Friday the 15th of March 2019 marked a new beginning, or so they say. Kids all around the world took the future in their own hands and marched onwards in a desperate attempt to make their voices heard. “The future is ours, don’t take it away from us,” they shouted. “Time to wake up,” was written in big print. “We have no planet B,” was a common reminder. The enthusiasm was really overwhelming. Nobody expected close to 10,000 students demonstrating in Luxembourg alone. Hundreds of thousands of German students marched the streets, the biggest number of young kids demonstrating since the sixties. Even the politicians came to show, one would guess, their support. In France, a sizable number of the gilet jaune, for some reason, joined the Friday strikes. What next? An assessment and suggestions.
This Friday, the 15th of March 2019, the students across the world are going on a strike. The goal is to wake up their politicians to the tasks ahead: we aren’t doing enough for our future, our world’s sustainability is not ensured, the climate is changing and we are simply not putting in enough effort to sufficiently minimize that change.
In my opinion, this grassroot movement, where our young kids are finally taking interest in something else but Fortnite, namely to secure their own future, could be a game changer. In order to support this movement, I was invited yesterday to one of the schools in Luxembourg, Lycee Technique Joseph Bech in Grevenmacher, and spent two hours presenting the climate change problem, why actions are too limited, what can and should be done, and why it is of utmost importance to especially strike in countries such as Luxembourg, and I took some time to discuss with the students. On Thursday I will do the same in Fieldgen, another school in the city of Luxembourg. So far the response has been very encouraging and the students are now far more motivated to go out and take their future in their own hands. Thus, I can only motivate everyone out there to explain their students the reasons for the strike, and the need of going out to show that even if the politicians don’t think this is an important enough problem, the young generation knows it is one.
According to the latest scientific research, the current climate action of all countries combined would imply a warming of around 3.4°C (above the pre-industrial level) by the end of the century. However, 1.5°C warming is what is currently considered to be a safe, acceptable level of warming. Without a significant change in the politicians’ attitude towards climate change and without a substantial change in their willingness to act, we are likely to see temperature increases that lead to unforeseeable consequences for life on planet Earth.
I can only reiterate a quote that has been attributed to the Dalai Lama: “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping in the same room with a mosquito.” Thus, students across the world, do not believe you are too small to make a change. Go and be that mosquito in the eyes of your politicians.
I have just come across the article “An Economist’s Guide to Climate Change Science“, written by Solomon Hsiang and Robert Kopp, published recently in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, Fall 2018. They mainly summarize the recent literature on climate change and provide some insights from economists on this topic. Should you read their article? What is missing from it?
Yossi Sheffi, a Professor of Engineering Systems at MIT, and Director of the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics, recently wrote an article on Project Syndicate entitled “Green Lobby’s Misdirected Anger“. He argues that our current efforts to curb carbon emissions are insufficient to keep temperature increases below 1.5°C and suggests the only real alternative is geoengineering and nuclear fusion. I disagree.
In October 2018 IPCC published a special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. This report has been widely publicized in media across the globe such as BBC News, Financial Times, EURACTIVE or the New York Times. The conclusion is that there is an urgent need for a quick action. One issue that economists in general would have with this report is whether or not it makes sense to stick to the 1.5°C target from a cost-benefit point of view. So what do we know?
Seen today, one just above the other, on the top of the website of NY Times. Some interests are clearly not aligned:
In the paper “Climate Policy Must Favour Mitigation Over Adaptation”, I develop the argument that the world must prefer mitigation to adaptation at the global level. The argument rests on the observation that mitigation is a public good while adaptation is a private one. I have the feeling that the academic literature has completely missed this point, and especially the representative agent literature, but also integrated assessment models that introduce adaptation and mitigation.
Read on for more details, why I have trouble to get this published in a journal, the referees’ comments and my rebuffals.