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Talking Sense About Global Warming

LONDON – In February, 14 distinguished climate scientists, economists, and policy experts came together to discuss how to tackle global warming. This week, the London School of Economics and Oxford University are publishing their conclusions. They are worth considering.

The group was brought together by Gwyn Prins, a well-regarded expert in security policy and international relations who heads LSE’s Mackinder Programme for the Study of Long Wave Events. Participants included climate scientist Mike Hulme of the University of East Anglia, climate policy expert Roger Pielke Jr. of the University of Colorado, and climate economist Christopher Green of McGill University.

The group’s report, “The Hartwell Paper,” outlines a new direction for climate policy after the collapse of last year’s attempts to negotiate a global climate deal. The authors note that 18 years of the “Kyoto Protocol approach” to international climate policy have failed to produce any discernable real-world reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases.

What defines the Kyoto approach, of course, is a single-minded focus on cutting carbon-dioxide emissions. “The Hartwell Paper” argues that the Kyoto approach, based as it is on past experience with relatively simple environmental problems like acid rain, was always doomed to failure.