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Rising sea levels: Will we adapt or drown?

Low-lying island states like the Maldives and densely populated coastal cities like New York have at least one thing in common: they are faced with the challenge of rising sea levels. In fact, close to a quarter of the world’s population lives within 100 metres of a coast. Although we cannot predict exactly the pace and upper limits of the current rise, we do know that sea levels will continue rising and that the impacts will be costly. In Europe alone, there are at least €0.5 to 1 trillion of assets located within 500 metres of the coast, a 2009 estimate of property values that has almost certainly gone up. Moreover, if the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets break up, we will be looking at over two metres of sea-level rise by 2100. That is enough to flood, if not submerge, major cities from Miami to Shanghai, not to mention delta countries such as Bangladesh.

Renewed international commitment needed to fight climate change

Wherever in the world they are emitted, greenhouse gases have a global impact. Narrow national agendas are inadequate to deal with global climate change disruption…Without vision and resolve, more countries may yet retreat further into their national bunkers. We would all suffer in such a bleak scenario.

Blending finance for climate and poverty

Blended finance is not a new concept but it certainly has returned as a new buzzword. 

Managing earth: The land-water-energy nexus

Demographics, lifestyle, urbanisation, farming and transport: all are facts of life and, as we try to manage our economies and our environment, are the focus of millions of policy actions around the world. We must reduce pollution and congestion. 

Bridging the green investment gap in Latin America: what role for national development finance institutions?

The developing world urgently needs more and better infrastructure. Affordable and accessible water supply systems, electricity grids, power plants and transport networks are critical to reducing poverty and ensuring economic growth. The way new infrastructure is built over the next 10 years will determine if we meet the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement objectives. Considering the long lifespan of most infrastructure projects, the decisions developing countries make about how they build infrastructure are critical: we can either lock-in carbon intensive and polluting forms of infrastructure, or ‘leap frog’ towards more sustainable pathways. Read post here.

“Oceanfills”: Yet another dumping ground

The world’s oceans are being damaged by a constant and unprecedented accumulation of waste known as marine debris. The waste, mostly from effluent human activities, is brought to the oceans through currents and often carried far from where it originated. 

Carbon prices are still far too low to prevent climate change

Pricing carbon is one of the surest policy means we know for curbing greenhouse gas emissions and meeting the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement agreed in 2015. Has there been any progress with its implementation since then? Not enough, is the verdict of some of the world’s leading experts. Read post here.

Moving forward on climate: Looking beyond narrow interests

“National governments must take the lead and do so with a recognition that they are part of a global effort.” Speaking last week at the Munk School of Global Affairs in Toronto, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría urged countries not to retreat behind their national borders in dealing with climate change. A purely inward-looking approach to climate change is clearly inadequate as we see signs that short-term national self-interest is increasingly seeping into the global debate on climate action. This is especially a risk as a number of countries continue to try and escape from low growth traps. Effective climate action needs ambition and action at both national and global levels. Read post here.

Under the sea

With marine biodiversity deteriorating at an alarming rate, there will soon be little left of the “octopus’s garden” that The Beatles once sang about. According to Marine Protected Areas: Economics, Management and Effective Policy Mixes, pollution, overfishing and rising temperatures have damaged or destroyed 60% of the earth’s marine ecosystems. Policymakers have been addressing the issue, too, and are increasingly designating marine protected areas (MPAs) as an instrument for the preservation of biodiversity. 

Climate: Towards a just transition, with no stranded workers and no stranded communities

Ambitious action on climate is an imperative. The G20 leaders have a chance to reinforce the Paris Climate Agreement and raise ambition with concrete measures to ensure significant progress towards net zero economies and reap the benefits of investment now in jobs and economic growth. Read post here.

Can green bonds fuel the low-carbon transition?

We know decarbonisation will require a massive shift of investment away from fossil fuel and into such areas as renewable energy, energy efficiency in buildings and industry, electric vehicles and public transport. A key challenge for policy makers is to understand how to make best use of available policy levers to help accelerate this shift towards low-carbon investment. This includes facilitating the financing of low-carbon investment, including financing through equity investment or – on the debt side – through bank loans and bonds. Read post here.

COP21 was decades in the making, so how do we make future decades work for climate?

