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Biden’s climate ‘fix’ is fantastically expensive and perfectly useless-Bjorn Lomborg

February 14, 2021

By Paul Homewood



Across the world, politicians are going out of their way to promise fantastically expensive climate policies. President Biden has promised to spend $500 billion each year on climate — about 13 percent of the entire federal revenue. The European Union will spend 25 percent of its budget on climate.

Most rich countries now promise to go carbon-neutral by mid-century. Shockingly, only one country has made a serious, independent estimate of the cost: New Zealand found it would optimistically cost 16 percent of its GDP by then, equivalent to the entire current New Zealand budget.

The equivalent cost for the US and the EU would be more than $5 trillion. Each and every year. That is more than the entire US federal budget, or more than the EU governments spend across all budgets for education, recreation, housing, environment, economic affairs, police, courts, defense and health.

Tellingly, the European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans recently admitted that climate policies would be so costly, it would be a “matter of survival for our industry” without huge, protective border taxes.

Climate change is a real, manmade problem. But its impacts are much lower than breathless climate reporting would suggest. The UN Climate Panel finds that if we do nothing, the total impact of climate in the 2070s will be equivalent to reducing incomes by 0.2-2 percent. Given that by then, each person is expected to be 363 percent as rich as today, climate change means we will “only” be 356 percent as rich. Not the end of the world.

Climate policies could end up hurting much more by dramatically cutting growth. For rich countries, lower growth means higher risks of protests and political breakdown. This isn’t surprising. If you live in a burgeoning economy, you know that you and your children will be much better off in the coming years. Hence, you are more forgiving of the present.

If growth is almost absent, the world turns to a zero-sum experience. Better conditions for others likely mean worse conditions for you, resulting in a loss of social cohesion and trust in a worthwhile future. The yellow-vest protests against eco-taxes that have rankled France since 2018 could become a permanent feature of many or most rich societies.

Yet politicians obsessively focus on climate. Growth-killing “fixes” would delight a few job-secure academics, but they would lead to tragic outcomes of stagnation, strife and discord for ordinary people.

Most voters aren’t willing to pay for these extravagant climate policies. While Biden proposes spending the equivalent of $1,500 per American per year, a recent Washington Post survey showed that more than half the population was unwilling to pay even $24.

And for what? If all the rich countries in the world were to cut their carbon emissions to zero tomorrow and for the rest of the century, the effort would make an almost unnoticeable reduction in temperatures by 2100.

This is because more than three-quarters of the global emissions in the rest of this century will come from Asia, Africa and Latin America. These nations are determined to lift their populations out of poverty and ensure broad development using plentiful energy, mostly from cheap fossil fuels.

The last 30 years of climate policy have delivered high costs and rising emissions. The only reliable ways to cut emissions have been recessions and the COVID-19 lockdowns, both of which are unpalatable. Expecting nations to stop using cheap energy won’t succeed. We need innovation.

Take the terrible air pollution in Los Angeles in the 1950s. It wasn’t fixed by naïvely asking people to stop driving cars. Instead, it was fixed through innovation — the catalytic converter allowed people to drive further yet pollute little. We need to invest in research to make green energy much cheaper: from better solar, wind and batteries to cheaper fission, fusion and carbon capture.

We should spend tens of billions to innovate the price of green energy below fossil fuels. Spending trillions on enormous and premature emissions cuts is an unsustainable and ineffective First World approach.

  1. February 14, 2021 11:06 am

    “”Climate change is a real, manmade problem”.
    The evidence for that is very shaky and controversial indeed.

    In many people’s view it is at best not proven .

    In mine, it is much too simplistic as well as tendentious.

    • Cheshire Red permalink
      February 14, 2021 12:33 pm

      There’s a case that ‘some’ climate change is real, in that some human actions are causing some localised changes.

      eg during summer the temperature in the tightly enclosed St Anne’s Square in Manchester city centre will be a few degrees warmer than in the open parklands of Tatton Hall, 15 miles away in Cheshire.

