Global Commission adds pressure to climate debate

By Dave Armstrong - 17 Sep 2014 6:10:18 GMT
Global Commission adds pressure to climate debate

The only good fossil is one that's buried or in a museum. The little reptile isn't being burnt with its rock in a power station. Instead, this specimen informs us on the small dinosaurs that lived when the rock was formed; Fossil image; Credit: © Shutterstock

The GCEC ( Global Commission on the Economy and Climate) was set up one year ago by 7 nations who wanted to improve their climate attitude and credentials. Many prominent politicians joined up alongside the World Bank, the IMF, the OECD, and the IAEA, so the outlook for the group is promising. Better than the outlook for the planet, if they don't persuade us all to acknowledge some urgency is needed.

Their first prominent emergence is with, "The New Climate Economy." This is published today, to a lot of media attention, as we're all waiting for the UN Climate Summit next week in New York. Mainly, its conclusion suggests we all move to spending the money we waste on fossil fuels in new ways. The new technologies that have brought costs down for areas such as renewable energy and the cleaning up options will create more employment than the old industries. This is estimated, these economists say, to save the governments involved an enormous $3 trillion before 2030.

Pollution is one of the main costs of urban sprawl, fossil fuels and the "old way" of doing things. With reduced sprawl, appropriate urban transport and use of wind and solar energy more and more, this pollution will disappear and improve all of our lives. Rural populations will also benefit with more available energy. There are also the oceans to consider, acidifying and full of polluting substances of every imaginable kind. They must benefit from the reduction on CO 2. The mention of ocean acidification was a first for the World Meteorological Organisation last month The WMO then highlighted their attitudes to climate change in Montreal.

As for the climate, bans on individual choices such as the highest voltage vacuum cleaners could be the answer. The EU has recently begun restricting such high energy purchases, while we all consider how best to reduce car emissions, largely because we pay less tax on the vehicle (and non-diesel fuel especially). Cuntiba in Brazil, Bogota, the Colombian capital and, amazingly, London seem to have impressed the report's authors most as models for others. It certainly charges more for you to pollute it!

No long term projection is interfering with the Reports main message. Old-style economics is criticised where it claimed maximising profits would pay for the pollution clean-up. It didn't and it still won't. The costs of global warming are growing every day, so the only answer is that of this report. Stop the pollution in developed nations and allow developing countries to benefit from help with changing their energy reliance. We have a limited time, as the Report admits. A fair price for carbon pollution involves taxing people's heating and fuel, which is thought politically impossible. Will car drivers continue to determine energy policy through their democratic voting? We do subsidise fossil fuels at $500 billion every year, with $100 billion for renewables, so that money has to be adjusted immediately. The writing is on the wall, but who can read it? Strong and inspired people should lead us, says the Global Commission. Where were these leaders last year when only 7 nations started up the Commission? Let's hope they adopt a longer-term view next week.