Bjorn Lomborg: It would be a mistake for Colombia to give up fossil fuels


Dane Bjorn Lomborg rose to notoriety at the turn of the century when he published the book skeptical environmentalistin which he proposed a different response to face Climate change, chosen by the magazine Time As one of the 100 Most Influential People on the Planet, Arguments that the most devastating scenarios of global warming are unfounded And many of the solutions proposed so far to stop the rise in temperature will not meet the proposed objectives.

Furthermore, it says that It would be a mistake for a country like Colombia to abandon fossil fuels and that a controversial technology like fracking should be present everywhere. He believes in humanity’s ability to adapt to a different reality and maintains that, although the focus on clean energy is essential, overeating can be a very costly mistake.

Invited by the Promigas company to the first corporate meeting of the Board of Directors held in Cartagena last week, he spoke exclusively with EL TIEMPO.

What would you call a politician who claims that if we do nothing about climate change, the human race will disappear?

The disastrous scenario according to which the world is going to end is baseless.

It is not uncommon to hear such statements, but it is not UN panel of experts on climate change, Scientists say that this is a big problem, on which there is no dispute. But the disastrous scenario according to which the world is going to end is baseless. There is a huge divide between what science tells us and what we find in the media, which is the vision of the apocalypse. This doesn’t help for two reasons. First, because it’s not true. And, second, because it leads politicians to take bad decisions, which are made in an atmosphere of panic.

What do you understand by bad decisions?

Promise carbon neutrality in a very short time. Those who have studied the matter say it could take up to a century to achieve this goal. really, The International Energy Agency states that, by the middle of this century, fossil fuels will still generate 70 percent of the energy used by the world. This represents a reduction of ten percentage points from today’s levels, which is very significant, but it is a far cry from that idea of ​​net zero emissions. So when politicians talk about decarbonisation, they make bad investments and issue bad rules. One consequence of this is that the supply of fossil fuels becomes very limited while demand still remains, which will drive up prices and affect the poorest countries and people the most.

But the effects are undeniable…

Definitely. This is in the case of hurricanes to give a specific example. We will see less in numbers, but with much greater intensity. The advantage of this is that a more prosperous world has a greater potential for mitigation. Because of this we are not getting out of control. The impact would be moderate, acknowledging that without global warming it would be much less noticeable.

According to the latest report by the Panel of Experts on Climate Change (IPCC), less than a decade is left to avoid extreme weather. [Londres]

What to do then?

It would be a mistake to cross our arms and not act on climate change, but overreaction would also be a mistake.

It would be a mistake to cross our arms and not act on climate change, but overreaction would also be a mistake. Doing something that is still unprecedentedly expensive will bring negative consequences, which are already seen in various places like Europe, and not just because of Vladimir Putin.

President Gustavo Petro has said Colombia should give up fossil fuels within 15 years. In your opinion, is this situation a big mistake?

I do not wish to comment specifically on the Colombian case, as I do not know it in detail. Having said the above, I agree that climate change is a problem and I share the view that if we can rapidly replace fossil fuels, that would be a great thing. But it is absolutely impossible to release oil globally in a relatively short period of time., And as far as countries are concerned, this means that the problem is assumed to cost too much without adequately solving it. So one would expect that, while respecting his ambition, the president understands that he runs the risk of losing the welfare of residents in the context of mitigating the dangers associated with climate change, without the sense that.

In the United States, a very important law has just been approved in this regard …

that’s how it is. In practical terms, this means that, compared to a commitment to reduce emissions by 30 percent compared to what was recorded in 2005, the reduction would now be 40 percent. I don’t dispute that this is an important step and at the same time there is a lot of money involved. I used concepts from the Biden administration and incorporated them into the United Nations model. The result is that average temperatures will drop between 0.016 and 0.0005 °C by the end of the century, at a cost of $400 billion. For that reason, it is Back in Colombia, negotiations need to include the impact on climate change of an effort as important as what is proposed and the cost to society. Presumably the conclusion is that the purpose of reducing emissions will be too small and the sacrifice too great.


Hundreds of people at the COP26 conference in Glasgow called for immediate action to tackle climate change.

What is the right way?

