New technologies, not Paris climate agreement, will do the job

Posted by Dieter Helm, Financial Times

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It’s time for a rethink. The claim that global decarbonisation can be done at little or no cost is nonsense. On the contrary, switching from an overwhelmingly carbon to a non-carbon-based economy in the space of just two or three decades is really expensive. So far the interventions have been staggeringly expensive.

In Germany, it is about €25bn a year. In Britain, these early costs now make up a 20 per cent premium on household electricity bills. The political fact is that, while voters tell us they care about the climate, their concern fades quickly when they are told it is going to increase their electricity bills. In France, the protests about the rising cost of diesel, driven by the carbon tax, dwarf those by climate change activists.

There is no government in any of the major emitters — pre-eminently China, but also India, Africa and the US — that could maintain popular support on the basis of a carbon tax necessary to meet the 1.5C target — and that is the cheapest way of achieving it. Forget the political rhetoric and look at what is happening… Click to read the complete article