Complete decarbonization of the global economy is only conceivable at the cost of unthinkable economic retreat
How will we deal with unfolding climate change? There is now a widespread consensus that we need to do something to prevent many highly undesirable consequences. But what kind of action, what sort of behavioural transformation would work best?
For those who ignore the energetic and material imperatives of our world, those who prefer mantras of green solutions to understanding how we have come to this point, the prescription is easy: just decarbonize — switch from burning fossil carbon to converting inexhaustible flows of renewable energies.
The real wrench in the works: we are a fossil-fueled civilization whose technical and scientific advances, quality of life, and prosperity rest on the combustion of huge quantities of fossil carbon, and we cannot simply walk away from this critical determinant of our fortunes in a few decades, never mind years.
Complete decarbonization of the global economy by 2050 is now conceivable only at the cost of unthinkable global economic retreat, or as a result of extraordinarily rapid transformations relying on near-miraculous technical advances.
For the rest of this column: https://financialpost.com/opinion/vaclav-smil-why-net-zero-2050-really-wont-work