Time Magazine: We Only Have to TRIPLE the Global Renewable Energy Budget to Achieve Green Nirvana

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to Time the world currently spends 1% ($0.8 trillion / year) of global income on renewables. But for the “surprisingly low cost” of $2.4 Trillion / year, we could make all the green energy fantasies come true, though we might also have to become vegans and surrender our pension funds.

The Surprisingly Low Price Tag on Preventing Climate Disaster


Despair is as dangerous as denial. And it is equally false. Humanity has enormous resources under its command, and by applying them wisely, we can still prevent ecological cataclysm. But exactly how much would it cost to stop the apocalypse? If humankind wanted to prevent catastrophic climate change, how big a check would we have to write?

Naturally enough, no one knows for sure. My team and I have spent weeks poring over various reports and academic papers, living in a cloud of numbers. But while the models behind the numbers are dizzyingly complex, the bottom line should cheer us up. According to the International Energy Agency, achieving a net-zero carbon economy would require us to spend just 2% of annual global GDP over what we already do on our energy system. In a recent poll of climate economists conducted by Reuters, most agreed that getting to net zero would cost only 2% to 3% of annual global GDP. Other estimates put the cost of decarbonizing the economy a bit lower or a bit higher, but they are all in the low single digits of annual global GDP.

These numbers echo the assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which in its landmark 2018 report stated that in order to limit climate change to 1.5°C, annual investments in clean energy needed to increase to around 3% of global GDP. Since humankind already spends about 1% of annual global GDP on clean energy, we just need an extra 2% slice of the pie!

The above calculations focus on the cost of transforming the energy and transportation sectors, which are by far the most important. However, there are other sources of emissions as well, like land use, forestry and agriculture. You know, those infamous cow farts. The good news is that a lot of these emissions can be cut on the cheap through behavioral changes such as reducing meat and dairy consumption and relying more on a plant-based diet. It doesn’t cost anything to eat more veggies, and it can help you (and the rain forests) live longer.

In just the first nine months of 2020, governments around the world announced stimulus measures worth nearly 14% of global GDP to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. If citizens press them hard enough, politicians can do the same to deal with the ecological crisis. So can investment banks and pension funds. Pension funds hold about $56 trillion USD. What’s the point of having a pension if you don’t have a future?

Read more: https://time.com/6132395/two-percent-climate-solution/

Yuval Noah Harari’s bio describes him as a historian, philosopher and author.

I love watching Dragon’s Den, a BBC TV series in which ordinary people with business ideas get to pitch to the “dragons”, very wealthy self made people who built up their own fortunes through investment and business creation.

One thing which is very clear is how quickly the dragons reject losers. They very rarely put money into micro businesses which are operating at a loss, because if the business can’t make money on a small scale, pumping more money in to scale the business up usually just increases the rate at which the idea loses money.

If renewable energy cannot become self sustaining with an injection of $0.8 trillion per year, an additional $1.6 trillion per year is not going to fix anything.

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Bryan A
January 19, 2022 10:37 pm

Spending an extra $1.6T on renewables Certainly Won’t fix anything (NOTHING is broken that needs fixing) but it will Unfix society and affordable reliable energy

John V. Wright
January 19, 2022 10:37 pm

It has always astonished me how often the dire warnings of catastrophe, climate cataclysm, end-of-world etc. are blared out across the media while the earth continues on in her serene way. There is patently nothing untoward happening in our ecosphere. Bad weather, droughts, tornadoes occur as they have done throughout our existence and, as usual, life on earth just gets on with it.
Humans are both clever and ineffably stupid at the same time. We are told that disaster will befall us if we increase the average global temperature by 1.5ºC. If we say that the current average is 14ºC then that takes us to 15.5ºC. But the average temperature of the earth over the last 450 million years or so is 19ºC.
And right now, nothing is happening anyway. It’s just weather. I am hoping that these hysterical, left-wing, doom-mongers eventually run out of road. Speaking on behalf of the northern hemisphere, we would welcome a little CO2-inspired warming…

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  John V. Wright
January 19, 2022 10:47 pm

You’ll never be free of them. They are mainly idiots looking for a cause.

Reply to  John V. Wright
January 20, 2022 12:35 am

John, you are right. I look across the English countryside everyday and it looks the same now as it did when I was a child 50 years ago. More yellow rape fields perhaps, but that’s about it. Ditto the weather. Same as it ever was.

