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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Australia is at a crossroads in the global hydrogen race – and one path looks risky

Analysis in new report from the Australian National University’s Centre for Climate & Energy Policy shows that producing hydrogen from fossil fuels carries significant risks, and is likely to be incompatible with decarbonisation objectives. These findings have big implications as Australia looks to become a ‘hydrogen superpower’.

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New study shows vast majority of Australian voters support climate action, up to a point

A new peer-reviewed study has found that the vast majority of Australian voters support climate action, but also highlights that more will need to be done to counter the fact that support for strong climate policy action may be limited by voters’ preparedness to incur personal costs, especially among older and conservative voters.

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US to ask 17 biggest emitters, including Australia, for net zero emissions by 2050

The United States officially rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement on 19 February 2021. The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, issued a Statement in which he called the rejoining “momentous”, but noted that “what we do in the coming weeks, months, and years is even more important”. You have seen and will continue to see us weaving climate change into our most important bilateral and multilateral conversations at all levels. In these conversations, we’re asking

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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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Radical pragmatism: policymaking after COVID (Gertz + Kharas)

Contemplating a world after COVID, some are calling for a reset of existing models of policymaking. In this essay the authors outline shortcomings in existing neoliberal economic models, and argue that the radical pragmatism of effective crisis response—a willingness to try whatever works, guided by an experimental mindset and commitment to empiricism and measuring results —represents a policymaking model that can and should be applied more widely, not only in times of crisis.

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More pandemics, more often, and spreading more rapidly, warns major new IPBES report

Future pandemics will emerge more often, spread more rapidly, do more damage to the world economy and kill more people than COVID-19 unless there is a transformative change in the global approach to dealing with infectious diseases, warns a major new report on biodiversity and pandemics by 22 leading experts from around the world.

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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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