|No regret - options
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In The Skeptical environmentalist, pages 312-313, Lomborg has a box on the so-called no-regret options.
Lomborg downplays the potential of
the no-regret options, and exaggerates the costs of developing
new, cleaner technologies. He admits that it might be possible to
reduce energy consumption by up to 5 % without any consequences
to material welfare - a very modest admission, considering that
the total energy consumption of Danish households was reduced by
29 % from 1972 to 1990, without any decline in material welfare.
However, even though he admits this possibility, he feels able to disregard the no-regret options altogether.
But what, then, are the no-regret options that Lomborg disregards ? First, of course, it includes small everyday details, such as using ordinary light bulbs where we could just as well use energy-saving bulbs. Second, there are large scale options. For instance, the International Energy Agency (IEA) calculated in 1999 that 8 of the most energy-consuming countries outside the OECD are subsidizing energy consumption to such an extent that average energy prices are cut by 20 %. Abolishing these subsidies would reduce the world´s total energy consumption by 3.5 %, and the world´s total CO2 emissions by 4.6 %. By doing this the GDP of these countries would be improved by 1 % (IEA (1999): World Energy Outlook 1999. Insights. Looking at energy subsidies: Getting the prices right. OECD/IEA). Also, within the OECD countries, there is much room for more energy efficient production without reducing output. In countries such as the USA and Australia, energy consumption and associated emissions could be cut by 20-40 % at no net cost - more than enough to meet Kyoto targets (ref.: Clive Hamilton & Hal Turton, the Australia Institute). According to IPCC, working group III, 1996, the global potential for CO2 reduction without costs to production are 20 % now, 40 % in 2020 and maybe 70 % in 2030. Even if such figures are very uncertain, it is not honest to disregard them altogether.