Except for the f*cking ugly and useless wind turbines.

Peta of Newark
Reply to  ThinkingScientist
January 20, 2022 5:07 am

With all due respect, you didn’t look close enough or know what to look for.

The English Countryside is massively different from what it was 50 years ago – it was my role as a Professional Farmer for 60+ years to notice those changes, adapt to them or go out of business.
I only went out of business when my business partner (my mother) and joint equal in everything on the farm, passed away in 2014.

Over the time I’d been farming in Cumbria, THE one thing I noticed was that, due to epic overgrazing by sheep, Cumbria became a desert.
Yes it still rains a lot but that rain now causes Flash Floods – destroying roads and bridges that had stood for centuries.

Diagonally opposite on the map of England, talk to ‘most any farmer on the Cambs or Lincs Fen and he will tell of how his fields are sinking at the rate of one inch per yea
Simply drive/walk along the roads there and see the roadside (wooden) electricity poles leaning over very distictly while poles crossing gthe fields remain vertical.

The signs of change are all there and plainly visible, to an experienced eye admittedly.

Reply to  Peta of Newark
January 20, 2022 4:13 pm

Peta’s idea of a desert.

comment image

You appear to have the only experienced eye to be able to see a desert in amongst all the farmland and meadows. Just like Greta can see CO2.

Afraid you’ve beclowned yourself, AGAIN, Peta.

Bill Powers
Reply to  Peta of Newark
January 21, 2022 7:58 am

Is your contention Peta these plainly visible changes are the direct result of an increase in atmospheric CO2, of 200 parts per MILLION and that increase is due to man burning fossil fuel and wildlife flatulence? Further, are you stating that the problem will be solved if we stop burning fossil fuel completely and stop breeding sheep and cattle for dietary needs, that will return CO2 back to your arbitrarily preferred concentration (read: pulled that one out your arse, a bit like sheep gas) of 200 parts per MILLION total. the land will stop sinking?

Rick C
Reply to  John V. Wright
January 20, 2022 9:35 am

Could not agree more. Some how going from a global average temp of 14C to 16C is supposed to be catastrophic, but over a dozen major US cities have average annual temperatures over 24C (75 F). There should be climate victim’s bodies stacked up across the Southern tier of states from South Carolina to California.

Of course we all know that globally the tropics with average annual temperatures above 26C are unsuitable for human habitation.

On the other hand there are lots of countries, states and cities that have average annual temperatures under 12C so a 2C increase would just bring them up closer to the ideal average of 14C.

Bill Powers
Reply to  John V. Wright
January 21, 2022 8:02 am

“Humans are both clever and ineffably stupid at the same time.” Don’t make the mistake of mixing them together. Here is the problem John. The clever ones used to get rich by creating and producing things for the stupid ones to buy. Now Using misdirection from the media the clever ones are eliminating production overhead by simply picking the stupid ones pocket.

January 19, 2022 11:08 pm

The environmental impact of RE is already incalculable so imagine 3 times as much!

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Rafe Champion
January 21, 2022 5:18 am

It’s crazy to continue down the RE road. That won’t stop some people, though.

Bill Powers
Reply to  Tom Abbott
January 21, 2022 8:10 am

It won’t stop the clever ones who are getting rich quick over this RE flim flam. Of course the clever couldn’t get away with it if not for the useful idiots that they kick back a small part of their fortune to. Which is why it won’t stop the people that are forcing this down our throats.

Iain Reid
January 19, 2022 11:20 pm

Why are so many people under the delusion that renewable generation can replace fossil fuel generation? It can supplement it to a degree but not replace. Not only can it not replace fossil fuel generation at our current demand they want to significantly increase demand by adding transport, heating and hydrogen production. Both from an intermittency and on a technical level renewables will not power a grid.

Nuclear might but there is both a widespread opposition to nuclear generation and a lack of reality when it is the only non CO2 way of generating electricity we have, pure hydro excepted which is unlikely to be capable of significant expansion.
Nuclear is not an instant fix as it’s lack of flexibility from an output point of view would need to be addressed which possibly small nuclear reactors may do?

Reply to  Iain Reid
January 20, 2022 5:03 am

I’d argue that something requiring more energy to be built than it will deliver doesn’t “supplement” anything. RE is s net loss looking for more suckers to pay off the clowns at the top.

