O'Connor urges carbon price, not financial support, to cut emissions By Darius Snieckus, Recharge News, December 10 2015
Eddie O'Connor says a $33-per-tonne price on CO2 'would rapidly accelerate the transition to sustainability'
Mainstream Renewable Power
A "meaningful" global carbon price rather than transnational financial support is the best mechanism to achieve emission cuts that would curb the worst impact of climate change, says Mainstream Renewable Power chief executive Eddie O'Connor.
He says any binding deal coming out of the COP21 summit, which concludes on Friday, should factor in that the "dramatic fall" in the cost of wind and solar technologies will allow many emerging markets to "rapidly expand their clean-energy generation without the need for large-scale financial support from other states".
The funds being sought by many developing nations from the US and Europe to facilitate schemes to incentivise renewables investment are "not needed", O'Connor maintains.
"The deployment of large amounts of new wind and new solar PV plant is no longer reliant on support schemes like the feed-in tariff or green certificates," he adds.
"These programmes were very effective at bringing forward new technology when it was more expensive than new fossil plant. But today new wind and, in some markets, new solar PV, are now... a whole lot cheaper than new fossil generation.
"In South Africa, new onshore wind can be built for less than half the cost of new coal plant. What COP21 can do is to incentivise sustainable behaviour by countries, companies and families. By far the best way to do this is to put a price on carbon. A €30 [$33] price per tonne of CO2 would rapidly accelerate the transition to sustainability."
The renewables maverick, whose company is developing wind and solar in South Africa, Egypt, Ghana, Chile and Mexico, says the energy industry must "learn to stop whistling yesterday's tunes".
The cost of onshore wind has fallen by more than 60% and PV by 80% over the past decade, which means "India and other fast-growing countries can have economic development and clean energy — new coal or any other fossil fuel is not a prerequisite for economic growth".
A consensus seems to be taking shape at COP21 in Paris, and the parallel Sustainable Innovation Forum, that a carbon price would super-charge global investment in wind and solar.