Thursday, January 16, 2014

Now Brace Yourself

When it comes to money, what sounds like a big number to you?  A billion dollars?  A hundred billion,  maybe a trillion?  How does 36 trillion dollars sound?

$36-trillion is the International Energy Agency's estimate of the investment in clean energy needed by 2050 to keep the Earth within 2C of warming. (Let's assume for the sake of sanity, they're talking an American trillion, not the British trillion).   So, by 2050 we should be close to 10-billion in number.  Easy peasy.  Divide 10-billion into 36,000 billion and you get $3,600 for every man, woman and child on the planet.  Some of them might have a hard time raising that sort of cash.

The UN's climate chief, Christiana Figueres, has again called for institutional investors to shift from fossil fuels to put their funds into green energy. 

"The continued and dangerous rise in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is in large part the direct result of past investments in energy and mobility systems based on the use of fossil fuels," Ms Figueres told an audience of investors and corporate leaders in New York with more than $20 trillion in combined assets.

"New investments must now assist in reversing this unsustainable trend, and quickly if the world is to have a chance of staying under a 2C temperature rise," she said.

The problem facing Ms. Figueres is that the investment community remains mired in that 'just not yet' mode.  They know that, at some point, we'll have to transition away from fossil fuels but 'just not yet.'  They're chasing maximum returns and so long as governments allow such returns from fossil fuels that's where they'll put their money. 

Governments don't want to burst the Carbon Bubble.  It's their cash cow, their low-hanging fruit.  Somebody comes in, digs carbon out of the ground and hands them a royalty cheque.   Hard to say no.  Look at Canada.  Even the New Democrats are firmly onside with what is essentially a civilization-wrecking industry.


Anonymous said...

It's like being a junkie and saying 'just one more hit', because you know withdrawal is going to be painful. And it will be painful, but necessary, if you hope to survive.

The Mound of Sound said...

I suppose you're right, Anon. We're addicted to growth even though we're literally bursting at the seams. Makes you wonder about the theory that intelligent life is self-extinguishing.

Hugh said...

I agree that we need to shift to non-fossil energy.

I don't think the world population will keep rising, though. The recent world pop. increase coincides with increased oil production. Now, with the end of cheap oil, I don't expect population to grow much.

The Mound of Sound said...

Well, Hugh, I hope you're right but none of the organizations that deal with this question agree with your take.

The Mound of Sound said...
This comment has been removed by the author.