World Temperatures Reach 1.52 degrees
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World’s Temperature Reaches 1.52°C

On February 8th, an EU agency, the Copernicus Climate Change Service, announced that in the 12 months to January 31st, the world’s temperature had been, on average, 1.52°C, crossing a critical barrier into temperatures never experienced by human civilizations. It was more than 1.5 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial levels, the level of warming that the countries who signed the Paris climate treaty have agreed to try to stay below. 

The COP28 Resilience Hub Synthesis Report authored by Dr. Corina Angheloiu with input from Sarah Clarke, Namrata Ginoya, David González, Dr. Cibele Queiroz, Shuchi Vora, Managing Partners, Regional and Theme Leads (“Report”) points out that at the heart of the COP28 negotiations was the culmination of the first-ever “Global Stocktake” under the Paris Agreement.  And despite positive signals, COP28 outcomes presented a mixed picture for adaptation and resilience.

Four cross-cutting messages emerged from the sessions hosted at the COP28 Resilience Hub:

Resilience Hub COP28 findings

Finance and Investment

The report states that more than half of the global GDP is significantly reliant on nature, and there has been a 10% GDP decline due to environmental degradation based on climate change. Furthermore, the 2023 Adaptation Gap Report showed that the updated range for adaptation costs and financing needed is significantly higher than previous estimates.  

Improving adaptation finance requires urgent action from multilateral development banks (MDBs) and bilaterals. And that public-private collaboration is a critical component of adaptation and resilience, generating robust returns for private sector actors while implementing innovative solutions to the benefit of wider society.

A lack of funding has been particularly acute in developing countries where communities are already struggling with poverty and inequality,  necessitating the pledge of US$700 million to the Loss and Damage Fund, which represents only a small fraction of the irreversible economic and non-economic losses and damages low–and middle–income countries are already facing.

A new partnership between the Global Resilience Partnership, UNDP, and six leading business schools (Yale, IMD Business School, Saïd Business School, EMST Berlin, Cape Town Graduate School of Business, Asia Institute for Management) aims to undertake research, create case studies to improve capital allocated to adaptation finance.

Disaster Risk Management and Humanitarian Action

The Report states that global warming is already affecting the lives and livelihoods of millions of living beings around the world, with the most marginalized and vulnerable communities impacted most severely.  Climate-and weather-related disasters, like floods, landslides, storms, droughts, heatwaves, wildfires, the melting arctic, and cold spells, are becoming more frequent and intense, leading to cascading social, environmental, and economic impacts.

New studies support the Report's conclusion. An increase in large wildfires in the US West, heat waves, and drought are already yielding a growing "climate penalty" to air quality, which impacts health.

Another study warns in an article that the temperature, sea level, and precipitation changes severely affect the Atlantic Ocean Current, which is verging on collapse, and the climate shifts are unstoppable on human time scales.

Despite these findings, the Report points out that the Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2023 highlights that direct funding to local and national actors as a share of total humanitarian assistance remained at a mere 1.2% (USD 485 million) of overall assistance in 2022, with DRR funding per capita significantly lower in countries affected by more than five years of crisis.

Oceans and Coasts

Heat Content in the top 700 Meters of the World's Oceans (EPA)

The Report states that extreme weather events, sea level rise, adverse and significant ecosystem changes, pollution, overfishing, rising levels of acidity, increases in the salinity of freshwater and groundwater, and decreases in salinity of the oceans all jeopardize the health of the Ocean and the people who depend on it.

These systemic changes put the social cohesion of coastal communities at severe risk, leading to migration and population displacement, as well as major disruption to trading systems that underpin economies and health.

This conclusion is supported by a  first of its kind U.N. report which states that human-caused climate change is altering seasons, lengthening summers, shortening winters, and shifting the timing of spring and fall.  As a result, more than a fifth of the nearly 1,200 migratory species monitored by the U.N. – whales, sea turtles, apes, songbirds, and others – are threatened with extinction.

For example, the melting Arctic ice impacted the orca’s migration patterns, which got trapped In the icy waters off the northern coast of the town of Rausu, Japan.   A pod of approximately 13 whales and three to four calves faced possible death due to confinement and starvation, as this video from a local wildlife organization shows, according to the eyewitnesses who filmed the harrowing footage of Orcas in distress.

To aid the climate change-related damages to the Oceans and Coasts, the Report states that a new alliance of funders, ORCA (Ocean Resilience and Climate Alliance), has pledged US$250 million Investment to safeguard the Arctic, activate blue carbon positive business models, scale community-led action in the Global South, advance ocean carbon sequestration, accelerate offshore wind, and decarbonize global shipping.

Arts, Culture, Antiquities and Heritage

The Report states that culture, including arts, heritage, and the creative industries, empowers people to imagine and realize a low-carbon, just, climate-resilient future.  Cultural heritage, including traditional knowledge, strengthens resilience, helps communities adapt to climate impacts, protects places, and offers green, regenerative solutions. The arts speak to hearts and minds, inspiring action and helping us to understand climate change through storytelling and shared experiences, and can play a key role in adaptation planning.

The Future of Power Art Show for Global Resilience Partnership at COP28

Reflections and Next Steps on the Road to COP29

The Report concludes that the Resilience Hub will continue to serve as the focal point for the Race to Resilience Campaign and Sharm el-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda, collaborating closely with COP Presidencies and the High-Level Champions Team by growing from strength to strength in 2024, carrying them into COP29. 

At COP29, governments must establish a new climate finance goal, reflecting the scale and urgency of the climate crisis.

And at COP30, they must come prepared with new nationally determined contributions that are economy-wide, cover all greenhouse gases, and are fully aligned with the 1.5°C temperature limit [which has already been reached].

Now is the moment to radically step up our efforts to scale up mitigation and adaptation action to minimize the climate impacts that will inevitably remain.

By Selva Ozelli, Esq., CPA.

Selva Ozelli Esq, CPA is a legal and finance executive with diversified experience dealing with highly complex issues in the field of international taxation and related matters within the banking, securities, Fintech, alternative and traditional investment funds. Her first of its kind legal analyses involving tax laws, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), blockchain technology, solar technology and the environment and have been published in journals, books and by the OECD. Her writings have been translated into 15 languages.

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash
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