I NO LONGER WANT TO DISCUSS THE MACrO-ECONOMICS OF OUR CLEAN ENERGY TRANSITION.
I no longer want to discuss or write about the macro-economics of our clean energy transition. That ship has sailed. If we keep talking about various macro-economic scenarios, it has two extremely negative effects:
1. It implies that the transition itself is in question, is discretionary, is still at the ‘what if’ scenario stage. It suggests that ROI is more relevant than planetary biological imperatives. It simply isn’t. I myself have used the word ‘investment’ very often because I have known that clean energy has excellent return on investment both macro-economically and on a project basis. But I know now that the word investment is a problem. It suggests that we have an option to choose to spend the money.
2. We must stop inviting economists to the conversation. It’s time to disinvite economists to the conversation (I say this as someone who studied international economics). Economists are now a huge problem because they are respected by the public and by governments, and yet invariably, when I read their assertions I know that they are operating in an academic sphere, or are being influenced in a negative way. What they don’t seem to have grasped is an accurate definition of ‘clean energy.’
They have not done their homework by reviewing plans carefully with the people who actually must shepherd the future: engineers.
Economists, the public, the politicians, the high level business people do not have the information and expertise we need to make decisions on the technological directions that must be taken in transportation, construction and energy.
By the way, not only do we no longer have time for ill-informed academic constructs, but they are not relevant to what is already happening on the ground. The people who actually do have the information and expertise, have already made their decisions, and they’ve made the right ones. So let’s agree that engineers will not tell you how to do your non-engineering related academic dissertations, and you academics will not tell engineers how to clean up the planet.
Because they’re already doing it. It’s no longer discretionary ‘investment.’ It’s simply next year’s capital budget.
Every time I read an economist’s article on how we need to invest trillions in carbon capture and sequestration or hydrogen or nuclear, I want to scream. Engineers are not planning to do very much of any of that. Big oil and big nuclear want to keep these technologies alive, but in the engineering community it is well known that they are not viable. They don’t yield the results claimed by proponents, they will never maintain adoption levels without government slush and they will not solve our climate crisis.
The macroeconomic reality is that if you waste money on the wrong technologies you will learn 10 or 20 years later what engineers can tell you now. Let’s not allow the mirage tech created by status quo companies to do what they have become experts at doing – siphoning the majority of public investment of. to oil and nuclear profiteers, most recently under the guise of ‘necessary research into clean energy solutions.’ Hogwash.
I’m asking economists to either do your homework on viable technologies or butt out. Because if you do your homework you’ll learn that we can solve climate change with minor tweaks to a few existing, completely proven technologies: electric vehicles, electrified buildings -focussing on heat pumps, building envelopes and energy recovery, renewables, distributed renewables, batteries & power storage, grid software, water management technology, and natural refrigerants.
 Mark Jacobson, Stanford University.