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Shunning fossil fuels too soon may prove catastrophic

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With the much-hyped United Nations climate summit known as COP26 coming to Scotland at the beginning of November and energy prices leaping from one high to another, you might be forgiven for wondering, whatever your view of climate change, whether attempts to curb the production and use of fossil fuels might just have something to do with their prices rising so vertiginously of late.

Not at all, comes the retort from the more evangelical wing of the climate lobby, this latest crisis just shows we need to switch to cleaner energy sources more quickly.

Even Fatih Birol, the head of the International Energy Agency, claimed that “clean energy transitions are a solution to the issues that we are seeing in gas and electricity markets today — not the cause of them.” Such views fail to hold up to scrutiny, as even a cursory look at the IEA’s own statistics would confirm.

Governments around the developed world have vowed to dramatically cut the use of fossil fuels and have put in place rules and timetables to do so. For better or worse, they have been egged on not just by those fearful of dramatic climate change, but by an investment community that wants to earn decent returns and feel virtuous at the same time. Hence the huge vogue for environmental, social and governance (ESG) funds, a catchall term for a group of concerns that have very little in common except a zeitgeisty moral........

© The Japan Times

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