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  • Author: Diego A. Diaz, Cristian Larroulet
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Cato Journal
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The number and impact of natural disasters are increasing because of climate change and more people living in urban areas (Sanderson and Sharma 2016). The mechanism is simple, at least when considering climatic events: higher temperatures lead to higher rates of water evaporation, which increases the chance of flooding events (Wallace et al. 2014; IPCC 2001). The number of hot days has increased and the number of cold days has decreased in land areas, with model projections indicating that extreme precipitation events will continue to increase, resulting in more floods and landslides. At the same time, mid‐​continental areas will get dryer, which will increase the chance of droughts and wildfires (Van Aalst 2006). The course of action taken by humanity in the next decades will likely play a pivotal role since extreme differences in projections are expected if global temperatures rise 2°C in comparison to 1.5 °C above preindustrial levels (Allen et al. 2019). What are the economic impacts of natural disasters? This question has been addressed to a large extent in the literature, but it still does not have a conclusive response. The seemingly natural reasoning that destruction cannot lead to a net benefit for society was explained almost two centuries ago by Bastiat (1850) in his famous broken window fallacy. A shopkeeper’s son, Bastiat relates, breaks a pane of glass in his father’s store. The father, angry due to the boy’s careless action, is offered consolation by the spectators, who claim that the event is positive for the economy since it provides labor to glaziers. While Bastiat acknowledges that the accident brings trade to the glazier since the shopkeeper has to replace the window, regarding the event as wealth‐​increasing conveys a narrow perspective. The shopkeeper ends up poorer since he cannot spend the same money elsewhere, and if the boy had not broken the window, then the labor and other materials that were used to repair the damage would have been used elsewhere, potentially making the tangible wealth of the community grow.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Natural Disasters, Crisis Management, Institutions, Urban
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Nicola De Blasio, Fridolin Pflugmann, Henry Lee
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Clean hydrogen is experiencing unprecedented momentum as confidence in its ability to accelerate decarbonization efforts across multiple sectors is rising. New projects are announced almost every week. For example, an international developer, Intercontinental Energy, plans to build a plant in Oman that will produce almost 2 million tons of clean hydrogen and 10 million tons of clean ammonia.1 Dozens of other large-scale projects and several hundred smaller ones are already in the planning stage. Similarly, on the demand side, hydrogen is gaining support from customers. Prominent off-takers such as oil majors like Shell and bp, steelmakers like ThyssenKrupp, and world-leading ammonia producers like Yara are working on making a clean hydrogen economy a reality. Despite the optimism surrounding clean hydrogen, key uncertainties remain. One of hydrogen’s attractions is that it can provide carbon-free energy in multiple sectors—transport, heating, industry, and electricity generation. But this advantage also creates uncertainties. The infrastructure needed in an economy in which hydrogen is primarily used as a transport fuel is very different from one in which its primary value is as a heating fuel. Today no major hydrogen pipeline networks exist,2 and no liquified hydrogen ships are in commercial operation. There is a true chicken and egg problem. If there is no infrastructure to move hydrogen, will investments in supply and demand happen at the pace needed to meet national decarbonization targets? This challenge raises an even more pressing question: what should be the respective roles of the public and private sectors in deploying enabling infrastructure at scale?
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Infrastructure, Renewable Energy, Hydrogen
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Dennis Wesselbaum, Michael D. Smith, Shannon N. Minehan
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Global migration flows have increased over the last couple decades. Climate change is a key driver of these flows and will become more important in the future. Foreign aid programs, often intended to manage or even reduce these flows, are typically not large enough and lead to more rather than less migration.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Climate Change, Environment, Migration, Foreign Aid, Displacement, Multilateralism, Peace, Sustainability
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Marie Ladekjær Gravesen, Mikkel Funder
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Nature-based Solutions (NbS) to climate- and development-related challenges have recently gained attention in development cooperation. Among other, approaches that fall under the NbS umbrella include Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA), Ecosystem-based Mitigation (EbM) and Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction (Eco-DRR). This new DIIS Working Paper focuses on nature-based solutions to climate change adaptation, EbA. It provides an overview of selected lessons learnt from EbA in the context of development cooperation, with a particular emphasis on the opportunities and risks regarding poverty alleviation and rights. It generates learning for Danish development cooperation, including future programming under Denmark’s 2021 development strategy, in which NbS approaches are emphasised. However, the paper can also be read as a general discussion of experiences with EbA in the development context. The three-legged EbA approach focuses on human well-being, ecosystem management, and climate change adaptation. EbA has already been applied to a range of ecosystems, including the restoration of mangroves to shield them against storm and sea-level rises, the management of watersheds to protect against droughts and flooding, the management of rangelands to inhibit desertification and land degradation, and more sustainably managed fisheries and forestry to tackle food insecurity. EbA thus not only addresses the restoration of already degraded ecosystems, but also the sustainable use, management, and conservation of intact ecosystems. The paper provides a conceptual overview of EbA in relation to NbS, outlines the potential in using EbA approaches, and describes the landscape of the institutions and agencies that fund, promote and implement EbA. The paper then provides a synthesis of lessons learned from PES and REDD+ schemes that are of relevance to EbA. For instance, it is emphasised that many REDD+ measures have effectively existed as project islands that were not anchored in national or subnational planning and governance mechanisms. As a result, the conservation activities and socioeconomic benefits were often not effectively integrated or scaled up beyond small project sites. If comprehensively implemented, the EbA approach builds on these experiences by insuring full inclusion of stakeholders from all relevant sectors, as well as demanding full integration in existing policies, planning and governance practices from the ministry levels to sub-national governments. Among the final recommendations and possible entry points for Danish development cooperation, the paper highlights that the support must have a strong focus on ensuring that EbA is pro-poor (i.e. supports poverty alleviation) and rights-based (i.e. supports the rights of local resource users). Experience from EbA and related efforts show that EbA is not automatically pro-poor or supportive of local rights to natural resources and ecosystem services. In particular, there is insufficient attention to and knowledge of rights issues in EbA. Therefore, Danish development cooperation should help lead the way in ensuring that EbA takes a rights-based approach and supports poverty alleviation.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Climate Change, Development, Environment, Poverty, Natural Resources, Water, Food, Governance, Inequality, Investment, Land Rights
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: O. Shamanov
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs: A Russian Journal of World Politics, Diplomacy and International Relations
  • Institution: East View Information Services
  • Abstract: Issues concerning global climate change – by objective criteria, one of the most serious environmental threats of our time – have for many years been filling the top slots of the international agenda, and the political tem- perature of debates on this topic remains at the highest degree. Soon a new milestone will be reached on the thorny path of the inter- national climate process: on December 31, 2020, the Doha Amendment to the kyoto Protocol of the united nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (unFCCC) comes into force.1 this document extends the time frame of the kyoto Protocol from 2013 to 2020 (hence its unofficial title, kyoto-2) and contains a whole set of amendments to the kyoto guidelines, including updated quantitative criteria for greenhouse gas emission reductions for developed countries. Climate activists will probably schedule their next mass marches for this date, in order to mark this "historic" stage in the fight against global warming. Leaders from a number of states are expected to make bold new calls to “set the bar high” for the sake of averting a global climate col- lapse. But what remains hidden behind the scenes? What are the root caus- es of such a paradoxical situation, in which kyoto-2 is going into effect at the very end of its second commitment period?
