07. Nov 2017

Climate – the normative power of the factual

The climate change negotiation COP 23 will take place in Bonn, Germany on 6 - 17 November. This is a reason for making a “CO2 cash check”:
Where do we stand now? How much does climate change cost us? What can we do?

Official COP23 Website

Overview

In 2015, the 2°C target (COP 21) was agreed in Paris and celebrated worldwide as a milestone and breakthrough, 23 years after setting the course at the Sustainability Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992.

Comprehensive action should be taken worldwide by 2050 to achieve the goal of an increase in global average temperature well below 2 degrees compared to pre-industrial levels. Scientists called upon to take big efforts that global warming does not exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius. This means a long-term reduction of 80-95% of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. This is also the mission of the EU Roadmap 2050. In other words, the aim is a substantial abandonment of fossil fuels.

4 Facts

  • The mean global temperature is more than 1 °C above the pre-industrial level.
  • In Austria, an average warming of 4 to 5 °C is expected by 2050.
  • Poorer countries are much more affected.
  • In 2016, the brand exceeded 400 ppm for the first time.

 

Status quo in Austria compared

The Federal Environment Agency (= Umweltbundesamt) has published the current climate protection report 2017 for Austria. „ In 2015 Austria´s total greenhouse gas emissions amounted to 78.9 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2 equivalent). Emissions were thus 3.2% or 2.5 million tons above the 2014 level and 0.1% above 1990 level“, the summary reads.
In Austria, the Energy Efficiency Directive (RL 2012/27/EU) resulted in the Energy Efficiency Act (EEff-G; BGBl. I Nr. 72/2014), with the aim of improving energy efficiency by 20% by 2020.
The Federal Environment Agency also writes that the European Union is on track to meet its 2020 targets; However, after 2020, a much steeper reduction pathway will be needed to achieve the long-term reduction of 80-95% by 2050.
In its current Global Risk Landscape 2017, the Munich Reinsurance considers extreme weather events as the global risk most likely to occur and with the most negative impact.

Costs of climate-related damage

The Federal Environment Agency estimates the costs due to weather and climate-related damage in Austria already at “about 1 billion Euros per year. [...] The weather and climate-related damage will continue to increase, especially if significant reduction of emissions is failed.” Studies show that energy efficiency programs can save 10 to 30% of energy and increase profitability by up to 2%.
Management systems such as ISO 14001, EMAS and/or ISO 50001 significantly contribute to the targeted and systematic improvement of environmental performance and energy performance.
We should use the power of Standards for active contribution to a sustainable design of the future and to create positive facts. Otherwise, we will have to pay a heavy price!

Authors

Team

Mr. Axel Dick, MSc

Executive Vice President Business Development Environment and Energy, CSR

Network partner

Mr. Wolfgang Hackenauer, MSc

Network partner, Product Expert Environment and Energy

Contact persons Environment & Energy

Team

Mr. Axel Dick, MSc

Executive Vice President Business Development Environment and Energy, CSR

Network partner

Mr. Wolfgang Hackenauer, MSc

Network partner, Product Expert Environment and Energy

Network partner

Mr. Peter Sattler, MAS

Network partner, Product Expert FSC CoC, PEFC CoC and ISO 38200

Further information regarding the 4 facts

Fact 1

Currently average global temperature has already risen by more than 1 degree Celsius over pre-industrial times. The years 2014, 2015 and 2016 (and possibly also 2017) are among the warmest years since temperature records began.

Fact 2

In Austria, the average temperature increase is significantly higher (twice as high) than the global average. Experts are expecting an average warming of about 4 to 5 degrees in Austria by 2050. Tourism, agriculture and forestry, infrastructure, energy and water management will immediately be affected. In agriculture and forestry, consequences are already noticeable: The Austrian hail insurance reported on 29 September 2017: „Austria’s self-supply rate for vegetables and fruits decreased by 6%, grain by 7% (from 2015 to 2016)”. The damage in agriculture amounted to more than 270 million Euros in 2016; this year, the total amount of damage has already reached 250 million Euros, caused by hail, frost, and drought and flooding.

Fact 3

The consequences of climate change affect poorer countries more than industrialized countries, so that additional migratory pressure can be expected due to extreme weather events, storms and floods.

Fact 4

In September 2016, the carbon dioxide concentration has exceeded the 400 ppm (parts per million) mark for the first time. According to recent reports, increase in carbon dioxide concentration has further accelerated and is now above 403 ppm. Before the industrial revolution, the concentration was below 280 ppm; in the past 800.000 years, the concentration was below 300 ppm during warm periods and around 185 ppm during ice ages.
Note: During the historical warm periods with carbon dioxide concentrations at current levels, a rise of average temperature of approximately 4 degrees Celsius was recorded.

Current UNEP report warnings

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) warns: if the international community of states continues with their current pathway, the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement will be failed for sure. An environmental disaster looms. „There is an urgent need for accelerated short-term action and enhanced longer-term national ambition“, states the Emissions Gap Report, presented by UN Environment in Geneva. Even if all climate protection commitments made so far are met, the earth´s temperature will increase by at least 3 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times, according to the report. According to the World Weather Organization (WMO), temperature has already increased by 1.2 degrees Celsius.

Further information about Austria's status quo in comparison

Status Quo in Austria compared

The Federal Environment Agency (= Umweltbundesamt) has published the current climate protection report 2017 for Austria. „ In 2015 Austria´s total greenhouse gas emissions amounted to 78.9 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2 equivalent). Emissions were thus 3.2% or 2.5 million tons above the 2014 level and 0.1% above 1990 level“, the summary reads. Not included in the balance are possible CO2 imports and exports.