Following the hand-wringing, relief-sighing and back-slapping in Paris after nailing the landmark agreement on climate change in December, I took myself off to a farm in rural England to enjoy the new year driving tractors and herding small children (not with tractors). Conversations with friends typically started with remarks about the unseasonably mild weather and often ended on climate change, and unsurprisingly, COP21. As a soundbite buff, I quickly got my lines sorted: “COP21 gave governments a giant shove in the right direction, an emotional rollercoaster ride of hope, expectation and promise”. Read post here.

space,innovation,big data,satellite,climate change,data,science
Big data, satellites and climate change

Meteorology was the first scientific discipline to use space capabilities in the 1960s, and today satellites provide observations of the state of the atmosphere and ocean surface for the preparation of weather analyses, forecasts, advisories and warnings, for climate monitoring and environmental activities. Three-quarters of the data used in numerical weather prediction models depend on satellite measurements. 

javier goyeneche, ecoalf,oecd,climate,environment
Javier Goyeneche: "Because there is no Planet B"

Javier Goyeneche is the founder of ECOALF, a fashion brand that turns discarded fishing nets, post-consumer plastic bottles and coffee into clothes. He visited the OECD on 19 October 2016, giving a talk on his sustainable fashion company. Part of the Coffees of the Secretary-General series, you can read the complete transcript of Mr Goyeneche below. 

naomi klein, climate, climate change, oecd
Naomi Klein: "This changes everything"

Canadian author, filmmaker and social activist Naomi Klein visited the OECD on 24 November 2015, giving a talk on why climate change changes everything. Part of The Coffees of the Secretary-General series, you can read the complete transcript of Ms Klein’s presentation below. 

China's climate change combat

China was among the near-200 countries to adopt the Paris Climate Change Agreement (Paris Agreement) at an historic UN conference in Paris, France on 12 December 2015. As an emerging economy and one of the world’s major emitters of greenhouse gases, how China implements the Paris Agreement will be important. We asked Dr Xuedu Lu of the Asian Development Bank for his views.

The Paris Agreement demands climate action

The Paris Agreement is a landmark in collective efforts on climate change and is the result of many years’ hard work. It must now be implemented.

COP21 will get agreement with teeth: OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría on Bloomberg

Climate change

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OECD Observer i-Sheet: Climate change and cities

17 September 2014

Renewable energy: Catalyst for a clean energy transition

World leaders meet at the UN in New York 22 April formally to sign the Paris Agreement on climate change. The European Union is already translating the agreement into action, says Miguel Arias Cañete, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, in this article for the OECD Yearbook 2016.

What if Paris flooded?

The River Seine overflowing its banks is not an uncommon sight in Paris, as the winter catchment swells, causing water levels to rise and cover the lower banks, jetties and walkways. 

The climate challenge: Achieving zero emissions

I have come here today to talk about the ambition needed to tackle climate change and the policy tools that can get us there. As we approach the Conference of the Parties in late 2015 in Paris, our leaders are facing a fundamental dilemma: to get to grips with the risks of climate change or see their ability to limit this threat slip from their hands.

innovation, climate change, dirk pilat, nick johnstone, oecd, cop21
Business innovation and climate change: Policy makers must favour dynamism

New innovative firms are needed to help step up the fight against climate change. That means new policies to encourage business dynamism, not least in the energy sector.

cop21, vaclav smil, energy transition, climate change, renewable
Energy transitions, renewables and rational energy use: A reality check

Is replacing fossil fuels with renewable sources such as solar and wind really feasible? A lot has to happen first, including a change in how we use energy. 

environment, ministerial roundtable, climate change, chile, united states, new zealand, germany, japan, cop21
Ministerial roundtable: Combating climate change: What policy makers are doing

World leaders attending the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris know they have a rare opportunity to forge a new international agreement to combat climate change and set forth a pathway towards a low-carbon world. More ambition will be needed by all sides if global temperatures are to be prevented from rising above 2°C, the agreed threshold for preventing catastrophic climate change. But even without that target, unleashing a low-carbon future makes sense for health, costs and sustainable development.

#17 Frankie's Christmas riddle: A festive wish

The OECD Observer team would like to wish all our readers a very happy festive season, and a safe and prosperous New Year.

Fuel fraud perpetuates further harmful auto emissions and increased fuel consumption

Safe international trade is essential for the economic growth governments are currently seeking, but is threatened by the ever-evolving asymmetrical threat of fraud and illicit activity.

cop21, angel gurría, oecd, climate change, carbon, zero-carbon economy, fossil fuels
Overcoming climate change and unleashing a dynamic, zero-carbon economy

The UN Conference on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris 30 November-11 December is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reach a new international agreement to combat climate change and accelerate our transition to a low-carbon economy. World leaders attending the summit are aware of the urgency we face. However, to judge by their national contributions pledged so far, more ambition will be needed to keep global temperatures from rising above the agreed limit of 2ºC. The “carbon entanglement” of our economies is keeping us on a collision course with nature.

energy, climate change, iea, fatih birol, international energy agency, COP21
The energy sector holds the keys on climate

When the International Energy Agency (IEA) was formed in 1974, concern over climate change was in its infancy. While the greenhouse effect was known it was not widely recognised, and the debate about the long-term effect of CO2 emissions was confined more or less to academia.