International team of scientists have identified potential ‘tipping points’ where abrupt regional climate shifts in oceans, sea ice and ice cover could occur due to global warming

Scientists have identified potential ‘tipping points’ where abrupt regional climate shifts could occur due to global warming. The scientists analyzed the climate model simulations on which the recent 5th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports are based. They found evidence of 41 cases of regional abrupt changes in the ocean, sea ice, snow cover, permafrost and terrestrial biosphere. Many of these events occur for global warming levels of less than two degrees, a threshold sometimes presented as a safe limit.

In the new study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), the scientists analysed the climate model simulations on which the recent 5th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports are based.

Read more

US Hosted GLACIER Conference, Joint Statement on Climate Change and the Arctic, and EU Commitments for Arctic Research

The US State Department sponsored  the GLACIER conference (Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience)   in Anchorage, Alaska. Over 400 delegates from 20 countries attended the event, including foreign ministers and high-level leaders from the 8 Arctic nations, as well as countries and intergovernmental bodies with strong interests in the Arctic, including Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the UK, and the EU. 
 
The main outcome of the event is a Joint Statement on Climate Change and the Arctic, where representatives from the Arctic States and other nations reaffirmed their commitment to take urgent action to slow the pace of warming in the Arctic. Additionally, during the conference, the European Union (EU) announced plans to dedicate €200 million to Arctic research over the next 5 years to help the international community better understand the changes occurring in the region. The EU also announced plans to commit €40 million to initiatives focused on cooperative scientific research on Arctic climate change and its global impacts next year.

The Joint Statement on Climate Change and the Arctic states:
 “The rapid warming of the Arctic is profoundly affecting communities both in the Arctic region and beyond. As Foreign Ministers and other representatives from the Arctic States – Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, the United States – attending the GLACIER conference in Anchorage, Alaska on August 31, 2015, and recognizing the leadership role of the Arctic States in providing sustainable development and cooperation in the Arctic, we reaffirm our commitment to take urgent action to slow the pace of warming in the Arctic, focusing on actions that impact the global atmosphere as well as the Arctic itself. The Foreign Ministers and other representatives from France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Netherlands, Poland, Singapore, Spain, United Kingdom, and European Union join us in this commitment.
We take seriously warnings by scientists: temperatures in the Arctic are increasing at more than twice the average global rate. Loss of Arctic snow and ice is accelerating the warming of the planet as a whole by exposing darker surfaces that absorb more sunlight and heat. Sea ice, the Greenland Ice Sheet, and nearly all glaciers in the Arctic have shrunk over the past 100 years; indeed, glaciers that have endured since the last Ice Age are shrinking, in most cases at a very rapid rate. Arctic sea ice decline has been faster during the past ten years than in the previous 20 years, with summer sea ice extent reduced by 40% since 1979. Loss of ice from Arctic glaciers and ice sheets contributes to rising sea levels worldwide, which put coastal communities everywhere at increased risk of coastal erosion and persistent flooding. And emerging science suggests that rapid warming of the Arctic may disrupt weather patterns across the globe.
Moreover, as the Arctic continues to warm, significant feedback loops appear to be coming into play. Warmer, drier weather increases the occurrence, extent, and severity of wildfires that release carbon from vast tracts of burning forests, with about five million acres burned this year in Alaska alone. Warming also promotes thawing of permafrost, which could release substantial stores of greenhouse gas emissions. And the relentless loss of Arctic snow and ice exposes yet more land and water, which in turn absorb yet more heat.
Arctic communities are experiencing first-hand the challenges of dealing with a rapidly changing climate. Thawing permafrost is triggering the collapse of roads, bridges and other infrastructure, and coastal erosion is requiring entire communities to consider relocation. Warming-induced changes can also reduce wildlife and fish populations that support subsistence hunting and fishing. These impacts highlight the need for adaptive management and infrastructure, and illustrate the emerging threat to traditional ways of life.
As change continues at an unprecedented rate in the Arctic – increasing the stresses on communities and ecosystems in already harsh environments – we are committed more than ever to protecting both terrestrial and marine areas in this unique region, and our shared planet, for generations to come.
In particular, we affirm our strong determination to work together and with others to achieve a successful, ambitious outcome at the international climate negotiations in December in Paris this year.
In addition, we acknowledge the importance of the Framework for Action on Black Carbon and Methane, adopted at the Arctic Council Ministerial in April 2015, which provides for enhanced opportunities to act together to reduce emissions of black carbon (soot) that impact the Arctic. Actions to reduce methane – a powerful short-lived greenhouse gas – can slow Arctic warming in the near to medium term. To address the largest industrial source of methane globally, we encourage all oil and gas firms headquartered or operating within our borders to join the Climate and Clean Air Coalition’s Oil and Gas Methane Partnership.
We call for additional research to characterize the response of Arctic permafrost and other carbon reservoirs to warming, and resolve to cooperate on wildland fire management, especially in hotspots that have the potential to release particularly large stores of greenhouse gases. We further urge the scientific community, in cooperation with northern communities, to continue to provide the information and tools necessary to assist the Arctic’s most vulnerable communities build resilience to climate impacts and to prioritize further research on, and communication of, the links between a changing Arctic and impacts felt across the globe, including on how such changes may affect mid-latitude weather patterns. We also resolve to work with our Arctic communities to deploy low-carbon solutions that can improve livelihoods, enhance energy security, and promote sustainable economic growth such as renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency measures.
Climate change poses a grave challenge in the Arctic and to the world. But these challenges also present an imperative for cooperation, innovation, and engagement as we work together to safeguard this vital region and to inform the world why the Arctic matters to us all.”

