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Climate change calculus (commentary)

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Melanius Alphonse.

Melanius Alphonse.

The wrangle at the UN’s Climate Conference in Paris to commit to 1.5 or 2 degrees of warming is an academic calculus that contains a sensitive and urgent opportunity.

But away from the doors of negotiations is the amenable posture of significant deviation, and political correctness that is lacking honest resolve from developed nations to arrive at a legally binding commitment with utmost seriousness.

In fact, analysts simply describe the ambitious goals and targets as unclear, particularly since vulnerabilities are already on display. In a numerical sense mother earth has already warmed up to severe floods, rising sea levels and disappearing shorelines.

Co-director of Climate Interactive, Andrew P. Jones, a system dynamics modeler, facilitator, trainer, and designer of simulation-based learning environments, has run the numbers on computer models that simulate how much the world warms based on how much carbon pollution is spewed.

“Keeping warming to 2 degrees, the US must cut emissions by 4.1 percent a year by 2030, but to get to 1.5, it must cut emissions by 6.2 percent a year. Those cuts would need to increase even more between 2030 and 2050. The fastest a country has ever cut carbon emissions was about 4 percent a year during the 1970s oil crisis, when France switched heavily to nuclear power.”

For small island developing states (SIDS) principally, Saint Lucia, making a good appearance and talking a good game in Paris, is running ahead of the semblance of a bi-partisan energy policy. Besides that are immediacy to engage in proper physical and development planning, watersheds, husbandry and human survivability concurrent with economic change.

For the simple reason that improvement in water catchment areas, rivers, reservoirs and building of dams in the north and south of the island is beneficial to economic development. And also serve as resilient infrastructure to urban centres, community space and areas earmarked for development. The current problems associated with the John Compton dam and the Water & Sewerage Company of Saint Lucia (WASCO) are not only vivid reminders, but actually cost consumers a hefty sum. A new direction with clarity should reap rewards.

But while pushing for climate change, proponents argue that change isn’t a change, per se. SIDS and larger nations trade in the extraction of hydrocarbons, petrochemical, power generation industry and pesticides that poison natural resources and put mankind at risk; suffering from respiratory problems, malnourishment, uncommon diseases and severe climate conditions.

The evidence of this equation is the ongoing decline in economic development, mounting sovereign debt; joblessness and external pressure, imposed on the economies of SIDS and made possible from the inadequacies of a collective lobby as a bloc to endorse ambitious targets and priorities.

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is intended to serve economic integration, collective bargaining with the outside world, and regional co-operation, albeit more cited for pretence, signed a €6 million project with Italy under the rubric of climate change, inclusive of mitigation, adaptation and vulnerability.

In the light of grand statements by the US promising $3 billion; UK $1.2 billion; France and Germany $1 billion each; Canada $2 billion, genuine commitment to claim achievements on climate change needs to quickly transition research and development to address diverse needs.

But uncertainty looms on the necessary cash by developed countries to fulfill their obligations. Notably, developing countries’ demands include $100 billion a year. And according to analysts, there’s a 76% chance of a recession happening in the next three years.

Debate about the science, the numbers, while breathing in all the fumes, gives the impression to a fatal choice. Coming out of Paris, the ‘draft agreement’ is already plagued with problems of “text and mechanism” developing countries don’t seem to have the capacity to undertake.

To establish engagement protocol, negotiators, leaders and policymakers will need to think about diminishing resources that contribute to poverty, violence and conflict. The risk to growing joblessness and climate change are national security threats. Therefore, these perils require clear incentives that are aligned with the principal aspects of economic development, investment and tax policy, to optimize social, economic and environmental returns.

Of equal significance is the responsibility to enact policies that commit public private partnerships (PPPs) to renewable energy resources and supported by a regulatory environment. Other parts of the equation rely on research and technology, the promotion of renewable energy, such as wind and solar for private and commercial use — including the use of hybrid and electric vehicles to wider operations.

But the leaders of the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) and the United Workers Party (UWP) wouldn’t discuss economic enhancement and chart a comprehensive plan to renewable energy with set targets. Their equally illusory ghost projects excel at bluffing, pushing crazy ideas, meaningless values and deflated leadership to an unsuspecting audience.

The supporting evidence is the emptiness of not having clear and strong decision-making in an investment and political environment that is very attractive. Moreover, if long-term investments are expected, reliable partners, human resources and credible leadership in a stable democracy are paramount.
Nonetheless, given the non-performance of governance, sluggishness thrives in a Robin Hood-socialist government led by Kenny Anthony to masquerade on voter oriented projects, and the use of taxpayers’ money to fool the people in time for general elections.

Taken together these characteristics go beyond irony and the inadequacy of an economic model associated with balanced outcomes and progressive change.

In the power game of climate change, resources and services must be purged from ideological short-sighted and self-interest, in order to transform economic structures for substantial investments and economic growth.

It’s equally reasonable to conclude that without a principal energy policy and a comprehensive plan to deal with climate change that is legally binding with the necessary cash requirements, the game of talk and deflection will become a recurring decimal.

Leading emitters China, US, EU, etc, deposit 70% of global emissions. Saudi Arabia is the world’s 15th largest economy with a high profile and has not responded in full with the cards at its disposal, in knowledge of the fact that somewhere around 2040 or 2050 fossil fuels’ days are numbered. Except the kingdom has significant opportunities to transform despite challenging conditions.

Broadly composed, the real agreement on climate change is between the US and China. And from everything I’ve heard, the deal was signed last November.

China’s political ethos is to keep opposition forces at a distance and stay in power. In doing so it must balance economic development and growth rates to keep the Chinese people happy and prosperous.

The US needs grand statements and agreements from world leaders at the UN’s climate conference in Paris to claim achievements and maintain its dominance while shuffling the cards. But in preparing to decarbonise world economies by 2050, the transition from climate change to economic change will be challenging.

The process may well redound to capacity issues, technical and financial — to acquire green energy technology, protection from loss and to maintain economic growth.

Melanius Alphonse is a management and development consultant. He is an advocate for community development, social justice, economic freedom and equality; the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM) www.lpmstlucia.com critic on youth initiative, infrastructure, economic and business development. He can be reached at [email protected]

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One comment

  1. are you not tired of writing good stuff and not being paid to do so?

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