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Global Warming Gridlock: Creating More Effective Strategies for Protecting the Planet Hardcover – April 18, 2011
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- The Economist
"David Victor's voice on how to do successful climate diplomacy and policy is one of the most distinctive in today's world. It is a voice that needs to be listened to. Global Warming Gridlock exposes the myths, failures and naiveties of two decades of climate diplomacy. No prisoners are taken - diplomats, scientists, campaigners and engineers alike are placed in the firing line. Instead, and drawing upon his own profound analysis and experience of international environmental law, diplomacy and policy, Victor presents a convincing case for a pragmatic, incremental and credible approach to climate policy, in stark contrast to the idealistic, radical and incredible approach which has so feebly failed. Global Warming Gridlock adds its voice to the 'new realism' surrounding climate change science, discourse, politics and policy which is gaining important momentum following the scientific and diplomatic debacles of 2009/10." - Mike Hulme, University of East Anglia
"Uncertainty over global climate negotiations is impeding investment into the low-carbon economy. But policy gridlock is not inevitable. In his lucidly argued and timely new book, David Victor gives a pragmatic roadmap to help policymakers navigate their way around the current climate impasse." - Lord John Browne, Partner, Riverstone Holdings LLC and former CEO BP Plc
"In Global Warming Gridlock, David Victor combines a devastating critique of the prevailing UN-based process with a politically sophisticated argument for an alternative strategy based on climate clubs and deals. To understand the politics of climate change, read this book!" - Robert O. Keohane, Professor of Public and International Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
"The book covers a vast and in depth landscape of diplomatic history and is written in a compelling and engaging style. I particularly welcome Victor's focus on the need for better strategies to engage with emerging economies, such as India, that are making serious proactive contributions to mitigation, and adaptation, demonstrating that while they have not caused the problem, they will be part of the solution. His analysis takes to task, the existing diplomatic process, which he argues has not been designed with the needs of emerging countries in mind." - Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India
"I cannot claim to have read all the books on global warming and climate change, but I've read enough, in the thirty years that I have been studying the subject, to assure you that it is exceedingly unlikely that there's another one out there that is as good, let alone better, than David Victor's. He is up to date on the science; he has more than two decades of experience in policy-making, especially international environmental policy-making; he is patient and fair-minded; and he writes in plain English. If you want to know what book to read, this one is it." - Thomas C. Schelling, Nobel Laureate in Economics, University of Maryland
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He says that there are three dimensions to a climate change strategy. First we need to regulate emissions. This means that we need to acknowledge that carbon-based fuels, and in particular coal, are going to provide a lot of the world's energy for a long time to come. Instead of dismissing them and praying for something new, we need to work intelligently with fossil fuels. In particular, we need to recognize that coal will continue to be used and encourage the most efficient possible practices for extracting energy from coal, and for dealing with the carbon dioxide created in burning coal.
Second is new technologies. As much as the Greens might wish, and politicians might promise that wind power, solar power, and hydroelectric are going to provide most of our energy really soon now, it simply cannot happen. There isn't enough wind, or enough real estate to put the solar collectors, or enough rivers to dam.
Victor says surprisingly little about nuclear energy. He should, given that it is the only plausible alternative source of the vast quantities of energy that the world consumes. Nuclear, while it does not contribute to global warming, is fraught with its own political problems, which have only become more serious since the earthquake in Japan. But this is a side note - he is right to focus on fossil fuels, where the major battle is to be fought.
Victor's third dimension is the most controversial.Read more ›
Mr. Victor identifies three distinct challenges that global warming represents for policy making and implementation:
1) Cutting emissions: Most diplomacy has focused on targets and timetables to reduce emissions of CO2 within a universal forum without actually doing much to protect the climate. These global goals reflect what the author calls the "scientist's myth." This myth is based on the belief that once a scientific consensus is achieved, regulation will come in its aftermath. This top-down approach ignores how power, interests, and capabilities interact with each other at the state level. Each country has to figure out which emissions it will be able and willing to cut without undermining its competitiveness in a globalized economy.
2) Technological innovation: Radically new technologies will be needed to use energy more efficiently. Mr. Victor debunks both the "engineer's" and "environmentalist's" myths on this subject. The "engineer's myth" reflects the conviction that once inventors have created new technologies, these inventions can quickly enter into service. The "environmentalist's myth" ignores the reality that the real policy challenges of global warming are related to the design and management of a slow, costly, and difficult transformation in how society obtains and uses energy. History shows that world's energy systems cannot change much faster than at a 50-70 year pace.Read more ›