Achieving net zero with the current trajectory of green energy would be so expensive that yellow vest riots are guaranteed long before the goal is reached.


Bjorn Lomborg

Reasonable alternatives to climate alarmism (1)

The outcome of the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow (COP26) has been criticized by commentators as unambitious, with some calling it a “monumental failure”. Even the summit’s host, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted the deal was “tinged with disappointment.” This is hardly surprising: historically, most climate promises have fared badly (see below).

Bjorn Lomborg writes in a new article that is currently syndicated with newspapers around the world such as India's largest business daily Economic Times (India), the Glasgow-based The Herald (Scotland's newspaper of record), Berlingske (Denmark) and The Jakarta Post (Indonesia, print only) that we need a smarter way forward. Otherwise, the next 26 climate conferences will be similarly inconsequential as the first 26 iterations.

Reasonable alternatives to climate alarmism (2)

In his final article of an 11-part series of climate columns for The Wall Street Journal (also accessible here), Lomborg points out that reasonable conversations about climate change are rare, but they’d be more common if political elites dropped their apocalyptic language. Based on the work of Nobel prize winning economist William Nordhaus, he shows that with current technologies, the most cost-effective way to curb climate change would be a global carbon tax that would start today at $37 per ton of carbon dioxide, rising to $271 a ton in 2100. In addition, policy-makers should focus on innovation and growth as effective solutions to ameliorate climate change.

Lomborg also addressed the COP26 summit in interviews with Sandra Smith on America's Newsroom, with Larry Kudlow on the FOX Business Network, with Andrew Bolt on Sky News Australia and with talk show hosts / podcasters Adam Carolla, Roy Green and Alex Epstein.

Reasonable alternatives to climate alarmism (3)

Over the last three decades, the world has hosted hundreds of climate summits and rich nations have reliably talked green; but emissions have kept increasing because no leaders want to stick their citizens with the huge price tag. For the United States, going net zero by 2050 would mean costs greater than $11,000 per person.

As long as cutting emissions is expensive, leaders will talk a lot but do little. What is needed is a much stronger focus on green energy research. If the world could innovate green energy that was cheaper than fossil fuels, we would have solved global warming. Everyone would switch — not just rich well-meaning countries such as the United States, but everyone, including China and India.


Bjorn Lomborg's column was published by news outlets around the world, including Canada's newspaper of record The Globe and Mail, Forbes and local newspapers across the United States (e.g. Las Vegas Review Journal), Le Monde (France), China Daily, Jyllands-Posten (Denmark), Milenio (Mexico), El Tiempo (Colombia), Business Day (South Africa), Weltwoche (Switzerland), Bergens Tidende (Norway), Portfolio (Hungary), Perfil (Argentina), La Tercera (Chile), El Periodico (Guatemala), El Pais (Uruguay), El Universo (Ecuador), Los Tiempos (Bolivia), The Punch (Nigeria), Addis Fortune (Ethiopia), Tempi (Italy), Kristianstadsbladet (Sweden) and Postimees (Estonia).

Lomborg also discussed the cost of carbon neutrality on the Fox News Channel.

In Malawi next week: cost-benefit for a better future

The National Planning Commission of Malawi is partnering with Copenhagen Consensus and the African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP) to find the most effective policy solutions for Malawi. Malawi Priorities facilitates a prioritization of policy options for the country based on cost-benefit analyses. It also seeks to identify interventions that will enable the government to generate more financial resources to finance its development agenda.

Next week, we are traveling to Malawi for a week-long cost-benefit workshop. We will talk to government officials, parliamentarians and the media on how to use cost-benefit analysis for policy prioritization, and provide capacity-building assistance in partnership with the government.

Why innovation works

There is a strong case for innovation: Consider how the world in the 1960s and 70s worried about starvation. Applying today's climate policy approach would mean asking the rich to eat less and send leftovers to the poor. That could never have worked. What did work was the Green Revolution, innovating higher-yielding crops. It is likely this saved a billion people from starvation. Instead of asking people to make do with less, innovation meant producing more with less.

In a two page feature essay on COP26 for Britain's Daily Mail, Bjorn Lomborg argued that would-be catastrophes have regularly been pushed aside through history because of innovation and technological development.

He also discussed the potentials of human ingenuity with Julia Hartley-Brewer on talkRADIO (UK).

