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Study: Global Warming Solvable If Fossil Fuel Subsidies Given To Clean Energy 385

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the we're-doomed dept.
An anonymous reader writes A research team at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria, says it has studied how much it would cost for governments to stick to their worldwide global warming goal. They've concluded that for "a 70 per cent chance of keeping below 2 degrees Celsius, the investment will have to rise to $1.2 trillion a year." Where to get that money? The researchers say that "global investment in energy is already $1 trillion a year and rising" with more than half going to fossil fuel energy. If those subsidies were spent on renewable energy instead, the researchers hypothesize that "global warming would be close to being solved."
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Study: Global Warming Solvable If Fossil Fuel Subsidies Given To Clean Energy

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  • How about (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 06, 2014 @08:40AM (#47392451)
    . . .the government gets out of the re-distribution business?
  • by Applehu Akbar (2968043) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @08:44AM (#47392461)

    That if you REALLY want to eliminate fossil fuel usage, the big spending is going to have to be on dams and nuclear reactors.

  • by fche (36607) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @08:46AM (#47392469)

    TFA is loonie. According to its own data, the "fossil fuel subsidies" it is hoping to redirect are those that third-world OPEC type countries currently give to their own populations in the form of supercheap oil. Withholding that money would be regime suicide (plus possibly population genocide).

  • Re:How about (Score:1, Insightful)

    by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @08:46AM (#47392473) Homepage Journal

    How about you stop posting talking points you can't even back up with a single fact?

  • by mdsolar (1045926) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @08:49AM (#47392487) Homepage Journal
    Energy is a lot like roads an bridges in the way it promotes prosperity by its very existence. One can imagine a world where energy does not need military protection or special tax treatment, but it would be a world where national rivalries in power and economics are much subdues compared to the present. We're not there yet, but a rapid transition to renewable energy could probably get us closer more than just about any other move. Let's make the switch.
  • Re:How about (Score:4, Insightful)

    by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Sunday July 06, 2014 @08:51AM (#47392503) Homepage Journal
    TFA is about one group of subsidy-seekers trying to relieve another set of subsidy seekers of ill-gotten gains, amiright?
  • Re:How about (Score:3, Insightful)

    by knightghost (861069) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @08:57AM (#47392523)

    The article seeks to equate subsidy with investment. Those really aren't the same thing.

  • I think it would be wiser to spend the big money on improving solar panel and battery tech.

    There is already huge amounts of research thrown into solar, even more funding is unlikely to yield any faster research. As for batteries -- they don't generate energy. Batteries are about distributing energy that's generated elsewhere and as such do not solve the same problems.

    but the thing that Solar has over rivers and coastline is that everyone has a view of the sky.

    The thing about solar is.. it requires huge amounts of space and it's fucking expensive to maintain. The panels collect dust, pollen, bird crap, snow, younameit, and either someone has to go there physically and spend time cleaning them up or you have to have some sort of a robotic system for that. Even just a small amount of stuff on the panel can quickly drop its efficiency by several percentage points.

  • by elawford (564089) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @09:17AM (#47392605)
    So if you consulted with 100 doctors and 97 told them you that you had cancer, you'd go with the 3?? Is it only climate science you dismiss so flippantly, or is this internet thing also another liberal plot...
  • by amoeba1911 (978485) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @09:19AM (#47392615) Homepage

    Suppose you had a bank account with $20,000,000,000,000 (20 trillion) in it. That's so much wealth that it can be considered infinite for all practical purposes. There is no monarchy, but with that much resources in your name, you are practically king for life, your children are king for life, your children's children are king for life.

    Then one day some hippies tell you that you shouldn't withdraw your money from this bank because it will destroy the lives of billions of people. They're saying we need to invest in renewable energy so save ourselves. So you face a dillema:
    A. Keep your infinite bank account, and be the king of a world where billions of people are doomed.
    B. Give up your infinite bank account, and be a nobody in a world where everyone is much better off.

    What do you choose? What do they choose? Keep in mind, most of those who have this infinite bank account are not the compassionate kind of people.

  • Re:How about (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mr D from 63 (3395377) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @09:20AM (#47392621)
    The author doesn't really seem to understand the nature of subsidies, and likely gets his info from sources that use the core data in different ways.

    On a per-unit energy generated standpoint, renewables get the heftiest subsidies by far in most countries, yet the net impact of CO2 reduction in any of those countries is not yet helping improve the situation on a global scale.

    There is also naivety in assuming simple renewable approaches will work just anywhere, and ignoring the cost of 'backup up' of wind and solar is a common mistake made yet again. Ignoring the short term economic impacts on local behavior & human behavior is another common mistake. Not all countries have an economic underpinning that allows these shifts without significant impact. Its kind of like a "why can't we all just get along?" philosophy....we all know that peace in the world would be great, lets just stop fighting......but achieving it has been elusive.

    If we get serious, and employ the right mix of renewable, nuclear, and gas, there is a chance that we can make global progress on CO2 emissions reduction.
  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@@@world3...net> on Sunday July 06, 2014 @09:44AM (#47392727) Homepage

    It would be more like what is happening in Germany. Massive investment in wind, solar, wave and geothermal, but crucially also a massive investment in a new smarter grid to support it all.

    I have no doubt that it will happen in Europe, but the US is going to find it hard. Things like subsidising residential solar are seen as un-American and socialist, even though it's fine to heavily subsidise companies building fossil fuel or nuclear plants. The grid is a money-making privately owned infrastructure, not something that is supposed to work for the public's benefit. In other words, the problems are all cultural.

