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Climate policy: Democracy is not an inconvenience


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Climate scientists are tiring of governance that does not lead to action.
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completely to CO
. Materials research on
proton and oxygen ion conductors in the
past decade shows that such fuel cells are
For intermediate-temperature hybrid
fuel cells to become a reality, researchers
need to create solid electrolytes with high
conductivity, and find electrode materials
that have high activity and stability and
that react with methane without form-
ing coke (solid carbon). These devices
must use less platinum catalyst and more
impure fuel than low-temperature poly-
mer cells; make do with cheaper seals and
connectors; and last longer than higher-
temperature solid-oxide fuel cells.
US researchers have made a start. I
launched the Reliable Electricity Based on
Electrochemical Systems (REBELS) pro-
gramme at ARPA-E with $33million in
funding in June 2014. It is starting to bear
fruit10. Efforts elsewhere, particularly in
Europe and Japan, are addressing hydro-
gen generation and GTL separately but
could also benefit from hybrid fuel cells.
Researchers should prove the viability of
intermediate-temperature fuel cells with
these extra functions by demonstrating
high power density and a lifetime of ten
years, compared with current cell lifetimes
of less than five. Cost savings must be vali-
dated through rigorous techno-economic
modelling. Advances will then need to be
scaled up from individual cells to kilowatt-
scale systems, which will take 5–10 years.
Regulators, utility companies, technol-
ogists and users must define an appropri-
ate mix of technologies and incentives to
maintain the stability of the electricity
grid in the coming decades. Hybrid fuel
cells must be part of that conversation.
John P. Lemmon is a programme director
at the US Department of Energy Advanced
Research Projects Agency–Energy
(ARPA-E), Washington DC, USA.
1. Schröder, C. Der Spiegel ‘Energy Revolution
Hiccups: Grid Instability Has Industry
Scrambling for Solutions’ (16 August 2012).
2. US Energy Information Administration.
Modeling Distributed Generation in the
Building Sectors (EIA, 2013).
3. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Assessment of Demand Response and
Advanced Metering (2012).
4. Lew, D. et al. The Western Wind and Solar
Integration Study Phase 2 (US Natl Renewable
Energy Lab., 2013).
5. Weiss, J. & Tsuchida, B. Integrating Renewable
Energy into the Electricity Grid (Brattle Group,
6. Chartouni, D., Kuriyama, N., Kiyobayahsi, T. &
Chen, J. Int. J. Hydrogen Energy 27, 945–952
7. Wang, C., Appleby, A. J., Cocke, D. L.
J. Electrochem. Soc. 151, A260–A264 (2004).
8. Van Overmeere, Q., Kerman, K. & Ramanathan,
S. Nano Lett. 12, 3756–3760 (2012).
9. Jacobs, T. J. Pet. Technol. 65, 4135 (2013).
10. Duan, C. et al. Science
10.1126/science.aab3987 (2015).
Democracy is not
an inconvenience
Climate scientists are tiring of governance that does not
lead to action. But democracy must not be weakened in
the fight against global warming, warns Nico Stehr.
There are many threats to democracy
in the modern era. Not least is the
risk posed by the widespread public
feeling that politicians are not listening.
Such discontent can be seen in the politi-
cal far right: the Tea Party movement in the
United States, the UK Independence Party,
the Pegida (Patriotic Europeans Against the
Islamization of the West) demonstrators in
Germany, and the National Front in France.
More surprisingly, a similar impatience
with the political elite is now also present
in the scientific community. Researchers
are increasingly concerned that no one is
listening to their diagnosis of the dangers
of human-induced climate change and
its long-lasting consequences, despite the
robust scientific consensus. As govern-
ments continue to fail to take appropriate
political action, democracy begins to look
to some like an inconvenient form of gov-
ernance. There is a tendency to want to take
decisions out of the hands of politicians
and the public, and, given the ‘exceptional
circumstances’, put the decisions into the
hands of scientists themselves.
This scientific disenchantment with
democracy has slipped under the radar
of many social scientists and commen-
tators. Attention is urgently needed:
24 SEPTEMBER 2015 | VOL 525 | NATURE | 449
© 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved
the solution to the intractable ‘wicked
problem’ of global warming is to enhance
democracy, not jettison it.
