Great Barrier Reef

China to launch nationwide carbon market. #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

China is launching the biggest carbon market in the world, which will require power plants to hold emissions permits (Pic: Flickr/V.T. Polywoda)

By Li Jing in Beijing

China’s long-awaited nationwide emissions trading scheme (ETS) will be officially launched on 19 December, starting with the power sector only, according to a document from National Development Reform Commission (NDRC).

It represents a scaling back from the original plan for eight economic sectors to take part in the carbon market: petrochemicals, chemicals, building materials, iron and steel, non-ferrous metals, paper, power and aviation.

Nonetheless, it will instantly overtake the EU’s carbon market to become the world’s largest. The power sector accounts for 46% of China’s carbon dioxide emissions, of which an estimated 39% will be covered by the ETS, according to data from World Resource Institute.

Explaining the change, Chinese officials said some industrial sectors did not have strong statistical foundations, and the system would involve constant testing and continuous adjustments.

Carbon futures trading will not be available at the launch stage of the scheme, Xie Zhenhua, China’s special representative for climate change, said during the UN climate conference in Bonn last month. It is intended to create a cost for emitting carbon, not a platform for market speculation, he said.

An official at NDRC who asked not to be named said the conservative approach reflected the importance leaders attached to the overall stability of the country’s financial markets.

Liu Shuang, a program director with Energy Foundation China, said the power sector was the most suitable sector for China to start its national emission trading scheme, as it had the most credible and transparent emissions data.

Advocates of emissions trading say it creates an efficient system for cutting greenhouse gases where it is cheapest to do so. Polluting plants must hold permits for every tonne of CO2 they emit and can sell surplus allowances if they clean up their operations.

In existing systems, however, industry has lobbied for free allowances and policies resulting in low carbon prices. Critics say that gives little incentive to invest in cleaner technology for the long term.

Press link for more: Climate Change News

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The Oceans make the Earth a habitable planet. #auspol #qldpol #StopAdani

The oceans make the planet habitable, if we continue to use the oceans as a garbage dump we will quickly make our planet uninhabitable.

Plastics & carbon pollution are real threats to marine life and ultimately to humanity.

Coral bleaching is inevitable as the oceans are heated by global warming.

The science is clear, we know what must be done.

We must demand political leadership.

We have the technology, we must become active it is the challenge for our generation.

First put a price on Pollution. Both carbon & plastic.

We can no longer be complacent.

Time is running out.

Australia quick to action in war has been slow to act on reducing pollution. Future generations will pay an enormous price.

Our carbon emissions per capita are among the highest in the world.

We are amongst the world’s worst when it comes to climate action.

We are literally stealing the future from our children and future generations.

“So reckless it’s terrifying!” #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

“So reckless it’s terrifying!” Simon Baker, award-winning actor and director, has an important message for all Australians.

SHARE + ACT: Tell Turnbull to protect our Reef >> http://www.fightforourreef.org.au/simonbaker

#FightForOurReef #StopAdani

Simon Baker’s message should be a wake up call for everyone.

Climate change is causing extreme events all over the planet.

It’s hard to believe Australian politicians from both Labor & Liberal Parties are still not taking the climate science seriously.

Future generations of Australians will never understand how we ignored the warnings.

Scientists, economists, doctors are doing what they can to create awareness.

This week in France leaders from all over the world came together to demand climate action and plan for a carbon neutral economy. The One Planet Summit was ignored by Australian politicians & most of the Australian media.

If we are to limit global warming to 2C we must cease using fossil fuels by 2050.

Investing in new coal mines is reckless, it completely ignores the science & will most likely be the end of the Great Barrier Reef putting 70,000 jobs in Tourism at risk.

The threat to humanity from air pollution is also ignored.

A recent report from the World Health Organization said the 500,000 babies die every year from air pollution a large percentage of that due to burning coal.

Using the atmosphere as a garbage dump for carbon dioxide when we use fossil fuels has to end.

Putting a price on carbon is the most cost effective way to solve the problem.

#ClimateChange link to #CoralBleaching #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol

According to a new research report published today in a special edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, the 2016 global average temperature and extreme heat wave over Asia occurred due to continued long-term climate change.

The report included research from NOAA scientists.

Additionally, climate change was found to have influenced other heat events in 2016, including the extreme heat in the Arctic, development of marine heat waves off Alaska and Australia, as well as the severity of the 2015-2016 El Nino, and the duration of coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef.

