Panicked, ill-thought-through responses to the threat of climate change could hurt more people than they save
The UN Climate Panel came out with its final report yesterday. It is a summary of its 3 main reports, published over the last year. It tells us that global warming is real and a significant problem. And as usual, the media hears something else – in the words of Mother Jones magazine, how future warming will be “ghastly, horrid, awful, shocking, grisly, gruesome.”
In between the alarmist hype and the reality of climate change we once again risk losing an opportunity to think smartly about energy and find a realistic way to fix global warming.
We need to realise that the world will not come off fossil fuels for many decades. Globally, we get a minuscule 0.3pc of our energy from solar and wind. According to the International Energy Agency, even with a wildly optimistic scenario, we will get just 3.5pc of our energy from solar and wind in 2035, while paying almost $100 billion in annual subsidies. Today, the world gets 82pc of its energy from fossil fuels, in 21 years it will still be more than 79pc.
The simple reason is that cheap and abundant energy is what powers economic growth. And for now, that means four fifths from fossil fuel, and much of the rest from water and nuclear. While wind is lower cost in a few, rural areas, coal is for the most part much cheaper, and provides power, also when the wind is not blowing.