Tag Archives: co-benefits

A tale of two strategies

Today I finished the basic pages for my new website, www.theclimatebonus.org. One of the last pages I added was this one: A tale of two strategies. It compares two visions of the future:  business-as-usual, where we continue our dependence on fossil fuels, and a more hopeful picture based on a prosperous and vibrant green economy.

Considering I wrote this a year and a half ago now, for the last chapter of my book, it is proving eerily prescient – and not in a good way! As I read back the details of the first strategy – business as usual – it sounds pretty much like a summary of what’s going on in the news today. Faced with rising energy bills, the Australian government is scrapping their carbon tax. Here in the UK, the government is pushing subsidies for shale gas production whilst threatening to ditch support for energy efficiency and renewables. Oil exploration is expanding into the pristine Arctic wilderness. Meanwhile, Typhoon Haiyan bears witness to the threat of higher-intensity extreme climate events, and the economic and social damage that result.

It could be so much better! A raft of new research is strengthening the case for stronger climate action. By escaping our dependence on fossil fuels, we can cut air pollution, improve energy security and ensure much lower energy prices in the long term. I’ll be summarising the latest research on my News page over the next few weeks.

Fortunately, there are plenty of more enlightened politicians and business people blazing a path towards a cleaner, safer future. The UK, US and some other European countries have just pledged to stop funding new coal-fired power plants. Procter and Gamble announced that they have saved $1 billion so far through their drive towards zero-waste manufacturing (see foot of page 3 in this report). Around the world, people are finding innovative ways to cut carbon at the same time as winning economic, social and environmental benefits – such as young Australian entrepreneurs Pollinate, bringing affordable solar-powered lighting and efficient stoves to the slums of Bangalore as well as cutting kerosene smoke and providing employment for local people. So I live in hope!



Cartoon by Joel Pett from USA Today, December 2009

Welcome to my blog

Hi! Welcome to my blog.

This is a place to escape from the doom and gloom that often goes with any discussion on climate change, and look ahead to positive solutions that have multiple benefits.

This is strictly not a place to discuss whether or not climate change is a real problem. That debate has taken up far too much of our time already. My argument is that it makes little difference what you believe about climate change, because we need to do almost all the same stuff anyway. It makes sense to stop wasting energy and resources, halt destruction of the rainforests, switch to clean, renewable energy sources and adopt more sustainable farming practices.

If we do all this, we can gain many benefits – cleaner air and water, safer and more secure energy supplies, healthier lifestyles and a stronger economy. These ‘co-benefits’ can more than pay for the cost of investing in clean technologies.

Of course there are also cases where climate-friendly solutions have drawbacks or trade-offs, such as the accident risks and waste disposal problems of nuclear power, and the visual impacts of wind turbines. Rather than just choosing the cheapest technologies or those that save the most carbon, policy makers need to look at the big picture and consider all the pros and cons of each option, so that they can minimise the conflicts and maximise the co-benefits.

This blog is linked to my website at http://www.theclimatebonus.org/ and builds on my book The Climate Bonus: co-benefits of climate policy.

Please join in the debate – all comments are welcome so long as you are polite and open to reasoned discussion!