May 14, 2008


An NRO Q&A: Don’t Freak Out: Bjorn Lomborg speaks climate sense to nonsense. (Kathryn Jean Lopez, 5/14/08, National Review)

Lopez: What could the planet do instead of Kyoto?

Lomborg: We need to make carbon-emissions cuts much easier. The typical cost of cutting a ton of CO2 is about $20 right now — but we know that the damage from a ton of carbon in the atmosphere is about $2. We need to reduce the cost of cutting emissions from $20 to somewhere nearer $2.

We can achieve this by spending dramatically more researching and developing low-carbon energy. Ideally, every nation should commit to spending 0.05 percent of its gross domestic production exploring non-carbon-emitting energy technologies — be they wind, wave, or solar power — or capturing CO2 emissions from power plants. This spending could add up to about $25 billion a year, but it would still be seven times cheaper than the Kyoto protocol, yet increase global research and development tenfold. All nations would be involved, but the richer ones would pay the larger share.

Today, solar panels are ten times more inefficient than the cheapest fossil fuels. Only the very wealthy can afford them. Many “green” approaches, right now, do little more than make rich people feel like they are helping the planet.

We can’t solve climate change by just forcing more inefficient solar panels onto people’s rooftops. The solution is to dramatically increase R&D so that solar panels become cheaper than fossil fuels sooner. Imagine if solar panels became cheaper than fossil fuels by 2050 — we would have solved global warming then, because switching to the environmentally friendly option wouldn’t be the preserve of rich Westerners.

Caps and taxes are just a way of forcing the private sphere to do the R&D instead of having central government do it.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 14, 2008 10:26 AM
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