GHG costs of change

Previous research has projected the cost of new energy infrastructure in dollars – $3.5 trillion a year every year until 2050 to reach net-zero emissions, according to one study, or up to about $14 trillion for the United States alone in the same period, according to another. The new study appears to be the first to project the cost in greenhouse gases… these activities will produce 185 billion tons of carbon dioxide by 2100…

However, if the world builds the same infrastructure fast enough to limit warming to 2 degrees – current international agreement aims to come in under this – those emissions would be halved to 95 billion tons…

The researchers point out that all their estimates are probably quite low. For one, they do not account for materials and construction needed for new electric-transmission lines, nor batteries for storage – both highly energy- and resource-intensive products. Nor do they include the cost of replacing gas- and diesel- powered vehicles with electric ones, or making existing buildings more energy efficient. The study also looks only at carbon-dioxide emissions, which currently cause about 60 percent of ongoing warming – not other greenhouse gases including methane and nitrous oxide.


So what’s the message here? Fighting climate change is hopeless. We should give up?

Many of these processes can be converted to green energy and will be much cleaner in time. This conversion requires major investment and will take a while. But if we have the will, I think we have the technology to get there. We should be more confident.

And get off our butts and move forward!!

The message is that the world is not going to reach net-zero emissions. It costs too much, and that is with estimates that are too low.

We may in the future but not at the present time. For example, to get to net-zero will necessitate CCS, carbon capture and storage, on a massive scale (about the same scale as the petroleum industry today). This would involve unknown technologies.