My word, the cornucopia of choices that the man gives us!
Bridging that global gap between rich and poor requires a major transfer of wealth. That money, spent on low-carbon development, would fund the clean emergence of the developing world from deprivation. Put starkly, it is nothing less than using the engine of the world economy, energy, to tackle the world’s poverty. It could be done by agreeing binding, global goals for cash and carbon: a top-down approach.
OK, yes, top down approach, not going to work as governments won’t agree, agreed.
If not, a bottom-up route is all that remains. In this scenario, each government sets its own national goals and the people of the world hope they all add up to something short of calamity.
Eh? The bottom starts with national governments now does it? Nothing about the people themselves? Or companies, technologies?
No, of course I don’t insist that a properly bottom up approach would/will work, despite my internal prejudices thinking that it’s much more likely to do so than anything mandated by governments. But it is at least possible to sketch a way in which a bottom up approach would work.
What anyapproach needs, as its final product, is a low carbon manner of generating all the energy we desire. Do that an all of the other problems simply go away. Is this in itself possible?
Note that, if it isn’t possible to get there at all then it doesn’t matter who is calling the shots: we’re all entirely screwed anyway. If low caron powering of society isn’t possible it doesn’t matter that it is or isn’t governments that can’t deliver it.
But is it possible? Well, we’re told (admittedly by Greenpeace International, but what the heck) that solar PV will be price comparable with coal fired ‘leccie from the grid in the whole of Europe by 2017.
True, we don’t have a storage method as yet…..well, actually, in fact we do, solid oxide fuel cells. They’re not priced right yet, but they certainly work and there’s no theoretical reason why their price won’t drop over the next couple of decades to where they will be, combined with solar PV (which isn’t going to get to coal prices and then stop, prices will continue to fall, there’s at least two more generations of solar PV technology to come), the (possibly) economic technology of choice.
We’ve just found out that shale gas can provide 200 years of lower (if not low) carbon energy for the world.
OK, so we’ve got our interim lower carbon technology, we’ve got at least a damn good candidate for the one a couple of decades out. And they’re that wonderful thing: cheaper than the alternatives. Meaning we just don’t need mandates, controls, people will adopt them precisely because they are cheaper.
That’s what a bottom up solution would look like.
And, if I’m to be honest about it, that’s what I think the solution will be: cheap low carbon power.
And not a government in sight.