Monday, June 15, 2009

The Core Narrative of Climate Change – 3

The Financial Times (June 13th 2009, p. 4) outlines part of the deal: “In return for funding … [technology transfer] … rich countries want legally binding commitments from developing countries that they will “deviate from business as usual”. That is, curb their emissions so they do not reach the level expected if economic growth continues along a high-carbon path.” But what counts as business as usual? Fancy counterfactual worries aside, you might interpret this within the taxonomy of the IPCC models – as A1F1 – that is, low population growth, rapid technological development and unconstrained reliance on fossil fuels. China and India already have so-called “low carbon” development plans in place. But in the case of China (India’s is not specific enough), “low” means restraining carbon for stabilization at 550ppm (assuming a fair share per capita output basis) and that already assumes technology transfer – at least in the case of India. But whether or not you view to promise of technology transfer as buying you more climate saving than the low carbon plans or essential to them, the key unexamined assumption is this: is the technology available to achieve these goals whoever is paying for it? There are two issues here: 1. Is there enough of it? 2. Is it of the right kind?

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