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OECD: We should eliminate fossil fuel emissions in the second half of this century

Date
10 October 2013
OECD: We should eliminate fossil fuel emissions in the second half of this century

National governments should have strategies for the elimination of all fossil fuel emissions by the second half of this century.

This is the view of Angel Gurría, the Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), highlighted during a speech he gave to mark the release of a new report, Climate and Carbon: Aligning Prices and Policies, released by the organization.

He stated: “I've come here today to argue that whatever policy mix we cook up, it has to be one that leads to the complete elimination of emissions to the atmosphere from the combustion of fossil fuels in the second half of the century.”

Continuing Angel Gurría said: “‘Zero emissions’ might sound extreme. Why not just lower emissions? The answer to that is physical. Carbon dioxide is a long lived gas. It hangs around. Of one ton of CO2 emitted this year, over 60% will still be in the atmosphere twenty years from now and 45% 100 years from now”.

According to the report, extending and improving the use of carbon taxes and emissions trading schemes is the first step in combating climate change. The OECD criticises the estimated $55-90 billion of annual support granted for fossil fuel exploration, production and consumption in OECD countries and the $523 billion in fuel and energy subsidies in developing countries. In a press release to accompany the report it stated, “While subsidies for consumers are often put in place for social reasons, they are usually poorly targeted, expensive and ultimately undermine climate policy action as well.”

The report also states that in order to develop a stable carbon pricing mechanism, governments should use policy instruments that price every tonne of CO2 emitted, as well as other solutions that put an implicit price on emissions and cost-effectively spur innovation.

“Unlike the financial crisis, we do not have a 'climate bailout option' up our sleeves,” Gurría concluded.

By Maria Mateeva.

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