Hiking the price of fossil fuels to provide for environmental costs will be an “effective signal for non-conventional options and alternatives,” according to R. K. Pachauri, Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Carbon pricing of fossil fuels which are a major source of green house gases that cause global warming is needed to discourage carbon intensive fuels. This will drive up the costs of conventional sources of energy and encourage development of sustainable and renewable energy sources.

The policy faces the challenge of vested interests — the conventional fuel lobby — he said. The Panel is a United Nations-endorsed, international body for climate change issues. Pachauri was addressing a meeting organised by the Andhra Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Even now renewable energy is competitive compared with some of the fossil fuels. Nearly six Gigatonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions can be cut yearly by 2030 with the judicious use of fossil fuels and viable use of renewable energy. This could be achieved through negative cost — saving on expenditure — which will be a benefit for industry while representing a huge sociological benefit.

Fossil fuels account for three-fourths of the carbon emissions which build up in the atmosphere causing global temperatures to go up. Agriculture and food security are also under threat and the poor and emerging economies, including India and Africa, are the most susceptible, he said. Investment must go into research and technology development for sustainable alternatives, said Pachauri, who is also the Chairman of The Energy Research Institute

balaji.ar@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on January 23, 2013)
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