Behaviour, the pandemic, and climate change

The behavioural changes necessary to bring about the transition to a zero carbon economy will be far-reaching, bearing on what people eat, how they work, how they travel, the recreations they pursue, and where they live. Will governments be able to rely on the go-to tools of public policy – rational choice theory and more recently behavioural economics, with its so-called ‘nudge’ techniques, to bring about the necessary changes?

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Biden embraces science and facts, but falls short on climate action

President Biden’s recognition of climate change, and determination to shift science to the centre of climate policy is important, and welcome. But a program that “achieves a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and puts the US on an irreversible path to a net-zero economy by 2050” will not be enough. Adaptation to a 3.0°C temperature rise this century must now be a focus for governments.

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Preparing for a 3°C warmer future: the ideological shift and institutions Australia will need

Collective emission reduction efforts of nations will not avoid 3 degrees centigrade global warming by the end of the century. Therefore, national adaptation actions will need to prepare for the worse than expected scale and impact of climate change. Earlier ideological assumptions about governments will have to give way to policies that are interventionist and systemic.

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IMF’s WEO 2020 on climate mitigation: important, impractical, and naive

The fact that the International Monetary Fund recognises the urgency of addressing anthropogenic induced climate change and the importance of reducing carbon emissions from human activity by 2050 must be seen as a welcome step. But the report is impractical and naïve in some respects. The next step needs to go beyond the high level of abstraction that smooths over the diversity of economic, political and climate impacts in local situations.

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Multilateral climate action: assisting emerging economies and developing countries is right and smart

Without assistance, emerging economies and developing countries (EEDCs) will continue to add increasing amounts of greenhouses gases to the atmosphere for decades, preventing the curbing of global warming and adversely impacting all countries. While EEDCs were always going to require substantial assistance from the advanced economies, the need for strong multilateral action has become more urgent.

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Australia’s extraordinary energy plan persists with fossil fuels

The urgent need to reduce carbon emissions can be usefully compared to filling a bathtub without a drain. Until the emissions tap is turned off completely, the bath keeps filling. And even when the tap is turned off, the bath is still filled to an undesirably high level. If the tap is never turned off, or turned off too late, in time the bath overflows disastrously. The Australian government’s extraordinary new fossil-fuel centred energy plan ensures the emissions tap will continue to flow.

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Scientists and capitalists agree on climate. When will governments act?

A new set of reports highlight the failure of governments to deal with the coming climate disaster. The unsurprising news is that current emissions of both CO2 and CH4 are not on track to limit global warming to the levels which were the goal of the Paris Agreement. None of this is a revelation to anyone following climate issues. However, what continues to amaze is the apparent repeated inability of this alarming information to have an impact on policy makers.

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The UN at 75: a real declaration of intent, or multilateral virtue signalling?

An atmosphere of unreality is building in advance of the virtual meeting of world leaders on 21 September 2020 to mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations (UN). Nothing demonstrates this more than the proposed draft declaration. Rather than reaffirming the UN’s centrality, the draft declaration’s faux earnestness jars amid the current international reality. Additionally, it ignores the biggest challenge to multilateralism.

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Surviving and thriving in the 21st century: the harder reality of humanity’s road to the future

The report from Australia’s Commission for the Human Future sets out clearly and with insight the major and inter-dependent challenges that will persist beyond the pandemic – including global warming, food insecurity, biodiversity loss, environmental degradation, resource scarcity and wealth inequality. Action is vital, but how to respond seems as elusive as ever.

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What COVID-19 tells us about preparing for global warming

While it is difficult to see an inflection point during a crisis, missing that moment is potentially catastrophic. To subsequently persist with former paradigms when the world has shifted is folly. The artefacts of neo-liberal economics—globalised production, transnational supply chains, international finance, the erosion of the welfare state, and the abandonment of responsibility to the faceless market by governments—have produced a world not-fit-for-purpose in a crisis.

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