Basic Information

Climate Change or Global Warming? The term climate change is often used interchangeably with the term global warming, but according to the National Academy of Sciences, "the phrase 'climate change' is growing in preferred use to 'global warming' because it helps convey that there are [other] changes in addition to rising temperatures." Climate change refers to any significant change in measures of climate (such as temperature, precipitation, or wind) lasting for an extended period (decades or longer). Climate change may result from:

natural factors, such as changes in the sun's intensity or slow changes in the Earth's orbit around the sun; • natural processes within the climate system (e.g. changes in ocean circulation); • human activities that change the atmosphere's composition (e.g. through burning fossil fuels) and the land surface (e.g. deforestation, reforestation, urbanization, desertification, etc.) Global warming is an average increase in the temperature of the atmosphere near the Earth's surface and in the troposphere, which can contribute to changes in global climate patterns. Global warming can occur from a variety of causes, both natural and human induced. In common usage, "global warming" often refers to the warming that can occur as a result of increased emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities.

The Earth's climate has changed many times during the planet's history, with events ranging from ice ages to long periods of warmth. Historically, natural factors such as volcanic eruptions, changes in the Earth's orbit, and the amount of energy released from the Sun have affected the Earth's climate. Beginning late in the 18th century, human activities associated with the Industrial Revolution have also changed the composition of the atmosphere and therefore very likely are influencing the Earth's climate. Climate Toolbox

• Frequently Asked Questions About Global Warming and • Household Emissions Calculator • Indicators Report and Slideshow

Climate Change: Back to Basics (PDF) (8 pp, 1.6MB, About PDF)

Fact Sheets

• Climate Change Science Facts (PDF)

(2 pp, 351K, About PDF) (2 pp, 391K, About PDF) (2 pp, 331K, About PDF)

• Climate Change and Ecosystems (PDF)

• Climate Change and Health Effects (PDF)

• Climate Change and Society (PDF)

(2 pp, 589K, About PDF)

The EPA climate change website has four main sections on climate change issues and another section on "What You Can Do" to reduce your contribution. A "Frequent Questions" section is available, and EPA has provided a frequent questions database where users can search for more specific questions and answers on climate change. An eight-page brochure entitled Frequently Asked Questions About Global Warming and Climate Change: Back to Basics (PDF) (8 pp, 1.6MB, About PDF) provides illustrated answers to frequent questions.

Science | U.S. Climate Policy | Greenhouse Gas Emissions | Health and Environmental Effects | What You Can Do

Science For over the past 200 years, the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal and oil, and deforestation have caused the concentrations of heat-trapping "greenhouse gases" to increase significantly in our atmosphere. These gases prevent heat from escaping to space, somewhat like the glass panels of a greenhouse. Greenhouse gases are necessary to life as we know it, because they keep the planet's surface warmer than it otherwise would be. But, as the concentrations of these gases continue to increase in the atmosphere, the Earth's temperature is climbing above past levels. According to NOAA and NASA data, the Earth's average surface temperature has increased by about 1.2 to 1.4ºF in the last 100 years. The eight warmest years on record (since 1850) have all occurred since 1998, with the warmest year being 2005. Most of the warming in recent decades is very likely the result of human activities. Other aspects of the climate are also changing such as rainfall patterns, snow and ice cover, and sea level. If greenhouse gases continue to increase, climate models predict that the average temperature at the Earth's surface could increase from 3.2 to 7.2ºF above 1990 levels by the end of this century. Scientists are certain that human activities are changing the composition of the atmosphere, and that increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases will change the planet's climate. But they are not sure by how much it will change, at what rate it will change, or what the exact effects will be. See the Science and Health and Environmental Effects sections of this site for more detail, or review the answers to some frequent science questions.

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U.S. Climate Policy The Federal government is using voluntary and incentive-based programs to reduce emissions and has established programs to promote climate technology and science. This strategy incorporates knowhow from many federal agencies and harnesses the power of the private sector. EPA plays a significant role in helping the Federal government reduce greenhouse gas emissions and greenhouse gas intensity. EPA has many current and near-term initiatives that encourage voluntary reductions from a variety of stakeholders. Initiatives, such as ENERGY STAR, Climate Leaders, and our Methane Voluntary Programs, encourage emission reductions from large corporations, consumers, industrial and commercial buildings, and many major industrial sectors. For details on these and other initiatives as well as other aspects of U.S. policy, visit the U.S. Climate Policy section of the site.

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Greenhouse Gas Emissions In the U.S., our energy-related activities account for over 85 percent of our human-generated greenhouse gas emissions, mostly in the form of carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels. More than half the energy-related emissions come from large stationary sources such as power plants, while about a third comes from transportation. Industrial processes (such as the production of cement, steel, and aluminum), agriculture, forestry, other land use, and waste management are also important sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. For a better understanding of where greenhouse gas emissions come from, governments at the federal, state and local levels prepare emissions inventories, which track emissions from various parts of the economy such as transportation, electricity production, industry, agriculture, forestry, and other sectors. EPA publishes the official national inventory of US greenhouse gas emissions, and the latest greenhouse gas inventory shows that in 2008 the U.S. emitted slightly less than 7 billon metric tons of greenhouse gases (a million metric tons of CO2 equivalents (MMTCO2e) is roughly equal to the annual GHG emissions of an average U.S. power plant.) Visit the Emissions section of this site to learn more, or review the answers to some frequent emissions questions.

