Sustainable Developments: Keys to Climate Protection; April 2008; Scientific American Magazine; by Jeffrey D. Sachs; 1 Page(s)
Technology policy lies at the core of the climate change challenge. Even with a cutback in wasteful energy spending, our current technologies cannot support both a decline in carbon dioxide emissions and an expanding global economy. If we try to restrain emissions without a fundamentally new set of technologies, we will end up stifling economic growth, including the development prospects for billions of people.
Economists often talk as though putting a price on carbon emissions--through tradable permits or a carbon tax--will be enough to deliver the needed reductions in those emissions. This is not true. Europe's carbon-trading system has not shown much capacity to generate large-scale research nor to develop, demonstrate and deploy breakthrough technologies. A trading system might marginally influence the choices between coal and gas plants or provoke a bit more adoption of solar and wind power, but it will not lead to the necessary fundamental overhaul of energy systems.