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Energy Efficiency and Technology Squeeze the Carbon Bubble

Energy Efficiency and Technology Squeeze the Carbon Bubble

Homeowner installing programmable thermostat to help weatherize home

The carbon bubble will burst with or without government action, according to a new study. That will hurt people who invest in fossil fuels.

As energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies improve and prices drop, global demand for fossil fuels will decline, “stranding” new fossil fuel ventures — likely before 2035, according to the study in Nature Climate Change, “Macroeconomic impact of stranded fossil fuel assets.”

Researchers from Cambridge University and elsewhere found technological advances will strand fossil fuel assets regardless of “whether or not new climate policies are adopted,” but that “the loss would be amplified if new climate policies to reach the 2°C target of the Paris Agreement are adopted and/or if low-cost producers (some OPEC countries) maintain their level of production (‘sell out’) despite declining demand.”

That could “amount to a discounted global wealth loss of US$1–4 trillion,” and Russia, the U.S., and Canada could see their fossil fuel industries nearly shut down, the report says.

The best way to limit these negative impacts is to divest from fossil fuels and speed up the transition to a diversified, energy-efficient, clean-energy economy. Investing tax dollars to expand fossil fuel development and infrastructure, including pipelines, is irresponsible and incompatible with Canada’s Paris Agreement commitments, putting everyone at economic risk, and leaving us with polluted air, water and land, and increasing climate impacts and healthcare bills.

Lead author Jean-François Mercure told the Guardian, “With more policies from governments, this would happen faster. But without strong [climate] policies, it is already happening. To some degree at least you can’t stop it. But if people stop putting funds now in fossil fuels, they may at least limit their losses.”

Co-author Jorge Viñuales said, “Individual nations cannot avoid the situation by ignoring the Paris agreement or burying their heads in coal and tar sands.”

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New Study Exposes True Extent, Influence Of Climate Denial Echo Chamber For First Time

New Study Exposes True Extent, Influence Of Climate Denial Echo Chamber For First Time

And now, thanks to a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change (full study available at this link), we know exactly how many people are out there taking money from dirty energy interests to try and confuse Americans about climate changeto derail overdue action and protect the fossil fuel industries’ profits.

Justin Farrell, a professor of sociology at Yale’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and the author of the report, studied both the institutional and social network structure of the climate denier movement and found that there are some 4,556 individuals with ties to 164 organizations that are involved in pushing anti-climate science views on the public.

The individuals in this bipartite network include interlocking board members, as well as many more informal and overlapping social, political, economic and scientific ties,” Farrell wrote in the report. “The organizations include a complex network of think tanks, foundations, public relations firms, trade associations, and ad hoc groups.”

Farrell notes that while funding from ExxonMobil and the Koch family foundations have notoriously played a part in building the climate denial movement, there was very little empirical evidence demonstrating exactly how much influence these corporate benefactors had on the actual output of climate deniers and, in turn, how much they affected what politicians and other decisionmakers were saying about climate change.

So Farrell studied all of the written and verbal texts relating to climate change produced between 1993 and 2013 by climate denial organizations (40,785 documents comprising nearly 40 million words), as well as any mention of global warming and climate science by three major news channels (14,943 documents), every US president (1,930 documents) and the US Congress (7,786 documents).

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Pope’s climate push is ‘raving nonsense’ without population control, says top US scientist

Paul Ehrlich writes in Nature Climate Change that Francis is wrong to fight climate change without also addressing the strain from population growth on resources

One of America’s leading scientists has dismissed as “raving nonsense” the pope’s call for action on climate change – so long as the leader of the world’s 1 billion Catholics rejects the need for population control.

In a commentary in the journal Nature Climate Change, Paul Ehrlich, a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, argues that Pope Francis is simply wrong in trying to fight climate change without also addressing the additional strain on global resources from population rise. “That’s raving nonsense,” Ehrlich told the Guardian. “He is right on some things but he is just dead wrong on that.”

The critique in “Society and the Pope’s encyclical”, part of a special package from scientists on the encyclical, marked a rare note of dissent from scientists and campaigners. Many hope that the pope will drive home his call to action on poverty and the environment in his speech to Congress on Thursday.

Ehrlich, in his Nature Climate Change commentary, accuses Francis of a dangerous flaw in his indictment of consumerism and its effects on the poor and the environment. The pope had fallen for the usual clerical “obsession” with contraception and abortion – when he could have instead broken new ground on the Catholic church’s approaches to women’s reproductive rights and family planning.

The broadside exposes some of the difficulties of embracing a figure such as the pope – for those on the left as well as the right.

Conservative allies of the pope, on issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion, have balked at his denunciation of capitalism and call to action on climate change.

 

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Olduvai II: Exodus
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