      The bigger picture though is that any changes are miniscule compared to natural influences, and are thus massively outweighed by natural variation.

      We saw absolute proof of that during Lockdown 1, when the biggest-ever reduction in industrial CO2 emissions didn’t move the needle on global emissions or atmospheric CO2 concentrations AT ALL.

      Whatever we do is irrelevant when scaled against nature.

      • Lorde Late permalink
        February 14, 2021 1:20 pm

        My own thoughts exactly.

      • NeilC permalink
        February 14, 2021 1:40 pm

        The power of nature is something many people find hard to understand.

        Especially the green blob, politicians and the BBC.

    • February 14, 2021 12:38 pm

      Worse there is NO evidence whatsoever IF the claim regarding CO2 released by the activities of man are considered. Science is based on empirical measurement. There is NO empirical measurement of ANY attributable man made effect in respect of when it began, and at what % it has been recorded as increasing separate from the perfectly natural system which was in place and has been so for 4.5 BILLION years. I find it astounding that this does not shock people. The basic premis regarding Climate Change ignores any natural component as if climate change only began yesterday. All we hear about are claimed weather and sea level effects and as an intelligent human being you will understand that without a proven cause then there cannot be a proven effect.Q.E.D.

    • Gamecock permalink
      February 14, 2021 12:51 pm

      “If you wish to converse with me, define your terms.” — Voltaire

      ‘Climate change is a real, manmade problem.’

      It is neither real, nor manmade, nor a problem. Nor is it even defined.

      Translating: Fake is fake, fake fake.

      • Lorde Late permalink
        February 14, 2021 1:22 pm


      • streborjm permalink
        February 14, 2021 2:19 pm

        Upticks ++

    • chriskshaw permalink
      February 14, 2021 1:32 pm

      A statement made to take it out of the discussion and rightfully focus on the horrendous cost and tiny benefit. I often use the same technique when discussing CCC with my colleagues and neighbors. Yes the temp has increased, but the rate of increase and man’s contribution are low etc etc. makes for less confrontation.

  2. sid permalink
    February 14, 2021 11:16 am

    I suspect Bjorn would agree with you but while he never says it its difficult for the warmists to cancel him

    • Dave Andrews permalink
      February 14, 2021 5:36 pm

      Sid, I agree with you. Remember how viciously he was attacked by green groups and
      environmental academics, especially in his native Denmark, when he published ‘the skeptical environmentalist’. I don’t think he ever really says anything more about climate change than that short sentence but is mostly interested in critiquing the ridiculous supposed panaceas being put forward by the politicians etc.

    • MikeHig permalink
      February 16, 2021 2:22 pm

      He has been saying this for some time. Imho it’s the only way he can get his views published. If he said anything else he would be de-platformed.
      His use of figures from the IPCC and other “official” sources is also clever as they are more difficult for warmists to refute. Anything from an outside source, no matter how impeccable the science, will be disregarded.
      He has used the same approach to show that, iirc, the UK shutting down all emissions now would reduce global temps in 2100 by 0.02 degrees. That’s what the IPCC models show and they can’t be wrong.

  3. Phillip Bratby permalink
    February 14, 2021 11:21 am

    I wonder how many people read the facts (mostly, apart from statements like ”Climate change is a real, man made problem”) in the New York Post, compared with how many read the lies, fake news and propaganda in the New York Times?

    • Phillip Bratby permalink
      February 14, 2021 11:26 am

      It appears both have a circulation of over 400,000. NYT:483,000, NYP: 426,000. We never hear from the NYP on the BBC, but one of their first ports of call is the NYT (with The Washington Post). BBC left wing bias – never!

  4. JimW permalink
    February 14, 2021 11:27 am

    Its not like $billions haven’t already been spent trying to change the laws of physics with battery development; or trying to find any marginally economic way of carbon capture, ditto nuclear fusion. And no-one is remotely near getting wind/solar to work without rare earth minerals.
    Meanwhile China, India even Japan and Germany go on building new coal-fired power plant.
    It will only be when people shiver in the cold and dark that reality will bite, but as covid19 lockdowns have shown even then people will remain subservient.

