From the Blog
Excerpts from a new project exploring the financial side of climate change. Read the series here.
Adapting Public Lands to Climate Change Means Finding Common Ground
Can our fractured government come together for the sake of nature? (Spoiler alert: yes)
Feb 24, 2019
America’s public lands are a haven for adrenaline junkies: there’s no shortage of cliffs, rivers, caves, or other natural wonders to satisfy that thrill-seeking itch. Even if you’re not the outdoorsy type, you can, at the very least, exercise your cortisol limits over on Capitol Hill. At times, finding common ground in the current political landscape can seem as daunting as scaling El Cap.
Climate change issues also present a steep challenge. The Trump Administration has, time and again, ignored clear observable evidence of climate change impacts and continues to cast doubt about the degree to which humans are a contributing factor. What’s said in the Oval Office doesn’t have to be the end-all be-all, however. Now that Democrats have taken control over the House, that conversation can be steered in a positive direction.
Tracking Climate Finance, Part 2: A Case for Local Participation
Jan 30, 2019
Tackling climate change is going to take some bold moves. Just ask congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The projects she’s laid out in the Green New Deal are incredibly ambitious and would move the US towards a carbon free economy in just ten years. While the entire globe would benefit from, say, the carbon reductions a national smart grid would bring, it still wouldn’t address the issues felt at the local level. Impacts like increased flooding events, which can pollute drinking water supplies and even threaten lives, are better addressed by local municipalities that are far more aware of the day-to-day and long-term concerns of their constituents.
This is no different in developing counties.
Like their industrialized counterparts, local governments and community organizations in developing countries play an important role in addressing smaller scale climate change impacts. They have a better feel for what’s happening on the ground, making them better equipped to exchange information and set priorities for taking fair and effective climate action.
Tracking Climate Finance, Part 1: Who’s Funding Who?
The impacts of climate change are unequally distributed, hitting the world’s poorest the hardest. How are the world’s wealthiest pooling their resources to help?
Dec 14, 2018
What happens when you get representatives from nearly 200 counties in a building together to discuss climate change? Long overdue recommendations, some embarrassments, and perhaps even a near universal agreement. The UN Conference of the Parties (COP for short) has been convening once a year for almost a quarter century. And now they’re back at it again at COP24 in the heart of Poland’s coal country.
It’s not news that our world’s poorest and most vulnerable regions are already feeling the impacts of climate change. And much of the world’s wealthiest nations have responded by providing financial assistance. For instance at COP15, they promised to provide $100 billion for mitigation and adaptation activities by 2020. It’s an ambitious goal, and also a logistical nightmare. Who exactly is providing these funds? Who’s measuring and who’s reporting those numbers?
In part one of this series, I’ll breakdown a few key institutions involved in climate finance. Then we’ll see why tracking how cash flows from one country to another presents a whole new challenge.
Bonds 101: Climate Change Edition
How are state and local governments using bonds to finance critical climate projects?
Nov 25, 2018
The Fourth National Climate Assessment was quietly released last Friday and presents some sobering details about the impacts of climate change across the United States. One key takeaway is the need to adapt to climate change now as the impacts predicted in earlier reports are becoming a present-day reality.
Although more communities are beginning to adapt, the report states that “the scale of adaptation implementation for some effects and locations seems incommensurate with the projected scale of climate threats.” One reason for this disparity? Money. (Or lack thereof). According to the report, the costs of adaptation can range from the tens to hundreds of billions of dollars, a steep price tag for governments with tight budgets. Still, the benefits of adaptation are expected to be several times that over the long run.
State and local governments realize this and are turning to bonds to cover the upfront costs associated with expensive, large-scale projects. Below we’ll explore how bonds work and which types can be used to fund the projects needed to adapt to climate change.
National Flood Insurance Program Can’t Keep Afloat Without Reform
And Congress has until November 30th to do something about it.
Nov 23, 2018
Hurricane season may be over, but it’s left a trail of damage that may take years (or even decades) to clean up. The southeastern and mid-Atlantic coasts were hit by two particularly devastating hurricanes, causing the loss of at least 87 lives and costing up to 80 billion in damages. Our country’s poorestand most vulnerable communities are hit the hardest, forcing them to not only salvage their physical property, but also scavenge for whatever financial resources they have to rebuild their lives. For some residents, this financial burden is partially alleviated by the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Insurance programs, such as the NFIP, can promote climate adaptation directly and indirectly through claim payments and by encouraging resilient planning (see chapter 17.5.1). The NFIP in its current state, however, does not have the capacity to cover losses from back to back disasters. Here, we’ll explore how the NFIP falls short and ways it may be improved.