Exciting if improbable news

There’s a report in the Financial Times today that UN negotiators are considering a proposal to phase out oil, coal, and gas by 2050. There’s a second permitting fossil fuels to be used, but only in countries which ensured “net zero emissions”, presumably by implementing some kind of atmospheric capture. (Capture at pollution site is not “net zero” because all fossil fuel sources have fugitive and ancillary emissions upstream.) While it is improbable either proposal will get accepted, it is still heartening to (a) see someone taking the problem seriously enough to advance the proposal, and (b) break the mirage of the big energy companies’ unassailable status.

Note, too, that the argument for not doing this, even by the fossil fuel companies themselves, is not that it isn’t needed, nor that it isn’t a good idea, nor that there would be too much economic impact, nor that they would be injured, but that energy needs cannot be met by that time by carbon-free sources. Thus, if energy needs were met by that time by carbon-free sources, logic demands there would be no opposition.

So, sure, maybe not 2050. But certainly could be done by 2080, 2100.

It’s also interesting that, while a lot of people talk about using economics to gradually wean economies away from fossil fuels, this is a reminder — something I learned in my first economics course — that the power governments have to enforce economic rules comes because they can use military power to confiscate, apply tariffs, and so on.

Still think energy companies are a good investment bet? I don’t.

Divest.

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