  • Re: How about (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JWW (79176) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @09:51AM (#47392765)

    It never ceases to amaze me how Progressives can so blithely condemn BIG corporations and their answer to solving the "BIG Corporation" problem is always to give more power to the largest, most powerful organization on the planet. Because large size causes corruption in companies, but it must only cause nobility in governments, right?

  • Re: How about (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ganjadude (952775) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @09:52AM (#47392781) Homepage
    ill take corps, which i can decide to do business with or not, over a government that i cannot choose
  • by silfen (3720385) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @10:34AM (#47392997)

    Then one day some hippies tell you that you shouldn't withdraw your money from this bank because it will destroy the lives of billions of people. They're saying we need to invest in renewable energy so save ourselves.

    "Money" that people have "in the bank" is really ownership of companies. What you call "withdrawing" means reallocating that money, closing one kind of business and firing its employees, and opening another kind of business and hiring people there. Whether that's a good or bad deal depends on exactly what the new business does compared to the old business.

    What do you choose? What do they choose?

    They choose to attempt to maximize the return on their investment, which is both in their interest and in society's interest.

    So you face a dillema:

    No, the "dilemma" you imagine doesn't exist. Rich people aren't hurt by shifting their investments from one kind of company to another kind. If Obama pours billions of subsidies into "green energy", the same people who own oil companies and profit from it will just switch over to those companies. So will your pension fund.

    Really the only question is whether the new "green energy companies" will deliver what they promise; that's the part that's doubtful, because if they did, why wouldn't people be investing in them voluntarily?

  • Re: How about (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whistlingtony (691548) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @10:45AM (#47393057)

    I'll take a government that I can vote in or out over a corp that I can't, and often HAVE to do business with because it's a monopoly. :D

    OR! Maybe it's not that black and white, and we need a decent balance. Oh, sorry, I'm off the talking points. Still, I don't think progressives are off to say that corporate power has grown tremendously in the last few decades and they need to be reigned in a bit. No one is saying to get rid of corps. Hell, I USE an LLC. The benefits are obvious. It's also obvious that our representatives don't represent us, they represent their donors. We need to reclaim our government from moneyed influence.

  • Re: How about (Score:3, Insightful)

    by S.O.B. (136083) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @10:54AM (#47393113)

    I'll take a government I can vote out of office than a corporation that can rebrand, hide behind subsidiaries, operate out of tax havens, etc.

    Large corporations have proven time and again that, when left to their own devices, they will screw over consumers, each other and anyone unfortunate enough to live near their factories. The only check on this type of amoral behaviour is responsible, democratically elected governments.

  • End ALL subsidies (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pubwvj (1045960) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @11:25AM (#47393301)

    The problem is not that fossil fuels gets subsidies. The problem is that there are subsidies. Don't shift the subsidies and give them to someone else. It is time to end all subsidies.

    No fossil fuel subsidies -> gasoline will rise to it's natural price of about $16/gallon, electric prices will rise and there will be more interest in renewables and efficiency.

    No farm subsidies -> food prices will rise for the worst foods but less so for better foods and more local foods.

    No mortgage deduction (a subsidy) -> cost of loans will go up but home prices will actually drop.

    While we're at it, pay politicians only minimum wage and change taxation to a simple flat income tax over the poverty x 150% and institute a national sales tax of 7%, local real estate taxes only on buildings (not land) and virtually all other taxes should be eliminated. Then keep it that way for the next 100 years. Make things predictable.

  • by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @12:13PM (#47393599) Journal

    I usually ignore ACs, but your post is the standard rebuttal about "what subsidies?" and it's totally wrong...

    1. Tax credit for paying foreign taxes. This is a "subsidy" as far as EVERY SINGLE COMPANY gets the same thing. If you pay $1 in income tax overseas, you do not have to pay that same $1 on the same income. It applies to profits earned overseas, and already taxed. ALL companies get this; if you want to call this an energy subsidy, then you can also call it a subsidy for renewables/solar/wind - because they get it as well (oh, and you can also say that every overseas US worker gets the subsidy because when they pay taxes on their overseas income, they get to deduct those paid taxes from the US taxes they owe).

    2. Credit for alternative fuel production. Uhhh, you mean ALTERNATIVE energy credits? Yep - there's that dastardly Big Oil stealing the money from alternative energy to, uh, fund traditional oil/gas? Nope. It's for GREEN initiatives, like ethanol and the like. Fuels that would NOT be competitive on the market unless they are subsidized, fuels that are "green" and alternative. Why this is not included in the alternative energy subsidies I don't know - guess something had to stick somewhere?

    3. Oil and gas exploration and expensing. I guess R&D for technology shouldn't be deductible. That land prep for farmers shouldn't be deductible. That planting new trees for tree farms shouldn't be deductible. That clearing land for solar and wind shouldn't be deductible. It's a standard business expense - R&D - that ALL BUSINESSES get to deduct.

    Yep, some great list! Now, I wonder about those who shout about "Big Oil doesn't pay tax!" I wonder if they realize ExxonMobil paid over $31 BILLION in taxes last year [usatoday.com], the most by any US company. Followed by Chevron? With Apple a distant 3rd?

  • Re: How about (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jythie (914043) on Sunday July 06, 2014 @04:18PM (#47394815)
    Strong government is how you counter strong corporations. It is not a case of either being noble, but of needing balance between two types of institutions.

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