Summary: Examples of good climate investment and a bad investment. Unfortunately, the environmentalist hucksters are pushing the bad investments constantly. The crony capitalists are doing worse.
This summer the Tower 55 project got funding. It's a $90 million construction job fixing a major railroad bottleneck, eliminating mutual traffic interference with local highways, and improving traffic flow for rail and roads. It will be $40 million of government funds (for the highway work) and $50 million in private funds (for the rail, environmental, legal, admin, etc.). Esitmated carbon reduction is 180 million lbs, giving a cost of $1000/ton for carbon reductions.
I reviewed the financial proposals for a local solar power park. This will be a $12 million investment, paid for primarily by tax credits on the contruction (3 million) and green energy credits for electricity production (9 million). The unadjusted revenue from power generation basically covers the operation and maintenance costs. It will eliminate 3 million lbs of carbon, giving a cost of $8000/ton for carbon reductions.
There are far too many projects like this being pushed. In terms of both economic impact and climate impact, this money should go the projects like Tower 55. But this one will probably be funded. The environmentalist hucksters want publicity, shiny toys, etc. Actual climate impact comparisons are not part of their creed.
The extensive corruption and mismanagement of government agencies and funds is surfacing with new stories weekly from the US, India, and elsewhere. Crony capitalism is well entrenched and has found many ways to extract money from environmental concerns.
Part of dealing with this is to always ask "what will the cost per ton of carbon reductions be?" Cost must include construction costs, subsidies, tax credits, incentives, etc. Look at the total social cost. Then compare projects. For organizations with a track record, also compare their original estimates with the actual results upon project completion. It's a modest step that is easy to explain and easy to justify. It's enough to make a big shift away from bad projects to good projects.