Intensive international cooperation is a key prerequisite for successful and ambitious global climate action. Russia, one of the world’s top 5 greenhouse gas emitters and the second largest producer of crude oil and natural gas, has long been regarded as one of the major veto players in international climate politics. Nevertheless, during the last decade climate awareness among Russian policymakers and other relevant stakeholders has increased dramatically. This is illustrated by the fact that the updated Strategy of National Security of the Russian Federation refers to climate change as a threat to national and public security. The Paris Agreement gave the Russian climate policy a new strong impetus.
Continued use of fossil fuels triggers increasingly permanent damage with regards to climate change. Yet, there is growing acknowledgment that fossil fuels remain hard to displace. What, then, can – or should – be done to address this ‘confronting paradox’? This question was at the heart of the talk by Professor Robert H Socolow of Princeton University, US visited the University of Queensland, Australia in February this year. The talk was attended by people with diverse interests – energy and mining industries, management consulting, academia and others.
Mission Innovation is an initiative by twenty leading countries to double their Research & Development budgets for clean energy innovation in the next five years. In this opinion piece, Johannes Ackva lays out why this new initiative is an essential complement to carbon-pricing and deployment policies and should receive far more attention in the future.
Most of the progressive policies and significant challenges with regard to climate change are found in cities. A recent study by adelphi looked at ways of integrating urban actors in international climate governance to find more effective climate solutions. Kaj Fischer sums up the results.
"We very much did engage on big issues throughout our conversations [...]. Whether it's how we ensure that there is no contradiction between a strong economy and a protected environment; understand how we need to work together as individual countries and indeed as a planet to address the challenges of climate change."
Many measures aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have other positive effects on other aspects of the economy. Some of these co-benefits can be directly translated into financial terms (e.g. savings from reduced fuel use) but others, like improved health or preserved biodiversity, need to be estimated. Better understanding and assessment of the co-benefits of climate change mitigation could thus greatly help countries around the world adopt bolder mitigation measures.
In dealing with climate change we are facing the challenge of a transformation to sustainability (WBGU 2011). What needs to be done? To combat climate change, we need to make significant greenhouse gas savings. But is this the only goal we should set ourselves? No, the transformation goes deeper than this: It confronts us with the question of how we want to live -- now and in the future.
"Now we’ve got to accelerate the transition away from old, dirtier energy sources. Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future -- especially in communities that rely on fossil fuels. We do them no favor when we don't show them where the trends are going. That’s why I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet."- President of the United States, Barack Obama, in his State of the Union Address as delivered on 13 January 2016
The most important and anticipated climate change conference in years is finally underway. In some ways, as Bill McKibben and Andrew Revkin have pointed out, its success is relatively assured thanks to the number of major commitments countries have already made. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see here.