The noted environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg thinks that President Obama has some fantasies about climate issues. Lomborg posted on usatoday.com “Obama should confront climate change fantasies”. In reviewing the President’s recent speech on his new climate policies, he lists these four:
- Renewables are a major part of the solution today. No, they are almost trivial. Today, the world gets 81% of its energy from fossil fuels – by 2035, in the most green scenario, we will still get 79% from fossil fuels. Wind and solar will increase from 0.8% to 3.2% — impressive, but not what is going to matter.
- Biofuels should play a major part of the solution. No. For now, biofuels simply diverts food into cars, driving up food prices and starvation, while clearing forests for new fields emit more CO2 than biofuels save.
- Efficiency can cut emissions. No. While efficiency is good, studies show it has little climate impact, because its savings gets eaten up by more use. As your car gets more efficient, you drive it further, and the money you still save get used for other carbon-emitting activities.
- The final climate fantasy the president needs to confront is the idea that international negotiations can somehow bring about meaningful cuts. We’ve tried this for more than 20 years and failed and we will fail again in 2015 in Paris. More than 180 countries won’t meaningfully reduce CO2 emissions from the fossil fuels that power their economic growth.
Lomborg believes in man-made global warming but he also believes that the monies spent to try to mitigate it, would be far better spent on other issues. Lomborg hosts a cost-benefit analysis seminar using experts to develop a listing of the best international development initiatives. AIDs, clean water, fighting hunger and malaria, for example, are the type of activity Lomborg and his experts support.
Back to the President’s speech. Lomborg thought the Obama was on target with respect to fracking and wrote:
Fracking is this decade’s green solution. Obama recognizes gas as a “bridge fuel.” Replacing dirtier coal, cheaper gas from fracking has cut up to 500 MT of the U.S. CO2 emissions. This is 10 times more than what renewables do, and while renewables cost the U.S. tens of billions of dollars, fracking has saved the U.S. consumer $125 billion annually in cheaper energy prices. Fracking has local environmental issues, but these can all be addressed with good regulation. Moving the U.S. fracking miracle to the rest of the world will be the biggest source of CO2 reductions this decade, and simultaneously increase global welfare by allowing energy access to billions yet unserved.
I believe the President was reluctant to support fracking, but it has gone on without his blessing. Because it is a success, the President is now adopting it as his idea.