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Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP) Presents Interim Report to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon

Posted on 11 July 2014 by John Hartz

This article is a reprint of a press release posted by the UN's Sustainable Development Solutions Network on July 8, 2014.


First Global Cooperative Effort Aims to Support UN Climate Talks

A report for the United Nations released today shows how the major emitting countries can cut their carbon emissions by mid-century in order to prevent dangerous climate change. The report, produced cooperatively by leading research institutes in 15 countries, is the first global cooperative program to identify practical pathways to a low-carbon economy by 2050. The Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (DDPP) interim report will be presented in a briefing today to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, and tomorrow/the day after to the French government, as host of the 2015 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) climate conference.  The interim report supports the UN Climate Summit on September 23, 2014.  The full DDPP report will be presented in the spring of 2015.

“The Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project report is an effort to demonstrate how countries can contribute to achieving the globally agreed target of limiting global temperature rise to below 2 degrees,” said Secretary-General Ban. “Ambitious national action is critical to averting dangerous climate change.  This report shows what is possible.”

The report aims to help countries to set bold targets as they go into next year’s climate negotiations.  It is issued midway in the project in order to support the deliberations at the UN Climate Summit on Sept. 23. The report is a joint project of independent research teams in 15 countries, with around 30 participating scientific institutions.  The countries include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States. The International Energy Agency (IEA) and the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD) also brought their expertise to the project. These institutions convened under the auspices of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, an initiative of Columbia University’s Earth Institute for the UN, and the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, a nonprofit policy research institute based in Paris.

“The world has committed to limit warming to below 2 degrees C, but it has not committed to the practical ways to achieve that goal,” said Jeffrey Sachs, director of the SDSN and of Columbia University’s Earth Institute.  “This report is all about the practicalities.  Success will be tough – the needed transformation is enormous – but is feasible, and is needed to keep the world safe for us and for future generations.  One key message is to invest in developing the low-carbon technologies that can make a difference.”

Despite the global pledge to keep warming below 2 degrees, the world is currently on a trajectory to an increase of 4 degrees or more.  According to the 2014 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), such a rise would pose dangers that might exceed the ability of societies to adapt, including crop failures, drastic sea-level rise, migration of diseases, and extinctions of ecosystems. Some leading climate scientists, including the longtime NASA chief climate scientist and now Columbia University professor James Hansen, stress that even a 2-degree rise would pose great dangers, and that we should aim for less. But staying within the 2-degree limit is essential to maintain climate change within the boundaries of manageable risks.

The International Energy Agency’s chief economist, Fatih Birol, said: “The issue is to convince the world that the future is as important as the present.  Paris 2015 may well be our last hope.”

The 15 national pathways all demonstrate the importance of three pillars for the deep decarbonization of energy systems: (i) greatly increased energy efficiency and energy conservation in all energy end-use sectors (including buildings, transport and industry); (ii) the decarbonization of electricity, achieved by harnessing renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, as well as nuclear power, and/or the capture and sequestration of carbon emissions from fossil-fuel burning; and (iii) replacing the fossil fuels that drive transport, heating and industrial processes with a mix low-carbon electricity, sustainable biofuels and hydrogen. Countries have several options to achieve deep decarbonization, based on differences in the resource base and public preferences.  Yet the three pillars are the common platform for building the deep decarbonization of energy systems in every country.

Perhaps most importantly, the interim results demonstrate the critical importance of preparing national DDPs to 2050. “These pathways, and the discussion over their results and assumptions, are an essential tool for learning and problem solving,” said Emmanuel Guerin, associate director of the SDSN and senior project manager of the DDPP. “They are crucial to outline the long-term visions of deep decarbonization and shape the expectations of countries, businesses and investors about future socio-economic development opportunities.”

Laurence Tubiana, the founder of IDDRI and the special representative of the French government for the 2015 climate conference, said it is her “hope that this interim report, and the full report to be published next spring, will make a useful contribution to the structure and content of the debate by spurring the design and international comparison of national DDPs and by promoting the needed global cooperation to achieve them.”

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Comments 51 to 73 out of 73:

  1. foolonthehill... But I think the leasees are going to just be paying market rate for their space. It's the owners of the building who get the benefit. I'm not sure though. It's a good question that I'll ask my friend about. (Actually, my entire family consists of architechs, so I have lots of resources on this front. My friend just happens to do very large projects like this.)

