How to address the climate crisis

Jun 10, 2014 by Courtney Coelho 
“Some of the steps have been proposed, but what’s new here is the combination of elements in a way that has the genuine ability to coalesce interests of the key players who have blocked action in the past.”

(Phys.org) —Climate change is an issue of urgent international importance, but for 20 years, the international community has been unable to agree on a coordinated way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In a "Perspective" piece published in the June issue of Nature Climate Change, J. Timmons Roberts, the Ittleson Professor of Environmental Studies and Sociology, proposes a four-step compromise toward emissions reduction that offers "effectiveness, feasibility, and fairness."

Their proposal comes as another major United Nations meeting on climage change approaches.

"We face a major deadline in December of 2015 for a deal to be agreed on by the parties of the global United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change," Roberts said. "Either to get things moving toward that meeting or as a way to adequately address the issue afterward, this approach is practical, fresh, and fair."

Roberts' proposal, which he co-authored with Marco Grasso of the Universitá Milano-Bicocca, is made up of four core elements for sharing the burden of carbon reductions. Their analysis is based on a carbon budget of 420 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide over the period 2012-50.

A successful approach, they write, must take into account both developing and developed countries without penalizing any economies disproportionately, while also proposing an equitable way to share the burden of reductions.

"Some of the steps have been proposed, but what's new here is the combination of elements in a way that has the genuine ability to coalesce interests of the key players who have blocked action in the past," Roberts said.

The first factor Grasso and Roberts propose is reducing the number of actors involved in the initial reductions process from the 194 involved in U.N. negotiations to the 13 members of the Major Economies Forum (MEF) that are the largest emitters in the world. The list includes both developed and developing countries with the United States, European Union, and China at the top. Together, the 13 members on the proposed list contribute 81.3 percent of global cumulative emissions.

Grasso and Roberts suggest that limiting the participants in this initial effort will allow the group to agree an a path forward, which has been elusive during two decades of negotiation. Such a deal will have maximum impact due to the members' size and global leverage. Trade benefits, such as promotion of trade and investment in climate-friendly technologies and renewable energies, would motivate MEF members to take the lead in emissions abatements, they write.

Second, the authors suggest switching from production-based to consumption-based carbon accounting. The latter, they write, is considered a fairer system that measures emissions from the final use of goods and services. Production-based emissions accounting, the currently accepted system, can penalize economies where carbon-intensive stages in globalized production chains take place and force countries to send those production processes off-shore, a step known as "carbon leakage." While this system will cause some members to have a higher emissions abatement burden than with the previous system, for the most part consumption-based accounting does not disproportionately penalize any one member, the authors write.

The third element in the proposed compromise is a redistribution of the burden of carbon emissions reductions based on MEF members' responsibility for climtate change and capability. Previous concepts of responsibility and capability pitted developing, newly industrialized countries against developed countries that had historically greater contributions to global emissions. Grasso and Roberts propose a model that would bring developing, relatively low-responsiblity countries into the decision-making process while also calling for accounting for emissions retroactively to 1990, a concession to those developing countries that have long called for accounting based on historical responsibility. They suggest calculating the economic responsibility of shares of the carbon budget based on the economies of members.

Lastly, Grasso and Roberts call for bringing these changes back to the larger U.N. group to address the other 19 percent of emissions and to be inclusive of the rest of the world. They propose that richer countries provide transitional assistance to others in the form of tools, methodologies, training, and knowledge.

The authors explain how compromise, rather than competition, will benefit all involved.

"Each MEF member would gain and lose something in our proposed framework," Grasso and Roberts conclude. "They all would have to relax some of their hardline positions, otherwise a meaningful outcome will not be achievable. By so doing, all countries will gain a liveable future, the core principle of national security."

