Solving climate change is possible- but only if we believe it is | Notes from the Anthropocene

Over Christmas I had a interesting conversation that got me thinking. I was chatting with someone about climate change, and we agreed on a lot. They accepted the science, and understood that it spelt disaster for future generations. But we differed on one crucial point: whether we could actually do anything about it.

Climate catastrophe is inevitable, they said, because governments would not take meaningful action to cut carbon emissions. They ‘couldn’t see the point’ of the global climate marches in September, because politicians ‘wouldn’t listen’. It was ‘too late’ for us to do anything about it, because we’d just be ‘moving deckchairs on the Titanic.’

In my view, this is the most dangerous type of climate scepticism there is. The flat-earthers who question the science are becoming increasing irrelevant, and the ‘no-alternative to fossil fuel’ crowd are seeing their arguments weaken with every new solar panel or wind turbine installed. But what do you say to someone who acknowledges the problem but simply doesn’t believe in the solution?

I can think of three reasons why someone might believe that climate change is inevitable. Firstly, they might think we’ve already burned enough fossil fuels to lock in climate catastrophe. Secondly, they might believe the technical solutions are beyond us. And thirdly, they may believe that while we have the technical capacity to avoid climate change, we lack the political agency to force the issue onto the agenda. All three are wrong.

Let’s start with the idea that we’ve already emitted too much carbon. To force 2C of global warming, the internationally agreed (and heavily contested) limit for ’safe’ global temperature rise, we’d need to release approximately a trillion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere. But if you look at how much carbon we’ve actually emitted, you find we’ve released 60% of this amount. At current emissions rates, assuming we don’t cross unpredictable tipping points beforehand, we won’t technically be ‘too late’ to avoid dangerous climate change until September 2039, when we’ll release the trillionth tonne of carbon. And if we cut emissions by about 2.6% a year, starting today, we’d never reach that limit at all.

What about the argument that while we can cut emissions in theory, we don’t have any viable alternatives? Well, the latest report from the IPCC looks at precisely this question, and concludes that a transformation to clean energy is not only possible, but can be achieved without any dip in living standards. This is important, because one of the barriers to people supporting climate action is the mistaken belief, propagated by climate deniers, that a sustainable world will mean giving up modern life.

The IPCC shows this to be the nonsense it is. The report found we could completely abandon fossil fuels by transitioning to a cleaner mix of solar, wind, hydropower, nuclear, and biofuels while improving energy efficiency. So a sustainable energy revolution is entirely possible, and what’s more, it wouldn’t even cost that much: the report found the necessary investment would trim just 0.06% off annual economic growth rates.

But this rosy scenario comes with comes with a big caveat. None of this will happen without a significant shift in political momentum, which brings us to the third cause for climate pessimism – the idea that, even if we accept we have both the time and the tools to transform the global energy system, our politicians will never make the commitments required.

After all, for governments working on five-year election cycles, tackling threat of climate change is a nightmare – the issue is remote in time and space, impersonal, requires unprecedented international cooperation, costs money, and delivers no immediate benefits to the electorate. When you add in the immense pressure exerted by the fossil fuel lobby to maintain the status quo, you begin to see how the single most pressing issue facing humankind has remained at the bottom of the political to-do list.

But it doesn’t have to stay there, because in the world’s growing number of democracies, politicians are bound by public opinion: they can only ignore us if we fail to build the critical mass required to turn tomorrow’s climate crisis into today’s political hot potato. If we accept that man-made climate change is the threat the science tells us it is, and that politicians aren’t doing enough to counter it, it follows that must ask ourselves a simple question: have we taken political action to bring us closer to a solution?

If everyone who believes that the British government isn’t doing enough on climate change (78% according to this poll) were able to answer yes to this question, the issue would be at the top of the political agenda. So we face a choice: we can stay locked in the learned helplessness of political disengagement, afraid that our voices won’t be heard, that our fears for the future do not count, and be proven right by our own apathy. Or we can get out there and start doing something.

Abraham Lincoln, a man with a better grasp of politics than most, once observed: “With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed.” In other words, we’ll get the politics, and the future, we deserve. A better world only becomes possible when we believe it is.

