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Global Leaders Issue Report Underscoring Imminent Need for Adaptation

2020 Election Activities, Agriculture, Defense, Farming/Growing, Federal Agency, Infrastructure, International, Opinions, Policy, R & D Focus, Sustainability, Zimbabwe
September 12, 2019

(Solutions from the Land) A panel of political, business and environmental leaders is the latest to issue warnings about the growing climate crisis emanating from increasingly volatile global weather patterns. Citing what it calls new research findings, the Global Commission on Adaptation, which is led by former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, U.S. business magnate Bill Gates and World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva, is calling on governments and businesses to take urgent action to innovate and advance climate adaptation solutions.

While we hope that global leaders take seriously the ongoing and pending threats outlined in the commission’s report, we would think a principal source of appeal is the “bottom-line” benefits that adaptation actions taken now can pay out in the years and decades ahead.

In its report released Monday – Adapt Now: A Global Call for Leadership on Climate Resilience – the commission puts forward a financial vision that shows how to transform key economics systems, making them more resilient and productive. The report makes a strong case that climate adaptation implemented now can produce significant economic returns going forward, asserting that the overall rate of return on investments in improved resilience is high, with benefit-cost ratios ranging from 2:1 to 10:1, and in some cases even higher.

The analysis specifically finds that investing $1.8 trillion globally in five areas from 2020 to 2030 could generate $7.1 trillion in total net benefits. Among those five areas is improved dryland agriculture, where the research cited by the commission shows that without adaptation, climate change may depress growth in global agriculture yields up to 30 percent by 2050. Mostly affected will be the 500 million small farms around the world.

Of course, recent events have shown that climate change affects people everywhere. And as the U.S. military has pointed out for years, without action, a changing climate will push millions of people further into poverty, leading to increased conflict and instability. (Earlier this year, the Pentagon issued without fanfare another report showing that more than two-thirds of the its own operationally critical installations are threatened by climate change.)

The commission report asserts that climate adaptation can deliver a “triple dividend” of avoiding future losses, generating positive economic gains through innovation, and delivering additional social and environmental benefits.

A specific agricultural example offered by the commission’s report is taken from Zimbabwe, where farmers using drought-tolerant corn were able to harvest upwards of 1,300 pounds more corn per hectare (nearly 2.5 acres) than with conventional corn. That additional harvest was enough to feed a family of six for nine months and provide $240 in extra income, helping them send their children to school and meet other household needs.

The commission asserts that the need for quickly adopting adaptation measures in all areas – including agriculture – is not being met at nearly the pace and scale required because climate impacts and risks are not yet adequately factored into decisions by those who make choices about the future. SfL fully agrees with the panel’s assertion that achieving the change needed requires transformational change by:

  • Understanding fully the risks societies and economies face, and reflecting that certainty in the decisions that public and private actors make.
  • Planning to improve how we make policy and investment decisions and how we implement solutions.
  • Financing to mobilize the funds and resources necessary to accelerate adaptation. Even though the imperative for action is clear, money is not flowing at the pace or scale needed.

The urgency for action cited by the commission’s report underscores the need for policies and mechanisms that encourage the practices needed to sustain optimum agricultural production, even as climate conditions grow more unpredictable. We urge policy makers to study and heed the commission’s report and provide direction, tax incentives, cost-sharing and conservation technical assistance, the latter through programs such as the USDA’s Conservation Stewardship Fund and Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Financial incentives for practices such as rotational grazing and cover crops can help those who work the land to sustain high productivity.

Solutions from the Land and the North America Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance (NACSAA) heavily promote the role of adaptation in production systems to meet the climate challenges that the agriculture and forestry sectors face. We champion research to develop the seeds and plant structures that can withstand the challenging environmental conditions imposed by a changing climate. We support risk management strategies minimize or avoid potential losses. And we support utilization of tools to guide land management decision making. With the right forethought and leadership, agriculture can meet future climate challenges and remain viable.  READ MORE

How to Get Rid of Carbon Emissions: Pay Farmers to Bury Them   —  ‘Regenerative growing practices’ sequester in the soil carbon released from burning fossil fuels (Wall Street Journal)

The Energy 202: Bill Gates, Ban Ki-Moon and other leaders propose ways to adapt to a warming planet (Washington Post)

Americans increasingly see climate change as a crisis, poll shows (Washington Post)

Read This: TIME Devotes Entire Issue to Climate Change (Our Daily Planet)

What If We Stopped Pretending? The climate apocalypse is coming. To prepare for it, we need to admit that we can’t prevent it.  (New Yorker)

What it will take to actually fight climate change (The Week)

 

Excerpt from Washington Post:  Though Americans are increasingly worried about climate change, fewer than 4 in 10 say they believe that tackling the problem will require them to make “major sacrifices.” And most are unwilling to pay for it out of their own pockets.

