A recent article by Brad Plumer at the Washington Post outlines the tension between climate change goals and the need to provide “energy impoverished” nations with access to electricity. “If we want to limit the amount of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere and hit that 2°C goal, we’ll have to replace about 80 percent of our current fossil-fuel use with carbon-free energy and then use only carbon-free energy to meet our future needs,” he writes. “That’s hard enough.”
“But if we want everyone in the world to have as much energy as the average Bulgarian enjoys, then we’ll need twice as much carbon-free power.”
Plumer calls this a “tension” between the developing world and those who seek to impose climate change regulation. Such regulations have the potential to stifle economic growth and leave even developed countries with severe energy shortages.
As I pointed out in several previous blog entries, Europe is currently suffering from an energy shortage as its domestic energy production falters due to climate change regulations. Europe is currently importing American coal in order to meet its energy needs. And price increases also have their effect. “Germany’s collapsing; 800,000 Germans sit in the cold and the dark right now because they can’t afford to pay their electricity bills,” said Christopher Horner on Accuracy in Media’s Take AIM.
Plumer, himself, revealed this February that energy efficiency will likely not be enough to reach climate change targets. “Long story short: Higher energy efficiency is a boon for consumer welfare,” wrote Plumer. “[…] What’s more, boosting energy productivity will almost certainly be necessary for the United States to cut its carbon emissions and tackle climate change. But efficiency by itself likely won’t be sufficient” (emphasis added).
So, if efficiency isn’t enough, then regulations must be necessary in the face of a world which desires a better, electricity-run, energy-fueled livelihood, right? Plumer admits as much in his more recent article when he writes “But, the modelers caution, those three goals wouldn’t be sufficient; limits on carbon emissions would likely also prove necessary” (emphasis added). That’s because historical experience shows that as energy efficiency improves, living standards go up and more energy gets consumed. So policymakers must forcibly change the market in order to reach artificial policy goals such as climate change.