US Presidentials results: "Unprecedented opportunity to lock in climate stabilization"

11/08/2020 - According to media reports Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have defeated Donald Trump in the US Presidential elections. This can have substantial relevance for international climate pathways. On this issue, statements by the two scientific Directors of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, economist Ottmar Edenhofer and Earth system scientist Johan Rockström.
US Presidentials results: "Unprecedented opportunity to lock in climate stabilization"
A historic moment: conservative broadcaster Fox News projecting Joe Biden's win. Photo: screenshot

"Joe Biden and Kamala Harris now have the chance to truly weigh in on tipping the entire world on an unstoppable path towards phasing out fossil-fuels," says Johan Rockström, who besides leading PIK is a professor at Potsdam University. "The European Union and Japan have pledged to reach net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050. China will reach net-zero by 2060 at the latest. If the US adopts net-zero emissions by 2050, we would have the four largest economic regions in the world aligning with science and showing the path towards a safe, clean and modern future. This would not only protect the American people against increasing catastrophic wildfires like those we’ve seen in the past months, devastating droughts and hurricanes, dangerous sea level rise threatening coastal communities. It would set the US on a path towards long term prosperity. Clearly, the American people see this, and chose unity above conflict and facts above fiction – so the US can really become great again.”

"To achieve clean prosperity, the US would need to develop a CO2 pricing system"

“We now have the unprecedented opportunity to lock in climate stabilization by linking CO2 pricing schemes in the US, Europe, and China," says Ottmar Edenhofer, Director of PIK and Mercator Research Institute for Climate Impact Research as well as a professor at Technische Universität Berlin. "This would establish more fair conditions for sustainable economic competition and cooperation, and ultimately for clean prosperity. To achieve this great goal, the US would need to develop a CO2 pricing system – this could be a market-based emissions allowance trading scheme across all sectors. It would also generate income that the Administration could use to compensate poor citizens, and for much-needed investments into US infrastructure. Generations to come can either remember the Biden-Harris Administration as one that failed great expectations - or as one that really served the US people, and the world.”

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