Sustainable Energy

The dominating idea has for a long time been that taking action against climate change is risky business for a country and its industry. An idea underpinned by some economic thinking saying that unilateral action is at best useless and that policy measures must be strictly targeted – one problem requires one measure only. Otherwise measures will be diluted and even counterproductive. Nowadays both politicians and their advisors have a different sound. Actions may not be as costly, early actions may give an advantage and policies may be mutually supportive. Could it be the Stern review that has turned into a Stern tsunami?

OECD-ministers see opportunities

Late April ministers from 30 countries met and reportedly came to the conclusion that reduced competitiveness, facing countries that take measures to tackle climate change, are often overstated and “can be managed”.

The ministers are also looking forward to the G8-process under Japanese leadership and the broad range of issues that it will cover, including not only climate change, but also more general issue of care such as the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle).

They were however not in agreement on the issue of “sectoral approaches”, but were more hopeful as regards promotion of eco-innovation. Indeed the ministers also spoke in favour of international co-operation for the job to be done, but seem not to be afraid of showing leadership.

Economic models are developed

A Dutch study on the internal relation between policies for energy security, air pollution and climate shows a positive result in terms of cost benefit for the combined policies. A result that the IEA also hinted at in one of their papers a few years ago.

The Dutch report is however a bit difficult to access since it is totally overloaded with acronyms of technologies and scenarios, some of the easy to decipher but most of them not. It is however interesting to see that they also simulate technology development in “learning by doing”, which seems to be a variation of application of learning curves. A technique that the IEA is also using in their Energy Technology Perspectives, the latest edition (2008) soon available.

The old economist standpoint (one problem – one measure) was probably much dependent on that simple models with linear programming were used. Nowadays computers can also handle more complicated mathematics and thereby one of the barriers is removed for the Stern tsunami to roll on!

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