Of course fossil fuels will play a role in the transition, we can’t just switch immediately. But what I’m saying is that without direct and indirect fossil fuel subsidies, the switch to renewables, increasingly cheap and reliable due to pioneering technologies and microgrids, would be rapid.

The advantages of subsidising fossil fuels are only to the wealthy and the elite, who have stakes in the industry. That infiltrates our politics. Notice that the UK has fewer subsidies because of less corruption in politics — and so half of our energy use is already from green sources. That will only increase as renewables get cheaper and non-renewables get more expensive.

The second reason behind the continued subsidisation of fossil fuels is predictable human irrationality, per Thaler/Sunstein/Kahneman/Tversky and others. Groupthink is powerful and reinforces the human status quo bias — i.e., our tendency to stick with fossil fuels — turning the superiority of fossil fuels into a myth.

Moreover, as most economists across the political spectrum now recognise, our economy is fundamentally flawed. Externalities mean that the true costs of human activities and consumption, particularly of water and the emissions of carbon dioxide and methane, are not included the prices we and companies pay. Therefore, the economy is wrongly tilted towards the fossil fuel industry. If you were to put a price/tax on carbon/methane/water then you’d see the effects rapidly.

That’d also go some way to resolving water shortages and the impending “day zero” facing many megacities and global cities around the world — London, Paris, Tokyo, New York, Mexico City, Jakarta, and many more.

On your more minor point of language, I meant both, really. Naturally, if we change how we generate electricity, the biggest single contributor to global warming, then that has a large knock-on effect on our energy mix. Electric cars will further this knock-on impact, blurring the lines further. Strictly speaking, though, you are correct — I ought to have said electricity generation.

Politics nerd, policy wonk | Founder, medium.com/politics-fast-and-slow | Editor, politika.org.uk | twitter.com/dave_olsen16 | Policy Paper: https://rb.gy/7coyj

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