Further information

GLACIER Conference website


Joint Statement on Climate Change in the Arctic

First Global Tidal Wetland and Seagrass Restoration Methodology getting closer to approval, allowing coastal wetlands to generate carbon credits

First global Tidal Wetland and Seagrass Restoration Methodology is one step closer to full approval, having cleared the first of two independent assessments required by the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). This methodology details the procedure that project developers must follow to generate carbon offsets and will allow coastal wetlands to earn carbon credits. This marks a significant step closer to coastal wetlands eligibility to generate carbon credits. Project developers can use the methodology to plan their carbon projects.

 Developed by Restore America’s Estuaries and its partners, this methodology is the first globally applicable Tidal Wetland and Seagrass Restoration Methodology. It was submitted last year to the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), a leading carbon offset standard. The process of approval is rigorous, including two rounds of assessment by independent auditors, known as validation/verification bodies. With the first round of assessment complete, restoration practitioners can expect the final completion of the methodology spring of next year.

 Coastal wetlands have  recently been included in the carbon market, and there has been a need for wetland and seagrass restoration methodologies to spur carbon project development. Carbon credits can then be sold to businesses, organizations, agencies, and individuals who want to offset their carbon emissions, adding an incentive to invest in coastal wetland restoration projects.

Tidal wetlands, like salt marshes and mangroves are critical habitats that provide many benefits. They protect shorelines from erosion and storms, improve water quality, and provide vital habitat for economically valuable fish and marine species. Tidal wetlands and seagrass habitats are also important for absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and storing it in the ground – referred to as “blue carbon”. Yet globally these habitats are being lost at alarming rates, up to 7% annually. In the U.S. an average of 80,000 acres is lost every year.

Paris Declaration of World Summit of Regions supports Bottom Up Cooperation of Municipalities and Industry

By Magdalena A K Muir

Representatives of the Federated States, Regions and Cities, companies and investors participating in the World Summit of Regions for Climate  recognize that the fight against climate change must include the “bottom-up” commitment of all stakeholders: local, regional and national l governments, businesses and the private sector, financial institutions, civil society and NGOs, academia and research, intergovernmental organizations and the international community,and that key sectors impacted by climate change include health, energy, water and agriculture. Sub-national governments and the business and finance sector made commitments in the Paris Declaration  on October 11, 2014. These commitments are summarized below, with further information in  Paris Declaration.

