CERE member Bengt Kriström gave a lecture on the global impact of small-scale actions and the large-scale policy instruments used or often discussed when it comes to tackling greenhouse-gas emissions. The lecture was given within the SLU popular science series “Värt att veta”.

See the recorded lecture (only in Swedish, summary in English below):
“Klimatpolitik i det lilla och det stora: Ett föredrag om varför bättre vedspisar i Afrika kan vara en mer effektiv klimatåtgärd än flygförbud.”

English translation of title: Climate politics small and large: a talk about why better wood ovens in Africa can be a more effective climate measure than a ban on flying.
Professor Bengt Kriström’s presentation directly addressed the role of passenger airplane flights in carbon emissions and the different alternatives for reducing emissions at a local and global level. Economic instruments such as a tax on carbon, tradable emissions permits, and compensating for emissions by taking an action that reduces emissions from another source, if implemented correctly, will be more cost effective than strict prohibitions of emissions-generating actions. Since Sweden is a member of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), the total amount of emissions allowed from airplane flights is limited by a cap and trade system. Because of the EU cap and trade system, the carbon emissions avoided by an individual taking a train to travel within EU ETS countries instead of an airplane allows another individual in the ETS countries to emit just as much carbon by choosing to travel via airplane instead of some other alternative.

This is not to say that individuals should ignore the climate impacts of their consumption. An example of a promising alternative to reducing Sweden’s greenhouse gas emissions can be found in the Swedish Energy Agency’s program to help distribute safer, more efficient wood burning ovens in various places in Africa. An estimated three billion people are dependent on burning wood for cooking fuel, which has negative local health impacts. The half a million safer, more efficient wood ovens the Swedish Energy Agency has helped to distribute will also reduce more CO2 emissions from wood burning than the entire emissions from Sweden’s domestic passenger airplanes. Non-economist attendants were encouraged to think of CO2 emissions as a global problem and weigh the impacts of their local individual decisions considering the effect they have via existing policy structures. It doesn’t have to cost too much to reach our environmental goals if we do it in a smart way.

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