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Green energy is a wrong-headed approach to energy policy

Dr. Steven Murgatroyd — Calgary Beacon — November 29, 2012

The green energy strategy being pursued, at least in part, by governments around the world is a response to three competing factors.

First, it is seen as a response to the growing concern with climate change – green energy is seen as a way of lowering CO2 emissions which, according to some, are a key factor in the currently modest rise in the earths surface temperature.  The earth has warmed by 0.75C over the last century.

Second, it is a response to the concern expressed over the last fifty years that we are approaching “peak oil” – a point at which our use of coal, gasoline and natural gas will start to exceed available supply.

Third, it is a response to those economies if the world in which traditional manufacturing is in decline – renewable energy is a form of economic stimulus which, by public policy mechanisms, are said create “green jobs”.

These three factors have lead governments, like Germany and Ontario, to support substantial subsidies for wind and solar power and to encourage the expansion of renewable energy as an alternative to conventional  energy sources. Indeed, both governments have withdrawn support for the nuclear and coal energy sectors. The result is a doubling of energy costs over a short period of time, an increase in energy poverty and no substantial real impact on CO2 emissions, especially when we look at the overall global picture. While both economies can point to the creation of green jobs, there are significant job losses in both economies which can be attributed to rising energy costs.

Critics point out that all energy sources receive subsidies, and this is correct. The challenge then is to remove all subsidies and permit market forces to determine energy use. The critics respond that doing so would encourage more use of coal and natural gas, since both now are abundant and both are lower cost forms of energy than renewables (they are also more reliable), and that this would increase C02 emissions. These kind of responses suggest that the primary drivers for subsidy are climate change and the desire to stimulate the “green economy”.

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One Comment on “Green energy is a wrong-headed approach to energy policy”

  1. ISM Group, Inc. December 3, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    Reblogged this on ISM Group, Inc..

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