For example, while nearly half of adults say they would be willing to pay a $2 monthly tax on their electricity bills to help combat climate change, just over a quarter say they are willing to pay $10 extra each month. And while two-thirds support stricter fuel-efficiency standards for the nation’s cars and trucks, increases in the gas tax remain deeply unpopular.

Instead, clear majorities say they would prefer that climate initiatives be funded by increasing the taxes on wealthy households and on companies that burn fossil fuels.

Though Democrats and independents are more likely to think climate change is caused by human activity, a majority of Republicans — 60 percent — say they, too, believe that, The Post-KFF survey finds. And 23 percent of Republicans say they disapprove of how Trump is handling the issue, compared with just 9 percent of Republicans who disapprove of his job performance overall.

In recent years, several other national surveys have found increasing public concern about climate change. The Post-KFF poll’s finding that 79 percent think humans are driving global warming is significantly higher than some recent surveys have shown.

The Post-KFF poll also reveals a mixture of optimism about innovation and high levels of anxiety about climate change. Popular literature and films often portray a dystopian future, and many young people wonder whether they should bring children into the warming world. Yet 7 in 10 say it is very likely or somewhat likely that technological advances will stave off most of the negative effects of climate change — even though no large-scale breakthrough is on the horizon.

That belief in innovation is not firmly held; barely 2 in 10 think it very likely that technology will save the day. At the same time, 6 in 10 think they will have to make only minor individual sacrifices — if any — to help combat climate change.

The Post-KFF poll underscores a sense of urgency among many Americans. Forty percent of people say action to combat climate change must come in the next decade to head off the worst consequences, but 12 percent say it’s already too late.

Still, many Americans want corporations and the rich to shoulder the financial burden of combating climate change. The Post-KFF poll finds:

● Nearly 7 in 10 say money for climate action should come from increasing taxes on wealthy households. That proposal is backed by 83 percent of Democrats, 69 percent of independents and 44 percent of Republicans.

● Six in 10 favor raising taxes on companies that burn fossil fuels, including 74 percent of Democrats, 64 percent of independents and 39 percent of Republicans. (Respondents were told that companies might pass along those taxes in the form of higher prices.)

● About 4 in 10 support increasing the national debt to pay for programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That support slips to 32 percent, however, when supporters are told that the U.S. government debt stands at $22 trillion.  READ MORE

 

Excerpt from The New Yorker: All-out war on climate change made sense only as long as it was winnable. Once you accept that we’ve lost it, other kinds of action take on greater meaning. Preparing for fires and floods and refugees is a directly pertinent example. But the impending catastrophe heightens the urgency of almost any world-improving action. In times of increasing chaos, people seek protection in tribalism and armed force, rather than in the rule of law, and our best defense against this kind of dystopia is to maintain functioning democracies, functioning legal systems, functioning communities. In this respect, any movement toward a more just and civil society can now be considered a meaningful climate action. Securing fair elections is a climate action. Combatting extreme wealth inequality is a climate action. Shutting down the hate machines on social media is a climate action. Instituting humane immigration policy, advocating for racial and gender equality, promoting respect for laws and their enforcement, supporting a free and independent press, ridding the country of assault weapons—these are all meaningful climate actions. To survive rising temperatures, every system, whether of the natural world or of the human world, will need to be as strong and healthy as we can make it.

And then there’s the matter of hope. If your hope for the future depends on a wildly optimistic scenario, what will you do ten years from now, when the scenario becomes unworkable even in theory? Give up on the planet entirely? To borrow from the advice of financial planners, I might suggest a more balanced portfolio of hopes, some of them longer-term, most of them shorter. It’s fine to struggle against the constraints of human nature, hoping to mitigate the worst of what’s to come, but it’s just as important to fight smaller, more local battles that you have some realistic hope of winning. Keep doing the right thing for the planet, yes, but also keep trying to save what you love specifically—a community, an institution, a wild place, a species that’s in trouble—and take heart in your small successes. Any good thing you do now is arguably a hedge against the hotter future, but the really meaningful thing is that it’s good today. As long as you have something to love, you have something to hope for.  READ MORE

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