dervis91_WOJTEK RADWANSKIAFPGetty Images_climate protest Wojtek Radwanski/AFP/Getty Images

The Real Obstacle to Climate Action

Distributional issues – not aggregate costs – are the real obstacle to the ambitious policies needed to avert possibly catastrophic climate change. Progressives everywhere must therefore unite in support of a rapid green transition that is feasible and desirable for all.

WASHINGTON, DC – Climate change is probably the biggest threat facing humanity today. According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world must cut its carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050 in order to prevent global warming of 1.5°C, or likely more, above pre-industrial levels in this century. The challenge calls for drastic immediate action, because the infrastructure investments the world makes today will determine the carbon intensity of its growth path for decades.

Yet despite widespread recognition of the size and urgency of the climate challenge, emissions continue to increase, land is “under growing human pressure,” and the Amazon has never been more threatened.

Much of the early climate debate revolved around whether the world should take drastic immediate action to mitigate global warming, or adopt a more gradual approach. The gradualists argued with some success that drastic immediate measures would impose heavy short-term economic costs.

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