Must-Read: Martin Wolf: Why Fossil Fuel Power Plants Will Be Left Stranded: “Virtually all new fossil fuel-burning power-generation capacity will end up ‘stranded’…

…This is the argument of a paper by academics at Oxford university…. February was the warmest month on record. The current El Niño–the warming of the global climate triggered by the Pacific Ocean–has boosted temperatures, just as it did in 1997-98…. Two forms of inertia govern climate policy…. Infrastructure in power generation… is long-lived…. Carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for centuries. Thus it is necessary to think not of annual flows but of cumulative emissions or of a global carbon budget…. Within power generation itself, there are four options. The first would be a more or less immediate shift to zero-emissions technologies. The second would be retrofitting of conventional capacity with carbon capture and storage. The third would be to replace new capital stock with zero-emissions capacity early in its life. The last would be early introduction of technologies to remove atmospheric stocks of carbon….

Far from having years to work out how to curb the risks of climate change, we face an imminent moment of truth…. After last year’s Paris climate conference, the world congratulated itself on having agreed a new process, even though real action was postponed. Yet, given the longevity of a large part of the capital stock, the time for decisive change is right now, not decades in future. But the world is not really serious about climate, is it? It prefers fiddling while the planet burns.