A Global Bargain?

Tunku Varadarajan interviews Bjorn Lomborg about his new global warming film. Lomborg's plan to combat climate change:

It would be preferable to have a global bargain, and I actually think it is possible to get one. Fundamentally, we should be asking for governments to spend 0.2 percent of GDP on research and development into green energy. This is 50 times as much as we spend today, yet it is much less than what is typically being proposed to spend on inefficient Kyoto-style policies. Since it is so comparatively cheap, it is much more likely that we could get every nation on board (and developing countries would be paying proportionally less). But even if not everyone were on board, it would still make sense to move forward. In that sense, some countries could move ahead, fund the R&D and take us much closer to tackling global warming, without everyone participating.

I have seen the movie and highly recommend it. The only dodgy moment for me was the film's depiction of cap-and-trade as solely corruption. It is corrupt, as anyone in the EU will tell you; but the film made the point without explaining the more fundamental point that cap-and-trade - originally seen as a free market solution to CO2 - could work, but at way too high a price for very modest drops in temperature.

What's great about the movie is its focus on R&D and how innovating new energy is more important than taxing carbon. In a mostly negative review, Andrew O'Hehir whines from the left but makes no substantive critique of what Bjorn argues. Yes, some climate change denialists latch onto his work, but Lomborg is not now and never has been a climate change denialist. He's a climate change realist and wants to address the problem through new technology while focusing aid on more pressing human problems:

The power of multinational energy companies is mentioned only briefly in "Cool It," and the right-wing political renaissance across the Northern Hemisphere, which has been happy to use Lomborg's work for its own purposes, is never mentioned at all. In some perfect, imaginary Adam Smith universe, Lomborg might be right that dispassionate, rational analysis would quickly yield the best solutions for all our problems at the cheapest price. Does he really imagine that we live there?

No, but he makes the case that we can. And why shouldn't we try?