I had the pleasure today of attending a lecture given by Angel Gurría, the Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) at the Munk School of Global Affairs in theUniversity of Toronto,.
The Secretary-General emphasised the failure of current international efforts to achieve the goal of the Paris Agreement to limit the global temperature increase to 2 degrees; the inadequacy of even that target to avoid major climate impacts; and the disparity in marginal costs of mitigation across countries.
On this last point, the Secretary General noted that the efficiency of the Paris Agreement could be significantly improved if the international community can establish a process of convergence of carbon prices. Although his published speech proposes a full international emissions allowance trading as a solution that could halve the costs of achieving the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), in person he dismissed the efficacy of emissions trading, preferring instead “a big fat carbon tax”.
The Secretary-General mourned the “tragedy of the horizons”: the failure of countries to look beyond short term national horizons, while emphasizing the importance of the role of non-government actors such as international businesses, insurance companies, pension funds, cities and international organizations in helping governments achieve the aims of the Paris Agreement
Noting that time is against us in the race to combat climate change, the Secretary-General quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson, “In skating over thin ice, our safety is in our speed”.
To read the full version of the Secretary- General’s prepared lecture, please click here
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