Democratic nations seem to have failed
us in the climate arena so far. The past
decade’s climate summits in Copenhagen,
Cancun, Durban and Warsaw were politi-
cal washouts. Expectations for the next
meeting in Paris this December are low.
Academics increasingly point to democ-
racy as a reason for failure. NASA climate
researcher James Hansen was quoted
in 2009 in The Guardian as saying: “the
democratic process doesn’t quite seem
to be working”1. In a special issue of the
journal Environmental Politics in 2010,
political scientist Mark Beeson argued2
that forms of ‘good’ authoritarianism “may
become not only justifiable, but essen-
tial for the survival of humanity in any-
thing approaching a civilised form. The
title of an opinion piece published earlier
this year in The Conversation, an online
magazine funded by universities, sums up
the issue: ‘Hidden crisis of liberal democ-
racy creates climate change paralysis’
The depiction of contemporary democ-
racies as ill-equipped to deal with climate
change comes from a range of considera-
tions. These include a deep-seated pes-
simism about the psychological make-up
of humans; the disinclination of people to
mobilize on issues that seem far removed;
and the presumed lack of intellectual com-
petence of people to grasp complex issues.
On top of these there is the presumed
scientific illiteracy of most politicians
and the electorate; the inability of govern-
ments locked into short-term voting cycles
to address long-term problems; the influ-
ence of vested interests on political agen-
das; the addiction to fossil fuels; and the
feeling among the climate-science com-
munity that its message falls on the deaf
ears of politicians.
Such views can be heard from the high-
est ranks of climate science. Hans Joachim
Schellnhuber, founding director of the
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact
Research and chair of the German Advi-
sory Council on Global Change, said of
the inaction in a 2011 interview with Ger
man newspaper Der Spiegel: “comfort and
ignorance are the biggest flaws of human
character. This is a potentially deadly mix”.
What, then, is the alternative? The solu-
tion hinted at by many people leans towards
a technocracy, in which decisions are made
by those with technical knowledge. This can
be seen in a shift in the statements of some
co-authors of Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change reports, who are moving
away from a purely advisory role towards
policy prescription (see, for example, ref. 3).
We must be careful what we wish for.
Nations that have followed the path of
‘authoritarian modernization, such as
China and Russia, cannot claim to have
a record of environmental accomplish-
ments. In the past two or three years,
China’s system has made it a global leader
in renewables (it accounts for more than
one-quarter of the planets investment in
such energies4). Despite this, it is strug-
gling to meet ambitious environmen-
tal targets and will continue to lead the
world for some time in greenhouse-gas
emissions. As Chinese citizens become
wealthier and more educated, they will
surely push for more democratic inclusion
in environmental policymaking.
Broad-based support for environmen-
tal concerns and subsequent regulations
came about in
open democratic
argument on the
value of nature for
humanity. Democ-
racies learn from
mistakes; autocra-
cies lack flexibility
and adaptability5.
Democratic nations
have forged the most effective international
agreements, such as the Montreal Protocol
against ozone-depleting substances.
Impatient scientists often privilege hegem-
onic players such as world powers, states,
transnational organizations, and multina-
tional corporations. They tend to prefer
sweeping policies of global mitigation over
messier approaches of local adaptation; for
them, global knowledge triumphs over local
know-how. But societal trends are going in
the opposite direction. The ability of large
institutions to impose their will on citizens
is declining. People are mobilizing around
local concerns and efforts6.
The pessimistic assessment of the ability
of democratic governance to cope with and
control exceptional circumstances is linked
to an optimistic assessment of the potential
of large-scale social and economic planning.
The uncertainties of social, political and eco-
nomic events are treated as minor obstacles
that can be overcome easily by implementing
policies that experts prescribe. But human-
ity’s capacity to plan ahead effectively is lim-
ited. The centralized social and economic
planning concept, widely discussed decades
ago, has rightly fallen into disrepute7.
The argument for an authoritarian politi-
cal approach concentrates on a single effect
that governance ought to achieve: a reduc-
tion of greenhouse-gas emissions. By focus-
ing on that goal, rather than on the economic
and social conditions that go hand-in-hand
with it, climate policies are reduced to
scientific or technical issues. But these are
not the sole considerations. Environmental
concerns are tightly entangled with other
political, economic and cultural issues that
both broaden the questions at hand and
open up different ways of approaching it.
