Climate change: 3.6 degrees or $46 trillion
They may not know all the stats and numbers, but people instinctively don’t seem to want to pay a lot of dough to limit carbon emissions. Not even close. In fact, you can find plenty of climate experts who doubt they ever will, particularly in India and China. Betting on mitigation and technology seems the more realistic route. A bit from Bjorn Lomborg:
Urged on by environmental activists, many politicians are vowing to
make carbon cuts designed to keep expected temperature rises under 3.6
degrees (2.0 Celsius). Yet it is nearly impossible for these promises
to be fulfilled.
Japan’s commitment in June to cut greenhouse gas levels 8 percent
from its 1990 levels by 2020 was scoffed at for being far too little.
Yet for Japan — which has led the world in improving energy efficiency
– to have any hope of reaching its target, it needs to build nine new
nuclear power plants and increase their use by one-third, construct
more than 1 million new wind-turbines, install solar panels on nearly 3
million homes, double the percentage of new homes that meet rigorous
insulation standards, and increase sales of “green” vehicles from 4
percent to 50 percent of its auto purchases.
Imagine for a moment that the fantasists win the day and that at the
climate conference in Copenhagen in December every nation commits to
reductions even larger than Japan’s, designed to keep temperature
increases under 2 degrees Celsius. The result will be a global price
tag of $46 trillion in 2100, to avoid expected climate damage costing
just $1.1 trillion, according to climate economist Richard Tol, a
contributor to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change whose cost
findings were commissioned by the Copenhagen Consensus Center and are
to be published by Cambridge University Press next year.
Update: A good post from John Tierney on why government isn’t doing more to look for technological fixes like atmosphere scrubbing.