We’re talking about religion this week. Did I get your attention? How about if we talk about climate change, more renewable energy, dirty fossil fuels and solar subsidies? OK, we’ve already covered these topics. But with the recent news where the Pope calls for the replacement of fossil fuels, renewable energy and solar subsidies with his “On Care For Our Common Home” Encyclical, there is no doubt in my mind that the Pope’s analysis and commentary will definitely affect U.S. politics related to clean energy. Though, I’m probably the worst person to comment on this 180 page Encyclical (I got kicked out of Hebrew School).

First, the Pope describes the problem succinctly: pollution and climate change. Some quotes:

  • “Very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system.”
  • “Problem is aggravated by a model of development based on the intensive use of fossil fuels.”
  • “Urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy.”
  • “Economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected (greenwashing).”
  • “Whereas any genuine attempt by groups within society to introduce change is viewed as a nuisance based on romantic illusions or an obstacle to be circumvented (those pesky Climate Change nuts).”

He then continues with solutions that are both practical and grounded in economics:

  • “We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay.”
  • “Until greater progress is made in developing widely accessible sources of renewable energy, it is legitimate to choose the lesser of two evils or to find short-term solutions (natural gas as a temporary bridge).”
  • “Taking advantage of abundant solar energy will require the establishment of mechanisms and subsidies … The costs of this would be low, compared to the risks of climate change (renewable energy incentives).”