Climate Change Impacts: Vulnerable Nations, Mass Human Displacement & Carbon Pricing

Climate Change Impacts: 
Vulnerable Nations, Mass Human Displacement & Carbon Pricing

The V20 group of 20 countries most at risk from the effects of climate change this month called on wealthy nations to meet US$100 billion pledge to help them tackle global warming. Meanwhile, Government Ministers and other officials of 110 nations adopted a non-binding “agenda” in Geneva to protect those displaced by earthquakes, volcanoes and climate-linked hazards such as floods, storms, droughts and rising seas. And Paris could confirm that the world is coming to terms with the idea that putting a price on carbon emissions is necessary to fight global warming. Now there’s a growing consensus on how to make it happen. Carbon pricing and emissions trading schemes are already adopted by 39 nations and 23 sub-national governments, according to the World Bank. Read More

Vulnerable nations unite to call for greater access to climate funds

Dan Collyns for The Guardian in Lima  (9 October 2015)

Finance ministers from the 20 countries most vulnerable to climate change have formed a group to call for greater access to climate finance for adaptation and mitigation in the face of the most devastating effects of global warming.

With a collective population of nearly 700 million, the vulnerable twenty, or V20, range from small Pacific nations,such as Vanuatu, to Bangladesh and the Philippines.

“In the absence of an effective global response, annual economic losses due to climate change are projected to exceed $400bn by 2030 for the V20, with impacts far surpassing our local or regional capabilities,” said Cesar Purisima, finance minister for the Philippines, at the annual meeting of the World Bank and IMF in the Peruvian capital, Lima.

“Here in Lima, we unite for what we believe is the fundamental human rights issue threatening our very own existence today,” he said. The bloc aims to mobilise climate funds through advocacy and develop and share best practices in shoring up their defences against climate change.

It called for the fulfilment of the $100bn promised to developing countries to deal with climate change. Rich countries and businesses have provided close to two-thirds of the financial assistance pledged to poorer nations as part of the global climate change negotiations, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation Development.

The 20 finance ministers supported an international financial transaction tax to get additional resources to combat climate change. They also put forward the creation of a V20 climate risk pooling mechanism to distribute economic and financial risks in order to aid the countries’ recovery from extreme weather events.

Helen Clark, head of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), praised the V20’s vision to “deploy innovation in finance, based on shared experiences” and said it could “knock down barriers” to climate action.

“This platform means we can speak with one voice in the international arena, especially at the upcoming COP21 [UN climate summit] in Paris,” said Maatia Toafa, the finance minister and deputy prime minister of Tuvalu, a Pacific island of around 10,000 people and a highest elevation of three-and-half metres.

“Along with Vanuatu and Kiribati we are one of the most vulnerable countries, this is not about reducing the net impact, it’s about survival,” he told the Guardian.

Climate change has been high on the agenda at the meeting of more than 180 finance ministers and central bank governors gathered in the Peruvian capital which hosted the United Nations Climate Change summit in 2014.

Laurence Tubiana, the French ambassador for the international climate negotiations in Paris, said: “Even if these 20 vulnerable countries don’t represent a big economic power they represent a very important moral force.”

The V20 is made up of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Kiribati, Madagascar, Maldives, Nepal, Philippines, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Vietnam.


States to boost international protection for people fleeing disasters

Thomson Reuters Foundation (14 October 2015):

Governments of 110 nations have promised to beef up action to help people forced to leave their homes and cross borders because of natural disasters – and to take steps to prevent them having to flee in the first place.

Ministers and other officials adopted a non-binding “agenda” in Geneva on Tuesday to protect those displaced to other countries by earthquakes, volcanoes and climate-linked hazards such as floods, storms, droughts and rising seas.

Between 2008 and 2014, 184.4 million people were displaced by disasters, an average of 26.4 million people each year, the document noted, though there is no data to show how many people moved across international borders.

“Forced displacement related to disasters, including the adverse effects of climate change … is a reality and among the biggest humanitarian challenges facing states and the international community in the 21st century,” the agenda said.

Africa, Central and South America have seen the largest number of incidences of cross-border disaster-displacement, the document issued at the end of the meeting said.

Three years ago, the Swiss and Norwegian governments launched a consultation process to find ways to support people displaced to foreign countries by environmental crises, given that the vast majority cannot claim refugee status and there was little appetite for a new international law.

The Nansen Initiative’s final global consultation in Geneva this week ended with states committing to collect more data and knowledge on those affected, make better use of humanitarian protection measures such as temporary visas to help them, and reduce the risk of displacement in their home countries.

Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said that back in 2012, “there was a lot of denial and scepticism that this was something to look at”.

But now there is widespread recognition among governments “that we have a huge, growing, neglected problem”, he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation from Geneva.

Countries whose people are likely to be displaced by climate impacts and other natural hazards – from Fiji to the Philippines and Madagascar – appealed for support at the meeting, he added.

“They explained that they are desperate – a big portion of their population is at risk, and they need help,” he said.

Walter Kaelin, a human rights lawyer and envoy for the Nansen Initiative, said effective ways to support disaster-hit people who cross borders already exist but need to be harmonised and used more systematically, particularly at a regional level.

“In a world where an international convention is not feasible – and maybe even not adequate, taking into account the huge differences from one region to another – the approach of the Nansen Initiative is a toolbox, and there are many, many tools,” he said.

Egeland said governments could provide those arriving with some form of legal status, and permits to stay and work.

States, U.N. agencies and civil society groups should consult affected people, and where possible help them obtain new housing and land in their own country so they can return home “with dignity”, he added.


