The United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2021, often known as COP26, will begin next month, establishing the climate agenda for years to come, and Western governments have been hurrying to make promises to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 ahead of the conference.
Some economists, on the other hand, are warning that in the rush to make pledges, politicians are making promises they won’t be able to keep without causing major economic harm and aren’t being honest with the voters about the massive transformation that will be required and the large costs that will be borne by taxpayers and households.
A total of 119 nations and 400 cities have committed to achieving net-zero emissions by the year 2050 or earlier. Policymakers will have to adopt dramatic measures to reach their objectives, and climate activists are hoping that they will embark on radical proposals during the international climate conference in Glasgow next month.
All new crude oil, natural gas, and coal projects, according to the International Energy Agency, will have to be shelved if the world is to maintain global temperature rise below 2°C relative to pre-industrial levels. According to climate experts, this objective must be attained in order to avoid the more catastrophic effects of global warming.
Among others, British economist Liam Halligan wonders if hitting aggressive carbon reduction objectives could derail economies that are already battling to find footing in the aftermath of a pandemic that has disrupted the supply chains, roiled energy markets, and pushed up inflation.
Turbulence in the global energy market, which has seen the price of natural gas and oil skyrocket, is providing consumers and governments a taste of the exorbitant prices that will be required to keep net-zero pledges, he adds. “While virtue signaling at COP26, the West will be clamoring for more fossil fuel,” he wrote in a recent column for the British newspaper The Telegraph.
Consumer demand for goods is soaring as the economy recovers, but Halligan warns that the start of the switch away from natural gas and coal to renewable power generation supplies is also playing a role.
The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets, or Ofgem, the UK’s energy regulator, claimed last week that energy transition costs account for 23% of current electricity bills. Electricity prices in the United Kingdom were three times higher in September than at any time in the previous decade, and consumers’ entire energy bills, including what they spend for natural gas heating and motor gasoline, are set to rise.