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Title: Climate Change and Ecosystem Services: Science, Economics, Politics and Ethics Bob Watson Science fo

Climate Change and Ecosystem Services
Science, Economics, Politics and Ethics Bob
WatsonScience for Life LectureMacaulay
InstituteJune 5, 2008
Climate Change and Ecosystem Degradation
  • Climate change and ecosystem degradation are
    development and global environmental issues,
    which undermine
  • environmental sustainability
  • poverty alleviation and the livelihoods of the
  • human health
  • personal, national and regional security
  • Climate change and ecosystem degradation are
    inter- and intra-generational equity issues
  • developing countries and poor people in
    developing countries are the most vulnerable
  • the actions of today will affect future

Can development be climate-friendly?
  • Millennium Development
  • Goals
  • Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality empower women
  • Reduce child mortality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  • Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Develop a global partnership for development


Climate Change Resilient Development
  • Climate change resilient development requires
    implementation of cost-effective mitigation and
    adaptation strategies - need to understand the
    distributional issues
  • Mitigation While there is a need to minimize
    the emissions of greenhouse gases globally,
    access to affordable energy in developing
    countries is a pre-requisite condition for
    poverty alleviation and sustainable economic
  • Adaptation Requires integrating current climate
    variability and projected changes in climate in
    sector and national economic planning project
    and policy design

Climate Change
  • The composition of the atmosphere, and the
    Earths climate has changed, mostly due to human
    activities (highly certain), and is projected to
    continue to change, globally and regionally
  • Increased greenhouse gases and aerosols
  • Warmer temperatures
  • Changing precipitation patterns spatially and
  • Higher sea levels higher storm surges
  • Retreating mountain glaciers
  • Melting of the Greenland ice cap
  • Reduced arctic sea ice
  • More frequent extreme weather events
  • heat waves, floods and droughts
  • More intense cyclonic events, e,g., hurricanes in
    the Atlantic

Temperature Records(Deviation from 1951- 1980
Source NASA Goddard Institute for Space
Studies Surface Temperature Analysis at
Andean Glaciers
Source http//
Hurricane Trends
Source Webster et al, SCIENCE 16 September 2005
Understanding and Attributing Climate Change
The Global Climate of the 21st Century
Projections of Future Changes in Climate
Anticipated Increase in UK Summer Temperatures
By the 2040s, 2003 will be normal
Climate change is already affecting natural and
social systems
Physical Biological
Source IPCC AR4 WG2
Why Climate Change is a Serious Development Issue
All countries are vulnerable to climate change
but the poorest countries and the poorest people
within them are most vulnerable. They are the
most exposed and have the least means to adapt.
  • In this decade over 3 billion people in
    developing countries are likely to be affected by
    climate related disasters
  • People in developing countries are affected at
    20 times the rate of those in developed countries

Source World Bank analysis based on CREDA data.
Projected Impacts of Human-induced Climate Change
  • Decrease water availability and water quality
    in many arid- and semi-arid regions increased
    risk of floods and droughts in many regions
  • Decrease the reliability of hydropower and
    biomass production in some regions
  • Increase the incidence of vector- (e.g., malaria
    and dengue) and water-borne (e.g., cholera)
    diseases, as well as heat stress mortality,
    threats nutrition in developing countries,
    increase in extreme weather event deaths
  • Decrease agricultural productivity for almost
    any warming in the tropics and sub-tropics and
    adverse impacts on fisheries
  • Adversely effect ecological systems, especially
    coral reefs, and exacerbate the loss of

Climate change impacts are now inevitable
adaptation is about how we respond the less
mitigation, the more adaptation is required
The risk of serious irreversible impacts
increases strongly as temperatures increase
Stern Review (2006)
Water Stress will Increase Independent of Climate
Ethiopia rainfall, GDP and Ag GDP
Source Claudia Sadow and John Reynolds
Changes in available water
Source Maarten de Wit and Jacek Stankiewicz,
Science 31 March 2006, http//
Percent change in runoff by 2050
  • Many of the major food-bowls of the world are
    projected to become significantly drier

Food Security
  • Drivers of the recent increase in food prices
  • Increased demand from rapidly developing
  • Poor harvests due to variable weather - possibly
    related to human-induced climate change
  • Increased use of biofuels, especially maize in
    the US
  • High energy prices
  • Export bans from some large exporting countries
  • Speculation on the commodity markets
  • Key question is whether this is a blip or a
    harbinger of the future

