebroker/Rex Shutterstock

Solar roofs in Freiburg, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany show that green building standards could cut electricity use. Photograph: imagebroker/Rex Shutterstock

Green buildings and better infrastructure would not only spur economic growth but also cut carbon emissions equal to India’s annual output.

Putting cities on a course of smart growth – with expanded public transit, energy-saving buildings, and better waste management – could save as much as $22tn and avoid the equivalent in carbon pollution of India’s entire annual output of greenhouse gasses, according to leading economists.

The finding upends the notion that it is too expensive to do anything about climate change – or that such efforts would make little real difference. Not true, said the researchers.

Continue reading here.

ACT has done work encouraging renewable energy and engaging decision makers in supporting renewable energy. Though climate change is already here and will continue for some time, transitioning off fossil fuels will make adaptation easier to plan for and implement. Check out our reports on this important area of work here. 

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Sea level rise could be faster, worse than expected: studies

Photo by Pixabay

Photo by Pixabay

More evidence is emerging indicating that climate change may raise sea levels faster and higher than originally thought.

What this means for coastal cities worldwide has been well documented. More than two-dozen large U.S. cities will likely be hit with a flooding crisis by 2050. Climate Central estimates at least 150 million people globally live in areas that could end up totally submerged or persistently ravaged by flooding by 2100.

Not good news for people living in Vancouver, New York City and Miami. Even a rise of half a metre by 2050 could lead to $1 trillion in annual global losses if no efforts are made to adapt, according to a 2013 study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Continue reading here.

In Canada, over 7 million Canadians live in coastal communities. ACT’s work on sea level rise has primarily been with the Coastal Cities at Risk (CCaR) project, a 5-year multinational research project to document these increased risks facing coastal cities. Learn more about our work with CCaR here.

 

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Renewable energy requirement creates jobs, Berkeley study says

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell tours a new solar farm in Desert Center, Calif., on Feb. 9 2015. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell tours a new solar farm in Desert Center, Calif., on Feb. 9 2015. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

As lawmakers consider new measures to combat climate change, researchers at UC Berkeley released a study saying stronger renewable energy requirements would lead to new jobs.

California law requires the state to get 33% of its electricity from renewable sources, such as solar and wind, by 2020. A bill by Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) would increase that standard to 50% by 2030.

Because building renewable energy facilities is a temporary gig, the study uses measurements in “job years” to estimate how much work would be created. One “job year” equals enough work to employ somebody full time for a year.

From 2003 to 2014, renewable energy requirements created 52,000 “job years,” the study said. Up to 429,000 additional “job years” would be created if lawmakers approved higher standards.

Continue reading here.

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Trying to follow what is going on in Syria and why? This comic will get you there in 5 minutes.

Screenshot 2015-09-07 16.14.06

“After decades of cruel leadership, the effects of climate change may have been the ultimate unhinging stressor for Syria.”

This is really a must read comic. Understanding the conflict in Syria is important — as is supporting and assisting Syrian refugees.

Read it here.

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Upcoming Event: The Hockey Stick and The Climate Wars, with Dr. Michael Mann

Source: The Guardian

The Centre for Coastal Science and Management at Simon Fraser University is hosting a special talk and discussion by Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor, Meteorology and Director, Earth System Science Center, Pennsylvania State University:

 The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: The Battle Continues

SFU Harbour Centre – Fletcher Challenge Theatre (Room 1900)

September 17, 2015 – 7:00 – 9:00 pm

Building on the findings in his book, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, Dr. Mann will discuss the basics of climate science and reveal the tactics which opponents of climate change use to distort the science and attack the reputations of scientists. He will describe both the hockey stick controversy and the broader context of skepticism in science and contrarians rejecting evidence of human influence on climate.

This event is free, but reserving your seat is recommended. Click here for more information and to reserve your spot. 

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Register Now: Workshop on the Columbia River Treaty

 

CRT workshop poster

The Canadian Water Resources Association, in partnership with Simon Fraser University’s Adaptation to Climate Change Team, invite the public to participate in a one-day workshop on the Columbia River Treaty on October 7th.