    In fast moving Asian markets I think a lot of really shotty buildings were erected. It's an unfortunate reality. Even though some of those high rises are barely a couple of decades old, they probably are better off being replaced by newer, more energy efficient construction. Really, there are some truly awful buildings over there.

    "I think it can free us rather than enslave us."

    I'm with you there. As bleak as things sometimes seem today, I'm actually very optimistic about the future.

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  2. wili

    'We can have a robust modern industrial global capitalist constantly-growing economy, or we can have a viable earth. 

    Aye, there's the rub.

    If, like me, you live in first world country and have any form of loan with a bank, you are tied to constant growth. Our system is based on it. 

    Can we have growth that doesn't cause further damage the planet? On  worldwide scale - I doubt it. 

    The best I can hope for is to minimise it as much as possible. Slow it down. Keep slowing it down. Slower and slower. Allow the system to change. Work out our options for the future. Together.

    Our future is fraught with problems. It comes with the biggest threat of all. War. Like many here, I am too young to remember a World War. I do have relatives that do and I have been told enough to realise that, 100 years after the first one, we have to avoid it at all cost. 

    A forced landing with stalled engines and raised undercarriage may be the best we can hope for. A crash will lead to direct conflict. Surely that's not what we want? (and sorry for calling you Shirley)

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  3. Rob

    'I'm actually very optimistic about the future'

    Not sure if I would go quite that far - maybe I'm just a pessimist who is prepared for the hard yards...

    Discussions such as this are what we really need to concentrate on if we are to create positive change. The personal choices we make are important. I wonder if there is a place for a such discussions on a more regular basis on this site.

    I delight in the to and fro of the arguments in various threads on SKS.Despite having a degree that is science based, the detail in the posts and comments on SKS can be necessarily quite esoteric. Long may they remain. However - many lay people come here for information and perhaps there could be a section that is dedicated to the possible changes that individuals can make in their personal lives that lead to solutions to our predicament? 

    Many years ago there was a TV program called Hypotheticals where solutions to problems were discussed with variables being added along the way to highlight how we have to account for them. Is there a place for something like this in relation to personal climate change action? 

    In regards to our present discussion of building replacement versus refurbishment, I have a personal housing dilemma that has various possible solutions. Would there be a beneficial educational opportunity to discuss such possibilities on a separate thread/section on SKS? Maybe such a forum exists online already? If so, does it have the same breadth of knowledge that the SKS contributors possess?

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  4. I'll qualify the statement a bit. I'm very optimistic that we aren't going to end up on the worst path. I believe that solutions are going to come fast and furious as soon as we really get pricing on carbon emissions.

    We are undoubtedly going to end up doing both mitigation and adaptation. Hopefully we'll be doing more of the former so that we have to do less of the latter.

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  5. To be clear, I don't want to destroy the global economy immediately, I just want to get it down to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub! ;-P

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  6. Wili

    'I just want to get it down to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub!'

    The recommended way to lose a lot of weight is little by little, over a long period of time. Genuine lifestyle changes are far more successful than stomach stapling at keeping that weight loss in the long term.

    Take your time drawing that bath ;-)

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  7. wili, Rob and others commenting on this thread - - sorry I’m a few days late to your party. My excuse is I’m totally buried in a new book on, umm, *honest* global carbon profiling, and decarbonization :-))

    My background is economic modeling and forecasting and operations research, with a deep interest in environmentalism and over-population since Earth Day One - - that’s right, I was one of the naively optimistic activists standing with a million others in Manhattan in 1970; talk about an old fool...

    To business: wili, speaking from an environmentalist and climate analyst point of view, I am in 95% agreement with you on the *causality* of our dilemma, namely an economy founded on unceasing growth based upon a set of essentially rapacious business models.

    Speaking from an economic analysis point of view, I have to add that I *also* agree with you 95%. Economics is not some religious dogma or immutable political truth: it is simply the quantitative description of the survival mechanisms we as humans choose to employ, and the accounting of those decisions in terms of resource and labor and operational and opportunity costs.

    Not to say or suggest that Rob is wrong, mind. The implementation of an effective global carbon tax regimen is, really, our highest single priority.

