2099. Climate. No action possible. Drift.

A look at proposals around climate.

I assume you all saw at least a notice of this.

Climate crisis 11, ooo scientists wrong.


Strong language but most of it is describing – yet again – the problem. Very little on solutions. For example, here is the proposal on energ from the .World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency

All quotes are indented.


The world must quickly implement massive energy efficiency and conservation practices and must replace fossil fuels with low-carbon renewables (figure 1h) and other cleaner sources of energy if safe for people and the environment (figure S2). We should leave remaining stocks of fossil fuels in the ground (see the timelines in IPCC 2018) and should carefully pursue effective negative emissions using technology such as carbon extraction from the source and capture from the air and especially by enhancing natural systems (see “Nature” section). Wealthier countries need to support poorer nations in transitioning away from fossil fuels. We must swiftly eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels (figure 1o) and use effective and fair policies for steadily escalating carbon prices to restrain their use.

Note: that it recommends policies but not actions (actual descriptions of what to do. Leaving fossil fuels in the ground won’t happen without restrictions on the oil companies. Replace fossil fuels with low carbon renewables. This cant be just a policy. It requires specific proposals on how the end user can switch. But more it would require some analysis of what has to stop and who is affected and what they are likely to do.

Food for example. If no fossil fuels for transportation

See  the map for fhe US.


Lets look at Oakes and Stern, closer to economics,


What’s the Price of Ignoring Climate Change?

World leaders are underestimating one of the most destabilizing effects of climate change: the price tag.

In a worst-case scenario, climate impacts could set off a feedback loop in which climate change leads to economic losses, which lead to social and political disruption, which undermines both democracy and our capacity to prevent further climate damage.

They make clear that centralized actions are necessary.

In this regard, it seems that some authoritarian governments, such as China, are better positioned to take the radical actions necessary for survival. How could we force other governments to immediately enact long-term decisions for the benefit of all?

scientists have understated how serious this issue is and how costly our inaction is already becoming,

They propose

motivating people to support and elect leaders who are committed to meaningful action.

But no one seems to have a plan of what significant action to cut fossil fuel use would be A politician cannot propose meaningful action when no one knows that that is. They write

by delaying a reasonable and orderly transition from the fossil fuel economy into one that is not carbon-based

Is it possible that there is “a reasonable and orderluy transition”? I doubt it.

Stern then writes:

 I think the aggregate economic models around climate issues have had fundamental defects —  namely, underestimating the risks of inaction and overestimating the cost of action. We have to embark on very different models of production and consumption, which cannot be characterized as minor deviations from economic paths that we are following.

Sounds severe but “overestimating the costs of action”? If we cut fossil fuel use the impact on the economy, I think, is beyond modelling – too many emergent properties, too much chaos and complexity. Lets look at another.

Achamoglu Are the climate kids right? published in Project Syndicate.

it seems increasingly unlikely that we will be able to reduce GHG emissions sufficiently to halt and then reverse global warming.

Wow, But he stays calm.

But social transformation also requires new laws, norms, and incentives. Without meaningful legislation, businesses and individuals will not change their ways

But note, no sugestion on how to achieve this.

Legislation and norms therefore must work in tandem to establish new long-lasting incentives.


Give us a narrative on how this could happen.

the current wave of activism will have to be translated into an organized political movement to rival the power of the fossil-fuel industry, perhaps by merging with or taking over existing Green parties.

“will have to be”, but how?

the current youth movement’s biggest weakness is that it lacks a coherent agenda for decarbonizing economic production.

But no one has a coherent agenda.

But the market could be a powerful weapon for fighting climate change. In fact, there is no reason to think that economic growth must be a casualty of climate action.

All assertion. “No reason to think”? But cutting fossil fuel use immediately impacts the ability of the economy to function. “Growth” is the key element in discussions, economists tend to brush it aside.

a tax would serve the dual function of encouraging normative change. As such, carbon taxes should be supplemented with well-designed “green subsidies” to firms and researchers developing wind, solar, and geothermal technologies, and to those working on new ways to limit emissions from existing technologies.