Scientific knowledge is neither immediately
performative nor persuasive.
There is but one political system that is able
to rationally and legitimately cope with
the divergent political interests affected by
climate change and that is democracy. Only
a democratic system can sensitively attend
to the conflicts within and among nations
and communities, decide between different
policies, and generally advance the aspira-
tions of different segments of the popula-
tion. The ultimate and urgent challenge is
that of enhancing democracy, for example
by reducing social inequality8.
If not, the threat to civilization will be
much more than just changes to our physi-
cal environment. The erosion of democracy
is an unnecessary suppression of social
complexity and rights.
The philosopher Friedrich Hayek, who
led the debate against social and economic
planning in the mid-twentieth century9,
noted a paradox that applies today. As
science advances, it tends to strengthen the
idea that we should “aim at more deliber-
ate and comprehensive control of all human
activities”. Hayek pessimistically added: “It
is for this reason that those intoxicated by
the advance of knowledge so often become
the enemies of freedom
. We should heed
his warning. It is dangerous to blindly
believe that science and scientists alone can
tell us what to do.
Nico Stehr is a sociologist and founding
director of the European Center for
Sustainability Research at Zeppelin
University in Friedrichshafen, Germany.
1. Adam, D. The Guardian ‘Leading climate
scientist: “democratic process isn’t working”’
(18 March 2009).
2. Beeson, M. Environ. Politics 19, 276–294 (2010).
3. Hansen, J. et al. PLoS ONE http://dx.doi.
org/10.1371/journal.pone.0081648 (2013).
4. REN21. Renewables 2015 Global Status Report
(REN21, 2015).
5. Runciman, D. The Confidence Trap: A History
of Democracy in Crisis from World War I to the
Present (Princeton Univ. Press, 2013).
6. Stehr, N. Information, Power and Democracy,
Liberty is a Daughter of Knowledge (Cambridge
Univ. Press, 2015).
7. Pierre, J. Debating Governance: Authority,
Steering, and Democracy (Oxford Univ. Press,
8. Rosanvallon, P. The Society of Equals (Harvard
Univ. Press, 2013).
9. Hayek, F. A. Nature 148, 580–584 (1941).
10. Hayek, F. A. The Constitution of Liberty (Routledge,
450 | NATURE | VOL 525 | 24 SEPTEMBER 2015
“It is dangerous
to blindly
believe that
science and
scientists alone
can tell us what
to do.”
© 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved
... The more important message from this study is the robust finding that the level of democracy and democratic qualities, both over time and across countries, has had no significant effect on CO 2 emissions from 1992 to 2014. This finding provides strong evidence against the idea that democracy is incompatible with climate change mitigation and therefore that forms of authoritarian climate governance may be needed to deliver sufficient mitigation outcomes (Fischer, 2017;Hammond and Smith, 2017;Stehr, 2015). Proponents of so-called eco-authoritarianism, such as Shearman and Smith (2007), have made the case for a new authoritarian technocratic government model to replace democracy, arguing that humanity may "have to trade its liberty to live as it wishes in favor of a system where survival is paramount" (2007, p. 4). ...
... Although none of them advocate for the Chinese form of government or any form of current authoritarianism, Beeson (2010) argues that "forms of 'good' authoritarianism" may become "essential for the survival of humanity". According to Hammond and Smith (2017) and Stehr (2015), these and similar views have an increasing number of followers, both within and outside of the scientific community. Wells (2007) urges vigilance against a right wing "green junta" that might spur from further inadequate global climate mitigation efforts, while Gilbert (2012) warns against a "militarization of climate change" as it becomes an increasing threat to nations' security. ...
