Norwegian Professor Suggests Coal as Measure on Climate Change

Photo : Tobias Mandt.

– It may be more efficient to move climate policy closer to the actual cause of pollution, namely coal. We can direct the measures towards the extraction of coal instead of directing them towards the consumption of electricity produced on coal power plants, explains Harstad to Aftenposten.

Professor suggests new climate agreements where the owners of the most expensive coalfields and the most polluting oil sands get compensation for letting these dirty resources remain in the ground.

One possible way to do this could be for the agreed partners to invest billions to a UN fund, which will take the task of buying the coalfields. Although, Harstad names neither the sum of money nor the possible partners.

The principle here is that most part of the world’s known fossil reserves – coal, oil and natural gas – must remain in the ground for the world to achieve the climate targets all agreed on. 

When enough of the reserves are purchased, this leads to less supply of coal on the world market and the market price rises. Thus, consumption will be smaller, and the profitability of green technology will be better, argues Harstad.

– Such agreements may be more effective than measures against emissions from coal and oil, he says.

A disadvantage of the current climate agreements is that their measures are directed towards the consumption electricity and gasoline in the countries that joined the agreement. It leads to falling coal and oil world market prices.

Therefore, countries outside the climate agreement tend to buy more when the price goes down and increase their emissions.

– Climate policy has so far concentrated on dampening the demand and consumption of coal and oil. We put taxes on gasoline so that we would drive less, so that the emissions will go down.

With climate agreements such Harstad suggests, the world market price of coal and oil will rise because the supply will go down.