New Climate Report Emphasizes the Need for Energy Innovation

Jeff Luse writes in RealClearEnergy that policymakers must unleash economic freedom to drive energy innovation.

A recent report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) projects that the world will likely reach 1.5° Celsius (2.7° Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels in the next five years. Predictably, many in the media are treating this news as though environmental catastrophe is imminent. While this hysteria is misleading and not grounded in mainstream climate science, it speaks to the urgency of addressing the risks of climate change. To reduce these risks, policymakers should promote solutions rooted in economic freedom to rapidly deploy clean energy innovation and accelerate human flourishing. 

It is important to spell out misconceptions and understand what the WMO report actually says. The study does not suggest that humanity’s days are numbered. Instead, it finds a 66% likelihood that the average global temperature will temporarily exceed the 1.5° threshold — likely for a year or two — before falling. This spike will be driven in part by human-caused emissions and also by naturally fluctuating patterns of ocean warming, known as El Niño. It should be noted that there is also a 33% chance that these projections could be wrong. 

Addressing complex issues like global climate change requires a solution-focused approach that understands and reduces the likelihood of high-risk, low-probability outcomes. Exceeding 1.5° Celsius is not the existential tipping point that some believe it to be. That measure is an arbitrary goal that world leaders agreed to during the 2016 Paris Accord. Only a few years prior, the common agreement was to limit warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Reaching this mark — especially for just one or two years — will not lead to catastrophic destruction. 

It certainly should not be used to justify draconian command and control policies that stifle economic progress and human flourishing. But that’s not to say we should do nothing. Uncertainty over the exact degree of future warming provides policymakers an opportunity to double down on the engine of innovation and promote solutions rooted in economic freedom, which include open markets and regulatory efficiency, to benefit people and the planet.

Read the full article here.

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