For the past 20 years the orthodox response to the threat of climate change has been focused on the search for a global agreement to reduce emissions. Such an approach is entirely logical and rational. Climate change is a global risk and so everyone should be involved in the response. The only problem is that the approach has failed. The Paris conference in 2015 brought people together and collected a range of loose promises from almost every country in the world. Those promises in aggregate were inadequate, and some have already been forgotten as regimes have changed, not least in the US. Many countries are taking action to mitigate climate change, but these actions don’t add up to an answer. Potential global solutions such as a universal carbon tax remain off the agenda. What is the alternative? The best hope for limiting emissions comes from the application of science to the energy market. That means finding sources of energy that can be made available to all the world’s citizens, at a price they can afford, enabling them to switch away from the carbon-intensive fuels such as coal that are the main source of the problem. If politics cannot solve climate change, perhaps science and economics can do better. New techniques to store renewable electricity would be a great advance making sustainable power available worldwide. Dramatic gains in the efficiency of energy consumption may also be within reach. And there could be other answers to be found if we looked.
FT 29th Oct 2018 read more »