The Climate Emergency Is About Numbers. Here’s How to Fight It.

A new report from the United Nations-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that the planet will warm by 1.5 degrees Celsius in the next two decades without drastic moves to eliminate greenhouse gas pollution. Already, the past decade was most likely hotter than any period in the last 125,000 years, with the group pinning the blame on human activity in the 3,949-page assessment. The report also found that combustion and deforestation have also raised carbon dioxide in the atmosphere higher than they’ve been in two million years, and agriculture and fossil fuels have contributed to methane and nitrous oxide concentration higher than any point in at least 800,000 years.

Here’s what Bloomberg Opinion columnists an contributors have been saying about climate change and potential solutions:

Net Zero Is a Pipe Dream Without Full Inclusion: “There is an incontrovertible and sobering fact about the drive to net zero. Any effort that doesn’t work for the whole world will fail everywhere. A path that favors developed markets at the expense of others will lead to a partial net zero, which is no net zero at all. Unfortunately, too many countries, companies and investors see achieving this goal by mid-century as a divided race against metrics rather than as a united race against time.” —Hendrik du Toit

A Bookkeeping Revolution to Save the Climate: “The accounting standard needed today is one capable of measuring the amounts of greenhouse gases that are emitted and removed from the atmosphere, and the goal of reaching a “net zero” balance between the two. Although the Greenhouse Gas Protocol has provided an agreed-upon way to account for corporate carbon emissions, there is still no standard measure to assess where companies stand on the path to net zero.” —Robert Hinkle and Peter R. Orszag

Climate Change Won't Be Stopped By Green Tape: “In the race to net zero, the European Union should have a head start in setting those standards given many years of investor interest. Its new rules requiring asset managers to disclose the environmental, social and corporate governance features of their funds started to take effect this month. But the bloc still hasn’t agreed on the list of categories and definitions of what’s green and what’s not — known as the green taxonomy — that’s supposed to underpin the effort, and to become a global standard.” —Huw van Steenis

A Carbon Border Tax Is a Necessary Nuisance: “The European Union wants to prove to the world just how serious it is about fighting climate change. But can it coerce other countries to act as decisively? On Wednesday, the European Commission will outline a hugely ambitious package of climate legislation with the aim of achieving the bloc’s goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% from 1990 levels. The “Fit for 55” measures encompass several vital areas: phasing out combustion engine vehicles, a minimum tax on polluting aviation fuels and the inclusion of shipping in Europe’s emissions trading system.” —Chris Bryant

Here's How Good Climate Policy Could Go Bad: “There’s good news and bad news in humanity’s struggle against climate change. What’s good is that we have an excellent instrument against global warming that we can extend and improve: a market-friendly carbon price. What’s bad is that we seem bent on gumming it up with other policies that are faddish but misguided, and amount to a new form of central planning.” —Andreas Kluth

Biden’s Earth Day Message Courts World and Home: “President Joe Biden’s climate conference, kicking off on Thursday, aims to demonstrate that the U.S. is serious about tackling climate change, and showing it can outcompete China in the process. In doing so, though, Biden is also reaffirming his intent to transform the domestic scene with multitrillion dollar infrastructure plans. And that means courting a domestic audience, too. The centerpiece is a new U.S. emissions reduction target that could be described as metamorphic. Halving the country’s greenhouse gas output in 2030 from the level of 2005, as Biden aims for, requires remaking swathes of the economy.” —Liam Denning

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Bloomberg Opinion provides commentary on business, economics, politics, technology and markets.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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