  • Topic: Climate Change, Diplomacy, Environment, International Cooperation, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jeff D. Colgan, Thomas N. Hale
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University
  • Abstract: Climate change is the defining global challenge of the twenty-first century. It constitutes a direct threat to the safety and prosperity of Americans. U.S. President Joe Biden has committed to reorienting U.S. foreign policy to meet the climate challenge. This report provides an early assessment of the Biden administration’s international climate diplomacy against these goals in the first 100 days, recognizing that others have focused on domestic policy, and that climate change must be at the top of the U.S. foreign-policy agenda. It builds on a previous report by the Brown University Climate Solutions Lab, issued on October 8, 2020, that identified and recommended ten executive climate actions, which are central to advancing U.S. foreign-policy objectives. Of the 9 internationally-oriented climate pledges evaluated, made by the Biden campaign during the 2020 presidential election, the report finds that the Biden team has already delivered effectively on 4 of them, made some progress on 2, and taken baby steps or made no real progress on 3. These will require further attention and resources in the coming months.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Climate Change, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Masooma Rahmaty, Jimena Leiva Roesch
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: Youth movements have played an increasingly prominent role in calling for action to address climate change. Many youth-led organizations are also engaged in initiatives to build peace in their communities. In global policymaking fora, however, youth remain sidelined. The sidelining of youth peacebuilders and climate activists can be attributed to four main factors. First, there are widespread misperceptions of youth grounded in age and gender stereotypes. Young men are often seen as perpetrators of violence, while young women are seen as passive victims. These misperceptions can lead policymakers to adopt a securitized approach to youth, peace, and security and overlook the efforts of young peacebuilders. In some cases, the perception that young activists are a threat to national security can also put them at risk. Second, global policy frameworks on youth are outdated and piecemeal. While the UN Security Council has passed three resolutions on youth, peace, and security since 2015, there is no comparable framework for youth and sustainable development or climate action. Moreover, there is no overarching global framework on youth that links the youth, peace, and security and youth climate action agendas. Third, youth organizations and activists are underfunded. Much of the work that young people do is voluntary. While there are some initiatives to direct more funding toward youth-led organizations, funding largely remains ad hoc, and many organizations lack the capacity to meet the onerous application and reporting requirements. Finally, youth have weak institutional links to global governance fora. There are some mechanisms for consulting and involving youth, including the secretary-general’s global envoy on youth, the UN-coordinated Global Coalition on Youth, Peace and Security, and the Youth Constituency of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. However, youth have no direct decision-making role in the work of the UN and its member states, and engagement is often ad hoc. To build peace and tackle climate change, governments and multilateral institutions must shift toward inclusive governance systems that involve and empower youth. They must also consider the synergies between youth, climate, and peace.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Governance, Youth, Peace
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Foundation for Electoral Systems
  • Abstract: Environmental disasters such as fires, droughts, floods, hurricanes and rising sea levels displace more and more people each year. According to the University of Oxford, the scale of displacement related to climate change is difficult to forecast but has been “estimated at between 50 and 200 million people by 2050, mostly in developing countries.” Climate change, other environmental crises and migration resulting from environmental displacement increase the likelihood of insecurity and conflict – and put democratic rights at risk. A new paper from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, Electoral Rights of Environmentally Displaced Persons, examines these questions and provides recommendations for election management bodies, governments, international organizations, political parties, the media, civil society organizations and displaced persons. Environmental challenges can exacerbate pre-existing vulnerabilities, including marginalization due to race, gender, disability and other identity factors. Widely ratified international treaties and resolutions obligate the state to provide accessible electoral processes, including special measures for women, persons with disabilities, youth, Indigenous peoples and racial and other minorities who may be at increased risk of marginalization. They also are critical agents to address the consequences of climate change. Electoral Rights of Environmentally Displaced Persons emphasizes how environmental challenges can exacerbate pre-existing vulnerabilities, including marginalization due to race, gender, disability and other identity factors. Displaced persons are key stakeholders. Those most affected by environmental problems need to be able to vote, run for office and engage with candidates and elected representatives to influence agendas, challenge policies and hold governments accountable. Political participation is particularly important in integrating them into their new environments to avoid conflict with host communities. Displaced persons can also bring skills, insights and talents that benefit their new communities.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Elections, Displacement, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Tobias von Lossow, Louise Van Schaik, Jos Meester, Anouk Schrijver, Maxime van der Kroon
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: The Planetary Security Initiative has launched a first report and overview of climate security practices. Climate security research has evolved tremendously over the past 20 years in the direction of how to address security risks related to climate change. Action on the ground is still limited but holds a lot of potential. Therefore, interest is growing in the development, diplomacy and defence sectors to engage in this space. The climate security practices project from the Planetary Security Initiative seeks to open up a new and vital area of analysis in the climate security community: When it comes to action, what works, and what doesn’t? Although it is still too early to answer this question, it is possible to collect climate security practices and draw lessons from their implementation. With the climate security link having become more evident in many countries and regions of the world it is imperative to scale up efforts to address the climate security nexus and to learn from these efforts. The Planetary Security Initiative aims to inspire learning on how we can combat this complex risk, or at least alleviate security risks related to climate change, and consider it a new entry point for conflict prevention and peacebuilding efforts. The first report draws lessons from and reflects on 8 climate security practices that enhance peace and stability. Many peace-building interventions try to address a wide range of conflict drivers, which include the various manifestations of climate stress such as pressure on natural resources, livelihoods and human security. These can arise from desertification, lack of access to water and unequal natural resource distribution. Examples of these interventions include tree-planting projects, the inclusion of natural resource distribution measures in peace treaties and provision of renewables in refugee camps and military missions. The projects will cover a wide range of practices ranging from human security to hard security-focused practices implemented by actors in the development, diplomacy and defence sectors.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Climate Change, Diplomacy, Human Security
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ben McWilliams, Georg Zachmann
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: Hydrogen is seen as a means to decarbonise sectors with greenhouse gas emissions that are hard to reduce, as a medium for energy storage, and as a fallback in case halted fossil-fuel imports lead to energy shortages. Hydrogen is likely to play at least some role in the European Union’s achievement by 2050 of a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target. However, production of hydrogen in the EU is currently emissions intensive. Hydrogen supply could be decarbonised if produced via electrolysis based on electricity from renewable sources, or produced from natural gas with carbon, capture, and storage. The theoretical production potential of low-carbon hydrogen is virtually unlimited and production volumes will thus depend only on demand and supply cost. Estimates of final hydrogen demand in 2050 range from levels similar to today’s in a low-demand scenario, to ten times today’s level in a high-demand scenario. Hydrogen is used as either a chemical feedstock or an energy source. A base level of 2050 demand can be derived from looking at sectors that already consume hydrogen and others that are likely to adopt hydrogen. The use of hydrogen in many sectors has been demonstrated. Whether use will increase depends on the complex interplay between competing energy supplies, public policy, technological and systems innovation, and consumer preferences. Policymakers must address the need to displace carbon-intensive hydrogen with low-carbon hydrogen, and incentivise the uptake of hydrogen as a means to decarbonise sectors with hard-to-reduce emissions. Certain key principles can be followed without regret: driving down supply costs of low-carbon hydrogen production; accelerating initial deployment with public support to test the economic viability and enable learning; and continued strengthening of climate policies such as the EU emissions trading system to stimulate the growth of hydrogen-based solutions in the areas for which hydrogen is most suitable.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, European Union, Carbon Emissions, Decarbonization, Hydrogen
  • Political Geography: Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Daniele Malerba