Recent situation
  • Food production has more than doubled since 1960
  • Food production per capita has grown
  • Food prices have fallen
  • Percent of undernourished fallen
  • Rural development in China, Thailand and parts of
    Latin America was the initial stimulus to their
    rapid economic growth

So what is the problem?
  • People have benefited unevenly from these yield
    increases across regions, in part because of
    different institutional and policy environments
  • This productivity increase has come at a cost
    environmental sustainability soils, water,
    biodiversity, climate change

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Crop yields are projected to decrease in the
tropics and sub-tropics, but increase at high
Percentage change in average crop yields for a
mid-range climate change scenario Even as soon
as 2020 crop yields in SSA and parts of Asia are
projected to decrease by up to 20
The Multifunctionality of Agriculture
Vulnerability of delta dwelling populations
Direction and magnitude of selected health
impacts of climate change
Vegetation in the Arctic current conditions and
projected changes under the IS92a scenario for

Emissions and Vulnerability to Climate Change
Climate Change and Conflict
  • Tens of millions of people
  • displaced
  • Low lying deltaic areas
  • Small Island States
  • Food shortages where with
  • hunger and famine today
  • Water shortages in areas
  • already with water shortages
  • Natural resources depleted with
  • loss of ecological goods and services
  • Increased incidence of disease
  • Increased incidence of severe weather events
  • Climate Change, coupled with other stresses, can
    lead to local and regional conflict and migration
    depending on the social, economic and political

WBGU 2007
Drivers of biodiversity loss growing
  • Climate change is projected to affect all
    aspects of biodiversity, i.e., individuals,
    populations, species distributions and ecosystem
    composition and function
  • directly, for example through increases in
    temperature, changes in precipitation (and in the
    case of marine systems changes in sea level etc)
  • indirectly, for example through climate changing
    the intensity and frequency of disturbances such
    as wildfires)

  •   The risk of extinction will increase for many
    species, especially those that are already at
    risk due to factors such as low population
    numbers, restricted or patchy habitats, and
    limited climatic ranges.
  • Ecosystems that may be most threatened by
    climate change include coral reefs, mangroves and
    other coastal wetlands, remnant ecosystems, some
    ecosystems with restricted distribution and high
    latitude/high altitude ecosystems

Hotspots 1.4 of Land Surface but 40-50 of
  •   The general response of species to climate
    change is that the habitats of many species will
    move further pole-ward or higher than their
    current location
  • the composition of most current ecosystems is
    likely to change as species that make up an
    ecosystem will be affected differently by climate
    change they will migrate at different rates
    through fragmented landscapes
  • ecosystems dominated by long-lived species (e.g.
    long-lived trees) will often be slow to show
    evidence of change.

Consequences of Ecosystem Change for Human
Unprecedented Change
  • Humans have made unprecedented changes to
    ecosystems in recent decades to meet growing
    demands for food, fresh water, fiber, and energy,
    i.e., we have focused on provisioning services
  • These changes have helped to improve the lives of
    billions, but at the same time they weakened
    natures ability to deliver other key services
    such as purification of air and water, protection
    from disasters, and the provision of medicines
  • The pressures on ecosystems (and natural
    resources) will increase globally in coming
    decades unless human attitudes and actions change

Unprecedented change Ecosystems
What can we do to sustainably use ecosystems
  • Change the economic background to decision-making
  • Make sure the value of all ecosystem services,
    not just those bought and sold in the market, are
    taken into account when making decisions
  • Remove subsidies to agriculture, fisheries, and
    energy that cause harm to people and the
  • Introduce payments to landowners in return for
    managing their lands in ways that protect
    ecosystem services, such as water quality and
    carbon storage, that are of value to society
  • Establish market mechanisms to reduce nutrient
    releases and carbon emissions in the most
    cost-effective way

What can we do to sustainably use ecosystems
  • Improve policy, planning, and management
  • Integrate decision-making between different
    departments and sectors, as well as international
  • Include sound management of ecosystem services in
    all planning decisions
  • Empower marginalized groups to influence
    decisions affecting ecosystem services, and
    recognize local communities ownership of natural
  • Establish additional protected areas
  • Use all relevant forms of knowledge and
    information about ecosystems in decision-making,
    including the knowledge of local and indigenous

