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An Extreme Summer Shows Why We Need to Get Real About Climate Change

A version of this piece originally appeared in a special energy section of The Hill.

2011 was the summer of extreme weather— from the massive drought in the Southwest to record-breaking heat waves to Hurricane Irene’s torrential rains. Each of these events serves as a stark reminder of the growing impacts of climate change. Even so, the main recent discussion around climate change comes from Republican presidential candidates who have been debating the issue. Notably, Jon Huntsman recently Tweeted that he trusts scientists on global warming, adding “Call me crazy”– an invitation surely welcomed by some of his competitors.

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What Do We Know About “Green Jobs”?

While the potential role of ‘green jobs’ is hotly debated, many participants in this debate are talking past one another – starting from different assumptions and definitions, working from different datasets, or hailing from opposite ideological viewpoints on the “true” costs of unmitigated greenhouse gas emissions.

A review of the literature provides evidence that clean energy policies and investments can help create job opportunities and competitive gains for the economy. These findings should heighten the demand for policies and investments that hasten a shift to a low-carbon economy and the creation of more clean-energy jobs.

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Seizing Economic Opportunities in the Low-Carbon Power Sector

This post was written with Pablo Torres, an intern with the Two Degrees of Innovation project.

In these turbulent economic times, leaders around the world are looking to strengthen their economies and create jobs. They are grappling with how to effectively capitalize on the green economy to drive growth. In a new WRI working paper, we look at ways that policymakers can create new green jobs through investments in innovation to meet our challenges in the power sector.

Building the capacity to innovate is a key competitiveness strategy. Successfully competing in the growing low-carbon power sector is no different. However, innovation—improvements in cost and performance—can also close the gap between the low-carbon technologies of today and the low-cost, high-performance technologies the world needs. Policymakers have a crucial role to play in supporting innovators and creating a dynamic innovation ecosystem where they can thrive.

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Open Climate Network Launches Website to Track National Progress on Climate Change

Welcome to the Open Climate Network website, a platform for updates and analysis on country actions on climate mitigation and the provision of climate finance. Here you will find information on the latest policy developments in our partner countries and results of Open Climate Network analysis.

The Open Climate Network (OCN) is developing a set of climate policy tracking and assessment tools that will help people raise the right questions about climate-related policy design and implementation in their countries. These tools will generate a nuanced, contextualized, independent, and peer-reviewed understanding of climate policy implementation for both domestic and international audiences. Our aim is to harness the insights captured through the assessment tools and use them to engage civil society and others in the interest of improving policy design and implementation.

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Why the Oil Sands Matter to Climate Policy in Canada

Clare Demerse is Director, Climate Change, at the Pembina Institute. This post originally appeared in its full form on the Pembina Institute's website.

Anyone who works on climate change policy in Canada, like I do, ends up talking about the oil sands on a daily basis.

The massive development reshaping parts of Alberta's landscape attracts criticism like no other project in Canada, and those concerns don't stop at our borders.

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Famine in the Horn of Africa

As the climate changes, the global community and national governments both need to take action to prevent the kind of humanitarian disaster underway In parts of the Horn of Africa. Early action can help communities confront climate change, take advantage of ecosystem services, and prevent future food-related tragedies due to drought and other extreme weather.

People relying on agriculture and livestock rearing for their livelihoods make up over seventy percent of the total population of east Africa. Over the last two years, the eastern part of the region has faced two consecutive failed rainy seasons. The UN reported that dry-lands of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia were facing "one of the driest years since 1950/51." This extreme lack of rain has reduced the ability of people in the region to grow their food. Pastures have dried up, making it impossible to sustain cattle. With animals and agriculture in jeopardy, the main sources of food and income for many in the region have been greatly threatened. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) declared a famine in parts of Somalia on July 28, 2011.

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How to Reduce Your Coral Reef Footprint

”Reeling Reefs,” a feature story in the August 15th issue of American Way magazine, showcases Reefs at Risk Revisited, WRI’s map-based global assessment of current and future threats to coral reefs. The article also shows how people in the Dominican Republic and Fiji are working to protect coral reefs and promote human well-being. Below we highlight why coral reefs are important to human society, how they are threatened, and what you can do to reduce your reef footprint and help save coral reefs.

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Summary: Workshop on How to Measure, Report, and Verify Climate Finance

An informal summary of WRI's June 2011 workshop on the measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) of finance provisions in the Cancun Agreements.

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China’s Climate Minister Speaks in Support of Carbon Capture and Storage

This piece originally appeared on ChinaFAQs.org.

China’s Climate Change Minister Xie Zhenhua offered a new phrase to emphasize the importance of technologies to reduce carbon in a speech at a major international conference on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) in Beijing, July 27.

Minister Xie said that China’s energy and environment policies support “energy efficiency and carbon reduction” (jieneng jiantan). This is a modification of the phrase used to support the national policy of “energy efficiency and pollution reduction” (jieneng jianpai), which addresses the broad range of pollutants. Based on a number of signals, including these phrases and the day’s speeches, it seems that China’s interest in CCS is increasing. These developments occurred at the conference sponsored by Xie’s own National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

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In Next Practice Collaborative, Top Companies Transition to Low-Carbon Future

The world 20 years ago looked very different from today. There was no widespread use of the internet. VHS movies rather than streaming video were the norm, and few could (nor did) imagine oil costing $100 a barrel. Innovations over this timeframe, like instant global financial transactions, social networking, and virtual communications unheard of when today’s managers entered the workforce, have fundamentally changed the way that companies do business.

Looking forward, business competitiveness and leadership depends on understanding and navigating the trends that will shape tomorrow’s markets, and positioning companies to balance the risks and opportunities to come. CK Prahalad, former WRI board member and business thought leader described the process of benchmarking corporate performance against tomorrow’s emerging opportunities as ‘next practice’.

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