#Sustainability and Clean Energy – The tragedy of the commons

Nations work overtime to ensure reduced #carbon-footprint with a systematic shift towards cleaner energy. Many nations including the United States, have been investing funds to get the solar panels installed.

Where do they get the solar panels from?

China.

How does china stay #competitive in this space?

By supplying cheaper Coal-based energy to manufacture the Solar panels, thus helping reduce costs, especially in a competitive space.

How does that help the United Sates?

For the region, it provides reduced carbon footprint. But for the globe? Not so much. All it does is move the pollution center point of China from the US. China registers a better GDP, even as the pollution grows substantially. The quality of life in the western world, which outsources these manufacturing to countries such as China and India, stays good, if that was the idea in the first place. Because the cost is not just restricted to what we may for the goods in money term. It goes beyond that.

The issue with EVs is the same. For a country such as India, it could be easier for us to get the EV, especially with major Oil companies taking initiatives to install EV charging points in their respective fuel stations, thus building a better infrastructure for charging the vehicles. Where does that electricity to charge these EVs comes from? Coal! For a nation, moving to cleaner energy is not just expensive but time consuming as well.

It’s already been proven that the coal pollutes more than the other fossil fuels such as Patrol and Diesel, but as an automobile giant, one has to catch the pulse of the market and EVs look just fine at the moment. For the owners of the EV, its less guilt, but then does this really help the globe reduce the pollution? Not so much as has been made out.

This leads us to another issue of Tragedy of the Commons: the solution is to move back to the drawing board and look at a solution that not only helps in the short term, but also helps the nations build a sustainable future from a long term perspective. This would mean the nations will be expected to disrupt existing practices and design newer ways to get the products manufactured, build infrastructure and nudge the citizens to change the way they live. Tall call for the world leaders, especially those representing democracies. Till this happens, we stick to the existing practise of fooling ourselves.

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Sandeep Bhasin

Ph.D. in Economics, Passionate about Game Theory, a biker, a Father, Son, a brother, a husband, a friend, and unfriend … just like you!