European Cities Combat Climate Risks
The Carbon Disclosure Project, a UK based emission measurement organisation, has produced a report that shows that many European cities are planning adaptation strategies for climate change. 17 out of the 22 cities surveyed have completed climate change risk assessments. The cities are trying to measure their greenhouse gas emissions and are looking at measuring their carbon dioxide emissions. Eighty-six percent of the European cities surveyed have set a city-wide emissions reduction target. Some cities – like Helsinki and Berlin – are using voluntary agreements with the private sector to strengthen their cities’ climate protection goals. For more information see this link. In a separate report by The Carbon Disclosure Project, it has been revealed that the cities that set carbon reduction targets tend to be better at achieving a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. See more details on the report in the architects journal.
Greenland Ice Retreat Increases
The Greenland Ice sheet is breaking up quicker than expected. In 2012 the rate of ice loss has accelerated. Various computer models have predicted that the ice sheet will retreat by a range of different values. The summer of 2012 has exceeded any model’s expectations. Both the European satellite Cryosat, which uses radar to measure ice thickness, and Nasa’s IceSat have reported the increase in the thinning of the ice. This is the lowest extent of sea ice in the Arctic over 30 years of satellite recording. There are some images on the extent of the ice on the NASA website. Given that 2012 has not been the warmest in the region, 2007 was warmer, there are concerns about the increased rate of ice loss which could affect global climate.
Flood & Drought
The summer of 2012 has been exceptionally wet in the UK and parts of Europe. The changes have been largely down the the Jet Stream being further south than it would be normally at this time of the year. The UK has experienced the wettest year in 100 years.
In the USA the impact has been more extreme with the Jet Stream causing large droughts across large parts of the country. Over half the country has been affected. The drought was the worst since 1956. Here there have been record temperatures recorded and many crop failures that will affect the global food prices. The price of corn has already hit record high prices.
More extreme weather is associated with climate change and scientists have been predicting more extreme weather events. The intensity of downpours in the UK have increased and as a result flash flood and landslide events have increased. This has been illustrated in the number of coastal cliff falls, including one where someone was killed (at Burton Bradstock, Dorset), and other events. An example of the latter was a collapse of a steep slope in Beaminster, Dorset where a road tunnel entrance collapsed killing two people. Also cliff falls have affected road in Seaton, Devon.
America Backs Down on 2 Degree Climate Warming Limit?
The US Climate change envoy, Todd Stern, has made a case for a more ‘flexible’ global treaty that abandons the binding target to limit average temperature rises to two degrees Celsius. This change would be to make the process more flexible, but is likely to produce trouble in the global political community where reducing greenhouse gas emissions is seen as critical to lessening the impact of climate change. By allowing the temperature to rise above two degrees Celsius there are likely to be more global issues with environments being lost or degraded and more positive feedback loops coming into play. There will always be politics but there needs to be a more focused international effort to benefit the whole population and not just continued stalemates. What Todd Stern is hinting at is a more flexible approach to combating climate change but this very approach, by increasing temperature targets could do damage than good even if more collaboration is achieved. See this Business Green Summary for further details.