Carbon price must reflect 'societal costs'

Global warming is an 'extraordinary challenge' which needs 'extraordinary solutions', says Anna Rosbach.

By Anna Rosbach MEP

14 Feb 2014

There are many good things in the recently adopted carbon capture and storage (CCS) report. The central point of the report is that financial support for CCS comes from a higher CO2 price and that CCS projects should not serve as an incentive to increase the share of fossil fuel power plants.

Chris Davies' report also stresses that it is up to the individual states if they want to use CCS or not. That way countries that can reach the targets without CCS, are not forced to invest in this system.

We also avoid picking any specific technologies. As long as a price on CO2 pollution reflects the real costs, the market ought to be able to pick the appropriate technologies.

If we are to have more than a reasonable chance of keeping global warming below two degrees above the level of preindustrial times, we know that we can pour roughly 565 more gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere by 2050. [pullquote]'Reasonable', meaning 80 per cent in this case, or somewhat worse odds than playing Russian roulette with a six-shooter[/pullquote].

Adding to this, we annually add more than 30 gigatons of CO2 to the atmosphere, which means - if we continue business as usual - that we have less than 20 years before we break our carbon budget and risk accelerating global warming. In other words, we stand before an extraordinary challenge, which requires extraordinary solutions. I am therefore very pleased that this report does not entail any specific support for CCS projects but instead stresses the underlying cause of the problem; an unreasonable low price for CO2 pollution.

To ensure a level playing field for all commercial stakeholders and promising technologies, we ought to focus our effort on making sure that the price of carbon pollution reflects the actual societal costs.