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Nicholas Stern on The New Climate Economy

by gmoke 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
4:15 pm
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
2:00p-3:15p
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
http://newclimateeconomy.net

Better Growth, Better Climate was their 2014 report
http://2014.newclimateeconomy.report

Seizing the Global Opportunity is their 2015 report
http://2015.newclimateeconomy.report

Poll
New climate economy?
. yes 100%
. no 0%
. not yes 0%
. not no 0%
. neither yes nor no 0%
. both yes and no 0%
. don't understand the question? 0%
. none of the above 0%

Votes: 1
Results | Other Polls
Display:
I look at the current trends and fear that we need to do much more to save anything like the current ecosphere. We need to be at net zero carbon globally by 2050 and continue the trend that will have developed if we seriously try to do this. That trend will then be the rate of net carbon sequestration, because we need as quickly as possible to get back to levels of atmospheric carbon equivalent that were present in 1900. It may be that that is the scale of effort required to prevent ongoing damage that could take millennia to repair.

If we lose even half of the continental ice in Greenland and West Antarctica it will likely take several thousand years to return the earth to a 1900 level of atmospheric carbon. And it might be that we will be unable to stop the ongoing melting in Greenland and West Antarctica short of total collapse. That would mean the loss of all coastal cities in the world. In the latest papers I have seen in Science News and elsewhere many of the leading climate scientists acknowledge that there are uncertainties in the validity of existing worst case estimates. Some have expressed concerns that the ongoing melting in West Antarctica may be impossible to stop. I expect similar conclusions about much of the Greenland ice sheet soon.  

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere." (But it helps!)

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat May 14th, 2016 at 09:23:03 PM EST
Geotherapy: Innovative Methods of Soil Fertility Restoration, Carbon Sequestration, and Reversing CO2 Increase
Thomas J. Goreau, Ronal W. Larson, Joanna Campe
ISBN 9781466595392

https://www.crcpress.com/Geotherapy-Innovative-Methods-of-Soil-Fertility-Restoration-Carbon-Sequestr ation/Goreau-Larson-Campe/p/book/9781466595392

This book describes a variety of soil treatments which can accelerate the removal of carbon from the atmosphere so that atmospheric carbon levels can reach 270 ppm in a few decades rather than centuries.  This is a scientific text with real data from real scientists.

In my years of following the discussions of climate change at Harvard, MIT, and other places around Cambridge, MA, I very, very rarely hear anyone mention this side of the equation.  It is almost always about emissions and energy sources.  The natural carbon sinks which we can amplify and enlarge almost never come up in those venues.  These days, I bring it up myself and, sometimes, get dirty looks because of it.

Here are my notes from a talk by the former CEO of BP at Harvard in March:
http://hubeventsnotes.blogspot.com/2016/03/former-ceo-of-bp-at-harvard.html

Solar IS Civil Defense

by gmoke on Mon May 16th, 2016 at 03:30:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I made a back of the envelope calculation a few months ago when I had some basic figures on the number of tons of carbon in typical rangeland vs. what was there before settlement by white men. I also had the values for the amount of additional carbon in the atmosphere since 1900, possibly from the article you reference. Using rough estimates of the number of square miles of marginal range land available in the western edge of the great plains, in Arizona and Nevada and Montana, plus the square miles available in Central Asian grassland and the area south of the Maghreb, if these areas were returned to something close to what they were 175 years ago they would sequester perhaps 20% of the carbon we need to remove from the atmosphere, IIRCC. If we could get another 20% from improved farming practices and 10% from reforestation that would have dealt with about half of the problem and could be accomplished within the remainder of this century.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere." (But it helps!)
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue May 17th, 2016 at 09:00:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think there is a tag unclosed in Frank's frontpage note.
by fjallstrom on Sun May 15th, 2016 at 06:03:57 PM EST
Indeed there was.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon May 16th, 2016 at 05:15:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately we live in a world run by people who think physics is negotiable, that we can do a deal with the laws of nature. So buckle up.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon May 16th, 2016 at 05:18:23 AM EST
Or they do not believe harshness of physics even if it is about to hit the planet ruthlessly. It will be the fault of liberals not believing in God and free markets!
by das monde on Mon May 16th, 2016 at 05:39:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or ... they know they have unlimited resources to utilize regardless of the catastrophe and it's the 99.99 % who will suffer.

ALL grovel before the GREATNESS of EMPEROR TRUMP! 😝
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri May 27th, 2016 at 11:40:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I had a chance to ask former CEO of BP, John Browne, about how much has to be left in the ground.  He seemed to believe that if we left the coal in the ground that would take care of the problem.  But then, he's an oil and gas man.

The 1% may believe that they have the resources to the weather the Long Storms of climate change but I suspect they are stupidly overconfident and arrogant to a fault.

Solar IS Civil Defense

by gmoke on Fri May 27th, 2016 at 03:19:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"The 1% may believe that they have the resources to the weather the Long Storms of climate change but I suspect they are stupidly overconfident and arrogant to a fault."

Part of the job description.

