Sun May 15th, 2016 at 11:15:58 AM EST
On May 2, 2016, Nicholas Stern of the London School of Economics spoke at Harvard:
The Logic, Urgency and Promise of Tackling Climate Change
Monday, May 2
Harvard, CGIS-S020, Belfer Case Study Room, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge
The Energy History Project hosts Nicholas Stern, London School of Economics, who will discuss "The Logic, Urgency and Promise of Tackling Climate Change."
These are some of the numbers for the greenhouse gas context he laid out:
We are at 450 CO2 equivalent [CO2e] now [400 ppm CO2 and another 50ppm equivalent in warming potential in other greenhouse gases like methane]
The rate of increase is increasing. It was
.5 ppm per year from 1930-1950
1 ppm per year from 1950-1970
2 ppm per year from 1970-1990
and is 2.5 ppm per year increase now.
We are at the edge of the temperature range in our present geologic era, the Holocene, with about 1º C of heat cooked into the atmosphere from our industrial greenhouse gas emissions already. The 2015 Paris agreement is designed to keep the globe below 2º C, and 1.5 º if possible. Paris anticipates and tries to avert a looming catastrophe.
Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger
The joint USA/China announcement in 2014 was transformative. The two countries agreed to peak emissions before 2030 (China) and reduce emissions by as much as 28% of 2005 levels by 2025 (USA) [recent reports show USA has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 12% from 2005 to 2015]. China already peaked for coal in 2014 and their carbon emissions may peak by 2025. India, partly because of the air quality of its largest cities, is following a similar pattern and now debating whether all cars should be electric by 2030. In addition, data indicates that the USA, EU, and China will reach the targets they proposed in Cancun in 2010. Greenhouse gas emissions are going down.
It is also becoming clear that a low carbon transition is more about benefits than sacrifices, that there is no trade-off between development and climate but that both can gain. Growth is now sustainable growth. [ Sustainable growth is explicitly climate resilient growth, at least at city scale, and will soon be climate remediation and restorative growth, including carbon sequestration. ]
The Paris agreement commits the world to 55-60 Gt CO2e of emissions per year in 2030. Business as usual is 65-68 Gt CO2e. 40 Gt or lower is actually what is needed to keep below 2º C. We need to go to net zero carbon emissions to stabilize temperature and that means 80% of proven fossil fuel reserves could be unusable. "This is not an environmentalist plot... but just physics."
Stern expects that energy efficiency will be half of what we need to meet the atmospheric carbon emissions goals of 2030. [I believe that is an underestimation, especially if we start thinking in terms of energy systems and end-use efficiency or exergy.]
He identified but didn't elaborate on 6 market failures: greenhouse gases, research development & deployment, imperfections in risk/capital markets, networks and infrastructure, information and consumers, co-benefits -- valuation of benefits.
Nicholas Stern suggests we abolish subsidies [International Energy Agency estimated fossil fuel subsidies at $115 per ton carbon http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/8/16/1412568/-The-Current-Cost-of-Carbon ], regulate carbon, develop clean city designs, rehabilitate land, and follow clear and predictable policies. We need to learn how to foster rapid change. The Cancun proposals of "equitable access to sustainable development" and that we "Leave no one behind" should be guidelines.
Stern emphasized that we need to remember that climate change is a water story -- storms, floods, droughts [and atmospheric energy].
Later that week, he was at MIT:
The Economics of Climate Change: 10 Years on from the Stern Review
Saturday, May 7
MIT, Building E52-164, 50 Memorial Drive, Cambridge
Speaker: Nick Stern (London School of Economics)
Open to: the general public
Sponsor(s): Economics Special Events
Nicholas Stern is associated with the New Climate Economy: The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate
Better Growth, Better Climate was their 2014 report
Seizing the Global Opportunity is their 2015 report