Friday, April 22, 2016

We Fact-Checked a High-Profile Article on Climate and Energy.  It Wasn’t Pretty. - by Joe Romm

Foreign Affairs has run one of the most confused, out-of-date and error-riddled pieces ever seen on clean energy and climate change.  I will fact check it here, since the editors apparently didn’t.

Despite the title, The Clean Energy Revolution:  Fighting Climate Change With Innovation, it’s not about how the clean energy revolution of the last several years has been a game-changer for near-term climate action.

Quite the reverse:  It’s mostly an outdated rehashing of the oddly pessimistic “We need an energy miracle” myth, which has been debunked here and elsewhere so many times I’ve lost count.

Indeed, earlier this month, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) Chairman Michael Liebreich, one of the world’s leading experts on the state of emerging clean energy, devoted his entire keynote address at BNEF’s annual conference to debunking the myth.  His data- and chart-filled analysis explains how the energy miracle is already here:  solar and wind and LED lighting and electric cars and advanced batteries and smart grids!

But since the high-profile publication Foreign Affairs has decided to publish a bunch of long-debunked arguments, I will debunk them again for the umpteenth time.  In the spirit of William Shakespeare, who died 400 years ago this weekend, “once more unto the breach, dear friend.”

Falling Costs for Clean Energy Technologies (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
For literally a decade now, the “we can’t survive without miraculous energy breakthroughs” crowd has claimed we were doomed because we are wildly under-investing in basic energy R&D.  Yet, somehow the very thing these folks say they wanted — huge price drops in key low-carbon technologies (like renewables and efficiency) and key enabling technologies (like batteries for storage) — kept happening, as the DOE reported last November:

This “miracle” happened without breakthroughs. It instead made use of accelerated deployment policies around the world that created economies of scale and brought technologies rapidly down the learning curve.

Read more at We Fact-Checked a High-Profile Article on Climate and Energy.  It Wasn’t Pretty.

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