“It can be safely said that no widely applicable economic models have been developed specifically for the upcoming era.” So say the researchers of the Finnish BIOS Research Unit in a scientific background document for the upcoming UN Global Sustainable Development Report 2019. “What will happen during the oncoming years and decades when we enter the era of energy transition, combined with emission cuts, and start to witness more severe effects of climate change? What kind of economic understanding and governance models do we need, now that economies are undergoing dramatic rather than incremental change?” While definitely a more challenging read, this week’s pick is highly recommended for those who want to get a better understanding of the wider economic and sustainable development challenges (and alternatives!) related to climate change.
Under the “Tracker” label, we highlight articles that discuss the world’s progress towards a sustainable society. This week we pick out an article from The Guardian discussing a preliminary analysis of the International Energy Agency. This analysis shows that for the second year in a row emissions in the global energy sector are on the rise. Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, points to the global economy driving coal, oil and gas use to explain this increase. “Energy efficiency improvements and renewables are not good enough to reverse that,” he says. Addressing climate change will require actively phasing out fossil fuels.
This week’s pick builds on last week’s, delving further into the IPCC report on Global Warming of 1.5°C. Requested by the countries most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change – which, perhaps counterintuitively, are not always the poorest, as this article shows – the report shows that an additional half a degree of global warming would put millions of people’s homes, jobs, and lives on the line. In this week’s pick, the major findings of the IPCC report are summarized and clarified, including those on the impacts of 1.5°C of global warming.
Our first pick, inevitably, is related to the special report released this weekend by the IPCC on “Global Warming of 1.5°C”. Pointing to the dire consequences if the world surpasses this temperature goal, it stresses the urgency of ambitious short-term action. In his reaction to the report, Andrew Norton, director of the renowned International Institute for Environment and Development, reflects on the change that needs to happen: “The IPCC report makes it clear that there will be no ‘magic bullet’ solutions. The economies, business and societies that are at the forefront of change will benefit from their farsightedness. Those that do not will not be first, but last. And they may do a great deal of damage along the way.”