The government must do more:
- To arrest climate change by eliminating emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs);
- To reverse climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere; and
- To prepare for climate change, namely the extreme weather events and long-term stresses that climate change will produce.
Government has many priorities to juggle, and climate change is not the only important issue. However, if we continue to get this wrong, many of those other issues won’t matter any more. Our survival is at stake. Addressing climate change is therefore my top priority.
Climate change seems like a lot of gloom and doom. However, there’s good news too. Many climate-friendly technologies pay for themselves. For example, an electric vehicle has a higher sticker price (especially if you include a home charging station). However, the operating costs – mainly electricity and maintenance – are far lower. If you drive enough, you’ll pay less for the electric car over its life than you will for a gasmobile.
The price of electric cars is dropping every year, mainly because the more batteries you build, the cheaper each one becomes. The same thing is happening with other climate-saving tech like solar panels, microgrids, and air source heat pumps. Government can help, by building awareness, providing incentives where they make financial sense, and setting an example with its own purchases.
But the most critical tool is to make it more expensive to emit GHGs. Political parties across the spectrum should support carbon pricing. Nobel prize winners William Nordhaus and Paul Romer clearly demonstrated the case (more on that here).
As renewable energy rises to prominence, the fossil fuel industry will decline. Subsidies for fossil fuels, including the accelerated capital cost allowance, must be eliminated. Similarly, investing in pipelines is a mistake: You do not hitch your cart to a dying horse. The government should reallocate those funds to retrain fossil fuel sector employees, to encourage new business startups, and to foster clean economy research and development.