The Nansen protection agenda emphasises that much can be done to avoid people having to leave home due to disasters – from setting up early warning systems to strengthening infrastructure and boosting incomes and food security.

But efforts to adapt to climate change must also accept that some may have no choice but to move, it says.

That prospect is most acute for small island developing states and countries with long low-lying coastlines that are at risk from erosion, flooding, submergence and other effects of rising seas, it adds.

Both Egeland and Kaelin expressed concern that the latest version of a draft U.N. agreement on climate change, due to be finalised in Paris in December, had removed any references to tackling climate-related displacement or migration.

“It has to figure in the (Paris) outcome,” said Kaelin.

States had already committed at earlier U.N. climate conferences to work on the issue – whether under the umbrella of adapting to climate change, or losses and damage caused by its effects, he noted. Officials in Geneva this week agreed the Paris deal should build on that, he added.

“This is ground zero for climate work – those people who have lost everything… those are the ones we have to recognise and help defend, compensate, make more resilient,” said Egeland. “I hope it will not drown in the big tug of war about (greenhouse gas) emissions.”

(Reporting by Megan Rowling, editing by Tim Pearce. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit



Alex Nussbaum and Ewa Krukowska for Bloomberg (13 October 2015):

Cap and trade finds favour with businesses and governments

Global carbon deal expected to be signed in Paris in December

The world is coming to terms with the idea that putting a price on carbon emissions is necessary to fight global warming. Now there’s a growing consensus on how to make it happen.

After years of political defeats and operational snafus, systems that let companies buy and sell the right to pollute are gaining traction as a way to reduce emissions without dragging down the economy. With less than two months before nations are expected to finish a binding global deal to rein in greenhouse gases, Japan, South Korea, dozens of U.S. states and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec are among governments coming out in favor of these carbon markets.

“While emissions trading was for some time only a European thing, times have changed,  and we have an increasing number of national and regional schemes,” said Ingo Ramming, the London-based co-head of commodity solutions at Commerzbank AG. “We believe that this trend will continue, carbon pricing and emissions trading will play an increasingly important role.”

Along with the growing number of state and and national governments backing carbon markets, China, the world’s biggest polluter, last month reiterated its plans to introduce a nationwide emissions-trading system as early as 2017. That’s raised hopes the world will end up with at least a patchwork of pollution markets, though not the global system that proponents once hoped for.

The announcements come before a United Nations meeting in Paris in December, where almost 200 countries are expected to sign a pact to cut carbon dioxide and other pollutants blamed for global warming. The deal isn’t expected to include specific policies to achieve this, and many governments have been considering two main options: carbon markets or taxing emissions.

Businesses have touted trading as a cost-effective way to shift the world away from fossil fuels, one that encourages companies to find the cheapest way to cut emissions. That’s emerging as a key selling point over taxes, which can be simpler to impose but don’t offer the same incentive to innovate, according to proponents. Worldwide, carbon markets reached $34 billion in volume last year, up $2 billion from the year before, according to the World Bank.

“We see a carbon price as a mechanism for driving innovation,” Glen Murray, Ontario’s environment minister, told a conference on emissions trading in New York in September. “We now have a critical mass of governments. We’ve passed the tipping point.”

Pollution markets, often referred to as cap-and-trade systems, typically put a total limit on emissions and then let companies buy and sell permits for each ton of greenhouse-gas they release.

European Market

The idea has been around for a while, and trading was a key part of the global warming treaty approved in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997. Implementation hasn’t gone as smoothly; after Europe introduced the world’s biggest carbon market a decade ago, prices plunged to less than 3 euros in 2013, from about 30 euros in 2008, as the financial crisis cut demand for emissions permits.

Similar programs in the U.S. also faced price slumps due to an oversupply of permits. In the U.S., President Barack Obama’s proposal for a national cap-and-trade market died in Congress in 2009, with Republicans ridiculing it as “cap-and-tax.”

Obama’s power plant pollution rules, unveiled in August, opened the door for some trading, and a national emissions market would be the “the preferred approach,” U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in an interview Oct. 1 in Istanbul. However, he said it’s “a pretty safe bet” that Congress wouldn’t approve such a system, and the U.S. instead is relying on policies that can be implemented by state and federal agencies without legislation.

Including taxes as well as trading, 39 nations and 23 sub-national governments now impose a price on carbon, the World Bank said in a report last month. They cover about 12 percent of global emissions, up from 4 percent a decade ago. The bank is helping 17 countries explore their options, including potential markets in Morocco and Thailand, according to Vice-President Rachel Kyte.

‘How and When’

“We’ve gone from whether or not to put a price on carbon to how and when,” she said in an interview.

The jumble of local programs is a far cry from what was envisioned under the Kyoto Protocol. Back then, proponents discussed a future in which robust trade between rich and poor nations helped finance environmental projects, while regulators and trading houses worked in tandem to ratchet down emissions.

Instead, climate advocates may have to settle for stitching together national and local markets, each with its own rules on tracking emissions and trading across borders.

“The real question is how is it going to be possible for such different markets to link,” said Nick Campbell, who heads the climate-change working group at BusinessEurope, the continent’s largest association of employers. The answer still isn’t clear, he said.

After Kyoto, the UN introduced its own carbon market, the Clean Development Mechanism, that could have provided a common currency to disparate national systems. But prices there have slumped just as in Europe.

The next test comes in Paris, where proponents hope the international agreement includes at least a reference to markets that collaborate across borders.

“It’s a lost opportunity if they don’t send a signal about the importance of carbon pricing,” said Dirk Forrister, president of the Geneva-based International Emissions Trading Association. “The real power of the Paris agreement is going to be in how much cooperation it unleashes.”


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