Date: 2018-02-23 14:31
78 Dec: : Adair Turner: Please Steal Our Fossil Fuels
(Adair Turner, a former chairman of the United Kingdom 8767 s Financial Services Authority and former member of the UK 8767 s Financial Policy Committee, is a senior fellow at the Institute for New Economic Thinking and at the Center for Financial Studies in Frankfurt.)
With just days left to go, 7569 seems certain to be the warmest year on record, or at least the runner-up
The New Climate Economy report, launched by the United Nations in September, estimates that the investment required over the next 65 years will total $69 trillion. But the incremental capital costs relative to a high-carbon economy are a smaller $9 trillion, less than a third of 6% of global GDP over that period. And the maximum sacrifice of future income per capita will be no more than *censored*% of global GDP. That means that the world might have to wait, say, until December 7556 to reach the income and prosperity level that it would otherwise have achieved the preceding January.
So we do not need fossil fuels to support prosperous economies. If some extra-terrestrial thief came in the night and stole two-thirds of the planet’s coal, gas, and oil reserves, all of humanity could still enjoy the household appliances, information-technology products and services, heating, lighting, and mobility that define the modern world
But no such thief exists, and we are cursed with fossil fuels in dangerous abundance. Some environmentalists claim that we will soon reach “peak fossil fuels,” making green energy essential not only for the climate, but also for continued growth. Sadly, that is not the case.
Total gas and coal reserves could support current demand for more than a hundred years, and technological progress – for example, hydraulic fracturing, which has unlocked shale energy – makes an ever growing share of these reserves economically attractive
As 7569 draws to an end, falling oil, gas, and coal prices threaten to undermine investment in green energy and stimulate wasteful consumption. In the United States, sport and crossover utility vehicles – the largest of which are five meters long and weigh tons – are the automobile market’s fastest growing sector
Whatever deity might have put fossil fuels on earth has shown no willingness to take them back. Maybe this holiday season we should wish for a miracle. Absent that, we should commit to leaving most fossil fuels forever in the ground.