On the Path to Paris, Obama and Xi Invite Stronger Global Climate Ambition — Valerie Karplus

Assistant Professor Valerie Karplus

Assistant Professor Valerie Karplus

From ChinaFAQs

The latest Obama-Xi announcement sends a strong message: the two nations are acting fast to enable a global low carbon transition. Friday’s joint announcement is an unprecedented step by the world’s #1 and #2 emitters to commit, at the highest levels, to a strong set of domestic policies and to reinforce global mechanisms that will help to engage peers ahead of the upcoming landmark climate change negotiations in Paris.

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The Paris accord is #OurAccord – Jason Jay

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Jason Jay

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Jason Jay

From The Huffington Post 

The UN international climate change negotiations in Paris, COP21, concluded on Saturday. The outcome: 196 countries came to the table, and committed to preventing the worst effects of climate change. For the first time, developing countries recognized their future responsibility, while developed nations acknowledged their historic contribution. Together they set out an aggressive goal to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees C. Like countless others, I eagerly shared the news on my Facebook feed and I rushed to explain the significance to my five-year-old son.

Reading responses to the COP21 accord in the news and social media, however, revealed a wide mix of reactions. Some share my enthusiasm; others are more tentative, wondering how “they” can follow through on targets that are aspirational and not binding. There is a chorus of critiques, from multiple sides of the political spectrum. Many have validity, particularly those grounded in the science who have run the numbers on future warming.

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Engaging civil society will help ensure transparent and credible review of climate pledges — Valerie J. Karplus and Michael Davidson

MIT Sloan Professor Valerie Karplus

MIT Sloan Professor Valerie Karplus

MIT Ph.D. Candidate Michael Davidson

MIT Ph.D. Candidate Michael Davidson

From The Conversation

After two weeks of negotiations, the Paris climate talks that ended on December 12 delivered the foundations of a post-2020 climate regime.

To advance climate change mitigation efforts, the new agreement incorporates national targets for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for 2025/2030, a new five-year cycle to establish subsequent targets, a reporting and review placeholder, and official stocktaking two years prior to those submissions to compare global progress against long-term goals.

In Paris, 189 of 195 participating countries pledged action in the form of intended nationally determined contributions, or INDCs. These pledges will be assessed in 2018 to encourage countries, where possible, to increase the level of ambition.

The review mechanism agreed on in Paris is a crucial first step. The new climate regime has also been lauded for its transparency provisions, which will be essential to establishing trust in the review process.

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Keystone Pipeline Foes Should Face Reality — Chris Knittel

MIT Sloan Prof. Christopher Knittel

From Bloomberg

Opponents of the Keystone XL oil pipeline warn of its potentially catastrophic consequences. Building it, climate scientist James Hansen says, would mean “game over” for the climate.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman hopes that, if it’s given a green light, “Bill McKibben and his 350.org coalition go crazy.” And he means “chain-themselves-to-the-White-House-fence-stop-traffic-at-the-Capitol kind of crazy.”

Are they all just crying wolf and using Keystone XL as a proxy battle against oil?

I hope so, because the economics behind laying a pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to the U.S. Gulf Coast would make it difficult for the pipeline to have any effect on greenhouse-gas emissions. I trust that if opponents dug a little deeper into the issues and the market for oil, they would agree — at least privately.

Three things would need to be true for Keystone to lead to more emissions. Otherwise, the pipeline could actually reduce them. Read More »

Preaching to the choir? Beyond the People’s Climate March — Christopher Knittel

MIT Sloan Prof. Christopher Knittel

From WBUR Cognoscenti

Huge crowds recently descended on New York City to demand action on climate change. While it was an important event, I’m not sure what the march accomplished, beyond calling more attention to this critical issue. But there is a way to harness this kind of people power in a way that can have a real impact: Organize a string of high-profile marches and other activities right in the congressional districts of politicians who continue to deny undeniable science.

True political change doesn’t necessarily happen by marching in front of world leaders and others who already largely agree with you. But there can be a real impact if some of these same marchers would be willing to demonstrate in less friendly political territory to directly take on some powerful people who stand in the way of meaningful efforts to combat climate change.

Take, for example, the U. S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Shockingly, some members of the panel bearing that prestigious title are among Washington’s biggest science deniers. Jon Stewart recently pilloriedsome of those congressmen on The Daily Show, including Larry Bucshon, Steve Stockman and Dana Rohrabacher.

Read the full post at WBUR Cognoscenti. 

Christopher Knittel is the William Barton Rogers Professor of Energy and a Professor of Applied Economics at the MIT Sloan School of Management.