Solving the climate dilemma: The budget approach

This recent report, from an esteemed German research shop with the acronym WBGU, is, despite its dry title, an important milestone on our collective path to the Big Climate Reckoning. Though you should be warned that Mark Hertsgaard, in Grist, reviewed it under the title A scary new climate study will have you saying Oh, shit!

Rather than rehashing Hertzgaard’s nice introduction to this report and its principle author, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, let me simply add that, in essence, Solving the climate dilemma puts forward a version of the “carbon budget” analysis explored in another important paper, Greenhouse-gas emission targets for limiting global warming to 2C, published in April in Nature by Malte Meinshausen and friends. See our discussion of that paper here.

What’s important in this new study is that, in it, an influential group of top-tier scientists sets out to draw explicit political conclusions — about the shape of the necessary global climate accord — that are consistent with the implications of the budget approach, as they see them. More particularly, they set out to advocate a budget-sharing system that, they believe, is fair enough to serve as the basis of a global emergency mobilization. Continue reading “Solving the climate dilemma: The budget approach”

The Economics of Emergency (i.e., 350)

This utterly fantastic new report — The Economics of 350: The Benets and Costs of Climate Stabilization — is quite impossible to praise too highly.

The only criticism we have is that it is a mitigation-side only analysis that doesn’t take the costs of adaptation (insofar as adaptation is even possible) into account. Oh, and that it has little to say about the all-important questions that rotate around the costs that are here so nicely analyzed — e.g., who pays them, and how But this isn’t a real criticism, just a note about the tight focus of this report.

The two lead authors — Frank Ackerman and Elizabeth A. Stanton — are affiliated with the “E3” network, Economics for Equity and the Environment, and are among the best environmental economists in the business. Their co-authors are similarly illustrious, and their ambitions are high. An impressive team all around, and three of them wrote their own introduction to the report on Grist. Read it here.

The goal of the report is to turn an clear eye to the core economic problem of the climate crisis, and it does so in a manner that is both illuminating and incisive. Two 350 scenarios are discussed, one of which, James Hansen’s, seeks a return to 350 ppm CO2 by 2100, and requires “negative emissions” to pull off the feat. The other, the reference trajectory used by the Ackerman group, is less ambitious, and takes until 2200 to do the deed. Like so:


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UN calls for global Marshall Plan, cites GDRs prominantly in the process

The 2009 edition of the UN’s World Economic and Social Survey — it’s subtitle is “Promoting Development, Saving the Planet” — is an important document, for a number of reasons. For one thing, it fundamentally and comprehensively takes a development approach to solving the global climate crisis. In particular, according to its authors at DESA, the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, it:

sees little benefit in ad hoc incremental actions, spelling out instead the potential of a big investment push to deliver on both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping communities to cope with climate change, and calling for more truly integrated policy responses to development and climate challenges. It does not shy away from describing the enormity of the adjustments that will have to be undertaken by countries at all levels of development if progress is to be made; or from insisting that the advanced countries will have to deliver resources and leadership on a much larger scale than has been the case to date.

Continue reading “UN calls for global Marshall Plan, cites GDRs prominantly in the process”