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Breaking the climate change cycle - Future World

The solutions to halt climate change are out there but require high coordination and cooperation and ingenuity in technologies and policy-making

Whether we will manage to slow climate change down or not, these changes, and the impact of our mitigation efforts, will affect several ecosystems, economic sectors and features of our own lives. Latest science shows that some of the effects of climate change may be faster than we expected and we have already caused enough damage with our past actions. It is now time to break the cycle. The solutions are out there – but they come with challenges and to trigger change we will need policies. It is a complex effort, requiring high level of coordination across sectors, activities and countries.

Climate change is one of the key aspects of our society being impacted by megatrends, analyzed in the 'Future World' series produced by Bocconi University – along with those impacting the economy, demography, the European Union and digital transformation. Bocconi professors talk about the forces at play, the challenges and opportunities, and how we will need to transform and adapt, with added commentary from prominent guests.

Climate change is possibly the largest challenge humanity has ever faced. It requires ingenuity and innovation; not just in technologies but also in policy making.

In this video, Valentina Bosetti, professor of Environmental and Climate Change Economics at Bocconi University, gives us her overview of where we are and where we are heading – with climate change “possibly the largest challenge humanity has ever faced”, she warns. Breaking the cycle will not be easy in fact. Our global economy emits today around 50 billion tons of CO2 equivalent each year (more than 40% higher than in 1990). Bringing CO2 emissions to zero in 2060-70 and fulfilling the Paris agreement goals is a big task.

However, we won’t need to bring emissions to zero everywhere, it is net emissions which have to go to zero. Where it is too costly or simply too complex to completely eliminate emissions (both in terms of sectors and activities or regions), we will have to compensate by taking emissions away from the atmosphere in some other sector or region. A necessary step will certainly be to decarbonize electricity. This can be done by using known technologies, renewables sources, but the shift does come with some challenges.

And all these changes will require policies. Up to now, although GHG Emissions imply huge costs to society, present and future, nobody has paid the bill. But we could associate a cost to those emissions. In Europe, for example, we have developed the European market for emission. Some other countries are taxing CO2 emissions. But so far, the amount of emissions covered by such policies and taxes is far from enough. In the real world of conflicting political incentives, social perceptions and acceptance pressures, other policies (as for example technological standards, subsidies, innovation policies) might prove more easily implementable and successful.

Developing and emerging countries cannot implement policies and strategies to fight climate change alone –this is where the international financial community has a crucial role to play.

In the video, Barbara Buchner, Senior Director of Climate Policy Initiative, gives us some insight on the problems and challenges facing developing and emerging economies n the fight against climate change and how advanced economies can best support them.

Facing the challenges of climate change will thus require a united effort on so many fronts. It requires ingenuity and innovation; not just in technologies but also in policy making and in our behaviors; it also requires never witnessed before levels of international cooperation.

The pandemic has highlighted the true potential and value of digital transformation. Where is technology heading us and what will be the impact on society and business?

A multispeed post-pandemic economic recovery is underway. A look at the new growth patterns and dynamics that will impact the global economy

Demography shapes and is shaped by economic social, political and environmental change. What are the fast and slow population changes underway impacting society?

The pandemic has uncovered geopolitical, economic and social weaknesses in the EU. How can, and must, EU leaders tackle the major challenges?

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