Tackling global warming will not ruin our way of life

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    Martin W

      I’ve seen way, way too much bleating and babbling from folk who seem to hate even mention of global warming, claiming moves to reduce it will harm economies, even threaten the American Way of Life (whatever that might be!).

      But seems that while costs may be high in dollar terms, not massive as percentages of GDP, say; and will bring various other benefits – I’m writing in Hong Kong, where currently there’s blanket of smog that has lasted for days: if warming measures help reduce this, say, will be great.

      Here’s guff from commentary in Nature, by Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development:

      a closer look at this daunting challenge of climate change gives several important reasons to believe that a global agreement and implementation plan are much closer than they initially seem. First, perhaps two-thirds or more of the fossil-fuel-based emissions of carbon dioxide — the main greenhouse gas — depend on a small number of industries. Electricity generation and automobiles account for roughly half of the total emissions. Other high-emission industries include steel, petrochemicals, refineries and cement. A large proportion of non-fossil-fuel-based carbon emissions arise from tropical deforestation.

      The highly concentrated nature of carbon emission sources suggests that the preponderance of abatement efforts could be addressed using a focused strategy

      By focusing on selected high-impact sectors, the number of relevant decision makers can be reduced by several orders of magnitude. Rather than facing billions of individual decision points, the control efforts are focused on a few thousand power plants, a dozen or so global automobile manufacturers, and a few thousand large industrial units.

      Smart incentives can be tailored to each sector, using a combination of industrial codes and standards, tradable permits, carbon taxes and other regulatory tools. Emissions limits can be phased in to achieve predictability while avoiding costly shocks to global economies. Public policies can be set to ensure that the incentives across key sectors are at least roughly comparable, so as to equate the marginal abatement costs across transport, industry and buildings, and across countries.

      There is another crucial reason why success may prove to be easier than is now feared. With enough lead-time and policy consistency, the annual global costs of emissions abatement are likely to be relatively modest, on the order of 1% of the world’s income, or perhaps less.

      Averting disaster: at what cost?

      Martin W

        Time has article on Presidential Climate Action Plan (PCAP), an ambitious to-do list on global warming for the next Administration.

        A recent report by McKinsey found that the U.S. could achieve vast cuts in greenhouse gas emissions at a cost to the economy of less than $50 a ton — lower, if we take advantage of the reduced costs energy efficiency would bring.

        The Global Warming Playbook

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