Explore further: Climate deal 'won't be perfect': US negotiator

More information: "A compromise to break the climate impasse." Marco Grasso & J. Timmons Roberts. Nature Climate Change (2014) DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2259. Received 07 January 2014 Accepted 21 May 2014 Published online 08 June 2014

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User comments : 20

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GuruShabu
1.5 / 5 (23) Jun 10, 2014
There is NO climate crisis whatsoever!
There is only crisis on the press and amongst people that believe on it and the really nasty Al Gores that profit for it.
AkiBola
1.6 / 5 (19) Jun 10, 2014
The first IPCC report published data showing that global temperature went up BEFORE CO2 levels increased. This is accepted fact, "settled science". From this, they concluded that rising CO2 CAUSES rising global temperatures. Please explain.
SiBorg
4.4 / 5 (8) Jun 10, 2014
I'm assuming the article is talking about manufactured goods as opposed to energy production when it suggests having the burden of responsibility on the consumers of manufactured goods rather than the producer? Seems like a more equitable way of going about it but I can imagine keeping that transaction transparent and open would be tricky, to say the least! Still there are an awful lot of difficulties in the way of a compromise that everyone can live with.
antialias_physorg
4.5 / 5 (16) Jun 10, 2014
There is NO climate crisis whatsoever!
Lots of people smarter than you say that there is. And I don't know about you: but I tend to trust smart people's opinions over dumb people's opinions.

Second, the authors suggest switching from production-based to consumption-based carbon accounting.

That's probably the most effective approach. It also would lead to manufacturers relocating parts of their production to places where the consumption happens (which would drastically reduce the insanity of sending goods all over the globe for minor manufacturing steps as well as help local economies).
Bilroy
1.9 / 5 (17) Jun 10, 2014
This news yesterday 6-9-14 "Researchers find major West Antarctic glacier melting from geothermal sources" This comes from researchers at the Institute for Geophysics at The University of Texas at Austin (UTIG) report in the current edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Why is this story being avoided? Where is it in the list of "Related Stories"? The news about it melting, because of "Global Warming Climate Change Disruption" was all the rage a few weeks ago...What the heck? It's almost like there is a bias in the reporting. Like the "Science" is being "Denied". Naw! They wouldn't do that, would they?
supamark23
4.5 / 5 (15) Jun 10, 2014
The first IPCC report published data showing that global temperature went up BEFORE CO2 levels increased. This is accepted fact, "settled science". From this, they concluded that rising CO2 CAUSES rising global temperatures. Please explain.


Simple -it's basic physical chemistry that absent counterveiling forces an increase in CO2 concentration *must* result in higher temperatures as it absorbs and re-emits IR photons. This is basic science.
Moebius
1.9 / 5 (12) Jun 10, 2014
Here's the way I see it, tell me where I'm wrong.

All this hand wringing about dealing with climate change is almost completely irrelevant. Human nature dictates that there is only one way we will deal with it, the same way we have dealt with every problem in the past. We are reactive, we will fix it only when it breaks. Worse, mitigating climate change with only half-assed fixes may make it worse in the long run by dragging out its emergence and the realization that it needs fixing if it is in fact man-made.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (12) Jun 10, 2014
We are reactive, we will fix it only when it breaks.

Unfortunately that only works if you are given time and resources to fix something. In the past we have reacted to local catastrophes where both were a given (or, if worst comes to worst we could just move away).

Climate change will not afford us these luxuries, because
1) we'll probably be too busy fighting each other for dwindeling landmasses/resources/food
2) we'll be spending what's left of our resources trying to save or move coastal/lakeside/riverside cities - which are almost all of them.)
3) we have no 'second Earth' to move to.

So this time it's prudent to act before something breaks - as it may be the last time anything breaks for humanity - ever.
antigoracle
1.3 / 5 (13) Jun 10, 2014
There is NO climate crisis whatsoever!
Lots of people smarter than you say that there is. And I don't know about you: but I tend to trust smart people's opinions over dumb people's opinions.

And lots of people smarter than you believe the AGW lie also, that does not mean you should take comfort in your ignorance. But then again, ignorance in bliss, right.
Floyd_Howard_Jr_
1 / 5 (11) Jun 10, 2014
Dems are trying to legislate a narrative change hurting the American people in the process! All Democrats and supporters here and abroad, are trying to flood the media with hysterical climate change & global warming alarms to take the heat off Dem candidates in the November 2014 and 2016 elections due to the train wreck of Obamacare! They shout, scream, cry, make outlandish claims and won't stop till after the elections! Poor Democrats! The tsunami cometh!

antialias_physorg
4.6 / 5 (11) Jun 10, 2014
And lots of people smarter than you believe the AGW lie

That's the funny thing about science: You don't need to believe. Look at the data. Do the math. And the answer is right there staring into your face.