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Given democracies’ moderate success in combatting climate change, some have questioned whether democracy makes it harder, not easier, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Two decades of research, however, has not provided an unequivocal answer. Recent studies argue that this is because democracy has been measured with a single indicator, rather than by its multiple and varied characteristics. In this study, we focus on a subset of democratic qualities and the role they play in mitigating climate change. Using recently developed random-effect within-between models, we formally test the relationships between democratic qualities and per capita CO2 emissions in a panel of 127 countries from 1992 to 2014. With one exception (inequality), we find that democratic qualities have no significant effects on a nation’s ability to mitigate climate change. This means that there are no trade-offs between strengthening democratic institutions and mitigating climate change. Consequently, the global challenge of climate change cannot be used as an excuse to weaken democratic institutions.
... Political action, in turn, requires public support [e.g. 2,3]. Understanding the socio-economic and natural determinants of public support is therefore an important area of research at the intersection of social and natural sciences. ...
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Experiencing events such as extreme heat, flooding, or wildfires may affect political preferences and voting patterns, but existing evidence is mixed. Further, although scientists attribute the increasing incidence and severity of these events to climate change, it is typically uncertain whether the public makes this connection and, therefore, the channel leading from extreme weather events to political outcomes remains unclear. Here we consider a setting in which this connection was made very salient. We use high-resolution flooding and building-level damage data to identify spatially finely disaggregated effects of a large flood in Germany on pro-environmental voting. The flood’s destructiveness and temporal proximity to a general election entailed that media and politicians paid significant attention to the flood, drawing a connection to climate change. Our analysis shows that experiencing damage increases pro-environmental voting, suggesting that first-hand experiences of extreme weather events that are attributed to climate change affect political preferences.
... As a result, the lack of public acceptance and support for certain measures considered effective in reducing air pollution and CO2 emissions sometimes translates into policy makers adopting only the policies that are preferred by most of the public (such as improving public transport) or the interest groups but do not solve the problem Electronic copy available at: 4 effectively and/or efficiently (Stehr 2015;Anderson et al. 2017;Gunningham andSinclair 2017, Givoni 2014). A dilemma thus arises between the likelihood of policy success and policy effectiveness. ...
... In representative democracies, the job of politicians is to confront these 'governance dilemmas' (Jacobs and Matthews 2012: 903) around who should act in relation to net zero, by how much and by when. They are somehow expected to build societal commitment around the need for long-term action, which not only binds together countries, but also bridges the various governance levels and sectors within them (Stehr 2015), whilst remaining honest with voters about the true costs and benefits of different choices (Willis 2017). Rather unsurprisingly, when confronted with these dilemmas politicians the world over have tended to revert to the highly incremental strategy of 'kicking the can down the road in order to delay potentially difficult and costly decisions' (Vogler 2016: 158) (see also Lamb et al. 2021). ...
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Adopting public policies to deliver the ambitious long-term goals of the Paris Agreement will require significant societal commitment. That commitment will eventually emerge from the interaction between policies, publics and politicians. This article has two main aims. First, it reviews the existing literatures on these three to identify salient research gaps. It finds that existing work has focused on one aspect rather than the dynamic interactions between them all. Second, it sets out a more integrated research agenda that explores the three-way interaction between publics, policies and politicians. It reveals that greater integration is required to understand better the conditions under which different political systems address societal commitment dilemmas. In the absence of greater research integration, there is a risk that policymakers cling to two prominent but partial policy prescriptions: that 'democracy' itself is the problem and should be suspended; and that more deliberative forms of democracy are required without explaining how they will co-exist with existing forms.
... While communication is an important goal, upstream engagement should seek to understand the broader implications of what may appear to be technical choices. Engagement can, for instance, improve climate-related decisions by enabling a fuller understanding of the potential impacts of changes in policy while increasing legitimacy and public trust (50). ...
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Significance New forest management techniques, like genomics-based assisted migration (AM), can help forests adapt to climate change by maintaining the productivity of commercially important tree species. However, we find that key stakeholder groups tend to be more concerned about the broader health of the forest ecosystem than the success of commercially important species. Because of its uncertain impact on other social, ecological, and economic goals, they have difficulty judging the acceptability of AM and the trade-offs that it implies. While AM may appear to be a technical intervention, many of its implications are not. Decisions about AM and other such adaptations should account for the breadth of values that forests create and the diverse voices of those who depend on them.
