Lomborg's message to Obama....
Bjorn Lomborg offers some good advice...
We should also deal with climate change, but in a smarter way.
Kyoto shows what not to do. In 1997, politicians made lofty promises, which were to be fulfilled in the future. Well, the future has arrived and most countries did not want to pay enough -- not just the United States, but the European Union, Japan and Canada.
Making even grander pledges at the next negotiation in Copenhagen in 2009 will likely just waste another decade. Mr. Obama's undertaking to spend $150 billion over the next decade on clean technology could make a huge difference.
In climate change, the Copenhagen Consensus experts found that research and development of low-carbon energy technologies could do 11 times more good than the cost, whereas simple CO2 cuts produce a disappointing 90-cent return on the dollar.
Amazing good could come from using Mr. Obama's $150 billion primarily to invest in creating new technologies, rather than simply subsidizing existing ones.
Investing in existing inefficient technology (like current-day solar panels) costs a lot for little benefit. Germany, the leading consumer of solar panels, will end up spending $156 billion by 2035, yet only delay global warming by one hour by the end of the century.
If Mr. Obama invested instead in low-carbon research and development, the dollars would go far (researchers are relatively cheap), and the result -- maybe by 2040 -- will be better solar panels that are cheaper than fossil fuels. Complex Kyoto-style political negotiations would become unnecessary because everyone, including China and India, will want to switch. The change will come because in large part Mr. Obama's $150 billion will have made the technologies cheaper. Following Mr. Obama's lead, countries should agree to spend 0.05% of their GDP on energy R&D -- increasing the global R&D ten-fold, yet costing 10 times less than Kyoto. This could realistically and cost-effectively fix global warming in the medium term.