UN climate chief Christiana Figueres places a building block in a miniature Mayan pyramid at the site of climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico, Nov. 28, 2010. The "Pyramid of Hope" symbolizes the many building blocks needed for a new climate agreement.
"Will We Know Success When We See It?"
Magazine or Newspaper Article, The National Journal
December 6, 2010
Author: Robert N. Stavins, Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government; Member of the Board; Director, Harvard Project on Climate Agreements
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Harvard Project on Climate Agreements
As international climate negotiations continue here in Cancun, the key challenge is to further the process of constructing a sound foundation for meaningful, long-term global action, not necessarily some notion of immediate, highly-visible triumph. I say this because of some basic scientific and economic realities.
First, the focus of scientists (and policy makers) should be on stabilizing concentrations at acceptable levels by 2050 and beyond, because it is the accumulated stock of greenhouse gas emissions — not the flow of emissions in any year — that are linked with climate consequences.
Second, the cost-effective path for stabilizing concentrations involves a gradual ramp-up in target severity, to avoid rendering large parts of the capital stock prematurely obsolete....
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