What can we do to sustainably use ecosystems
  • Develop and use environment-friendly technology
  • Invest in agricultural science and technology
    aimed at increasing food production with minimal
    harmful trade-offs
  • Promote technologies to increase energy
    efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Influence individual behavior
  • Provide public education on why and how to reduce
    consumption of threatened ecosystem services
  • Establish reliable certification systems to give
    people the choice to buy sustainably harvested
  • Give people (all stakeholders) access to
    information about ecosystems and decisions
    affecting their services

Mitigating Climate ChangeThe Economic
and Financing Challenge
What constitutes dangerous climate change?
Deciding what constitutes dangerous
anthropogenic interference to the climate system
is a value judgment determined through
socio-political processes informed by scientific,
technical and socio-economic information
  • Physical or social outcomes?
  • Danger for all or danger for some?
  • Who defines danger?
  • Article 2 of UN Convention on Climate Change
  • stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations
    in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent
    dangerous anthropogenic interference with the
    climate system.
  • allow ecosystems to adapt naturally, ensure
    food production, and allow sustainable economic

Emissions Paths to Stabilization
Source Stern Review
Mitigation is cost effective relative to inaction
Do nothing
Move to a 550ppm CO2e trajectory
Move to a 450ppm CO2e trajectory
Costs equivalent to a 5-20 loss in global GDP.
Costs of mitigation estimated at 1 of global GDP
in 2050.
Mitigation costs could be 3 times the cost of
550ppm trajectory.
50 chance of exceeding a 5 temperature rise
50 chance of exceeding a 3 rise in temperatures
May be no more than a 50 chance of remaining
below a 2 change.
All temperature changes quoted are relative to
pre-industrial temperature levels. Temperature
increases by end of the next century. Global
income loss (5-20) is equivalent to an average
annual loss of GDP each year now and forever.
Largest Emitters Developed Developing
OECD and non-OECD shares50-year view
SourceI Socolow and Pacala, Scientific American,
September 2006, p.56
Mitigation Strategy
  • Putting a price on carbon through
  • emissions trading
  • taxation
  • regulation - national, regional and global
  • Technology transformation
  • Carbon capture and storage
  • Future generation biofuels
  • Mobilising behaviour change
  • Citizens
  • Business
  • Public sector

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Potential technological options
  • Efficient production and use of energy coal
    plants (e.g., re-powering old inefficient plants
    and developing IGCC) vehicles (e.g., fuel cell
    cars) and reduced use of vehicles (e.g., mass
    transit and urban planning), buildings, and
  • Fuel shift coal to gas
  • Renewable Energy and Fuels Wind power solar
    PV and solar thermal small and large-scale
    hydropower bio-energy
  • CO2 Capture and Storage Capture CO2 in the
    production of electricity followed by geological
    storage (e.g., IGCC CCS)
  • Nuclear fission Nuclear power
  • Forests and Agricultural Soils Reduced
    deforestation reforestation afforestation and
    conservation tillage
  • Other GHGs Methane, nitrous oxide, halocarbons
    and tropospheric ozone precursors

Mitigation Potential Exists For All Sectors
  • At least a 50 reduction global greenhouse gas
    emissions by 2050 is needed for a chance of
    meeting the EU 2oC target

Technology Will Be Part Of The Answer
  • The range of stabilisation levels can be achieved
  • deployment of a portfolio of technologies that
    are currently available
  • and those that are expected to be commercialised
    in coming decades

  • Two major sources of biofuels
  • Bioethanol from sugar and maize
  • Biodiesel from palm oil, soy and rapeseed
  • Rarely economic - normally heavily subsidized
  • Serious questions regarding environmental
  • Greenhouse gas emissions - direct and indirect
  • Loss of biodiversity, soil and water degradation
  • Serious Questions regarding social sustainability
  • Food price increases
  • Involuntary displacement of small-scale farmers
    by large-scale plantations

Summary of the Major Mitigation Challenges
  • International policy
  • A long-term (2030 2050) global regulatory
    framework, involving all major emitters, with an
    equitable allocation of responsibilities with
    intermediate targets
  • Kyoto plus 5 years will not provide the right
    signals to the private sector or national
  • Expand range of eligible CDM activities,
    including avoided deforestation, green investment
    schemes, energy efficiency standards, and
    exploring sectoral and programmatic approach
  • Key challenges include engaging USA, China and

