World Energy Council calls for carbon pricing

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The World Energy Council (WEC) has put the establishment of carbon pricing at the center of the effort to agree an effective regime of greenhouse gas emissions targets by 2015.

With the 19th conference of parties (COP 19) continuing to generate negative headlines, the WEC has published a report which includes a 10-point action plan to address the global energy ‘trilemma’ of environmental sustainability, energy equity – in access and pricing – and energy security.

The World energy trilemma: Time to get real, the agenda for change report says a need for carbon pricing, or tax on carbon emissions, is essential to providing a market-based incentive to sustainable, low carbon energy.

The oft-repeated call for carbon pricing is at odds with the news emerging from the COP summit in Warsaw, which started last week and will run until Friday, with Australian environment minister Greg Hunt attempting to repeal the nation’s carbon tax in the Australian parliament rather than sending any ministerial representative to Europe.

With Canada also dragging its heels in Warsaw and Japan generating the biggest headlines with its announcement it will slash its greenhouse gas reduction targets after the Fukushima-driven shutdown of nuclear power, the low expectations of the Warsaw summit are being delivered, and then some.

The WEC, whose scenarios report predicts a $19 trillion-$25 trillion cost of generating electricity up to 2050 from renewables, also repeats the call for predictable policymaking to drive the private investment needed for low carbon generation as public money continues to be squeezed by the global financial crisis.

Flexible energy pricing framework needed

With a transparent, flexible and dynamic energy pricing framework also on the WEC wish list, the fact the same requests are having to be repeated ad nauseam goes some way to explaining why there is so much frustration in Warsaw, where the leader of the Chinese delegation, Su Wie, told the Responding to climate change (RTCC) website he is "not sure we are able to make much progress" and that the EU’s climate change targets are "not at all ambitious".

UK newspaper the Guardian reported only 134 of the 189 countries attending the COP 19 meeting sent ministerial representatives with the Pacific island nations of Tuvalu and Nauru and the African states Ethiopia and Tanzania, the only countries to send a prime minister or president.

A glance at the official COP 19 website does little to dispel the negative feeling surrounding the summit with no obvious mention of the Japanese announcement and the top news story this morning concerning a cycle ride on Saturday.

The controversial choice of Poland as host nation was further highlighted by a separate conference being held in the same city today and tomorrow. UN climate change conference delegates will be rubbing shoulders with other international visitors over the next 48 hours as delegates arrive… for the International Coal and Climate Conference.