Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Wednesday that the shift away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy sources is "immoral" when it comes to helping poor countries make the change.
Perry, who last year proposed propping up the coal and nuclear power plants, made the comments at an energy conference this week.
Perry's assertion that developing countries must go without electricity if renewable energies are pursued is flawed, and it also fails to consider the harm done to communities where fossil fuels are used in abundance.
A recent study shows that 1.1 million people die prematurely every year in India from air pollution, which primarily comes from burning fossil fuels.
[A] 2017 Lancet study concluded that globally, air, water, and soil pollution kill more than 9 million people a year. Air pollution alone accounts for 4.5 million deaths, and those numbers are projected to rise sharply in developing countries in the coming years.
And an issue Perry is loath to address presents a truly moral obligation for humans alive today: climate change.
The world is currently on track to spend $4.8 trillion on fossil fuel production by 2025, finds a new study by Carbon Tracker. But to get on the path needed to preserve a livable climate — keeping total warming below 2°C (3.6°F) as the world unanimously agreed in the 2015 Paris climate accord — we should spend no more than $3.6 trillion on fossil fuels.
The failure to shift rapidly to clean energy will therefore squander trillions of dollars in the coming decades, while killing millions and irreversibly destroying the climate for centuries to come.