The idea that everyone should be banned is wrong. When you look at what happened in Los Angeles, where there was a major traffic-related pollution problem, the solution was not to get people to walk. What made a difference was the catalytic converter which significantly reduced the exhaust gases from the vehicles. And in the 1970s, once concerns arose about how to feed the world’s population, which was growing too rapidly, the Green Revolution was on the way: too many more productive seeds, allowing humanity to eat less. Very different from forcing. In short, problems are solved by innovations and not by shortages.

What other matters run through your mind?

The country that reduced its carbon dioxide emissions the most in the last ten years was the United States, thanks to the fact that the use of fracking allowed him to find gas, which in turn replaced coal in electricity generation. The lesson is that if there’s a technological leap that manages to find a much cheaper source, change happens, even if it’s the collateral effect of a policy that demands more and more. energy security,

Well, what do you think about it? fracking,

It should be present everywhere in the world. Had Europe allowed it, they would not have filled their power plants with coal or pain because Russia stopped selling gas to them. Something similar should happen in China as well. This is an obvious first step to be followed by other innovations, such as eventually fusion or fourth-generation nuclear power plants.

The current government of Colombia wants to ban it. What do you call those highlighting the dangers of using this technique with respect to seismicity or water sources?

Neither option has zero cost. what to see about fracking This is data and good regulation, to control methane emissions, potential oil spills or water contamination, something that can be achieved without a huge challenge. The most complete study was done in the United States and found that the option generated a collective cost of approximately $25,000 million, but a combined benefit of $150,000 million. What is equally important here is that the communities in which it is produced benefit. But the main thing is that the potential problems are manageable and it’s not a bad idea. Once again, the risks are exaggerated in this topic and the net benefits that would be so great that they outweigh the former are minimized.

And what about solar or wind power?


In late 2021, Celcia inaugurated a solar farm in the La Pailla township in the valley. It has 29,000 solar panels.


Juan Pablo Rueda TIME

No one wants an energy source that is sometimes available and sometimes not, because the problem of storage has not been solved.

They are amazing technologies. However, they must be much cheaper than they are today, as they continue to receive huge subsidies. They benefit the richest people, who are those who install panels on the roofs of their homes or buy electric vehicles. The cost of which was replaced by gasoline by more than one. Furthermore, no one wants energy sources that are sometimes available and sometimes not, because the problem of storage has not been solved. In 2021 I made a calculation according to which the installed capacity of batteries that the world has can supply the demand of electricity for only one minute and fifteen seconds. In other words, if there is no solar radiation or no wind, we are forced to return to the usual alternatives, which rely on fossil fuels. That said, they are part of the answer, but they still account for about three percent of global energy consumption, which goes beyond electricity generation.

But it’s growing…

By the middle of the century it will reach about 10 percent. Sure, it’s a significant progress, but it’s nowhere near the dreams that many people have. This is why China and India, by far the biggest emitters of greenhouse gasesContinue to build plants powered by fossil fuels.

You have also highlighted the capacity of mankind to adapt to this reality of climate change. It’s not like that?

This has been demonstrated by humanity throughout its existence. When one examines the predictions that show that so many people live in areas that will be affected by rising sea levels, one assumes that nothing will be done about it. And it’s not true. Just remember that 40 percent of the Netherlands is below sea level and that country doesn’t get flooded. From the time of Babylon we have known what to do to protect against the tide. Counts say 187 million people live in flooded areas today, but when the work that could be done is included, that number drops to 15,000. Of course you have to act in time, but the point is we know how to mitigate the impact and, if the planet becomes prosperous, it will know how to react.

What does the data show?

that As a proportion of world GDP, the cost of natural disasters is declining. There is no doubt that without climate change it will fall much faster, but this vision is very different from those of politicians who make us believe that we are all going to die because of this challenge.

You insist that we should act more intelligently. what do you mean?

It is a word that conveys the need to look at it with a cool mind in order to plan appropriate actions. It also means that we need to find the right answers and focus on policies that work. I explained. If your country is in a hurricane zone, it is more useful to help families build a more resilient home that will withstand inclement weather, than to focus on policies that will reduce hurricane intensity decades from now. .

What is the last message you would like to give?

Climate change is one of the many problems facing us. This will likely remain on top of common concerns and lead many people to believe that it is easy to solve, which it is not, while distracting us from other challenges that we must solve if we are to truly make it into a better world. want to make.

Ricardo Avila Pinto
senior analyst
for the time

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