The sixth edition of Explaining Extreme Events from a Climate Perspective presents 27 peer-reviewed research papers that examine episodes of extreme weather across six continents and two oceans during 2016.

It features the research of 116 scientists from 18 countries — including five reports co-led by NOAA scientists — who analyzed historical observations and changing trends along with model results to determine whether and how climate change might have influenced an extreme event or shifted the odds of it occurring.

The findings

The new research found climate change increased the risk of wildfires in the western U.S., and the extreme rainfall experienced in China, along with South Africa’s drought and resultant food shortages.

Researchers found that climate change had reduced the likelihood of the cold outbreaks experienced in China and western Australia in 2016.

No conclusive link to climate change was found by scientists examining severe drought in Brazil, record rains in Australia, or stagnant conditions creating poor air quality in Europe.

In the report, 21 of the 27 papers in this edition identified climate change as a significant driver of an event, while six did not.

Of the 131 papers now examined in this report over the last six years, approximately 65 percent have identified a role for climate change, while about 35 percent have not found an appreciable effect.

There could be several reasons no climate signal was found by some papers; it might be that there were no changes in the frequency or severity for that type of event over time or that researchers weren’t able to detect changes using the available observational record or scientific tools and models available today.

Future studies could yield new insights on the climate’s influence on extreme weather.

More about the report

The BAMS annual report is designed to improve the scientific understanding of the drivers of extreme weather, provide insight into how the various weather extremes may be changing over time, and help community and business leaders better prepare for a rapidly changing world.

Press link for more: NOAA.GOV

Cities have the power to lead #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol #OnePlanet #StopAdani

Cities have the power to lead climate change

Cities, as hubs of innovation, now stand at the forefront of climate action

By CHRISTIANA FIGUERES, VICE-CHAIR OF THE GLOBAL COVENANT OF MAYORS 12/13/17, 9:38 AM CET

Christiana Figueres, vice-chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors | via Global Covenant of Mayors

Negotiating the Paris Agreement was a monumental achievement.

Nations rallied together and subnational actors, especially cities and local governments, afforded confidence that targets could be met, leading to swift approval and ratification.

As we lean into implementation, leaders in every corner of the world, in cities large and small, are taking bold climate action to ensure we are able to meet these commitments — and, importantly, take even more ambitious action.

However, for some local leaders, implementation of the Agreement comes with challenges. This is especially pertinent when it comes to obtaining the financial support needed to turn ideas into action and make the changes necessary to ensure they can help meet the goals set forth in Paris.

Luckily, one of the many successes of the Paris Agreement was the establishment of mechanisms to increase climate-friendly ideas and investment.

Cities, as hubs of innovation, now stand at the forefront of climate action, ready to accept these investments.

I am proud to serve as the vice-chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, an initiative that supports city leaders in meeting these commitments.

Together with our partner city networks both globally and locally, cities in this alliance are developing cutting-edge solutions to the challenges of climate finance.

They are providing critical leadership and support as national governments move towards a greener future.

The power these cities have to tackle climate change cannot be understated.

Mayors and local leaders often have greater influence over the sectors that most impact carbon emissions.

Buildings, transportation, water and waste are all complex systems, and city leaders’ in-depth knowledge of regional environmental landscapes means they are uniquely suited to pinpoint which areas need the most attention to reduce emissions while increasing sustainability and economic efficiency.

“We must see climate in every facet of the economy, from green buildings and infrastructure to sustainable agriculture, so that our growth will be climate neutral.”

Central to scaling timely global climate action is financing the development of modernized low carbon infrastructure.

We must see climate in every facet of the economy, from green buildings and infrastructure to sustainable agriculture, so that our growth will be climate neutral.

Investments in these priorities now will build the tomorrow we want our children to live in.

As cities work to accelerate the collective impact of their actions, improving city-level access to finance will increase investment flows into cities and other urban areas. It will unlock the potential of cities to be a fundamental part of the global climate solution. It will re-shape the economics of development and reinforce sustainable infrastructure as a stronger investment over high-carbon polluting options.

In Cape Town, this philosophy has been taken to heart as a number of new strategies are pursued to increase investments in our green future. Many climate and resilience solutions, such as renewable energy, green transportation and net-zero buildings, are less expensive to operate than they are to build, meaning it takes partnerships between governments and the private sector to finance them.

“Cape Town is poised to become the first city in Africa to install an electric bus system.”

