A measure to make dirty fuels less attractive to investors

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From Ms Nusa Urbancic.

Sir, As Pilita Clark rightly hypothesises (“Norwegian’s provocative plan to curb climate change wins EU prize”, July 4), paying wealthy countries to stop extracting dirty fuel does lead to “digestion problems” among some. Norway, the country that has taken to paying Indonesia not to deforest, can presumably not see the forest nor the trees through the haze at its embassy in Singapore.

Rather than pay polluters not to pollute, we should encourage tools that reward fuel suppliers to opt for low carbon fuels and opt out of high carbon ones.

One of these is the EU’s fuel quality directive, which obliges fuel suppliers to reduce the carbon intensity of fuels they sell on the EU market by 6 per cent by 2020, relative to a 2010 baseline. Labelling high carbon fuels, such as tar sands and oil shale, with higher carbon intensity values (in combination with the 6 per cent target) will make dirty fuels less attractive for investors – thereby keeping these fuels in the ground.

Administrative costs for such a measure? About 0.8-1.6 euro cents per barrel of oil, or about one quarter to half a cent for a typical 50 litre tank of fuel. If this sounds like a much more sensible policy than paying wealthy countries with taxpayers’ money to try and convince them to curb emissions – it is. All we need now is some more “adroit” politicians to sell it.

Nusa Urbancic, Policy Officer for Fuels, Transport & Environment (the European sustainable transport campaigners), Brussels, Belgium

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