A recent opinion piece by Bjorn Lomborg in the Boston Globe says that we are spending “a massive amount of effort trying to make carbon too expensive and unappealing for the world to use. Instead, we need to make green energy much cheaper.”
“Our dependency on carbon-emitting fuels is overwhelming,” Lomborg writes. “The fact is that the world will not stop using fossil fuels for many decades. Despite all the excitement about green energy, globally we get a minuscule 0.4 percent of our energy from wind and solar panels. According to the International Energy Agency, even with an optimistic scenario, we will get just 2.2 percent of our energy from solar and wind in 2040, and even then those industries will still need $77 billion in subsidies per year. In 2040, renewables will still on average be the most expensive option for all regions.”
He writes, “We must acknowledge that fossil fuels will be part of the energy mix for a long time” and “recognize that bad climate policies could easily cost much more than global warming damage will – while helping very little.”
“Consider Germany,” Lomborg adds. “It has committed to pay more than $110 billion in solar subsidies over the next 20 years, even though solar contributes only one percent of primary energy consumption. The net effect of these solar panels for the climate will be to delay global warming by a mere 37 hours by the end of the century.”
“Globally, we will spend $2.5 trillion on subsidies for wind and solar over the next 25 years – and they will still need subsidizing, according to the International Energy Agency. The impact will be a trivial reduction in temperature rise by 2100 of 0.03 degrees Fahrenheit.”
Lomborg writes that if we could make solar and wind cheaper than fossil fuels, we wouldn’t have to force (or subsidize) anyone to stop burning coal and oil, because everyone would shift to the cheaper and cleaner alternatives. “This could take a decade or it could take four. But the truth is that, as long as we invest mostly in today’s inefficient technology that we know doesn’t work, we will not get much closer.”
Scientists at the Copenhagen Consensus on Climate found in 2009 that the smartest long-term climate policy is to invest in green R&D in order to push down the price of green energy. “We need to stop subsidizing inefficient technologies and trying to make fossil fuels too expensive to use,” Lomborg concluded. “Instead, let’s fund the basic research that will make green energy too cheap to resist.”
To read the Boston Globe article, click here.