For example, Cape Town is poised to become the first city in Africa to install an electric bus system. The MyCiTi bus system is an ambitious project and will be made possible by a public-private investment partnership and pay dividends to the city in the future. The strategic partnership goes beyond just buying buses: the buses, currently made by Chinese green energy firm BYD, will soon be manufactured at a new plant in Cape Town in 2018. The implementation of the MyCiTi bus system is not only increasing sustainability and helping to reduce carbon emissions, it is boosting the city’s economy and creating hundreds of jobs. This project will help Cape Town save money with reduced maintenance and operating costs while supporting the city’s ongoing journey to build a strong and prosperous green economy.

The city is also collaborating with the private sector to mitigate the dire effects of drought on Cape Town’s water supply. To accelerate emergency water projects, the city is issuing tax-exempt green bonds to private sector developers to incentivize developments that will enhance sustainability and improve water security. Thanks to the investment spurred by green bonds and other innovative strategies, a platform of climate security is being created from which the city’s future is wide open.

“The implementation of the MyCiTi bus system is not only increasing sustainability and helping to reduce carbon emissions, it is boosting the city’s economy and creating hundreds of jobs.”

Cities like Cape Town are helping to spur the global transformation that spells success for the Paris Agreement. By investing in sustainability and resilience now, we can guarantee not only stable returns for our private sector partners, but a stable future for our cities and the world.

Unlocking a sustainable path for cities allows them to accelerate their impact. By 2050, implementing sustainable urban infrastructure choices could save $17 trillion on energy costs alone.

Through initiatives like the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, over 7,400 cities around the world — 9.35 percent of the population — are showing their potential and making real progress to greatly accelerate the world’s achievements towards the legally binding global commitment to create a carbon neutral world this century.

Authors:

Christiana Figueres, Vice-Chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors

2016 Global Heatwaves due to Climate Change #StopAdani #auspol #qldpol #OnePlanet

Global heat waves in 2016 due purely to climate change: study

The findings mark the first time that global scientists have identified severe weather that could not have happened without climate change, said the peer-reviewed report titled “Explaining Extreme Events in 2016 from a Climate Perspective.”

Until now, the contribution of human-driven climate change has been understood to raise the odds of certain floods, droughts, storms and heat waves — but not serve as the sole cause.

“This report marks a fundamental change,” said Jeff Rosenfeld, editor-in-chief of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, which published the peer-reviewed report.

“For years scientists have known humans are changing the risk of some extremes. But finding multiple extreme events that weren’t even possible without human influence makes clear that we’re experiencing new weather, because we’ve made a new climate.”

The report included 27 peer-reviewed analyses of extreme weather across five continents and two oceans.

A total of 116 scientists from 18 countries took part, incorporating historical observations and model simulations to determine the role of climate change in nearly two dozen extreme events.

Records shattered

In 2016, the planet reached a new high for global heat, making it the warmest year in modern times.

These record average surface temperatures worldwide were “only possible due to substantial centennial-scale anthropogenic warming,” said the report.

Asia also experienced stifling heat, with India suffering a major heat wave that killed 580 people from March to May.

Thailand set a new record for energy consumption as people turned on air conditioners en masse to cool off.

Even though the tropical Pacific Ocean warming trend of El Nino was pronounced in 2015 and the first part of 2016, researchers concluded that it was not to blame.

“The 2016 extreme warmth across Asia would not have been possible without climate change,” said the report.

“Although El Nino was expected to warm Southeast Asia in 2016, the heat in the region was unusually widespread.”

In the Gulf of Alaska, the nearby Bering Sea, and off northern Australia, water temperatures were the highest in 35 years of satellite records.

This ocean warming led to “massive bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef and one of the largest harmful algal blooms ever off the Alaska shore,” according to the report.

“It was extremely unlikely that natural variability alone led to the observed anomalies.”

Another chapter found that the so-called “blob” of sub-Arctic 2016 warmth “cannot be explained without anthropogenic climate warming.”

Most, not all

Most of the extreme events studied were influenced to some extent by climate change, as in the past six years that the work has been published.

Climate change was found to have boosted the odds and intensity of El Nino, the severity of coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef, and warmth in the North Pacific Ocean.

Flash droughts over southern Africa, like the one in 2015 and 2016, have tripled in the last 60 years mainly due to human-caused climate change, it said.