Source: Solving climate change is possible- but only if we believe it is | Notes from the Anthropocene

Climate change: at last a breakthrough to our catastrophic political impasse?

Expecting the Paris talks to succeed is a pious hope: but the Oslo principles, launched today, argue that governments are already in flagrant breach of their legal obligations to the planet

climate-change-conference‘The dismal pace of international negotiations is why the Guardian has thrown its weight behind a divestment campaign.’ The South Korea delegation are all smiles at the 2014 UN climate change conference in Peru, intended to produce a draft deal to be adopted in Paris in December. Photograph: Rodrigo Abd/AP

Today a group of eminent jurists accuse governments and enterprises of being in clear and flagrant breach of their legal obligations on climate change – under human rights law, international law, environmental law, and tort law.

Human ravaging of our planet and climate through relentless fossil fuel extraction and greenhouse gas emissions is undoubtedly the defining existential challenge of our time. Our collective failure to commit to meaningful reductions in emissions is a political and moral travesty, with catastrophic implications, particularly for the poorest and most marginalised, domestically and globally.

The dismal pace of international negotiations – and the prospect of yet more disappointment at the UN Paris conference in December – is why the Guardian has thrown its weight behind a divestment campaign, pressurising moral investors to take a stand against those responsible for the greatest emissions. After all, two-thirds of all greenhouse emissions come from just 90 coal, oil and gas companies.

But in the Oslo Principles on Global Climate Change Obligations – launching in London today – a working group of current and ex-judges, advocates and professors, drawn from each region of the world, argue that any new international agreement will just be a coda to obligations already present, pressing and unavoidable in existing law.

What the Oslo principles offer is a solution to our infuriating impasse in which governments – especially those from developed nations, responsible for 70% of the world’s emissions between 1890 and 2007 – are in effect saying: “We all agree that something needs to be done, but we cannot agree on who has to do what and how much. In the absence of any such agreement, we have no obligation to do anything.” The Oslo principles bring a battery of legal arguments to dispute and disarm that second claim. In essence, the working group asserts that governments are violating their legal duties if they each act in a way that, collectively, is known to lead to grave harms.

Governments will retort that they cannot know their obligations to reduce emissions in the absence of an international agreement. The working group’s response is that they can know this, already, and with sufficient precision.

There is a clear answer to the question of each country’s reasonable share, based on a permissible quantum of emissions per capita that never threatens the perilous 2C mean temperature increase that would profoundly and irreversibly affect all life on earth. This reasonable share is what nations owe on the basis of their common but differentiated responsibilities for contributing to climate change. The Oslo principles duly incorporate mechanisms to accommodate the differential impacts and demands on nations and enterprises, particularly in the least developed countries.

Backed by distinguished international lawyers, professors and judges, the principles are a template for courts, advocates and lawmakers to act swiftly, embodying the urgency, conviction and black-letter reasoning required if humanity is to turn the corner before it is too late.

The document is the product of an independent, rigorous, multi-year effort led by Yale University’s Professor Thomas Pogge, and Jaap Spier, the advocate-general of the Netherlands supreme court. It is championed by, among others, Antonio Benjamin, the Brazilian high court justice; Michael Kirby, a former Australian high court justice; Dinah Shelton, a former president of the inter-American commission on human rights; and Elisabeth Steiner, a judge at the European court of human rights.

These principles deserve detailed consideration by lawyers, scientists, advocates and – critically – the policymakers engaged in last-ditch negotiations in Paris in December to divert us from the path towards climate catastrophe. They provide some opinio juris that allows judges to prohibit conduct that, practised by many or all states, will cause enormous damage to people and the planet.

But the working group’s core message is that we simply cannot wait in the pious hope that short-term-minded governments and enterprises will save us; and that when we act it must be on the basis of equity and justice, according to law. Every year that we miss increases the challenge and risk. We’ve squandered decades already, and our window for action is closing. We must act now.

 

Source: theguardian

7 MARCH – Join the Car-Free Work-Day Bloc @ Time To Act National Climate March!

In our efforts to motivate as many people as possible to leave the car for a day and join in our Car-Free Days, Climate Change Centre Reading (CCCRdg) has taken a huge lap forward by campaigning for Car-Free Days until the end of the year.

