Publications associated with Ice and Fluid Dynamics

How to decarbonize? Look to Sweden

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Routledge 72 (2016) 105-111

R Pierrehumbert

Bringing global warming to a halt requires that worldwide net emissions of carbon dioxide be brought to essentially zero, and the sooner this occurs, the less warming our descendants for the next thousand years and more will need to adapt to. The widespread fear that the actions needed to bring this about conflict with economic growth is a major impediment to efforts to protect the climate. However, much of this fear is pointless, and the magnitude of the task, while great, is no greater than challenges human ingenuity has surmounted in the past. To light the way forward, there is a need for examining success stories in which nations have greatly reduced their carbon dioxide emissions while simultaneously maintaining vigorous growth in the standard of living. In this article, the example of Sweden is showcased. Through a combination of sensible government infrastructure policies and free-market incentives, Sweden has managed to successfully decarbonize, cutting its per capita emissions by a factor of three since the 1970s, while doubling its pre capita income and providing a wide range of social benefits. This has all be accomplished within a vigorous capitalistic framework which in many ways embodies freemarket principles better than the economy of the United States.

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