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Why Nations Should Reject Net Zero, Embrace Energy Freedom

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“Net zero by 2050” policies would be apocalyptically destructive if fully implemented and have already been catastrophically destructive when barely implemented.

They should be rejected in favor of energy freedom policies.

What are “net zero by 2050 policies”?

Government (coercive) actions whose primary and binding goal is the net elimination of CO2 (and other greenhouse gas) emissions, whose number one source is fossil fuel use, by 2050.

In practice “net zero” means: rapidly eliminating most fossil fuel use.

“Net zero by 2050” policies include [links added]:

What are “energy freedom policies”?

Government actions that protect the ability of producers to produce all forms of energy and allow consumers to use all forms of energy, so long as they don’t engage in reasonably preventable pollution or endangerment of others.

Energy freedom policies include:

  • Protecting the freedom to develop fossil fuels and other forms of energy, e.g., deep geothermal development.
  • Protecting the freedom to use fossil fuels and all other forms of energy, e.g., “decriminalizing nuclear.”

“Net zero by 2050” is currently the number one cultural and political goal in the world:

  • Committed to by most world governments
  • Supported by leading corporations and financial institutions
  • Privately committed to by leading corporations and financial institutions

To determine the best policy toward fossil fuels—the energy source that powers most of the world, but whose CO2 emissions have a warming impact on its climate system—we need to follow a common-sense principle that is not common practice: carefully weigh benefits and side effects.

Carefully weighing the benefits and side-effects of continuing fossil fuel use includes factoring in:

1. Fossil fuels’ overall benefits
2. Fossil fuels’ “climate mastery” benefits (which can neutralize negative side-effects)
3. The climate side-effects of fossil fuels with evenhandedness and precision

I believe any honest and informed attempt to carefully weigh the benefits and side effects of continuing fossil fuel use will conclude that net zero by 2050” is apocalyptically destructive and that we need the “energy freedom” to use a lot of fossil fuels and rapidly develop alternatives.

A note on “net zero by 2050” policies.

Unlike other proposed policies one might criticize, these are not untested, let alone promising policies.

They are tested-and-failed policies that are harming billions of lives right now. Even though they are only at 1% implementation!

To show you how destructive “net zero” is and how good “energy freedom” is I will carefully summarize the evidence regarding fossil fuels:

1) benefits,
2) climate mastery benefits, and
3) climate side effects

And based on each factor, show what net zero vs. energy freedom would do in practice.


Alex Epstein is an energy expert bringing clarity to energy, environmental, and climate issues. He is the author of the NYT bestseller The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, and his latest Fossil Future.

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