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Health and Environmental Effects Climate change affects people, plants, and animals. Scientists are working to better understand future climate change and how the effects will vary by region and over time.

please visit the Health and Environmental Effects section of this site. and at school can reduce your emissions. major corporations. and drier soil in the middle parts of the country. You can start by assessing your own contribution to the problem. . but scientists generally expect increased precipitation and evaporation. Greenhouse gas emissions can be minimized through simple measures like changing light bulbs in your home and properly inflating your tires to improve your car's fuel economy. Alaska has been experiencing significant changes in climate in recent years that may be at least partly related to human caused global climate change. ice on rivers and lakes freezing later and breaking up earlier. Human health can be affected directly and indirectly by climate change in part through extreme periods of heat and cold. on the road. For example. State and local governments and businesses play an important role in reducing greenhouse emissions and greenhouse gas intensity. changes in the range and distribution of plants and animals. lengthening of growing seasons. It remains very difficult to predict which parts of the country will become wetter or drier. by using EPA's Household Emissions Calculator to estimate your household's annual emissions. storms. Northern regions such as Alaska are expected to experience the most warming. at the office. In fact. and climate-sensitive diseases such as malaria. although some will likely warm more than others. Observed effects include sea level rise. or review the answers to some frequent effects questions. and smog episodes. trees blooming earlier. Visit the What You Can Do section of this site to learn more. increase the nation's energy independence and also save money. you use the tool to see how simple steps you take at home. shrinking glaciers. For more information on these and other environmental effects.Scientists have observed that some changes are already occurring. and thawing of permafrost. scientists believe that most areas will continue to warm. Once you know about how much you emit. Top of page What You Can Do Greenhouse gases are emitted as a result of the energy we use by driving and using electricity and through other activities that support our quality of life like growing food and raising livestock. The What You Can Do section of the climate change site identifies over 25 action steps that individuals can take to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. Another key issue being studied is how societies and the Earth's environment will adapt to or cope with climate change. states and local organizations are taking action through participation in a wide range of EPA and other federal voluntary programs. In the United States.

which results in a downward flux of infrared radiation from the atmosphere to the surface (back radiation) and therefore. humans only very recently have been able to substantially reduce the degree to which they are affected by climate variability. On the other hand. climate has both promoted and constrained human activity. a higher surface temperature. high-yield agriculture and efficient food distribution and storage systems have virtually eliminated famine in most countries with developed or transitioning economies. Earth is in approximate energy balance in this analysis. and some have a range of uncertainty of as much as +/. Callendar's assertion in 1938 that a warming trend caused by increases in CO2 was underway.S. From Swedish scientist Arrhenius' 1896 study of how changes in carbon dioxide (CO2) could affect climate. Thus. . to the establishment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988. Throughout human history. CO. to English engineer G. 1997). mainly through advances in technology and the development of more sophisticated infrastructure. human activity can and has also affected the climate. The greenhouse effect is associated with the absorption and re-radiation of energy by atmospheric greenhouse gases and particles. Note that the total rate at which energy leaves Earth (107 W/m2 of reflected sunlight plus 235 W/m2 of infrared [long-wave] radiation) is equal to the 342 W/m2 of incident sunlight.20%. Numbers are in watts per square meter of Earth's surface.An Overview of the Climate Change Problem Figure — Details of Earth's energy balance (source: Kiehl and Trenberth. For example. that climate change could cause catastrophic "surprises". to Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientist Lorenz's suggestion at a 1965 conference in Boulder. In fact.

society-nature cycle: climate influences human activities that. have lent credibility to the IPCC’s finding (see a Trend Graph from the IPCC and a similar figure from page 4 of a presentation given by Ray Bradley. change is expected to accelerate substantially during the twenty-first century— we can expect natural systems to become highly stressed. While warming at the low end of this range. The 2001 IPCC assessment both reinforced the original (1996) claim of detection of an anthropogenic climate signal and brought to the forefront a new “discernible” statement — this time that recent observations of wildlife.support has increased for the idea that there exists a complex. original Mann et al. when the IPCC first announced in Working Group I's contribution to the Second Assessment Report.5 ْC. would likely be relatively adaptable for most human activity." .0ْ to 3." The record high temperatures in the last few decades (see a 2003 article in The Guardian). etc. that "the balance of evidence suggests that there is a discernible human influence on global climate. 2002. and 2003 being the warmest years on record.5ْC that had been estimated in the SAR. the IPCC estimated that by 2100.8ْC.” Warming of 6ْC could have widespread catastrophic consequences. the planet would warm by between 1. and the timing of vegetation lifecycles suggest that there now appears to be a discernible impact of regional climatic variations on natural systems (see IPCC Working Group II Report and Root/Schneider: Wildlife Responses to Climate Change: Implications). of say 1. influence climate. see Spencer Weart's website. or SAR (which was released in final form in 1996). Then. The prime implication of this new finding is that as the climate continues to change —and in most mainstream scientific studies. with 1998. and perhaps dangerous. ice layers. marine systems. in its Third Assessment Report (TAR) in 2001. it would still be significant for some “unique and valuable systems. up from the range of 1. "As the climate continues to change —and in most mainstream scientific studies. The Discovery of Global Warming. in turn. (For much more information on the history of climate change research. as well as dramatic increases in storm damage between the 1960s and 1990s. 2003). climate change didn't jump onto the global public's radar screen.4ْ and 5. as a temperature change of 5ْ to 7ْC on a globally averaged basis is about the difference between an ice age and an interglacial period. politicians. change is expected to accelerate substantially during the twenty-first century— we can expect natural systems to become highly stressed..) However. and the media as an important issue until 1995.

