1.12: Tentative conclusions
My sense — again, as an outsider to the field simply trying to grok the literature in my free time — is that we should do the following:
- Make sure our ability to measure and model everything in the climate system continues to improve, including for complex land and ocean biological effects.
- Lobby for a revenue-neutral, staged price on carbon, in rich countries initially — rich countries can bring down the cost for poor countries by developing and scaling up better, cheaper technology. In the USA there is a specific program with some high-profile advocates called the Carbon Dividends Plan. I certainly don’t want to say that a carbon tax is the only necessary policy though — also advanced R&D, tax credits, subsidies, lobbying reform, and down the line hopefully new social technology for making societal decisions would come into play.
- Economically incentivize a full transition to net-negative emissions by around 2050. This includes deploying a portfolio of existing clean technologies now to limit our cumulative carbon emissions and peak CO2 concentration.
- Heavily invest in large-scale, advanced R&D to bring down the cost of grid-scale energy storage, next-generation nuclear, novel clean manufacturing processes for things like steel and cement, improved agricultural technologies, smart grid-integrated buildings, and synthetic meat (among other areas). With enough technological innovation, I hope that the cost to decarbonize could be brought lower than the estimates of those like Nordhaus.
- Switch to electric cars. (This will impact multiple key areas.)