Today, Oxbridge students from the Economics, Government and Politics, International Law, and Medicine majors were fortunate to hear from leading economist, Dr. Jonathan M. Harris of Tufts University (and graduate of Harvard University) about the economics of climate change. Arranged by Economics professor Robert Reinauer, Dr. Harris educated our students about the impacts of climate change upon economics, policy, and law – drawing connections to all four majors.
He began with asking students to look at recent headlines to familiarize themselves with some of the environmental issues facing the world today, including rising temperatures, extreme weather leading to drought and forest fires, coastal flooding, and more. The scientific evidence underscores the reality of climate change and its consequences.
While the moral arguments to address climate change are compelling, alone they are not enough for policy change. Dr. Harris argues that presenting economic analyses and evidence of these trends might be the catalyst for policy change.
Dr. Harris shared that the drastic economic growth after the 1950s is directly linked to the increased use of fossil fuels, specifically coal, oil, and gas. According to science, these fossil fuel emissions are key determinants of climate change. But, there is hope! Recent policy proposals in developed countries have decreased emissions, but we are witnessing a rise in the emissions from developing nations. He notes that we have the technology to significantly reduce emission rates; for example, the United States possesses the ability to cut its carbon dioxide emissions rates in half.
Students engaged with Dr. Harris by asking insightful questions about the means to make policy changes happen, the reality of developing nations using renewable energy resources, and what the future could hold with the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015, especially with the United States pulling their support this year.
Thank you, Bob, for bringing Dr. Harris to our program!