The Public Policy Response

Jun 25, 2008 | Raymond J. Kopp
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

Senate Testimony:  RFF’s  Kopp on Implications of IEA Assessment  

A recently released assessment from the International Energy Agency, Energy Technology Perspectives 2008: Scenarios and Strategies to 2050, identifies a daunting, but ultimately feasible technology and investment path consistent with reaching a concentration target of 450 ppm for carbon dioxide (CO2) by 2050. On Wednesday, June 25, RFF Senior Fellow Ray Kopp testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on the policy implications of the assessment.

Reaching the target will be an enormous engineering and economic challenge, but Kopp urged Congress not lose sight of the many complementary policies that will be required to allow new technologies to take hold.  For example:

  • Carbon capture and sequestration.  Regulations for the storage of CO2 must be written, storage sites selected, almost assured local opposition to storage to be overcome, and a vast CO2-transport infrastructure sited, financed, and constructed.
  • Nuclear Power.  Policies to address reactor safety, long-term waste storage, and proliferation concerns will need to be developed.
  • Bioenergy.  Because bioenergy will compete worldwide for land used to produce food and fiber, raising the cost of all three, public policies to address these land-use issues will be needed. 
  • Wind power. Carefully planned grid expansion will be required for a large-scale increase in wind-generated electricity.

But Kopp noted, “We cannot wave a magic wand and will this process to commence. . . . We must buy some badly needed time.”  The most promising option, he said, is harnessing emerging carbon markets to monetize the carbon contained in standing forests and provide economic incentives to reduce deforestation.  While it is now widely known that China and the United States are the two largest CO2 emitters, it is less well-known that the countries ranking third and fourth are Brazil and Indonesia, due to widespread deforestation that is taking place.