13 December 2005

Stabilisation wedges

The current issue of The Economist has a feature about climate change. In it, there is talk of ‘stabilisation wedges’ invented by Rob Socolow. Essentially, this is a way of decomposing ‘a heroic challenge (eliminating the emissions [above the trend line]) into a limited set of merely monumental tasks.’ Dr Socolow lists six such tasks: greater efficiency, decarbonised fuels, decarbonised electricity, fuel displacement by low-carbon electricity, methane management, and natural carbon sinks. Each of these can be further broken down. For example, decarbonised electricity can imply nuclear power, renewable energy etc.

This way of looking at climate change is encouraging in that it’s about diverse approaches solutions to broad, defined, problem.
My reservations about it are:

  • That the defined problem is taken to be anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, not climate change nor the negative effects of climate change;
  • That it is still too prescriptive in that it doesn’t do much to encourage the exploration of as-yet-unknown possible solutions;
  • That it lacks market incentives, so would not maximise cost-effectiveness as that Climate Stability Bonds would, and would shift the burden of failed or inefficient technologies on those – presumably taxpayers – who would be financing, upfront, the entire enterprise.
Click here to read a published article about Climate Stability Bonds. Details of how to order my book on Climate Stability Bonds can be found here.

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