Climate Change Bill a framework for setting and
delivering our ambitions
Cut CO2 emissions by at least 60 by 2050 and
26-32 by 2020
Budgets and accountability
Five-year carbon budgets set three periods
ahead Annual progress reports to Parliament
Committee on Climate Change
To advise Government on carbon budgets and
targets and cost effective emissions savings
Measures to reduce emissions
Report to Parliament on policies to meet budgets
Powers to introduce emissions trading schemes
Provisions relating to taking action and
reporting to Parliament
Adapting to Climate Change
Why Developing Countries Are More Vulnerable a)
Impacts are worse
Coastal vulnerability49 out of 50 countries
with shore protection costs due to climate change
above 0.5 of GDP are less developed countries
Closer to margin of tolerance for temperature
and precipitation changes (more drought- and
flood-prone areas)
Poorer nutrition and health infrastructure and
therefore higher losses of human life
Economic structure Larger share of the economy in
climate sensitive sectors, such as agriculture
Why Developing Countries Are More Vulnerableb)
Lower capacity to adapt
Availability of technology
Institutional capacity
Financial capacity
Know-how and education
Adaptation is not a stand alone issue
A key priority will be work to quantify impacts
and assess costs and benefits
  • Potential Costs
  • Increase in flooding and erosion costs to
  • Transport disruption through heat and flood
  • More winter storm damage
  • Summer water shortages
  • Habitat loss
  • Costs of summer cooling
  • Health food risks through heat
  • Potential Benefits
  • Reduced demand for winter heating
  • Less cold-related illness and deaths
  • Less winter transport disruption
  • Longer growing season
  • Increased UK tourism

Planned adaptation will reduce the costs of
climate change but there will be residual damage
Example A Foresight study (2004), estimated rise
in annual flooding damage from 1.4bn now to as
much as 27bn by 2080 if action is not taken.
But with effective flood risk measures we could
reduce these risks down to around 2 billion pa.
Elements of an adaptation strategy
The eight elements of an adaptation strategy
Source Emma Tompkins
  • Delivery of adaptive responses depends on
    governance mechanisms
  • Adaptive capacity and societys self-organisation
    is determined by governance
  • Distribution of costs and benefits in society is
    determined by governance

Are there limits to how much we can
adapt?physical, behavioural and technological
  • Physical limits there are physical limits to
    potential adaptation on small low lying islands
    e.g. Cayman Islands
  • Behavioural limits there are behavioural
    constraints that influence where we live and why,
    e.g. New Orleans
  • Technological limits there are technological
    limits to the flood defences that can be
    constructed, e.g. Thames Barrier, London

The Political Situation
The Kyoto Protocol
  • All industrialized governments, except the US
    have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, which contains
  • A commitment to reduce GHG emissions, on average,
    by about 5 between 2008-2012 relative to 1990
  • The US stated that the Kyoto Protocol was flawed
    policy because it was neither fair nor effective
    and not in the best interests of the US
  • scientific uncertainties Article 3
    (precautionary principle)
  • high compliance costs inconsistent with IPCC
  • ineffective without the participation of the
    large developing countries
  • There is now movement in the US
  • Legislation proposed in Senate and House
  • Actions by States, e.g., in CA and NE and NW
  • Private Sector, e.g., GE, Wall Mart, Dupont
  • Evangelicals
  • Presidential candidates

Elements of a Post-2012 framework
Beyond Kyoto
  • The most important question for governments is
    whether they are willing to set a long-term
    stabilization target for climate change (e.g.,
    2oC above the pre-industrial level) or some other
    long-term framework
  • a long-term legally binding target is needed to
    send the appropriate signal to the private sector
    and the carbon market
  • this would require a global (involving all
    large-scale emitters) long-term equitable
    emissions target with intermediate emissions
    targets and an equitable allocation of emissions

Overall Conclusions
  • Increased access to energy is critical for
    poverty alleviation and economic growth hence a
    major challenge to engage China and India
  • Climate change undermines development,
    environmental sustainability and the Millennium
    Development Goals
  • There are cost-effective and equitable solutions,
    but political will and moral leadership is needed
  • The future is not pre-ordained - we can limit
    changes in the Earths climate and manage
    ecosystems more sustainably, but the changes in
    policies, practices and technologies required are
    substantial and not currently underway
  • Public and private sector decision-makers need to
    take a longer-term perspective
  • Advances in science and technology are required,
    with the emphasis on multi-disciplinary research
    increased emphasis on social sciences and
  • The scientific community needs to learn to
    communicate better with civil society,
    decision-makers and the media