The current issue of The Economist has a “15-page report on how business is tackling climate change.”
The articles are worth a read — especially since the magazine has made them available for free online. They start with an overview:
Cleaning up: How business is starting to tackle climate change, and how governments need to help. Factoid: “Global investment in renewable power-generation, biofuels and low-carbon technologies rose from $28 billion in 2004 to $71 billion in 2006.”
Good piece, except that The Economist advocates stabilizing “CO2 concentrations at around 550 parts per million (widely reckoned to be a safeish level).” Used to be, but not any more. 450 is the new 550.
Here are the articles from the report (with interesting quotes and factoids excerpted for those who don’t have the time to read each article):
- Everybody’s green now: How America’s big businesses got environmentalism. Quotable quote: Companies want to be involved in designing greenhouse gas. Why? “There’s a saying in Washington: if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”
- Trading thin air: The carbon market is working, but not bringing forth as much innovation as had been hoped. Factoid: “Some ‚¬22.5 billion-worth ($30.4 billion) of [carbon] allowances were traded last year.”
- Irrational Incandescence: People can’t be bothered to make easy energy savings. Quote: “Compared with pursuing greater energy efficiency, the abatement measures into which so much money is now being poured [e.g. carbon capture and storage] look rather expensive.
- Fairfield vs. the valley: Two competing models for the clean-energy business. Factoid: “Only around $2 billion of the $71 billion that went into the clean-energy investment last year was VC money.”
- Sunlit uplands: Wind and solar power are flourishing, thanks to subsidies. Quote: “There are, broadly, three systems in operation [to promote renewables]: the expensive and effective (Germany’s and France’s feed-in tariffs), the complex and ineffective (Britain’s and Italy’s quota-and-trade system), and the unpredictable (America’s production tax credit).”
- Boom: As security and climate concerns rise, nuclear power may be coming back. Factoid: “22 companies have told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that they are planning a total of 32 new reactors.”
- Dirty king coal: Scrubbing carbon from coal-fired power stations is possible but pricey. Factoid: “If 60% of the 1.5 billion tonnes of CO2 that America produces every year from coal-fired power stations were liquefied for storage, it would take up the same amount of space as all the oil the country consumes.”
- The drive for low emissions: Car and fuel companies are investing in clean transport. Factoid: “Hydrogen cars cost around $1m each to build.”
- The final cut: Business can do it, with governments’ help. Quote: “A carbon price is likely to be the best way to cut emissions….. The big question remains: can it be set at a level high enough to make a difference to climate change without derailing the world economy? Probably.”