Media Coverage of Climate Change Economics

E3 Network created RealClimateEconomics in 2009 to demonstrate the weight of peer-reviewed economic research that supports immediate and extensive emissions reduction as a precaution to avoid uncertain, but potentially catastrophic, climate change impacts. Part of what motivated us was the popular perception that climate change was “just” an environmental problem that we could not afford to solve. And while there are certainly economic analyses that strike such a cautionary tone, as economists publishing and teaching in this field, we knew that the weight of evidence to the contrary was compelling. Why, then, weren’t more people aware of it?

We understood that part of the blame fell on economists and academic publishing more broadly, for producing high quality research that is basically undecipherable to non-academic audiences. But we also suspected a bias in media reporting. A new journal article by political scientist, Jules Boykoff, in the latest issue of the journal PS: Political Science and Politics (the journal of record for the American Political Science Association) confirms such a bias.   Continue reading…

Spotlight Durban: Looking Back at Cancun

The U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP17) is currently taking place in Durban, South Africa. This time last year, we hosted a series of commentaries called Spotlight Cancun. Here are some of the highlights from that series.

Spotlight Cancun: Climate Realism

Eban Goodstein asks:  are we too late for meaningful climate action?

Spotlight Cancun: Cancun and the New Economics of Climate Change

Frank Ackerman on existing debates about the economics of climate action

Spotlight Cancun: Kyoto Protocol Post Mortem

Kristen Sheeran on the significance of the Copenhagen Accord for the Kyoto Protocol

Spotlight Cancun: Negative Carbon and the Green Power Fund

Graciela Chichilnisky on negative carbon and economic development

Spotlight Cancun: Why Do U.S. States Emissions Vary So Widely?

Elizabeth Stanton on the factors driving variations in emissions per capita in the US


U.S. Investors Conspicuously Absent From Climate Negotiations

Today’s guest post is by Mindy Lubber, President of Ceres

The absence of U.S. institutional investors at the UN’s Cancun climate change talks that ended on Dec. 10 was a telling sign that there wasn’t much hope for a major treaty that would dramatically shift the risk/reward equation for climate-related investing. 

While their European counterparts advocated for a strong carbon-reducing accord in Cancun, U.S. investors largely stayed at home, where lackluster returns and long-term pension obligations are their more immediate concerns.

For the most part, they made the right call: Though there were silver linings in the negotiations, they still failed to produce a legally binding agreement for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. That means there will continue to be only limited opportunities for low-carbon green investing worldwide. Continue reading…

Climate Defeat Comes from DC, Not Copenhagen or Cancun

Originally published by Grist

What should we learn from the dual disappointment of Copenhagen and Cancun? The climate policy war isn’t over, but those who are fighting to cut global emissions haven’t won the last few rounds. The decisive defeat in this latest battle, however, did not occur at an international conference. Rather, it took place in Washington, D.C.

Although the Kyoto Protocol tried to prove otherwise, there isn’t any hope of a meaningful climate agreement without the participation of the United States. With one-fifth of the planet’s emissions and a big share of the global ability to pay for mitigation and adaptation, the world’s surviving superpower has to be on board if negotiations are going to go anywhere. (In an ideal, or even sensible, world, the United States would take the lead on climate protection.)

The enormous advance build-up of expectations for Copenhagen reflected the fact that it would be the first world climate summit after George W. Bush left the White House. It was true that a post-Bush administration was necessary for climate progress; unfortunately, it was not sufficient. In the two years when President Obama and the Democrats were strongest, they were unable to pass even a weak, compromised climate bill. Now the momentum in Washington is shifting back toward science-deniers, who plan to hold more hearings on the possibility that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the global scientific consensus are a gigantic fraud.

Read the rest at Grist

Spotlight Cancun: Diving into the Risk-Sharing Pool

Pablo Suarez, Guest Blogger
Another in a series from the Real Climate Economics Blog and Triple Crisis Blog  on the Cancún Climate Summit.

Economic policy shapes most international negotiations, including those under United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). However, negotiators often face serious obstacles to understand the full complexity of available policy instruments. A case in point is insurance schemes and climate change negotiations. Insurance schemes have the potential to support adaptation and climate risk management [read more]: Article 4.8 of the UNFCCC and Article 3.14 of the Kyoto Protocol require Parties to consider mechanisms, including insurance, to meet the specific needs and concerns of developing countries in adapting to climate change. Two proposals have been submitted to that effect. Yet progress has been relatively slow, in part due to difficulties in explaining the concepts in ways that engender both understanding and trust among climate negotiators.

Nonlinearities, feedbacks, “side effects” and trade-offs, inherent in risk financing, are not easy to grasp by non-expert audiences exposed only to text, presentations and other unidirectional approaches. How can we devise a communication platform that can successfully convey the complexity, possibilities and risks of complex policy instruments, in this case climate-related insurance systems? Continue reading…