    And that regime must include a truly punishing tax on air travel, enough to force all business (and international government and UN and academic conference and faux-symposia and Heartland attendees) to think short and hard about video and web-based meetings.

    The only really worthy exceptions to this regime would be my wife and I, who “need” to travel to her home in Japan and our numerous favorite spots in Europe. :-)

    The global tax regime needs to be an *environmental* scheme, not simply an energy industry transformational mechanism. If we fail to address waste, industrial pollution and water usage, whether related to energy use or not, we can never expect to earn the support of voters.

    It must also include severe taxes on individual usage of fossil fuels for transportation in general. Along with steep public license fees for extractors for taking finite resources and polluting and emitting and all the rest. Along with rich tax credits for developing and deploying CCS technology. Along with, well, the list goes on and on....

    Now, as to your main issue, at least as defined by wili:

    “We can have a robust modern industrial global capitalist constantly-growing economy, or we can have a viable earth. Not both...”

    I have to take issue with this (commonly held, I think) either-or notion. *If and when* we can build a decisive political consensus among the dominating industrialized countries, we can then, through tax and regulatory policy, institute a massive, aggressive shift to a non-carbon economy. For every job “lost” in the fossil fuel industries, we would see probably 1.5 to 2 jobs created in the alternative energy and related industries. These jobs would result in solid, steady growth in the present carbon-addicted countries, as well as in China and India and the other aggressively growing industries.

    Just think of the jobs we in the US will create by re-fitting our buildings and infrastructure for clean energy. For building the Grid. For developing and manufacturing the CCS technologies. For the new global de-salinization industry. For the massive necessary investment in thorium-based nuclear power. For the conversion of coal and petro power stations to bio-mass burning + CCS. For the new rail public transport systems.

    This scenario will create hundreds of millions or more jobs over time in the developing world, too, as they switch from carbon to alternate sources of power to fuel their economic growth. Not to mention the additional benefits for these countries, such as skipping the individual vehicle stage and going straight to public transportation.

    In the longer term, the level of economic growth will be sustained by productivity improvements largely driven by the gradual decrease in the worker population, as we belatedly turn from the (probable) peak of 12-13 billion humans and begin the long descent toward a sustainable level of 4-5 billion.

    I won’t belabor the point further. My point is that we need not and should not concede to the Carbon Lobby and their allies that aggressive decarbonization means the end of economic growth. Their position is not founded on any concern for their workers and dependents, but on the defense of the largely un-taxed, absurdly gross profits of an indefensible business model, sorry Rob, but wili and others are correct, a model that is in the process of driving CO2 levels probably above 600-700 PPM, and murdering hundreds of thousands of species, including the energy-addicted Ape.

    You, wili, and others are right: the *goal* of freedom from the yoke and pain and damage of carbon addiction *has* to be the objective.

    But, wili, Rob and others are correct that a ten or even twenty year decarbothon is a non-starter. Destroying the livelihood and hopes of three billion or more people while offering nothing substantive in return is simply not going to happen.

    Nor need it.

    An aggressive global energy and infrastructure refit along the lines outlined above can secure the active support of the voters in the world’s developed democracies, and open the path to green economic growth for all.

    As for the folks in the oil-producing and coal-extracting regions, let’s help them wean themselves from their dependency. As for the owners of the energy industries, well, let me tell you a story about the buggy-whip makers of 1895...

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  8. greenhousegaseous...  Just to clarify, my position is merely that, as you also state, 10% reductions next year and 10% each year after, are not even close to achievable. And even if there were a massive political shift that enabled that, it would be economically disastrous.

    Deep decarbonization is absolutely necessary, but we need a functioning economy to achieve it. And, also as you state, the way to achieve this is through a politically achievable revenue neutral carbon tax. Such a tax would also have to be slowly implemented and ratcheted up over the coming decades. 

    As the DDPP states, in order to stay below the 2C target, we can burn no more than the same amount of carbon burned since the begining of the industrial revolution. That assumes we are going to continue to burn carbon for a while longer, but we need to be emissions free by 2060. 

    Ultimately, we're all talking about the same thing. Our differences are a matter of how we get to the goal of eliminating carbon emissions completely. 

