经济学人官方译文 | 全球变暖:世界正在输掉对抗气候变化之战

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Global warming
全球变暖
In the line of fire
火线狙击
The world is losing the war against climate change
世界正在输掉对抗气候变化之战

EARTH is smouldering. From Seattle to Siberia this summer, flames have consumed swathes of the northern hemisphere. One of 18 wildfires sweeping through California, among the worst in the state’s history, is generating such heat that it created its own weather. Fires that raged through a coastal area near Athens last week killed 91. Elsewhere people are suffocating in the heat. Roughly 125 have died in Japan as the result of a heatwave that pushed temperatures in Tokyo above 40°C for the first time.
地球在闷烧。今年夏天,从西雅图到西伯利亚,北半球的大片土地被火焰吞噬。18场山火席卷加州,其中一场堪称当地历史上最严重的山火之一,释放的热量甚至形成了局部天气系统。7月底,在雅典附近的沿海地区肆虐的火灾造成91人死亡。在其他地方,人们正因酷热天气而备受煎熬。日本遭受热浪袭击,东京的气温史无前例地升至40°C以上,全国已有约125人丧生。

Such calamities, once considered freakish, are now commonplace. Scientists have long cautioned that, as the planet warms—it is roughly 1°C hotter today than before the industrial age’s first furnaces were lit—weather patterns will go berserk. An early analysis has found that this sweltering European summer would have been less than half as likely were it not for human-induced global warming.
这类以往被视为反常的灾害事件如今已屡见不鲜。科学家早就警告说,随着地球变暖(相比工业时代第一批熔炉点火以前,全球气温已上升了约1°C),天气模式将变得更狂暴。早前一项分析发现,若非人为因素导致全球变暖,今年欧洲闷热的夏季本来多半不会出现。

Yet as the impact of climate change becomes more evident, so too does the scale of the challenge ahead. Three years after countries vowed in Paris to keep warming “well below” 2°C relative to pre-industrial levels, greenhouse-gas emissions are up again. So are investments in oil and gas. In 2017, for the first time in four years, demand for coal rose. Subsidies for renewables, such as wind and solar power, are dwindling in many places and investment has stalled; climate-friendly nuclear power is expensive and unpopular. It is tempting to think these are temporary setbacks and that mankind, with its instinct for self-preservation, will muddle through to a victory over global warming. In fact, it is losing the war.
然而,随着气候变化的冲击变得愈加明显,未来挑战之大也更清晰可见。三年前,各国在巴黎立誓要将全球平均气温相对工业化前水平的升幅控制在“远低于”2°C,如今温室气体排放量却再次上升。对石油和天然气的投资也在增加。2017年,煤炭需求四年来首次出现增长。许多地方逐渐减少了对风能和太阳能等可再生能源的补贴,这方面的投资也陷入停滞;有利于气候的核电造价昂贵又不受欢迎。人们往往会认为这些只是一时的挫折,人类凭借自己维持生存的本能,总归可以应付过去,战胜全球变暖。但事实上,人类正在输掉这场战役。

Living in a fuel’s paradise
活在燃料天堂

Insufficient progress is not to say no progress at all. As solar panels, wind turbines and other low-carbon technologies become cheaper and more efficient, their use has surged. Last year the number of electric cars sold around the world passed 1m. In some sunny and blustery places renewable power now costs less than coal.
我们说进展不足,并不是说毫无进展。随着太阳能电池板、风力发电机及其他低碳技术变得更便宜高效,其应用已经激增。去年全球售出超过100万辆电动汽车。在一些阳光或风力充沛的地方,可再生能源发电的成本已低于煤炭。

Public concern is picking up. A poll last year of 38 countries found that 61% of people see climate change as a big threat; only the terrorists of Islamic State inspired more fear. In the West campaigning investors talk of divesting from companies that make their living from coal and oil. Despite President Donald Trump’s decision to yank America out of the Paris deal, many American cities and states have reaffirmed their commitment to it. Even some of the sceptic-in-chief’s fellow Republicans appear less averse to tackling the problem. In smog-shrouded China and India, citizens choking on fumes are prompting governments to rethink plans to rely heavily on coal to electrify their countries.
公众的关注度也在提升。去年在38个国家开展的一项民意调查发现,61%的人认为气候变化是仅次于“伊斯兰国”恐怖分子的重大威胁。在西方,维权投资者称有意从煤炭及石油公司撤资。尽管特朗普决定让美国退出《巴黎协定》,但许多美国城市和州都重申将继续坚守该协定。甚至特朗普这位“气候变化怀疑论总司令”的一些共和党同僚似乎也不怎么反对处理气候议题。在雾霾笼罩的中国和印度,呼吸困难的市民正促请政府反思国内重度依赖煤炭发电的规划。

Optimists say that decarbonisation is within reach. Yet, even allowing for the familiar complexities of agreeing on and enforcing global targets, it is proving extraordinarily difficult.
乐观主义者说脱碳已经指日可待。然而,即便要达成并实施全球性目标通常都很复杂,脱碳这件事仍显现出非比寻常的难度。

