4 Myths About How to Deal With Climate Change Effectively

climate change mangrove

Last week, the world agreed to a new climate framework, and opinions flooded in immediately. Views crossed the spectrum from Jeffrey Sachs, who called Paris “an act of true global cooperation of historic significance,” to James Hansen, who decried the lack of a carbon tax and deemed the agreement little more than “worthless words.”

Both are right. The Paris framework is mostly a set of non-binding pledges and promises. But the agreement is still an important step forward: for the first time, the countries of the world have agreed that we have dug ourselves into a deep hole. Where they faltered is providing a clear path to get out of it. The usual pinning of hopes on technological or financial innovation — central elements of climate negotiations — is not a plan; how financing or technology transfers would actually solve the problem is unclear. What technologies would be transferred? Who would receive financial aid and how would it be used?

The unfortunate truth is that talking about solutions with any specificity would violate many of the assumptions that underlie climate talks. We are thus stuck with vague hopes rather than real policies; we must challenge these “myths” if we are to address the existential threat of climate change. More importantly, they are a distraction from a deeper economic issue: our reliance on consumption and carbon-driven, no-limits growth.

Myth 1: We can firmly connect global action on emissions to a temperature rise target.

Much time was spent arguing between capping warming at 2 degrees or 1.5 degrees, mostly to appease small island states. However, the climate system has far too many variables to draw a clean mathematical relationship between emissions, sinks and warming. Even the IPCC admitted in its 2013 assessment —> Read More