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: To avoid catastrophic effects on natural and human systems, bold action needs to be taken rapidly to mitigate climate change. Despite this urgency, the currently implemented and planned climate mitigation policies are not sufficient to meet the global targets set in Paris in 2015. One reason for their current inadequate rollout is their perceived negative distributional effects: by increasing the price of goods, climate mitigation policies may increase both poverty and inequality. In addition, they may disrupt labour markets and increase unemployment, especially in sectors and areas dependent on fossil fuels. As a result, public protests in many countries have so far blocked or delayed the implementation of climate policies.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Policy Implementation
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mariya Aleksandrova
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: Social protection plays a central role in achieving several of the social and environmental goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. As a result, this policy area is gaining increased recognition at the nexus of global climate change and development debates. Various social protection instruments are deemed to have the potential to increase the coping, adaptive and transformative capacities of vulnerable groups to face the impacts of climate change, facilitate a just transition to a green economy and help achieve environmental protection objectives, build intergenerational resilience and address non-economic climate impacts. Nevertheless, many developing countries that are vulnerable to climate change have underdeveloped social protection systems that are yet to be climate proofed. This can be done by incorporating climate change risks and opportunities into social protection policies, strategies and mechanisms. There is a large financing gap when it comes to increasing social protection coverage, establishing national social protection floors and mainstreaming climate risk into the sector. This necessitates substantial and additional sources of financing. This briefing paper discusses the current and future potential of the core multilateral climate funds established under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in financing social protection in response to climate change. It further emphasises the importance of integrating social protection in countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to access climate finance and provides recommendations for governments, development cooperation entities and funding institutions.
  • Topic: Climate Change, United Nations, Climate Finance, Sustainable Development Goals, Investment
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Tayyar Ari, Faith Bilal Gokpinar
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Uluslararasi Iliskiler
  • Institution: International Relations Council of Turkey (UİK-IRCT)
  • Abstract: This study aims to discuss climate migration as a relatively new global issue with various dimensions and to widen the current perspective within global politics to be more inclusive and ecocentric. This study argues that traditional international relations theories and practices are ineffective in discussing and analyzing climate migration as a new global security problem. After a discussion of the conceptual problems, the traditional paradigms of international relations, their policy implications, and the traditional actors will be identified as the primary sources of this problems. Finally, we will conclude that the application of an ecocentric perspective, with holistic characteristics, will provide a better understanding of the current problems.
  • Topic: Security, Climate Change, Environment, Migration, Green Technology
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Simon Happersberger, Eleanor Mateo, Selcukhan Ünekbas
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Trade and Economic Integration, The Graduate Institute (IHEID)
  • Abstract: Fossil fuel subsidies have negative consequences on the climate change, public budgets and and the transition to an environmentally friendly economy. Nevertheless, governments do not keep up with their commitments to phase out fossil fuel subsidies but misallocate again COVID-19 recovery funds in fossil fuel subsidies. This article provides an analysis of the current obstacles for phasing out fossil fuel subsidies and the potential of the WTO to advance a reform on fossil fuel subsidies. It argues that the WTO can contribute to a fossil fuel subsidies reform by its technical expertise in regulating subsidies, by its broad membership and by its institutional setting. Under the current framework of the ASCM, WTO member can use existing mechanisms, such as the TPRM, to increase transparency in the short term and facilitate discussions on the scope of subsidies while mitigating impacts on vulnerable groups or sectors. This would provide the ground for governments to work towards a new and ambitious agreement to stop producer fossil fuels subsidies and phase out consumer fossil fuels subsidies in the mid-to-long-term. However, the phase out of consumer subsidies needs to be carefully designed and embedded, to avoid unintended consequences on energy access and vulnerable households.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, International Trade and Finance, Natural Resources, Trade, Fossil Fuels, COVID-19, WTO, Ecology
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Laura Nowzohour
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Environmental Studies, The Graduate Institute (IHEID)
  • Abstract: Adjustment costs are a central bottleneck of the real-world economic transition essential for achieving the sizeable reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions set out by policy makers. Could these costs derail the transition process to green growth, and if so, how should policy makers take this into account? I study this issue using the model of directed technical change in Acemoglu, Aghion, Bursztyn, and Hemous (2012), AABH, augmented by a friction on the choice of scientists developing better technologies. My results show that such frictions, even minor, materially affect the outcome. In particular, the risk of reaching an environmental disaster is higher than in the baseline AABH model. Fortunately, policy can address the problem. Specifically, a higher carbon tax ensures a disaster-free transition. In this case, the re-allocation of research activity to the clean sector happens over a longer but more realistic time horizon, namely around 15 instead of 5 years. An important policy implication is that optimal policies do not act over a substantially longer time horizon but must be more aggressive today in order to be effective. In turn, this implies that what may appear as a policy failure in the short-run | a slow transition albeit aggressive policy | actually re ects the efficient policy response to existing frictions in the economy. Furthermore, the risk of getting environmental policy wrong is highly asymmetric and `robust policy' implies erring on the side of stringency.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, Environment, Economic Growth, Green Technology, Economic Policy, Renewable Energy, Sustainability
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Nina von Uexkull, Halvard Buhaug
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Political Violence @ A Glance
  • Abstract: While former US President Donald Trump frequently denied man-made climate change, the Biden administration has pledged to make climate change a priority, including for national security. In line with years of thinking within the defense sector, the Biden-Harris team refers to climate change as a “threat multiplier,” pointing to risks of regional instability and resource competition driven by worsening environmental conditions. This perspective also aligns with the initiatives of other countries that have pushed climate security in the UN Security Council and other international bodies.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Climate Change, International Security, Conflict, Armed Conflict
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Henry Lee, Abigail Mayer
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Corporations, organizations, and even governments are purchasing offsets to reduce their carbon footprint. This policy brief provides an overview of the offset process – who buys them, who produces them, and who certifies them; describes the emerging challenges facing this market; and makes recommendations for the future.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Carbon Emissions, Decarbonization
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Benjamin Attia, Shayle Kann, Morgan D. Bazilian
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The global energy transition has reached an inflection point. In numerous markets, the declining cost of solar photovoltaics (PV) has already beaten the cost of new-build coal and natural gas and is now chasing down operating costs of existing thermal power plants, forcing a growing crowd of thermal generation assets into early retirement. Perfect comparability between dispatchable and non-dispatchable resources invites debate, but the cost declines in solar PV are irrefutable: the global average unit cost of competitively-procured solar electricity declined by 83 percent from 2010 to 2018. This is due in part to module cost reductions of approximately 90 percent, capacity-weighted average construction cost declines of 74 percent, and a global paradigm shift in renewable energy procurement policies in the last six years.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Science and Technology, Natural Resources, Infrastructure, Electricity
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Esther Sperling
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The US military maintains almost $1.2 trillion worth of installations worldwide, allowing the United States to sustain critical capabilities and respond to crises around the globe. Outdated and degraded infrastructure limits the military’s ability to respond. The growing impacts of climate change exacerbate the challenge of modernizing and maintaining infrastructure. Climate change’s impact on military installations can be broken down into four main categories: sea level rise, extreme storms, extreme drought and heat, and Arctic ice melt. While Congress has passed bipartisan legislation to address the threat, the Department of Defense (DoD) must take additional steps to adapt to the challenges of climate change.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Military Affairs, Sustainability
  • Political Geography: North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Michael Ruhle
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: NATO Defense College
  • Abstract: Environmental change is increasingly recognized as one of the major factors that will shape the global security environment. According to most experts, rising global temperatures will lead to rising sea levels and cause more extreme weather events, such as storms, flooding, droughts and wildfires. The firestorms that engulfed parts of Australia in late 2019 and early 2020, burning an area the size of Belgium and Denmark combined, and severely decimating that continent's wildlife, were a stark reminder of the force of these changes.
