NEW YORK – The solution to manmade climate change depends on the transition to electricity production that, unlike burning oil, natural gas, and coal, emits little or no carbon dioxide – the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming. Low-carbon electricity can be produced by solar, nuclear, and wind energy, or by coal-burning power plants that capture and store their CO2 emissions.
The policy problem is simple. Coal is a cheaper and more easily used energy source than the alternatives. It is cheap because it is plentiful. It is easier to use than wind or solar power because it can produce electricity around the clock, without reliance on weather conditions.