May 3rd, 2023 - Robert C. Kelly, an energy executive and distinguished economist has released a new book titled "The Climate Change Carbon Conundrum: How Fast Should We Decarbonize and Who Should Fund the Abatement Costs?" in which he provides a comprehensive analysis of the challenges and solutions for the most pressing issue facing humanity.
Twenty years after his first book on climate change science, "Carbon Conundrum Kelly (2002)", Kelly uses his experience as an energy executive involved in developing new renewable energy technologies and fossil fuel projects using natural gas, coal, and oil to integrate global debate on climate change science into his new book.
According to Kelly, the lack of a clear global public policy framework for dealing with climate change issues is a major factor influencing the feasibility and profitability of energy projects. He believes that the debate on the cost and timing of the future path of decarbonization is currently a tug-of-war between the cost of investing in cleaner energy technology and the costs imposed on society by climate damage caused by continued emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.
The book proposes a global consensus on two critical issues: developing an agreed global intertemporal carbon budget and a global mechanism to enforce and fund the cost of implementing the agreed global intertemporal carbon budget. The former requires developing a carbon emissions abatement investment plan that balances the cost of investing in cleaner energy technologies with the long-run benefits of reduced climate damage. The latter needs to be done in a way that reflects the capability or ability of each nation to pay abatement costs, along with a scheme that also reflects the “polluter pays” or responsibility principle, which charges each nation a certain cost per ton for emissions resulting from that nation’s economic activity.
Kelly proposes an Optimal Scenario utilizing a DICE-based Decarbonization Model. The Optimal Scenario uses the DICE-based Decarbonization Model to maximize long-term economic welfare with respect to climate change by balancing the cost of abatement measures taken to reduce emissions with the costs of future climate damage to come up with an efficient abatement scenario. The Optimal Scenario results in a long-term emissions path and a carbon budget, which balances the extremes of the Business-As-Usual and Net-Zero scenarios.
The book also proposes a cap-and-trade mechanism, which sets up a program to fund the required abatement through a contribution by all countries based on both a progressive capability to pay mechanism as well as a mechanism which charges those nations emitting carbon to pay a charge as a function of their current emissions rates. This blueprint combines the capability to fund and a charge for those responsible for current emissions as a price signal to internalize costs.
"This plan can provide a reasonable framework for moving forward that should appeal to a wide segment of the population concerned about the costs of decarbonization and the threat that climate change poses to the planet," says Kelly. "There is no planetary free lunch here, however. The costs of implementing an efficient solution to climate change are real and need to be faced if there is to be a solution to the problem. I hope this analysis provides a balanced and equitable way forward."
"The Climate Change Carbon Conundrum: How Fast Should We Decarbonize and Who Should Fund the Abatement Costs?" is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the complexities of climate change and the policies needed to address it. The book is available in print and e-book formats on major online retailers.