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02/27/2022

Comments

Allyssa Utecht

I felt like this webinar was a really nice intersection of everything we have learned in class so far, what I hear in the news, and what I am learning in my other environmental classes. Towards the end, when the speakers were discussing how low prices come with high costs and do not reflect the true cost, it reminded me of our class when we discussed the environmental production function. Rather than keeping prices low, the best way to help poor people is by raising incomes. The speakers discussed how those of us who are primarily responsible for climate change should have to pay more. Sustainable development goals can help us provide clean energy resources to developing countries at a lower cost than we are currently paying. Revenue generated by climate dividends can be used to lower costs for poorer people and raise incomes; energy costs may rise but income also rises, and the dividends are higher than extra costs generated by higher fuel prices. I think the speakers did a good job emphasizing how necessary a globally agreed upon carbon price is; putting a price on carbon would level the playing field and take advantage of what market does best; it sends price signals based on the true cost so firms can invest in more renewable fields. I think an important point they made was how little policy there is for renewable energy sources and how this limits their development. We need more policies and regulations for new alternatives technologies to allow them to scale to the level we need. When Professor Casey was discussing how the cost of building and implementing wind and solar infrastructure is actually cheaper right now on a per kWh basis than coal and oil, I was reminded of one of my recent climate change classes with Professor Greer when she said the exact same thing. In developing countries, it is actually cheaper and more realistic to implement solar energy grids, especially since many of these countries are closer to the equator with more sunlight, than to try to build a natural gas or coal-based electricity grid from scratch.
The final discussion on the complexity of carbon capture and storage left my thinking for a while after the call ended. In the classes I have had with Professor Greer, we have discussed CCS at length, and always in a way that promotes their implementation and benefits. I found it really interesting when the speakers were more hesitant about the feasibility of such technologies. Some people don’t think its what we should focus on, while some think it is an absolute necessity. Alex Prather made an important distinction between technological vs nature based solutions, and their unique issues; issues of permanence with nature, and the issues of costs that come with technology.

Alice Chen

Like Allyssa, I found this webinar to be a nice intersection between the topics we are learning in environmental economics, and my own interests in sustainability and finance. There is a lot we still have to do in order to reduce fossil fuel emissions, and the cost would be pretty high in doing so, but this webinar gave me a lot of hope that building a more sustainable future is possible and the cost isn't as high as many predictors say they are. It was interesting to hear that the climate tech VC's are largely investing in are related to transportation--which is surprising since Alex mentioned a handful of other areas in which we need to decarbonise. But, like I mentioned earlier, it have me hope since there were still quite a few companies in other spaces that were working to decarbonise areas like food, industrial chemicals, steel and cement. Another thing I found interesting was how we are currently subsidizing the fossil fuel industry. This was pretty surprising since it seems like common knowledge nowadays that fossil fuel emissions play a negative role in sustainability, so why do we continue to subsidize it? Like what we talked about in class, we should be taxing the fossil fuel industry just like how we should be taxing the agriculture industry.

Mohammed R Mourtaja

It was interesting to be in this seminar. Although all the 3 parts were amazing, I will comment on the first part specifically. The statement that you, professor, said struck me. You Said “ The question is not if can we afford to be sustainable, but rather: Can we afford not to be sustainable?”
It is astonishing to me that we could only use from 1 to 3 percent of the global GDP to end the most existential problem we are facing right now. Some argue it is one percent, others argue it is around 3%. However, personally, I believe that this is nothing compared to what would happen to us if we do not start address this change in our climate. As you see, I keep use the word “us” because it literally everyone. It does not matter if you live in Gaza or Lexington, everyone will be affected by climate change. Nevertheless, we still see people who working so hard to keep the status quo, where the fusel foil industry is gaining billions of dollars and total negligence for the suffering of millions of people and most importantly OUR FUTURE! Moreover, it is interesting to talk about the one percent rule, especially because Dick Cheney is a big reason that the US has not done anything to solve this crisis.
The world is subsidizing the fossil fuel industry with more than 5.9 T dollars, while the same amount could be used to end this problem. As always, politics intersect. Instead of doing what is good for the society, there are a handful of people who are using their power to increase their profits with no regard to our future.
I know that short-run adjustments are not great, but are we going to wait until there is no way to get away?

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