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WRI’s 30th Anniversary: A Look Back at Three Decades of Big Ideas

This year, the World Resources Institute celebrates its 30th anniversary. Every organization has great backstories, and in my five-plus years here as head of External Relations, I’ve heard many of WRI’s—multiple versions of them!

Many of these tales came from WRI’s own staff and very loyal alumni, some of whom have worked for the organization nearly all three decades of its existence. More emerged from interactions with WRI’s past and present board members and with meeting many of our partners around the world. But it all added up to just a lot of interesting fragments of folklore without any real sense of how it all fit together. No one had put it all down on paper.

Why Institutions Matter For Climate Change Adaptation In Developing Countries

This post was written with Youba Sokona, coordinator of the African Climate Policy Center (ACPC) at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. ACPC and WRI have signed a memorandum of understanding to partner on analysis, convening, and other joint activities to promote low-carbon, climate-resilient development in Africa.

WRI recently published "Ready or Not", a report on the roles of national institutions in adapting to climate change, based on WRI’s National Adaptive Capacity (NAC) framework. On February 21, WRI Vulnerability and Adaptation Initiative Co-directors Heather McGray and Johan Schaar led a workshop introducing the NAC framework to 17 staff and fellows of the African Climate Policy Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Gebru Jember of the Ethiopia Climate Change Forum also shared his organization’s experience using the NAC through the ARIA project.

When you have a simple headache, you can take an aspirin, and it usually clears up. But if you have heart disease, you will likely need to make some major changes in your lifestyle: diet, exercise, plenty of doctors’ visits, and perhaps a long-term course of expensive prescription medicine.

Climate change, unfortunately, is no mere headache. Building a climate-resilient society will require long-term and potentially fundamental transformations, including changes both large and small. This is why institutions are central to the climate-resilient development agenda.

National Greenhouse Gas Inventories Can Help Countries Curb Climate Change

At WRI, we like to say that “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” For managing and mitigating climate change, one of the most fundamental measurements is a periodic inventory of the problem’s root cause: greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from human activities.

GHG emissions inventories are carried out at several levels, including corporate, city, and state. Measuring emissions for entire nations has its unique challenges, but it’s a critical first step for any country that wants to effectively manage its contribution to global climate change. National GHG inventories provide a baseline of data and, if regularly updated, a tracking mechanism for assessing how domestic policies impact emissions.

A New Global Framework to Measure Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Cities

At an official side event to the UNFCCC Bonn Climate Change Conference this week, C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), ICLEI– Local Governments for Sustainability, the World Resources Institute (WRI), and partners released Pilot Version 1.0 of the Global Protocol for Community-Scale Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GPC). The release of the GPC Pilot Version 1.0 marks an unprecedented international consensus on the greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting and reporting framework for cities and communities. For the first time, cities around the world will be able to manage and reduce their GHG impacts through a method that’s both comprehensive and easy-to-use.

Four Key Issues to Watch During Bonn Climate Talks

Since the conclusion of the UN climate conference in Durban, South Africa (COP 17) last year, there has been robust debate on the merits of its outcomes.

Some argue that the deal – including a new Durban Platform to negotiate the climate regime’s long-term future, a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol, and an array of decisions to implement the Cancun Agreements – is an inadequate answer to a world facing rapidly increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Others point to encouraging elements of the Durban package, such as a renewed commitment to international collaboration, a vision of an ambitious post-2020 settlement, and a series of steps designed to facilitate creative thinking on closing the emissions gap.

A Positive Vision for the UNFCCC Technology Executive Committee

This post was written with Heleen de Coninck, Programme Manager at the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands. It was originally published on the Climate & Development Knowledge Network.

On February 15-17, the UNFCCC Technology Executive Committee (TEC) held its second meeting. On May 28-29, it will meet again. The TEC is informally called the “policy arm” of the UNFCCC Technology Mechanism, which aims to enhance climate technology development and transfer for mitigation and adaptation. Despite its importance, the TEC has not been much discussed or studied. In this blog, two followers of the UNFCCC technology negotiations give their views on how the TEC can make a difference for addressing climate change.

Managing GHG Emissions from Agriculture: A Unique but Solvable Challenge

This post also appears on GreenBiz.com.

Thousands of companies have developed greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories in recent years as a crucial first step towards measuring and ultimately reducing their emissions. Agricultural emissions are a large part of many of those inventories: farming is currently responsible for between 10 and 12 percent of global GHG emissions. Globally, agricultural emissions are expected to increase by more than 50 percent by 2030, according to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

There is much uncertainty about how agricultural emissions should be reported in GHG inventories, a situation that hinders measurement and reduction efforts in the sector. To address this issue, the Greenhouse Gas Protocol is developing industry-wide best practices for reporting agricultural GHG emissions.

Building International Climate Cooperation

Lessons from the Weapons and Trade Regimes for Achieving International Climate Goals

This report considers lessons from the weapons and trade regimes, noting both their successes and failures. It compares these lessons to what has been tried in the climate regime, and offers ideas that might enhance the chances of attaining global action to control greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions...

International Cooperation on Climate Change: What Can Other Regimes Teach Us?

Solving climate change is one of humankind’s greatest challenges. Caused largely by the burning of fossil fuels, which currently underpin most of modern society’s energy system, the solutions are economically, politically and socially complex. In addition, the problem’s transnational and transgenerational nature contributes further to the challenge of creating positive coalitions for change and forging agreements among nations to act now for benefits later.

Thus, it is not surprising that the international climate negotiations have moved slowly. Yet, the threat of climate change requires urgent action and creative thinking – in a field where new ideas are often immediately shot down due to one political sensitivity or another.

How Climate Change is Shaping the Future of Business

This article is one in a series of updates from WRI’s Next Practice research team to highlight tools and guidance for developing corporate sustainability strategies. It builds on previous themes - Filling the Sustainability Innovation Gap and Mining Megatrends for Innovation - with examples of recent research and evidence that help build the business case for sustainability.

A recent KPMG report highlights ten “sustainability megaforces” that will shape markets in the decades to come. The list includes population growth, energy and fuel, ecosystems decline, and material resource scarcity, among others. These interconnected trends will create risks and opportunities for business. In response, companies need new strategies, particularly for market impacts relating to what KPMG calls the “megaforce” influencing all others: climate change.

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