“Extreme rains, like the record-breaking 2016 event in Wuhan, China are 10 times more likely in the present climate than they were in 1961.”

The unusual Arctic warmth observed in November–December 2016 “most likely would not have been possible without human-caused warming,” it added.

But not all extreme weather was influenced by global warming.

About 20 percent of the events studied were not linked to human-caused climate change, including a major winter snowstorm in the Mid-Atlantic United States, and the drought that led to water shortages in northeast Brazil.

The findings were released at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in New Orleans.

Press link for more: SBS.COM.AU

Women, Gender Equality & #ClimateChange #auspol #qldpol

Women, gender equality and climate change: driving forward!

Fanny-Benedetti & Celine Mas

French President Emmanuel Macron again sounded the alarm at the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

At the summit, which took place from 6 to 17 November 2017 in Bonn, he warned that the planet is under threat and that if we continue on our current trajectory, we risk “tacitly, collectively accepting the disappearance of a significant number of populations by 2100.”

Furthermore, a group of over 15,000 scientists from more than 184 countries have issued a notice highlighting our moral imperative to current and future generations to take action to reverse the vicious cycles that have been created by the overexploitation of the planet’s natural resources and through our unsustainable modes of production and consumption, which represent a risk for the future of all of humanity.

As the primary users of new agricultural techniques, as green energy entrepreneurs, or simply as those who decide on modes of consumption and behaviour within the family, women are key actors in bringing about change and developing solutions that secure our transition to a sustainable future.

While climate negotiations are failing to give us news that’s sufficiently heartening, the increasing attention given to the specific role of women in the fight against climate disruption and the ecological transition is a reason to feel encouraged.

Again this year, at the COP23 in Bonn, the role of women took the spotlight thanks to the activism of the feminist associations present, such as Care France, Adéquations and Women in Europe for a Common Future, which alongside UN Women have tirelessly brought the subject to attention, at every stage in the negotiation process.

These advocacy efforts are starting to pay off, as the states have just adopted a gender-focused action plan, a first within the framework of these negotiations. The plan obliges states to make commitments that go beyond making observations on the differentiated impact that climate change has on men and women, by ensuring that all of their climate mitigation efforts are designed to decrease this gender gap, whereby women are disproportionately affected.

In fact, each change to the climate affects women in a specific way, especially in the Global South, because female populations in these countries provide an essential contribution to food security, agriculture, health and energy sectors. Every consequence of climate change which impacts on natural resources — such as drought, flooding and other extreme meteorological events—will exacerbate the poverty of these women who generally carry out household tasks unaided.

The risk of death as a result of natural disasters linked to climate change is 14 times higher for women and children, essentially because they are not the primary beneficiaries of catastrophe alert and prevention programmes.

If women have often been considered as secondary actors, it’s time for a thorough review, appreciation and endorsement of their vital role. This inevitably means reassessing the way that financing is attributed.

Studies show that taking gender into account in policies focused on development, transport, sustainable forest management, water management and renewable energy strengthens their impact and increases their socio-economic return on investment. Taking action in favour of women and for equality therefore means contributing to the fight against climate change.

UN Women notably supports women’s action on climate change through its International Day of Rural Women on 15 October, and its flagship programme which promotes women’s empowerment through climate-smart agriculture. This programme aims to improve African women’s access to technology and information by managing digital platforms for women and providing agricultural data in real time such as information on farming technology, market prices and weather forecasts, as well as increasing women’s access to financing, credit and investment.

In France, women are already at the forefront of activities in the social and solidarity economy sector, in agribusiness, health, social integration and recycling.

However, the means allocated to gender concerns in the climate sphere remain largely insufficient. In 2015, only 0.01 percent of international funding was being used to support projects that incorporate both climate and women’s rights elements. This lack of access to funding is a serious impediment to the development of projects led by women that accelerate the ecological transition. The question of financing is undeniably one that states must address — by making real commitments — in order to create climate resilience, and to prevent humanity from suffering the worst consequences of its own imprudence.

Press link for more: The Hindu

Current Carbon Dioxide level not seen for 800,000 years #StopAdani #Auspol #Qldpol

Increases in greenhouse gases could lead to “severe ecological and economic disruptions” according to a recent report.

Image: REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino

Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased a record amount from 2015 to 2016, leaving the air laden with a concentration of the potent greenhouse gas not seen for at least the last 800,000 years, the period for which we have direct measurements from ice cores.

