Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Economic Arguments as a Pretext to Torpedo Climate Action

National governments and conservative commentators commonly invoke economic arguments to justify climate inaction. However, a slew of studies flatly contradict the contention that the cost of climate action outweighs the benefits. Upon closer inspection it becomes clear that the economic argument is a ruse. There are a couple of factors driving this fraudulent economic argument. The first is the politics of conservative governments, the second is industry, particularly fossil fuels.

President Donald Trump tried to hide his own government's report because it concluded that the US economy will incur astronomical costs due to climate change. The economics of climate action are clear even though some nations play politics with the facts.

Factual assessments reveal that the benefits of climate action far outweigh the costs. When we analyze costs alongside benefits we find that climate change is a very serious economic threat, but climate action is also a tremendous opportunity. The recent UN report indicated that by 2030 there will be $26 trillion in economic benefits associated with climate action.

Clean energy has already created more jobs than the fossil fuel industry and there are far more substantial job opportunities on the horizon. Even if we ignore job creation and other economic spin offs associated with climate action, we simply cannot afford to ignore the astronomical costs of climate change. Yet the ruling US administration refuses to consider the math or factor the costs.

One of the biggest hurdles at COP24 is the dearth of leadership. No one has been able to fill the shoes of former president Barack Obama who played a critical role in securing the Paris Accord. French President Emmanuel Macron has been a climate leader in many ways, but his hand is now weakened by domestic protests.

The automotive sector and the coal industry are encouraging governments to put the brakes on climate action. Spain's automotive industry is pushing back against the government's proposed ban on fossil fuel powered cars after 2040. The German automotive industry is slowing climate action in that country and Germany is among the countries that continue to burn coal. The US, Australia and Poland are some of the other countries where coal continues to be in the energy mix.

As the dirtiest form of dirty energy there is global agreement that our burning of coal must come to an end. Coal contributes more greenhouse gases per unit than any other form of electricity generation which is why eliminating it is a top priority. Many have erroneously claimed that it is impossible to make the transition to cleaner forms of energy. If we want to dispel this myth we need look no further than the UK where the government has succeeded in reducing their coal based electrical generation from 42 percent down to 7 percent in just five years.

The economic argument is as bereft of veracity as climate science denial masquerading as skepticism. These fraudulent arguments are not about the facts, they are about the subversion of a truth which urgently calls us to act.

Related
What are Businesses are Doing at COP24
The Achievements and Shortcomings of COP24
COP24 Goals and Objectives
Resistance from Oil Producing States is Killing Climate Talks
Fashion Industry's Leadership at COP24

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