Reply to  Iain Reid
January 20, 2022 10:04 am

Renewables don’t even do a good job of “supplementing” fossil fuel based power.

The problem is that since renewables can cut out with at best a few seconds to few minutes warning, the fossil fuel plants need to be kept on hot standby.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Iain Reid
January 21, 2022 5:19 am

“Why are so many people under the delusion that renewable generation can replace fossil fuel generation?”

Because the Alarmists lie to them all the time.

January 19, 2022 11:28 pm

There is NO climate crisis. CO2 is dangerously low, the whole planet dies below 200ppm. 1000ppm would be an ideal climate for food growth and warmth.
Sadly there is not enough fossil fuel to reach this desirable level.

Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
January 20, 2022 10:06 am

I’ve argued that when we start to run out of fossil fuels, we will need to start using nuclear power to start decomposing limestone in order to continue adding CO2 to the atmosphere.

Coeur de Lion
January 19, 2022 11:48 pm

Never forget that CO2 is not a problem

Joao Martins
Reply to  Coeur de Lion
January 20, 2022 9:23 am

Yes. The problem is thinking CO2 is a problem.

Reply to  Coeur de Lion
January 20, 2022 10:07 am

CO2 is a problem. But the problem is that there is too little of it.

michael hart
January 20, 2022 1:45 am

Back in the 1970’s and 80’s, even the BBC understood how our civilisation in built on the bedrock of cheap carbon-based energy sources. Oil was called “black gold” for a good reason.

Regular Greenpeace crazies are one thing, but it shows how low our media and education systems have fallen that people in power actually believe we can wish it all away with the wave of a hand and a few % of GDP for windmills.

H. D. Hoese
Reply to  michael hart
January 20, 2022 7:07 am

And back then even in the ‘pollution’ is bad type scientific papers they didn’t ‘preach’ about sea level rise, global cooling/warming, etc. and how to fix the climate. And very few ‘broke their arm’ with too much self-adulation.Has there been a rise in certain quarters of bone-setting?

January 20, 2022 2:01 am

very nice sharing keep it up love it

Ron Long
January 20, 2022 2:31 am

I’m sorry, but I keep coming back to the phrase “…eat more veggies…and the rain forest will live longer…”. How does this work? Rain forests appear to like increased atmospheric plant food, CO2, and are greening up with the rest of the world, says NASA. Maybe Leonardo DiCaprio could explain this?

Mark Broderick
Reply to  Ron Long
January 20, 2022 3:00 am

See next post by Marc Morano….

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Ron Long
January 20, 2022 3:35 am

DiCaprio dropped out of high school- he can’t explain anything not scripted for him.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  Ron Long
January 21, 2022 7:37 am

Protein, especially animal protein, is much more energy dense than are vegetables. So you actually require *MORE* land to grow enough energy from vegetables to feed the globe. The need for more land will cut into current rain forest acreage even more than today.

I often wonder exactly what planet these greenies live on. My guess is that *none* of them have any actual field experience in farming and agriculture.

Bill Toland
January 20, 2022 3:09 am

The cost of 2.4 trillion dollars a year is far far too low. The cost of New Zealand’s net zero target has been independently estimated at 5 trillion dollars. Extrapolating this to the entire world gives a cost of 5 quadrillion dollars. And this assumes gigantic technological breakthroughs in multiple different areas. Spreading this cost over 50 years gives a cost of 100 trillion dollars per year which is greater than the gdp of the entire world. Obviously this is not going to happen.


James Bull
Reply to  Bill Toland
January 20, 2022 6:57 am

As MAP Joe Biden tells you folks in the US trillions of dollars are actually zero so it must work the same way for the rest of the world as well if there’s not enough just print more that’s how it works isn’t it?


James Bull

Peter W
Reply to  James Bull
January 20, 2022 9:31 am

Mine more bitcoin.

Reply to  Bill Toland
January 20, 2022 10:09 am

I don’t know the source of your 5 trillion estimate for NZ. But I’m willing to bet it doesn’t include maintenance or replacement. Over 50 years, solar panels will have to be replaced at least twice and windmills at least once.

Bill Toland
Reply to  MarkW
January 20, 2022 10:22 am

The 5 trillion dollar estimate is given in the link that I provided. This is the minimum cost assuming things go implausibly well. In practice, the net zero target is almost certainly impossible to achieve at any cost.

