How entrepreneurs can help developing countries hard hit by climate change – Georgina Campbell Flatter

Georgina Campbell Flatter, Executive Director at MIT Legatum Center, Senior Lecturer in Technological Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management

From Entrepreneur

Discussions around climate change solutions regained steam last November when a federal report indicated the negative impacts on public safety and the economy are now being felt across the United States. Even if governments are able to implement policies that reduce carbon emissions and mitigate this trend over the long term, countries must build resilience now for increasingly extreme weather events, shifting energy demands and new challenges for industries like insurance, tourism and agriculture.

In terms of both economic losses and human casualties, climate change affects developing countries most acutely because they lack the infrastructure and resources that help richer countries endure. Consider, for instance, that from 1997 to 2016, extreme weather events like flash floods killed more than half a million people, and of the 10 countries hit hardest, nine were in the developing world. Technologies like radar, satellites and weather stations are expensive to implement, so large swaths of the world still lack access to modern weather data. The result is that the world’s most weather-sensitive communities also have the lowest quality weather information, a disparity which climate change will only exacerbate.

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This is what the Green New Deal needs to actually work – John Reilly

MIT Sloan Sr. Lecturer John Reilly

From Fortune Magazine

Is the Green New Deal (GND) a liberal pipe dream, or is it an opening for an economically viable, bipartisan climate change solution?

The program put forward by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and her team reimagines the U.S. as a nation with no carbon emissions, full employment, a fair and equal economy, and justice for all. This GND proposal pairs massive government spending with quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve to achieve these aims. Since we can just print money, the argument goes, it would cost nothing.

Not so fast. Whereas deficit spending and a Fed stimulus package are good policies in a deep recession, we are now near full employment. For a Green New Deal to work now, we will need to pay for any federal investment with higher taxes. Moreover, that investment should be rolled out gradually.

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Why the next two years are critical for the Paris climate deal’s survival – Henry D. Jacoby

MIT Sloan Professor Emeritus, Henry D. Jacoby

From The Conversation

A mounting sense of urgency will greet negotiators as they arrive at this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference.  In Poland. In 2015, after 20 years of trying and failing to reach a global accord on climate-changing emissions, 195 nations hammered out a deal, the Paris Agreement, that all of them could accept.

Three years on, it’s becoming increasingly clear that national decisions about climate action, which country negotiators will convey in Poland and over the next two years, will determine whether the breakthrough Paris pact succeeds both on a political and emissions reduction front.

As scholars at the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, we have closely followed the global climate change agreements and studied their implications. Based on our analysis of nations’ commitments to cut emissions, getting the world on track to achieve the agreement’s signature goal – to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius – will require far more ambitious climate action than what countries have pledged so far. This action must begin sooner rather than later to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, from severe droughts to extreme flooding.

Climate change won’t wait for humanity’s response

Climate change is the type of problem where delay is especially costly. It is not like other pollution such as dirty urban air or a putrid stream. For these, people might clean up a polluted area this year, but if they put off the task, there will probably still be the same opportunity to get it done the following year.

Not so with greenhouse gases, which hang around for decades to centuries. So if societies delay revising our current practices – burning fossil fuels, chopping down forests, planting more polluting crops like rice, as well as raising cows – the total amount in the atmosphere will grow. The goals for limiting global warming will get steadily more difficult to achieve.

In addition, as the nations’ representatives gather in Poland to pursue their effort to gain control of this process, a crucial decision point is rapidly approaching.

Brutal timing

In the Paris Agreement, each nation is to make a pledge (what the agreement calls a Nationally Determined Contribution) to achieve a level of emissions control by a target date. For most countries this is the year 2030. They will also submit to a review of whether they did what they said they would do every two years.

Our analysis shows that, fortunately, meeting these Paris pledges will halt emissions growth at least to 2030, though without additional action growth will resume thereafter. This voluntary system of pledge and review represents real progress on this difficult issue. Experts in international affairs argue that it is perhaps the best deal possible for a 195-nation agreement.

Read the full post from The Conversation.

Henry D. Jacoby is the William F. Pounds Professor of Management, Emeritus in the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management and former Co-Director of the M.I.T. Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change. 

Scott Pruitt and global warming – John Reilly

MIT Sloan Sr. Lecturer John Reilly

Many news outlets are questioning how long Scott Pruitt will hold onto his job at the EPA as criticism of his spending continues.  However, even if Pruitt loses his position, it’s likely that his views and positions will continue to live on at the EPA and elsewhere—especially if, as expected, his deputy director were to take over. This, of course, is cause for concern. It may therefore be worthwhile to consider the continued resistance to views on global warming.

For example, The Chicago Tribune recently reported that Pruitt has once again questioned the scientific consensus that rising levels of carbon dioxide from human-fueled activity are warming the planet.

But now, according to the Tribune, he’s also taking a different tack. Even if climate change is occurring, as the vast majority of scientists say it is, Pruitt is questioning whether a warmer atmosphere might not be bad for human beings.  While it is unclear exactly why Pruitt thinks things won’t be so bad for humans, it’s worth considering his arguments.

Indeed there is evidence that some things may do better with global warming—as Pruitt has suggested —poleward areas where the growing season is short, would likely benefit from longer growing seasons and crops could benefit from higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. In general, CO2 enhances growth and can increase water use efficiency.

But low lying coastal areas, such as Florida and the Gulf coast will surely suffer from sea level rise.  Amplified by likely stronger tropical storms—some low lying island nations are almost certainly destined to disappear even if we hold the temperature rise to no more than 2 degrees.  With large populations centers on the US coasts and coasts around the world, its pretty clear that coastal damage will outweigh the benefit from longer growing seasons in poleward areas.  In addition, crops toward the equator including southern areas of the U. S. would likely suffer.

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To get ahead, corporate America must account for climate change–John Reilly

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer, John Reilly

From The Hill

Scott Pruitt’s confirmation last week as chief of the Environmental Protection Agency was a setback for environmentalists and scientists who waged a fierce campaign against the nominee.

As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt led or took part in 14 lawsuits that sought to block EPA regulations and policies intended to tackle climate change. In addition, his views on global warming put him at odds with both the stated positions of many companies and their current policies toward climate change.

Pruitt is one of many announced appointees who is hostile to efforts aimed at reducing emissions linked to global warming. Many in the administration are skeptical that climate change is caused by human activity or doubt its consequences will be significant. President Trump has expressed extreme skepticism about climate change, calling it a hoax created by China.

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