Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sachs on climate change

Oh goody.  Jeffrey Sachs has decided to bring his wisdom and expertise to the topic of climate change.  Things are going to get better now, I'll bet.  NOT

Sachs comes late to the environmental debates.  He's been busy.  In 1985, he was the leader of a team from Harvard who decided that Bolivia's economic problems weren't caused by global macroeconomic trends but the fact that her tin miners were making too much money.  So he designed a bundle of programs that openly assaulted the social fabric which he called "shock therapy." (Yes indeed, he really takes credit for inventing that ghastly expression.)

Fresh off his "success" at teaching neoliberalism to the Bolivians, Sachs would take his show on the road to Poland, Slovenia and Estonia.  But his most notorious job was with the Yeltsin government between 1991-94.  His lovely advice set Russia on a downward spiral that made the Great Depression look tame.  Ever wonder how a bunch of corrupt kleptocrats made off with virtually everything of value and triggered an economic catastrophe that saw the Russian middle class destroyed?  Ask Jeff.  He was in the room when most of the decisions were made.  In fact, the corruption surrounding Sachs was so odious, Harvard would eventually lose the contract with Russia and Sachs, who was once the youngest member of the Harvard faculty to have been granted tenure, was asked to leave.  This is how he became a member of the Columbia faculty where he now spends his time defending his role in the Russian debacle and running their Earth Institute.

Unfortunately, since Sachs' first priority is still to defend his role in Russia, he is forced to come up with environmental "solutions" that don't contradict his neoliberalism.  Good luck with that.  (The floggings will continue until morale improves.)  And because his premises are so fundamentally dishonest, his advice on climate problems range from crackpot to goofy.  For example, in his latest efforts, he claims that coal burning can continue because successful methods of carbon sequestration are just around the corner.  His beliefs in saving the planet on the cheap are so bad they actually make Al Gore's look sane by comparison.

Fortunately for the rest of us, Sachs the environmentalist cannot do nearly as much damage as Sachs the economic crackpot has already done.

UN issued with roadmap on how to avoid climate catastrophe

Report is the first of its kind to prescribe concrete actions that the biggest 15 economies must take to keep warming below 2C

Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent, 8 July 2014

The United Nations was presented with a roadmap to avoid a climate catastrophe on Tuesday, prescribing specific actions for the world’s biggest economies to keep warming below 2C.

In a report prepared for the secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, experts from 30 international institutions set out a range of strategies for the economies responsible for more than two-thirds of global emissions.

The initiative is the first of its kind to try to make concrete plans around the various targets that have been discussed at the UN climate change negotiations over the last two decades, said Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, and a leader of the Pathways to Deep Decarbonisation Project.

“All we have been doing in these negotiations for all these years is talking about things in the abstract. It’s not producing the deep technological changes that can get us to a low-carbon global economy,” he told the Guardian.

The report, with its detailed data on electricity supply, transport and shipping, and building codes in each country, was aimed at remedying this by making the targets operational, he said.

It is hoped the study will help to build momentum for a UN climate change summit in New York this September, and so advance the negotiations to reach a global climate deal by the end of 2015.

The study looks at the world’s 15 biggest economies: America, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, and South Korea, which between them account for 70% of global emissions.

It rejects the idea that has taken hold since the failed Copenhagen climate summit in 2009 that warming of 4 or 5C is already inevitable.

“We do not subscribe to the view held by some that the 2C limit is impossible to achieve and that it should be weakened or dropped altogether,” the report said, adding that the science about the 2C threshold was clear.

“The political risks of jettisoning the 2C limit are also significant,” the report went on, and would further weakening the chances of any action.

Instead, it was time for leaders to direct government officials and independent institutions to work on the technologies that would actually produce reductions in emissions.

To date, the targets discussed at the UN climate talks were detached from reality, the report said.

“By and large national targets are not derived from an assessment of what will be needed to stay within the 2C limit,” it said.

Sachs said that was in part a function of the UN negotiations process, that left a highly technical discussion to diplomats.

“It put the lawyers out front and left the technologists out of the room, and the result is that we have had 21 years of lawyering and no success in application of the international framework,” he said.

The result, he said, were emissions reductions targets that were far too conservative to avoid 2C warming. “I didn’t hear President Obama say we have a 2C agreed global warming limit, and I am basing American policy on making sure that is successful. I have not heard any leader saying that,” he said. “Actually, now we have a report that will tell them what it would take.”

Those options vary widely according to the country. The report envisages that Britain by mid-century would generate about 35% of its electricity from nuclear power plants and 40% from coal using carbon capture technologies.

America too will remain heavily invested in coal, and could generate up to 35% of its electricity from coal using carbon capture technologies.

South Africa, which is now heavily dependent on coal, could generate 80% of its electricity from solar energy, while countries such as Australia could achieve cuts in their emissions by switching to electric cars and public transport.

The report acknowledges that the technologies it incorporates in its findings – including carbon capture – are not yet available on a widespread, commercial scale.

It also makes no attempt to offer a cost-benefit analysis of the sweeping transformation that would be needed in all 15 countries to keep warming within 2C.

Sachs said those aspects would be dealt with in a final report due next year. more

No comments:

Post a Comment