  • Topic: Security, NATO, Climate Change, Environment
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Luca Franza
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Dolphins are being spotted in harbours, canals in Venice have never looked so clean and the temporary ban of corridas has spared the lives of a hundred Spanish bulls. Looking at the bright side of things is an admirable quality, but we should not get too carried away with the idea that COVID-19 is good for the planet. Besides the anecdotal phenomena quoted above, the collapse of mobility and economic activity induced by COVID-19 are generating meaningful short-term consequences for the environment. These include a sharp reduction in Hubei’s and Northern Italy’s air pollution levels and a likely reduction in global CO2 emissions in 2020. Rejoicing over such news rests on a short-sighted view. The interlinkages between COVID-19, energy and climate issues are so complex that we are actually looking at a mixed bag of consequences.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Pollution, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Jessica Larsen, Mikkel Funder
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Climate change is increasingly being raised as a security concern. How should Denmark’s Ministry of Defence approach the issue in its international operations and collaboration, and what are other security actors doing? RECOMMENDATIONS: Denmark’s Ministry of Defence should: Draw up a clear and demarcated mandate for the Danish armed services’ climate role in international operations in close collaboration with civilian actors. Team up with like-minded international partners to develop joint approaches under already existing multilateral frameworks. Identify specific tasks where the armed forces can contribute on the ground, such as disaster support, capacity development and alignment with civilian actors in the field of Environmental Peacebuilding.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Climate Change, Armed Forces, Peace
  • Political Geography: Denmark, Global Focus
  • Author: Margareth Sembiring
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 outbreak disrupted our daily lives and impacted national economies. Amidst the virus turmoil, our natural surroundings have benefited from the slowdown. The global community needs to make a concerted effort to rethink our approach to economic growth to avert a climate crisis.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Economy, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Margareth Sembiring
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Decarbonisation is not happening in a vacuum but on a planet already replete with ecological challenges. The material-intensive requirement of low-carbon technologies means more mining, and the currently inadequate recycling capacity means more waste. Existing pressures point to an urgent need to reduce consumption to avert climate and ecological crises.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Science and Technology, Recycling, Biodiversity
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jake Sherman, Florian Krampe
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: Climate change and the associated climate-related security risks increase instability and have significant adverse effects on peacebuilding. Within the UN, however, there is a lack of consensus on which organs are most appropriate to respond to climate-related security risks. Most of the bodies addressing climate change do not address its intersection with peace and security, while many member states have concerns about the role of the UN Security Council on climate change. In this context, the UN Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) seems well placed to complement and advance discussions on climate-related security risks in other UN bodies, including the Security Council. This paper—a joint publication of IPI and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)—aims to identify areas and ways in which the PBC is preventing and mitigating climate-related security risks and to map the political positions of PBC members on this topic. It also looks at opportunities for the PBC to strengthen its engagement on climate-related security issues. The paper identifies a number of attributes that uniquely position the PBC as a forum for states to seek international support for addressing climate-related security challenges: it emphasizes national ownership, has a mandate to work across the three pillars of the UN, brings together a wide range of UN organs, and convenes relevant stakeholders from within and outside the UN system. The paper concludes that a gradual but steady approach to addressing climate-related security risks in the PBC is likely to encourage more countries to seek its support on these issues.
  • Topic: Security, Climate Change, United Nations, Peace
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Elizabeth Smith
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
  • Abstract: Climate change can increase the risks of violent conflict, create risks to human security, and challenge conflict recovery and peacebuilding in different contexts. In many parts of the world, women and girls are significantly affected by the respective and compounding effects of climate change and conflict. They can also be agents of change in addressing climate change, and peace and security issues. This SIPRI Insights paper explores how the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) national action plans (NAPs) of 80 states frame and respond to climate change and security. It finds that they do so in different ways. Seventeen states include direct mention of climate change in at least one of their plans. Of these, three states include comparatively higher numbers of specific goals and activities referencing climate change in different plans. The paper highlights a need for increased action in the area of climate change in WPS NAPs. It argues for a greater focus on supporting women and girls’ participation in action addressing climate-related security risks, as well as a need to evaluate how climate change is framed as a security risk in the plans.
  • Topic: Security, Climate Change, Women, Peace
  • Political Geography: United States, Finland, Ireland, Global Focus
  • Author: Jiayi Zhou, Lisa Marie Dellmuth, Kevin M. Adams, Tina-Simone Neset, Nina von Uexkull
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
  • Abstract: Assessing the prospects for Zero Hunger—Sustainable Development Goal 2—requires an understanding of food security that goes beyond developmental or humanitarian issues, to include linkages with geopolitics. Geopolitical challenges cut across areas such as natural resources, trade, armed conflict and climate change where unilateralism and zero-sum approaches to security directly hamper efforts to eradicate hunger and undermine the frameworks that govern those efforts. The report provides an overview of how geopolitics interacts with these areas. Competition for agricultural resources can be both a cause and a consequence of geopolitical rivalry. International trade, while essential for food security, also creates vulnerabilities through supply disruptions—sometimes politically motivated. Armed conflict is a driver of food insecurity, which can itself feed into social unrest and violence. Climate change interacts with all three phenomena, reshaping both the physical landscape and political calculus. These overlapping linkages require further integrated policy engagement and analysis.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, International Trade and Finance, Governance, Food Security, Geopolitics, Peace
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Malin Mobjörk, Florian Krampe, Kheira Tarif
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
  • Abstract: Policymakers are increasingly concerned with the climate-related security risks—the adverse effects of climate change on peace and security. This SIPRI Policy Brief outlines four interrelated pathways between climate change and conflict: (a) livelihoods, (b) migration and mobility, (c) armed group tactics, and (d) elite exploitation. These illustrate the relationship between short- and long-term environmental changes linked to climate change; their impact on the root causes and dynamics of violent conflict; and the critical role of human action, reaction and inaction in mediating violent outcomes. As a policymaking tool, pathways help to identify and navigate the political space for mitigating violent conflict. They can support decision makers in navigating these complex relationships in conflict-affected and climate-exposed regions by integrating local context into analyses of the security and conflict risks of climate change. Pathways also help to facilitate policy planning in areas such as livelihoods, mobility, resource management and governance.