and renewable energy promotion and subsidies (as many believe renewable energy is “the solution). though it is actually an issue with many. proponents of the many sides of the climate change debate (often dichotomized into “ ignore the problem ” versus “stop it ” camps. ironically. many sides) deliberately selected and continue to select information out of context that best supports their ideological positions and their or their clients' interests. especially the oil and auto industries. and Climate Policy." Special interest groups followed the IPCC proceedings closely. abatement policies. Climate Science.” “End of the world” and “good for the Earth” are. uncoincidentally. and presenting only their own arguments. Deep ecology groups point to the most pessimistic outcomes. the two lowest probability cases (as are "it would bankrupt us to mitigate climate changes" and "technology will solve climate change at no cost"). They attempt to trivialize the potential hazards of climate change and focus on the least serious outcomes and the most expensive mitigation policies to discourage political action. Given the broad range of possible outcomes. The media dutifully report the dueling positions of ecology and industry. further confusing policymakers and the public with an endless parade of op-eds and stories quoting those suggesting that global warming is either “good for the Earth and too expensive to fix anyway” or “the end of the world but nonetheless relatively cheap to solve with solar or wind power. and other fossil fuel-intensive industry groups. using their warnings of climate catastrophe to push for the creation and implementation of energy taxes. in this case) is multifaceted. tend to be the extreme optimists in the global warming debate though. such policies would affect the industries that produce and use the most energy. "Mediarology" "“End of the world” and “good for the Earth” are. They frequently practice a phenomenon I call "courtroom epistemology": refusing to acknowledge that an issue (climate change. This plays into the media's tendency to engage in "balanced" reporting: polarizing an issue (despite its being multifaceted) and making each "side" equally credible. they often are the pessimists when it comes to estimating the costs of fixing the problem. in my experience. ignoring opposing views. .This website is divided into sections reflecting the four major components of the climate change debate: 'Mediarology'. the two lowest probability cases. The auto. Climate Impacts. I will summarize all four below. in my experience. Neither side usually offers probabilities of such outcomes. Clearly. oil.

It is scientists.s we should not hang up our citizenship at the door of a public meeting — we too are entitled to advocate personal opinions. popularization of potential probabilities and consequences of climate change will occur without their input and will likely be more inaccurate.Eliminating this confusion and misrepresentation of the climate change debate requires the participation of scientists. citizens. in essence becoming "citizen scientists". probabilities and projections/models — our 'cloudy crystal balls' — that compile "Just because we all the information we can possibly bring to bear on the scientists have Ph. who should public meeting. First. or subjective. and scientific literacy themselves so that they feel comfortable distinguishing climate change fact from fiction and making critical value judgments and policy decisions. but we also have a special obligation to make our value judgments explicit." provide subjective probabilistic assessments of climate change. and 3) How are such estimates made? Citizens must also achieve a certain level of environmental. A scientist should also transcend prejudices against non-frequentist (i. 2) What are the odds of it happening?. policy decisions will be made with or without input from an informed citizenry. scientists should attempt to keep their value judgments out of the scientific assessment process but should make their personal values and prejudices clear regardless. and journalists alike. It is then the role of the scientist-popularizer to propagate and promote these assessments and values in an understandable manner in the public realm so that the scientific community's findings and the scientist's ideas are heard and his/her suggestions are available. political. scientists should not be discouraged on principle to enter the public debate on climate change both as scientistadvocates and scientist popularizers. Doing both is essential. not policymakers. but not limited to. I hope that citizens will take .s we problem. Just as popularization of potential probabilities and consequences will occur with or without input from scientists. direct measurements should not hang up our citizenship at the door of a and statistics. including. If they do express opinions. if they don't.e. Just because we scientists have Ph. An effective scientistpopularizer must balance the need to be heard (good sound bites) with the responsibility to be honest (see "the double ethical bind pitfall") as well. subjective) analysis and treat climate change like the issue that it is: one for which future empirical data cannot be obtained (as it is simply impossible to obtain hard data for events occurring in the future) and which therefore necessitates the use of Bayesian. Citizens must demand that scientists provide honest.D..D. credible assessments that answer the "three questions of environmental literacy": 1) What can happen?.

"Citizens should make sure that the public debates take into account all knowledge available on climate change. citizens and scientists must coordinate with journalists and other media figures to ensure accuracy in the media portrayal of climate change (see The JournalistScientist-Citizen Triangle). To further clarify the climate change issue. especially when it comes to "rolling reassessment". Both scientist-advocates and citizen-scientists must see to it that once we’ve set up political establishments to carry out policy that people do not become so vested in a certain process or outcome that they become reluctant to make adjustments. political. we must consider its three main components: Climate Science. Citizens and scientists clearly can't operate as completely separate entities in the climate change debate. Their interaction is essential. Before we turn to more speculative. We need to help journalists by agreeing to participate in the public climate change debate and by using clear metaphors and ordinary language once we do so. but also the relative credibility of each opinion within the scientific community. Climate Impacts. Hopefully. either to the policies or the institutions. such falsely dichotomous "balance" still exists). In addition. but nevertheless. New knowledge allows us to reevaluate theories and policy decisions and make adjustments to policies that are too stringent. and environmental literacy and recognize the importance of the positive effect that an informed public will have on the policy process. We should go out of our way to write review papers from time to time and to present talks that stress well-established principles at the outset of our meetings. their actions will encourage reporters to replace the knee-jerk model of "journalistic balance" with a more accurate and fairer doctrine of "perspective": one that communicates not only the range of opinion. too lax. say. citizens and scientists should work together to initiate flexible policies and management schemes that are revisited. cutting-edge science. we should deliberately outline the consensus before revealing the contention. especially in the political arena. We scientists need to take more proactive roles in the public debate." . or targeting the wrong cause or effect. Citizens should make sure that the public debates take into account all knowledge available on climate change. and Climate Policy (see below). Knowledge is not static — there are always new outcomes to discover and old theories to rule out. most sophisticated science and environment reporters have abandoned the journalistic tradition of polarization of only two "sides". Given the uncertain nature of climate change. The key word here is flexible. (Fortunately. every five years.responsibility for increasing their scientific.

. linguistic imprecision. very long-term climate variability that exceeds the length of most instrumental records. figure 2). measurement error. which produces varying impacts at local scales. (source: IPCC.D. among others (see Decision Making Under Uncertainty). These problems are compounded by the global scale of climate change. climate change is not just a scientific topic but also . subjective judgment on the structure of the climate system. approximation. 2050 AD.Climate Science Figure — Indicators of human influence on the atmosphere since 1000 A.” data-based assessments — at least not until 2050 rolls around). which results from factors such as lack of information. and the impossibility of before-the-fact experimental controls or empirical observations (i. statistical variation. Working Group I. meaning all our future inferences cannot be wholly “objective. say. Moreover. long time lags between forcing and its corresponding responses.e. Summary for Policy Makers. The climate change debate is characterized by deep uncertainty. there is no experimental or empirical observation set for the climate of. disagreement about what is known or even knowable.

