The carbon crunch – by Dieter Helm

Nero fiddles while Rome burns. This is Dieter Helm’s view of UK and international climate change policy on the action being taken on the threat to our planet of unrestricted carbon dioxide emissions. UK policy to reduce CO2 emissions by encouraging the building of wind turbines, tidal flow generation and solar power is dwarfed by China, which in the remainder of this decade, intends to bring on stream two large coal fuelled generating stations per week.  Only by introducing an internationally agreed policy for a carbon tax, to disadvantage carbon based electricity generation, will there be a real shift to renewable energy, energy efficiency, nuclear power and new carbon free energy generation technologies.  He sees the present availability of natural gas, including new reserves from fracking, as contributing to a medium term way of reducing greenhouse gasses, as it has half the CO2 output compared to coal. Coal should be left in the ground. As renewables, improvements in energy efficiency and generating technologies improve, then we can move away from carbon fuels altogether. His view of the EU emission trading scheme (EUETS) is that it simply does not work. Only a worldwide price mechanism to raise the relative cost of fossil fuel energy compared with renewables will move the world away from its addiction to fossil fuels.