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Climate Change and Energy Policy



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Climate Change and Energy Policy John P Holdren Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy Harvard Director The Woods Hole Research Center Co Chair National Commission on Energy Policy Remarks at the Conference on New Prospects for Climate Change Regulation Harvard Law School 10 March 2006 Outline of these remarks The role of energy in the climate problem The role of climate in the energy problem Technical policy options for reducing climatechange impacts How big is the challenge our portfolio of measures must meet US national energy climate policy to date The growing pressures for change The role of energy in the climate change problem Most of the positive forcing comes from civilization s energy system CO2 emissions CO2 concentrations and temperature Among these forcings CO2 is the most important its relative importance is growing with time and it s the most difficult to reduce Most of the CO2 emissions come from fossil fuel burning EJ year World Energy 1850 2000 500 450 400 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 0 Gas Oil Coal Nuclear Hydro Biomass 1850 1875 1900 1925 1950 1975 2000 Most energy growth in modern times came from fossil fuel In 2000 80 of civilization s energy Year came from CO2 emitting oil coal and gas The largest CO2 emissions come from Source EIA Internat l Energy Outlook 2003 oil with coal a close second Reducing CO2 emissions from the fossil fuel system by changing technologies is difficult because CO2 is not a trace contaminant from fuel burning it s a principal combustion product Each ton of coal burned three tons of CO2 Most low CO2 and no CO2 energy alternatives are costlier than the fossil fuel technologies that dominate today s energy system Higher fossil fuel costs could change this but investors must be convinced the costs will stay high Even if climate friendly alternatives are economically competitive the rate at which they can penetrate is limited by the slow turnover time of energy faciities World energy system 12T investment that turns over in



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