COP21: the best or the most expensive treaty ever?

Whenever I see big masses of people cheering for a cause, like now with the COP 21 treaty (beware of the lofty rhetoric!), I get suspicious. Combined with my skepticism of top down change (“The president has decided, so it will surely happen”), I wanted to read some stuff criticizing the current climate change approach. Anything that can avoid tunnel vision is worth considering.

This book by Roger Pielke, jr. is really interesting. He is not a climate change change denier, but thinks our strategy is flawed. In short: we shouldn’t be focusing on capping emissions, but on providing affordable green energy for everyone. The iron law of the climate debate is that when there is a trade off between climate measures and economic development, the latter will always win. It makes no sense to fight that law, better is to consider things that can work. He gives comprehensive policy suggestions, proves his case with numbers and sets ambitious goals.

Of course Bjorn Lomborg is a well heard, skeptical, voice in the debate. Lomborg is doing wonderful research with his Copenhagen Consensus Center; the reason why I don’t discard him as easily as most environmentalist do. His reasoning is that this probably is the most expensive treaty in human history and that it won’t help us at all (as this treaty will only cut the CO2 emission by 56 Gt where 6000 Gt is needed). Of course, he is immediately rebuked. We will have to do the math ourselves…
On carbon tax consensus is real. From the World Bank to Elon Musk, all are in favor and see it as the single most important measure to speed up the de-fossilizing of our world.

My conclusion, is that the new treaty can be a positive force, provided government actually stick with their policies for a while. Foremost, I hope it will create a favorable environment for money to flow into renewables, because more than agreements and legally binding documents, we need much bigger investments in green technology, from business and governments alike.

Here is a simple summary of the treaty text. Decide for yourself.

 

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