 

Additional efforts needed by 2020?

In Austria, the Energy Efficiency Directive (RL 2012/27/EU) resulted in the Energy Efficiency Act (EEff-G; BGBl. I Nr. 72/2014), with the aim of improving energy efficiency by 20% by 2020.

The Energy Efficiency Act also aims to stabilize the total energy consumption at 1.050 petajoule by 2020.

The Federal Environment Agency (= Umweltbundesamt) concludes in the current climate protection report: “In 2015, Austria’s total energy consumption was at 1.087 petajoule (STATISTIK AUSTRIA 2016a). Provisional data estimate a value of 1.120 PJ for 2016. Current projections assume that the 2020 target can only be achieved when additional action will be implemented“

Significantly “steeper” reduction pathway will be required after 2020

The Federal Environment Agency also writes that the European Union is on track to meet its 2020 targets; However, after 2020, a much steeper reduction pathway will be needed to achieve the long-term reduction of 80-95% by 2050. In Austria, the drafting of the Energy Strategy 2030 is currently on hold as a result of the new elections, but this is likely to change soon with constitution of the new government. In any case, 2019 will once again be a great milestone due to the EEffG and the energy audits to be carried out by then.

The EU plans to reduce EU greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030 compared to the base year 1990. For this purpose, emissions outside the ETS sectors should be reduced by 30% (based on 2005). For EU CO2 emissions in the ETS sector, a reduction target of 43% by 2030 (compared to 2005) was agreed. The annual emissions cap in emissions trading is expected to decrease by 2.2% each year from 2021 onwards.

A glance to our German neighbors

On April 8, 2017, the German „Tagesschau“ reported: „The self-proclaimed pioneer of climate protection gets bad marks: According to a study, Germany has already spent its entire annual budget on CO2 emissions in the first three months. Also within the next years there is no improvement in sight. In the 1st quarter, Germany has already released the amount of carbon dioxide as calculated for the entire year 2017 in compliance with the Paris Climate Agreement. [...] The German government has actually committed itself to reduce CO2 emissions to 9 billion tons between 2010 and 2050 in order to reduce global warming to a manageable level of below 2 degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial level. However, the study also predicts for the next three years that this fictitious CO2 budget will already be running out in April of the respective year.”

Risk assessment of Munich Reinsurance

In its current Global Risk Landscape 2017, the Munich Reinsurance considers extreme weather events as the global risk most likely to occur and with the most negative impact. Natural disaster, man-made natural disasters, and a potential failure to mitigate climate change and find adaptation strategies can be found at a moderately high or high level in the risk assessment of likelihood and impact. The risk “loss of biodiversity and potential collapse of ecosystems” is still rated as moderately high in probability and high in impact. Thus, environmental risks are among the most important global risks in terms of likelihood and impact. Migration and water crisis could also arise due to climate change.

Further information about the costs of climate-related change

Costs of climate-related damage

The “Stern” study from 2006 rated global climate damage, without adaptation or mitigation measures, to 5-20% of the annual GDP (gross domestic product). Climate damage could be reduced to 1% of the annual GDP by implementing effective climate protection measures. This means, climate protection is worth making the effort! The IPPC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) estimated the potential loss of (global) income in 2014 at 0.2 to 2% with an additional warming of 2 degrees Celsius.

In Austria, already more than one billion Euros per year

The Federal Environment Agency (= Umweltbundesamt) estimates the costs due to weather and climate-related damage in Austria already at “about 1 billion Euros per year”. Note: For comparison, the current allocated budget for the army amounts to 1.9 billion Euros, for asylum policy 1.8 billion Euros. “The weather and climate-related damage will continue to increase, especially if significant reduction of emissions is failed.” The forecasts for a “medium climate change scenario” up to the middle of the century are on an average of 4.2-5.2 billion Euros per year (at today´s price level). In alternative climate scenarios, this value can increase to around 8.8 billion Euros per year”, i.e. we are talking about a four-fold to eight-fold increase in the annual budgetary impact.

What are the benefits of efficiency programs?

Other studies, such as the Bain & Company study from 2013, show that energy efficiency programs can save 10 to 30% of energy and increase profitability by up to 2%.

Management systems such as ISO 14001, EMAS and/or ISO 50001 significantly contribute to the targeted and systematic improvement of environmental performance and energy performance. Improvement of performance is further enhanced in the current Standards and their accompanying Guidelines. ISO 50001 aims at increasing energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well as reducing energy costs. This means that not only ISO 14001 but also the EMAS Regulation as well as ISO 50001 can be seen, inter alia, as climate protection Standards.

Competency development within the own organization plays a key role, as the lectures at the 4th qualityaustria Umwelt- und Energieforum (Environment and Energy Forum) in Vienna, on 28 September 2017, have showed. Promotion of internal know-how within a company has also led to energy management innovations reducing environment impact and saving a considerable amount of money.

The increase of carbon dioxide emissions and temperature characterize the environmental state in accordance with Clause 4.1 of ISO 14001:2015. Climate change affects everyone, however, with different possible extent. So how do organizations affect this environmental condition? What opportunities and risks arise? What actions will be derived and implemented?

There’s still a lot to be done, so let’s get started! We should use the power of Standards for active contribution to a sustainable design of the future and to create positive facts. Otherwise, we will have to pay a heavy price!

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