Links for the Week Ending 27 April 2014

  • The success or failure of greenhouse gas emission mitigation really rests on Chinese coal consumption. The BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2013 showed global coal consumption rising 2.5% in 2012, with China accounting for all of the net growth. China alone now accounts for more than 50% of global coal consumption. (Note: BP’s 2014 edition containing 2013 numbers will be released in June.) The Financial Times (free access to articles after registration) highlights new talks between the US and China on emission reductions (here) and also has a good piece of analysis looking at the efforts China is making to cap coal production and consumption (here).
  • The launch of Voc.com by Ezra Klein and colleagues will, I hope, give us a new platform to access decent news analysis. The start looks promising, with a solid article by Brad Plummer on the disappearing two degree Celsius global warming target. The site promises continuity of analysis (see a good review of the concept behind Vox by The New York Times here), and I wish them well.
  • Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the 21st Century” has received extensive coverage in almost every heavy-weight newspaper and magazine, plus, of course, on the blogosphere. If you want to get acquainted with his arguments (and his critics), then a great place to start would be this article by Vox again.
  • The inequality question is squaring up to be central to the UK general election, now only a little over a year away. The economist David Blanchflower has a good article in The Independent looking at the issue. Like Blanchflower, I would prefer Labour to come up with a coherent set of policies that deal with low growth, energy, inequality and sustainability. I haven’t seen anything yet.
  • The probability of an El Nino event starting this summer is growing as can be seen in this review of the situation by The Carbon Brief. Against this background, expect food prices to remain volatile, a trend already highlighted by this article in The Financial Times.

2 responses to “Links for the Week Ending 27 April 2014

  1. Matthew Nayler

    I fear you are wide of the mark to hold that “The success or failure of greenhouse gas emission mitigation really rests on Chinese coal consumption”, Similarly, the idea that “a coherent set of policies that deal with low growth, energy, inequality and sustainability” exists is also rather a challenge. Piketty has to be closer to the mark by relating resources to population – seven billion people has made other resources look scarce, so those who own the scarce resources do very well but the majority of the seven billion do not – whereas the neglect of the population factor weakened ‘The Haves and the Have Nots’. The best time for equality in Britain was 1315 – 1500, when the population fell from 4.5m (or 6.5m, depending on who you believe) to 2m – so perhaps ‘equality’ is over-rated when it requires a Black Death catastrophe?

    • Matthew: True, It is probably a stretch for Labour to come up with a ‘coherent’ set of policies given all the negative long-term trends the economy faces. Yet it would be nice to see some engagement with the issues. For example, Ed Milliband’s energy price freeze looks an utterly hopeless response to declining Northsea oil and gas production and a rising energy import bill.

      With regard to greenhouse gas emissions, there are obviously other factors in the mix, but I can’t see any hope of mitigation without China coming off coal.

      I would probably disagree with you with respect to the link between inequality and resource access. Japan and the original Asian Tigers of Taiwan, South Korea, HK and Singapore went through transformational economic development while at the same time being resource poor. Japan, South Korea and Taiwan also had relatively low Gini coefficients (although, as everywhere, a trend to greater inequality has now reasserted itself).

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