Last edited 4 months ago by Bill Toland
Joseph Zorzin
January 20, 2022 3:31 am

“However, there are other sources of emissions as well, like land use, forestry and agriculture.”

forestry, at least in America, is a net carbon sink

What they want is to end all forestry- it’s a new thing called PROFORESTRY- invented by a former IPCC idiot named Bill Moomaw, from nearby Williamstown, Mass. He and his ilk think that locking up all the forests will help save the planet. Of course he lives in a nice 4,000+ sq. ft. wood house, with fine wood furniture and tons of paper products.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 20, 2022 8:44 am

Apparently a group of 102 millionaires and billionaires have written an open letter before the virtual Davos WEF saying

“As millionaires we know that the current tax system is not fair.”

“Most of us can say that, while the world has gone through an immense amount of suffering in the last two years, we have actually seen our wealth rise during the pandemic – yet few if any of us can honestly say that we pay our fair share in taxes”

They have called for the introduction of

“permanent wealth taxes on the richest to help reduce extreme inequality and raise revenue for sustained, long term increases in public services like healthcare”

“The world – every country in it – must demand the rich pay their fair share. Tax us, the rich, and tax us now”

Must admit I did check to see it wasn’t April 1st. But it is in the Guardian 19th Jan, by Rupert Neate, Wealth Correspondent so his reading comprehension might not be very good.

Last edited 4 months ago by Dave Andrews
Reply to  Dave Andrews
January 20, 2022 10:12 am

I’ve heard that Kenau Reeves is embarrassed by how much he earns. He solves this problem by giving away much of his wealth. These guys on the other hand want to solve their guilt by increasing taxes on other people.
You can guess which I admire more.

BTW, for most liberals fair share means that after paying taxes, nobody has more money than I do.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  MarkW
January 21, 2022 5:30 am

Yes, if those millionaires and billionaires think they are keeping too much of their own money, all they have to do is send that money some place where it will do some good. They don’t need to include the rest of us in their moral dilemma.

Joseph Zorzin
January 20, 2022 3:38 am

Humanity has enormous resources under its command…”

Not any humans I know. I guess we’ll just have to tax away 99% the wealth of Gates, Musk, Bezos and the like.They’ll still be extremely wealthy on only 1%. Maybe the tax should be 99.9%- and they’d STILL be far richer than anyone I know. I’m SURE they love this plan to save the world.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
January 20, 2022 8:11 am

The hidden scheme of the capitalist system is that Gates, Musk, Bezos….don’t actually HAVE ANY money. They put it in the bank and the bank lends it out to other people with a business plan. The bank sends them an IOU called a bank statement every month. They feel rich and have a credit limit of whatever they can consume. Under a Marxist system, those same people never provide the goods and services they provide under capitalism, because they never see the amount on their IOU increase…so the capitalist system makes some people “rich” in IOUs and others have bank loans for what they want to buy, while Marxism makes everyone equal but short of goods and services.

Reply to  DMacKenzie
January 21, 2022 7:04 am

Use euphemisms, hyperbole and snark like regular person.

January 20, 2022 5:00 am

Despair is as dangerous as denial. And it is equally false.

So when it comes to matters of the climate there’s no need to be worried.

Nobody denies that the climate is constantly changing.

Gregory Woods
Reply to  fretslider
January 20, 2022 6:42 am

No? Read the Alarmist comments on The Hill

Michael in Dublin
January 20, 2022 7:18 am

I do not notice any Math in the CV of Yuval Noah Harari. His followers all seem to be, to use and older expression, Mathematically challenged. Even an intelligent pupil with high school Math should be able to see through all this subterfuge.

Last edited 4 months ago by Michael in Dublin
January 20, 2022 8:07 am

I have no problem with investing in hundreds more nuclear power plants to reduce the number of coal power plants and eliminate solar and wind sources of production.

Regardless whether that happens, wind power should be banned for the environmental, ecological and financial disaster that it is.

Joao Martins
January 20, 2022 9:22 am

” We Only Have to TRIPLE the Global Renewable Energy ”
Triple, for now (January 2022). And counting. How much will it be in June?… in January 2023?

Don’t forget, American friends: elections in November!

