In a world on fire, stop burning things

In a world on fire, stop burning things

22 March 2022

A recent paper by Rupert Way, Matthew Ives, Penny Mealy and J. Doyne Farmer, has been featured in an essay by Bill McKibben in The New Yorker. The article draws on the team’s work to argue that not only is a shift to renewable energy necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change, but is more economically viable than previously believed.

McKibben writes, “... after almost fifteen years of work, a team of researchers at Oxford University released a paper that is currently under peer review but which, fifty years from now, people may look back on as a landmark step in addressing the climate crisis."

The paper shows that the price trajectories of fossil fuels and renewables are already crossing. Renewable energy is now cheaper than fossil fuels in many applications and are following “learning curves” that make it likely they will continue to get cheaper still. On the other hand, as Farmer illustrates, “We looked at the price of coal over a hundred and forty years. Mines are much more sophisticated, the technology for locating new deposits is much better. But prices have not come down.”

The research suggests that a “decisive transition” to renewable energy would save the world twenty-six trillion dollars in energy costs in the coming decades.

Photo by Lucas Santos on Unsplash