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It’s Cheaper to Talk than to Cut Emissions

Summary:
Environmental protesters and politicians around the world are calling for countries to become carbon neutral by 2050, if not sooner. These proposals get a lot of attention, but they would incur far higher costs than almost any electorate is willing to pay. STOCKHOLM – Earlier this month, the UK parliament declared that the planet is facing a “climate emergency,” making the United Kingdom the first country to do so after cities like Los Angeles, London, Vancouver, and Basel. It’s a move that sums up all that is wrong with climate policy: politicians are making grandiose, fear-mongering declarations that are divorced from economic reality, as well as from what will fix the problem they claim to

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Environmental protesters and politicians around the world are calling for countries to become carbon neutral by 2050, if not sooner. These proposals get a lot of attention, but they would incur far higher costs than almost any electorate is willing to pay.

STOCKHOLM – Earlier this month, the UK parliament declared that the planet is facing a “climate emergency,” making the United Kingdom the first country to do so after cities like Los Angeles, London, Vancouver, and Basel. It’s a move that sums up all that is wrong with climate policy: politicians are making grandiose, fear-mongering declarations that are divorced from economic reality, as well as from what will fix the problem they claim to be addressing.

Political rhetoric is cheap, but drastic cuts in carbon dioxide emissions remain prohibitively expensive and technologically challenging. After all, emissions cuts have been promised (and mostly not delivered) since the “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

Cutting CO2 emissions to net zero by 2050 or much sooner is the ambitious goal being pushed by environmental protesters like Extinction Rebellion and endorsed by politicians around the world, including several US presidential candidates. These protesters and politicians get a lot of attention, but their proposals would incur far higher costs than almost any electorate is willing to pay.

Although opinion polls show that people care about climate change and want to spend a relatively modest amount to fix it, they want more spent on education, health, job opportunities, and social support. Most Americans, for example, are willing to pay up to $200 per year to fight climate change; in China, the amount is about $30. Britons

Bjørn Lomborg
Bjørn Lomborg, a visiting professor at the Copenhagen Business School, is Director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, which seeks to study environmental problems and solutions using the best available analytical methods. He was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in 2004.

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