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Our Earth – Climate Change: Building Resilience

February 27, 2012

Our Earth

Our Earth – Climate Change: Building Resilience

UNFCCC secretariat aims to help communities and businesses become climate-resilient with help of new online tool

(Bonn/Davos, 26 January 2012) – The secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has launched a new online tool that showcases how businesses and communities can adapt to the inevitable effects of climate change. The new Adaptation Private Sector Initiative database on the web site features climate change adaptation activities pioneered by leading private companies.

Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Levi’s, Nestle and Starbucks are among a slew of large multinational companies who are sharing details of successful, business-friendly practices via the database, alongside a host of other household names. The database contains details of activities both on how companies can make profits or savings, or prevent losses through adaptation-related activities.

“By showcasing private sector adaptation success stories, we intend to help both communities and businesses become more climate-resilient and to put the benefits and business sense of adaptation firmly on the agenda of the private sector. Climate risks which affect communities around the world are always also business risks,” UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, speaking from the World Economic Forum in Davos.

In 2011, ninety percent of the recorded natural catastrophes were weather-related. According to the UN’s top climate change official, climate disasters such as extensive drought in Africa or massive floods in South East Asia can have enormous impacts on the operation of any local or global business and consequently on its revenue stream, and both businesses and governments at all levels need to prepare.

There are currently around 100 examples of adaptation actions listed in the UNFCCC Private Sector Initiative database, which are both practical and in many cases scalable. The activities are undertaken either alone or in partnership with other stakeholders, from a wide range of regions and sectors, and also cover activities such as the development of climate friendly goods and services and climate proofing the supply chains of companies. Examples of best practices include efforts to make drinking water clean and safe in developing countries and efforts to improve the yield of coffee beans in regions that are particularly vulnerable to climate change (see below for detailed examples).

“Governments can take heart from and be inspired by these private-sector initiatives. We have seen good decisions on adaptation emerging from the recent UN Climate Change Conference in Durban last year, including a decision to launch an Adaptation Framework and a Committee which will provide high-level guidance on adaptation action, as well as a new Technology Mechanism, which will boost cooperation on adaptation technologies,” the UN’s top climate official Ms. Figueres said.

“At the same time, the initiatives detailed in the database both show how the private sector can secure early advantages by adapting without waiting for absolute policy certainty at the international level, and how governments and the private sector can work together to respond to climate change now. Public-private partnerships and cooperation with a wide range of stakeholders is becoming increasingly important to ensure successful implementation,” she added.

In addition to the new database, the UNFCCC secretariat’s Momentum for Change Initiative provides a platform to showcase successful public-private partnership at all levels that have led to real benefits for both people and the climate.

See: <http://unfccc.int/secretariat/momentum_for_change/items/6214.php>
Link to the Adaptation Private Sector Initiative database: <http://unfccc.int/6547>
For further enquiries, please contact: NWP@unfccc.int

In a nutshell: Key examples from the Adaptation Private Sector Initiative database

*Microsoft’s Eye on Earth technology delivers real-time environmental information that can be used to monitor benchmark and understand the effectiveness of adaptation actions;

*Coca-Cola is working to achieve its goal of returning at least as much water to communities and to nature as is used in its production processes, through water efficiency and other measures;

*URS Corporation, a global engineering and construction company, has undertaken a climate change vulnerability assessment with recommendations for adapting highways in the UK;

*Fonkoze, Haiti’s largest microfinance services company, has launched the Microinsurance Catastrophic Risk Organization (MiCRO) to protect the world’s poor from natural disaster risk.

Other featured case studies from the database in detail:

Example 1) Company: Siemens, with the SkyJuice Foundation

Adaptation objective: Making increasingly scarce drinking water out of unclean water through best available technology

Quick look: SkyHydrant purifies unclean water by pumping it through a membrane of ultra-fine fibres. It can produce up to 20,000 litres per day of exceptionally pure drinking water that surpasses World Health Organization (WHO) quality specifications. The SkyHydrant system does not require electric power or purification chemicals, operates on an annual cost of less than 20 euro cents per person, and can be easily scaled up to meet growing capacity demand.

Business sense: Siemens worked with the Singapore Government to supply much-needed fresh drinking water in a country that imports half its water requirements from its neighbour Malaysia. Siemens runs a wastewater purification system that filters water to required WHO and USEPA standards. By 2012, it will meet 20% of the island nation’s water requirements.

Vulnerable communities: To date, the SkyJuice Foundation has installed around 450 water purification units throughout Sri Lanka, Indonesia, East Timor, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand, Oman, Kenya, South and Central America and India. The systems are installed in schools, hospitals, clinics, internally displaced persons camps and villages. Thousands of people now have access to continuous, safe drinking water.

Potential: Concerned about water resources, a number of delegations from other Asian countries have also expressed interest in this technology. SkyHydrant can be used in responding to urgent freshwater needs in climate disaster response.

Example 2) Company: Entergy Corporation

Adaptation objective: To increase resilience to climate change and reduce potential losses

Quick look: After suffering $2 billion in losses from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Entergy considers itself the prime example of the potential negative physical effects of climate change. While Entergy points out that the 2005 hurricanes cannot be clearly linked to climate change, the New Orleans-based energy company believes the storms can be viewed as a sign of things to come if greenhouse gas emissions are not brought under control. Facing significant infrastructure damages and forced relocations of several offices located in New Orleans, the hurricanes prompted CEO Wayne Leonard and other senior managers to begin preparing for potential future climate impacts and adapting to observed changes in climate.

