Could George Bush be right on Climate Approach?

Posted on July 2, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Keith Johnson  WSJ- So far, the U.S. has been vilified for dragging its feet and insisting that the worlds biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, like China, take part in any scheme. The pressure is on for the G-8 to commit to big (and expensive) cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050, even as political leaders everywhere are battling high energy prices that are already choking economic growth.
 
Would ambitious cuts be a good idea?  It seems the world can cut greenhouse-gas emissions in coming decades, and at a more or less reasonable cost. McKinsey global consultants just concluded as much and all it will require is a repeat of the productivity gains made during the Industrial Revolution in one-third the time. But McKinsey crunched its numbers with one big premise: It only included technologies which are available today or will be soon, like efficient lighting, wind power, and clean coal. There are no provisions for game-changing technologies over the next half-century. What there is, fundamentally, is an implicit call for politicians to impose mandates that force the economy to tackle the least-expensive cuts first particularly efficiency gains, which the market often fails to invest in because the payoff is too far down the road.
 
The counsel is to be thoughtful and patient when dealing with a problem that will last for centuries. Which is the same point Yales William Nordhaus makes in his latest take on the economics of fighting climate change. He says that people like Al Gore and Britains Lord Nicholas Stern who want drastic cuts right away would be throwing money away and doing no extra good for the environment.
 
Slow and steady with an eye to eventual technology breakthroughs, he says, cuts emissions all the same and saves money:
For example, the Gore and Stern proposals have net costs of $17 trillion to $22 trillion relative to no controls; they are more costly than doing nothing today. This conclusion does not mean that doing nothing forever is preferable to these proposals. Rather, it implies that it is not economically advantageous to undertake sharp emissions reductions (such as reducing emissions 80 or 90 percent) within the next two or three decades.
 
President Bushs latest climate-change plan is to throttle back growth in U.S. emissions by 2025, and then roll up the economys sleeves when it will be presumably be easier and cheaper to make the transition to cleaner energy.
 
So heres the question: Is the U.S. stance on climate change simple foot-dragging, or smart economics?
 
Read more from Keith Johnson VIA Wall Street Journal
 
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Could George Bush be right on Climate Approach?

Posted on July 2, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Keith Johnson  WSJ- So far, the U.S. has been vilified for dragging its feet and insisting that the worlds biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, like China, take part in any scheme. The pressure is on for the G-8 to commit to big (and expensive) cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050, even as political leaders everywhere are battling high energy prices that are already choking economic growth.
 
Would ambitious cuts be a good idea?  It seems the world can cut greenhouse-gas emissions in coming decades, and at a more or less reasonable cost. McKinsey global consultants just concluded as much and all it will require is a repeat of the productivity gains made during the Industrial Revolution in one-third the time. But McKinsey crunched its numbers with one big premise: It only included technologies which are available today or will be soon, like efficient lighting, wind power, and clean coal. There are no provisions for game-changing technologies over the next half-century. What there is, fundamentally, is an implicit call for politicians to impose mandates that force the economy to tackle the least-expensive cuts first particularly efficiency gains, which the market often fails to invest in because the payoff is too far down the road.
 
The counsel is to be thoughtful and patient when dealing with a problem that will last for centuries. Which is the same point Yales William Nordhaus makes in his latest take on the economics of fighting climate change. He says that people like Al Gore and Britains Lord Nicholas Stern who want drastic cuts right away would be throwing money away and doing no extra good for the environment.
 
Slow and steady with an eye to eventual technology breakthroughs, he says, cuts emissions all the same and saves money:
For example, the Gore and Stern proposals have net costs of $17 trillion to $22 trillion relative to no controls; they are more costly than doing nothing today. This conclusion does not mean that doing nothing forever is preferable to these proposals. Rather, it implies that it is not economically advantageous to undertake sharp emissions reductions (such as reducing emissions 80 or 90 percent) within the next two or three decades.
 
President Bushs latest climate-change plan is to throttle back growth in U.S. emissions by 2025, and then roll up the economys sleeves when it will be presumably be easier and cheaper to make the transition to cleaner energy.
 
So heres the question: Is the U.S. stance on climate change simple foot-dragging, or smart economics?
 
Read more from Keith Johnson VIA Wall Street Journal
 

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