News in brief

 Just 10% of fossil fuel subsidies just would pay the green transition

There is a continuous claim made from all sides that the costs of going green are simply too high, and that green electrical generation and transportation will never be affordable without subsidies.

Now all evidence looked at so far shows this is not true, however, why is this a standard we are looking at given that we are still providing huge subsidies for fossil fuels?

Currently all UK gas and coal  power plants get subsidies of around £305 billion a year ($370 billion a year), while renewable subsidies add up to around £100 billion a year. This is an issue repeated in most developed countries in the world.

In 2009 the G20 promised to stop subsidising fossil fuels, however little if any progress has been made on this. It has been estimated that 10 to 30% of the subsidies we give to fossil fuels would pay for the transition to renewables.

What I’m saying is that with renewables and fossil fuels competing on an equal playing field, it is likely that renewables would already be competitive price wise as the cost of fossil fuels would have to be higher. Why is it the critics of renewable energy and transport are allowed to continue to claim that these things will never be able to operate without subsidies, without pointing out that the fossil industry has never operated without subsidies? There are many places in the world where renewable alternatives are already close to the price of of their fossil fuel alternatives, transferring 10 to 30% of the subsidies would push this quickly into making the old way the price unaffordable thus accelerated the move to fully sustainable transport and creation of electricity.

It should be noted that this transfer is happening naturally but is happening far too slowly. A study of the situation in 20 countries suggests a reduction in fossil fuel subsidies of 30% would instantly lead to between 11 and 18% reduction in carbon emissions. 

The general idea is that the government subsidizes things that it wants to promote. Generally this promotion is because something is good for us, when looked at it like this why does the developed world insist on continuing to spend billions of pounds dropping out the fossil fuel industry – and it makes the continual claim that clean energy and transport will be never be price competitive an absurd hypocritical thing to say. The IMF predicts that ending fossil fuel subsidies would cut greenhouse gases by 25% relatively rapidly.

Unfortunately the problem with this move is that it would lead to short-term pain (by inflating prices) in return for for long term carbon emissions we can afford and and lower prices in the future. The way that democracy works does not support this – positive results of changes must be seen within a few years or someone else gets voted in.

71% of Britons think that carbon emissions are more important than Brexit

The British political system has been paralysed by Brexit for the last 3 years. The vote to leave the EU was not predicted by many of the big political parties, but given how half-hearted the Remain parties campaigned compared to the Brexit parties (nevermind many of these advantages would not have existed had they been telling the truth), in hindsight this upset was more predictable than people had thought – particularly given the interference in this referendum that came from outside parties.

It seems pretty self-evident that as a global warming problem is going to cause more issues for Britain than on leaving the EU, but it is encouraging that that is fully obvious to the public as well.

The bigger worry over global warming compared to |Brexit is larger in some segments of the population than others, however in the population as a whole still two thirds worry more about global warming than Brexit. Whether this will ever filter through to 10 Downing Street is a different matter.

The White House is preventing state department officials from giving evidence on global warming

On Saturday the Washington Post unveiled the White House’s attempt to edit written testimony from the state department, by deleting any reference to global warming. Several White House aides defended this by saying that the state department’s position strayed too far from the White House’s position.

Trump defended this by his usual confusion between climate and weather stating that it is always changing. One would hope that after electing a climate change denier such as Trump America would never accept such logically false arguments from anyone again, no evidence at the moment suggests this is far too optimistic a view.

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