Yes, we are proud of announcing CCCRdg supporting the Join the Car-Free Work-Day Bloc @ Time To Act National Climate March!

BREAKING: Please see our press release below, we hope you will find the piece interesting,

Climate Change – It’ s time for decisions now! not waste billions on campaigning.

The Future of Places

Join us at the Car-Free Work-Day Bloc on the Time to Act Climate demonstration on 7th March!

Details

12.30pm, Saturday 7th March

Lincoln’s Inn Fields [map]

Nearest tube: Holborn

Join the facebook group here

Let´s work together to help achieve this, it will be an important step in solving and laying a just and fair developing pathway, switching to zero carbon fuels.

Learn about the fossil fuels problems, that causing climate change in our local community and further afield, and what we in the local community are doing, and can do to help tackle such matters.

2015 CHANGE will honour the 2-degree Celsius limit as a limit to safeguard the world environment in Togethernessship 😉

BREAKING: CCCRdg has launched a campaign for a national “Monthly Car-Free Work-Day in the UK”  

A regular car-free work-day in Reading and UK could fuel an International monthly Car-Free Work-Day which could be an astonishing example of traffic development and public realm. Reading has great potential to embrace the sustainable pathway and become a British role-model in climate change (the air is our all urban common) to honour a successful climate change agreement taking place in Paris December 2015.

CLIMATE CHANGE IT´S #TIMETOACT2015 – MARCH 7TH – SAVE THE DATE

#TIMETOACT2015

Every day more and more people are waking up to climate change. What scientists predicted decades ago is happening right now. And we have little time left to advert catastrophe. But those in power have not yet woken up, or are unwilling to act.

On March 7th, two months before the election, we will take to the streets of London in a creative mass action. We will set out clearly what must happen now to cut emissions and build a better future. No more half-hearted promises: it´s Time to Act on Climate change.

Join the Car-Free Work-Day Bloc @ Time To Act  National Climate March!
Event – https://www.facebook.com/events/632679746859395/

2015 is a crucial year for the climate. in the UK, we must tell politicians seeking election that there is no mandate for climate-wrecking business as usual. Then at UN talks in Paris in December, governments will come together to strike a deal for the climate.

Our future is at stake.

Find out how you can help:
www.campaigncc.org

Welcome to Join our local facebook group “Climate Change Reading”https://www.facebook.com/groups/CCCRdg.community/

“The Swedish government goes against its environmental objectives and increases emissions”

New research has found that At 18 sites, the Swedish government’s actions have led to sharply increased emissions of greenhouse gases. This comes despite their pronounced high climate ambitions. Their talk of leadership on climate change cannot be seen as anything but empty words that have no basis in the actual policy, write the think tank Cogito.

The UN climate panel has now published two new sub-reports; one on the impact of climate change and proposals for measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. According to the IPCC, it becomes increasingly clear that humanity is causing climate change while our chance to meet the two degree target and avoid an escalating climate change is drastically reduced.

The Swedish government has a high tail carriage in climate policy. The government writes in its latest climate bill in 2009 that “the two-degree target is the starting point for the measures now need to be taken” and that “Sweden should show leadership by what we do here at home, at work as well as in the EU and internationally.”

All 18 areas:
1. Government has little ambition and unclear goals for climate policy
2. The Government does not seem acting for sufficient climate goals in Europe
3. The Government conducts not proposed measures from their own climate investigations
4. The Government does not have a roadmap to Sweden without climate emissions by 2050
5. The Conservatives appeared and stopped the proposal to strengthen the EU’s emissions trading scheme
6. The Government sold the surplus of allowances (Offsetting)
7. The Government has scrapped the CO2 tax for cogeneration in industry
8. The Government does not coordinate traffic planning with climate objectives
9. Government approves new traffic construction of Stockholm
10. The Government allows the expansion of airports and supports increased flying
11. The Government will allow Waterfall’s investments in coal power
12. The Government will let the State pension funds to invest in the world’s largest oil companies
13. The Government subsidizes fossil fuel
14. Government betrays the promise of climate finance to developing countries
15. The Government supported oil exploration in the Arctic
16. The Government saw its own regulatory proposals for reduced meat consumption
17. The Government has scrapped the tax on fertilizers
18. The Government does not support the expansion of solar energy and offshore wind

The government does, however, remarkably little to live up to these climate ambitions. Decision after decision leads us in the wrong direction, which means that Sweden will continue to fall in the Climate Action Network’s international ranking of countries’ climate policies.

