Last chance for the climate transition by Martin Wolf, Financial Times, Feb 19 2020
The FT’s chief economics commentator, Martin Wolf, offers his view on what is required to cut emissions from the global economy by 2050. He says most participants in the climate debate “pretend to care, pretend to act, or both” with the result that “despite decades of talk, trends in emissions remain in the wrong direction”. He says: “A transformation from our current energy system to a different one is the only option. Some suggest we should halt growth as well. But this would not only be impossible, it would also not be nearly enough”. We must, therefore, “massively accelerate technological progress away from burning fossil fuels”, which he says is possible, albeit “a revolution”. He adds that owing to the “at best modest” cost advantages of decarbonised alternatives and the inertia in moving to new technologies, this revolution is unlikely to happen as a result of purely economic forces, and will require large-scale policy interventions. “We have so much to do and so little time. If we are to succeed in halting climate change, we have to change course now.” A piece in the Guardian by University of the West of England economics professor Prof Daniela Gabor looks at the European commission’s proposed €1tn “Green Deal” to decarbonise Europe’s economy. She warns that instead of financing a “just transition” for workers in the fossil-fuel sector, money from the plan will “likely line the pockets of the carbon finance elites”.
The UK government has refused a freedom of information request submitted by New Scientist to explain why its estimated cost of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 is tens of billions of pounds more than its independent advisers found. New Scientist writes: “Last summer, shortly before the UK enshrined the net-zero target in law, a leaked letter from Phillip Hammond, the then chancellor, warned that the transition to a zero-carbon economy was likely to be ‘well in excess of a trillion pounds’. New Scientist attempted to use freedom of information legislation to obtain the evidence supporting the bigger net-zero price tag, but BEIS declined to release the information. Following an appeal, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office last week ruled in favour of BEIS withholding the explanation.”