🔎 Green bonds; Climate change; financing for development
Bloomberg New Energy Finance published its most recent analysis and revealed that green bonds issuance is set to reach $134.9 billion by the end of 2017, a new record so far.
So far, green bonds issuance has been $96 billion and another $39 billion is anticipated for the next months.
If the almost $135 billion projection comes true, it will be an increase of 36 percent in relation to 2016, which saw $99.1 billion of green bonds in total.
In 2015 $50 billion of green bonds were issued, in 2014 $36.6 billion, and in 2013 $14.8 billion.
Southern Company’s subsidiary Southern Power Co is said to be largest US green bond issuer to date, since it has issued over $3 billion worth of green bonds destined for investment in clean energy since 2015.
Michael Sheren, Adviser to the Bank of England and co-Chair of 20’s Green Finance Study Group had commented earlier this year that financial innovation in creating new types of green bond will keep demand growing.
“There’s about $100 trillion of institutional money in the world, and less than 1 percent is invested in anything green”.
He had added: “We have to make it palatable to institutional investors. Green bonds are the best instrument to do this”.
As more and more institutions are issuing green bonds, they have begun coming in different shades to help investors track exactly how green the securities really are.
Dark green bonds adhere to the strictest environmental criteria, while the lighter green shade is being used to fund a broader array of projects.
Published on Climate Action Programme on September 26, 2017
🔎 Climate change; European Court of Human Rights
By Sandra Laville
Portuguese schoolchildren from the area struck by the country’s worst forest fires are seeking crowdfunding to sue 47 European countries, alleging that the states’ failure to tackle climate change threatens their right to life.
The children, from the Leiria region of central Portugal, where fires this summer killed more than 60 people and left hundreds injured, are being represented by British barristers who are experts in environmental and climate change law.
Supported by the NGO Global Legal Action Network (Glan), they are seeking an initial £35,000 to mount the case in the European court of human rights.
The crowdfunding bid was published on Monday on the platform CrowdJustice, which has raised millions to help bring citizen-led cases to court.
Lawyers will seek a ruling from the court that the countries being sued must significantly strengthen their emissions reduction policies and commit to keeping the majority of their existing fossil fuel reserves in the ground.
The lead counsel, Marc Willers QC of Garden Court Chambers, said: “This case intends to build on the successes which have been achieved through climate change litigation across the world so far.
“It will be unique because it will be the first case in which multiple governments are brought before a court at the one time in relation to their failure to properly tackle climate change.
“Climate change poses a major and increasingly worsening threat to a number of human rights and governments in Europe are simply not doing enough to address it.”
The children, aged between five and 14, all come from Leiria, which suffered Portugal’s deadliest fires this summer.
AdvertisementSome experts have blamed the increase in forest fires in Europe on climate change.
A 14-year-old who is part of the group taking action said: “Climate change causes many problems, but if I had to name the ones that worry me the most, it would be the sea level rise, which leads to the destruction of shores and infrastructure such as dams, roads and houses, and also the increase in the number of forest fires that we’ve been observing lately – especially this summer, as the fires caused many deaths and left our country in mourning.”
The legal action will target the 47 nations who are the major emitters in Europe – including the UK, Ireland, Germany and France. These 47 were collectively responsible for roughly 15% of global emissions and held a significant proportion of the world’s known fossil fuel reserves, said the Glan director, Dr Gearóid Ó Cuinn.
European court of human rights decisions are binding on these states.
The case is also being taken to raise public awareness about what Glan says are the shortcomings in government policies on climate change.
Ó Cuinn said: “We will work with civil society organisations throughout Europe to use our case to highlight the fact that unless governments urgently take much stronger action to prevent the release of greenhouse gas emissions, it is only a matter of decades before we’ll be witnessing the catastrophic consequences of insufficient action.”
Two years ago a group of Dutch citizens – organised by the NGO Urgenda – successfully sued their government for negligence for knowingly contributing to a breach of the 2C maximum target for global warming.
Three judges ordered the Dutch government to cut its emissions by 25% by 2020, saying their lower targets were unlawful given the scale of the threat posed by climate change.
Published on The Guardian on September 24, 2017.
🔎 Climate change; climate action
By Natalie Meade
At eleven o’clock on Saturday morning, long after Donald Trump, other world leaders, and the hundreds of journalists who cover their every word decamped from New York, Roosevelt Skerrit, the forty-five-year-old Prime Minister of the Caribbean island of Dominica, addressed the United Nations General Assembly. Dressed in a latticework tie and a tailored charcoal-colored suit with a Dominican flag pinned to the lapel, Skerrit, whose country was devastated by Hurricane Maria, declared that “Eden is broken,” and demanded that world leaders acknowledge climate change.
“To deny climate change is to procrastinate while the earth sinks; it is to deny a truth we have just lived. It is to mock thousands of my compatriots who in a few hours without a roof over their heads will watch the night descend on Dominica, in fear of sudden mudslides . . . and what the next hurricane may bring,” Skerrit said. “My fellow-leaders, there is no more time for conversation. There is little time left for action. While the big countries talk, the small island nations suffer. We need action and we need it now.”
