California keeps going down the wrong trail on 'climate change

Bjorn Lomborg:
At the moment, California’s greenhouse gas emissions account for less than 1% of global emissions, and a little less than 7% of U.S. emissions. The state now plans to cut its emissions by the equivalent of 181.5 million tons of carbon dioxide by 2030 — to 40% below its 1990 levels.

Although this is a much bigger cut than California achieved with its 2006 climate change legislation, it’s still nowhere near enough to have a meaningful effect on global warming overall. Even if California succeeds in making the new cuts and sticks to them for the rest of the century, according to calculations using a standard model of the U.N. Climate Panel, they will amount to a difference of .008 degrees Fahrenheit (.0044 degrees Celsius) — a minuscule drop in the bucket of the cuts needed in order to limit total global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius, the number climate activists have identified as a dangerous tipping point.
A smarter approach to climate policy — and one befitting California’s role as one of the most innovative states in the country — would be to focus on making green energy cheaper. In other words, spend more on R&D for green energy. Although some argue that agreements like the Paris accord prompt investment in research, most of the investment is absorbed by existing inefficient technologies, leaving little for actual innovation. Germany’s much-celebrated climate change policy, which was designed to move that country toward renewable energy and away from nuclear energy and fossil fuel, had a “very low” effect on innovation, according to a panel of energy experts in a report to the German parliament.

California is embracing huge costs while doing virtually nothing for the environment. While the approach might look good, it doesn’t help much. If, instead, California were to develop green technologies so cheap they could actually outcompete fossil fuels, the whole world would switch to them.
Those who have embraced Big Green have also embraced all pain, all the time approach to energy.  I have been arguing for some time that they need to become more efficient at delivering energy if they really hope to replace fossil fuels for some power production.  Even then the fuel will still be needed for applications like steel production and natural gas will still be needed as the feed stock for the petrochemical business that makes things from plastics to fertilizers.


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