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A new report from the Institute for New Economic Thinking confirms what I and others have said for years: You can’t realistically expand the economy without the use of fossil fuels. As this study shows, to cut carbon emissions by the amount and within the timeframe the IPCC claims is necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change, you must end capitalism. Having governments direct the economy would create negative growth (reversing current levels of prosperity) or at least freeze the economy at its present level of development—preventing future growth until some point in the unforeseeable future.
The study’s authors write:
All IPCC (2018) pathways to restrict future global warming to 1.5 [degrees Celsius] (and well below an already dangerous 2 9 [degrees Celsius]) involve radical cuts in global carbon emissions. Such decarbonization, while being technically feasible, may impose a ‘limit’ or ‘planetary boundary’ to growth … that radical de-carbonization will not be possible while increasing the size of the economy.
[T]o bring about the ‘zero-carbon’ revolution, we first need a political revolution … [W]e have reached a fork in the road and have to choose. One path is that we continue to ‘green’-grow our economies in close to ‘business-as-usual’ ways, but that implies adapting to mean global temperature increases of 3 [degrees Celsuis] and possibly more already by 2100 and to ‘Hothouse Earth’ thereafter. The other path that should lead us to a ‘Stabilized Earth’ (Steffen et al. 2018), is technically feasible according to Earth Systems and climate and energy scientists (Grubb 2014; Millar et al. 2017; Steffen et al. 2018; IPCC 2018). The real barrier is the present fossil fuel based socioeconomic system (aka ‘fossil-fuel capitalism’) ….
[A] deep overhaul of energy systems and production and consumption structures cannot be done through small incremental steps, but requires disruptive system-wide re-engineering … requir[ing] international cooperation in emission reduction, mission-oriented investment in the renewable energy transition, technology development and dissemination, and the sharing of the global burden of fighting global warming, … [including] ‘technology-forcing’ performance standard-setting and mission-oriented public strategies, … [and] ‘beneficial constraints’ … [on] ‘the rational pursuit of economic gain ….”
In the end, this study shows “rational individualism[’s]” pursuit of continuous economic progress for present and future generations must be curbed to prevent climate change. To their credit, the authors of this study, climate alarmists both, are honest about what it would truly take to prevent what they argue is dangerous human-caused climate change: an end to capitalism, replaced by government directed energy use, commercial activity, and trading relations. This is what is necessary to save society, humanity, and nature from, in their words, “the self-destruction of capitalism.”
This report should serve as background reader for anyone who takes seriously Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) call for a “Green New Deal.”