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Should We Limit Fossil Fuel Production?

Should We Limit Fossil Fuel Production?

NZ economist proposes global fossil fuel production quotas to stem greenhouse gas emissions.

Christchurch-based policy institute Sustento says governments must set up a global quota system urgently to control fossil fuel production.

Institute director, Raf Manji says the Sustento Framework is based on the reality that climate change is a global problem and needs to be dealt with at the global level.

“Currently efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been devolved to the national level where policy has been limited to improving energy efficiency and switching to renewable energy. This approach has not yielded major results and other policy proposals such as carbon based taxes have not found favour with either politicians or their voters.

“As the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report demonstrates this policy impasse needs immediate attention,” he urges.

The Sustento Framework calls for action at the production rather than consumption level. The Framework combines a global carbon inventory with an agreed limit to global greenhouse gas emissions, and from that produces an annual production quota for fossil fuels.

“This guarantees that agreed targets will be met - unlike current consumption reduction approaches which simply hope that this will happen,” he says.

Mr Manji is aware that critics of this approach argue that producers will not like the idea of quotas but, he counters, this approach was very successful in dealing with ozone depletion via the Montreal Protocol where producers rather than consumers were targeted.

Quotas also currently operate within OPEC and informally within the IEA, which represents non-OPEC producers. In July 2006 the G8+5 met for the first time to consider climate change issues. This group alone controls 76% of global coal production, 57% of natural gas and 38% of crude oil production. G20, which is an enlarged version of the G8+5, controls 94% of coal, 73% of gas and 59% of crude oil.

“If the problem of climate change is to be taken seriously by the major nations of the world then it is likely that forums such as the G8+5 will be the place where concrete action will be possible,” he says.

In 1977 the Brandt Commission proposed an international strategy on energy.

“If we are to limit growth in greenhouse gas emissions now is the time to implement such a proposal,” concludes Mr Manji .


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