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Market News

 May 02, 2012
Clean Energy Switch to Cost Fossil Industry $4 Trillion by 2020

 No wonder the push back against clean energy is so strong. A staggering amount of money is at stake. I had not realized quite how much impact that switching to clean energy will have on the dirty energy industry, currently the richest industry on the planet.

The IEA 2012 report on global progress on cutting greenhouse gases to prevent the worst effects of climate change includes an estimate of the immediate financial costs of investing in newer cleaner forms of energy in various forms.

Over the next eight years, we have to spend money on energy -- either way: whether we want to still try for a relatively livable planet or whether we want to roll the dice and let it go to hell after we're done with it.

If we spend it on clean energy, it will take $5 trillion in U.S. dollars, the IEA calculates. But we would save $4 trillion by not buying dirty energy, in just the next eight years alone.

The report is long, and it has a lot of interesting data which I will cover separately, but this fact really stood out. The calculation of what we will not spend on fossil energy over these next 8 years, if we add clean energy instead, is a stunner.

"Globally, the near-term additional investment cost of achieving these objectives [cutting greenhouse gas emissions] would amount to USD 5 trillion by 2020, but USD 4 trillion will be saved through lower fossil fuel use over this period. The net costs over the next decade are therefore estimated at over USD 1 trillion."

Put it another way, this sum -- $4 trillion -- makes it very clear just what the fossil industry has to lose by 2020. It could lose four trillion dollars in eight years, or half a trillion dollars a year. Is it any wonder that millions are being thrown around to protect this industry?