The increase essentially guarantees that in the absence of rapid and dramatic cuts to emissions, catastrophic temperature increases “well above” those the Paris agreement sought to avoid will become a reality by end of the century, according to Petteri Taalas, the head of the World Meteorological Organization.

According to a report released by the international climate observing body on Monday (Oct 30), the concentration of CO2 was at 403.3 parts per million as of 2016, up from 400 parts per million a year earlier.

That 3.3 ppm rise is 50% more than the average rate over the past decade.

Over the last 70 years, the rate of increase of carbon in the atmosphere has been “nearly 100 times larger than at the end of the last ice age,” the last time the Earth transitioned to a much warmer world, the WMO writes.

As far as the global scientific community can tell, “such abrupt changes in the atmospheric levels of CO2 have never before been seen.”

Such rapid increases in greenhouse gases “have the potential to initiate unpredictable changes in the climate system, because of strong positive feedbacks, leading to severe ecological and economic disruptions,” according to the report.

Image: The Economist

The last time the Earth experienced these levels of CO2 in the atmosphere was roughly 4 million years ago, during the mid-Pliocene, according to the WMO.

The climate back then was 2-3 °C (3.6-5.4 °F) warmer than it is today, and the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets melted entirely, causing sea levels to rise 10-20 meters (33-66 feet) higher than those today.

The paper also reported that concentrations of methane, a greenhouse gas with greater short-term potency than CO2, continues to rise rapidly, particularly from tropical zones, a phenomena for which climate scientists do not have clear answers. Some experts fear it signals a “feedback loop” in which methane levels rise, warming the air and triggering more releases of methane ordinarily locked away in natural sinks.

“This was not expected in the Paris agreement,” Euan Nisbet, a climatologist at the Royal Holloway University of London told BBC News. “The carbon isotopes in the methane show that growth is not being driven by fossil fuels. We do not understand why methane is rising. It may be a climate change feedback.

It is very worrying.”

News of the rise comes just as countries are preparing to meet at the next United Nations climate talks in Bonn next week.

Press link for more: World Economic Forum

It took a long time for China to wake up to #ClimateChange #StopAdani #auspol

Experience of climate change has altered people’s attitudes, argues the editor of a Chinese magazine

Hu Shuli

China

It took a long time for China to wake up to climate change. But in the coming years the country will become a world leader on tackling the causes of a warming planet.

To understand why, consider how quickly China has come around on the issue.

In the relatively recent past, many Chinese believed that climate change was a lie made up by developed countries to contain the growth of developing ones, ­especially China.

Even after scientists accepted the correlation between global warming and carbon emissions, many in the government clung to the idea that countries have a “common but differentiated responsibility”—with an emphasis on “differentiated”.

Whenever an official was able to resist foreign pressure in international discussions, he was considered a hero.

Since industrialisation, the argument ran, developed countries have accumulated a larger carbon footprint.

First-hand experience of climate change has altered the Chinese people’s attitude.

A turning-point came in 2008.

That year, on the eve of China’s most important holiday, the Spring Festival, rare freezing temperatures and heavy rain nearly paralysed the entire south of the country.

Thanks to the wide reach of the internet, every extreme-weather event since, including Typhoon Hato in 2017, has attracted massive attention.

The smog that arrives predictably each winter has made air pollution one of the most widely discussed topics among the Chinese.

The people have moved from ignorance to fighting for the right to information, to taking the initiative, to demanding government action.

During recent trade summits, the Chinese government temporarily shut down many industrial businesses in order to clear the air and save its face.

But that does nothing to save the planet.

China is the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide. It is now working to put its own house in order.

Climate change and air pollution are related, but not identical, issues.

Most air pollution is produced by the same sources that emit carbon dioxide: heating, power generation, industrial activity and cars.

That means controlling pollution can also mean cutting emissions.

This can be seen as the uniquely Chinese path to tackling climate change in 2018 and beyond.

In 2009 China announced plans to cut its carbon emissions by 40-45% relative to GDP growth by 2020, compared with 2005 levels.

Then, in 2014, it said it wanted carbon-emission levels to peak around 2030, and would even try to move this date forward if possible.

This marked a striking shift, from emphasising lowering the concentration of emissions to trying to control total levels.

Under China’s current political system, the central government breaks down carbon-emission targets for different levels of government.

Now, checks on targets are becoming more stringent. The party may urge more advanced regions to meet goals ahead of schedule.

