Schneider’s personal prescription for climate policies in sequenced steps

October 3, 2008 at 8:50 am | Posted in Climate change, Environment, Global warming | Leave a comment
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If you are at all interested in geoengineering our way out of our climate change predicament, perhaps you may like to read Geoengineering: preparing for the worst then take a look at this review article by Steve Schneider published online today (actually published the day I wrote this draft post, which was a month ago, i.e. 29 August 2008):

Royal Society Publishing – Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A (1996-) – First Cite – Geoengineering: could we or should we make it work? – Journal Article

Geoengineering: could we or should we make it work?
Department of Biology, Woods Institute for the Environment,
Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

Only having time to skim the review myself right now, I wanted to draw your attention to the final paragraph, because it speaks volumes to policymakers who seem to need clear, concise instructions before they can even begin to imagine how to build a sustainable future.  This is how Schneider concludes his review:

In short, my personal prescription for climate policies can be summarized in five sequenced steps.

  1. Adaptation is essential now to assist those who will likely be harmed by ‘in the pipeline’ climate change. Actions that simultaneously enhance ‘sustainable development’ would seem the most attractive options.
  2. Performance standards required of buildings, appliances, machines and vehicles to wring the maximum potential for cost-effective engineering energy efficiency need to be mandatory and widespread.
  3. A ‘learning-by-doing feeding frenzy’ needs to emerge, where we set up public–private partnerships to fashion incentives to help us ‘invent our way out’ of the problem of high-emitting technological and social systems.
  4. A shadow price on carbon has to be established to ensure that the full costs of any energy production or end use system is part of the price of doing business. Cap and trade and carbon taxes are the prime examples of such schemes to internalize external risks from business-as-usual emissions, but these schemes must recognize the special problems they may pose for certain groups: poor people and coal miners or SUV workers. So, in addition to internalizing these externalities to protect the environmental commons, we need to consider side payments or other compensation schemes to be fair to the losers of the mitigation policies and to provide a transition for them to a softer economic landing, so to speak.
  5. Finally, my last policy category in the sequence is to consider deploying geoengineering schemes. However, as has been said by all in this issue, and as I fully agree, R&D is needed and should be an early part of the climate policy investment sequencing, even if deployment is the last resort.

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