Monday, July 20, 2009

The Core Narrative of Climate Change – 6

How much economic growth would the Developing World have to sacrifice if there is no technology transfer solution that allows for intended growth at the projected rate AND green energy? Using the IPCC figures, about 25% less growth by the end of the century. But wait a minute:
1. Why think there is no such technology transfer solution?
2. And even if there is none, if fossil fueled economic growth begets climate change, why think the Developed World would be better off?
Here is an overview of where I think the answers lie:
1. The problem of green energy is not just a matter of who pays. Nor is it just a matter of overall energy demand and supply. As the Developing world grows, both solar and wind energy will be of limited value without massive storage capacity to provide for uninterrupted supply. Moreover, even bracketing that problem, if we look at the timetable for growth and associated energy demand, keeping up with that timetable for renewable energy growth in capacity is a central challenge.
2. If fossil fuel (or balanced growth) drives growth, we need a model to estimate how much climate change will undermine the rise in GDP or even overwhelm it. We have good short term estimates of the effects on the poor. But what we need are long term estimates for the Developing World as a whole. Here we have a truth that few dare to speak – growth may pit the interests of the poor in the Developing World against others. Not others in the Developed World but in the Developing World itself. If that is the case we need to know the numbers and also ask if the numbers should count.

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