ALL grovel before the GREATNESS of EMPEROR TRUMP! 😝

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri May 27th, 2016 at 04:37:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Had an oil and gas man ever opined that 40% of reserves would have to be left in the ground to save the climate he would NEVER have become CEO. He would probably be lucky to keep whatever job he had.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere." (But it helps!)
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri May 27th, 2016 at 05:56:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
John Browne was forced out of BP before the Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico uncontrolled gusher.  He hasn't been a CEO for years.  At this point, he could say whatever he wants to but I guess he doesn't want to confront the possibility of stranded assents of in gas and oil.

Solar IS Civil Defense
by gmoke on Sat May 28th, 2016 at 04:47:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If Emperor Trump starts fucking with our water policy, that will be real fun !!  😡

ALL grovel before the GREATNESS of EMPEROR TRUMP! 😝
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sat May 28th, 2016 at 08:18:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... it probably would, because while the oil reserves are mindblowingly huge, most of that oil will price itself out of the market compared to electric transport soon enough. That just leaves gas, and I don't think there is enough cheap gas to matter either.
by Thomas on Sun Jun 12th, 2016 at 06:38:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Australia to Lay Off Leading Scientist on Sea Levels
A pre-eminent scientist in the field of rising global sea levels has been given notice of his dismissal as part of deep cuts at Australia's national science agency that will reduce the country's role in global climate research.

The scientist, John Church, confirmed Tuesday that he was one of 275 scientists that the agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, or Csiro, said would be laid off.

by das monde on Wed May 18th, 2016 at 10:13:31 AM EST
How easy is it not to notice that these are the comments of an economist on the political advisories from the UN ( the IPCC is a UN bureaucracy ) to governments based on the premise that carbon dioxide levels are linked to climate change - even though it is and remains a trace gas essential for plant growth, which has proliferated during the increase. This is in line with greenhouse practice of adding it to their air to increase plant growth. It is easy to find motormouths decrying the scientific illiteracy of people who question the Holy Writ of Climate Science - but few who notice science is in fact based on questioning assumptions.  The question of sequestration is one of policies granting the UN overriding land use authority now exercised by native tribes, farmers, and governments. The result is that energy policy has a new tool to override opposition....supplementing the silencing of alternative views such as those of broadcasters of meteorological reports whose derision was palpable. Another tactic is to use Web of Trust a tool of censorship by red flagging non PC sites as untrustworthy rather than what would be proper caution as malware infested. This would include anything from vaccination resistance ( concerned about the explosion of immunization of children in what is an unprecedented assault on undeveloped immune systems ) to those monitoring atmospheric spraying ( something done as far back as the 1950's when silver iodide was used as hail suppressant )...  or the unaccountable harassment of people not born in Germany or alive during the events in question when they dare to think that Holocaust Denial may be a whitewash program hiding Allied genocide in postwar Germany and surrounding countries. Mother Jones had an interesting article on the math wars disguising civilian deaths in Iraq after the 2003 invasion which would lead one to think holocaust denial is in fact government policy...just not necessarily involving deaths of Jews.
Which brings us to the stalking horse trying to tax the world to the tune of trillions annually by the honoured practice of Chicken Little "The Sky is Falling"...or in this case "The Sky is on Fire and We is Gonna Fry". Proof of future conditions being impossible, vilification and Strawman Argumentation / Poisoning the Well Argumentation is in full hue and cry. Some articles to consider, realizing this call of alarm has been the bane of both the first two directors of the Climate Research Unit in East Anglia ( which is how they are labeled 'Deniers' although scientific investigation should not be based on a premise, but open to interpreting available facts. ) Professor Judith Curry has interesting views on this situation, as do JoNova, Denis Rancourt and Australian Climate Skeptics.
http://oldephartte.blogspot.com/p/oz-to-loose-ministry-of-truth-on-posted.html
BTW When did climate become stable ? I missed the advisory.

Opit's LinkFest! Samples from the Online Menu
by opit (opit@operamail.com) on Sun May 22nd, 2016 at 02:22:46 AM EST
opit:
the premise that carbon dioxide levels are linked to climate change
A majority of climate scientists agreeing about the significant role of human activity in climate change is not exactly a "premise". That's your opinion.

opit:

It is easy to find motormouths decrying the scientific illiteracy of people who question the Holy Writ of Climate Science - but few who notice science is in fact based on questioning assumptions.
Nothing wrong with questioning assumptions, of course, particularly with science. Then again, if we're talking about science, why use the expression "Holy Writ"?

opit:

policies granting the UN overriding land use authority now exercised by native tribes, farmers, and governments.
[citation needed] Could you substantiate that claim with specific facts and references?

Also: "atmospheric spraying", "Allied genocide in postwar Germany and surrounding countries" and the likes...

opit:

alternative views such as those of broadcasters of meteorological reports whose derision was palpable.
TV weather anchors being more authoritative sources than climate scientists, because?
by Bernard on Sun May 22nd, 2016 at 10:23:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The American Meteorological Society on climate change:
https:/www.ametsoc.org/ams/index.cfm/about-ams/ams-statements/statements-of-the-ams-in-force/climat e-change

Survey of AMS members on climate change:
http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/BAMS-D-13-00091.1

The summary is that, officially, the AMS thinks climate change is happening, CO2 is a prime cause, and most of their members agree.

Solar IS Civil Defense

by gmoke on Sun May 22nd, 2016 at 03:48:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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