Climate Change

War on carbon would result in economic efficiency and improved quality of life

Following are excerpts from The Symbolic and Substantive Politics of Climate Change, an article by Dr. Steven Cohen, Senior Vice Dean of Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies and a Professor in the Practice of Public Affairs at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs.

How can we decarbonize our energy addicted economies and address the global climate crisis? …in my view, in the long term, if fossil fuel companies don’t redefine themselves as energy companies, they’ll have trouble attracting investment from anyone.

These companies have capacities that could be used to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. If they continue to block renewables and invest in fossil fuel extraction, they will find themselves on the wrong side of economic history…

New technology is coming, but the climate crisis requires that these technological changes be accelerated. How can the development and use of new energy technologies be accelerated? …

Capital is being invested and new behaviors are being motivated. But it is not enough. In a recent Euronews interview conducted by Efi Koutsokosta, my Columbia colleague, Noble Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, called climate change:

‘an attack on our on our world as we know it.’ And he told Euronews that mobilising resources to confront the problem is now an urgent necessity. ‘When we went into World War Two did anyone say, can we afford it? … You know, I don’t remember anybody saying, oh, let’s surrender to the Germans because it’ll cost us too much to fight. Well, we’re fighting a war which is at the heart of our existence, of our standard of living. You know, in the United States, we’ve been losing close to 2 percent of GDP every year. You know, the fires, the floods, the hurricanes, the freezing episodes.’

Professor Stiglitz is correct. We need a war-time mobilization and that requires massive public resources and public policies designed to influence private behavior and rapidly decarbonize our economy. The good news is that unlike the destructiveness of military warfare, a war on carbon would make our economy more efficient and would improve our quality of life…

Categories: Climate Change

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