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經濟學人:氣候問題(4)

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It is foolish to think all this can be done in ten years or so, as demanded by many activists and some American presidential hopefuls. But today’s efforts, which are too lax to keep the world from two or even three degrees of warming, can be vastly improved. Forcing firms to reveal their climate vulnerabilities will help increasingly worried investors allocate capital appropriately. A robust price on carbon could stimulate new forms of emission-cutting innovations that planners cannot yet imagine. Powerful as that tool is, though, the decarbonisation it brings will need to be accelerated through well-targeted regulations. Electorates should vote for both.

認為這一切都能在10年左右的時間內完成,就像許多活動人士和一些美國總統候選人所要求的那樣,是愚蠢的。但是,今天的努力,由于太過松懈而無法使全球氣溫上升2度甚至3度,可以得到極大的改善。迫使企業披露其氣候脆弱性,將有助于日益擔憂的投資者合理配置資本。一個強有力的碳價格可以刺激新形式的減排創新,這是規劃者們還無法想象的。盡管這個工具很強大,但它帶來的脫碳需要通過目標明確的監管來加速。選民應該為兩者投票。
The problem with such policies is that the climate responds to the overall level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, not to a single country’s contribution to it. If one government drastically reduces its own emissions but others do not, the gallant reducer will in general see no reduced harm. This is not always entirely true: Germany’s over-generous renewable-energy subsidies spurred a worldwide boom in solar-panel production that made them cheaper for everyone, thus reducing emissions abroad; Britain’s thriving offshore wind farms may achieve something similar. But it is true enough in most cases to be a huge obstacle.
這些政策的問題在于,氣候是對大氣中二氧化碳的總體水平作出反應,而不是對一個國家的貢獻作出反應。如果一個政府大幅減少自己的排放量,而其他政府不這么做,那么這個勇敢的減排者將不會看到任何減少的危害。這并不總是完全正確的:德國過于慷慨的可再生能源補貼刺激了世界范圍內太陽能電池板生產的繁榮,這讓太陽能電池板對每個國家來說都很便宜,從而減少了國外的排放;英國蓬勃發展的海上風力發電場可能也會達到類似的效果。但在大多數情況下,這足以成為一個巨大的障礙。

The climate issue4.jpg

The obvious fix will be unpalatable to many. The UN’s climate talks treat 193 countries as equals, providing a forum in which all are heard. But three-quarters of emissions come from just 12 economies. In some of those, including the United States, it is possible to imagine younger voters in liberal democracies demanding a political realignment on climate issues—and a new interest in getting others to join in. For a club composed of a dozen great and middling-but-mucky powers to thrash out a “minilateral” deal would leave billions excluded from questions that could shape their destiny; the participants would need new systems of trade preference and other threats and bribes to keep each other in line. But they might break the impasse, pushing enough of the world onto a steeper mitigation trajectory to benefit all—and be widely emulated.

顯而易見的解決方案將讓許多人感到不快。聯合國氣候談判平等對待193個國家,提供了一個所有國家都能發聲的論壇。但四分之三的排放量僅來自12個經濟體。在其中一些國家,包括美國,可以想象自由民主國家的年輕選民要求在氣候問題上進行政治重組,并希望其他人也加入進來。對于一個由十幾個偉大的、中等但不太體面的大國組成的俱樂部來說,敲定一項“小范圍”協議將使數十億人被排除在可能決定他們命運的問題之外;參與者將需要新的貿易優惠制度、其他威脅和賄賂,以保持彼此一致。但他們可能會打破僵局,將世界上足夠多的國家推向一個更陡峭的減排軌道,使所有國家受益——并被廣泛效仿。
The damage that climate change will end up doing depends on the human response over the next few decades. Many activists on the left cannot imagine today’s liberal democracies responding to the challenge on an adequate scale. They call for new limits to the pursuit of individual prosperity and sweeping government control over investment—strictures some of them would welcome under any circumstances. Meanwhile, on the right, some look away from the incipient disaster in an I’m-alright-Jack way and so ignore their duties to the bulk of humanity.
氣候變化最終造成的破壞將取決于未來幾十年人類的反應。許多左翼活動人士無法想象,今天的自由民主國家會以適當的規模應對這一挑戰。他們呼吁對追求個人繁榮進行新的限制,并要求政府對投資限制進行全面控制。與此同時,在右翼,一些人以一種“我還好吧”的方式把目光從剛剛開始的災難上移開,因此忽視了他們對人類的責任。
If the spirit of enterprise that first tapped the power of fossil fuels in the Industrial Revolution is to survive, the states in which it has most prospered must prove those attitudes wrong. They must be willing to transform the machinery of the world economy without giving up on the values out of which that economy was born. Some claim that capitalism’s love of growth inevitably pits it against a stable climate. This newspaper believes them wrong. But climate change could nonetheless be the death knell for economic freedom, along with much else. If capitalism is to hold its place, it must up its game.
如果在工業革命中率先利用化石燃料的企業精神要生存下去,那么,在化石燃料最繁榮的國家,必須證明這些態度是錯誤的。他們必須愿意改革世界經濟的機制,而不放棄產生這種經濟的價值觀念。一些人聲稱,資本主義對增長的熱愛不可避免地使其與穩定的氣候相矛盾。本刊認為他們是錯的。然而,氣候變化可能是經濟自由的喪鐘,還有許多其他因素。如果資本主義想要站穩腳跟,就必須堅持下去。

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