The COP 21 summit needed to lead to an efficient, fair and credible agreement. Has it done so? As was aptly summarized by The Guardian, “by comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster.”

The appointment of Luciana Berger as shadow minister for mental health in Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, the first politician in the UK to hold such a portfolio, is a sign of how far mental health has come as a subject fit for public discussion and action rather than for purely private mis

Climate change kills. In 2005 the World Health Organisation estimated that climate change caused by human activity claims more than 150,000 lives annually. More recently, the Climate Vulnerability Monitor placed the death toll at around 400,000. Using the Value of Statistical Life proposed by the US Environmental Protection Agency, this represents a cost of more than $3 trillion. Independent of the source, inaction on climate change is expected to increase death and suffering.

On 26 November the French National Assembly has rejected proposed law 3146 "encouraging a reduction in CO2 production through the development of direct load control". This proposal is the latest instalment in a saga which began several years ago, intending to use public money (a tax on consumed electricity) to subsidise a non-profitable business activity carried out by private operators: residential demand response. Since this issue concerns other countries in Europe and North America, the discussion below is of interest to readers outside of the French borders.

Reducing carbon footprints will require fundamental changes in consumer, producer and government behaviour. Economists argue that consumers will adopt pro-environmental behaviour when doing so saves money, but they are less likely to undertake measures that are costly, do not satisfy their aims or require inconvenient lifestyle changes. But economic motives are only part of the story and psychological studies have shown there may be more complex mechanisms involved, sometimes with unexpected consequences.

The world's economies have not been idle in the face of climate change. Companies and consumers are endeavouring to reduce their carbon footprint by investing in energy efficiency and changing their travel plans.

As the Paris 2015 climate talks get under way, the fear is growing that this international conference will be reduced to a simple list of good intentions. Current negotiations based on voluntary “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs) allow participants to make attractive promises and claim victory when, in reality, their primary use will be to keep the international community waiting.

In December talks in Paris involving more than 200 countries may result in a new agreement aimed at reducing carbon emissions. In the months leading up to the conference, The Economist will be publishing guest columns by experts on the economic issues involved.

It is widely agreed that worldwide deforestation is bad for the environment. It is responsible for about 10% of climate-change emissions and leads to massive reductions in biodiversity. The shrinkage of the Amazonian rainforest—the most well-known example of deforestation—reached a peak of 2.8 million hectares in 2004, an area almost the size of Belgium. 

So how can we protect forests? This article explores the dfferent policy options and shows that we need more evidence on how these policies perform in practice.

A deflationary debt spiral occurs when many entities simultaneously decide to sell assets to pay down debt. If the value of the assets is inferior to the debt owed, this can lead to defaults, decreased asset prices, and decreased borrowing which creates a sharp contraction in economic activity. For many years, Gail Tverberg has extensively associated unaffordable oil with deflationary debt spirals. In this post we explain how the current mal-investment in oil production increases the probability of a deflationary debt spiral. 

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