Political polarization is a barrier to enacting policy solutions to global issues. Social psychology has a rich history of studying polarization, and there is an important opportunity to define and refine its contributions to the present political realities. We do so in the context of one of the most pressing modern issues: climate change. We synthesize the literature on political polarization and its applications to climate change, and we propose lines of further research and intervention design. We focus on polarization in the United States, examining other countries when literature was available. The polarization literature emphasizes two types of mechanisms of political polarization: (1) individual-level psychological processes related to political ideology and (2) group-level psychological processes related to partisan identification. Interventions that address group-level processes can be more effective than those that address individual-level processes. Accordingly, we emphasize the promise of interventions leveraging superordinate identities, correcting misperceived norms, and having trusted leaders communicate about climate change. Behavioral interventions like these that are grounded in scientific research are one of our most promising tools to achieve the behavioral wedge that we need to address climate change and to make progress on other policy issues.
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The literature on belief regarding climate is extensive, with results showing that both personal characteristics and personal experience with the effects of climate change strongly influence future expectations. The vast majority of studies rely on cross-sectional data, making it difficult to ascertain the durability of expectations regarding future climate or the effect of additional environmental cues on beliefs. A few panel studies of which we are aware exploit extreme weather events to find evidence of “confirmation bias”, in which additional environmental signalling reinforces existing beliefs. In contrast, we evaluate how normal fluctuations in soil moisture causally impact expectations of future drought using a panel of New Zealand farmers. We find that environmental cues such as soil moisture scarcely affect expectations of respondents who already expected future drought to increase but that soil moisture strongly influences respondents who did not. In particular, drier soils are associated with higher expectations of future drought among these former sceptics, whether they previously believed that future drought would decrease or simply would not change. Thus, as New Zealand moves toward IPCC forecasts of more frequent and more severe drought, farmers, foresters, and growers will increasingly agree with the scientific consensus, raising the likelihood of both farm-level and public action.
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Das Konzept der Ökosystemleistungen wurde mit Beginn des 21. Jhdts. zunehmend bekannt. Die Klassifizierungen von Ökosystemleistungen und ihre monetäre Bewertungen sind die Grundlagen für freiwillige Zahlungs-und Ausgleichsmodelle für Waldökosystemleistungen. Mit dem Ziel ein Klimaschutzprojekt zu entwickeln, etablierten das Ministerium für Landwirtschaft und Umwelt gemeinsam mit dem Landesforst und Tourismusverband Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 2007 das Kompensationsmodell "Waldaktie". Mit dieser Bachelorarbeit wird der Fragestellung nachgegangen, wie sich Zahlungs-und Ausgleichsmodelle für Waldökosystemleistungen in den letzten 20 Jahren entwickelten. Dafür werden drei aufeinander aufbauende Untersuchungen durchgeführt. Erstens wird die Entwicklung von Zahlungs-und Ausgleichsmodellen auf internationaler und nationaler Ebene für Waldökosysteme durch eine Literaturrecherche erfasst. Zweitens wird das Fallbeispiel Waldaktie aus Mecklenburg-Vorpommern durch problemzentrierte Interviews genauer analysiert. Drittens wird, ebenfalls durch problemzentrierte Interviews, geprüft, ob eine Etablierung des Modells im Landkreis Barnim in Frage kommen kann. Zentrales Ergebnis der Untersuchungen ist, dass die Waldaktie sich seit ihrer Gründung zu einem erfolgreichen Zahlungsmodell für die regulierende Leistung von Wäldern durch Kohlenstofffixierung entwickelt hat. Die langjährigen Erfahrungen, die bei der Ausführung der Waldaktie gewonnen wurden, helfen bei der Entwicklung neuerer Zahlungsmodelle und ermöglichen über die Kohlenstofffixierung hinaus, andere Ökosystemleistungen zu adressieren. Ein Zahlungsmodell mit dem Ziel des Klimaschutzes durch Erstaufforstungen im Barnim zu etablieren wird, aufgrund des hohen Bewaldungsprozentes Brandenburgs und der geringen Flächenverfügbarkeit, schwer umsetzbar sein. Es bieten sich jedoch Möglichkeiten, andere Ökosystemleistungen in den Fokus zu nehmen und ein Zahlungsmodell, mit einer entsprechenden Zielsetzung, zu entwickeln. Kulturelle Leistungen wie z.B. die Erholungsnutzung, bieten dafür im untersuchten Landkreis besondere Potenziale. Um realistische Gründungsszenarien abbilden zu können wird empfohlen, eine weitere Auseinandersetzung mit den Chancen und Herausforderungen eines solchen Zahlungsmodells zu wagen.
