The price tag of going carbon neutral
The Biden administration has promised that it will spend big in an attempt to curb the rise in carbon emissions. Their aim is to save the planet. Let’s assume, that’s possible. How much wil it cost?
Bjorn Lomborg looks at the Biden numbers and the result is staggering:
Mr. Biden’s current promise—100% carbon emission reduction by 2050—will be even more phenomenally expensive.
A new study in Nature finds that a 95% reduction in American carbon emissions by 2050 will annually cost 11.9% of U.S. gross domestic product. To put that in perspective: Total expenditure on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid came to 11.6% of GDP in 2019. The annual cost of trying to hit Mr. Biden’s target will rise to $4.4 trillion by 2050. That’s more than everything the federal government is projected to take in this year in tax revenue. It breaks down to $11,300 per person per year, or almost 500 times more than what a majority of Americans is willing to pay.
But surely, the economy will be much bigger then, and we would be able to afford such princely sums. And the effort will reduce global temperatures, right?
If the whole country went carbon-neutral tomorrow, the standard United Nations climate model shows the difference by the end of the century would be a barely noticeable reduction in temperature of 0.3 degree Fahrenheit. This is because the U.S. will make up an ever-smaller share of emissions as the populations of China, India and Africa grow and get richer.
As Indian Power Minister Raj Kumar Singh blurted out during a recent climate confab, net zero is a “pie in the sky,” and “you can’t stop” developing countries from using more and more fossil fuels. A realistic climate solution would instead focus on innovation to bring down the price of cleaner energy to one both American and Indian voters are willing to pay.
Innovation? Absolutely – which reinforces the notion that people are the world’s greatest resource. Applying our problem solving abilities and ingenuity to climate change means solutions aren’t just possible, but certain. They become less so if we put barriers in the way to innovation, and restrict both the liberties and free markets that will help us get to a more sustainable future.