02/28/2007 by Daniel Rosenblum
‘The world is experiencing climate disruption now and the increases in droughts, floods, and sea level rise that will occur in the coming decades will cause enormous human suffering and economic losses. The poorest are likely the most vulnerable. We imperil our children’s and grandchildren’s future if we fail to improve society’s capacity to adapt to a changing climate,’ according to Rosina Bierbaum, former Acting Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, announcing the findings of Confronting Climate Change: Avoiding the Unmanageable and Managing the Unavoidable. The report was prepared by the United Nations Foundation – Sigma Xi Scientific Expert Group on Climate Change, and released on Feb. 27.
‘The global-average surface temperature has already risen about 0.8 deg C [1.4 deg F] above pre-industrial levels and is projected to rise another 2-4 deg C [4-7 deg F] by 2100 if CO2 emissions and concentrations grow according to mid-range projections. Prudence dictates limiting the average temperature increase to no more than 2-2.5 deg C [3.6-4.5 deg F] above the pre-industrial level, and our report offers clear recommendations for achieving that goal,’ said John Holdren, the Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy, Harvard University, Director of the Woods Hole Research Center, and Board Chair of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The report recommends new global policy framework for mitigation that includes “mechanisms that establish a price for carbon, such as taxes or ‘cap and trade’ systems. A carbon price will help provide incentives to increase energy efficiency, encourage use of low-carbon energy-supply options, and stimulate research into alternative technologies. Markets for trading emission allocations will increase economic efficiency.”
At a New York Academy of Sciences forum on Feb. 27, Professor Holdren observed that although many people generally think a cap and trade system would be relatively easy to implement, the details of an effective cap and trade system would actually be quite complicated. Responding to concerns that a carbon tax could not be implemented because politicians fear the “T” word, Professor Holdren stated that a carbon tax is possible “with a modicum of political leadership.”