The Road from Copenhagen
Ernest Moniz, Director, MIT Energy Initiative; Henry D. Jacoby, Professor of Management, MIT Sloan; Michael Greenstone, Department of Economics; Rob Stavins, Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government, Harvard University; Edward Steinfeld, Department of Political Science; Stephen Ansolabehere, Professor, Department of Political Science, MIT and Professor of Government, Harvard University; John Sterman, PhD '82, Forrester Professor of Management and Engineering Systems, and; Director, System Dynamics Group, MIT
Description: Following the United Nations Climate Change Conference held in December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark, a five"member panel reviews the pros and cons of the events that took place. Moderated by Ernest Moniz, the panel includes Rob Stavins, Michael Greenstone, Stephen Ansolabehere (filling in for William Bonvillian), Ed Steinfeld, Henry "Jake" Jacoby, and a brief appearance by John Sterman.
Stavins opens the panel assessments by suggesting that climate change is not a sprint but a marathon; that international negotiations will need to be an "ongoing process and not some conference meeting which is the clear end point." Reasonable expectations of a conference of this nature would include political agreements, (though not necessarily legally binding ones) which recognize that all countries-both industrial and developing-must recognize their historical emissions and be responsible for their future emissions. He further considers the possibility of using other bi" or multi"lateral organizations in the future as a better forum for dealing with climate issues, such as Major Economies Forum, the G20+, or the G2, but that it is too soon to move from the UNCCC.
Greenstone presents five facts about climate policy and change and suggests that there may even be a cause for a shift in policy. First, the US cannot reduce global concentration of greenhouse gases alone; other countries will have to participate. Second, carbon"intensive fuels are cheaper than non"carbon intensive (wind, solar) per kilowatt"hour and that technology has not provided a cheap alternative solution yet. Third, current plans rely on unverifiable reductions; it is politically unrealistic to expect that the US would provide funds for monitoring emissions taken outside the US. Fourth, developing countries are poor. Fifth, we should not count on poor countries to spend their limited resources dealing with a problem that, for them, is far away.
Ansolabehere discusses the political realities and hurdles of passing energy legislation in our own Congress-the current short"term focus on the 2010 Senate elections, the costs associated with any energy bill, the slow"paced method of working a bill through the committee system. Add to that the complications of a recent Supreme Court ruling stating that the EPA has the authority to regulate carbon without much further definition beyond that and it becomes clear that this a cumbersome process.
Steinfeld focuses on the "two contending realities operating on different planes" of US"China diplomatic relations, While Chinese diplomatic reality is pessimistic, the reality on the ground is that China is incorporating "broad and rapid . . . cutting"edge technology." Each has unrealistic expectations of the other, while the rest of the world thinks both are the source of the problem. China makes these huge investments because it recognizes it is vulnerable to climate change, because it is trying to solve other political issues "under the rubric of climate change," and because its self"identity is attached-politically and culturally-to incorporating and collaborating on the latest technology.
Jacoby holds the view that, although the Accord is a step forward, holding to certain key target levels risks freezing countries' actions because they are so difficult to achieve. His final analysis is "don't lose heart, press on, anything we do has its biggest effect on the most dangerous end of the risk outcomes."
John Sterman's summary is far more pessimistic. He concludes that there will come a time "when we cannot overcome the damage done" and that "we are slipping our goals." Nonetheless, he believes that there is hope in efficiency, which is the fastest and cheapest way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and often yields high return on investment. He provides the simple, yet effective, example of not heating and cooling a building at the same time.
A Q&A session follows.
