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Carbon Emissions Not Getting Any Lower… Any news?

dezembro 8, 2011

It’s not an easy discussion but I agree with the argument that greenhouse-gas emissions (and pollution in general) are an externality, and it is inherently difficult to control and/or price externalities. So, while it might seem sensible to encourage fewer emissions by taxation, price controls or international agreements, the reality is complicated.

You can’t blame China or India for saying: “Hey, we also need our free-ride to industrial superpowerdom!“. Specially because US, England and many other countries had their chances. I believe John Nash would have something to say here. The game theory and Nash Equilibrium would help us to better understand this issue. But still we have a few people against those arguments…

They seemed to believe that it was blasphemous to speak aloud the reality of the problem — akin to saying that climate change is categorically not worth thinking about, and certainly not worth worrying about. But that’s not the point! If you want to solve a problem, the best first step is to understand the problem in realistic terms rather than defaulting to magical thinking. Anyway, moving right along…

On 4 December 2011, the Times published “Carbon Emissions Show Biggest Jump Ever Recorded“. It’s relevant to highlight a significant part of the article:

Global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel burning jumped by the largest amount on record last year, upending the notion that the brief decline during the recession might persist through the recovery.

Emissions rose 5.9 percent in 2010, according to an analysis released Sunday by the Global Carbon Project, an international collaboration of scientists tracking the numbers. Scientists with the group said the increase, a half-billion extra tons of carbon pumped into the air, was almost certainly the largest absolute jump in any year since the Industrial Revolution, and the largest percentage increase since 2003.

The increase solidified a trend of ever-rising emissions that scientists fear will make it difficult, if not impossible, to forestall severe climate change in coming decades.

The researchers said the high growth rate reflected a bounce-back from the 1.4 percent drop in emissions in 2009, the year the recession had its biggest impact.

Global emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel burning jumped by 5.9 percent in 2010, upending the notion that a brief decline during the recession might persist.

Sincerely, is anyone truly surprised by this? If you are, I believe that you should start reading some REALLY BASIC newspaper, like The Wall Street Journal:

Speaking to reporters Monday, the country’s chief negotiator in Durban, Xie Zhenhua, said major economies including China should be legally obligated to curb greenhouse gas emissions after 2020.

“We accept a legally binding arrangement,” he said.

Mr. Xie, however, said China would agree to binding cuts only if the U.S. and other powerful nations take aggressive steps in the next decade to address climate change and some key negotiators wondered whether China was throwing down the gauntlet to shift pressure on to Western countries to address climate change.

Nevertheless, Mr. Xie’s comments were interpreted as a significant shift in China’s earlier position of rejecting binding targets—except in the unspecified future.

Officials said they would need to clarify Beijing’s intentions in private meetings Tuesday with Mr. Xie. For the U.S. to agree to a binding deal, China would have to be ready to accept stringent cuts alongside the U.S., according to Todd Stern, the chief U.S. negotiator in climate talks.

“No trap doors, no Swiss cheese,” he said.

If you think that this post was useless, this is your hero!

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