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The scale of the climate challenge. Andrew Watkinson School of Environmental Sciences University of East Anglia. [email protected] A changing climate. Arctic Europe Asia N America Australasia S America Antarctica. Source Pages 2K Consortium 2013; Marcott et al 2013.

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the scale of the climate challenge

The scale of the climate challenge

Andrew Watkinson

School of Environmental Sciences

University of East Anglia

[email protected]

a changing climate
A changing climate




N America


S America


Source Pages 2K Consortium 2013; Marcott et al 2013

a changing climate1
A changing climate

Source: IPCC WGI 2013

fossil fuel emissions
Fossil fuel emissions
  • Global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning decreased by 1.3% in 2009
  • Emissions increased by more than 3% in 2010, approaching the high growth rates of 2000 to 2008
  • Growth in emissions closely follows growth in GDP


USA −6.9%

UK −8.6%

Germany −7%

Japan −11.8%

Russia −8.4%

China +8%

India +6.2%

South Korea +1.4%

Global financial crisis

Asian financial crisis

Collapse of FSU

US savings and loan crisis

CO2 emissions PgC/yr

Oil crisis

Source: Friedlinstein et al 2010, Peters et al 2012

action reducing emissions
Action: reducing emissions


  • Energy (61.3%)
  • Land use (18.2%)
  • Industrial processes (3.4%)
  • Agriculture (13.5%)
  • Waste (3.6%)

Examples of global emission pathways where cumulative CO2 emissions equal 750 Gt during the time period 2010-2050 (1 Gt C = 3.67 Gt CO2). At this level, there is a 67% probability of limiting global warming to a maximum of 2°C.

targeting demand
Targeting demand



Extraction &Transport











Source: Kevin Anderson

managing demand behaviour
Managing demand: behaviour

Driving behaviour

Traffic flow

Total distance

Source: McKinsey and Co. 2009

difficult choices
Difficult choices

Source: UK Household Longitudinal Study (n=39987)

carbon hot spots
Carbon hot spots

Source: NHS Sustainable Development Unit

reducing uk emissions
Reducing UK emissions







Source: Climate Change Committee (2010) The Fourth Carbon Budget

transforming the energy supply
Transforming the energy supply

Source: Stockholm Environment Institute 2009


UK’s Global Emissions

Health and Social Care England Carbon Footprint

Source: Barrett et al 2013: Climate Policy

can we do it
Can we do it?
  • Global CO2 emissions continue to grow rapidly (+3% p.a.)
  • 2 ºC requires an early peak and sustained reductions
  • Need to target both supply and demand
  • Technology and economic feasibility will be increased by
    • Early and broadly based international mitigation action
    • Limiting growth in energy demand through behavioural change and efficiency
    • Utilising a portfolio of technologies with R&D in key areas, e.g. CCS, vehicles, advanced fuels, storage
    • Availability of affordable negative emissions technologies
    • Action on non-CO2 greenhouse gases such as nitrous oxide

And if we can’t?

geoengineering options
Geoengineering options

Giant reflectors in orbit

Chemicals to save ozone

Cloud seeding

Aerosols in stratosphere

Grow trees

GM crops

Iron fertilisation in sea

Greening deserts

Pump liquid CO2 into deep sea

Pump liquid CO2 into rock

Source: IGBP 2009

the adaptation agenda
The adaptation agenda


Climate Change

Risk Assessment

Source: DEFRA

climate change risk assessment
Climate Change Risk Assessment
  • The global climate is changing and warming will continue over the next century
  • The UK is already vulnerable to extreme weather, including flooding and heatwaves
  • Flood risk is projected to increase significantly across the UK
  • UK water resources are projected to come under increased pressure
  • Potentially, there are health benefits as well as threats related to climate change, affecting the most vulnerable groups in our society
  • Sensitive ecosystems are likely to come under increasing pressure
  • etc
what s in the flood plain
What’s in the flood plain?

The Flood Plain and Index of Multiple Deprivation 2010

infrastructure already at risk
Infrastructure already at risk

Significant chance

Moderate chance

Low chance

Source: Environment Agency

adaptation to flooding
Adaptation to flooding
  • Exposure to flooding. The Government and local authorities should ensure more robust and transparent implementation of planning policy in relation to development in areas at risk of flooding.
  • Protecting existing properties from flooding. The Government should support sustained and increased investment in flood defences from public or private sources; or in the absence of this identify ways to manage the social and economic consequences of more frequent flooding.
enabling adaptation
Enabling adaptation

Plan for the longer term within risk framework

Join up thinking: integrated management

Clarify responsibilities at local and national levels

Raise public awareness through education



Improve monitoring and evidence base

Share best practice

Incentivise management to reduce the risk

After Tompkins et al 2005

what are we adapting to
What are we adapting to?

Aim for 2°C and plan for 4 °C

  • We are aiming for 4°C and planning for 2 °C
  • Adaptation is currently generally viewed as the means of continuing what we are doing
  • Concerned with climate proofing existing practices in which the objectives remain unchanged
  • The need for transformational as opposed to continuous change is largely unaddressed
  • There is a real danger of maladaptation
    • What is appropriate for a 2 °C may be inappropriate (and costly) for a 4 °C world
    • Incremental adaptation may prevent more transformative measures

Climate change and impacts