Wednesday, 29 October 2014

How irrationality can help climate: Economic perspectives on climate change part III

Post by Judd Ormsby

In the first post in this series I described climate change as a classic free-rider problem and I described the standard solution of government to these problems. Recognising how difficult this solution can be at a global level I then delved into some of the empirical literature on cooperation. In this post I want to discuss some insights from behavioural economics. I’ve got three topics in mind: energy-cost myopia, nudges, and defaults.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

From fact to act: Shifting individual behaviour on climate change

By Scott White and Catherine Leining, Motu Economic and Public Policy Research

Individuals can make a difference on climate change through their actions as citizens, consumers, organisational members and activists. In New Zealand’s context, how can we motivate more people to take the more effective types of mitigation actions? Why are some people willing to mitigate beyond their self-interest, while others fail to mitigate even when that should be in their self-interest? We will be exploring these issues in a series of posts on shifting New Zealanders’ behaviour to lower emissions.

The story of New Zealand’s increasing greenhouse gas emissions since 1990 is not just about increasing exports and population growth. According to one international study, from 1990 to 2010, New Zealanders’ personal consumption emissions per capita increased 21%, from 7.6 to 9.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (t CO2e) per year. This has occurred despite substantial increases in both the evidence base for human-induced climate change and media coverage of climate change science and impacts. Among individuals we can observe two clear disconnections that create significant barriers to effective action.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

The role of anthropogenic climate change in the 2013 North Island drought

By Luke Harrington

A report released September 29th 2014 by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society has addressed the causes of sixteen individual extreme weather events which occurred around the world in 2013, and specifically examined the role of anthropogenic (human-induced) climate change in each case. The report, “Explaining Extreme Events of 2013 from a Climate Perspective”, was compiled by 92 scientists worldwide and found a mixture of results when detecting a ‘climate change signal’ in an extreme event. The Guardian provides a good summary of the results here.

I was the lead author on an article within the report which focused on the North Island drought from the summer of 2013. The New Zealand Treasury estimates the drought cost the economy at least NZ$1.5 billion, with associated impacts expected for at least two years following the event. The role of our analysis was to understand how the likelihood of this type of event has changed as a direct result of anthropogenic changes to the climate system – this includes both greenhouse gas emissions and, because of our Southern Hemisphere location, ozone depletion.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

The Climate CoLab

Blog post by Judd Ormsby

Crowdsourcing is cool. The internet is cool. Contests are fun. Why not set up an online contest that uses crowdsourcing to find solutions to climate change problems? Climate CoLab at the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence does exactly that.