Why higher ed, advanced energy systems will rescue global climate policy

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With the European Union split on a new energy and climate strategy to 2030, and developing countries such as India and China unwilling to take the lead on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, global climate policy has reached an impasse.

So, the question remains: How can policymakers, institutions of higher education and citizens from all over the world foster a conversation on global climate policy that sparks action? By demanding superior systems of energy use is one proposal, which will be discussed at an upcoming panel organized by ASU's Global Institute of Sustainability.

The public panel discussion, "Rescuing Climate Policy," is scheduled to take place at 4 p.m., Feb. 5, inside Wrigley Hall, room 481, on ASU's Tempe campus. The talk will blend American, European and Chinese perspectives on the development and adoption of advanced systems of energy use.

Superior systems of energy use, the panel argues, would deliver energy not only with minimal emissions, but also at lower cost, and/or higher quality to the customers, thereby creating a global competition for creating and adopting such energy systems.

“This panel brings together high-level representatives from both the Chinese and the European climate policy communities with leading scientists at ASU,” said Sander van der Leeuw, ASU professor of anthropology and co-director of ASU’s Complex Adaptive Systems Initiative. “The theme has been chosen to promote a discussion of this crucial topic across three continents, in the expectation that it will help overcome some of the barriers to greenhouse gas mitigation worldwide.”

“Despite some exceptions, the corporate world and the world of environmental concern are still light-years apart,” said Carlo Jaeger, panel moderator, visiting scholar at ASU and professor at Beijing Normal University in China. “But to make progress in global climate policy, we need what Martin Wolf of the Financial Times calls ‘a politically sellable vision of a prosperous low-carbon economy.’ This vision needs to include both worlds, as well as their contradictions. ASU is the right place to flesh out and help implement such a vision.”

Panelists include:

• John Ashton, physicist from Britain, climate policy advisor to former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, former diplomat (dealing with the transition of Hong Kong from Britain to China, organized crime in Italy and with climate change worldwide) and founder of E3G, an environmental NGO

• Gary Dirks, chemical engineer from America, former president of BP China, ASU Professor of Practice and director of the Global Institute of Sustainability and of Lightworks

• Carlo Jaeger, economist from Switzerland, visiting scholar at ASU and professor at Beijing Normal University

• Sander van der Leeuw, ASU professor of anthropology, external professor at the Santa Fe Institute, co-director of ASU’s Complex Adaptive Systems Initiative and United Nations Champion of the Earth

• Yongsheng Zhang, economist from China, professor at Renmin University, Beijing and Senior Research Fellow at the Development Research Center of the State Council (DRC)