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Because of the generally lower activation energy associated with proton conduction in oxides compared to oxygen ion conduction, protonic ceramic fuel cells (PCFCs) should be able to operate at lower temperatures than solid oxide fuel cells (250° to 550°C versus ≥600°C) on hydrogen and hydrocarbon fuels if fabrication challenges and suitable cathodes can be developed. We fabricated the complete sandwich structure of PCFCs directly from raw precursor oxides with only one moderate-temperature processing step through the use of sintering agents such as copper oxide. We also developed a proton-, oxygen-ion–, and electron-hole–conducting PCFC-compatible cathode material, BaCo0.4Fe0.4Zr0.1Y0.1O3-δ (BCFZY0.1), that greatly improved oxygen reduction reaction kinetics at intermediate to low temperatures. We demonstrated high performance from five different types of PCFC button cells without degradation after 1400 hours. Power densities as high as 455 milliwatts per square centimeter at 500°C on H2 and 142 milliwatts per square centimeter on CH4 were achieved, and operation was possible even at 350°C.
Technical Report
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The electric grid is a highly complex, interconnected machine, and changing one part of the grid can have consequences elsewhere. Adding wind and solar affects the operation of the other power plants and adding high penetrations can induce cycling of fossil-fueled generators. Cycling leads to wear-and-tear costs and changes in emissions. Phase 2 of the Western Wind and Solar Integration Study (WWSIS-2) evaluated these costs and emissions and simulated grid operations for a year to investigate the detailed impact of wind and solar on the fossil-fueled fleet. This built on Phase 1, one of the largest wind and solar integration studies ever conducted, which examined operational impacts of high wind and solar penetrations in the West (GE Energy 2010). Frequent cycling of fossil-fueled generators can cause thermal and pressure stresses. Over time, these can result in premature component failure and increased maintenance and repair. Starting a generator or increasing its output can increase emissions compared to noncyclic operation. And operating a generator at part-load can affect emissions rates. Utilities are concerned that cycling impacts can significantly negate the benefits that wind and solar bring to the system. And to plan accordingly, power plant owners need to understand the magnitude of cycling impacts. In WWSIS-2, we calculated these wear-and-tear costs and emissions impacts. These data were incorporated into commercial software that simulates operations of the western grid (which includes the United States, Canada, and Mexico) on a subhourly basis, because wind and solar output can change within the hour. We designed five hypothetical scenarios to examine up to 33% wind and solar energy penetration in the Western U.S. and to compare the impacts of wind and solar. We then examined how wind and solar affected operation, costs, and emissions from fossil-fueled generators. This work was overseen by a Technical Review Committee (TRC) to ensure that assumptions, methodologies, and analyses were realistic and credible. Our results are based on the specific characteristics of the western grid and key assumptions, including an average gas price of $4.60/MMBtu, significant balancing authority cooperation, and least-cost economic dispatch and transmission usage that does not model bilateral transactions. The goal of WWSIS-2 is to quantify the cycling impacts that are induced by wind and solar. It does not address whether wind and solar should be built, but rather what happens if they are built. In this study, we found that up to 33% of wind and solar energy penetration increases annual cycling costs by $35–$157 million in the West. From the perspective of the average fossil-fueled plant, 33% wind and solar penetration causes cycling costs to increase by $0.47–$1.28/MWh, compared to total fuel and variable operations and maintenance (VOM) costs of $27–$28/MWh. The impact of 33% wind and solar penetration on system operations is to increase cycling costs but also to displace annual fuel costs by approximately $7 billion. WWSIS-2 simulates production or operational costs, which do not include plant or transmission construction costs. From the perspective of wind and solar, these additional cycling costs are $0.14–0.67 per MWh of wind and solar generated compared to fuel cost reductions of $28–$29/MWh, based on the generator characteristics and modeling assumptions described in this report. This study finds that up to 33% wind and solar energy penetration in the United States’ portion of the Western grid (which is equivalent to 24%–26% throughout the western grid) avoids 29%–34% carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, 16%–22% nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions, and 14%–24% sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions throughout the western grid. Cycling had very little (<5%) impact on the CO2, NOX, and SO2 emissions reductions from wind and solar. For the average fossil-fueled plant, we found that wind- and solar-induced cycling can have a positive or negative impact on CO2, NOx, and SO2 emissions rates, depending on the mix and penetrations of wind and solar.
