Keynote Speaker

Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, Basin Electric 2023 Annual Meeting keynote speaker.

Keynote speaker, Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, is president of the think tank Copenhagen Consensus Center, where he works with the world’s top economists to find and promote the most effective solutions to the world’s greatest challenges. He shared a unique perspective on the topic of climate change at this year’s Annual Meeting of the Membership.

“Climate change is real. It’s manmade; however, it’s often exaggerated,” Lomborg said. “Should we be scared? We should be a little concerned but not terribly scared.” 

Lomborg went on to present various scenarios in which we see climate change playing a role in hurricanes, fires, floods, rising temperatures, and sea levels, citing long term trends that showed what we think we know about climate change is often incorrect. “We have much better technology available to us than we did 100 years ago,” Lomborg said. “Back in the 1930s, we didn’t know if there was a hurricane in the middle of the ocean unless a ship passed through.” 

Lomborg argued that our current climate policies are both unrealistic and unsustainable. “We’ve spent the last two centuries getting rid of renewables because fossil fuels give us much, much more power, much more reliably, and are typically much cheaper,” he said. “There is a much smarter way to think about climate policy that we’re not dealing with because we only talk about the climate cost and forget the climate policy cost.” He said a smart global climate tax is a reasonably good policy; however, as long as green energy is more costly than fossil fuels, a few people will switch a little bit, but it won’t have very much of an impact. If we can make green energy cheaper than fossil fuels everyone will switch. 

Lomborg answered some questions from the audience, one of which was, “Are there positive effects to climate change that aren’t being taken into account in these studies?” 

There are three main impacts of climate change: temperature rise, sea level rise, and global greening. “These are very clear indicators of climate change, but the first two are negative so you hear a lot about them, the third one is positive, so you hear nothing about it,” Lomborg said. “Global greening basically means that CO2 is a fertilizer for plants. If you’re a farmer, especially if you’re a greenhouse farmer, you know this and most tomato growers for instance will put extra COin the greenhouse simply because it makes plumper tomatoes. It’s just good business sense. This does not outweigh that there will be more problems than there will be benefits from climate change, which is again, why it’s a net negative, but we need to hear the whole story.” 

Lomborg ended his presentation saying, “If we spend more on green energy innovation, the trick here is that then it will become more likely that green energy will eventually become cheaper than fossil fuels and then, not just rich well-meaning Americans, but everyone, the Chinese, the Indians, the Africans, will switch and that’s how we’re going to solve global warming.”