It is scientifically well-established that the Earth's surface air temperature has warmed significantly. which contains a range of possible future emissions scenarios based on different assumptions regarding economic growth. and degrees of uncertainty and various claims and counterclaims may be played up or down (and further confused. atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased by more than 30 percent. These have been used to project the increases in CO2 concentrations (and other radiative constituents) out to 2100.7°C since 1860. (For more information. Such a graph would show a rapid rise in temperature at the end of the twentieth century. In the past few centuries. land uses such as deforestation. However. This is supported by the fact that all but three of the ten warmest years on record occurred during the 1990s. and by how much will humans and natural changes in the Earth each contribute to future disturbance? The IPCC has attempted to tackle this in its Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES). predominantly the burning of fossil fuels and. and that an upward trend can be clearly discerned by plotting historical temperatures. it is important to understand that the greenhouse phenomenon is well-understood and solidly grounded in basic science (see Climate Science). see Scenarios). and virtually all climatologists agree that the cause is human activity. it is well-established that human activities have caused increases in radiative forcing. and virtually all climatologists agree that the cause is human activity. More controversial is the extent to which humans have and are contributing to climate change. whatever the case) by stakeholders in that debate (see Post-Normal Science). and it is hoped that they will help policymakers weigh action to stem potentially devastating consequences in the future. by about 0. arguably the three most critical determinants of future climate change. In addition. and population growth.a matter of public and political debate. " . How much of global warming up to this point has been natural versus anthropogenically-induced. to a considerable extent. predominantly the burning of fossil fuels and. atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased by more than 30 percent. to a considerable extent. with radiative forcing defined as a change in the balance between radiation coming into and going out of the earthatmosphere system. technological developments. "In the past few centuries. land uses such as deforestation.

5oC. before the future arrives — but it can be tested against historical situations that resemble aspects that we believe will occur in the future (see Climate Modeling).These and other climate change projections depend on detailed modeling. However. The most comprehensive models of atmospheric conditions are three-dimensional. Many scientists have done extensive empirical and modeling research on this subject. as mentioned above. Climate Impacts . In climate modeling. and are able to test emissions scenarios that can avoid such surprises. While modeling has become both more complex and more accurate as computing abilities have advanced and more is understood about the climate problem. more recently some have estimated it could be lower than 1. (Remember that a 5-7oC drop in temperature is all that separates Earth’s present climate from an ice age).5oC or it could be an alarming 6oC or higher (see Karl and Trenberth. and most have found that most climate sensitivity estimates fall somewhere within the IPCC's range of 1. 2003). The most useful GCMs are those that also project "surprise" events. scientists still have to deal with an enormous amount of uncertainty. The system model as a whole cannot be directly verified before the fact — that is. time-dependent simulators known as general circulation models (GCMs) — see Climate Science.5-4. one major unknown is climate sensitivity. The most consistent way scientists codify our knowledge is by constructing models made up of the many subcomponents of the climate system that reflect our best understanding of each subsystem. the amount by which the global mean temperature will increase for a doubling of CO2 concentrations.

) and a surge in . the IPCC has projected that.8oC by 2100 is correct. This figure shows that the most potentially dangerous impacts (the red colors on the figure) typically occur after a few degrees warming — thus. The right panel displays conceptualizations of five reasons for concern regarding climate change risks evolving through 2100. 2001a) for scenarios from the Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES — see the Emission scenarios). likely effects will include: more frequent heat waves (and less frequent cold spells). tropical cyclones.4 and 5.Figure — Reasons for concern about climate change impacts (source: IPCC WG 2 TAR. The left part of the figure displays the observed temperature increase up to 2000 and the range of projected increases after 2000 as estimated by IPCC. etc. my later use of 3. more intense storms (hurricanes. It is important that scientists continue to develop more credible models and probe the issue of climate sensitivity. The risks of adverse impacts from climate change increase with the magnitude of climate change. yellow indicates negative impacts for some systems. the Earth's atmosphere near the surface will warm somewhere between 1. as improvements in the science will lead to improvements in our understanding of the potential impacts of various levels of temperature change. Despite uncertainties surrounding sensitivity. if its latest estimate that on a global average basis.5oC as a tentative “threshold” for serious climate damages is very conservative. figure SPM-2). and red means negative impacts or risks that are more widespread or greater in magnitude. White indicates neutral or small negative or positive impacts or risks. WG I (IPCC.

where risk is defined as probability x consequence. could include deglaciation or the alteration of ocean currents (the most widely-used example of the latter being the collapse of the Thermohaline Circulation. species or biodiversity loss. Rather than being ignored. etc. better defined as imaginable abrupt events.Projected effects of global warming). which could inundate coastal areas and small island nations. developing nations near the equator) in the political "South" are expected to suffer more dramatic effects from climate change than their cooler developed neighbors in the political "North". Surprises. increased intensity of floods and droughts. rising sea levels. surprises and other irreversibilities like species extinctions should be treated like other climate change consequences by scientists performing risk assessments. and species extinction and loss of biodiversity (see table . The probability component of the risk equation will entail subjective judgment on the part of scientists. In general. warmer surface temperatures. cultural diversity. Kuntz-Duriseti. loss of cultural heritage sites. loss of life." . more rapid spread of vector-borne disease. loss of farming productivity in warm climates and movement of farming to other regions. especially with more than a few degrees Celsius of additional warming. poorer nations (i. Use of multiple metrics should ensure a fairer. more comprehensive assessment of the actual benefits of avoiding global warming. Hotter. and distribution/equity. including surprises. This is partly due to the "Policymakers are better able to determine what is 'dangerous' and formulate effective legislation to avoid such dangers if probabilities appear alongside scientists' projected consequences. especially at higher latitudes.). or THC. most at higher latitudes. Estimating climate damages that are expected to occur gradually and their effects is simple relative to forecasting "surprise" events and their consequences (see Climate Surprises). but several metrics. quality of life (including coercion to migrate..weather-related damage. could occur. but this is far preferable to avoiding the risk equation entirely. Schneider. conflict over resources. temperature rises are projected to be greatest in the subpolar regions.e. These probabilities and consequences will vary regionally (see Regional Impacts). and Azar (2000) have argued that the best way to estimate the full extent of such damages comes from examining not just quantifiable monetary ("market") damages. system in the North Atlantic). of hunting grounds. termed the "five numeraires": monetary loss (market category). and to affect the winter more dramatically than the summer. Policymakers are better able to make a judgment about what is "dangerous" and formulate effective actions to avoid such dangers when probabilities appear alongside scientists' projected consequences. The IPCC and others have stated that "dangerous" climate change.

