Sunday, December 30, 2018

Climate Stabilization

This paper examines and compares two dramatically divergent approaches 
to climate stabilization developed by analysts and activists on the 
left. The first, which the author Robert Pollin advocates, is called 
the "Green New Deal." The second has been termed 'degrowth' by its 
proponents. The Green New Deal approach is focused, on a global scale, 
on advancing investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy at 
a rate of about 1.5 – 2 percent of global GDP per year, so that clean 
energy can supplant the existing dominant fossil fuel energy 
infrastructure. Through this approach, economies can continue to grow 
but economic growth becomes absolutely decoupled from fossil fuel 
consumption and the resulting generation of CO2 emissions. The 
prospects are realistic for driving down CO2 emissions by 40 percent 
within 20 years and eliminating them altogether within 40 years within 
the Green New Deal framework. The Green New Deal also produces 
expanding job opportunities through the building of a global clean 
energy infrastructure. By contrast, the degrowth approach relies 
primarily on contractions of economic activity—measured by GDP—as the 
means to cut fossil fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. But as Pollin 
points out and the degrowth model by leading proponent Peter Victor 
confirms, in this approach, considered on its own, CO2 emissions will 
only fall to the extent that GDP itself declines. Thus, in Victor's 
degrowth scenario for Canada, CO2 emissions fall by about 80 percent 
within 30 years, but average per capita income also falls by roughly 
the same amount. An 80 percent contraction in per capita income would 
represent an unprecedented economic depression, which in turn would 
likely engender a wide range of severe social and political responses. 
Contrary to degrowth proponents, Pollin argues that some categories of 
economic activity must now grow massively—those associated with the 
production and distribution of clean energy. Concurrently, the global 
fossil fuel industry needs to contract massively—i.e. to 'de-grow' 
steadily and dramatically until it has almost completely shut down 
within the next 40 – 50 years

No comments: