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ECONOMIST Debate on Renewable Energy (Part I: W. S. Jevons Lives!)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- November 9, 2011

I am part of an online event hosted by The Economist magazine debating the proposition:

This house believes that subsidising renewable energy is a good way to wean the world off fossil fuels.

I am opposed. Defending the motion is Matthias Fripp, Research fellow, Environmental Change Institute and Exeter College, Oxford University, who defends renewables from the premise that “we must reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050 in order to avoid dangerous risks to the environment and ourselves.”

With my opening statement, I began with a recent observation by the rising UK intellectual star Matt Ridley and continued with the timeless insight of William Stanley Jevons. Readers of MasterResource know Jevons well from previous posts, but I wanted to make sure to put him front and center of this debate to awaken his homeland that he ‘refuted’ renewables nearly 150 years ago.…