    I have grave concerns when people suggest the path to that goal is to kill the world economy (and wili, please correct me if I'm misinterpreting your position on that specific point). Trade is an elemental aspect of human social structure that goes back 10's of thousands of year. Rather than deny a fundamental fact of humanity I think it is better to address the actual problem. The problem is not the world economy. The problem is that our economic systems are not pricing externalities. Like with SO2 and CFC's, when we do manage to price externalities, the solutions happen faster and cost far less than we expect.

    I believe the same will happen with CO2.

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  9. "Trade is an elemental aspect of human social structure that goes back 10's of thousands of year."

    Great! I'm perfectly happy to go back to levels of international trade that were around 10,000 years ago!

    Look, if you're for growing the economy, it is incumbent upon you to tell us how big exactly it should grow till it is the right size.

    If you think it should grow forever on a finite planet, I'm sorry, but you are insane, dangerously so, I would say, but an insanity that is, sadly, widely shared by most in the halls of power.

    I happen to think (and the evidence is so blindingly obvious I don't see why I have to even start) that the global economy has already grown larger than what the natural world can support--in no longer 'fits' on this earth that we all actually inhabit, and it is killing the host.

    Employment levels have essentially nothing to do with economic growth--for example, we could probably have full employment essentially tomorrow, just by reducing the length of the work week by a few hours.

    And this is just one of many ways that the economy is a nearly infinitely manipulable human construct.

    The earth on the other hand is not so easily manipulable.

    But if you guys think  you're smarter than Kevin Anderson (I get the feeling you haven't watched his video yet, so I give the link again here) and many others, well, it is again incumbent on you, I'd say, to show how we have even a marginal chance of a marginally livable world under your scenario.

    And here's a shorter version, for the impatient among us:

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  10. Thanks for the response, Rob.

    We are not in disagreement re: the need for a functioning economy to be a constant through the “do it or else” transition to a carbon-limited global system. I was trying to explain in my wordy comment that, while in agreement with wili as to the rapacious nature of capitalism, the statement we either junk it, and junk it right now, in effect, or see the planet we love wither and die is not correct, IMO.

    Specifically, I argue that we *must* employ the market economy model to assist in the aggressive adoption of alternative energy technologies. The market economy is also the preferred avenue to develop CCS and the other technologies needed to enable us after a really aggressive emission cutting stage, to use fossil fuels on a limited, gradually declining basis. I further argue that only the market model can rapidly develop and deploy thorium-fueled reactors. And that we should use the market model to deploy mass transportation, to build the Grids that will be needed globally, to put cost-effective solar everywhere we have unused space.

    I further argue that in this process, many, many millions more jobs will be created than will be lost. And add that, off-topic, sorry, this all-in, all-out conversion effort will rapidly restore the lost Middle Class, will bring positive trade unionism back to full partnership with industry and the government, and will not simply ratchet up the development of the poor countries, but integrate them securely in the world economy. Did I mention the two chickens in every garage?

    All this ranting testifies that I see the market system as the only practical way of reaching the “viable earth” wili and millions of of others want for our grandchildren.


    I do not trust the big international corporations for one minute to surrender their lock on such a vast sea of black profits. Even if, as it well might be, the profits to be gained form greening industry aggressively were shown to be even greater than the earnings from criminal despoliation of the planet, they *will not change voluntarily*. NO board of directors will give up secure steady profits for risky bigger profits. Not one. Been there. Been done by several such boards.

    That is why the working consensus among the countries that right now consume over 85% of the fossil fuel is vital: we must first implement comprehensive carbon taxation, sure, but then we must *regulate* industries to ensure they do the right thing. And, we must be realistic: it may well require full or partial nationalization of some businesses before we can say we are over the fossil fuel hump. Hey, we did it to save Citibank from itself!

    The Germans and others have demonstrated that capitalism can be a partner in this sort of managed economy, and can make money doing their parts.

    In short, I argue for the market because it will get the long list of jobs done, with at least a hope of equity and efficiency. I do NOT care about the *stock* market, though. Nor does letting the market do its work mean we need to allow the 1 tenth of 1% to collect a toll on that work.

    I want *wili* and the folks he speaks for here to win, not the trust babies living off dirty money stashed in the Cayman Islands.

    I apologize for going so long here, on issues that may seem to be barely on-topic. Since the issue is not simply what we do, but how we do it, I want my qualified endorsement of the market system to be crystal clear.