governments. Warmer atmospheric temperatures would lead to warmer ocean water (and corresponding volumetric expansion) as the heat becomes well-mixed throughout the oceans — a time known to be on the order of 1. "All people.lower expected adaptive capacities of future societies in developing nations when compared with their developed-country counterparts. and countries should realize that "we're in this together". people's actions today will have longterm consequences. and once started might not be reversible on the time scale of thousands of years (see figure . governments. This implies that impacts may be asymmetrically felt across the developed/developing country divide. Regardless of the different levels of vulnerability and adaptive capacity that future societies are expected to have and the need for regional-level assessments. and countries should realize that 'we're in this together'. with a transient response of centuries before an equilibrium warmer climate is established. especially since the economic benefits of using the atmosphere as a "dump" for our tailpipes is disproportionately in favor of the wealthy. In all regions. Thus. and technological capabilities. The scenario in which climate change brings longer growing seasons to the rich northern countries and more intense droughts and floods to the poor tropical nations is clearly a situation ripe for increasing North-South tensions in the twenty-first century. the surface climate will continue to warm from this greenhouse gas elevation.000 years. Even if humanity completely abandons fossil fuel emissions in the 22nd century. Instead of only up to a meter of sea level rise over the next century or two from thermal expansion — and perhaps a meter or two more over the five or so centuries after that as the warming penetrates all depths of the ocean — significant global warming could very well trigger nonlinear events like a deglaciation of major ice sheets near the poles.CO2 concentration. How large that equilibrium temperature increase is depends on both the final stabilization level of the CO2 and the climate sensitivity. the behavior of only a few generations can affect the sustainability of coastal and island regions for a hundred generations to come. Thus. all people." Climate Policy . That would cause many additional meters of rising seas for many millennia. essentially irreversible long-term concentration increases in CO2 are projected to remain for centuries or more. One threat of a warmer climate would be an ongoing rise in sea level. which in turn depend on their resource bases. infrastructures. temperature and sea level).

it is wise to keep many doors — analytically and from the policy "The most robust policy strategies are often those which provide “ancillary benefits. many scientists have encouraged the "better safe than sorry" approach and have advocated the practice of hedging: initially slowing down our impacts on the climate and then adopting flexible policies that can be updated as future climate conditions occur and are better understood." . as well as the costs and benefits of various policy options and decisions (see Climate Policy). With imperfect. potential danger. or education. and policymaker regarding what long-term effects of present actions.g. sometimes ambiguous. the decision on whether to take actions on climate change entails a value judgment on the part of the policymaker regarding what constitutes "dangerous" climate change.. new nature reserves.. information on both the full range of climate change consequences and their associated probabilities.. As evidenced by interactions at international climate negotiations and the different degrees to which climate change abatement and/or adaptation policies have been adopted by different countries (see "Come On. they must determine how much to invest in climate protection versus other worthy improvement projects — e. As Christian Azar and I (Schneider and Azar. Ultimately. clean water infrastructure. Since policymakers operate on limited budgets. ideally aided by risk assessments provided by scientists. how should climate constitutes "dangerous" climate change. 2001) mentioned: "In our view. These risk assessments can be enhanced by explanations of integrated assessment models (IAMs)."The decision on whether to take actions on climate change entails a value judgment on the part of the In the face of such uncertainty. not all policymakers' value judgments are equal. decision-makers must decide whether to adopt a "wait and see" policy approach or follow the "precautionary principle" and hedge against potentially dangerous changes in the global climate system. ideally change policy be approached? aided by risk assessments provided by scientists." Climate change and almost all interesting socio-technical problems with strong stakeholder involvement fall into the post-normal science categorization: they are riddled with “deep uncertainties” in both probabilities and consequences that are not resolved today and may not be resolved to a high degree of confidence before we have to make decisions regarding how to deal with their implications. While a decision-maker must make the final decision on policy. Everybody Else Is Doing It"). which are important tools for studying the impacts of climate change on the environment and society (see Climate Impacts).

and possibly even go so far as to subsidize. public acceptance will likely be delayed as well. technological change. If/when the government supports such initiatives. avoided climatic changes) are taken into account. interim targets and policies can always be revisited. for instance. but also reduces the conventional “criteria” air pollutants that are well-known to adversely affect human health (see the EPA and Harvard School of Public Health websites on air pollution hazards to health). as described in the quote above. For example. Encouraging technological change through energy policies in particular is of critical importance when addressing climate change. reducing the unfiltered burning of coal.perspective — open. This includes acting now so as to keep the possibility of meeting low stabilization targets open." . Any policies that are implemented should provide incentives for. A few economists have concluded that stringent measures to control emissions of CO2 would be very costly even when the benefits of reducing the emissions (i. but many others have found that much stronger cuts in emissions are defensible on economic efficiency grounds alone. in crowded cities like New Delhi and Beijing by replacing it with more efficient. (See Climate Policy). less polluting natural gas power sources not only reduces the emissions of greenhouse gases that cause climate change.. if policy measures are delayed. Cost-benefit analyses (CBAs) are also useful in deciding the ifs and whats of climate change policy. policies which help to solve more than one problem at once.e. they gain mainstream popularity and encourage further private investments. As more is learned of costs and benefits in various numeraires and political preferences become well developed and expressed. At present." In addition to being based on "rolling reassessment". For example. oftentimes above and beyond what the policy provides. but uncertainties make this exercise difficult as well. rapid early growth in alternative energy sources like wind and photovoltaic (PV) technology largely depends on government efforts to build these markets through subsidies. which is highly polluting. the most robust policy strategies are often those which provide “ancillary benefits” — that is. it seems that CBAs applied to the problem of global climate change can largely justify a wide range of emission reduction targets. marginal or substantial. The latter will be particularly justifiable if nasty surprises are taken into account. If the world decided to defer implementation of the Kyoto Protocol for another twenty years. On the other hand. it is likely "Encouraging technological change through energy policies in particular is of critical importance when addressing climate change. especially when attempting to estimate the costs of surprise and other catastrophic events.

