Climate change is fought with innovation, not with catastrophic messages

Earlier this year, shortly before thermobaric rockets began raining down on Ukraine, experts of the World Economic Forum stated that “climate action failure” is the biggest global danger of the next decade. On the eve of the war, John Kerry, the US special envoy for climate, was concerned about “the consequences of massive emissions” from the Russian invasion and feared that the world would forget about the risks of climate change if the crisis broke out. war. Between the conflict and the many other challenges the world is now facing, such as inflation and rising food prices, the global elite has an unhealthy obsession with climate change.

This fixation has had three important consequences. First, it has distracted the Western world from the real geopolitical threats. The invasion of Russia should be a wake-up call that war remains a grave danger that demands the attention of democratic nations. However, a month after the start of the war in Ukraine, António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations – whose main objective is to guarantee world peace – devoted all his attention to the “climate catastrophe” and warned that addiction to fuels fossil fuels will bring “mutually assured destruction.” His words came at a time when nuclear weapons pose the greatest risk of mutually assured destruction in half a century.

In second place, a strategy determined by immediate climate goals undermines future prosperity. The world is now disbursing more than half a trillion dollars a year in private and public funds for climate policies, while the spending of the governments of the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in innovation, on which growth is based in areas such as health, space, defense, agriculture and science, has been decreasing in percentage of gross domestic product in recent decades.

Educational performance in developed countries is stagnant or declining, and real income growth in OECD countries has almost stopped so far this century. By contrast, in China, where spending on innovation is up 50% from 2000 and education is improving rapidly, lMedian income has increased fivefold since the beginning of the 21st century.

Third consequence: in the poorest countries of the world, the strategy of the international community on the installation of solar panels coexists with a woeful underinvestment in solutions to enormous existing problems. Infectious diseases like tuberculosis and malaria kill millions of people; malnutrition affects nearly a billion people; more than three billion do not have access to reliable energy sources.

These problems and others that plague the developing world are solvable, but they get far less funding from rich countries than climate change. Giving developing countries affordable access to reliable and consistent energy sources – something that often requires fossil fuels – is the key to lifting most of the world out of poverty. However, already before the invasion of Ukraine, the developed world was rushing to make fossil fuel energy more expensive and less accessible to the poorest.

“To deal with its energy problems, Europe must adopt the fracking and help the rest to access the oil and gas they need”

What is this climate obsession based on? In the irresponsible and false idea that global warming poses an immediate existential danger to the world. Climate change is real and man-made; no doubt about it. But the best economic calculations used by the Obama and Biden administrations, as well as those created by the only climate economist to win the Nobel Prize in Economics, show that the full impact of absolute climate change – not just on the , but in general- would be equivalent to less than 4% annual impact on global GDP from now to the end of the century.

The UN estimates that in 2100 people will be, on average, 450% richer than today. If climate change does not stop, it will “only” be 434% richer. An absolutely catastrophic outcome.

A frightened world doesn’t make smart decisions, so it’s no wonder it hasn’t made a dent in climate change. Last year saw the largest CO2 emissions in history on a global scale, despite the 5 trillion dollars spent on climate policies in the last decade. The UN recognized in 2019 that there has been “no real change in the trajectory of global emissions in that period of time” despite the global agreement in Paris.

The European Union has tried to switch to renewable energy, but still gets more than 70% of its energy from fossil fuels. Much of the rest is generated by burning wood chips from trees felled in America and transported in ships powered by diesel. Solar and wind power only produce 3% of the EU’s energy, and the technology is not very reliable, often requiring gas support when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing. Europe’s refusal to use shale gas – which can be found across the continent but remains untapped – has left it at the mercy of Russian gas. The current energy crisis shows how dangerous this is.

Many well-meaning politicians around the world have proposed formulas to achieve net-zero emissions in the coming decades. According to McKinsey, those policies will cost $9.2 trillion each year until net zero is reached, theoretically in 2050. That is equivalent to half of global tax revenue. Emerging economies like India or Africa, whose emissions will skyrocket as their populations and economies grow, are unlikely to pursue such terrifyingly costly policies. There is also a good chance that net zero will fail in the developed world, because its high costs will undermine prosperity and thus political support.

According to the McKinsey study, reaching level zero would cost each American family $19,300 a year. To respond effectively to climate change, the world must spend more on green energy innovation and develop reliable and cost-effective renewable energy. To deal with its immediate energy problems, Europe must adopt the fracking – despite Russian-funded propaganda discrediting it – and help the rest of the world access the oil and gas it needs. There are many serious global threats today, but most will not get the attention they deserve until politicians drop their hype about climate change and treat it for what it really is: one of the many problems to be solved in the 21st century.

Bjorn Lomborg He is Chairman of the Copenhagen Consensus and Visiting Professor at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His latest book is ‘False Alarm: Why Panic over Climate Change Won’t Save the Planet

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Climate change is fought with innovation, not with catastrophic messages