Wiki Contributions


Climate Recommendations in EA: Giving Green and Founders Pledge

Agree with Dan here. 

In addition: Coal might be dying in the US, but not yet globally (or at least not fast enough)  and CCS is also useful for gas w/CCS, blue hydrogen, and carbon removal, all of which could be/are definitely important so  there are plenty of reasons to be excited about 45Q even at the risk of marginal emissions increases in some edge cases.

Online preferendum to select climate policy measures

"That's correct, but wouldn't you say that looking at this empirical data can give a sense of how realistic it is that in the next decade(s) we will make a sharp turn for the better? I think this report of the EEB certainly makes a fair case that we won't. Even if you don't agree with the conclusion of the paper, it's a bit easy to dismiss all the data (and the neutral, transparent way it was selected) along with it."

Decoupling as a large-scale technological transformations requires (i) time and (ii) dedicated effort (public investment, private investment, induced technological change, etc..). Such effort has, for the most part, not existed for a long time so looking at historical data is not evidence of likely future rates. (I also think that when a scientific paper makes a logical mistake in the abstract that one should be pretty concerned about the quality of the paper,  overall).

I think a better  proxy for future rates of decoupling would, for example, be looking at how the changes in the cost of renewables have changed decarbonization trajectories (and rather massively reduced expected future emissions, we discuss this a bit here).  Overall, it seems quite conceivable that the recent uptick in policy attention on climate will lead to much faster rates of decoupling than previously observed.

Irrespective of how optimistic or pessimistic one is on decoupling, the fact that the US and the EU are at most 15% of future emissions  limits the potential of sufficiency unless one thinks sufficiency will be an attractive idea to the rest of the world, for the most part much energy-poorer than the US and EU. On the positive flipside this also means that failing at sufficiency / stricter domestic targets  is not necessarily that relevant given that high-income countries have leverage on emissions far beyond their domestic emissions (more on this here).

Online preferendum to select climate policy measures

Thanks for writing this!
From your source 1 (italics mine): 
"We conclude that large rapid absolute reductions of resource use and GHG emissions cannot be achieved through observed decoupling rates, hence decoupling needs to be complemented by sufficiency-oriented strategies and strict enforcement of absolute reduction targets. More research is needed on interdependencies between wellbeing, resources and emissions."

This seems like an obvious mistake in reasoning, where the lack of evidence of observed decoupling rates is taken as evidence that decoupling rates could not be higher.

It seems to me that much more could be gained by actually being serious about decoupling (i.e. driving technological change at scale) than by voluntary or politically feasible sufficiency measures.

At this point, almost no country has made serious efforts to decouple and the very few that have (Sweden, UK) have been quite successful. 

On Caring

For me, and I have heard this from many other people in EA, this has been a deeply  touching essay and is among the best short statements of the core of EA.


Democratising Risk - or how EA deals with critics

It is basic background knowledge that degrowth literature exists (which John knows), it is not basic background knowledge that we "know" that we could implement degrowth without major humanitarian consequences as degrowth has never been demonstrated at global scale.  The opposite is not true either (so you might characterize Halstead as over-confident).

Degrowth is not a strategy we could clearly implement to tackle climate challenge (we do not know whether it is politically or techno-economically feasible and one can plausibly be quite skeptical) and we do not know  whether it could be implemented without significant humanitarian consequences, a couple of green thinkers finding it feasible and desirable is not sufficient evidence to speak of "knowing".

Democratising Risk - or how EA deals with critics

I think there is a "not" missing: "view if it is held by a majority of the global population."

Where are you donating in 2021, and why?

Hi Lucas! On CATF, our new report  does include a new conservative back of the envelope calculation why we think organizations like CATF are so cost-effective (in "Background") and, more importantly than this one particular estimate, brings together the underlying reasoning.  I also hope to publish some retrospective analysis on grants to CATF and Carbon180 in the new year (pertaining to impact on climate policy in the US) as well as prospective new cost-effectiveness estimates for CATF (pertaining to a grant for CATF under a different theory of change, avoiding carbon lock-in in emerging economies).

[Linkpost] New post on COP26-related grants from the FP Climate Fund

Hi James,

thanks for your questions!

Re 1, the ToC is actually different -- the report was already produced, but -- we believe -- would not have been sufficiently amplified absent the grant, so it is more about the latter part of your chain. 

Re 2, this is roughly what we would do if the sums justified it -- this was a small grant and we operate by the principle of keeping detail of analysis roughly proportional to money moved, so we accepted higher uncertainty here.  Something we will be thinking more about going forward if we evaluate similar grants.

Re 3, this is recorded in the article -- actually we wrote those sections ("what we expected") before the grants had effects ("what we achieved") to allow for this comparison.

Re 4, we spent about 30k so reaching >3m million is about 100 people per USD. There's more media uptake trickling in still, so it could be significantly more once all is set and done.

Re 5, this is a tool that the PR agency uses, I don't know which tool this is specifically.

Happy to connect more on those issues, though I probably won't have time to dig deeper into this before December.



Climate Change: Prevention vs Preperation
Answer by jackvaNov 07, 202110

(somewhat weakly held)

Climate outcomes aren't binary (succeed / fail) so the question is always "should the next dollar go to mitigation or adaptation?" irrespectively of whether specific targets are reached.

The bar for adaptation actions to be the most cost-effective seems quite high, as most adaptation options seem quite localized actions (hard to scale and hard to be extremely cost-effective), whereas the best things you can fund on the mitigation side will have global effects (such as changing the trajectory of clean energy adoption).

One exception to that could be stuff like accelerating more weather-resistant crops if that is neglected.

Load More