cost the world between 4 and 14 trillion USD (this is the present value for the whole century). More pessimistic economists generally find deep reductions in carbon emissions to be very costly — into the trillions of dollars. respectively. To support this. Future international climate change agreements should certainly consider the contributions of the developed (high per capita emissions) versus developing (low per capita emissions) countries to climate change. Christian Azar and I developed a simple economic model and estimated the present value (discounted to 1990 and expressed in 1990 USD) of the costs to stabilize atmospheric CO2 at 350 ppm. Other top-down studies report similar cost estimates (see IPCC 2001c. and 550 ppm to be 18 trillion USD. who are appropriating a disproportionate fraction of the atmospheric commons. according to Manne & Richels (1997). 5 trillion USD. that the results carbon emissions and of even the most pessimistic economic models support the several fold increases in economic welfare are conclusion that substantial reductions of carbon compatible targets. rich countries. "Substantial reductions of chapter 8). and 2 trillion USD. 18 trillion USD is a huge cost. For instance. but we must note. considering that the output of the global economy in 1990 amounted to about 20 trillion USD and is about 37 . the two groups will "converge" at a level at which per capita emissions will be equal across nations while at the same time meeting "climate safe" emissions targets for the world as a whole (see "Trading Up to Climate Security"). Eventually." emissions and several fold increases in economic welfare are compatible targets.P. In Meyer's view. Obviously.A. and demonstration of carbon-efficient technologies would drop rather than increase. 450 ppm. development. An overview of the climate-energy-policy debate (including a summary and critique of the Bush climate response) can be found in Holdren 2003 (see also "Report by the E." "Contraction" entails the shrinking of the developed countries' "share" of CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. Aubrey Meyer of the Global Commons Institute has long argued for the principle of "contraction and convergence.that private and government research. For all countries. stabilizing CO 2 in 2100 at 450 ppm (current level is about 360 ppm) would. need to cut back their emissions and allow poorer countries to emit more and catch up. paradoxically. assuming a discount rate of 5% per year (see Azar & Schneider. 2002). a main factor influencing implementation of climate policy today is based on a clarification of the overall costs of stabilizing atmospheric CO2 levels (see Political Feasibility). Leaves Out Data on Climate Change" and "The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: Does the Bush Administration Think It Can Fool Mother Nature?").

trillion in 2003. Water and Climate Change: Understanding the Risks and Making Climate-Smart Investment Decisions . (See. I will also provide hundreds of links to other websites and literature that elaborate on various aspects of each of the many components of the debate. e.. I will. In the absence of emission abatement and without any damages from climate change. I will try to distinguish the well-established components of the climate change debate. These models may be very conservative. This trivial delay in achieving phenomenal GDP growth is replicated even in more pessimistic economic models. If even the most stringent target. the Moss-Schneider Guidance Paper and a Climatic Change editorial on uncertainties). 350 ppm. GDP is assumed to grow by a factor of ten or so over the next 100 years. The critical role of uncertainty will be frequently highlighted. which is a typical value used in long-run modeling efforts. the costs associated with it would only amount to a delay of two to three years in achieving this tenfold increase in global GDP in 2100. Meeting the 350 ppm CO2 stabilization target would imply that global income would be ten times larger than today by April 2102 rather than 2100 (the date at which the tenfold increase would occur for the no-abatement-policies scenario). were pursued. an entirely different analysis emerges: the 18 trillion USD cost represents the present value of lost income over the next 100 years. viewed from another perspective. among other shortcomings.g. contrast them with the speculative aspects (and the overly contentious media/political debate). Finally. provide my own views on discordant opinions and their contexts that seem at variance with the increasingly concerned mainstream assessments that have emerged in the past decade (see “Mediarology”). I suggest areas for further consideration. and will be sure that most points of view — some diametrically opposed to mine— are all represented. given that most do not consider the ancillary environmental benefits of emission abatement. “When Doubt is a Sure Thing”. of course. For further information Throughout this website. and ultimately put this problem in the context of so-called Integrated Assessment (see Integrated Assessment) of policy responses to the advent or prospect of global warming. However.

basin. Rafik Fatehali Hirji. The climate change dimension is placed within the context of the impact of other factors (within and outside the sector) such as population growth (and associated increase in demand) and land management (particularly as related to water). Sylvia Michele Diez. Current practices in the sector are examined in order to better understand the state-of-the-science for incorporating current and future variability and change in hydrology and climate in the Bank's portfolio for project planning and design. Alexander V. This report contributes to the World Bank agenda on climate change and more specifically. The report addresses the stress on and vulnerability of the water systems through use of reliability. or neutral. recommendations for a progressive agenda on water and climate change are made. Using the existing knowledge and additional analysis commissioned. and robustness as the key indicators of sensitivity of water systems for climate induced failure. informs the water sector investments on climate issues and climate-smart adaptation options. Finally. which in some cases may be far more significant and critical than that of climate change in some parts of the world. This report and the analytical work leading to it are focused on key topics related to the impact of climate change on the water cycle and water investments. Gabrielle Puz. Danilenko. usage. New and innovative practices taking into account adaptation options for water systems and risk-based decision making in water investments are reviewed and assessed for application to investments in infrastructure. The report illustrates that climate change is affecting the hydrologic cycle and the projected future hydrology will have a direct impact on the water resources base availability. Carolina Pizarro. Halla Maher Qaddmi. Eric Dickson. this impact can be positive. Depending on the type of the water investment. There is now ample evidence that increased hydrologic variability and change in climate has and will continue have a profound impact on the water sector through the hydrologic cycle. and water allocation at the global. and management. water demand. negative.Climate change is real. Michael Jacobsen. and taking prudent measures to plan for and adapt to climate change must become an integral part of the Bank's water practice. and local levels. Download URL to Publication Author( s) Vahid Alavian. resilience. regional. water availability. Brian Blankespoor .

