Fifteen Eighty Four

Academic perspectives from Cambridge University Press


Bjørn Lomborg: Don’t Waste Time Cutting Emissions

Skeptical Environmentalist Bjørn Lomborg wrote an Op-Ed for Saturday’s New York Times. In it, he argues that the costs of cutting emissions Kyoto-style far outstrip those of investing large amounts of money in clean energy.

This year’s edition of Lomborg’s Global Crises, Global Solutions, the reports from the Copenhagen Consensus, will be available soon!

WE are often told that tackling global warming should be the defining task of our age — that we must cut emissions immediately and drastically. But people are not buying the idea that, unless we act, the planet is doomed. Several recent polls have revealed Americans’ growing skepticism. Solving global warming has become their lowest policy priority, according to a new Pew survey.

Moreover, strategies to reduce carbon have failed. Meeting in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, politicians from wealthy countries promised to cut emissions by 2000, but did no such thing. In Kyoto in 1997, leaders promised even stricter reductions by 2010, yet emissions have kept increasing unabated. Still, the leaders plan to meet in Copenhagen this December to agree to even more of the same — drastic reductions in emissions that no one will live up to. Another decade will be wasted.

Fortunately, there is a better option: to make low-carbon alternatives like solar and wind energy competitive with old carbon sources. This requires much more spending on research and development of low-carbon energy technology. We might have assumed that investment in this research would have increased when the Kyoto Protocol made fossil fuel use more expensive, but it has not. Read the full article >>

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