Commentary: We’re moving into a more optimistic era for climate action

The US Bill also showed the way to cut emissions. The old idea of taxing carbon was economically correct but politically wrong. People wouldn’t vote to consume less. Consequently, carbon taxes were always set too low to reduce consumption much.

Now the US has switched from stick to carrot, offering tax credits for renewables, electric vehicles and so on. That works partly because these technologies have come along so fast: The price of solar, for instance, dropped 89 per cent in a decade. E-cars (not to mention e-bikes, e-mopeds and e-rickshaws) are now so affordable that they account for a quarter of new car sales in China.

Even before the war in Ukraine turbocharged gas prices, the world was switching to renewables largely out of grubby self-interest.

“In 2020, 82 per cent of new electricity capacity globally was wind or solar,” write Eric Lonergan and Corinne Sawers in Supercharge Me: Net Zero Faster.

Renewables industries are emerging with their own grinning lobbyists and backchannels to politicians — the kind that fossil-fuel companies always had. That means green is starting to work with capitalism rather than against it.

High gas prices have also weakened the quasi-religious taboo on nuclear energy: Germany, Japan, California and the United Kingdom are pivoting towards extending the lifespans of existing nuclear plants.