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COP21 reflections: What next for the University of Bristol?

If you have read my previous blogs on my COP21 reflections (see links at bottom of this blog), that brings us to the University of Bristol and the Cabot Institute.  I hope that this year we also have made some steps towards being a trusted participant in shaping our city’s future. I have lived here over 15 years and so I know that has not always been the case.

We must contribute via our role as a business.  With the NHS, we are the largest employer in the city and our behaviour should lead by example.  This is why we have developed a district energy strategy with BCC and the NHS.  This is why we are planting trees all over the city.  That is why we collaborate with Bristol City Council and fund community initiatives. But we do need to do more.  We will be judged on how we build our next buildings.  We will be judged on how we procure our goods. We will be judged on how we engage with the other citizens of Bristol.

We must contribute via our role as an educational institution.  We are…

COP21 reflections: What next for Bristol?

As you might imagine, especially given the focus on cities, it was an exciting two weeks for Bristol.  The City was everywhere.  In Paris with Anne Hidalgo; with its resilient partners in the Rockefeller 100 Resilient Cites group; representing smart city investment on behalf of Eurocities; hosting a Bristol Green Capital display in the Green Zone; and also sponsoring the linked Cities and Regions Pavilion nearby. Our city is going global in reputation, stature and visibility . This is a great achievement for our city and a great opportunity.  We are viewed as ambitious, eager to embrace the new economy, and supportive of technology and creativity.  We also had hundreds of people come to our stand and ask about moving to Bristol – the best and the brightest of the next generation also see Bristol as a place to bring their talents.

We cannot be complacent, however.  A corollary to the message of ambition was that a new race to lead in the global energy transformation has already begun;…

Is population growth good or bad for economic development? Part 2

This blog has been reposted with kind permission from the LSE International Growth Centre blog.  In the previous post we described the shifting views of economists and demographers regarding the relationship between population growth and economic development. In short, rapid population growth in developing countries was thought to be a problem in the 1950s and 1960s, irrelevant (or even positive) in the 1970s and 1980s, and again an obstacle to robust economic growth from the mid-1990s up until today. Moreover, these changing views were very much in line with the evidence available for each period. How can we explain this?
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There is currently no consensus on the matter. But we argue that this is an instance where historical context really matters for models of economic development and interpreting empirical data.

The post-WWII boom and bust
Since the end of World War Two, there have been two quite distinct sub-periods to world economic growth, which are …

Is population growth good or bad for economic development? Part 1

This post is the first in a two part series exploring the relationship between population growth and economic development – a relationship that appears to have changed over time.  This blog has been reposted with kind permission from the LSE International Growth Centre blog.
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The relationship between population growth and economic development has been a recurrent theme in economic analysis since at least 1798 when Thomas Malthus famously argued that population growth would depress living standards in the long run. The theory was simple: given that there is a fixed quantity of land, population growth will eventually reduce the amount of resources that each individual can consume, ultimately resulting in disease, starvation, and war. The way to avoid such unfortunate outcomes was ‘moral restraint’ (i.e. refraining from having too many children). He didn’t foresee the technological advances that would raise agricultural productivity and…

COP21 reflections: What next for our planet?

After the problems of Copenhagen, the French were keen to avoid surprises, which was the rationale for the INDCs we have heard so much about over the past year – and this they did superbly well. This agreement is consistent with what most of us expected two weeks ago.  Having said that, most of us are still very excited by that achievement given the numerous potential pitfalls.

There was one surprise, however. As I wrote  a few days ago, the Conference was stunned by the emergence of a large and diverse group that demanded (and somewhat achieved) a more ambitious overall global warming limit – well below 2C rather than 2C. This is an achievement for science in that it acknowledges the impact of 2C warming on small island states and nations with extensive low-lying areas. Jonathan Bamber of Bristol's Glaciology Research Centre was part of the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative and Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research session on the Irreversible Impacts of Climate Ch…

COP21 reflections: What have we achieved and how do we go forward?

On Friday, I am helping Alex Minshull, Director of Sustainability for Bristol City Council, wrap up the Bristol and Paris Pavilion with our partners from ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability. It was a great pleasure to be on the stage with Gino Van Begin, ICLEI’s Secretary General, and Yunus Arikan, ICLEI’s Head of Global Policy and Advocacy, both of whom have spent years advocating for the important role of non-state actors – an advocacy that was vindicated beyond all doubt over the last fortnight.

On Friday night, I am on the Eurostar, trying to make up for lost sleep and trying to wade through the penultimate draft of the text. Ironically, I have to buy bottled water at Paddington as there was no place to refill my new COP21 bottle… a reminder of how far we have to go. Ironically, I have to get a lift home from Temple Meads.

And then on Saturday, back home, I am admiring those who took to the streets of Paris with a message of hope, while waiting (and waiting) for the final…

APPCCG & DECC: Presenting the Global Calculator

I recently had the great pleasure of being part of the Global Calculator presentation that took place in Parliament and was organized by Policy Connect.

In the background of the Paris talks and with more and more voices being raised demanding action to be taken against climate change, it is clear that the Global Calculator is a very ambitious project with a very demanding audience: all of us!

So what is the Global Calculator? By 2050, the global population is expected to grow from 7 billion today to 10 billion, and the global economy is expected to triple in size. This is the backdrop against which we are presented with the challenge of cutting global greenhouse gas emissions by half of today’s levels by 2050 in order to meet our international commitments to restrict the global mean temperature to 2°C. Leading scientists from over ten organizations came together and built a model of the world’s energy, land, food and climate systems to 2050. The team built the Global Calculator to mo…

COP21 daily report: Can we limit global warming to 1.5C?

Cabot Institute Director Professor Rich Pancost will be attending COP21 in Paris as part of the Bristol city-wide team, including the Mayor of Bristol, representatives from Bristol City Council and the Bristol Green Capital Partnership. He and other Cabot Institute members will be writing blogs during COP21, reflecting on what is happening in Paris, especially in the Paris and Bristol co-hosted Cities and Regions Pavilion, and also on the conclusion to Bristol’s year as the European Green Capital.  Follow #UoBGreen and #COP21 for live updates from the University of Bristol.  All blogs in the series are linked to at the bottom of this blog. -----------------------------
Pleasure working with Shaun the Sheep at #COP21 Admire his dedication to sustainable future @aardman@BristolCouncilpic.twitter.com/KRYrtyCJ1M — Rich Pancost (@rpancost) December 9, 2015 One of the most stunning developments in the climate negotiations of COP21 – perhaps of the entire 20 years of negotiations – has been …