Understanding Climate Risk

Science, policy and decision-making

Birol & Stern in Fin Times

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Fatih Birol of the International Energy Agency and Nicholas Stern write in the Financial Times:

Existing commitments for emissions reductions by 2020 … even if implemented fully, are collectively not enough to put the world on a path with even a 50-50 chance of avoiding a warming of 2°C above 19th century temperatures. Worse still, recent work by the International Energy Agency has concluded that without full implementation there is a real risk that the 2°C goal will be pushed out of our reach altogether.

They also say:

Fossil fuel subsidies, amounting to $558bn worldwide in 2008, must go. They are costly, environmentally damaging and a grossly inefficient way to protect the incomes of poor people.

This is an important and timely article. They do say there is hope but no more time to waste.

The Australian government could do worse and remove Australia’s share of perverse incentives where taxpayers subsidise future damages. The tax breaks for salary-packaged cars that pay out over A$1 billion per year and a range other subsidies, if spent on measures such as biosequestration would have a double impact – reduction of subsidised damages and investments in future benefits.

It’s already too late to follow a safe minimum standards strategy to avoid 2°C warming – the best strategy is now overshoot and deep cuts following peak emissions, preferably occurring by about 2060. Here’s Peter Sheehan’s and my analysis of recent gains on that score and the potential of the Copenhagen commitments to contribute to an overturning path.

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Written by Roger Jones

March 10, 2011 at 6:23 pm

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