    I apologize for a few “political” statements, and beg Mr. Cook’s indulgence. But the decarbonization agenda discussed in the DDPP Report *is* political, intensely so. We have science to thank for bravely identifying the Carbon Menace, but we will need brave political leaders to take on the Carbon Lobby.

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  11. wili...  The problem is, the population 10,000 years ago was a tiny fraction that of today. A planet of 9 billion humans can not live the lifestyle of humans from 10,000 years ago. Are you somehow suggesting that we bring the population down to similar levels? 

    I'm not talking about infinite growth either. No one (rational) is talking about infinite growth, thus that puts that argument in the realm of strawmen. 

    What I keep saying is, we are in agreement that we need to get carbon emissions down to zero. But we have to do it in a way that is achievable. I've read some of Anderson's website and I need to better understand his position to know whether I agree with him or not.

    What I have read is the DDPP document and I agree with what is being proposed there. I don't see them stating that we need to cut by 10% every year starting next year.

    One thing, wili... I sense an increasing frustration that I'm not just flatly agreeing with everything you're saying, and you're becoming increasingly dismissive and angry. Look, not everyone is going to agree with Kevin Anderson. He's one voice among many voices. And he's not the only person with expertise in this area. is again incumbent on you, I'd say, to show how we have even a marginal chance of a marginally livable world under your scenario...

    I think this is exactly what the DDPP report is doing. You can certainly disagree with it but disagreeing doesn't make it incorrect. 

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  12. greenhousegaseous...  I think we're saying much the same thing.

    In terms of the stock market, 1%ers, etc. I think this transition to a new clean energy economy actually holds exactly that opportunity to flatten income inquality back out. Certainly having more domestic jobs helps that out a lot. But I also think the mindsets of the people who want to solve these problems are different than those of the people who have created the problem. Supply-side economics has greatly enriched a very very few people. Everything I hear from new economy folks is demand side, and demand side economics flattens out wealth distribution.

    My difficulty with wili's position is, I think it's overly idealistic and unachievable. It's not that they are impossible ideals, but I think they're only achievable over the course of centuries, not decades. 

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  13. wili, I have watched Kevin Anderson’s tape. When I decided to write about the horrific world my generation is bequeathing to yours, this and other Tyndall Centre material was covered in my research.

    My own assessment as of 2011 was that we will most probably go well over the 4 degree Centigrade level, and stand a good chance of hitting or exceeding 6 degrees. By when? Mr. Anderson’s guess is as good as mine. Or would be if he was using my numbers. :-)

    I have no idea how you concluded that there is *any* contest or conflict between what Kevin Anderson is saying and what I or Rob wrote. As will be seen at some point, my analysis is far harsher and far tougher on the citizens of the major carbon-burning countries than he is.

    As it happens, his statement about population not being part of the problem going forward is wrong, but I am not going to get into that here or now.

    The issue is one of implementation, not awareness of the problem. And even before we can figure out implementation, we need to have a program for folks to understand and agree on. A 10% reduction per annum isn’t a program; it is a target. Professor Anderson doesn’t give us a clue as to the weaponry needed to hit it. Nor, even when we have a feasible plan and a consensus mobilized behind it does Prof Anderson suggest how the vested ownership class will be persuaded to allow the rest of us to radically cut FF emissions.

    This has nothing to do with who is the smartest Ape in the room. It has to do with how we get all the other Apes to stop their greedy and self-defeating behavior.

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  14. Rob and greenhousegaseous, I am interested in your takes on Prof. Anderson's reasons that his (and colleagues) analysis is different than those of others, as summarized in point 1-4 in comment #40, above. 

    Greenhousegaseous, I am unfamiliar with your work. Can you provide a few links?

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  15. @Larry E:

    So far as Prof Anderson’s “differences with the analysis of others”:

    1. a straw man sort of difference. I have zero confidence in the many “official” rates, and choose to waste no time on them. We will see much higher emissions, period. I am therefore concerned with when and where these might peak. All I am prepared to say now is that it will be far too late. Excuse me: in UN-speak, “I am 95% certain it will too late to prevent much worse feedbacks and hence, disaster.”

    2. “Realistic Emissions Rates” is a matter of dispute, so why bother disputing it? See above.