The green think tank Cogito In its report the Government’s climate black list examined the Government’s climate policy over the past two legislative periods. We can at 18 sites show how the government’s actions resulted in dramatically increased greenhouse gas emissions. It involves direct political decisions but also for failing to take action when the government had the opportunity. Here we present seven points from the report:

A principle for all climate finance within the UNFCCC is that the money should be additional, meaning that they cannot be taken from the aid budget. Despite this all means that the government used to climate-related assistance taken from the regular aid budget.

The Swedish government says it wants to be a leader in climate work but Cogitos report rather show great reluctance to take the decisions needed to achieve climate goals, both nationally and internationally.

Although we have not taken the figures for the emissions from all the locations surveyed, shows our summary to the government’s actions have led to higher greenhouse gas emissions of at least 25 million tonnes in Sweden during the last two legislative periods. This represents almost half of Sweden’s annual emissions.

If we add in all the decisions that affect global emissions, such as the government’s actions in Waterfalls and National Pension Funds, the greenhouse gas emissions many times greater. The talk of leadership on climate change cannot be understood as anything other than empty words that have no basis in the government’s actual policies and Sweden will thus leave the responsibility to solve the climate crisis to other countries and future generations.

via “The government goes against its environmental objectives and increases emissions” – DN.SE.

How Sweden can reduce emissions for real

Published March 28, 2014

How Sweden can reduce emissions for real

Sweden’s emissions of greenhouse gases are increasing instead of decreasing, if we include the aviation and our imported consumption. The government’s response is to hand over responsibility to the consumers. But the government should look at themselves  to reduce Sweden’s carbon footprint both at home and abroad, writes Pia Björstrand and Samuel Jarrick, Klimataktion.

SVT’s newscast last Thursday asked Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt a question that he has never had to consider: Why potray the government continually insures Sweden is a climate model with emissions falling, when our overall impact on the climate is actually increasing?

It is quite correct that Sweden’s emissions, according to official UN statistics dropped by 20 percent since 1990. Partly it’s because Sweden early introduced a carbon tax and invested in heating and more, partly due to emissions of heavy industry moved overseas.

If we instead look at our total consumption, the picture is quite different. Then, total emissions increased by 15 percent during the same period, according to the Environmental Protection Agency statistics from 2012. Increased consumption of harmful climate imported goods and services, electronics, meat, long holidays, etc., have eaten up all climate efforts we made at home.

SVT’s story got the Prime Minister therefore asked whether we Swedes really are living more and more climate-friendly. His response: I think we are largely getting more and more tools that enable to reduce our carbon footprint, but then of course there is also a personal responsibility.

Common political commitment

Fredrik Reinfeldt suggesting that it is up to us consumers to ensure that the carbon footprint is reduced. But it is unrealistic to think that we as individual consumers should be able to do what is needed to meet climate challenges. According to a report from the Nordic Council of Ministers, Sustainable behavior must be promoted by the consistent message that is not only conveyed through information dissemination, but also through other strategies, such as infrastructure, marketing, pricing and social institutions. This calls for a common political commitment to the Swedes should be able to reduce their emissions from consumption.

There is an inconsistency in the government’s climate policy. The goal is to reduce emissions by 40 percent by 2020, where a third of the reduction shall be credited by actions in other countries. The government wants to count on the emission reductions our policies help in other countries, but do not want to take any responsibility for the emissions increases that our lifestyle causes in other countries.

Offensive climate policy

With an aggressive climate policies at home, we can tackle this inconsistency. We propose the following actions:

First Environmental Management across central and local government own procurement, where low carbon footprint given a higher priority than low prices, and where businesses are encouraged to sustainable consumption.

2nd Tax / VAT exchanges where low-carbon goods and services enjoy a more favorable tax treatment than carbon-intensive goods and services.

