But, even if it becomes less dominant, these projections show fossil fuels are not going away. In addition to that $8 trillion going into renewables, approximately $4.1 trillion will be invested in coal, gas, and nuclear. This will result in continued increases in atmospheric CO2 levels until 2029. CO2 levels are projected to be 13% higher in 2040 than they were in 2014.
Still, a closer look at the number encourages me some. Of that $4.1 trillion, only about $1.6 trillion will go into coal-fired power plants. Gas plants will see approximately $1.2 trillion. The rest will go into nuclear power plants. This means only about $2.8 trillion will go towards CO2 producing power plants.
Some top international doctors and health experts are calling for the world to get off coal completely within five years, stating,
The issue of carbon pollution was called a "medical emergency." Projects show about 57,000 Americans dying every year from complications caused by polluted air and approximately 12,000 will die every year because of high temperatures. A study by the World Health Organization stated climate change will "be likely to cause about 250,000 additional deaths per year" around the world by 2030."The prescription for patient Earth is that we've got a limited amount of time to fix things," said commission co-chairman Dr. Anthony Costello, a pediatrician and director of the Global Health Institute at the University College of London. "We've got a real challenge particularly with carbon pollution."
The cost of coal is extreme. The coal industry likes to say it is the cheapest form of energy, but that is true only if you pass the costs associated with burning coal to other people. If the coal industry had to pay for the damage done by CO2, mercury, arsenic, and sulfur dioxide, they would not be able to generate electricity at any rate the market could afford. It is only by making other people pay for the damages that the coal industry can afford to operate. So, why not make them pay for it?
Coal is not going away. Stopping all coal burning in five years would be a wonderful thing for the planet, but it isn't going to happen. But, if we start now, maybe we can turn that $1.6 trillion going into coal-fired power plants into a much smaller number. Zero would be a smaller number. The Netherlands showed there is a way through the courts to force a reduction in greenhouse emissions. The court there ordered the country to reduce greenhouse emissions by 40% compared to 1990 levels by 2020. In it's decision, the court said,
"The state must do more to reverse the imminent danger caused by climate change, given also its duty to protect and improve the environment,”If it worked in the Netherlands, maybe it's time we tried it here.