[Marxism] Price Fossil Fuels Out of the Market--economic common sense from China!

Shane Mage shmage at pipeline.com
Sat Nov 16 11:46:18 MST 2013

Zhao Zhong, a former nuclear engineer at the Chinese Academy of  
Sciences, is the China program coordinator at Pacific Environment, an  
environmental group.

I agree that we should move away from our dependence on greenhouse gas- 
emitting fossil fuels at a faster pace and find replacements for our  
energy needs at magnitudes much greater than current expectations.

Championing one technology, though, is a distraction. There’s little  
to be gained in engaging folks in a “solar versus nuclear” battle.

The single most important thing we must do is place a high price, or a  
strict cap, on carbon emissions to make fossil fuel energy less  
attractive when compared to other energy sources. We are at the  
beginning stages of capping coal in China but much more needs to be  
done. If we price coal and other fossil fuels to capture their true  
costs, it will immediately make all the alternatives to fossil fuels  
more competitive and drive innovations in the clean energy sector.

In China there is huge room for growth in energy efficiency, solar and  
wind. Nuclear might have a role too, but I predict that it will be  
more limited than what these climate scientists were suggesting in  
their recent appeal.

Nuclear has problems. To many of us in China and nearby regions, the  
Fukushima accident was a huge wake-up call on the dangers of nuclear  
power. First it set off a panic about food safety as millions rushed  
to grocery stores to buy salt, which helps to prevent illnesses  
associated with radiation. But more important, we realized that  
nuclear power creates serious environmental justice burdens: nearby  
communities face hugely disproportionate risks from a nuclear  
catastrophe. Nuclear energy itself is also not as low carbon as people  
think when you factor in true lifecycle costs, including mining uranium.

I’d rather see our society focus on new technologies and policy  
incentives that promote the many safer, truly clean forms of energy.  
But it all starts with pricing fossil fuels out of the market. That’s  
the first step and the most important one.

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