Bjørn Lomborg: Wind power is the path to poverty

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That wind turbine will make sure that we stay in poverty

Dr. Bjørn Lomborg is the Director of Copenhagen Consensus Center and Adjunct Professor at Copenhagen Business School and conducts research into the smartest ways to improve the environment and the world. According to the UK Guardian, he is  one of the 50 people who could save the planet.

Here he writes how the burden of ineffective ‘green’ technologies for generating electricity, such as wind energy, has fallen to the poorest of our community, ensuring they stay in poverty.

The Poverty of Renewables
Bjørn Lomborg

17 March 2014

According to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “Climate change harms the poor first and worst.” This is true, because the poor are the most vulnerable and have the least resources with which to adapt. But we often forget that current policies to address global warming make energy much more costly, and that this harms the world’s poor much more.

Solar and wind power was subsidized by $60 billion in 2012. This means that the world spent $60 billion more on energy than was needed. And, because the total climate benefit was a paltry $1.4 billion, the subsidies essentially wasted $58.6 billion. Biofuels were subsidized by another $19 billion, with essentially no climate benefit. All of that money could have been used to improve health care, hire more teachers, build better roads, or lower taxes.

Forcing everyone to buy more expensive, less reliable energy pushes up costs throughout the economy, leaving less for other public goods. The average of macroeconomic models indicates that the total cost of the EU’s climate policy will be €209 billion ($280 billion) per year from 2020 until the end of the century.

The burden of these policies falls overwhelmingly on the world’s poor, because the rich can easily pay more for their energy. I am often taken aback by well-meaning and economically comfortable environmentalists who cavalierly suggest that gasoline prices should be doubled or electricity exclusively sourced from high-cost green sources. That may go over well in affluent Hunterdon County, New Jersey, where residents reportedly spend just 2% of their income on gasoline. But the poorest 30% of the US population spend almost 17% of their after-tax income on gasoline.

Similarly, environmentalists boast that households in the United Kingdom have reduced their electricity consumption by almost 10% since 2005. But they neglect to mention that this reflects a 50% increase in electricity prices, mostly to pay for an increase in the share of renewables from 1.8% to 4.6%.

The poor, no surprise, have reduced their consumption by much more than 10%, whereas the rich have not reduced theirs at all. Over the past five years, heating a UK home has become 63% more expensive, while real wages have declined. Some 17% of households are now energy poor – that is, they have to spend more than 10% of their income on energy; and, because elderly people are typically poorer, about a quarter of their households are energy poor. Deprived pensioners burn old books to keep warm, because they are cheaper than coal, they ride on heated buses all day, and a third leave part of their homes cold.

In Germany, where green subsidies will cost €23.6 billion this year, household electricity prices have increased by 80% since 2000, causing 6.9 million households to live in energy poverty. Wealthy homeowners in Bavaria can feel good about their inefficient solar panels, receiving lavish subsidies essentially paid by poor tenants in the Ruhr, who cannot afford their own solar panels but still have to pay higher electricity costs.

The list goes on. In Greece, where tax hikes on oil have driven up heating costs by 48%, more and more Athenians are cutting down park trees, causing air pollution from wood burning to triple.

But climate policies carry an even larger cost in the developing world, where three billion people lack access to cheap and plentiful energy, perpetuating their poverty. They cook and keep warm by burning twigs and dung, producing indoor air pollution that causes 3.5 million deaths per year – by far the world’s biggest environmental problem.

Access to electricity could solve that problem, while allowing families to read at night, own a refrigerator to keep food from spoiling, or use a computer to connect with the world. It would also allow businesses to produce more competitively, creating jobs and economic growth.

Consider Pakistan and South Africa, where a dearth of generating capacity means recurrent blackouts that wreak havoc on businesses and cost jobs. Yet the funding of new coal-fired power plants in both countries has been widely opposed by well-meaning Westerners and governments. Instead, they suggest renewables as the solution.

But this is hypocritical. The rich world gets just 1.2% of its energy from hugely expensive solar and wind technologies, and we would never accept having power only when the wind was blowing. Over the next two years, Germany will build ten new coal-fired power plants to keep the lights on.