Climate change is not an existential threat

At the Glasgow climate conference, US President Biden declared climate change an “existential threat to human existence as we know it.” No, it’s not. Climate change is not a meteor hurtling toward Earth to destroy humanity. Rather, it is a chronic, manageable condition humanity can live with.

Bjorn Lomborg was interviewed by Washington Post writer and former White House official Marc Thiessen who based on the conversation concludes:

"The way to address climate change is to (...) increase prosperity and innovation. But climate alarmists are using false claims of doom to scare people into adopting policies that will have the opposite effect — destroying economic growth and increasing global poverty."

We’re safer from climate disasters than ever before

Activists constantly talk about the existential threat climate change poses and the deaths natural disasters inflict—but they never quite manage to total up these deaths. One reason is that it’s easier to bend the data about disaster frequency than to bend death statistics. Death tolls tell a very clear story: People are safer from climate-related disasters than ever before. Compared to a century ago, today's death toll from storms, floods, droughts, wildfires and extreme temperatures has decreased 99 percent.

Lomborg explains in The Wall Street Journal (also accessible here) that economic growth and technological innovation get the credit for our improving position. Human beings are pretty good at adapting to their environment, even if it’s changing. Keep that in mind when you see another worried headline about climate disasters.

He also discussed the fact that we are safer from climate-related disasters than ever before on Sky News Australia.

Climate change calls for adaptation, not panic

It’s easy to construct climate disasters. You just find a current, disconcerting trend and project it into the future, while ignoring everything humanity could do to adapt. For instance, one widely reported study found that heat waves could kill thousands more Americans by the end of the century if global warming continues apace—but only if you assume people won’t use more air conditioning. Yes, the climate is likely to change, but so is human behavior in response.

Nonetheless, many in the media push unrealistic projections of climate catastrophes, while ignoring adaptation. A new study documents how the biggest bias in studies on the rise of sea levels is their tendency to ignore human adaptation, exaggerating flood risks in 2100 by as much as 1,300 times. When news outlets push catastrophic climate narratives based on studies that implausibly assume no society across the world will make any adaptation whatever for the rest of the century, they aren't reporting but scaremongering.

Read more in Lomborg's column for The Wall Street Journal (also accessible here).

Climate activists blow smoke on wildfire fears

Add wildfires to the long list of natural disasters that are overhyped in climate coverage. It scares adults and kids alike, as when Rep. Katie Porter’s (D., Calif.) 9-year-old daughter worries: “The Earth is on fire and we’re all going to die soon.” This simply isn’t true. In the early 1900s, about 4.2% of land world-wide burned every year. A century later, that had dropped almost to 3%. That decline has continued through the satellite era, and 2021 is likely to end with only 2.5% of the globe having caught fire.

Lomborg writes in The Wall Street Journal (also accessible here) and The Australian that helping future wildfire victims has little to do with strict and expensive climate policies, and everything to do with simpler, cheaper measures like better forest management and building codes. There’s no good reason to terrify children with stories of apocalyptic firestorms.

Seven climate change myths

In an interview with UnHerd, Bjorn Lomborg challenges seven common myths about climate change:
Myth 1. “Small islands are doomed by rising sea levels”
Myth 2: “Extreme weather events are killing more people”
Myth 3: “Climate lockdowns are a good solution”
Myth 4: “Electric cars don’t harm the environment”
Myth 5: “Polar bears are going extinct on melting ice caps”
Myth 6: “Stop eating meat to save the planet”
Myth 7: “Wildfires are getting worse”

A brief summary of the seven myths, many of which Lomborg discussed extensively in his columns for Wall Street Journal, was also published in the British weekly investment magazine MoneyWeek.

Climate policies need to work for the developing world

Most emissions in the 21st century will come from China and India along with the rest of Asia, Africa and Latin America. It is important to design climate solutions that work for them. For developing countries, the current climate approach of paying large sums for achieving negligible temperature reductions in a hundred years is spectacularly unattractive. As their citizens live off as little as a few hundred dollars annually, they understandably care more about their kids surviving malaria and malnutrition. They want to escape misery, poor education and low job prospects. They care about lifting themselves and their children out of poverty with strong economic growth.