Sub-national governments made the following commitments:
1: Adopt, support and engage in concrete “bottom-up” lead by local authorities in  partnership with businesses and investors.
2nd Commitment: Commit concrete measures to fight against global warming within such action programs according to our respective local conditions, and taking as an example the targets proposed by the European Commission for a climate and energy package for 2030 , as well as the UNSE4ALL objectives for 2030.
3: Commit to extend action programs to the international community and all stakeholders for effective implementation of low carbon infrastructure projects, in
particular through Public Private Partnerships (PPP) at the local level, and through training for local decision makers and technical staff.
4: Encourage and support  financing mechanisms specifically designed to ensure the value chain in delivering bankable low carbon projects for sub-national governments. Such financial schemes support access to public funding, including pre-investment facilities to cover the costs of feasibility studies and public debt funding; and Private financing.
5: Interregional cooperation programs to effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), increase renewable energy generation, and
adopt energy efficiency and energy security measures, and sharing ideas and best practices and direct participation in carbon credit exchange;
6: Publicly report and disclose GHG reduction efforts and possibly other local climate actions implemented at the local level, and climate change metrics and benchmarking performance.
7:  Mobilize all stakeholders around projects that build the capacities of young people, as well as on specific training courses leading to green jobs and contribute to the
transition to the green economy.

The business and finance sector made the following commitments
1: Promote, support and engage in a “bottom-up” approach through joint action by local and regional authorities, businesses and investors.
2: Take concrete measures to fight against global warming including resource efficiency measures,and  measures to introduce cleaner energy and  low-carbon thinking, product and process innovation.
3:Invest in the development of international capacity building and solutions to facilitate implementation of actions and projects to fight against global warming;
4: Support and develop new and innovative financing schemes with the whole finance sector to unlock the necessary $1000bn/year to invest in projects to fight climate change.
5: Develop capacity to engage in Public Private Partnership projects to implement solutions for climate change and to support sub-national and local governments to develop their capacity for these projects.
6: Publicly report and disclose GHG reduction efforts implemented in the business and finance sector.

Further information
Paris Declaration
http://www.iccgov.org/FilePagineStatiche/Files/For_the_Media/Highlights/Paris%20Declaration_Eng_FINAL%20Version_endorsed%20on%2011.10.2014.pdf

News Release of World Summit of Regions for Climate
http://www.iccgov.org/HighlightDetail.aspx?IDHighlight=22&IDSM=64&IDM=182&Past=&Lan=en-US

2nd Policy Forum on climate change adaptation in the Baltic Sea Region

10 –11 December 2012, Stockholm, Sweden

The conference will be the second out of three high-level Policy Fora on climate change adaptation in the Baltic Sea Region. The Forum continues the working process that was started at the 1st Policy Forum during “Baltic Sea Days” in Berlin, Germany in April 2012. It will focus on the further development of the first draft of the macro-regional climate change adaptation strategy for the BSR. Special emphasis will be given to interactive working sessions on the expected sectoral impact of climate change on agriculture, biodiversity, spatial planning and civil security in the BSR.

Participants of the 2nd Policy Forum will be high level policy makers and representatives from relevant national ministries, the European Commission, international and regional organizations and academic institutions in the field of climate change and adaptation from across the Baltic Sea Region.

The EUSBSR strategy, EUSBSR, http://www.balticsea-region-strategy.eu/ calls for the development of a “regional climate change adaptation strategy at the level of the Baltic Sea Region” which would provide a useful framework for strengthening co-operation and sharing information across the region on this issue. The project BaltAdapt (www.baltadapt.eu) funded by the Baltic Sea Region Programme 2007-2013, was developed as a response to this priority in the EUSBSR. Today, BaltAdapt partners and networks are on their way to develop a proposal for a Baltic Sea Region-wide climate change adaptation strategy, focussing on the sea itself and its coastline.

Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Registration and latest agenda: www.cbss.org/Environment/events

Seminar fee: free of charge

Conference language: English

Logo BaltadaptCouncil of the Baltic Sea States, CBSS