Skerrit did not mention Trump by name, but, unlike the leaders of Britain, France, and many other countries, Trump did not mention climate change once in his address to the world body. Skerrit, by contrast, focussed his speech squarely and entirely on climate change. Speaking to a General Assembly Hall that was half empty, Skerrit said warmer air and sea temperatures had “permanently altered” the climate between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn and threatened to devastate the Caribbean, a region of forty million people. “Heat is the fuel that takes ordinary storms—storms we could normally master in our sleep—and supercharges them into a devastating force,” Skerrit said.
Researchers agree with him. Since hurricanes began to be recorded and classified, in 1851, thirty-three storms have reached Category 5 strength in the Atlantic, according to Michael Lowry, a visiting scientist at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, in Boulder, Colorado. Two of those tore through the Caribbean within the last two weeks. Data compiled by Weather Underground shows that in only twelve hours Hurricane Maria strengthened from a Category 2 hurricane to a Category 5. When the storm made landfall in Dominica, on Monday, it unleashed a-hundred-and-seventy-five-mile-per-hour winds on the island of seventy thousand people.
When the sun rose on Tuesday morning, swaths of the island’s two hundred and ninety square miles looked like a war zone, Skerrit said. Eighty-five to ninety per cent of homes on the island were damaged, as was the main hospital, which lost its roof and is still without electricity. The unofficial death toll currently stands at thirty, but it is expected to rise as emergency-response teams access remote villages. “We dug graves today in Dominica, buried loved ones yesterday, and I’m sure that, as I return home tomorrow, we shall discover additional fatalities,” Skerrit told the General Assembly.
Dominica is not a stereotypical Caribbean tourist destination of white-sand beaches and sprawling resorts. The most mountainous island of the Lesser Antilles archipelago, the country bills itself as the “Nature Island” of the Caribbean. Morne Trois Pitons National Park is a unescoWorld Heritage site. Three hundred and sixty-five rivers sustain the island’s rainforests and waterfalls. The country is home to nine active volcanos and the world’s second-largest thermally active lake. Its people are spread across coasts, hills, and valleys, and include the Kalinago, the only pre-Columbian indigenous population remaining in the West Indies.
At the United Nations, Skerrit asked why Dominica and the other Caribbean islands should suffer the most from global warming when they have done little to cause it. Although the country meets seventy per cent of its electricity needs through diesel generators (the remaining thirty per cent comes from hydroelectric power), it has contributed far less to the crisis than its more powerful neighbors. “We as a country and as a region did not start this war against nature. We did not provoke it,” Skerrit said. “We do not pollute or overfish our oceans. We have made no contribution to global warming that can move the needle. But yet we are among the main victims.”
Two years ago, Tropical Storm Erika dumped ten inches of rain on Dominica over the course of a few hours, sparking devastating landslides and flooding that caused four hundred and eighty-three million dollars in damage, equivalent to ninety per cent of the island’s G.D.P. Hurricane Maria’s winds and rainfall caused landslides and flooding that could equate to even greater financial losses, according to Skerrit. Citing the likelihood of future storms, he said that Dominica should not be restored to the island it once was; rather, it should be rebuilt with the infrastructure to mitigate future disasters.
If sea levels rise by three feet in the Caribbean, an estimated hundred and ten thousand people will be displaced because of changes to coastal topography, according to the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center, a Belize-based organization that studies climate change in the region. The center estimates that a hundred and forty-nine of the region’s six hundred and seventy-three major resorts, one third of its sixty-four airports, and eighty per cent of its forty-four seaports would be inundated. The flooding would devastate tourism, one of the Caribbean’s primary industries.
Near the end of his speech, Skerrit requested immediate aid to help Dominica recover from Maria, and a long-term international commitment to countering climate change. “Let these extraordinary events elicit extraordinary efforts to rebuild nations sustainably,” he said. “Let these extraordinary events unleash the innovation and creativity of global citizens to spark a new paradigm of green economic development that stabilizes and reverses the consequences of human-induced global warming.”
After Prime Minister Skerrit’s speech concluded, the General Assembly returned to its scheduled business. President Trump spent the weekend at his country club in Bedminster, New Jersey, tweeting about professional athletes, most of them black, who he says disrespect the American flag by kneeling in protest during the national anthem. But Trump, too, has been impacted by the Caribbean hurricanes. The other Category 5 storm, Irma, battered the island of St. Martin, where, in 2013, the Trump Organization purchased a five-acre waterfront estate. In April, the Trump Organization put the property up for sale, but it has apparently attracted few buyers. Originally listed at twenty-eight million dollars, the purchase price has dropped by nearly thirty per cent. More hurricanes will further drive down the value of Trump’s estate—and endanger the livelihoods, and lives, of millions of people across the Caribbean.