  5. February 14, 2021 12:19 pm

    “Don’t just do something. Stand there” was President Ronald Reagan’s note of disciplined caution to underlings over-eager for fame and success as activists.

    In contrast, Biden lets rip absurdly ill thought out squandering with no proven benefit.

    Despite Trump’s patchy progress as U.S. President, his was very much the more sage policy.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      February 14, 2021 5:06 pm

      A little levity, CAJ: My brother (like me, ex RAF) used to turn the old adage (they also serve who only stand and wait) on it’s head to: they also wait who also stand an serve. In support of restaurant staff.

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        February 14, 2021 5:07 pm

        …only stand and serve. !!!

  6. February 14, 2021 12:19 pm

    All these billions and trillions to be spent on the unreachable goal of preventing climate change are really seeking wealth transfer, from the workin middle class, to wealthy tecnocrats and the politicians they finance. Biden is a master at that trick.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      February 14, 2021 12:56 pm

      Yet it is also starting to destroy wealth on a larger scale, not just confiscate it. Hence gilets jaunes.

  7. February 14, 2021 12:55 pm

    Those in power must realise that if their policies result in regular power cuts and very high power costs then they will get booted out by the voters. What they must be banking on is that the engineers will keep the power on and that power prices can only rise fairly slowly with the blame going to the greedy power companies. As long as that happens the voters will accept it.

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      February 14, 2021 1:45 pm

      … they will get booted out by the voters …

      Not necessarily. Look at the compliance with repeated lockdowns. If I were concerned about the sheeple’s likely reaction I would employ similar dirigiste tactics and if necessary declare a climate emergency, publishing a plausible mix of facts, factoids and computer predictions (with outright lies where necessary) and cancel the next general election.

      There are enough people who already believe that if we don’t do A,B and C then X number of people will die to get them to believe that if we don’t do B, C and D then Y number of people will die. The secret is to replace A (Covid-related) with D (climate-related). People are used to B and C so most of them will accept the logic without a murmur.

      • February 14, 2021 1:57 pm

        The trouble is that there is no choice in any of the other parties

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        February 14, 2021 4:50 pm

        Mike: I smile at the idea of a Government enforcing a lockdown because of CC.
        Imagine people waking up to a mild or sunny day and thinking: ‘what’s not to like?’

      • Mike Jackson permalink
        February 14, 2021 7:18 pm

        Paul, all the better. Create one single overarching party — the Conservative Democratic Independent Socialists (known for simplicity’s sake as the ‘Condemnists’ — picking the choice bits of each so that there is not enough incentive for anyone to rock the boat and voilà! Permanent one party government.

        Two pieces of “required reading”:

        1. Matthew Syed’s article in todays SToL, especially the paragraphs about East Germans (

        2. The first episode of James Burke’s ‘Connections’ where he demonstrates our inability to cope if the lights went out — and stayed out! And remember that episode was aired 40+ years ago! (

  8. Chaswarnertoo permalink
    February 14, 2021 1:24 pm

    China Joe following ‘de Sciense’….

    • Gamecock permalink
      February 14, 2021 1:33 pm

      The White House has become an assisted-living facility.

  9. Broadlands permalink
    February 14, 2021 1:49 pm

    “The last 30 years of climate policy have delivered high costs and rising emissions. The only reliable ways to cut emissions have been recessions and the COVID-19 lockdowns, both of which are unpalatable. Expecting nations to stop using cheap energy won’t succeed. We need innovation.”

    Exactly! Instead of throwing more money away on more climate research or hopeless Net-zero technological tricks to move CO2 around, we need to start funding serious efforts at adaptation. On infrastructure innovations to successfully adapt to whichever direction natural variability takes us. It will need to be done regardless.

  10. Broadlands permalink
    February 14, 2021 2:23 pm

    “He [Biden] said, “we can put millions of Americans to work modernizing our water systems, transportation, our energy infrastructure to withstand the impacts of extreme climate.”

