How Climate Science Calls For Radical Changes in Energy Policy

On the long and winding road to more sustainable energy and climate policies, the year 2015 saw several unexpected and positive developments – the largest fossil fuel divestment campaign in history reached its peak and led to trillions of dollars being pulled out of coal, gas and oil companies. In early summer, Pope Francis released his long-anticipated encyclical Laudato Si’, calling the world to drastic and immediate action in order to avert uncontrolled global warming and environmental pollution. But just before the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, a decisive date for global climate policy and the future of the planet, climate economists are concerned about the adverse effects of low coal prices and little political will to come to meaningful results that could support global action against climate change. Ottmar Edenhofer, one of the world’s foremost experts on climate and energy policies, warns of a “renaissance of coal”. While in the short term, cheap coal is benefitting consumers, the long term environmental and social costs – air pollution and continuously high CO2 emissions – do not only affect the current world population, but endanger generations to come. Economists like Edenhofer argue for immediate measures, as the window of opportunity for reforms is closing more rapidly than expected: While the West is contemplating a green revolution, many of the fast growing countries in the developing world are investing in cheap coal-based energy systems. These will be in use for decades and substantially lower the chances of keeping carbon emissions in check. At Falling Walls, Ottmar Edenhofer makes an urgent case for comprehensive reforms towards fossil-free energy sources.

Ottmar Edenhofer

Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

Ottmar Edenhofer is deputy-director and chief economist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and one of the world’s foremost experts on climate and energy policies. In 2008 he was appointed to a chairmanship of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He has been a Lead Author for the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC which won the Nobel Peace Price in 2007.

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