The Weight of the World

Insight into the complexities of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.

Insight into the complexities of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.
“Where capital goes over the next fifteen years is going to decide whether we’re actually able to address climate change and what kind of a century we are going to have,” she said. She urged all those present to take this into account when making their own investment decisions, and to do so publicly: “What we truly need is to create a ‘surround sound’ where, no matter what sector you turn to, there is a signal saying, ‘Folks, we are moving toward a low-carbon economy. It is irreversible; it is unstoppable. So get on the bandwagon.’ ” - Christiana Figueres
The debate over what to do—or not to do—about global warming has always been, at its core, an economic one. Since the start of the industrial revolution, growth has been accompanied—indeed, made possible—by rising emissions. Hence the reluctance of most nations to commit to cutting carbon. But what if growth and emissions could be uncoupled? In some parts of Europe, what has been called “conscious uncoupling” is already well along. Sweden, one of the few countries that tax carbon, has reduced its emissions by about twenty-three per cent in the past twenty-five years. During that same period, its economy has grown by more than fifty-five per cent. Last year, perhaps for the first time since the invention of the steam engine, global emissions remained flat even as the global economy grew, by about three per cent. - New Yorker Magazine, The Weight of the World, Elizabeth Kolbert, August 2015
Growth/emissions graph image from the New Yorker

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