“Growing Recognition of Economic Costs” of Koyoto Protocol

Commentary on the Kyoto Protocol:

(p. 3) . . . the current stalemate is not just because of the inadequacies of the protocol. It is also a response to the world’s ballooning energy appetite, which, largely because of economic growth in China, has exceeded almost everyone’s expectations. And there are still no viable alternatives to fossil fuels, the main source of greenhouse gases.

Then, too, there is a growing recognition of the economic costs incurred by signing on to the Kyoto Protocol.

As Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, a proponent of emissions targets, said in a statement on Nov. 1: ”The blunt truth about the politics of climate change is that no country will want to sacrifice its economy in order to meet this challenge.”

This is as true, in different ways, in developed nations with high unemployment, like Germany and France, as it is in Russia, which said last week that it may have spot energy shortages this winter.
. . .
The only real answer at the moment is still far out on the horizon: nonpolluting energy sources. But the amount of money being devoted to research and develop such technologies, much less install them, is nowhere near the scale of the problem, many experts on energy technology said.

Enormous investments in basic research have to be made promptly, even with the knowledge that most of the research is likely to fail, if there is to be any chance of creating options for the world’s vastly increased energy thirst in a few decades, said Richard G. Richels, an economist at the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit center for energy and environment research.

”The train is not leaving the station, and it needs to leave the station,” Mr. Richels said. ”If we don’t have the technologies available at that time, it’s going to be a mess.”

For the full commentary, see:
ANDREW C. REVKIN. “THE WORLD; On Climate Change, a Change of Thinking.” The New York Times, Section 4 (Sun., December 4, 2005): 3.
(Note: ellipsis added.)

2 thoughts on ““Growing Recognition of Economic Costs” of Koyoto Protocol”

  1. Is this a call from you for gov’t intervention, an out of character suggestion the market is failing (by not seeing the coming demand for alternative energy and preparing for it)? Or are the environmentalists wrong about pollution all together and also incorrect in their prediction there will be demand for alternative energy (showing free markets work by ignoring political posturing and interest group pressure for unnecessary and wasteful spending)?
    Seperately, I was wondering what your hopes were for this blog. Most of your posts don’t seem to invite response and could be considered “for educational purposes” or to draw attention to issues that interest you. The other blog I regularly visit (volokh’s) is designed to encourage discussion (suprisingly often intelligent discussion). I didn’t know how much gratification you received from spending energy doing this when you rarely get comments, or if that even mattered to you.

  2. My reason for posting a portion of this commentary was to highlight the growing recognition that the Kyoto Protocol has high economic costs. I also believe that those concerned about global warming, should indeed seriously consider ‘alternative’ energy sources, where the most important and realistic alternative would be nuclear power. I don’t believe that government intervention is either necessary or desirable for the encouragement of nuclear power. If government simply reduced the enormous regulatory burden on nuclear power, that form of energy could compete just fine on its own in the free market.
    In terms of what I’m looking for in the blog, I have multiple goals. The main one is that I want to make widely available, and to permentently preserve, and categorize, important examples that illustrate and support broader truths, that for the most part have important policy implications, and are underappreciated.
    If my postings stimulate commentary and debate, that is an added benefit, but it is not my main goal. I do appreciate your comments, Aaron, so when you have time, keep commenting! (But I may not always respond to your comments, especially when I agree with them.)

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