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Tuesday 22 Aug 2017 | 10:18 | SYDNEY
Tuesday 22 Aug 2017 | 10:18 | SYDNEY

The climate change opportunity



3 October 2013 08:00

Nicholas Stern (of the Stern Review) on the latest IPCC findings on climate change:

Some politicians will still seek to deny the science and downplay the risks. Many of them have vested financial interests in protecting the status quo, or ideological beliefs that mean they cannot acknowledge the logic of correcting market failures that have created climate change in order to strengthen the role of markets in discovering opportunities and allocating resources. Although they are small in number, they still have the power to create confusion and slow action.

But everywhere evidence is emerging of opportunities afforded by new energy sources that are more efficient and less polluting. No investor should fail to be impressed by how rapidly the costs of solar photovoltaics and other technologies are falling. Trillions of dollars of investment will be needed, but this will unleash decades of growth at a time when there is slack in many economies and interest rates are low.

But MIT Technology Review warns that green energy technology is not catching up to our growing emissions. To get a sense of the scale of the challenge:

One of the most remarkable energy transitions in history happened when, starting in earnest in the 1970s, France went from getting 1 percent of its energy from nuclear power to getting 80 percent over a period of just 30 years. As it replaced fossil-burning plants with nuclear ones, the country reduced emissions by only about 2 percent a year, according to David Victor, co-director of the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation at the University of California, San Diego. To come in under the (IPCC's 1 trillion tons of carbon) limit, the whole world would need to undergo a similar transition even faster.

Photo by Flickr user Wayne National Forest.

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