    3. The argument is “We cannot develop/deploy alternative energy sources fast enough to prevent us exceeding the 2 degrees C carbon budget. Therefore we must cut by 10% per year etc.” I know of no one (outside the bureaucracies) who is spending any time on strategies to keep us under 2 degrees C. That discussion has been superceded by inaction. As will be the 4 degree level by, oh, say 2025. My judgment, of course, unprovable. As to why Prof Anderson thinks he is “different”, you will need to ask him.

    4. Even Dr Pacala is now admitting the wedges concept is dead, at least as far as 2 degrees C is concerned.

    I confess to a bias here: I am writing about the carbon budget mainly to dispense with it as a pointless distraction from action. The issue is not staying under budget, but how to enforce *any* agreement, and how to implement the carbon taxation regime Rob and I see as necessary.

    ‘Nuff said for now.

    You would be mighty prescient if you *were* “familiar with my work”, Larry E, seeing as the first volume in the projected series of all-platform ebooks will not be published until late this year. :-)

    Suffice to say that I am no scientist, just the messenger, and my “work” is not “science”, rather a hopefully accessible quantitative assessment of the coming crisis, and a bridge for “normal” folks back here and the other science sites to the great people who have taught me so much these past 5 years.

    Please feel free to contact me if you wish more info, although it beats me why you would:

    gg screen name at yahoo dot etc.

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  16. GHGeous, it seems plain that you don't care to address the magnitude of the problem (ergo the magnitude of the necessary remedy) or what the man acutally said.

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  17. LarryE, the DDPP is an attempt to move the discussion closer to the plan and implementation debate, so I commented in this thread.

    I hope I have made it clear in my wordy comments above that IMO we face a much more severe emissions threat than the experts have (to my knowledge) identified, and that we need to focus our mitigatory planning and action steps on the 5% who are the source of about 95% of the emissions: the Pareto Secret Corollary, better known in my office as the old 95/5 Rule.

    And I hope it is clear that IMO we need to have a functioning economy that, far from being paralyzed by our radical decarbonizing program, is restructured and energized by it.

    As for Prof Anderson, I find discussions about the 2% or 4% ceiling or any carbon budget to be diversionary, divisive, and unlikely to help. These discussions are not about the science, but first, the economics of coping with the conclusions of the science, then second, about the politics of implementation.

    I have addressed Prof Anderson’s presentation, but not in detail. I have no interest in critiqueing his presentation, since I reached a similar conclusion to Anderson’s central idea about two dozen years ago: a very small percentage of the human population has placed all of us in serious jeopardy - - and are unlikely to do anything to rectify their consumption behavior.

    I cannot comment on Anderson’s target of eliminating emissions radically, since he has offered no plan to analyze. Targets are easy to run up the pole, and easy to snipe at; I have no time for either.

    It may grab our attention to talk about cutting emissions in the gluttonous countries by 10% a year, but that is meaningless without explaining how, or, more to the point, how to instantly build the necessary political consensus to do so in the face of every established power-elite on the planet.

    Rather than find technical (economic and engineering in my case)fault with others’ analysis or proposals, I have been working since the Gore fiasco on finding a more effective way to communicate with a much wider audience than the scientists have managed to reach.

    Only quite recently has technology made it possible to reach an audience of millions very fast, *assuming the messaging is effective.* And ours, to be blunt, has not been. My guess is that, so far, all of us on the realistic side of history are reaching perhaps 3 million, half of whom are in countries that will essentially play no part in dealing with the problems.

    We must engage and mobilize at least 3 *hundred* million voters and near-future voters to have any chance of survival.

    Hence, my concern is not promoting my own hypothesis about the energy-addicted Ape, but in getting the bigger message to all of those folks, in words and numbers and graphics the ordinary voters in the industrial democracies can “get” - - meaning in small doses and across all messaging platforms. Oh, and with a bit of humor, same as John Cook is doing here, now.

    So, Larry E, with all due respect, readers here may judge for themselves if I have addressed the entire problem, beginning later this year with the initial free educational tool, and then the initial volume on the carbon “problem”. As of now, there will be 5 or 6 follow-on volumes, each focusing on a tight family of topics and issues, and all timed to synch in with the UN meetings re: the Kyoto Protocol replacement treaty.

    I think you may find if you care to that, ultimately, I will in fact address all aspects of “the problem”, in time. Including all those billions of humans Prof Anderson blithely excludes from his discussion. :-)

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  18. GHGeous, we are certainly in agreement then on a central point: "I hope I have made it clear ... that IMO we face a much more severe emissions threat than the experts have (to my knowledge) identified ..."

