Saturday, December 19, 2015

After Paris: Embedded environmentalism?

The agreement reached in Paris will only be meaningful if countries make progress on their pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Lack of progress is often attributed to the influence of climate skepticism, and some observers expect a new wave of skeptical voices in the coming years. Yesterday Michael Oppenheimer was quoted in the Washington Post, saying

“Denialism draws its oxygen from larger political agendas and Paris won’t put an end to those... There will still be plenty of opposition to regulating greenhouse gas emissions, to regulation in general, and to any sort of international cooperation.”

However, opposition to climate policies does not need to be ideological. It may be tempting for some interest groups to use science based arguments in their strategies, but not all are on to this.

Consider, for example, the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), who opposes federal regulations to regulate carbon emissions. His president notes his union, “does not dispute the science regarding climate change. Our dispute is with how our government is going about addressing it, and on whom the administration is placing the greatest burden in dealing with this challenge.”

"So why is the current political approach not working?" ask Nives Dolšak and Aseem Prakash from the University of Washington, Seattle in a recent paper. Their answer is interesting:

Scientific evidence, celebrity endorsements (such as the Natural Resource Defense Council asking actors to wear green ribbons at the 2015 Emmy Awards ceremony), and severe weather events (such as Hurricane Sandy) have not helped in generating the desired policy response towards emissions reductions. Perhaps a new climate advocacy strategy is needed that seeks to work on the political bottlenecks and address the concerns of policy opponents.
We suggest that an important reason creating opposition to mitigation is that domestic equity implications have not been appreciated. To address equity issues,we outline a proposal for ‘embedded environmentalism’ that can provide a new direction to the debate over climate change mitigation policies. While this proposal is directed principally at environmental groups as they are both the most visible and vocal in pushing for climate change mitigation, we hope it can inform the policy approaches of all mitigation advocates including regulators, politicians, and scientific bodies.
The argument goes as follows.

Embedded environmentalism recognizes that policies can differentially impose costs and
bestows benefits across sectors and industries (Wilson, 1980). These benefits and costs can be economic or financial, but can also include psychological, social, or ideological ones. Some policies might concentrate costs (therefore imposing high per capita costs for those who incur them) or bestow benefits on specific sectors, while others might diffuse them over the whole economy (therefore creating low levels of benefits or costs on a per capita basis). Policies such as those for climate change mitigation, which currently tend to create diffused benefits for many but impose concentrated costs on few, face intense opposition and sometimes get stalled. This is as a result of those who lose out from the policy having incentives to organize and oppose it, while those who benefit have less compelling incentives to advocate for it.
The climate change debate in the United States seems to pit the predominantly educated,
affluent, urban pro-environment constituencies against relatively less privileged coal miners, manufacturing workers, and others in fossil fuel industries. Techno-determinists, such as Thomas Friedman, invoke Schumpeterian (2013 [1942]) “creative destruction” to explain why the fossil-fuel based industrial order must perish. For them renewables, information technology, and technological breakthroughs will herald a ‘new order’. For many American coal miners, climate change mitigation policies are job killers that will force them into poverty, an argument echoed by several Republican presidential hopefuls such as Senators Ron Paul and Marco Rubio. While emerging technologies do create new jobs, these probably will not be filled by comparatively poorly educated miners.
We propose that mitigation advocates adopt a radically new political strategy. Along with advocating for emission regulations, they should lobby for the compensation of sectors and stakeholders that might be negatively impacted by such regulations. Our approach coheres with the proposal Hillary Clinton (2015) recently outlined to revitalize coal communities in the Appalachia. The $30 billion Clinton Plan focuses on investments in local infrastructure and responds to concerns that federal air emission regulations have contributed to the downturn in the coal industry.

The deal reached in Paris did not involve debates about the robustness of the science.  There was no showdown between IPCC advocates and skeptics, and countries resisting some clauses of the draft treaty did not cite arguments from the skeptical armoury. The obstacles were interest based and solved through compromises, involving principles about burden sharing. Domestic climate policies will have to follow suit. Instead of getting bogged down in arguments about scientific evidence, workable solutions are needed that provide a sense of fairness to policy losers. Climate policy needs to be taken away from scientists and put in the hands of interest groups, politicians and, yes, diplomats and mediators.


Fernando Leanme said...

I take it anybody who disagrees with Oppenheimer is guilty of "denialism"? (Puzzled frown).

jgdes said...

