Environment Forum

Skipping the risk mismanagement

BRITAIN/

Felix Salmon is a Reuters Blogger. This piece was produced by the Climate Desk collaboration.

About a decade ago, Miguel Torres planted 104 hectares of pinot noir grapes in the Spanish Pyrenees, 3,300 feet above sea level. It’s cold up there and not much good for grapes—at least not these days. But Torres, the head of one of Spain’s foremost wine families, knows that the climate is changing.

His company’s scientists reckon that the Rioja wine region could be nonviable within 40 to 70 years, as temperatures increase and Europe’s wine belt moves north by up to 25 miles per decade. Other winemakers are talking about growing grapes as far north as Scandinavia and southern England.

Torres’ Pyrenees vineyards are a hedge, and may not be necessary. But if climate change redraws the map of Europe’s wine world, he will be prepared. And his company will be one of a very few taking steps to adapt to the future effects of climate change.

How companies are preparing for these changes is a pressing topic, but when I agreed to write this piece I knew I was no expert. I set out to educate myself by posting open requests on my finance blog at Reuters, asking my eager-to-comment audience of business wonks to tell me stories of how big corporations are getting ready.

Betting on climate change

NORTHWESTPASSAGE/

Clive Thompson is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired.  This piece was produced by the Climate Desk collaboration.

Last year, Beluga Shipping discovered that there’s money in global warming.

Beluga is a German firm that specializes in “super heavy lift” transport. Its vessels are equipped with massive cranes, allowing it to load and unload massive objects, like multi-ton propeller blades for wind turbines. It is an enormously expensive business, but last summer, Beluga executives hit upon an interesting way to save money: Shipping freight over a melting Arctic.

“Transparency” too controversial at U.N. climate talks

leadersCan you object to a proposal for U.N. climate negotiators to “continue to work in a transparent and inclusive manner in accordance with the principles of the United Nations”?

If your answer is a bemused ”No”, you definitely aren’t a negotiator.

Delegates from 175 nations at U.N. climate talks in Bonn spent spent the best part an hour late on the evening of April 11 arguing about the apparently innocuous phrase as part of a 2-page document reviving talks in 2010 after the Copenhagen summit in December failed to come up with a new treaty to fight global warming.

Turn out the lights for climate change (and polar bears)?

polar bearLights will go out around the world on Saturday from Beijing’s Forbidden City to a village in the Arctic where they usually keep street lights blazing to ward off polar bears.

The “Earth Hour” — when everyone is asked to turn off lights for an hour from 8.30 p.m. local time — is meant as a show of support for tougher action to confront climate change.

Organisers say that hundreds of millions of people last year joined in the annual event that has flourished since it began in Australia in 2007 and has won support from more than 120 nations, with endorsements from companies, government leaders and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Too few women in U.N. climate jobs? Ban names 19-man panel

banA women’s group is criticising the United Nations for appointing only men to a 19-strong panel of experts to work out how to raise billions of dollars to fight climate change.

“A planet of men? Since when?” asks the German-based Gender CC — Women for Climate Justice in a statement. (An update — since the list was announced, U.N. officials say that a woman has been added — French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde)

The new panel, to be co-chaired by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, will look into ways to raise at least $100 billion a year by 2020 to help developing countries combat climate change. The panel includes Guyana’s president, Norway’s prime minister, finance ministers, investors and leading economists: all men.

Flood drowns Taipei in cinematic wake-up call

American sci-fi blockbuster The Day After Tomorrow warned global audiences about climate change as it showed New York smothered by ice as temperatures plunged worldwide.  But the 2004 movie evidently made little impact on growth-crazy Asia, which has gone ahead spewing pollutants without imagining risks that they might disrupt the climate.

This year a group of filmmakers in newly modernised, consumption-happy Taiwan is going to the densely populated western Pacific island’s public with an hour-long alarmist movie showing the world’s second-tallest building Taipei 101 as an island in a flood that has drowned the capital after a reservoir collapses in a freak super-strength typhoon.

The free film with an obvious mission titled “Plus or Minus 2 Degrees Celsius” began showing in late February, reaching at least 11,000 people so far and with dates to screen for more audiences later in the year.

from UK News:

Are you losing faith in climate science?

climatechangeWhile attending a meeting of prominent climate sceptics during the U.N. Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December (an anti-COP15, if you will), I listened to each of the speakers put forward their theory on why conventional evidence on the primary causes of climate change should be dismissed as, for lack of a better phrase, complete hokum.

Among their denunciations of widely-accepted truths regarding global warming, greenhouse gases, melting glaciers and rising sea levels was the assertion that a change in attitude was afoot; the public may have been duped into believing the mainstream scientific assessment of climate change, but not for long.

There was something in the air, the sceptics said, and soon people would begin to question their trust in the majority view.

from Tales from the Trail:

Amidst the shivering in Washington, the case for global warming

WEATHER/OK, it's cold in Washington. It's really cold. And snowy. And blizzardy. It's hard to recall that long-ago moment -- what was it, six days ago? -- when you could go for a walk without cross-country skis and a flask of brandy. But just because it's winter doesn't mean global warming is a myth.

But the storms gave conservatives fresh fodder for mocking former Vice President Al Gore and his efforts on global climate change.  Senator Jim DeMint tweeted "It's going to keep snowing in DC until Al Gore cries 'uncle'," Politico reported.

For decades, scientists have struggled to explain the difference between weather, which changes in the short term, and climate, which changes over the long term. There's a good explanation at the new government Climate Service Web site called "Short term cooling on a warming planet." The new site went up this week, between blizzards, and is supposed to guide consumers and businesses so they can adapt to climate change. The Climate Service itself is expected to be up and running by the start of the next U.S. fiscal year that begins on October 1.

from UK News:

Climate scientists seek to calm storm of doubt

INDIAIf the scientific evidence for manmade global warming is so compelling, why do so many people still have their doubts?

Why do politicians and the media often discuss global warming with such certainty, ignoring the scientists' carefully worded caveats?

And how much harder will it be to persuade the sceptics after the uproar over whether scientists exaggerated unreliable evidence or colluded to withhold information to strengthen their case?

from The Great Debate UK:

Good eco-sense is good business sense too

JulietDavenport- Juliet Davenport is founder and CEO of Good Energy, a renewable electricity supplier. She is unique in being the only female founder in the UK of an energy supply business, traditionally a male-dominated sector. The opinions expressed are her own. Reuters will host a "follow-the-sun" live blog on Monday, March 8, 2010, International Women's Day. Please tune in. -

Regardless of their views on climate change and man’s contribution to it, most business leaders agree on one point – as fossil fuels get scarcer and the UK decarbonises our economy, our energy prices will continue to rise.

The UK’s recent cold snap gave us a foretaste of what we could be in for – with some businesses having their gas supplies cut to relieve pressure on pipelines - although it appears that the widely reported claim that the UK had just eight days’ gas supply left was political bluster and scaremongering.

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