Adaptation & Resilience
Civil Society
Climate Change
Climate Diplomacy
Global Issues
Dennis Tänzler, adelphi
© Arto Marttinen/Unsplash

There are only a few weeks to go until international and local leaders from states, regions, cities, businesses, investors and civil society take up the invitation of California’s Governor Brown to attend the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. The summit aims at bringing together these stakeholders – also known as non-party stakeholders or non-state actors in the climate negotiation jargon – with national government leaders to create a new wave of mobilisation. Those going to San Francisco should be sure to bring more than flowers in their hair. What is needed is a really ambitious action at the summit.

The year 2018 can be considered a midway between 2015 – when the Paris Agreement was adopted – and the year 2020 after the results of the Talanoa Dialogue need to be translated into more ambitious action. 2020 is also often considered as the critical threshold that represents the point of no return, the year until which emissions need to peak to avoid incalculable risks to humanity. The 2018-summer has already given more than a wake up-call for international politics. Devastating forest fires in places such as California, Greece and Sweden are a current example for what is now referred to as “Hothouse Earth”. This is the description given by leading scientist Will Steffen from the Stockholm Resilience Centre in a recent edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Steffen’s team warn that even if the carbon emission reductions called for in the Paris Agreement are met, earth is at risk of entering a situation of extreme conditions, i.e. a hothouse. The global average temperature would be 4-5°C higher than pre-industrial temperatures leading, for example, to a sea level 10-60 m higher than today.

Such scenarios should alert political leaders around the world, U.S. president Donald Trump among them. Right before the start of this year’s hurricane season in the Caribbean region, political leaders asked the U.S. president to revise his climate (non-)strategy and to start addressing the existential threat they face, including those from extreme weather events. Last year’s Hurricane Maria caused an ongoing disaster in Puerto Rico with thousands of casualties.

The hothouse world will be one affecting regional security and stability – accordingly this topic will be discussed in San Francisco. In a recent blog post, Ken Alex, Senior Policy Advisor to Governor Brown, stressed that the Summit will seek “to engage people who have remained on the side-lines” by really showcasing climate action around the world and presenting new commitments as well. Scientist Will Steffen and his colleagues emphasized in their PNAS study that ambitious mitigation measures must also be underpinned by fundamental societal changes to maintain a stable Earth. They also provide recommendations for enhancing or creating new biological carbon stores.

Climate diplomats need do their part in San Francisco to implement the necessary policies recommended by the scientific world.


Climate Change
Water
Middle East & North Africa
Theodore Karasik and Jacopo Spezia Depretto, Fair Observer

Iraq is on the verge of an environmental breakdown, and climate change is not helping. The country's fragile environment and the increasing scarcity of natural resources — particularly water — are a result of poor environmental management, as well as several political and historical factors. However, as climate change impacts add to the existing pressures, the environmental collapse turns into a security issue.

Climate Change
Land & Food
Global Issues
Robert McSweeney, Carbon Brief

The severity of desertification and its mutual relationship with climate change cannot be overstated. In light of the recent launch of the Special Report on Climate Change and Land by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Robert McSweeney from Carbon Brief explains what desertification is, what role climate change plays, and what impact it has across the world.

Biodiversity & Livelihoods
Forests
Minerals & Mining
Central America & Caribbean
Adriana Erthal Abdenur, Igarapé Institute

A new form of organized crime has recently been emerging in the Amazon: illegal mining. Miners fell trees, use high-grade explosives to oblast soils and dredge riverbeds. But the impacts go beyond environmental damages, bringing with it a slew of other social problems. Peace researcher Adriana Abdenur urges policymakers to improve coordination and argues that diplomacy may help prevent further conflicts, corruption and crime.

Civil Society
Conflict Transformation
Security
Sustainable Transformation
South America
Johanna Kleffmann, adelphi

To fight illegal coca plantations and conflict actors’ income sources, Colombia’s president wants to loosen the ban on aerial glyphosate spraying. However, considering the dynamics of organised crime, the use of toxic herbicides will not only fail to achieve its aim, it will have many adverse effects for the environment and human health, fundamentally undermining ways to reach peace in the country. International cooperation and national policy-makers need to account for this peace spoiler.