We have no choice in the matter, but the economic cost of cutting climate damaging CO2 emissions is probably being underestimated.
To achieve our ambitious goals for 2050, we will need to divert money
- Away from current spending ( eg. consumer goods, healthcare, pensions, travel etc) and
- Towards capital spending ( eg. new forms of electricity generation, renewing the electricity grid, public transport) designed to replace present polluting forms of power generation.
We will simultaneously have to invest heavily in flood and drought prevention schemes to adapt the effect of climate change that is already baked into our atmosphere.
This adaptation spending will also involve diversion of resources away from current spending. In an era of higher interest rates, government fiscal policy in other areas will have to be restrained so as to release funds for climate related policies. Public opinion will need to be prepared for this.
WHY WE WILL NEED NEW MINES
We are familiar with the environmental costs cause by burning coal, oil and natural gas. We are less familiar with the environmental costs arising from renewable energy systems.
A few examples
An onshore wind plant requires nine times more mineral resources in its construction than does a gas burning plant producing the same amount of electricity.
Solar and wind power generation will, by 2040, generate an increase in demand for minerals of between 300% and 700%.
Copper supplies will have to double if we are to meet out targets for substituting electricity for hydrocarbon based fuels.
A typical electric car battery requires 8kg of lithium, 35kg of nickel, 20kg of manganese and 14kg og Cobalt.
EXPECT LOCAL CONTROVERSY
Mining, especially open cast mining, is very controversial in the location where the mine is to be located. Legal and other objections are to be expected. Opening mines may take twice as long as expected, and the delays will have to be financed by somebody. Meanwhile there will be supply shortages and volatile prices.
Much of the mining may be in poorer countries. It may damage local water supplies and interfere with local agriculture. Local people will need to be compensated.
While renewable energy is a good thing. Reducing energy consumption is even better! Conspicuous energy consumption should be penalised.