While the consequences of climate change fall disproportionately on poor communities and poor nations, no one is immune to changing weather patterns and the loss of Earth’s ice cover. For many reasons, our dependence on oil and coal are not sustainable. “Business-as-usual” must be replaced by bold and transformative changes in the operating rules that drive the global economy.
Looking Toward Copenhagen: Is it Time for "Bretton Woods II?"
In July of 1944, capping almost four decades of world war and depression, Western world leaders met at the Mount Washington resort in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire to craft a new international economic order.
Under the stewardship of John Maynard Keynes, three rules were established: 1. Fixed exchange rates, tied to the gold standard; 2. Free trade in goods; and 3. Regulation of international capital markets. (Adam Smith and David Ricardo both concluded that comparative advantage among nations would not work if capital flowed freely across borders.) The Marshall Fund for Europe and the U.S. G.I. Bill provided the funds to propel post-war prosperity.
But, in 1971, the Bretton Woods rules were abandoned, unleashing four decades of inflation, debt and cycles of speculation. Today, as food, fuel, financial and climate crises converge, the guideposts of globalization -- deregulation, privatization and liberalization (of goods and capital) – are yielding to a new paradigm with better regulated capital markets and a public/private partnership, writ large.
The United Nations Climate Change Conference, to be held in Copenhagen at the end of 2009, provides a pivotal juncture for halting “business-as-usual,” redesigning the international financial architecture and institutionalizing the monetary resources commensurate with the challenges we face.
Today’s deliberations will be different from those held in 1944: there will be representation from all nations, non-governmental organizations and the business and scientific communities. Realigning the rules, regulations and rewards will be needed to promote less and very different patterns of consumption and waste generation. The good news is that, properly funded, renewable energy, smart technologies, efficient transport and healthy cities programs can form the foundation for a sustainable low carbon economy.
| Harmonizing Adaptation and Mitigation: Investment Opportunities|
|Measures to Decrease CO2 Emissions||Co-Benefits||Investment Opportunities|
| 1. A smart, self-healing grid||Improve coping ability (storms and heat waves)|
Meet critical needs
Decrease energy demands
|Smart technologies, new generation batteries, efficient appliances|
| 2. Healthy cities||Reduced air pollution|
Diminished heat island effect
Reduced traffic accidents
|Insulation, specialized windows, recyclable carpets, green chemistry products, distributed energy systems with solar, wind, ground source heat pumps and fuel cells, sustainable forestry |
| 3. Transport: public and PHEVs||Exercise promotion|
|Invest in bicycles, motorized bicycles and motor scooters |
| 4. Forest preservation||Habitat preservation|
Tree-seed oil sustainably-harvested
Clean Development Mechanism
| 5. Wetland preservation (inland and coastal)||Flood control|
|Green design and development|
Project financing guidelines
| 6. Agriculture (locally grown; organic, pasture-raised livestock; conservation tillage)||Healthy food|
|Sustainable farming and allied food industries |
| 7. Coral reef preservation||Island and low-lying nation survival|
Protect island freshwater lenses
Preserve marine nurseries
Protect coastal property, hotels, tourism and travel
Long-term carbon sequestration
|Sustainably managed fisheries|
Marine protected areas
| No-Regrets Solutions Vs. Those Requiring Study|
|No-Regrets Solutions to Rapidly Scale-up||Life Cycle Analysis Needed Before Wide Scale |
|1. Energy Efficiency and Conservation|
2. Smart Technologies for Intelligent Grids
3. Green Buildings and Rooftop Gardens
4. Efficient Appliances
5. Distributed Generation with Renewable Sources
6. Passive Solar Heating and Day Lighting
7. Ground Source Heat Pumps
9. Solar Thermal Arrays
10. Photovoltaic Arrays
11. Wind Farms
12. Geothermal Energy
13. Industrial Efficiency
14. Green Chemistry
15. Smart Urban Growth
16. Healthy Cities Programs
17. Public Transport and Light-Rails
18. Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles
19. Sustainable Forestry
20. Conservation Tillage
21. Locally-grown Organic Agriculture
22. Less Intensive Livestock Practices
23. Municipal Solid Waste Management
24. Low Technology/Human-Powered Devices
|1. Oil Sands and Shale Oil|
2. Ethanol and Biodiesel
3. Coal with CO2 Capture and Storage
5. Nuclear Fission
7. Wave, Current and Tidal Energy
This is a chapter from Healthy Solutions for the Low Carbon Economy: Guidelines for Investors, Insurers and Policy Makers (e-book).
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