Climate and economics: Paris
All the talk in the Paris Climate summit is likely to focus on energy and new infrastructure costs. What is mostly ignored is the need for some actionable models of institutional change and people’s understanding. Is there any serious economic presence in Paris?
The institutions are obvious: to have a green future, even a zero emissions future, would require more than an institutional makeover, The US preparation for WW2 and the embolization with a commander in chief is on the right scale of what it would take, but this time on a world scale: The Normandy invasion, the atom bomb, the b52 (McNamara managed it with new computers and a million parts) and the mobilization of women into the factories, the shifting of factories from cars to planes in sixty days. But oit many are talking about this need for new institutions and to protect the livable incomes of workers in transitions. Zero emissions would probably require relocating workers first and whole populations out of the most threatened climate niches.
But even more serious, shifting to green and much lower energy consumption probably means less consumption of almost everything and a consequent loss of jobs and employment. I believe the major resistance by most people to taking climate change seriously is that it would require that almost every job needs to be redesigned , with some new jobs gained and many old ones lost. The result is that people fear climate change initiatives as a threat to their own position in life, and the cannon imagine what it could change to.
Good economics should be giving guidance on how the changes need to happen in the least destructive and hopefully even most creative ways enhancing human life. As of now the advice to business is “Use this as an opportunity to automate, get rid of weakest or most expensive workers, and look for federal guarantees.” Can we do better?Climate and Economics for Paris