Even with an optimistic forecast and after trillions of dollars in subsidies, renewables will supply less than a fifth of global energy by 2040


Bjorn Lomborg

How R&D can transform international development

Copenhagen Consensus President Bjorn Lomborg, Chief Economist Brad Wong and Senior Project Manager Paola Grenier have co-authored a new report published by the influential British think tank Policy Exchange. The report demonstrates that the UK should increase its R&D budget both to help the world's poorest people and to support the country's leading scientists.

Analyzing the benefits of nearly 40 potential R&D projects, which will help meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the authors find that R&D delivers some of the greatest benefits for each pound spent. In global health, agriculture, gender-based violence, air pollution, and other areas, there are large opportunities for development innovation that can change millions of lives for the better.

George Freeman, Member of the British Parliament, writes about the report in The Telegraph that "public investment in aid-related R&D can be a win-win, boosting global security and prosperity while providing the seed capital for more innovation at home."

The R&D road to development

Research and development – into everything from cleaner ovens to preventing family violence – delivers some of the highest social benefits of any form of development aid.
Take hunger for example: investing less than $88 billion in agricultural R&D worldwide until 2050 would increase yields and lower food prices, saving 79 million people from hunger. The benefits would be worth $3 trillion.


Read Bjorn Lomborg's new column for Project Syndicate in six languages. It was published by newspapers around the world, including Arab News, New Vision (Uganda), La Nacion (Costa Rica), The Daily Star (Lebanon), Tageblatt (Luxembourg) and The New Times (Rwanda).

Fighting poverty in the most effective way

At a seminar with the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Bjorn Lomborg presented the Copenhagen Consensus approach of comparing the costs and benefits of different development solutions to find out which yield the best results. He also discussed the most effective aid interventions on a panel which included Swedish State Secretary Ulrika Modéer.

Lomborg also wrote an op-ed on the success of cost-benefit analysis in national priority setting, discussing the policy impact the Bangladesh Priorities project has had.

The article was published on the editorial page of Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden) and in multiple newspapers in Latin America, including Milenio (Mexico), InfoBAE (Argentina) and Los Tiempos (Bolivia).

Climate change, hurricanes and flawed arguments

In the wake of Harvey, Irma and Maria, there is intense pressure to use hurricanes to galvanize support toward carbon emissions cuts. But this is perhaps the least-effective response imaginable.

Bjorn Lomborg argues in Chicago Sun-Times that we really have to ask ourselves: do we want to focus on very expensive climate policies that will take forever and do almost no help, or do we want to spend smartly on cheap infrastructure and regulation fixes that will reduce human suffering nearly immediately?

No, renewables are not about to take over the world

Humanity has spent the last two centuries getting off renewables because they were mostly weak, costly and unreliable. Half a century ago, in 1966, the world got 15.6% of its energy from renewables. Today (2016) we still get less of our energy at 13.8%, and the IEA forecasts a rather moderate increase until 2040.

Bjorn Lomborg argues in a new LinkedIn-Influencer post that we need to get real on renewables. Only when green energy becomes much cheaper – and that requires lots of green R&D – will a renewables transition be possible.

The youth prioritises agriculture

Discussions about development spending and reducing Bangladesh's climate vulnerability are often dominated by politicians and donors. But to achieve the most we can with development spending in Bangladesh, we need to ensure that a broad range of voices are heard, including those of tomorrow's leaders.

Copenhagen Consensus therefore held youth forums across the country as part of the Bangladesh Priorities project. Presenting 25 key interventions from the research findings, we asked the youngsters to do the same as the eminent panel: Identify their top priorities for action.

Read about the results in Bjorn Lomborg's articles for The Daily Star and Samakal (in Bengali language).

Lomborg on social media:

How to doctor your poll

Wood stoves contribute to air pollution, killing thousands

German wind energy not profitable without subsidies

Green energy R&D has been stalling since 2010

The growing gap between official and real-world CO₂ car emissions

Positive environmental spillovers from foreign investment

Study reveals that green incentives could actually be increasing CO2 emissions

If you don't use much coal, it's easy to promise to phase out

Climate models are likely still exaggerating the temperature rise

More global articles and interviews:

Discovering the true measure of world progress
Shanghai Daily (China)

Radio interview about carbon taxes
Roy Green Show (Canada)

Klimaplaner spænder vognen for hesten
Jyllands-Posten (Denmark)

I costi, non solo sociali, della sottomissione femminile
Il Sole 24 Ore

”Sluta beröm politiker som lovar sånt som 1,5 grader”
Svenska Dagbladet

Teraz nawet akceptujących zmianę klimatu nazywa się “negacjonistami
Listy z naszego sadu (Poland)

About Bjorn Lomborg and the Copenhagen Consensus 

Dr. Bjorn Lomborg researches the smartest ways to improve the environment and the world, and has repeatedly been named one of Foreign Policy’s top 100 public intellectuals.

He is the author of several best-selling books, an adjunct professor at Copenhagen Business School and works regularly with many of the world’s top economists, including seven Nobel Laureates.

His think tank, the Copenhagen Consensus Center, was ranked by the University of Pennsylvania as one of the world’s "Top 25 Environmental Think Tanks".

Lomborg is a frequent commentator in print and broadcast media, for outlets including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, CNN, FOX, and the BBC. His monthly column is published in 19 languages, in 30+ newspapers with more than 30 million readers globally.
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David Lessmann
Communications Manager
Copenhagen Consensus Center
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