Thursday, December 29, 2011

Burton Richter Makes Sense

Physicist Burton Richter (a Nobel Laureate) makes some sense:
Q: If you got one wish on international policy on climate change, what would it be?

Richter: That we would abandon the stupid notion of legally binding agreements on emissions. What are the fines for not meeting your agreements? Who levies the fine? Where does the money go? There are no sanctions, so what does "legally binding" mean?

Also, 15 countries are responsible for more than 80 percent of the world's emissions. Why are we trying to get a deal with 196 countries, most of which are spending all their time trying to figure out how to get the richer countries to pay them money? What we really need is to get these 15 countries, which includes some developed countries and some rapidly developing countries, to agree on a deal.
Richter: ...It's obvious to anyone that on national economic grounds we should shut down these coal plants as fast as we can replace them. However, you have a bunch of senators from coal-producing states and from states that are heavily dependent on coal, like those in the Southeast, that get most of their electricity from coal-fired power plants. So, you've got to get the politics of this right. I won't say it's easy, but you are just going to have to run right over West Virginia.

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