News about floods, droughts and sea-level rise tell us that climate change calls for effective action, but it’s not clear what action is needed. If I stop driving and become vegan, will that solve climate change? Probably not.
What’s needed for effective action is a roadmap. A roadmap gives the destination and a possible route from here to there. It may not be the precise route we end up taking, but it looks possible and gets us started. It gets us planning and investing in the things we need to get there.
What is the roadmap for restoring a healthy climate? The fact that we haven’t had one could explain why we see more anger and hesitation than concerted action. One reason we don’t have a collective roadmap is that we’ve been trying to activate society through increasing fear, and a roadmap reduces, rather than increases fear.
Set aside the fear and listen to the climate roadmap: We continue our ten years of exponential growth of wind and solar six more years. Then we’re building enough new renewable capacity each year so that new oil and gas wells are no longer needed. We continue on building renewables at that rate until fossil fuel energy has been replaced. It’s that simple, and we’re already a quarter of the way there.
More than half of new electrical capacity installed each year is now from renewables–globally as well as in the US and China. New wind and solar have been doubling every 2 years for 10 years. That’s five doublings. After just three more doublings, by 2020, we’ll be producing enough new renewable energy capacity each year so we won’t need new oil and gas wells. To complete the switch-over from fossil fuel to renewables at that replacement rate takes 25 years, as old oil and gas wells run out.
A carbon tax makes that switch-over happen faster and with more certainty. A carbon tax is a fee on gas, oil, and coal–fuels that add carbon to the atmosphere when used. The tax increases their cost and makes clean energy sources such as wind and solar more desirable for energy users and investors. The revenue is best returned equally to households to pay for their increased expenses.
Other sources such as nuclear and geothermal will contribute in many places, but most of the global growth will continue to be wind and solar.
The cost of creating new oil and gas production, now $1 trillion per year and increasing, is the same as the cost to install that same amount of new renewable energy capacity from wind and solar. A carbon tax will make a renewable-energy future compelling to investors, having them shift from fossil fuel investments to renewables quickly and with confidence.
We’re ten years down the road to resolving climate change already. How quickly we get there is up to us.
Join your local Citizens Climate Lobby group, and ensure that a carbon tax happens in the next year so we go faster.