In 1971, 40% of China’s energy came from renewables. Since then, it has powered its explosive economic growth almost exclusively with highly polluting coal, lifting 680 million people out of poverty. Today, China gets a trifling 0.23% of its energy from wind and solar. By contrast, Africa gets 50% of its energy today from renewables – and remains poor.

new analysis from the Center for Global Development quantifies our disregard of the world’s poor. Investing in renewables, we can pull one person out of poverty for about $500. But, using gas electrification, we could pull more than four people out of poverty for the same amount. By focusing on our climate concerns, we deliberately choose to leave more than three out of four people in darkness and poverty.

Addressing global warming effectively requires long-term innovation that makes green energy affordable to all. Until then, wasting enormous sums of money at the expense of the world’s poor is no solution at all.

Project Syndicate

Bjorn-Lomborg-wsj

Bjørn Lomborg

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Chris Fike says:

    Liberals in the U.S are mental midgets who are easily manipulated and or brainwashed into believing in man-made global warming.

    Wakeup! Snap out of it!

    It’s nothing more than a socialist ploy to create massive tax hikes and take CONTROL.
    Remember 25 yrs ago it was the the new ice-age. Your governments and the media are working in concert to deceive and control you.

  2. Ivan Chan says:

    The push for these fraudulent IWT as ‘renewable energy’ source is the work of the criminal mafia tribe that controls the world. They use UN agencies as a tool to enforce the fake global warming meme that has long been totally debunked by the real climate scientists but you won’t hear them because the mainstream news are in the control of this tribe.

  3. What Mr Lomborg reports here should be profoundly important to anyone who is concerned about social justice. One can only suspect when the burden of our energy gluttony falls on the poor, the worst of these consequences fall on poor children.

    I am reminded by this, of a passage from Fyodor Dostoyesvski, who wrote:

    “Tell me straight out, I call on you—answer me: imagine that you yourself are building the edifice of human destiny with the object of making people happy in the finale, of giving them peace and rest at last, but for that you must inevitably and unavoidably torture just one tiny creature, [one child], and raise your edifice on the foundation of her unrequited tears—would you agree to be the architect on such conditions?. . . And can you admit the idea that the people for whom you are building would agree to accept their happiness on the unjustified blood of a tortured child, and having accepted it, to remain forever happy?”

    Curt Devlin, Fairhaven, MA

  4. Global warmists are the true deniers because in the face of zero evidence, they still create policy that harms.

Trackbacks

  1. […] When it comes to assessing the costs, risks and benefits of environmental policy Bjørn Lomborg has always tried to provide balanced, detailed analysis supported by facts and evidence. The economic choices we make – about allocating scarce resources to unlimited wants – should – as Lomborg consistently points out – be made taking into account all of the costs weighed against properly measured benefits (see our post here). […]

  2. […] When it comes to assessing the costs, risks and benefits of environmental policy Bjørn Lomborg has always tried to provide balanced, detailed analysis supported by facts and evidence. The economic choices we make – about allocating scarce resources to unlimited wants – should – as Lomborg consistently points out – be made taking into account all of the costs weighed against properly measured benefits (see our post here). […]

  3. […] poorest and most vulnerable, as a result, is a political crime against the people (see our posts here and here). The ONLY purported justification is “saving the planet” by reducing CO2 […]

  4. […] insanely expensive and utterly pointless renewable energy policies across the globe (see our posts here and […]

  5. […] of wind power fall disproportionately on the poorest and most vulnerable in society (see our posts here and […]

  6. […] When it comes to assessing the costs, risks and benefits of environmental policy Bjørn Lomborg has always tried to provide balanced, detailed analysis supported by facts and evidence. The economic choices we make – about allocating scarce resources to unlimited wants – should – as Lomborg consistently points out – be made taking into account all of the costs weighed against properly measured benefits (see our post here). […]

  7. We Don’t Need No Stinking Giant Fans

    Bjørn Lomborg: Wind power is the path to poverty – Over the past five years, heating a UK home has become 63% more expensive, while real wages have declined. Some 17% of households are now energy poor – that is, they…need to choose between heating and eating.

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