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Published May 21, 2010 06:38 AM

Emissions-based climate deal 'not possible'

Current climate policy of emissions targets and trading will not suceed and should be replaced by a 'politically attractive' one based on providing cheap, non-carbon energy, says new paper

An international agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions is doomed to failure and must be replaced by a drive towards low-cost green energy, says a group of academics and lobbyists.

Writing in a paper funded in part by the London School of Economics (LSE), the authors, who included University of East Anglia professor Mike Hulme and 'sceptical environmentalist' Ted Nordhaus, said the collapse of the Copenhagen talks showed that it was not possible to have a 'climate policy that has emissions reductions as the all encompassing goal'.


The paper argues for a change of tack based on government investment in non-carbon energy innovation, such as more efficient solar technology, funded by a 'small' hypothecation tax - where the revenue is dedicated to a specific purpose. The ultimate aim, say the authors, is to make green energy cheaper than using fossil fuels.

'As long as the technology and price gap between fossil fuels and low-carbon energy remains so wide, those parts of the world experiencing rapid economic growth will deepen their reliance on fossil fuels,' says the paper, pointing out that both India and China had made clear they would not accept externally imposed constraints on their rate of economic growth, and most of this growth continues to be driven by expansion in the use of fossil fuels.

'The bottom line is that there will be little progress in accelerating the decarbonisation of the global economy until low carbon energy supply becomes reliably cheaper and provides reliability of supply,' says the paper.

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