Developing Countries Need Modern Energy, Not Climate Reparations

COMMENTARY Energy Economics

Developing Countries Need Modern Energy, Not Climate Reparations

Nov 29, 2022 3 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Diana Furchtgott-Roth

Director, Center for Energy, Climate, and Environment

Diana is director of the Center for Energy, Climate and Environment and the Herbert and Joyce Morgan Fellow.
Representatives of countries are seen during the closure session of the United Nations Climate Summit COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on November 20, 2022. Mohamed Abdel Hamid / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

The West should be encouraging all countries to plan for avoiding weather damage and use the most efficient form of fuel available for energy production.

One third of the Earth’s population needs dense energy to bring people up to Western standards. This includes over three-quarters of Africans and half of Indians.

Associated increases in income contribute to a smaller population and lower greenhouse gas emissions, goals of many proponents of climate reparations.

The new COP27 climate deal, in which the West proposes to transfer billions of dollars to developing countries as “reparations” for conventional fuel use, uses climate as an excuse for redistribution from rich countries to poor countries.

It is difficult to draw a causal correlation between damages from specific weather-related disasters in developing countries and Western emissions. However, it is easy to see that developing countries have gained immensely from Western largesse and technology. On net, they are not victims, but beneficiaries.

Sometimes the damage from extreme weather events relates to a lack of building standards or unwise location of development, when governments build poorly-constructed roads or houses in areas that are vulnerable to flooding, for instance. The cause of such a disaster is poor governance, not climate change.

Rather than trying to persuade developing countries to abstain from conventional fuels, the West should be encouraging all countries to plan for avoiding weather damage and use the most efficient form of fuel available for energy production, including natural gas, coal, and nuclear. This will raise standards of living and disproportionately help the poor.

>>> Why International Climate Summits Are Doomed to Fail, Part 2: Upward Mobility for Poor Depends on Energy

The call for reparations comes from the perception that “extreme weather events” such as hurricanes, cyclones, and wildfires, as well as rising sea levels in developing countries, are linked to greenhouse gas emissions from Western countries.

But some research shows little change. Writing in the Journal of Climate, Jessica Weinkle and other scientists report that the number of hurricanes making landfalls is no greater than in the past. Increases in global damages from tropical cyclones are due to greater wealth in those locations where cyclones exist, Weinkle concludes.

Other research shows change over centuries. Sea levels have been rising about an inch per decade since the 1807, according to U.K. National Oceanography Centre researcher Svetlana Jevrajeva and others.

The climate reparations deal attempts to reduce fossil fuel use in emerging economies, but these nations want and need greater industrial development and more conventional fuels, not less. Despite the billions of dollars spent on emerging economies, many people lack modern energy, electricity, and running water. One third of the Earth’s population needs dense energy to bring people up to Western standards. This includes over three-quarters of Africans and half of Indians.

Indoor cooking using waste, wood, and dung may not cause greenhouse gases, but these fuels cause environmental degradation, as well as indoor and outdoor air pollution, which kills several million a year, according to the World Health Organization. Replacing ancient cooking systems with natural gas, propane, or electric stoves would be life-enhancing.

Many developing countries experience regular power cuts—known as loadshedding—because not enough baseload power is generated for factories and homes. Africa and Asia will never reach Western income levels using only wind and solar, sources of energy dictated by special presidential envoy for climate John Kerry and other Western politicians.

>>> A Warning to Biden: Europe Is Headed for Energy Chaos This Winter

Industrialization delivers jobs and products that raise living standards, but it requires baseload power that renewables cannot provide. Mining supplies the raw material for modern products, from mobile phones to electric cars. Mines and factories are vital for modern life but require baseload power.

Upward income mobility over the past two centuries has been achieved through use of more energy, not less. The misguided policies of Western countries to discourage energy use condemn billions of people in developing countries to impoverished lives. This poverty is collateral damage for the consciences of Western elites.

Climate change is going on, as it has for millennia. But using less energy will make people around the globe worse off.

Americans take energy for granted and cannot imagine living without hot showers, reliable and inexpensive gasoline supplies, clothes dryers, and large refrigerators—as well as air conditioning and heating.

Resilient and affordable energy creates economic growth and additional employment. In the long run, associated increases in income contribute to a smaller population and lower greenhouse gas emissions, goals of many proponents of climate reparations.

The concept of climate reparations is fundamentally flawed. The West should not prevent developing countries from using modern sources of energy in order to attain the benefits of industrialization and economic growth for their desired 21sr Century lifestyles.

This piece originally appeared in Forbes https://www.forbes.com/sites/dianafurchtgott-roth/2022/11/22/developing-countries-need-modern-energy-not-climate-reparations/?sh=807ddf540bce