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  • Getting to Green

    An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.

Great green groups
October 21, 2009 - 4:21pm

(Music for the drive in this morning was Mulgrew Miller's Landmarks. His playing is remarkably expressive through a very wide range of styles, and this album (assembled from three different session, each with different personnel) is remarkably well-balanced.)

Following in the footsteps of yesterday's post, one of the things I like about the way the WBGU report reframes the climate change issue is that, after shifting from a percent-reduction to a carbon-budget perspective, it then groups countries (state governments are, after all, the key decision-makers here) not by historical responsibility for the mess we're in, but by how long their budget (based on population) will last them at their current emission levels.

For purposes of analysis and prediction, the authors divide all countries into three groups. Group 3 is those countries whose budgets will, at current emissions levels, last them more than 40 years. Members of Group 2 have budgets which are -- if they don't cut emissions -- good for 20 to 40 years. And Group 1 (of course) is the rest of us.

During the period of transition, countries and economies in Group 1 will likely have to acquire (through approved mechanisms and with oversight) carbon emission allotments from Group 3 countries who don't need all they have. It's not an issue of offsetting emissions (an approach of spotty reputation, at best) -- it's merely a matter of getting what you need in a fair and equitable way from folks who are willing to sell at an agreed price. And that price, of course, will provide funds to help Group 3 countries develop renewable economies so they don't turn themselves into Group 1 countries.

Again, there's no moralizing, no blame, no singling out for attention, no real difference in the rules everyone is being asked to sign up to. Thus, the complaint of "not fair" again quickly becomes untenable. And the last (least emitting) are positioned to become first (most helpful). With all the rights, honors and privileges thereto appertaining.


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