Publish ed by Year Pages Topics World Bank 2009 174 WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT • • • • • • • About Us Strategy and Policies o CWRAS Topics o Water Supply  Rural Water  Urban Water o Sanitation and Hygiene  Improving Access  Hygiene Promotion o Agricultural Water Management  Irrigation  Drainage  Rainfed Agriculture o Environmental Services  Aquatic Ecosystems  Environmental Flows  Invasive Aquatic Plants  Strategic Environmental Assessment o Hydropower o Water Resources Management  Basin Management  Groundwater  Floods and droughts  Water quality  Water and Climate Change Water Partnership Program o Impact Stories o WPP Contacts Water Expert Team Projects and Operations News and Events o Upcoming Events o News Releases o Videos o Presentations o News feed (RSS) o Media Contacts o Subscribe .

2 of 4): Basin Development Scenarios • The Zambezi River Basin: a Multi-Sector Investment Opportunities Analysis (Vol.Managing water for sustainable growth and poverty reduction : a country water resources assistance strategy for Zambia • The Zambezi River Basin: a Multi-Sector Investment Opportunities Analysis (Vol.• • Publications o Water Unit  Discussion Papers  Working Notes  P-Notes o Videos Data and Research Related Content Guiding Principles for Successful Reforms of Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Sectors • Improving Wastewater Use in Agriculture : An Emerging Priority • Zambia . 1 of 4): Summary Report • Related Links • • • • • • (4) allocation (7) basin (7) demand (7) Economic and Sector Work (3) hydrologic cycle (67) Water and Climate Change Biofuels: How business can make smart choices 7 Mar 2008 | Author: CCC Newsdesk | Print version | Send to a friend .

The EU has stated a 10% target for 2020 as the share of biofuel in the overall transportation fuel consumption.S. McDonald’s recently launched a biofuel program in the UK.But can we eat it if we need to? Related Articles Biofuels or food production: South Africa’s dilemma Renewable energy: Business must see beyond the biofuels bonanza Biofuels: Brazil reaction to wave of environmental concerns Michael Blok and Joop-Joost Hietbrink offer some advice for companies thinking about making use of the controversial energy source The amount of news concerning biofuels has increased dramatically in the last six months. In addition. the U. in addition to (at least in some jurisdictions) pork-barrel politics favoring farmers. the rise in the oil price has made biofuel more economical relative to fossil fuels. . On the corporate front. biomass and hydrogen and spends some USD $7bn a year on biofuel subsidies. For instance. converting all its delivery trucks to biodiesel within the year. is aiming to diversify its transportation energy mix towards ethanol. This race is a result of the increased focus on climate change and a desire for energy independence from the traditional oil-producing regions. Governments and companies alike appear to be in a race to state commitments concerning the current and future use of biofuels.

their net CO2 emissions and the results of increased demand on pollution and biodiversity. . major NGOs and academics even questions the modest biofuel targets that many Governments have set. issues like these may seem straightforward. However. The thinking is that any use of food as biofuel in the current economic. and actions undertaken with good intent have more than once resulted in a negative outcome. working conditions on the plantations. a Dutch energy company. retailer Tesco now fuels 75% of its distribution fleet with 50% biodiesel blend. economical. issues include diversion of food resources away from the hungry. Concerns on the benefits and sustainability of biofuels have been extensively researched and can be divided into three general groups. there are uncertainties concerning the benefits and sustainability of biofuel schemes. fossil fuels. but identifying them in advance while making business decisions requires both good data and good thinking. but that biofuel does have a significant role in the future as technology improves. technological and social environment is indefensible. Having a clear overview of concerns like these is a real challenge. In hindsight. started mixing palm oil with fossil fuels as fuel in their production process out of purely good intentions. After some months. Nuon. as well as using bad labor practices. Biofuel programs need a more rational framework All biofuel programs share one thing: good intentions. environmental and social. NGOs discovered that there were strong indications that Nuon's palm oil program was driving rainforest destruction. many companies fail to integrate their biofuel policy with their strategy and specific needs.This biodiesel consists of 85% of the restaurants’ recycled cooking oil and 15% rapeseed (canola) oil. Issues include the cost of biofuels vs. Also in the UK. And Essent. child labor and the expropriation of land. is now one of the world’s largest consumers of biofuels for power production and has converted a number of energy plants to allow adding biofuels to their burn cycle. In addition. On the social side. another Dutch energy company. A recent polemical discussion between the UN.

