Another reason why it is so hard to [address global heating] is that it is fundamentally about taking money from today’s generation and giving it to the next generation. Think about this and cutting air pollution in the city. When you cut air pollution in the city, you’ve got to pay a lot of money: companies have to pay to put scrubbers in their plants, everybody’s car is going to cost more. And there are benefits to that, of course, but the neat thing is that the benefits accrue to the same generation that spent the money. You put in all those scrubbers and within a couple of years the air gets cleaner and your kids are healthier.
The climate problem has such a long-time dimension to it that if we work very, very hard [at] cutting emissions for the next thirty years, the generation that spends the money will see no benefit at all. There’ll be a big benefit later in the century because there will be much less carbon in the atmosphere …, but there’s no immediate benefit… The benefit is spread into the future … People talk a lot about spending money for future generations, but typically they don’t do it very much.
Canada Research Chair
Energy and the Environment
University of Calgary
Quoted in Climate Wars, Gwynne Dyer