Published on The New Yorker on September 24, 2017
By Suresh Babu | International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
India's agriculture needs to become climate resilient, as the risks for small-scale farmers become more dangerous with each passing year.
As both a contributor to climate change and a victim of its impacts, agriculture needs to become climate resilient. This direct connection between climate change and agriculture is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in India, where recent research has shown climate change as the key contributing factor to the suicides of more than 60,000 farmers. This shocking number reveals the deep social and psychological impacts of climate on smallholder farmers and agricultural workers, who form the majority of the poor and hungry, and calls for better tools, policies and programmes to address the growing threat.
As many other countries, India has borne the brunt of climate impacts, seeing increased flooding, variability in rainfall, extreme heat, and vulnerability to more severe storms. Especially for small-scale farmers, the risks become clearer, and more dangerous, with each passing year. That is why boosting agricultural resilience in India is now, more than ever, a crucial key to preparing for the impacts of climate change.
Failing to address India’s climate change can spell trouble for many smallholders who continue to depend on rainfed agriculture. To save farmers lives and livelihoods, making Indian agriculture climate-resilient must be a priority next step.
As a start, policy incentives can be geared toward more equitable and efficient management of water resources, rather than leaving farmers to resort to unreliable borewells. In taking a climate-aware approach to water management, India’s policymakers can ensure that farmers become less vulnerable to the variable patterns of flooding and drought that have hit the region hard in recent years. Cycling between using surface water in rainier years, and recharged groundwater in drier years, for example, can reduce the threat of unpredictable rainfall to farming communities.
Empowering farmers to become financially independent will prove another key step toward resilience. Currently, farmers are trapped in a cycle of seeking out loans from high-interest money lenders. By making institutional credit available at affordable rates, farmers can avoid debt traps.
Further complicating the financial prospects of agriculturalists, government compensation policies seem to work against the farmers’ best interests. In a morbid sense, the compensation in the case of death of a farmer is seen as a route for farmers’ families to get out of debt. The money distributed to the farmer’s family is often used to pay off the predatory loans, to keep the farm afloat. This distressing cycle of debt further leaves farmers and their families most vulnerable to future climate-induced shock.
To move forward on climate-resilient agriculture, India must also take stock of its agricultural emissions. With the measurement and mapping of greenhouse gases (GHGs), better climate policy could be developed. Informing better mitigation techniques, a district-level GHG agricultural emissions index would set priorities appropriate to India’s context.
But a database is only a starting point; on-the-ground knowledge is needed in every district to put this data to practical use for climate resilient programming. Developing and using the data and the tools to boost technical competency at the local level means that resources will be better managed, and that research and extension services can be made more climate focused. Local solutions require use of such decentralised databases and multidisciplinary approach to climate-informed farming, especially if bolstered by collective action between large- and small-scale farmers.
The most recent uptick in farmer suicides is a call to action; India must heed this as a distress signal for the country’s agriculture. It is high time that Indian policy makers and researchers began to work more closely with its farmers; re-examining agricultural policies, enhancing financial empowerment, and charting a data-driven path toward mitigation and adaptation toward climate resilient agriculture. The impacts of climate change won’t wait.
Published on September 5, 2017.
Human rights and environment
In recent years, the recognition of the links between human rights and the environment has greatly increased. The number and scope of international and domestic laws, judicial decisions, and academic studies on the relationship between human rights and the environment have grown rapidly.
Many States now incorporate a right to a healthy environment in their constitutions. Many questions about the relationship of human rights and the environment remain unresolved, however, and require further examination.
As a result, in March 2012 the Human Rights Council decided to establish a mandate on human rights and the environment, which will (among other tasks) study the human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, and promote best practices relating to the use of human rights in environmental policymaking.
Mr. John Knox was appointed in August 2012 to a three-year term as the first Independent Expert on human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. His mandate was further extended in March 2015 for another three years as a Special Rapporteur.
The resolution 16/11 adopted by the Human Rights Council on 12th of April 2011 entitled “Human Rights and the environment” requested the Office of the High Commissioner “in consultation with and taking into account the views of States Members of the United Nations, relevant international organizations and intergovernmental bodies, including the United Nations Environment Programme and relevant multilateral environmental agreements, special procedures, treaty bodies and other stakeholders, to conduct, within existing resources, a detailed analytical study on the relationship between human rights and the environment” (para.1).
See also the Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes
Human rights and climate change
In its 5th Assessment Report (2014), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) unequivocally confirmed that climate change is real and that human-made greenhouse gas emissions are its primary cause. The report identified the increasing frequency of extreme weather events and natural disasters, rising sea-levels, floods, heat waves, droughts, desertification, water shortages, and the spread of tropical and vector-borne diseases as some of the adverse impacts of climate change. These phenomena directly and indirectly threaten the full and effective enjoyment of a range of human rights by people throughout the world, including the rights to life, water and sanitation, food, health, housing, self-determination, culture and development.