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We assess climate impacts of global warming using ongoing observations and paleoclimate data. We use Earth's measured energy imbalance, paleoclimate data, and simple representations of the global carbon cycle and temperature to define emission reductions needed to stabilize climate and avoid potentially disastrous impacts on today's young people, future generations, and nature. A cumulative industrial-era limit of ∼500 GtC fossil fuel emissions and 100 GtC storage in the biosphere and soil would keep climate close to the Holocene range to which humanity and other species are adapted. Cumulative emissions of ∼1000 GtC, sometimes associated with 2°C global warming, would spur "slow" feedbacks and eventual warming of 3-4°C with disastrous consequences. Rapid emissions reduction is required to restore Earth's energy balance and avoid ocean heat uptake that would practically guarantee irreversible effects. Continuation of high fossil fuel emissions, given current knowledge of the consequences, would be an act of extraordinary witting intergenerational injustice. Responsible policymaking requires a rising price on carbon emissions that would preclude emissions from most remaining coal and unconventional fossil fuels and phase down emissions from conventional fossil fuels.
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The East Asian region generally and Southeast Asia in particular have long been associated with authoritarian rule. It is argued that the intensification of a range of environmental problems means that authoritarian rule is likely to become even more commonplace there in the future. Countries with limited state capacity will struggle to deal with the consequences of population expansion, economic development and the environmental degradation with which they are associated. A resurgence of authoritarian rule is made even more likely by China's ‘successful’ developmental example and the extent of the region's existing environmental problems. The dispiriting reality may be that authoritarian regimes – unattractive as they may be – may even prove more capable of responding to the complex political and environmental pressures in the region than some of its democracies.
The link between liberty and knowledge is neither static nor simple. Until recently the mutual support between knowledge, science, democracy and emancipation was presupposed. Recently, however, the close relationship between democracy and knowledge has been viewed with skepticism. The growing societal reliance on specialized knowledge often appears to actually undermine democracy. Is it that we do not know enough, but that we know too much? What are the implications for the freedom of societies and their citizens? Does knowledge help or heed them in unraveling the complexity of new challenges? This book systematically explores the shifting dynamics of knowledge production and the implications for the conditions and practices of freedom. It considers the growth of knowledge about knowledge and the impact of an evolving media. It argues for a revised understanding of the societal role of knowledge and presents the concept of 'knowledge societies' as a major resource for liberty.
Why do democracies keep lurching from success to failure? The current financial crisis is just the latest example of how things continue to go wrong, just when it looked like they were going right. In this wide-ranging, original, and compelling book, David Runciman tells the story of modern democracy through the history of moments of crisis, from the First World War to the economic crash of 2008. A global history with a special focus on the United States, The Confidence Trap examines how democracy survived threats ranging from the Great Depression to the Cuban missile crisis, and from Watergate to the collapse of Lehman Brothers. It also looks at the confusion and uncertainty created by unexpected victories, from the defeat of German autocracy in 1918 to the defeat of communism in 1989. Throughout, the book pays close attention to the politicians and thinkers who grappled with these crises: from Woodrow Wilson, Nehru, and Adenauer to Fukuyama and Obama. The Confidence Trap shows that democracies are good at recovering from emergencies but bad at avoiding them. The lesson democracies tend to learn from their mistakes is that they can survive them--and that no crisis is as bad as it seems. Breeding complacency rather than wisdom, crises lead to the dangerous belief that democracies can muddle through anything--a confidence trap that may lead to a crisis that is just too big to escape, if it hasn't already. The most serious challenges confronting democracy today are debt, the war on terror, the rise of China, and climate change. If democracy is to survive them, it must figure out a way to break the confidence trap.