The climate conference in Copenhagen has ended with an accord brokered by President Obama between China, India, Brazil, and South Africa to do something about climate change. What that something actually is supposed to be remains to be determined as it seems. The accord is non-binding and therefore incredibly weak. World leaders, among them Ban Ki Moon, call the agreement a start and a first step in the right direction. To many people, including me, that does sound somewhat cynical. For years already we are aware that our environment is changing. Science is providing us with evidence about that fact. But Science is not giving us results to use as they are, as apparently some politicians hope. Since the science explaining climate change is so highly complex, it is not only bound to produce errors once in a while, it is also only usable to a certain degree as 100% reliable evidence for action.
Still, in order to deal with the climate change, we do need evidence based politics. Any accord that is potentially bindingly agreed upon in the future will have to take into account all the different parameters of the different countries and regions in order to be successfully implemented. Therefore it is not only about high quality evidence, but about usable evidence that is understandable to the policy maker in order to successfully implement a policy. The steps to achieve a policy like this should have been taken a while ago and one can only hope that the countries on their own already do much more in order to reverse the effects of climate change then the world leaders will ever agree upon to do. Simply because the local government knows the specific needs of its country!
For those interested in timesonline articles about the UN climate conference and its aftermath, go here.
By Chris Armstrong, University of Southampton
Vol. 3, December 2008
Decision Making: A Neuroeconomic Perspective
By Benoit Hardy-Vallee, University of Toronto
Vol. 2, November 2007