I would highly recommend “The Carbon Crunch” by Dieter Helm. Dr. Helm is professor of energy policy, University of Oxford and fellow in economics at New College, Oxford. He is a member of the Economic Advisory Committee to the UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change. In 2011 he was Special Advisor to the European Energy Commissioner.
In this relatively brief (~250 pages) and readable book Dr. Helm makes a case that the current approach for climate change mitigation is not working (it is hard to argue with that). More specifically (and probably more controversially to OEIC members) he is quite skeptical about 1) The ability of international treaties to successfully address climate change (he gives an interesting discussion of game theory and “free riders” in this context); 2) The concept of “Peak Oil” – at least in the foreseeable future; 3) The ability of current renewables to significantly dent rising carbon emissions (he considers them a “micro” solution to a “macro” problem); and, 4) The ability of increasing efficiency to successfully address the issue.
As a solution he recommends a carbon tax and use of unconventional natural gas as a transitory option - replacing coal. China and India plan more than 1000 GW in new coal-fueled power plants during the next 2 decades – if that happens – climate game over in his view. He hopes the use of gas will allow time for research that will improve renewable power sources and electric storage/distribution technology to the point where it is able to meet our power needs. His discussion on the risks of hydrofracking relative to the risks of other energy sources is interesting and concise, and quite pertinent to us in New York.
I found his arguments well researched, thoughtfully presented – and challenging. If anyone else has read this book I would love to discuss it with them.