Solving Climate Problems Is Not That Expensive And Even Profitable
Fighting climate change requires close international cooperation, but global politics and short-term economic interests still hinder the execution of a joint plan of action. How can this be overcome? Participants of HSE’s international conference ‘The New Economics of Climate: Prospects for Russia’ tried to answer this question.
The leaders of practically all countries admit that climate change is giving rise to serious risks. The high-carbon economic model, upon which global economic growth is still based, will push global warming two degrees above critical levels in this century alone, which might bring about extreme and practically irreversible consequences.
According to the Director of the RAS Water Problems Institute, Viktor Danilov-Danilyan, the threat of surpassing maximum acceptable temperatures is now extremely high. ‘A six-degree rise in temperature will lead to the death of the vast majority of plants and animals. Many believe that Russia is not under threat – a cold climate, 70% of territory as permafrost… But warming is taking place faster in our country than in other places. Natural disasters are becoming more frequent, and they are causing even more damage to nature. Rising sea levels threaten floods, and methane and carbon dioxide compound the matter even worse,’ he said.
Catastrophic climate changes can only be prevented on a global level and in close cooperation with other countries, according to Oleg Pluzhnikov, who is the Deputy Director of the Department of State Regulation of Tariffs, Infrastructure Reforms, and Energy Efficiency at the Russian Economic Development Ministry. But currently, neither the government nor business is interested in this topic. Resolving immediate economic issues like creating jobs, increasing competitive ability, and fighting poverty are turning climate-related issues into second priorities. Decrees, concepts, and doctrines are being passed, but nothing is taking place beyond that. Any sort of dialogue with the U.S. has been interrupted, and separate talks on coordinating climate policy are underway with just a handful of EU countries.
Just a single percent of global GDP is needed in order to lower greenhouse gas emissions…in order to survive
Director of the RAS Water Problems Institute
To intensify the fight against climate change, it is necessary to link results with economic gain. According to Dr Alex Bowen, Principal Research Fellow at the London School of Economics’ Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, lowering greenhouse gas emissions will inevitably lead to innovative low-carbon economic growth, and it will create new drivers for the development of global industry as a whole. ‘And this is not that expensive – even profitable since low-coal infrastructure costs are not high at all,’ Dr Bowen notes. ‘Just a single percent of global GDP is needed in order to lower greenhouse gas emissions…in order to survive…’ Viktor Danilov-Danilyan adds. For comparison, 2.5% of global GDP is spent on defence, according to official data.
What measures must be taken for Russia to transition into a new low-coal economy? According to Georgy Safonov, who is the Director of HSE’s Centre for Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, it is necessary to stop financing high-coal projects and strategies in urban planning, land usage, and energy, while also subsidizing connection fees, providing low-interest loans to develop low-carbon infrastructure, and strengthening the market’s demand for low-coal technology.
‘It is necessary to more quickly stop producing electricity by burning coal, which pollutes the environment. The construction of coal-fired power plants should be permitted only if there are no alternatives. By 2050, we must stop generating electricity by burning fossil fuels not covered by measures to fight emissions,’ Safonov comments.
Maria Denisova, specially for HSE News Service
An applied research project being carried out by the HSE Laboratory for Economics of Climate Change uses the example of the Chechen Republic and the mountainous areas of Krasnodar Krai to create a model of climate risk evaluation and management for Russian regions. Laboratory heads Igor Makarov and Ilya Stepanov talk about the threats presented by global climate change, about whether the pandemic will slow it down, and why a multifaceted approach is essential.
How can we achieve balanced growth of the global economy? What is a human-centred approach for economic growth? How can we measure the contribution of corporations to sustainable development? On December 1- 2, visionaries of sustainable development — more than 50 international experts from 23 countries, including representatives of government organizations and businesses, non-profit organizations, and civil society activists — will answer these questions at the Global Impact Conference.
The Poletaev Readings, dedicated to the memory of Andrey Poletaev, one of the founders of the Poletaev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities (Russian acronym — IGITI), is a major annual event of the Institute. The event was set to mark its 10th anniversary in 2020, but due to the pandemic, the anniversary forum has been postponed to 2021. In its place, the organizers have arranged the Poletaev Readings 9¾, which were held online. HSE News Service spoke with the event organizer and some of the participants.
2020 iCare Participants Discuss the Economic Effects of the Pandemic, the Accessibility of Higher Education in Russia, and More
On September 21, the VIII International Conference on Applied Research in Economics (iCare) was held online, bringing together more than 100 researchers from 19 countries. Organizers, speakers, teachers, and students shared their impressions of the event and talked about the opportunities that the conference opens up for them.
On October 2-4, HSE University hosted the international conference Trends in Logic 19. Current Issues in Philosophical Logic for the first time in Russia. The conference, which attracted a number of prominent Russian and international scholars, was organized jointly by the journal Studia Logica and the HSE International Laboratory for Logic, Linguistics and Formal Philosophy.
The Second Russia-China Education Research Conference – Digital Transformation of Education and Artificial Intelligence – was held last week at HSE University. Researchers from the two countries discussed changes taking place in the national education systems thanks to the digital revolution, as well as what can be borrowed from mutual experiences.
Economists and Researchers Gather at International Conference on Wealth and Income in Eastern Europe and CIS Countries
On September 17-18, HSE University hosted a special conference with the International Association for Research in Income and Wealth (IARIW) on the topic of Experiences and Challenges in Measuring Income and Wealth in Eastern Europe and CIS Countries. This was the first IARIW conference to be held in a CIS country. HSE News Service spoke with American economist Barbara Fraumeni about her work with economic accounting and human capital and her experience attending the conference in Moscow.
The ninth annual international conference The Future of Education, held in Florence, Italy, brought together over 200 education researchers and professionals from 48 countries. Undergraduate students from HSE University were the only undergraduate students at the conference to present a paper.
On June 3-4, a conference entitled ‘Beyond Post-Truth: Media Landscapes in the “Age of Insecurity”’ was held in St. Petersburg. The conference was jointly organized by the Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities (IGITI) at HSE University, the Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe at GWZO Leipzig, the Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies at the University of Erfurt, and Justus Liebig University Giessen.
Professor Bjørn Stensaker, who teaches in the Department of Education at the University of Oslo, will be the plenary speaker at the 8th International Conference on Higher Education Research organized by the Russian Association of Higher Education Researchers in Moscow. The conference is due to take place October 19-21. In a recent interview with the HSE News Service, Professor Stensaker spoke about his latest research and the trends he sees in higher education, including the growing role of technology.