Even after Donald Trump said he would pull America out of the Paris agreement on climate change, the attitude of China’s government and people has not regressed.

Rather, many have called upon the country to take on more responsibility for the sake of all humanity.

Warming on the idea

What measures will it take?

Recent efforts to cut overcapacity are the starting-point.

Overcapacity is primarily concentrated in high-emission industries such as steel and coal.

The government wants to control the capacity of these sectors.

Industrial businesses will feel the force of strict environmental and carbon-emissions regulations. This inextricably links progress to economic reforms and efforts to improve regional industrial structures.

Ultimately, this is a matter of governance.

China’s economic development has reached a stage in which manufacturing is giving way to service industries. Goods like steel, cement and glass have already reached their peak output, or will soon do so. Solutions to climate change are compatible with China’s transition.

In the short term, the country will face economic and social costs from its actions, including slower growth and rising unemployment.

That means the social safety-net will need to be shored up.

Also, China’s emphasis must move from mitigation of climate change to adaptation to it. That involves upgrading infrastructure, changing lifestyles and further raising public consciousness. In the long run, as China’s industries shift from manufacturing to services, social resistance to the economic effects of climate-change action will decrease.

Current achievements are still a long way from meeting the expectations of the people. China’s climate awakening means the country needs to put in a long-term effort to adopt more intensive and effective measures to cope with global warming.

Luckily, Chinese people have by now realised the true meaning of the idea, “We only have one Earth.”

Hu ShuliBEIJINGHu Shuli: editor-in-chief, Caixin Media

Press link for more: The world In

Decline of Nature poses severe threat to global prosperity #StopAdani #auspol

Top economists show that the decline of nature poses severe threats to continued national and global prosperity

New research from a team of Oxford economists, launched at the World Forum on Natural Capital in Edinburgh, has shown that Ministries of Finance and Treasuries are often blind to how dependent economies are on nature, which is declining at a dangerous rate.

As a result, businesses and politicians are failing to register the systemic risk building up as the natural world fails.

Professor Cameron Hepburn, who led the research at the University of Oxford’s Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School, says that flawed economic and political institutions are to blame. “Much of the value that economies create is built upon a natural foundation – the air, water, food, energy and raw materials that the planet provides.

Without nature, no other value is possible.”

It’s called natural capital, and it’s the basis for all human prosperity. But because most economies fail to account for this dependency, “business as usual” is driving a dangerous trend of environmental decline.

“We are poisoning the well from which we drink. The dire state of nature and the implications for our future barely registers in economic decision-making”

Oliver Greenfield

Extreme weather, mass extinctions, falling agricultural yields, and toxic air and water are already damaging the global economy, with pollution alone costing 4.6 trillion USD every year. And we’re in danger of losing other indispensable natural capitals, like topsoil for food production or a stable climate, without which organised economies cannot function.

“We are poisoning the well from which we drink,” says Oliver Greenfield, convenor of the Green Economy Coalition, who commissioned the research. “The dire state of nature and the implications for our future, barely registers in economic decision-making.  To put this another way, we are building up a big systemic risk to our economies and societies, and just like the financial crisis, most economists currently don’t see it”.

The research finds three central failings are to blame. Firstly, we currently lack the tools to adequately measure and understand the value of nature, meaning it is largely invisible to policymakers. Secondly, many economic models assume that environmental value can be easily and indefinitely replaced by man-made value; for example, the loss in natural capital from logging a forest is off-set by the creation of valuable jobs and timber – ignoring the question of what happens when the last tree is cut down. Finally, we don’t have the laws and institutions required to protect our critical stocks of natural capital from unsustainable exploitation.

Thankfully, the research finds encouraging signs that our economy can be rapidly rewired to protect the planet. Governments and businesses must start measuring their stocks of natural capital in comprehensive natural wealth accounts, and ensure that those assets are protected and improved. Better data is needed on the value of the natural wealth that underpins economic activity, so that value can be accounted for by treasuries and financial centres. And critical natural assets – without which society cannot survive – must be given special status so that they cannot be squandered.

This research is an urgent wake-up call to governments and businesses around the world: our economies are flying blind, and new models and methodologies are urgently required. “The opportunity to properly value nature is not just a task for economists but for all of us,” Oliver Greenfield added. “The societies and economies that understand their dependency on nature are healthier and more connected, with a brighter future.”

Press link for more: Green Economy Coalition