There is no ‘magic’ technology to solve climate change, says Professor Cameron Hepburn, Director and Professor of Environmental Economics at Oxford’s Smith School and director of the University’s Economics of Sustainability programme.
‘I wish there were,’ he says. ‘But we have to use all the existing tricks we have in the book as fast as possible to reduce emissions.’
Professor Hepburn emphasises there are some really interesting new technologies – and he thinks we should work to scale these up. In the meantime, he says, we already have some very old technology – the humble tree, which has been doing an important job for millennia – and is making a real contribution to reducing climate change. But Professor Hepburn says that right now, far from rewilding and restoring our ecosystems, we are deforesting and damaging nature with harmful agricultural practices. That needs to change.
‘Used together these various techniques...are going to make quite a big contribution to addressing climate change...what’s stopping us?’
Part of the problem, he says, is that somebody has to pay – and we need to talk about how to achieve that, without relying entirely on the taxpayer. But economics is only part of this, he says. We also need to think about a range of complex issues from politics to equity and beliefs – but, critically, the public needs to be on-board.
COP26 ask: In addition to talking about the technologies...we also need to start a detailed conversation about how to take CO2 out the atmosphere and lock it away.