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December 07, 2009

Better Incentives for Carbon Reduction

Catherine New
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World leaders are meeting in Copenhagen to discuss climate change policy this week. Professor Geoff Heal suggests that the participants at Copenhagen are focusing on the wrong issues. “There should be more focus on micro-economic incentives to innovate,” he said in a recent community forum on climate change at the School, “and less rewriting of international economic order.” (Watch complete video coverage of the community forum below.)

One issue where progress could be made in Copenhagen is with the adoption of a deforestation policy or Reduced Emission from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD). Heal says that stopping deforestation by providing incentives for forest-rich countries can reduce 20 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions. He adds that it is relatively easy to accomplish because no new technology is needed.

The other step is to de-carbonize electricity supplies, which account for 30 percent of emissions says Heal. This can be accomplished through the use of renewable and nuclear energy, a better grid and carbon-storage technology. “Between deforestation and decarbonization of the electricity supply, you can basically remove enough CO2 emissions to stop the problem,” he says.



Chris Mayer, Senior Vice Dean, moderated a panel discussion on environmental policy and climate change on November 19. Speakers included Professors Geoff Heal, Elke Weber and Bruce Usher as well as Kevin Parker, Head of Asset Management, Deutsche Bank.