The third the face of a meat tax, slowing imports of climate-damaging concentrate and reduce the use of chemical fertilizers. Decrease in return VAT on vegetable, locally grown and organic food.

4th Facing a climate tariff on imported emissions heavy goods that provide an economic incentive for producers to shift and consumers to choose climate-friendly goods.

5th Replace consumption driven tax cuts, such as earned income tax credits and interest deductions of investments in climate adaptation and green jobs.

6th Count In international aviation in the national emissions statistics.

7th Let more message than encouraging consumption take place in the public sphere. Limit climate malicious advertising.

Stricter ambitions

The level of ambition needs to be tightened considerably even when it comes to the emissions created in Sweden. The decrease is not nearly as fast as is required if we are to take our justice responsibilities to meet the 2-degree target. Climate science shows that in countries like Sweden would have to be almost independent of fossil fuels in the coming decades about the risks of climate landslides are to be avoided.

The transition should be operated on, for instance through aggressive investment and a conscious use of pension funds for more rapid development of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency among residential and industrial.

If we Succeed the government can reduce both our domestic emissions and the imported emissions, Sweden can be a real role model in international climate policy.

Pia Björstrand and Samuel Jarrick

spokespersons for Climate Action

via How Sweden can reduce emissions for real – Debate – Gothenburg Post.

OECD: Green Growth in Stockholm, Sweden

OECD conference in Stockholm on green growth

Green Growth in Cities was the theme of a conference arranged by OECD in Stockholm. Based on the reports which were launched, the conference elaborated on the potential of cities and regions around the world to foster economic growth and reduce environmental impact through innovative policies and political commitment.

H.R.H Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden was present during the Green Growth in Cities – Urban Evolution conference in Stockholm, here with Sten Nordin, the Mayor of Stockholm and Yves Leterme, deputy secretary general of the OECD.

renewable energy, green certificates, climate change mitigation policy, climate change, carbon tax, greenhouse gas emissions

Stockholm was the subject of a case study, find it here

 

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

Sweden has developed an extensive and sound policy framework to limit greenhouse gas emissions. It is now one of the OECD countries with the lowest greenhouse gas emissions per capita and it has successfully managed to decouple GDP growth from emissions growth. However, as Sweden has already significantly lowered its greenhouse gas emissions, the cost of reducing them further could be very high, making it urgent to improve the cost-effectiveness of Sweden’s climate change policies. A strategy to enhance the cost-effectiveness of this policy framework would include: i) reducing differences in carbon prices between sectors and increasing even further the role of market-based instruments; ii) limiting overlap between targets and policies; iii) raising Sweden’s participation in greenhouse gas emission reductions abroad; and iv) improving the assessments of the policy framework. This Working Paper relates to the 2011 OECD Economic Survey of Sweden (www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/Sweden).

OECD_Green_Growth_in_Stockholm

Download full report here: OECD: Green Growth in Stockholm (123 pages)

http://www.mynewsdesk.com/pressroom/stockholmbusinessregion/document/download/resource_document/27275

8 points on financing climate change adaptation in urban areas

David Satterthwaite
20 June 2013

As the urgent need for climate change adaptation becomes clearer, so three issues come to the fore. The first is the cost.  Many estimates suggest that trillions of dollars are needed, with little idea of where these might come from. The second is whether governments and international agencies will act with the needed urgency. The third is whether those who need to act get the support they require. A meeting on Financing Urban Adaptation to Climate Change held at IIED on the 13-14 June highlighted eight points to guide funding.

People stand on a sea-wall with a road and look out at the ocean. The sea-wall built by members of the Philippines Homeless People’s Federation in Davao with a loan from the the Asian Coalition for Community Action. The loan encouraged the government to extend the wall further. Credit: ACHR


1: Climate change adaptation needs to support change on the ground

This includes working with those most at risk from storms, floods and heat waves and other hazards associated with climate change. Somsook Boonyabancha from the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights gave many examples of risk-reducing initiatives in informal settlements. Since 2009, the Asian Coalition for Community Action (ACCA) has supported over 1,000 community initiatives in 168 cities in 19 nations.

