World Bank Official on Managing the ‘Carbon Bubble’

There has been a lot of discussion here over the years about what the impact of LENR and other new energy technologies might have on the largely carbon-based energy economies, and how one might transition to a world where fossil fuels play an increasingly less important role.

In an article published by Yahoo News (via the AFP), Rachel Kyte, World Bank Group Vice President and Special Envoy in the Climate Change Group, expresses the view that this transition needs to be dealt with very carefully. From the article:

The transition from fossil fuels must be carefully managed to avoid an economically disastrous bursting of the “carbon bubble,” the World Bank’s top climate official said on Saturday.

Decades of reliance on oil, gas and coal have made them central to the global economy, and polluting industries risk a potentially catastrophic crash as the world shifts to alternative energies, said Rachel Kyte, the Bank’s special envoy for climate change.

In the run-up to the Paris climate summit in November there is a lot of discussion among government leaders about what kind of deal will be possible to reach there. The general consensus seems to be that in order to keep the climate at ‘safe’ levels, there should be no warming beyond 2 degrees Celsius by the end of this century.

If a binding agreement is reached in Paris to reach this target, it will mean that countries will have to dramatically curtail their use of fossil fuel assets, and most of the carbon fuel left in the ground will be unburnable — making them ‘stranded assets’ — which would greatly affect the financial valuation of the companies that own the assets, and putting at great risk the trillions of dollars in investments and loans that have been committed to development of these assets.

Rachel Kyte is quoted in the article:

“If we accept that we need to have less carbon in our growth, then we might have a financial risk associated with the prominence in our economy of companies who are heavily invested in carbon. That’s the whole question of the carbon bubble.”

The question that is not addressed here is, how does one ‘manage’ this transition? It seems to me there are two separate issues involved here if carbon assets are taken off the table. First, there is the financial fallout to deal with if investors and banks lose a great deal of money on their investment in these carbon resources.

Second, if the carbon assets mentioned are taken out of the picture, they have to be replaced with some other source of energy. Solar and wind are the technologies that most people are hoping can make up the gap. No one in high levels of government is publicly talking about LENR as being a viable replacement — but it would seem to be well poised to step in to provide a low-cost solution in many applications.

But carefully managing all this on a worldwide scale seems to be a tremendously difficult task, especially considering the political tensions that already exist between various governments for a variety of reasons — and with so many fossil-fuel rich nations being led by governments depend on their fossil assets for their very existence.

I don’t know what the best solution might be, but I am sure that this will be a major topic of discussion and debate in the coming years, especially if the E-Cat hits the market in the near future.