Yearly Climate Spending 10x More Than UN Estimate for Ending World Hunger

The United Nations estimates it would cost $30 billion a year to end world hunger. That sounds like a lot, but the world spent more than ten times that amount in 2012 on global warming mitigation, according to a recent Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) study.

And the UN says the world needs to spend even more on global warming mitigation. Much more.

According to the Reuters analysis of the Summary for Policymakers of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report, due to be released this April, the UN is calling on the world to invest an extra $147 billion a year in wind, solar, and nuclear power from 2010 to 2029. If we add that figure to CPI’s measure, the UN wants us to spend approximately $506 billion a year to mitigate global warming,

According to the UN, this amount would end world hunger for nearly 20 years.

It’s important to ask what sort of return we can expect from these investments. As the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change reports, the human effect on climate “is likely to be small relative to natural variability, and whatever small warming is likely to occur will produce benefits as well as costs.”

If governments were any good at generating returns on their spending of taxpayer money, they would have been investing in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies in the 1980s. Far and away, such investment would have generated the best returns, both financially and in terms of carbon dioxide mitigation.

According to a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “CO2 emissions from U.S. fossil-fuel power plants were 23% lower in 2012 than they would have been” without the increased use of natural gas produced from hydraulic fracturing.

Neither big government nor big business sparked this boom. Most if not all of the five major integrated oil and gas companies did not predict the great increase in shale gas development as a result of the technological breakthroughs with smart drilling and hydraulic fracturing. The pioneers were the industry’s small to midsize companies.

Ironically, not only does the UN call on the world’s governments to spend much more on renewable energy and other warming mitigation initiatives, they also want fossil fuel energy investments to be reduced by $30 billion annually. Yet the latest energy breakthrough was a fossil fuel technology that’s doing more to lower carbon dioxide emissions than any other action.