any biofuel commitment should be treated as a strategic decision requiring thorough analysis of costs. designed as an umbrella initiative for biofuels. Examples include the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Influence is a relative indicator. we present a matrix with four strategic postures between which companies should choose. The second axis . Growers. distributors and retailers have responded by creating initiatives which bring together a variety of major players in several issue-prone agricultural value chains. The Swiss Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne’s Energy Center initiated the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels. Of course. including major oil companies (BP. to complement the focus on specific feedstock such as palm oil. it is testimony to the opposite. the Round Table on Responsible Soy and the Better Sugarcane Initiative. a clear rationale. new players have entered such initiatives. Shell). The first axis is “Influence”. This means that those joining such initiatives (and those unable to join but affected by decisions taken) have a good hope that in the future (perhaps 2 to 10 years) the desired level of sustainability will be reached. Four strategic postures As a framework to base biofuel decisions on. processors. defined as the buying power of the company as a fuel user and the resulting influence the company has in decision-making in the industry or value chain. In 2006. This matrix is the result of the two relevant axes for basing choices on. The stated aim is to create a tool to help assure that that biofuels are sustainable. and a clear and visible link to the corporate CSR program and vision. the launching of an initiative does not mean that the feedstock in question is sustainable.Counting biofuel initiatives Concerns over biofuel feedstock sustainability (environmental and social responsibility) predate the use of agricultural products as fuel. benefits and risks. The aim is to develop a set of rules and guidelines to assure that the feedstock is produced more sustainably. if anything. Given the extent of concerns with respect to biofuels. Now that the use of such products as (transportation) fuel has taken off.

prompting a default on commitments made. perhaps 3 to 5 years from now. 3. and which cannot influence industry/value chain decisions on biofuels. increasing the chances that future measures reflect costs and benefits relevant to you and your customers.is “Necessity”. Source Locally . when a biofuel program creates positive visibility and reduces regulatory and/or reputation risks. legal requirements to use biofuels will need to be met in any case. joining initiatives that seek to work towards the sustainability of specific feedstock (such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) is worthwhile. The two axes logically lead to four possible strategic postures. 1. should shy away from biofuel commitments and wait for things to develop. This necessity reflects the net gains a company can achieve from implementing an aggressive biofuel program. Given the potential future impact of biofuels on all businesses. 2. in this posture. Of course. but which do have the opportunity to influence the development of biofuel adoption in their industry or value chain. Such gains can be external. Biofuel costs could rise. Do nothing A company which reaches the conclusion it has little to gain by adopting a biofuel program. You will gain influence. Talk This applies to companies which do not see great immediate benefits in adopting a biofuel program. you can to move into biofuels for your own fuel sourcing when the time is right. or the industry or value chain could adopt standards which could then become difficult to meet. each with their own set of implied actions. As in the posture of Do Nothing. Internal benefits can be achieved when a biofuel program brings a company closer to its stated environmental or social goals. Any such commitment carries significant risks.

imbedded in a larger CSR/sustainability program. and perhaps even lead to new products or capabilities. wheat) is a relatively safe option.If your company has a very thorough CSR policy or is in a position to make hay from moving into biofuels. a consortium approach can bring the same benefits at minimum cost. A logical choice is then to set up your own supply chain for biofuels. having no control over the provenance and sustainability of the biofuels you buy on the open market would put your company at significant risk. . However. If volumes are greater. corn. which is building a biofuel plant near Paris. however. The current biofuel hype undeniably involves both great risk and opportunity for a large section of the business world. It seems many businesses are aware of the opportunities from biofuels. Others seem oblivious to both. making a biofuel commitment makes sense. For all. can reduce cost. The sober approach here is to source biofuels locally from a value chain you verifiably trust. Build The last posture applies when your company can benefit strongly from a biofuel commitment and you have the ability to influence decision-making in your value chain. making local sourcing impractical. making local sourcing impractical. only a sound analytical approach to biofuels. If circumstances do not permit building your own supply. will allow your business to capitalise on this phenomenon. since it can take years before an industry can assure itself and others that its biofuels are sustainable. you face an unacceptable choice between not using biofuels or running grave risks. but many are underestimating the risks. Buying and processing your own fuel reduces or eliminates risks. where you know you are not likely to run into trouble. Your influence over developments. 4. This approach has been taken by French bus company Veolia. but cannot influence events in its value chain. sourcing from "European" feedstock (rapeseed/canola. amplified by the fact that your company is likely to widely publicize your biofuel enthusiasm. You are then faced with very high volume needs for biofuels. will not lead to immediate risk reduction. All this time. preferably using local feedstock.

anderswinst. Subscribe to our free twice monthly newsletter: þÿ » Newsletter archive Conferences Go • Benchmark against the best. joopjoost@anderswinst.com Back to Opinion Respond: Write to the Editor at zara@climatechangecorp.click here. a sustainability strategy consultancy. and figure out how to communicate your positive sustainability messages • Ethics. Hot Jobs on ClimateChangeCorp Find out how to advertise your recruitment vacancies here. ClimateChangeCorp welcomes your comments . values and corporate compliance – how to persuade employees to do the right thing • Find out about upcoming events. subscribe to EC conference updates Ethical Corporation Reports for sale • • • • Get the inside track on how to cut costs using water strategies Find out how your competitors report on greenhouse gas emissions Learn how new UK carbon rules affects your business Big businesses reveal their carbon trading strategies Find out how to advertise your recruitment vacancies here.com. .Michael Blok is a Managing Director and Joop-Joost Hietbrink is an Analyst with The Anders & Winst Company.com / www.

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Women entrepreneurs and business owners can gain access to business capital and work with local community partners of their lending institution as soon as their application is complete. 2009 Making working capital. savings. This can be a very valuable resource for women to . the offer of incentives by lenders is becoming more prevalent. Competition for the best rates. along with easy application processes make it attractive for women in business to obtain the loans they need in their business venture. and the result is a growing need for small business loans from banks and other financial institutions. and credit card accounts can all be managed in one place and provide extra benefits for both parties. business loan financing.Download our business intelligence brochure now ClimateChangeCorp. and other funding available to women is even more important in today’s growing small business industries. Due to the number of growing enterprises. Some community development organizations offer business coaches or mentors as an incentive to obtain funding through them.com © Ethical Corporation 2011 About Us | Feedback | Ethical Corporation | Links Incentives For Women Obtaining Business Loans By admin · Saturday. March 14th. Women business loans may consist of commercial lending programs from banks and institutions. More women are becoming business owners. Obtaining a loan from a commercial bank offers options to extend services to personal bank accounts: checking. community development organization financing or private funding.

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