Climate policy models need to get real about people


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Political support for decarbonizing the global economy is at an all-time high. The good news is that about two-thirds of carbon emissions come from countries that have committed to reach ‘net zero’ by mid-century — they aim to cut their greenhouse-gas outputs and capture as much as they emit1. The bad news? The computer models that analysts use to assess routes to achieve such goals are missing a crucial factor: politics.
True, AGW scares a lot of people and some of these cope by denying the problem—e.g. Booby and lee in OzPol, GSM and/or mini ice age believers on Twitter. Belief in these get out of jail cards is declining but the remainder harden their beliefs and you cannot argue with them. There are also those who believe action on AGW is to control people and/or a one world government:


· Mar 6
C[l]imate Change: Scientific Psychological Warfare for Population Reduction..the objective of the global initiative is to SAVE THE CLIMATE FROM MANKIND. That’s literally what the resolution says. The entire epoch is really that insane.
Back to the main article:
Yet the models are overly abstract. They don’t characterize the difficult trade-offs that politicians face when they must respond to constituencies, or corporate leaders who must woo investors. In France, for example, a proposed increase to the fuel tax in 2018 was among the triggers of large protests. These saw the government backtrack on a key element of its climate policy. Fearing electoral consequences, many politicians around the world now shy away from carbon taxes and other market-based strategies. They instead rely heavily on regulatory instruments — such as fuel-economy standards — that make the cost of such policies less visible to the public and give politicians more control over who foots the bill3.
Acting on AGW means that dreaded thing: CHANGE! Hence the resistance on the right, conservatives would rather be wrong than confront change. Even in Australia where the poorest got more back from the carbon price than they paid extra in electricity, natural gas and petrol etc prices protested. If these people had spent even a few dollars replacing incandescent globes with LED globes, installing ceiling insulation etc they would have benefitted nicely from the carbon price. But they voted against it and we got and still have an incredibly untalented government.

The story of politics isn’t just one of conservatism and evasion. Support for action can change radically on the back of success. Current IAMs can’t capture this dynamism either. Subsidies for wind and solar energy, for example, have sped up adoption, lowered costs and created industries that have tilted the landscape in favour of more investment in renewables.

To develop politically durable strategies, decision makers need to understand how climate policy creates winners and losers. This means moving IAMs away from jack-of-all-trades models and towards a suite of tailored ones, each tuned to a specific purpose and audience. A negotiator at the COP26 climate-change conference in Glasgow, UK, this November, for example, might want to understand how international trade policies affect global emissions. A national policymaker, however, might need to balance attempts to decarbonize transport infrastructure against election promises they have made to car-factory workers in their constituency.

As a first step, we — a group of political economists and IAM specialists — identified eight key areas in which insights from our disciplines can improve models’ relevance for real-world policy and investment choices (see ‘Eight political economy insights’). We also assessed numerous potential reforms (see ‘How to improve models’ and Supplementary information for a full list of 11 reforms), so that researchers can examine the trade-offs between making models tractable and making them more useful for real-world decisions.

To a large extent this is no longer needed: economics will see renewable energy continue to displace fossil fuels as energy sources, but the quiocker this happens the better!