Currently showing: Sustainable energy

30 Aug 13 14:54

Do markets lead us in the right energy direction? That was one of the themes touched upon in a fishbowl discussion that just ended at the 150 year celebration party in Zürich.

We use energy now, put CO2 in the atmosphere now and we have fun while doing it. The negative effects of these actions will only be felt by us and our kids 30 years ahead. So if we already have problems adjusting our lifestyle on the long run, how shall markets be able to price negative effects of unknown size of fossil energies far away in the future?

There was no positive answers that markets can do this but there same novel ideas, how it could be solved otherwise. One idea was to tax people and companies no longer on their income but on their energy use or ecological footprint. The new way of living in 2050 - what do you think?

Category: Sustainable energy

Tags: #Swiss Re 150.

Location: Zurich, Switzerland


Alicia Montoya - 30 Aug 2013, 11:11 p.m.

I think that's a brilliant idea! Ever since I began my long road towards becoming a more responsible (at the very least, more aware) consumer, the one thing that i've become painfully aware of is public myopia. Many educated people understand the macro problems we face but don't see the link between their daily lifestyle choices and the macro effects that they have. Therefore, i would love if we moved towards a transparent system where consumers have the full equation of real costs (today's and the future's) and were given the choice to alter behavior accordingly. For instance, a couple of years ago here was a pilot in the UK of a device that gave consumers full energy consumption info and respective costs. So consumers could see the different in energy and peak or low cost of say, washing their clothes in the morning at peak demand time (and therefore prices) or waiting till the late evening to wash their clothes at low energy prives. I say bring on trasnparency and bring on choice! And with choice comes responsibility, which is what I think is missing.

Paying for what you cost is fair, educational and hopefully will bring about the behavioral change we so desperately need to help solve the energy conundrum.

Paritosh - 31 Aug 2013, 2:50 a.m.

I have a different perspective. I don't believe that people contribute to co2 knowingly, its rather cause its the only way available to them. For example, how many of us have heard of an mp3 device, which runs by winding it? Or a girl from an Indian village who made a washing machine to wash clothes which runs on energy provided by cycling ?

So we require alternatives, not like what we presently have e.g. a light bulb from company aaa and another from company bbb...

I believe once we start providing people with such information along with the availability of such products in a shop near them, the world will start changing on its own. Taxes have never worked nor they ever will.

Andreas Spiegel - 4 Sep 2013, 9:39 a.m.

Changing the tax system is about as easy as changing the behavior of my granddad. More taxes on energy and less on income is certainly the correct approach from a macro economic perspective, but how can we convince voters and lobby groups? Changing the tax system is probably only possible if the overall tax burden gets reduced at the same time. This raises the question where you could reduce governmental expenditures. This most probably brings you to questions about social security, pension systems and infrastructure expenditures - the eye of the storm of political discussion. I don't have a solution for this dilemma, but I certainly agree that changing the tax system would be the right option. How to get there is food for a political strategist.

Bernd Wilke - 4 Sep 2013, 9:54 a.m.

Companies with a large ecological footprint are not a good investment

This is what somebody said in a fish-bowl. Having a large footprint shows in his opinion, that you do not have a long-term business plan. Ecological footprint is also not about energy, its also about resources. And according to a new report developed countries are depleting them much faster than previously thought.

So something new to consider?

Jennifer Rodney - 5 Sep 2013, 7:32 a.m.

Andreas, I agree that changing the tax system is no easy project. I think with all of these longer term problems (climate change, pension funding, etc.) part of the core issue is always that no one wants to have to suffer through change in the present if dealing with the problem can be put off till later. Least of all politicians who have to plan based on short election cycles... I'm not sure what the answer is, but demanding more accountability, responsibility and long-term thinking from corporations, politicians and ourselves has got to be one starting place....

Rupert Wimmer - 9 Sep 2013, 9:52 a.m.

Our fishbowl group also discussed what the options were to move from fossil fueled power production to renewable energy. Some were in favor of penalizing fossil energy while others were in favor of subsidizing renewable energy. While the latter became reality years ago, the former has not. Governments are reluctant to put additional strain on the local energy industry and the concept of internationally tradable CO2 certificates issued to attach a monetary value to CO2 production/reduction has been unsuccessful until now.

The discussion participants said they were willing to pay more for their power consumption if it was generated from renewable resources; some of them (including me) actually already do.

Juerg Trueb - 11 Sep 2013, 10:12 a.m.

I don't find taxes to be an efficient tool to drive change. I would prefer to see market based instruments and incentives increase in prevalence. A good market based instrument would be a global deal for carbon certificates, allowing for the certificate price to be set by the market, rather than charging a fixed tax. The European Emission Trading System provided a good framework, although implementation did not go well. However, resurrecting a similar scheme on a global basis, taking into account the lessons learned from the EU ETS, would help to effectively curb emissions. In contrast to a tax system, this would provide market players with an incentive to find economic ways to reduce emissions.
I agree with Rupert that fossil fuel driven power generation is heavily subsidized. What would help is to start cutting these subsidies and investing more in policy measures for renewable energy. In addition, certain aspects need further development, like power storage and transmission technology, and greater efficiency in energy production. Improvements in energy efficiency is key for both commercial and retail energy consumption, so focus in this area would make a significant impact.

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