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Len Rosen's picture
Principal Author and Editor 21st Century Tech Blog

Futurist, Writer and Researcher, now retired, former freelance writer for new technology ventures. Former President & CEO of Len Rosen Marketing Inc., a marketing consulting firm focused on...

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  • Sep 7, 2021

A growing movement to eliminate fossil fuels is leading to the drafting of a non-proliferation treaty similar to efforts made in the past to deal with nuclear weapons. As the latter is seen as an existential threat to the planet, so today many are realizing the same is true for fossil fuels. Under the auspices of the United Nations and other global actors, the proposed treaty would compel nations, energy companies, and other involved interests from continuing to support the exploration for and expansion of existing fossil fuel reserves, and would provide a framework for the implementation of an orderly exit strategy that would wind down coal, oil and gas while protecting workers, communities, and investments already made that would become stranded.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Sep 7, 2021

This sounds like a good theoretical, feel-good measure to push for, but the international agreement required would be so challenging. Do you see reason for optimism this could lead to results rather than just posturing? 

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Sep 9, 2021

Another tragically misguided policy, built around the delusion that clean energy is the cheap kind.  It might be in wealthy countries due to our expensive pollution control technologies, well developed power grids, and willingness to turn a blind eye to the external costs of renewables, but in poor countries, coal is king, and coal is the proven method of lifting people in such countries out of poverty.

If the anti-fossil fuel policies were adopted by only wealthy countries (i.e. the biggest emitters), we'd get nearly as much climate benefit as if adopted globally, and we'd be doing a great service to the global poor.  Instead, what usually happens is leaders of developing countries are coerced into carrying the brunt of the sacrifice for such schemes, to the detriment of their people. 

The very notion of fossil fuel lock-in is not applicable to countries with rapidly growing energy demands (i.e. the developing countries), because a fossil fuel powered electric grid is the simplest kind.  All others are built upon a fossil fuel foundation (i.e. renewable-rich grids need full fossil backup for generation; all grids need enough transmission to reach all users, renewable-rich grids also need further transmission for distributed generators, plus a lot of storage).  The best way to minimize the role of fossil fuel in developing countries to for them to build nuclear plants with foreign money (the nukes can drop into the same immature grids as coal, and the foreign capital allows faster fleet expansion than would otherwise be possible).

Len Rosen's picture
Len Rosen on Sep 9, 2021

As much as I understand the challenges being faced by energy-poor countries that also are financially challenged, implementing distributed energy built on renewable sources plus storage is as cost-efficient as putting in place a thermal power plant that will contribute to global warming. By a nuclear option I assume you mean fission reactors. Modular nuclear reactors rather than the ones that have been built in capital-rich countries could be a solution and these could fit both a grid-based and distributed energy delivery model.   

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