One reason is soaring energy demand, especially in developing Asia. In 2006-16, as Asia’s emerging economies forged ahead, their energy consumption rose by 40%. The use of coal, easily the dirtiest fossil fuel, grew at an annual rate of 3.1%. Use of cleaner natural gas grew by 5.2% and of oil by 2.9%. Fossil fuels are easier to hook up to today’s grids than renewables that depend on the sun shining and the wind blowing. Even as green fund managers threaten to pull back from oil companies, state-owned behemoths in the Middle East and Russia see Asian demand as a compelling reason to invest.
其中一个原因是能源需求飙升,特别是在亚洲发展中国家。2006年至2016年,亚洲新兴经济体蓬勃发展,能源消耗随之增长40%。煤炭(无疑是污染最严重的化石燃料)的使用量以每年3.1%的速度上升。较清洁的天然气的使用量增速为5.2%,石油为2.9%。相比依赖阳光和风的可再生能源,化石燃料更容易接入现有电网。尽管绿色基金经理威胁从石油公司撤资,但亚洲的能源需求也足以促使中东和俄罗斯的国有能源巨头继续投资。

The second reason is economic and political inertia. The more fossil fuels a country consumes, the harder it is to wean itself off them. Powerful lobbies, and the voters who back them, entrench coal in the energy mix. Reshaping existing ways of doing things can take years. In 2017 Britain enjoyed its first coal-free day since igniting the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s. Coal generates not merely 80% of India’s electricity, but also underpins the economies of some of its poorest states. Panjandrums in Delhi are not keen to countenance the end of coal, lest that cripple the banking system, which lent it too much money, and the railways, which depend on it.
第二个原因是经济和政治惯性。一个国家消费的化石燃料越多,就越难摆脱对它的依赖。强大的游说团体及支持他们的选民巩固了煤炭在能源结构中的地位。要重塑现有行事方式可能要耗时多年。自19世纪工业革命之火点燃以来,英国到2017年才迎来首个无煤日。在印度,煤炭不仅是80%电力的来源,还是一些最贫穷的邦的经济支柱。德里的官老爷们并不希望看到煤炭走向终结,唯恐会拖垮银行系统和铁路行业——银行向煤炭业提供了大量贷款,而铁路业则依赖煤炭。

Last is the technical challenge of stripping carbon out of industries beyond power generation. Steel, cement, farming, transport and other forms of economic activity account for over half of global carbon emissions. They are technically harder to clean up than power generation and are protected by vested industrial interests. Successes can turn out to be illusory. Because China’s 1m-plus electric cars draw their oomph from an electricity grid that draws two-thirds of its power from coal, they produce more carbon dioxide than some fuel-efficient petrol-driven models. Meanwhile, scrubbing CO{-2} from the atmosphere, which climate models imply is needed on a vast scale to meet the Paris target, attracts even less attention.
最后,要在电力以外的其他行业实现脱碳存在技术上的挑战。钢铁、水泥、农耕、运输和其他经济活动占全球碳排放量的一半以上。从技术上说,这些活动要实现脱碳比实现清洁发电的难度更大,而且受既得工业利益集团的保护。成功可能只是臆想。中国100多万辆电动汽车的电力来自电网,而电网中三分之二的电力来自煤炭,因此这些电动汽车造成的二氧化碳排放实际上比一些高能效的燃油汽车还要多。另外,气候研究模型显示,需要大规模清除大气中的二氧化碳才能达成《巴黎协定》的目标,但人们对这方面的关注度就更低了。

The world is not short of ideas to realise the Paris goal. Around 70 countries or regions, responsible for one-fifth of all emissions, now price carbon. Technologists beaver away on sturdier grids, zero-carbon steel, even carbon-negative cement, whose production absorbs more CO{-2} than it releases. All these efforts and more—including research into “solar geoengineering” to reflect sunlight back into space—should be redoubled.
为实现《巴黎协定》的目标,世界并不缺乏创意。碳排放占总量五分之一的约70个国家或地区推行了碳定价。技术人员竭力打造更强固的电网、零碳钢材,甚至负碳水泥(生产过程中吸收的二氧化碳比释放的要多)。这些及其他尝试(包括将阳光反射回太空的“太阳地球工程”研究)应加倍发展。

Blood, sweat and geoengineers
血、汗、地球工程师

Yet none of these fixes will come to much unless climate listlessness is tackled head on. Western countries grew wealthy on a carbon-heavy diet of industrial development. They must honour their commitment in the Paris agreement to help poorer places both adapt to a warmer Earth and also abate future emissions without sacrificing the growth needed to leave poverty behind.
然而,如果不能从正面纠正人们面对气候问题的怠惰态度,这些补救措施将难以发挥很大的作用。西方国家通过高碳排放的工业发展富裕起来。它们必须履行在《巴黎协定》中的承诺,既要帮助贫困地区应对地球变暖,又要帮助它们减少未来的碳排放,同时又不会牺牲掉摆脱贫困所需的发展。

Averting climate change will come at a short-term financial cost—although the shift from carbon may eventually enrich the economy, as the move to carbon-burning cars, lorries and electricity did in the 20th century. Politicians have an essential role to play in making the case for reform and in ensuring that the most vulnerable do not bear the brunt of the change. Perhaps global warming will help them fire up the collective will. Sadly, the world looks poised to get a lot hotter first.
遏止气候变化将需要付出短期的经济代价,虽然脱碳最终可能会造福经济,就像20世纪人们转用高碳的汽车、卡车和电力那样。在提倡改革并确保最弱势群体不会承受改革最大的冲击方面,政客们发挥着至关重要的作用。也许全球变暖将帮助他们点燃人们的共同意愿。遗憾的是,整个世界似乎免不了要先变得酷热许多。


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