Does it all come down to the Economy?

Perhaps the greatest impediment to finding the way to stabilize the climate is the fear that it will cost you more taxes or create more expensive products. But that is not necessarily the case. For sure, fossil fuel companies will need to wind down their use of fossil fuels, but that can be done while developing a new business model using other energy sources. The range of fossil fuel industries has almost all the needed infrastructure already in place, so the increase costs will not be unreasonably large to make the switch.

We also know that if the fossil fuel companies lost their substantial subsidies, about $5.3 trillion according to the International Monetary Fund, they would not have a viable business. Transferring those subsidies to any company (including the fossil fuel companies) for use explicityly and only in the pursuit of carbon-free or carbon-neutral energy would rapidly expedite the transition.

Financing the transition to a Stable Climate

Need money?

There's lots of it. Stop paying subsidies to the fossil fuel interests. The IMF made a statement that:

Energy subsidies damage the environment, causing more premature deaths through local air pollution, exacerbating congestion and other adverse side effects of vehicle use, and increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.

Energy subsidies impose large fiscal costs, which need to be financed by some combination of higher public debt, higher tax burdens, and crowding out of potentially productive public spending (for example, on health, education, and infrastructure), all of which can be a drag on economic growth.

Energy subsidies discourage needed investments in energy efficiency, renewables, and energy infrastructure, and increase the vulnerability of countries to volatile international energy prices.

Energy subsidies are a highly inefficient way to provide support to low-income households since most of the benefits from energy subsidies are typically captured by rich households.

How much money is used to subsidize the industry? IMF estimates that post-tax energy subsidies are about 6.5% of GDP or about $5.3 trillion in 2015.

Let's take $4 trillion of that per year for 50 years and spend $100 trillion on two things: 1) eliminating poverty (mere $100s of billions/ year) and 2) stopping global warming. With $3.5 trillion per year spent on global warming, we would save millions of lives and stop a major source of multi-factored pollution.

What is stopping us from tackling global warming? There is absolutely no scientific, technical, engineering, or realistic economic reason why we cannot do it. So what is the hold-up? What could possibly explain why we are not already well embarked on the implementation of the many options available to us right now? Why would I sacrifice my grandchildren's future if I don't have to? Follow the money? Who gets the subsidies? Who gets to pollute the present and the future for free?

We can talk about cognitive dissonance from fear of change or major disasters, disinformation campaigns, illogical conspiracy theories, silly demands for "proof" of the consequences when the probability statements are perfectly clear, and a host of bogus pseudo-scientific claims, but in the end it just comes down to wanting to correct the problem. Taking the simple step to establish the funding from unneeded and harmful subsidies will eliminate virtually every sensible objection and enable the world to get on with the task. In addition, there will be enough money left over to consider how to "manage" the climate for the benefit of humankind for many years to come.

The important question is "How do we get the action underway?"