  • Topic: Security, Climate Change, Development, Peace
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Elizabeth Ferris, Sanjula Weerasinghe
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal on Migration and Human Security
  • Institution: Center for Migration Studies of New York
  • Abstract: In light of the science and evidence on hazards and climate risk, and the scale and breadth of large-scale disasters witnessed around the world, it is time for states and other actors to begin developing national and local frameworks on planned relocation. While planned relocations have had a poor record in terms of their socioeconomic effects, it is precisely for these reasons that proactive action is necessary. Planned relocation has the potential to save lives and assets, and consequently to safeguard or augment the human security of populations living in areas at high risk for disasters and the effects of climate change. Among the challenges hampering better outcomes for people, however, are the lack of national and local frameworks, community-driven decision making, and sufficient lead times to plan and implement appropriate interventions that promote human security. Relocation of populations is referenced in global frameworks on disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) because it is a tool that will become increasingly important as a preventive and responsive measure to reduce the risks of disasters and displacement. This article recommends that national and local DRR and CCA strategies and development plans begin to incorporate planned relocation among the options under consideration to protect people and their human security. It argues that planning for relocations is an expression of a government’s responsibility to protect the human security of its people.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Disaster Relief, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Molly Jahn
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: US public investment in agricultural research in the 20th and 21st centuries has resulted in unprecedented worldwide production of a few staple crops and the improvement of dozens more. Increased crop yields and animal production have drastically reduced famine compared to previous centuries and supported an overall increase in global affluence. Today, agricultural producers around the world are facing new challenges as global climate changes become increasingly unpredictable. Inconsistent rain, extreme temperatures, droughts, flooding, wildfires, and shifting pest and disease patterns are just a few of the obstacles farmers face as they try to feed their families and produce enough food to feed the world. In spite of these dire challenges, US public agricultural research funding has been decreasing over the past several decades. This has allowed competitors such as China and Brazil to outpace American ingenuity, take over American markets, and put American farmers at a disadvantage. The lack of investment in agricultural research and development is a critical national security concern. Historical US agricultural strength has contributed to US hard and soft power around the world. As the US food system is beset by increasing climate, economic, financial, and security threats, US rural communities have been left behind, undermining US power and domestic well-being. Increasing global food insecurity, which has been amplified by increasing weather extremes, will lead to economic and political instability in many areas of the world, further threatening US national security. Although the private sector plays a crucial role in the development of new agricultural techniques and products, public funding has been the backbone of many agriculture and food system advances. While agricultural research and development has historically focused primarily on increasing yields, this narrow focus does not adequately support the food requirements of today’s growing global population. There must be a revitalization of public investment in agricultural research, American food systems, and international agricultural development that focuses on the challenges of the future. US leadership is vital to ensuring the global research agenda does not leave farmers behind. Opportunities to build upon and enhance existing US agricultural research infrastructure across many diverse government entities abound. The US government should recognize these investment opportunities to address current and future climate challenges.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Climate Change, Environment, Research
  • Political Geography: China, Brazil, North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Anna Kosovac, Keith Hartley, Michele Acuto, Darcy Gunning
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: Conducting City Diplomacy: A Survey of International Engagement in 47 Cities OCTOBER 7, 2020 By: Anna Kosovac, Research Fellow, International Urban Policy, University of Melbourne’s Connected Cities Lab; Kris Hartley, Nonresident Fellow, Global Cities; Michele Acuto, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Global Cities; Darcy Gunning, Research Assistant, University of Melbourne’s Connected Cities Lab Executive Summary The impact of global challenges such as climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic manifests most acutely in urban settings, rendering cities essential players on the global stage. In the 2018 report Toward City Diplomacy, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs presented findings from a survey of 27 cities on the capacity of local governments around the world to network internationally—and the perceived barriers to that engagement. The report found that cities “need to invest in resources, expertise, and capacity to manage their relationships and responsibilities to conduct city diplomacy effectively.” In our new survey of 47 cities, we find that advice to still ring true. City officials broadly recognize the importance of engaging internationally but lack the necessary formal diplomacy training and resources for conducting that engagement to maximum effect. Nevertheless, cities maintain a strong commitment to global agendas, and international frameworks are increasingly influential in municipal affairs. For example, more than half of survey respondents said they track their city’s performance against the metrics of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Furthermore, we found that cities and their leaders are confident in their capacity to tackle global challenges. For instance, the majority of survey respondents said that city governments have greater potential for impact on climate change mitigation than their national government counterparts do, especially when acting collaboratively through city networks and multilateral urban programs. The individual stories of five cities whose officials participated in the study offer lessons for a variety of challenges and approaches to city diplomacy. Based on the survey results, we discuss the three primary obstacles cities must overcome in order to strengthen the role of city diplomacy globally: inadequate funding and resources for international engagement, insufficient training in city diplomacy, and the failure of national and multilateral bodies to fully recognize and formalize city engagement in diplomacy. We conclude with a framework for ensuring that city-diplomacy efforts are systematic and institutionalized rather than reliant on the personalities and connections of powerful city leaders. This capacity-building strategy can help cities leverage international coordination, information sharing, and intersectoral collaboration to address the complex and interconnected problems that will characterize the 21st century.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Diplomacy, Sustainable Development Goals, Urban, Cities, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Louise Van Schaik, Camilla Born, Elizabeth Sellwood, Sophie de Bruin
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: Climate change poses risks to poor and rich communities alike, although impacts on the availability and distribution of essential resources such as water, food, energy and land will differ. These changes, combined with other social, political and economic stresses and shocks, can increase tensions within and between states, which, if unmanaged, can lead to violence. Climate-related changes to transboundary waters, food security and trade patterns, sea levels, and Arctic ice, as well as the transition to a low-carbon economy, have profound geopolitical implications. Largescale climate-related migration may also affect the stability of states, and relations between states. Climate action itself may prove destabilizing: (mal)adaptation can disrupt economic and social relations, particularly if implemented without appropriate political economy analysis and risk assessments. In response to analyses linking climate change to security, peace and security actors increasingly realize that interventions to promote peace and stability are more likely to be effective if they incorporate such analyses. At the United Nations, member states have agreed to shift towards a “preventive” approach to conflict risks, grounded in sustainable development. The UN leadership is adjusting institutional structures to better understand and respond to climate-related security risks at all levels, including a newly established climate security mechanism in New York. Many regional intergovernmental institutions have also recognized the links between climate change, peace and security. Some, such as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in East Africa and the European Union, have incorporated climate-related factors into their conflict early-warning mechanisms. We are only just beginning to understand the realities of adapting to unprecedented climate change, however. Climate-related factors will need to be incorporated systematically into political analysis, risk assessment, and early warning, accompanied by deeper integration of climate-security risk assessment into planning and political engagement in the field. Similarly, more consistent analysis of climate-related security risks must contribute to politically informed, conflict-sensitive adaptation strategies.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Climate Change, International Political Economy, Peace, Sustainability