    Ok Joe, Great idea. But why bother to fund hopeless efforts to remove CO2 from the air that have zero chance to make a difference to the climate. And rapid reductions in our use of carbon fuels, especially for transportation, will kill a growing economy and all those jobs. A little due diligence might help avoid unintended consequences.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      February 14, 2021 4:45 pm

      Please, please, please, let us stop playing to the hand that the likes of the CCC et al would like us to play! Tell it like it is. They are not trying to change the CLIMATE: to do so means that they want to change the WEATHER – and the general public will laugh at them for thinking they can do so. And man cannot change the weather.

      Laughter is a great way to sow up their nonsense.

      • Harry Passfield permalink
        February 14, 2021 4:46 pm

        That said Broadlands, I agree with you.

  11. Curious George permalink
    February 14, 2021 3:54 pm

    Please remind me when the climate was stable and steady. I believe in ice ages, and I am not missing the cold.

    Undoubtedly, Twitter and Facebook will ban any reference.

  12. Harry Passfield permalink
    February 14, 2021 4:38 pm

    I was in in the middle of – I thought – a wonderful rant about Biden and Zero Carbon when the phone went – as did my rant. 🙂

    Anyway, what I had to say (paraphrased here) was that Biden is not in charge of of his policy: I doubt he has the ability to understand it – or even dress himself. It is being controlled by his controllers in China. They are happy to see him and his family become phenomenally wealthy by selling out the West (along with some others of – you known the names – not least the likes of Gummer, Gore and Mann – to name but three.

    But it will not end well. I shall not be here then but I see a war coming. All I can do is make sure my grandson is made aware of the facts so that he can make good judgements (IMHO) when the time comes.

    And when the peace – or realisation – comes, I hope that those who profiteered from the ‘war’ – and their families – will be held accountable.

    (Bet you’re glad that was abridged) 🙂

  13. February 14, 2021 5:12 pm

    Despite the massive brainwashing propaganda from the media I doubt if many of the public are convinced that climate change is a real emergency, whereas they are convinced that covid is. Covid is here and now with daily statistics to hammer it home, whereas climate is always changing. They would never accept lockdowns to stop climate change and no government would try it.

  14. Chilli permalink
    February 14, 2021 5:37 pm

    > Climate change is a real, manmade problem.

    I have trouble reading past this line. I appreciate Lomborg may just be parroting the mandatory words to get past MSM censors. But if you accept this statement then any expense can be justified in the name of ‘saving the planet’ – so you have already lost the argument.

    • Gamecock permalink
      February 14, 2021 9:32 pm

      True, Chilli. It is a declaration of orthodoxy. And ORTHODOXY is the problem.

  15. February 14, 2021 5:47 pm

    Only $500 billion! Biden needs a bigger number than that. This number needs adjusting!

    • Broadlands permalink
      February 14, 2021 6:17 pm

      Adjusting…500 billion is the number of tons of CO2 needed to be captured and stored to bring the climate back to NASA and Jim Hanson’s goal of 350 ppm. Do the math on 500,000 million tons at any plausible per-ton number. Now you’re talking big…HUGE.

  16. Iggie permalink
    February 15, 2021 4:26 am

    ‘Take the terrible air pollution in Los Angeles in the 1950s. It wasn’t fixed by naïvely asking people to stop driving cars. Instead, it was fixed through innovation — the catalytic converter allowed people to drive further yet pollute little.’
    The ‘cat converter’ was introduced to change carbon monoxide (which was a pollutant causing global cooling) into carbon dioxide.
    Whoops – unintended consequence.

  17. M E Emberson permalink
    February 15, 2021 10:19 pm

    Covid 19 is an unknown virus. To learn about it true climate scientists will consult scientists who are investigating it. Others will vilify attempts to stop people from overloading the hospital systems by separating potential transmitters of the viruses now identified, just because they oppose self restraint .
    One hopes these vilifiers never gain power as they seem to be as clueless as the Zero Carbon Footprint brigade.

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