Page last updated at 13:46 GMT, Tuesday, 7 July 2009 14:46 UK

'Time to ditch climate policies'

By Roger Harrabin
Environment analyst, BBC News

Power station (Image: PA)
Policies are failing to decarbonise economies, the report says

An international group of academics is urging world leaders to abandon their current policies on climate change.

The authors of How to Get Climate Policy Back on Course say the strategy based on overall emissions cuts has failed and will continue to fail.

They want G8 nations and emerging economies to focus on an approach based on improving energy efficiency and decarbonising energy supply.

Critics of the report's recommendations say they are a dangerous diversion.

The report is published by the London School of Economics' (LSE) Mackinder Programme and the University of Oxford's Institute for Science, Innovation & Society.

LSE Mackinder programme director Gwyn Prins said the current system of attempting to cap carbon emissions then allow trading in emissions permits had led to emissions continuing to rise.

He said world proposals to expand carbon trading schemes and channel billions of dollars into clean energy technologies would not work.

"The world has been recarbonising, not decarbonising," Professor Prins said.

"The evidence is that the Kyoto Protocol and its underlying approach have had and are having no meaningful effect whatsoever.

"Worthwhile policy builds upon what we know works and upon what is feasible rather than trying to deploy never-before implemented policies through complex institutions requiring a hitherto unprecedented and never achieved degree of global political alignment."

The report has drawn an angry response from some environmentalists, who acknowledge the problems it highlights but fear that the solutions it proposes will not work.

Tom Burke, from Imperial College London and a former government adviser, said: "The authors are right to be concerned about the lack of urgency in the political response to climate change.

"They are also right to identify significant weaknesses in the major policy instrument currently being negotiated.

"But nothing could be more harmful than to propose that the world stop what it is doing on climate change and start again working in a different way," Professor Burke contested.

"This is neither practical nor analytically defensible - and it seems to have been born more out of frustration than understanding of the nature of the political processes involved.

"This is a far more complex, and urgent, diplomatic task than the strategic arms control negotiations and will require an even more sophisticated and multi-channel approach to its solution. Stop-go is not sophisticated."

G8 leaders will discuss climate change on Wednesday before joining leaders of emerging economies on Thursday for a meeting chaired by President Obama.



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