This is an interesting proposal about how we should deal with climate change:
What should we do next? Flying has to reduce. A recent report on a zero-emission future for the UK envisions a complete end to commercial aviation in the next few decades, arguing that prospective “breakthrough” technologies like hydrogen and electric planes will not arrive fast enough nor scale up quickly enough, and mainly serve to delay action now. Work on alternative domestic travel options, including a low-emission, high-quality national public transport network, needs to start immediately.
“Interesting” here including the concept of entirely barking mad.
For the question is not “How do we stop climate change?”. It’s “What level of climate change leaves us best off?”
We can even see this is the barkings of the weirdest – no one does recommend moving to zero emissions by Tuesday afternoon. Everyone does know that this would lead to the death of billions of people and that’s rather a high price to pay for Greenland not melting in 2500 AD.
So, the question then becomes one of what price? What are we willing to give up to slow or ameliorate climate change? How much climate change are we willing to accept in order to not have to give up too much? Or, as the Stern Review is based upon, what’s the optimal balance of costs and benefits?
You know, that very thing in the concept of the social cost of carbon. Yes, emissions have a cost. $80 per tonne. To have us humans as best off as we can be over time we want to not have people doing things which produce value of less than $80 per tonne of emissions and yet we also do want people to do the things that produce more than $80 of value per tonne of emissions. This is what the very social cost of carbon encapsulates for us, a method of measuring which things make us humans, over time and generations, richer?
Cool – so now we need to measure those things which do add more value to human lives, more than that $80 per tonne of emissions? It being glaringly obvious that commercial aviation does. Because – from the UK at least – we’ve all been charged, and more, that amount on our air tickets. Air Passenger Duty is actually rather above the emissions costs.
So, when faced with the costs of their actions people still fly – commercial aviation is worth more than the damages from commercial aviation. We thus don;t want to stop it – quite the opposite, we want to leave it be as it makes humans richer over time and generations.
Interesting what we find out when we take all that science about climate change seriously, isn’t it?