John Kay on climate change

In the Financial Times today or on John’s website.

US President George W. Bush made four assertions: there are large uncertainties about the science and the economics; the Kyoto agreement would involve large costs and negligible benefits for the US; proposals to deal with greenhouse gas emissions that exclude developing countries are ineffective; and that research and development on new technologies should take priority over expenditure for meeting emissions reduction targets. It pains me to say it but on all points Mr Bush is right.

If we accept that the risk of a greenhouse effect is large enough to demand action, the question is: what sort of action?

Greenhouse gas emissions are cumulative; it seems likely that more good will come of stopping the flow entirely later than slightly slowing it now. If only the faddish short-term fixes (such as offshore wind farms) were likely to lead to longer-term solutions (such as nuclear fusion, or solar after three more decades of Moore’s Law-type progress) – we wouldn’t have to make difficult choices today.


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