Lomborg's column was published in newspapers on all continents, including New York Post, O Globo (Brazil), Herald Sun (Australia, see image), de Telegraaf (Netherlands), Financial Post (Canada), Bangkok Post (Thailand) and Capital (Ethiopia, print only).

Lomborg also discussed the necessity of designing policies that work for the world's poor in order to seriously tackle global warming with Wall Street Journal editor Paul Gigot on the Journal Editorial Report.

Lomborg on social media:

China reduced rural poverty from 96% to 0.6% in just 39 years

India wants a trillion dollars to fulfill climate pledges

Fighting TB is one of the world's best investments

Climate change is not a meteor hurtling toward Earth to destroy humanity

Rich 1st-worlders denying poor nations fossil energy to feel good about climate

Media preferring astronaut's tales of climate disasters over satellite data

More global articles and interviews:

An interview with Bjorn Lomborg — a rare breath of fresh air in the climate debate
Financial Post (Canada)

WTH is going on with climate change?
What the Hell Is Going On podcast (USA)

‘The developing world has much bigger problems than climate change’
spiked (United Kingdom)

Climate Change: Can we rise to the challenge?
Doha Debates

The problem with electric cars
Calgary Herald (Canada)

Climate experts: Tackling extreme weathers needs smart actions
China Daily

Could climate change destroy the economy?
FOX Business Network (USA)

Is the Tide Turning?
The Glenn Beck Program (USA)

« Le changement climatique n’est pas la fin du monde »
Le Point (France)

Falsa Alarma
ABC (Paraguay)

Klimaatverandering is niet het einde van de wereld
Elsevier (Netherlands)

Geen reden tot paniek over klimaatverandering
Elsevier (Netherlands)

Is de klimaattop in Glasgow zinloos?
de Volkskrant (Netherlands)

Ida Aukens postulater er fejlagtige, forkerte og ofte pure opspind
Berlingske (Denmark)

A chi muore di fame serve sviluppo economico, non lotta al cambiamento climatico
Tempi (Italy)

Non dite ai vostri figli che «la Terra è in fiamme»: non è vero
Tempi (Italy)

Sicuri che la gente sia disposta a pagare più tasse per salvare il clima?
Tempi (Italy)

Il cambiamento climatico non dev’essere per forza un armageddon: possiamo adattarci
Tempi (Italy)

Was für ein Kernkraft-Comeback spricht
Bild (Germany)

Green activists are ignoring practical solutions to climate change
Financial Post (Canada)

COP26 Summit: Climate Change’s Real Risks
Wall Street Journal (USA)

Climate change isn’t remotely the world’s No. 1 problem
New York Post

Green energy is too expensive to be sustainable
Fox Business Network

Facts, Not Fear, Should Drive Biden’s Climate Change Policies
The National Interest (USA)

Global leaders tasked on $100b yearly research, development funding to check global warming
The Guardian (Nigeria)

La agenda climática costará 9.700 euros por persona y tendrá un impacto mínimo en el medio ambiente
Libre Mercado (Spain)

"Hay demasiado alarmismo en los debates climáticos"
Libre Mercado (Spain)

El mundo se vuelve más seguro ante las inundaciones
La Prensa (Nicaragua)

Urge innovar en energía verde para resolver el cambio climático
El Universo (Ecuador)

Apocalipsis climático
El Diario (Mexico)

Innovar en lugar de prohibir, piden ecologistas y expertos antes de la COP26
France24 (France)

Ecologistas e especialistas defendem inovação em vez de proibição
ISTOÉ Dinheiro (Brazil)

Rice fortification is an effective way to combat anemia
BusinessLine (India)

About Bjorn Lomborg and the Copenhagen Consensus 

Dr. Bjorn Lomborg researches the smartest ways to do good in 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, Visiting Professor at Copenhagen Business School, Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and works regularly with many of the world’s top economists, including seven Nobel Laureates.

His think tank, the Copenhagen Consensus Center, was named Think Tank of the Year in International Affairs by Prospect Magazine. It has repeatedly been top-ranked by University of Pennsylvania in its global overview of 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 dozens of newspapers across all continents.
Thank you for your continued interest and we hope you enjoy these occasional updates, if you do not wish to receive news about Bjorn Lomborg and the Copenhagen Consensus in the future, you can easily remove your email from our mailing list.

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David Lessmann
Communications Manager
Copenhagen Consensus Center
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