Sceptics can equally well say that 'Alarmism draws its oxygen from larger political agendas and Paris won’t put an end to those'. After all, in any other field a hypothesis is at least questioned when the data disagrees with it. Oppenheimer's refusal to admit that sceptics were proven correct to be sceptical all this time is not based on science (with 50+ contradictory reasons why consensus science was wrong en masse) so it must be political.

Scepticism also grows with the current dishonest touting of a hot el nino year despite the on-going hiatus and despite satellite measurements showing nothing unusual. Next year it will likely be cooler again thanks to the expected la nina and they will again be shown to be more salesmen than scientists.

But it is a fallacy to suggest that scepticism affects the delegates at these freebies since they are all handpicked alarmists. The big problem is the stone-cold fact that fossil fuel use and prosperity are directly linked so the reduction of one causes the reduction of the other. That's what prevents emissions reductions and it will stay that way unless a big breakthrough in energy engineering happens.

So it's high time to be honest about the huge climate uncertainties and leave the politics to politicians. That way we might have an emissions policy that does more good than harm.

heidruns hønseri said...

Ladies & gentlemen

meine Damen und Herren

"The agreement reached in Paris will only be meaningful if countries make progress in their pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions"

this and that being meaningful/ meaningless if and only if,..... an unqualified way of stating it. N.N. is hardly entitled or qualified to state or instruct or to define what is meaningful / meaningless.

Why can`t he simply state "will not work unless..." or "it is my opinion that the whole will be meaningless if not,.."

But the same is not at all my opinion. It has got quite a lot of important meaning allready.

Because that Paris treaty has got several horizons and aspects. What I like first of all is that the question or problem as such is stated and defined within the frames of reference of basic and elementary SCIENCE, that is to be respected and not to be fought or disputed as such. This is a very proper meaning that disqualifies and excludes other meanings.

That science seems settled and signed to now by 196 nations.

And by the way, it is the Paris convention of day before yesterday as I learnt it in public school, signed to at last. That was really not allways the case.

By statement and agreement datum is not the alternative dia- lectic materialism anymore. That means, it is not anybodys arbitrary belief or ridiculous religion or hoax og great "scam!" and thus the suggested ruin of reason and proper "science", honesty, seriosity and morals, that we red so many times.

CO2-AGW is signed to as reality and premise that is not to be denied or fought or ridiculed. Further, One is hardly to dispute the CO2 climate response either. Allthough that science is not quite settled, that matter is not dia- lectic either anymore. The science of its not being dia- lectic- is settled now by the Paris- school and its convention of 2015. It gives a radical change of frames of reference, a new and better and more meaningful paradigm on the cost of an earlier paradigm rather defined by chicago gangsters.

But then comes HUMANIORA:

Wer soll das bezahlen
Wer hat so viel Geld?
Wer hat so viel Pinke Pinke
Wer hat das bestellt?

= Typical Humaniora. Who is to be blamed? Who is responsible? The etics, the politics, and the economy is typical HUMANIORA, and that science is hardly settled at all. But we see suggested rules of behaviours, don`t we?

The Pope himself has entered the one shale of the balance by full weight, and the Koch Brothers are sitting on the other. But EXXON MOBIL seem to have fully deserted from the common barriqades under pressure from the New York State Court.

Thus today, only Donald Trump & the GOP are weighing against together with the Kochs.

To my opinion, that is rather what enlighted and dignified Ladies and gentlemen ought to discuss from now on. Namely typical HUMANIORA as told above.

It looks as if SCIENCE could be re- settled in Paris simply by excluding some chicago gangsters and inaugurated dia- lectic materialists from the discussion, such as Racketeeers and professional trolls. Gauner & kjeltringer & banditter Schwindler & Ungeheuer.

And I repeat, this is rather what enlighted and dignified ladies & gentlemen should discuss from now on.

Also because fighting the Bureau of Standards, the naval Observatory the city house or hall of standards, science as such, on the free market when you happen to be out of steps with HUMANIORA, politics, manners, and behaviours,..... is quite ... un-höflich... un-dignified... un-civilized.

Anonymous said...
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Hans von Storch said...

Ralf Ellis,
I have deleted your comment because it has nothing to do with this thread. Repeated submission will not help.Please respect our rules. - Hans von Storch

MikeR said...

All I really see is that politicians in most countries (except the USA and even there if you're a Democrat) see no political advantage to opposing mitigation in their public statements. They don't actually need to do anything, and the important ones probably won't. Do you really think that Putin actually cares if Siberia gets a little warmer? But it costs him nothing.
So I think Hansen is probably right about this: who cares what non-binding things a bunch of politicians say?