Most carbon tax proposals recognize the impact on the poor and then provides susidies. What will the poor do with the subsidies? Pay more for the same amount of fuel.

To see what state support without a robust market mechanism looks like, consider the disastrous experience of the Soviet Union throughout the 1970s and 1980s.

This is a favorite but the failure of the soviet union was not a failure of socialism but of czarist authoritarian byzantine orthodox Christian culture.

Our task is to find better, more creative, and less resource-intensive ways to meet the diverse needs of more than seven billion people. Once the transition to a cleaner economy is accomplished, growth can continue without adding to our climate footprint.

He wants to support growth . I leave that to another discussion. The task as stated is out of reach. He is implying we can shift the mode of production and consumption for 7 billion, quickly. “Once”? Wow. OK we can go back to normalcy.

But, more to the point, we need economic growth itself to continue – and not only to maintain political support for a green policy

He is saying that realistic cutting won’t get political support. Agree. But that means we are stuck and can’t do what is necessary.

a realistic promise of shared growth will be far more compelling than calls for a halt to economic progress. Now, we need to turn their enthusiasm into an institutionalized political force, and develop a blueprint for a potent, well-designed, and productive economic agenda. Markets need not stand in our way. On the contrary, they could be a powerful ally.

This concluding paragraph is just froth. Dishonest? Stupid? Meme dominated? Lets look at another, one I tend, usually, to trust.

Martin Wolf

https://www.ft.com/content/27c9a6e8-ffb7-11e9-b7bc-f3fa4e77dd47There is one way forward on climate change – To succeed in tackling the emergency, we need dramatic policies that are effective, legitimate and global

Despite decades of talk, emissions of greenhouse gases and global temperatures continue to rise.

As the IMF notes in its latest Fiscal Monitor, meeting the latter goal requires reducing emissions of greenhouse gases by a third below the baseline, by 2030. To keep below a 1.5C increase, emissions need to be half of the baseline…almost too late to avoid what experts view as destructive and irreversible changes in climate. For that reason, dramatic policies are needed.

Problem, conclusion,  both well stated, then..

Yet they are feasible, argues the Energy Transitions Commission, if they are firmly implemented over the next three decades.

The word” firmly” sounds like a Mussolini approach. We have no current politics (except maybe China) that could do this.

Thus, many supporters of the Green New Deal view climate as a justification for the planned economy. As British journalist Paul Mason argues: “Labour wants to combat climate change through three mechanisms: state spending, state lending and the state direction of private finance.” This approach allows opponents to argue that the left is more concerned with destroying market economies than saving the planet.

He concludes,

The mess created by trying to plan an economy into zero net emissions in a decade might bring all attempts at mitigation into disrepute.

This sounds like it needs a conclusion, but he just jumps us  ahead to

In any case, climate change will not be solved by one country. To succeed, policy must be effective, legitimate and global.

OK,  how?

To make policy legitimate, it is essential to compensate losers.

If we cut fossil fuel use to zero in 10 years, nearly everyone is a loser in their position in the old (currently existing) economy.

use of the revenue raised from carbon pricing to compensate losers

As stated above, the losers will use compensation to pay to continue to heat their houses. Where does the cut in use emerge from?

In an era of populism and nationalism, is there any chance of all this? Not obviously, alas. If so, we will indeed have failed. But the young are surely right to expect better.

That is his final paragraph. I think we are dealing with an understandable failure of nerve. No one knows what to do to stay below 1.5.  So we default to drift and lots of interesting local experiments. Should we just get on board the drift scenario?

















3 thoughts on “2099. Climate. No action possible. Drift.

  1. Kip winsett says:

    Hi Douglas, geez, It’s been a few years since we talked. Any chance you might have an hour’s worth of space in your schedule where we might catch up on where we’ve been, what we’ve done and where we’re going? I hope so.

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