About the Speaker(s): BIOGRAPHIES: ‡ Ernest Moniz Moniz page on the MIT Physics Department site MIT Energy Initiative home Ernest J. Moniz has served on the MIT faculty since 1973. He was Under Secretary of the Department of Energy from October 1997 until January 2001. He also served from 1995 to 1997 as Associate Director for Science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President. At MIT, Moniz was Head of the Department of Physics and Director of the Bates Linear Accelerator Center. His principal research contributions have been in theoretical nuclear physics, particularly in advancing nuclear reaction theory at high energy. Moniz received a B.S. degree in physics from Boston College, a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Stanford University, and honorary doctorates from the University of Athens and the University of Erlangen"Nurenburg. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Humboldt Foundation, and the American Physical Society and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Moniz received the 1998 Seymour Cray HPCC Industry Recognition Award for vision and leadership in advancing scientific simulation. ‡ Robert N. Stavins Stavin's Politico website Robert N. Stavins is the Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government, Director of the Harvard Environmental Economics Program, Chairman of the Environment and Natural Resources Faculty Group at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and Director of Graduate Studies for the Doctoral Program in Public Policy and the Doctoral Program in Political Economy and Government, and Co"Chair of the Harvard Business School"Kennedy School Joint Degree Programs Stavins' research has focused on diverse areas of environmental economics and policy, including examinations of: market"based policy instruments; regulatory impact analysis, innovation and diffusion of pollution"control technologies, environmental benefit valuation, policy instrument choice under uncertainty, competitiveness effects of regulation, depletion of forested wetlands, political economy of policy instrument choice, and costs of carbon sequestration. Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University http://www.hks.harvard.edu/about/faculty"staff"directory/robert"stavins ‡ Michael Greenstone Greenstone's MIT website http://hwe.mit.edu/index.php Michael Greenstone is the 3M Professor of Environmental Economics in the Department of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and a Nonresident Senior Fellow at Brookings. His research is focused on estimating the costs and benefits of environmental quality. He has worked extensively on the Clean Air Act and examined its impact on air quality, manufacturing activity, housing prices, and infant mortality to assess its costs and benefits. He is currently engaged in a large scale project to estimate the economic costs of climate change. Other current projects include examinations of: the benefits of the Superfund program, the economic and health impacts of indoor air pollution in Orissa, India, individual's revealed value of a statistical life, the impact of air pollution on infant mortality in developing countries, and the costs of biodiversity. He is a member of the Environmental Economics Advisory Committee of EPA's Science Advisory Board and his research has been funded by the NSF, NIH, and EPA. In 2004, Professor Greenstone received the 12th Annual Kenneth J. Arrow Award for Best Paper in the Field of Health Economics. He is currently an editor of The Review of Economics and Statistics. Greenstone received a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University and a BA in economics with High Honors from Swarthmore College. ‡ Stephen Ansolabehere Ansolabehere's MIT website Cal Tech/MIT Voting Project Stephen Ansolabehere studies elections, democracy, and the mass media. He is coauthor (with Shanto Iyengar) of The Media Game (Macmillan, 1993) and of Going Negative: How Political Advertising Alienates and Polarizes the American Electorate (The Free Press, 1996). Ansolabehere is also a member of the Cal Tech/MIT Voting Project. which was established in 2000 to prevent a recurrence of the problems that threatened the 2000 US Presidential election. Ansolabehere received a B.S. in Economics and B.A. in Political Science from the University of Minnesota and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University. ‡ Edward Steinfeld Steinfeld's MIT website Edward S. Steinfeld, formerly with the MIT Sloan School of Management, is an Associate Professor of Political Science at MIT. A China specialist, he focuses on the political economy of reform in socialist and post"socialist systems. His book, Forging Reform in China, explores the process of state enterprise restructuring in China. His current research examines financial reforms in China and, in conjunction with the World Bank and MIT Industrial Performance Center, the impact of globalization on Chinese industrial policy and structure. ‡ Henry D. Jacoby Jacoby's Global Change website Henry "Jake" Jacoby studies policy and management in the areas of energy, natural resources, and the environment, writing widely on these topics, including five books. He is a former Chair of the MIT Faculty, and former Director of the Harvard Environmental Systems Program, former Director of CEEPR, and former Associate Director of the MIT Energy Laboratory. He currently serves on the Scientific Committee for the International Geosphere"Biosphere Program and on the Climate Research Committee of the U.S. National Research Council. His current research is focused on economic analysis of climate change and greenhouse gas mitigation, and the integration of this work with the natural science of the issue. Jacoby received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1957, an M.P.A. in Public Administration from Harvard University in 1963, and a Ph.D. in Economics, also from Harvard University, in 1967. ‡ John Sterman Sterman's MIT website John D. Sterman's research includes systems thinking and organizational learning, computer simulation of corporate strategy, and the theory of nonlinear dynamics. He is the author of many scholarly and popular articles on the challenges and opportunities facing organizations today, including the book Modeling for Organizational Learning, and the award"winning textbook Business Dynamics. Sterman's research centers on improving managerial decision making in complex systems. He has pioneered the development of "management flight simulators" of corporate and economic systems. Sterman has twice been awarded the Jay W. Forrester Prize for the best published work in system dynamics. He won a 2005 IBM Faculty Award, and the 2001 Accenture Award for the best paper of the year published in the California Management Review (with Nelson Repenning). He has five times won awards for teaching excellence from the students of the MIT Sloan School of Management, and was named one of the Sloan School's "Outstanding Faculty" by the 2001 Business Week Guide to the Best Business Schools.
Host(s): Office of the President, MIT Energy Initiative
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