Photo: Bert Kaufmann
Don’t bet on the U.S. bringing back coal as a main source of energy. It is unlikely here or in any of the developed nations around the world. Europe has already recognized that the future of coal is dead. China can’t breathe, so they are cutting coal consumption for the third year in a row, and have committed $361 billion to renewables by 2020.
The world’s largest cities are already weaning off coal and even reducing the consumption of fossil fuels through increased efficiency and wiser management.
The insurance industry has taken a close look at the future of climate change and is hedging their bets by supporting sustainable development. Efficiency means less waste and lower pollution liability from regulatory agencies. Remember the U.S. Supreme Court said the EPA can regulate CO2.
Banks like greater efficiency because clean up costs from fossil fuel spills increase the chance of a loan going bad.
If you follow the development of military technology, you see enormous emphasis in fuel saving transportation, biofuels, electric and hybrid vehicles. Most of the deaths in U.S. middle east adventures came from IEDs and transporting fuel. Lower demand for fossil fuel means fewer deaths transporting it. Besides, electric vehicles are sneaky.
The military also recognizes the risks from global warming and rising sea levels. Coastal installations are already being threatened.
Imagine you are a private utility for a small town. You go to the bank and ask for a loan to expand a 30-year-old coal power station. Gas is cleaner and the price has now reached a parity with coal in most of the country. Do you think a prudent loan officer is likely to leap at the opportunity to pour money into antique technology with a proven history of environmental liability?
A number of economic indicators are now suggesting that sustainable energy development is now the better business option. America’s brand of capitalism certainly has its faults, but wasting a dollar isn’t one of them.