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Fossil fuels are a ‘barrier’ to cleantech progress, says World Bank president



The world must scrap fossil fuel subsidies and attach a price to environmentally-harmful carbon dioxide emissions in order to combat climate change, according to World Bank president Jim Yong Kim.

Kim urged the implementation of a five-point plan to environment ministers from all over the globe during a talk in Berlin this week. The plan includes building low-carbon cities, sharing new technology, fading out gas, coal and oil subsides, capping carbon dioxide emissions and improving agricultural practices.

“We need a global response equal to the scale of the climate problem. Bold action that will make the biggest difference”, said Kim, who was perhaps responding to a letter he received last month from a high-profile group of NGOs, asking him to take urgent action against climate change.

With only around 9% of the world’s population facing a cap or charge on carbon prices, the World Bank chief urged more countries to produce payment schemes, whether this was through “a tax on carbon, indirect taxation, regulation or the creation of a carbon market.”

“They are regressive, negatively impact the environment and act as a barrier to progress on clean technology”, Kim said about fossil fuels.

Speaking to Blue & Green Tomorrow, Dr Chris Hope, reader in policy modelling at Cambridge Judge Business School, said, “A fiscally neutral, significant climate change tax is the best chance we have of bringing greenhouse gas emissions under control.

“There are good arguments for setting the tax at about $150 per tonne of CO2 in the EU, while starting off at a much lower level, maybe $15 per tonne of CO2, in the poorest regions of the world.”

The Berlin meeting follows strong criticism of climate scepticism from both the Prince of Wales and UK energy secretary Ed Davey. Both men hit out at sceptics during speeches in London on Wednesday, with the prince referring to the Earth as a “dying patient”.

Note: this article was updated at 10.25am on 10/05/13 to incorporate Dr. Hope’s comments on climate change taxing.

Further reading:

NGOs appeal to World Bank to stop funding fossil fuels

Government promotes oil and gas investment as ‘vital for energy security’

Ditch energy subsidies for a better world, says IMF report

UK carbon emissions increased 4.5% in 2012

Climate and energy policies will reduce rising energy bills