Quantcast

3 Steps to a Zero-Carbon Future

Climate

We've all heard that we need to cut use of carbon-emitting fossil fuels to decarbonize the environment and slow climate change. And, except for a handful of vocal climate deniers, most of us agree. But in real, practical terms, how do we going about doing this?

We need to decarbonize the environment, and the World Bank lays out the steps to getting there. Photo credit: Håkan Dahlström / Creative Commons

The World Bank has laid out the primary steps we need to take in its new report Decarbonizing Development: Three Steps to a Zero Carbon Future.

“Choices made today can lock in emissions trajectories for years to come and leave communities vulnerable to climate impacts,” said World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy for Climate Change Rachel Kyte. “To reach zero net emissions before the end of this century, the global economy needs to be overhauled. We at the World Bank Group are increasing our focus on the policy options.”

First, the report says, we need to plan for the future by defining and focusing on the final goal. That means things like investing in the research and development of new energy technologies or designing cities for public transportation rather than short-term solutions with immediate impact.

"The appropriate way to achieve a given reduction in emissions by, say, 2030 depends on whether that is the final target or a step along the way to zero net emissions," it says. "If the latter, early action will need to be a mix of cheap, quick fixes and costlier long-term measures to promote technology development, investment in long-lived infrastructure and changes in how cities are built. So every country needs to define a long-term target—say, for 2050—that is consistent with decarbonization and to build short-term, sector-specific plans that contribute to that target and are adapted to the country’s wealth, endowments and capacity."

The second step is to develop policies that take into consideration not only pricing but investment patterns, technologies and behaviors. They need to not only price carbon to take into account the negative impacts of carbon pollution but also reward behavior that cuts pollution by encouraging the adoption of green technologies.

"Carbon pricing is necessary for an efficient transition toward decarbonization," says the report. "It is also an efficient way to raise revenue, which can be used to support poverty reduction and development or to reduce other taxes. And a carbon tax can be designed to be administratively simple yet harder to evade than taxes on income or capital. But carbon pricing alone cannot solve the climate change problem, given the many market failures and behavioral. Policy makers also need to adopt measures such as targeted investment subsidies, performance standards and mandates, or communication campaigns that trigger the required changes in investment patterns, behaviors and technologies."

And finally, we need to ease the transition for those most affected by policy and cost changes related to going green.

"Reforms live or die on the basis of how well the political economy is managed: a climate policy package must be attractive to a majority of voters and avoid impacts that appear unfair or that are concentrated in a region, sector, or community," it says. "Removing fossil fuel subsidies, which primarily benefit the wealthy, and implementing carbon taxes or cap-and-trade systems are two ways to free up or generate revenue that can lower costs of education, health care and infrastructure and provide direct support for the poor while also reducing carbon emissions."

“Data in 22 developing countries show that if fossil fuels subsidies were replaced by universal cash transfers, the bottom 60 percent would benefit from the reform,” said Stephane Hallegatte, a senior economist for climate change at the World Bank and a lead author of the report.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

250,000 People Call for Action on Climate Change and an End to Extreme Poverty

Global Carbon Levels Surpass 400 ppm for First Time Ever for Entire Month

Al Gore: We Must 'Put a Price on Carbon' and on Climate 'Denial in Politics'

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Mary Daly, president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, poses for a photograph. Nick Otto / Washington Post / Getty Images

It seems the reality of the climate crisis is too much for the Federal Reserve to ignore anymore.

Read More Show Less

Passengers trying to reach Berlin's Tegel Airport on Sunday were hit with delays after police blocked roads and enacted tighter security controls in response to a climate protest.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A military police officer in Charlotte, North Carolina, pets Rosco, a post-traumatic stress disorder companion animal certified to accompany him, on Jan. 11, 2014. North Carolina National Guard

For 21 years, Doug Distaso served his country in the United States Air Force.

He commanded joint aviation, maintenance, and support personnel globally and served as a primary legislative affairs lead for two U.S. Special Operations Command leaders.

But after an Air Force plane accident left him with a traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and chronic pain, Distaso was placed on more than a dozen prescription medications by doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Read More Show Less
(L) Selma Three Stone Engagement Ring. (R) The Greener Diamond Farm Project. MiaDonna

By Bailey Hopp

If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.

Read More Show Less
Preliminary tests of the bubble barrier have shown it to be capable of ushering 80 percent of the canal's plastic waste to its banks. The Great Bubble Barrier / YouTube screenshot

The scourge of plastic waste that washes up on once-pristine beaches and finds its way into the middle of the ocean often starts on land, is dumped in rivers and canals, and gets carried out to sea. At the current rate, marine plastic is predicted to outweigh all the fish in the seas by 2050, according to Silicon Canals.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Man stands on stage at Fort Leonard Wood in the U.S. Brett Sayles / Pexels

Wilson "Woody" Powell served in the Air Force during the Korean war. But in the decades since, he's become staunchly anti-war.

Read More Show Less
Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Nov. 8. Matt Johnson / CC BY 2.0

By Julia Conley

Joined by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Friday night, Sen. Bernie Sanders held the largest rally of any 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to date in Iowa, drawing more than 2,400 people to Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs.

Read More Show Less

Scientists have developed an innovative way to protect endangered rhinos from poaching: flood the market for rhino horn with a cheap, fake alternative.

Read More Show Less