If you choose to ignore it..meh...that's your problem. But don't expect other people to be either that dumb or that willfully obtuse.
(And fortunately: the fossil fuel lobby doesn't have enough cash to buy everyone - and the ones they can buy are invariably the stupid ones...so they never get their money's worth)
supamark23
5 / 5 (10) Jun 10, 2014
There is NO climate crisis whatsoever!
Lots of people smarter than you say that there is. And I don't know about you: but I tend to trust smart people's opinions over dumb people's opinions.

And lots of people smarter than you believe the AGW lie also, that does not mean you should take comfort in your ignorance. But then again, ignorance in bliss, right.


lol, if they were "smarter than" Antialias (or many of us) they wouldn't be denying AGW... because the evidence is there plain as day for anyone with the brains to understand it.
Captain Stumpy
4.6 / 5 (9) Jun 10, 2014
@antialias_physorg
oops. sorry. was scrolling and it clicked 1star. didnt mean to downvote you. I rather think your comment was quite spot on.
But then again, ignorance in bliss, right.
@antigorical
then your life should be incredibly blissful.
All Democrats and supporters here and abroad, are trying to flood the media with hysterical climate change & global warming alarms
@Floyd_Howard_Jr_
forget the party politics and look at the research yourself. the SCIENCE SPEAKS FOR ITSELF
IT IS REAL

antialias_physorg
4.6 / 5 (11) Jun 10, 2014
sorry. was scrolling and it clicked 1star. didnt mean to downvote you.

No biggie. Happens all the time. I'm not here for the votes ;-)
strangedays
5 / 5 (6) Jun 10, 2014
@BILROY - that story was reported on Physorg - here is the link - http://phys.org/n...mal.html

It was reported that the glacier was melting as a result of both the ocean, and geothermal heat.
Mimath224
5 / 5 (1) Jun 10, 2014
I agree with others,there is climate change! Depends on which 'club' one is in, we are responsible (to a large percentage that is) or it is a natural phenomena. But in either case trying to help, at least, slow it down, is not a bad idea. Having a global agreement? Not going to happen in the short term. While some nations might do something others will take advantage of that and not make any effort at all, perhaps even feel free to make even less effort. In the region that I live in there is little respect for local effort let alone a international one.
Having said that, we have to try and that might persuade others to follow.
But to say 'Each MEF member would gain and lose something in our proposed framework," Grasso and Roberts conclude. "They all would have to relax some of their hardline positions...'
will,imo, only produce long discussions and very little result...that is, in time for actions to be effective.
runrig
4.4 / 5 (7) Jun 11, 2014
The first IPCC report published data showing that global temperature went up BEFORE CO2 levels increased. This is accepted fact, "settled science". From this, they concluded that rising CO2 CAUSES rising global temperatures. Please explain.

No - you do a simple Google search ... and dispel your ignorance.
runrig
4.5 / 5 (8) Jun 11, 2014
There is NO climate crisis whatsoever!
Lots of people smarter than you say that there is. And I don't know about you: but I tend to trust smart people's opinions over dumb people's opinions.

And lots of people smarter than you believe the AGW lie also, that does not mean you should take comfort in your ignorance. But then again, ignorance in bliss, right.

That only shows that humans have stupidity built into them as well as intelligence.
Going on probabilities and common sense, the vast majority of intelligent scientists studying AGW completely cancel the stupid ohumans who do not study it.
The ignorant is defined as those who are unaware of the facts. So you are saying the world's experts are ignorant,?
And your like are not?
Are you aware if the illogicality of that?(rhetorical)
FFS
rockwolf1000
3.4 / 5 (5) Jun 11, 2014
There is NO climate crisis whatsoever!
Lots of people smarter than you say that there is. And I don't know about you: but I tend to trust smart people's opinions over dumb people's opinions.


"And lots of people smarter than you believe the AGW lie also, that does not mean you should take comfort in your ignorance. But then again, ignorance in bliss, right."


No one would be able to answer that last question better than you.
antigoracle
1.8 / 5 (5) Jun 12, 2014
Oh Wolfie, yuh so funny. Not haha funny, but more simple minded, like you were dropped as a baby, funny.