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Takashi Hongo, Venkatachalam Anbumozhi
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA)
  • Abstract: The construction of green infrastructure, using advanced technology and retiring inefficient technology, is essential for the low-carbon transition. Various green infrastructure programs are being implemented, and banks play an important role in facilitating these programs. Many lessons have been learned in improving finance for green infrastructure: (i) measurement, reporting, and verification is a useful tool for identifying green infrastructure investment; but just reduction is not enough for Green Infrastructure and three requirements – carbon dioxide emission reductions, improving energy access, and contributions to sustainable economic growth – connected with the Sustainable Development Goals are necessary; (ii) banks can contribute to realising a positive cycle of cost reduction and diffusion of advanced technology for reducing costs by scaling up markets; and (iii) carbon pricing is essential for removing carbon externalities and making green infrastructure commercially viable. Banks are recommended to have long-term strategies, improve their capacity for scenario analysis, have more dialogue with industry, and develop innovative finance such as carbon markets. Governments are recommended to adopt carbon pricing to encourage finance for green infrastructure.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Infrastructure, Green Technology, Renewable Energy, Banking
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: The annual report includes an overview of Bruegel’s research, governance and financial statements, and takes stock of Bruegel’s accomplishments and impact during 2019. Bruegel will continue to work to develop a proactive European strategy to deal with all the challenges ahead, providing free and open access to its research.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Dion Bongaerts, Dirk Schoenmaker
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: The market for green bonds is growing rapidly and has been boosted by the European Commission’s plan to raise through green bonds 30 percent of the up to €750 billion that will be borrowed under the Next Generation EU coronavirus economic recovery programme. But while green bonds can reduce the financing costs of green projects and technologies, their current design means they fall short of fulfilling their full potential. Issuing green bonds alongside regular bonds fragments bond issues, reducing liquidity and thus increasing financing costs. Moreover, green bond prices reflect liquidity, credit risk and environmental performance jointly, which makes it difficult to isolate the part of the return on the bonds that relates to environmental performance. We propose an alternative: issuance of regular bonds with attached green certificates that ensure earmarking for green purposes. The new design would lead to more liquid securities (as only regular bonds are issued), which would reduce financing costs and in turn would provide incentives to start a greater number of environmentally-friendly projects. The new design would also make market prices more informative about environmental performance. In addition, green certificates would address the criticism that green bonds are used mostly for refinancing existing green projects rather than for new projects. Sovereigns are among the largest issuers of bonds and are therefore natural candidates for implementation of green certificates. The European Commission could also issue regular bonds and green certificates to finance the European Union’s recovery package, and should include green certificates in the under-preparation EU Green Bond standard. Commission issuance of green certificates would give a major boost to EU bonds as liquid safe assets while promoting green investment.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Finance, Sustainability
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Zafar Imran
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM)
  • Abstract: Whether climate change can stoke political violence and civil conflict is a critical and controversial question. Differences in methodological traditions (qualitative vs. quantitative) are often blamed for academic infighting over this question. This brief suggests that the real problem lies with an impoverished understanding of the process of climate change, particularly how social and ecological systems interact, and how changes in either propagate through the other and generate feedbacks. By presenting a dynamic understanding of the climate-conflict equation, this brief presents a mechanism-based analytical framework that can be used to study the complex phenomenon across diverse social settings. It illustrates the approach by tracing mechanisms through which climate change is fueling protests by farmers in Pakistan, and suggesting other potential applications.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Climate Change, Environment, Conflict, Rural
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Weronika Michalak, Dr hab. Zbigniew Karaczun
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Warsaw East European Review (WEER)
  • Institution: Centre for East European Studies, University of Warsaw
  • Abstract: The phenomenon of climate change, observed for years and constantly intensifying, has had a negative impact on health, significantly deteriorating the quality of life of people in many regions of the world, including Poland. Already now we are dealing with increasingly frequent extreme weather phenomena; hurricanes, storms and increasingly longer heat waves no longer surprise us. Unfortunately, this is merely the beginning of the negative effects of climate change. Others will come before long. In the coming years, many other new threats will be observed, such as flooding of ocean islands, desertification of areas exposed to water scarcity or serious loss of biodiversity, which will translate into food security. Unfortunately, it does not end there.1 The greenhouse effect is a process by which radiation from the Earth’s atmosphere warms the planet’s surface to a temperature above what it would be without this atmosphere. We can differentiate short-term solar radiation (0.15-4.0 nm) and long-term radiation. Thermal radiation escapes into the cosmic sphere and heat radiation returns to the ground, being stopped by a layer of GHG – greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4, N2O, SF6, water vapor etc.), which warm up Earth’s athmosphere to a dangerous level – even a 1°C degree increase (in comparison to pre-industrial level, when emissions stared to rise) in the average world temperature can be detrimental to human health and change the conditions of life on this planet (Figure 1). However, we currently face a risk of global warming even up to 3°C degrees, unless GHG emissions are significantly reduced. Any further rise of the global temperature will have deteriorating impact on people and whole humanity, as well as staying at the current level of emissions.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Health, Food, Food Security
  • Political Geography: Europe, Poland, Global Focus
  • Author: Babette Never, Jose Ramon Albert, Hanna Fuhrmann, Sebastian Gsell, Miguel Jaramillo, Sascha Kuhn, Bernardin Senadza
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: As households move out of poverty, spending patterns change. This is good news from a development perspective, but changing consumer behaviour may imply substantially more carbon emissions. The lifestyle choices of the emerging middle classes are key, now and in the future. This paper explores the consumption patterns of the emerging middle classes and their carbon intensity, using unique micro data from household surveys conducted in Ghana, Peru and the Philippines. We find that carbon-intensive consumption increases with wealth in all three countries, and most sharply from the fourth to the fifth middle-class quintile due to changes in travel behaviour, asset ownership and use. In Peru, this shift in the upper-middleclass quintiles translates to annual incomes of roughly USD 11,000-17,000 purchasing power parity. Environmental knowledge and concern are fairly evenly spread at mid- to high levels and do lead to more easy-entry sustainable behaviours, but they do not decrease the level of carbon emissions. To some extent, a knowledge/concern–action gap exists. In our study, social status matters less than the literature claims. Our results have two implications. First, the differentiations between developing/developed countries in the global climate debate may be outdated: It is about being part of the global middle classes or not. Second, a positive spillover from existing easy-entry sustainable behaviours to a change in carbon-intensive consumption patterns needs policy support.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Class, Carbon Emissions
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Edmund Downie
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP), Columbia University