January 20, 2022 9:22 am

Time ragazine is still in business? I didn’t know that. I see they are still working at reaching the bottom of the relevancy list, if they haven’t already. By touting the unicorn and rainbow “sustainable” energy sources, they are making a serious dive at being taken seriously.
Well, to me anyway. I’m sure I’m not the only person who thinks that wind and solar as sources for energy are total scams and put forth by the grifters who are intent on reaping the big bucks from it all.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
January 20, 2022 9:35 am

The references he provides for cost estimates contain basically zero details, but rather lots of blather like:

Calling for “massive electrification” of the global economy, Lord Turner added: “It is absolutely possible to do it. But it requires a major shift in where the global economy is investing money. In macroeconomic terms, the extra investment required is not worrying. Overall we have to increase global investment by maybe 1-1.5% of GDP.

“And in an environment where, across the world, there are huge amounts of savings pursuing inadequate investment opportunities and therefore producing negative real interest rates, that macroeconomic problem is not challenging at all.”

Neither Lord Turner nor any of the other “experts” quoted provided details on what this investment would go towards. They appear to assume that renewable electricity can replace fossil fuel sources plus support conversion of most transportation and heating uses with enough left over to produce hydrogen by electrolysis, which can replace everything else. Not even a cursory numerical overview to support that, and no mention of nuclear.

84% of world energy use today comes from fossil fuels, with hydropower and nuclear accounting for most (11.2%) of the remainder. Wind, solar, biofuels and “other renewable” combined provide just 5.1%. The assertion you can grow what today supplies just 5% of world energy into at least 89% while also covering continued growth requires some fairly detailed justification in support. And I don’t know whether these figures include the large amount of natural gas used as feedstock for other chemicals (synthetic polymers and ammonia).

Mr Harari has simply taken arbitrary, innumerate guesses from two different renewable energy advocacy groups and concluded the actual cost will be somewhere in the middle.

January 20, 2022 9:59 am

And when $2.4trillion makes no difference we will be assured that all we need to do is triple the amount we spend, and how that’s really not much money.

Bruce Cobb
January 20, 2022 12:15 pm

“Here is our regular Snakeoil, which will do amazing things for you, for only $9.99, but then we also have our Super Deluxe Fancy Snakeoil, which will be even more amazing, for only $29.99 per month. And now, for a limited time only, buy a 6-month supply and get two months FREE. Operators are standing by, so call now, you’ll be glad you did. Offer void where prohibited, shipping and taxes additional.”

Andy Pattullo
January 20, 2022 8:39 pm

The pitch is like watching a K-tel or Vegematic infomercial. But wait there’s more. For only 20 trillion dollars we’ll throw in this glossy Elvis in Vegas decorative pillow and we’ll double your order of self righteous bumper stickers.

January 20, 2022 10:54 pm

How many decades will it take before these people come to their senses?

January 20, 2022 11:06 pm

Here is a little bit from the the official report from the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) about where the power for the Alberta Canada power grid was actually coming from on December 31,2021. Unicorn Farts were not on this list but they might as well have been listed as the renewables were at a whopping 2.5%. Fossil fuels were supplying the other 97.5%.
Alberta has No nuclear and very little Hydro to speak of. 68% of our power plants ran on clean coal technology until the left leaning NDP was elected then they switched all of those to natural gas. The price per KW/HR has doubled since then because of that switch.

According to the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) website, on December 31, 2021 the province’s 13 grid-connected solar facilities were rated at 736 megawatts of capacity but were contributing only 58 megawatts to the grid.  Their 26 wind farms, with a combined rated capacity of 2,269megawatts, were contributing only 18 megawatts.


So, on a day that averaged somewhere around -30C across the province (not exactly a rare event), at noon the total contribution of ALL solar and wind capacity was only 76 megawatts, or 2.5% of the rated solar/wind capacity. That means that someone (taxpayers?) paid for 97.5% of capacity that was totally absent at that particularly point in time.


At that same time, the total load was 11,232 megawatts. So solar and the wind was providing only 0.7% of the total electric energy that was demanded of the grid.

Al Dunbar
Reply to  Boris
January 31, 2022 3:30 pm

Boris, can you please provide a link to where you got the information noted in your post above?

January 21, 2022 11:35 am

….and a million more slaves in western China for polysilicon production.

January 21, 2022 6:42 pm

Hey, is that unicorn expelling methane?

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