While many studies on climate change have readers bracing themselves for the latest and most dire warnings before they even scan a paragraph, a new report out of Montreal’s McGill University actually delivers some good news.
The study, published yesterday in the journal Nature, called “National-level progress on adaptation“, looked at how various countries are adapting to the prospect of climate change. And it found some surprising progress. Comparing stats from two separate rounds of data supplied by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), researchers reported significant advances in some key areas of climate adaptation over just a few years.
BIG POLLUTERS ARE MAKING PROGRESS
The study says that between 2010 and 2014, there was an 87% overall increase in climate change adaption from the 41 Annex 1 Parties who reported to the U.N. That’s a group that includes The United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Russian Federation, France, Australia, Italy, and Canada, a list that also represents some of the world’s largest polluters. The study also reports a 139% increase in building code changes amongst the group, a 114% increase in the surveillance and monitoring of extreme weather conditions, and a 101% increase in public awareness campaigns.
“Identifying these patterns and gaps is crucial for decision-making about where to invest climate financing and other resources so that we have the biggest impact on reducing vulnerability,” says Alexandra Lesnikowski, one of the study’s authors.
BUT NOW THE BAD NEWS…
The bad news? The McGill study that the most vulnerable in our society are the most and risk, and that the elderly, those with low incomes and indigenous communities, will feel the pain of climate change the most. Another negative noted by the study is that climate change initiatives initiated by one government are often dismantled when another government takes power.
The report comes ahead of the 21st Session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-21) in Paris.
The United Nations Climate Change Conferences are yearly meetings that began two-decades ago in Berlin to negotiate the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty meant to establish legally binding obligations for countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The Paris meetings, to be held in December, are the twenty-first. Last December, almost 200 countries gathered in Peru for the twentieth meeting, where the focus was on rising global surface temperatures.
The 100 heads of state and government, which include United States President Barack Obama and China’s President Xi Jinping are expected to work towards a new global climate agreement that will in 2020 succeed the Kyoto Protocol, a 1997 agreement that was signed in Kyoto, Japan that required developed countries to reduce emissions by approximately 5% below 1990 levels between the years 2008 and 2012.
While Canada, under then Prime Minister Stephen Harper was famously the first country to pull out of the Kyoto Protocol, the EU last month announced it had already met its 2020 greenhouse gas emissions target. In a recent report, the EU said its 2014 emissions were actually 23% below 1990’s, and that the union was on pace to to be as much as 25% below the Kyoto target by 2020.
Canada, meanwhile, is not on track to meet its more modest goal of 17%.