    And that, too, is what Anderson is saying (even if his explanation for why his conclusion differs from those of other experts doesn't resonate with you).

    Your "Pareto Secret Corollary" seems to be a different fish than Pareto's principle (which is merely a rough first guess, even if apparently accurate in some instances). My belief is that changing the consumption patterns (directly or indirectly) of your 5% of the global population (or Anderson's 1%) is an insufficient incremental target, given the amount of climate change to date, the growing impacts, and that climate scientists are regularly surprised that things are worse than they expected. 5% is only 350 million people, or less than 1/3 of the 1.2 billion population of OECD countries where unsustainable consumption and emissions are ubiquitous. As well, affluent individuals in the developing world  are part of the problem as well.

    We are down to the move of the last moment, in my view, and focusing on just 5% of us leaves off the hook far too much of the world population that needs to be part of the solution. I believe we need deep change in the very short term, across the affluent section of the world population. Time is scant for addressing the 5%, then the next 5-10%,  etc.

    How to instill deep, short-term change? That is the dilemma. We should call ourselves Homo lemmingiens, since we seeingly can't break the bonds of our hardwired behaviour despite a recognizable existential crisis. I see society's inabiltiy to consider sacrificing leisure air travel (in degree if not totality) as one strong indicator of this.

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  19. Larry...  Honestly, the one and only way any movement is going to happen is to get a carbon tax implemented. That is the only politically viable solution.

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  20. Rob, I'm sure it's the best bet. The trick is to make it stiff enough to get the job done.

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  21. Larry, and the trick there is just getting it started in the first place, even at a low level. As I mentioned some number of comments back, I don't think it will take much of a tax to have a fairly significant effect. Then, once it's in place and people see the benefits, it becomes far easier to raise the per ton rate.

    The biggest challenge is merely the fact that the FF industry knows they are the ultimate losers in this game. There is no scenario where they come out okay, AFAIK. That means they're going to continue to fight this as long as they can.

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  22. Larry, my twisting of the Pareto Principle was a joke, one I have used in managing projects during a very long career. I start with the traditional 80/20 idea and then focus the team down to the *really* important things to help them find the critical path.

    And the 5% I mention isn’t quite the same thing as what Anderson talks about. I was referring rather to the 5% of countries that are doing almost all the damage, in terms of emissions. He’s talking about the societal segment that represent the really serious burners.

    Nor did I mean to suggest that the solution implemented should only include the energy gluttons. I completely concur that all need to be actively involved. But the vast majority of countries burn very little FFs per capita. So the main difference is that for most countries, the solution needs to focus on the females: get them educated and empowered to get the birthrates down faster than the UN projects, and get them to financial independence as small business owners ASAP. This goal also confronts the religious and cultural barriers that have driven social economy for centuries.

    As Rob repeats, putting a price on carbon via taxation is the critical path step. I add regulation and alternative energy funding. And reaching critical political mass is the prerequisite to both.

    The cold truth is that in the taxation/regulatory steps, the poor and developing countries will not play a significant role, in the next 2 or 3 decades. That doesn’t mean they should be ignored.

    I agree that the affluent minority is the barrier to seriously meaningful decarbonization. I do not think that class will soon or willingly surrender their privileged lifestyle. So our real challenge is to stage a (hopefully bloodless) revolution, one that restructures consumption globally without imposing some dogmatic sociopolitical agenda.

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  23. This is a fabulous discussion.

    I would add that economic activity that the entire human population can be allowed to choose to develop to benefit from and continue doing forever will allow constant growth by the creative development of even better 'sustainable activity'.

    Any other kind of activity may be incredibly popular and profitable among a portion of the global population for a moment of human future, but damaging activity that cannot be benefited from by everyone, and cannot be continued to be benefited from indefinitely, is a threat to the sustainability of the economy and of humanity. That type of activity is the root cause of most of the viciuous and damaging conflicts that have ever occurred and continue to occur.

    This planet is finite and should be habitable by humanity for several hundred million years. Humanity really needs to figure out how to collectively make the best of this good thing, meaning humanity's future depends on competing to develop the best ways of keeping people who don't care about the develoment of a sustainable better future for all life from 'succeeding'.

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