Daily Newsletter- Bill McKibben and the Diminishing Power of the Fossil Fuel Industry

Source: Daily Newsletter

Bill McKibben: The Climate Crisis

In the New Yorker, May 28, 2020

The coronavirus crisis has both obscured and illuminated one of the most seismic developments on our planet in many decades: I think it’s now clear that the power of the fossil-fuel industry has decisively passed its zenith. It’s not a spent force by any means, but, even in the past few weeks, events have shown it to be waning where for a century and a half it has waxed.

…But it does mean that we have a chance. Because, as the economic prospects of the fossil-fuel industry weaken, so, inevitably, does its political clout. This means that, say, parliaments looking for ways out of economic morasses might well now choose to place a tax on carbon (which consumers are unlikely even to notice, given the current price of oil); and an industry hollowed out by this past decade of losses might, finally, have a hard time resisting it. At this point, in the cost curve for solar panels, even a modest price on carbon, as The Economist said this week, “could give renewables a decisive advantage—one which would become permanent as wider deployment made them cheaper still. There may never have been a time when carbon prices could achieve so much so quickly.” By itself, a price on carbon wouldn’t get the job done anywhere near fast enough.

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