Good News / Bad news for Wednesday December 2, 2015
There is good news and bad news coming out of the Paris Climate Summit. The bad news is that global surface temperature has already risen more than 1° C. A 2° increase is generally considered to be the threshold of “dangerous” warming with global consequences.
Looking back on the failure of the Kyoto protocol and the 2009 Copenhagen summit, we are left to wonder if anything of substance can be done. The answer appears to be yes, primarily because two non-democratic entities have stepped up.
No one is going to applaud China’s communist government, but in this case we can at least say that they are unencumbered by partisan gridlock. While the US congress is paralyzed by anti-science rhetoric, the leaders of China simply move by fiat, announcing a remarkable commitment to alternative fuel development. In 2014, China’s use of coal dropped for the first time; today accounting for less than 65% of energy, down from 70% in 2011. At the same time, China is now second in the world for installed solar capacity.
The other “non-democratic” approach that holds great promise is a coalition of billionaires including Bill gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos. On Monday, Gates launched what is called the Breakthrough Energy Coalition; a group of 28 private investors that will provide billions of dollars in “patient, flexible risk capital” to bring new technologies to market.
What’s more, the United States, France, India and 17 other countries have announced that they will double the $10 billion they collectively spend on clean energy research and development in the next five years.
This gets us out of the quagmire of EPA restrictions and the anti-business aspects of the climate change conversation that anger conservatives. Development of new technologies creates jobs at the same time that it reduces emissions. In the end, that’s great for the planet, and halts the flow of $billions going into the coffers of people who want to kill us.