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expert reaction to opinion piece challenging the current approach to climate negotiations

A group of leading climate and cooperation experts take to the pages of Nature to challenge the approaches to climate negotiations, which led to more than 20 years of deadlock in international cooperation. These Roundup comments accompanied a briefing.


Bob Ward, Policy and Communications Director, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, said:

“This is a thoughtful contribution but rather too pessimistic about the United Nations climate change negotiations. The authors have rightly highlighted the problem of framing action against climate change as ‘burden-sharing’. Fortunately, many countries are beginning to recognise that many actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have multiple economic benefits, such as reducing local air pollution and improving energy efficiency. The negotiations have this year led to more than 140 countries for the first time making pledges to reduce or limit their emissions beyond 2020. Nonetheless, the authors are correct that current pledges by countries fall far short of the action required to have a reasonable chance of avoiding dangerous climate change, which is why the Paris agreement must create a post-2015 process through which ambitions will be ramped up.

“The authors are right that a global price on carbon is necessary, although it would be, on its own, insufficient to generate the pace and scale of action required. A price on carbon corrects the market failure that means the prices of products and services that cause greenhouse gas emissions do not reflect the true costs they impose on other people through climate change. As many economists have pointed out, governments are effectively giving huge subsidies to fossil fuels by not correcting this market failure. However, there are a number of other market failures that also hold back the development of low-carbon technologies and which require further policies in addition to a carbon price, such as government support for research, development and deployment of renewables.”


Price carbon – I will if you will’ by David MacKay et al. published in Nature on Monday 12th October 2015. 


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