A low carbon economy: the gift that keeps on giving

A Practical Guide To A Prosperous, Low Carbon Europe is the latest McKinsey study to show how it is eminently affordable to achieve the transition to a low-carbon world. The headline on a post by Financial Times climate über-scribe Fiona Harvey puts it best: “Europe’s energy in 2050: Cutting CO2 by 80% no more expensive than business as usual.”

How is that possible?

Initial capital expenditures are higher for renewable energy but operational cost savings along the way make up the difference. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

To be sure, there are some very clear obstacles. The old economists’ mantra applies here as well: if it’s so cheap, why aren’t we doing it already? Well, we ought to be. The obstacles are largely political, driven by vested interests. If you are just now building a new coal plant and haven’t put much thought into carbon capture and storage technology, you may be less inclined to cheer than your neighbor investing in wind and solar.

McKinsey isn’t saying that everyone wins in this new world. The ones who see the future and act accordingly do. Most importantly, society and the planet win as well.

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