One of the most pervasive misconceptions about climate change is that the main effects of an additional unit of CO2 emission today will not be felt until some time in the future, possibly after several decades.
This has led to procrastination of sorts where we as a global community, and as individual countries are unwilling to make the necessary changes needed to slow down, and possibly reverse climate change.
In reality, the increase in global warming has been shown to be linearly proportional to the cumulative CO2 emissions. Even more apparent is the temperature increase with every additional unit of emission is instantaneous and then becomes constant as a function of time.
Climate change is real and has far-reaching negative effects on all human, physical, and ecological processes and properties, and so far, we, as a global community, have been unable to mount an effective response to this impending disaster.
The major stumbling block seems to be an inability to create and merge political and economic policies that have the potential of stymieing the progress of climate change.
Which begs the question; Are there economic changes that we need to make in order for us to have a fighting chance against climate change?
The answer is Yes.
An economically efficient strategy for combating climate change needs to include the following measures:
- Implementation of The Carbon tax
A carbon tax is designed to penalize polluters for the carbon emissions they cause through their production processes. The sole purpose of this tax is to incentivize companies to reduce their emissions to avoid paying high taxes.
Most developed nations use cost-benefit analysis to determine the economic cost associated with reducing an additional ton of emissions. Companies are then taxed based on this value and their total emissions annually.
Other than the carbon tax, some countries also use the cap and trade system as a means of pricing carbon. In a cap and trade system, the government sets a limit on specific types of emissions, and the companies that make these emissions have the opportunity to sell off their unused units (within these limits) to others that are facing a challenge in compliance.
In order for the carbon tax to be effective, there needs to be a concerted effort towards standardizing this tax globally, regionally, nationally, and locally.
2. Increased climate change budget
Adequate funding remains one of the toughest challenges facing the push to mitigate climate change and its perilious effects.
Adequate and sustainable finance is critical in combatting climate change, as the measures needed to mitigate this crisis on a global scale require extensive funding from every member of the global community.
There are several international funds and organizations that have been set up to collect finances from member countries and direct these funds towards environmental conservation efforts.
These include the likes of:
- The Global Environmental Facility that was founded in 1992
- Montreal Protocol Multilateral Fund
- The Green Climate Fund
- Climate Investment Funds
These funds have only been able to achieve minute success against this monumental problem, and countries need to put more resources towards these efforts.
Developed nations need to intensify their spending on carbon-reducing activities within their borders. In addition, these need to assist poorer nations in adopting and sustaining impactful climate change mitigation efforts. This way, poorer nations can be able to play their part in reducing global emissions, and conserving the environment effectively owing to this external support.
Furthermore, nations in the developing world need to direct a healthy chunk of their annual national budgets towards mitigating climate change efforts within their borders. Such nations need to phase out over-reliance on carbon-intensive technologies, which they use in order to be economically competitive with their developed nation counterparts. Instead, they should now start looking towards innovative production/distribution technologies that deliver enormous benefits on both the economic and environmental fronts.
3. Increased Adoption of Proven Carbon-Reducing Technologies in Carbon-Emitting Economic Sectors
Adoption of proven carbon-reducing technologies within borders in different economic sectors will also require intensive funding from individual nations as well as donor support.
The economic sectors targeted in this regard include:
- Power- countries should aim at producing at least 80% of their power using low carbon technologies by 2050. Such technologies include the likes of nuclear, wind, hydropower, solar, and biomass. Demand and production of coal should decline gradually as the cost of producing power with these cleaner technologies reduces and their output and efficiency increases.
- Transportation- Electric means of transportation including electric passenger cars, electricity-powered trains, and light trucks, will help reduce emissions significantly and sustainably for nations. Other technologies that can be used include overhead electric lines, batteries, and fuel cells. Transport electrification is a finance-intensive venture, but the environmental pay-off is quite significant.
- Industry- Countries should strive to annually decrease the demand for energy in industry by investing in, creation and adoption of efficient technologies such as process innovations and efficient motors and pumps. Biomass should be redirected towards heat production in these industries to replace the use of fossil fuels.
- Building- improving the efficiency of buildings and appliances will help reduce direct emissions. Heat pumps should also be employed to replace gas and oil heating in rural and suburban areas. District heating and solar thermal technologies can help reduce the environmental load of water heating.
What other economic changes do you think need to happen in order to mitigate climate change and its effects? Let me know in the comment box below.