The World Is Giving Up On Climate Change

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We’ve had our fun for the morning, so here’s something dead serious from the Financial Times to drag you back into reality

Europe is pulling back from clean energy research. India and Brazil barely have any to begin with. The United States is flat at about $50 billion—maybe a tenth of what we should be spending. And China, after a decade of research, has decided to double down on coal and slash its clean energy R&D. Only Southeast Asia is still increasing its green energy research, perhaps because they have a more visceral fear of climate change than the rest of us. When you announce that you’re moving your capital from Jakarta to an entirely new island because Jakarta is sinking—well, that concentrates a man’s mind, doesn’t it?

This is a disaster. Given (1) the consistent global refusal to cut back on energy usage and (2) the fact that building out current technology (mostly wind and solar) will only get us halfway to zero carbon, our only hope lies in better technology. Without that, 2°C is already in the rear-view mirror and even 3°C is all but impossible to achieve. We’re looking instead at a world that will warm by 4°C or even 5°C during the second half of the century. This is not a world you want your grandchildren to live in.

UPDATE: James Wimberley points out that I failed to mention that the 2019 number in the chart is only for the first half of the year. There was nothing nefarious about this, just a bit of laziness, I suppose. My point (and the FT’s) was that on an annualized basis we’re still looking at a decline in clean energy investment. I’ve added a dotted bar to the chart to make this clear.

As for JW’s other criticism, well, I disagree with his optimism about as strongly as I possibly can. My cover story in the upcoming issue of MoJo will spell out my case in more detail.

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FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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