<a href="http://www.gmagazine.com.au/blogs/leon#">The Business of Green</a>

The Business of Green

Money matters in the green world, by Leon Gettler.

Get ready for extreme weather

Credit: www.sxc.hu/pinkfloyd

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Brace yourself for some freaky weather. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - which is due out in February but has been released in summary form - makes alarming reading.

“It is virtually certain that increases in the frequency and magnitude of warm daily temperature extremes and decreases in cold extremes will occur in the 21st century on the global scale. It is very likely that the length, frequency and/or intensity of warm spells, or heat waves, will increase over most land areas,’’ the report says. “It is likely that the frequency of heavy precipitation or the proportion of total rainfall from heavy falls will increase in the 21st century over many areas of the globe. This is particularly the case in the high latitudes and tropical regions, and in winter in the northern mid-latitudes. Heavy rainfalls associated with tropical cyclones are likely to increase with continued warming.”

And it warns of big economic losses from a warming planet. “Extreme events will have greater impacts on sectors with closer links to climate, such as water, agriculture and food security, forestry, health, and tourism,’’ it says. “Climate-related extremes are also expected to produce large impacts on infrastructure.” The report also canvasses the massive insurance losses that have occurred with the increased floods, hurricanes and cyclones.

Predictably, the climate change deniers are fighting back and have released emails showing climate scientists in a negative light. The emails themselves aren’t anything new. They were pulled from the same set of pirated files from two years ago. But what it does show us however is that the battle continues.

But are these emails that important. As Mindy Lubber writes in Forbes, these emails are a sideshow and should be ignored because this report shows conclusively that climate change is real and it is starting to affect business.

For example, production of a critical component of computer hard drives has now been severely affected by the recent severe flooding in Bangkok, Thailand, causing the price of the hard drives around the world to triple. The impact of climate change will be felt in many industries. Think for example about the impact of Queensland’s floods on the Australian economy. This year has been an unprecedented one for natural disasters. By the end of June, economic losses totaled $265 billion, according to German reinsurer Munich Re.

This is an important backdrop in the lead up to the climate change conference for some 200 nations in Durban South Africa. We have tried before to reach some agreement at Copenhagen in 2009 and at Cancun in 2010 and we failed. The big question is what do we do to do with the soon-to-expire Kyoto Protocol, the legally-binding pact between nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to at least five percent below 1990 levels and which established mechanisms allowing rich countries to offset their own pollution by investing in cleaner technology in poor nations.

The US, which signed but never ratified the Kyoto Protocol, still insists that its economic rival China and other emerging economies need to make binding commitments to lower greenhouse gasses blamed for global warming. And China still insists that developing countries should retain the exemptions granted in the 1997 Kyoto agreement. It says the US should get on board with binding pledges.

Global climate-change policy is at a crossroads in Durban. One path leads to an extension of the existing Kyoto treaty. But what’s more likely to come out of it is a broader mandate that all countries, rich and poor, enter into a new round of talks about legal commitments. That means more conventions and more battles. In the meantime, the world’s weather patterns will continue to deteriorate, making it even more difficult for economies and businesses to recover.