  • Abstract: China’s Global Energy Interconnection (GEI) initiative presents a transformational vision for meeting the world’s growing power demand with a globally interconnected electricity grid. The concept involves ultra-high-voltage transmission lines strung across vast distances and smart grid technology tapping large-scale renewable power sources. Chinese President Xi Jinping first touted GEI’s goal to “facilitate efforts to meet the global power demand with clean and green alternatives” at the UN General Assembly in 2015. The ambition of the GEI vision is enormous, especially since there is very little cross-border trade in electricity around the world today. Regional electricity integration initiatives championed by development banks and multilateral organizations have largely struggled against the formidable political, economic and technical complications that accompany interstate electricity trade. China has seen these challenges firsthand in its participation in the Asian Development Bank’s Greater Mekong Subregion electricity trade endeavor, which has progressed fitfully since the 1990s amid regional infrastructure gaps and uneven political support from member states. This report, prepared as part of the Belt and Road Initiative series published by Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, uses a case study of power trade in the Greater Mekong Subregion to assess the prospects for GEI in catalyzing energy integration around the world. It discusses why Greater Mekong Subregion integration has been slow, how GEI might help accelerate interconnection in the area, and what lessons the region offers for understanding the overall outlook for GEI. Based on this study, the author finds the following: Establishing a GEI-style global energy grid backbone by 2070 would require overcoming an extraordinary set of political challenges. The global grid outlined by GEI for the coming decades serves more as a demonstration of technical potential than a strict blueprint to be implemented. The limited scale attained thus far by the Greater Mekong Subregion project for grid integration and cross-border electricity trading demonstrates the headwinds such multinational efforts can face. Weak internal power sector development in recent decades has left some member states without the generation surpluses and robust power grids necessary to support meaningful levels of trade. In addition, power trade requires a strong degree of interstate political trust, motivated engagement by national utilities, and support from civil society players for the specific generation and transmission projects involved. Integration backers have historically struggled to build consensus across this diverse array of stakeholders. While enormous generation and transmission infrastructure projects are core components of the GEI vision and dovetail with the interests of China’s domestic proponents, considerable debate persists about their merits for fostering the renewables transition. Ultra-high-voltage transmission, a specialty of Chinese utilities, is a particular flashpoint. State interest in cross-border trade has been increasing across many regions in recent years, and more gradual gains in power trade around the world that can aid the renewable transition and bolster regional solidarity are possible. China can contribute greatly to this process: as an investor and contractor in grid projects abroad, as a member state of integration initiatives in Asia, and as an advocate of grid integration in international fora. GEI’s ultimate impact will depend in part on how advocates within China reconcile tensions between strengthening cross-border power trade and promoting domestic priorities, such as advancing the country’s own industrial policy objectives.
  • Topic: Climate Change, United Nations, Infrastructure, Green Technology, Electricity
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jason Bordoff
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP), Columbia University
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted daily life, caused widespread sickness and fatalities, and sent the global economy careening toward a depression. Governments have responded by taking unprecedented steps to shut down entire cities, ban travel, and isolate nations—extreme measures that are giving hope to climate activists that similarly ambitious policies might be possible to address global warming, which many consider a similar existential threat. Yet that would be the wrong lesson to draw, as the very same barriers preventing an effective COVID-19 response continue to keep climate change action out of reach. Scientists warn that the impacts of COVID-19 will rise sharply over time, threatening the lives of vast numbers of people, particularly those most vulnerable. They warn that climate change, too, will severely harm many over time, albeit not with the same rapidity. If governments and companies can take extreme actions to cancel sports seasons, shut down workplaces, and restrict movement, surely they can take similarly drastic steps to change how we produce and consume energy?
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Noah Kaufman, Peter Marsters, Alexander R. Barron, Wojciech Krawczyk, Haewon McJeon
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP), Columbia University
  • Abstract: The social cost of carbon (SCC) is commonly described and used as the optimal CO2 price. However, the wide range of SCC estimates provides limited practical assistance to policymakers setting specific CO2 prices. Here we describe an alternate near-term to net zero (NT2NZ) approach, estimating CO2 prices needed in the near term for consistency with a net-zero CO2 emissions target. This approach dovetails with the emissions-target-focused approach that frames climate policy discussions around the world, avoids uncertainties in estimates of climate damages and long-term decarbonization costs, offers transparency about sensitivities and enables the consideration of CO2 prices alongside a portfolio of policies. We estimate illustrative NT2NZ CO2 prices for the United States; for a 2050 net-zero CO2 emission target, prices are US$34 to US$64 per metric ton in 2025 and US$77 to US$124 in 2030. These results are most influenced by assumptions about complementary policies and oil prices.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Natural Resources, Carbon Emissions
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Julio Friedmann, Alex Zapantis, Brad Page, Chris Consoli, Zhiyuan Fan, Ian Havercroft, Harry Liu, Emeka Richard Ochu, Nabeela Raji, Dominic Rassool, Hadia Sheerazi, Alex Townsend
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP), Columbia University
  • Abstract: The case for rapid and profound decarbonization has never been more obvious or more urgent, and immediate action must match growing global ambition and need. An important new component of this discussion is the necessity of achieving net-zero global greenhouse gas emissions for any climate stabilization target. Until net-zero emissions are achieved, greenhouse gas will accumulate in the atmosphere and oceans, and concentrations will grow, even with deep and profound emissions reduction, mitigation, and adaptation measures. This places a severe constraint on human enterprise: any carbon removed from the earth must be returned to the earth.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Green Technology, Carbon Emissions, Decarbonization
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jonathan Elkind, Erin Blanton, Robert Kleinberg, Anton Leemhuis
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP), Columbia University
  • Abstract: In August 2020, the Trump Administration finalized plans to roll back regulations on oil and gas industry emissions of methane from new and modified infrastructure. In the same month, the European Commission gathered stakeholder comments as part of its process to introduce the first EU-wide methane regulations. Though contradictory in direction, these regulatory processes on opposite sides of the Atlantic highlighted a critical climate protection challenge: How can the oil and gas industry—and the regulators who oversee it—best detect and address methane emissions to protect the environment and the climate in particular? The answer to this question will drive planning and operational approaches in the oil and gas industry. It could also significantly affect the future role of natural gas. Five years ago, many energy analysts expected natural gas to serve as a bridge fuel that would result in only half as much climate warming as coal, and fewer local air pollutants. Among other roles, gas was seen as a natural complement for variable wind or solar power—a way to provide firm, dispatchable, low-emissions power. Now that it is apparent that our understanding of methane emissions is poor, the climate implications of gas are far less clear. This poor grasp of methane emissions appears likely to become a thing of the past, however. In roughly the next five years, new satellite detection systems—used in concert with existing systems, aerial monitoring platforms, and ground-based monitors—can increase markedly the transparency surrounding methane leakage. The new wave of satellite monitoring capability has major implications for industry and governments. Our world is rapidly becoming a place in which methane emissions will have nowhere to hide. This commentary, co-authored by the Center on Global Energy Policy and TNO, focuses on detection and response to oil- and gas-related methane emissions, which have been the subject of increasing focus on the part of industry and the public policy community. It addresses the significance of methane emissions for the climate, and the challenges of detecting and accurately quantifying methane emissions. It then explores the evolving capabilities of satellite-based methane detection and monitoring systems, which are expected to advance rapidly in the coming years, and which can be especially powerful when used in concert with aerial and ground-based monitoring systems. It concludes with a discussion of the implications of the changing satellite detection landscape for the oil and gas industry, the finance and investment community, and the realm of public policy.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Gas, Finance, Methane
