Saturday 15 May 2021
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The Noble committee nudges Trump to return to the Climate Change table

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences decided to dedicate this year’s Riksbank Prize in Economics in Memory of Alfred Noble to the theme of “Green Economy”.
The theory of Green Economy addresses the challenges of how to make the current economy to transition to sustained and sustainable global economic growth while reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and at the same time minimising waist and reducing inefficient use of natural resources; maintaining bio-diversity and strengthening energy security.
The Green Economy promotes growth and development by ensuring that natural assets continue to provide the resources and environmental services on which global growth depends. Sustained and sustainable growth would depend on green innovations and environmental related technologies.
This will require investment and innovations which will underpin sustainable growth and give rise to economic opportunities. Green Growth ensures the sustainment of critical life support systems such as clear air and water as well as resilient bio-diversity.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences recognized the ground-breaking work of two American economists who developed models which integrate climate change and technology into macro-economic growth.
The Academy decided that the Noble Prize in economic sciences should be shared between William D. Nordhaus and Paul M. Romer. Nordhaus is Professor of Economics at Yale University and Romer is Professor of Economics at New York’s Stern School of Business.
Nordhaus developed the Integrated Economic and Climate Change Modelling that integrates knowledge from two or more science domains into a single framework.
Climate change is understood as a global public good, whose influences are felt around the world rather than in one nation, town or family. In this regard an analysis of climate change weighs the cost of slowing climate change against damages of rapid climate change.
The Integrated Model of Climate spans many disciplines. It incorporates a wide variety of geographical, economic and political disciplines into its diagnoses and prescriptions.
The Model analyses gas emissions, carbon concentrations, climate change and impacts.
Nordhaus’ Models were recognized “for integrating climate change into long-run macro-economic analysis”.
Romer advanced the notion of “endogenous growth”. The endogenous growth theory states that economic growth is dependent on the primacy of technological progress for sustained increases in output per worker. This means that new ideas born through technology can drive sustainable long-term economic growth. It stresses the invaluable contributions of human mind to global progress.
In this regard, people should be given more incentives to “… re-arrange the world and discover new ideas”. It is important therefore to pay people for good ideas and to provide decent education to citizens.
Investment in education is critical to progress and sustained economic development. Romer thus constructed models that explained how the market economy interacted with nature and knowledge and how economic forces governed the willingness of firms to produce new ideas and innovations.
The Noble Committee honoured Romer “…for integrating innovation and climate change with economic growth”.
Clearly the decision of the Noble Committee to recognise the ideas of Nordhaus and Romer sends a message to climate change sceptics such as President Trump of the United States.
On 1st of January 2017 President Trump announced that the United States would cease all participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
He claimed that the Agreement would undermine the United States economy. The two Noble Prize winners’ theories suggest otherwise.
The ideas of the Noble Prize laureates in economic sciences for 2018 re-enforce the position taken by governors of more than sixteen (16) states in America who formed the United States Climate Alliance to continue to advance the objectives of the Paris Agreement at state level. Since the United States has still two years to go before exiting the Paris Agreement pressure should be put on President Trump to reconsider his decision and return to Climate Change negotiation table.
For Africa in general and Namibia in particular, the decision of the Noble Committee to re-kindle the debate on Climate Change is laudable.
Climate Change is expected to negatively impact on the livelihoods of low-income and tropical Africa.
The message of the two Noble Prize winners is optimistic: Climate Change should be understood not only as a threat but also as an opportunity. Paul Romer is known for his optimism amidst adversity. He once said: “ … A crisis is a terrible thing to waste”.
Climate Change can create opportunities provided that new ideas and innovations are generated to address the challenge. Here at home a few weeks ago the Ministry of Environment and Tourism invited citizens to submit proposals for Climate Change adaptation and mitigation. One hopes that enterprising individuals are responding to the invitation.
There are opportunities in areas such as hydroponics for schools; charcoal production to mitigate bush encroachment; scaling up of ground nuts production along the Kavango River; rabbit production around Tsumeb where there are a lot of veggies; drip irrigation for schools and households and renewable energy production. What is required are ideas and innovations.
We commend the Noble Prize Committee for drawing world attention to the intellectual work on Climate Change.
We encourage Professors William Nordhaus and Paul Romer to continue enriching our understanding of Climate Change and economic growth.
Knowledge workers in Africa in Africa should draw inspiration from ideas of Nordhaus and Romer.

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