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Climate: Trump blows hot and cold

By Aurélien Saussay

Donald Trump has thus once again respected one of his campaign promises. Nevertheless, the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris climate agreement is still not certain.

Some key figures in the US oil lobby, such as the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, who was former boss of Exxon-Mobil, along with its current CEO Darren Woods and the Governor of Texas, the leading oil producing state in the United States, are advising the President to keep the United States in the agreement – if only to influence the way it’s applied. suite…»

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Measuring well-being and sustainability: A special issue of the Revue de l’OFCE

By Eloi Laurent

This issue of the Revue de l’OFCE (no. 145, February 2016) presents some of the best works that are being produced at a rapid clip on indicators of well-being and sustainability.

Why want to measure well-being? Because the idea that economic growth represents human development, in the sense that growth represents a good summary of its various dimensions, is simply false. GDP growth is not a prerequisite for human development; on the contrary, it is now often an impediment (as is illustrated by the exorbitant health costs of air pollution in India and China, two countries that concentrate one-third of the human population). suite…»

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From the suburbs of London to global conflagration: a brief history of emissions

By Aurélien Saussay

A new interactive map of global CO2 emissions from 1750 to 2010 is helpful in understanding the historical responsibilities of the world’s different regions for the climate crisis.

The 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21) ended on 12 December 2015 with a historic agreement. As 195 countries come to an accord on the need to limit global warming to 2 degrees by the end of the century, it is a good time to review the history of CO2 emissions since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Right to the end of the negotiations, the question of the historical responsibility of the different countries has remained one of the main obstacles blocking the path to a global climate agreement. The recently industrialized emerging countries and the developing countries that are just beginning their economic take-off rightly refuse to provide efforts comparable to those of the developed countries. suite…»

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After the Paris Agreement – Putting an end to climate inconsistency

By Eloi Laurent

If the contents of the 32-page Paris Agreement (and the related decisions) adopted on 12 December 2015 by COP 21 had to be summarized in a single phrase, we could say that never have the ambitions been so high but the constraints so low. This is the basic trade-off in the text, and this was undoubtedly the condition for its adoption by all the world’s countries. The expectation had been that the aim in Paris was to extend to the emerging markets, starting with China and India, the binding commitments agreed in Kyoto eighteen years ago by the developed countries. What took place was exactly the opposite: under the leadership of the US government, which dominated this round of negotiations from start to finish right to the last minute (and where the EU was sorely absent), every country is now effectively out of Annex 1 of the Kyoto Protocol. They are released from any legal constraints on the nature of their commitments in the fight against climate change, which now amount to voluntary contributions that countries determine on their own and without reference to a common goal. suite…»

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Our house is on fire and we are only watching Paris

By Paul Malliet

As the 21st Conference of the Parties, COP21, began last week, all eyes were on Paris in the expectation of an ambitious global agreement that would limit the increase in global average temperature to 2°C and lead countries to begin swiftly to decarbonize their economies. But there is another battle taking place right now that is being ignored, even though it could have catastrophic consequences.

The primary forests and peatlands of Indonesia, located mainly on the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan (and considered one of the Earth’s three green lungs), have been ravaged by fire for months as a result of an unexpectedly long dry season, which was in turn fueled by an extremely large-scale El Niño phenomenon[1], but also and above all by the continuation of slash and burn practices, which, though illegal, are intended to deforest the land needed to expand the cultivation of palm oil. suite…»

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The end of oil and coal

By Xavier Timbeau

The idea that we must put an end to the use of oil and coal is not new. It has been pushed for a long time by NGOs like 350.org and its gofossilfree campaign. What is more striking is that the Democratic primary candidate Senator Bernie Sanders has put the proposal at the heart of the US presidential election debate. Institutional investors and large fund holders have also announced their intention to limit or terminate their investments in coal (for example, Allianz and ING) and oil (the Dutch pension fund ABP). The urban development policies of some large cities are also leaning in that direction. Asked about this option, the head of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Gina McCarthy, noted (cautiously) that this option was not irrational. suite…»

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The COP 21 conference: the necessity of compromise

By Aurélien Saussay

On Tuesday, 6 October 2015, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) released a preliminary version of the draft agreement that will form the basis for negotiations at the Paris Conference in December. Six years after the Copenhagen agreement, widely described as a failure, the French Secretariat is making every effort to ensure the success of COP 21 – at the cost of a certain number of compromises. Although the text’s ambitiousness has been cut down, the strategy of taking “small steps” is what can make an agreement possible.

The project has renounced a binding approach, where each country’s contributions were negotiated simultaneously, and replaced that with a call for voluntary contributions, where each country makes its commitments separately. This step was essential: the Kyoto Protocol, though ambitious, was never ratified by the United States, the world’s principal emitter of carbon at the time – and it was the attempt to build a successor on that same model which resulted in the lack of agreement at Copenhagen. suite…»

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