Restoring the climate: A trip of a thousand miles begins with the first step

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There is enormous debate about climate change, its causes, who to blame, and its solutions. I’m passionate about Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) because I believe the adage: “A trip of a thousand miles begins with the first step”.

The first step to restoring the climate is a massive build-out of clean energy, starting now. That build-out requires massive capital, and that capital flow requires that investors feel safe making the investment. And a predictable, gradually increasing carbon tax is almost universally accepted by economists and investors to be the tool to create that sense of safety, predictability which investors need to change course from fossil fuel investments to wind and solar.

Even though wind and solar are more profitable and more predictable than fossil fuels, investors feel uneasy with the unpredictability of subsidies and regulations, so they stay the course.

Global fossil fuel energy use totals 13 terawatts (10,000 gigawatts). To replace this power at $8/watt (new wind capacity in the US costs about $1.70/watt today and yields 25% utilization) could cost $100 trillion dollars. That sounds like a lot of money. However globally we spend >$5 trillion per year to purchase fossil fuels and find new sources. If we only shifted our fossil fuel spending to building renewables, in 20 years we’d have built enough capacity to replace our fossil fuel consumption. And that investment pays for 20-30 years–it doesn’t literally go up in smoke.  Of course renewables costs are still falling, and fossil fuel costs are still rising, so in 15 years we could be at 80% renewables, at which time we’d know how much storage and other infrastructure will be really needed.

A trip of a thousand miles begins with the first step. The first step for restoring the climate is to get investors to invest massively in clean energy, which for now is wind and solar. Join or start a local citizens climate lobby group. citizensclimatelobby.org

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