Business sense: Entergy put together a business continuity group specifically to look at broader implications of climate in the context of other serious business threats. A three phase project will identify and address potential threats from likely changes in a number of key climatic and related physical effects over the near, medium, and long term.

Vulnerable communities: Another issue Entergy has to contend with is that, as a regulated utility, its investment decisions to build resilience must be cost effective, in order to keep the price of electricity reasonable in vulnerable regions.

Potential: The strategy undertaken by Entergy to assess and address potential climate threats have great potential to be replicated in other parts of the world that are also vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change.

Example 3) Company: Levi Strauss & Co

Adaptation objective: To reduce water consumption in the jeans product finishing process

Quick look: In 2011, the Levi’s® brand launched the new Water-Less collection, which reduces the water used in the product finishing process from an average of 42 litres per pair of jeans to as little as 1.5 litres for some products. Since the Water-Less collection was introduced, Levi Strauss & Co. has saved 156 million litres of water around the world.

Business sense: The Water-Less processes have produced both water and energy savings for the company and its laundry suppliers. The average pair of jeans undergoes 3-10 washing cycles – adding up to approximately 60 litres of water per unit. Levi’s® Water-Less jeans have reduced the water consumption in the finishing process by making simple changes to the process, including:

• Reducing the number of washing machine cycles by combining multiple wet cycle processes into a single wet process
• Incorporating ozone processing into the garment washing
• Removing the water from the stone wash

Vulnerable communities: In many areas of the world, water scarcity is already a problem and is likely to be exacerbated by climate change. From cotton farming to fabric production and product finishing, Levi Strauss & Co. relies on an abundance of water to make its products.

Example 4) Company: Nestlé

Adaptation objective: To improve quality and yield of cocoa beans and coffee beans in supplying regions that is vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change.

Quick look: The NESCAFÉ Plan provides training to farmers on better farming practices to improve both quality and yield; conserve water, optimise fertiliser use and increase soil fertility.

The Cocoa Plan provides farmer training and assistance on more efficient, sustainable farming methods, such as the effective pruning of trees, fermentation and drying of beans. It also provides plant expertise – improving the quantity and quality of yields by providing 12 million stronger, more productive plantlets over the next 10 years.

Business sense: Over the next ten years Nestlé will invest CHF 110 million in the Cocoa Plan and CHF 350 million in the NESCAFÉ Plan. This will provide Nestlé with a reliable supply of high-quality raw materials; and bring sustained growth for the local economy.

Vulnerable communities: The farmer programmes help farmers to improve the quality of their yields and to diversify their activities, giving them higher incomes and improving their living standards;

Potential: Climate stress can create serious negative impacts in quality and yield of agricultural commodities and securing supply becomes a high priority for companies such as Nestlé. Initiatives like this one have great potential to be replicated by other companies.

Example 5) Company: PepsiCo India

Adaptation objective: To reduce water consumption in the cultivation process of rice and citrus in India

Quick look: India grows approximately 130 million tons of rice across roughly 108 million acres, making it one of the largest rice producers in the world. An agriculture process called direct seeding of rice helps growers avoid three water-intensive steps: puddling, transplanting and standing water. PepsiCo developed a direct seeding machine for its farmers and applied it to approximately 10,000 acres, saving more than 7 billion litres of water and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in 70%.

Business sense: PepsiCo has grown to become the India’s largest selling food and beverage company. The company and PAGREXCO (Punjab Agri Export Corporation) partnered in 2002 to promote crop diversification and to help farmers to adapt in a water-constrained climate. PepsiCo introduced less water intensive citrus plantations for farmers as an alternative to paddy, and set up two fruit processing plants in the region. This successful model of public-private partnerships in Indian agri-business, promotes crop diversification and creates a localized supply base for citrus juice for PepsiCo’s Tropicana business.

Vulnerable communities: The PepsiCo Foundation has also partnered with Water.org to develop WaterCredit, a market-driven model that will provide micro loans to families throughout India. This expansion will help enable approximately 800,000 people to access safe water by March 2016.

Potential: The public-private partnership setup between PepsiCo and the Indian government has great potential to flourish in other climate vulnerable regions of the world yielding returns to the communities where the activities take place.

Context and Background

The evidence
Around the globe, seasons are shifting, temperatures are climbing, sea levels are rising and natural disasters are becoming more frequent. The climate is changing and impacts on human life can be seen across continents, particularly in vulnerable regions.

The impacts
Scientists from around the world with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) tell us that in Africa, by 2020, between 75 and 250 million people are projected to be exposed to increased water stress. Projections for the continent also indicate that yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50 percent in some regions, while access to food may be severely compromised. The Asian continent is experiencing an unprecedented increase in natural disasters affecting millions of human lives. The impacts of climate change will not only be felt in the developing world. Europe is expected to experience increased flooding, more frequent heat waves, reduced snow cover and lower crop yields, among other impacts. North America is likely to experience similar consequences.

Mitigation on a par with adaptation
Despite increased efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, scientists affirm that at the current pace of action the planet will unavoidably need to adapt to new conditions never experienced by humanity. In the UNFCCC process, governments confirmed during the Durban negotiations last year that adaptation must be addressed with the same level of priority as mitigation. In other words, dedicating resources to adapt to the adverse and inevitable impacts of climate change, and reducing the emissions of gases that are causing climate change, are equally important.

About the UNFCCC
With 195 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol has been ratified by 193 of the UNFCCC Parties. Under the Protocol, 37 States, consisting of highly industrialized countries and countries undergoing the process of transition to a market economy, have legally binding emission limitation and reduction commitments. The ultimate objective of both treaties is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.

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