The Economics and Politics of Climate Change

Photo by Stephen Walker on Unsplash

The world has unfortunately fallen behind on its promises to turn back climate change. While the Paris Accord seemed to be a step in the right direction, things have fell apart since the US split off. Meanwhile, the rapidly increasing supply of renewables in China appears to have been cut short by a sudden decrease in funding for environmental efforts. While hindsight is 20/20, the events that have followed make sense, as there is still much to do before we can think about collecting as a whole to fight climate change.

The first thing we need is higher efficiency in renewables. The simple fact is that renewables aren’t as efficient to produce and consume as oil and coal. The market – and people in general – will always immediately gravitate towards whatever is easiest. We need to make energy easy. Fortunately, these past few years have seen massive increases in cleantech, primarily at the hands of more funding being pushed into the space. We’ve also seen the wake-up call for most major old energy firms, who now see that those who do not innovate will perish; not only are coal and oil finite, but much greater growth can come from latching onto solar and wind now rather than later.

With all things considered, we shouldn’t underestimate the capabilities of nuclear energy either. While nuclear energy has a nasty view in the public eye, it is important to realize that the nuclear energy process is only getting more efficient over time. And, while spent fuel storage is still an active issue, the current storage systems in place are safe enough to justify the usage of nuclear power above fossil fuels.

Next, we need to find a suitable and profitable mode for carbon reduction. Unfortunately, we’ve passed the point of no return when it comes to climate change; this means that we will not just have to reduce the growth of carbon emissions but find some way to negate them as well. This means giving people an incentive to reduce carbon, most likely in the form of government subsidies to those who capture it. The large corporations and factories themselves are also the ones with the most ability to do this, which leads to the question of how you can convince a corporation of that size to do something that distracts them from their other revenues.

Finally, how do we get people to care about something that’s invisible? How do you get the working class, who are busy living paycheck to paycheck, to care about something as ephemeral as global warming? How do you make the threat of climate change feel real before it becomes real? If we are going to talk politics, many different demographics will need to be convinced that this is their problem to fight before we go and stroll in with new legislation. All in all, in order to fight climate change we’ll need to have a strong focus on cleantech innovation while at the same time devising solid political campaigns that showcase the importance of climate change to communities that have shown an apathy to it in the past.

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