Holdren on climate policy: lead or be cooked

john holdren

As Copenhagen looms, Obama's science advisor John Holdren says "industrialised nations need to get their acts together..and developing countries have to join pretty soon, or we're going to be cooked" (via newscientist).

Holdren still sees a chance for Senate passage of "commitments that will move us onto a declining emissions trajectory", and if so, "we will see a degree of progress at Copenhagen that will surprise people."

For now, Holdren sees cap-and-trade as a vital stepping stone, with "more ambitious" targets to be added over time.

Such adjustments are "likely", says Holdren because two things are going to happen:

  1. the damage from climate change is going to continue to escalate
  2. once you have a real price on greenhouse gas emissions, you're going to see innovation in response.

Says Holdren, this will "make it clear to people that it is easier and less expensive to reduce emissions than they had feared."

Holdren notes that the emission reduction targets in Waxman-Markey amount to "a few per cent below what they were in 1990."

Regarding the ultimate goal of avoiding catastrophic climate change, Holdren notes that "from a scientific standpoint, 350 ppm is better than 450 ppm. The reason 450 ppm has become the mainstream view is that it is close to the best we can do and, at the same time, maybe the worst we can tolerate."

Holdren also talks about white roofs, cellulosic ethanol, and moving closer to where you work in this marvelous interview. Read on!

Published by Ken on August 3rd, 2009 tagged Climate Change, Systems Thinking

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