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Climate change decision stymied by democracy

 The Big Issue South Africa 09 March 2019

Is the answer to climate change is to do away with democracy and replace it with a benevolent dictator instead? (377 Words) - By Leanne Farish


BI SA_ Climate change decisions stymied by democracy

Jorgen Randers. Photo courtesy of The Big Issue South Africa

This is the argument put forward by Jorgen Randers, Professor of Climate Strategy at the Norwegian School of Management. As the author of the worldwide-debated 1972 book The Limits to Growth and its 2004 follow-up Limits to Growth - The 30 Year Update, Prof Randers is considered a leading thinker on climate strategy, albeit a controversial one.

His latest theory is no less contentious, but Randers - who spoke on the topic of "Economic Growth in the Real World" in Cape Town earlier this month - insists neither democracies nor the open market are capable of solving the world's climate change problem.

"It is very difficult to get a democratic society to make a wise decision regarding sustainability," he said.

While emphasising that economic growth is important and should be encouraged,
especially in developing countries like South Africa, Randers warned that countries should be matching economic growth with a simultaneous carbon emission reduction of at least 5% per year if they want to avert a climate change disaster.

He said that, contrary to popular belief, cutting emissions is inexpensive. The problem, however, lies in the decision-making process, which he believes is stymied by democracy.

"It [cutting emissions] would cost only 1% of the GDP. If I was a benevolent dictator, I'd do it for you, and you'd hardly notice!"

Contrary to popular thought, China has made more aggressive strides in curbing greenhouse gas emissions than most western countries, he said. Randers attributed this to China not being bogged down in democratic decision-making processes.

"When we get to 2020, and Western democracies are still discussing questions like, 'Can we afford to cut emissions?' and so on, the Chinese will probably have solved the climate problem for us. They'll have developed the necessary technology and implemented the right systems," he asserted.

Likewise, he argued that the European Union's commitment to cutting emissions by 20% by 2020 could be directly attributed to the dictatorial decision-making process within the governing body.


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Originally published by The Big Issue South Africa ©


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