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: John Larsen
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP), Columbia University
  • Abstract: Putting a price on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions can help governments reduce them rapidly and in a cost-effective manner. While 10 carbon tax bills have been proposed in the 116th US Congress, carbon prices alone are not enough to reach net-zero emissions by midcentury. Additional policies are needed to complement an economy-wide carbon tax and further cut CO2 from the US energy system. This study aims to provide a better understanding of such policy combinations. It projects the energy CO2 emissions impacts of two carbon taxes, starting in 2021, that span the rates in the carbon tax bills in Congress. The “low” tax scenario starts at $30 per ton in 2021 and rises at 5 percent plus inflation per year, reaching $44 by 2030, while the “high” carbon tax starts at $15 per ton and rises $15 per year, reaching $150 by 2030. The paper then describes the barriers inhibiting emissions reductions beyond those achieved by the carbon taxes alone for each major sector: electricity, transportation, buildings, and industry. Finally, it explores the energy system changes needed to overcome those barriers and the policy interventions that could deliver those changes. For certain key energy system changes, it provides quantitative estimates of emissions reductions incremental to the two carbon taxes. This paper is part of a joint effort by Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP) and Rhodium Group to help policy makers and other stakeholders understand the important decisions associated with the design of carbon pricing policies and the implications of these decisions. The paper finds the emissions impacts of the low and high carbon taxes alone lead to economy-wide energy CO2 emissions reductions by 2030 of 33 percent and 41 percent, respectively, below 2005 levels. A carbon tax combined with policy actions that support comprehensive, ambitious energy system changes could lead to emissions reductions in the range of 40 to 45 percent, arguably consistent with US midcentury deep decarbonization goals for the energy system. In the 2020s, the bulk of these emissions reductions are likely to occur in the power sector, even under a broad decarbonization strategy, due to the significant barriers to large near-term emissions reductions in the transportation, buildings, and industrial sectors.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Carbon Tax, Carbon Emissions
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Philippe Benoit, Alex Clark
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP), Columbia University
  • Abstract: On February 27, 2020, the Columbia University Center on Global Energy Policy (CGEP) convened a workshop at the university’s Faculty House in New York City. The workshop brought together a combination of practitioners, researchers, executives, and public sector officials to discuss the role of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in realizing collective climate action goals. Under the Chatham House Rule, the discussion focused around sectors (power generation, oil and gas) and relationships (government-SOE relations, and the role of public financial institutions), before concluding with a roundtable discussion drawing together the day’s proceedings and outlining the next steps. The following is a summary of that workshop.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Natural Resources, Governance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Cigdem Tugac
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Alternative Politics
  • Institution: Department of International Relations, Abant Izzet Baysal University, Turkey
  • Abstract: Traditional economic growth models damage natural resources to which humanity depends, causing important environmental, social and economic problems, especially climate change. Today, it is understood by countries that a new growth approach should be applied in order to ensure the sustainable use of scarce natural resources, combatting negative effects of climate change and reduce poverty while realizing economic development. The view that environmentally friendly investments aren’t cost effective is changing and countries want to take advantage of the opportunities offered by green growth. However, this process also requires a just transition. The aim of this study is to evaluate green growth, just transition and decent work concepts in the context of sustainable development and combatting climate change. In the study, it is concluded that if green growth and just transition processes are well managed, they provide significant opportunities for realizing UN-SDGs, combatting climate change and the creation of decent works.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Poverty, Natural Resources, Sustainable Development Goals
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: John Coyne, Peter Jennings
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: This Strategy report offers policy-focused analysis of the world we will face once the pandemic has passed. At a time when all our assumptions about the shape of Australian society and the broader global order are being challenged, we need to take stock of likely future directions. The report analyses 26 key topics, countries and themes, ranging from Australia’s domestic situation through to the global balance of power, climate and technology issues. In each case we asked the authors to consider four questions. What impact did Covid-19 have on their research topic? What will recovery mean? Will there be differences in future? What policy prescriptions would you recommend for the Australian government?
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Climate Change, Disaster Relief, National Security, Science and Technology, Coronavirus, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Australia, Global Focus
  • Author: Baran Alp Uncu
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: Today, we are living in a world that is on average about 1 degree warmer than the pre-industrial period. If we do not limit this human-caused temperature rise to around 1.5 degrees until the end of the century, various disasters we are already experiencing such as the rise in sea levels, melting of ice sheets and glaciers, extreme weather events, floods and inundations, drought and water scarcity will increase in intensity and scope and furthermore assume an irreversible condition.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Governance, Social Movement, Crisis Management, Urban, Justice, Sustainability
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Claudia Wieners, Michael Grubb
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Abstract: We analyze and critique how optimizing Integrated Assessment Models, and specifically the widely-used DICE model, represent abatement costs. Many such models assume temporal independence –abatement costs in one period are not affected by prior abatement. We contrast this with three dimensions of dynamic realism in emitting systems: inertia, induced innovation, and path dependence. We extend the DICE model with a stylized representation of such dynamic factors. By adding a transitional cost component, we characterize the resulting system in terms of its capacity to adapt in path-dependent ways, and the transitional costs of accelerating abatement. We formalize a resulting metric of the pliability of the system, and the characteristic timescales of adjustment. With the resulting DICE-PACE model, we show that in a system with high pliability, the optimal strategy involves much higher initial investment in abatement, sustained at roughly constant levels for some decades, which generates an approximately linear abatement path and emissions declining steadily to zero. This contrasts sharply with the traditional formulation. Characteristic transition timescales of 20-40 years result in an optimum path which stabilizes global temperatures around a degree below the traditional DICE behavior; with otherwise modest assumptions, a pliable system can generate optimal scenarios within the goals of the Paris Agreement, with far lower long run combined costs of abatement and climate damages. We conclude that representing dynamic realism in such models is as important as – and far more empirically tractable than – continued debate about the monetization of climate damages and ‘social cost of carbon’.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, Paris Agreement , Models
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ashby Monk, Soh Young In
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Brown Journal of World Affairs
  • Abstract: The move toward a global energy transition is underpinned by the collective need to limit the most severe impacts of climate change as well as to foster more sustainable economic growth. Floating photovoltaic power stations on Chinese lakes, integrated carbon capture technology on large-scale power plants in Canada, and decentralized urban wind turbines on Singaporean rooftops are just a few examples of how radical innovations in clean energy technology are fueling the global energy transition.1 Bringing cutting-edge technology from the lab to the global energy market requires a supportive ecosystem. Innovation must be matched by market readiness to adopt disruptive technologies, local capacities to scale up new energy projects, energy policies with climate objectives, technological development, and sufficient and “aligned” investment capital.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, International Trade and Finance, Finance, Innovation, Renewable Energy
  • Political Geography: China, Canada, Global Focus