The funding available for each initiative was only (US) $1-3,000. But the community organizations chose what to do with the support – for instance constructing water supply systems, drains, all-weather roads or paths, sea walls (as in the above photo) or playgrounds.  In most of these cities, several community initiatives were supported and those involved came together to discuss with their local government how to expand such initiatives. They often set up jointly managed city funds to do so. Through this process, many community organizations developed new relationships with local government staff.  Community organizations became the drivers of change within their settlement and within the city. These were not climate change adaptation programmes, but by allowing those in informal settlements to determine what was done, it meant hundreds of initiatives which reduce climate change risks. In many cities, communities chose to repay the funds so other community initiatives could be supported.

2:  Urban dwellers as local risk analysts, managers and reducers

The billion urban dwellers who live in informal settlements are among those most at risk from climate change. They also have knowledge and capacity to identify and reduce those risks. In over 30 nations, there are national federations or networks of ‘slum’/shack/homeless people. The foundations of these federations are savings groups, mostly formed and managed by women. Joel Bolnick fromSlum/Shack Dwellers International/SDI highlighted how these savings groups are also risk analysts, managers and reducers. Indeed the reason why the savings groups were set up was to help very low-income women manage risk and increase their resilience to shocks, including sudden and extreme weather events that can damage their homes and livelihoods. They build this resilience by creating savings accounts and having quick and easy access to loans when needed. These savings groups have supported many initiatives – building or improving homes, building and managing community toilets and washing facilities, and carrying out censuses in informal settlements to generate the data needed to design and implement upgrading schemes.

Siku Nkhoma from the Centre for Community Organisation and Development gave examples of how the 50,000 members of the Malawi Homeless People’s Federation had negotiated for land, built homes and constructed 2,500 eco-friendly toilets in different urban centres.

3:  Partnerships between slum dweller groups and city governments can build resilience at the city scale

Alice Balbo from Local Governments for Sustainability – ICLEI emphasized that where local governments have learnt to work with those living in informal settlements, we begin to see a model of climate change adaptation that is centred on those most at risk and capable of helping the city scale-up its efforts. These partnerships draw on household, community and local government resources, and thus require far less external funding than conventional climate change adaptation plans. In over 100 cities, slum/shack dweller federations have memorandums of understanding with city governments to formalize these partnerships. In many cities, there are City Funds jointly managed by local governments and community organizations

4:  International and national funds should be funding local processes, not projects

In the few city initiatives that have supported climate change adaptation, this generally starts with a city vulnerability study, then with experts identifying projects, then measures proposed to seek funding. The ACCA programme described above does this the other way round – providing funding, letting those on the ground make decisions and in doing so act on risk and vulnerability. Instead of a national fund to which local governments apply, each urban centre should be allocated funds whose use has to be determined with community organizations with transparency in how funding priorities are determined and supported.

The Community Organizations Development Institute (CODI) in Thailand shows how a national government fund can support community organizations formed by people living in informal settlements to design, manage and fund their own upgrading programme or housing initiative. This makes CODI funding go so much further. Since much of this work is funded by loans, it also means funds that are returned go to benefit other communities. If governments shifted from funding projects to funding the community processes outlined above, the scale of what they could achieve would be enormously increased. These community organizations often leverage increased support from local governments and businesses, as shown by CODI, by ACCA, and by the initiatives of the slum/shack dweller federations.

5:  Climate change adaptation and good local development go hand in hand

Steve Hammer from the World Bank emphasized how climate change adaptation has to be treated as a co-benefit of development initiatives. None of the initiatives mentioned above were designed as climate change adaptation. But, by addressing priorities identified by community organizations from informal settlements, many risks were reduced as housing was improved, infrastructure installed (for water, sanitation and drainage) and services provided (including disaster risk response capacities).  Without this, there will be little buy-in to climate change adaptation from the community groups and local governments. And without their buy-in and collaboration, there is little hope of progress.

6:  The five points above help build the financial, institutional and political base that climate change adaptation needs in every urban centre

As local processes help build local governments with more capacity, transparency and willingness to work with those in informal settlements, it also means local governments that can better use international funding to complement local resources, and international agencies can work with them more effectively.

