Evidence provided in this chapter suggests that human-induced climate change is a reality and that the global warming observed over the past century is essentially the product of humankind’s addiction to GDP growth. In order to prevent the onset of catastrophic climate change, a number of things are required. Firstly, there must be a global commitment to stabilise the concentration of carbon dioxide-equivalent gases in the Earth’s atmosphere at no more than 450 parts-per-million (i.e., 450 ppm of CO2-e). Secondly, because anthropogenic global warming is one of many global issues requiring urgent attention, climate change must be resolved in conjunction with other sustainable development concerns. In particular, all nations must eventually make the transition to a qualitatively-improving steady-state economy. Efforts to prevent the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases stabilising above 450 ppm of CO2-e depend heavily on the establishment of an effective emissions-trading system encompassing all the world’s nations. However, for a global emissions-trading system to be successful, it must be built on the principles of ecological sustainability, distributional equity, and allocative efficiency. At the same time, the system needs to be accompanied by urgently required policies at the national level, albeit the nature, timing, and stringency of the policies would vary from country to country. Whilst high-GDP countries need to implement policies to immediately begin the transition to a qualitatively-improving steady-state economy, low-GDP nations require policies to enable them to experience a short phase of growth that is as efficient and equitable as possible. Recognition of the need for low-GDP countries to enjoy a period of welfare-increasing growth should produce a new global protocol that allows the world’s poorest nations to generate most of any future permissible global emissions.
Greenhouse effect Growth and climate change Climate change impacts History of climate change Ecological economics
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