I’ve finally watched the video of Kevin Anderson’s talk (posted in a comment that I currently can’t find) which was part of the Cambridge Climate Lecture Series. I found it quite uncomfortable. He addressed things that we typically avoid. The possibility that we will have to make substantial changes to our lifestyles and that achieving the 1.5 – 2oC target is incompatible with economic growth. I realise that such arguments are unlikely to succeed in today’s socio-political environment, but I am genuinely concerned that we will do so little now, that we will be being forced to do things, in the future, that – today – we regard as unacceptable.
He addressed how the Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) were providing carbon budgets that are too optimistic – and, hence, motivating delay – by relying on technology (negative emissions) that is yet unproven. He suggests that 4oC is incompatible with organised global community and should be avoided at all costs (discount rate is irrelevant). He also argued that climate scientists, and other academics, should be setting some kind of example by reducing their own carbon emissions (and also that of their institutions). I’ve always been a bit anti this argument because I don’t think it is their role to do so, but I am starting to come around to it. We are amongst the highest emitters, and we’re also aware of the potential consequences.
Whatever you might think of the above, I still think his talk is worth watching. I couldn’t see anything wrong with the numbers he presented and they don’t paint a particularly optimistic picture. That’s not to say that we can’t do something (I certainly think we can) but it seems increasingly likely that we’ll have to start seriously considering doing things that we’d really rather not do.