Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Climate Justice

Interesting article here by Alex Lenferna on climate justice.

Something that occurred to me is that developed economies have a lot of infrastructure that will have to be replaced. Why not, instead of making that the top priority, invest in clean energies in poorer countries? Developed countries as their first priority should focus on energy efficiency, planning away urban sprawl and taking away cost advantages of dirty energy for new projects. Those changes should in principle buy emissions cuts of around 20% with relatively low cost.

In the meantime, developing clean energy sources that today have not been tested at scale can happen in countries that do not currently have much energy infrastructure. This way, as developed economies retire dirty technologies, there will be an increasing amount of practical experience with renewables.

In Africa, especially outside South Africa, much of the continent has no power grid. Implementing small-scale local energy sources in that context is already reasonably cost-effective; work on making that better, particularly energy storage and you have a solution the rest of the world can use. My example of how Africa can jump ahead is with cell phones, which also have the advantage that their infrastructure can be rolled out incrementally as demand rises. Compare the rapid rise of cell phone use in countries like Nigeria, with the sluggish growth in access to landlines across the continent.

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