The workshop, called “Columbia River Treaty: Past, Present and Future” will be held at the Sonora Centre in the South Okanagan town of Osoyoos, B.C. It will feature expert presentations and panel discussions on social, political, legal and environmental issues related to the treaty, with a special focus on the Okanagan valley as a sub-basin of the Columbia River.

“The Columbia River Treaty was negotiated between the governments of Canada and the U.S. in the 1950s to increase electricity generation and reduce flood risk,” noted Brian Guy, workshop co-chair and Vice President of the Okanagan Water Stewardship Council.

“There is now an opportunity to renegotiate the treaty and bring in many perspectives that were unknown or ignored at the time. This workshop will be a fabulous opportunity for dialogue between experts and the public, and the input provided could contribute to substantial improvements to the treaty.”

Bob Sanford, EPCOR Chair for Water and Climate Security at the United Nations University Institute for Water, added that “The Columbia River Treaty has the opportunity to become the first transboundary water agreement in the world to be effectively reformed so as to create a living blueprint for how people would like to live in the Columbia Basin – and in basins like it – now and in a sustainable future.”

The public is encouraged to come and discuss with presenters from various levels of government, First Nations, and academia about the aging international treaty, and contribute perspectives about how a renewed treaty might be negotiated.

The workshop precedes the Osoyoos Lake Water Science Forum, a 3-day conference hosted by the International Joint Commission, the Okanagan Basin Water Board and the Town of Osoyoos. The Osoyoos Lake Water Science Forum will also take place at the Sonora Centre, beginning in the evening of  October  7th through to October 9th.

Click here for more information and registration on the Columbia River Treaty workshop.

And, click here for information and registration to the Osoyoos Lake Water Science Forum.

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Lecture with Tim Flannery- October 14th

Source: SFU Centre for Dialogue

Source: SFU Centre for Dialogue

Acclaimed climate scientist and author Tim Flannery will be in Vancouver this fall to give a public lecture.

Tickets are now on sale for this event at the Vancouver Playhouse, October 14th at 7 pm.  Tim is the author of “The Weather Makers” and his newest release, “Atmosphere of Hope”.  He has been awarded the 2015/16 Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue by the SFU Centre for Dialogue, of which ACT Executive Director Deborah Harford is also a Climate Solutions Fellow.

Tim will be on stage with Andrea Reimer and Ross Beaty in an evening entitled ‘Reality Check: Climate Change, the Resource Economy and the Road to Paris’.

Until September 7th, tickets are 25% off. Click here to buy your ticket now! 

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Webinar Series: Creating a Blue Dialogue

blue dialogueOn September 16th, the Water Sustainability Project (WSP) is hosting the first webinar in its 2015/2016 Creating a Blue Dialogue webinar series.

Register now!

 

 

WHAT: Evolution in Transboundary Watershed Governance: Lessons from the Mackenzie Basin
DATE: Wednesday, September 16th, 2015
TIME: 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. PT (12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET)

On March 18, 2015, the Governments of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) and Alberta signed an historic transboundary water agreement. In this webinar, speakers Hon. J. Michael Miltenberger (Minister, Environment and Natural Resources, GNWT) and Merrell-Ann Phare (Chief Negotiator, NWT-Alberta Bilateral Water Management Agreement) will share the story behind the development and negotiation of the transboundary water agreement “Mackenzie River Basin: NWT-Alberta Bilateral Water Management Agreement.”

Although grounded in the Mackenzie Basin context, this webinar will offer insight and value for communities across the country. The speakers will explain what makes the agreement innovative in Canada and the world, discuss how the agreement is connected to broader critical water and energy policy issues in Canada, and explain why they think similar transboundary agreements are critical to the successful governance of watersheds in Canada.

This webinar is the first instalment in the 2015/2016 Creating a Blue Dialogue webinar series. It will build on the 2014/2015 season and the January 2014 report “A Blueprint for Watershed Governance in British Columbia,” which focused on nine “winning conditions” needed to move towards a more sophisticated approach to watershed governance.

**SPACE IS LIMITED** Register now!

**If you are in Victoria, B.C., we will be hosting a live viewing of the September 16th webinar at the Centre for Global Studies on the University of Victoria campus. Contact Rosie Simms at water@polisproject.org to RSVP to the live viewing.**

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