7.  The big international climate funds need to work with local governments and informal settlement residents

Funds that support local processes have produced new insights into what funding is needed and by whom – but this presents enormous institutional challenges to any national or international fund set up to support climate change adaptation. Their bureaucracy could never manage support for thousands of low-cost initiatives to community organizations.

At the moment, much of the discussion on adaptation financing is around the confusion caused by the different international funds and their funding procedures, the limited funding these have (because of the lack of commitments by many governments) – and for many, the surprisingly low amount of funding actually committed.

But what is more at issue is the incapacity of these funds to support and work with the kinds of local and city processes that can and should drive climate change adaptation. Why isn’t there more discussion of this? Why are the two most important groups for climate change adaptation (and for development) so marginalized in these discussions – local governments and representative organizations of the billion people living in informal settlements? What is the point of developing new international funds if they cannot work with those who will make best use of this funding?

Some of these international funds don’t want their support for adaptation to include development. So they won’t fund the infrastructure that so many cities lack, only the increase in the infrastructure’s resilience to climate change impacts. But you cannot increase the resilience of infrastructure that is not there. Financing adaptive capacity in cities is not just funding the incremental improvements to cope with increased risk – it is building the institutional, financial and political capacity to act, invest and govern well.

8:  Support for local processes needs 1 per cent of aid

If funds to support the local processes outlined above got 1 per cent of aid, this would mean US$1.2 billion a year. Imagine the impact these funds could have if applied to the slum/shack dweller federations and to ACCA.

Slum/Shack Dwellers International (SDI) has supported the growth and consolidation of federations of slum/shack/homeless people in over 30 nations, supporting the creation of 16,000 savings groups, securing tenure for 200,000+ households and providing hundreds of thousands with better access to toilets and washing facilities.  There are memoranda of understanding with more than 100 cities, censuses of 4,200 informal settlements (and profiles and maps covering many more than this).  All this with (US) $30 million external funding. With$600 million a year, what more could they achieve?  2,000 cities with strong federation-city government partnerships?  Much improved provision for sanitation and washing for hundreds of millions?

With around $10 million, 2009-2012, ACCA supported 1,000 community initiatives, 150+ cities with discussions between community organizations and local governments and over 100 City Funds. With US$600 million, this could support 60,000 community initiatives, 9,000 cities with discussions between community organizations and over 6,000 City Funds.  The achievements of ACCA and of SDI are in the collective achievements of the hundreds or thousands of groups they support, to whom they give choice, voice and influence.  These are the kinds of transnational networks that can help channel support direct to action on the ground.

Of course, there are other key issues for financing urban climate adaptation. Perhaps the most important is how to get adaptation, resilience and mitigation built into the vast private investment flows that are the key drivers of urbanization. As Jeb Brugmann pointed out, the investments needed to achieve resilient and low-carbon urban centres are far beyond what the climate change adaption funds are likely to have.

But at least we have a working model for what has long seemed an impossible task – building resilience to climate change among those with the lowest incomes and least political power. We can see the scale and scope of what external funding could support – and the relatively modest funding that this would require.

iied – International Institute for Environment and Development

City Hall first new BREEAM classification

ENERGY / ENVIRONMENT Stockholm City Hall is the first building in Sweden, and the first town hall outside the UK, to be environment classified under the BREEAM In-Use standard; a new standard for environmental classification of existing buildings.

Stockholm_stadshus -Breeam_klassning

Photo: Yanan Li Stockholm City Hall.

The City Hall is the symbol of Stockholm, and first building in the city to be environmentally classified. The goal is for about 100 of the city’s buildings to be environmentally classified within five years.

Cultural attitudes are often opposed to greening. The City Hall’s certification is a testament to the city’s environmental efforts, says Madeleine Sjöstedt (FP) (Minister for Culture and Real Estate Commissioner).

– Over SEK 200 million has been spent on greening, and improving the energy efficiency of city buildings. The aim is to contribute to the city’s goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2015. All properties that the city owns and manages will be environmentally classified. Having completed the classification of the town hall, the next building to be classified is the Oscar Theatre, says  Madeleine Sjöstedt (FP) (Minister for Culture and Real Estate Commissioner).